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What is Life? by Roger Penrose, Erwin Schrodinger

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CHAPTER 3

Mutations

Und was in schwankender Erscheinung schwebt,Befestiget mit dauernden Gedanken.1

GOETHE

‘JUMP-LIKE’ MUTATIONS – THE WORKING -GROUND OF NATURAL SELECTION

The general facts which we have just put forward in evidence of the durability claimed for the gene structure, are perhaps too familiar to us to be striking or to be regarded as convincing. Here, for once, the common saying that exceptions prove the rule is actually true. If there were no exceptions to the likeness between children and parents, we should have been deprived not only of all those beautiful experiments which have revealed to us the detailed mechanism of heredity, but also of that grand, million-fold experiment of Nature, which forges the species by natural selection ...

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