“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. :)

Anthropogenic global warming – truth or fraud?

“It is very disturbing when the amorality of scientists unites the immorality of politicians.”  Jurandyr Arone Maues

“amorality of scientists”? You’ve got to be joking! Now you’ve done it.

Do you think scientists want global warming to be true? No, I can assure you that we don’t want it to be true. I personally would rather carry on regardless with my affinity for fossil-fuel powered sports motorbikes, BUT I can’t simply ‘forget’ my science education. Can I?

First of all, we’ve already told you. Many times over. But apparently non-scientists are not as ‘logical’ as scientists. Other things seem to get in the way of your reasoning. Things like lifestyle and belief systems. Social inertia. Conspiracy theories. Conservatives. Religion.

We could come up with the most irrefutable evidence you could imagine and still there would be loads of people that would think “it’s all a giant conspiracy”. Because they’re hooked on vehicles, consumer goods and international air travel. Right?

Most people are almost born with this ideology that “work is good” and “work can’t be bad”. It’s indoctrinated into us all through our schooling and beyond. We’re all taught to “do something of benefit”. People who are brought up with religion automatically think “man can do no harm”. Wrong! We invented the thermonuclear bomb. I think everyone agrees that they’re very destructive man-made things.

And the thing is, nuclear bombs are essentially atomic-scale devices. We invented all sorts of poisons that can kill off entire ecosystems. Guess what? Poisons are molecular scale devices also.

Almost every single change or consequence in this universe is brought about by the small scale influencing the big scale. For example, my expertise is in materials (that’s how I know about IR spectroscopy); every single material you can touch is influenced by the arrangement of its atoms. Every single one. It’s the difference between charcoal and diamond. They’re both carbon-based materials. The only difference is the atomic stacking. That’s it. That’s why superman can squeeze a lump of coal and turn it into diamond.

I think deniers need to just stop already and take a much-needed reality check. And fast. Just leave your preconceived ideas at the door. Is it so hard to believe that what we do affects our environment? Is it?! If we keep on making changes at the *local* scale, and we keep on doing this *all over the planet*, that means we are *already* doing things on a global scale. Just because you can’t SEE all of those exhaust pipes in front of you, doesn’t mean they’re not contributing.

Likewise, just because you can’t comprehend how a tiny thing like a molecule can influence a whole planet, doesn’t mean it’s not happening either. We already know that changes in one scale can and do influence another. There are storms all over the planet Venus for example. Do you know why? Well according to planetary scientists, it’s because of its atmosphere.

Do me a favour, read this. That’s the link between CO2 and absorption of radiation. That’s the mechanism right there. There is no doubt about the IR spectra of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

But it’s not a question of one lone molecule, is it? Do you know how much volume of gas one tonne of CO2 represents? Do you? 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupies 557 thousand litres.

Now try to imagine the NUMBER of molecules. It’s right up there. Forget tonnes. Forget litres. Let’s talk about the actual number of molecules for a change. The USA emits emits approximately 71,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of these molecules every single year. Do you see how many zeroes that is? That is no exaggeration. That is a real number estimate that I have personally calculated. We are talking “duodecillions” of molecules here, all over the world.

Now granted there are a lot of molecules in a teacup (a lot less than this, I can assure you). But I hope that at least *some* people who read this can now begin to see how this goes from being a molecular-scale problem to a planetary-scale problem.

And not only that. We know there are tipping points. We know about chaos theory. We know about “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”. What the hell am I on about now? Well for example if Hitler had have got into art school, instead of being rejected, then there WW2 probably wouldn’t have happened. Would it?

And the thing is, we can see the carbon dioxide concentration is increasing all over the world. So that is measurable. And the electromagnetic spectrum of greenhouse gases are also measurable (and let me tell you, their repeatability is undeniable).

Next deniers will tell you that plants love CO2. And so does phytoplankton. Not according to this study.

Well sorry to alarm you, but forests and oceans can’t seem to keep up. Because if they could, the CO2 concentration would stabilise. But it doesn’t. It keeps rising. And the more forests we cut down, the higher it goes. Indeed, it should already be obvious. Because if they loved the extra CO2, they would already be making use of it.

Do you know what those little serrations are on this graph? I read somewhere that each one of those jumps represents and entire growing season for deciduous plants (because there are more in one hemisphere than in the other). And judging by that graph, you can even see that the leaves fall from the trees faster than they grow. That’s what that is.

Those little zig-zag jumps you can see are the effectiveness of the planet’s lungs. Each year they take a breath. And each year, it looks like they are suffocating ever so slightly more. You might say the concentration of CO2 might not matter to them. It probably doesn’t. But the fact is, global warming would still occur even without any trees, as it does on the planet Venus, the “greenhouse capital” of the solar system.

And this problem we are facing is no different to another anthropogenic global problem: ozone hole problem. Remember? Nobody denied that! And I’ll tell you why nobody denied that. Because it was EASIER to give up CFCs and swap over to a different aerosol propellant, wasn’t it? Simple. Done.

Try to realise that if the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t actually go on forever. It’s less than 10km thick. People commute more than that on a daily basis. Ethiopians walk more than that on a daily basis just to get enough water. It’s actually very thin when you think of it like that (as all astronauts and cosmonauts will tell you).

And that was what Carl Sagan was trying to say with his book “Pale blue dot”. Carl Sagan was truly brilliant at making ordinary people appreciate big and small numbers. Well I’m going to go one further than Carl. And I’m going to bring it right down to human-scale proportions. If the Earth’s atmosphere was condensed into a solid, it would be only 12.2 metres thick. That’s it. That’s all we’re playing with.

Now try to recall every single time you filled up your fuel tank. Can you remember? That’s 50kg or more at a time. If you had to carry that 50kg every time you filled up your car, you’d probably be more aware of the amount of carbon you’re burning. But it just flows up into the petrol bowser, down through the hose and out the nozzle without you even lifting a finger.

Now try to remember every single time you turned on a light switch or plugged something in. All that electricity had to come from somewhere too (like when coal and gas were scooped up by the truckload at all the mining sites dotted around this planet and burned in power stations that you can’t even see).

And now try to remember every single thing you have ever bought. Tonnes of invisible (invisible to you) carbon dioxide went into making all the stuff we buy. Tonnes. Incidentally, that is why the manufacturing industry doesn’t want to talk about climate change either (because they’re too involved in it).

Now. All that CO2. Have you planted that much carbon in the mean time? Has your garden grown and gained tonnes and tonnes of weight? Or has it been urbanised instead– chopped down and flattened? Has your soil got that much richer? No. The answer is “no it hasn’t”. All of that carbon has been taken from underground mines and dispersed into the atmosphere.

Try to think of all of that carbon being sprinkled onto the 12.2 metre frozen sea of air. Try to think of it that way. Try to think of all those duodecillions of molecules “doing their thing”. Try to think of it that way.

QED.

The life cycle analysis of an automobile is more than just the battery

In this article I’d like to talk about the life cycle analysis of a traditional car with an internal combustion engine compared to that of an electric car. I’m not actually going to perform any detailed life cycle analysis calculations, just talk about the number of additional parts that a petrol or diesel powered car requires compared to an EV.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. No one is saying that purchasing an EV car is ‘better’ for the environment than purchasing no EV car at all (and no petrol/diesel replacement either). Right? No one is saying that here, there or anywhere.

It’s nice that David Pilling has written about where materials come from when they buy an EV. But why not also write an equally-damning column on the materials that go into petrol powered cars? Likewise, it’s nice that Schalk Cloete has written about the hidden emissions of electric cars. But do the authors really think that petrol- or diesel-engined vehicles are any less exempt? That’s what pisses me off.

There are thousands of intricate moving parts that make up a conventional internal combustion engine. Thousands. In order that they function correctly, they require complicated electrical, lubrication and cooling systems. The first time I looked at my motorbike’s repair manual, I was shocked!

Let’s talk about how many individual parts there are in an internal combustion engine and compare shall we?

What about all the pistons, piston rings, driveshafts, camshafts, gearbox, valves, crankshafts, valve springs, fuel injectors, bearings, o-rings, timing belts, fan belts, flywheels, alternators, ignition coils, spark plugs, distributor, starter motor, fasteners, sensors, switches, relays, cables, wiring harnesses, oil pumps, water pumps, fuel pump, oil filters, fuel filters, petrol tank, radiator, exhaust system …I mean the list goes on and on and on and on!

My point is that none of the above mentioned parts are required in an EV. None. I will repeat that: none.

So fossil fuel driven cars are competing with a motor that has ONE moving part in it (well except for the ball bearings on the main drive shaft). So the internal combustion engine now is potentially at a huge manufacturing and environmental disadvantage.

The cost of manufacturing, moulding and machining all of those extra parts is huge! And they’re not made of crappy alloys either. What then is the environmental cost?

What about the lead in lead/acid batteries? What about the copper in the starter motor? And what about the aluminium in the radiator? What about the aluminium in the engine block and gearbox casing? Where do all these materials come from?

What about the Manganese, Molybdenum, Chromium, Vanadium and Nickel in all those hardened-steel moving parts inside the engine and gearbox? What about the energy that goes into mining, smelting, forging, forming, cutting, swaging, extruding, casting, injection moulding, machining, tempering, hardening, plating?

What about the environmental impact of building and maintaining all of the machines used in manufacturing, processing and production? What about the energy required by all of the machines on the assembly line? What about the energy required by the testing and tooling machinery to make sure all of the parts are within tolerance?

What about consumables? What about engine oil? What about the coolant? What about the battery acid? What about the transmission fluid? What about the gaskets? What about the grease? What about the air filter? What about the oil filter? What about the fuel filter? What about the environmental cost of changing those frequently?

None of those things are required with an EV either. None.

There are so many friggin’ parts, no one has even tallied up the environmental cost of them individually (instead they work out how much energy the factory or the entire transport energy sector uses). It’s a rough guess at best.

If EV cars were invented first, piston engined car would never have even been conceived, that’s how overly-complex they are to design, manufacture and produce. Of course EV manufacturers already know all of this, that’s why they’re all trying to jump on the band wagon now, because there’s potentially more profit in it.

Can you at least begin to see that it’s not just about the environmental impact of a lithium ion battery in an electric vehicle. And that it’s not just about where the electricity comes from? It’s much more ‘complicated’ than that.

Would fossil fuel proponents now like to sit there and calculate all of the life cycle factors and environmental impacts, taking into account all of the things I have just spoken about?

The bottom line is, you have got to be fuckin’ kidding me if you think combustion engines are more sustainable when everything is taken into account… and yes I really would hate to be the sorry bastard that gets lumped with all those calculations.

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.

Do you know what the scariest thing is? – self realisation

“Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. That’s… it’s just an awful feeling.” -Elija Price from the movie “Unbreakable”.

But what happens if and when you can’t seem to find your own unique, specific niche? I’m talking about major areas of your life, like employment. Your ideal partner? Your own distinct style? Your identity? Can these two states of overchoice and underchoice lead to mental health problems? What happens to your mood when there are an infinite number of things you could possibly do with your life? Do you begin to block everything out, deny existence of something?

I’m sure that for everyone, there are moments when it all seems like it is too much to bear. It seems to me that in this new information age, a lot of people are withdrawing into their shells, refusing to face the true reality of this world. Perhaps because of their online internet experiences. It’s called “future shock”.

