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About StrontiDog

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  • Birthday 06/03/1960

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  • Location
    Knoxville, TN
  • Interests
    Bad drummer in crappy band. . .and loving it!
  • College Major/Degree
    Degrees in Biology and Nuclear Physics
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Physics and Biology
  • Occupation
    Health Physicist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  1. If anybody can't see the evolutionary advantage of a species with an overwhelmingly-strong sex drive, then they would seem oblivious to some of the basic evolutionary tenants. Only humans even 'know' that mating is what produces offspring. Any other population mates due to their biological imperative to do so.
  2. (From one perspective): ". . . . .I'm just meeting you because I'm willing to do what it takes to try and get into your bloomers." (From another perspective): ". . .I'm just doing this because I've got two kids, you've got a good job and a nice, roomy flat and I am willing to do what it takes to get into your wallet and bank account." Honesty is overrated. The advice I'd give is go ahead and tell the truth, but never tell the whole truth.
  3. In a way, the picture to which you are referring has nothing to do with Darwin. Lest we forget, that was a 1965 illustration by a rather well-known artist named Rudolph Zallinger. It was commissioned by Time-Life Books as a fold-out for one of their Life Nature Library books. The original has 15 renderings representing the artist’s conception of what was. . .50 years ago. . .the latest and most up-to-date overview of evolutionary developments. There has been criticism from the beginning for the first three images . Zallinger was an accomplished natural history painter, and he drew what he knew. He drew recognizable, more-or-less modern monkeys and apes. It was never meant to be anything more than a visual aid. If you do a little research into “March of Progress”. . .the title of the work, you’ll find it fascinating. I hope this helps.
  4. There is some logic to the descriptor of trial and error. There is evidence of numerous 'failed' attempts at everything from vision to flight. Though calling that an 'error' is potentially erroneous. Perhaps the most efficient, most effective mode of flight was developed by a beast on some island that was wiped-out by a volcanic eruption. . .and we'll never even know what it was. The implication of a conscious effort is probably a mistake, as well. Wide genetic variation within a population is an observed phenomenon. If some combinations work under certain circumstances. . .and are passed-on to allow for more progeny with these combinations. . . .that's hardly a 'trial.' Anthropomorphism is always a challenge when describing nature.
  5. Try this argument, navig8tr. . . . . Start by asking if they even know what DNA is, because it is not a code. It is more like a template or even a stencil for protein synthesis. Call it 'Science's Mistake' (The average Creationist will like that line. . .) that we ever even coined the term 'Genetic Code.' It is a misnomer that refers more to sequencing order, than anything else. And lightning bug flashes have a sequence. . .but that's not a code created by a mind, now is it? If the stencil is damaged, the cell might still make protiens but they will be the wrong ones and will do the wrong thing. . . .sometimes we call this 'Cancer.' (There are many other examples, but this one is something they've probably heard about.) By obviating the major premise of the syllogism, it falls apart. Mentioning the 'junk code,' will also help. Good luck.
  6. In partial answer to the first question, I found an interesting TIME article with the following: Up to 10 million tons of chemical fertilizer per year are poured onto fields to cultivate corn alone, for example, which has increased yields 23% from 1990 to 2009 but has led to toxic runoffs that are poisoning the beleaguered Gulf of Mexico. Beef raised in industrial conditions are dosed with antibiotics and growth-boosting hormones, leaving chemical residues in meat and milk. A multicenter study released just two days after the obesity report showed that American girls as young as 7 are entering puberty at double the rate they were in the late 1990s, perhaps as a result of the obesity epidemic but perhaps too as a result of the hormones in their environment — including their food. And for out-of-season foods to be available in all seasons as they now are, crops must be grown in one place and flown or trucked thousands of miles to market. That leaves an awfully big carbon footprint for the privilege of eating a plum in December. Farm-raised animals are also higher in conjugated lineoleic acids, fatty acids that, according to studies of lab animals, may help reduce the risk of various cancers. Cattle that eat more grass have higher ratios of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6s, a balance that's widely believed to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and arthritis and to improve cognitive function. Take the cows out of the pasture, put them in a feedlot and stuff them with corn-based feed, and the omega-3s plummet. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), for example, an often deadly pathogen associated mostly with hospital-acquired infections, has been increasingly turning up in hog farmers, who contract it from their animals. In one study last year, a University of Iowa epidemiologist found that 49% of the hogs she tested were positive for MRSA, as were 45% of the humans who handled them. Salmonella is hardly unheard of even among chickens raised in comfortable, free-range conditions. But when you confine half a dozen birds at a time in cages no larger than an opened broadsheet newspaper, and stack hundreds or thousands of those so-called battery cages together, you're going to spread the bacterium a lot faster. In a meta-analysis conducted by the Organic Center, a nonprofit group in Boulder, Colo., organic produce was found to be 25% higher in phenolic acids and antioxidants. "It's these components that are deficient in American diets, These would seem to be nine answers to what problems organic methods might be attempting to solve. They are somewhat edited for brevity and clarity, but no salient points were changed. I hope this helps.
