Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

We War, Or We Are Not: Chimpanzees On Patrol

June 29, 2017


Most advanced animals are territorial. (It’s also true at sea: that was discovered with Orcas, Killer Whales, recently: the high sea races don’t mix genetically and culturally with the land-hugging races!)

Where does this territoriality come from? Researchers have no guesses. I do: it’s as simple as supposing that animals are smart. I run through the woods all the time among dangerous animals, and I can see them thinking fast, across many species, and adjusting their attitude accordingly.

It’s easy to see why, economically speaking, territoriality should arise. Economy means: environmental management. At this point many feel like writing a few equations that would justify everything, and such equations have been written, and those who wrote them achieved fame.

Equations tie concepts together. Concepts which can be measured. However, one has to be careful. The case of gravitation is famous. The master equation, call it Einstein’s equation, says:

Curvature = Mass-Energy

As Einstein himself pointed out, the right hand-side is not well-defined. However, one can still draw non-trivial consequences from it. But do those “prove” the equation? No.

Posing With That Special Attitude Can Speak Louder Than Words!

Researchers used 20 years of data from Ngogo in Uganda to explore collective action in chimpanzees.

When male chimpanzees patrol the boundaries of their territories they walk silently in single file.

Normally chimps are noisy: it’s a deliberate tactic to scare everybody. But on patrol they’re like silent death. They sniff the ground and stop to listen for sounds. Their cortisol and testosterone levels are jacked 25 percent higher than normal. Chances of contacting conspecific enemies are high: 30 percent.

Ten percent of patrols result in violent fights where they hold victims down and bite, tear, hit, kick and stomp them to death. It has been observed that a chimpanzee tribe could completely annihilate one next door.

The result of these savage acts of war? A large, safe territory rich with food, longer lives, and new young females wandering into the group.

Territorial boundary patrolling by chimpanzees is one of the most dramatic forms of collective action in mammals. Patrolling, and killing, together benefits the group, whether individual chimps took part in the action, or not.

Some Chimps In The ASU Study, While On Patrol

A team — led by Arizona State University Assistant Professor Kevin Langergraber of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the Institute of Human Origins — examined 20 years of data on who participated in patrols in a 200-member-strong Ngogo community of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda.

Males joined 33 percent of patrols that occurred when they were in the group and young enough to take part. Young females have been observed to join patrols.

The behavior is evidence of what’s called group augmentation theory. What is good for the group is ultimately good for the individual. Some sacrifice from each member translates into a larger, safer group. By 2009, the Ngogo chimpanzees expanded their territory by 22 percent over the previous decade.

“Free riders may increase their short-term reproductive success by avoiding the costs of collective action,” Langergraber’s team wrote, “but they do so at the cost of decreasing the long-term survival of the group if it fails to grow or maintain its size; nonparticipants suffer this cost alongside the individuals they had cheated.”

“Cost” though, is a human concept tied to record keeping.

Chimpanzees are one of the few mammals in which inter-group warfare is a major source of mortality. Chimps in large groups have been reported to kill most or all of the males in smaller groups over periods of months or even many years, acquiring territory in the process. Territorial expansion can lead to the acquisition of females who bear multiple infants. It also increases the amount of food available to females in the winning group, increasing their fertility.

The researchers found no consequences for those chimpanzees that did not join patrols (but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist). Most studies have focused on short term benefits of cooperation, said lead researcher Kevin Langergraber, “but our study shows the benefit of long-term data collection, and also that we still have a lot to learn from these chimpanzees.”

Male chimpanzees remain in the group they were born in their entire lives (females wander to settle somewhere else). Because they can live for more than 50 years, patrolling when they’re young produces personal future benefits.

However, if they don’t patrol, there aren’t any consequences — no sidelong glances, snubs or being chased out of the group, claims anthropologist David Watts of Yale University, who worked with Langergraber on the study.

“We know from a lot of theoretical and empirical work in humans and in some other specialized, highly cooperative societies — like eusocial insects — that punishment by third parties can help cooperation evolve,” Watts said. “But it doesn’t seem to us that chimpanzees punish individuals who do not patrol. Sometimes individuals will be present when a patrol starts, and thus have the opportunity to join the patrol but fail to do so. As far as we can see, these individuals do not receive any sort of punishment when this occurs.”

Chimpanzees are extremely intelligent, but usually they aren’t considered to be capable of what’s called “collective intentionality,” which allows humans to have mutual understanding and agreement on social conventions and norms.

“They undoubtedly have expectations about how others will behave and, presumably, about how they should behave in particular circumstances, but these expectations presumably are on an individual basis,” Watts said. “They don’t have collectively established and agreed-on social norms.”

What Watts seems to want to say is that he didn’t see punishment. Thus, he says, there is no enforcement of norms. Thus there are no norms. Thus norms were not collectively established.

There are several problems with this reasoning. First all is not stick: there is also the carrot. A chimp may not be punished, but them he may lost opportunity. One opportunity lost? The pleasure of the hunt of the biggest game, fellow chimp, the pleasure of killing.

To expects animals establish norms as we do is, with all due respect, a bit silly. They do it, as we do when we don’t have language at our disposal.

“… this tendency of humans to cooperate in large groups and with unrelated individuals must have started somewhere,” Watts said. “The Ngogo group is very large (about 200 individuals), and the males in it are only slightly more related to one another than to the males in the groups with which they are competing. Perhaps the mechanisms that allow collective action in such circumstances among chimpanzees served as building blocks for the subsequent evolution of even more sophisticated mechanisms later in human evolution.”

Yes, sure. And what are these mechanisms? Can we imagine them?

We know how WE do it in civilization, and the million of years before that: we talk. We talk digitally, enabling us to communicate extremely precise information: this is the interest of equations.

What did we do before digital speech? Well we could whistle and do other sounds… which animals readily understand: a whining sound in humans of the sort my seven-year old daughter is expert at when she wants cake, is readily understood by a dog from 100 feet away. And by another 500 species besides.

There are other languages: action, gestures… They can vary. Most animals though, understand man is the top dog. I have been charged by bull elks, weighing 1,000 pounds, horns down, until they realized I was no mountain lion. Similarly, a bear or lion will immediately be reminded of human supremacy, from just the proper attitude. Then they instantaneously deduce they should moderate their rage, hunger, and other animals spirits inhabiting them.

The point is that they reason. They fear humans not “instinctively”, but because they were taught, by parents, or circumstances. Chimpanzees are also taught. From their first months on Earth. Then they deduce, in particular, friend from foe. Friends are in the tribe, foes are not in the tribe.

When I run in a National Park, all the dangerous animals out there, even the dangerous snakes, not just the bears, lions and various ungulates, know who I am, even before meeting me in person. They also know what a creature such as me is expected to do: left alone, I, and my ilk, will leave them alone.