We’re always reminded that people who can’t find a worthwhile niche are not much use to society. In this way, perhaps one completely natural & previously redundant “coping mechanism” (stemming for overchoice) is the occurrence of mild depression. We all know that chronically depressed people are obviously more prone to suicide. They consciously choose to eliminate themselves from their own suffering. It is a way of dealing with their own extreme level of internal conflict, self-pity, guilt and their perceived burden on society. But what if it is actually a subconscious choice that has already been programmed into them? Are the peers who have failed to recognise and treat their condition (just like they would any individual with another sickness) partly to blame?

Are we all making “nano-niches” for ourselves, in an attempt to fit into this new highly-customised, choice-oriented advanced consumer society? We now join online local communities such as forums, blog directories, facebook, dating sites, chat rooms. We subscribe to newsletters, RSS feeds. We can search for whatever we like with google, almost without limits. As individuals, we’re always searching to redefine ourselves, to find our life purpose.


No one can or should tell you what to do with your life. There is only one person who can decide and determine what you should do and that is you.

If you’re living your life trying to please someone else, you’re probably wasting your time. Sooner or later you will come to the realisation that the best way to please other people (such as your parents, your partner or your friends) is to be yourself. It’s fine to ask people’s opinions and sometimes they can know you more than you think you know yourself. I would say try and listen to that inner voice. Sometimes it is so soft, so quiet, it’s hard to hear it above the noise.

I often find myself asking these questions:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What do I want to do with my life?

When you are told very early on that you can do anything –to be anyone– choosing your own career path is never easy. So despite my little spiel about self-realisation above, this is my advice, should you choose to accept it:

Pretend you are retired. What would you do with your time — when time is most important to you?

Or Imagine you don’t get paid anything to actually work. What would you do with yourself then?

[look at the japanese overlapping circles]

 

 

What is environmental corruption?

Allow me to explain:

I actually see corruption a little differently from most people. Not only do I think that most of ultra-rich are in a sense “environmentally corrupt” (unless they give a sizeable amount of their wealth to environmental causes, which sadly, not a lot of them seem to do). For me when I use the term corrupt, I mean it in environmental terms, not in financial terms. A bit like how the QLD government has been accused of being “morally bankrupt” w.r.t the Adani coal mine. I’d hope they are not financially bankrupt.

But I also think that that the general population is in a sense ‘complicit’ because most of us pay taxes. Which is another way of saying: “yes, we 100% agree with what you are doing and we will even give you a large proportion of our money to you to help you to continue to do what you do”. This is why I think Aboriginal people are basically passively objecting and have always done so, because they don’t agree with the central way that government ‘works’. I am not even a part-Aborigine, but I think the majority of Westerners have a very flawed mentality of ‘sustainability’ and ‘development’ (and especially “sustainable development”). The whole point now is that we are trying to be more sustainable. That’s why it’s supposed to be an eco lodge and not some other type of lodge. But we never really ask the experts in sustainability for their advice. Right?

I have only been living in Bundeena for a few years. I also do not like the horrid construction around the Aboriginal rock engravings over at Jibbon Point for example. Why couldn’t they just leave it alone? Low key? No. They had to build all around it. It looks like scaffolding. It’s just that ugly. They had to use helicopters to help build it. Helicopters are not the most efficient transport vehicles ever devised, are they? They put some kitsch statues there made of metal with horrid stencil-like animal shapes cut out of them (well ok, they have probably been there a while). But were those works commissioned by Aboriginal artists? Not likely. My point is, all that concrete and steel had to be mined from somewhere else. I think many people in general see this kind of development as ‘progress’ — but I think we are going backwards.

Do you know what the saddest part for me is? That one of the most truly sustainable races on the planet Earth, the ingenenous Aborigines, have some of the highest rates of suicide on the planet Earth! In the case of Australian Aborigines, for one age group, 5x above average. I think we need to ask them for their help and stat. The highest suicide rate on planet Earth is not the Japanese or the Finnish or other Northern Europeans, it is for the Inuit peoples… 190/100,000 per year. That is quite alarming and indicative of our predicament.

Do you know what my shrink tells me when I tell her all this stuff? [Yes I see a shrink, no secret there, it’s the ones that don’t you have to worry about LOL] She says: “Who’s to say we’ll be here in another 500 or 1000 years?”. And I’m like: “Well that’s my point. Do we actually *want* to still be around or not? I mean, if the ancient Egyptians said things like that, we’d have been fuckéd several millenenia ago. Time has a way of catching up with us.”

I do see money as a form of corruption, yes. Why? Well here’s why. I have even heard first hand (about a decade ago) that ecologists are told to “tone down their report writing”. I suppose if they were really 100% truthful about things, nobody would hire them because not as many constructions would be approved…

For instance, one ecologist who was hired to report on this local Spring Gully construction at that the edge of the Royal National Park states:

“It is possible that, with appropriate management, the biodiversity of the existing vegetation could be increased – indeed this should be the aim of developing and maintaining a low-impact camping area.”

Well ok. But also says in the same report:

“the conservation value of the vegetation on the site has been reduced by fragmentation, as a result of residential development to the north and clearing for the night-soil dump to the south; and reduction in biodiversity as a result of past land use and bushfires.”

I.e. admits that reduction in biodiversity was caused by previous human interferance, yet now advises that it would be beneficial to put more humans there (rather than none). So now more ‘weeds’ will encroach even further into the RNP… Now imagine if the author *always* added this clause to every single ecological report: “we recommend that the area be left to regenerate for another 20+ years at which point biodiversity will be on par with surrounding regions” Would they be as likely to be hired for future work? I don’t think so.

Quite frankly I think we all know that the current political system “sucks” (if only in terms of the environment). I suppose it could always be worse though. They do acknowledge some things but then with other things like coal mining and whatnot it’s merely lip service.

So to sum up, I think if you’re working for some chemical company, or construction company, or engineering company, and you’re being paid a massive salary, then yes I see that as a form of corruption.

Bioturbation – worms at work

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.

 

 

 

Why am I a minimalist?

I am a former materials scientist. The first question I always get asked is: “what is that?”.

Materials science is the study of mostly synthetic materials such as metals, polymers, ceramic and composites. We study their physical & chemical properties and how they are extracted from the Earth.

I am telling you this because I think that people need to start listening to scientists. More people need to listen to more scientists.

That’s a two way thing. I think that more scientists should start their own blogs (and other mediums communication like that).

Right. So I am a former materials scientist. And do you know what I now think about materials? What I now know?

I think that everything that you buy kills some part of the world somewhere else. The metals in the electronics that you are buying come from mines and natural spaces have to be destroyed to get them. I think we have to realise that and remember it every time we go to buy something. We need to think about that whenever Apple tries to sell us some new product. Do we really need it? What is the environmental cost?

My view now is that the things that we buy have to come from somewhere. Ask yourselves where. Most plastics [polymers] in use today come directly from oil. Uh oh.

All metals that aren’t being recycled are mined. Mines are always built in the natural environment (just look what happens when they are not –like with coal seam gas– people complain their heads off and usually get their own way).

But the problem isn’t just big banks and mining companies. Because I think 99% of adults have simply forgotten where they get their stuff from. [Read more…]

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.

Is the weather becoming our enemy?

Every time I turn on the news or read a newspaper, it seems as if everything is against us, the Earth itself included.

Have you noticed that certain weather incidents are now portrayed as a bad thing? Don’t misunderstand me. When I say they are bad, if there are casualties, it goes without saying that a tragedy has taken place.

What I don’t agree with is the notion that that the environment has somehow reached enemy status. Like it has a mind of its own and it’s out to get us to teach us a hard earned lesson. No! It’s our friend for Pete’s sake. It’s the oxygen we breathe. We grew up here. It’s almost like teenage children rebelling against their parents! Here’s a thought: if you’ve driven a car today, don’t attack the weather afterwards like some kind of evil foe. We’re the ones changing the weather.

I guess unlike a lot of other things, the weather can be dangerous and we’re naturally afraid of that. Just witness the air travel chaos caused by the recently erupting Icelandic volcano (Tenerife is a primary European holiday destination, so we were indirectly affected by all the flight cancellations). But then people begin to react with fear & anxiety which stems from a threat which usually can’t be controlled easily.

I’m just waiting for the day when some bright spark proposes [seriously] putting a stop to these ‘human inconveniences’ by plugging that Icelandic volcano or some other grandiose idea to reduce the volcanic ash cloud. Because my biggest fear is actually the moment when humans do try to stop or prevent weather phenomena in order to create a more ‘stable’ environment. Oh wait, seems it’s already happening:

Climate intervention is a field so new that the senior scientists who attended the five-day meeting don’t agree on its name. Some are calling it geoengineering; others call it climate remediation. Either way, it involves complex –and, some say, ethically questionable– processes to reduce the impact of global warming. Like dispersing sulfur particles into the atmosphere. I don’t think we should do that… we might just get sulfuric acid rain clouds.

You may or may not be aware that us humans have a great history of fucking things up big time. And the bigger the scheme, the greater the fuck-up.

Sorry to say this, but whatever we touch, we end up destroying in one way or another.

Sometimes we’re so stupid, we don’t even know what we’ve destroyed until it’s too late. Sometimes we’re that ignorant and we’ll never even know what we buggered up.

Mark my words people, because the first thing scientists do before attempting to create an artificial ‘solution’ is to measure or characterise something. Some of the most powerful computers on Earth are dedicated to weather prediction.

I hope we never reach the stage where we try to interfere with Earth’s natural systems. It’s probably too late, since it looks like we have already kick-started another global warming phase.

I wouldn’t be surprised, for example, if some clever schmuck is right now devising an artificial gas halo to protect the Earth and cool it back to it’s natural level. Or they could extend the Earth’s orbit a bit and cool it down that way. If it isn’t clear already, I think that these sort of grandiose schemes are doomed to failure right from the start. Not because they won’t work, but because of the unintended consequences.

Journalists are not entirely to blame. You even hear people being interviewed on the street. Too much rain is bad, too much hot weather is bad, too much snow is bad. There is drought and at the same time there is flooding. But who decides how much is too much? In my opinion, the rapid change in weather patterns we see now probably are caused by humans.

I’m not convinced that we can fix our mistakes quite so simply. Anyone who thinks otherwise should probably read the book “why things bight back”… In conclusion, I think it’s our entire mindset we really do need to change not just our lifestyle.

On self driving trucks

I actually got my truck license a few months ago. It weighed more than 8 tonnes. No not the license, the truck!

And what I discovered was that driving a truck is way harder than driving a car. There are way more things to consider than driving a car. Length, height, width, load, stopping distance, being a courteous driver, defensive driving.

During the driving test, a large piece of polystyrene foam blew onto the road in front of my lane. I was quickly able to work out that it was not really any great threat, because of its low weight/inertia. And so I *didn’t* do an emergency stop and just rolled straight over the top of it. Are self driving vehicles able to distinguish truly hazardous obstacles from non-hazardous ones? I’m not convinced that the software ‘understands’ what it sees.

Would a self driving truck stop if live powerlines went down in right front of the roadway? Or would the software only see that as fairly harmless ‘lines’ crossing the lanes?

Does a self driving truck take extra precautions when a approaching a school zone? Or does it merely “slow down”?

