# talk.origins probability-abiogenesis FAQ criticized

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### zOz

Jan 3, 2001, 2:54:07â€¯PM1/3/01
to
Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html

| Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:

The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
continuous emergence of the world and of life).

| 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
| protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
| by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.

A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
10^-1000000.

| 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
| fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot
be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

If six such protoenzymes are necessary for self-replication
to start, we get already a probability lower than 10^-60.

And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis
must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and survive
a change its environment (e.g. drying up of the primorial
pond).

Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is
necessary for the start of further evolving by replication,
mutation and selection, "but one or more simple molecules
probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", we still remain
with the fact that the probability of each of the 29-39 bonds
between the subunits is certainly lower than 0.1. So the
probability for the emergence of one single protoenzyme of
this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

| 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
| than simultaneous trials.

The assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by "simultaneous
trials" is completely unwarranted, in my opinion even absurd.

See http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja6.html --> 21-Mar-1999

| 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
"scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
meant by a probability calculation".

| 5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional
| enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

The low actual number of functionally equivalent proteins and
even DNA-coding sequences is rather evidence against the
relevance of this argument.

See: "The Death of Neo-Darwinism (was: Molecular Sequence Proof
of Common Descent) in http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja4.html

The fact that each of e.g. 90% of the amino acids of a protein
can be replaced by others without loss of function does not
entail that the protein would still work if most of these
replaceable amino acids were replaced at the same time.

But even if we accept the argument, in this context it does not
change a lot whether the combinatorial probability of a 100 amino-
acid long enzyme is 20^-100 or 4^-100 (leading to 5^-100 viable
variants).

| [T]he formation of biological polymers from monomers is a
| function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these
| are decidedly not random.

The laws of chemistry and biochemistry do indeed lead to the
needed chemical bonds. (They also lead to undesired bonds and
to the decay of desired bonds. If peptids are synthesized in
vitro, special methods are needed in order to prevent undesired
chemical bonds.)

However these laws do not concern the question whether a final
sequence is able to fold into an enzyme and to carry out complex
tasks. So these laws have rather to do with the probability
of correctly chained sequences long enough than with the
combinatorial probability of such sequences.

Wolfgang Gottfried G.

Sent via Deja.com
http://www.deja.com/

### Gyudon Z

Jan 3, 2001, 3:29:37â€¯PM1/3/01
to
From zOz:

>Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html
>
>| Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:
>
>The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
>I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
>continuous emergence of the world and of life).

I don't know that mainstream evolutionists would agree with that.

>| 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
>| protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
>| by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.

>A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
>it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
>10^-1000000.

I don't know where you learned math, but when I learned it 1/10^100 != 0.

>| 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
>| fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

>The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot
>be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

I must have missed the bit where you performed the supporting math.

>If six such protoenzymes are necessary for self-replication
>to start, we get already a probability lower than 10^-60.

Is it? Six successes out of how many trials?

>And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis
>must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and survive
>a change its environment (e.g. drying up of the primorial
>pond).

Actually, you could probably recycle most of the bits of the dead protobiont
the next time it rained.

And if the ability to form endospores evolved early...

>Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is
>necessary for the start of further evolving by replication,
>mutation and selection, "but one or more simple molecules
>probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", we still remain
>with the fact that the probability of each of the 29-39 bonds
>between the subunits is certainly lower than 0.1.

Oh, heaven forbid! Nothing happens whose probability is less than 10%, eh?

They're called bonds because they're fairly stable; otherwise they'd be called
"breaks". Who says they can't be assembled piecemeal?

And, again, note the lack of math.

>So the
>probability for the emergence of one single protoenzyme of
>this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

If you only get one shot at it, yes.

>| 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
>| than simultaneous trials.
>
>The assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by "simultaneous
>trials" is completely unwarranted, in my opinion even absurd.

What, do you think only one amino acid chain was being synthesized at any given
time on the entire planet?

>| 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

>Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
>reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
>"scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
>meant by a probability calculation".

Well, you've been quite simple enough (in a number of senses of the word), but
I haven't seen the supporting math. I think you're being a bit *too* simple,
again in a number of senses of the word.

>| 5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional
>| enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

>The low actual number of functionally equivalent proteins and
>even DNA-coding sequences is rather evidence against the
>relevance of this argument.

>See: "The Death of Neo-Darwinism (was: Molecular Sequence Proof
>of Common Descent) in http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja4.html

>The fact that each of e.g. 90% of the amino acids of a protein
>can be replaced by others without loss of function does not
>entail that the protein would still work if most of these
>replaceable amino acids were replaced at the same time.

Nor does it entail that it would necessarily not work if etc.

>But even if we accept the argument, in this context it does not
>change a lot whether the combinatorial probability of a 100 amino-
>acid long enzyme is 20^-100 or 4^-100 (leading to 5^-100 viable
>variants).

And again, 4/10^100 != 0.

And again, I see no math to convince me that those are the probabilities.

>| [T]he formation of biological polymers from monomers is a
>| function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these
>| are decidedly not random.

>The laws of chemistry and biochemistry do indeed lead to the
>needed chemical bonds. (They also lead to undesired bonds and
>to the decay of desired bonds. If peptids are synthesized in
>vitro, special methods are needed in order to prevent undesired
>chemical bonds.)

>However these laws do not concern the question whether a final
>sequence is able to fold into an enzyme and to carry out complex
>tasks. So these laws have rather to do with the probability
>of correctly chained sequences long enough than with the
>combinatorial probability of such sequences.

