Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Cool: Species Nearly Destroyed All Life Before

August 8, 2018

Earth. The Dark Side. Homo. It has become standard to point out that the genus Homo may destroy life, or, our species, or, at least, civilization itself. This is related to the “Fermi Paradox” (“Where is everybody?” asked Enrico Fermi around 1950…) The idea was that civilizations self-destruct, hence no civilization is visible in the galaxy. To which I retorted that we overestimate the likelihood of advanced life in the galaxy, for a galactic sized number of reasons:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/40-billion-earths-yes-no/

One argument I rolled out is that life was nearly extinguished on Earth by life itself: consider “Snowball Earth”. This weapon of mass life extinction was generated by the advancement of life itself. Let me quote myself:

“Primitive bacterial life is probably frequent. However advanced life (animals) is probably very rare, as many are the potential catastrophes. And one needs billions of years to go from primitive life to animals.

After life forms making oxygen on Earth appeared, the atmosphere went from reducing (full of strong greenhouse methane) to oxidizing (full of oxygen). As methane mostly disappeared, so did the greenhouse. Earth froze, all the way down to the equator:

When Snowball Earth Nearly Killed Life

Yet volcanoes kept on belching CO2 through the ice. That CO2 built up above the ice, caused a strong greenhouse, and the ice melted. Life had survived. Mighty volcanism has saved the Earth, just in time.

That “snowball Earth” catastrophe repeated a few times before the Earth oxygen based system became stable. Catastrophe had been engaged, several times, but the disappearance of oxygen creating life forms had been avoided, just barely.”

Intense chemical weathering by massive acid rain is the likely cause of the end of a period known as the Marinoan glaciation, which happened form 650 to 635 million years ago, according to a paper published in the journal PNAS. This was the last occurence when nearly all of the Earth’s land and seas were frozen over, known as snowball Earth, with glaciers as thick as 2km. Other times, on the right, Earth had no ice at the poles… Present day civilization can survive a warm Earth (right)… Not a Snowball. However, to get from what we have now to no ice, in a geological blink, means ultimate war…

What does this mean philosophically?

Most philosophical systems in the traditional sense don’t consider the truism that, to get creation, one needs destruction, and the more creation, the more destruction. Why? That sounds childish, thus unwise. But children encounter the primeval. Philosophy extended to religion revels in destruction. Actually the Deus/God/Allah destroys the entire universe to establish Heavens.

The universe is a brutal place: not only do planets get flung into space, stars explode, but even entire galaxies get destroyed. The universe is also a happening.

In the greater scheme of things, a war where, say, seven billion people got killed would be nothing special: that was the world population in 1803, when the imbecile Napoleon, having mightily endeavored to reestablish slavery, losing an army in the process, sold a third of the present day US to the USA for 11 million dollars.

In the movie Terminator, Artificial Intelligence takes over, causes a nuclear holocaust, and tries to extinguish humanity. It is more likely though that more and more formidable wars would accompany a Hot Earth scenario… which is what we are going towards, quickly. As I have argued in the past, 2C Is Too Much! Under 2C of global warming, a chain reaction of tipping point would unleash itself, and self-accelerate:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/2-c-is-too-much/

Now the idea is hitting the mainstream, nine years later. See: “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. There, scientists argue that there is a threshold temperature above which natural feedback systems that currently keep the Earth at a nice temperature (around 15 C, global) will unravel. At that point, a chain reaction of climate events will thrust the planet into a “hothouse” state. Though the scientists don’t know exactly what this threshold is, they said it could be as little as 2 degrees C (4 degrees F) of warming above preindustrial levels. We are above that half-way point…

As they put it in scientese: We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.”

People are deeply unaware, they believe that the planet’s climate is more stable than it really is. The episodes of Snowball Earth show that this is not the case. This erroneous feeling of ecological stability is the main source of the indifference which brings the destruction of the planetary climate.

The apocalypse, in the greater scheme of things, is not apocalyptic. After all, an apocalypse, etymologically speaking, is just an uncovering… And this is precisely this normalcy of the abnormal, which will make go so smooth…

Patrice Ayme

 

Loving Life Is The Way. Leif Ramos (1972-2017).

January 22, 2018

My brother-in-law Leif suffered a heart attack ten years ago, and was given a bypass. His father had died of a heart attack. He followed a scrupulously correct vegetarian and exercise diet thereafter. However, he also had to be “off the grid” for mitigating interest on non-reimbursed student loans. In the USA, nowadays, student loans are never forgiven: the chains which hold the slaves down, are not made of metal anymore.

