• Sections
Should evolution be taught in high sc...

# Should evolution be taught in high school?

There are 179706 comments on the www.scientificblogging.com story from Feb 24, 2008, titled Should evolution be taught in high school?. In it, www.scientificblogging.com reports that:

Microbiologist Carl Woese is well known as an iconoclast. At 79 years of age, Woese is still shaking things up. Most recently, he stated in an interview with Wired that...

"My feeling is that evolution shouldn't be taught at the lower grades. You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools. One has to be quite educated to work with these concepts; what they pass on as evolution in high schools is nothing but repetitious tripe that teachers don't understand."

Join the discussion below, or Read more at www.scientificblogging.com.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#157304 Oct 28, 2013
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
In the classical case, a micro-state is defined as the specific position and momentum of every molecule in the system. Since both position and momentum are continuous variables, the number of micro-states would be infinite in every case. In classical statistical mechanics, this was worked around by using integration in phase space (6 dimensions-3 for position, 3 for momentum) and a bit of hand waving. It was also found that identical particles needed an additional division by the factorial of the number of particles. There was no explanation for this in classical studies.
When quantum mechanics was discovered, it was found that there are two fundamental classes of particles: fermions and bosons and that they obey different statistics. Essentially, fermions cannot be in the same state as each other: this forces them apart. The fact that electrons are fermions is behind the stability of all the matter around us. Bosons, on the other hand, are more likely to be in the same state as not. This means that a collection of bosons will have a lower pressure than a similar collection of fermions.
In the quantum description, a micro-state is simply a quantum wave function that describes the entire system. In counting such functions, we look at a basis of the relevant space of wave functions. This gives a finite number when the total energy and volume of the system are specified. It is one of the assumptions in statistical mechanics that all micro-states are equally probable at equilibrium. This may fail out of equilibrium, however.
The upshot is that the number of available micro-states is determined by the total energy, composition, and volume of the isolated system. So a debris field and a house have the same number of micro-states at equilibrium.
Thanks for clarifying that.

In terms of our current dispute, we can distill it down to your final two sentences. One question I have is whether the "total energy" you refer to includes the rest energy (intrinsic mass) of the particles, which would be non-zero even at zero-K, right?

UC may think he understands what a micro-state is but shows no evidence of understanding what a macro-state is or that any particular debris field = 1 unique macrostate (temp etc being constant), and that in this respect each debris field is as unique as each house.

“See how you are?”

Level 5

Since: Jul 12

Earth

#157305 Oct 28, 2013
woodtick57 wrote:
<quoted text>a person trying to live a lifestyle (cowboy) in an environment where it is impossible (urban) should know this better than anyone...
Ooh, snakeskin cowboys
Who the hell you think you are
You're dancin' around with your high-heeled boots
Don't think that should get you far
Just hangin' around with your fancy pants on
Aint got nothin' on me
Thinking you got it right here on the stage
Stick around boys, maybe I can set you free
- Ted Nugent

“Dinosaurs survived the flood!”

Level 9

Since: Jan 11

Jesus probably rode dinosaurs!

#157306 Oct 28, 2013
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
In the classical case, a micro-state is defined as the specific position and momentum of every molecule in the system. Since both position and momentum are continuous variables, the number of micro-states would be infinite in every case. In classical statistical mechanics, this was worked around by using integration in phase space (6 dimensions-3 for position, 3 for momentum) and a bit of hand waving. It was also found that identical particles needed an additional division by the factorial of the number of particles. There was no explanation for this in classical studies.
When quantum mechanics was discovered, it was found that there are two fundamental classes of particles: fermions and bosons and that they obey different statistics. Essentially, fermions cannot be in the same state as each other: this forces them apart. The fact that electrons are fermions is behind the stability of all the matter around us. Bosons, on the other hand, are more likely to be in the same state as not. This means that a collection of bosons will have a lower pressure than a similar collection of fermions.
In the quantum description, a micro-state is simply a quantum wave function that describes the entire system. In counting such functions, we look at a basis of the relevant space of wave functions. This gives a finite number when the total energy and volume of the system are specified. It is one of the assumptions in statistical mechanics that all micro-states are equally probable at equilibrium. This may fail out of equilibrium, however.
The upshot is that the number of available micro-states is determined by the total energy, composition, and volume of the isolated system. So a debris field and a house have the same number of micro-states at equilibrium.
Isn't it part of the reason to take a statistical approach to entropy because the micro-states are continuous variables?
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