It seems a combinatorical rather than a simple probability to me.

Of course, I'd have to see your math for that.

"Between true science and erroneous doctrines, ignorance is in the middle."
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

### rokimo...@my-deja.com

Jan 3, 2001, 5:15:47â€¯PM1/3/01
to
In article <93000q\$klp\$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

zOz <wissensch...@my-deja.com> wrote:
> Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html
>
> | Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:
>
> The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
> I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
> continuous emergence of the world and of life).
>
> | 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
> | protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
> | by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
>
> A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
> it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
> 10^-1000000.
>
> | 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
> | fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
>
> The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot
> be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

This may be close to being correct or it could be several orders of
magnitude off in a direction that isn't favorable to your argument.
Enzymatic activities are found in antibodies and you only have around 10^
sequences). These are only the particular enzymatic activities that can
be selected in this way, we can't tell how many there are that we are
missing even for the activities that they are testing for.

>
> If six such protoenzymes are necessary for self-replication
> to start, we get already a probability lower than 10^-60.

This is only correct if the events are independent. They probably are
not. To validate your argument you have to demonstrate independence.
You have to determine that one enzymatic function could not have evolved
from an existing enzyme. Take the antibody example all antibodies have
the same basic amino acid structure, but vary in a limited fashion from
each other to generate the various antibodies that are needed to mount
the immune response. A large number of different catalytic reactions can
be selected for out of the immune response. You have to try and
demonstrate that the events are independent when the only data we have
says that they do not have to be.

>
> And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis
> must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and survive
> a change its environment (e.g. drying up of the primorial
> pond).
>
> Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is
> necessary for the start of further evolving by replication,
> mutation and selection, "but one or more simple molecules
> probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", we still remain
> with the fact that the probability of each of the 29-39 bonds
> between the subunits is certainly lower than 0.1. So the
> probability for the emergence of one single protoenzyme of
> this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

Antibody work demonstrates that this number is bogus. There isn't enough
cells that make essentially one antibody sequence can produce a number of
ezymatic activities. Proteins are just more plastic and versitile than
you want to believe.

>
> | 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
> | than simultaneous trials.
>
> The assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by "simultaneous
> trials" is completely unwarranted, in my opinion even absurd.

You have to demonstrate why this is absurd and why things would not
happen this way. What is to keep simultaneous trials from occurring? A
God would be needed to put his finger on all other trials while he
concentrated on just one.

>
> See http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja6.html --> 21-Mar-1999
>
> | 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
>
> Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
> reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
> "scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
> meant by a probability calculation".

You will have to demonstrate that the common-sense reasoning is correct.
You know that it often is not, esspecially when people get confused about
probability calculations.

>
> | 5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional
> | enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.
>
> The low actual number of functionally equivalent proteins and
> even DNA-coding sequences is rather evidence against the
> relevance of this argument.
>
> See: "The Death of Neo-Darwinism (was: Molecular Sequence Proof
> of Common Descent) in http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja4.html
>
> The fact that each of e.g. 90% of the amino acids of a protein
> can be replaced by others without loss of function does not
> entail that the protein would still work if most of these
> replaceable amino acids were replaced at the same time.

You forget that there is a constraint imposed by the initial sequence.
Two different polypeptides may combine to produce the same enzymatic
activity or a totally different sequence could do. What we observe is
the variability of the working enzyme that first worked and evolved to an
acceptable activity. You can't confuse this with the notion that this is
the only sequence arrangement that would have worked. All subsequent
variation has to occur within the existing sequence. This tells us
nearly nothing about the number of possible sequences that could have
done just as well.

seemed to have evolved from a preexisting enzyme, but now have a
different function (like blood clotting enzymes and their relationship to
proteases). What about all the proteins that seem to include porphorin
rings in them. It looks like there was a scrambling of parts (exon
shuffling). What is the probability that this type of shuffling would
create anything useful if you are correct. It seems amazing what life
has done with what was probably a very limited set of initial
polypeptides. Why did the designer do this? A designer would not have
to do things this way, but a simple lifeform dependent on existing
resources would likely do things this way if it were possible. If it
were not possible to have developed all these enzymes from a limited
number you probably would be correct, but the existing evidence says that
the designer did things the way you would expect to be most likely if
life did it itself.

Enzymatic function has to be less restrained than you think or the
designer couldn't have done what he did either. Unless you have some
concept of the designer doing things in the most difficult fashion.

>
> But even if we accept the argument, in this context it does not
> change a lot whether the combinatorial probability of a 100 amino-
> acid long enzyme is 20^-100 or 4^-100 (leading to 5^-100 viable
> variants).
>

You'll have to explain where your numbers are coming from, and why they
are biologically relavent.

> | [T]he formation of biological polymers from monomers is a
> | function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these
> | are decidedly not random.
>
> The laws of chemistry and biochemistry do indeed lead to the
> needed chemical bonds. (They also lead to undesired bonds and
> to the decay of desired bonds. If peptids are synthesized in
> vitro, special methods are needed in order to prevent undesired
> chemical bonds.)
>
> However these laws do not concern the question whether a final
> sequence is able to fold into an enzyme and to carry out complex
> tasks. So these laws have rather to do with the probability
> of correctly chained sequences long enough than with the
> combinatorial probability of such sequences.

