Posts posted by dstebbins
There's a lot of atrocious traits of human beings that are explicable when you consider the fact that they made sense long ago, and those traits have simply become obsolete because civilization progresses faster than evolution does.
For example, Mankind loves violence. There's even a sporting organization nowadays that simply just puts martial arts experts against each other, simply just to beat the crap out of each other. It's called "UFC." However, this trait of humanity makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because, in the days of Cavemen, it was a "kill or be killed" world, so it makes sense that natural selection would give a survival advantage to people who enjoyed that sort of thing.
But then we have the douchebags, the jerkwads, the Internet trolls, who seem to just derive pleasure from annoying or upsetting others. Not even physically injuring them, but get under their skin. And that's... amusing to them for some reason.
What the hell kind of survival advantage could possibly be bequeathed to those kinds of people?!!!
And there's enough people like this to suggest that it's more than just a recessive trait; it's very clearly a trait of humanity as a whole, which means that, like the love of violence, there's probably an evolutionary reason behind it. So... what IS that evolutionary reason?0
Let the word be known: Shoelaces are a pain in the ass. This man]] pretty much sums up my opinion of shoelaces.
But, when I'm walking, the shoelaces coming untied at least makes sense; they're getting shook up.
But... I just spend six consecutive hours at a desk, not doing antything with my lower body, and when I finally stood up, my right shoe's laces were untied.
How did that happen? I thought an object at rest (the shoelaces) would remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force (e.g. my feet moving).0
Anybody who's ever had a kid knows how hard it is to convince them to eat nutritious meals. Even as adults, we still prefer fattening foods like burgers and pizza, and high-sugar foods like dessert and soda, over "nutritious" foods like broccoli or brusel sprouts; it's simply our matured sense of responsibility (juxtaposed to that of children) that cause us to eat the nutritous foods more often, at the expense of flavor.
It's so consistent that we can eliminate any possibility of it being a fluke; it's a trait of the homo sapien species. Sure, there's the occasional exception, but then again, there's also the occasion person born with six fingers.
However, when you look at this from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes no sense at all.
According to natural selection, genetic mutations happen all the time (often, in homo sapien culture, this is a referred to as a "disability"). However, once in a blue moon, such a mutation gives the person who has it a survival advantage. These animals survive, reproduce, and before youk now, there's an entire population of organisms with this trait. Now repeat that a hundred million times over the course of a billion years, and you have the ultimate surviving lifeform, someone who can create tools to give him the survival advantages his body doesn't have on its own, thus enabling him to survive anywhere and survive anything that the planet can throw at it; no "mutations" necessary.
But, if that were how our species came to dominate the planet, then why didn't evolution give us taste buds that would prefer the food that makes us big and strong, as opposed to the food that just makes us... big?0
Well, I mean "secular" in the sense that... it has nothing to do with religion.
I would answer that morality, altruistic behaviour and conscience have evolutionary roots, especially in species which tend to live in herds or packs. Humans being one example of such a species, many other animal species exhibit similar altruistic behaviours also.
I'd like to see that. After all, I just specified that conscience is "both exclusive to humans, and universal among them."0
There's almost always a secular explanation for just about anything that religions prefer to attritube to God. Atheism is now a socially acceptable personal policy, due to the atheistic explanations that science has provided for such previously-inexplicable phenomena as... weather... day and night... seasons... and the presence of petroleum on our planet.
Some people like to claim that science only shows how God did it, rather than disproving that God exists altogether. I'm not here to discuss that. Maybe science is God's method for creating the universe; maybe science created itself. For the purposes of this thread, I do not care in the slightest.
What I'm here to discuss is.... where is the secular explanation for why humans have a conscience? The only explanation I've ever heard for why humans have conscience is... humans have a soul. However, the idea of a soul is wholly incompatible with atheism (notice, I said it's incompatible with atheism, not science; as the above paragraph explains, science and religion are not necessarily incompatible), because to accept the existence of souls necessarily requires us to accept the existance and legitimacy of some supernatural diety, and also (at least potentially) an afterlife.
Has anyone ever offered a secular explanation for the human conscience?
