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Everything posted by Sisyphus

  1. I have no idea what it would mean for the beginning of the universe to "happen by chance." For something to "happen," I thought that implied a before and an after. But there was no before. I also have no idea what you're talking about when you say "perfect." As opposed to what? And it didn't "break" laws of physics. Things behaved differently because they were under wildly different conditions. If you want, you can say they obeyed different laws, but that's somewhat misleading. Physical laws changed, yes, but they changed for a physical reason, obeying themselves, as it were.
  2. I thought you said it wasn't happening. But yeah, I don't particularly think it's good for the species as a whole at all. But it is still "good" for individual members of the species, because being less intelligent tends to lead to having more children.
  3. Well, we may very well go extinct very soon. Or maybe non-genetic intelligence, in the form of AI or something, will save us. Or maybe future generations will embrace eugenics, or artificial genetic modification. But for the time being, if genetically dumber people are having more kids, then yes, we are evolving to be less intelligent.
  4. It's got everything to do with integrals. An integral is the sum of the rectangles under the curve, change in x (width) times height, the change in width approaches zero and the number of rectangles approaches infinity. Sums are where integrals come from. It's basically "the sum of all y-values."
  5. This is pure speculation, but I would imagine its because a burn involves killing and damaging all the cells in a significant area, while a cut only destroys a thin slice. Healing the one involves rebuilding the whole area, while the other involves just reattaching two basically healthy parts. That's what I would guess, anyway.
  6. G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the attracting body, and r is the distance between the two centers of mass. It's negative because you're accelerating "downwards," or towards each other.
  7. Helix is right about almost everything, but I would like to clarify one thing. Humans are NOT "farther down the road" than anything else. There is no "road" that is a set path for evolution, for which anything farther along that road is "more evolved." The only way something can be "more evolved" is if it is better able to produce a lot of surviving offspring. By that measure, there are many, many organisms more evolved than humans. An increase in intelligence is not necessarily an evolutionary "improvement." It's only an improvement if it results in more or better offspring. Human intelligence might seem like a great thing, but it also has a huge cost. No species that I know of is more helpless or dependent on its parents for a longer period of time than humans, because all those complex neural pathways take a long time to develop. Even within our species, we see less intelligent people having more children sooner, because more intelligent people tend to find reasons not to have children. Therefore, the human race is evolving to become less intelligent. And no, there's no such thing as "people" and "animals." We ARE animals.
  8. The day after Clinton was impeached his approval rating was at 73%.
  9. Right, but what does that even mean? We wait around indefinitely, getting shot at, for the Iraqi military which may or may not become powerful enough not to be wiped out in what we hope will change from an occupation resistance to a civil war. In other words, keep doing what we have been, and hope everything takes care of itself.
  10. I felt such incredible relief at hearing that decision. There still are judges out there who are willing to do their jobs. It is possible to explain what a theory means. We won't necessarily continue a slow decline into theocracy. It's all just a fad! Hooray!
  11. Or Bill O'Reilly not letting any liberals finish sentences. Or only taking mail that is either unqualified praise of himself or ridiculous liberal straw men...
  12. What does this mean, and how does it reflect political bias?
  13. Sisyphus


    Either that, or it would act as a rationalization for still feeling superior to them. Europeans were able to do that pretty well when first encountering cultures that were in most ways more advanced than their own (like the Chinese), based on cultural differences that were far less extreme than cannibalism. I should also note that I would probably just go with it, in the spirit of scientific inquiry. When else am I going to find out what human meat tastes like? Incidentally, my inspirations for asking this question come from two sources. One, Montaigne's essay On Cannibals, which aside from being very thought provoking (though not really all that much about cannibalism), is also worthwhile by virtue of coming from one of the best and most honest writers of all time. The other is an extremely silly review (pseudo-review) I recently wrote of the dark French comedy, Delicatessen, which I reproduce here for the purposes of general amusement:
  14. Sisyphus