So the missing link is that animals spent a lot of time thinking: their lives depend upon it.

“Collective Intentionality” results from all this collective thinking out of the same initial conditions. Chimps, from the earliest ager, learn that defending their traditional fruit trees enable them to survive, because they need to eat, to survive. And so on… It’s basic neurogenesis…

Patrice Ayme’

Essence Of MORALITY: SUSTAINABILITY, Not Just Avoiding Suffering.

September 12, 2016

What is morality? The answer is not in “religions” established in the last few centuries, by self-obsessed elites, such as Islam. Verily, there is just one religion, the religion of man: Ecce Homo.

Past religions could not be sure that man was a religion, so they invented god(s). The idea is that, to distinguish right from wrong, one needs absolute truth, and that absolute truth was called god(s).

However, we now know for sure that there is an absolute, an absolute creator, and an absolute morality, from that long (quantum) computation called evolution.

Right And Wrong Draws Another Line, Across Knowledge Bases. That the All Too Christian Solzhenitsyn Naturally Forgets

Right And Wrong Draws Another Line, Across Knowledge Bases. That the All Too Christian Solzhenitsyn Naturally Forgets

Heart Without Knowledge Is Only Ruin Of Morality

The fact that we, ourselves, are an absolute, is why hysterical “animal rights” advocates have not much standing: animals are not equivalent to us. They are no absolute. That is why Gary Francione, a professor of law at Rutgers and East Anglia Universities is fundamentally wrong.

Says he: “A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That’s true animal rights.” No poetry, no heart for other species, no alter sentiencism, either. That’s the perfect recipe for the total disappearance of the entire animal kingdom. Animals can survive only if us, masters of the Earth, and soon the Sol-Centaurus system, are interested by them.

True stupidity gives me counterexamples from which reason can bounce. Francione knows nothing. More than once in the mountains I met a solitary sheep, grazing. What did the sheep do? It had a good look at me, and then came to me, so I could rescue it from its predicament. Was the sheep suffering? No. Was the sheep feeling friendly? Yes. Is that a crime? No.

Law professor Francione confuses “what hurts a sentient being” with “immoral“. Pushing his logic further would mean all life of ALL sentient beings should be stopped, as life means hurt, for a sentient being, at one point, or another. (This is my old objection to Fundamentalist Buddhism; at least Buddhism, following Hinduism, is logical, and calls for Nirvana, the extinction of all cycles of life. The extinct Celtic religion was just the same.)

Thus, pushed a bit further, we should not have children: surely they cry as they are born, and that’s just the beginning. Hence we should let humanity disappear.

Leaving animals free to hurt each other.

This is a problem: if we are around, we may hurt animals, if we are not around, animals will eat each others.

Thus the author writes of ethics, while not knowing that the fundamental sense of “moral” is not “avoiding hurt”, but avoiding the behaviors which are unsustainable for our species.

Morality is species dependent. In some species, the newborns eat each other.  Newborn eating is moral in those species.

Thus, there is even worse. The real nature of the group of species known as hominids is that these were carnivorous bipedal apes who rose to dominance, precisely because animal protein and fat is so nourishing. It is moral for hominids to eat flesh, and especially so for the highly carnivorous Homo Erectus and Sapiens.

Many are the species which eat animals, few are those who do not. All primates, even cute, innocent looking Lemurians and Golden Tamarins, grab animals and eat them, whenever they can. Even grazing animals eat meat. The meat of snails, insects, and whatever crawls in the grass end in the stomachs of innocent looking grazers. This is why PM Thatcher made the cows cannibalistic, and, to save money, did not “render” the meat very long, thus causing “mad cow disease”.

In a just punishment, Thatcher herself became a mad cow, and croaked from it.

Meat made humanity, by enabling big brains and their extravagant energy consumption. Indeed, the meat habit came first. By millions of years. Those, like professor Francione, who cry each time we eat an animal raw (it happens when I run), want to deprive us of the very essence of our humanity. Being bipedal made our ancestors in the most efficient savannah dwellers: man is the animal with the fastest, furthest ground transportation capability, especially when it’s noon, and very hot. This (apparently weird and useless) characteristic is explained by an asset: the ability to catch up with any potential prey, especially when it’s very hot in the tropics, and Homo can see very well by mid-day.

Not just this.  Our hominid ancestors accelerated their evolution, by carrying weapons in their arms. Forgetting this and pushing a morality which even sheep would find better for what they eat (grass) will leave those who adopt it, and those that they pretend to defend, defenseless. One may as well advocate pacifism when facing deliberate evil. This sort of nonsense is what enabled the Twentieth Century’s greatest horrors, such as Nazism. And, indeed, the Nazis were fanatically for animal rights. Why? Because pushed to the extreme, animal rights contradict human rights. Thus, promoting the former exaggeratedly, enables  to violate the latter.

Patrice Ayme

We Are All Martians

November 6, 2015

The Life Giving Nuclear Reactor within Earth protects us with the magnetic field it energizes. The idea is that, otherwise, the atmosphere would be torn away, as it was in Mars. Or, if not the atmosphere, at least the hydrogen (and thus the water), as happened for Venus.

At least, such was my philosophy of the rocky planets’ atmosphere (exposed in prior essays). “Philosophy” can be educated guesses based on lots of physics and mathematics, intuitively understood. Philosophy can stand just at the edge of science. But then it’s good to have a scientific confirmation. Here it is. NASA’s MAVEN (= Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) in orbit for years, has measured that Mars loses around 100 grams of atmosphere per second, due to impact from the Solar Wind (protons going at 400 kilometers per second).

That’s not good. Still, back of the envelope computations show Mars should still have a thick atmosphere. Instead, its density is only 1% of Earth, and few of Earth’s most primitive lifeforms are hardy enough to survive in Mars CO2 atmosphere (even neglecting UV and low temperatures).

Once the atmosphere was going, the water followed, and so did the considerable greenhouse water vapor brought. Water vapor (H2O) is more greenhousy than CO2, meaning the relationship CO2-H2O is nonlinear: higher CO2 on Earth means higher H2O, hence even higher greenhouse than the simple rise of CO2 would naively bring).

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars' Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars’ Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

So, if 100 grams per second was not enough to strip the atmosphere why did it escape Mars as much as it did?

The Sun is an hectic thermonuclear engine shaken by internal explosions. Occasionally a Mass Coronal Ejection (MCE) occurs. Then an alarming eruption of inordinate magnitude, violently flings material off the sun, in a particular eruption. The last one to hit the Earth was in the Nineteenth Century, and it caused severe disruption to the then nascent electrodynamic industry. More severe ones went here and there in the meantime (sparing Earth for now).

However, one hit Mars, and MAVEN was there to measure what happened. What happened? The MCE driven Solar Wind smacked into Mars with great force, and robbed the planet of five kilograms of atmosphere per second.

So what philosophy to extract from this?

