Monday, January 30, 2006

We are....

....on winter hiatus.

We'll be back soon, evolutionarily speaking.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sinus Evolution

I have a sinus headache. Please forgive me if this entry sounds a little stuffed-up, if you know what I mean. But I need to talk about the evolution of the sinus in the human species.

It turns out that according to NASA our sinuses have not evolved in 3.2 million years. Yes, it is true; we have the sinuses of alower mammals, like sloths and kangaroo rats. Our sinuses were designed for a brain capacity much smaller and slower than ours. That is why we have sinus pressure and sinusitis and sinus infections too. Because while we were evolving tool and language capacities according to NASA, our sinuses did not.

Imagine, if you will, if our sinuses had also developed tool-capabilities. Oh, the humanity. Well, according to NASA's reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was all part of god's plan.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dark Matter

The latest in Universe Evolution Theories entails the ripping apart of everything in 20 billion years, caused by the force of Dark Matter on the expansion of the Universe. Ripping apart everything? Yes, everything. Even subatomic particles. Even strings. Ouch.

A rather harrowing new theory about the death of the universe paints a picture of "phantom energy" ripping apart galaxies, stars, planets and eventually every speck of matter in a fantastical end to time.

Scientifically it is just about the most repulsive notion ever conceived....

Driving the known acceleration of the universe's expansion is a mysterious thing is called dark energy, thought of by scientists as anti-gravity working over large distances.

Conventional wisdom holds that the acceleration will proceed at a constant rate, akin to a car that moves 10 mph faster with each mile traveled. With nothing to cap the acceleration, all galaxies will eventually recede from one another at the speed of light, leaving each galaxy alone in a cold, dark universe within 100 billion years. We would not be able to see any galaxies outside our Milky Way, even with the most powerful telescopes.

That's the conventional view, remarkable as it sounds.

The Big Rip theory has dark energy's prowess increasing with time, until it's an out-of-control phantom energy. Think of our car accelerating an additional 10 mph every half mile, then every hundred yards, then every foot.

Before long, the bumpers are bound to fly off. Sooner or later, our hypothetical engine will come apart, regardless of how much we spend on motor oil....

If our species survives... here are some signs that scientists of the future will want to look for.

  • A billion years before the end, all galaxies will have receded so far and so fast from our own as to be erased from the sky, as in no longer visible.
  • When the Milky Way begins to fly apart, there are 60 million years left.
  • Planets in our solar system will start to wing away from the Sun three months before the end of time.
  • When Earth explodes, the end is momentarily near.

At this point, there is still a short interval before atoms and even their nuclei break apart. "There's about 30 minutes left," Caldwell said, "But it's not quality time."

And then what? Does the universe recycle itself? Is there something after nothing?

"We're not sure what happens after that," Caldwell says. "On the face of it, it would look like time ends."

Nice. On the other hand, our sun is scheduled for demolition in only 7 billion years:

Just as sure as the Sun comes up every morning, it is scheduled to die. Experts give it some 7 billion years, when it will turn into a bloated red giant. As the name implies, a red giant is a star swelled to gargantuan proportions. Earth would be first engulfed in heat and light, then vaporized.

Well before then, things will turn real nasty. In just a billion years, the Sun could be 11-percent brighter, scientists say, rendering Earth an inhospitable greenhouse. In 3.5 billion years, the Sun could be 40-percent brighter than it is today.

With our demise so clear on the cosmic horizon, astrophysicist Fred Adams of the University of Michigan and NASA's Gregory Laughlin got to wondering in recent years how the planet might be saved by gravitational interaction with a passing star. They ran computer simulations of possible encounters over the next 3.5 billion years, finding last year that the odds of the Earth being completely ejected from the solar system are one-in-100,000.

Slim odds. And life in the frigidity of deep space would be no summer picnic.

So Adams and Laughlin, along with Don Korycansky of the University of California, Santa Cruz, began to discuss consider how human intervention might bring about a more suitable long-term orbit, one that gradually expands with the aging Sun.

Their idea, which evolved from interaction with a star to rerouting a giant space rock to save Earth, will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Astrophysics and Space Science.

