Anand CV Mallaya

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Science and rebirth?

In math, science, spirituality on November 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I was little worried that I am becoming a pseudo-scientist  This feeling of guilt was burning inside my mind for sometime and wanted to do really scientific approaches in problem solving.

On the cold morning today, I had this interesting thought on rebirth. Normally I will delve in to thoughts for a few hours and then it will remain as a common religious belief. So this time I wanted to do an exercise on this to improve my scientific problem solving skills.

The problem:

Is rebirth scientifically possible?

Method:

Let us look at definition of rebirth here. Rebirth is defined here as having the same appearance of a person died before.

Now science tells us that the characteristics of body of a person is defined by mostly the genes. But this is not the only thing that shapes a body. It depends on the environment the person lives. This include the food, the climate etc. To simplify we will define a person as a set of genes. So rebirth in this context is having exactly the same sets of genes that of a previously dead person.

Assumptions:

The number of variation or mutation in genes  are vary small. That is if we consider genes as a set of playing cards, the deck of cards are  unchanged. Each individual gets a shuffled set of cards.

Solution:

This problem can be done only statistically. Let us start some number crunching

Total initial population, P0 = 10000
(Note: there is a hypothesis that entire population today are coming from a small population which survived a global catastrophe in Africa)
Reference : The Human Journey: Migration Routes (nationalgeographic.com)

Total genes per person, Gi = ~20600

Maximum genetic difference in the population (assuming all genes of the population are different) Gp=  Gi*P0 = 206,000,000

Total population ever lived till date Pt = 108,000,000,000

Assuming the variation in the gene pool through mutation is negligible over time, total possible unique individuals = Pt/Gp = ~524

So if there is no gene variations happening  there must have existed around 524 exact copies of every individual.
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Evolution in the lab

In evolution, life, science on November 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

singlecellular yest evolved in to multicellular forms in months

1. http://www.nature.com/news/yeast-suggests-speedy-start-for-multicellular-life-1.9810

2. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/01/evolution-of-multicellularity/