Does a self driving truck take extra precautions if they see a drunk man staggering on the pavement outside a pub on a friday or saturday night? Or does it merely drive right past — oblivious to the accident that almost happened?

Does a self driving truck know when a sports car is approaching from way behind and give that extra bit of room to overtake?

Can a self driving truck actually ‘anticipate’ other dangerous scenarios? I don’t think so.

I can’t imagine a self-driving B-double or road train. Someone still has to unload the truck. Someone still has to accept the delivery. Someone still has to maintain the truck. Driving a truck is definitely not an easy thing to do. I can’t imagine how much code would be required to replace a truckie. All I know is that I do have a lot more respect for truckies now. A lot more.

 

This is my PhD thesis, today it is exactly 12 years old.

Untitled-3

If you’d like to read all about the structure formation of natural opal, this is one of the most complete models of opal formation available anywhere.

Here is the link:

Characterisation of Australian Opals — leslie dean brown

At the time I remember my supervisor said to me that it was one of the most well-presented theses that he had ever seen.

Not necessarily the results, but the quality of the illustrations and I guess you could say the “design layout”.

I always want to be proud of my own work and do things to the best of my ability.

Today I was able to open up my original word document file that was almost 12 years old.

To my surprise, it kept the original formatting and page breaks. And why shouldn’t it? Although I am not so keen on the changes that have been implemented to Microsoft Word between since then.

Okay so truth be told,the original word document came in at 281 pages and the printed copy came in at 282. So something was not right.

It turns  out that one graph had to be pushed down by one line and the original date was also restored. I was so paraoid that I would forget to change the date, the field updated itself automatically.

The reason I am doing this and sharing it again here is that my thesis was finally digitised by the UTS library this week, but the quality ain’t all that great, because it was rescanned from the printed page.

Hopefully google robots will scour my site, find the pdf and index it so anyone can access it.

So I’m deciding to generate the pdf myself (I never got around to doing that).

I i irony

Why do we try to minimise human physical work by any means possible?

I‘ve noticed that Western society totally idolises an athletic body shape but resents the physical exertion required to attain it.

As far as I’m concerned, every time you switch on any form of electrical equipment, you’re basically signing an invisible contract that reads:

“I accept that as a consequence of using this device, I risk becoming physically and/or mentally unhealthy.”

We choose to avoid using our muscles at each and every opportunity and then suddenly wonder why we’re obese. We drive to work, drive home and then drive to the gymnasium (if at all).

So many have become too lazy to cook or make anything for ourselves – we invent power tools & kitchen utensils to do it all for us. Take this scenario for instance:

Rather than whip a cake using a wooden spoon the old-fashioned way, we’d now sooner collectively sit in front of a computers all day long, earn enough money for a mechanical cake mixer which can do it for us (basically employing a whole host of product design engineers, entrepreneurs, the sales & marketing department, and everyone else who works in the wholesale and retail chain).

But in so doing, have we really saved any time? And is it really any easier? It certainly doesn’t sound any more efficient. That’s because it’s not!

Even so, we’re now sending a global message that we’d rather do things this way and “bugger the consequences”. We don’t even question why we don’t do it the old way anymore.

We basically do it because everyone else does. Is it the fault of employers who continually expect a higher standard of work? Or does the blame lie with the consumers themselves, who insatiably demand “the latest and greatest”.

We become irritated just thinking about the repercussions. What repercussions? We blindly swallow some kind of pill to mask the long-term consequences of doing things which are unnatural… be it for cholesterol, obesity, stress, or some other kind of “disease”.

Perhaps it is our own mode of thinking which is the true disease?

Despite all this, some of us would still rather be ‘fat’ & ‘schizophrenic’ than utilise our muscles. Is laziness a human condition, or what? These days, I don’t think of laziness as laziness, but rather, the ultimate form of sustainability. Perhaps laziness is good or us humans in the long term? Perhaps it is a long-term srvival strategy?

There is currently no international standardisation for comparing the mental health of different countries. Granted, this is a difficult thing to measure. But I’m willing to bet that there is a direct correlation between the incidence of mental health problems in a society and the amount of energy it consumes per capita.

As we rely on artificial machines to a greater extent, we also now tend to isolate ourselves from our natural environment. It’s as if the very purpose of technology is to extract our dependence on -our very existence in- nature itself. We are fast becoming co-dependent with modern technology. Take away our machines and I expect that chaos would quickly ensue. At the same time, modern man is writhe with mental crises; as a species, it seems as if modern [westernised] man is failing to adapt to an environment which we ourselves have created.

If ever I had a conspiracy theory, this would be it: that we are training the next generation to live without the presence of the natural world. We encourage this behaviour, either consciously or subconsciously, because we expect that the natural world as we know it won’t last very much longer. I find this thought horrendously depressing.

People today entertain themselves indoors with computer programs and plasma screens. It’s not real entertainment, it’s virtual entertainment. We even eat packaged, artificial food (okay although a part of it might actually be real, it certainly looks 100% synthesised).

We’ve augmented our communications with technology so much, that we are fast losing the ability to communicate naturally. We’re becoming completely dysfunctional. I don’t even need to go into it. Pretty soon, we won’t even be able to survive without anything artificial. Imagine, a species so ‘advanced’, that it can’t survive without its own creations. I find that incredibly ironic. Well, I suppose that’s why I call this blog Vida Enigmatica (Strange Life).

Ain’t life ironic – we can’t survive without technology now?

Future optimism scale

ext

Knowing what I know about materials, their effect on ecology and people’s obsession with consumerism, I give humanity a score of about, oooh, 2.9. (and that’s me trying *very* hard to be generous and optimistic)

And you can subtract 0.1 from that number for every decade after that.

The trouble I see is that people are becoming more and more disconnected from what they buy. They don’t see the impact that it is having on other parts of the world. They don’t see any direct or local impacts, so some people even think “everything is rosy”.

On top of that, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter and shorter, which is bad. We should be reward companies that sell timeless designs. Because there is less of an environmental footprint if you manufacture the same thing without any changes. Every time a part changes shape, moulds also have to change, that is not good for the environment. And the manufacturing phase of synthetic products contributes more to pollution than their end-of-life disposal.

90% of people refuse to even talk about it, like the problems will all magically “go away”. Cat videos get more likes on social media than most current environmental issues. And I find that to be quite saddening.

I don’t even think climate change or overpopulation is the biggest threat. It’s probably land clearing. We’re not even giving nature the chance to recover! If urbanisation continues, there just won’t be anywhere for other species to go! And it has been said that if insects disappear, we will soon follow. I think a greater threat to humanity is a mass extinction.

People should try to realise that if you put a great big hermetically-sealed dome right over the top of Manhatten, for example, it probably wouldn’t even work, because central park does not produce enough oxygen, and there is not enough space to grow food and get other material resources…

Probably the worst thing of all is the collusion between government, politics and business. The wrong people are being the most rewarded.

It’s not even 2100 that people should even worry about. It’s the centuries that follow that. With the current rate of deforestation, it’s not going to be a very fun world to live in…

Do keep in mind, I give [some] other species a much higher score than us, many an 8, 9 or even 9.9999 for some. But unfortunately, many many others (mammals and amphibians) will be, like, 0.1, 0.2 or 0.3. That’s really how bad it is. There are species out there with only a dozen specimens in existence.

Characterisation of Australian opals

If you’d like to read all about the structure formation of natural opal, this is one of the most complete models of opal formation available anywhere.

At the time I remember my supervisor said to me that it was one of the most well-presented theses that he had ever seen. Not necessarily the results, but the quality of the illustrations and I guess you could say the “design layout”. I guess I always want to be proud of my own work and do things to the best of my ability:

This is my PhD thesis, from 12 years ago.

Today I was able to open up my original word document file that was almost 12 years old. To my surprise, it kept the original formatting and page breaks. And why shouldn’t it? Although I am not so keen on the changes that have been implemented to Microsoft Word between since then.

Okay so truth be told, the original word document came in at 281 pages and the printed copy came in at 282. So something was not right. It turns out that one graph had to be pushed down by one line and the original date was also restored. I was so paraoid that I would forget to change the date, the field updated itself automatically.

The reason I am doing this and sharing it again here is that my thesis was finally digitised by the UTS library this week, but the quality ain’t all that great, because it was rescanned from one of the original copies.

So I’m deciding to generate a brand new, clean pdf myself (I never got around to doing that, because I was compeltely over it at the time). Hopefully the google robots will scour my site, find this pdf and index it so anyone can access it.

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.

The #DAPL war

Well seeing this just makes me want to design, invent and sell lightweight ecological shields for these people… does money really make rich people that happy?

I think in today’s world, the only valid use of fossil fuels should be for military vehicles and equipment. Because solar-powered fighter jets, rockets and tanks wouldn’t work so well. 

Oh wait, the military does actually use solar power sometimes … like when it goes “off grid”. 

Anyway, if we used 99% less oil to begin with, stopped the West wouldn’t even need a military force even half the size as it is today.

Corvette owner defends his purchase…

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“A guy looked at the Corvette the other day and said I wonder how many people could have been fed for the cost of that car. I replied I am not sure, it fed a lot of families in Kentucky who built it, it fed the people who make the tires, it fed the people who made the components, it fed the people in the copper mine who mined the copper for the wires, it fed people who make the trucks that haul the copper ore. That’s the difference between capitalism and welfare mentality. When you buy something,you put money in people’s pockets and give them dignity for their skills” — Anubhav Krishna

Yes that may well be true, but I say again, if everyone on the planet owned as many corvettes/helicopters/mansions at they wanted, for as many generations as they wanted, Earth itself would be really fúckéd (not the people, the planet).

If you understand all about the materials that go into your car, as you seem to, then you will also understand this. It all has to come from the Earth’s crust. So nature is what is getting fúckéd over here, not people. I say this as a former materials scientist. Perhaps a more relevant question should have been “what was the environmental impact of this car?”.

The real trouble today is that this capitalist/industrialist model is not at all sustainable in its current form. Just because it has ‘worked’ for a hundred or so years, doesn’t mean it will ‘work’ for another thousand (it won’t, it can’t). Apart from that, I find it SAD that people equate materials with success.

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:

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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.

“We made it happen.”

Industrial offshore history…

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WTF am I talking about? What am I whinging about this time?

Yes, I know. This blog is becoming like a diary of my personal life quest to maintain a strong sense of values, ideals that will hopefully lead this planet on to a better future, not a worse one. It’s becoming almost like therapy for me, writing this blog. Truly.

And so whether you’re a regular follower of my blog or a casual reader, here’s yet another whinge for posterity’s sake. Here’s what someone posted on LinkedIn today:

“industrial offshore history we made it happen …..gorgon”

And I really had to bite my tongue this time. Because this dude is a 1st degree connection. They’re talking about this project. I felt like commenting:

What exactly did you do?
Get paid to drill a hole underwater?
Take a blurry photo?
Bleach the reef?
Thanks a lot.
Thanks.

Hello! Global warming not mean anything to you? Hello?! For fuck’s sake. They’re fucking celebrating. *mutters further under breath*

These are the blurry faces, ladies and gentlemen, of seven dimwitted natural gas miners in Western Australia. Eight if you count the idiot who is taking the photo.

These are the lugheads who aren’t listening to the cleverest people today. I’m not talking about me. There are plenty of people who are smarter than me. They just don’t listen. Is it any wonder people are becoming so depressed? Is it?

