30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Information Fertilizes Moral Growth

...a flow of information can fertilize moral growth. Scholars who have puzzled over the trajectory of material progress in different parts of the world, such as the economist Thomas Sowell in his Culture trilogy and the physiologist Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, have concluded that the key to material success is being situated in a large catchment area of innovations.306 No one is smart enough to invent anything in isolation that anyone else would want to use. Successful innovators...
Folksonomies: information morality
Folksonomies: information morality
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23 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Engineering Away Extinction, Ecological Functioning

Or might the threatened animal be just one of several subspecies that all perform approximately the same ecological function? In that case its extinction might be inconsequential. That was the reality when the Galapagos giant tortoise ‘Lonesome George’ died in June 2012 and was mourned worldwide. Dubbed ‘the rarest living creature’, he was (probably) the last of his subspecies. Ecologists shrugged. Taxonomists shrugged. There are 10 more subspecies of Galapagos tortoise. Their populat...
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The American Chestnut is an example of engineering life to thrive and refill its function in the ecosystem. Tortoises are other examples.

24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Steps to Colonizing Space

The third technological revolution which I see coming is the expansion of life's habitat from Earth into the solar system and beyond. This revolution may take a little longer than the other two. Perhaps it may take as long as a hundred years from now. In charting a possible course for this revolution, I take as my guide Ben Finney, an anthropologist at the University of Hawaii who has made a detailed study of the Polynesian navigators and their voyages of colonization from island to island ac...
Folksonomies: space colonization
Folksonomies: space colonization
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21 APR 2014 by ideonexus

 Why Black Bears Sleep in Trees

The ancestors of modern North American bears evolved in Asia during the Pleistocene, wandering over to Alaska during several appearances of the Bering land bridge, between the Bering and Kamchatka Peninsulas. Advancing and receding glaciers, fueled by evaporating sea water, caused ocean levels to alternately drop and rise, exposing and resubmerging the Bering Strait. The ancestors of black bears came across half a million years ago, and it is suspected that black bears adapted to climbing tr...
Folksonomies: evolution black bears
Folksonomies: evolution black bears
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It's an evolutionary adaptation to survive short-faced bears and sabertooth tigers.

22 FEB 2014 by ideonexus

 Nature Doesn't Need Our Help to Destroy the Earth

For me, the most paralyzing news was that Nature was no conservationist. It needed no help from us in taking the planet apart and putting it back together some different way, not necessarily improving it from the viewpoint of living things. It set fire to forests with lightning bolts. It paved vast tracts of arable land with lava, which could no more support life than big-city parking lots. It had in the past sent glaciers down from the North Pole to grind up major portions of Asia, Europe, a...
Folksonomies: nature environmentalism
Folksonomies: nature environmentalism
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Observation by Kurt Vonnegut that nature does a fine job of making the Earth uninhabitable regularly on its own.

27 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Post WWI vs Post WWII Human Civilization

After the horrific agonies of World War One, the progressive worldview was rejected both in America and abroad, partly due to narrow minded self-interest, but also because humanity was otherwise preoccupied. Like careening drunks, we commenced a long and horrible infatuation with ideologies — from communism and fascism to nationalist jingoism and every other "ism" imaginable. Hitler and Stalin were no more than particularly gruesome manifestations of this fever — a passion for simplistic ...
Folksonomies: civilization history war peace
Folksonomies: civilization history war peace
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Dr. Brin describes one world-society obsessed with "isms" against one vowing to rebuild civilization, even those of our enemies.

19 JUL 2013 by ideonexus

 Hand Axes as an Extended Phenotype

Two and a half million years ago, our small-brained ancestors evolved the ability to knock flakes from rocks to use as cutting edges. By doing so, they could also make the rocks themselves useful as choppers. This basic tool kit of flakes and choppers served the needs of hunting and gathering for a million years. Then, around 1.6 million years ago, a medium-brained African hominid (Homo erectus) evolved the ability to produce an extraordinary object that archeologists call a handaxe. A handax...
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If, as the author assumes, handaxes were genetically-informed because they did not change for hundreds of thousands of years, then why do we not still have the instinct for hand axes?

19 APR 2013 by ideonexus

 Post-Modernism in Ancient Thought

In the midst of the decline of Greece, Athens, which, in the days of its power, had honoured philosophy and letters, owed to them, in its turn, the preserving for a longer period some remains of its ancient splendour. In its tribune, indeed, the destinies of Greece and Asia were no longer decided; it was, however, in the schools of Athens that the Romans acquired the secrets of eloquence; and it was at the feet of Demosthenes’ lamp that the first of their orators was formed. The academy, t...
Folksonomies: history science philosophy
Folksonomies: history science philosophy
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With the idea that nothing is knowable, philosophy fell into a rut. Aristotle came along with the brilliant idea that everything we know comes through our senses, but failed to take that idea anywhere useful.

19 APR 2013 by ideonexus

 The Stagnation of the Sciences in Ancient Societies

Such is the origin of almost all the religions that are known to us, and which the hypocrisy or the extravagance of their inventors and their proselytes afterwards loaded with new fables. These casts seized upon education, that they might fashion man to a more patient endurance of chains, embodied as it were with his existence, and extirpate the possibility of his desiring to break them. But, if we would know to what point, even without the aid of superstitious terrors, these institutions, s...
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The ruling class only kept enough truth to suit their purposes, leaving the rest to become like fables and rituals, causing cultural stagnation in places like Asia.

30 MAY 2012 by ideonexus

 "Run the Tape Again"

Run the tape again, and let the tiny twig of Homo sapiens expire in Africa. Other hominids may have stood on the threshold of what we know as human possibilities, but many sensible scenarios would never generate our level of mentality. Run the tape again, and this time Neanderthal perishes in Europe and Homo erectus in Asia (as they did in our world). The sole surviving human stock, Homo erectus in Africa, stumbles along for a while, even prospers, but does not speciate and therefore remains ...
Folksonomies: history evolution meaning
Folksonomies: history evolution meaning
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We are here by luck, not fate.