Whereas the colossal, multi-billion dollars debts of plutocrats such as Donald Trump, or any of the millions of California homeowners millionaires are readily forgiven, it is not the case for modest students without rich parents. Then  interests pile up and states “garnish” whatever income the ex-student, now a victim, may incur. Nice, keeps the low lives in check! This efficient, apparently neutral mechanism drives millions of US citizens into the underclass (precisely those who had the effrontery to want to learn something). If one’s parents belong to the .1%, student loans are a rounding error. For others, it’s a crushing burden. Indeed, the rest of the US can live in slavery: it fits them just right. For not revolting, and just swallowing all the lies served to them, as if they were delicious junk foods.

Leif paddling in his state of Alaska. Nature is the way, tempered by humanity.

Leif had a second heart attack December 1, 2017. Five stents were installed. His surgeon had to leave for a scheduled trip, but asked the hospital to keep him in hospitalized. However, Leif had no health insurance, thus the hospital, searching, as they all are, for higher profits, kicked him out, after the surgeon left for very far places, overseas (this was all happening in Anchorage, Alaska, travelling from there generally means long flights on the other side of an ocean, or two).

Leif did worse on December 30th. He apparently tried to drive himself to another, more hospitable, hospital, Alaska General. At 5am. He nearly made it.

He leaves behind a loving family, including his ailing mother, herself with her own heart trouble, now doubled.

Leif’s life was not easy, and made him suffer, in a number of inordinate ways, but it was worth having, he took it with a smile.  

***

Leif with aurora. His award-winning pictures are there to stay. So are his musical compositions.

Leif loved life. That sounds simple, but it’s not. Life is not the grid all too many others are forced to live on (thus perpetuating it in its sorry state). People know this more easily in Alaska and Hawai’i, some of those increasingly rare places on Earth where it is possible to stay in touch with nature. Leif’s love of life forced him, greatly from circumstances he didn’t control, to live off the grid. Loving life requires to go further than just being told what to do.

Who knows what to do correctly in life, who doesn’t love life?

One can’t tell all & sundry, life is absurd, or unlovable, then switch around, been good, well-meaning, giving.

One may not get back all the love one gives to life, but one has to: others will, that’s how humanity is. How humanity became possible.

Leif’s love of life is a mood worth caring forth. What better choice is there? Loving other creatures and the world they share, with us, is not just the best we can do. It’s the only thing humanity can do, and the most significant thing humanity, overall, has done and does. As long as we keep on sharing this way of having a world, Leif lives with us. Let’s live!

Patrice Aymé

Want More Wisdom? Get More Life!

January 2, 2017

ANTI-AGE REVOLUTION NEEDED FOR EXTENDING WISDOM

What is the primary strategic goal of anti-aging? Extending not just life, but wisdom!

(Some may sneer that strategia, generalship in Greek, is about war. But life, preserving life on Earth, is a war, and fighting that war, what wisdom leads to.)

In the European Middle Ages, a colossal discovery was made, which made civilization much smarter, wiser, and far-sighted: glasses. Glasses changed everything, by making plenty of other inventions possible. Glasses were an invention amplifier..

By age 40, in the European Middle Ages, aside from the Black Plague of 1347-53 CE, the death rate was slow, but artisans could not engage in precision technological work, because they lost their short distance vision (as people lived outdoors a lot, they tended to be far-sighted, thus lost proximal vision early).

The same vision problem affected intellectuals: they could not read, write, or copy, anymore, by the time they reached their 40s, and the heights of their mental powers.  Mental power is something which grows with age. A cephalopod observes, learns, and then duplicates. On the left below, the mollusk: 

Nothing Here But Us Algae. To Build A Civilization, One Needs The Functional Equivalent Of Hands, But Also Speech, Society And More Of What They Require, Longevity. All These Cephalopods, However Bright, Do Not Have.

Nothing Here But Us Algae. To Build A Civilization, One Needs The Functional Equivalent Of Hands, But Also Speech, Society And More Of What They Require, Longevity. All These Cephalopods, However Bright, Do Not Have.

[Cephalopods have typically 500 million neurons, five times the number of neurons a rat has; they use it to instantaneously mimic the colors and patterns of their environment, not just by changing colors, but even shape, as seen above, for all sorts of dissemblances; and also for manipulation…]  

Reading glasses changed everything having to do with WISDOM. Shortly afterwards, precision mechanisms could be developed by artisans and scientists: the telescope (late 16th century), the advanced mechanical computer (Pascal, early 17th century), and the mechanical clock, which enabled mariners to know where they were (thus enabling the conquest of the world by civilization, and global trade, the excesses of which we are presently experiencing now…)

Glasses were industrially fabricated in Italy by 1286 CE. They were an extension of rock crystal magnification known, and used, for centuries.