They count towards creating a certain sequence in the first place. As
for the probability of enzyme activity goes, you are likely wrong in your
estimates of the likelihood of getting enzyme activities from organic
polymer chains. Do you have any real experimental data that says that
you are right? Ribozyme and catalytic antibody data would indicate that
your assumptions are not quite right or researchers wouldn't get any
enzymatic activity, let alone, the activity that they selected for.

My problem with abiogenesis research is that even if we do figure out the
most probable set of circumstances, the event only occurred once and
could have happened by just about any means. I'm not saying that we
won't get close, but we have a long way to go.

Ron Okimoto

Jan 3, 2001, 9:02:25â€¯PM1/3/01
to
zOz <wissensch...@my-deja.com> wrote in message
news:93000q\$klp\$1...@nnrp1.deja.com...

> Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html
>
> | Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:
>
> The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
> I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
> continuous emergence of the world and of life).
>
> | 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
> | protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
> | by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
>
> A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
> it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
> 10^-1000000.

And how did you arrive at this probability?

> | 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
> | fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
>
> The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot
> be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

Oh, I see what we have here. Is this just another iteration of the old
creationist argument where they think atoms are like billard balls that
rattle around, usually bounce off one another and occasionally stick, and
from this try to calculate the probability of a self-replicator emerging?
Since no one is claiming that proto-enzymes emerged randomly, this is a
rather pointless argument.

> If six such protoenzymes are necessary for self-replication
> to start, we get already a probability lower than 10^-60.
>
> And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis
> must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and survive
> a change its environment (e.g. drying up of the primorial
> pond).

Probably not immediately. What makes you think that drastic climactic change
was occurring worldwide at the same time as abiogenetic events?

> Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is
> necessary for the start of further evolving by replication,
> mutation and selection, "but one or more simple molecules
> probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", we still remain
> with the fact that the probability of each of the 29-39 bonds
> between the subunits is certainly lower than 0.1. So the
> probability for the emergence of one single protoenzyme of
> this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

Yep. Definitely the billard-ball argument.

> | 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
> | than simultaneous trials.
>
> The assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by "simultaneous
> trials" is completely unwarranted, in my opinion even absurd.

What? There was only one set of organic molecules interacting on the entire
planet? The amount of randomly generated RNA sequences required for the
vital functions of a protobiont is probably a lot less than you think.

http://x72.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=711072608

> See http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja6.html --> 21-Mar-1999
>
> | 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
>
> Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
> reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
> "scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
> meant by a probability calculation".

As stated above, there is no indication that you understand the current
scientific model of abiogenesis well enough to calculate a probability for
it. No one's claiming that prebiotic compounds formed randomly.

[snip]

--
When I am dreaming,
I don't know if I'm truly asleep, or if I'm awake.
When I get up,
I don't know if I'm truly awake, or if I'm still dreaming...
--Forest for the Trees, "Dream"

To send e-mail, change "excite" to "hotmail"

### zOz

Jan 4, 2001, 11:57:32â€¯AM1/4/01
to
[ Extended version of my previous critique ]

Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html :

| Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:

The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
continuous emergence of the world and of life).

| 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
| protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
| by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.

A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
10^-1000000.

For comparison: in the order of 10^20 milliseconds have passed
since the birth of the earth, a planet consisting of in the
order of 10^50 atoms. This results in 10^70 "atom-milliseconds".
It is obvious that the number of any reasonably defined
"abiogenesis events" is by many orders of magnitude lower than
the number of "atom-milliseconds".

Even if we assume that 1) around 10^20 planets could have given
rise to us, and that 2) one single successful abiogenesis event
leads inevitably to higher forms of life, a probability of
10^-100 would still make our existence very improbable.

Because neo-Darwinism is not even consistent with the evolution
of the upright gait in humans, assumption 2) is obviously
untenable. See http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=698302471

| 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
| fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

This assumption is not necessary in order to refute (purely
materialistic) abiogenesis, because the improbabilty lies
already in functional constraints which are a prerequisite
for any form of self-replication.

If six protoenzymes with each a probability of at most 10^-10

are necessary for self-replication to start, we get already a
probability lower than 10^-60.

The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot

be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

Such a value must include both the probability that a
correctly bonded system of 10 building blocks arises and the
"combinatorial probability". (0.5 * 0.2)^10 results in 10^-10,
where 0.5 is the probability of correct bonds per building
block and 0.2 the combinatorial probability per building block.

The FAQ ("Coin tossing for beginners and macromolecular
assembly") completely ignores the question of the "bonding
probability". Only the combinatorial probability of a
(32 amino acid long) sequence is taken into account and the
experimental fact that correctly chained 32 aa-long sequences
do not arise abiotically is discarded.

And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis

must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and to survive
a change in its environment (e.g. drying up of the primordial
pond).

Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is

necessary for further evolution by replication with mutation
and selection to start, "but one or more simple molecules
probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", then we still
remain with the fact that the average probability of correct
bonds with viable neighbours is certainly lower than 0.1 per
subunit. So the probability of the emergence of one "simple
molecule" of this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

On abiotic formation of peptide chains:
http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=507707704

The abiotic emergence of RNA enzymes is even more questionable
because it contains ribose. Ribose is not even resistent to
water of normal temperature.
http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja3.html --> ribose

| 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
| than simultaneous trials.

This statement can be interpreted either as a strawman
or as a summary of a central error of the FAQ, namely the

assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by simultaneous

trials, and not by sequential steps (i.e. addition and
breaking off of building blocks).

http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja6.html --> 21-Mar-1999

| 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
"scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
meant by a probability calculation".

| 5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional
| enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

The low actual number of functionally equivalent proteins and
even DNA-coding sequences is rather evidence against the
relevance of this argument.

