i-culture and m-culture. Encoded information

Hans-Cees Speel (HANSS@sepa.tudelft.nl)
Mon, 9 Jun 1997 09:45:33 MET

From: Hans-Cees Speel <HANSS@sepa.tudelft.nl>
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 09:45:33 MET
Subject: i-culture and m-culture. Encoded information

> My tendency is to agree with Mario, and say that the information viewpoint
> unifies a broad set of phenomena, including physical, biological, and
> cultural systems. We can argue with endless sophistry about the nature of
> "matter", for example, whether a specific piece of matter "is" code (is DNA
> in a test tube matter or code?), but the argument goes nowhere.

I do not understand this, but would like to very much. Why does this
argument go nowhere? Especially since you state below that biologists
have found the concept extremely valuable ever since? Please

> we obtain *substantive* knowledge about DNA when we understand that if
> placed in a cell-free protein synthesizing system, the sequence of
> nucleotides in the DNA is "translated" reproducibly into a a sequence of
> amino acids. It was the astronomer-mathematician George Gamow, in 1954,
> who first used the terms "information" and "coding" for these biological
> process, and biologists have found the concepts extremely valuable ever
> since.


> Furthermore, if we speak of "information," then we can also talk about how
> information is *organized*. Thus, we know that chromosomes represent
> linear arrays of genes, and that when a given piece of DNA is read by the
> cellular machinery it is read from point A down the strand to point B.
> Thus, genetic information, as *information*, is organized linearly. By
> contrast, computer programs contain loops, so that information is organized
> in *topologically* more complex ways in a computer program. (No DNA
> transcription enzyme that I know of reads downstream, then moves back
> upstream, and then moves downstream again.)

I do not agree I think. Computer programs are linearly also, but can
be red in loops. But so is DNA. The simple view ( which I do not
argue you use) that DNA is linear is very narrow. DNA can be seen as
controlling the cell, but the cell also controls what DNA is
expressed at what time, so the controlling goes both ways.
In this sense DNA is not linear, because expression goes in loops as

So I take ther view that the organization in for instance chromosomes
is important to unmderstand replication of chromosomes, but has
little influence on how it is expressed. There is generally no
difference between a gene on one chromosome and on another when it
comes to expression.

So when is this 'organization' to be relevant? Only with replication
I would say. (but enlighten me if I am wrong).


Theories come and go, the frog stays [F. Jacob]
Hans-Cees Speel
Managing Editor "Journal of Memetics Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission"

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