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  1. #31

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    This is random, but few days ago I found this video on you tube which I find really informative of current issues, particularly lack of science education and/or interest in general public.

    It is 2 part, 10 min each video, called Science vs Lore

    Part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8mFHho24Jg

    Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttU_hmdPpOk


    Some of the stats are really troubling... such as how can such a large percentage of Harvard grads can't tell why it is hotter in the summer... ??
    Last edited by Vlad; 02-03-2011 at 11:16 AM.

  2. #32

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    Yes, Vlad, we are in agreement. I see it like this.
    Primates lived in small tribes. So the ability to count gave those that have it an advantage. For example, a mother that could gather enough food to bring back to her offsprings would be better off than one that did not, but also, she would be better off than one that brought too much. Too much food would mean an extra effort that would not gain her that much of an advantage, because the extra food could spoil and rot (also bringing a danger of disease) and would actually work against her. So not only she needed to count, but also be able to make an estimate of how much food PER offspring would be needed (hinting towards a vague concept of division).
    Your scenario of tribes fighting is also spot on with what I think. If you are in a gang of 10 apes, and you have to fight 11, there is not so much of a difference. But once they get to, lets say, 12 or 13, you are at an obvious disadvantage. In mammals that go on larger numbers (herds of cattle) the numbers were so large that it made little difference if you had 500 gazelles VS 3 cheetahs. Math did not come into the equation, only how fast you could escape.
    That's how I think math became a useful evolutionary trait. Too bad it evolved all the way into accounting.

    The Sagan book I think was Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, but I am not sure. Either that one of Dragons of Eden. I will check.

    I haven't thought of food issue (particularly the more is not necessary better but actually worse), but when I think of it I agree. It is nice to live in an era of refrigerators and freezers..

  3. #33

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    Yes, Vlad, we are in agreement. I see it like this.
    Primates lived in small tribes. So the ability to count gave those that have it an advantage. For example, a mother that could gather enough food to bring back to her offsprings would be better off than one that did not, but also, she would be better off than one that brought too much. Too much food would mean an extra effort that would not gain her that much of an advantage, because the extra food could spoil and rot (also bringing a danger of disease) and would actually work against her. So not only she needed to count, but also be able to make an estimate of how much food PER offspring would be needed (hinting towards a vague concept of division).
    Your scenario of tribes fighting is also spot on with what I think. If you are in a gang of 10 apes, and you have to fight 11, there is not so much of a difference. But once they get to, lets say, 12 or 13, you are at an obvious disadvantage. In mammals that go on larger numbers (herds of cattle) the numbers were so large that it made little difference if you had 500 gazelles VS 3 cheetahs. Math did not come into the equation, only how fast you could escape.
    That's how I think math became a useful evolutionary trait. Too bad it evolved all the way into accounting.
    Fascinating stuff.

    I need to read some of these links.


  4. #34

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Another feature: humans who could hear/react to the buzzing of a mosquito even when asleep. These would fight them off and have less chances of catching a mosquito transported disease.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  5. #35
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad View Post
    Some of the stats are really troubling... such as how can such a large percentage of Harvard grads can't tell why it is hotter in the summer... ??
    It's not when you summer at the Hamptons and Winter in Santa Monica! They just never noticed...
    I put in the work and wanted it so badly but this guy is the best for a reason. He is such a complete player ... maybe I'll just punch him or something, I don't know. - Andy Roddick

  6. #36

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody View Post
    It's not when you summer at the Hamptons and Winter in Santa Monica! They just never noticed...
    Hey.

    I don't fall into that category.


  7. #37

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Since we are still talking about evolution (or at least I am), one or maybe two puzzles.
    Let's forget for one second that sexual reproduction does not make sense (it is highly debated). How about homosexuality? It would seem, on the surface, that it makes no sense whatsoever. It obviously is a terrible reproductive strategy. So why does it remain? With over 450 species documented to engage in homosexual activities, what evolutionary forces are there that make it a feature across nature?
    Starry starry night

  8. #38
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    Since we are still talking about evolution (or at least I am), one or maybe two puzzles.
    Let's forget for one second that sexual reproduction does not make sense (it is highly debated). How about homosexuality? It would seem, on the surface, that it makes no sense whatsoever. It obviously is a terrible reproductive strategy. So why does it remain? With over 450 species documented to engage in homosexual activities, what evolutionary forces are there that make it a feature across nature?
    Like many traits that seem to happen on a gradient scale (height, dwarfism, weight predisposition, addiction propensity, etc) that may seem to have a negative reproduction bias it can be a combination of genes from the parents that cause it to arise without being distinctly present in the parents.

    As much as I don't want to make the comparison, think of the modern genomic approach that is developing in human disease. It's often shown that many, sometimes common, diseases arise not as specific discrete mutations, but rather as collections of individual mutations that when all or subsets of them are brought together can give rise to some phenotype.

    In this case, it's not really Darwinian selection as it's commonly thought of at work as all of the contributing factors can be 'silent' (ie, no phenotype) and thereby have no exerted selection pressure.
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  9. #39

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by James7 View Post
    Like many traits that seem to happen on a gradient scale (height, dwarfism, weight predisposition, addiction propensity, etc) that may seem to have a negative reproduction bias it can be a combination of genes from the parents that cause it to arise without being distinctly present in the parents.

