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Everything posted by Delta1212

  1. That depends on what you mean by race. Are there biological differences between people that you can group them by? Yes, obviously. But which traits you select are going to be fairly arbitrary. There aren't inherent divisions in nature that define race the way most people without a strong foundation in biology tend to assume. Hell, the entire concept of "species" becomes blurry in nature; trying to accurately pin down categories that aren't even differentiated enough to qualify as sub-species is something of a joke. Do you base it on skin tone? Skull shape? Height? Hair color? Hair texture? Eye color? Eye shape? Finger length? Lip size? Ear shape? Nose shape? Eyebrow bushiness? Quality of facial hair? There are literally dozen of characteristics that you could use to group people into genetic categories. Some of them get used to define races, some do not. Some get used differently by different groups to make racial distinctions that different cultures can't or don't distinguish between. The point is that it's no more accurate to say that one specific trait is the primary delineator of race than any other. It's an arbitrary selection. You can pile on more traits for a more narrow definition with more races, but at some point you wind up being so specific that every person is a member of a different race except identical twins. So can you use biological distinctions to group people? Absolutely, but the grouping doesn't provide any more information than that the members share the traits used to define that group. A person with dark skin has dark skin. A person with blond hair has blond hair. A person with a Caucasoid skull has a Caucasoid skull. A person with blue eyes and attached earlobes has blue eyes and attached earlobes. The characteristics that people use to define races are real, but their usage in doing so is cultural and doesn't reflect any deeper biological categorization on a fundamental level.
  2. Wealth is merely a measure of an unbalanced level of access to resources, which certainly exists throughout nature. Social class also exists in some form within most social species, of which there are many. They aren't purely human concepts, and in fact, they correspond better to reproductive fitness in non-human societies than in many (though not all) human ones. While the wealthy certainly have a greater capacity to have and care for children, they aren't generally having more than poorer or lower class people these days. In fact, the general trend is for wealthier countries on the whole to have a much lower birth rate than poor countries, to the point that much of the West especially has a birth rate at or even below the death rate. In the past, it was pretty much a universal condition that people would have more children than would survive because of disease and inadequate access to resources. With the Second Agricultural Revolution, the population of the world began to skyrocket because we could suddenly support a much, much greater population than was possible in the past. Throw in the advancement of medical science and the odds of someone surviving to adulthood are comparatively very high, especially in a developed nation, regardless of the status of their parents. This means that, again especially in the developed world, the ability to have large numbers of children is less dependent on how many you can successfully keep alive and more on how many you have. This latter variable is dependent largely on a person's level of education and access to resource allowing them to prevent pregnancy. This means that people of a high class or level of wealth are better able to lower their own reproductive rate than people who are poor and uneducated. Strictly speaking, this lowers the reproductive fitness of the wealthy in much of human society. I think it's important to keep in mind that people we consider to be highly successful are not necessarily going to be evolutionarily successful, and that people we consider to be failures can be highly successful from an evolutionary standpoint. The correlation is not always very consistent in modern society. Evolutionarily speaking, it doesn't matter how much money or power you have, only how many children. Sometimes the two correlate. Often they do not. You are right to say that wealth and social status can increase your mating options, so to speak, but it's important to recognize that finding someone to have sex with isn't actually the point, having children, especially large numbers of children, is. A wealthy athlete who sleeps with dozens of women but only winds up having a family with two children is less reproductively successful than an unemployed alcoholic with three kids.
  3. <br /><br /><br /> I think what you might be getting at could be stated simply as "Biological evolution has been outpaced by technology as the primary mechanism by which humanity adapts to its environment" which I think would make for an interesting argument and probably be a more accurate statement than what you initially had (though I do agree that your revised thesis was better than the original in at least some respects). It's certainly true that our capacity to develop culture (of which technology is a part) has allowed us to more quickly spread and adapt to a variety of climates than biological evolution would allow by itself, and that we thrive in these environments to a far greater degree than we would be able to without our cultural behaviors and technologies. If you wanted to continue in the vein that you seem to be working toward, I suppose you might be able to argue that technology allows us to rapidly achieve a level of success in a variety of environments that would otherwise not be achievable without more significant biological adaptations. Or put another way, technology lessens the degree of biological change which would otherwise need to occur (due to evolution) in order to achieve a given level of success in a new environment. Actually, I'd be interested in reading a research paper exploring some of those themes, now that I've spent some time thinking about the subject.