See: "The Death of Neo-Darwinism (was: Molecular Sequence Proof of
Common Descent)" in http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja4.html

The fact that each of e.g. 90% of the amino acids of a protein
can be replaced by others without loss of function does not
entail that the protein would still work if most of these
replaceable amino acids were replaced at the same time.

But even if we accept the argument, in this context it does not
change a lot whether the combinatorial probability of a 100 amino-

acid long enzyme is 20^-100 or 4^-100 (leading to 5^100 viable
variants).

| [T]he formation of biological polymers from monomers is a
| function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these
| are decidedly not random.

The laws of chemistry and biochemistry do indeed lead to the
needed chemical bonds. (They also lead to undesired bonds and
to the decay of desired bonds. If peptids are synthesized in
vitro, special methods are needed in order to prevent undesired
chemical bonds.)

However these laws do not concern the question whether a final
sequence is able to fold into an enzyme and to carry out complex
tasks. So these laws have rather to do with the probability

of correctly chained sequences long enough to arise at all

than with the combinatorial probability of such sequences.

Wolfgang Gottfried G.

The mystery of evolution explained in a logically consistent way:
http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/psychon.html

### rokimo...@my-deja.com

Jan 4, 2001, 1:23:15â€¯PM1/4/01
to
In article <932a1h\$i0l\$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

zOz <wissensch...@my-deja.com> wrote:
> [ Extended version of my previous critique ]
>
> Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html :
>
> | Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:
>
> The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
> I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
> continuous emergence of the world and of life).

Snip

You seem to be repeating yourself. Everyone else who counts is also
convinced of the continuous emergence of life over many billions of years
on this planet. Before you go off on this rant again you have to
demonstrate that the evolution of extant life forms and the theories
formed to account for this diversity are dependent on our understanding
how abiogenesis happens. I don't know of a single working theory of the
evolution of existing species that is dependent on understanding
abiogenesis. Please demonstrate that our not understanding abiogenesis
in anyway affects the study of how, say, primates evolved from a common
ancestral mammal. If you can do this, you may have some point.

You may also try to counter the arguments against your initial post.
Like your assumption of independence when you, obviously, can't assume
it.

I'd also like to see your calculations for the probability of the
existence of some designer that could make your impossible assumptions
possible. Factor in the fact that we have no experimental evidence that
some designer exists, and that we do have experimental evidence that the
chemical reactions necessary for life can happen. I'm sure that you will
agree that you have to factor in the experimental evidence that
abiogenesis is possible, and the lack of equivalent evidence that the
designer even exists. Wouldn't you say that the probability of the
existence of your designer must be less than the probability that
abiogenesis occurred by natural means? I know that it is impossible for
you to make meaningful calculations when you have no idea about the
parameters (due to lack of evidence), but this does not seem to stop you
from making a hash out of your probability calculations for abiogenesis.

Turn your analysis on itself and tell us what you come up with. You
know, if to evolve a designer you needed to start with 10 cosmic
particals of N dimensions what is the probability that you would evolve a
designer of X complexity, in the course of Y time units capable of
everything you attribute to it. My guess is that it is less than 10^-
60.;-)

Ron Okimoto

### Ian Musgrave & Peta O'Donohue

Jan 10, 2001, 9:21:18â€¯PM1/10/01
to
G'Day All
Address altered to avoid spam, delete RemoveInsert

This is the second last of my posts before I dissapear due to family
and work pressures.

On 4 Jan 2001 11:57:32 -0500, zOz <wissensch...@my-deja.com>
wrote:

>[ Extended version of my previous critique ]
>
>Extracts from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob.html :
>
>
>| Problems with the creationist "it's so improbable" calculations:
>
>The genuine problems are rather on the neo-Darwinian side. BTW,
>I'm an uncompromising evolutionist (i.e. I'm convinced of a
>continuous emergence of the world and of life).

Now that's a weird twist on neo-Lamarkianism.

>| 1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern"
>| protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins,
>| by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
>
>A probability of 10^-100 is enough to refute abiogensis, so
>it doesn't help to criticize calculations resulting in e.g.
>10^-1000000.

This still shows you don't understand, you are trying to calculate a
cumulative probability for a structure that is the end result of a
series of parallel events, that do NOT occur at random, and assuming
that that and only that structure is the one required.

>For comparison: in the order of 10^20 milliseconds have passed
>since the birth of the earth, a planet consisting of in the
>order of 10^50 atoms. This results in 10^70 "atom-milliseconds".
>It is obvious that the number of any reasonably defined
>"abiogenesis events" is by many orders of magnitude lower than
>the number of "atom-milliseconds".

Again, irrelevant. The process of abiogenisis (eitiobiology) is not

>Even if we assume that 1) around 10^20 planets could have given
>rise to us, and that 2) one single successful abiogenesis event
>leads inevitably to higher forms of life, a probability of
>10^-100 would still make our existence very improbable.

Again, it's a nonsense calculation. The processes are NOT random.

>Because neo-Darwinism is not even consistent with the evolution
>of the upright gait in humans, assumption 2) is obviously
>untenable. See http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=698302471

Cute, but irrelevant. You really have to look up the roles of
developmental genes, where you get a lot of co-ordinated structure in
one go. An interesting example is the axolotl, where a single point
mutation results in a large change in morphology.

