Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Do Humans Age?

Repost of June 12, 2006
I know this repost is over 2 years old but something made me want to put it up again.  If you can keep from yawning lol please try and read each word, it's important if only because it seems such a mystery.   
Why Do Humans Age? 
 Nature certainly has it all fixed, I'd say.  No matter what we do, our genetic blueprint will dictate what happens to us and when.  Which gives me pause to think:  Insects, especially bees, ants, they all die soon after procreating.  It's their main purpose.  In fact, all animals seem to have that purpose, to reproduce for as long as possible, then quickly die.  They don't hang around in that limbo called "old age".  Not like the human animal, who can choose whether or not to have young, and can even choose how they age.  Humans are the only mammals who grow into older age for no natural reason (you have to be coldly analytical here) and contribute nothing of obviated substance to the commune.  I know, it rings of the icy logic of nature.  But is it true?  Once we have children, and they are sufficiently weaned from us, why do we continue living?  What force of nature keeps us alive into our 70's, 80's?  It's not an inviting life, either.  Like other mammals we're prone to bone loss, heart disease, cancerous cells, a plethora of illnesses which cost us dearly, emotionally, financially, spiritually.  So why do we age, while other species never do?

The elephant, now there's a similar example of growing old for no viable reason, and yet there's a very good reason, which I discovered.  It takes almost 3 years for the baby elephant to gestate, and if it's female, remains with its mother for the rest of her life, having babies of her own.  The male is rarely tolerated and must leave the herd when fulled weaned, going off to find his fortune, perhaps starting his own herd.  The elephant lives a long time in comparison, over 70 years, well past the time to procreate.  So why does it live on?  In studying these wondrous creatures it's found that the aged and elder of the herd are always the decision-makers, the keepers of the health of the commune by not allowing rogue elephants to mate with the females.  They preserve the viability of the genetic health of the herd.  They lead the young to water, when none can be found.  They show the young where to migrate for the best grasses.  They teach the ways of fending off predators, and in their numbers they form a true family bond, eagerly followed by the young.  So the elephant world has a use for its elder members.  Why don't we seem to?  Why are others different?

Look to the ape family, the closest to our own species.  When a female is past the age of bearing young, she is tolerated for a short time by the pack, but only by her relatives, then left to fend on her own.  Ignored and left out of special feedings when meat is available, she soon starves or dies of protein loss, disease.  Yes, apes eat meat on occasion, usually monkeys.  But the point is, once you can no longer give anything of import to the pack, you're considered a burden, and because you're older you are susceptible to all the illnesses we humans are, including SIV, the simian form of HIV.  None of the wisdom you may've collected in your life is of any use, since nature sees with its cold icy eye that having you around is more trouble than not.  Is this starting to sound a bit familiar?

The human animal ages if allowed to live healthy, born without disease, and lives in the proper nurturing environs.  In aging, we acquire illness and disease making it a burden for us to live, and for others to care for us.  The total wisdom collected in our lives is rarely respected, if even tolerated.  And yet, the Asian people see their elderly as honored living treasures, and treat them accordingly!  What's wrong here in the west, why do we fear aging so?  Perhaps because it's the harbinger of death, and that's a state we can only hope is not some oblivion, since we have no proof at all that our molecules won't dissipate into the atmosphere when our bodies decay.  We cling to our faith in a Special Being, a God, who will welcome us ("us"? who will we be when we die though?) yet it's easier to believe than not to.  We know in our hearts there's a chance our Judeo-Christian God may not be what we imagine, and the afterlife is something so alien to how we think now that it's just unimaginable, using the limited brain power we have.  This tableau frightens many into offering prayer to something they don't really believe in but would rather not chance the prospect of oblivion, so they believe in what they're told is true.  

