Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part two

I've got this lit it up like a Christmas tree with hotlinks to a variety of relevant articles, videos and such.  All of it accessible to any interested person without much previous understanding, while offering some great information to the initiated as well. For a look at part one link here.


In the first part of this look at Earth’s 4.6 billion year old pageant of Evolution, scaled down to 24 hours, Earth’s first enduring Life took 4 hours to claw together an existence within very tiny, very simple, very protective sacks, against an extremely hostile environment.  

It took another 17 hours worth of Earth’s geology and biology combining forces to process and tame Earth’s raw materials to the point that descendants of those simple cells, which had been evolving new skills all along, had an environment with the proper conditions (ocean, atmosphere, chemistry, nutrients, climatic conditions, tectonics), to enable spectacular expansion and innovations.

Before continuing please reflect on a truth first recognized when studying the most primitive of life forms on Earth.  Spelled out by Nobel Laureate Peter Mitchell in 1957 it reads, “(We) cannot consider the organism without its environment - from a formal point of view the two may be regarded as equivalent phases between which dynamic contact is maintained by the membranes that separate and link them.”

That’s because the cell’s barrier skin is tailored to protect its innards from its particular environment, while allowing specific nutrients to flow in and waste to flow out. Life got more complex but these basic challenges remained. 

Life learned to repurpose its genetic heritage, body parts were re-proportioned, modifications made, animals radiated, survivors learned to thrive in their brave new worlds. The increasing interaction of plants, animals, predators, pray, sensing, grasping, protecting, hiding, thinking - the stuff of competition. All of it worked together giving birth to ecology and the outlines of today’s world.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Diary, 11/5/19 - Small Victories, USA's newest Library District

I'll keep this short.  We had two local rural libraries facing closure because of shrinking County financial support, so local citizens took the matter in hand.  Long story short, we gained 400 signatures to qualify for a special tax district ballot measure #6D.  The County Clerk has now declared it a victory.  Truth be told the victory margin of 4% is rather disappointing, but not near as disappointing as losing, so I'll take it.
Long live Fort Lewis Mesa Library and Sunnyside Library and the Southwest LaPlata Library District, the nation's youngest, that will operate them.  Now we simply need to do better job of engaging and winning over our entire rural community.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24hr) part one

I finished my second half to this a couple weeks back, and needed a little break.  Now that November has rolled around it's time to return to my telling of The Pageant of Earth's Evolution (in 24 hours).  I hope you don't me reposting part one, before sharing the second half.


In last month’s celebration of Earth’s Pageant of Evolution I touched on the interplay of tectonics, geochemistry and archaic life. The intimate love-making of Earth's geology and biology - to put it poetically rather than scientifically. 

Getting back to the science, scientists have learned about the why and how of various ocean bottom structures that provide the catalyst between geochemistry and biochemistry, by helping bind basic molecules into complex organic building blocks of life.

This month to convey the immensity of Deep Time I’m scaling down Earth’s 4.6 billion years to 24 hours. A billion years take 5 hours plus change, 3.2 million years tick by every minute. Our human story fits into Earth’s past 4-5 seconds. Imagine that. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Demystifying Roger Penrose's Three Mysteries of Reality

In a recent discussion about Sir Roger Penrose’s '3 realms' view of reality, Penrose set the stage by listing his Three Mysteries:

1)   “Mysteries (of) the physical world, physical stuff.”
2)   Mystery of the “mental world that's our experiences, consciousness, feelings about things.”
3)   Mystery of “the world of mathematical abstraction”
(Below the fold I’ve transcribed the full quotes in context.)
Those points stopped me right there.  Before continuing I needed to be able to enunciate why I found the above so inadequate for such an exploration of reality.

Here I take a moment to suggest a more fruitful approach.  When Penrose mentioned “the mystery of physical stuff,”  there was no talk of Evolution.  Why?  

After all, all the physical stuff around us is the product of an evolutionary process that started billions of years before humanity and will continue billions of years after we are dust and forgotten - why ignore that this Earth created us and we will die back into it?  

Seems to me acquiring such an awareness is a prerequisite for any subsequence discussion.  While the omission relegates understanding Evolution to insignificance leaving our outlook on “reality” decidedly egocentric and myopic.

Diary, 10/15/19 - plugging away

Hello, no I haven't abandoned my Pageant of Evolution Video Series, but I'll tell you after the many many good to excellent talks and videos about the Ediacaran and Cambrian, getting into the Ordovician, Silurian it thins out.  Too many sloppy homemade type videos, not enough serious lectures - and not enough time for me to thoroughly search.  Though I finally found some good classroom videos that might work out, it's simply taking more time than I anticipated, or that I have on hand.

I am working on the column itself (deadline 20th) and considering how much I need to cram into a thousand words, it's going well, got a plan, had to change it a couple times, but always getting closer to what I'm wanting to get across and I do think I'll pull it off.

Then we have a local election issue happening, that's also eating up a lot of my time. 


 Trying to save two rural libraries, by taking over ownership before they get shut down.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What about Intelligent Design and Evolution?

Within science respecting Evolution discussions the monster in the closet that's rarely mentioned is Intelligent Design - and when it is, it's immediately beaten right back into the closet.  Why?  What do scientists have to fear?  Don't we have a rational "Intelligent Design" to point to?  Namely Mathematics!  Why not confront the faith-shackled with that reality?

Index, Cc's Pageant of Evolution - Oct 2nd.


An index of this collection of my favorite YouTube videos dedicated to a better appreciation of Earth’s pageant of evolution to date:


September 30, 2019

September 26, 2019

September 23, 2019

September 21, 2019

September 19, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Martin Smith - Origins Ecdysozoan Body Plans - What a scientist sounds like.

Drawn by, Danielle Dufault

Before moving beyond the Edicarian and Cambrian Periods I want to finish with this wonderful talk by an enthusiastic paleontologist, Dr. Martin Smith’s.  He’s done some incredibly work detailing an accurate anatomy of that most exotic of poster species Hallucigenia, among others.  

His guileless enthusiasm for the fascinating details his work has helped uncover is a treat to behold.  Just as interesting is his descriptions of the debates and questions that scientists wrestle with as they strive to arrive at conclusions and work towards a general consensus, or keep on searching.  Below the fold I include screenshots and further information regarding Dr. Smith's work.
The origins of Ecdysozoan body plans

Palaeo cast  -  May 19, 2017

By Dr. Martin Smith, Durham University - talk given at University of Bristol