  1. Thank our nuclear reactor at the core, which maintains an iron ocean, hundreds of kilometers deep, below our feet.
  2. Life is fragile: it can get started easily, but  can get killed easily.
  3. With at least two planets where life started, in the Solar System, life, basic life, probably started all over the galaxy.
  4. Earth’s life has a very high probability to be of Martian origin.

Why the last point? Because Mars cooled down at least four time faster than Earth. The very latest news show that life started on Earth within 500 million years of our planet’s formation. At that point, Earth became cool enough to sustain life (in spite of the formation of the Moon, which, whether from an impact or from my own nuclear eruption theory, was characterized by great heat, and worldwide fusion of the crust). By then Mars had been cool enough for four hundred million years, at least, to allow life (I get that working backwards from the geological date of life start on Earth, and the factor 4, from the surface ratios).

How did life bearing material go from Mars to Earth? Martian meteorites are found on Earth: an object crashes on Mars and debris flung into space (Mars has lower gravity than Earth). Some documented trips took no more than 15 million years, and temperatures within would have preserved life. More than four billion years ago, the bombardment was extremely intense, and Martian meteorites may have penetrated the terrestrial atmosphere continually. And it would just take one meteorite.

A baby was dying in London, from leukemia. All usual treatments were tried, and failed. The doctors proposed to try an approach so far only experimented only on mice. Collaborating quickly with the French company, CELLECTIS Paris, designer cells made to attack specifically Layla’s cancer were engineered. The treatment was an astounding success, so far. To make war against all diseases is not just fair, it is the war which has to be waged, paying our respects to Mars. In particular, I am certain that, when the choice is between death and trying a treatment which seems to have worked on mice, one should chose the latter. If nothing else, it brings hope, and the certainty one is contributing to:

  1. Fighting back (the most human thing to do, facing evil).
  2. Science
  3. Treatment to all of humanity (other babies, etc.), another most human behavior to engage in: giving one’s life for others.

So kudos to the doctors in London (and the British government for allowing experimentation, plus the two parents for having encouraged it).

Our species celebrates Mars as a god, because war is one of our oldest instincts. Anglo-Saxon media generally scrupulously avoided to mention that this was FRENCH technology (from a French start-up, of all things!). Not mentioning France is part of the war of Anglo-Saxon plutocracy against France. We are all Martians, in more ways than one. And yes, we need to cultivate the better angels of that Martian side of us.

Patrice Ayme’

Human Kind, Yet Evil Rule

October 17, 2015

Humanity Good, Institutions Bad? Not so simple. Evil Rule (Pluto-Cracy) is a fundamental consequence of human nature, amplified by civilization.

In “Human Kind“, 14th October 2015 George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14th October 2015, suggests that:“Fascinating new lines of research suggest that we are good people, tolerating bad things.”

Sounds good. It’s very self-congratulatory: defining oneself as “on the left”, “liberal”, etc. has much to do with self-satisfaction about what a great human one is. I sent the following comment:

“Saying that “people are good, while tolerating bad things” is an ineffective morality. The crux, indeed, is the moral nature of institutions, controlled by a few, rather than whether humans are kind or not.”

That observation of mine was censored, as  all my comments to Monbiot in the Guardian are. Human kind? Thus Monbiot readers’ minds are kept safe from my dreadful influence (lest readers flee the Guardian, and starts reading my site?).

Cephalopods Are Highly Intelligent, But They Have No Cultural Intelligence., Thus Stay Mental Miniatures

Cephalopods Are Highly Intelligent, But They Have No Cultural Intelligence., Thus Stay Mental Miniatures

Meanwhile in the terror war occupation in Israel, in a few days, more than 40 young Palestinians got killed. One by one. Human kind? If something looking like a Palestinian moves, it gets shot. Some Jewish Israelis got actually shot because other Israelis thought they looked like the enemy (hey, they are all supposed to all be Semites! One very blonde beauty with very long hair who happened to be an Israeli soldier shot dead a Palestinian youth who may have pricked her: she is OK, don’t worry).

Cephalopods are surprisingly intelligent. They even use tools (the definition of Bergson of man as Homo Faber, Homo Artisan-Of-Hard-Materials is to be questioned). However, cephalopods experience short, brutish, asocial lives, and that boxes in their intelligence. This demonstrates that fully-dimensioned intelligence is social, and, in particular, cultural.

Superior intelligence is not just about the individual, it’s about the collective. Our biosphere, our part of the biosphere, is collectively intelligent (somewhat as in the movie Avatar).

Before I quote the interesting part of Monbiot’s article (which mainly quotes others), let me re-iterate my main thesis on altruism and love:

All advanced brain animals have to love, love enough to raise the young. To say love dominates, is saying we have brains grown with culture. It’s an important thing to say. And it explains the experiences Monbiot mentions.

Compare to the poignant fate of cephalopods, whose bright intelligence starts from scratch, with no culture, whatsoever. Cephalopod intelligence shines brightly, and quickly peters out, in a flurry of new born eggs.

So, the difference between us and squids is that we are adorned with philosophers, and other thinkers. The scorn Monbiot heaps on them is neither kind, nor wise, not to say arrogant, coming from someone with a simple journalist background (and it shows!).

A review article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology points out that our behaviour towards unrelated members of our species is “spectacularly unusual when compared to other animals”. While chimpanzees might share food with members of their own group, though usually only after being plagued by aggressive begging, they tend to react violently towards strangers. Chimpanzees, the authors note, behave more like the Homo economicus of neoliberal mythology than people do.”

That is not just a funny joke, but a deep observation, that traders are just enraged chimps. However, to view chimpanzee behavior as typical of other animals is erroneous. Chimpanzees are half-savannah animals. I saw one once in an area with small, very small, and sparse trees, and the first serious forest was weeks of travel away. Not surprisingly, he was acting fiercely and dangerously, in an area roamed by lion prides. Lions having a look at him, won’t try to come close: he shook an entire small tree he was hanging from, and swung away, with incredible power and speed, after flashing his four inches canines.

Thus Monbiot go off the deep end with chimpanzees. Here is a more balanced view: humans keep much in common with chimpanzees. They both descend from common ancestors (who may have been more Homo like than Chimp like: we don’t really know, however fossils, and logic, point in that direction).

Emotionally and socially, the psychology of chimps is very similar to humans,” says famous primatologist Frans de Waal at Emory University in Atlanta (a Dutch who started his famous observations in the Netherlands; universities in the USA have more money).

For instance, de Waal noted, chimps have shown they can help unrelated chimps and human strangers at personal cost without apparent expectation of personal gain, the sort of selfless behavior often naively claimed as unique to humans. They also display culture, with groups of chimpanzees socially passing on dozens of behaviors such as tool kits, and methods from generation to generation that are often very different from those seen in other groups. There are basically as many Chimpanzee cultures as chimpanzee tribes (and that’s thousands).

