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Billy wrote:

har!

yes, but perhaps it's not 5 billion years ahead when we face a planet busting asteriod that we can't detect or dodge or the next ice-age (but perhaps global warming will be good for something after all)...
so you're answer so far is "do nothing" too?

if you like signing petitions and putting some action behind it try the one at the National Geographic newswatch website for restoring water flow to the Colorado River Delta. also, Sandra Postel and others have plenty of interesting articles/reading at the Water Currents section.
as for me, not sure yet, the worms and other soil critters get to digest me, beyond that i'm not decided yet because a lot depends upon if i stay here or move someplace else. the older i get the more likely i'm not going to have the energy to start all over again from scratch, but that is what i would really like to do.

i've always been happy with my own company.

i don't feel stuck, but we are near the bottom of a deep gravity well which costs a lot to escape. it may not be stuck, but it's darned close if we have to get away quick.
the question to be answered at present is if humans can transfer enough of our environment to another closed system (space-ship, colony on the moon, mars, or asteroid) so that it can be self- sustaining. if we cannot figure that out then we are stuck or we must change to a different form which does not require such an extensive support environment.

his form of happiness is not universal. not everyone wants to be a farmer. some people find their happiness in discovery or in other artistic ways.
no matter what it doesn't get us into space before lights out.

yep, so he's not so wise after all?
one of his claims in the book of his i just re-read (natural farming methods) was that the earth could support 60 times the population (around 5 billion when he wrote) if it would eat grains and vegetables. can you imagine our world of 300 billion people? even if you strip things down to very basic support for water and calories and force everyone under ground i still don't think the earth can support that many of us and still have wild areas. already we see limits based upon fresh water availability for the 7 billion and the future is looking very interesting already just at this level of ecosystem disruption and exploitation...

while i agree with the general sentiment, previously there were (and still are) plenty of things in the world that are not safe to eat, yet we abide.
i'm looking forwards to the day when we know a lot more about GMOs in food crops.

enough people would argue it is no longer life anyways (the current ancients complain that their children don't have much of a life as it is and i'm ancient enough that i see their point).

funny. we might hit 90 next week.
our own bit of humour is that we have cherry tomatoes that are yellow to golden colored, i've been waiting for them to get red... that is what happens when you plant mystery tomato plants. we sure don't need six cherry tomato plants (for two people). they will go into the mix when canning juice for sure, and salsa if we make any this season.

don't freak out! deep breaths, in, out, slowly, there ya go...

simulations are often a necessary step in understanding any suitably complex system. :)

no-till wasn't popular then. there's a bit in _Seven Years in Tibet_ which we enjoyed when they were building the movie theatre and the people digging would not dig any more until they found a way to rescue each worm uncovered.
songbird
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You taking lessons from tx.guns now? They love to tell you that you said something (that you didn't), and then disprove it in they own, inimitable, logic free fashion.
Seems that's where you'd be going after saying that perhaps global warming will be good for something. I doubt that it will be good for the starving, homeless refugees.

You want to kill Arizona's golf courses? TERRORIST! It's a job killer.

I'll probably be moving soon too. I hate to leave this hill, but we're getting too old to live on a slope. Living on the flat makes so many things easier.

When you consider how much we (Homidea) have changed in the last 2 million years, if we are still around when the Sun goes "red giant" I'd be surprised if we recognized our descendants.

The Calvinist "work-ethic" can be over come.

Relax, your descendants may yet be able to transport to the star of their choice, and tomorrow's science will indeed look like today's magic.

We call it diversity. Life doesn't give me meaning. I give meaning to life. YMMV

That's why provenance has given us a liver, but it only protects against what already exists, not the new toxin on the block.

I'll take that in a good way, and not when we find out what they may have done to us.

The way I heard it is that there are hieroglyphics on the pyramids that say that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and it is proven by the behavior of the young.

So are we, but if the weather gueser is true to form, it will closer to 100F.