The invention of glasses corresponded to the mood of deliberately helping, or even beautifying, life by new technology through national invention programs, the archetype of which was the invention of stain glass windows and metal architecture in Cathedrals, Frankish style. Or the use of giant hydraulic hammers to bend giant iron, one thousand times too strong to be bent by hand, also for cathedral construction.

That mood, of developing technology to facilitate and prettify life, was not new, it dated from the early Imperium Francorum, but gathered momentum as the Middle Ages advanced.   The Tenth Century was full of newly invented (cultivars of) beans. Beans brought lots of proteins without having to go though the less efficient meat production…

So here we are. We went through considerable revolutions in energy and telecommunication, and produced antibiotics industrially (instead of gathering them in the forest, as prehistoric men did).

However, it has been a long time since our civilization made a drastic extension of useful life time. Sophocles was in his nineties when he wrote (or, rather, dictated) some of his work.

Glasses doubled the number of decades intellectuals could spend furthering their studies. It is no coincidence that full-blown printing with movable type appeared within two centuries after the invention of reading glasses: the glasses augmented the availability of books, and the reading of books. Glasses basically doubled the lifespan of intellectuals. Basically doubling the wisdom (doubling the time to gather,.distill and teach wisdom).

The easiest way to double wisdom again, is to double lifespan again.

Further anti-age revolution is needed now to help wisdom. And, as the biosphere totters under the blows of our irresponsible civilization, more wisdom is not just desirable, but necessary.

So extent lifespan. Bill Gates, who got his fortune from his mom’s influence, pontificated recently that the search for life extension, as pursued by, say, Google, was fundamentally “selfish”. Well, no. Bill Gates is an early college drop-out (see mom, an IBM director, above), Bill Gates does not have much formal education. Gates does not have the conception that it takes years to learn esoteric knowledge. And digest it. And forget it. And reconstruct it, to become a master of wisdom.

We need more time. This year, it was learned that Greenland sharks apparently can live more than 500 years. And that some Bowhead whales live more than 280 years.

So why do we live so little? We, the wisest of them all? Because that was the optimization between fast generation renewal and the wisdom we needed to gather, teach and transmit for the new generation, the whole thing protected by enough war-like instincts. So our wisdom, so far has had a lot to do with how to make war wisely, accelerating the evolution of our species.

Well, we need more wisdom, more gathering thereof. We need a different sort of wisdom, of a less bellicose type, a different sort of war, against fate, rather than men. And thus more time, to find out carefully what is really going on, even inside ourselves. it’s not just about ourselves. Earth needs it.

Patrice Ayme’

Is This Why We Are Alone?

February 22, 2016

Our giant galaxy is at least ten billion years old. It has 100 billion stars. Many of them second generation stars. It would seem most stars have planets, and many of these fall in the so-called habitable zone. All right, in multiple star systems, some planets will fly away. Still, there may be 40 billion potential Earths in the Milky Way. Yes, and no.

However, ten billion years, over (more than) 100 billion planetary systems, gives plenty of time for a civilization to expand throughout the galaxy. Yes, throughout. So aliens should have visited, but all indications are that they did not: life on Earth is indigenous to Earth, or the Earth-Mars system.

Why We Are Alone: Earth Is Both Very Watery & Very Radioactive

Why We Are Alone: Earth Is Both Very Watery & Very Radioactive

How did Earth get her enormous radioactive fission core? A mystery. It seems that Venus did not. Indeed, Venus has no self-generated magnetosphere (differently from Mercury, Jupiter, or Saturn; Mars is too small to have a churning metallic core, so has no magnetosphere, thus CMEs tear the Martian atmosphere away, in particular water). Instead Venus has an induced magnetosphere. A pathetic device that could not prevent Venus from being deprived of all its hydrogen, hence water, torn by the solar wind, especially during Coronal Mass Ejections CME).

The Sort of Comet from Hell On Top Is Venus. Earth, The Blue World, Is Below. Earth, With Her Complex Magnetosphere Created By Her Churning Liquid Metal Radioactive Core: Part Of The Reason Why Venus Melts Lead, & Earth Harbors Civilization. [Courtesy ESA.]

The Sort of Comet from Hell On Top Is Venus. Earth, The Blue World, Is Below. Earth, With Her Complex Magnetosphere Created By Her Churning Liquid Metal Radioactive Core: Part Of The Reason Why Venus Melts Lead, & Earth Harbors Civilization. [Courtesy ESA.]

Travelling throughout the galaxy is already within our reach. Nuclear fission rocket engines were very successfully tested in the 1960s. They would allow us, should we decide to do so, to make spaceships going through the galaxy at 100 kilometers per second.

That’s 1/3000 of the speed of light. The galaxy is 100,000 light years across. So, with existing technology, primitive technology of the 1960s, we could cross the galaxy in 300 million years.

