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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Keith Peterson - Cambrian - Molecular Clock - What a scientist sounds like.

Professor Kevin J.Peterson gives a fun informal lecture at MDI Biological Laboratory's Science Cafe'.  Besides giving a good overview of the state of our understanding of Ediacaran/Cambrian's radiation event, I like it because of the way he acknowledges the provisional nature of our understanding and the importance of the arguments over the evidence that keep science moving forward.  He underscores how we learn from honestly evaluating our mistakes as much as our successes.  Below the fold I include key screen shots plus information from papers mentioned in this talk.  (For why I'm putting together this collection, please see this.)

MDIBL Science Café - Cambrian Explosion: Animals or Fossils?  Professor Kevin Peterson
MDI Biological Laboratory  -  August 21, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2019

Diego Garcia-Bellido - Animal Dawn - What a scientist sounds like.

Not much to add here, Dr. Garcia-Bellido Senior Researcher of Palaeontology at the South Australian Museum and Associate Professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide in Australian does a very nice information filled review of what we know regarding the transition from Ediacara Biota to the Cambrian, which set the stage for the further evolutionary revolutions to follow in short order.  Below the fold I post screen shots of key slides to entice and highlight key points.  (If you're wondering why I'm posting these videos see this)

Animal Dawn - Research Tuesday - Garcia-Bellido  Presentation

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Jackson Wheat - Cambrian "Explosion" - What a science communicator sounds like

Past couple years I've noticed and watched a number of Jackson Wheat's videos and have consistently been impressed.  Now it turns out that he's provided the best introduction to the Cambrian Period for my purposes.  

He overcame my preference for highlighting genuine scientists in this series because he does such a nice job of confronting the ID challenge up front.  I didn't find much bio except that he looks to be a surprisingly young guy.  The man holds a lot of promise, I wish him well.  He also shows us what descriptions should look like, loaded with reference to sources.   Below the fold I share a series of key screen shots, followed by Wheat's detailed list of sources with links.

If I had more time, I'd love to do a little more commentary on his content since the two videos certainly have plenty worth discussing, but other matters are crowding me and I need to keep this going.  He does toss in a short loud introduction loop, but after that it's smooth sailing as Jackson succinctly summarizes the Cambrian "Explosion" - enjoy.

Jackson Wheat - Cambrian #1 - July 5, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Religious Thinking v. Scientific Thinking

When looking up Cambrian Period information you'll get flooded with Creationist Intelligent Design propaganda.  Stuff that freely misrepresents the facts and their "opponents," instead coming up with disconnected just so stories in complete disregard of the full spectrum of available understanding - so beware. 
That is why I'm sharing this comment that I originally penned for a discussion over at Center For Inquiry's ForumIt belongs here since a better understanding of the difference between religious thinking and serious scientific thinking is worth trying to push into the public consciousness! 

The challenge is clarifying the key difference between Religious Thinking and Scientific Thinking.  Both of which are products of our Human Mindscape.

It starts with acknowledging that all we see and experience, is through our senses and then processed by our brains to the best of our individual learning & abilities. 

The "Mindscape" is just that, our mind, the product of our body, nerves, brain and all we sense along with our emotions and thoughts.

Religions are all about our “Mindscape" itself, with it's constant dialogue and self-story telling and fears, emotions and needs.  Its freedom to poetically tie together whatever it wants.  It is the realm of the metaphysical thoughts and daydreaming and story telling. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Diary 9/15/19 - Day's of Our Lives, Sail Away.

My daughter has been fiercely independent minded from an early age.  During her teenage years she was never going to get married, but times change people.  Still I was surprised when she told me over a year ago about their plans for this wedding.  I wasn’t surprised when she informed me she was doing away with most of the gratuitous traditions such as the flower and garter tosses, among other silliness.  I was pleased and honored when she asked me to walk her down the aisle.  
We both found easy agreement that the Father Daughter dance was out - too odd and awkward.  Besides her being an adult for over a decade and her first dance belonging to her husband, there was the little matter of the tradition being a hangover from a mentality where wives and daughters were perceived as the patriarch’s chattel - something both of us reject.
Furthermore, seems to me, the real father daughter dances happen when our girls are still toddlers and young children when we actually are their protectors and guides to discovering the world and themselves.  So while the happy couple was cutting the rug, the old man was all misty and reminiscing long ago dances and “our” song.

Diary 9/15/19 - Day's of Our Lives, Passin Thru.

The big weekend has come and gone.  For me the official start was last Thursday, I was returning from town after errands, thinking about Friday's arrivals and reunions, my freshly pressed suit sitting by my side, when KSUT hit me with "Passin Thru".  Talk about a home run for me.  A genuine cosmic giggle as the lyrics resonated with me and the moment and the memories the song was triggering.  

