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FreeThinker

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About FreeThinker

  • Rank
    Baryon

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  • Location
    Melbourne, Australia
  • Interests
    Reading, Soccer, Fitness etc
  • College Major/Degree
    Monash Uni. Bachelor of Science /first year
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Biology
  • Occupation
    IT Technician
  1. http://www.qis.net/~truth/ Sorry, couldn't resist
  2. I don’t think that the moment of birth carries any significance when it comes to the moral issue of taking the life of the fetus/infant. Compare the new born infant to the unborn a day before birth. Is it morally justifiable, no matter which stand we take, to differentiate between the two?
  3. A better question: would life be worth living if we knew everything?
  4. I don’t think its necessarily a "black" thing. I think its more of a media thing. For example, Eminem is white but your kids could have easily caught the "black" slang of him. This imitating phenomena has always been happening. Pictures of my father dressed like a hippy back in the 70s is a good example. It was just portrayed to be cool to do that back in those days. Same can be said of "black talk" currently. I don’t doubt that it originated in African-American communities; however its current form has diverged significantly from its roots. To illustrate by example, here in Australia it is considered ‘cool’ to imitate people of the Lebanese background. Teenagers from all sorts of backgrounds (including Asians, Anglo-Saxons, Europeans…) imitate the Australian-Lebanese slang. Next time you go to Sydney and hear a white Anglo-Saxon kid saying “SHO HABIB” you will know what I mean.
  5. I am currently in the second year of my Bachelors degree. Every semester its the usual pattern; things start of great and you have so much will to search the journals, towards the middle of the semester things start piling up and you are forced to look for shortcuts (E.g. Wiki) and just before exam time its just crazy and time is of the essence (back to the net)! I do think that the amount of assessment greatly reduces ones ability to learn or, more importantly, enjoy learning! I often find myself at Uni day-dreaming about getting a few free days to read some science books. The most frustrating things is that the subject content is fascinating, but the assessment and the expectations can be overwhelming.
  6. Hey all, I have been thinking about the evolutionary accumulation of introns. Firstly, they used to be referred to as "junk-DNA" but now we know that this is not exactly true. For example, intron splicing is responsible for the K+ channels in our ears that enable us to hear different frequencies. However, could they still have accumulated as junk and only later been shaped by natural selection for specific purporses? If they were once just junk, why are there no introns in prokaryotes? They seem as good DNA carries as eukaryotes. It seems logical to suppose that the advance transcription machinery in eukaryotes requires introns, while the prokaryotes do not. This once again leads to an evolutionary selection but this would have had to be a slow accumulation with selection at every step. What would be the benefit of carring extra DNA in your genome? It does not seem economical. Have there been any other roles, besides splicing, discovered for introns? Fascinating things, they are. Thoughts please.
  7. 1) Could be an unavoidable side effect of having such a complex neural network? 2) I heard this as well. Not sure if its true though. 3) Highly unlikley. Just because we have dreams, there is no reason to suppose that they have some direct connection to the future or the past. Maybe in an indirect sence where they prepare us for the everyday challanges. This would make sense from an evolutionary point of view and the fact that most dreams are about sex or predators would further support the notion that they are indeed an evolutionary adaptation.
  8. Penetrance is an important factor in gene expression. For example, the disease polyactyl causes the expression of extra digits in certain individuals. However, it other individuals the level of expression varies according to other genes in the genome. Now, imagine inserting the bear muscle cells into a human. Firstly, it would be impossible to predict how the gene would actually behave. If it was expressed, I am guessing that there would be extra requirements for food consumption which would wear out the digestive system quicker. In short, I think such changes are largely unrealistic, not to speak of laser eyes and such. But then again, who would have imagined that we could insert the glowing protein from certain fish into mice? Science never fails to amaze me....
  9. Well, no. For example, DNA and RNA are nucleic acids composed of nucleotides which have a totally different chemical makeup compared to amino acids. Cell membranes are composed of phospholipids which are, once again, very different from amino acids. Also, other structures of the cells such as carbohydrates are also not made up of amino acids. In short, the answer is no.