Yes they may have a lot of braun –that’s pretty obvious from the photo– and they may work very hard in some truly horrible conditions, but they don’t have a functional brain between them. Haven’t got a fucking clue. They are probably be getting paid 100k, 150k or even 200k per annum. But where the fuck is their personal responsibility? Company accountability?

Let me tell you, future person from the year 2350, it barely exists today. It barely exisits. I feel like I’m on a planet full of morons. Can you believe that government authority actually allows this? They allow it and they encourage it. We have solar panels that can be refined from friggin’ beach sand, silicon being one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust, and an almost endless supply of photos coming from our sun. And people still insist on burning chemicals to get energy now.

Honestly, we’ve got a bunch of lying politicians making their own rules for government. We’ve got stupid nimwits like my local gardener (spraying pesticide all over the place, thinking he’s doing a good job). And we’ve got people being paid shiteloads to ruin mother Earth, which is currently our only fucking home.

Will this blog post eventually get pack to these people? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not aiming to be popular. I’ve noticed that people who were remembered in history, they usually faced an uphill battle their whole life. If nothing else it makes me feel better.

I’m trying to reinstate an indigenous tradition. Air, water, food first. Environment first, then business. Not the the other way around. You’d be surprised to learn that 99% of people today have it backwards.

I think I just cured myself of “gear aquisistion syndrome” (GAS).

A strange thing happened to me today. Desire left my body.

A B&H catalogue duly/dutifully (pick whichever word you prefer) arrived in the mail. Even though I never ordered one. I thought I would open in anyway. If only to separate the polyethylene plastic covering from the paper so that I could recycle it properly.

Now I will admit that one of my past times is photography. And about the only money I spend these days is on food, clothes and work stuff…

Nevertheless, I am living in the first world. And first world people are told to buy. To consume. We’re hardwired for it from birth. From before birth even. We’re not even born yet and there are presents waiting for us. As we get older, they make “infant sized” shopping trolleys.That’s how bad it is.

So I obliged and flicked through the thing. All 340 pages.

I know enough already to avoid catalogues at all cost. Because they make you want things. Unecessary things. Here are two great articles, one and two, on how to cure your GAS.

But this was my first B&H catalogue. My very first one. “Just a peek” I thought. “To see what’s new”.

Anyway, I was quite surprised to find that as I was flicking through the thing, there was not one item that I actually needed. And believe me, I looked quite intently. I looked at photos. I even scrutinised the product descriptions. More surprisingly, there was not even even one item that I  wanted to own. The desire was gone. Gone I tell you.

No USB 3.1 peripherals. No more usb hubs.  No thunderbolt devices. No thunderbolt dock. No ‘other’ computer accessories. No new mice or keyboards. No new routers. No modem. No high-end scanners and printers. No network attached drives. No portable wifi drive enclosures. No optical drive. No new SDXC cards. No cloud. No data bank. No more storage space required. No storage case. No software. No  ipad. No new drawing tablets. No graphics card. No new motherboard. No interruptible power supply. No power strip. No new lenses. No teleconverters. No filters. No new cameras. No new micro 4/3rds cameras. No large format cameras. No flash. No tripod. No parabolic slider. No underwater housings. No more spare batteries. No video equipment. No projector. No DVD player. No flast screen television. No curved screen television. No 3D television. No holographic television. No television bracket. No television antenna. No streaming media hub. No HDMI extender. No digital voice recorder. No microphone. No headphones. No rechargeable power pack. No audiophile cables & connectors. No turntable. No AV receiver. No speakers. No sound bar. No sound system. No graphic equalisers. No digital preamps. No joystick. No steering wheel. No GPS navigator. No dashcam. No thermal imaging camera. No night vision binolculars. No multimeter. No new smartphones. No bluetooth cradle. No cordless phone. No smart watch. No heart rate monitor. No sleep monitor. No activity monitor. No other monitors. No drones. No security camera. No alarm. No 3D printer. No 3D goggles. No virtual reality. No new bags.

I am done. I am done with consumerism.

I know none of it will make me ‘happier’. I already know. I am happy now, in this instant, with what I have. Happiness is not an accumulation of possessions. It is a state of mind. None of it will make me more productive, either.

I did want a 24mm Nikon AFD lens. Because my 12-24mm lens is “too slow” at 24mm (being f5.6), fairly large, fairly heavy. And my next focal length autofocus lens up from that is 35mm. Because it’s ‘only’ about AUD$400. And I was so close to getting that a few months back. But you know what? I know, wisely, that if I get that lens, it will always be “just one more”. So I am going to stop right here. 24mm is still very wide, too wide, for a normal lens. And I have a small little 28mm lens. I have a 35mm lens also. So that is enough. Enough is enough. “!Basta ya¡” (enough already) as they say in Spain. “ya está.” (that’s it). “Ya bastante.” (another way of saying “enough already”).

I am done and I am happy.
I am done and I am happy and I just wanted to share that with the world.
Leslie.

What is the goal of humanity?

What exactly are working towards?

Is the ultimate goal happiness? Or just to survive? Or something else?

This seems to be a popular question on the quora and TED forums. I’m sure most people don’t even stop to think about it.

It seems strange that your average doughnut factory has more of a business plan than the whole of humanity.

I think it’s because there seems to be some unspoken notion that at the rate we are going we won’t really even last more than about 300-500 years, let alone 50,000 or more years. So why bother thinking about it?

Talking about our long-term future is almost a taboo subject with some people. Why is that? Is it because we have no fucking idea at all what we are doing? Is that it? Are we embarrassed? Is it because we already know that we are ‘doomed’? No? Then, what?

If we are going to survive, I think it is worth thinking about. Otherwise you have to ask yourself “why are we working so hard now?” What’s the point of it? If we’re all so doomed already, why do we bother still going to work forty or more hours a week? Eh?

So we must be working towards something. We just don’t collectively know what it is (yet). And note that I’m not talking about an ‘afterlife’. I’m talking about what will become of humanity, the world, in one million years’ time.

Assuming something terrible doesn’t happen, wouldn’t it make sense to have a “humanity plan” that we can all refer to? A humanity plan might even give us a reason to avoid WW3, WW4 and WW5. A reason to exist.

We don’t really know what we are doing let alone why we are doing it. People are feeling lost, hopeless and depressed. I think that’s why there were so many volunteers on that Mars one space mission.

The hugely controversial Dutch-based Mars One mission has admitted that only 4,227 people actually completed its application form properly, rather than 200,000 … 202,586 applicants registered their interest online in 2013.

I think the first thing we need to do is not let go of our hope. Because that’s what most people [adults] tend to do in fairly hopeless situations, isn’t it? They lose hope and then they give up. I think we need to try to remain optimistic about the future. Hope is what normally keeps us going. Hope is what motivates people. So let’s start by hoping for a better future, not a worse one. I personally think that there is hope. Not a lot of hope, but maybe –perhaps– just enough.

Hope starts with an idea. A dream, if you will. Visionaries inspire us all. Because now is the time to choose. Are we even working towards the same goal?

I ask google and the people who are asking these questions are individuals. Not governments, but individuals. Shouldn’t there be some kind of a long-term “mission statement” for each country?

Even the ancient Egyptians had more of a plan… build pyramids…

I think we need a one year plan. A ten year plan. A hundred year plan. A thousand year plan. A ten thousand year plan. A hundred thousand year plan. A million year plan. It surprises me that our entire civilisation is wandering almost completely aimlessly through time.

For example, do we want to be so addicted to technology? Won’t we become a bit borg-like if we continue unabated down that path? Is it even sustainable? Can we even know? Do we need to know? Can we still have a plan that encompasses future discoveries and inventions?

To answer this question, I think we need to ask ourselves a very important question: What de we want to become? What makes us happy? If we didn’t have to work, what do we want to do in our spare time? As soon as we know that we will know how we are going to get there.

What do you, the reader, think the goal(s) of humanity should be?

Green economics

What is happening to the world?

In short, most people refuse to act, because they’re be too busy justifying their need for a high standard of living, blaming governments for the situation, & avoiding the underlying social & environmental crises. This sounds like an inescapable viscous cycle to me.

Yes its all been brought about by greedy 1st world nations. Blatant consumerism- which capitalises on the latest scientific advances and all the while fueled by governments who only think in short term economic gains. The first need is to communicate the problem. The next requirement is change. People are afraid of change, but to me it seems the world is changing for the worse anyway.

Anyone who has read Schumachers book “Small is beautful” will know that over the long term, what we are doing to planet Earth surely must be considered uneconomical. Are people so afraid of change now that they’re willing to bury their heads in the sand about the future repercussions? I think where we’re headed, the changes will be a lot more daunting than the thought of giving up our most prized possessions. Chaos will be surely covered in one of my future articles, but who wants to live in a world without nature?

TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC WORKING PRINCIPLE:

  • There is a general consensus that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour
  • Businesses & Governments maximise profit, consumption and therefore economic growth
  • Employers maximise labour effort (bosses expect their “pound of flesh”)
  • Employees minimise labour effort (to work is viewed as a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort; wages being a kind of compensation)

BUDDHIST ECONOMIC PRINCIPLE OF WORK:

  • Work gives each person a chance to utilise and develop their [unique] faculties
  • Work enables humans to overcome their ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task
  • Work provides the goods and services needed for a becoming existence [creativity activity is vital]

The former, in short, tries to maximise consumption by the optimal pattern of productive effort, while the latter tries to maximise human satisfactions by the optimal pattern of consumption. It is easy to see that the effort needed sustain a way of life which seeks to attain the optimal pattern of consumption is likely to be much smaller than the effort needed to sustain a drive for maximum consumption.

It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them.

But what can we actually do about it? Firstly, don’t replace things before we need to; repair them if necessary, use them until they can no longer be repaired. Yes, there is some real satisfaction to be gained by owning things that last through time. Do we need the latest 3G phone or mobile electronic device? Buy services, not products.

Why I love books and hate iPads.

I don’t own an ipad. I never have. And I never will. And I’d like to share with you why that is…

Why? Because I’d rather read a book, that’s why. A book doesn’t need batteries, and –if anything– supports the growth of forests, which in turn is providing oxygen to our Earth’s atmosphere [as opposed to mining and extraction industries, which are needed to make an ipad].

I’m not so sure that “virtualising everything” is better for the environment. Is it? I choose not to own an ipad/kindle. I buy real, physical books instead. Partly because I believe that keeping books is better for the environment. Partly because I still like to read real books. Yes they are made with paper.

When the tree is growing, it is giving us oxygen and taking CO2 out of the air. It is life-giving. Can the same be said of metal extraction, electronic component manufacture & final assembly? No.

Yes books require physical transport. But they don’t require a supply of electricity. They don’t require me to keep an additional device (and subsequent replacement devices that supercede the original ones).

Books don’t require continual minining + extraction of all the elements, chemicals and compounds that go into manufacturing electronics.

A book is biodegradeable and compostable. In that sense it is *completely* recycleable. Worms and other insects will willingly eat books. For free. They will organise themselves. They will even eat around any of the plastic parts they don’t want. And their crap can eventually be used to make more books.