Now, of course, faster tech is perfectly imaginable, such as thermonuclear propulsion. (Thermonuclear propulsion may be easier to achieve than a contained nuclear fusion motor, because containment is the most major problem of controlled fusion; an uncontained engine would be half way between an H-bomb and ITER, and pure fusion is clean; actually NASA finances, all too modestly, such research.) Whereas the temperature in a fission reactor will be at most 3000 degree Centigrade, thermonuclear fusion could reach 100 million degrees, enabling an impulsion 10,000 times greater. Thus mastery of thermonuclear fusion would allow to cross the galaxy in a few million years.

So, if there was a civilization barely more advanced technologically than we are, it would have established a galactic empire in a few million years. It should have visited our blue planet, detectable from thousands of parsecs (with existing technology not deployed by the grotesque, imbecilic plutocrats who rule us through those countless obsequious greedy critters which most politicians are).

The definition of the traditional habitable zone is naive: it is only about temperature. However it takes more than temperature to keep a planet habitable. Mars had an ocean, but lost its surface water, a little bit at a time, from repeated Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). A CME consists in a super active flame jetting out from the sun. If a CME hit Earth now, much, if not most electric circuitry on Earth would fail.

Radioactive Elements, Being The Densest, Sink Towards The Star During The Planetary System Formation. (Observed So far.). Oxygen & Hydrogen, With 5% Average Nuclear Mass Migrate Out

Radioactive Elements, Being The Densest, Sink Towards The Star During The Planetary System Formation. (Observed So far.). Oxygen & Hydrogen, With 5% Average Nuclear Mass Migrate Out

Venus does not have a strong magnetic field either. Why? We don’t know. The Earth magnetic field is a shield, and it is created by the nuclear fission engine at the core of the Earth (it makes the surface of Earth’s core hotter than the surface of the sun! That makes a metallic iron ocean above churn violently, and generate the magnetic field… And also plate tectonics, which recycles carbon deep in the mantle, preventing it to sit in the atmosphere, as in the case of Venus!)

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/life-giving-nuclear-earth-reactor/

Thermal hot spots are indirectly nuclear fission activated, but before three billion years ago, thermal hot spots driven directly by ionizing and mutagenic radiation from surface nuclear reactors, were probably ubiquitous. Thus, to have the four billion of years needed to develop ADVANCED native life, with all the mutations it entails, one needs to have both a nuclear reactor inside a planet AND the planet enjoying surface water for four billion years.

A tough, and rare call. Moreover, life has to escape crashing dwarf planets, migrating Super-Jupiters, super stellar Coronal Mass Ejections (all the more frequent in Red Dwarfs), close encounters with passing stars, gamma ray bursts, supernovae, colliding black holes, super stars exploding, central galactic black hole eruption (many of these catastrophes were very recently revealed, and did not percolate yet to We The People). To let life develop over four billion years, we need an extraordinary confluence of circumstances. (And when I say four billion, that’s generous: the “Cambrian explosion” when animals appeared in a great number of types of species, was only 540 million years ago. Moreover, life on Earth may have been accelerated by being started on Mars, at a time when Earth was still way too hot for sophisticated chemistry, and then transported by meteorites (that this strange method of life transportation could still be done to this day, has been demonstrated, by carefully analyzing meteorites of Martian origin).

Life, Sustained Long Enough For Advanced Animals? Unlikely. The Milky Way Is Ours. And Oblivion Watches Over Us, Not Tenderly.

Life, Sustained Long Enough For Advanced Animals? Unlikely. The Milky Way Is Ours. And Oblivion Watches Over Us, Not Tenderly.

So expect life to be very frequent in the galaxy, and habitable planets to be many. As long as one is talking about bacterial life functioning on DNA like system (the details will be different, as post-DNA life was already synthesized in the lab!)

But little green men, Kzins and Doctor Spock? Not a chance. If they happen some day, they will be our descendants. That we are alone changes the stakes. We are not just threatening civilization, with our childish, yet lethal and atrocious antics, but we are threatening to annihilate the one and only crown of creation.

Patrice Ayme’

Classical Nihilism: Shakespeare & Qur’an

January 5, 2016

Is life a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing? Shakespeare evoked the idea. He created a mood. Out of it Bush, massacring all the Natives? Shakespeare, the Master Thinker is much admired in the Anglo-Saxon world, and beyond (perhaps in the hope of seducing Anglo-Saxons by loving where they come from?) The Bard was gifted with words, but some of the terrible ideas he lent to his characters have seeped into the world consciousness, as we must approve of them. Maybe it was no accident, not all Islam, when a Jihadist from London executed many, for the camera, in the name of the Islamist State. (That assassin was executed by an American drone, a good usage of the technology… for a change!)

