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  1. No, the site doesn't depend on "population influx", I just think that scientific progress is beneficial to humanity. To make scientific progress, one needs scientists, to get scientists, one needs to get people interested in and comfortable with science, and to do that, one could utilize established scientific communities, such as this one.
  2. That's how I see it, but others may have different views or better knowledge of the subject. Some people study this sort of philosophy in much greater depth, but I really enjoy this subject. I refer to myself simply as an atheist. But I'm now thinking that I'm an ignostic atheist who's partial to pantheism (is this getting ridiculous?). I doubt the existence of deities as they are commonly defined (atheism), but still acknowledge the need to properly define the deity before passing judgement (ignosticism), and am open to a philosophical view which emphasizes an appreciation of nature.
  3. I'm definitely aware of the classical definitions of agnosticism and atheism. But I maintain that agnostics are actually atheists that do not fully understand why they are atheists. Here's what I mean: 1.) Agnosticism is commonly defined as skepticism of the existence of a deity, and viewed as "less extreme" than atheism. The latter point seems to be based upon the assumption that atheists doubt the existence of a deity with absolute certainty. 2.) Atheism is commonly defined as a lack of belief in the existence of a deity based on the lack of empirical evidence for one. In my experience, I've never met an atheist that claimed to know with full certainty that a deity does not exist, understanding that one can not prove a negative. On a 1-7 scale (1 = full belief/certainty in a deity, 7 = full certainty in the non-existence of a deity), even Richard Dawkins, the atheist man-of-the-hour puts himself at a 6.9. In other words, agnostics claim skeptical superiority by assuming that atheists are 100% certain of the non-existence of a deity, without understanding that almost no atheists actually hold such an extreme view. True atheists attribute their non-belief to a simple lack of evidence. These atheists generally concede that if sufficient, verifiable evidence suggested the existence of a flying spaghetti monster (as an appropriate example), then they would believe in His Noodleyness. Of course, all of this depends on how the deity is defined. If it is defined simply as a supernatural being, how is supernatural defined? Outside of the laws of physics? Outside of humanity's current understanding of physics? My understanding is that pantheists essentially equate all of existence/the Universe with "God." I'm under the impression that pantheists are more inclined to emphasize the mysterious wonder (so-to-speak) of the universe, and place less emphasis on condemning organized religion, yet still value science and reason. In this sense, it is my view that pantheists and atheists are not fundamentally distinct, they just communicate their non-belief differently.
  4. 1.) God/deity (as defined by Wiki): a supernatural being (i.e. not subject to the laws of physics). 2.) My own (simplified) definition of pantheism: the equation of the universe with a deity 3.) In my experience, I've never interacted with a self-described pantheist who believes that the universe is supernatural 4.) In my experience, I've never interacted with a self-described atheist who believes that universe doesn't exist Based on 1-4, I'm inclined to assert that atheism and pantheism are not fundamentally or significantly different from one another. Would you mind expanding on this?
  5. I just invited several of my science-minded friends to "Like" the SFN Facebook page (because I think this is a great community, and would like to share it), only to find that no one has posted anything on it since 2010! Now, I'm not one of those that has Facebook open in my browser 24/7 (honestly), but it seems like the administrators of this site should want to generate as much support/interest as possible, no? Facebook is, in fact, one of the most relevant ways to do so nowadays...just sayin' I am of the opinion that we need more scientific thinkers on this planet, and this site is an open door into the world of science (preaching to the choir, surely). Let's be as welcoming as possible! My actual question: do any of the administrators oversee social networking?
  6. I come to these forums every now and again for expertise on field-specific topics and help understanding various concepts, but I also really enjoy hearing what the science community has to say about deeper, more contemplative subjects. I'm curious to hear what ya'll have to say about pantheism in particular. In your opinion, is it different from atheism? If so, how? Are agnostics really separate from atheists? Or are they just "nicer" about their lack of belief? I have my own opinions, mainly pertaining to how the deity in question is explicitly defined, but I'm very curious to see what you think. Cheers!
