MarkE

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About MarkE

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    Genetics, evolution, astronomy and logic

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  1. You’ve probably heard of the RNA world hypothesis. Life started as as self-replicating single stranded RNA. Günter Wächtershäuser proposed that RNA cell membranes could have developed near black smokes. So there was autotrophic RNA as well as chemoautotrophic microbes (archaea) below the ocean in the Earth’s lithosphere, which is the home of these extremophiles, archaea, that show more metabolic similarities with eukaryotes than with bacteria. Single stranded RNA with a membrane does remind of the structure of a viruses, so the question rises whether life started as a virus. Not all viruses have membranes. Were viruses the first free-living cells? Scientist Gustavo Caetano-Anolles and his colleagues at the University of Illinois reached another conclusion after pioneering a new way to map the microbial family tree. Viruses did not evolve first, they found. Instead, viruses and bacteria both descended from an ancient cellular life form. But while, like humans, like bacteria evolved to become more complex, viruses became simpler. Viruses have gradually shed genes they found they didn’t need, until they could no longer even reproduce on their own. But how did viruses evolve? Complex organisms were simpler in the past, so how close are viruses related to archaea? Archaea show resemblances with eukaryotes, and 8% of our eukaryotic genome is made up of viral genes, but could some of those viral genes actually have been within us since that first sell-replicating RNA cell near black smokers? Could the phylogenetic tree be actually upside down, and instead of a common ancestor that split into bacteria on the left, and archaea/eukaryotes on the right, archaea and viruses were genetically much closer, and split into bacteria/eukaryotes? If viruses indeed didn't evolve first, does the conclusion of this research imply that giruses (giant viruses that don’t behave as metabolic limited as general viruses) went from complex structures to simpler ones….and back to complex structures again? Because that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
  2. science is subfield of philosophy

    What about the term 'black-body radiation'? In the post-Everett QM, "objects" are emergent things, or, which is same, QM is "simulating" all the possible ever-branching (quasi) classical observable worlds with all their objects. But that of course is only if the Hilbert space is multidimensional enough (which accounts for the good old shut-up-and-calculate interpretation).
  3. "Spontaneous" cancer development