It was an awesome celebration, leaving all participants feeling slightly refreshed beyond expectations as we return to our homes.  Genuine love and respect between people is a beautiful thing.  When its two young people who are curious, caring, adventurous, serious, (it was the seventh anniversary of their first date) and all the rest - it's especially beautiful to behold and celebrate.  

With all that love comes family and the never ending passage of the seasons with their additions and subtractions.  I can remember it like yesterday,

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Prof. Christopher White - Historical Geology - What a Professor sounds like.

I’ve been wanting to get Professor White’s talks into this series for viewers interested in hearing a very good professor lecturing his class via the web.  He is a pleasure to listen to because he gets on point and stays on point.  White speaks clearly, concisely, conveying a great deal of information in a short period of time. Below the fold I've listed his entire lecture series with links.  Not for casual viewing, but if you want to seriously learn a few things about Earth's evolution give him a try.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Liu, Carbone, Brasier, Corfield, Wood - Ediacaran Marine Ecosystem - What scientists sound like.

Here are some more excellent videoed talks discussing the Ediacaran Period before I move onto the Cambrian Period in this Pageant Earth's of Evolution.  

The first is an presentation by Alex Liu, the sound suffers from some unfortunate interference, still the talk is well given and worth hearing out.  The second features Calla Carbone at 2016 Royal Tyrrel Museum speakers series, while she reinforces Liu's message, she also expands with further insights into early ecological community development and the varied environmental niches that appeared.  She's a bit nervous, but considering she was a newly minted Masters at this point, it's an outstanding talk.  This is followed by an audio of a fascinating BBC Our Time Podcast conversation hosted by Melvyn Bragg with guests Martin Brasier, Richard Corfield and Rachel Wood.

Ediacaran Biota marine ecosystems evolution

The Ediacaran Biota and the development of modern marine ecosystems

Monday, September 9, 2019

Mary L. Droser - Ediacara Biota - What a scientist sounds like.

There are many excellent videos about the Ediacaran Period in Earth's Pageant of Evolution - each speaker touches on aspects the others don’t.  It's what makes learning about this so fascinating, the endless surprises and aha moments.   
It's a reflection of the new appreciation that the dawn of animal evolution was way more complex and amazing than anyone imagined - that is, before the scientific evidence really started coming in these past decades.  No ID needed.  Makes me think I’ll be sharing a few more lectures focused on the Ediacaran before moving on to the Cambrian Period.  
This time I’m highlighting Professor Mary L. Droser because she does such a nice clear job of describing the variety and complexity that showed up in these oldest of creature communities.  Below the fold you'll find screen shots of key slides outlining her talk.

Mary L. Droser - Catching the second Ediacara wave: 

ecology and biology of the Ediacara Biota as recorded in South Australia

University of Adelaide | July 12, 2016

Prof. Mary L. Droser
University of California, Riverside, USA 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Murray Gingras - 585 MYA animal tracks - What a scientist sounds like

Alrightie than, enough being distracted by chores - it's time to get this Pageant of Evolution rolling again.  I think I want to have some fun by simply selecting good lectures that follow in chronologic order from the Ediacaran and culminating in the Anthropocene and humanity's uncontrollable impulses that are driving towards an inevitable self-destruction.  If you laugh at that perhaps you need to learn about the progression of "civilization' these past few centuries and then stop to actually think real hard about trends and how they dictate the future.  Being blind to what's happening isn't going to stop it from happening.
585-million-year-old tracks reveal evidence of the first animals on Earth

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Observations regarding Sept 7th, Anonymous Comment

I received the following comment which didn't pass muster. 

I accept constructive comments and challenges.  If you want to challenge what I've written do so.  But yelling about rationalists being like a Nazi cult, and such further disconnected from reality ranting ain't an intelligent discussion. Your comment is being REJECTED!
That doesn't mean I'm not willing to discuss it:

COMMENT READS: After looking at the name calling dialog by the two attackers of Dr Holmes 

Can you offer any specifics we can calmly discuss?

and their ferocious need to out him and chastise him for his work and opinions. 

Hold on.  There is a YouTube Channel that goes under the name of Frolly1000  - it spews slander and scientific ignorance (lies and misrepresentations) along with a load of contempt.  It has to do with his politicizing climate science and scaring people out of learning about it in a serious constructive manner.

What’s wrong with outing such a malicious fraud?  

Why shouldn’t we be curious about who the character is behind such a devious attack on serious honest scientists and the work they have done? 

I agree with Dr.Holmes, this climate hysteria has become more of a cult or religion. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Pageant of Evolution (3), Earth's Evolution in 24 hours (#a)

Here’s my third Pageant of Evolution, Four Corners Free Press column, again I couldn’t avoid starting back at the beginning, but this time it feels like I’ve gotten the solid footing that was evading me previously.  I admit I don’t feel particularly pleased with the first and second, but I do like this third essay and look forward to seeing how well I manage to finish the story of our Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.
My next column will continue into the Metazoic and Cenozoic when Life started utilizing all the resources and potential that Earth had spent all those billions of years processing and developing.  The period that highlights how much environment and climate dictates how Life evolves and who thrives or dies.

