Archive of posts with tag 'nature'

Evolution Has No Goal

February 27, 2024 • #

There’s a common misconception that evolution is “seeking” fitness — that there’s some inherent motivation in the process pushing toward a particular objective.

But evolution is an undirected process of mutation, testing, and accidental discovery of fitness. Within the genes of an organism, there is no memory acquiring feedback from these experimental genetic guesses. Genetic drift, mutation, and natural selection are evolution’s conjecture and criticism. But the criticism feedback loop doesn’t close in a single generation.

Evolution’s feedback loop is survival. If a gene survives, it will replicate. If it doesn’t, that mutation is “found” not to have worked (though...

A Vast Wilderness

January 27, 2019 • #

I picked up John McPhee’s Coming Into the Country this week. You could think of it like a biography of Alaska: the region pre- and post-statehood, its people, the wilderness, wildlife, and its vastness.

Woven throughout are reminders of just how massive the untouched wilderness is in Alaska, and how far you really are from civilization out in the flatlands or up in the Brooks Range.

Early in the book he and his companions are traveling up the Salmon River, in the Kobuk Valley National Park (still not designated in 1977 at the time of...