What a Pollyanna I am. Work starts Tue. at 9AM. So many projects still to finish. I hope they have the AC cranked up.

In this heat, it is more like panting ;O) The peppers are loving it though.

Prediction confirmed;O)

To be fair, he did say "dig".

Oh, were the Jainists putting them on again? What a sense of humor. Maybe they should have hired Confucianists.

--
Palestinian Child Detained
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Billy wrote:

when you've had two chances to answer a direct question and wander around it yet again?

if an ice-age started in the next 30 years? if the one offset the other?
perhaps there will not be the disruption and refugees?
if we get hit by the cosmic/comet lotto the whole exercise may become rather moot.

if the golf courses were supplied with recycled water and if they didn't use *cides i wouldn't say much about them. better yet, if they were mowed with sheep and green energy lawn mowers, then my opposition goes down even further. i'm no big fan of dead spaces and wasted water or energy, but in contrast that green space may be less negative impact on an area than leaving it as pavement, parking lot or bare roof tops. if we could take advantage of that green space (in the roughs and the other edges) to provide habitat for bees and other wildlife then we might actually gain some level beyond what is liable to happen in an otherwise arid region. take it up another notch to using the space as a provider of green manure, fodder, fruits, veggies and open to the poor for free then you've got a bit more of my support.
the bad news:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130816-colorado-river-drought-lake-powell-mead-water-scarcity/
and some good news:
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/l/lessons-from-the-field-rainwater-harvesting-in-hiware-bazaar--india/

i hope you can find a good place to be.

my guess is we'll have split into thousands of new variants by then. some recognisable and others not.

Calvinist or Protestant?
i've actually done a decent job of it myself. at a fairly young age i decided i wanted off the common treadmill and made consistent choices after that to get there. i made the leap off at age 33.5

no decendents of me. i'm a genetic dead end.

like many i would like to think that i provide meaning too, but a hundred years from now the likelyhood of being remembered or understood is faint. so i don't get a big head.

always a good idea to let someone else go first. :) "yeah, you eat all those GMOs you want and i'll try to avoid them and keep an eye peeled for toxic effects in you and your children."

yes, i sure hope it works out ok, that we've not crossed some point of no return.

haha, that would be funny indeed.

today was a prime example. forecast to go into the mid 80s, but it didn't make it to 80. still the sunshine is appreciated. gotta water some bit every day to keep everything happy. better to spread it out so that we don't have to draw on the well so heavily at any one time.

:) get your pipettes ready!

yes, the peppers are coming along well here too.
finally was able to pick about 10lbs of tomatoes today. some BER in the smaller romas that were developing about a month ago in that heat wave we had. this round of heat there is much more cover and mulch to help.

my condolences to all affected.
ever since we started growing more dry beans i've gradually increased fiber and while it has special moments of regret the overall improvement is well worth it.

i can dig it.

just a movie, but amusing anyways as it happened we first watched it when i was starting with the small scale worm farm.
songbird
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may

Whether homo sapiens become Borg, or readily malleable GMOs, humanity's best chance to endure is to hold on to ALL of our survival tricks, biological, and technological.
--
Palestinian Child Detained
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Billy wrote: ...

the idea that some base human stock will supply a better path forwards is likely a false one if the designer has the knowledge it would take to redo organisms from scratch.
we are not there yet. we are still in the baby-step stage.
the future will likely be vastly different than you or i can imagine. but it is still fun to try.
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songbird wrote: ...

"biological" is the wrong word there, it should have been "physical".