  4. Here's the problem with using "bulk mass of the cosmos" as the sort of default reference for acceleration. If you take the twin paradox, and instead of using twins, make it you vs the rest of the universe (let's say you're an immortal being with a lot of time on his hands who has managed to travel all over the universe and set up a system of engines on every significant piece of matter that will accelerate in the same direction). You then drift out into space and have the entire rest of the universe accelerate in one direction until it comes close to the speed of light, then stop, turn around, and accelerate back in the opposite direction until it has reached the same position relative to you. If the, I don't know, default coordinate system? in the experiment is defined as the one which the bulk mass of the cosmos sees as being at rest, and the accelerated frame is the one which the bulk mass of the cosmos sees as changing velocity with respect to it, then you should have aged less than the rest of the universe during that stretch of acceleration. In fact, the universe would have aged less than you, which means that you can't use "the reference frame containing the most mass" as any sort of default coordinate system against which you measure acceleration.
  5. I understand what you're trying to say, and can see why, but again, if acceleration is a relative property (it is equally valid to say that an object is accelerating or everything except that object is accelerating) then you still need to explain how throwing a ball causes the entire universe except for the ball to accelerate. I'm not a physicist, but unless I'm grossly misunderstanding some fundamentals, there's no mechanism by which this could be occurring in a way that would match the observed effects. You'd need to be transmitting the accelerating force at FTL speeds. I'd welcome an explanation of why I'm wrong, though. That's largely why I'm here to begin with.
  6. This made me laugh. Well done.
  7. I realize this isn't helpful, but you're thesis doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's the equivalent of saying that gravity's effect on me has been stunted by the chair I'm sitting on. Gravity might affect me differently if the chair wasn't there, but that doesn't mean I'm not experiencing gravity's effects. The only way to impede evolution would be to end reproduction, or to set up a situation such that everyone only reproduces via perfect cloning, each person reproduces only once and no one ever fails to reproduce. What technology has done is potentially slowed the rate at which genes are removed from the gene pool by allowing more people to successfully reproduce and altering the environment so that fewer genes are disadvantageous enough to prevent reproduction, but this just increases the diversity of the human genome and alters the selection pressures that we experience. It doesn't stop evolution from happening in the strictest sense of the concept. I suppose you could make an argument that our current technology lowers or actively eliminates the possibility of human speciation even over significant timescales, but that's rather different than "stunting evolution".
  8. Here's a difference between accelerated and inertial motion: acceleration is the result of the application of a non-zero net force to an object. While it may not be possible to determine which of two objects is accelerating based purely on the change in their relative velocities, only one will be experiencing a force and this is what creates the asymmetry. What you're proposing is the equivalent of saying that when you throw a baseball, you aren't accelerating the ball at all, but rather pushing off from it and dragging the entire rest of the universe with you while the ball remains in place. That would mean you accelerated the entire universe instantaneously, which you not only didn't apply enough force to accomplish, but would require both action at a distance and for you to propagate information at superluminal speeds (specifically, again, instantaneously). Even besides all that, it is possible to determine whether you are currently accelerating without relying on external points of reference, unlike with an inertial reference frame where speed can only be determined with respect to something else. If I'm on that spaceship for instance, and drop a ball, if the spaceship is accelerating, the ball will "fall" in the opposite direction. If the spaceship is not, the ball will float. Were you to actually find a way in which to accelerate everything in the universe except for the spaceship, conducting such a simple experiment would demonstrate that it was the universe that was accelerating and not you, regardless of the fact that you're less massive.
  9. I'm assuming you're just asking about gravitational effects, so I'm going to answer in that vein. The gravitational pull will decrease as you get closer to the center of the earth. This is because, as you "pass" more of the earth's mass on the way down, there is less and less mass below you and more above you canceling out its effect. At the very center of the earth, you would experience no gravitational pull, because for any direction you chose, there would be an equal amount of mass in the opposite direction canceling out the pull. You would, however, still have all the momentum you built up from falling on the way down, so you would shoot past the center and begin to feel gravity increasing its pull on you back toward the center. You'd make it most of the way up the other side, but not all the way, before gravity managed to cancel out your momentum and you began moving back down to the center. You'd wind up going back and forth along the tunnel going less and less far along the way back up at each end until you finally found yourself floating in the center in what would effectively be a zero gravity environment. If you tried moving in either direction along the tunnel, however, gravity would slowly begin to reappear and pull you back to the center.