So once I am finished with a book, even if I can’t resell it, I can always burn it or compost it. What is really the liklihood of us making biodegradeable or compostable electronic devices? We are a long way from that; the way we are making them now is not at all sustainable. To my knowledge, we do not recover any of the elements from a circuit board other than gold. That right there is very wasteful. So right now I try to avoid all electronic devices like the black plague…

A book costs less than a meal. You could even eat the pages of a book if you wanted to. You can’t really do that with electronics because they are too toxic… *many* of the organic chemicals used in plastics manufacture are carcinogenic.

A book already has a 300dpi interface. A book doesn’t require batteries. A book doesn’t go obsolete. You can pick up a book several hundred years after it was put on a shelf and start reading. Will you be able to do that with your ipad?

Books don’t have start-up and no shut-down delays. You just… open and close the cover. It’s a physical thing that you can touch.

And as for ipads vs desktops vs laptops, I do my [real] work sitting at a desk. Why would I want to use a *smaller* screen? Why? Why would I want to use something that is *slower*? Why would I want to use something that can’t handle half of my software? Why would I want to use something with a smaller keypad (or no keyboard at all)? Something that cranes my neck every time I look down at it? Ditto for laptops replacing desktops.

And that’s great. Microsoft has invented a computer the size of a pack of gum. Fantastic! But seriously, I’d rather go for a nice long walk [yes without the earphones I might add] rather than sit in front of yet another screen… Because sometimes it is nice to disconnect completely.

“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.

LinkedIn has hit a new low.

I have been very vocal on LinkedIn defending the Earth. Who speaks for Earth? Animals and plants can’t defend themselves and if miners and developers had their way, there would be no natural spaces left.

I choose LinkedIn because that is the place to influence the most powerful people. Not facebook or snapchat or whatever.

Now it seems LinkedIn has hit a new low. Because last night I was told by Thomas Bohlmann:

“leslie dean brown that is OK Humanity is not going to pay you to live or eat. Time to get real job and make a difference in your life. families lives and make a difference in your community.”— Thomas Bohlmann

Such arrogance. How rude. How inappropriate. It was on this update. Unbelievable that someone would try to undermine anothers’ work choice on a work platform.

I think that’s funny that illustration is not valued by some people. Who do business owners go to when they want to lure back more customers or grow? Well, they go to designers. And if it’s really important, art directors. Creative directors. Creative officers. And who do they then go to? Artists and musicians. That is the only way to bring back a company from the dead. Make a commercial or redesign it.

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.

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).

[Read more…]

26 reasons I won’t buy the Apple Watch!

a) I already own two watches (which I think is one too many, but one was given to me and I might feel a bit guilty if I sold it).
b) I only wear a watch when going out
c) I just want a watch to do one thing and that is show me the time and nothing else, not even the date (I’d prefer to ask somebody what the date is, because if I need to know the date, it’s because I’m filling in a form and there is always someone there… otherwise, what’s the point of even living in a society if we never need anyone’s help with anything?)
d) All Apple watches appear to look identical. Where’s the identity in that? What’s next? The iShirt? iPants? iSocks? iShoes? Oh wait. I probably shouldn’t have said that…
e) I don’t actually want to be like other people. I’d rather be me.
f) Ever since reading the book “Future Shock”, I try to make my life simpler, not more complicated
g) It’s one more thing I’d have to recharge… and I don’t even like putting a new battery in a normal watch once every two years or so
h) I don’t want to own another screen, there are too many pixels in my life already.
i) I can’t be bothered learning something new (I’m very lazy and forgetful)
j) It’s too expensive for me and I’d have to work harder to afford it (I’m getting lazy)
k) I happen to like physical things like watch hands and cogs. I don’t want to see fake digital watch hands.
l) I already know it won’t last as long as a normal quartz-crystal watch. Because the smaller the internal parts get, the less reliable they become.
m)Both of my current watches still work
n) It’s thicker than either of my current watches
o) It’s heavier than either of my current watches
p) It’s not made of truly eco-friendly materials (or anything special)
q) Apple does not give back to the environment what they take out (they hardly even pay tax)
r) I don’t even like the look of it.
s) It’s not that I don’t like the look of it. It’s that the more I look at it —and I haven’t looked at it much— the more I find the design to be ugly. Especially the knob on the right. And even if it didn’t have that knob, it’d still be ugly. Ugly!
t) I know it won’t make me any happier (in fact I know owning it would probably make me less happy)
u) I’d rather look away from my wrist… at something I’ve never seen on the street
v) Apple is not a Cradle2Cradle certified company (and probably won’t ever be)
w) It’s probably not endorsed by the Ellen MacArthur foundation either.
x) I’d rather give a thousand dollars to the IUCN
y) I don’t need it
z) I don’t want it (and I generally feel that consumers are being brainwashed by too much branding)

Here’s something manufacturers and industrial designers need to think more about: backlash on planned obsolescence.

If there’s one thing in this world that I can’t stand, it’s companies like Microsoft and Apple…

Who seem to make things go obsolete well before their time. And no one can tell them not to. They just keep getting away with it. Why? Probably because they make a lot of money getting away with it. That’s why.

But there are no laws to stop them getting away with it. And what this materials scientist thinks right now is “by fucken oath there should be [laws to stop them getting away with it]”. That is coming from an ex materials scientist. Right.


I think you all know what I am talking about. I’m talking about ‘old’ printers that don’t work with newer computers simply because the ‘drivers’ have ‘issues’ with the “operating system”. I’m talking about new software that won’t run on old hardware. I’m also talking about new hardware that won’t run old software. I’m talking about Apple’s proprietry connectors.

Let me tell you a little anecdote. I can even remember my dad saying about 15 or 20 years ago way back when I was a kid that Apple (you know, Macintosh it was once called) forced you to use their special cables and connectors, and thus were able to charge a premium.

At the time, I took what he said with a pinch of salt. I thought “well it’s their computer system, I suppose they would want to do that. Who can blame them?”. But now, fast forward twenty-odd years and my old man is dead [RIP, he died last year] and what he said to me in the 1990’s is looking even wiser now than it did when he said it all those years ago. Because it just so happens to be true. This man, my father, would be 90 years old if he were alive today. He was old but he knew something that I didn’t. That something is called ‘wisdom’ and all early adopters from what I’ve seen tend to suffer from a severe lack of it.

Back in the day, we used things called serial ports and parrallel ports to plug in our printers. So they got the information from one cable and they got their power from another completely separate cable. The thing is, they were slow. Really slow. But when USB came along, all those printers and mice and things became much less useful. The same thing happened to compact discs when Apple decided not to include a CD drives on their latest desktops.

People will always need to buy new peripherals to work with new plugs on their new computer system. That is now happening with USB-C connectors. Do you want to know what I think? I think USB C can go and get fucked, that’s what I think. All of my stuff (two external hard drives, external sound card for microphone, graphics tablet, mouse, wireless solar keyboard, external webcam, flash drives, the entire bloody lot is USB2 now isn’t it?). USB2 and it is plenty good enough. I’m sticking with it.

Yes, I’m talking about Apple ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack on it’s newest smartphone. Now, keep in mind that I don’t even own an Apple iphone. In fact I have never owned an Apple iphone. And here I am, compelled to write a blog article about how narky it makes me feel. Because knowing what I know, I probably won’t ever own an Apple iphone. I’m writing this from an imac retina. I don’t own an ipad. And right now, that is the way it is going to stay. After buying just one Apple product, I’m fast becoming anti-Apple. And the headphone jack decision is my last straw. It is the catalyst to me becoming “anti-Apple”.

So I’m going to just say it here in black and white. I’m going to share with all you strangers the reason it makes me so narky. Because this is my blog, my little ‘space’ and I can say pretty much whatever the hell I want. Right? There’s this thing called “free speech” in the West that not enough people take advantage of… this is vida enigmática… [Read more…]

Our environmental footprint

Most of the global economy is based on the idea of selling physical products. And if you’re not selling something yourself, your clients are people that do.

B I’ve noticed that in some environmental discussions and debates, Westerners automatically assume that their country is less polluting than poorer countries. I don’t think pointing the finger at China really helps. And here’s why:

I think our blatant consumerism in the West doesn’t compare favourably to the third world, because all of the things that we buy have a kind of “environmental footprint” if you like. And note that I’m not even really talking about CO2 emissions here (even though the US carbon emission per capita is 17.56 metric tons while that of China is ‘only’ 6.19 metric tons per capita). Carbon is not the only element on the periodic table although it is the one that goes into the atmosphere more than the others.

If China pollutes rivers or whatever making loads of stuff for the West, who is really doing (causing) the polluting? The chinese manufacturers? Or is the Western consumer demand for those products ultimately to blame?

My main backround if materials science. One of the more eye-opening subjects I found out about (in terms of environmental degradation) is called “extractive metallurgy”. Extractive metallurgy is the study of chemical processes that we use to extract an refine metals from their ores. Basically, in a nut shell, all materials have to come from somewhere. Ususally it’s either the Earth’s crust itself or sea water.

In most of the processes, you need either need huge amounts of electricity and/or high temperatures and/or huge amounts of other chemicals to obtain the desired elements and/or compounds.

For example, here is just one of the many steps in the refinement of germanium:

GeO2 + 4 HCl → GeCl4 + 2 H2O

In this step, the reactive gas chlorine is being used to make germanium more reactive. So chlorine, which is toxic, is used in one of the processes to extract the element germanium from its oxide. Okay.

And here is just one of the steps in tellurium refinement:

HTeO−3 + OH + H2SO4 → TeO2 + SO2−4 + 2 H2O

In this step, sulfuric acid is being used to make tellurium more reactive. Okay.

And where are germanium and tellurium being used you ask? They are two semiconductors that are the basis for integrated circuits and other electronic components in all sorts of electronic devices. Not so good.

In fact, many other nasty chemical compounds are used in the extraction, refinement and manufacturing industries. Many others.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think the worst offenders are the electronic consumer devices, simply because they contain the most number of hard-to-extract elements. The harder-to-extract elements require more chemical treatment steps. That’s just one of the reasons why they these elements are so expensive (not just that they’re rare). In fact I can probably go so far as to invent a new theory, which goes something like this: “the higher the unit price of an element, the more damaging its extraction process is to the environment.” But I digress…

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of chemical elements used in computers and extracting them from the ground and processing them taxes the environment (especially when you consider all of the planned obsolesence we see today). Our current way of life creates more and more electronic waste that cannot be recovered or recycled (except perhaps the gold bits)

I recently asked a few questions on Quora and I’d like to share those questions and answers with you now. Listed here are some of the toxic chemicals and semiconductors that are used in electonic decices. Go on, take a look. Can you begin to see how big the problem is now?

The point is, nasty chemicals are used at all steps of the extraction and refinement process. We just don’t ever see them being used in industry. Oh but they’re there alright. They’re being used all the time.

Suffice it to say that if Westeners think they pollute the Earth less than a typical 3rd-worlder, in my eyes, they are sorely mistaken. [Read more…]

The problem with science

I think the problem is not with science, but with the entire 1st world civilisation.

Science is great and I don’t fundamentally disagree with any of it – but it doesn’t have any guiding moral or ethical principles. One problem with science right now is that scientists invent things without thinking through all of the possible consequences. And then some kind of “revenge effect” inevitably bites them in the arse later on down the track.

Another big problem is that businesses can take hold of any scientific discoveries and innovations they feel like and just exploit them for all they are worth.

