[Fsf-friends] Sharing code, thoughts ...
Sun Jan 2 23:22:11 IST 2005
Sharing code is a fundamental fact of life:
Bacteria have developed a second avenue of evolutionary creativity
that is vastly more effective than random mutation. They freely pass
hereditary traits from one to another in a global exchange network of
incredible power and efficiency. The discovery of this global trading
of genes, technically known as DNA recombination, must rank as one of
the most astonishing discoveries of modern biology. Margulis
describes it vividly: `Horizontal genetic transfer among bacteria is
as if you jumped into a pool with brown eyes and came out with blue
This gene transfer takes place continually, with many bacteria
changing up to 15 per cent of their genetic material on a daily basis.
As Margulis explains, `When you threaten a bacterium, it will spill
its DNA into the environment, and everyone around picks it up; and in
a few months it will go all the way around the world.' Since all
bacterial strains can potentially share hereditary traits this way,
some microbiologists argue that bacteria, strictly speaking, should
not be classified into species. In other words, all bacteria are part
of a single microscopic web of life.
In evolution, then, bacteria are able rapidly to accumulate random
mutations, as well as big chunks of DNA, through gene trading.
Consequently, they have an astonishing ability to adapt to
environmental changes. The speed with which drug resistance spreads
among bacterial communities is dramatic proof of the efficiency of
their communication networks. Microbiology teaches us the sobering
lesson that technologies like genetic engineering and global
communications network, which are often considered to be advanced
achievements of our modern civilization, have been used by the
planetary web of bacteria for billions of years. ... ...
Bacteria, again, have played a major role in this evolution through
symbiosis. When certain small bacteria merged symbiotically with
larger cells and continued to live inside them as organelles, the
result was a giant step in evolution - the creating of plant and
animal cells . ... ...
Evidence has been accumulating that the microtubules, which are
essential to the architecture of the brain, were originally
contributed by the `corkscrew' bacteria known as spirochetes. ... ...
</quote from "the hidden connections" by fritjof capra>
Even bacteria seem to "understand" the value of free sharing of code.
Mud, dust, rocks and other lifeless things alone don't seem to do any
useful code sharing. Free code sharing seems to be a very important
fact of life, at the very core of our evolutionary progress, and
modern science may reveal more and more of the code sharing that
occurs naturally all the time, as narrated by Fritjof Capra.
Sharing code is such a fundamental element of our very being, and its
importance is most visible again from the spectacular success of the
free software movement. Rapid progress in science and arts, is easier
by adopting and sharing innovations. The very definition of life
revolves around the ability to copy, share and improve the stock of
We ourselves are the ultimate products of code sharing and symbiosis.
Any restrictions on free sharing of code would only result in sterile
still born products that soon degenerate into lifeless mud. Through
free code sharing alone, rapid progress, growth and better utilisation
of resources is possible.
Happy Hacking :)
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