In 1984, a program of reintroduction of Golden Lion Tamarins brought nine of these heart melting primates from the Washington Zoo to a reserve to Brazil’s Mata Atlantica. At the time no more than 200 were left in the wild. However, Western zoos had their own populations, some dating several centuries (the cuties were popular at the French court).

If Shakespeare Feels Life Is An Idiocy That Signifies Nothing, Does It Mean We Have To Die? Oder Arbeit Macht Frei?

If Shakespeare Feels Life Is An Idiocy That Signifies Nothing, Does It Mean We Have To Die? Oder Arbeit Macht Frei?

The Washington tamarins had been specially trained, for months to life outside. Logically enough, within weeks eight were dead. So much for Anglo-Saxon training (too much Shakespeare?). Subsequently, the Brazilians trained the tamarins themselves, with great success. (Now there are 2,000 in the “wild”. A “wilderness” full of freeways and high tension lines…)

The brutality, witchcraft, lethal ambition, and madness of a play such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth leaves images, and phrases, ideas and moods which pervade the Anglo-Saxon universe, and what it influences, namely the rest of the world from New Delhi to Beijing, Tokyo, even Moscow.

Who does not know “To be or not to be?”. It’s the opening sentence in Hamlet. The character is pondering suicide.

A new commenter on this site, Robin, subscribes to the Shakespeare cult, and quotes The Bard as an authority on my own idiocy. First Robin quoted the very last sentence of the following passage in MacBeth Act V scene 5::

LIFE’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Robin kindly explains that I am the idiot, by quoting me: “So on the eve of yet another disastrous day of tragedies, to read: “The more powerful we humans become, the more perfect our government has to be. Thus, the more We the Citizens have to be perfect. Thus, the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.” made my blood curdle.

Yet another clarion call to humanity composed of rhetoric, but absent of meaningful content.”

Robin took a sentence from The Bard, and made it into an aphorism. I have several disagreements here, both with the method (Shakespeare did not talk about me, but about life), and with the aphorism itself.

Shakespeare seems to believe that a tale told by an idiot signifies nothing. Quite the opposite. Idiots and madmen have much to tell, that’s the all idea of Shakespeare, come to think of it.

I replied that Shakespeare here is in total contradiction, not just with humanism, but humanity itself. Humanity’s task is to give meaning to life. Shakespeare may have been an idiot full of sound and fury, like Hitler. As, indeed, the Nazis agreed fully with Shakespeare’s preceding quote. So they were destroyed by those who give meaning to life. May reciting Shakespeare literally be quite a bit like reciting the Qur’an literally?

Reading Robin, one see analogies: “As for Shakespeare, well, he pretty much stands alone – a man who invented 27% of our language… It is the ACTIONS, not the form, which produce results of good or evil.” Similarly, some doctors of the Islamist faith will say the Qur’an invented Arabic. And they would be mostly correct about the written form! As far as English and Shakespeare in concerned, it’s pretty grotesque to say he invented English. 85% of English is mispronounced Franco-Latino-Greek, and of the remaining 15% much is in common with Old Dutch, the language of the Franks…

So Shakespeare obsessed about “form”, and “Action” (see extract of Hamlet below). What happened to thinking? Is thinking in Shakespeare? Yes, “Conscience does make Cowards of us all”. (Hamlet below, again.)

Modern law has started to discover that THOUGHT CRIME is a real problem (notwithstanding that it was made fun of by the fashionable Sci-Fi author, George Orwell).

French and German law punish Nazi holocaust denial with prison. They have been imitated with a number of countries (including Hungary after 2010, where a would-be Nazi was since condemned to several years in prison suspended when he agreed to visit a number of sites where Nazis perpetrated holocausts, and to write a reports about what he learned after each visit).

Here is the beginning of Hamlet; we can either suffer, or commit suicide. Forget about political change:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep

No more; and by a sleep, to say we end

The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks

That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,

To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

That makes Calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,

The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely, [F: poor]

The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [F: disprized]

The insolence of Office, and the Spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his Quietus make

With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, [F: these Fardels]

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn

No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of.

Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,

And thus the Native hue of Resolution

Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [F: pith]

With this regard their Currents turn awry, [F: away]

And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,

The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons.”

Be all my sins remembered

The fact remains that believing that “LIFE’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing…”

Is as bad as nihilism goes. For people like that why does killing children mean anything? Is it what they mean?

Why not engage in various inanities and murders, then, to give life some spice, more meaning? Was then G.W. Bush’s presidency straight out of Shakespeare, fretting on a stage, heard of it no more,  “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”… In other words, was G. W. Bush’s presidency straight out of Shakespeare, something classical, natural, a normal way of behaving?