>| 2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
>| fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
>
>This assumption is not necessary in order to refute (purely
>materialistic) abiogenesis, because the improbabilty lies
>already in functional constraints which are a prerequisite
>for any form of self-replication.

Definitely not, take for example Kaufmann's catalytic closure system,
where any system of protoenzymes become self replicating, or Eigens
hypercycles (and variants thereof), a hypercycle based on lyine-rich
proteinoid would be very likely. Or look at the metabolism first
systems of Wachterhauser (none of the above three systems are mutually
exclusive by the way). All of which develop stable, self-replicating
systems with high probability (1 in Kaufmanns case).

>If six protoenzymes with each a probability of at most 10^-10
>are necessary for self-replication to start, we get already a
>probability lower than 10^-60.

Heck, in a mole of polypeptides you'd have at least 10^11 high
efficacy enzymes (see below) let alone 6 "protoenzymes", you are
falling into the "sequentiallist" trap again.

>The probability of random emergence of a proto-enzyme cannot
>be higher than 10^-10 even if it consists of only 10 rather

In fact, the figure is likely to be much less than that. For example,
lysine rich proteinoid is formed with a probability of exactly 1 from
drying of a mixture of amino acids containing lysine, it both a
peptidyl synthetase AND a polynucleotide synthetase. the probability
of _high_eficency_ enzymes is around 1 in 10^12 from work with
catalytic antibodies and ribozyme, the frequency of protoenzymes is
much higher.

>Such a value must include both the probability that a
>correctly bonded system of 10 building blocks arises and the
>"combinatorial probability". (0.5 * 0.2)^10 results in 10^-10,
>where 0.5 is the probability of correct bonds per building
>block and 0.2 the combinatorial probability per building block.

And these figures are nonsense, polypeptide condensation doesn't work
that way.

>The FAQ ("Coin tossing for beginners and macromolecular
>assembly") completely ignores the question of the "bonding
>probability". Only the combinatorial probability of a
>(32 amino acid long) sequence is taken into account and the
>experimental fact that correctly chained 32 aa-long sequences
>do not arise abiotically is discarded.

Oh they don't do they? Had a look at any of Ferris's experiments have
you?

>And we must keep in mind that the final product of abiogenesis
>must be able to undergo neo-Darwinian evolution and to survive
>a change in its environment (e.g. drying up of the primordial
>pond).

Na und?

>Also if "not even a protobacteria, or a preprobacteria" is
>necessary for further evolution by replication with mutation
>and selection to start, "but one or more simple molecules
>probably not more than 30-40 subunits long", then we still
>remain with the fact that the average probability of correct
>bonds with viable neighbours is certainly lower than 0.1 per
>subunit.

Where on earth does this 0.1% figure come from? not chemistry.

>So the probability of the emergence of one "simple
>molecule" of this kind is still lower than 10^-30.

And in a prebiotic ocean with a amino acid concentration of 10^-6M
then we could expect something on the order of 10^9 of these molecules
using the above figures (actually it is somewhat less, but there is
still a hell of a lot of them)

>On abiotic formation of peptide chains:
>http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=507707704
>
>The abiotic emergence of RNA enzymes is even more questionable
>because it contains ribose. Ribose is not even resistent to
>water of normal temperature.
>http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja3.html --> ribose

Uh, your dead wrong, ribose is certainly "resistant to water", and is
made in several plausible abiotic reactions, the main problem is that
it is usually only present in small quantities (although some systems
can produce up to 30% of the sugars from formaldehyde condensation as
ribose). However, ribose is not necessary for RNA-like compounds,
Peptide Nucleic acids, Pyranosyl RNA and Teranosyl Nucleic acids all
have the requisite properties to play roles for a ribozymal world.

>
>| 3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
>| than simultaneous trials.
>
>This statement can be interpreted either as a strawman
>or as a summary of a central error of the FAQ, namely the
>assumption that whole protoenzymes emerge by simultaneous
>trials, and not by sequential steps (i.e. addition and
>breaking off of building blocks).

You don't understand the concept of simultaneous trials do you, even
given the one vs multiple coin example. Each individual peptide is
grown by the sequential addition of subunits, but as there are
something like between 10^23 and 10^40 growing peptide chains at any
one time, the time it takes to get a specific sequence (or a class of
sequences) is _much_ faster than the one chain at a time approach.

>http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja6.html --> 21-Mar-1999
>
>
>| 4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
>
>Those who declare simple and logically correct common-sense
>reasonings wrong in order to save the currently prevailing
>"scientific" dogmas are the ones who "misunderstand what is
>meant by a probability calculation".

In science "common sense" is very often wrong. But this is not the
issue. The issue is correct statistical reasoning (and an appreciation
of frequentist vs Bayesian probability approaches). Doing probability
calculations based on a false hypothesis of randomness is not going to
get you anywhere.

>| 5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional
>| enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.
>
>The low actual number of functionally equivalent proteins and
>even DNA-coding sequences is rather evidence against the
>relevance of this argument.

Uh, no. There is a high number of functionally equivalent proteins,
for example the various independent serine proteases with minimal
sequence homology, the swappable PAX_9 eyeless proteins etc.etc.

>See: "The Death of Neo-Darwinism (was: Molecular Sequence Proof of
>Common Descent)" in http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/deja4.html

The above isn't relevant to the issue, but you need to read up on
silent mutations, single nucleotide polymorphisms and neutral drift
(remember that the majority of neutral mutations are lost rapidly to
genetic drift)

>The fact that each of e.g. 90% of the amino acids of a protein
>can be replaced by others without loss of function does not
>entail that the protein would still work if most of these
>replaceable amino acids were replaced at the same time.