    This is a fairly simple question. Why not? I'm assuming that it can be done in a sanitary way, so the natural fear of getting human diseases from a human body is null. Also, there's no murder involved. Let's say, instead, that a relative put it in his will that instead of being embalmed or cremated, he should be served as the main course at a memorial dinner, and that it would be doing him dishonor if the guests declined. Would you have a bite? Why or why not?
  15. I don't think there's any way to have true randomness without looking all the way down to the quantum scale, and even that is not really certain whether its truly random or just deterministic in a way we don't yet understand. Cause and effect is a powerful thing...
  16. A function is something whereby you can put in some variable and get a different, dependant variable out. So, if f(x)=2x-3, you can put in some value, say 6, and get f(6)=2(6)-3=9. Differentiation of a function is the generation of another function for which the "y-value" (value of the dependant variable at a given "x-value," or independant variable) of the second is equal to the gradient, or slope, of the first. For example, take the function y=f(x)=x^2. For any given x, there is a y that is equal to x^2. The derivative of this function happens to be f1(x)=2x, meaning that for a given point on the original curve, its slope can be represented by 2x. So, at x=4, f(x)=4^2=16, and its slope at that point, f1(x)=2(4)=8, or 8 units up for every 1 unit over. The dy/dx means instantaneous change in y divided by instantaneous change in x. An explanation: Slope is measured by change in y divided by change in x. So between two points on a curve, the y-value of the second minus the y -value of the first, all divided by the x-value of the second divided by the x-value of the first, will give you the slope of the straight line between those two points, also called the secant. But we want the slope at a point, which poses some problems. How can there be any change at one point? Well, there can't, really, but what we can do is find the change between two points which are closer to one another than any finite distance. We can determine through algebra that as you make the distance between them smaller and smaller, the change in y over change in x gets closer and closer to some definite ratio, which is the "limit" as the distance between them "approaches zero." Thus, the "dy/dx" is that ratio at an infinitely small distance, thereby effectively being the slope at one point. I'll say more later, but right now I have actual work to do...
  17. Bacteria would have a much harder time living in urine than in fresh water, I'd imagine.
  18. The anecdote about "an Iraqi" at the polls made me giggle. That didn't really belong in a serious speach, and just reminded of the Kurds, who have far more loyalty towards a Kurdish state than an Iraqi one. Also, note he never used the word "insurgents." Only "terrorists," equating resisting an occupation with carrying out 9/11 (which he can't make any speach without mentioning), as if they would all still be attacking America if there had been no war. 80% of politics is finding convenient names for things. On the plus side, he did say the war in Iraq has been more difficult than anticipated. It's not admitting a mistake, exactly, but its the closest I've seen him do.
  19. Sisyphus


    Not beneficial to his country. Beneficial to him. He's a politician, remember? There are few easier ways to build popular support than to appeal to popular racism, nationalism, or religious fervor. He's doing all three, using a target that is still quite safe just about anywhere in the Middle East. Not only that, but he's being openly confrontational and defiant at a time when most Middle Eastern Muslims probably feel humiliatingly bullied into political correctness by the powers that be, like the U.S. Openly saying that Israel should be wiped out is also, in effect, saying that Iran cannot be dominated by foreigners.
  20. That doesn't seem like a theory so much as a sci fi plot device. Whether wormholes exist is not known. But even if they did, how in the world would you create one?
  21. I'm currently reading 3 different books, with half a dozen more on indefinite hold. That is fairly typical for me, and I fully expect to finish them all eventually, like I almost always do. Sometimes, though, I will binge on one book, spending many hours a day reading straight through, often at the expense of other responsibilities I really ought to be attending to... Whether the subject matter is literature, philosophy, or pop science doesn't seem to affect my reading patterns.
  22. Sisyphus


    But they're nevertheless very critical of their own government, which is crucial. The existence of strong dissent makes extreme decisions far less likely. The only necessary condition needed to foil a plot to use a nuclear weapon is for somebody necessary to carrying it out to have some rational capacity. For, it can have only one result, and that is their own annihilation. I don't think we should not be wary, or that we shouldn't be prepared to act. (We are probably not prepared to act, incidentally, because of the massive resource waste that is Iraq.) I just think it is very unlikely that we would actually need to. I suspect an internal government overthrow is more likely than a war with Israel, conventional or otherwise. I also wish to draw attention back to the Iranian president's choice of words. He never said he would use nuclear weapons, only that Israel ought to be destroyed. This might seem like a petty difference, but it's actually quite important. For example, there are plenty of people I think ought to be killed, who deserve to die and whose deaths would make the world a better place. However, I'm not about to go out and shoot them all myself, or any of them.
  23. Sisyphus


    I don't think anyone would deny that they want nuclear weapons, seeing as how they've said so. That doesn't mean they have any intention of using them. I know it also doesn't mean they DON'T intend to use them, but it still seems extremely unlikely. The entire function of nuclear weapons is dependent on their not being used, as we've seen in the Cold War. Russia, too, was full of fiery rhetoric. Just as China has been, and N. Korea is. There is no easier political move to make as a Middle Eastern leader than to drum up nationalistic support by condemning Israel. That is almost certainly all this will amount to. Also note that he never actually said he would use nuclear weapons on Israel, or even really directly threaten them, and so he can not do so without losing face. If I'm mistaken about that, please correct me. Is the rhetoric troubling? Yes, it very much is. But only because it means the Iranian culture is still so conservative and jingoistic that the president can gain popularity by denying the Holocaust. That being said, I do concede that it is not exactly the same situation as in other nations. They have a nominally religious government, and so what might be not an option for other governments by reason of being completely irrational might still be an option there. However, I have to believe that if they're smart enough to manipulate the people into gaining power, they're a bit more sophisticated than the average virgin-craving suicide bomber...
  24. It's different from turbulence because that involves a constantly changing situation. You throw the ball at different times and you get a different result. You apply the same pressure to the barometer at different times and you get the same result every time, and yet we still can't explain it, entirely.
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