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Anthony Morris

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Everything posted by Anthony Morris

  1. Regular irrigation in a desert is a short term solution. The Middle-east has numerous patches where plants scarcely grow because of the increase in salt content in the soil due to irrigation. I've always wanted to try "dew collectors" and "wind traps" as in the Dune books. No salt to deal with. Any surface that can get cold enough to condense water in the cool of the night or plausibly during the day (would have to be quite cold, I'm sure) and vertical enough that the condensed water would drop to the ground quickly to be absorbed into the soil. Metal comes to mind and I would make them with multiple branches to maximize surface area and still allow passage for fresh moisture-carrying air. A few might catch the occasional lightning bolt which should pump some nitrogen into the soil as well. Let them sit in the field for a year perhaps and plant with anything that might survive that regime with a little care. Next year move them to the next field and cultivate the old one carefully. Plant trees for fruit and nuts to minimize the need to work the soil and grow some thick ground-covering plants to help hold moisture in the soil. Do not let goats, sheep or pigs in the field.
  2. There is not much hope of making the changes necessary in time to save the polar bears habitat. That said, polar bears have survived previous global warming events moderately well on their own. They might not need so much meddling. Other species may need more help though.
  3. But would a European pine away in ill health if he did not get milk in his diet? The OP (unless I'm mistaken) was asking if we would be better off eating foods from Africa. To which the answer is "probably not" as long as we get the nutrients we need. Milk provides many but nothing that we can't get elsewhere. Same with the African fruits, nuts, roots, leaves and meats.
  4. Any sort of radiation could alter DNA. Deep sea creatures are exposed to some forms of radiation in the sea also. Heavy metals are exuded from the Earth's mantle into the seabed. Carbon-14 decay and the decay of other non-metal isotopes also release radiation that can cause mutations. The carbon-14 in your own body is probably inducing mutations in your own body right now.
  5. Considering the small amount of DNA neandertals and denisovans left our species I feel it is safe to say that cross-breeding between Homo sapien, Homo neandertalensis and Homo denisova was not terribly successful. When similar populations breed in the wild and produce offspring that can breed in turn but do not do so very well, they are referred to as separate species. If breeding was not impaired in our ancestral hybrids, then one would expect more of their DNA to survive. I suspect that if it weren't for the fact that some of the DNA from our non-sapiens ancestors was useful in the early generations, that all of their DNA would have disappeared from our genome completely or very nearly so.
  6. Perhaps a better approach might be to analyze your own thinking process. Modern humans mostly think about the words they think and it can be a challenge to think about the feelings without talking to yourself. I would try to get the hang of that kind of thinking. We used to do something similar in my old theatre class in college. Focus on the scene and feel it for yourself and then use your narration to describe what she sees and feels rather than try to have her narrate her thoughts. example: she thought of how the hot breeze brought the scents of the waterhole with it. Any thinking you try to convey from a species with no vocabulary is going to have to focus on concrete aspects of the world and its emotions and how they feel. Some species demonstrate a capacity for abstract thought and our early hominid ancestors probably did as well. How they communicated these ideas may have relied more on screeches and hoots like many primates do today. There is little if any evidence that apes use gestures of any sort in the wild to communicate. Body language being more the rule. Early hominids may have used a broader array of sounds and may have used less body language. Humans use little body language today and more vocal communication so seems like a possibility. You might read any of Jane Goodall's books about her research among the chimpanzees for ideas on how they communicated and make your characters slightly more human like in behavior.
  7. http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/grassfires/ Seems to me, since grass fires might be more common events than trying to shape a rock with a random iron nodule, that our ancestors would be much more likely to discover the use of fire in the array of cooked meat and nuts and roots they would find after a brush fire went past. Not all animals run away from fire as has been mentioned previously and there is no reason to assume that our ancestors were any more skittish around it than any other predatory mammal or bird of the same sort of habitat. In Africa, predators often stroll behind the fire to feed on what it leaves in its wake. Our ancestors would likely have done so. If the fire was coming toward them, they would likely run away like everyone else. Smoke on the horizon would alert our ancestors to the presence of a fire and they would run towards it to investigate at the very least and to bring back what harvest they could. This is the simpler means of discovering and valuing fire. Knocking the right two rocks together would be a handy discovery only for those who already know what value fire has. Not only would a spark maker need the right two rocks (iron and flint) but he/she would also need tinder. Tinder is a little more complex thinking than striking a spark. Recognizing the spark for what it is, is another bit of complex thinking. Same with rubbing two sticks together. Friction as a starter method is a more logical progression since our ancestors probably understood friction causes heat,but they probably would not have made the intuitive leap towards fire-starting without first having used fire. Once they started taming coals, they probably used the friction method before progressing to iron and flint. Learning how to control fire would precede successful attempts at making it. Without the knowledge of tinder, they would not have managed a successful fire. Playing with naturally occurring coals would have been more fertile ground for developing tinder technology. At least that seems the simplest and most direct route to fire technology development
  8. Genetic diversity is the result of mutations caused by a number of things including radiation, certain chemicals, temperature, metabolic responses to starvation and/or dehydration, and even the influence of various species of virus (plus a whole more causes). Diversity is not an end in itself but more of a by-product of the lives of the organisms in which they occur. That diversity can later be used by future generations (assuming said mutations occur in the germinal cells that are used in reproduction) as a resource to adapt to new changes in their environment.
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