At worst, we apply a supernatural explanation to the whole show, because otherwise we’d have to recognize intelligence as a natural extension of the things that happen on a barren, unattended planet. For some reason we often insist nature couldn’t be that interesting or potent on its own. There has to be a super nature, to keep nature in its rightful, humble place. It makes us feel special I guess, maybe that’s why we don’t give nature the credit. We’re special either way, but we don’t need special rules to explain how we’re here. For that matter, we don’t necessarily need to explain ourselves to ourselves at all. Whatever happened, we got intelligent at some point, and that’s great. It’s okay to wonder aloud exactly how it happened, but clearly it did.
~ David Cain
Monism has never made sense to me. It’s interesting and I’ve spent a significant amount of time turning over its various flavors trying to understand others’ points of view. But, “that’s interesting,” is as far as I get.
When I face reality—thinking through mental models, comparing them to my personal experiences, talking to other people and listening to their experiences—I simply don’t see any deep mystery in life. Certainly, I see mind-bogglingly-huge expanses of things which are unknown (by me or anyone,) but that simply makes me more excited and more curious!
What confuses me is that the majority of people think differently, and I spend a lot of time talking to people as I try to understand how they think. I have only one point of view. I’m deeply fascinated by the universe around me and, in particular, by the conversations that come from me saying, “What does that bit of reality over there look like from your point of view?”
Things that are every bit as great happen every day in scientific labs, and no one cares. Maybe as a society we’ve become anesthetized to science — when really, it’s so exciting. We have so much to gain as a country if we invest in science and knowledge and understanding. I don’t blame the public for not understanding, though, or even legislators for sometimes not wanting to invest. They all look so much like my family.
~ Renee Reijo Pera
There are several science-y details in this interview that really startled me; Our knowledge of embryo development is vastly improved since last I looked.
…but mostly I just like the sentiment of wonder she expresses. “When is the last time I learned something new?” is a question I try to update the answer to every day.
The annotated version of the visualization (shown above) highlights the GEOS FP model’s output for aerosols on August 23rd, 2018. On that day, wildfires caused huge plumes of smoke to drift over North America and Africa, three tropical cyclones took place in the Pacific Ocean, and high winds over the Sahara caused wind-borne dust particles to fill the sky. All of these produced aerosols which are represented in the visual by different colors.
~ Matt Williams
I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by the beautiful composite photo and the science that went into it, or if I now just want to never inhale again.
So basically all of these systems are intimately interconnected, and probably before this is done with researchers will find five more systems intimately interconnected with all of these. It might be that inflammation is the master system which causes a cascade of events in all of the others. It might be that one of the others is the master system. It might be that depression is a collection of multiple different diseases, and some are caused by one thing and others by another. It might be that looking for a “master system” is silly and that the true mathematical relationship between all of these things is such a chaotic process that all you can say is that they all stumbled together into the wrong attractor point and things deteriorated from there.
~ Scott Alexander
This is one of those stories where science has been carefully teasing something apart for many years, only to find out, in the end, that they had it all wrong along the way.
Clarity: SCIENCE FOR THE WIN.
But — via my confirmation bias — this jumps out as another place where being “certain” about things turns out to be — wait, no — I’m not certain. Dammit. Oh well, it’s just turtles all the way down.
A team of researchers with Russia’s Karadag Scientific Station–Nature Reserve of RAS has used specially developed underwater microphones to capture for the first time what they claim to be a human-like conversation between two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins.
Not only could nobody tell me, but nobody even had the sense that it was an interesting question. They looked at me funny. I asked my parents; I asked my parents’ friends; I asked other adults. None of them knew. My mother said to me, “Look, we’ve just got you a library card. Take it, get on the streetcar, go to the New Utrecht branch of the New York Public Library, get out a book and find the answer.”
It is a great tragedy that science, this wonderful process for finding out what is true, has ceded the spiritual uplift of its central revelations: the vastness of the universe, the immensity of time, the relatedness of all life, and life’s preciousness on our tiny planet.