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Scientific American April 2008
The Colors of Plants on Other Worlds
Pg. 48
The prospect of finding extraterrestrial life is no Ionger the domain of science fiction or UFO hunters. Rather than waiting for aliens to come to us, we are looking for them. We may not find technologically advanced civilizations, but we can look for the physical and chemical signs of fundamental life processes: “bio-signatures.” Beyond the solar system, astronomers have discovered more than 200 worlds orbiting other stars, so-called extrasolar planets. Although we have not been able to tell whether these planets harbor life, it is only a matter of time now. Last July astronomers confirmed the presence of water vapor on an extrasolar planet by observing the passage of starlight through the planet’s atmosphere. The world’s space agencies are now developing telescopes that will search for signs of life on Earth-size planets by observing the planets’ light spectra.
Photosynthesis, in particular, could produce very conspicuous biosignatures. How plausible is it for photosynthesis to arise on another planet? Very. On Earth, the process is so successful that it is the foundation for nearly all life. Although some organisms live off the heat and methane of oceanic hydrothermal vents, the rich ecosystems on the planet’s surface all depend on sunlight.
Photosynthetic biosignatures could be of two kinds: biologically generated atmospheric gases such as oxygen and its product, ozone; and surface colors that indicate the presence of specialized pigments such as green chlorophyll. The idea of looking for such pigments has a long history. A century ago astronomers sought to attribute the seasonal darkening of Mars to the growth of vegetation. They studied the spectrum of light reflected off the surface for signs of green plants. One difficulty with this strategy was evident to writer H. G. Wells, who imagined a different scenario in The War of the Worlds: “The vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red tint.” Although we now know that Mars has no surface vegetation (the darkening is caused by dust storms), Wells was prescient in speculating that photosynthetic organisms on another planet might not be green.
Even Earth has a diversity of photosynthetic organisms besides green plants. Some land plants have red leaves, and underwater algae and photosynthetic bacteria come in a rainbow of colors. Purple bacteria soak up solar infrared radiation as well as visible light. So what will dominate on another planet? And how will we know when we see it? The answers depend on the details of how alien photosynthesis adapts to light from a parent of different type than our sun, filtered through an atmosphere that may not have the same composition as Earth’s.
Harvesting Light
In trying to figure out how photosynthesis might operate other planets, the first step is to explain it on Earth. The energy spectrum of sunlight at Earth’s surface peaks in the blue-green, so scientists have long scratched their heads about why plants reflect green, thereby wasting what appears to be the best available light .The answer is that photosynthesis doesn’t depend on the total amount of light energy but on the energy per photon and the number of photons that make up the light. Whereas blue photons carry more energv than red ones, the sun emits more of the red kind. Plants use blue photons for their quality and red photons for their quantity. Tin green photons that lie in between have neither the energy nor the numbers, so plants have adapted to absorb fewer of them.
The basic photosynthetic process, which fixes one carbon atom (obtained from carbon dioxide, CO2) into a simple sugar molecule, requires a minimum of eight photons. It takes one photon to split an oxygen-hydrogen bond in water H2O and thereby to obtain an electron for bio-chemical reactions. A total of four such bonds must be broken to create an oxygen molecule (O2). Each of those photons is matched by at least one additional photon for a second type of reaction to form the sugar. Each photon must have a minimum amount of energy to drive the reactions.
The way plants harvest sunlight is a marvel of nature. Photosynthetic pigments such as chlorophyll are not isolated molecules. They operate in a network like an array of antennas, each tuned to pick out photons of particular wavelengths. Chlorophyll preferentially absorbs red and blue light, and carotenoid pigments (which produce the vibrant reds and yellows of fall foliage) pick up a slightly different shade of blue. All this energy gets funneled to a special chlorophyll molecule at a chemical reaction center, which splits water and releases oxygen. The tunneling process is the key to which colors the pigments select. The complex of molecules at the reaction center can perform chemical reactions only if it receives a red photon or the equivalent amount of energy in some other form. To take advantage of blue photons, the antenna pigments work in concert to convert the high energy (from blue photons) to a lower energy (redder), like a series of step-down transformers that reduces the 100,000 volts of electric power lines to the 120 or 240 volts of a wall outlet. The process begins when a blue photon hits a blue-absorbing pigment and energizes one of the electrons in the molecule. When that electron drops back down to its original state, it releases this energy―but because of energy losses to heat and vibrations, it releases less energy than it absorbed.