  7. I'll be honest, I only skimmed most of the above posts. It seems that the general takeaway message from most of the other comments, however, is that they are trying to convince Mike that no one field of study (currently) can encompass every complex system present on the Earth. Mike seems to understand this perfectly fine, however. If I may, Mike...I think that you're driving at the concept of the future of integrated Earth Systems Science (all sciences, effectively). Although no single human is capable of fully conceptualizing the interconnectedness of all Earthly processes, we do have computers, and more specifically, computer models that are becoming more advanced every year. Models that simulate climatic, geochemical, geomechanical, geothermal, biological, sociological (the list goes on) processes are continuously upgraded to incorporate more data and perform more calculations faster. Currently, models such as these are conducted in sub-disciplinary contexts, but many modeling programs can already combine multiple principles and give cross-disciplinary results. A good example are simulators that predict mineral precipitation in groundwater systems under various hydrothermal conditions = chemistry + physics + geology Integrating all of these systems and processes mathematically is no small feat, but the collaborative scientific community is gradually approaching a point at which comprehensive models accurately (depending on your definition of accurate) represent and simulate the entire Earth system. This could take decades or centuries, but it gives us something to do in the meantime, doesn't it? : )
  8. Your profile says your interests are "astrology and geology" ...I hope you mean astronomy. Maybe English isn't your fist language? That's ok, but since this forum is in English, you'll have to work on your language skills if you want any feedback here.
  9. Thanks, guys for your input. I did resolve the problem within a couple days, simply by sitting him/her down and calmly asking him/her to explain myself. It turned out that he/she had been having some family issues shortly before our encounter, hence the short fuse and stubbornness. I regret posting this now, but I was pretty flustered and uncertain at the time. I actually love the program. I plan to dedicate my life to the field. In this case it was actually a communication issue, not my lack of experience. That was part of the reason I was so confused and flustered. My committee (including my advisor) had already approved my topic. Dr. X then turned around and told me months later that he/she had already done the same research 23 years ago. I looked into the publication in question and discovered that not only was that a gross overexageration on Dr. X's part, but the research was only vaguely related to my topic. Originally, I had a suspicion that my own adviser WAS trying to suppress my project in an effort to "protect" his/her reputation. Let me be clear that I have learned that this is not the case, however. Thanks again everyone for your input. If nothing else, this thread was a good way for me to vent my (now irrelevant) "problems." Sometimes you need a scientist's opinion on personal matters, and can't necessarily talk to the other scientists around you.
  10. I can't speak to the nanotech saftey issues, but the concepts of physical enhancement and the Sigularity are both very intriguing to me. It seems that access to these hypothetical physical enhancement procedures is analogous to present-day access to health care. If we continue to perpetuate a global capitalistic economy, then only the wealthy will have access to the most advanced improvements. This opens a whole economics can-of-worms that I'm not sure is appropriate for this thread (or is it?), but the only path to equal access (for anything, be it healthcare, food, modern technology, etc.) that I see is through adopting a global-resource-based economy. Such an economy depends on countless technological, ecological, and political advancements, however. An extremely important catalyst for achieving global equality, I think, is the free and open internet. Put simply, information empowers people, and if we protect the internet from restriction and censorship, we open all sorts of doors for ourselves. As for the advancement of cognition and the limits of "humanity." I don't think we should get too hung up on "what it means to be human." Does the "human" factor approach zero as technological advancement approaches infinity? Maybe, but that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is suffering, and the only reliable alleviator of suffering is technology. I'd like to think that in the future every human will have the choice of where he or she wants to be along the biotechnological continuum. If you want to live in a hut in the jungle, you can do so. If you want to live only with the amenities available in the year 2013, have at it. If you choose to upload your consciousness into the global brain that emerges at the point of the "Singularity" and explore any realm of reality that you can imagine, more power to you. Will any of this actually happen? Will we wipe ourselves out first? I've no f@#king clue.
