Saturday, April 02, 2011

Unknown unknown

Today life is divided into three parts. Eukaryotes is the most popular one, and then next Bacteria. The third one, tiny and not visible in naked eyes, is archaea which was recognized only in the 1970s. So the striking question is : wouldn’t there be the fourth? Dr Eisen found that both RecA (genes in DNA combination) and RpoB (genes in translating DNA) have one evolutionary branch that really was an unknown unknown. The fact suggests the existence of new life, but not sure under the current circumstances.

As with archaea whose discovery changed scientist' CO2 forecast (since it generates methane), the new life would have significant impact in understanding the world. To me, the implication is not limited to biology : Distinguishing known unknown and unknown unknown is vital to think about all unknowns. The effect of Tsunami on the east part of Japan was known unknown since long before, and we could prepare for it by adjusting tolerance toward the potential risk. However we could not prepare for unknown unknown, which is totally out of the recognition of human being.

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