The pigment molecule releases its energy not in the form of another photon but in the form of an electrical interaction with another pigment molecule that is able to absorb energy at that lower level. This pigment, in turn, releases an even lower amount of energy, and so the process continues until the original blue photon energy has been downgraded to red. The array of pigments can also convert cyan, green or yellow to red. The reaction center, as the receiving end of the cascade, adapts to absorb the lowest-energy available photons. On our planet’s surface, red photons are both the most abundant and the lowest energy within the visible spectrum.
For underwater photosynthesizers, red photons are not necessarily the most abundant. Light niches change with depth because of filtering of light by water, by dissolved substances and by overlying organisms themselves. The result is a clear stratification of life-forms according to their mix of pigments. Organisms in lower water layers have pigments adapted to absorb the light colors left over by the layers above. For instance, algae and cyanobacteria have pigments known as phycobilins that harvest green and yellow photons. Nonoxygen-producing (anoxygenic) bacteria have bacteriochlorophylls that absorb far-red and near-infrared light, which is all that penetrates to the murky depths.
Organisms adapted to low-light conditions tend to be slower-growing, because they have to put more effort into harvesting whatever light is available to them. At the planet’s surface, where light is abundant, it would be disadvantageous for plants to manufacture extra pigments, so they are selective in their use of color. The same evolutionary principles would operate on other worlds.
Just as aquatic creatures have adapted to light filtered by water, land dwellers have adapted to light filtered by atmospheric gases. At the top of Earth’s atmosphere, yellow photons (at wavelengths of 560 to 590 nanometers) are the most abundant kind. The number of photons drops off gradually with longer wavelength and steeply with shorter wavelength. As sunlight passes through the upper atmosphere, water vapor absorbs the infrared light in several wavelength ands beyond 700 nm. Oxygen produces absorption lines―narrow ranges of wavelengths that the gas blocks―at 687 and 761 nm. We all know that ozone (O3) in the stratosphere strongly absorbs the ultraviolet (UV). Less well known is that it also absorbs weakly across the visible range.
Putting it all together, our atmosphere demarcates windows through which radiation can make it to the planet’s surface. The visible radiation window is defined at its blue edge by the drop-off in the intensity of short-wavelength photons emitted by the sun and by ozone absorption of UV. The red edge is defined by oxygen absorption lines. The peak in photon abundance is shifted from yellow to red (about 685 nm) by ozone’s broad absorbance across the visible.
Plants are adapted to this spectrum, which is determined largely by oxygen―yet plants are what put the oxygen into the atmosphere to begin with. When early photosynthetic organisms first appeared on Earth, the atmosphere lacked oxygen, so they must have used different pigments from chlorophyll. Only over time as photosynthesis altered the atmospheric composition, did chlorophyll emerge as optimal.
The firm fossil evidence for photosynthesis dates to about 3.4 billion years ago (Ga), but earlier fossils exhibit signs of what could have been photosynthesis. Early photosynthesizers had to start out underwater, in part because water is a good solvent for biochemical reactions and in part because it provides protection against solar UV radiation―shielding that was essential in the absence of an atmospheric ozone layer. These earliest photosynthesizers were underwater bacteria that absorbed infrared photons. Their chemical reactions involved hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide or iron rather than water, so they did not produce oxygen gas. Oxygen-generating (oxygenic) photosynthesis by cyanobacteria in the oceans started 2.7 Ga. Oxygen levels and the ozone layer slowly built up, allowing red and brown algae to emerge. As shallower water became safe from UV, green algae evolved. They lacked phycobilins and were better adapted to the bright light in surface waters. Finally, plants descended from green algae emerged onto land― two billion years after oxygen had begun accumulating in the atmosphere.
And then the complexity of plant life exploded, from mosses and liverworts on the ground to vascular plants with tall canopies that capture more light and have special adaptations to particular climates. Conifer trees have conical crowns that capture light efficiently at high latitudes with low sun angles; shade-adapted plants have anthocyanin as a sunscreen against too much light. Green chlorophyll not only is well suited to the present composition of the atmosphere but also helps to sustain that composition―a virtuous cycle that keeps our planet green. It may be that another step of evolution will favor an organism that takes advantage of the shade underneath tree canopies, using the phycobilins that absorb green and yellow light. But the organisms on top are still likely to stay green.
--
Palestinian Child Detained
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On 09/08/2013 04:19, David Hare-Scott wrote:

It's interesting that nature didn't come up with the wheel, one of the most energy-efficient ways of moving around (or did I read a few years ago that there was some strange organism which could move like a wheel? I believe that there are some desert spiders which can escape predators by pulling themselves into a ball shape and rolling down sand dunes, but that not really the same thing as a wheel). It's probably because the moving parts of a wheel are completely separate from each other, and it would not be possible to repair the revolving part of the wheel if it was damaged, as it would have no blood supply.

That's not quite true. If it is assumed that life started in the sea, it should have stayed in that environment, but it didn't. Some animals changed (evolved?) to make use of land. Even more oddly, some changed back (eg seals) to make lesser or greater use of their "old" environment, whilst others, such as dolphins evolved (or should that be regressed?!) to become totally dependent on their old marine environment.

Yes, that's true. There are quite a few examples of parallel evolution (cacti and other succulents; alpines - particularly the giant lobelias and puyas) to support that. If you know how to grow cacti - which are really all New World plants - you will have little trouble if you decide to grow lithops from South Africa.
And if you find it impossible to grow giant lobelias, you will find it just as impossible to grow puyas! :-)
--

Jeff

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Jeff Layman wrote:

I see no evidence of either of those statements.
Some

In saying they regressed (went backwards) you are saying there is a particular direction that is "right". It ain't so.

OK
D
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Billy wrote: ...

mud/clay/oils/bubbles/foams/salts
but some would say hydrothermal vents and crusts of certain compounds may also be likely candidates.
i'm more in favor of foam/bubbles/oils/clays/muds. i've seen them in action (building what used to be called a skimmer in reef aquarium keeping as a means to get organic materials out of the water, pump a lot of bubbles through a column of water and what comes to the top is gunk like the foam that collects on beaches).
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But the water is still the medium that allows for reactants to move together, and assume the proper position for interaction, like an oxygen atom dropping a proton [H3O+] as it rotates in to get a p-orbital look at a Carbon nucleus as in a carboxylate ester.
Foam/bubbles/oils/clays/muds are just the results of having an aqueous environment. Chunks don't really count, it's the ions and molecules with charge separation that are important (in an aqueous solution).
--
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Billy wrote:

I wasn't clear. The two statements I see no evidence for are:
1) "that's not quite true" 2) "it should have stayed in that environment"

I see no relation between your reply and what I said. I said evolution is undirected. Saying dolphins "regressed" suggests that when they (their ancestors really) were land animals they were 'higher' than as aquatic. The same goes for tapeworms that had ancestors that had not lost so many functions (that the tapeworm no longer needs). Fitness depends entirely on environment and only has meaning in the context of an environment so one organism is not more evolved in absolute terms but better or less fit for a specified environment.

True but I don't see the relevance to this matter of regression.
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1) Agree 2) Agree