Keep in mind, the conscience is one of very few traits of humans that are almost entirely universal among humans, yet exclusive to them. We are the only species in the world - and, based on paleontological research, we seem to be the only species in the history of the world - with a conscience. No other animal has one. Service animals, when being trianed, do not learn right vs. wrong; they learn "this gets me punished" vs. "this earns me a treat." If a police dog is ordered by a human cop to attack someone, it doesn't consider whether the person it's been sicked on deserves to be bitten; it just does it... with machine-like obedience.
Humans, however, will indeed defy their superiors from time to time. One such instance that I recently saw came when I was re-watching a movie from my childhood: Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Frollo - the villain - had just locked a family in their own home by barricading their only door. He had ordered Phoebus to burn the house down; Phoebus responded by sticking the torch inside a water barrel, extinguishing it. Why did he do that? Because he has... drum roll... a conscience! And only humans seem to have one!
And yet, despite humans being the only species - past or present - to have a conscience, so too is it universal among them. Literally every person, alive or dead, past or present, has a conscience, even if our lusts and evil ambitions can override from time to time. There has never been a single solitary documented case of a human who was confirmed to be completely devoid of conscience.
So... a conscience is both exclusive to humans, and universal among them. I've not seen any other human trait that is like that. We have hearts, lungs, brains, but a ton of other animals have them too. Marriage? No go. There are plenty other animals that mate for life as well. Civilization? Well... although humans have the most advanced civilizations, there are animals who have heirarchies and social circles, even if they're crude and primitive in comparison to those of humans. Hell, even the most important human skill of all - the ability to make tools - is not exclusive to humans, not even if you include our direct evolutionary ancestors; even today, chimpanzees can create tools, even if they're inferior our's. Likewise, no other trait that is exclusive to humans is actually universal among them. Case in point: The capacity for conversation (btw, speech is different from conversations. Parrots can "speak," but cannot carry deep conversation, so they don't count). Even though humans are the only creatures capable of conversation, not all humans share this capacity.
So, if you wish to offer a secular explanation for the human conscience, you must also explain away how the trait is both universal among humans yet exclusive to them. It seems too convenient to have happened by sheer coincidence. Most religions like to say that the conscience is universal & exclusive because we are God's ultimate creation.
I'm not here to start a pissing match over whether or not God is the entity directly responsible for conscience; I'm asking if there has ever been a plausible explanation even so much as offered that both A) actually makes sense, and B) doesn't involve Intelligent Design.
Has there? If so, what is the explanation.0
In science fiction, we often see characters using lasers in place of bullets for their guns. However, even though "science fiction" generally shows us technology that doesn't exist yet, but may exist in the future, this is one type of technology that will always be in the realm of science fiction. Lasers do not have physical mass, so the closest they can come to doing any real damage in a military environment is either causing eye damage or skin burn... maybe even skin cancer. Even if you could get a laser up to such powerful levelst that it actually can blow something up, the mind-boggling amount of energy necessary would render it pointless; you could do the same damage with a millionth of the energy by just firing a physical projectile. Or a million times the damage with the same energy; either way, physical projectiles will always be preferred.
But what about plasma? We can create plasma here on earth; it's the source of light whenever flourescent light bulbs are turned on. But, can it damge things whenever it's outside a glass bulb? It would have to cause damage just as a matter of contact, kind of like fire does.
I could test this myself, but I don't want to risk becoming Two-Face by shattering one of my flourescent bulbs, just in the interest of the advancement of knowledge.
If this hypothesis is correct, however, we could potentially make a gun that feuls itself off solar energy, sucks up a ball of air, compresses it, turns it into plasma air, and fires that plasma ball at enemies. Because it would use solar energy and air, our descendants would never have to reload their weapons.0
Let's play Mythbusters for a minute.
Often, in movies and TV shows, when characters wish they had never been born, some supernatural being takes them to some other dimension where they never were born. This place is ALWAYS a dystopian version of the character's home universe. It's supposed to show the viewers that they can always make a difference, but I think they REALLY exaggerate the results.
When Kermit the Frog, for example, wishes he were never born, an angel takes him to this place where Piggy is a con-artist and Gonzo is a criminal.