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. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Diary 8/30/2019 - Life happens.

Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.  This summer my blogging effort wound up being focused on trying to convey the pageant of Earth’s Evolution and offering a glimpse into the folds within folds of accumulating harmonic complexity flowing down the stream of time that is the evolutionary process.

July 1990

Personally it’s also been a summer of five solo road trips down to Phoenix via a route I hadn’t been on since the ‘80s.  Driving out of Cortez, Colorado on Hwy 160 past the Four Corners Monument, then south on Hwy 191 along the western edge of the Defiance Uplift, including visits to Canyon DeChelly, then on to I-40 and scooting over to Hwy 87, which rises into the wonderfully surprising Coconino National Forest and then down the ancient Mogollon Rim.

The Mogollon Rim is the edge of the Colorado Plateau and its a two thousand foot drop into what’s called the “Transition Zone” with it’s jumble of one time islands caught between the ultimate rock and a hard place.  Then out into the “Valley of the Sun” and the “Basin and Range” geologic province.  Geologically it’s a fascinating drive and going solo allowed me a slower pace than our usual rush to reach our destination.

Though the drive south tended to be a bit more rushed than the drive home.  You see, I had dates to keep with my infant grandson.  Unlike with my first two grandkids who’s stay at home mother also had plenty of extended family around, this little guy’s parents have full-time professional careers.  Being an old hand with babies I was drawn into helping out with the child care.

Then when it was discovered how well the little guy and I get along, I kept getting invited back when the unexpected forced mom, then dad, to take a couple trips and my no longer carpentering left me available.

If you know how much Life and Earth’s story fascinate me, you can imagine what interacting with and watching an infant evolving impacts my thoughts.  Meaning my mind has become increasingly distracted and cluttered from the blogging task at hand.  

August 2019

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Jeff Gee, Joanna Haigh - Earth's Magnetic Force Field - What a scientist sounds like

This posting is dedicated to conveying a fact based appreciation for our planet’s protective magnetic “force field” with lectures from: 
Geoscientist Jeff Gee - Exploring Extremes of Earth's Magnetic Field
Professor Joanna Haigh - The Sun and Climate

… along with some awesome data driven visualizations, narrative is a bit on the melodramatic side, but hey, that's what folks want:
Earth's Magnetism in HD - Discovery Channel
Magnetism - Defending Our Planet, Defining The Cosmos - NASA Multimedia Science
Origins of the Earth’s magnetic field - CEOAS - Oregon State

Magnetism - Defending Our Planet, Defining The Cosmos
NASA Multimedia ScienceApril 3, 2017

Friday, August 23, 2019

David Bercovici - Origin of Plate Tectonics - What a scientist sounds like.

One aspect of this blog is all about my own journey of discovery through knowledge acquired from the global community of scientists over the course of generations.  
I do have strong opinions that are based on how I've processed the information I've accumulated so far.  Within that frame of reference, it always seemed self-evidence that our moon's close proximity to Earth during the first billion years had to have a hand in starting plate tectonics on this planet.  
I could not understand why geoscientists never discussed that aspect when writing about origins of plate tectonics.  It simply didn't make sense to me.
But, recently listening to scientists such as David Bercovici, I've come to appreciate many aspects of that situation I had no clue of.  Not that I've had any particular insights, but I have gained a world of appreciation for why the moon's tidal influence on the start of plate tectonic isn’t near as obvious as I was imagining.
It seems to me a great example of allowing facts to dictate my opinion.  I appreciate I possess a fraction of the knowledge someone like Bercovici has accumulated - thus if his words reveal flaws in my own thinking - it's my duty to understand him, not simply to dismiss him.  
As opposed to the agenda driven character, who is so self-certain that he allows his under-educated mind to conjure (and then believe) all sorts of fantastical under-informed rationalizations in order to dismiss the expert's knowledge.  
See, truth doesn't matter to the self-certain - pushing agenda over substance is their priority.
Whereas in serious science honestly acquiring evidence that helps us gain better understanding IS the goal - while ultimate certainty is unattainable.

Be forewarned the following is a talk given to his peers, so it's a peek into how scientists speak with each other, rather than the crisp public talks I usually like sharing.
Professor David Bercovici Ph.D.
On the Origin of Plate Tectonics

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Caroline Beghein - Tectonics to Deep Earth Dynamics - What a scientist sounds like

Here Caroline Beghein Ph.D. gives a very nice general introduction to plate tectonics.

From Plate Tectonics to Deep Earth Dynamics
Published on Sep 2, 2016

A Seismological Journey Inside the Earth.
2016 IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturer 
Caroline Beghein Ph.D., U.C. Los Angeles