Evolution’s Speed – How Common Are Single Insertions and Deletions?

Every time you make a typo, the errorists win

This is part of a series: How Fast is Evolution?
Previous: Evolution’s Speed – How Common Are Point Substitution Mutations?

I might have figured out how to push evolution to its limit in a lab, but I need to find if it would be practical.  To do that, I need to know how common a good mutation must be if life really appeared by evolution.  I’m starting by reading up on the different kinds of mutations.  In my previous post I covered point substitution mutations, and in this post, I’ll cover insertions and deletions – also known as indels.

Continue reading Evolution’s Speed – How Common Are Single Insertions and Deletions?

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How to Find Evolution’s Limit

Dice spiral

This is part of a series: How Fast is Evolution?
Next: Evolution’s Speed – My Assumptions and First Guesses

I might have figured out how to test for evolution’s limit in a lab.  In my previous series, I fixed a loophole in the definition of evolution’s limit.  In this series, I plan to learn whether my idea is practical.  I’ll list a bunch of info related to calculating how fast evolution must happen if it’s really how life appeared.  I hope to finish by calculating how big of a population I’d need to make my experiment work.

Here’s my idea:

Evolution is a game of chance.  It has rules – like the laws of physics, the current environment, and interaction with other creatures – and each mutation is a roll of the dice.  A good mutation is like rolling three 6’s in Risk – it’s very rare.  I want to cheat.

One rule of evolution is that it usually happens too slow to see.  If someone wants to study evolution – whether to test or confirm it – they must wait millions of years.  Since we humans don’t live that long, we have to speed up evolution to see it happen.  One way is to roll the dice very quickly – do mutation and natural selection to something with incredibly short generation times.  Another way is to roll a big bucket of dice all at once.

I already tried the first one.  Now I want to find if the second is practical.

Continue reading How to Find Evolution’s Limit