#157307 Oct 28, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
UC may think he understands what a micro-state is but shows no evidence of understanding what a macro-state is or that any particular debris field = 1 unique macrostate (temp etc being constant), and that in this respect each debris field is as unique as each house.
Well, at least you're getting the bit about temperature being constant. But you still don't get what we are measuring. But you are incorrect about the positions of each particle. In a debris field, a particle can wind up just anywhere; whereas in a house, a particle's placement is critical to the house. The number of equivalent microstates for the house (the probability of a particle being in its position) is much lower than that of the debris field. Now the number for each system is a real number, zero or positive and their are two systems we if we didn't take the log they would multiply, so we use the log function to add them. After we take the log which adds them together, we still have a real number with no dimension (by law!). Now we have the entropy of the system expressed in a dimensionless number. If we so desire, i.e., for further analysis, etc., we could multiply the result by k, Boltzmann's constant, which is a conversion factor, to convert the result into standard SI units (but it is not necessary - the constant is arbitrary.) This is the last time I'm going to explain this to you.

Judged:

1

1

1

Report Abuse Judge it!
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

#157308 Oct 28, 2013
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
In the classical case, a micro-state is defined as the specific position and momentum of every molecule in the system. Since both position and momentum are continuous variables, the number of micro-states would be infinite in every case. In classical statistical mechanics, this was worked around by using integration in phase space (6 dimensions-3 for position, 3 for momentum) and a bit of hand waving. It was also found that identical particles needed an additional division by the factorial of the number of particles. There was no explanation for this in classical studies.
When quantum mechanics was discovered, it was found that there are two fundamental classes of particles: fermions and bosons and that they obey different statistics. Essentially, fermions cannot be in the same state as each other: this forces them apart. The fact that electrons are fermions is behind the stability of all the matter around us. Bosons, on the other hand, are more likely to be in the same state as not. This means that a collection of bosons will have a lower pressure than a similar collection of fermions.
In the quantum description, a micro-state is simply a quantum wave function that describes the entire system. In counting such functions, we look at a basis of the relevant space of wave functions. This gives a finite number when the total energy and volume of the system are specified. It is one of the assumptions in statistical mechanics that all micro-states are equally probable at equilibrium. This may fail out of equilibrium, however.
The upshot is that the number of available micro-states is determined by the total energy, composition, and volume of the isolated system. So a debris field and a house have the same number of micro-states at equilibrium.
Wrong! It's the number of equivalent microstates. Equivalent. There is no energy flows when we counted them. It's all over with. The particles are all in their possible positions at completed rest and everything in balance. Think statistically, how many possible positions are there for a particle in a random debris field? Many! It doesn't much matter where the particle might wind up! The probability is very high, thus a large number of equivalent microstates! But the opposite is true of the house. For it to be a house, some particles can only be in a few particular locations; others, like a wall or floor, might have some other possibilities but still limited. The number of equivalent microstates for a house is low, much, much smaller than the debris field!
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

#157309 Oct 28, 2013
DanFromSmithville wrote:
<quoted text>Isn't it part of the reason to take a statistical approach to entropy because the micro-states are continuous variables?
That would make it meaningless, wouldn't it? It's amazing how many ways you people get it wrong. This is obviously intentional. You can't all be this friggin' stupid.
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

#157311 Oct 28, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
Thanks for clarifying that.
In terms of our current dispute, we can distill it down to your final two sentences. One question I have is whether the "total energy" you refer to includes the rest energy (intrinsic mass) of the particles, which would be non-zero even at zero-K, right?
UC may think he understands what a micro-state is but shows no evidence of understanding what a macro-state is or that any particular debris field = 1 unique macrostate (temp etc being constant), and that in this respect each debris field is as unique as each house.
Well sure, that's the only part you like, the part that's wrong.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#157312 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
Well, at least you're getting the bit about temperature being constant. But you still don't get what we are measuring.
No, YOU don't. We are measuring the number of MICROstates that can exist for a GIVEN MACRO-state - NOT the potential number of MACRO-states!

There are probably MORE macro-states available for debris fields than houses, but that is not relevant. Take a house. Take a debris field. ONE macro state each.

A different debris field would be a DIFFERENT macrostate.

You think they are all the same? Walk through one debris field a few times, and then I will blindfold you and you can walk through a different one. When you trip over the brick that wasn't there in the other debris pile, you will finally understand. Different MACRO state.
But you are incorrect about the positions of each particle.
Nope. Where the brick would end up after the explosion may not have been predictable before the explosion, but afterwards, its just THERE, where it is, and nowhere else. It has no more freedom to adopt a new arbitrary position than a brick in a house, and neither do the particles that make it up.
In a debris field, a particle can wind up just anywhere;
In a PARTICULAR debris field - one macro-state, the particles cannot wind up anywhere. They can only be where they already ended up. In a unique and "static" configuration on the macro level.
The number of equivalent microstates for the house (the probability of a particle being in its position) is much lower than that of the debris field.
No, as you may finally understand from the above, its just the same. Both a particular house and a particular debris field are configurations of material that are static, and unique, on the MACRO-level. And they each only have ONE macro state.

