[ExI] holy grail, batman! computer sim of a cell

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Oct 29 05:09:43 UTC 2010

> > ...On Behalf Of spike
> > ...There are still a few dragons guarding the holy grail of 
> > mathematizing biology ...  If we get even 
> one computer sim of even one single celled lifeform, that 
> successfully makes actual correct predictions, it will 
> fundamentally change the nature of that science, and every 
> field of science eventually... spike

I need to make sure I don't shortchange this guy: although the sim isn't
complete (and he isn't claiming that it is complete) they have used it
already to make correct predictions.  There is a process I understand
whereby they can disable certain genes in an organism.  Many genes in an
organism don't do anything.  

Biology hipsters, when a specific gene is disabled, that is called a
knockout, ja?  He has a lab assistant doing knockouts, one gene at a time.
Dr. Covert was using his sim to predict which of the knockouts would survive
and which would perish.  The sim was right about 86% of the time, but there
were some cases which were in the gray area.

For instance, he had one knockout his sim predicted would perish, but it
lived.  He counted that as an incorrect prediction.  He and an assistant
were watching the beast under a microscope and noted that "it was one weak,
sick little bug."  Afterwards I suggested to him that these kinds of
findings are what might make his research Nobel prize material, for weak
sick little bugs are what one needs to make safer vaccines.


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