The future of science

The way I see it, current research science is a system of reliable information harnessing, data processing, followed by speculative interpretation based on well-founded principles & intense scrutiny by fellow peers. It is a method of education for an entire community of very eager-to-learn people.

We begin our careers by studying many fields. We do this so that we can all speak a common language. For instance, I didn’t even start any materials subjects at all until I was in my second year of university. We all had to study maths, chemistry, physics and so on.

Scientists research anything and everything imaginable, from the arcane to the utterly esoteric. That’s why most of it remains inaccessible to the general public.

The smaller each individual niche becomes, the more difficult it is to generate new results, new conclusions -new information. You could say that we already know so much, that learning any more at the cutting edge of science requires serious effort. Usually it requires further advancements in the development of scientific instrument technology; enhanced signal to noise ratios or finer spatial resolution, for example.

In today’s age, it takes a big effort to gather even the simplest, entirely new facts about materials. Used in this manner, traditional scientific research will never provide all the answers to the most important questions that we relentlessly seek to ask.

Scientists are a relentless lot, because in each and every ultra-specific field of science there is always some aspect that has not been effectively or sufficiently studied. You’ll never hear any scientist proclaim: “we can stop now, we’ve discovered enough”. There’s always room for further study.

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” —Edward O. Wilson

But in today’s “information age”, is the current aim of science somewhat misguided? Much of science tries to benefit us in the short term, by improving our standard of living in some way. I think there are many talented young minds that are being wasted today; they dwell on themes which are effectively useless to the ecology of this planet. The long-term future of our environment, and thus our civilisation on which it depends is not looking too bright.

The trouble with most classical scientists is that they would have you believe that everything can be isolated and studied independently. That single assumption is just plain wrong, merely because everything interacts with everything else to a certain degree.

And yet the reality is that things don’t behave in an isolated manner, in fact things often behave synergistically (the sum is more than its parts). So I tend to believe in those wise old American Indians. They say that everything in this universe is connected.

I know that the physical Scientists (Physicists, Chemists and Materials Scientists) will also have you believe that everything happens at the atomic or molecular scale & therefore that’s also where all the answers can be found. I suspect that biologists profess similar principles. Except that real life doesn’t always work that way.

[I like to think of it like this- the microscopic world is influenced from the outside macroscopic world; the resulting perturbations may indeed infiltrate and manipulate the atomic world, but they soon manifest themselves later as corresponding macro-sized problems. Time and time again, scientists have realised that the world is more complicated than they thought. You would have thought they would have learned by their mistakes. Other times, they go off on a wild goose chase looking for micro-scale solutions to macro-scale problems (or vice versa).]

Take this example: did the researchers who invented high-power blue-coloured laser diodes for data density research know that they’d be used in Fish Aggragating Devices?

Did thermodynamicists of the 18th century who originally researched the Carnot cycle realise that it would result in global warming a couple of centuries later down the track?

Somewhere along the way, we have gone from a general, overall view to a very narrow view. We’ll never fully understand the universe if we keep branching into narrower and narrower disciplines as a method of moving forward.

I think what Edward O. Wilson says is very true. What he is essentially saying is that there is too much information and not enough wisdom. In my opinion, we would be better off using and applying what we already know to be true. What’s the point of continuing with research if it takes society decades to change? What’s the point of biologists working so hard trying to unravel nature’s secrets if governments and corporations don’t even heed the most basic warnings about deforestation. Wouldn’t studying the pschology of change be more effective? Wouldn’t guaranteeing our survival be the best thing to focus on right now?

I think it is time for a different era in Science. A direction which which doesn’t try and invent “cures” for the countless problems that industrialisation or technology has already created, but instead, one that sources the reasons behind their after-effects. Yes I’m talking about industries, inventions or incidents which always seem to generate previously “unknown” problems.

If we always claim ignorance after some type of revenge effect occurs, no matter how smart we claim to be, we are not. In all likelihood, it means that there were considerations which could have been followed but were chosen to be ignored. How do we predict them? Perhaps a new type of study could be employed, similar to a feasibility study – lets call it a “consequentiality study”. This would attempt to document the emergence of future possible unintended consequences, especially negative ones. In this manner, the after effects could be anticipated and hence the proposal could be modified.

If a high growth economy is needed to fight the battle against pollution, which itself appears to be the result of high growth, what hope is there of ever breaking out of this extraordinary cycle? – Author of “Small is Beautiful”, E.F. Schumacher.

Instead of relentlessly pursuing the current line of investigation, let’s take a step back and link previously unrelated findings together. Let’s join the dots to create the bigger picture, so to speak, especially concerning the direction we’re all headed. Let’s be smart and study the consequences of our actions for a change, and try to prevent them from ever occurring. Let’s harness the vast expanse of our existing knowledge, and look at ways to develop and encourage a sustainable future. Maybe we should also ask our society what it wants us to pursue?

“Holding keys to a paradise” 11/11/11

I used to think that scientific research study could only ever be a good thing, but now I’m not so sure. I think I was merely exhibititing “specialisation” type social behaviour in response to this civilisations increasing complexity.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out we’ve got continually deteriorating social & environmental problems. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way we do things today? There’s a book entitled The Fourth Civilisation, which is precisely the type of text more scientists should read before deciding upon their next topic of research. It’s what everyone should read, instead of those silly English novels they get you to read at highschool. Read all that first and with that in mind, then embark on your career.

“The great danger for the world in the post-cold-war period may come from the combination of economic problems and the struggle for cultural survival.” – Alexander Tomov, 1996.

When I was at university, science was all about solving problems. Come to think of it, research is essentially the slow process of gathering or “discovering” new factoids that one day may just come in handy for future researchers. But what we don’t want is answers to problems we’ll face during the next century or the next decade or even now. What we [b]needed [/b]were answers [i]yesterday [/i]for the problems we were facing DECADES ago! All too often, scientists belatedly come up with half-arsed ‘solutions’. Answers to consequences that science itself is or was originally implicated in.

For example, exactly how can this purported “Grand Unified Theory” possibly benefit anyone. To me it reaks of human ignorance & . What the HELL kind of answers can these experiments [i]possibly [/i]reveal that will help us here on Earth [i]before [/i]we wipe out not just our own civilisation but half the freakin’ species that live here?? I for one think it would be good if the whole science community got a bop on the head so to speak and took onboard some good old fashioned COMMON FUCKING SENSE.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic today, even so, I still think the world is generally fucked… for every single scientific invention there’s been some kind of unintended negative consequence. Possibly the only exception is the humble solar panel, and we don’t use them nearly enough as we should.

During my post-graduate degree, I learned that scientists are veritable EXPERTS in justifying research funds. It’s late & I don’t know what I’m saying but I would like to see the same amount of money given to sociologists & see what they come up with. They’d probably come up with better answers for this planet than all those particle physcists put together.

I read the other day that the MIT & other various groups were trying to create “Wireless Power Transfer via Strongly Coupled Magnetic Resonances”… now keeping in mind what I said earlier about ‘unintended negative consequences’, hands up who actually thinks that pursuing this is a good idea? Why do it? Do we hate cables that much or are we just becoming too lazy to plug them in to their respective sockets???

Who wants to live like the fat buggers on that inter-galactic spaceship in the movie WALL.E? Not me, that’s for damn sure. I happen to like it here on Earth. I like animals and plants. I’m happy to co-habitate with them. I’m no tripped-out hippy, but I think we could actually benefit by some much-needed changes.

What I learned in 2016.

And today’s big update which is all over the news anyway.

What a stupid, stupid man. I know it’s not “politically correct” to say that. But quite frankly, I don’t care. Because it just so happens to be true.

Honestly, do you remember when you were in school (you did finish school didn’t you?) and your teachers told you about “the curve”. The bell curve.

That taco-bell shaped curve that plots intelligence as a function of the population. In the middle, you have the average person’s intelligence, see. That fat part of the curve, where most people lie. The people like you (I hope you’re at least that smart) and me. Because I’m really just average. I’m not naturally smart. I have to try just as hard as anybody else to score highly on any test. And I know there are loads of people way smarter than me.

Then, usually on the right hand side of that graph, you have a much lesser proportion of geniuses, whiz-kids and ultra-hard core nerds. Who score something like 95 to 99.98% on their tertiary entrance rank. Often the asian kids and, well, all the other “important people”.

Then on the other side you have the, ahh, people with “somewhat lesser intelligence level”. Okay, as the author of this website, I try not to beat around the bush. So let’s just say it like it is. Call a spade a spade. On the left hand side of that graph, are, the people with below 100 IQ. For want of a better term, are “the dumb people”. There. that’wasn’t so hard, was it? No.

What did I learn in 2016? Well I’m convinced that these are the very same people who voted Trump in. The dumb ones who simply don’t get how the world works. And by that I don’t mean “how money runs the world”. I literally mean “how the world works”. How atoms and molecules and other particles interact with eacother; how crystal structures form.

So I know I’m repeating myself here. But it’s an important message and it bears lots of repition.

Climate change is *not* some big hoax put out by the chinese government (or whatever). It’s a real concern by scientists (you know, the clever people), that our current way of life is just not sustainable.

I am actually suffer chronic depression because of this. Every month I see a psychologist.

I can tell you one thing though. I am personally not going to sit idly by for the next four years in silence. I’ve already made up my mind. I just can’t do it. I know too much.

As one of the few designers out there to actually have a background in science, I am going to make a stand. If the coal or oil industry wants yours truly to design them a new logo, it’s going to cost them… wait for it… 800 million dollars. That’s my buyout price. That’s the price I’m willing to settle for. For that price you get the logo and a style guide. That’s it.

For that price, yes I can design any oil company the loveliest of logotypes. But more importantly, I can reinvest 799 million dollars out of that amount of money into simply buying up . Because that’s what I think the ultra rich should be doing. Instead of wasting it on diamond-encrusted mobile phones and whatnot.

Why? Well, because, unlike most designers, I know why the true “cost to society” of oil isn’t reflected in it’s current market value — in it’s real price.

