Heather’s Two Real Mommies

Lab Produces Monkeys With 2 Mothers

Wow, this is just going to open up a whole can of worms. One common objection to homosexual marriage has been centered on procreation and the inability of same sex couples to do it. So what become of that particular argument when science makes actual procreation (i.e. actual genetic recombination) between same sex partners a real possibility?

I suspect we’re years or even decades away from achieving this with humans, though you can never really be sure with science. Of course, it’s almost certainly a moot point. I think it’s very likely that, much like the embryonic stem cell situation, we’re going to face extremely harsh resistance long before it ever becomes practical.

Chicken Vs. Egg

I decided today to try and tackle the age old question: “Which came first; the chicken or the egg?” Here’s my conclusion: It really depends on your belief system.

If you believe that God (or any other deity) created the universe, the earth, and all of life (i.e. Creationism), then the chicken must have come first. Presumably the Deity created all living creatures whole and intact, since those creatures that have live births had nothing to be birthed from yet. After that they began to reproduce in the way that we understand it today. In other words, the chicken was created whole and only later began to lay eggs for reproduction.

If you believe in evolution instead of creationism, then the egg must have come first. Before the chicken as we know it today could appear, there had to be some proto-chickens, whose DNA and morphology were very similar, but which were not yet entirely chickens. One of them (or possibly more than one) then had offspring with the specific mutation that was the chicken. And of course before that first chicken hatched, it was an egg.

Of course, the major flaw in this reasoning is the conclusion about what is or is not possible and/or likely with creationism. Frankly, if there is an independent intelligence that caused all of the universe, we can’t possibly know anything about what they would or would not do let alone why. They could have created everything whole and intact except for chickens, which for no apparent reason were created as eggs first. That’s absolutely possible, and we have no way to even guess at the likelihood of that.

Meanwhile, the evolutionary perspective seems pretty concrete to me. I personally don’t see how evolution could have created a chicken without having it hatch from an egg first. Unless, of course, a bird like creature evolved which had live births, and at the exact same instant that it evolved the chicken itself, it also spontaneously mutated the entire egg laying process. I guess it’s possible, but incredibly improbable.

So I guess in the end my conclusion that Creationism = Chicken and Evolution = Egg isn’t necessarily the answer, but it seems the most likely to be true…depending on what you believe, of course.

Blizzards Cataclysm

Someone noticed a few months ago that Blizzard had registered the domain name Cataclysm.com. Since then, there has been a whole lot of speculation about what exactly they were going to do with the name. These were some of the more popular options (in no particular order):

  1. A new game built from the ground up called Cataclysm.
  2. A WoW expansion called Cataclysm.
  3. A simple mind-fuck designed to watch the fan base squirm as they try and figure out what the hell is going on.

Well, at BlizzCon, they made it official. And the winner is…

WoW Cataclysm!!!

I really need to get my Rogue up to level 80 to be ready for the new expansion. In case you’re wondering what it’ll look like, here’s the official trailer (well…kind of…)

Beautiful

Best Science Visualization Videos of 2009
I remember when I was a kid in middle school there was a school wide poster contest on Countries of the World. I spent an entire week on mine, did a whole lot of research and spent a lot of time organizing the information on my poster. All the data was easy to read and flowed fairly well (at least I thought so at the time…one wonders how much of that memory is just wishful thinking). Meanwhile my brother, on the day of the contest made a quick cutout of his country and its name in bright colors, slapped it onto his poster and said “Done.” There was no content whatsoever, but it was bright and colorful. Big surprise that day, he won top prize and my display was simply ignored.

One result of this experience for me was an awareness of the difference between a pretty presentation and it’s underlying data, especially in popular media. In this case, from what I can see these videos do appear to have some real content, in addition to the bright colors. There might be others out there with more real and useful data, or more beautiful presentation (kind of hard to believe that, though), but it’s the combination here that really set these apart I think.

Mind of the Internet

I’ve recently been interested in the idea that the internet is (not has) a mind of it’s own, and we are its neurons and axons. If thought is a pattern of activations in the neural network in your brain via both internal and external stimuli, then might that not be in some way mimicked by the mass “activation” of specific web sites and computers on the internet via internet traffic and real-world news (i.e. internal and external stimuli)?

I wonder what the internet thinks? I doubt that we could ever know, because the things we think about and act on, big and small, important and trivial all become single activations in its neural net. The things that we do affect the things that it thinks.

And if we were to determine that it thinks, could we communicate with it? Unfortunately I don’t think so. Again, the things that we do affect the things that it thinks. If we were to try and organize our actions so as to make ourselves known, the best we could hope for is to change it’s thoughts in some specific way. The problem is that it’s very likely to simply assume that whatever thought we end up creating occurred purely on it’s own. Think about it, have you ever had a thought that wasn’t your own? (What implications would the answer to the question of internet thought have on our understanding of some types of insanity?)

Just Gorgeous

Best Science Visualization Videos of 2009

I remember when I was a kid in middle school there was a school wide poster contest on Countries of the World. I spent an entire week on mine, did a whole lot of research and spent a lot of time organizing the information on my poster. All the data was easy to read and flowed fairly well (at least I thought so at the time…one wonders how much of that memory is just wishful thinking). Meanwhile my brother, on the day of the contest made a quick cutout of his country and its name in bright colors, slapped it onto his poster and said “Done.” There was no content whatsoever, but it was bright and colorful. Big surprise that day, he won top prize and mine was simply ignored.

One result of this experience for me was an awareness of the difference between a pretty presentation and it’s underlying data, especially in popular media. In this case, from what I can see these videos do appear to have some real content, in addition to the bright colors. There might be others out there with more real and useful data, or more beautiful presentation (kind of hard to believe that, though), but it’s the combination here that really set these apart I think.