The big difference I see going for us is language,” de Waal said. “They can learn a few symbols in labs, but it’s not impressive in my opinion compared to what even a young child can do. They don’t really symbolize like we do, and language is a big difference that influences everything else that you do — how you communicate, basic social interactions, all these become far more complex.

Mathematics is, first of all, a language, remember.

The hyper aggressivity of Chimpanzees is related to their evolution: “They don’t like cooperating with strangers, that’s for sure,” de Waal said. Harvard biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham suggested this pattern of genetic (so to speak) violence may have been part of humanity’s legacy for millions of years. Yet, de Waal observed that based on what the canines of Ardipithecus suggest, “chimpanzees may be specialized in that regard [hyperviolence]. It’s only with the special recent human conditions of settlement and agriculture that gave us the incentive to worry about wealth, leading us to become warriors that way.”

This is close to my thesis: EVIL RULE (“Plutocracy”) was made possible by civilization. Before that it was just Demonic Males. Demonicity plus civilization = Evil Rule.

Compare de Waal’ subtlety with Monbiot’s imbalanced enthusiasm characteristic of the journalist he is:

“Humans, by contrast, are ultra-social: possessed of an enhanced capacity for empathy, an unparalleled sensitivity to the needs of others, a unique level of concern about their welfare and an ability to create moral norms that generalise and enforce these tendencies.

Such traits emerge so early in our lives that they appear to be innate. In other words, it seems that we have evolved to be this way. By the age of 14 months, children begin to help each other, for example by handing over objects another child can’t reach. By the time they are two, they start sharing things they value. By the age of three, they start to protest against other people’s violation of moral norms.”

Altruism is shown by nearly all advanced animals, because that’s how intelligence is grown. Thus, it’s not about material rewards. On board (so to speak) systems reward altruism intrinsically. Monbiot again:

“A fascinating paper in the journal Infancy reveals that reward has nothing to do with it. Three to five-year-olds are less likely to help someone a second time if they have been rewarded for doing it the first time. In other words, extrinsic rewards appear to undermine the intrinsic desire to help. (Parents, economists and government ministers, please note). The study also discovered that children of this age are more inclined to help people if they perceive them to be suffering, and that they want to see someone helped whether or not they do it themselves. This suggests that they are motivated by a genuine concern for other people’s welfare, rather than by a desire to look good. And it seems to be baked in.

Why? How would the hard logic of evolution produce such outcomes? This is the subject of heated debate.”

The heated debate is happening because the sort of view I defend (the view in Avatar, that of global intelligence, one could say) is progressing against the very reduced Survival-Of-The-Fittest approach.

The difference between us and squids is that we are adorned with philosophers, and the scorn journalist such as Monbiot heaps on them is neither kind, nor wise, not to say arrogant.

Humans are intrinsic scientists and philosophers, not just lovers and warriors. To try to say they are all one, and not the others misses the big picture.

The left, by insisting that humans are kind, underestimates the evil institutions are capable of. Institutions, although moral persons, in the legal sense, are not held back by human ethology in the behaviors they are capable of. (Nazism provided with plenty of example of that: even the very worst Nazis, including Himmler or Eichmann, found really hard to go all the way, and could do it, only by using institutional tricks, making institutions, Nazi institutions to force them to do what even them found too hard to do.)

Let’s not underestimate institutionalized evil. It has no bounds, whatsoever. Nazism, or Stalinism, were not about just a few very bad guys, they were about evil institutions, including a Prussianized army (in contrast to a human one). Let’s build human kind institutions that cannot not be commandeered by just a few (as our entire democracy-through-representatives regime gangrening the West, not to say the world, is).

Thus, to progress morally will mean to progress in the intelligence of the institutions we will set-up to rule over us. Hence moral progress will be a consequence, and only a consequence, of scientific and technological approfondissement (deepening).

Patrice Ayme’

Save Species By Exploiting Them

August 16, 2015


It’s Not Just A Question Of Saving Them, But Saving Our Mental Potential.

Ah, Cecil the Lion, this blood thirsty monster, with giant fangs, was slowly and cruelly assassinated by an evil American dentist. Let’s cry, say the politically correct. Hypocrisy and false reality are the gifts which keep on giving.

A few days ago, a “Mother Bear”, called “Blaze”, in Yellowstone National Park killed and ate, in part, a 63 year old hiker. When she, and her brood, came back for more choice morsels, inhuman, or all-too-human, rangers shot her to death. Her cubs were sent to Toledo, presumably to learn the Flamenco. Let’s cry, it’s the politically correct thing to do.

Rocks @ High Velocity Is The Compassionate Way To Handle Attacking Predators

Rocks @ High Velocity Is The Compassionate Way To Handle Attacking Predators

[Years ago, the recommendation was to lay prone in case of predator attack; this is wrong: predators don’t like to be hurt, a fortiori crippled. By the way, the largest bears are much larger than described above; some subspecies can reach a ton.]

I read some of the “Compassionate Conservationism” press. They are all over the Internet, including the Huffington Post (of course). The comments posted are bloodthirsty against the killer species, man. If only people stopped killing, everything would be great, they scream.

The “Compassionate” ones are against all and any killing. They are also against all and any suffering. As if suffering was the exclusive invention, and province, of human killers. They are completely hysterical about it, forgetting the following: part of wisdom is learning to not be too easily offended.

The problem is not just that suffering is part of the world, and thus, the mind, in full, as I have argued in:

The problem is that the best way to insure no animal suffering in a given species is by killing the species. Thus the truly compassionate are terminators. As all good terminators, they don’t have any inkling of the horror they are visiting on the world.

Where is this going?

Last time we had frantic animal rights people in power, they called themselves Nazis:

This made sense: the Nazis tended to hate human beings. To show that, nevertheless, they were good and their hearts were pure, they disingenuously claimed to love animals to death.

People who are so sensitive and unreal to believe that if only people stopped killing animals, the world would be set right, are neither very capable mentally, nor capable of defending themselves.

But there is even a deeper analysis: remember that death, nirvana, annihilation, is the best way to terminate animal suffering. Thus those who advocate stridently to terminate animal suffering are actually advocating annihilation.

Philosophically, I disagree with them. Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. Indeed. But what is the examination made of? Of the mind, applying itself. And what is the mind made of? Of the world. The fuller the world, the fuller the life. Hence the interest of REWILDING US. It’s not just about them, it’s even more about us.

A life less full in less worth living. The examining mind fosters, and is fostered, by surviving the world in full.

Ecology, in full, is the ultimate capital given to us by nature. It has to be protected, and, in particular, the species do. This means finding them economic utility.

Man-eating bears roaming national parks is no way to encourage other human beings to visit the parks, or making people feel warmer and cuddlier about bears.