“robot pollination”

I knew this day would come. People thinking we can replace nature’s services with robot technology…

I think it won’t work because of the following:

  • The energy requirements of robots are greater than insects. How long can a drone that small fly for? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? A bee flys all day long and doesn’t ever need to be “plugged in”; it refuels as it travels.
  • Bees and other insects already know what to do. They know where to go, how to get there, when to return, which flowers to visit. A bee already knows to avoid bad weather. They sleep in! No programming required!
  • Insects such as bees are already solar powered (they make their food from plants, which are powered by photosynthesis)
  • Robots are not currently biodegradeable and/or compostable. Are they? E-waste is a big problem today and this simply creates more of it. Recycling still requires the consumption of energy and the addition of new raw material to the batch.
  • Insects such as ants detect chemicals. They’re chemical detectors. That’s how they work (as far as I know). It’s not just their eyes, but their antannae.Do you want to know what the smallest CO² chemical detector is today? Unless there has been some amazing development in the field of gas chromatography that I am not aware of, current gas detectors would need to be mounted on a drone so big, that it would not be able to manouvre around individual flowers with enough precision. It would be like a fucking bald eagle trying to thread a needle with a cross wind.
  • Bees aren’t the only pollinators. There are pollinators even smaller than bees that can pollenise the tiniest of flowers only a few mm across.
  • Making one robot bee is not the same as making a whole swarm. Who is going to make the swarm? People? Or still more robots? So then there will be more “embodied energy” tied up in the manufacturing stage.
  • Most current manufacturing methods are not really sustainable in the long term. They just aren’t. Because they require things like lasers, magnets, chemicals, copper/PVC wiring, steel moulds, energy, transport.
  • Do we seriously see ourselves making an equivalent of the Earth’s biomass of insects for the next million+ years? Like a billion tonnes of robot bees? Where is all that material going to come from? More mines? Current mining operations endanger many species all over the world; habitat destruction will endanger further species… so it just seems to me that as we try to apply more and more technology to solve more problems, technology itself creates an ever-decreasing viscious circle.

Humans have this kind of “wait and see” approach, which I think is crap. Sure it “can be done”, but making robot bees is probably a thousand times less efficient than natural bees (if not a million times less).

I think it’s time robot technicians admitted something. That they cannot recreate a single bee, fly or mosquito. Like I say, is it biodegradeable, self-assembling, and self-regenerative? No. If you look at even the most advanced robot and then put an insect or bacterium alongside it, the natural version is way more advanced (even in terms of the hierarchical structure of the materials alone).

I’m open minded. I’m creative. I’m optimistic. But this is clunky at best. This is stupid. This is wrong. This will create more problems for ourselves. And I think anyone who knows about science, manufacturing, or ecology, will probably agree with me.

The way I see it, digging up the Earth is still quite a primitive thing to do. And there is only so much we can dig. Better to have a circular economy and manufacturing industry. That’s how nature does it, with zero waste!

I really think there is only one way we can go and that is a “less is more” approach. And I think if we don’t change, nature will simply force us to. It’s hard to be productive as well as profitable in a blizzard, a heatwave, a flood, etc.

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t even be garnering additional exposure for this idea by even discussing robot pollination, and to take my thoughts offline. But I think it’s better to leave this right up here so that some of my connections can put up their arguments as to why they think it won’t work. I’d particularly like to hear from biologists. Tell us all the ways insects are superior to synthetic robots. :)

In a world full of people only some want to fly

I thought I’d share this video I put together during the middle part of my graphic design diploma in 2015

I edited this video for one of the more difficult subjects called “Art Direction”, one of the final ones before graduation. The idea was that I had to design a new logo for Aeroflot as part of a rebranding project.

There were a whole bunch of other documents I had to produce along with the logo: client contract, production schedule, budget estimate, branding guideline manual, advertising campaign, storyboard advert and finally a presentation which you can see on my illustration website. It was a treally stressful time for me personally (and for a lot of other people too, I’m sure).

The week before I started this subject, I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). So naturally I was really worried about the final presentation that I had to give in front of the whole class. But it was more than that, graphic designers are some of the most hyper-observant people you will ever come across. My science presentations a decade before never went well (that’s an understatement) and I avoided talking in front of large groups of people ever since…

Anyway, I got so carried away editing this video –I became so inspired– that I essentially ‘forgot’ to worry about the final presentation! The plan was to make an introduction video that was edited so nicely, something so fluid that the audience couldn’t look away (and thus look at me instead). Well truth be told I never truly forgot about the presentation. But it did reduce my anxiety a lot.

From time to time I come back to watch this little vid whenever I need to feel inspired. I hope you like it. If you do, please share!

 

Why are scientists fanatical about climate change?

Yes we certainly do become a bit fanatical. Why? Why is that? Let’s take a look:

Because the basic hypothesis here is is that our actions directly affect our environment. It really is that simple. It’s no different than pouring a tonne of cyanide into a lake. What do you think is going to happen? Fish will die is what will happen. Likewise, modern technology can and does have the potential to affect the atmosphere. You can either accept it or you can bury your head in the sand like an ostrich.

I think a lot of people don’t get the connection between the vibration of countless tiny molecules and temperature. That’s why I like to share this information.

When you study science, you soon learn that scientists must be open minded. A closed-minded scientist is all but useless. What good would it do a scientist if their own personal belief systems got in the way of their research? Can you imagine if I “didn’t believe” that fluorine gas reacts violently with potassium? So I go to the chemical laboratory and proceed to mix 4kg of potassium with 100 moles of fluorine gas, “just for fun”, because I “believe” nothing is going to happen. That would be a very dangerous personal belief. Right?

A scientist can take a look at new data and go “oh okay, that’s news to me.” You’ve now changed his outlook and it has only taken a few minutes/hours. But it has taken the rest of the world THREE DECADES to catch up. THREE DECADES! And still you have people who don’t believe there is a correlation.

It truly baffles me. I think the denial has NOTHING to do with carbon dioxide vs temperature and it has EVERYTHING to do with people’s lifestyles and careers.

Why don’t you deny atomic charges? Or electromagnetism theory? Or molecular bonding? No. You cherry pick the parts of science you want to agree with and to hell with the rest of it (most likely because you drive a car and you want to *continue* driving it).

Did you know that it actually takes more time to become a science doctor than a medical doctor? It took me nine years of full time study. Where is the respect? For many people, there isn’t any. And it probably takes close to two whole decades to become a professor… these are *very* knowledgeable people.

So, yes. Yes we do become a bit fanatical. We become fanatical because the fossil fuel industry even knows it to be true, but they don’t do anything! We become fanatical because you have people like googly-eyed “Lord Monckton” claiming they know what they are talking about when in reality they are totally scamming people.

Hey! My education is not fake!!

It is TIME to get rid of thousands of FAKE-SCIENTISTS who serve the (fake-global-warming-)agenda of the cabal-elite. NOW! — Rainer Duffner

Hey! My education is not fake!! Just because /your/ mind does not understand how small-scale atomic events can lead to large, planetary-scale consequences, does not mean they do not happen.

Kindly educate yourself (that is a very *basic* introduction and if you can’t read or understand it, perhaps you should read more about chemistry so that you can?).

Sure, we allow skeptics of global warming within the scientific community, because we have to be open and objective. In every single field of science you will find people making claims and counter-claims. That is how research works! If every single scientist agreed on everything it wouldn’t be like it is now, self-correcting. But now you simply hijack these people for your own benefit. How lame.

Do you want to know what I think? This is not even about the IR absorption of the CO2 molecule. This is about people leading lifestyles that they do not want to change. Maybe because you don’t know how, or you think you will be ‘unhappy’. That is all the denial has ever been about. It’s never been anything more.

I think maybe you do not know how to make money without producing carbon emissions. And that is why investors are typically deniers in this realm.

Same goes for the transport industry. And construction. And manufacturing. If they didn’t produce any carbon dioxide, they wouldn’t be so against global warming, would they? They’d simply say “So what? Carry on”. But no, the whole carbon debate has come about because people (industry) see it as a threat.

Yes science. The same device that gave you technology. If it weren’t for scientists, people would still be living in the feckin’ Dark Ages, okay. There wouldn’t be things like smartphones, video cameras and whatever else.

How loudly do you shout out about fake semiconductor news? EH? Never. Because semiconductor technology benefits almost everyone. And now the FIRST thing that comes along in science that doesn’t benefit you personally, you label it ‘fake’. Not because you give a toss about the chemical and physical properties of carbon dioxide or any other molecule. But because you dislike the implications for your business model.

No. Science for you is a mere convenience. And you think you can just dismiss it and carry on regardless. Well that is not always how nature works.

I think this civilisation it would be wise to listen to what they (we) have to say (for once). We scientists hardly ask for anything! And all we are really saying is that we are not separate from nature and that our actions can and do affect the environment in which we live. Is that so hard for you to grasp?

The Navier—Stokes problem and the three atom universe.

What is the ocean, but a multitude of drops?

Okay, I previously studied materials science (which is a cross between engineering, chemistry, physics and maths). Maths was never my strong point. It’s nice to see people speaking english here. I am hopeless at maths. Really hopeless. I am more of a visual/graphical person.

I am having trouble even VISUALISING the problem here. Can someone show me *what the problem is* in a more GRAPHICAL format than showing equations?

Are you asking for a mathematical solution so you can predict where laminar to turbulent flow will occur in any theoretical system? Or are you asking what causes turbulence, where does it originate from?

If you are trying to understand and model where turbulence comes from in the real world, then I think you need to understand the real world at both large and small scales. Turbulence happens at all scales, from gases to galaxies, so it is a universal constant. So I’ll try to explain it like this:

On large scales, interactions between one atom and quintillions of millions of other atoms do not matter (I wouldn’t say ‘nothing’ but not very much anyway). Why not? I think that should be obvious, but it’s because minor fluctiations in an atoms’ position do not change bulk properties very much. It’s like adding a drop of liquid to a cubic metre of water, no big relative change. Well okay, “a drop in the ocean” has even become a common expression in the English language.