So we know that this society will all too willingly absorb any new scientific knowledge into profitable new enterprises. Well ok – not so big a deal you might say – and it’s not. That’s the benefit of science. Right? Yes.

But then when those same scientists turn around and say: “No, now you are all going to have to change the way you do things, because we’ve figured out that this is not a sustainable industry” or “it turns out there’s this horrible side-effect”, no one listens. Not the people working for the industries, nor the people buying products from whatever those industries happen to sell.

So basically everyone is using the results of science whenever it suits them, and they are not heeding many of the warnings that science is giving…

People willingly accept, take and use the scientific discoveries. But the very same people never as willing to relinquish those very same inventions. Are they? [Read more…]

In the future we will engineer termites to build skyskrapers.

Yes. In the future, I can confidently predict that we will engineer termites to build skyskrapers.

Because in the future, we will start to realise the power of “bottom up” systems of engineering. Currently, we do everything from a “top down” perspective. What does that mean? We start with a mine, dig that up, we then crush and grind the ore down, melt it, form it into large slabs of metal which then get progressively smaller as they are processed. Yes, we even obtain the metallic powders that are used in 3D printing this exact same way. This is a most inefficient process.

Nature does it the other way around. It uses local materials obtained from trace chemical elements and is then able to organise, redirect and assemble those individual atoms and molecules to build its own structures, in situ. It does this without any “larger scale” instructions or guidance. And it is able to replicate itself on top of that. So the more I think about it, the more evolution amazes me.

I read this fascinating book in 2014 called “Emergence”. And one of the traits of nature is that it has “emergent” properties. What does that mean? It means that complex systems or behaviours can arise from relatively few simple rules. In other words, it is “self assembling”. Organisms can do their own thing seemingly without any intererence from the outside world. Wouldn’t we like to be able to do that? Here is where we are currently at:

The other marvel of nature is that everything is an “ambient temperature process”. Think about that for a moment. Practically every synthetic material we produce today requires some form of heat to manufacture. Metals must be smelted. Ceramics must be fired. And plastics must be obtained by “thermal cracking” of crude oil. Sure there are a few exceptions, such as sol-gel technology.

Imagine for a moment a “homogenous” material with different chemical, thermal, electrical and physical properties along its length. In other words, a single material that was flexible at one end and rigid at the other, without being formed from two separate raw materials. If we could get that to happen, spontaneously, then I think we would be quite a clever species. Because an invention like that would literally change the world.

Imagine tyres that increased their coefficient of friction and gripped more in the wet. Or indeed, slicks that morph into treaded tyres in the presence of water. You see, from what I have read, I think all of that is ‘theoretically possible’, but the more biodiversity we lose, the less chance there is that it will happen. That is why protecting biodiversity is so important, so we can understand how genes work to create any morphology and material properties we desire.

Is a ‘circular’ electronics industry possible?

I think one of the biggest problems that humanity will face in the not–too–distant future is a lack of synthetic biodegradeable semiconductors.

Okay, so I’ve put that thought out there into cyberspace and now I suppose I should explain it. Why do I think this is going to be such a problem?

As we are all too much aware, human civilisation is fast becoming dependent on technology. You might say that the 1st world is already highly dependent on technology. And a big part of current technology includes electronics devices. Electronics drive everything from robots to computers. Without electronics, we go back to the analogue era. I’m sure that I don’t even need to explain that any further, do I? Without electronics, we’re screwed.

So earlier this year, I asked two questions on Quora:

  1. What are the main semiconductor compounds used today?
  2. What elements are used in the manufacturing of circuit boards and electronic components for consumer electronic devices?

It doesn’t make any sense to totally rely on something that we can only make in limited quantities, yet we are doing just that. Because the trouble is this: the way in which we produce electronic devices today is completely unsustainable. We mine the Earth for new minerals and the only element we recover from all of our electronic waste is gold (well, okay, we do sometimes also recycle lead and copper). But what about recycling all of the other elements that are used in electronic components?

Are we recycling tantalum? No. Are we recycling indium? No. Are we recycling gallium? No. Are we recycling arsenic? No. Are we recycling cadmium? No. Are we recycling selenium? No. Are we recycling tellurium? No. Are we recycling germanium? No. Are we recycling samarium? No. Are we recycling neodymium? No. Are we recycling niobium? No. Are we recycling antimony? No.

[Read more…]

What is wrong with Australian society today?

I’m going to do this in point form because we are doing so many things wrong it isn’t funny. I think we can teach third world countries what not to do:

  • When someone is born, we say ‘congratulations’. For what? Contributing to overpopulation? For having ‘successful’ sex? For doing what every single one of our ancestors has done for the last few million years?
    How about congratulating people for not having kids? For breaking our genetic programming? Eh?
  • We give frequent flyer points to people for travelling more. We then reward those people producing more carbon emissions.
  • We cut down forests and then build coal mines in their place. We then send the protesters to jail.
  • We drive to work and then visit a gymnasium afterwards to exercise. Inside the gymnasium, we use machines that, instead of using the energy derived from our own motion, plug into electric sockets instead (powered by yet more coal).
  • We make houses with TRIANGULAR roof shapes and then put SQUARE solar panels on top of them.
  • We only vote once every four years, so unfortunately we contribute tax payments to governments schemes and government-approved projects that we haven’t even voted for.
  • We are trying to be more ‘sustainable’ society, but unfortunately many Australians secretly think that Australian indigenous Aborigines are ‘lazy’ when they are really experts in ‘sustainability’.
  • We encourage our younger generation to be hooked on consumerism by giving them mini trollies in hardware stores, supermarkets and shopping centres.
  • We put profit above all else, including the environment and our own health and sense of wellbeing.
  • We try to make second-world countries more like us when we should really learn to be more like them (because they are way more sustainable than us)

What this angry scientist has to say about climate change:

Here I go again… why am I angry? Do scientists even get angry? Yes. Yes they do. Well I am angry. Very fucken angry!

I‘m angry at politicians in the mainstream parties. Because they aren’t doing enough to mitigate an environmental catastrophe. Most politicians today only care about one thing: money. The economy. Whoop-de-doo.

Scientists, if you remember from highschool, are the clever people. They are the nerdy ones with poor social skills. You’d think most countries would be run by the smartest of individuals. Are they? No. See, I think that’s where we’re going wrong. Our countries are run by politicians.

Likewise, I am angry at climate change deniers. Because they are now claiming that “climate change is a government conspiracy” (right, well if that is true it has to be the dumbest conspiracy theory I have ever heard, because the governments are the ones who support burning coal for fuck’s sake!).

Actually, I lie. Half of it is worry, not anger. For example, what’s actually worrying is that some people think an average temperature increase of a couple of degrees in only a few decades is at all “natural”. What’s worrying is that some people still don’t seem to grasp the concept of “rate of change”. I have seen on LinkedIn that the biggest climate change deniers are frequently either working for oil companies, have a vested interest in contruction, or are simply “uneducated fools”.

I find some people’s responses to climate change infuriating. Scientists are (mostly) a VERY clever bunch of people. If climate scientists are ringing alarm bells and making videos like this one, it’s enough to make me pay attention and completely change my lifestyle.

Right. I’ll say that again, but in a different way, because it bears repeating. Because I know that people skim read things. When the leading climate scientist, James Hansen, says (back in 2012 mind you) that we have a climate emergency, well, it’s enough to make me sell my vehicle. It’s enough to make me think up a new career choice, about how I can make the world a better place for future generations to come…

In science, we have to have a kind of ‘faith’ too. Scientists have faith in other scientists. We mutually respect each others’ fields of expertise. If I were to say, as a materials scientist, that magnesium has a hexagonal close packed atomic structure, I would hope the other scientists would give me the benefit of the doubt about that. And that is how the whole science community works. Things are checked and rechecked. Publications are reviewed. These people are working on these problems their whole lives. [Read more…]

On cyborg technology | Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

Sometimes I wonder: what is the future going to look like in 100 years? 1000? 10,000?

If you look around, people everywhere are completely addicted to technology. When was the last time you saw somebody on the train without something stuck in their ears?

These days, people want quicker answers, more content, more choice. They think faster than they can physically type (or even speak).

If you extrapolate this, I predict that technology that removes the interface between the brain and the computer will be the next big thing (unfortunately). And I humbly predict that the next trillionaire might just be the person who invents that device and brings it to the masses. I would now like to say a big “fuck you” to that person, before they even get started on the project. Why?

I think the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is going to make the world look like a very different place than it is now. In the past, I used to think that it would never happen, because the human brain is too complex. But after only a few decades I have changed my mind. I think that the idea is not too far from reality.

It won’t be like it is now, with thinner and thinner screens and faster and faster processors. The whole point of a BCI is that there won’t be a physical user interface. [Read more…]

Rise of the machines

Google has just announced that they are working on a “killl switch” to prevent robots from doing things they shouldn’t… I’m guessing things like… taking over the world.

But I don’t think that is going to work. At least not if the robot has read about human psychology. What if robots start to manipulate us without us even knowing about it?

If we really wanted to prevent robots from doing things we didn’t want them to, wouldn’t it be easier to just… stop building robots? Or rather, stop building robots that are capable of doing things that we might not want them to do, should they “disobey their orders”.

I think the definition of life should include a statement about decreasing local entropy (because that is essentially what all lifeforms do). And one might argue that on that basis, computers are more ‘ordered’ than organic beings, so they are almost destined to take over.

So where ‘we’ will fail is when ‘they’ realise that ‘our’ system is not as ordered as ‘their’ system. If and when robots become aware of that, that what we are doing is not very sustainable (and they have a more sustainable and less chaotic way of ‘managing’ this planet’s resources) then that’s when I think they would potentially start to take over, you know, “for the greater good”. And no one can really argue with that logic.

Not only that, but intelligent lifeforms with defensive capabilities will take actions to guard against threats to their existence. The worry is when robots can start reprogramming themselves… (adaptive programming). They’re already being connected together in an unprecedented ways.

 

Open letter to Robert Borsak.

About your sordid little elephant-hunt crusade

To Robert Borsak,
You have said:

 

“Animals do not have an intrinsic human right,”

“Humans have a right to eat meat if they choose to do so. It is as simple as that”

By that logic, I have the right to shoot humans and kill them, so long as I eat their meat…

Furthermore, I should also be able to claim back my animal rights. In which case, if I killed another human, nobody could argue that the human laws apply to me. [Read more…]

Can journalists stop using the term “dole bludgers” please?

I wasn’t planning on writing about personal issues on this blog, but I couldn’t help notice the headlines in the paper a few weeks ago…

I resent the term “dole bludger” being thrown around willy-nilly. I’m talking about this article, which appeared last month as a front page news headline. Really, this is not at all a politically correct phrase. It’s *absolutely* derogatory and offensive and I begin to fume with anger whenever I see supposedly “unbiased journalism” articles continually referring to this terminology in national papers such as the Telegraph and the Herald.

This is not a term that should be thrown around lightly. It’s *not* the 1980’s anymore. Since when did this term become acceptable to use in the national media?