The 63 year old hiker was “experienced”, said the National Park Service. Although he did not carry bear spray (so the “compassionate conservationists claimed he was at fault).

I carry bear spray when in grizzly country, and nearly used it once against a charging moose (with calf). Charging moose with calf kills more people than grizzlies in Alaska. The calf slipped and fell, and I was able to skirt that unbalanced duo through small diameter trees (having made the theory they would hinder those gigantic quadrupeds). I was not at fault: I had stopped, one hundred meters away, and waited calmly for those ferocious beasts to get off the trail. But, half an hour later, they did the Mohican hairdo thing, lowered their ears, both well-known ominous signs, and charged me casually.

In most of the Alaskan temperate jungle, the safety bear spray provides with is illusory: vision is extremely limited by an exuberant vegetation, with giant leaves, you would smell the bear before you see it!

Half-Ton Bear, Flying To Your Annihilation. No Beast That Could Survive The Genus Homo For Millions Of Years Is Easy Game

Half-Ton Bear, Flying To Your Annihilation. No Beast That Could Survive The Genus Homo For Millions Of Years Is Easy Game

Bears charge at 20 miles an hour through thickets, that’s a problem. Bear spray also has a guard and is cumbersome: one cannot spent hours with a finger on the trigger. (Bear hunters in the past used dogs, who provide warning, or stick to open country.) Black bears are also very dangerous: they can kill and eat humans, where they think they can get away with it. I have been charged by black bears more than once, and had to go full prehistoric, even hitting a bear with a large rock, with drastic effect.

The way to handle dangerous predators is to collar them with GPS, and have professionals track their activities. You want some employment for the future? Here is one of them! One should make an app giving the location of the ferocious beasts. The National Park in Banff, Alberta, already handles grizzlies that way when they approach inhabited areas.

If we want to save nature, we have to endow it with economic utility. This is the highest morality. Let me repeat slowly: if we want to save nature, all of nature, we have to endow nature, all of nature, with economic utility. This means, in particular rewilding. However, rewilding does not mean that human beings ought to be made fair game.

Quite the opposite. The essence of humanity is that human beings are not fair game.

We own this planet, all of it, and our minds depend upon that. Saving them is about saving us, but it cannot come cheap, so we have to redefine what is expensive, and compassion is one of those values which have to be redefined.

Those who claim animals deserve as much, or more, compassion than human beings are either not honest, or mental weakling whose logic will never stand the heat of reality. They bestow nature a disservice, by brandishing useless, self-defeating, narcissistic self-admiring considerations which aim at befuddling the cosmos.

Not feeling the pain we deserve to make us whole, is a pain we can’t afford.

Patrice Ayme’

Very Ancient Relationships

June 4, 2015


Does it matter for tomorrow’s philosophy what Neanderthals aspired to do and succeeded to do, 100,000 years ago? Yes. Why? Because it helps us figuring out the human condition, our condition.
We are, in particular, trying to make intelligent, cooperative machines to serve us, just as Neanderthals artificially selected wolves into kind beings to serve us.

Paleontology, is a field where knowledge is progressing by leaps, bonds, and revolutions. To wit, the recent discovery in Ethiopia, of a different species of hominid contemporary of the famous “Lucy” (Australopithecus Afarensis). That new hominid is (more) in the direct line of Homo… And is associated to the oldest tools ever found (3.3 million years old).

To come back to the wolf domestication story: it seems, to me, to say much more, very clearly. First, wolf domestication is part of technologization (a neologism). Dogs were the science fiction robots of new tech, 100,000 years ago.
Second, it is striking that dogs were evolved, by artificial selection, from EUROPEAN wolves. This has momentous philosophical consequences on the human condition.

The chronology is clear. The Goyet dog (at least 31,000 years old, maybe 36,000 years) was clearly very evolved, artificially, away from the original EUROPEAN wolves (it was very physiologically different from a wolf).

Striking conclusion? The Goyet dog had to have come from a very old linage. Wolves were domesticated by European Neanderthals (there were Neanderthals, and African wolves, in Africa… little known facts).

So we are left pondering the Neanderthals, symbolic of humanity’s fate. Neanderthals were the first to burn coal (73,000 years ago, in present-day France). this is when we started to reach for the stars…

The oldest art found now seems to go way back to Homo Erectus.

Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis was, apparently, mentally superior: why did other human subspecies not domesticate their local wolves? How could that be? From the fact Neanderthals lived in the hardest, subarctic environment. Technology enabled them to do so. Technology was not just pants and coal, it was also dogs. Thus need forced excellence. More hardships led to more humanity!

When the going gets tough, the tough gets techie. By opting for dogs and coal, 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals showed us the way.

If Neanderthals were so superior, how come that they disappeared? Well, first they did not really disappear: Neanderthal genes are found all the way to the southern tip of Africa (!).

Secondly, I have engineered a sophisticate Neanderthal sort-of-disappearance theory, which is purely mathematical, considering how the smaller body masses of Homo SS from Africa would advantage their reproduction during climate change (when it’s known Neanderthals got swamped by Homo SS).

Details are found in:

So what of the myth of Sisyphus?

Maybe it applied to Camus. Some people are their private hells. However, Sisyphus does not apply to the human condition in general, something stronger than ever, four million years after setting itself on its journey of hope.

And now for Paul Handover’s essay!


Learning from Dogs

My relationship with Pharaoh has echoes of much earlier times.

This is a post that was originally published by Learning from Dogs back in July 2012!

It seemed so fitting to repost it this week. Not only in recognition of my dear Pharaoh’s birthday yesterday, but also in recognition of all the dogs and their loving human companions since time immemorial. What magnificent creatures they are.


The woof at the Door.

The grandeur of the ancient relationship between dog and man.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a fascinating article that had been published in American Scientist magazine (online version) written by Professor Pat Shipman.  The article provided the background and evidence to support the proposition that dogs may have been man’s best friend for thousands of years longer than we realized.

Very quickly I came across Pat Shipman’s website and learnt that this is one clever lady…

View original post 3,711 more words


May 22, 2015


What Are Genes? Well, not what they thought… Yesterday.


A gene in a life form ought to be a mechanism or device which (partly) generates the life form.

Forget about restricting “genes” to DNA inside the nucleus, I am using a philosophical definition. It gives immediately rise to a mathematical definition of “genes”. A “gene” is any reproducible form.

Example: Prions. They reproduce a molecular form. They have nothing to do with DNA.
Do we know genes fully? Certainly not. That would mean we know fully the way a human being (say) is reproduced.

Much Of What's Inside A Cell Is NON-DNA Reproduced

Much Of What’s Inside A Cell Is NON-DNA Reproduced

In the case of humans, it is said by those that everything we are comes from 35,000 genes they distinguish deep down inside. It seems unlikely that one can get so much from so little.
So is there more than those 35,000? Yes. First there are extranucleic genes, part of extrachromosomal DNA. There are also contributions from viruses, which can insert their own genes inside ours. Permanently. All these are part of Non-Mendelian Inheritance.