  11. I have been in graduate school for almost two years, and I have been working on my thesis for the past 6 months. Today I definitely lost some respect for my advisor (who shall hereafter be referred to as Dr. X). This morning I got an email from Dr. X, which said: "I did what you are proposing for a thesis and published it in [a scientific journal] 23 years ago." (by the way, I've been speaking about my thesis frequently with Dr. X, but Dr. X randomly tells me this NOW?) The email, continued: "[You] need to find a thesis topic that is new unless the goal is to disprove what has been done before. I will give 100 per cent support to a project that would disprove past work, but there is nothing to be gained in repeating and confirming what has already been published." I have read all of Dr. X's publications, so I am pretty familiar with his/her work. Nevertheless, I dig up the publication in question and find that Dr. X has in fact NOT conducted this research in any significant detail. The publication merely proposes this research topic, and offers theoretical results for it. Only a few sentences (which are buried in the midst of the publication, which discusses a much broader topic) are devoted to this topic. Additionally, no data sources, methods, or assumptions (which are particularly important for this specific type of research) are mentioned. Backing up slightly, I have acquired abundant data which is extremely useful for this project; data that did not exist when Dr. X's paper was published. Some of this data happens to directly contradict with Dr. X's "results," and in fact render Dr. X's methods invalid. After I read the email, I thought "Oh, Dr. X is just not aware of this new data." So, of course, I go and show it to Dr. X, and I get completely interrupted before I can finish explaining myself. Dr. X gives the data a quick glance, and snaps "No! I don't care what that says! THIS is real! (pointing to a paper copy of his/her own publication sitting on the desk)" Dr. X quickly changes the subject and I am left stunned. I leave, unable to think of a way to explain myself without insulting Dr. X further. Here is my dilemma. It seems clear to me that Dr. X is completely ignoring valid evidence that contradicts him/her for the sake of his/her ego and at the expense of myself, his/her student. This is not what I would consider good science or good advisement, and I am not certain that I'm ready to abandon 6 months worth of work and start from scratch, just to keep Dr. X's ego intact. I'm also not certain that I'm willing to continue working with Dr. X at all. I know this is really lengthy, but I cannot not emphasize Dr. X's stubbornness enough...it is something for which Dr. X is fairly well-known. I am afraid that if I press this issue, I will do nothing more than get on Dr. X's bad side. I am seriously considering dropping out of the program, because I'm not sure if I can continue to put up with this stubbornness. I would really appreciate any advice you guys have to offer. I could use some 3rd party perspective before I make any decisions..... Also, let me just say that I do respect Dr. X's work, I am fond of and friendly with Dr. X, and that no ill intent is meant here.
  12. If anyone still reads this post, I think you'll find this interesting: "Volcanic Shield can Protect from Eruptions and Generate Electricity" http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Volcanic-Shield-can-Protect-from-Eruptions-and-Generate-Electricity.html
  13. If that is an observational comment on the present, it seems a little redundant. Of course it (the technological singularity) is not feasible right now, it's a theoretical projection of the progression of human technological capability. If you are denouncing the feasibility of the singularity in the future, then a.) you are contradicting much of the rest of your comment, and b.) it seems you should expand on your reasoning for denouncing it.
  14. This is one of those topics that always excites me to the core. It can't really be confined to a single field (computer science, neuroscience, physics, maths, etc.), and its possible implications are deep and unpredictable, so the philosophy forum seemed appropriate.... I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the concept of the technological singularity (as popularized by Ray Kurzweil); the theory that computation and neuroscience will one day be so advanced that technology and neurology will converge. Supposedly, at this singularity, all human minds will have instantaneous communicatory access to one another, as well as to the entire collective body of human knowledge. Some (including Ray Kurzweil) suggest that the singularity will occur within the 21st century; perhaps within the next 50 years or so. I have my own preconceptions regarding this concept...but I'm curious about what you all have to say about it. Will the technological singularity occur in the next 50 or 100 years? What are its moral and practical (scientific) implications? Why are some people fearful of transcendent technological advancement? Are they justified?
  15. If it helps, the relationships are given by: VP = √{(E/ρ)((1-μ)/((1-2μ)(1+μ)))} VS = √{(E/ρ)(1/(2(1+μ)))} where VP = P-wave velocity VS = S-wave velocity E = Young's Modulus ρ = density μ = Poisson's Ratio I just cannot find the reason that an increase in density causes a decrease in seismic velocity. Just at first glance, it seemed to me that an object with higher density would propagate a seismic wave more easily than an object with lower density; i.e. that more atomic matter would allow for a better transmission of a wave. I was thinking of this problem macroscopically...part of me assumed that lower density (in this case) meant higher porosity (geologically speaking, porosity is almost always relevant)...and since I already happened to know that air has a lower seismic velocity (~330 m/s) than most consolidated rocks (~1000-7000 m/s), an inverse relationship between density and seismic velocity seemed counterintuitive, because it seemed that the presence of more empty space (which I equated with air) would slow seismic wave propagation. After doing a bit more research, I finally started thinking about this problem at an atomic scale...it now seems more logical (and almost obvious) that more matter per volume means that more matter must be undulated by any given seismic event. If there are two rock bodies of equivalent volume, identical porosity, but body A has a higher density than body B...the wave will logically travel through body B more quickly, simply because there is less matter to undulate in body B....no? Objections? Concurrences? Not sure if anyone actually cares or not...I just had a whole conversation with myself today
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