This can have nothing to do with religion, it's about the cold, clear waters of science and nature.  Belief in God is something that comes from the spirit or soul, and we choose to believe because it comforts us.  No matter how many times I believe I'm speaking to God, meditate on what He is, I cannot explain Him.  But I understand nature and can explain that, still it puzzles me why nature allows the human to continue on into old age if for no other reason than we can.  People live so much longer now, is that natural?  Hasn't anyone noticed how many humans are on this planet compared to other species?  It's not a question of having enough resources for us all, it's more that our numbers are out of proportion.  And in that regard, what about habitat?  Most animals require a certain amount of space to live a normal, healthy life.  Except humans, who demand the whole planet as their habitat, and not content with that have propelled our bodies far into space, to explore other worlds.  I know of no other creature who only truly needs a small amount of space to live but demands all of the planet and then some.  We even rob the habitats of other species to use for ourselves, and end up misusing that space by trying to farm it.  Why would such a life form be allowed to procreate at will, take up all the space they can buy or steal, and the big question, live for such a long, long time?  I feel in my bones that nature will win out in this question, and someday humans may be confronted with the hard fact that, as a species, we may not be as successful as we think, after all.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1/3rd Of A Second After Big Bang

I know I've already drooled all over about the upcoming LHC (Large Hadron Collider) but imagine this experiement. It's been tried before, at Fermilab in Illinois, and continually at CERN, but never with this much power. Imagine a picture of what the universe may've looked like less than half a second after being! The LHC at CERN is the most ambitious scientific undertaking ever. The results will change our fundamental knowledge of the universe.

This is particle physics, searching for the relation of mass to matter (what we're made of, what all things are made of) and also a way to find out why our universe is expanding, which would mean that at one time all the known universe HAD to be in one place at one time. We'll have answers. Proof of a "big bang". Finally.

When these protons are super-conducted through a circular magnetic vacuum, from either end, (similar to conditions in outer space) they'll smash together and immediately spill out images (simplistic way to describe - Picture a giant hollow bagel that's hasn't completely closed up. Two open ends. We'll be sending particles through each end at the same exact time, 670 million miles an hour (or 99.99% the speed of light) where they'll smash together. The images will show us what the universe looked like less than a second after it was formed) But what'll happen is the pictures garnered will also tell us, most especially if the Higgs boson exists. "Higgs boson" is a particle thought to be that missing link in the standard model of the universe - thought to give mass to all matter - and sometimes called "the God particle". Higgs might give other particles mass. Mass is an inherent characteristic of matter. Matter is made of molecules of atoms. We know how the particles get their mass - but WHY is there matter? What IS matter? What makes a thing a thing? No one knows how mass and matter truly interact.

If particles get their mass from interacting with the "empty space" Higgs field, that will prove the Higgs boson particle exists. This discovery is no less important than knowing the constituents or parts of matter and the forces that are amongst them. We'll find out with the LHC.

Steven Hawking on visit

So I guess if I were to explain all this in the simplest fashion, there's an analogy being used that does it well:

Imagine you're at a party, alot of people there, all evenly spaced out in the room. Then some big shot lady enters through the door. Those nearest the door will gather around her first, and as she moves through the room, they'll still be staying close to her (she "attracts" those closest to her) Those she moves away from will go back to what they were doing. So as she keeps moving through the room, she gains momentum, always an indication of mass. She's now harder to slow down because of the crowd with her. And once she's stopped, it's harder to get her going again.

This theory supposes that the universe is made up of a kind of latticework (the room of people), and it's called the Higgs field. The question of mass has always been a very puzzling one, and this Higgs boson (the big shot lady) is that single one piece missing from the equation. So we have to find it.

This is our universe, our origin, it's where we came from before being nursed and nurtured in the oceans of the planet, long before Pangea broke off into separate land masses. This is OUR UNIVERSE! We have to know, we SHOULD know how it was formed, once, for all, no arguments.

Let's be proud we've arrived at a stage where we can peek in at the beginning of the creation of all we know, we can SEE how it would've appeared, we'll understand what matter truly is. What WE....truly are. And will become.