  10. There is a difference between being a member of the species Homo sapiens and being a person. If we think of a person as a member of Homo sapiens, what does that actually mean? Is it the number of chromosomes? In that case anyone of my cells can be considered a person. Is it intelligence? What about people who are mentally handicapped? Or people with lower IQ, are they less of a person than someone with a higher IQ? I like John Locke’s definition of a person “A thinking intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as self, the same thinking thing, in different times and places”. Taking this definition into consideration, I will try and address your categories. Slavery/racism: Clearly any human being with the ability to have future plans and can consider itself as self would be defined as a person. This goes for black, whites or any other race. Abortion: I would not consider a fetus as a ‘person’. It is simply a collection of cells. Until the neurological pathways have been developed , it is nothing but a collection of cells. Animal rights: This is difficult. How can we truly know what sort of an existence a dog experiences ( with its numerous smell detectors) or a bat (with its sonar)? Maybe they experience self in a similar way we do? Genetic engineering: Interesting. Would a chimp/human hybrid be considered a person? Would it have dreams? Do chimps experience some level of consciousness? It is a difficult question. Artificial intelligence: I would say that if A.I was to reach the level of consciousness , it should be considered as a ‘person’. Why should the fact that we contain more carbon (compared to silicon) have anything to do with ethics? Extraterrestrial life: Once again , we can not judge that which we don’t understand. If these beings experienced some level of self awareness, they should be treated just as you and I.
  11. Ribosomes are not proteins, they are made out of RNA (rRNA). RNA has the property where it can act as a catalyst as well as the carrier of information. For example, as Mokele already mentioned, a ribozyme has all the properties of an enzyme. It even requires a substrate (Mg) to be active. This would solve the DNA/Protein problem as RNA can do the job of both! We can imagine a RNA world, where RNA can fold itself into complex shapes and perform the work of enzymes. How did DNA and Proteins come into the picture? It is hard to say. Molecules do not leave fossils. But evidence seems to indicate that RNA arose before DNA. The sugar ribose (In RNA) is quiet easily synthesized in the lab, while deoxyribose (in DNA) requires proteins to be synthesized. What about proteins? I would guess something like the following: natural selection favored the stable RNA molecules. Imagine a scenario where one of these molecules could bond easier with a certain amino acid. Now it would be more stable than its non bonding counter parts. At this time on earth, natural selection would have favored the most stable molecules. As different RNA sequences attracted themselves to different amino acids, some of them begun to merge with one another. This would in turn make them more stable. If, somehow, the amino acids within these merging molecules, managed to bond as well, it would make the molecule more stable still. This could have been the beginning to protein synthesis.
  12. Was I not clear enough in my question or doesnt anyone know the answer?
  13. Hey all, Since RNA polymerase, and a bunch of other enzymes, are needed to translate DNA into proteins, where does the first RNA polymerase of a new organism come from? My guess is that it must be inherited from one of the parents. If so, which single RNA enzyme gets chosen to be passed down to the offspring, or is a new one synthesized from the DNA just before the gamete is made? Are there cases where a defective enzyme has been passed down and no DNA translation took place? My lecturer did not have the answer to these questions and I couldn’t find much on Google (probably because I couldn't phrase it properly in the search).
  14. Hey all, I remember reading one of Richard Dawkins books a long time ago. He was describing animals which are too grotesque to be designed by an omni-benevolent God. One of the organisms he described was a creature which, usually, gives birth to three daughters and one son. Firstly the brother impregnated the sisters. Than, the four of them eat the mother from inside. Once the male breathes in oxygen, he dies. The sisters live on to repeat the cycle. As I recall it was some specie of mice, but I am not convinced it is . Anyone have any ideas?
  15. Homo sapiens are social animals. To fit into a group, and benefit, would require social skills. Favours would be remembered and repaid, and cheaters would be punished as they wouldn’t benefit from interaction with other members of the group. The next questions is; what would make individuals more likely to be cheaters or to follow certain rules (eg. Being good towards others)? The answer is genetic algorithms. Some individuals are genetically more likely to be good (think of it as a strategy) while others are programmed to break the rules. This is a very large simplification. In reality there would probably be multiple genetic algorithms ( eg. Be good to those who are good to you but punish the ones who cheat you, Cheat if you assume the other individual is good and cheat when facing a cheaters...) The Evolutionary Stable strategy would prevail ( I believe it is something in between; we are good when we want to be). Religiously speaking, morality isn’t as simple as it seams. If our sense of right or wrong is set in stone than what is the answer to this questions : Was dropping a bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki a good or a bad thing? The answer would depend on the person answering the question. Therefore, what is good or bad is relative, not absolute.
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