Moreover, let’s consider cellular division. “VEGETATIVE SEGREGATION” results from self-replication and then partitioning of cytoplasmic organelles. If one just look at the mass of what’s replicated, when a large organism is reproduced most of the mass is generated by this geometric copying. That’s also true for the smallest cell with organelles.

Now it turns out that centrioles are also an example of NON-DNA reproduction. They are transmitted by sperm, whereas mitochondria are transmitted by eggs.

The study just published, from Lausanne’s EPFL University, shows that centrioles can carry information over the generations.

Genetically modified versions of the worm C. Elegans, the one with Free Will, had three different centriole proteins tagged with a fluorescent signal. Tagged male worms were mated to untagged females. Scientists could specifically track centriole components that were contributed from the father during the course of embryogenesis.

Gönczy’s team imaged the fluorescent signals at different cell divisions of the developing embryos, and discovered that paternally contributed centriole proteins persist up to ten cell generations. Centrioles are persistent in the embryos. They are Non-DNA/RNA genetic information carriers.
“Centrioles have always been seen as something that just jumpstarts the development of the embryo,” says Pierre Gönczy. “Here we show that centrioles could be the means of a unidirectional inheritance of information, with considerable impact in early development.”
Several disease are known to originate in centrioles.

The evidence is strong for what I expected all along: organelles themselves are information carriers, and inheritance is not all about DNA. It’s the entire geometry of eukaryotic cell which reproduces, DIRECTLY, geometrically, not just DNA.
That’s called a paradigm shift.

So much for the selfish gene, and similar philosophical reductions to the absurd, fed by provisional science. This shows how dangerous it is to devise hasty philosophy from poorly digested knowledge. We are not just our DNA.

Life reproduces, but life does not just reproduces digitally (that is, through DNA). Instead geometric, topological, and analogous reproduction is also at work.
Patrice Ayme’

Neurons, Axons, Axioms

March 30, 2015

(Second Part of “Causality Explained”)

Axiomatic Systems Are Fragile:

Frege was one of the founders of mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. Frege wrote the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik [Basic Laws of Arithmetic], in three volumes. He published the first volume in 1894 (paying for it himself). Just before the second volume was going to press, in 1903, a young Bertrand Russell informed Frege of a dangerous contradiction, Russell’s paradox (a variant of the Cretan Liar Paradox). Frege was thrown in total confusion: a remedy he tried to apply reduced the number of objects his system could be applied to, to just ONE. Oops.

Frege was no dummy: he invented quantifiers (Second Order Logic, crucial to all of mathematics). It is just that logic can be pitiless.

If  Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

If Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

Neurons are (part of) the solution to the problem of thinking, a problem so deep, we cannot conceive of it. A second independent evolution of neuronicity would certainly prove that.

Truer Axiomatics Is Simpler, More Powerful:

Russell and Whitehead, colossal mathematicians and philosophers, decided to demonstrate 1 + 1 = 2. Without making “Cretan Liar” self-contradictions.

They wrote a book to do so. In the second volume, around page 200, they succeeded.

I prefer simpler axioms to get to 1 + 1 =2.

(Just define the right hand side with the left.)

It would be interesting that philsophers define what “causing” means, and what “causality” is, for us. Say with explicit examples.

I want to know what cause causes. It’s a bit like pondering what is is.

Some creatures paid as philosophers by employers know 17th century physics, something about billiards balls taught in first year undergraduate physics. (I know it well, I have taught it more than once.) Then they think they know science. All they know is Middle-Ages physics.

These first year undergraduates then to explain the entire world with the nail and hammer they know so well.

They never made it to Statistical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, etc. And the associated “Causality” of these realms of knowledge.


Axiomatics Of Causality With The Quantum:

How does “causality” work in the Quantum Mechanics we have?

You consider an experiment, analyze its eigenstates, set-up the corresponding Hilbert space, and then compute.

“Billiard Balls” is what seems to happen when the associated De Broglie wave has such high frequency that the eigenstates seem continuous.

So Classical Mechanical “causality” is an asymptote.


Know How To Dream… To Bring Up New Axiomatics

Human beings communicate digitally (words and their letters or ideograms), and through programs (aka languages, including logic and mathematics).

All of this used conventions, “rules”, truths I call axioms, to simplify… the language (this is not traditional, as many of these axioms have had names for 25 centuries).

So for example, I view the “modus ponens” (if P implies Q and P happens, then Q) as an axiom (instead of just a “logical form” or “rule of inference”).

The reason to call basic “logic forms” “axioms” is that they are more fragile than they look. One can do with, or without them. All sorts of non-classical logics do without the “excluded third law” (for example fuzzy set theory).

With such a semantic, one realizes that all great advances in understanding have to do with setting up more appropriate axioms.


Buridan’s Revolution, Or An Axiomatics Revolution:

In the Fourteenth Century, the intellectual movement launched by Buridan, included Oresme and the Oxford Calculators. They discovered inertia, momentum (“impetus”), graphs, the law of falling bodies, the heliocentric system (undistinguishable from the geocentric system, said Buridan, but we may as well stick to the latter, as it is in Scripture, said Buridan, wryly).

Buridan’s revolution is little known. But was no accident: Buridan refused to become a theologian, he stuck to the faculty of arts (so Buridan did not have to waste time in sterile debates with god cretins… differently from nearly all intellectuals of the time). Much of Buridan is still in untranslated Medieval Latin, that may explain it, after centuries of Catholic war against him.

These breakthroughs were major, and consisted in a number of new axioms (now often attributed to Galileo, Descartes, Newton). The axioms had a tremendous psychological effect. At the time, Buridan, adviser to no less than four Kings, head of the University of Paris, was untouchable.

The philosopher cum mathematician, physicist and politician, died in 1360. In 1473, the pope and king Louis XI conspired to try to stop the blossoming Renaissance.

More than a century after his death, Buridan’s works, his new axioms, were made unlawful to read. (However Buridan was mandatory reading in Cracow, and Copernic re-published the work, as soon as he was safely ensconced within the safety of his death bed).

The mind, the brain, is quite fuzzy (in the sense of fuzzy set theory; the dreaming part; think of dendrites, prominences within synapses, starfish-like astrocytes, neurotransmitters, etc.). Axioms, and axons enable to code it digitally. So mathematization, and programmation are intrinsic human mental activities.


We Are All Theoretical Scientists Of The Mathematical Type:

Human beings continually draw consequences from the axioms they have, through the intermediary of giant systems of thought, and systems of mood (mentality for short).

When reality comes to drastically contradict expected consequences, mentality is modified, typically in the easiest way, with what I call an ANTI-IDEA.