Wait... you're saying that, if it weren't for Kermit, Jim Hanson would have created them to be complete pieces of crap instead of the lovable, kid-friendly icons they really are? Like, was Hanson going to make them villains (or at least antiheroes) until a friend suggested including a frog character, and only then did Hanson's creation make the transition from Bill Dunn to Clark Kent?
But perhaps the most contrived instance of this happening is in Nickelodeon's "The Rugrats." Chuckie gets taken to a parrallel universe where all the kids are beating each other up, because... Chuckie doesn't tell them it's not right (because Chuckie is the only one on the PLANET who knows right from wrong), and Angelica orders around the grown-ups, because... umm... I have no idea! Yeah, apparently, without Chuckie, the grown-ups in this universe are a bunch of pansies who give in to Childrens' damands. This episode was nose-pinchingly horrible.
Ok, I can accept that writers make these movies and episodes with good INTENTIONS, but really, don't you think this runs the risk of giving kids an inflated sense of self-worth? Like, it tells kids that "the world needs you, in a big way. You're the ONLY thing keeping the world together."
Don't you think that's going to turn kids into douchbags?0
Think about it: No other animal has them, not even apes, and even if some other animal DID have them, there's a trademark thing about fingerpints that doesn't make any sense form an evolutionary standpoint: No two people have the same fingerprints.
Think about it: They can help police catch criminals, and... that's about it. Mother Nature doesn't give a rat's arse about fingerprints; they serve no tangible benefit other than what humans do with them, so why would natural selection create them? Unless we're going to argue that God made them (which is a big no no with modern science, even if you believe in God), then we'd have to accept that, from an evolutionary standpoint, they're completely pointless.
Just about everything else about humans has a purpose, and it's completely understandable how cavemen with these traits would have an advantage. Opposable thumbs, walking upright, being able to study the world around and make tools to replicate those effects. Heck, even mankind's love for bloodshed (which we've tempered, but still cater to, through things like MMA and video games) is an understandable by-product of Darwinism, as in the times of cavemen, every day was kill-or-be-killed, so those who enjoyed it became better at it.
Fingerprints, on the other hand, served no purpose whatsoever for anything until mankind realized "Hey, nobody has the same fingerprints! NEAT-O!"
So... why do we have them?0
Sand, being put through an hourglass or funnel, will fall through the hole relatively consistently. Liquid, however, will not.
To test this, take an empty milk jug, fill it with water from your kitchen sink (you could also use milk, but kitchen sink water is expendable), and then, turn the jug upside down. It will fall into the sink in gulps, making a "BloopBloopBloopBloopBloopBloop" sound.
Why does liquid do this? Why does it not pour consistently like sand does?2
Time dilation can only slow your passage through time, you can slow your passage in time relative to the earth so when you come back, the earth will have undergone more time than you, so in effect you travelled into the future(as far as you and people on the earth are concerned).
Exactly. Let's say that I'm put in a spacepod orbiting the earth at a rate of only one meter per second slower than lightspeed. I could theoretically arrive in the year 3000AD with only 24 hours passing by aboard my ship (not mathematically sound, but you get my point).
Again, some time dilation has been detected in high speed aircraft, so there is a sliver of credence to this theory.But you can never travel back in time, events that you have already whitnessed, you cannot see again.
Well, the theory is that, if you travel precisely at lightspeed, time aboard your ship will stand still. Time travel into any point in the future using the example given earlier in this post would appear instantaneous (though that does beg the question of... how do you know what year you'll end up in, but that's a different question for a different day).
By that logic, if you can surpass lightspeed, your progression through time starts to delve into negative numbers, thus resulting in going back in time.
The problem is that... it's currently thought to be impossible to travel at or beyond the speed of light. So... what to do?I mean - does the Past still exist: is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the Past is still happening? (A guy called O'Brien keeps asking me this).
Well, we do have the "parallel universe" theory to turn to.0
It is theorized that, if you can travel faster than light, you can go back in time. Some credence is lent to this theory by the fact that an incredibly small amount of time dilation has been detected in high-speed aircraft.
Although traveling faster than light by conventional means is impossible, it is theorized that you might could travel "faster than light" by going through wormholes. Scientists like to describe wormholes as, essentially, "holes" in the space time continuum, essentially shortcuts across the universe.