Yes, in fact it does, eg in the RNAse enzyme Barnase you can replace
the entire core with random sequences in one go with no effect on the
enzyme activity. However, this is not the issue

>But even if we accept the argument, in this context it does not
>change a lot whether the combinatorial probability of a 100 amino-
>acid long enzyme is 20^-100 or 4^-100 (leading to 5^100 viable
>variants).

Well, yes it does. Work with ribozymes and catalytic antibodies shows
that there is roughly 1 high efficiency enzyme per 10^12 random
sequences, in a mole of random polypeptides or polynucleotides (which
is a pretty trivial amount of polywhatevers) then you would have
10^11 efficient enzymes, by no means inconsiderable. Given that we
don't really need high efficiency enzymes (eg the lysine proteinoid is
an example), the number of potential enzymes is much higher.

>| [T]he formation of biological polymers from monomers is a
>| function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these
>| are decidedly not random.
>
>The laws of chemistry and biochemistry do indeed lead to the
>needed chemical bonds. (They also lead to undesired bonds and
>to the decay of desired bonds. If peptids are synthesized in
>vitro, special methods are needed in order to prevent undesired
>chemical bonds.)

Name them. Ever done any solid phase peptide synthesis? What do you
think happens on the mineral surfaces in the Ferris type experiments?

>However these laws do not concern the question whether a final
>sequence is able to fold into an enzyme and to carry out complex

Oh yes they do. We don't fully understand the laws that govern protein
folding, but it is a physicochemical process, and enzyme activity is
likewise a chemical process the activity of serine proteases is
determined largely by the chemistry of serine. similarly, the folding
and enzymic activity of lysine rich proteinoid, derived from heating a
simple mixture of amino acids, is the result of basic chemical and
physical laws.

>So these laws have rather to do with the probability
>of correctly chained sequences long enough to arise at all
>than with the combinatorial probability of such sequences.

Now that is completely wrong.

Cheers! Ian

References:
Nelson KE, Levy M, and Miller SL. (2000 Apr 11). Peptide nucleic
acids rather than RNA may have been the first genetic molecule. Proc
Natl Acad Sci U S A , 97, 3868-71.

Ferris JP. (1999 Jun). Prebiotic synthesis on minerals: bridging the
prebiotic and RNA worlds. Biol Bull , 196, 311-4.

Jeffares DC, Poole AM, and Penny D. (1998 Jan). Relics from the RNA
world. J Mol Evol , 46, 18-36.

Orgel LE. (1998 Dec). The origin of life--a review of facts and
speculations. Trends Biochem Sci , 23, 491-5.

Miller SL. (1997 Mar). Peptide nucleic acids and prebiotic chemistry
[news] [see comments] Nat Struct Biol , 4, 167-9.

Di Giulio M. (1997 Dec). On the RNA world: evidence in favor of an
early ribonucleopeptide world. J Mol Evol , 45, 571-8.

Hager AJ, and Szostak JW. (1997 Aug). Isolation of novel ribozymes
that ligate AMP-activated RNA substrates. Chem Biol , 4, 607-17.

James KD, and Ellington AD. (1997 Aug). Surprising fidelity of
template-directed chemical ligation of oligonucleotides [In Process
Citation] Chem Biol , 4, 595-605.

Bolli M, Micura R, and Eschenmoser A. (1997 Apr). Pyranosyl-RNA:
chiroselective self-assembly of base sequences by ligative
oligomerization of tetranucleotide-2',3'-cyclophosphates (with a
commentary concerning the origin of biomolecular homochirality). Chem
Biol , 4, 309-20.

Ekland EH, and Bartel DP. (1996 Sep 12). RNA-catalysed RNA
polymerization using nucleoside triphosphates. Nature , 383, 192.

Ferris JP, Hill AR Jr, Liu R, and Orgel LE. (1996 May 2). Synthesis
of long prebiotic oligomers on mineral surfaces [see comments] Nature
, 381, 59-61.

Ertem G, and Ferris JP. (1996 Jan 18). Synthesis of RNA oligomers on
heterogeneous templates. Nature , 379, 238-40.

Fox SW. (1984). Self-sequencing of amino acids and origins of
polyfunctional protocells. Orig Life , 14, 485-8.

Lacey JC Jr, Yuki A, and Fox SW. (1979 Mar). Coprecipitation of
thermal lysine-rich proteinoids with polyribonucleotides. Biosystems ,
11, 1-7.
=====================================================
Ian Musgrave Peta O'Donohue,Jack Francis and Michael James Musgrave
reyn...@werple.mira.net.au http://werple.mira.net.au/~reynella/
a collection of Dawkins inspired weasle programs http://www-personal.monash.edu.au/~ianm/whale.htm
Southern Sky Watch http://www.abc.net.au/science/space/default.htm

### zOz

Jan 11, 2001, 4:13:27â€¯PM1/11/01
to
Hi Ian,

because we start from very different premises, it is hopeless
for us to convince one another. You cannot take serious
panpsychism despite the fact that the most revolutionary and
important (by his influence on other scientists) founder of
modern science, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a panpsychist.

On the other side, I cannot take serious your belief that
the information stored in amino acid sequences or DNA
sequences can be enough to explain complex behaviour of
enzymes, let alone instinctive behaviour of animals or even
human self-consciousness.