  7. Bellabob, The basic answer to your question is that two organisms, both fully functional on their own, were more apt to survive and breed more offspring when their mutually beneficial traits were present, than when they were not. Both organisms then evolved to the point where they were fully dependent on each other. The other answer is that symbiosis is a general term. Some organisms seem to get along just fine without their symbiote, some die without them. Our own mitochondria are descendant from a bacteria that entered early eukaryotic cells (likely either as an invader. . .or as lunch) and helped those cells outperform all rivals. It’s called endosymbiosis. Their closest living relative is the same critter that causes typhus. We certainly couldn’t survive without them and they no longer have the ability. . .with just 37 bacterial genes. . .to live independently outside the cell. Their DNA is not really human DNA. They barely resemble their original antecedent bacterium any more than we resemble the single-celled protoanimal that started this whole thing. We’ve both come a long way, since then. Hope this helps.
  8. I would posit that imagination has definite and quantifiable survival value. As a species, humans are really quite imaginative. We see imagination at work in children from the time they can communicate in any but the most basic ways. It seems intrinsic to the species. It also seems to be a true Gaussian distribution pattern within us. Some have a lot, some not so much. . .and most of us somewhere in the middle. Imagination works to better anything from hunting tactics to making fire to more efficient tools and weapons. I am also not sure that we can truly control our ability to imagine. No matter how intelligent you are, I believe you’ll still ‘see’ the elephant in the clouds. I imagine (pun intended) an internal conversation, long ago: “Sharp stick good. Sharp rock better but have to get too close to use it. Hmmmm. . .Sharp rock on end of stick and my family has dinner, tonight.” I think we all ‘see’ patterns and shapes in the clouds and the stars. But those things aren’t really there, of course. They’re imaginary. So to get the imagination to be able to conceptualize what does not yet exist. . .you will also have some imaginary friends. A.K.A. Religion.
  9. From an evolutionary perspective, I propose that lifespan and breeding rates would be one factor for selection of longer-lived individuals in any population. Consider rats that would routinely live in excess of a hundred years (like some sea turtles). Now consider their breeding rates. Malthus wasn't wrong, he just didn't anticipate all the variables. Perhaps such species have existed. What are the odds they'd still be around, today?. One true drought, worldwide ice age, volcanic winter, etc., could wipe-out such a species even if the regular overpopulation/95% wipe-out cycle were not broken. One of the evolutionary advantages of mortality is that the older generation dies and clears the way for the younger, once they're able to care for themselves. If not, older individuals compete with their own offspring for limited resources. It's one thing for sea turtles, which lay many eggs but for which few live to adulthood, to have a longer breeding lifespan. That makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Low survival rate of offspring is generally the same thing as low breeding rates. It's more about success, than potential. So I posit that long lifespan and high (successful) breeding rates are counterproductive, from evolution's standpoint. One or the other, not both. There's one reason. . .
