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Earth Science

Evolving Rocks 172

Posted by kdawson
from the survival-of-the-firmest dept.
SpaceAdmiral notes a new study making the claim that rocks have been evolving throughout Earth's history. "'Mineral evolution is obviously different from Darwinian evolution — minerals don't mutate, reproduce or compete like living organisms,' said Hazen in a statement announcing the study's findings. 'But we found both the variety and relative abundances of minerals have changed dramatically over more than 4.5 billion years of Earth's history. For at least 2.5 billion years, and possibly since the emergence of life, Earth's mineralogy has evolved in parallel with biology,' Hazen added. 'One implication of this finding is that remote observations of the mineralogy of other moons and planets may provide crucial evidence for biological influences beyond Earth.'"
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Evolving Rocks

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  • There has to be a Galaxy Quest 'Rock Monster' joke in here somewhere...
    (Cue the F4 'Thing' jokes too...)
  • The research team, led by U.S. geologists Robert Hazen and Dominic Papineau of the Washington, D.C.-based Carnegie Institution, recounted how just 12 minerals are believed to have been present among the dust particles swirling through space at the dawn of planetary formation some five billion years ago.

    So the Earth is not, at least, part of a 2nd generation system? With the heavier elements formed during a previous sun's life cycle and explosion?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:12AM (#25899031)

      There's nothing in the article saying that. It's just the usual, overly dramatic journalistic nonsense.

      And I don't even understand the point of the article. *Chemical* evolution / differentiation of the minerals making up the Earth is a fundamental understanding. How could you not appreciate it when you've got a Great Barrier Reef composed of many cubic kilometres of limestone, there are thousands of comparable examples past and present, and that's only one example of the linkage? Banded iron formations [wikipedia.org] (related to oxygenation of the atmosphere - oxygen produced by photosynthesis), siliceous ooze [wikipedia.org] and chalk [wikipedia.org] (made of the bodies of planktonic organisms), soils [wikipedia.org] in vegetated areas (e.g., affected by organic acids and sediment trapping by roots) -- there are all sorts of areas of interaction, especially because the atmosphere and waters of the Earth are so profoundly influenced by life. And even in the non-biological realm chemical differentiation is why the Earth has a crust and mantle, or why the crust of the continents and oceans is different in composition, for example. People have realized molten rocks and weathered surface sediments experience predictable chemical changes over time, with and without the presence of life, for almost as long as geology has existed as a science.

      I'm sure there is something genuinely new in the scientific paper, but the way it's expressed in the press article is awful. It makes it sound like this is something geologists have never thought about or appreciated before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cream wobbly (1102689)

        Calling it "evolution" is a mistake, because there's no appreciable way an arbitrary collection of minerals can evolve in the same way that, say, life forms evolve. It's like saying poop evolves. It doesn't. It changes solely due to external influences. Evolution is a response to internal as well as external influences, and that's what makes it special.

        But hey: geology is pretty simplistic. They've got to have something to crow about.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          "Evolution" is defined as slow change over time. "Darwinian evolution" or similar, is what you're thinking of. The word evolution in many circumstances has come to be synonymous with biological evolution through natural selection, but technically their use of the word is correct and yours is not.

          I agree, the journalist latched onto that word and used it for sensationalistic purposes.

        • Well, minerals which are lighter than others are more likely to become part of continents and thus survive longer away from the mantle. Basalt on the ocean floor tends to only survive a couple of hundred million years.

          Or is it that heavier minerals are more likely to soon rejoin the refreshing mantle? Is it good to be in the mantle or away from it?

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      We are stardust
      Billion year old carbon
      We are golden
      Caught in the devils bargain

    • You confound elements with minerals.

  • by ionix5891 (1228718) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:11AM (#25898541)

    but not as we know it?

  • Misuse of words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:12AM (#25898547)

    What a misuse of terms.

    Our Earth's surface is overwhelmingly shaped by biology - most of the surface carbon, for example (which on Venus is in the atmosphere) is in carbonate rocks, like limestone. There are whole island chains (coral atolls) made biologically. Soil results from biological processes (in fact, I would suspect that soil has evolved over time, as the organisms that make it have evolved). The marble in our public buildings results from biology (and metamorphism).

    Could this be used to look for extra-terrestrial life ? Sure. Does this mean that the rocks are evolving ? No.

