To pick up where I left off. I …
I’m listening to the Chemical Brothers CD right now. It’s strange how
simple the music is and yet when I sit down at the computer and
instruments at home it seems like I can never get anything down that I
like. I decided the other day that I’m going in the wrong direction.
Instead of recording my ideas and trying to create beats for them I’m
going to go in the opposite direction. Beats first, colors and
textures later. That should be interesting.
But that’s neither here nor there. Oh. Speaking of tangents, I had a
good idea today. Magnetic bicycle pedal cleats. I went mountain
biking yesterday. And let me say, as long as I’m recursively
digressing here — adding squats to my workouts is the first or second
most effective thing I’ve ever done to improve biking performance.
I’ve been missing out this whole time. Who knew? I mean, aside from
all the people telling me and all the magazine articles and books and
Anywho, new shoes. I didn’t carve out the soles
correctly so I had a lot of trouble getting in and out of the pedals.
Well, the soles are mostly fine (you do it with a box cutter) except
the front treads are seriously interfering when I try to clip in.
They’re grooved so I kept missing and then had to apply extra
pressure. I think I know what I need to do now. BUT that gave me the
idea today for magnetic cleats. You put your feet on the pedal and
clicksnap. They’re in there. The pedal would be magnetized, too, of
course. They’d have to contain a power source to power the magnet
since the field would have to be powerful. But it would also have to
be contained, shielded.
I haven’t thought of how to clip
out, though. I guess it could be the same kind of motion. You kick
your heel out and at a certain angle it kills the power source to the
pedal magnet. Voila! Hmmmm. Maybe via a switch mechanism. But it
would have to be reliable even when muddy or dirty or wet. But if the
pedal is magnetic it could be entirely sealed. You wouldn’t really
have to clip IN to anything, per se. That’s the mechanical way of
thinking. I’m talking electro-magnetic. A recessed area should be
sufficient. C’mon Lotto. I need some venture capital.
Now all I need is a metal-working area, a degree in mechanical engineering, industrial design and an R&D budget.
But back to the point. Intelligent design. I think it’s also been
misrepresented in the media. Well, maybe not. I see the argument as
having two angles: macro and micro. On a macroscopic scale, if a few
factors were off by even minute amounts it wouldn’t be possible for
life to be sustained on this planet. Things like: if the oxygen ratio
were different, if the gravitational constant were different, if the
Earth were any farther or closer to the Sun, if the magnetic field were
different. If not for these fortunate occurrences we may not have an
atmosphere or the planet would be a furnace or a ball of ice. Or ice
wouldn’t float, which would result in the oceans being solid ice
instead of liquid water. That kind of stuff.
Microscopically, the argument goes like this. If evolution is
dependent on gradual trial and error, than how did complex organisms
ever come into being. I think it was Michael Behe’s book, “Darwin’s
Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution” that lays out the
case for these super complex micro-organisms being too complex to
evolve by way of natural selection and genetic mutation. Irreducible
complexity, is the term. It’s actually fascinating stuff when you see
the interdependent complexity of the pieces involved in even the
simplest life forms. They’re organic nano-tech — machines made from
protein molecules — and it’s absolutely amazing.
From what I
understand, though, Behe’s argument is a bit of a straw man set up to
be knocked down. There are other pathways in the Theory of Evolution:
“horizontal and lateral gene transfer, chromosomal rearrangements,
regulatory genes, gene duplication, transposable elements, and
transduction”. Whatever the heck that all means. But there are some
things that we can’t figure out in their “irreducible complexity” and
there is still much evidence that remains to be found to fill the gaps
in the theory.
And I say “Theory of Evolution” in the same
way that we still say the “Theory of Relativity”. Because it’s a
working theory but we don’t have all the pieces filled in. People once
thought that Newton’s laws explained the workings of the universe.
After all, heand his colleagues were able to predict the movements of
the stars themselves with his equations. That’s powerful stuff. Once
again, arrogant humans thought we had it all figured out. Einstein
came along much later and said, “Oh. Nice equations. But, time itself
changes tempo depending on how fast or slow you’re going.”
And we all said “Whaaaaaa?” like Moe on the Simpson’s. And then
Einstein said, “Space and time are one and they bend and change
according to their context. Energy and matter are the same, too.”