I was referring to the earliest stages of evolution when structures that we now call organelles were "free swimming", and not protected by membranes. My point was that one can't go back, without going forward first. I don't mean forward to perfection. I mean forward to adaptation. If a mutation by radiation works, it works by improving an organisms ability to survive, buy then you have short term, and long term.
A number of engineering problems exist in the human body, e.g. BONES THAT LOSE MINERALS AFTER AGE 30, FALLIBLE SPINAL DISKS, MUSCLES THAT LOSE MASS AND TONE, LEG VEINS PRONE TO VARICOSITY, RELATIVELY SHORT RIB CAGE, JOINTS THAT WEAR, WEAK LINK BETWEEN RETINA AND THE BACK OF EYE. These problems may be addressed some day, but how will that effect the memory of survival that is/was stored in our genes?
We have existed as a Family (Hominidae) for 20 million years, and as a species for 200,000 years. We have gone through a lot of evolutionary change to get to where we are. That evolutionary trip is thought to reside in what we call our junk DNA. We prize biodiversity in plants, and animals. We need to prize it in ourselves as well. If we adapt to a time, as we have noted in some of our food cultivars, can we change again when the time changes?
Changing to the time is why we continuously need to make room for new generations to try their hand at adapting, and for that we need all our biodiversity tricks.

Conceptual thinking may not be as good as red claws, and teeth in the long run for survival, but as climax forests show us, there does come a time when a given approach to life maxes out, and a new direction needs to be taken.
--
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Jeff Layman wrote:

The wheel is the most natural phenomina in nature. The wheel has existed since the creation of the universe... nothing is more natural than the "orbit" (straight lines don't exist in this universe). The wheel has always existed, man has only relatively recently *discovered* the wheel. Anyone who thinks man invented the wheel is the same kind of pinhead who thinks man invented fire.
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On Fri, 09 Aug 2013 09:29:41 +0100, Jeff Layman

That's a question which comes up frequently.
There's an interesting paper on it at: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2461157?uid739680&uid=2&uid=4&uid739256&sid !102539587717
The current consensus is that the main problem with biological wheels is blood flow, but this author addresses a different argument.
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Jymesion wrote:

I haven't seen this article, I will have a look time permitting. One reason a wheel is not much use for transport biologically is that they require roads to be efficient. Legs are much better on broken ground and can be adapted to climbing, become wings, flippers etc.
Also have a look at the bacterial flaggelum, it isn't a wheel that supports weight for transport but it does rotate and it is powered by biochemistry.
David
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On 09/08/2013 23:14, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Well, ATVs get around ok. Even caterpillar tracks are just a form of elongated wheel. They have little problem with rough ground. Just look at the moon and Mars rovers. True, they don't move far, but they can get around. And remember there are vast tracts of flat lands here on Earth - the prairies, steppes, savannah, etc on which wheels would move freely and efficiently if Nature had evolved them.
Its interesting that Nature did evolve an alternative, and more efficient form of motion than standard legs - that used by Macropods and similar animals (although they are still, of course, legs). Storing "elastic energy" is much more efficient than using muscle contraction all the time. So why isn't that form of motion much more common around the world? There are a few examples, such as jerboas, but you'd expect a lot more. Maybe if there is sufficient food, efficiency doesn't matter so much. So even when that particular evolutionary niche has appeared, it doesn't mean it's going to be universal. And then, of course, there are the tree kangaroos!...

Indeed, but it's limited to that size of organism. It could not scale up. I guess it bears a greater similarity to a propeller than a wheel, anyway.
--

Jeff

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Jeff Layman wrote:

it is not an assumption, it is based upon the fossil record found to date with the oldest specimens showing that life did start in the seas.
the exact process and steps are not known completely yet, but as time goes on we are getting more answers and finer details of how it could be possible.

the only thing required for any change in an organism to continue is that organism procreates. the causes/effects of selection, environment, mutations, etc. may be completely orthogonal to the simple fact of procreation.
how niches in the environment become occupied is also orthogonal. the sea to land migration of both plants and animals is pretty well understood now. i don't think they are missing any significant steps in those two processes.
i agree about understanding how life came about and learning what you can about life is valuable to a gardener. it's also just amazingly interesting. :)
for one thing the possibilities are there that life moved back and forth from the sea to land from land to the sea several times as different disasters happened. not every- thing previously is wiped out, so different creation phases coexist (and still do).
but in the past few hundred years life has woken up and been able to start taking a direct look at itself and the processes invovled... all i can say now is watch out it's gonna get very interesting.
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