It obviously was.

Shakespeare is a double edge sword, and the handle itself is a blade too. By grabbing it, as if it were a well of wisdom, one cuts all tendrils of wisdom.

Kudos to Obama for crying at the White House when evoking small children cut down by automatic weapons’ fire. And why were those small children killed inhumanely, tortured to death? Just because idiots telling furious tales, full of sound and madness, have decided life means nothing as long as it cannot be cut down by automatic fire.

Reading Shakespeare, just as reading the Qur’an, should be done very carefully, under advanced philosophical supervision. Lest it feeds the idiots with the mood that life signifies nothing, and thus may as well be welcome as a tale told by an idiot (Hitler, or some other “Prophet”?), full of sound and fury.

Wisdom is not just blossoming with sophisticated ideas, it also avoids reeking of foul, dangerous, sadistic, cruel, nihilistic, vicious moods.

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’

Soloing, & Celebrity Cult

March 16, 2015

We are living in the Internet age, and the plutocratic age. Plutocracy wants celebritism to rule the minds. When people feel, think, and live through celebrities, they are ready to do so through plutocrats.

Plutocrats hence push everywhere for the celebration of the unique act, because unicity is what they extoll.

And no act is more unique, and useful, to plutocrats than those which say life is not important.

My Friend John Bachar Free Soloing, Showing Off. Fell To His Death, Free Soloing

My Friend John Bachar Free Soloing, Showing Off. Fell To His Death, Free Soloing

[I was told, Oct. 2015, that this is actually Dan Osman, see comment; Dan was also, and more than John, living off stunts; he died jumping off Leaning Tower, close to where the pic above was taken, when his rope broke.]

Hence it is no wonder that the New York Times wrote a long article on a solo climber (I have known the author, Dan Duane, a friend, for decades, but, as one will see below, this does not make me blind, or, otherwise said, it’s dangerous to be my friend…I have been pitiless with my friend Barack, trying to set him right about non-battlefield usage of drones, in no uncertain terms…).

In The Heart-Stopping Climbs of Alex Honnold, we read that the master of climbing without ropes spends his life cheating death (By Daniel Duane, March 12, 2015).

“Honnold could afford to buy a decent home, if that interested him. But living in a van — a custom-outfitted van, in his case, with a kitchenette and cabinets full of energy bars and climbing equipment — represents freedom. It also represents a commitment to the nomadic climber’s ideal of the “dirtbag,” the purist so devoted to climbing that he avoids any entanglement that might interfere… When he’s not climbing overseas in places like Patagonia, France or Morocco, he lives an endless road trip through the Southwestern desert, Yosemite Valley, British Columbia and points between. Along the way, he has turned himself into the greatest living free-soloist, meaning that he climbs without ropes, alone.

Unroped climbing is, of course, the oldest kind, but ropes and hardware can provide such a reliable safety net that nearly all climbers now use them. This is typically done in pairs, with one climber tied to each end of the rope…”

What happens then is that, if one climber falls, but the rope has been put around prominences, or through safety equipment that the lead climber may have installed (“nuts” or camming device, or ice screw) or found (bolts or pins), then, hopefully, the rope will not break, and the fall not be so long that death or injury will occur.

Sometimes, everything fail, and both climbers fall to death (although this is rarer on harder rock walls). Sometimes the rope fails, sometimes some pieces fall out, and the tumbling leader is gravely injured and the other climber has to go alone for rescue (something that happened to me).

Dan pursues:

“But using gear slows progress. A roped pair, taking turns climbing and fussing with all that equipment, might spend six hours on a climb that a free-soloist floats up in 30 minutes — focusing purely on the pleasure of movement, the tactile sensation of hands on rock. Free-soloing also carries the mystique of self-reliance in the face of extreme risk: On cliffs where even elite climbers employ complicated rope systems, the free-soloist wears only shorts, a T-shirt, a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of gymnast’s chalk to keep the hands dry. Honnold has free-soloed the longest, most challenging climbs ever, including the 2,500-foot northwest face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, where some of the handholds are so small that no average climber could cling for an instant, roped or otherwise. Most peculiar of all, even to elite rock climbers, Honnold does this without apparent fear, as if falling were not possible.” “Peculiar” is the word. Some people have defects in their agmydala. Or they just have no culture: the most famous soloists died, soloing.

I sent the following comment:

***

If everybody tried to live like him, nobody would.

That’s the problem.

It’s not a morality, it’s a lethality.

I have climbed my entire life. Much more years that the gentleman. However, there were many close calls. Some from avalanches, including rock avalanches. My closest friends died in the mountain. They were top professionals of climbing, having achieved the highest guiding status in existence. Higher than Mr. Honnold. And one of them soloed at a higher level (he died from an avalanche).

