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Ultermarto

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About Ultermarto

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    Lepton

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  • Favorite Area of Science
    Biology
  1. Humans of course. There are few ways of defining 'intelligent' that confront this. We have by far the post complex behavior, the most intricate brains, the most diverse skills, the greatest capacity to learn and reason. What is it with this sort of post-modern human modesty in which some people are determined to downgrade human intelligence and upgrade that of animals? Though I see why you'd want people to keep in mind the fact that we still are animals and, in particular, apes.
  2. Would using sonar by pounding vibrations into the ground and drawing an image with the echo be a viable way of fossil hunting? I guess not, since we're not doing it. It's just that the idea crossed my mind a while ago, and now I'm watching Jurassic Park and they're doing it too. It's too good an idea if both me and Spielberg have it! Anyway I know this must be grounded in some fundamental misunderstanding of sonar or something. But it's killing me. I mean the fossil record is so scarce, fossils are so hard to find, and here's this phony-balony solution that keeps slapping me over the head.
  3. Even more amazing is that all DNA-based organisms are supposed to be from the single and same common ancestor.
  4. Well the way I see it, it all depends on what kind of living systems are easiest or most possible to develop in the universe. Not just on planets like ours, mind you, but in any conceivable place. Perhaps earth-like planets tend to produce organisms that somewhat resemble our own biosphere, or perhaps the aliens that develop can be of many different types. Maybe other biospheres would change and arise not through evolution as we know it, but through some other process that has yet to be thought of. Maybe organisms with cells, tissue, nervous systems, appendages, nutrition intake, sensory organs and genetics really is the most likely formula to arise, and most aliens that we'll see out in the cosmos will resemble life on our own planet, to a certain extent.
  5. A friend of mine suffers from a degree of autism. I have often seen him defend it as a simple, mundane trait which even bares some advantages (or else, it would have been stamped out long ago, he points out), you know, the neurodiversity stuff. But since I have yet to see any strong evidence that autism is genetic, and since I certainly don't believe that in the majority of cases it does more good than harm, I am inclined to dismiss this. Autism is a mental disease. It throws a cap on the social capacities of the person - not exactly a good trait when you're an ape, no less a human. Though sometimes providing an advantage in certain areas of learning, it pretty much destroys the ability to communicate, and normally serves as a learning disability in general. The effects are sudden, rather than incremental (Can anyone tell me if traits actually show up this way in evolution? As I understand it, most changes come about extremely slowly. Is the exception perhaps when an entirely new gene shows up in an individual?). The lineages show no clear pattern; there is no 'house of autism' or 'autistic race'. Autism is a disease, sometimes a very tragic one. I do not believe that it was ever going to take us anywhere. I'd also like to point out that, though I agree that greater mental capacity, especially multiple-factor consideration, would benefit the political and social future of the world, the gene pool is unfortunately and currently inhibited by our sexual selection tendencies. Generally speaking, women are attracted to muscular, confident, charismatic and powerful men, whilst me are attracted to slender, elegant, submissive women. Special emphasis on the generally speaking part.
  6. Birds are descended from dinosaurs, that much is pretty clear, even to a layman like me. I can hardly look at a pigeon walking around on a street without seeing the theropod resemblance. I'm completely willing to accept that at some point (late Triassic, Wikipedia tells me), the most early things we can think of as birds (perhaps archaeopteryx) branched off from other bird-like theropods. What confuses me is when a scientist claims that we should actually classify birds as modern dinosaurs, that is, their class would surely be reptilia rather than aves, and their order surely that of the dinosaurs (though there doesn't seem to be an agreed order). This system of classification frustrates the neat-freak in me. It seems that, under these rules, any species is included in its ancestral groups as well as its own. In that case, why am I not, alongside being a hominid, an ape, a primate, and a mammal, also reptile, an amphibian, a fish, a polyp, a protozoan? I was taught biology such that all species could be given eight taxonomic specifications, and as I understood it, a new class, such as mammals, could pop out of a single species; the very last of the reptilian mammals before we draw the line between reptiles and mammals. This system makes way for future classifications. The system proposed by the idea that birds should be considered dinosaurs will lead to the long-term piling up of taxa, or an infinite line of new sub-special groups being made up for the sake of new classifications. But of course, as I understand it, the birds = dinosaurs thing is put in place due to birds being more closely related to dinosaurs. But I'm still not sure what this means. When is a thing more closely related to another thing? When it branches of later in time? When there is less morphological difference than otherwise? Someone please help.
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