"This is not an urgent problem," Adams stressed.

And from Darksyde at Dailykos comes a more precise description of the end of the world:

Dark Energy will keep growing; first stars and then planets will flatten like spinning pancakes and begin to throw off layer after layer of material. In the final year, the earth unravels in a high speed version of its original formation from space rocks, dust, and gas. Then the rocks, the individual dust grains, the larger molecules of gas, are sheared by the relentless, growing force. In the last few seconds, the very atoms are ripped asunder, the nuclei cut and cut again, reduced to lighter and lighter elements. Individual protons and neutrons are rendered into their constituent quarks and gluons. Perhaps the strings theorized to form the basis of all particles are then stretched and broken, photons, electrons, even theoretical gravitons, are destroyed.

Of particular interest is what might happen to Black Holes. When space is expanding considerably faster than the speed of light, General Relativistic solutions for all kinds of Black Holes are broken.

How long? Based on some estimates of the rate of growth in Dark Energy, in about 20 billion years the universe will be riven to quantum bits and beyond. It's not just matter which will be destroyed: The fabric of space-time itself will be shattered, liberating hitherto unheard of energies whisked away in the escalating, superluminal explosion! The universe would be shredded, not even empty space as we know it would remain: It will be violent, it will be glorious; it will be The End.

And maybe the beginning of a whole new era, one completely alien to our familiar cosmos of matter and energy, space and time. Or maybe it means the end of everything that ever was for all eternity.

It's just something to think about, keep in the back of your mind for a few billion years before starting to actually worry about it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Evolution Right Now

It's happening right now. Evolution. Right in front of our eyes.

It was bound to happen. The United States Supreme Court is not an inviolable, unevolutionariable institution. In fact, the constitution never explicitly gave the court the power of Judicial Review. It took Marbury vs. Madison to jumpstart the court's evolution. So it comes as no surprise that the court evolves over time. And we are now watching the birth of a new court. Feel the pain.
Senators in Need of a Spine

But portraying the Alito nomination as just another volley in the culture wars vastly underestimates its significance. The judge's record strongly suggests that he is an eager lieutenant in the ranks of the conservative theorists who ignore our system of checks and balances, elevating the presidency over everything else. He has expressed little enthusiasm for restrictions on presidential power and has espoused the peculiar argument that a president's intent in signing a bill is just as important as the intent of Congress in writing it. This would be worrisome at any time, but it takes on far more significance now, when the Bush administration seems determined to use the cover of the "war on terror" and presidential privilege to ignore every restraint, from the Constitution to Congressional demands for information....

A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.
(link from Eschaton and Daily Kos.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dragons on the Streets of Anchorage

What if there really are dragons in Anchorage, Alaska? Would that change our understanding of the world? Would science have to admit that it really had no idea that there were dragons in Anchorage? Would religion have to admit it also? Would you?

Dragons on the streets of Anchorage....

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Truth

Some people have complained that they think I make up some of these theories of evolution that I have collected. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, I'm not saying that every theory is the truth, merely that they are real theories, whether true or not. Truth is not the issue. You don't have to agree with or believe every theory for them to be theories.

So it came as a great pleasure to me to see that Eric Alterman has written an article called "Never Mind the Truth." So you readers out there should pay heed, and remember, it's not about the truth, it's about the theory.

As Eric concludes, "Never mind, most of all, the truth."

Truer words were never said. Just go read the article.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blue Green Algae

The New York Times reprints a scholarly article originally printed in the Scientific Advancement Society's Monthly Journal, Advances in Science Monthly, that shows the recent evolution of Blue-Green Algae. In the list of 7 kingdoms of life on Earth, Blue Green Algae is neither plant nor animal, and the life forms are very very small, so we generally don't care about them at all. You don't see much popular fiction with Blue Green Algae as the protagonist.

So it comes as a great surprise that this new article shows that Blue Green Algae is undergoing a rapid evolution from tiny tiny life forms to larger and more complex life forms. They've already broken the centimeter barrier and within 5 years should be as big as a meter.

Now, my fear, wholly unsupported by the study, is that it is only a matter of time before they start to evolve intelligence. And then what? THEN WHAT?????