    • Re:Misuse of words (Score:4, Informative)

      by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:21AM (#25898597)

      Misuse of words it isn't. Saying rocks evolve is like saying technology evolves : of course it doesn't do it by itself, but it does nonetheless.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by dsanfte (443781)

        Misuse of words it isn't. Saying rocks evolve is like saying technology evolves

        That's specious. There's an obvious (and inappropriate) allusion to biological processes here. Rocks don't 'evolve' in any way, shape, or form, your weasel-words notwithstanding.

        • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:32AM (#25898725)
          No its worse than that. They are using "evolved" to mean changed. Its like saying that spring evolves into summer, or a newspaper of paper mache.

          It won't be long before the "Intelligent Design" crew start bringing up evolving rocks to show that "evolutionists don't know what they are talking about".
          • Even worst still... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by geekoid (135745)

            he is part of the ID crew.

            According to this article:
            http://cgc.rncan.gc.ca/dir/index_e.php?id=14970&_h=bleeker [rncan.gc.ca]

            He went to the "Free University of Amsterdam".
            A theology school.
            http://www.godgeleerdheid.vu.nl/english/index.cfm [godgeleerdheid.vu.nl]

            I can get a Phd in Theology in 5 minutes on the internet, and yes it would qualify as a 'Doctorate'. Because, you know, religion always gets a special pass.

            Maybe I misread, or miss interpreted some information...I certianly hope so.

            I did notice he offers no falsifiable tests or eviden

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sfsp (655361)

              He went to the "Free University of Amsterdam".
              A theology school.

              I can get a Phd in Theology in 5 minutes on the internet, and yes it would qualify as a 'Doctorate'. Because, you know, religion always gets a special pass.

              I think that the Free University of Amsterdam is a "theological school" in approximately the same way that Harvard University is a "Congregationalist seminary"; i.e., not much any more. Of course, I've never been to either.

              Besides, his doctorate is not in theology, and his C.V. seems to indicate that his peers approve of his work. As for "falsifiable tests or evidence", I wouldn't expect to find that in a news service article in the Vancouver Sun.

              And while non-accredited degrees can be obtained quickly and

            • Andrew Tanenbaum works at VU Amsterdam, you utterly silly person. Oxford & Cambridge started out as places to train priests, but that doesn't mean they don't get Nobel prizes in science.

          • No its worse than that. They are using "evolved" to mean changed. Its like saying that spring evolves into summer, or a newspaper of paper mache.

            Exactly. The modern use of evolution to describe the biological process of descent with modification is in fact a rather poor use of language. Dictionary.com [reference.com] defines 'evolution' as "any process of formation or growth," which is clearly an appropriate description in this case. Furthermore, Darwin himself avoided using the word 'evolution' [guardian.co.uk] to describe his theory, because it was such a poor description.

            Of course the Slashdot headline is, as usual, meant to deceive, but then what would we have to talk about

            • The modern use of evolution to describe the biological process of descent with modification is in fact a rather poor use of language.

              Its not poor use of language. Its rather precise specialized jargon of a particular specialized domain (biological sciences, roughly: while the concept has some application outside biologiy, its usually not described simply as "evolution" there, but as, e.g., "generalized Darwinian evolution" or something similar which makes it clear that we aren't just talking about any gradu

          • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:32PM (#25900553)

            But "evolved" does mean changed. It is the biologists who have specialized the word far more tightly than its original meaning, not the other way around. Just because biological evolution by means of heredity and natural selection is on our minds doesn't mean that is the exclusive meaning of the word.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Is this not what the word "evolved" means? To change slowly with time. My understanding is that Darwin simply used a word which meant "gradual change" to describe his biological theory of mutation and selection.

            Perhaps the authors of the current study made a poor word choice simply due to the connotations associated with "evolved" but technically are they not correct?

          • by Artifakt (700173)

            You know, that's funny, because it's been the "Evolutionist" crew that's been misusing the term terribly. It's not I.D. supporters who are coining phrases such as "Stellar Evolution"*, and "Universal Evolution", and making claims that "Evolution is a more fundamental principle than the Second Law of Thermodynamics.", it's the pro-evolution 'crew'. It's people who are committed to natural selection above all that postulate that every black hole generates a new universe, and those universes are somehow being

          • They are using "evolved" to mean changed.

            Actually, they are using it to mean "developed gradually over time". Which is, after all, what "evolved" means outside of biology. The biological use is a special case of the general use.

