Monday, October 03, 2005

Petition for scientific support for Darwinism

The link above is to a petition on an archeology web site asking for signatures from scientists whose work depends on evolutionary science. They originally called it a "four day petition", to show how many signatures of scientists they could get in that span of time, given that the Discovery Institute had a petition that took four years to get 400 signatures. The four day petition got 8000 signatures.

It's still going strong, so sign away. How does evolution affect a computer scientist? In my case, I work in the area of computational neuroscience, studying (among other things) synaptic transmission across the inhibitory synapse at the crayfish slowly adapting stretch receptor organ. Because of common descent, the neurotransmitters and ion channels in crayfish neurons are also in human neurons. For these, and a number of other reasons, we expect that the things we learn about information processing in invertebrates will also apply to vertebrates, mammals, and humans.

As another example, I'm making evolutionary computation the theme of the introductory computing course I'm teaching this quarter. The success of stochastic optimization algorithms like these provides strong mathematical support to the idea that the combination of randomness, inheritance, and selection can produce solutions to complex problems.

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