And what is the difference between large and small scales except just looking ever-closer at your X, Y and Z coordinates?

If the entire universe consisted of just one atom, the universe would be easy to predict. This one atom would just sit there, possibly vibrating and rotating around itself… and life would be pretty boring.

Now, if there were two atoms in the entire universe, they would probably orbit around eachother in a very predictable, ‘linear’ way. By ‘linear’ I mean “not progressive”; of course the atoms would move in circular orbits around each other. Or they would simply collide into one another leading to something I would called “the little crunch”. It would all be very easy to model. The point is, still nothing much would change with time. Even though in motion, it would be a fairly ‘static’ rather than a ‘dynamic’ system

However. If the entire universe consisted of only three atoms, nothing else. Things get very complicated, very quickly. Because, first of all, there exists in physics something known as the “n body problem“. Given three initial starting vectors, apparently it’s very difficult to predict the exact position and momentum where three measly atoms will end up.

Why is this so? Firstly, all of the atoms are attracted to one another because of Van der Waals forces. Also, each atom technically imparts an infinitesimally small gravitational pull on the other two. And any time gravity is involved, well, Newtonian mathematics doesn’t work too well. But there are magnetic forces from the nuclei as well. And when all of those forces are acting upon each other in three dimensions, it gets tricky. Because of the inverse-square law, the forces that interact for each of the atoms upon on the other two will be different at each point in time and space  (based on their proximity).

So on smaller physical scales, however, we know that a drop of water contains roughly 10^21 molecules. And those molecules are vibrating all over the place. They have all sorts of vibrational modes. They rotate. They spin. They vibrate at different frequencies. Nothing at all stays still. If it did, matter would soon annihilate itself. The electrons do not just orbit the nucleus in a circular fashion, but in complex dumbell shapes. The orbitals will even be different according to the type of atom, there are s, p, d and f shaped oribitals. We don’t even know with certainty where the electrons are orbiting due to the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (which takes effect whenever you actually try to measure anything at the atomic or subatomic scale). And all of the subatomic particles may interact with each other as well. Who knows? We don’t know.

So even when looking at the behaviour of a few atoms, as compared to a whole ocean, their position and momentum starts to become significant with respect to each other. Let’s look at what I’m talking about. A few people have tried to estimate the number of water molecules in all of this world’s oceans. And the number we get is from around 5 x 10^46 to 5 x 10^47. Yes you’ll note that those two numbers are out by a factor of ten. That is one order of magnitude margin of error just in the counting. Yes it’s that inaccurate. Because this is the real world and it’s just a ‘guestimate’ (close enough for the purposes of argument). Now keep in mind that they are very approximate figures, we certainly would never know the exact number, let alone the position and momentum of all that lot!

So for example, if I added one more molecule of water to an entire ocean, how much do you think all of those existing water molecules affect one single atom. The answer is “quite a bit”, because the number of them completely overwhelms that one molecule. But what about if I think about it the other way around? Does our additional lone water molecule impart much change to the other ten or a hundred ‘quattuordecillion’? How much influence does this extra molecule provide. It’s not ‘nothing’. It’s never ‘nothing’. Most people would say it is ‘negligable’. It is insignificant. Right? It wouldn’t change too many of the others’ motion paths. Or would it? Who can say? It’s like putting one more person in a stadium. Almost all of the other 100,000 people probably won’t notice the extra person. But if I add one extra atom to a two atom universe —if I get a divorce from the only person I know in the universe— then yes it does become very significant for both atoms.

One guy even mentioned on Quora that his instinct was that quantum (subatomic) interactions cause turbulence. If that is the case, then it truly would get ‘complicated’. Furthermore, physicists and cosmologists are saying that space and time itself might be ‘granular’ and not smooth. And then you are assuming that fluids are incompressible. Are they? Perhaps not 100%, no. I personally think there are no such things as fractions…

“I do not see two halves of an apple. I see quadrillions of whole atoms on each side.” Leslie Dean Brown

There are just that many variables. People like to quote god here. I don’t believe in god, because it isn’t necessary for me to understand the way the world works. For those people that insist on quoting god at this point, I’d say it like this: “not even god knows; nothing could or would know what is going on with all atoms and interactions at one instant in time, because EVERYTHING is interacting with EVERYTHING at that point in time”.

If you ask me, laminar flow is where maths and theory works. Turbulent flow is where maths breaks down. Does that sound like a grey answer? It is meant to be. I don’t think there is an answer. By the time you have done the calculations, the atoms will have moved elsewhere. It should be a trillion dollar problem. It’s going to be that complicated to try and figure out.

A new definition of life?

Erwin Schrödinger theorized in his 1944 book “What is Life?” that contrary to the general tendency dictated by the Second law of thermodynamics, life decreases or maintains its entropy by feeding on negative entropy.

One of the most difficult questions to answer is “what is the purpose of life?”. But how can we possibly answer what the purpose of life is if we don’t even know what life is?

What is life? Go to a year 9 science book and the definitions will vary. They will undoubtedly mention the following processes: Homeostasis, Organization, Metabolism, Growth, Adaptation, Response to stimuli, Reproduction. By these definitions, would ‘life’ from another planet even classify as life?

Whenever we attempt to ask what constitutes life, we arrive at all sorts of vague definitions, for example:

“the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body”

“a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings”

“an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”

“the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”

“the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, esp. metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.”

There are many definitions of what life is, but for every one of these sub-classifications, there are exceptions:

Adaptation to the environment. At what rate must life adapt for it to be considered alive? If we rapidly create an artificially toxic environment, no life form will be able to adapt in time and hence it will die. The same can be said for the “reaction to stimuli” argument. The entire plant kingdom is at a great disadvantage here – although they can adapt relatively quickly to their environment, plants can only react to stimuli very slowly. Viruses do not appear to react to anything. In fact, I suspect that “adaptation to the environment” and “reaction to external stimuli” are really disguised as the same thing, albeit at different rates of application.

Reproduction can never be a valid prerequisite for life (at least for an individual being or entity). The process of reproduction occurs in every single life form on this planet, it has therefore not surprisingly swayed our perspective when we think about all life forms. Life is more than reproduction.

I suspect that reproduction is a way of minimising damage to our core DNA instructional program, by relaying this information over different generations (more on that later). I can easily imagine an organic being which is alive and does not need to reproduce to survive by continually renewing itself. Imagine the last surviving example of an endangered heterogenous species: in the short term, it is alive despite facing certain extinction (unless cloned). But in the long term, in the future, it (defined as a species) is already dead. Eunuchs are alive; so are spayed or neutered dogs — but neither can reproduce.

Nor can DNA or metabolism be a criterion for life. In biology, the word ‘metabolism’ usually refers to Earth-bound chemistry. Doesn’t this preclude off-world life? DNA is merely a recipe for life on this planet, it is not a blueprint for ALL life.

It seems to me that our definition of life is extremely Earth-centric. This is again perhaps not very surprising since it’s the only life we know about (so far). So I think it’s time to attempt to define life in a new way. But how can we ever begin to grasp the chemistry on other planets or in other galaxies? Well, we might not have to know. We just need to define one single common process of life. What do all life forms have in common?

Interestingly time is an essential factor when we consider the concept of life. It is present in all the above definitions of life (metabolism, reaction to stimuli & environment, growth and reproduction). We cannot think of definitions of life without thinking about time as well. The concept of time is an essential component. A life-form cannot be defined as alive without measuring one of its characteristics against time. Although so far knowing all this doesn’t help us much.

What other parameters do we know about the cosmos that don’t change? What if we could define life in terms of one of these constants, by direct comparison?

One of the most commonly accepted universal ‘laws’ (at least ) is the second law of thermodynamics, which basically states that the universe tends towards a state of disorder. You need to add energy to a system for it to become more ordered. In general, it’s a rule that cannot be broken. But I’ve never completely understood this, because according to most thermodynamics lecturers, this planet should be an amorphous lump, along with all the others in our Solar system. With this rule, you’d also expect the cosmos to be a 100% random distribution of gas molecules by now… I’m not arguing against the second law… it just made me think.

Physicists and thermodynamicists conveniently talk about open, closed and isolated systems and then scale the size of these imaginary boxes into whatever sizes fit their models in order to analyse various processes (either real or hypothetical). In our situation, they’d include the Sun in the size of their box to take into account its energy transfer. That doesn’t mean much to me.

What does all this have to do with life? Quite simply, as time passes, life in general has the unique capacity to re-arrange resources for itself and all by itself. It’s the one trait that separates inanimate objects (stuff that doesn’t appear to do anything) from animate objects (which do things spontaneously). Let’s just say that life evolves into more and more complex, ordered forms over prolonged time periods.

At first glance, you might not think that we as a civilisation are very organised. You might even call life “crazy” or “chaotic”. Look a bit closer, and you’ll see that the opposite is true. The very word “chaos” essentially means “an apparent state of randomness with the presence of an underlying order”. Think about the intertwined postal networks, telecommunications networks, street networks, social networks, food networks. Think about the logistical nightmare of supplying all the many things we consume on a daily basis; every single thing needs to be prototyped, tested, packed, inventoried, advertised, distributed, sold, consumed and disposed. That’s essentially what everyone is working toward: to offer a sevice to some one or some thing. Compare the sheer complexity of this life with the alternative: a completely barren desert lifeless landscape. Think about all the bits of information that we’ve created and stored in the world; think about the position of every single atom or molecule in both scenarios and then decide which one is more complex. Which one has had more order applied to it?

Consider the following new definition of life: any self-generating system which decreases local entropy levels over the long term. Why do I stipulate “self-generated”? Because artificial machines aren’t really considered alive until they can self-assemble or reproduce; once they become self regenerating, I’m sure they’ll be considered rudimentary forms of life too.

Large businesses [ironically called “organisations”] grow, react and in a sense spawn new companies. Still, these are not considered alive in the traditional sense because they are not self-generating. [Incidently- that could be one reason for the failure of large companies; there is so much re-organising going on, not enough work gets done!]

Viruses usually provide an example of a hazy distinction between life and non-life. In the traditional sense, viruses cannot reproduce on their own; hence some people do not consider them as valid lifeforms.