  10. Okay DieDaily, I've spent most of the day reading and re-reading this entire thread, and I don't think that anyone has addressed these questions quite this way. I don’t see any paradox, CM is not violated, and what you see looking out the side window does not describe the effects of gravity. Addressing the last first, light has to bridge the distance between the objects (ships.) Gravity doesn't, it's already in place. Light is emitted or reflected, there is a gap between photons. That gap gets wider as they leave the point source. (Which is where the concept of 'gravitons' breaks-down, for me.) Don’t forget that gravity is omnipresent and omnidirectional unless you just happened to create these two masses out in the intergalactic void, somewhere. Gravitational effect might propagate at the speed of light, but this matter has existed since shortly after the BB, and each atom that makes it up has had plenty of time to distort the curvature of space in all directions as much as any normal atom can. Basically, any ‘drag’ caused by the fact that M1 is ‘outrunning’ the center of gravity of M2, is vectored perfectly by the fact that it is now ‘running into’ the gravitational influence ALREADY IN PLACE that it would have ‘missed’ if the two objects hadn’t been simultaneously fired on parallel trajectories from some arbitrary ‘still’ point in space. And vice versa. And the distance between this hypothetical gap, is also larger. So now the ‘attraction’ is less, by the difference in the SQUARE of the extra distance. And you’re still ‘running into’ gravitational effects that each mass would have ‘missed’ if they weren’t shot away at the new velocities. I agree that this simple explanation may not hold for relativistic speeds, but then again, it might. There’s a reason that there’s no ‘V’ for velocity in the (Newtonian) gravitational equation. It just doesn’t matter. Bill Wolfe
  11. Makes sense for most things. I don't see environment making much difference in (innate) eye color, and a few other things. But as a rule of thumb, it works. Thanks, Bill Wolfe
  12. Not really, Steevey. Intelligence has been fairly well demonstrated to be a Continuous Genetic Trait. In short, it is inherited (though there is a fair amount of disagreement as to how much) but it is also affected by environmental factors. Let's face it, if Einstein's mother was an alcoholic when he was in-utero, we'd have probably never heard about him. Intelligence is a little like height. An offspring can be taller than both parents, or shorter, or somewhere in between. But other factors such as prenatal care, toxins in the environment and diet can make a big difference in how tall the individual eventually gets. The same goes with smarts. What you're describing is more like education, which is completely acquired. This whole argument about 'Nature vs. Nurture' has consistently puzzled me. The answer has always seemed to be obvious. It's both. Bill Wolfe
  13. Something to keep in mind is the common misconception that a species slowly turns into another species. Lest we forget, humanity split from a common ancestor with chimps, gorillas and other great apes somewhere around 10-20 MYA. This means that that one common ancestor species 'evolved' into at least three species that still exist, and countless others that don't. So what does that species 'look like', now? Shoot, if you go back 200 MYA or so, we may share a common ancestor with any other vertebrate. So what did that species 'evolve into?' Did it evolve into humans, or sperm whales? The advent of technology and genetic manipulation could see countless distinct species that could all trace their ancestry to homo sapiens sapiens. In short, there is probably no answer to your question.
  14. Why would there even be a gravitational wave unless the spinning object was highly lopsided or had a very dense, off-center volume within it? If it managed to create gravitational waves, they would propagate at the speed of light. No more, no less. Higher spin rates would probably increase the frequency of the gravitational waves, but it wouldn't affect their speed. If gravitational waves exist at all, that is. Last I heard they haven't actually been detected to any degree of certainty, though there have been some interesting possibilities dating back to 1987. Bill Wolfe
  15. Actually, not true. A horse has 64 chromosomes and a Donkey has 62. They can mate and produce a hybrid. . .a mule. Mules have 63 chromosomes. It’s the odd number of chromosomes that makes most mules sterile. There are well documented (but rare) cases of female mules (mollies) giving birth to foals. Genetic testing has even confirmed that the molly was the mom. So the offspring aren’t necessarily sterile. Besides, who says the character can’t be a sterile hybrid? As for the mechanism behind the character’s unique parentage. . .a mislabeled vial in an in vitro fertilization clinic could do it. Mad scientist experimenting to see if the two species were viable. Two members of different species stranded on a desert island. . .the list goes on. And yes, any hybrid can have traits not present in either parent. Ligers are the largest cats in the world, weighing much more than either parent. Vestigial organs in both can possibly be reactivated, though it would be tricky. So have at it, Dec. Have fun with it. Bill Wolfe
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