Images courest of CERN, Hubble, and Chandra Space Scopes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Patrick's Saturday 6 On A Sunday

Think I'll surprise myself and do Patrick's question thing, haven't done it in awhile. Patrick’s Place » Saturday Six - Episode 232 What a yawn I can be lol.  Okay let's do some C and P-ing here:

1. Do you think that capital punishment — as the system now operates — is a deterrent to crime on any level? Holy crap NO.

2. With changes and/or improvements to the justice system designed to better enforce capital punishment, do you think it could be a better deterrent to crime? Never.  "Improvements" to this system of justice would mean removing the option of death as "punishment".  You can change a bad law but not an unethical one - for that you'd have to abolish it - and you can't legislate moral conscience.     

3.  Should the punishment a man receives who kills a pregnant woman be worse than the punishment a man who kills a non-pregnant woman faces?

No, though you're killing two in the first instance, or the potential for two.  But it doesn't matter - 1 or 1,000, taking life is murder, murder is an immoral choice, and making that choice should mean the same punishment each timeit's done.  Yes, I mean Hitler should get the same 25 to life as the guy who strangles his cheating wife.  Life is life is life, none is more valuable than another's.  If you give the first guy more time because the woman was pregnant (hence another potential life) then it's like saying the non-pregnant woman's life was less valuable 

 4. Take the quiz: What Felony Are You? Help yourselves to this one, guys, I saw my answer and almost called the police to come and arrest me.  So, I'm staying mum on my felony, I have an ego to think of!

5. You stop by a post office to run in and mail a letter, knowing you’ll only be inside the building for 10 seconds. To park close to the door, there are only two options: you can either park in an open handicapped space (and assume you don’t have a handicapped permit) or park illegally in the fire lane. Would you take a handicapped space, park in the fire lane, or park in a legitimate, legal space and walk? Tricky.  Since I'm handicapped, my answer is already biased.  But if I wasn't?  I'd park in the fire lane for those 10 seconds and risk the ticket - and other's lives I guess.  But it's truth, sad to admit.  I'd take the illegal space and rush those 10 seconds into 5 if I could, always watching for the cops. 

6. Should police target people who use marijuana when there is no legitimate medicinal need for it? No.  This is the trick question, right?


Hey this wasn't so bad.  Thanks Jude, I clipped it from your place.                



Take A Look At Pre-History

You are looking at an event that happened 10,000 years ago.  Before the dawn of recorded human history.  The picture was taken August 19th.


This is known as the "Witch's Broom" nebula.  You've seen pictures like this before, nebulas, which are expanding clouds of dust, gas and debris left over from an exploding star.  This one is truly ancient.  Isn't it exciting to be able to travel back in time simply by gazing into the vast universe of space time?  Yeah ..... 


Image courtesy University of Arizona's Steward Observatory

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Real Things Said In Court

( This is really good, it's a repost from 2 years ago. )

Sunday, September 17, 2006
12:28:00 AM EDT
Feeling Silly
Hearing Pino Palladino


These are actual exchanges made in Courts of Law, taken directly from the transcripts, courtesy of a good friend:

ATTORNEY:  Are you sexually active?

WITNESS:  No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY:  What is your date of birth?

WITNESS:  July 8th.

ATTORNEY:  What year?

WITNESS:  Every year.


ATTORNEY:  What gear were you in at the moment of impact?

WITNESS:  Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY:  This condition, does it affect your memory at all?


ATTORNEY:  And in what ways does it affect your memory?

WITNESS:  I forget.

ATTORNEY:  Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY:  How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS:  38 or 35, I can't remember which.

ATTORNEY:  How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS:  45 years.


ATTORNEY:  What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS:  He said, "Where am I, Diane?"

ATTORNEY:  And why did that upset you?

WITNESS:  My name is Susan.


ATTORNEY:  Now Doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in their sleep, they don't know about it till the next morning?

WITNESS:  Did you actually pass the bar?


ATTORNEY:  The youngest son, the 20-year old, how old is he?