    As much as I don't want to make the comparison, think of the modern genomic approach that is developing in human disease. It's often shown that many, sometimes common, diseases arise not as specific discrete mutations, but rather as collections of individual mutations that when all or subsets of them are brought together can give rise to some phenotype.

    In this case, it's not really Darwinian selection as it's commonly thought of at work as all of the contributing factors can be 'silent' (ie, no phenotype) and thereby have no exerted selection pressure.
    Agree. And disagree. The "anomalies" you mention are indeed due to recessive genes that remain. But why is there homosexuality in apes? Swans? It is fairly spread around sexually reproductive species (and there have not been studies in marine mammals, because of obvious difficulties). If it is linked to other genes, like in the fox video above (tame genes linked to physiognomy genes) why does it cut across species? I gather that people that are homosexual would love not only to see a confirmation that it is genetic (and off with the You Can Change silliness) but also that it is linked to, lets say, a "creativity" gene.
    Weird data: homosexual BLACK swans are better at rearing chicks than regular swans (they steal the eggs).
    On the link to creativity: if there is a correlation between homosexuality and creativity, does that give the gene an advantage? Are there other traits that could be the carriers?
    Starry starry night

  10. #40
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Homosexuality itself is a different case, I think I got sidetracked on a more general tangent there.

    As far as I am aware, there may be some hormonal/immune issues from mothers affecting fetal development in play. That leads to this quantifiable phenomena in large families where it becomes progressively more likely for male children to be gay the more that are birthed. Some have speculated that it has to do with the default "female" state. The model is that developmental "male" hormones are attacked by the mothers immune system which has been exposed to it with greater frequency in the past.

    I'm probably not well enough versed on this topic to say more.

    With the whole sexuality as a gradient thing before I got sidetracked, there is ample room for successful mating even at all positions on the spectrum.

    Neither of these ideas are limited to the human model system.
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  11. #41
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    I had an interesting discussion about this one many years ago. My friend put forward the idea that while most traits would face competition on an individual basis (taller person vs. shorter person will have more foraging options or whatever), what if it is possible for a community to have characteristics that benefit the group but not the individual?

    That is, what if the trait being selected is not individual sexual orientation, but rather, the ability of the group to occassionaly produce homosexual members. If that made the group more successful as a whole, then that group ability might be more successful than other groups and pass on that ability.

    This made a lot of sense to me. The group might benefit from having a certain percentage of strong males who were not in direct competition with other males in the group. Such males might be more cooperative, more willing to share resources, raise someone else's offspring, and so on. They might even act as a cohesive influence, keeping the group from splintering over alpha-male infighting. Who knows.

    It's more difficult for me to grasp where that quality is being recorded and reproduced in the DNA, but it's certainly not that far-fetched. Colony animals like bees and ants have done very similar things.
    I put in the work and wanted it so badly but this guy is the best for a reason. He is such a complete player ... maybe I'll just punch him or something, I don't know. - Andy Roddick

  12. #42
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by craighickman View Post
    Hey.

    I don't fall into that category.
    But I'm guessing you know why it's hot in the summer
    I put in the work and wanted it so badly but this guy is the best for a reason. He is such a complete player ... maybe I'll just punch him or something, I don't know. - Andy Roddick

  13. #43

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by James7 View Post
    As far as I am aware, there may be some hormonal/immune issues from mothers affecting fetal development in play. That leads to this quantifiable phenomena in large families where it becomes progressively more likely for male children to be gay the more that are birthed....

    I'm probably not well enough versed on this topic to say more.

    With the whole sexuality as a gradient thing before I got sidetracked, there is ample room for successful mating even at all positions on the spectrum.
    Well, you seem to be more versed than I. I had not heard that hypothesis. I gather that the statistical analysis is out there: how many male gay offspring are the eldest?
    Maybe we could do a quick survey here at TAT

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody View Post
    I had an interesting discussion about this one many years ago.... what if it is possible for a community to have characteristics that benefit the group but not the individual?
    Group evolution is controversial, to say the least. I am still undecided. Dawkins if very much against it. So much he would probably write The Woody Delusion if he read your post.
    Starry starry night

  14. #44

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    Agree. And disagree. The "anomalies" you mention are indeed due to recessive genes that remain. But why is there homosexuality in apes? Swans? It is fairly spread around sexually reproductive species (and there have not been studies in marine mammals, because of obvious difficulties). If it is linked to other genes, like in the fox video above (tame genes linked to physiognomy genes) why does it cut across species? I gather that people that are homosexual would love not only to see a confirmation that it is genetic (and off with the You Can Change silliness) but also that it is linked to, lets say, a "creativity" gene.
    Weird data: homosexual BLACK swans are better at rearing chicks than regular swans (they steal the eggs).
    On the link to creativity: if there is a correlation between homosexuality and creativity, does that give the gene an advantage? Are there other traits that could be the carriers?
    Ponchi, where do you get these stats from? I'd much like to use them next time I have to discuss the issue.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  15. #45

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody View Post
    But I'm guessing you know why it's hot in the summer
    Any farmer that doesn't know that isn't a farmer.


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