And we kept running into physics that seems more like eastern
spiritualism and philosophy than simply mathematics and formulae. I
think that’s a false distinction., anyway So matter can be neither
created or destroyed. There’s a constant amount of matter in the
universe. We found that Newton’s equations were but a critical piece
of explaining the world around us.
And later we discovered
that Einstein’s equations are yet another critical piece of a larger
whole. The equations include his equations but go beyond. Nowadays
that’s what the big astrophysical deal is. We’re trying to find a set
of equations that explain it all: electromagnetism, gravity, strong
nuclear forces, weak nuclear forces. The four horsemen, so to speak.
That’s what string theory is about. Some are saying that the “strings”
of string theory explain it all and the nature of their vibrations
shape the nature of reality. We’ve never seen the strings but
everything else falls into place.
All that is to say this
(again). We don’t know s—. It seems like we’ve got a handle on it
all sometimes. But there’s a long way to go yet. An infinite way to go
We, the public, especially. We exercise so much faith,
not much different than religious faith, in what we’re told. It’s a
secular faith and it is definitely empirically based to an extent.
Often left up to someone else’s empiricism. We believe so much of what
we believe because other people believe it. If it kind of makes sense
and doesn’t conflict with what we already (or want to) believe, we’ll
go for it.
I do believe that evolution is an ongoing
process. Let me just say that. But what do I really know about it?
There was some primordial goo that got zapped by lightning or
experienced some kind of jolt that turned it into protein that turned
into… somehow … one-celled life forms. Can that happen? You can
zap a special kind of goo and turn it into sea monkeys or something?
And that goo came from somewhere. Like, it was really hot and humid
and soupy and … well, I don’t know what it was or where it came
from. Not sure how that works exactly.
single-celled life forms started dividing to make more one-celled
organisms. And they, somehow, became multi-celled organisms. Animal,
vegetable, mineral … uh … minus the mineral, maybe(?). And their
reproductive abilities changed and specialized. From invertebrates to
vertebrates, some of them. Then they became fish? And some of those
fish started breathing air like mudskippers and snakeheads. And then
reptiles and then really, really big reptiles. Birds. Mammals came in
there somewhere. Then apes to professional wrestlers to modern day
man. Okay, so I just described the first chapter of Genesis more so
than evolution but … it works.
How did all that happen?
Um, natural selection and mutations and genetic drift and … uh …
lots and lots of time. You know. Genes and DNA and such. What’s the
proof? Well, look around. Some things are similar and seem to be
related. You know, like hands and feet of whales and people and horse
hooves and paws. They’re all kind of the same. There. Case closed.
Man, I’m ign’ant. Okay, so there are some holes in there.
But you know what I want to know? How does DNA really work? I mean,
it contains all of the instructions, all of the genetic data. But how
does it tell the organism where things go? How do teeth know to grow
in your mouth? How does hair know to grow out of your head, say, and
not in your lungs? Oh man, that’s gross. Where is instinct stored?
Like, how do spiders know how to spin webs and hunt and hide? They’re
not trained. They’re born and then they’re on their own and they know
what to do to be a spider. Inborn instinct is, more or less, a form of
genetic memory. How much “memory” is contained in DNA?
Anyway, back to my supposed point. Yes, I’ve completely lost focus.
Someone IMed me and my mental train flew off the tracks and down an
I heard a Christian radio show this morning and
they claimed that you either believe in God and his creating the
universe or you believe that life is an accident. But an accident, to
me, infers an original intent doesn’t it? As if to say that the
universe existed and intended to be lifeless and then oops! Some goo
got zapped somewhere and now it’s going to start doing stuff.
Anyway, trying to remove or overshadow evolution being taught in
schools is like trying to undermine Newton’s Laws of Motion because
apples have worms in them sometimes. I don’t think it in anyway
conflicts with creation theories and mythologies because evolution
doesn’t purport to explain how life came into existence. Or how
existence came into existence, for that matter.
enough. More than enough out of me. Although I will say one
thing about this. We should be looking for evidence of seeding in
solar system. Actually, I guess we are. Isn’t that why
interested in Mars? Looking for evidence of simple life
don’t just plant a seed in one hole on your propperty. You spread
it out. You sow it. I’m looking for evidence that life was
sown across the universe.
By Douglas Preston
Release date: By 14 June, 2005