This last friend, Damien Charignon, kept most of his 5-13+ soloing secret. Not to worry his family. And he knew it was amoral. So he did not do it much. I tried to discourage him as much as I could. Because soloing is amoral.

All serious mountaineers have to solo at one point or another. Soloing is not really a choice.

But it should stay an exception. Flaunting it will just bring more death. I have on sighted, roped, including in Yosemite, pitches where famous soloists fell off. And I did not fall (although I was much less of a climber than them).

So what to say? Those with a moral soul will not flaunt soloing. Doing so leads other young, impressionable people to try it, and they would surely die. This has happened many times in the past.

A devil may care attitude is not exactly something to encourage for humanity at large nowadays. There is already much too much of it… Under the sponsoring of corporations determined to instill in all the feeling of playing around with life.

Another example: a French “reality show” called, appropriately enough, “Dropped”.

Ten people died, most of them French, including three celebrities, last week in Argentina, when their helicopters collided.

Some will whine that I am unfair.

Not so. The Argentinian pilots were experienced, the French crafts brand new. The cause of death was clear: even experienced pilots are not trained for formation flying, something very special, and that the military trains for specially. Especially with helicopters, which can rob, each other air, so to speak. “Reality TV” shows love formation flying, and they don’t worry so much human life: celebritism is more important.

Patrice Ayme’

Stellar Flybys: New Way To Life’s Extinction

March 2, 2015

DO STAR NEAR-MISSES MAKE SUPER-JUPITERS FALL?

How fragile is life?

Very.

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

http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/800/1/L17/article

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.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/life-giving-nuclear-earth-reactor/

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

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/40-billion-earths-yes-no/

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’

IS LIFE ALL ABOUT THE QUANTUM?

January 22, 2015

Far From Being Absurd, Life May Be A Quantum Force That Gets Ever More Complex

The most striking feature of the Quantum is that, by doing something somewhere, one can change the state of something else, somewhere else. Einstein found this “spooky”. Philosophically, it just says that, whatever the universe is about, it’s not about old fashion “points”, as found in old fashion mathematics.

This “Quantum Entanglement” and the related, yet diluted “Quantum Discord” constitute the true architecture of the universe. This revelation ought to impact everything. Not just philosophy, but also psychology.

I propose the following. Life, its gathering complexity, adaptability, progress, ethology, meaning, are all animated by the very nature of the Quantum. It’s neither weird, nor absurd, it’s a force that proceeds.

Let me backtrack a bit.

“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says in his book, The Myth of Sisyphus, “and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”

What does this mean? Not much. Besides the admission that apparently much of Camus’ life was absurd. Camus should have done like Nietzsche, and go climb mountains solo. There, as Nietzsche did, he would have found meaning.

One does not decide if life is worth living, most of the time, because, most of the time, life is not a choice. One does chose to breathe. One breathes. When one is thirsty, one drinks, and so on. There is a mechanical aspect to animals, who are machines which live. Most of the time, an animal’s systems are on automatic, best described by inertia.

Animals find meaning by experiencing the life that they are made for.

Recent studies have shown that young lions get neurological damage, if they don’t chew hard on tough flesh. Being a lion is meant to be tough, to be fulfilling. Camus and company lived too soft, in their hour of glory.

Lamarck believed that two forces acted on evolution. One had to do with adapting to the environment, the other was the “Pouvoir de Vie”. This “Life Power” brought increasing complexity to biological evolution. It goes without saying that it is observed. It is an open question whether life started on Mars (it probably did). What is clear, though, is that fortunes are spent to sterilize landers sent to other planets (including the Moon), because exobiologists are worried that today’s Earth life would take over: Earth life has become so complex, it can adapt to what space can throw at it.

This “Life Power” made reductionists spiteful, because they saw no science based reason for it. However, if they had been smarter, they would have seen it that it was a fact. They knew too much Classical and Thermo Dynamics… While the true nature of Quantum Physics was hidden by the siren song of the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Quantum Physics depends upon law (unfortunately, that “law” varies; it can be an infuriatingly parachuted wave equation, or another, or, more generally in the “Standard Model”, some manipulation of a hyper complicated Laplacian; in any case, it has to do with waves… Non-linear waves, in the general case!), initial conditions, and also the final space (a Hilbert space generated by eigenstates). This makes Quantum Mechanics somewhat teleological, an inconceivable horror for the classic-mechanical minded.

It means the Quantum looks far ahead, and everywhere, as if it were a god in the machine. It is a god, the god, in the machine…

The final space for genes is the environment. Genes are Quantum machines (a bit like Turing machines, but operated by the Quantum). This interaction between the genetic machinery and the environment means that we have a Quantum mechanism for fast adaptation to the environment.