Darwin says that our ancestors were monkeys. I say we were
these monkeys ourselves. Don't you like the idea that you
were a monkey 10 million years ago?

"Is it by chance that we have been born just in the 20th
century, in the way other souls were and will be born in
mammoths, would it then be impossible for you to live now?
Are there any sound reasons suggesting that the souls of
the dead and the souls of persons not yet born must be
different from all the souls living now?"

probability-abiogenesis FAQ without repeating myself. So I
only refer once again to my previous writings, especially from
March 1999: http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/evidence.html

Only one short remark: even if the prebiotic ocean contained
once an amino acid concentration of 10^-6M, it certainly would
have consisted of a racemic mixture of R-forms and L-forms.

By the way, does anybody know an experiment showing relevant
enzymatic activity of proteinoids (surpassing catalytic
activity of atoms and simply molecules) consisting either
of a racemic mixture or exclusively of mirror-form building
blocks? In the case of abiogenesis research, experiments
with mirror forms should be taken more serious, because we
can be rather sure that it is not primarily the work of
preexisting enzymes or ribozymes which is responsible for
the results.

Ian, I'm very grateful for the debates I we've had together.
It is true that I've attacked you several times rather
sharply, but the more serious I take a poster and the higher
his reputation, the less cautious I'm in attacking.

I remain convinced that at the latest in your next life
you will recognize that I'm essentially right.

Good luck!

Cheers, Wolfgang

### B Kildow

Jan 11, 2001, 4:46:13â€¯PM1/11/01
to
zOz wrote:
>
> Hi Ian,
>
> because we start from very different premises, it is hopeless
> for us to convince one another. You cannot take serious
> panpsychism despite the fact that the most revolutionary and
> important (by his influence on other scientists) founder of
> modern science, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a panpsychist.
>
> http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=515913346
> http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=569040233 ***
> http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=628287529
>
> On the other side, I cannot take serious your belief that
> the information stored in amino acid sequences or DNA
> sequences can be enough to explain complex behaviour of
> enzymes, let alone instinctive behaviour of animals or even
> human self-consciousness.
>
> Darwin says that our ancestors were monkeys. I say we were
> these monkeys ourselves. Don't you like the idea that you
> were a monkey 10 million years ago?
>

Not my place to reply, but you may want to actually read "The Origin of
Species" by Charles Darwin. He does not say humans are descended from
monkeys. Or apes. Or bananas.

BK

### Ken Cox

Jan 11, 2001, 6:31:39â€¯PM1/11/01
to
zOz wrote:
> You cannot take serious
> panpsychism despite the fact that the most revolutionary and
> important (by his influence on other scientists) founder of
> modern science, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a panpsychist.

Amount of modern science that originated with Kepler's
panpsychist beliefs: 0

Amount of modern science that originated from Kepler when he
was not trying to apply his panpsychist beliefs: more than 0.

This is not an uncommon thing, by the way. Newton's alchemy
went nohwere; his physics and optics founded new fields. The
creationists on talk.origins often refer to various historical
scientists, such as Newton or Kelvin, as creationists, but in
all cases their scientific work was not based on creationism.

--
Ken Cox k...@research.bell-labs.com

### Jonathan Stone

Jan 12, 2001, 1:33:24â€¯AM1/12/01
to
In article <3A5E4252...@research.bell-labs.com>,

Ken Cox <k...@lucent.com> wrote:
>zOz wrote:
>> You cannot take serious
>> panpsychism despite the fact that the most revolutionary and
>> important (by his influence on other scientists) founder of
>> modern science, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a panpsychist.
>
>Amount of modern science that originated with Kepler's
>panpsychist beliefs: 0
>
>Amount of modern science that originated from Kepler when he
>was not trying to apply his panpsychist beliefs: more than 0.
>
>
>This is not an uncommon thing, by the way. Newton's alchemy
>went nohwere;

Be fair. The alchemy didn't hurt him in getting the job as
Master of the Royal Mint.

>his physics and optics founded new fields.

and the calculus went a fair way, too. (Didn't Newton invent
the calulus of variations overnight, to solve what was essentially
a dinner-table puzzle? or is that academic legend?)

### zOz

Jan 12, 2001, 5:59:38â€¯PM1/12/01
to
| = Ken Cox
|| = Wolfgang G. in http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=714676276

|| You cannot take serious
|| panpsychism despite the fact that the most revolutionary and
|| important (by his influence on other scientists) founder of
|| modern science, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a panpsychist.
|
| Amount of modern science that originated with Kepler's
| panpsychist beliefs: 0

I'm sure that panpsychism was a guiding principle for many
important scientific breakthroughs which were only later
declared to be successes of pure materialism.

The main insight of panpsychism is the recognition that
plants and animals do not grow from dead matter but are
built up by invisible animated entities with the involvement
of perception and intelligence. In the meanwhile these
"invisible" entities building up macroscopic organisms have
even been detected (cells, sub-cellular particles and
enzymes), but in disagreement with common sense (i.e. simple
probability calculations) the extremely purposeful behaviour
of such entities is declared to derive from physical and
chemical laws alone.