    @CharonY Yes you’re right, cancer is a much more complex process, but I think you’re missing the point I’m trying to make. For instance, it’s true that our junk DNA is not completely inert. Ancient long noncoding RNAs for instance are actively regulated in organisms, and mostly involved in its early development (because all vertebrates look alike in the early fetal stage). These ncRNAs contribute to diseases, including cancer, and can cause alterations in the behaviour of cancer cells. When histone-modifying enzymes (called ‘major repressor’, found in certain cancers) are overexpressed they're able to make modifications that leads to gene expression. This overexpression of ncRNAs make cancer cells more likely to metastasis. I haven't even mentioned oncoviruses, viral agents that are suspected of causing cancer, or carcinogenic bacteria that are known or suspected to cause cancer as well. So yes, I was oversimplifying the cancer process, but that’s not the point. I don’t think we need to fully grasp the entire cancer process to be able to see how it’s behaving in this step by step way, and how it can’t be a totally spontaneous unintentional process (at least, that’s not how I’m interpreting it). @Silvestru I think it’s incredible to see examples such as these. How is this parasite able to know what would happen after he climbs to the top of a blade of grass, and what would happen next, and next? Is it ‘thinking’ towards a goal, or is it instinctively preprogrammed, like ‘if:snail, then: go to respiratory pore’, and next ‘if:ant, then: go to the top of a blade of grass”? Just like a squirrel, who has no prefrontal cortex, yet it plans ahead by storing nuts for the winter, instinctively. If this is indeed the case, where's the evidence for this preprogrammed behaviour in its genome? Does the scientific community have evidence for these kinds of causal correlations, and know which genes are responsible for what behaviour?
  4. I have a question regarding cancer. It is broadly accepted that this is a genetical mutation inside a cell that often has an external/environmental cause, such as oncogenes in food sources, or UV light, but it is thought that it could also actually happen 'spontaneously'. This sounds mechanical, instead of a living organism with a ‘purpose’ or an ‘intention’ of any kind. But if you look at the process itself, it doesn’t seem solely and purely mechanical at all, but rather intentional. Let me describe the process of 'spontaneous' cancer development: - The human body is well prepared to prevent the development of cancer. Cancer will only develop if protein coding genes are affected, so we have an overwhelming amount of noncoding DNA (junk DNA). If however a mutation occurs on the coding region of our genome, this can be repaired. A cell therefore has two tumour suppressor genes, one from each parent. Only when both of them are damaged a cell is able to grow uncontrollably. So if only one of the two tumour suppressor gene gets broken, it will be repaired by the other tumour suppressor gene as soon as possible. We have trillions of cells, so the chances are already be very small that this second tumour suppressor gene of the same allele of the same chromosome of the same cell will be damaged before the second one gets repaired, but it does happen. So when this can’t be repaired, the cell has another trick up its sleeve to prevent the development of cancer: the cell will initiate programmed cell death (apoptosis). But this suicidal attempt of a cell, to save the other cells from cancer, is prevented, so cell death can not take place. Not only that, but the exact opposite happens: growth factors are being promoted. Still, there’s no deadly cancer developed, because a cancer cell becomes lethal when metastasis occurs (the spreading of a cancer cell to other parts of the body). This now full-grown cancer will leave the group and enter a blood vessel, and continues its journey by itself. Does this still sounds spontaneous and and mechanical, instead of planned or intentional in any way? Well, let’s continue the progress. The cancer cell can’t just breach through the wall of a blood vessel, so how to overcome this obstacle? The cancer cell will eat his way through (with the enzyme 'protease' and so called MMPs to break the tissue). After it has gained access to blood vessel, it now flows along the current the bloodstream and stops when it has 'arrived' (how does it know where to stop?) and repeats the same process by eating his way out of the blood vessel. The cancer cell is now finally able to proliferate and make copies of itself. It also makes certain proteins to signal blood vessels, who will react to this signal to start feeding it with blood (angiogenesis), and thereby enabling further growth of the tumour. Telomerase suddenly becomes active (a normal somatic cell doesn’t have telomerase because normal cell should die at some point, only stem cells and germ line cells have telomerase), which basically means that now this cancer cell will also become immortal. - This process this doesn’t seem pregrogrammed and mechanical to me. There seems to be some kind of intentional step by step process. There are too much steps involved to be seen as some kind of random and spontaneous process. I’m not saying it’s intelligent or must have consciousness, but the way the scientific community thinks about cancer doesn’t quite do it for me. Lots of parasites also show to be able to think several steps ahead, and need several hosts to end up in the host they finally need to reproduce in. Tapeworms and other parasitic flatworms for instance have complex lifecycles in which specific developmental stages are completed in a sequence of several different hosts. Plasmodium (malaria) first goes to liver cells (it knows where the liver is located) where it reproduces asexually, burst open, next goes to blood cells where reproduces sexually, burst open, and partly develops into gametocytes (reproductive organs) to start the whole cycle over again, when another mosquito bites the host, and the parasite can move into the salivary glands of another mosquito. Again, lots of steps are involved, this time of an actual organism (protozoa) that is considered alive, but the process looks a lot like the development of cancer, which is thought to be not alive. Why isn’t cancer considered more of an intentional process (or at least more than just 'spontaneous')?
  5. We can fix this World