Using the entropy definition of life, parasitic viruses are only alive in terms of the whole system -when combined with the host organism. In other words, when you include the host as a part of the system, then they are both alive; if not, then the virus is ‘dead’. Like any parasite, you cannot define their existence without looking at the host as well. In my opinion, a virus is still alive in a sense since it replicates the genetic code (just another form of information).

I think we need to look more at entire systems, not just solitary organisms. You cannot draw black-and-white conclusions about life without looking at the surrounding environment. Highly constrained niche ecosystems are alive but very interdependent. If you remove one individual species it often cannot survive on its own. Indeed, remove just one ‘keystone’ species and you risking collapsing the entire ecosystem.

All this is not to say we break the second law of thermodynamics or that we are somehow exempt from its effects. Quite the contrary. There is an external all-pervading neutralising force which constantly acts against us.

Entropy manifests itself in various ways by attempting to randomise us. We experience both cellular and molecular degradation. The action of foreign chemicals & UV rays first come to mind. Cosmic rays, X-Rays, etc directly tamper with our DNA code. The bus that flattens you on the street has done a good job of increasing your entropy state. In fact, it seems that intelligent life itself has the potential to completely self-destruct. We’ve become too good at killing everything and we risk our own survival. I believe that this is entropy playing an unconscious revenge-effect type of role. Nope, it’s not some kind of god. Some people call this effect irony, some call it Karma.

I’ll admit that I am definitely not the first person to think about the connection between life & entropy in this way although I’m proud to say that did come to this conclusion independently … only 64 years too late!

American biochemist Albert Lehninger, argues that “living organisms preserve their internal order by taking from their surroundings free energy, in the form of nutrients or sunlight, and returning to their surroundings an equal amount of energy as heat and entropy.”

Ville Kaila and Arto Annila of the University of Helsinki describe how evolution explores possible paths to level differences in energy densities and so increase entropy most rapidly. Thus, an organism serves as an energy transfer mechanism, and beneficial mutations allow successive organisms to transfer more energy within their environment.

We are told very early on that this law cannot be broken. I think you know the one thing that ‘breaks’ this rule. Life. Life itself does not seem random. However, it certainly seems chaotic. But if you’ve read about chaos theory, it talks about “order in disorder”. What may seem disordered and random may in fact have an underlying order to it. Be it an international airport or the phenomenon we call the weather. It’s controlled by a simple set of rules, but all of these interacting together make it extremely difficult to predict. Some would say impossible. It takes someone like the mentalist to know what’s really going on.

This blog is essentially information (which is order) presented as a series of words (ideas). You could easily convert this paragraph into binary for example. Then it looks very ordered indeed. How am I able to do that?

01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111001 01100101 01110100 00100000 01100010 01101111 01110101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100010 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100011 01101111 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101100 01100001 01110111 01110011 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01101101 01101111 01100100 01111001 01101110 01100001 01101101 01101001 01110011 0101110 00100000 01010100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101001 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01101001 01101110 01100110 01101111 01110010 01101101 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 0101000 01101111 01110010 01100100 01100101 01110010 0101001 00100000 01110000

A thermodynamicist will talk about open and closed systems. That I need to look at the bigger picture, the net energy gain, not just the gross product. The net energy lost is the food and drink which I consume or ‘burn’ and convert into heat, thought and finger movement. That in order for me to produce a certain amount of order, I have taken it from somewhere else and created a net waste. Rest assured, my brain is working overtime right now. I certainly don’t feel that efficient. I do feel very much alive though, writing this. That’s precisely my point. I have taken energy and consciensously used it to make order. It doesn’t matter about the size of the ‘container’ for this open/closed system. I am the container. Me.

Nonliving things simply cannot do this. Crystals grow by minimising surface energy (dendrites).

At the edge of life you will find chaos.

While it’s difficult to appreciate the nature of order. Male bower birds collect and hord blue items in an attempt to impress their mate. That is ordering directly at work.

Ants create ordered colonies, much in the same way as we create cities. The size does not matter. Whether they are aware of themselves also seems irrelevant, although they can certainly communicate via chemical means.

If and when a computer is able to replicate itself in the form of a robot, as in the terminator, it will become a formidable source of life indeed. One can imagine an insatiable being whose only purpose in life is to make “order out of disorder”. Think along the lines of the Borg in Star Trek or the Simulants in the popular TV series Red Dwarf.

A gene gun doesn’t sound very precise. Or accurate.

What is a gene gun?

Gene guns are used to produce genetically modified food. A year ago, I did not know this; I had never even heard of a gene gun. Have a skim read of this. I am mainly sharing that link to show people how a gene gun works.

So they basically shoot one type of DNA molecules (like from a bacteria) into the target organism… the plant/crop… and unless I’m terribly mistaken… the incorporation of some new DNA strands is nothing more than “trial and error”. Or so it seems.

But there’s only one thing scarier than *not* knowing where your source DNA molecules are going. And that’s knowing *exactly* where they’re going.

Now, like a lot of people, especially designers, I’m very opinionated. That’s okay. What do I personally think about this?

I think there’s only one organism we really need to genetically modify. And that’s ourselves. How about new GM people that aren’t as greedy and destructive? Wouldn’t that be nice? Engineer ourselves… to just be content with what we have.

What I know about science is that the fields are becoming so narrow, general wisdom is lost. I don’t think any one person can know the full repercussion/consequences. And there ALWAYS ARE consequences. If we were really intelligent, scientists would ask themselves “what are they, the consequences?” before they started. Do they? Not all of them, no.

So unless someone convinces me otherwise, I personally think it should be banned. I believe that every species has a place in this world. Yes even the tiniest bacteria and parasites. Because for one thing, diseases control plagues. That’s the basic reason they exist. A world without disease would be unbalanced. And a world without plagues would also be unbalanced. That’s how nature works. And that’s what geneticists seem to forget.

I am not saying that geneticists don’t know what they’re doing. Or that they aren’t very intelligent people. Quite the contrary. But what I am saying is that they don’t know everything. And the more they know about genetic engineering, the less they know about everything else (yes, I’m being very serious).

Scientists are a bit like designers. A designer is never “just a designer”. Design is a whole way of life for these people. I know, because these days, I am more of a designer than a scientist.

Same with accountants. Have you ever met an accountant with a personal credit card debt?

See, most scientists I know are highly obsessive people. They forget that things cannot always be controlled by humans.

I’d like to remind these geneticists that species live in ecosystems. And there are reasons for the way that it is. We don’t even know all of those reasons. Sure we know a lot. Probably we know too much. But the truly clever people tend to realise when they don’t know something.

“What you don’t know you can feel it somehow” —U2

And that’s the trouble with some people. They think they have thought of everything. But they never do. They never do.

I just ask them to do one small thing. I emplore all geneticists to read a little less about genetics and a little more about two other, completely separate things:

  1. The revenge effect
  2. Chaos theory

Then come back to me, and tell me that this kind of genetic engineering is a good idea.

Design disappointment.

Today I’m going to share with you a little secret that’s been bugging me lately

It’s about one of my inner-most feelings about the design industry. For several months now, I’ve been getting disappointed. I have a bit of a dilemma. A moral dilemma 1.

Here it is: there seem to be very few what I call “ethical designers”. And that worries me.

I know because rarely do the creatives ever ‘like’ my environmental posts on LinkedIn. Rarely. Almost never.

Now keep in mind that probably about half of my connections work in the design industry. They’re senior graphic designers. They’re art directors. Executive creative directors. Chief creative officers. Important people. Important people with important accounts.

Designers are supposed to lead the way when it comes to new trends. I mean, fashion designers have the power to change what a billion people wear, within the space of a year (or less). Right?

And yet on this subject, the environment, most designers are suspiciously silent. And I think I know why. I strongly suspect it’s because there’s this so called ‘professional’ [read: confidential] client relationship.

In other words, the never seem to speak up, because they are too afraid that they are going to lose money. Not just with customers, but with their real clients, the businesses that hire them to design. You can’t be seen to criticise the business that gives you work. Like they say, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.

Here’s the thing. If people say or do the wrong thing —like the wrong post say— then they lose the account. I know because one of my design teachers told me. If anyone is caught drinking Pepsi in the design room when the Coke representative walks in, your agency loses the Coke account. That’s the way it works.

You see, I really think designers are forgetting just how difficult it is to accomplish good design. I think they’re underestimating themselves. They’re selling themselves short. And I think they should act a bit more like they way they were in highschool. Back then they were the trendsetters. The people who dared to be different. The people who stood against the status quo. Those rebellious kids. The cool ones, you know.

I would like to see the designer charge three, five or ten times more than they normally would for their design. Use that extra money. Give half of it to an enviornmental charity. But I would prefer to see you refuse the brief altogether. Don’t do it. Not for any amount of money!

People who changed the world in the past were never really popular during their time. People like Galileo questioned the status quo. And now today we have satellite communication and GPS navigation systems.

It could be that my “save the planet” content is preferentially served to all my conservation connections. But somehow I doubt it. Many creatives would have seen my posts as well. Many. They lurk, they don’t like. I’ve noticed.

And I was actually going to write this on my LinkedIn feed, but decided to write about it here instead. Because over there, it’ll only become very ‘awkward’.

I’ve also noticed that whenever I post a ‘controversial’ update or comment, I get about three times the number of people looking at my profile. They’re probably checking out who is making all the waves. But they never say anything. Not even privately.

It’s like they’re thinking something like this behind my back: “well if he doesn’t know, we’re not going to tell him; more work for us”.

I know how social groups work. If you say something controversial enough, something to upset people enough, something that goes against the norm, something that people can’t deal with, you risk getting expelled. Banned from the group. And I don’t want that to happen. I’d still like to get a few illustration commisions.

I know how the world works. I know it runs with money. I’m not stupid or naïve. So it’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing. Oh no; I know exactly what I’m doing. I also know something that most designers don’t know. I know a thing or two about science.