WITNESS:  Duh, what?


ATTORNEY:  Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS:  Can you repeat the question?


ATTORNEY:  So the date of conception was August 8th?


ATTORNEY:  And what were you doing at the time?


ATTORNEY:  She had 3 children, right?


ATTORNEY:  How many were boys?


ATTORNEY:  And how many were girls?


ATTORNEY:  How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS:  By death.

ATTORNEY:  And by whose death was it terminated?


ATTORNEY:  Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS:  He was about medium height and had a beard.

ATTORNEY:  And was this a male or female?


ATTORNEY:  Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS:  No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


ATTORNEY:  Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

WITNESS:  (Stunned silence, then laughter)


ATTORNEY:  All your responses must be oral, okay?  Good.  Now, what school did you go to?



ATTORNEY:  Are you qualified to give a urine sample?



ATTORNEY:  Do you recall the time you examined the body?

WITNESS:  Yes, the autopsy started at 8:30 a.m.

ATTORNEY:  And was Mr. Denton dead at the time?


                                The best for last:

ATTORNEY:  Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?


ATTORNEY:  Did you check for blood pressure?


ATTORNEY:  Check for breathing?


ATTORNEY:  So it was entirely possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


ATTORNEY:  How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS:  Because his brain was sitting in a jar on my desk.

ATTORNEY:  But the patient could still have been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS:  Yes, alive and practicing law!


Thanks Jerry!                      


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Memento vivere


On September 11, 2001, over 10,000 new lives entered the world.

                  "mirabile dictu"

Monday, September 1, 2008

All Over The Place About Faith

I'm more than sure it's annoying to hear someone question the existence of God, even more so if that person tries "explaining" to your poor dumb self why they're "right". 

Am I that person if I question the NON-existence of a higher, more finer being than a human?  I mean, how annoying must I sound to an atheist who no doubt heard it all and decided "no thanks".  Gotta respect everyone's right to think they're more right than you.  I guess ...

But it's truly hard, I mean truly - to respect the opinion of people who engage in these discussions having no facts no information no history no objectivity no research no nothing to base their beliefs on.  A Christian one might say, has it easy - they can always refer to the Bible.  What does the atheist refer to?  Still I wouldn't count on a book, especially when we know the Bible is riddled with inconsistencies, mis-translations and missing texts.  What's the difference, says I.  That book is a better-than-fine example of how we can live more compassionately, discover how others saw and loved God, indulge in the music of incredible poetry, find direction and guidance when in need, and just feel comforted by words of men who felt a true calling to something better.  I don't think I really care that Pope Gregory V took out several Books or that the Gnostic Gospels may be factual or that even the Judas Gospels told more of truth than John or James, or that it's highly unlikely Jesus himself didn't write a book since He never speaks in the Bible.   No, I really don't care.  Here's why:

There's something more than me.  More than you.  That's my belief, it's not the truth.  It's my tenet.  And I feel this in a place that does not rely on the books of men or tales of myth, I feel this belief in the best part of my soul.  My "God" part as I call it.  It's the only part of this aging decaying body that cannot perish.  That's my belief, it's not the truth.  It's not false, either.  It's just my belief.

Some get comfort from listening to others preach or read from the Bible, or any book of organized religion.  Comfort is a good thing.  But religion feels shaky to me.  I wouldn't know what to call myself if asked, except that I'm human, an evolved animal, who may or may not have been sparked by a divine hand working in ways I can never comprehend while in this body.  How can I possibly know?  For those who, like me, believe in Darwinian evolution, who is to say that 7 days for God didn't mean 7 million years?  No one.  Yet you have to believe in God first to even examine that question.  So it really all goes nowhere.  Except: 

One thought, up for the taking:  As imperfect, fallible beings, with the ability to love life and each other, to create and inspire, to rise up again and again from infirmity, as such creatures do we dare waste one second believing we are all there is, was or will be?

There is no right.  No wrong.  Only our beliefs and what we do with them.  I believe in miracles.