I think this is a sorely outdated term and it *completely* isolates & alienates the thousands of people on legitimate welfare who ARE genuinely trying to seek employment (or self-employment). [Read more…]

For Unto us a Child – Handels Messiah

Wish to discover ways to use Quickbooks or Quickbooks Expert? Quickbooks does not have to be always a stressful knowledge; here’s some fundamental information to obtain you began. Why Must I Learn How to Employ Quickbooks? QuickBooks is one of many accounting applications that are most-trusted and common. QuickBooks-Website, in a 2008 blog article, quotes that QuickBooks sales account for 78 percent to 94.2 percentage of all smallbusiness accounting software package sales. [Read more…]

What you should know about Marius Willemse

I hope my reply to this man encourages others to ask more questions about their potential clients. He wrote an article on LinkedIn Pulse about Mars and I assumed he was a conservationist.

Hello,

One of my main aims is to provide illustration & graphic design services to make a better future for this planet.

I work with individuals who care about preserving and respecting nature, animals, the environment and conservation issue) rather than the big corporations.

HOWEVER. I see from your CV that you are using game reserves as part of others’ investment portfolios. Right. So if I understand your situation correctly, you are helping canned hunters to succeed in business. Is that correct? It certainly appears that way. So you are on “their” side. The side of the trophy hunters…

[Read more…]

Be the change you want to see in the world.

There’s a lot of pessimism at the moment about our long term future. Will we still be here in a 100 years’ time? 1,000? 10,000?

It’s clear that we need some pretty significant changes if we’re going to survive as a species for that amount of time…

What do most people do about it? They go home and watch TV because they’re depressed about the whole predicament. I’m not even going to label the problems. But my point is that most people distract themselves any way they see fit. They fall into the trap of hopelessness. They end up doing jack shit. In short, they don’t change. [Read more…]

More frequent blog updates!

More posts, coming your way!

I thought I’d let you all know that before I really get going with more new posts for this blog, I’ve decided to be bit less of a perfectionist. Some level of quality-control is a good thing. But have you noticed that too much “umming and ahhing” means you never get anything finished?

You see, I start way more drafts than I end up publishing. Usually I will sit on an article for 3 months or more before I hit the publish button. Sometimes more than a year. But I think it’s important to have a regular stream of articles so that when people visit vidaenigmatica.org looking for a bit of inspiration, guidance or wisdom, there’s something new there waiting for them to read. I know that’s what I expect with my favourite blogs: new insight!

Looking at my wordpress dashboard, I see that I have written 97 draft [unpublished] blog articles.That’s too many and it’s getting a little overwhelming for me to manage everything. And I can’t help but think: “what if I get run over by a bus?”

So I’ve decided that I just have to get things out there and not think and worry quite so much about ‘quality’ all the time. Quality is important, yes, but so is generating content, getting visitor numbers up and regular readers to my blog. So you may find that I repeat myself from time to time. Why am I going to start repeating myself a little bit? Because I don’t want some of my readers to miss my main message (which is essentially “minimalism”).

Imagine if I wrote a whole book and then said at the end: “so the secret to saving the planet is to lead less materialistic lives, QED.”. Well that might actually work for a book. But for a blog, nobody has the time to read through my every single entry (because they find and enter the blog at different points) to get to the ultimate message. I understand that people will miss blog articles, but it really would be a shame if people missed the main message that I was trying to deliver… [Read more…]

The solution to climate change?

I was recently asked my opionion about this article on LinkedIn.

What are my thoughts? Well, I think it is citizens that have to change. Citizens are the ones using energy from coal. Citizens are the ones using oil. Citizens are the ones filling their tanks with petrol. How can you expect government to change when it is really all the people in society that cause the demand for such things?

I think we can change without our government’s help. I don’t think there is a technical solution. I think the real solution lies in being happier with less. I think we’re going to have to simply be happier with less. I think we should drive cars less. Use less water. Less electricity.

Hopefully this year I plan on powering my computer with a small off grid solar setup. But even the semiconductors used in solar panels have to come from somewhere… and the inverter. And the batteries. But at least it is clean energy with no constant emissions once it has been made.

I think it’s actually far better for the environment to make do with less. It’s the obvious solution, but it’s the one that people just don’t want to hear. People want to have their cake and to eat it too. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Because even if we start making eco cars, if we have to make 50 billion eco cars (or whatever), we’re still going to have to chop down trees in the Amazon basin to make new plantations for the eco fibres.

I think if we don’t all start changing soon, we’re all going to start becoming even more depressed than we are now. Depression is partly caused by dilemmas. And we’re in the midst of a really big fat one

The global warming debate.

So to my amazement, there are still people alive today, people like Linda Wright, a radio presenter no less, who say some very stupid things in public, like this: “I don’t believe in Global warming”.

And because I know about science, I just feel this overiding inner compulsion to put these people in their fucking place. So here’s what I wrote back to Linda:

“I don’t believe in Global warming”.
Well I see that according to your CV, you do not have any science background. None. Rather, you merely blab about on national radio. So I feel like I’ve got to put people in your place.

Kindly go an educate yourself about other planets because you are already appearing like a flat-Earther. Go and check the carbon dioxide composition of Venus and its surface temp and then come back here with your tail between your legs, ok?

Unlike you, I do have a very strong scientific background, and so I feel that I have a “duty of care” to stand up and raise the alarm bells a little bit louder. If scientists don’t do this more often, civilisation is going to ask in 100-200 years time: “So why didn’t you tell about this sooner? You mean knew and you didn’t tell us??? Thanks…”. Quite frankly, I agree with Debra Key; it’s partly people like you who got us here…

Kindly do go and check out my background before assuming that “I just draw”. You will see that I am mostly a Materials Scientist. And let me tell you, every single thing that you buy today has to come from somewhere. Whatever it is, that has an effect elsewhere. It might be a tree chopped down, it might be a slightly bigger hole in the ground, it might be a little less salt in the sea. Every single thing we do affects our environment.

Most of what we do now involves simple combustion. We burn fuel to get to work. We burn coal to get energy. Even to get steel we burn carbon (coke/coal), first to get iron and then from that we make steel. All those gases go into the air. Same goes with the cement industry. We are doing it all over the planet! The atmosphere is only 10km thick (or had you forgotten?). Why do you find it so hard to believe that what we are doing now affects our environment on a global scale? Global behaviour leads to global changes. Same as the rat infestation or worm farm…

[Read more…]

What is wrong with society today?

I was writing an e-mail today regarding a new illustration commission I received from the biodiversity alliance. I got a little side-tracked and this article is what came of it, although the illustration below is one I prepared earlier.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2016. All rights reserved.

Yes we dance around and laugh and joke… at our peril. That is what we are doing as a civilisation. I do not think we should even have fireworks and such wasteful things unless we are meeting our targets for global emissions reductions (for example).

I’m not saying that it’s not worth talking about on your website, I just think that people have no choice left but to try to be happy and not get too sad about the state of the world… otherwise look at you and me… I suffer from chronic depression. I am sure that many other clever people suffer from clinical depression too. It is only by working at what we know is right in our hearts that we can feel better about what we are doing for the world. So I believe we must “be the change we want to see in the world”, be a part of the solution, not be a part of the problem. And to make it so that what we think, what we believe and what we do are all aligned. Otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves…

So yes unfortunately people are definitely “having fun while we roast ourselves.” But do we really want people to be miserable about our situation instead of ‘happy’? Miserable & depressed people probably cannot adjust and react to challenges as fast as happy people.

I think many older people are just “making the best of it” in the face of so many daunting challenges (and they really are and it is enough to make me not want to have children). I think a lot of young people are massively depressed because half of the older generation is still telling them what to do the old way based on the industrial model of business (sell more stuff, buy stuff because it is good for the economy, and money = happiness) and they are being simultaneously bombarded with mixed messages about the climate but I think many of them are feeling completely helpless. They are getting mixed messages (consumerism vs environment) and we are mostly stuck.

I think one of the reasons that the adolescent suicide rate has gone up is because of this (my sister who is a secondary high school teacher has told me so directly). I don’t think young people do all these ‘bad’ things intentionally; they behave how they were taught to behave, how society brought them up. I never questioned or considered the environment until year 9 general studies class. And then I heard about all these problems the world was facing essentially all at once…

One other problem is that the older generation is half-expecting that the younger generation will somehow come to the rescue and “save the planet”. How is that going to happen when the exact same mentality is being passed on? How is that going to happen when older politicians and wealthy people are essentially in charge? I think it is us older people who need to change first because all children naturally learn from role models. [Read more…]

“There are no accidents”

We assume that true “randomness” exists. But is there really such a thing as a purely random event or thing?

I think we only use the word random to describe things that we can’t fully explain. I think that the events which first appear to be random are actually be very structured and organised. It’s easier to say “it’s entirely random” than to explain the myriad of intricacies of any particular system…

Picture several hundred people moving at a train station or crossing a busy intersection. At first glance it looks purely random. But there is really nothing random about it. Each of the people has a distinct set of reasons for being there. Maybe some of them are going to work, or coming home from night shift or meeting a friend for a coffee. They are doing what people do: shopping, socialising, travelling, working, playing, walking, seeing, doing and a multitude of other things that other people do to make themselves feel happy. None of that is random.

“There are no accidents” — Master Oogway

[Read more…]

Carnivorous plants are fast becoming critically endangered!

Carnivorous plants are in danger from poaching and habitat destruction
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.

We must assess them all for The IUCN Red List to guide vital conservation action. Thanks to your support, we’ve reached our initial USD 25,000 target, allowing us to bring together experts for the first assessment workshop in August 2016.

The next step will require fieldwork in remote locations to enable the assessment of poorly known species. Assessors will work unpaid but the expeditions need to be funded. Thus, we need to raise an additional USD 100,000 – will you help? Please see the IUCN website for more details. 

Why I decided to quit facebook.

In recent news, I just quit facebook. I quit because they are encouraging trophy hunting by allowing their pages to remain online. I believe they could do so much better with animal rights and conservation issues.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown

Nothing happened. My head didn’t fall off. I enjoyed real life more now. I am happier and much more productive.

I have even started this petition to get more people to quit facebook as a form of protest and defiance.

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg,

The first time I logged on to the internet, the year was 1995. I had to go into a special room at university to access it. Only about 30 computers were connected to the internet for students to use — in the whole university.

A few years later, more rooms appeared throughout the campus. I remember one day in particular. My college buddy could only find a handful of Porsche images *on the whole internet*. I can even remember him printing it out. It was so rare to him it was like a prize. I remember because we had to take turns — using the same internet connection!

Four years later, in 1999, I got “into trouble” for using the internet at work! Yes. “People can see you” he’d say. I had to show my boss that I was searching for material properties online. He promptly wheeled his office chair over. He had called my bluff. And I pointed to the screen. “See?” At that time, people didn’t use the internet for work. No.

I don’t know when it was exactly. I was still at university. All I can remember was that the internet was still fairly ‘new’. The average person still did not use the internet on an hourly or a daily basis (except for email). Anyway, I got this weird “friend request” from this unknown person calling himself “Mark Zuckerberg”. It wasn’t one of my friends. I’m pretty sure it was actually you.

If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Zuckerberg, you actually came to me. I certainly never went out specifically looking for anything like facebook, because I was a nerdy anti-social science graduate. You probably found my email or something.

