On human nature (part 1)

Hi,

Today I was going to write about the book Brave New World and happiness but just few minutes back I settled on something else so I am not even sure what will come out in the next several minutes.


As I was going through my news feed on Facebook I noticed Phil Plait posting again. It is about another black hole merger and gravitational wave detection. This happened I think four or five times now and of course for the first time it was all over the news, everybody was talking about it (even Czech news mentioned it). I am not sure how it was like for the next time but it probably did not get such an attention… now I am not trying to say that it should have, there are other important things (like a woman under root (don’t even ask for the context)). Anyway, this time gravitational wave was detected and public could only find out through reading one tweet [1]! That is how much coverage you get for discovery in probably completely new field of physics.

I am certainly quite biased here but the point that Phil Plait made in his post and that I want to share here is how people look for new things but then quickly forget about them. It appears we live in an age where meme (meaning not only joke now) lasts for shorter and shorter time [2]. This might be caused by this “information age” or whatever we call the 21st century but I think this trend also propagates further to the need to have a new iPhone or whatever is behind schedule on being “updated”.

Maybe all of this sounds cliché and just the other day I was telling one of my teachers that the reason why man do not work with hands so much is simply because we live in different time! It reminds me of people worrying about first books then newspapers, TVs and now phones and their effect on youth (this and this XKCD will help you get the idea). And yet should we be worried about the change? How are we going to get ready for it if we leave it to itself and then it does become a problem? I could write under this picture of Black Friday: “Look at those insane people!” but maybe as things tend to be it is more complicated than that (but yeah they are probably buying useless stuff 😀 ).

Dragallur

[1] Yup that is a lie, of course it spread through the internet but it was not such a boom.

[2] I should probably put disclaimers all over the place since I have not lived very long time yet.

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What I think about genetic modification NOW

Hi,

Coincidently just this weekend I started to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, because I need it for my English class. At the same time during today’s class (English conversation) we spoke about GMOs. Speaking on the topic means that I read Wikipedia page for 10-15 minutes and then I presented it in front of the class. Then we moved on to another topic and there were no comments from either the teacher or my class mates, I doubt anybody had any opinion based on anything more than impressions which is the case for me too.


The reason why I mentioned Brave New World is because it is a sci-fi about genetically modified humans. I am in the beginning of the book so it won’t have much of an effect on what I will try to do here.

So as a person who does not know much about GMO and dangers/benefits of genetic modification I want to briefly write down what I think now. After that I want to inform myself as much as possible and then write what changed and what I learned.

I think that GMO plants might be a risk but also a road that we might take eventually. I guess that there are dangers with taking DNA of one organism and putting it into some else because if I am right, we are not fully able to predict the consequences so while we are trying to get resistant corn we might also get corn that has some nasty properties that might not be visible immediately (as my mum always says, we invent something great but do not see the consequences). I assume this to be the reason why in EU it takes way more time for “new species” to be marked as safe. On the other hand, from China or USA many types of new GMO’s arrive illegally anyway. I have read that for insect resistant GMO’s you do not need so many pesticides and you generally lower the effect that the mass production has on global warming. Wikipedia also says that Greenpeace is against GMO’s but it has been criticized exactly for this.

If I ask myself about the future of all this I bet that it is the time of these technologies getting better and better and scientists making bolder and bolder changes. Once of course it might come to humans. It might be a way to treat a disease or at some point simply improve body. Now this is the point where it starts to be a bit speculative for me since I bet we might not be so far from SOME kind of human genetic modification. Because right now I think that when we compare technological and “moral” or “mind” advancement we are way ahead with the former. Therefore, I am not an advocate of immortality (when I take the point that the society is in) and also there comes all of the problems that will probably be described in the book, how people are made certain way according to certain rules which could be hazardous.

Dragallur

PS: All written above might be horribly wrong and that is exactly the point why I am writing it, we will see how long it will take me to learn something about genetic modification so I can bash down this post.

Can you find everything on the Internet?

Hi,
so over the last Sunday I have spent a LOT of time doing physics. This meant mainly analyzing the problem (which was the movement of rocket through the Solar System) and then ton of writing and rewriting but in particular researching on the internet. I had real trouble sometimes and spent countless minutes search information like “energy density of RP-1” which is a rocket propellant and how much energy you can get from it when you burn it.

This got me thinking about how the internet is spot where one can find basically anything but you should never forget that this makes it a huge dumpster.

Let me give you a very simple example that I can remember right now. Just type into Google “Sun”, I did this because I wanted to know the radius of Sun [1]. The first link will probably be www.thesun.co.uk that is British magazine as you might already know (and a bit controversial as you might find out when you click on the link). Of course, I did not want to know how some celebrity’s kid spilled soup so I clicked the second one (which was Wiki). What I simply wanted to illustrate is that internet will give you what you ask for, except that you do not know what you are really asking for. The most visited webpages are made for quick eyes, simply who sets the best clickbait gets to the top so it is going to be difficult to get some hardcore explanation of a given problem. This is partially the reason why I wanted (and luckily got) a textbook for astronomy. I realized that it is no longer an option for me to learn from the internet (as I knew it back then) and decided that I need solid source of information [2]. So yes, internet will quickly give you the video about biggest black holes but you won’t know why they are so big. After you type in the exact question you might at best get binary answer (this one is a trick, if I remember correctly we do not know how come supermassive black holes be so big). In short, internet does not go deep, just check out channels like SciShow for example. You need to spent way more time digging in this dump if you gonna find anything. It also helps to understand what you are looking for, because internet is not best in explaining.

Dragallur

[1]You would not believe how tricky it is to find if this is the same information as the radius of the surface of the Sun (and it is).

[2] It is possible of course, you just have to do way more work.

Rick and Morty

Hi,

It seems I am not the only one on the internet being “obsessed” by the series Rick and Morty. I am quite late to the party since the first series premiered in the end of 2013. I am half way through the 3rd and so far, last season.

The animated sitcom tells the story of a family with two parents (Beth and Jerry), two kids (Summer and Morty) and their grandfather Rick. The main characters are of course Rick and Morty and most of the time they are on some crazy adventure that sometimes makes fun of movies like The Purge or Inception or is based on some sci-fi concept like the idea that the world is purely simulated. There are surely many jokes that one will miss but I think everybody will always find something for themselves.

Why I find this much more interesting than Futurama or Simpsons (which could seem quite similar) is because of how clever it is. The whole series have this extremely important undertone of Rick being extremely nihilistic and cynic. One of my favorite themes is also how Morty is changing a bit and I love how in the first season Rick’s “experiment” goes wrong and he cannot revert it so after he kills basically everybody on Earth he takes Morty to another dimension where both died along the time where everything has gone wrong in their reality. They take their dead bodies and bury them on their garden while taking place of their dead selves. Few times after that Morty says that it is creepy to sleep just few meters next to his dead body.

Nevertheless, there is lot to look for when you watch it and I recommend trying out few episodes though I must say that it was only and only better through second and third season so do not get discouraged if every (just 20 minute) episode is not of your liking.

Dragallur