In that respect, I suppose my training is pretty unique because I have a strong background in science but my most recent qualification was a diploma of graphic design. So I speak the dual languages of science and design. I don’t know too many ex-scientists designers. None, in fact.

The thing is, I can’t forget my past. No matter how hard I try. I can’t not be a scientist. I trained for more than ten years to be a scientist. I can’t forget who I was or who I am today. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. Sometimes I wish I could forget. Then I could probably ignore all these conservationists and and indigenous people and just “get on with being ‘successful’ “.

It’s not that science and design are incompatible. Oh they are perfectly compatible alright. Yes business, design and science are indeed all compatible. But not when it comes to big corporations they’re not. Because the bigger the company, the less accountable the employers, employees and customers all become.

The bigger a company, the more ethical rules they seem to break. Seriously. Environmental rules. Especially when it comes to the following industries: mining, engineering, manufacturing, development, construction and transport/logistics. They just don’t give a fuck. Or so it seems.

I know enough to know that there are many unknowns in science. But for every ‘unkown’, there are ten or a hundred ‘knowns’. Science is pretty good. Science works. Your computer works. Your smart phone works. Your iwatch works.

The trouble with designers staying silent is this. The bigger the account gets, the less people see the effect of their design decisions. Designers are not seeing the impact.

But what is worth more? The account? Or the planet? If we lose the planet, we lose pretty much all future accounts. Right? Riiight?

So my new rule of business is that I only want to work towards a better future, not a worse one. Otherwise, what’s the point?

If we are all working towards a worse future, if all there is is “now”, if that is so important, why bother working at all? Why bother building cities, freeways and skyscrapers? Why bother with children and grandchildren? You tell me. What is the fucking point? What is the fucking point of having children if this world is not sustainable?

And don’t get me wrong, I try to live in the ‘now’ as much as humanly possible. It’s just that I also consider the future as well as the past (which I think is wise).

When a client comes to you asking for a rebrand, they’re obviously thinking about the future, aren’t they? They are looking for a newer, better future. Right?

So what I would like to see is this: I would like to see creative executives have the balls to say to someone like Mr Gautami Adani something like this:

“well the thing is, Mr Adani, we can’t actually make your logo any cooler, accessible or friendly, you’re asking the impossible. Fossil fuels have become out of vogue, out of fashion, we can’t change that. No one can change that. Solar and wind are “in”. Coal is out.”.

I would like to see Chief Creative Officers, Executive Design Directors remind the CEO, the CFO, the board of directors about the future. Remind them that they are hoping for a better ‘future’ design, hence, they must care about the future. That’s why they’re investing money. Because they’re hoping for a better future.

I’d like to see more people remind these fools at the top just why the environment has to come before business. And then maybe the business owners and investors would insist on a newer, more sustainable, ecological design. Who else is going to design for them?

I think it’s absurd that people are too afraid to even say anything. Everyone should be able to harp on about the environment as much as they bloodywell like without fear of losing their job. Otherwise, we are all fückéd ladies and gentlemen. Fückéd!

Here’s what I would like to say to all investors. I would like to walk into a boardroom meeting and draw this fucken equation on the board:

no environment = no business = no profit.

Because I can tell you one thing right now. People can see straight through a logo or a design. I used to think a great logo was everything. but it’s just an identity mark.

If the companies’ ethics and morals aren’t in the right place, then people will eventually go with the ugly logo. I love a good logo, I do. I choose companies based on their logos and their design. True! But once I turn on a company, there’s almost no going back. If I had to choose between designer logos and saving the planet, bring on the ugly logos.

People are fickle. Customers will change banks. No amount of design can be used to sell a horrible company to well-informed people. That might have worked in 1990. Or even the year 2000. But this is the age of information, the age of connection.

 

The reason is that money can only be used to ‘offset’ things up to a certain point. And I think we are fast getting to that point, if it isn’t already behind us. Beyond that point, money doesn’t do any good. Sure money can buy a forest. Money cannot buy us a new atmosphere or a stable, unpeturbed weather system. Money cannot buy a clean ‘new’ planet. That is not how the world works.

Sometimes I like to entertain the idea of hypothetical situations, because I find them to be very insteresting. For example. if the major powers launched all of their nuclear weapons (more or less simultaneously), then how much would it cost to ‘fix’ the planet afterwards? What if it couldn’t be ‘fixed’? What then? That’s one reason we try to avoid a nuclear holocaust. Because we know about the consequences.

Things can’t keep on going on like they’ve always done. Again, the world doesn’t work that way. I know that’s not the way it is at the moment.

You may think I am some hippie nutter. But I’m not. I am a bit of a dreamer though. I don’t really care too much about money. I care that what I think, what I say, and what I do are all aligned — in the right direction.

So where am I going with this? A few years ago I read that whenever an organisation grows, it reaches a critical size of about 150 people. That is the maximum number of people we can efficiently deal with. Beyond that and things get too disconnected and bureaucratic. Efficiency goes down.

So these days I prefer to work with smaller businesses. That’s what my gut instinct tells me to do. Businesses that are small enough to change and adapt. Businesses that are able to put the environment first. They’re the ones who I want to trade with.

 

 

 

My politcally incorrect branding plan.

Here’s the thing, I know I shouldn’t mention politics where business & branding is concerned.

I *know* I should be more politically correct. But quite frankly, I don’t care. Or I do care somewhat, but I don’t let that stop me… I see icecaps are melting and still no one says anything through official channels. I don’t see any designers criticising Porsche for making their gas-guzzling 5.0L V8-engined Cayenne for example.

Yes I see all the other designers and creatives and their ‘approach’. And I think 99.9% simply prefer to remain silent.

But I don’t see too many designers with a science background. And my science background CANNOT allow me to sit idly by and “say nothing, do nothing”.

The truth is, our lifestyles impact this world, greatly so.I’m even having a hard time convincing my psychologist of this fact. I think she seems to think that we are all “equally to blame”.

I’m sure other people absolutely cringe when they see me always sharing things about the environment on LinkedIn. But quite frankly, if I lose people’s business as a result of being politically incorrect, maybe “it wasn’t mean to be”. I don’t want to help people ruin this planet. I want to help make it a better place.

So my branding plan is this: what I lose in being politically incorrect, hopefully I gain elsewhere by genuinely being committed to the environment. And if only half the number of art directors woule like to commission an illustration from me, well that just means I’ve got to be twice as good to make up for it. So the quality of my drawings goes up. Right? What’s wrong with that?

I would really like to see other designers and creatives be more vocal. Forget being politically correct. Be brutally honest for once. Have the confidence to know that your work is good enough to lose a few clients to be able to sleep at night.

If you know a product is crap, perhaps more people should say so? I won’t work for fossil fuel companies. Well I would, only for about $800M. I hope people see that ethos is part of my brand.

Time to change people. Time to change. Now.

The trouble is, from what I see, people only tend to believe in parts of science — and only when it suits them.

So when does it suit them? Whenever they want to use an electronic device or some other piece of latest technology they can’t do without.

I don’t hear many people denying … oh I don’t know… modern electron valence bond theory. Or semiconductor doping. We never hear about those subjects in parliamentary debates. Or anything at all to do with thermodynamics/physics/electronics/materials for that matter. Do we?

Why not? Because it’s this kind of knowledge that makes transistors and other electronic devices possible and allows things like computers and mobile phones to be built.

I don’t think people realise how serious this climate change thing is. Because scientists don’t like losing control of things. We don’t like it.

There ain’t no way of stoppin’ Jupiter’s great red spot. There ain’t no fixin’ the atmosphere of Venus either. And Mars is a fuckin’ frozen wasteland which right now is even more inhospitable than somewhere like the summit of mount Everest. Yet I don’t see people building houses way up there. Or on K2.

This planet Earth right here is all we’ve got. And there ain’t no guarantees.

Don’t make it hard for scientists in future.

I see politicians and leaders pleading with scientists in the future. Pleading for a way to get the Earth’s climate back on track.

And do you know what will happen? Some scientists will tell them –you– to just fuck off already. Or something like that.

“Why didn’t you listen to us when were telling you to change decades ago?” — Scientists of the future.

What I think of ‘Lord’ Christopher Monckton.

I‘ve become tired of being ‘nice’. So two years ago, okay, I got hypnotised. And this is basically the result of that. Now I call it like I see it. I don’t really care if I offend people. If they want to be stupid and remain ignorant, then that’s there perogative. Fine by me.

But don’t expect me to shut up and listen to you without calling you out on it. What am I talking about? This is what I am talking about. It is pretty hard to watch.
What kind of BULLSHIT is this? Seriously. The first thing I do is look up people’s credibility. And what do I see with this “Lord Muck” fellow? I see a degree in classics (languages). And another one in journalism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I don’t see any science education anywhere in his CV.

[Read more…]

The coal debate

Ex scientist here. Dr. qualified. (like that even matters today)
No we most certainly should NOT be relying on coal!! How many times do scientists have to tell you this??!! For one thing, coal is not renewable. It’s going to run out you know. Maybe not in the next few decades. But in a couple of centuries it will. Then what?!! But quite apart from that, the really clever scientists are telling you to keep it in the ground! Are you politicians all DEAF, or what? Hello global warming!
I know it’s hard for you to accept something that you don’t understand. But how many people know how and why their mobile phone works? Or their computer? Or their car? Eh?
You have enough sunshine in QLD to power that state for the next… 5 billion years!!!! It’s a no brainer. FFS living in this country is becoming embarrassing.
You politicans might know about money and rules and regulation, but you know sweet FA about how the world works. I.e. Physics and chemistry. Here’s a tip. Kindly look up the surface temperature of the planet Venus. That planet is hotter than it should be considering it’s proximity to the sun. It’s at least 30 degrees hotter than Mercury for Pete’s sake (and Mercury is MUCH closer to the Sun!). What’s the difference? Well, for one thing, Venus has a predominantly CO2 atmosphere. It’s the original greenhouse planet. Heck, it’s probably a hundred °C hotter than it should be because of that CO2. Now I suggest you politicians start taking notice of my fellow scientists… because otherwise you’re going to be even more out of touch than you are now. Les out
its not politically correct to say global “warming”, because we have no idea what its actually doing, so just to be safe . every social justice warrior knows that, you have to say climate “change” now to muddy the waters , or you will be socially ostracized. but at least you do agree that its the sun that drives climate, like on venus, and not human activities. but we should stop selling our coal to china, a brutal communist dictatorship, and others , after all we`re going to need it here to for some few hundred years to power our cities, what will we do when it runs out , our childrens childrens children will need it , unless one of these genius scientists can invent a better solution that wont cripple our nation and cause millions of deaths like solar and wind will
I think you completely missed my point. I was trying to point out that atmosphere also affects climate, not just the proximity to the sun.