Now, once again, tell me why you evidently think that the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 are less likely for a lotto draw than the numbers 3, 21, 23, 30, 36, 38. Because that is what underlines the fallacy of your thinking. Each particular lotto state is just as unlikely as the other, even though the first one "looks" more ordered.
Now the number for each system is a real number, zero or positive and their are two systems we if we didn't take the log they would multiply, so we use the log function to add them. After we take the log which adds them together, we still have a real number with no dimension (by law!). Now we have the entropy of the system expressed in a dimensionless number.
We will ignore your confusion regarding why would we bother to ADD the entropy of the house together with the debris state when we are supposedly looking for the DIFFERENCE between them...

We have the ln of the number of available microstates, a dimensionless number, for each system.

To know the ENTROPY of each system, we can convert this to number ENTROPY, a measure of energy / temperature, by multiplying by 1.4 x 10^-23 Joules/Kelvin. Or a different scalar if we arbitrarily choose a different set of units to express energy / temperature, but in a physical system, its still going to be energy / temp.

Especially when you are looking to apply the second law of thermodynamics to prove something.

Judged:

1

1

Report Abuse Judge it!

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#157313 Oct 28, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
Thanks for clarifying that.
In terms of our current dispute, we can distill it down to your final two sentences. One question I have is whether the "total energy" you refer to includes the rest energy (intrinsic mass) of the particles, which would be non-zero even at zero-K, right?
The energy associated with mass would only become relevant when relativistic effects start becoming important. The main time when that happens is when nuclear effects come into play, say at the center of stars where fusion is going on. This typically involv3es very high temperatures, not very low temperatures.

More relevant for low temperatures is the fact that there is a lowest energy quantum level that has non-zero energy. This energy is part of why helium can be a liquid even at temperatures close to absolute zero. And yes, that does need to be taken into account.
UC may think he understands what a micro-state is but shows no evidence of understanding what a macro-state is or that any particular debris field = 1 unique macrostate (temp etc being constant), and that in this respect each debris field is as unique as each house.
Urb clearly doesn't understand what either a micro-state or a macro-state is.

I do think there are several things related to this discussion that are very interesting research directions. For example, given the relatively low numbers of molecules of each type involved in biological systems, how well does statistical mechanics apply to, say, a cell? There is some work that shows that following the Gibb's free energy is a reasonable line to follow, but it isn't clear to me what the fundamental underpinning of this would be.

There are also interesting questions related to polymer chemistry here. Again, the actual number of macro-molecules involved can be fairly low and it isn't completely clear how large of a spread would be involved in statistical questions. While some information can be obtained by looking at each monomer and how it joins to the polymer, it isn't perfectly clear to me how a statistical treatment would work. I suspect that in most cases the energy released in polymerization is dominant, but what about boundary cases?

Another thing that is interesting: biological systems do increase the total entropy (counter to what Schrodinger suggested), but they tend to be very efficient at converting entropy differences into the structures they require to survive. What is it that determines the *rate* of entropy increase in a system? While Boltzmann analyzed this question for simple gases, a treatment of more complicated systems seems to be necessary. To what extent does the markov process assumption make sense in biological systems?

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#157314 Oct 28, 2013
DanFromSmithville wrote:
<quoted text>Isn't it part of the reason to take a statistical approach to entropy because the micro-states are continuous variables?
Not so much. The statistical approach is warranted because of the size of Avagadro's number: there are a LOT of molecules in any given system!

In classical mechanics, the position and momentum variables relevant to the description of a micro-state are continuous, which means we use a probability distribution (continuous variable) to analyze the system. In phase space, that distribution corresponds to simple integration.

In quantum mechanics, the micro-state is described by a wave function for the system. The statistical part comes in when we look at the collection of micro-states that are equivalent to a given macro-state.

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#157315 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
Wrong! It's the number of equivalent microstates. Equivalent. There is no energy flows when we counted them. It's all over with. The particles are all in their possible positions at completed rest and everything in balance. Think statistically, how many possible positions are there for a particle in a random debris field? Many! It doesn't much matter where the particle might wind up! The probability is very high, thus a large number of equivalent microstates! But the opposite is true of the house. For it to be a house, some particles can only be in a few particular locations; others, like a wall or floor, might have some other possibilities but still limited. The number of equivalent microstates for a house is low, much, much smaller than the debris field!
First, the particles in statistical mechanics are the *molecules*, not the dust particles. And the molecules are NOT at rest unless you want the system to be at absolute zero temperature.

