World Futures 62 (5):401-403 (2006)

Information Theory, Evolution and The Origin ofLife: The Origin and Evolution of Life as a Digital Message: How Life Resembles a Computer, Second Edition. Hu- bert P. Yockey, 2005, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 400 pages, index; hardcover, US $60.00; ISBN: 0-521-80293-8. The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws. Yockey in his previous book (1992, 335) In this new book, Information Theory, Evolution and The Origin ofLife, Hubert Yockey points out that the digital, segregated, and linear character of the genetic information system has a fundamental significance. If inheritance would blend and not segregate, Darwinian evolution would not occur. If inheritance would be analog, instead of digital, evolution would be also impossible, because it would be impossible to remove the effect of noise. In this way, life is guided by information, and so information is a central concept in molecular biology. The author presents a picture of how the main concepts of the genetic code were developed. He was able to show that despite Francis Crick's belief that the Central Dogma is only a hypothesis, the Central Dogma of Francis Crick is a mathematical consequence of the redundant nature of the genetic code. The redundancy arises from the fact that the DNA and mRNA alphabet is formed by triplets of 4 nucleotides, and so the number of letters (triplets) is 64, whereas the proteome alphabet has only 20 letters (20 amino acids), and so the translation from the larger alphabet to the smaller one is necessarily redundant. Except for Tryptohan and Methionine, all amino acids are coded by more than one triplet, therefore, it is undecidable which source code letter was actually sent from mRNA. This proof has a corollary telling that there are no such mathematical constraints for protein-protein communication. With this clarification, Yockey contributes to diminishing the widespread confusion related to such a central concept like the Central Dogma. Thus the Central Dogma prohibits the origin of life "proteins first." Proteins can not be generated by "self-organization." Understanding this property of the Central Dogma will have a serious impact on research on the origin of life.
Keywords self-organization  origin of life  Gregory Chaitin
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DOI 10.1080/02604020600637452
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