[Read more…]

How to access climate change science journal articles

I’m starting to get a bit pissed with people on this whole climate change issue.

Really I am. People are still disagreeing and it isn’t because of the underlying science being wrong or anything to do with that. It’s because their lifestyle is in jeopardy. Or their job. Or their world view.

I can tell you that scientists could not give a toss either way. The thing that matters most for any true scientist is data, getting as accurate data as possible, analysing the data, discussing the data, and perhaps drawing some conclusions based on the data.

A good scientist keeps an open mind. They accept the results. Most research scientists I know are voracious readers. They seek the truth.

So here’s a story. Before I started my doctorate, I hadn’t even read any science papers. I had a materials science degree and I had not really been exposed to this whole new level of academic research. And when I started my PhD, in 1999, science papers were simply not talked about in the general public. So it was all quite new to me.

I also think that during any undergraduate degree, there are plenty enough university textbook to have to read. So I think most undergraduate scientists try to avoid the library as much as possible.

A large university can have 10,000 very nerdy students enrolled in it. But you never see even 1000 people in a library. Right? So the only reason to go to a library when you’re an undergrad, is when you have to do an assignment. Everyone else either works their, is doing a masters, a Ph.D, or they’re a lecturer or professor. I kid you not.

So when I started my doctorate, 4 years after I started my first degree, I literally started to get overwhelmed at the amount of scientific literature out there.

Much of this science research is ‘hidden’. I don’t mean on purpose. I mean, it’s not easily accessible, because much of it is not accessible through the web. Mainly because science was around well before the internet.

Anyway, the point is that you can’t always google everything. There’s a lot of stuff out there that hasn’t even been indexed by google!

So. How to get access to these journals then? Well, if the journal doesn’t have a webpage, they’re mainly accessible through university library databases. And there are many databases, like these.

Most science research is freely available. Meaning, you should never have to pay for articles. Subscriptions to journals only really cost money because they need to be edited and printed. Also, libraries pay for many of these annual subscriptions (well, the most popular ones at least).

So for the measly sum of about $10 per year, the cost of an annual library membership, you too can have access to practically any journal article you wish to read. So the cost of these subscriptions is subsidised by the university. How does a library get money then? Membership fees, university fees, tuition fees, and a mediocre amount of government funding. I suppose.

So the point is that you can fairly easily get access to pdfs of science papers through a library, and you might not have to pay anything.

There is a lot of collaboration between scientists. So you can always simply email one of the authors and they will gladly send it to you for free. Scientists will gladly share pdf articles with anyone and no that is not at all illegal, it’s encouraged.

Note that if you have never been into a library, don’t be afraid. Most librarians are glad to help. If you find a grumpy one, they’re probably just having a bad day, so find someone else and ask them instead. There’s honestly nothing worse than a grumpy librarian.

More and more journals are becoming “open access”, meaning anyone can freely access them.

So here’s a link to the open-access journal “American Journal of Climate Change”, for example:

http://www.scirp.org/journal/ajcc/

Literally *hundreds* of papers freely available if you click on the ‘pdf’ or ‘html’ links, and this is just ONE journal of MANY that are all dedicated to the Earth’s climate.

Or you can simply join any science university library, walk in there and peruse the shelves and be overwhelmed the old-fashioned way…

By all means people can disagree with the findings, but if you’re going to do that and have any chance of winning an argument against a scientist, you should first at least educate yourself, otherwise you’re simply what I call ‘ignorant’.

Open letter to Craig Kelly + Scott Morrison.

Hello,

Scientists are telling you that fossil fuels are a bad investment.
So we’re all starting to wonder: what the hell is wrong with you people?

Are you deaf? Or are you just corrupt?
I don’t know how you people sleep at night. Really I don’t.

It just makes me lose hope for humanity when I read all about alll the coal & oil projects that are planned for the future. It’s just fucking *totally depressing* for any scientist.

So much so, I wouldn’t even WANT to have children today. Sure we all innately want children (deep down). But quite frankly, why bother? Why even bother having children if we are going to be making their lives more difficult?

I don’t think you people will ever understand, unless you actually spend 4 or more years doing a science degree. You can’t know all that we know. It would take 4 years just to be able to explain it to you! On top of the many years we spend researching information after that.

Now apart from all the clear evidence, what kind of IDIOTS truly believe that the consequences of their collective, cumulative actions cannot not influence this world? I think the people that believe that deserve to become extinct. Really I do.

I for one am FED UP already.
Just completely fed up.
And I am speaking out.

Dr. Leslie Dean Brown
ex-materials scientist.
www.econazi.org

The true value of biodiversity.

Without insects, it has been said that most of humanity would die within a few months. Without trees and phytoplankton and thousands of other species with chlorophyll, we would all die.

Knowing that, I just can’t understand why billionaires such as Bill Gates are so intent on alleviating poverty in the 3rd world above all else. They make that their priority. In my opinion, it makes more sense to me ot protect nature first, and then when we have that sorted, let’s see if this planet can comfortably support more than 7 billion people.

So I think that environment should definitely be funded first. And then people. I have always thought that. Why do I think that? It’s not because I am cruel. It’s not because I don’t like people. It’s because people do not live in isolated bubbles. People depend on nature.

I think most people don’t appreciate this, but there’s another angle to valuing biodiversity (besides being fundamental for our own survival).

And it’s this. We still don’t really know how embryos form and develop. Sure we can characterise each of the stages of blastulation. We can draw little pictures of each step along the way. But it’s a lot harder to know how and why embryonic folding occurs. So what are there are underlying reasons that each stage of development occurs when and where it does?

I mean, it’s not really a ‘miracle’. Scientists don’t accept ‘miracles’ as answers. There are chemical and physical reasons why cells spontaneously split into two halves. A cell doesn’t just split into two because it feels like it. And there are chemical and physical reasons why this occurs. And from what little I have read on the subject in the book “How the leopard changed it’s spots”, it’s not due to the DNA molecules alone. In actual fact, the first splitting of a cell is caused by a concentration gradient that is set up inside the cell’s plasma. And according to this book, it’s due to flluctuations in calcium concentrations within that first cell.

Okay. Now we are getting somewhere. You might then ask, “Well what causes those fluctations then?“. Most likely, I would say, gravity. Because gravity is a force that acts in one direction relatively to a cell. So there are underlying reasons as to how embryos proceed to develop and they are not always to do with DNA alone.

And those are the real answers that science seeks. It’s not good enough to ask “which genes cause which traits?”. A real scientist wants to know how genes work. How do the chemical variations in a strand of encoded DNA produce the morphological changes? Now, I’m only talking very basically about this subject. It’s an extremely superficial discussion. And so if you’re a developmental biologist or a genetic engineer and you’re reading this, you’re probably laughing at me.

Where am I going with this? Well, until we know *exactly* what causes a rhinos eye to form where it does, or what causes a tiger’s stripes, or the forces that shape an elephant’s tusk, well, I think we owe it to nature to protect all of these things. Because they are a vault of information that can unlock life’s secrets. If we knew the answer to that, then we’d have at least earned the title of cleverest species.

Imagine if we could ‘program’ certain trees genetically to display a road signs such as a speed limits with differently coloured bark. Imagine if you could reprogram the tree to automatically change its bark pattern and display a different speed zone at differnt times of the day? That is all possible.

sustainable morphogenesis.

And I don’t simply mean “what genes are found in a rhino or a monkey”. I mean, what is it about those genes that controls protein folding? If we could create our own strand of DNA, could we predict what the resulting organism looks like?

From what little I have read on the subject, it’s not just DNA. The patterns and shapes seen in nature are caused by physical and chemical forces. Because one day it might be possible to make whatever shape we want at the mere press of a button. Imagine if we could simply grow an organic skyscraper. Right now I don’t think we are ready for that.

Just today, I learned that biology may even be taking advantage of quantum effects.

Even then, all these species are beneficial to us in terms of mental health. We also owe it to this world not to simply destroy everything in our path.

Dance to the tension of a world on edge

Have you ever noticed that we humans are becoming ever more stressed?

[/dropcap]W[/dropcap]e live in a world where the tiniest provocative remark can result in the most horrific retaliatory acts of violence imaginable. Look the wrong way, say or do the wrong thing and you could be the next target. Why is that so?

But many of us still don’t know why. “He must be crazy”, they’ll say. Why are people so stressed? Many people still can’t answer this.

Sometimes it is said that society itself is decaying, but no one knows why. I know that even when I studied science, I could never figure it out. I could never seem to connect the dots.

And then one day while I was travelling in Tonga, I came across this book with an intruiging title called “future shock”. I read it in about two or three days. It completely altered my world view.

[Read more…]

Today’s LinkedIn fun:

92e27cda-86a0-49d4-89bd-fc74b54d81fc-large

Catherine Puglisi

Global Warming comes to Chi Town! Sunday nite we dipped so low that they say it was colder here then it was o Mars. Yup, Global Warming is here!

Catherine Puglisi

Planet Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old (4,500,000,000 years before today). We have gone through an Ice age, flooding of our Planet and this was all before Mankind even entered the picture. The weather will change, with and or without Al Gore becoming a wealthy man by saying so.

Exactly but the myth is promulgated by convenient idiots

Kathleen M. Hart

Climate change has unstable and record highs and lows. That doesn’t negate global warming. Think outside of the box to understand science; it’s not a simplistic black and white, hot and cold theory. It’s a series of ongoing events leading to dramatic shifts in temperatures. Quite frankly, those who point to a few cold days on the calendar every year are simply not understanding what is going on around them. Its myopia.