  10. The more practical, as opposed to philosophical, flaw in the plan is our current inability to record all of that information that is processed by the brain with anything even approaching the necessary fidelity to create something that could reasonably be called a copy.
  11. If that were the case, you'd expect gravity to be directional with the strength of the force corresponding to the direction of travel. Additionally, there'd have to be some medium that the object is traveling through and displacing in order to create a sort of vacuum behind it. Vacuum doesn't so much suck matter as matter gets "pushed" into vacuum by greater pressure elsewhere. It's an interesting thought, but there isn't really any way to make the observed effects of a vacuum mesh with those of gravity. It just doesn't work. I'd very much recommend looking into general relativity which provides both a very accurate model for the observed effects of gravity and a corresponding conceptual model for what gravity "actually" is.
  12. "Alive" is a somewhat arbitrary categorization that holds less fundamental meaning than most people think it does.
  13. Except, of course, for being sterile which is pretty much the most inferior an organism can be from an evolutionary standpoint without actually being dead.
  14. That's not really how it works. Let's use a video game as a metaphor. Say two people go out and buy copies of the same game. The code of the game is like DNA. It determines all of the possible attributes of the game. Now, the players take that same code and they might have different playing experiences. They make different choices in the game, and this leads to save files that are quite different from one another. Maybe one decided to max out his strength and the other decided to max out his intelligence. They're working off the same basic code, but they do different things with it. The save files are like the acquired traits. Now, let's say they each decide to lend their copy of the game to a friend. The friend receiving the game from the person who maxed out his strength isn't going to find it easier to max out his strength than his intelligence; neither is the friend who received the game from the person who maxed out his intelligence going to find it easier to max out his intelligence than his strength. They're still working off of the exact same code (DNA). The save files (acquired traits) of previous players will never have an impact on someone who is starting a new game. If, however, one of the players decides to hack his game and edit the code that it's running off of in order to make it easier to max out his stats, then anyone who receives his copy of the game (this edited DNA) will find it easier to max out his stats as well. Their save files (acquired traits) will be based off of this altered version. Basically, changes only move in one direction. A change to someone's DNA will result in a different set of possible acquired traits. But a person's acquired traits won't go in and start editing a person's DNA. Actual changes to the DNA happen randomly. Maybe when it is making a copy of itself, it screws up a bit. Imagine putting a document in a photocopier, taking the copy and sticking it back in to make a copy of the copy and repeating that a hundred times. If you held up the end product next to the original document, chances are you'd be able to tell which was which, because the copying process isn't 100% perfect. Or maybe you're exposed to radiation, which is a bit like someone chucking rocks at your DNA until they hit something and break it. When the DNA copies itself again, it will retain the new form introduced by these changes. Now, most of the time, the changes won't do anything, or they'll do something bad. It's like spilling something on a table. The overwhelming majority of the time, you're just going to make a mess. But one guy accidentally invented flash paper by knocking over some chemicals onto his notes. Every once in a while, something that usually just causes problems winds up creating something new and interesting. It works the same way with these random changes to your DNA. Maybe when you have children, there will be a copy error that happens to change the DNA you give them in just the right way to make building muscle mass easier. They'll grow up stronger, and their children will grow up stronger, but there's nothing you could do to cause it to take place. It's just a random accident that's no more or less likely to happen to a couch potato than it is to a body builder.
  15. How would you know if it had happened or not? Stuck as we are in this universe, for all we know, every other possible universe in existence is communicating with each other. If there are multiple universes, and it is possible to communicate between them, and this means that it will have happened in at least one universe, that doesn't necessarily mean that the universe they'd contact would be us. Or, if it was, another version of our universe that didn't receive the call could branch off each time. we could, in fact, be contacted by some alternate universe every minute of every day, we just happen to wind up in the version that keeps missing the call, that being a physically possible and therefore necessarily existent universe. So to sum up: It is possible for Many Worlds to be true, for contact between worlds to be possible and for us to never have been contacted all at the same time. Not, mind you, that I think those are all true statements, they just aren't mutually exclusive, which I believe was your question.
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