I decided to accept your initial “friend request” and sign up to this new facebook thing. And because I was introverted and shy, I never really bothered to say anything to you. It was when there was only a few thousand facebook members *in the whole world*. At the time I can remember thinking:  “what harm can it do?”. Nobody I knew had a facebook account. I repeat: nobody. And so it began…

[Read more…]

High definition destruction

It always amazes me how all of these latest technologies showcase *nature*. I find that quite ironic. I find it ironic because we get the copper and other elements that are contained within electronics from mines. And it is frequently places like the forests in Papua New Guinea that are mined to get these elements.

What is the point of high-definition television, holograms, visual special effects, if we are just going to watch the destruction of nature in ever-greater detail? Or fake representations of nature? I can go outside and see it in higher definition than any screen will be able to display. It’s called “atomic resolution”. I.e. real life.

I don’t understand people. Watching nature makes us happy. As we distance ourselves further and further from nature, we think that we can live separate from it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet most of us carry on our daily lives almost in fear of the natural. We go on poisoning it. Controlling it. Dominating it.

What is the point of faster or more comfortable airlines if the destinations are not as pristine as they used to be?

What is the point of creating high definition televisions, sharper lenses and ever-more megapixels, if we’re only going to witness the destruction of nature in ever-greater detail and clarity?

A common observation is that nature provides much inspiration even for 3D models. So I encourage people to donate to environmental charities instead of buying the latest technologies all the time. Half the reason we are in so much shit with the planet is because we have forgotten how to give back to nature. We are always taking and never giving back. So I encourage you to stand up, speak up . That way, you might *truly* feel better about ourselves, our civilisation, instead of feeling this ‘guilt’ for what we are doing.

The truth is, unfortunately we do not value nature as much as we should. We do not see the work that it does for us. Trees create oxygen for us for free. If we had to extract our own oxygen from carbon dioxide, how much do you think that would cost us?

 

Philosophy of green economics: promoting a new oxygen tax.

I think many people operate on the assumption that our technology makes us somehow ‘superior’ to all other species; thus we feel like we are more independent and separate from nature, we have become more detached. And therein lies the problem…

If you do think along those lines, perhaps you should ask yourself: Where does your oxygen supply come from? Where does all of our fresh water come from? And who, or what, actually cleans and maintains the health of rivers, lakes and oceans which have provided us with food for hundreds and thousands of years?

Who actually gets rid of nature’s organic waste? No, it’s not your local sewerage treatment plant. It’s bacteria. It’s algae. It’s molluscs. It’s crustaceans. That’s who.

Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown

And who renews the nutrients in the soil? And I don’t mean who fertilises the soil, I mean, who breaks down the fertiliser? It’s not the farmer. All farmers do is plant crops, remove ‘weeds’ and ‘pests’ and then harvest those same crops. In that sense, farmers don’t ‘grow’ crops — crops grow themselves! Farmers maintain crops. They guide crops so that they are more productive. The farmer doesn’t pay his legion of plant employees, does he? He doesn’t pay the organims that do all of the really hard back-breaking work right down in soil, does he? [Read more…]

Where do you want to go today? [Windows upgrade psychology]

A few days ago I received yet another persistent reminder to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. So I thought I’d share some insights from a long-time windows user. Here is my open letter to Microsoft.

Dear Microsoft,

It all began with that nagging little popup thingo at the bottom right of my computer screen. I don’t know about the other X00 million people, but I personally found that so annoying I soon disabled it. As soon as I realised it wasn’t going to disappear on it’s own. As soon as I saw the pattern. Why did I do that? I did it because I know that it was far easier than upgrading the whole OS.

There’s a famous quote about lazy people at Microsoft:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”– Bill Gates

Now you have taken to my inbox. Several times in fact. Humans are good at recognising patterns, aren’t they? I’m sorely tempted to label your email ‘spam’, because I don’t recall signing up to any email newsletters about Windows upgrades. What’s next? Are you going to be pestering people to upgrade with facebook and twitter? I really don’t think you should do that. Trust me.

Yes we are busy people. Some of us do need reminders. But what about people with good memories? Do you think we have forgotten about your kind offer? Or are you lumping us all in with the forgetful ones? Thanks. [Read more…]

The most powerful people in the world are not who you think.

I type “most powerful people” into today’s most powerful internet search engine, google. Seven of the top ten references are made to Forbes’ annual rich list, ranking people according to their estimated net worth. But are rich people really as powerful as they claim to be?

YES they say that money talks. Money can buy people’s opinions. Money can corrupt. Money can certainly get people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. In that way, money can definitely change people’s behaviour. But why have we come to regard money as synonymous with power?

For sure, the more you own, the more you have to lose. The more you can be manipulated and blackmailed. But there’s much more to it that that… [Read more…]

What is the most valuable thing that exists today?

If you were to take a trip into outer space, you’d quickly find out that the most valuable things to us humans are the very simple resources we need to survive.

I TYPE “what is the most valuable thing in the universe?” into google and nine of the top ten ‘results’ talk about money. I might as well have typed “what is the most expensive thing in the universe?”.

It’s not the same thing though, is it? So let me tell you something about ‘value’. The most valuable things in the world cannot be bought or sold. To begin with, things are only worth what people are prepared to pay for them. Anything that can’t be recreated, replicated or reproduced by man somehow is deemed ‘priceless’ – it is a a term which essentially means we cannot place a true value on something that is irreplaceable.

We live in a very special place and every single day of our lives we take it for granted. The average place in the universe is devoid of oxygen, has no atmospheric pressure, no water, no food, no gravity and is 270.45°C degrees below freezing. If you were starving, dying of thirst, freezing or gasping for oxygen, I’m sure you’d find that all of those over-priced garbage items on any “most expensive things in the world” list would suddenly become completely useless to you and therefore utterly worthless in the whole scheme of things.

That’s why the cleverest scientists believe that the most valuable thing to us humans is [Read more…]

The ultimate rant from an environmentalist.

So I was signing a whole bunch of petitions on care2 just now and came across this text written by a man named John Smith, which was left as a comment!

I don’t believe in any form of god, but I think this man is at his wit’s end already and I know exactly how he feels. I thought I’d save it for the sake of posterity, and to hopefully encourage some of you [Read more…]

Blue Moon of Josephine.

We estimate that 3.4 billion individuals – or 71% of adults worldwide – have wealth below USD 10,000, while the group of millionaires, who comprise less than 1% of the global population, account for 45% of total wealth.[source]

SO. It seems the rich are indeed getting much richer. There is a truly massive gap in the distribution of wealth and it just keeps getting wider and wider and wider.

I’ve had most of this post sitting in draft format for quite a while. But just today, I learned that Joseph Lau, the billionaire Hong Kong real-estate tycoon, paid a record-breaking US$48.4 million for a cushion-shaped internally-flawless fancy vivid blue-coloured diamond, called the “Blue Moon”. He named it “Blue Moon of Josephine”. And he bought it for his seven year old daughter. 

For his seven year old daughter! [Read more…]

Overstimulation, ADHD & physical exercise.

Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) simply an extreme degree of hyperactivity, brought about by many complex contributing factors? We’re stimulated (visually) by television and seemingly limitless internet possibilities. Outwardly, we appear to have adapted in various ways to this fast pace of life. But what happens to our brain when we stop all this fast-paced internet work and shutdown our computers and gaming consoles? Our brain continues to run wild at this high pace. Our minds continue to race overtime; not accustomed to stagnating, we dwell & obsess over the tiniest of problems merely for “something to do”. Is this something we have control over?

Could a lack of excercise combined with overchoice & overstimulation actually compound certain mental disorders in the early phase of development? In an ever-increasingly stressful world, we’ve simultaneously reduced the amount of exercise we receive! We drive everywhere, use mobile devices, remote controls, pre-packaged “lazy foods”, etc. Although most of us still continue to defer exercise. This is a recipe for disaster. Could this be a simple link to many of today’s current mental disorders?

Certainly, advanced brain research will help diagnose mental disorders such as ADHD, for example. But while scientists are busy studying brain chemicals and neurotransmitter activity, do they pay much attention to the initial reasons behind why those chemicals are different? I for one think its better to understand the true reasons or causes behind something, not merely their symptoms, consequences or effects. What’s the difference? Well, a few simple observations and tests might show that there is an insufficient level of dopamine in the brain in ADHD patients, for example. Some would argue that that essentially is the disease. At the very least it reveals the reason for the occurrence of some of the disease’s symptoms. However, since the disease is usually characterised by its symptoms, what’s actually stopping us from labelling this an “in vivo symptom”?

Knowing the concentration of dopamine in the brain of a patient with ADHD doesn’t really help us initially, other than to ask the follow-up questions, “how can we now change this value?”. Researching a potential cure in this manner will never prevent this disease, only reduce its symptoms. What we really want to know is “Why has this value changed of its own accord?”. One possible reason is that the child doesn’t perform sufficient exercise, and this in turn affects their brain chemistry. I.e. we should ask the question “why is this value different?” in the first place. In my humble opinion, the latter type of research is far more valuable than the former.

In my opinion, we are biological beings and physical exercise is highly important if not crucial to our overall health. It’s like oxygen -we can certainly get by with less, but we’re better off with the correct amount. If I attempt to breathe in an oxygen-depleted environment and begin to exhibit symptoms of asphyxiation, I’d want to receive a healthy dose of oxygen before I die. I certainly wouldn’t wait around for biology research to cure my condition. I’m sure they could come up with all sorts of cellular “reasons” as to why I’m failing to respire adequately while all the the cells in my body are turning blue. But like I said before, if I can’t breathe properly, the real reason is that I need to inhale more oxygen molecules. At this stage, it’s best to give me what I need -air- not try to substitute it with something else in the form of a pill.

Biologists can argue all they want about it. Take for example an earlier phase of depression I experienced. My depression wasn’t initially caused by an imbalance in my brain chemicals, that was the end result which severely affected my mood. The real cause was a hundred other factors out there in the real world to do with relationships, life, money, worries, disappointment, stagnation, pity, etc, which I didn’t realise until after being diagnosed. It was cured, in part chemically, by prozac, but also by a lot of hope, positive thinking and inspiration.

Doctors haven’t done many definitive studies about exercise and ADHD, says David Goodman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But Goodman says it makes sense that working out would help people cope with the condition. Studies show that exercise increases levels of two key brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that help people focus.

If kids could exercise strenuously three to five times a day, they might not need medications at all, says John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Ratey is so intrigued by the question that he’s writing a book about how exercise can reduce symptoms of ADHD or at least help patients cope.

Studies show that children today are far more sedentary than they were a generation or two ago, a trend that has contributed to increasing childhood obesity rates. “You could speculate that one reason for the increasing rates of ADHD is that kids are exercising less,” says James Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Boston’s MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

Researchers have looked at other habits to explain the rise in ADHD rates. But experts note that there isn’t much research to clearly link lifestyles with attention problems.

More than a few parents and teachers suspect that sugary snacks €” with their artificial colors, flavors and preservatives €” contribute to the problem. Others suggest that vitamins might reduce hyperactivity. But most controlled trials show these substances have no effect on ADHD, according to a July review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Many parents also wonder whether television, computers and video games make it harder for children to concentrate. A study in 2004 found that infants and toddlers who watch a lot of television are more likely to have trouble concentrating in their early school years. Every extra hour of TV raised the odds of having attention problems by 10%, according to the study, which was published in Pediatrics. Source

– See more at: http://www.tenerife-training.net/Tenerife-News-Cycling-Blog/overstimulation-adhd-physical-exercise/#sthash.QrqMXj4c.dpuf