    I have a few more questions, regarding your ideas: - How will this new world system, which intends to be more equal and narrow the gap between poor and rich, be at the same time unequal enough for some of us to be motivated enough to work harder, in order to be rewarded more? A ‘free market’ with boundaries at the same time? - I like the idea of the basic income, basic housing etc. It could wipe out a great deal of crime (everybody needs to eat). But how will you make sure basic income won’t lead to laziness? What kind of punishments would you involve? Will there be basic work as well? - How will you make sure that those with high status and responsibilities could lose their job if they make big mistakes, and how are those with low status be able to ever going go make it to the top? - The Earth has a finite amount of food that can be generated. Our planet just can't be inhabited by 50 billion people. The population shouldn’t therefore be allowed outnumber the oxygen and food production that is being generated by the world forests and phytoplankton in the oceans. How will you limit birth growth? What kind of rules have to be set, and are these rules applied equally for everybody, whatever your function/task is? - And lastly, what about environmental problems? Our plastic ocean is a big one, but nothing compares to the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. Are the citizens of the world's future city-states allowed to maintain our current industrial lifestyle, in which 80% of world transport is made possible by fossil fuels, until, at some point in the near future, we’ll run out of our stock? Or should sustainable innovation and renewable energy sources be one of our main tasks?
  6. science is subfield of philosophy

    I've read Hawking's theory you've shared. Which section of its content gave you the conclusion that, if Hawking is right, black holes aren't objects?
  7. We can fix this World

    I admire your way of thinking, @BahadirArici. Your proposed system sounds a lot like communism, and if there is something that we've learned from communistic ideas in the past is that the coercive methods of communistic rule were not as capable of generating genuine innovation as free market economies. Capitalism provided the only viable means of maintaining prosperous societies over the long term. History has shown that without a significant degree of inequality, capitalism cannot work. So my question to you would be: how would your proposed system be not only more humane and equal, but also preserve innovation and technological progress? Thanks again for your thoughts. I have to admit that they're pretty inspirational. The world would be a harsh place without people like you who cares about the well-being of others.
  8. science is subfield of philosophy

    Thanks! This is the kind of information I'm looking for, very interesting.
  9. Oh boy... falling into a black hole

    Indeed it's not widely accepted by the scientific community, but isn't the statement "Whether or not the universe is five-dimensional is a topic of debate" suggesting that it's a 'Maybe' rather than a 'No'?
  10. Oh boy... falling into a black hole

    Has it been widely accepted by the scientific community that gravity is indeed another dimension? Why (not)? In the International System of units 'c' has a value because the photon has an actual speed that can be measured. G has neither a speed nor a mass (because it has no particle that mediates it), so where does the measured value of G (6.6740831×10−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2) come from?
  11. Oh boy... falling into a black hole

    I'm still confused about gravity and gravitational waves. It is known that Theodor Kaluza's equations (with one added dimension) imply that gravity can be considered another dimension. But if this is actually true, then how come we can directly detect these gravitational waves? In Einstein's view gravity is not a force, rather a curvature of spacetime. Does anybody know what Einstein's view on Newtons constant 'G' was? Because, if gravity is not a force, then how come there can be a number/value attached to it? To fully grasp the inner workings of a black hole, requires to fully understand gravity @pavelcherepan, because of the strong gravitational field within the event horizon of a black hole.
  12. Make that 11000 years ago. (8000 years ago agriculture got started in South America, and by that time it had already been flourishing in China for over a 1000 years)
  13. It's interesting to describe what exactly happens in terms of 'information' when a photon is travelling towards the event horizon of a black hole. A black hole will become bigger, because the event horizon radius is proportional to the mass of the black hole (and E=MC2). Moreover, a black hole can't decrease in size, only increase. Stephen Hawking thought that information disappears once inside of a black hole. but Leonard Susskind thought otherwise, namely that information is able to change, become distorted or break up into small bits, but can never actually disappear from the universe. Einstein showed us that energy can become mass and vice versa, so if photons themselves could be considered bits of information (I don't know if this is indeed the case ), they could be converted into mass (and thereby widen the black hole with one Planck length), and thus change information into mass, which would imply that Hawking was right after all. What are your thoughts about this? By the way, if you'd like to know more about the science of information, I can recommend you to Benjamin's Schumacher's work on this!
  14. What is the point of existence of Art?

    No I didn't support the left-brain/right-brain argument, the suggested myth in the article is that people are “left-brained” or “right-brained". I totally agree with that! But our two hemispheres still possess different tasks and have their own specialties.