For example when a number of physics Nobel laureates (Lenard, Stark) were anxious to rise in the Nazi Party, they had to reconcile the supposed inferiority of the Jews with the fact that Einstein was a Jew. They could not admit either that Poincare’ invented Relativity, as he was also of the most hated nation (and of the most anti-German fascism family in France!).

So they simply claimed that it was all “Jewish Science” (this way they did not have to wax lyrically about why they had collaborated with Einstein before anti-Judaism).

When brute force anti-ideas don’t work after all (as became clear to Germans in 1945), then a full re-organization of the axiomatics is in order.

An example, as I said, is fuzzy set theory. It violates the Excluded-Third Law.

But sometimes the reconsideration may be temporary. (Whether A and Non-A holds in the LOGIC of Quantum Mechanics, the Einstein-Schrodinger Cat, is a matter of heated debate.)


 Quantum Logic:,Both In & Out Of This World:

The removal of old logical axioms can be definitive. For example the Distributive Law of Propositional Calculus fails in Quantum Logic. That has to do with the Uncertainty Principle, a wave effect that would be etched in stone, were it not even more fundamental.


Verdict? Neurons, Axons, And Axioms Make One System:

We have been playing with axioms for millions of years: they reflect the hierarchical, axon dominated, neuron originated most basic structure of the nervous system.


Well, the neuronal-axonal skeleton of minds is probably the lowest energy solution to the problem of thinking in the appropriate space. It has just been proposed neurons evolved twice:

We do not just think axiomatically, but we certainly communicate axiomatically, even with ourselves. And the axiomatics are dynamical. Thus causes learn to fit effects.

The fact this work is subjective, in part, does not mean it does not have to do with nature. Just the opposite: causality is nature answering the call of nature, with a flourish.

Human mentality is a continual dialogue between nature inside (Claude Bernard) and nature outside.

Changing axioms is hard work: it involves brain re-wiring. Not just connecting different neurons, but also probably modifying them inside.

Mathematicians have plenty of occasions to ponder what a proof (thus an explanation) is. The situation is worse than ever, with immense proofs only the author gets (Fermat’s Last Theorem was just an appetizer), or then computer-assisted proofs (nobody can check what happened, and it’s going to get worse with full Quantum Computers).

Not all and any reasoning is made to be understood by everybody. (Mathematicians have to use alien math they don’t really understand, quite often.)

Yes, thinking is hard. And not always nice. But somebody has to do it. Just remember this essence, when trying to communicate with the stars: hard, and not always nice.

Patrice Ayme’

Sometimes, The Ends Justify The Means

March 6, 2015

Putin’s Reich, like Hitler’s Reich, can be thoroughly surrealistic.

Russia captured an Ukrainian army pilot, a well-known woman who served against in the Middle East. That an Ukrainian combat helicopter pilot ended in a cage in Russia is even stranger: did Ukraine invade Russia? No. Did Russia invade Ukraine? How else does Putin capture famous Ukrainian pilot (and then accuse her of “murder”).

Meanwhile, all over the Middle East, The Islamists bulldoze the past, as it proves that their so-called Prophet was just an analphabet raider who came thousands of years after the invention of civilization and secular law, in exactly the same place. The advantage, is that they show Islamist ideology for what it is. Here is how Islam conquered the Middle East:

Nazis Hid Such Pictures, Islamists Gloat About Them

Nazis Hid Such Pictures, Islamists Gloat About Them

OK, 13 centuries ago, they used swords, not guns. The child is Christian Armenian in Syria. Armenia was the first Christian nation (early Fourth Century, more than 400 years before the invention of Islam by a raider called Muhammad).

Per Kurowski, having read my Savage, The Franks? Islam Is Worse in Learning From Dogs, made the following comment, which I found weird (but it gave me an opening for a strong retort):

“Here a (nasty) question asked by Daniel C. Dennett in the book “Thinking” (2013) edited by John Brockman.

“Suppose that we face some horrific, terrible enemy… and here’s two different armies that we could use to defend ourselves. The Gold Army and the Silver Army: same numbers, same training, same weaponry. They’re all armored and armed as well as can do. The difference is that the Gold Army has been convinced that God is on their side and this is cause of righteousness, and it’s as simple as that. The Silver Army is entirely composed of economists. They’re all making side insurance bets and calculating the odds of everything… Which army do you want on the front lines?”

And Dennett has introduced the question by citing William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) with: “Far better is it for an army to be too savage, to cruel, too barbarous, than to possess too much sentimentality and human reasonableness”. 

So now you ponder on that for a while.”

Thanks Per, for mentioning Daniel Dennet, a well-known American philosopher, with a towering reputation, and this ineffable property of colossal boredom that seems to emanate from all American philosophers.

Like a giant Black Hole at the heart of a galaxy, I need to swallow stuff, so I can make light. Dennet will do for now.

First, let me say that I approve Paul’s answer 100%. Here I go:



The big mistake in World War two was to realize too late that Nazism had to be physically destroyed, with maximum savagery.

The French Republic understood it: by January 1938, the French War Ministry launched a hyper secret NUCLEAR bomb program (Irene Curie, daughter of Marie, had not already a Nobel Prize, but she also had discovered the nuclear chain reaction, and taught it to Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, both German, who, fortunately, had not understood too well what the much smarter Irene had found).

The aim of the program was to atom bomb Berlin: Nazis were to get what they deserved (the project fled later to England, and then MANHATTAN, becoming the project by that name).

Morality? Against those who have none, but the Dark Side, only darker ways win. 

The British followed the French example (Churchill of course knew about the nuclear bomb project): against the Nazis, only a deeper darkness would do. So they prepared a strategic bomber fleet. The idea was to eradicate Nazi cities, if it had to come to that. The British were ready for the worst.

The British were ready for the worst, the Nazis were not: it would have meant, for the later, to look deep in their ugly souls.

So they did not look.

So they did not anticipate that they ugly souls would lead them to be at war, again, with France and Britain. Or, maybe in 1945 (some of them, including Hitler, planned, secretly). But not in 1939. Thus the Nazis did not prepare with a bomber fleet and enough anti-aircraft defenses. Britain did, because Britain anticipated the ugliness of what could follow: as the British soul was pure, it could look into the possible consequences of Nazi evil. So Britain prepared for the worst, all-out war (something the ex-director of Mi6 just suggested may happen with Putin).

To fight evil, one has to draw the line somewhere. Thus, in 1939, Britain followed France, which had a defense treaty with Poland, and told Hitler that invading Poland was out of the question.

Hitler, stuck, made his hyper secret alliance with Soviet dictator Stalin official.

France and Britain, and Poland were undeterred. Poland refused to concede any territory for its Prussian tormentors who had occupied her for centuries.

Hitler attacked. France and Britain declared war.