However, taking a shortcut does not amount to faster travel. It may result in reduced travel time, but that is due to reduced distance, not increased speed. If I take a shortcut to the grocery store and get there in five minutes whereas I usually get there in ten, I'm still driving at 35mph all the same.
But let's give an example on a larger scale. Let's assume that I'm at Point A, already going at a constant 299,000,000m/s (that's an even-steven 299 million meters per second, slightly below lightspeed, so it's possible under Newtonian physics, even if it would require an absurd amount of energy. Also, the "already" portion is so that we can ignore the need to actually reach top speed), and want to get to Point B, which is 299,000,000 meters away. Let's also assume that Points A and B are opposite sides of a planet (e.g. United States and China) that is precisely 299,000,000 meters in diameter, is a perfect sphere, and conveniently has a tunnel drawn down the middle. At my current speed, I could traverse the tunnel in only one second. To go around the planet in only one second, I would have to travel faster than light.
Does that mean that I de facto traveled faster than light? No! It just means I took a shortcut!
So, can someone explain to me how going through wormholes to take faster-than-light shortcuts across the universe is supposed to enable actual, bona fide time travel?1
In open space, water basically turns to snow. It turns to a gas due to the reduced air pressure, and then freezes due to the low tempurature, resulting in common snow. In fact, this is how snow is created on earth; the water expands due to the lowered air pressure high in the sky, but also freezes due to the cold winter temperature.
But what about in a spaceship? The metal walls will keep the air pressure intact, and it can also be artificially heated to prevent... well... the astronauts from freezing to death.
Would having no GRAVITY actually have any immediately noticeable effect on the water? If so, how do astronauts solve this problem?0
Is there an easier way to find the sum of all whole numbers between x and y (including x and y themselves) than to just sit there and painstakingly add every one up individually?
Like, for example, I know that an easier way to find the cumulative product of all whole numbers between 1 and x all multiplied together is to simply punch in the equation "x!" into a calculator, so you don't have to painstakingly multiply 1*2*3*4*5...*x. Is there a similar "shortcut" for addition?0
What evidence do you have that supports an anthropogenic source for megaquakes?
To be fair, I don't. That's why I was asking.
I've only heard that our excessive stripping of the earth's resources in the past few centuries has led to the earth becoming unstable.
Most of what I've heard is in theological debates; Christians think that these natural disasters are signs of the Biblically-predicted approaching end-times, whereas Atheists try to explain the natural disasters away as human activity putting a strain on the earth.0
According to this article:
We have a lot of misconceptions about international politics.
I remember reading this article and thinking "okay, we may not get blown up, but we'll probably all die from upcoming natural disasters. I mean, our abuse of the world's resources have made the world unstable, leading to many natural disasters like the Haiti megaquake."
But then again, these myths - the ones about foreign policy - were all quelled. Maybe the rumor about an unstable planet is similarly grounded in propoganda.
Is there any real scientific truth to it?0
In terms of milliseconds, how long would it take an object in a vacuum to freefall from its starting point, to the ground a meter away, accelerating at precisely 1g?
Like, if NASA were to make a vacuum chamber, not a single millimeter above or below sea level, suck all the air out of it, and, using a mechanical hand, drop some kind of pellet to the ground that is precisely 1,000 millimeters beneath it, how many milliseconds later would it hit the ground?
I'm pretty sure that this requires a more precise definition of 1g besides simply 9.8 meters per second squared. I read that the actual acceleration of 1g is in fact 9806.65 millimeters per second squared, so this requires some very precise and delicate math.
Oh, by the way, when I said "not a millimeter above or below sea level," what I mean was, the 1,000mm-high vacuum chamber is exactly 500mm above sea level and 500mm below sea level. As much as is physically possible, the acceleration is precisely 1g. After all, your velocity is increasing at a linear rate, due to your acceleration in a vacuum, but at the same time, according to Newton's gravity equation, the acceleration that dictates the linear rate at which your velocity increases will itself increase exponentially as you get closer to the gravity source!
Yeah, I know, this is every logistics experts' wet dream! heehee!0
Lots of scientists are racing to find ways to power cars without expensive fuels.