Someday, soon, Quantum Biology may well become the queen of sciences… Ruling even mathamatics.

But not only this. The Quantum force operates through Quantum Entanglement… Entanglement creates a complexity at a distance, and that complexity propagates, as the Quantum Entanglement does.

So it is as if life progressed by extending Quantum tendrils in all spaces that it can reach, and it can reach a lot. There is Lamarck’ Life Power, there is the increasing complexity, and there is progress. If biology itself progresses, at fortiori culture, the minds’ tendrils.

Why was Camus so obsessed by absurdity? Because he got surrounded by absurdity. He came from a dirt poor environment in Algeria, and, in exchange for valor and work, was given everything by the Republic. This testimony, a celebration of human rights and equal opportunity, was then confronted to “intellectuals” who inverted, and buried all these values… In their names. Camus was told to follow Comrade Stalin, instead. When he begged to differ, he is called a colonial racist.

What is teleology? It’s the logic of the ends, the logic of purposes, logic at a distance. Socrates believed in it. Plato and Aristotle had their own versions. During the Enlightenment, dominated , and inspired as it was by Classical Mechanics, teleology got assimilated to the discredited Christian god, and fell into contempt.

We know more now, and we can afford different, more sophisticated teleologies. I claim that life is teleological, because it evolves not just haphazardly (“stochastically”), but also teleologically (thanks to Quantum Physics, which provides eyes and a feeling… for what is going on at a distance).

Teleology at the level of hydrogen bonds? Most probably (surprise, surprise). Modify the DNA’s environment, and Quantum Computational pressure is exerted on DNA’s hydrogen bonds (among other bonds). Thus the DNA  will evolve much faster than (classical “Darwinian”) haphazard mutations would have it.  It is such an obvious mechanism that evolution is bound to have selected for it. Life’s little secret is the Quantum!

Experiments are planned. All this will be probably viewed as obvious, all along, within ten years.

What this teleology does is to make life ever more adapted and ever more adaptable. If one measures progress by adaptability, progress there has been, as adaptability has progressed.

Philosophically, it means that, in the deepest sense, life, thanks to the Quantum, is behaving as if it were making value judgments. For example, at the molecular level, lowest energy solutions can be evaluated, and selected.

What is the aim of that teleology? Survival of the life form adapting. A question which immediately surges, is what is life? One thing that is clear, though, is the definition of goodness. For a give lifeform, that means survival of said lifeform. So, naturally enough, goodness will vary according to species, but also tribes, and even individuals.

So let the biggest goodness, and the goodness of the strongest lifeform win (as Nietzsche insisted… and this is the way life always has had it… as Nietzsche himself pointed out, following Sade, who was even clearer!)

Experiments in ethology are starting to test this (EJ Winner ought to consider them! ;-)). Basic psychology, such as a sense of fairness, have obvious survival values in social species such as primates.

Intelligence is also teleological. Philosophically, one can argue that intelligence, and even culture, are an extension of the adaptability of life at the nanometer scale, harnessing the Quantum. The extension probably uses the same Quantum machinery that starts to be put in evidence at the molecular level (say in the chlorophyll molecule).

If Homo Is Aware, Is the Universe Aware? It’s a bit like the question of pondering whether a planet harboring life is alive, or not. Earth is certainly alive, because life enables the very conditions on Earth that enable of its on-going existence, so far. The advent of oxygen producing lifeforms enabled the progress of complexity, hence the apparition of intelligence and advanced ethology of the conscious type.

Speaking of this, a question naturally arises: what is the definition of life? Life, so far, has no definition. The greatest minds have been left speechless.

Considering the preceding, clearly, such a definition will have to involve the Quantum, and Entanglement, besides reproduction. Crystals, and Quasi-crystals can reproduce an Entanglement architecture, but they are intensely boring.  They can be described by just one equation.

Life is any Quantum Entanglement architecture which can approximately self-reproduce and adapt while being described by a potentially growing set of equations.

Probably, we are aspects of the Entanglements and Delocalization that the Quantum is capable of, at least in a little corner of the universe. We don’t need no Sisyphus: we can operate on it, at a distance.

Spooky, admittedly, but that’s what we are.

All these revelations  change the overall mood towards the purpose of life. Life is not absurd, it simply is a growing, entangled complexity, our morality and intelligence, hopes, meaning, and consciousness are entangled with it. But the solutions we cling to, all too long, can well be, indeed, all too disjointed, point-wise, disconnected, and thoroughly absurd.

Equally clearly, the (meta, or final!) solution is to have all the absurdities gobbled up by life itself.

Patrice Ayme’