Notebooks

## Directed evolution'' in biochemistry

03 Oct 1994 12:00

Take a large number --- billions and billions,'' in the words of Uncle Carl --- of slightly different compounds. Have them perform some chemical task, e.g., catalysis of a reaction. Skim off the ones which do it best and make noisy copies of them. (The first experiments used RNA and the polymerase chain reaction for this amplification'' stage.) Repeat, generation after generation.

How is it being used? Could it become a runaway technology of the recent future''? Connections to evolutionary computation and artificial life. Could it be used as a scaffolding towards nanotechnology?

See Gerald Joyce, Directed Molecular Evolution,'' Scientific American Dec. 1992. According to a Discover article, Joyce was inspired by Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow: which goes to show that no work of human hands is completely worthless.

This notebook needs lots of work.

• Bennett Levitan, Models and Search Strategies for Applied Molecular Evolution,'' SFI Working Paper 97-01-003