            And the use in the non-biological sense is a perfectly reasonable use in the context of geology.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            The correct definition of the word "evolve" is "change slowly." Check dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evolve [reference.com]

            Notice that only the one definition, specifically marked as relevant in biology, is along the lines of what you're thinking. Saying spring evolves into summer is perfectly correct.

            We use language very casually, and sometimes it comes back to bite us. Or lets journalists exploit it to get their articles posted on Slashdot.

          • But that's how the term evolution is used in every other context outside of biology, the general use meaning one thing preceding from another, pre-dates its specific use in biology to refer to what was previously known as transmutation.

            Evolution comes from a latin 'evolutio' meaning 'unfolding' as in a series of events/permutations unfolding from each other.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by camperdave (969942)
          Evolve simply means 'to change over time'. It doesn't mean 'to grow', or 'to become better', or anything. It doesn't mean 'adapting to the environment', or 'survival of the fittest' or the like (although these are mechanisms involved in life's evolution). Stars evolve. Rocks evolve. Technology evolves. Life evolves. Everything evolves. The mechanisms of change differ, but the fact of change does not.
          • Evolve simply means 'to change over time'. It doesn't mean 'to grow', or 'to become better', or anything. It doesn't mean 'adapting to the environment', or 'survival of the fittest' or the like (although these are mechanisms involved in life's evolution). Stars evolve. Rocks evolve. Technology evolves. Life evolves. Everything evolves. The mechanisms of change differ, but the fact of change does not.

            What a load of claptrap. Evolution doesn't mean 'to change over time'. If I turn the plant on my desk 90
          • evolve
            verb
            develop gradually

            develop
            verb
            grow or cause to grow more mature, advanced, or elaborate

            If they follow the definition, then they are saying that minerals have become more elaborate over time. Whether that is true and whether it is linked to life could be determined from physical evidence. I won't be surprised if it proves true, but I will be surprised if it hasn't been proposed before.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Link to a definition? I did a quick search, and all the definitions I found involve DNA or organism.

            Change does not equal evolve.

            • by jc42 (318812)

              I did a quick search, and all the definitions I found involve DNA or organism.

              You need to do a slower search. ;-)

              The terms "evolve" and "evolution" predate their 19th-century biological use by many centuries. Many dictionaries give the more general definitions, which deal with change over time. Biologists just adopted the term with a more specific technical meaning. This is something that scientists do all the time, adopting common terms and restricting them to a much narrower technical meaning.

              The probl

      • Good title, I think. Evolving does rock.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cp.tar (871488)

      I no longer recall whether I read this in one of Dawkins' books or somewhere else, but it seems that organic mollecules evolved (at least in part) as a by-product of "mineral life", i.e. replicating crystals in the soil.

      My terminology may be off as it is not my immediate area of expertise and I've read it a while back, but I think that this is one of the reasons Dawkins was so ready to suggest memes as another form of life.

      • by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:10AM (#25899663) Homepage Journal

        Here's a paper from 2003 that is an excellent read, if you are really interested in a very strong, coherent, and comprehensive hypothesis of the change from geochemistry to biochemistry, that is, abiogenesis:

        On the origins of cells: a hypothesis for the evolutionary transitions from abiotic geochemistry to chemoautotrophic prokaryotes, and from prokaryotes to nucleated cells [royalsociety.org]
        (Royal Society Publishing - Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (1990-) - Volume 358 - Number 1429/January 29, 2003)

        In a nutshell, it offers a hypothesis of life having evolved in FeS and NiS deposits around ancient deep sea geothermal vents. The nature of such rocks is that they form small compartments which acted as "cell walls" to hold early biomolecules in such concentrations to be able to begin biochemistry. Over time, the biochemistry for lipid synthesis began, at which point eubacteria and archaebacteria diverged as they evolved very different mechanisms for making lipid membranes. This gave rise to the first free life forms, prokaryotic bacteria. It is then further hypothesized that Eukaryotes evolved from archaebacteria involved in a symbiotic relationship which became endosymbiotic with a eubacteria that eventually became mitochondria. And so on and so forth. Read the paper. It lays it all out very well and the hypothesis seems to fit very well with available data, both in the geologic record and the phylogenies of various modern archaebacteria, eubacteria, and eukaryotes.

        It is perhaps the most coherent, comprehensive, well-supported treatment of the idea of abiogenesis I have ever read.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      If you take surface to mean the top 10 feet, biology has been overwhelming. If you take surface to mean the top 10 miles, not so much.

