RE: virus: Gould

Deron Stewart (
Thu, 11 Feb 1999 13:42:00 -0800

joe dees []:
Whose idea was the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium; the idea that like quantum states, some mutations were discrete and - in a sense - digital?

That was Gould. It more or less says that evolution proceeds by long periods of stasis "punctuated" by short rapid periods of change (on the geologic time scale but still gradual at a population time scale); as opposed to the continuous slow change that Darwin talks about.

(It's true that Darwin more or less states the entire principle of PE in _Origin of Species_ but if you read the book cover to cover the overwhelming sense that Darwin gives is of slow and gradual change...)

Off the top of my head, Gould's main "sound bites" are:

Some of the ideas are very good (and there are lots more like them), but I had just meant that none of them is a show stopper (like Natural Selection, or General Relativity, or even the idea of an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, say).