At that point, it was clear Hitler had lost. It was just a matter of time. The Nazis tried to get lucky, and they were, in May 1940, after several inconceivable blunders by the French and British commands, who had not anticipated how insane the Nazis were. And Lady Luck was Nazi in May 1940.


When the Nazis had to turn to air war against Britain, though, they were not ready. But the Brits were. Nazi attacks against English cities met the wrath of the RAF. Ultimately savage city bombing at night reduced Hitler’s Reich to smoldering ruins. One million men manned the anti-aircraft guns, but still, British bombers inflicted war hindering damage. (By comparison, the Nazis had never more than three million men trying to invade the USSR.)

Why could not the Nazis reciprocate in kind? They had no (long range) bomber fleet. Their puny force was mostly wiped out in 1940. they had never anticipated they would find themselves in total war with Britain… While they were still unprepared. They had not anticipated that the French and the British would see all the way through their nasty Nazi souls and decided to do away with them, mustering whatever it took.

Later the USAF joined, and the Nazis ran out of everything. Especially the capacity to make ammunitions, explosives, and fuel.

Was it rough? Sure. But there was no other way to win the war.

And if that war had been lost, the Nazis, in the end, would have simply killed most of humanity.


That the ends never justify the means is cheap metaphysics. It’s a perfect metaphysics for slaves to have, if you are a master, as the servants will thus never revolt.

In practice, metaphysics ought to never contradict physics. In the real world, absolute force is justified by absolute morality.

Pointing guns at a toddler, and, or, gloating about it, is an absolute wrong.

Chimps or simple monkeys, or even dogs would understand this (once they have been shown what guns can do). Not only is morality absolute, but, ethological research shows, it is shared among all advanced species.

This is why dolphins rescue people at sea. It is also why dolphins do not attack people, although people do hunt, kill, and eat people in some parts of the world (I discovered that myself as a child in Africa; I have more to say on this another day).

Why is the genus Homo so demonic?

Well, it is a question of superiority.

However, that sense of superiority, with its Dark Side can only be moderated with even greater force. God is not our friend, as it is just an illusion, and allusion, that primitives have. However, force, inflicted with enough demonicity, is all the god we need.

Obama has learned that way: he has, de facto, allied himself with Iran (whose Prime Minister Abadi justified said alliance by claiming it was like that of the West with the USSR against the Nazis; I wonder if he realizes this means that he is working for Stalin…)

One should go one cynicism further: the strength of the Islamist State has come from officers from Saddam Hussein’s army. Should one want to finish the conflict, one could make them an offer they cannot refuse. But then, of course, does not want to really finish that conflict?

Situations develop an intelligence of their own, and conflicts are debates, at another level.

When rats are pressed in a cage, they become vicious. We have been building a cage, and it has not become more comfortable.

Belgium had, a little while back, 381 species of wild bees (crucial to the survival of the biosphere). Three years ago, it was down to 11, and a recent survey found only 5.

What, or rather, who, is killing the bees?

More on this later, and the connection with the world’s richest, and, according to himself, best man, the one who should pay no taxes, Bill Gates. Gates of hell are for those who make it so that too much power comes into too few hands.

Patrice Ayme’

Stellar Flybys: New Way To Life’s Extinction

March 2, 2015


How fragile is life?


Many disasters can strike a biosphere.

A famous “equation” the Drake equation, is meant to estimate the probability of life in the galaxy. It overlooked many factors. One of them is interstellar near-misses. It is not a question of stars colliding, but of the disruption of solar systems.

A star zoomed through our Solar System just 70,000 years ago, astronomers have just discovered.

Scholz's System: I Zoomed By, Therefore I Scare

Scholz’s System: I Zoomed By, Therefore I Scare

No other star is known to have approached this close to us.

The international team of astronomers found that the intruder came five times closer than our current nearest neighbour – Proxima Centauri (at .8 light year whereas Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light year away).

The star, a red dwarf known as Scholz’s star, cruised through the outer Oort Cloud, a region not as much stuffed with comets as the inner Oort Cloud. Scholz’s Star is 8% of the mass of the Sun, and it is accompanied by a brown dwarf which is nearly as massive (6% of Sun mass). It goes without saying that going through the comet cloud would have adverse consequences for advanced life on Earth. But worse could happen.

(Brown dwarves just miss the mass necessary mass to have enough heat and pressure to get fusion going in their cores).

Something struck me when extrasolar planets were discovered. How frequent were the super-Jupiters grazing their home stars? Of course, there was a detection bias (with the technology used by the French Corot, and the more recent USA Kepler, the probability to detect a super-Jupiter close by was overwhelming).

However, a question loomed: how do you get a gas giant that was obviously formed far from the home star, so close to the home star? One could imagine a cloud breaking the planet, but that makes little sense (as cloud and planet have similar angular momentum, and the planet would suck the cloud).

What’s left?

Collisions. Or more exactly, near-misses.

Previous work suggests that flybys within 0.25 pc occur infrequently (~0.1 Myr−1).

Sedna, a dwarf planet, whose orbit varies between 70 (seventy) and 1,000 (thousand) Astronomical Units (AU, the distance between Sun and Earth). Maybe a remnant from a near collision (torn from a Red Dwarf clutches).

In any case, Scholz’s star came within 52,000 AUs of the Sun. And it passed very fast (the slower the pass, the greater the disruption).

If it had passed within 100 AUs, the disruption would have been considerable (Neptune is at 30 AUs; at 90 AUs, the pull from a passing star, in the worst case would 1/10 of that of the Sun, and would make the orbit of Neptune ellipse, significantly eccentric)

So what happens if a gas giant gets a severely eccentric orbit? Well, it can cut through the others’ orbits, and the whole system becomes unstable. A few large collisions and near misses later, one could get some gas giants to graze their suns, as observed.

As usual, I just suggest the idea. Others can figure out the details, program their computers, and check… ;-).

Let’s make a little computation. Suppose that the probability of a star coming within 52,000 AUs was once every 100,000 years (a probability tellingly estimated BEFORE it came to be known Scholtz’s star zoomed by).

Let’s consider the disruption radius to be 100 AUs. The probable number of near-misses disrupting the inner system during the past extent of the Solar System would then be:

1/25,000)x(10^4)x5 = 2.5.

That’s quite a bit… And, now that we know about Scholz’s Star’s recent flyby, no doubt that the probability of near misses will skyrocket. All the more as the Sun is presently in the pretty empty zone, the Local Bubble, 300 light years across.

I have explained in the pat that life depended not just upon having a planet in the Habitable Zone (the Water Zone), but also in the Radioactive Belt.

Many are the causes of disasters on the way to advanced life, as I have enumerated in:

Being lucky with stellar flybys is another factor to consider: a nudge to the outer gas giants, and it’s curtains for advanced life. Bacteria don’t count. I am suggesting that, in star systems long established, star near-misses is a much serious problem than rogue asteroids or comets.

Patrice Ayme’