    • Our Earth's surface is overwhelmingly shaped by biology

      In addition to the carbon cycle, the large quantities of oxygen in the atmosphere affect what kind of rocks can exist on the surface.

    • by kindbud (90044)

      You're giving too much credit to the coral. Atolls sit atop seamounts that have summits just below the surface. It takes quite a lot of inorganic volcanism to form the seamount habitats where coral can finally thrive. But this is just the last stage of seamount evolution, not the genesis of them.

    • It just means changing form over time.

    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      Actually, when I first skimmed the article I thought they may have been referring to the work of Graham Cairns-Smith (I saw him speak at my university a few years ago), an organic chemist who's postulated that certain types of clay formations actually -can- evolve in the "usual" sense of the word. It's certainly a minority view though, and he's further postulated that these clays may have been critical in the origin of life.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Cairns-Smith [wikipedia.org]

      Alexander Graham Cairns-Smith (born 1931) is an organic chemist and molecular biologist at the University of Glasgow, most famous for his controversial 1985 book, Seven Clues to the Origin of Life. The book popularized a theory he had developed since the mid-1960s, that a simple intermediate step between dormant matter and organic life might be provided by the self-replication of clay crystals in solution. He was disenchanted with the other ideas about chemical evolution including the Miller-Urey experiment and the RNA World. ...

      In simplified form, clay theory runs as follows: Clays form naturally from silicates in solution. Clay crystals, as other crystals, preserve their external formal arrangement as they grow, snap and grow further. Masses of clay crystals of a particular external form may happen to affect their environment in ways which affect their chances of further replication â" for example, a 'stickier' clay crystal is more likely to silt a stream bed, creating an environment conducive to further sedimentation. It is conceivable that such effects could extend to the creation of flat areas likely to be exposed to air, dry and turn to wind-borne dust, which could fall at random in other streams. Thus by simple, inorganic, physical processes, a selection environment might exist for the reproduction of clay crystals of the 'stickier' shape.
      There follows a process of natural selection for clay crystals which trap certain forms of molecules to their surfaces (those which enhance their replication potential). Quite complex proto-organic molecules can be catalysed by the surface properties of silicates. The final step occurs when these complex molecules perform a 'Genetic Takeover' from their clay 'vehicle', becoming an independent locus of replication - an evolutionary moment that might be understood as the first exaptation.
      Despite its frequent citation as a useful model of the kind of process that might have been involved in the prehistory of DNA, the 'clay theory' of abiogenesis has not been widely accepted. Richard Dawkins uses it as an example in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker -- it was current and fashionable at that time.

    • Time for a car analogy. Cars evolve too, don't they? All this talk of generations, crossovers, sports, hybrids....

      Just because a lot of changes are described with analogies to biological processes doesn't mean they are the direct result of evolutionary processes. Many things change, in a manner like biological evolution (or stellar evolution, but that's something a little different), or because of other things that do change evolutionarily, but it is not evolution. An incremental quality to some chang

  • by JamesP (688957)

    something to make watching grass grow exciting...

  • by j_166 (1178463) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:24AM (#25898639)
    There ain't no monkeys in MY pet rock's family tree!
  • > But we found both the variety and relative abundances of minerals have changed dramatically

    Well, duh. Obviously stuff like that would change over time. The only reason anyone would *ever* assume otherwise is to make radioactive dating sound slightly less preposterous.
  • ...What a load of Schist.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:46AM (#25898821)

    "Dr. Smith, we want you to study this rock."

    "OK, what am I looking for?"

    "Well, we believe that it's changing."

    "Ahhhhh....Right. OK, would you mind passing me some of that good stuff you're smoking? Rather obvious at this point I'm gonna need some too."

  • I read the title as "Roving Ewoks"... That sure got my attention.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:08AM (#25899003) Homepage
    'Mineral evolution is obviously different from Darwinian evolution -- minerals don't mutate, reproduce or compete like living organisms,' said Hazen in a statement announcing the study's findings.

    Thereby neatly summarizing why it's idiotic to call this process "evolution".

    But, holy shit! Earth's mineral composition changes over time? And here I thought that the obvious hypothesis was that it has remained completely unchanged over the last couple of billion years.
    • by Rary (566291)

      Thereby neatly summarizing why it's idiotic to call this process "evolution".

      But, holy shit! Earth's mineral composition changes over time?