The variant of panpsychism my evolution theory is based on
can be traced back at least to Nicolaus Cusanus. Here two
extracts from www.britannica.com :

' Nicholas Of Cusa
' b. 1401, Kues, Trier
' d. Aug. 11, 1464, Todi, Papal States
'
' German NIKOLAUS VON CUSA [KUES], Latin NICOLAUS CUSANUS,
' cardinal, mathematician, scholar, experimental scientist, and
' influential philosopher who stressed the incomplete nature of
' man's knowledge of God and of the universe.
' ...
' Among Cusa's other interests were diagnostic medicine
' and applied science. He emphasized knowledge through
' experimentation and anticipated the work of the astronomer
' Copernicus by discerning a movement in the universe that did
' not centre in the Earth, although the Earth contributed to that
' movement. Cusa's study of plant growth, from which he concluded
' that plants absorb nourishment from the air, was the first
' modern formal experiment in biology and the first proof that
' air has weight. Numerous other developments, including a map
' of Europe, can also be traced to Cusa. ...

Panpsychism certainly had a strong influence not only on
the evolution of philosophy (especially on idealism) but also
on psychology. In "De Natura, & Origine Mentis" and "De Origine,
& Natura Affectuum" of his main work "Ethica" Baruch Spinoza
(1632-1677) analizes the psychological makeup of humans in a
partially astonishingly modern way, especially stressing the
importance of associative links in the soul.

| Amount of modern science that originated from Kepler when he
| was not trying to apply his panpsychist beliefs: more than 0.

Quotations from 'Thematic origins of scientific thought' by Gerald
Holton, Harvard U.Press, 1973, p.76:

"Kepler's first recognition is that forces between bodies are
caused not by their relative positions or their geometrical
arrangements, as was accepted by Aristotle, Ptolemy, and
Copernicus, but by mechanical interactions between material
objects. Already in the Mysterium Cosmographicum [1596] (Chap.
17) he announced "Nullum punctum, nullum centrum grave est,"
and he gave the example of the attraction between a magnet and
a piece of iron. In William Gilbert's De Magnete (1600),
published four years later, Kepler finds a careful explanation
that the action of magnets seems to come from the pole points,
but must be attributed to the parts of the body, not the points."

"In the Introduction to the Astronomia Nova [1609], [...],
Kepler is quite explicit: [...]

'Gravitation consists in the mutual bodily striving among
related bodies toward union or connection; (of this order is
also the magnetic force).'"

(Further extracts can be found in
http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=625886119
and in references of my previous post of this thread.)

I doubt that either Galilei (an advocate of epicycles who
ridiculed Kepler's invisible gravitational forces and his
essentially correct explanation of the tides) or Newton could
have detected universal gravitation based on their naive
materialism. The metaphysical assumption (of Newton) that
gravitation is mediated by material causes propagating at a
finite speed does not only completely spoil both Kepler's
and Newton's theories, but is further responsible for many
inconsistencies of modern physics.

Let us assume for the sake of my following fictitious
conversation between Keplerus and Coxus that Aristarchus of
Samos was the most revolutionary and important (by his influence
on other astronomers) founder of pre-Keplerian astronomy. (If
Aristarchus should have been the reincarnation of Pythagoras
of Samos, Socrates and Aristotle, then this assumption may
actually be likely).

Keplerus (in Latin):
"You cannot take serious heliocentrism despite the fact

that the most revolutionary and important (by his influence

on other astronomers) founder of classical astronomy,
Aristarchus of Samos, was a heliocentrist."
Coxus (in Latin):
"Amount of modern science that originated with Aristarchus'
heliocentrist beliefs: 0
Amount of modern science that originated from Aristarchus
when he was not trying to apply his heliocentrist beliefs:
more than 0.

Wolfgang Gottfried G.

Life and evolution explained pannaturalistically*:
http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/psychon.html

*pannaturalism = (pan)materialism + (pan)psychism = pantheism

### David Ewan Kahana

Jan 12, 2001, 7:23:04â€¯PM1/12/01
to
Jonathan Stone wrote:

> In article <3A5E4252...@research.bell-labs.com>,
> Ken Cox <k...@lucent.com> wrote:
> >zOz wrote:
>

[snip]

>
> >his physics and optics founded new fields.
>
> and the calculus went a fair way, too. (Didn't Newton invent
> the calulus of variations overnight, to solve what was essentially
> a dinner-table puzzle? or is that academic legend?)
>

That would be the problem of the curve of least time connecting
two points in a gravitational field, to which the solution is
a brachistochrone? The way I heard this story was as follows:
Euler was told an unattributed solution, pronounced it correct, and
said that it had the stamp of `the lion' on it. `The lion,' of course,
was Isaac Newton.

I don't know whether documentary evidence exists to support the
story or not. Newton was notoriously reluctant to publish his
work on calculus.

cheers,

- dave k.

### David Ewan Kahana

Jan 12, 2001, 7:35:10â€¯PM1/12/01
to
David Ewan Kahana wrote:

> Jonathan Stone wrote:
>
> > In article <3A5E4252...@research.bell-labs.com>,
> > Ken Cox <k...@lucent.com> wrote:
> > >zOz wrote:
> >
>
> [snip]
>
> >
> > >his physics and optics founded new fields.
> >
> > and the calculus went a fair way, too. (Didn't Newton invent
> > the calulus of variations overnight, to solve what was essentially
> > a dinner-table puzzle? or is that academic legend?)
> >
>
> That would be the problem of the curve of least time connecting
> two points in a gravitational field, to which the solution is
> a brachistochrone?

is of course the minimum time curve connecting two points for a given
type of force field. In a uniform gravitational field the solution is a cycloid.

Anyway, I am pretty sure that it was Bernoulli who invented the problem.

cheers,

- dave k.