No sh*t??? The moronic phrase ” think outside the box” in this case is ignorant and condescending.

@Scott Hulsey, P.E. No surprises there. You work in oil. So you see climate change as a potential threat to your income. Insulting people won’t change that observation either. ;-)

I think *you’re* the moron here Scott Hulsey, P.E. Yes, I am calling you a moron. In front of the whole world. It’s about time people like you were put in your place. And that place is “I know nothing central”.
I’m tired of people arguing about stuff they don’t even know about. If climatologists say the Earth is getting warmer. Then IT IS getting warmer. They’re not saying it’s turning into a freakin’ sponge shaped like a donut. It’s really should not be that hard for people to fathom.

I’m starting to realise that some people don’t even realise which side of the bell curve they are on. Smart people know that there are other people smarter than them. Dumb people think they know it all.

How about everyone leave the climate modelling to the ones who actually study it? (that’s not me by the way). Eh?

OR

Do yourselves a favour and actually read about it. Not just blogs. Science journals. Then you might be able to come up with a valid argument to support your claims.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Why do global warming deniers never ever deny the existence of photons, electrons or semiconductors? The same science behind technology? Why do you only start denying when you are asked to give something up? Like fossil fuels. That’s the real reason for all the denial. Because acceptance involves a change of lifestyle. And you’re not prepared to do that, so you merely bury your heads in the fucken sand about the whole thing. Great plan that. Great plan. Marvelous.

http://www.vidaenigmatica.org/2986-2/

Farming Mars

Another one wants to colonise Mars! Sorry, I can’t help myself:

Breakthroughs happen only when we stretch our physical limits

To make Planet Earth survivable, we envision what’s possible on Mars.

The Mars Farm Odyssey is an international consortium of like minds: companies, researchers, NGOs and government groups from the United States to China. We connect bleeding edge technologies and science in Controlled Environment Agriculture to feed a planet of 10 billion Earthlings at home and on Mars.

http://fluxiot.com/marse.io/

Whenever I see people talking about colonising Mars, I just have to speak up. And sorry for the language that is going to come, but I feel very passionate about this.

Dreamers! I think you’ll find that Earth, even in the “semi fucked” state that it’s in, is a far better home for people. Nicer. Easier. Cheaper. Better. Better ROI. Easier for people to adjust to.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there is not enough rocket fuel on this planet for 10 billion people… not only that, but the more people you get there, the more you are going to fuck things here. The fable “the dog and the bone comes to mind”.

And if it did work, if it was self-sufficient on Mars for a few hundred or thousand people, Marslings are only going to be telling Earth people about sustainability. They’d be telling *us* not to fuck our air, water and food supply. They’d be telling us to plant more trees and buy less stuff.

I think we should only go when we can do it sustainably.

Good luck with it, seriously. I wish you good luck. And note that I’m not saying it can’t ever be done. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

James Hansen:

Why I must speak out about climate change:

Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.

[Published on 7 Mar 2012]

Take a look at this latest graph.

Go on, have the balls to actually look at it:

nsidc_global_area_byyear_b-800x533

See where we are? We’re right at that point where we don’t want to be. That’s where we are. The appropriately red-coloured line that is beneath all the others (well beneath).

Look, I don’t claim to know much about climate science. I know about materials science. But if there’s one thing scientists know how to do, it’s to respect others’ areas of expertise. Especially the expertise of other scientists.

It’s a bit like the song:

“What you don’t know you can feel it somehow” — U2

We know that there are others who are cleverer than us. And we respect that knowledge.

So I admit that I don’t know how the Earth’s climate fully works. But this latest graph worries me. This graph worries me a lot.

Because its pretty darn obvious to anyone what is going on in this graph.

I don’t think the Earth is completely screwed just yet. But if we don’t change NOW, then it will be.

I think the Earth’s climate is remarkly resilient considering all we’ve thrown at it over the last century.

But all I know is, if man thinks he can change local environments —on a global scale mind you— without global consequences, well then he is sorely mistaken.

That is not the way this world works. That is not how any world works.

Because this is the graph of all graphs. This graph should be printed on the insides of all petrol tank lids.

Every time you wish to use your car, you should be thinking of this graph!

Every time you want to fly somewhere, you should be thinking of this graph!

Every time you eat meat, you should be thinking of this graph!

This is the “climate emergency” graph that James Hansen is referring to.

And what do I see? In reality? In reality, I look around today, and I see bugger all people talking about this problem. And yet it is a big problem. A very big problem.

People should be talking about this over their lunch break and their coffee break. And for some reason they’re not. They’re just not.

[Read more…]

Are computers infallible?

We all know that computers can “crash”.

But can anyone provide a really good explanation of why memory corruption occurs? And are computer calculations infallible?

Allow me to share with you a little story. When I was studying thermodynamics at university, a very strange thing happened: a relatively old computer essentially made a mistake!

What happened was this. We were in the laboratory, measuring a quantity for an experiment and then tabulating the results in an excel spreadsheet with the aid of an old computer.

But one of those cells refused to play nicely. It didn’t produce the appropriate result. It was way off. Not just a little off. It was way, way off. It was so far off we couldn’t help but notice it.

The excel spreadsheet has failed. Either the software or the hardware had failed. Something had clearly failed. How can the same mathematical algorithm generate one inconsisent result among many rows of similar cells?

We investigated further. We looked at the individual cells but the equations in each one were all identical. We looked at the references to the other cells and they were all correct.

I remember looking at conditional formatting, number format and a load of other things. Nothing. Everything should have worked. And none of us were excel juniors. We were advanced users! [Read more…]

Drumpfomania

I normally do not ever talk about polititics in the workplace.

But honestly, drumpf is the once-in-a-lifetime exception to that rule. Sometimes, you just have to speak up.

The thing is, America does not live in an isolated bubble. You depend on foreign workers and you also depend on foreign resources. America wouldn’t function like it does today without all the other countries on the map. Many Americans today seem to forget that.

But by far the worst thing about drumpf as far as I’m concerned is his complete lack of science knowledge. He can’t even answer the most basic science or environmental question without going off at a complete tangent.

And, by the way, it doesn’t make any sense that the poorer people voted in the richer candidate. People like drumpf do not care about working class people, they exploit them. The irony!

And another thing, bringing back manufacturing isn’t always the correct way to go. That is 1920’s thinking, one hundred years behind the times.

Why I am so concerned about the state of the world.

I am worried and very concerned, yes. My background is originally materials science.

From my perspective, the problem is that there is an environmental cost to every single material that you buy — be it gold, cotton, steel, or whatever. People forget that. The economy may benefit from materialism, but the environment certainly doesn’t.

Now, keep in mind that when I did my degree over 15 years ago, the ‘environment’ wasn’t even really discussed in that course. It was all about the properties and structure of materials.

First off, there is a lot of energy required to make materials. So if the country of manufacture uses coal power to generate their electricity, and they are not offsetting those emissions, then whatever physical goods you buy from them is contributing further to climate change.

Why? Because almost all materials either require either energy, heat, or other chemicals (which, in turn, require heat) in order to produce them. That’s a bit of a worry in itself. Because people are generally becoming more materialistic.

So for instance, hunters that shoot animals and think that is a ‘sustainable’ way of life, well I have news for you. If your gun is made of plastic or metal, where does that come from? It all comes from mines. And plastic comes from oil&gas. And your bullets. What are they made from? That too comes from mines. And the gunpowder contains chemicals like sulfur and potassium. And they have to come from somewhere too. And mines don’t last forever…

Currently, the manufacture of every single synthetic material results in carbon emissions somewhere along the line, if only from the energy that is required to create them. I think the correct term is “embodied energy”. [Read more…]

Someone posted this on LinkedIn…

537068b5-4af5-4240-98a1-48af74d7ba46-large

And here is my internet response:

Nice looking car BUT it still has exhaust pipes. Why?

*glares at everybody in the room* [that’s right]

For fuck’s sake, companies were meant to be phasing out the internal combustion engine more than a decade ago. I know that is not what you want to hear, and actually I don’t enjoy speaking out, but honestly, someone has to. Because in today’s world, this is bullshit. You should not be allowed to even build a 503 horsepower car in the year 2016, let alone sell it.

It may *look* cool, but it is most definitely *not* cool. Do you want to know what I honestly think? I think that while it still has exhaust pipes, no combination of advertising, graphic design or industrial design can make it cool.

It’s like mechanical HDDs. We know the technology is all but dead, but people still buy them.

You can make the exterior as stylish as you want, but if there’s still a fucking combustion engine lurking in there somewhere underneath the bonnet (or wherever new place you want to put it), you –as customers– should all turn your fucking noses up at it. You should all turn your noses up in disgust. You should put on a posh voice and say “oh, darlings, exhaust pipes are so 1992 don’t you know?”.

Now, you don’t often see scientists speaking out on such matters. We tend to shut up and stay in our laboratories. Stuck behind all sorts of weird instrumentation and computer-controlled devices. And I’ll admit that most scientists have always traditionally appeared very uncool. We were usually the clever ones who were picked on most at school. As scientists, we might know a lot of shit, but the trouble is, we don’t have the power to actually persuade anyone of anything.

Well not this scientist. This scientist has also recently studied design. That’s what makes me ‘dangerous’. And among other things, design is most often used to pursuade people to buy new products and services. There’s a conundrum here though because this scientist has studied science before design. What difference does that make, you ask? It makes all the difference. It means to me, science will always drumpf design. Not the other way around.

I believe that scientists (and ex scientists for that matter, because I fall squarely into that category) all have a DUTY OF CARE to planet Earth, to call out whatever they see as unsustainable. Otherwise, you non-scientists would all be whinging in two hundred years time: “Why didn’t you tell us anything a hundred years ago? Why didn’t you warn us then?”.

Well we are warning you, now. We are all waving our fucking arms in the air effectively saying “Danger Will Robinson, danger! Climate emergency!”.