Second, a dust particle is a *macroscopic* object for these considerations. So a particular arrangement of dust particles is a *macro-state*, not a micro-state.

Next, we are counting the number of equivalent *micro-states* for a given macro-state. A micro-state is a quantum level description of the entire system. And the macro-state is the particular placement, pressure, and temperature of the macroscopic object in the system. In other words, a particular debris field *is a macro-state*.

So, the number of ways to rearrange *molecules* for a particular debris field is the same as the number of ways to arrange those molecules for a house. So the entropy of the two situations is the same. We are NOT looking at the collection of different debris fields that *look* identical to you.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157316 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>

coo coo for cocoa puffs

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157317 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
You haven't eviscerated anything. You haven't even demonstrated the correct understanding yet. You have no substance. All you have is BS. Demonstrate a correct understanding of 1. microstates, and 2. Boltzmann's constant as used in statistical entropy, and maybe we can have a rational discussion. But right now you're off in La-La land.

His understanding is correct based on everything we have looked at.

You might want to try being rational instead of pretending to be rational. You are so emotional and fixated on your a priori beliefs to the point you cannot see reality.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157318 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
OH NO!!! You've got me there! LOL!

Yes, he does.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157319 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
Well, at least you're getting the bit about temperature being constant. But you still don't get what we are measuring. But you are incorrect about the positions of each particle. In a debris field, a particle can wind up just anywhere; whereas in a house, a particle's placement is critical to the house. The number of equivalent microstates for the house (the probability of a particle being in its position) is much lower than that of the debris field. Now the number for each system is a real number, zero or positive and their are two systems we if we didn't take the log they would multiply, so we use the log function to add them. After we take the log which adds them together, we still have a real number with no dimension (by law!). Now we have the entropy of the system expressed in a dimensionless number. If we so desire, i.e., for further analysis, etc., we could multiply the result by k, Boltzmann's constant, which is a conversion factor, to convert the result into standard SI units (but it is not necessary - the constant is arbitrary.) This is the last time I'm going to explain this to you.

Okay, I can see some of your errors more clearly here. A house is something at a macro level. That is your first error.

You got to get that before we move on.

As you are the only one here not getting this, your dropping it would be a your own loss.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157320 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
Wrong! It's the number of equivalent microstates. Equivalent. There is no energy flows when we counted them. It's all over with. The particles are all in their possible positions at completed rest and everything in balance. Think statistically, how many possible positions are there for a particle in a random debris field? Many! It doesn't much matter where the particle might wind up! The probability is very high, thus a large number of equivalent microstates! But the opposite is true of the house. For it to be a house, some particles can only be in a few particular locations; others, like a wall or floor, might have some other possibilities but still limited. The number of equivalent microstates for a house is low, much, much smaller than the debris field!

Again, you are confusing order on the macro and micro level.

If we call the debris field a house then the "house" is random.

You might want to review the literature on the 'Ship of Theseus'

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#157321 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
That would make it meaningless, wouldn't it? It's amazing how many ways you people get it wrong. This is obviously intentional. You can't all be this friggin' stupid.

LOL. No, we are not ALL friggin' stupid.

It would not make it meaningless. It would mean the issue you are describing is not an issue dealing with entropy, per se.
The Dude

#157322 Oct 28, 2013
Urban Cowboy wrote:
You are complete fraud Chimney. You are that sad painted mime trapped inside your little invisible box. You'll get no respect from me as long as you keep lying and behaving like a little retarded gossip.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#157323 Oct 28, 2013
The Dude wrote:
<quoted text>
Just think. If UC was not determined to paint everyone who disagrees with his fantasy world as messengers of Darkness, we might be able to have a sensible conversation. Thats cults for you.
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

#157324 Oct 28, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
Just think. If UC was not determined to paint everyone who disagrees with his fantasy world as messengers of Darkness, we might be able to have a sensible conversation. Thats cults for you.
So you're not a gossip, eh?

#### Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

### Evolution Debate Discussions

"Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really T... (Jan '12) 3 min DanFromSmithville 34,538
Evolution vs. Creation (Jul '11) 8 min Blitzking 199,212
Atheism, for Good Reason, Fears Questions (Jun '09) 47 min Uncle Sam 14,878
It's the Darwin crowd that lacks the facts in e... (Mar '09) 1 hr ChristineM 151,289
ID Isn't Science, But That's the Least Of Its P... 2 hr DanFromSmithville 34
the dinosaurs of the lega-warega people: racial... 5 hr teri107 1
My Story Part 1 Fri JanusBifrons 1

#### Evolution Debate News

More Evolution Debate News from Topix »

More from around the web