      Thereby neatly summarizing why it's idiotic to say that it's idiotic to call this process "evolution".

      "Changing over time" is the very definition of evolution. Changing over time as a result of mutation, reproduction, and competition is the definition of biological evolution. This is not evolution by natural selection, but it's still evolution.

      Or, simply put, think "small e" evolution versus "big e" Evolution.

      • by glwtta (532858)
        "Changing over time" is the very definition of evolution.

        No it's not, that's just the definition of "change". Evolution, even "small e" evolution, implies change in a certain direction, or at least an increase in complexity - it's development, not just change.

        Here, they are just talking about changes in Earth's mineralogy as a byproduct of organic processes, which I would've thought was interesting enough, but they felt the need to sex it up a bit with overly dramatic terms.
    • by radtea (464814)

      "Chemical evolution" is a perfectly ordinary and respectable term of art in astrophysics. It means the change in the chemical constituents of a star or other system due to nuclear processes producing new atomic species.

      Words like "evolution" and "species" do not necessarily have purely biological meanings. What is bizarre, misleading and stupid about the article as described here is that for some reason it has been deemed necessary to contrast minerological evolution and biological evolution, two concepts

  • The Economist recently had an article about this study [economist.com] as well.
  • On A Serious Note (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:21AM (#25899133) Homepage Journal

    I wonder, is evolution, really at a fundamental level, the inverse of entropy?

    If entropy, as a concept, is the movement from an ordered state to a disordered state then evolution is the concept of moving from a lower ordered state to a higher or more advanced\structured state. (The whole entropy is a measurement issue)

    If things can evolve from basic to complex then doesn't that impact the concepts of our universe decaying into a cool nothingness?

    Just a passing thought is all...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually the perpetual growth of entropy is only true for closed systems, like the universe.
      That means that there is no law against having decreasing entropy in one corner of the universe (earth), as long as the rest of the universe compensates for that drop in entropy.

      In more detailed terms, earth takes up a few (relatively speaking) low entropy photons from the sun (~6000K), and exports a lot of entropy to the surrounding universe by exporting the same amount of energy as A LOT of low energy photons.

      Anoth

    • No,it isn't (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:56AM (#25900153)
      (I know an AC has already replied but, of course, with low visibility. And I have no mod points. So I will try to give a nontechnical explanation.

      First of all, entropy only increases with time in what is called a closed system. Nothing in, nothing out. If I mix water and salt, I increase the entropy (there are more ways the atoms can be arranged, in effect.) But if I am allowed to bring in energy from outside, I can fix this. I could boil the mixture in a flask, asnd condense the steam. Now I have the water and the salt separated again, but only because I fed "high grade" heat energy in, and I removed "low grade" heat energy from the steam. The water and salt have lost entropy, but the heat source and sink show a net gain. Overall, it can be shown that the entropy gained by the heat source alwasy exceeds the entropy lsot by the water/salt solution.

      In the same way, life on Earth can use high grade energy from the Sun to reduce entropy locally, but that energy then has to be re-radiated as low grade energy, with a net gain in entropy. (If the energy wasn't re-radiated, the Earth would get hotter and hotter, gaining entropy. There is no fix for this.)

      However, there is an additional point. Evolution does NOT mean evolving from a lower to a more organised state. You need to read Jay Gould on this, he explains it very well. But, in a nutshell, suppose that as a result of human or other activity the earth became unsuitable for any life forms other than high temperature sulfur bacteria. Evolution would ensure that bacteria evolved to fill this ecological niche and more complex lifeforms died out. This is the "survival of the fittest", which does not mean "survival of those with the biggest muscles".

      Life maintains itself by keeping down its local entropy. It does this by, in effect, causing entropy to increase somewhere else and then getting rid of the high entropy "waste products", ultimately into space.

      In doing so, life may cause geological changes by e.g. depositing calcarious skeletons in rivers and seabeds, or changing the atmosphere and rainfall patterns. You could say that some rocks are INVOLVED in the evolutionary process, and to that extent at least the article is correct.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Thanks for the fine explanation, which has contributed a great deal of entropy to my brain -- causing this post to be emitted as a waste product.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No, not at all. Sadly, most people don't actually understand what entropy is.

      The earth is not a closed system.
      And as amazing as it seems, the universe may not be a close system either.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:50AM (#25899433) Homepage
    Understanding this article does require, of course, that you understand that the word "evolve" simply means "change over time."