Some people suggesting having a car that runs on hydrogen, and then, funneling the water that was created back into the engine. Unfortunately, due to the law of science that says that no system can ever be 100% efficient, that wouldn't work.
However, what if cars ran on magnets? Public roads would be replaced with tracks that are made of north pole magnets. The tracks would look like metal T's protruding out of the ground, which would keep the cars (with north pole magnets on the bottom) from simply being lifted up into the air. Tracks, in this case, would have to go into each person's private garage, but at the same time, there's no more fuel to worry about!
The north pole magnets in the bottom of the car would be in the form of hundreds of poles. The poles would stick out diagonally towards the back of the car when you wanted to go forward. When you wanted to put on the breaks, half of the north pole magnets would point diagonally backwards, and half would point diagonally forwards, balancing the magnetic forces out, creating equilibrium and causing the car to remain stationary relative to the ground.
There's also some south pole magnets wrapping around the car like a belt, which would repel themselves against other south pole magnets wrapped around other cars, thus preventing a good number of collisions.
Turning, accelerating, and parking wouldn't need fuel. The re-adjusting of the north pole magnets and the direction they turn can be done completely using simple machines and muscle power!
The biggest problem, that I can see, is convincing entire cities to revamp their road systems.
I you have a savings account with 1% APY and monthly compounding interest, what's the APR?
Also, what would be the APR for a 1% APY savings account whose interest compounded quarterly, bi-monthly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, and daily?0
There are a few exceptions. For example, Venus has the longest day, although Mercury is the smallest planet (ever since Pluto got demoted). However, for the most part, large planets have short days.
Planets that are farther from the sun have longer years. That makes sense... they have a much greater circumference to orbit around.
But... you'd expect bigger planets to have longer days, for the exact same reason... more distance the top clouds have to go around.
What exactly causes bigger planets to actually have shorter days?0
Can someone please tell me the percentage of probability that the following event occurring? Furthermore, please show your work and explain how you came to the conclusion that you did.
You have a bag full of 22 balls. They are identical in size, shape, color, and weight; the only difference is that 11 have the number 1 on them, and 11 have the number 2 on them.
You are tasked with blindly drawing eleven of the balls, one at a time, recording the number on each of the balls you draw. Furthermore, you do not put the balls back, after you've drawn them. Instead, after the first draw, there will be 21 balls in the sack, and after that, 20, and then 19, and so on, until there are eleven balls in the sack.
After you have drawn eleven of the balls, what are the odds that all eleven of the ones you drew are all the same number?
Remember, don't just give me the answer; explain how you got there.0
Our nervous system causes us to feel physical things. If it weren't for our nerves, our bodies would be numb like novocaine; case in point, paraplegics.
But, what causes us to feel emotion? Like, if it weren't for this organ, we would probably be Vulcans.0
Dogs can't talk... at least, now in the same language as humans.
However, there are some dogs out there who their masters swear can actually understand what you're saying to them.
Well, dogs can't "talk," per se, but they can bark!
Could it be possible to teach a dog to bark in morse code?
Really makes your imagination run wild, doesn't it?0
This concept has often been entertained in various works of fiction, but is it really a plausible concept, from a scientific standpoint?
Think about it: Ice actually has more volume than water does. That's why it's able to float in water: It's the same mass as water, but greater volume, so the density is less.
If the polar ice caps melt, it seems that the sea level might actually decrease, because the volume of the solid water will go down. It's the volume that counts, isn't it? Not the mass or density.
If you have x number of unique items, and have to put them in an order, would there be x! possible orders? For example, if there are five unique items, are there 120 possible orders in which to place them, and, if there are ten unique items, there are 3,628,800 different orders, and so on and so forth.
Is that correct?0
What's the equation?
in Classical Physics
Where d is distance traveled in a straight line, t is the number of seconds spent traveling, and a is the rate of acceleration, what is the equation for finding out how much distance you can travel?
For example, according to this article, the maximum time you can spend falling without taking damage with this spell is 18 seconds. So, where t = 18, and a = 9.8 (which is standard freefall acceleration), what's the equation for computing the maximum height you can fall from in this game?