Steve Bougerolle steveb at
Mon Jun 17 16:56:44 PDT 2002

On Tue, 2002-06-18 at 00:33, Don Smith wrote:

> I found this, but you'll probably have to come up with the summary
> yourself:
> And for some nice equations, this:

Now we're getting somewhere!  At least we would be if my IP address
weren't banned from this site for some reason.  Yesterday I found my
address being filtered so I couldn't read my own POP mail.  Maybe I
better change ISPs again... sigh...

> The real problem is that the factors that go into speciation are not all
> known.

Ok, that satisfies my political objections :-)

> And of the known ones, few of them can be measured. How do you
> come up with a probability for sexual selection? Biology is not the hard
> science that physics is.

Biology for sure isn't a hard science, but I think it could be harder
than it traditionally has been.  Put that down to science snobbery if
you want, but the trend is clearly towards more numerical methods in
biology, isn't it?

> Besides, my feeling is that the true probablity equation has a few
> million terms. I don't think you will ever get the answer you are
> seeking.

As I said in my previous post, this is a standard difficulty and the
standard way of handling it is a simplified model.  If you analyzed the
probability of radioactive decay with complete rigour, the equation
would have something like Avogadro's number of independent terms.

> That number is complete rubbish. Species with high generation rates (20
> minutes per generation in some bacteria) can generate new species
> rapidly while others take much more time. And the means used was
> probably some observed rate in elephants.

Well, it isn't my number, just one I found :-).  If it's that much
easier to observe speciation then it should be tremendously easier to
model it numerically.

> The unknown is infinitely large, IMHO. Therefore, what we know is a
> close approximation of zero.

Hm.. Well, rather than argue more about probability now, I'll review
your URLs then see what I think.

Steve Bougerolle
Creek & Cowley Consulting

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