    The one that the ID-ists object to is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection-- that is, the theory of the mechanism of that change in living beings.

    (and, of course, the hardline creationist object to the fact that living beings change over time, since God created them all exactly as they are now. Except for the snakes, which were originally created with legs-- that's a special case. I don't think that they have any particular problem with the idea of rock types changing, though.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by z80kid (711852)
      The one that the ID-ists object to is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection-- that is, the theory of the mechanism of that change in living beings.

      For what little it's worth around here, I used to belong to one of those churches in my youth. This is the part that they do not object to.

      They do believe in adaptation - that a species changes over time due to natural selection. But they do not believe in evolution - that one species changes into another (as in monkey to human).

      No, they never t

    • by geekoid (135745)

      And circles; Since PI seems to ahve changed from exactly 3 to 3.14.

    • by kindbud (90044)

      The one that the ID-ists object to is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection...

      No they don't. They object to a stalking-horse theory that only superficially resembles Darwin's. The only known use for this "theory" of evolution is to stoke outrage among the faithful and provide a foil for ID ramblings.

      • No they don't. They object to a stalking-horse theory that only superficially resembles Darwin's.

        Not true. They object to any of a broad class of actual or hypothetical theories which involve speciation as a result of natural selection, including all existing modern evolutionary theory.

        They frequently direct their arguments at strawman positions that bear only superficial resemblance to actual theory or any of its components or results, but that's a different issue.

    • by stevied (169)

      The really intriguing issue is the word "random" in "random mutation." Until we actually figure out what randomness is, I would respectfully suggest that the absence of this key fact prevents anybody from discussing the whole issue of evolution sensibly.

      If you get hit in the gonads by a cosmic ray or whatever, that ray had mass, speed and direction: all of which are information. Where did that information, which could potentially have a great impact on your descendents, ultimately come from?

      We seem to have

  • by lessthanpi (1333061) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:41AM (#25899953) Homepage
    The sensational band the B-52's already discovered that rocks were evolving back in '78. Just look what they said...

    We were at the beach
    Everybody had matching towels
    Somebody went under a dock
    And there they saw a rock
    It wasn't a rock
    It was a rock lobster

    Along the lines of evolution and rock, man didn't evolve from The Monkeys, he evolved from The Beatles!!!
  • ObNoxious (Score:2, Funny)

    by XLawyer (68496) *

    I, for one, welcome our new igneous overlords.

  • Competition does not require that living beings are the actors. Nor does cooperation. Therefore evolution can act on nonliving systems.

    Competition is this: a state where one pattern continues to exist while another does not due to the better pattern's fitness in a given environment.

    Cooperation is this: a state where two patterns reinforce their fitness in a given environment through interaction.

    Given these definitions, why can't evolution act on nonliving systems?

  • Minerals are just like any other chemical species on earth. They react with one another, and form into new and more diverse populations based on a variety of fundamental thermodynamic factors. Since the earth's processes have changed and evolved since planetary accretion, it only makes since that the assemblages of minerals we see on the earth would evolve in much the same way.
    It appears that this paper focuses primarily on the biological effects on mineral speciation, but there have been a variety of g
  • by Compulawyer (318018) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:48PM (#25900747)
    ... coconuts have been found to migrate with the aid of African Swallows. Apparently the coconut grows long tendrils that resemble a line that the sparrows can use to carry the coconut during flights along newly-discovered coconut migration paths.

    *

    Scientists are still unsure whether the common European Swallow has a sufficient airspeed velocity to assist in coconut migration.

  • Borrowed terminology (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In the sub-discipline of igneous petrology, geologists have long been using the term 'evolve' to describe how melt mineral compositions change with time. In this usage 'evolve' refers to a predictable series of reactions that occur according to rules defined by thermodynamics and chemistry (redundancy intended). Pressure, temperature and chemistry define the 'evolution', there are no 'mutations', just reactions according to the varying conditions.

    In fact, this study isn't particularly paradigm shifting, the

  • Crude way of putting it. One organism's waste is another's food. All soil has seen the interior of an organism and so have many of the hard rocks in the top six miles of crust.
  • ... therefore I am erodin"
    ROCK LOST
  • Gee... Thanks... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Digital End (1305341) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:53PM (#25903709)
    As if we don't have enough problems with people misunderstanding and quote mining about evolution without bringing rock evolution into it...

    Brace for more creationist idiots.
  • ...with stories like this...

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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