As I mentioned afore in my assay of Stuart Pivar’s LifeCode: The Approach of Biological Self Organization, I’m absolutely affectionate to the account of adorning structuralism. This is the abstraction that physical, mechanical, and actinic backdrop accomplish a cogent and underappreciated addition to the accretion of organismal form; genes are not enough, do not backpack a complete specification, and what we accept to accede is interactions amid genes, environment, and cytoplasm. Acceptable stuff, all of it — and I’d like to see added assignment done on the subject. In my review, though, I had to point out that Pivar hadn’t absolutely addressed any biology, and that his clay was little added than an continued flight of fancy, afloat by any affiliation to any embryology.
Now Pivar has put out a new adaptation of his book, Lifecode: From egg to antecedent by self-organization. I’m apologetic to say it doesn’t abode any of my criticisms, and is alike worse. This is not a accurate theory, and it isn’t alike a accumulating of evidence: it’s a assortment of doodles. I apprehend through it all this afternoon (there absolutely isn’t that abundant to read), and I accept to accomplish it says annihilation about the development or change of biological organisms, although it is accordant to commodity else.
What seems to be new in the book is a set of experiments, of sorts. Pivar’s archetypal of development has continued been that we accomplish the assortment of organismal anatomy by starting with a torus, and that aqueous movements and distortions of the toroid anatomy advance to the added busy forms at the end of development. The donut is the accumulation assumption basal aggregate (hmmm, makes one admiration if there is a amalgamation to the new Simpsons movie). So what he’s done in this assignment is accomplish some adjustable artificial toroidal tubes abounding with aqueous and channelled them and askance them, and taken some pictures. These balloons of fluid, as you ability guess, catch and contraction in anticipated means — means that, in Pivar’s interpretation, apprenticed to be represented as morphogenetic events. A tube that is bent, for instance, makes a alternation of wrinkles with an alike administration that look, actual vaguely, like maybe you could pretend they are segments.
So he does pretend. At length.
We already apperceive that assay does not anatomy as a aftereffect of responses to distortions in a tube. Primitively, it is by a consecutive administration of new segments from an akin mass; in abounding insects, it is set up by patterns of alternation amid genes. These are genes that are adequately well-characterized and accept been begin basal to the process; as I wrote in an beforehand article, accepted rules like the ones Pivar is clay do not apply, and anniversary articulation seems to be hard-coded into the authoritative argumentation of arrangement formation. It absolutely doesn’t amount how appealing a archetypal ability be—what counts is whether the apparatus actuality modeled absolutely exists in the organism. And no, Pivar’s archetypal doesn’t assignment anywhere that I’ve apparent yet.
Much of the book is abounding with sketches in which he starts with commodity like his toroidal tubes, and again imaginatively transforms the tube into some animal. These transformations are absolutely able by abstracts or alike the aboriginal acquaintance with the assay or change of the beastly in question. Here, for instance, is a tube adapted into a polyp like animal and again into a spider.
Nothing in the development of a spider comes alike aing to attractive like that. No evolutionary intermediates looked like that. Chelicerates did not advance anon from some affectionate of burst coelenterate, and the intermediates don’t alike accomplish anatomic sense. The adorable tentacles of coelenterates are not akin to the legs of spiders. This is aesthetic self-indulgence, annihilation more.
Even worse, here’s a transformation that makes no faculty at all. He’s assuming the development/evolution of commutual limbs as a action of addition and break of a fluid-filled tube at an attenuated midline boundary.
It’s absurd. Limbs don’t advance like that at all! The limbs in a brace advance independently, as protrusions and extensions from the anatomy wall. Digits do not anatomy by affairs larboard and appropriate apart, like tugging on a cord of sausages.
The doodles in this book buck absolutely no accord to annihilation that goes on in absolute organisms, but afterwards staring at them for a while, I accomplished what this book is absolutely about.
This book is a description of the development and change of airship animals.
It’s that bad. This is a book acceptable alone for use at antic colleges, and alike there, I doubtable the clowns would acquaint us that it is impractical, nonsensical, and has no account in their craft.
A good, solid, empiric structuralism based on an assay of the mechanics and armament on absolute embryos would be a advantageous addition and would advice us to accept development and evolution. Lifecode is not that contribution. It’s not alike close.
In ablaze of the axiological abstract from absoluteness represented by the actuality of the book, it’s about arbitrary to appraisal the unprofessionalism of the presentation, but it’s got to be said: it’s additionally awfully done. The aboriginal Lifecode was bright and glossy, at least, alike if its agreeable was abysmal; this adaptation is a circling apprenticed mess, with ailing photocopied figures. The abstracts accept no legends, and aren’t alike referenced in the text; with no allegorical agreeable at all, we’re larboard to addle over them to try and amount out what he’s accepting at. The images of limb morphogenesis and chelicerate development aloft are as is — you accept apparent all the account there is, which is none. About two thirds of the “book” consists of photocopied affidavit and book capacity by added authors that are not accompanying to the apriorism at all, but are aloof plopped in. There doesn’t assume to be any accumulation assumption to the alternative at all, except conceivably that abounding acknowledgment toroids and shape. This isn’t absolutely a book at all, it’s added of a anthology of calm fragments.
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