Here’s the thing: we can’t appear too emotional, because we’re scientists. It’s our job to be as unemotional and as Spock-like as humanly possible. Right? Otherwise our data, our results and conclusions may be biased by our mere ‘feelings’. And we just can’t have that. We have to be as objective as possible. So we usually keep ‘feelings’ out of it.

But I think this is actually half the reason people are still not listening to us — because there’s not enough emotion in our collective voices.

Jesus fucking Christ. What more do scientists need to do before the world starts getting it? DO YOU WANT US TO SHOUT? Do you want us to dance up and down? What!?

Now, I know that 7999 people will most probably not like my reply. But there will be a few wise ones that do like it. And gradually, I hope that small percentage goes up with time. That is the purpose of me speaking out. That is the purpose of this blog.

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

Ok. I am sick to death of hearing people rubbish climate change at this very late stage. Especially by the people who contribute most (manufacturing/engineering).

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” …. down here on the Florida coast, the water-line remains the same it was fifty (50) years ago. Same goes for southern California, the high tide line remains the same as when I lived there in the early 1950s … hello Al Gore? you remain 100% wrong. The first thing that needs to be done is to ban any and all lawyers from any and all discussions about CC. — David Hubbell

David, I see you are a clever bloke. Engineers are always spouting off about how the world couldn’t work without engineering. Well ok. Fair enough. But it wouldn’t work without science either.

I put my trust in engineers every time I cross a bridge or catch an elevator. And you accept that your computer ‘works’, don’t you? So people put their trust in electronics every single day of the week. And who studies that stuff? Physicists. Materials scientists. That’s who.

But do you people ever question the theory behind semiconductors? No, because that enables computers. Do you question anything else to do with science for that matter? It’s these very same science and technological advances and principles that have enabled consumerism to spawn in the first place. These are the same people who invented MRI machines for Pete’s sake! And yet deniers say nothing about electron theory, magnetic domains or PN junctions.

What am I saying? I am saying that I think it’s time we showed the same level of respect for climate scientists. It looks to me the ONLY reason there are deniers today is that it means you have to “give up” something. And that something is called ‘lifestyle’.

Personally, I think that’s why you are on the denying side of the fence. Because if you accept what is happening, suddenly you’d have to take a long hard look at your own career choices. Because they contribute, don’t they? And you don’t want to do that, so you have these pre-conceived ideas about the world

Kindly educate yourself on the CO2 composition of the planet Venus and it’s surface temperature. And to all my connections, this is the real problem. The social intertia. That’s what I’m tackling here. It’s time to call out the bullshit “personal observations” for what they are. Personal observations.

Another climate change denier.

Ex-Scientist here. Look, you ‘deniers’ can’t go saying that just because one small stretch of history had faster warming than a more recent period, that that debunks the whole climate change argument. Because what is important is the TREND. The temperature can be dropping at nightfall, during winter, and even other events. But if the average daily temp is going up, and the average nightly temp is also going up, and the average summer and winter temps are also going up, then that is a WARMING TREND.

How many times do scientists keep having to repeat themselves, defending their own work? It’s ridiculous! I don’t see anyone debating with scientists about how or why the latest Apple iphone 7 works on an atomic level. No, you just accept that it does. You can’t take one part of science like the physics of semiconductors, exploit it, and then deny the other warnings from climate scientists and biologists. Because then you are cherry picking the fields of science that you want to be true… and science doesn’t work that way.

I think you’ve got to ask the motives of why some people still want to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus. And from some of the comments I have seen being made by climate change deniers on LinkedIn, it’s usually because they are working for oil companies, being paid bribes by oil companies, or own businesses that stand to lose money from climate change (such as construction companies, engineering companies, transport companies).

Why don’t we as scientists just come right out and say it?
Malcolm Roberts, you’re clearly an idiot.

On creativity. And Space Ace Jase.

Nautilus
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
What is the strangest thing you have ever heard?

When I was growing up, by far the funniest, most preposterous thing I had ever heard anyone say was this:

“I can kick a soccer ball to China”.

As kids, I can remember us all standing in the middle of the street. And we simply erupted with laughter.

Air, friction, gravity and power aside… it was the silliest thing I had ever heard anyone say. So forever afterwards, he was known in our circle as “Space Ace Jase”.

He had said something that none of us had ever heard before. What he said… he had said the impossible.

Looking back, you have to hand it to this kid – he was certainly creative.

And I can remember wondering, how did he think up such things? Kick a soccer ball to China… that’s ridiculous! Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

But then later in life, we realise we have lost a lot of that creativity we were inherently born with. It has been slowly eroded from us.

We are taught what to say. How to say it. When to say it. Why to say it. Where to say it. Which people to say it to. So we eventually lose that sense of silliness.

I think it’s because people seem to assume you dont need to be ‘clever’ to be creative.  It all starts around high school. All the nerdy, intelligent people do maths and science to get a higher tertiary entrance tank score. And science, engineering and maths don’t at first appear to be very creative, do they? They always rank higher than music, literature and art.

I used to get paid quite a bit but I found it all rather boring after several years. So you need to ask yourself: what does compensation matter if you /really/ don’t like doing it?

And then sooner or later we want to get some of that creativity back again…

So how do we become more creative?

I think creativity is simply doing something in some new way with something that has never been done before. Creativity is after all… simply creating something new!

Creativity simply means taking two things that have never been put together and just… whacking them together.

First off, have you noticed that parents often tell their children: “don’t be silly!”? They say something completely new and then they are promptly told it is silly. “Don’t be silly” you hear parents say straight afterwards.

Well I think in order to be creative, you have to be prepared to take risks like that. You have to be prepared to say something wrong. Just like kids. They are always making mistakes, but they are naturally very creative.

For me, being creative, maintaining my creativity —or better yet boosting it— usually means doing something differently. And doing something completely different each and every day.

Going somewhere I have never been. Seeing something I have never seen. Listening to sounds that I have never heard before. Or reading something I have never read before. Even feeling things I have never felt before. I’ll skip the sense of smell just to throw you off my sense-track-pattern.

So my best advice to you, if you want to be more creative, to do that, is to start doing things differently. If you have a choice, choose the option you don’t normally choose. Don’t go to the same old cafe. Don’t walk the same route.

Why do creative careers pay less anyway?

Being creative uses your intelligence in a different way. We should all be paid the same. The same as ‘clever’ people. Because I’ve noticed that clever people can actually be very uncreative. That’s why nerds are drawn to all sorts of comics. Becuase they can’t come up with that shit themselves. Am I right? Of course I’m right.

I am slowly becoming more creative and it has taken about 1-2 years to build that skill. I could argue that there is much more actual work involved in creating one of my illustrations than pressing a button and getting the results from a scientific experiment. What I mean is that there are many more minute decisions that have to be made. I should be getting paid more for illustration. But I get paid much, much less.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t seem to work that way. “Like anyone can be creative.”

I would say that if there is a theoretical basis for undervaluing creatives, it is because to be creative, sometimes you have to be prepared to make mistakes (you can’t please everyone). And people that make mistakes are sometimes not seen as being ‘creative’, they are seen as being ‘wrong’. And being wrong or silly doesn’t pay.

So creatives always get paid less. Or do they? If you think about it, professional actors and musicians are some of the most highly paid people on the planet. I’m talking way, way more than 200k salaries.

Well that’s it from me today,

Take care,

Les.

This is called “cherry picking science”.

A survey of more than 2,000 Australians by the Climate Institute has found 77 per cent believe climate change is occurring and 90 per cent believe the Federal Government has a responsibility to drive action on it. [source]

I say this to the other 23%. You know, the people that are about 2 decades behind the rest of the world.

Do you believe in phonon transport? What about PN junctions?
I never see people ‘disagreeing’ with other scientific discoveries (especially the many electronic discoveries that have made all of modern technology possible). And yet you put your trust in them every single day of your lives. Yet there is no ‘debate’ at all.

I think we all know here that most of the deniers these days are cherry picking the parts of science they want to agree or disagree with, based upon how much the outcome determines whether or not significant future changes would be needed in their own lifestyle choices. I.e big change required = non believer.

If I was a working scientist today, I’d probably want to go on strike.
We’re gettin’ madder!! And anger + scientists are not a good combination…

The collapse of Western Civilisation

A message from Naomi Oreskes:

Development is not progress

I believe we cannot save the world by simply buying things all the time.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.

Even if we all bought 100% eco things 100% of the time instead of the plastic crap that everyone buys today, they are still ultimately things and it will mean that the demand for timber and other eco fibres will go up further, leading to further deforestation elsewhere (more plantations of whatever crop, be it corn for renewable plastic, bamboo or hemp for fibres, etc).

Personally I think the only real ‘solution’ for the entire human civilisation is … to do nothing. And by that I don’t mean “don’t change”. I literally mean: do nothing. For people to simply work less. Work a four day week. Work a four hour week.

We should be more like the Aborigines! We should look up to the Aborigines! The original (and best) custodians of this land.

More sleep and more meditation. That’s the only hope for humanity, for people to be more mindful. And that is the best that I can think of (after several years of thinking I might add).

And I can tell you first hand that it’s very hard to live with less, because we have all been brainwashed with “more more more”.

Of course it’s a huge problem because half the global economy is based on blatant overconsumption. I think one of the best things I ever did was to live in Spain — it taught me to be happier with much less.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t all try to be more eco, but what I am promoting these days is simply minimalism. So I would rather buy a wooden broom than have a vacuum cleaner (for example). Because I see the broom as being much less wasteful over the long term.

Unfortunately, when you begin to look at where all of our starting chemicals come from, the industrial processes used to get them, and where everything else is mined from, you realise how big the problem is.

People don’t want mines in their own backyard. And so the ONLY other place to get them is the natural spaces that are left. That is a very big problem. If only because “accidents happen”.

From my point of view as a former materials scientist, I find that life is so special, we should be fighting for every shred of biodiversity on this planet. We couldn’t even hope to artificially make anything like near as complicated as a fly or a worm from first principles using artificial methods (without cheating using genetic engineering etc).

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