Self-navigation…

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Human eyes are insensitive to polarized light and ultraviolet radiation, but that is not the case for ants, who use it to locate themselves in space. Cataglyphis desert ants in particular can cover several hundreds of meters in direct sunlight in the desert to find food, then return in a straight line to the nest, without getting lost. They cannot use pheromones: they come out when the temperature would burn the slightest drop. Their navigation talent relies on two pieces of information: the heading measured using a sort of “celestial compass” to orient themselves using the sky’s polarized light, and the distance covered, measured by simply counting steps and incorporating the rate of movement relative to the sun measured optically by their eyes. Distance and heading are the two fundamental pieces of information that, once combined, allow them to return smoothly to the nest.

AntBot, a robot designed by CNRS and Aix-Marseille University (AMU) researchers at ISM, copies the desert ants’ exceptional navigation capacities to navigate without the use of GPS. It is equipped with an optical compass used to determine its heading by means of polarized light, and by an optical movement sensor directed to the sun to measure the distance covered. Armed with this information, AntBot has been shown to be able, like the desert ants, to explore its environment and to return on its own to its base, with precision of up to 1 cm after having covered a total distance of 14 meters. (1)

Navigating without GPS. Walking on your own.

This is the way it was supposed to be.

Relying not on things outside.

But on yourself inside.

Finding not your way with the light of the Sun.

But sensing your path through darkness with the Moon.

Treading the dark forest of existence.

With the help of the light of death inside you.

Trace your footsteps back to where you started from.

How could you ever want to go anywhere?

Take a good look.

These are not your footsteps…

Imperfect evolution… Life without life…

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The pinnacle of beauty to most people is a symmetrical face, one without any major left-right differences. But for blind Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus), asymmetry may be a lifesaver. That’s because their lopsided skulls may help them feel their way along dark cave walls – similar to a person navigating by touch in the dark. That behavior, presented here this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, suggests being a little “off” can have evolutionary benefits.

Lots of cave dwellers are a bit unbalanced. Cave fish tend to have one eye that is larger than the other, for example, and cave crickets have different size antennae. Some researchers wondered whether left-right differences might help these creatures get around.

They scanned the skulls of A. mexicanus fish from three caves in Mexico. Their computerized tomography scans revealed most fish skulls bent slightly to the left, giving the right side of their faces slightly more exposure. Other tests showed these fish tended to drift along the right-hand side of cave walls, presumably using the larger side of their faces to feel their way in the dark. (1)

We have learned that evolution makes things more suitable for survival. And we tend to connect this with perfection. Perfection of mechanisms, perfection of structure, perfection of function. It is this perfection which causes life.

But could it be that we are misled?

Blinded by the light, could it be that we are heading towards the dark?

We like to see order as the foundation of existence. Enchanted by it, we fail to notice that this gift always leads to death.

We like to see perfection as the foundation of life. Mesmerized by it, we fail to see that it is imperfection which leads to life.

It is only the imperfect beings which will live longer.

Do not envy them.

Take a good look.

They are crying in the darkness…

Feel the dark walls of existence around you.

They cry out silently…

Life is not about living!

Genes. Not important.

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One of the great puzzles of evolutional biology is what induced certain living creatures to abandon solitary existence in favor of living in collaborative societies, as seen in the case of ants and other social, colony-forming insects. A major characteristic of so-called eusocial species is the division of labor between queens that lay eggs and workers that take care of the brood and perform other tasks. But what is it that determines that a queen should lay eggs and that workers shouldn’t reproduce? And how did this distinction come about during the course of evolution? Evolutionary biologists have now found a completely unexpected answer: one single gene called insulin-like peptide 2 (ILP2), which is probably activated by better nutrition, stimulates the ovaries and triggers reproduction. (1)

Inequalities by genes.

The best proof that genes are not the ones defining our life.

We are all brothers.

Especially because we don’t seem to be. [Valia]

Built from glass…

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Ever wondered how groups of cells managed to build your tissues and organs while you were just an embryo? Using state-of-the-art techniques he developed, UC Santa Barbara researcher Otger Campàs and his group have cracked this longstanding mystery, revealing the astonishing innerworkings of how embryos are physically constructed.

Cells coordinate by exchanging biochemical signals, but they also hold to and push on each other to build the body structures we need to live, such as the eyes, lungs and heart. And, as it turns out, sculpting the embryo is not far from glass molding or 3D printing. In their new work,”A fluid-to-solid jamming transition underlies vertebrate body axis elongation,” published in the journal Nature, Campàs and colleagues reveal that cell collectives switch from fluid to solid states in a controlled manner to build the vertebrate embryo, in a way similar to how we mold glass into vases or 3D print our favorite items. Or, if you like, we 3D print ourselves, from the inside. (1)

In a world of change…

Crumbling mountains.

Rising oceans.

In a world of chaos, life.

Made out of nothing.

Fragile and yet…

Lasting eternally.

Melting glass…

Solid stone…

What lies beyond the veil of nothingness?

A universe made out of dust.

An undying cosmos.

Look at the melting glass. It is not sad.

For it knows that this is not the end.

But the beginning…

A flash.

Instant photo.

A smile.

Frozen in time.

A tear dropping.

My soul…

Eugenics works! So why not use it? A hard problem begging for a simple answer…

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In a recent online discussion where the idea of modern eugenics was brought up, many people were against it. Since eugenics bring up correlations with the Nazis it is easy for most people to discard such ideas as wrong or unethical. It is obvious that applying eugenics is wrong.

But all obvious things are very hard to prove.

In this case, someone simply asked “Why shouldn’t we engineer a baby not being sick?” and since then, this simple question has stuck into my mind. Sure, eugenics seems obviously wrong. But why? Why shouldn’t we make better babies? Only because we have bad memories of some people who at some point in time used similar techniques to do bad?

This sounds as stupid as fearing nuclear energy because at some point the US Air Force dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan. Surely it did happen, but one has nothing to do with the other.

So why is eugenics wrong?

Why shouldn’t we eradicate disease if we can?

The argument that “eugenics will not work and will cause probably more disease” is a plausible one, but yet it is not enough. For sure eugenics are currently not so advanced that it is error-free. Editing the genome of a person could result in numerous other mutations that could in turn result in more dreadful diseases than the ones we try to eradicate. But this argument does not answer the question at hand. It simply defers the answer. What if we had a way to have a working method for eugenics and for editing genome without problems? Would we then accept eugenics as something good?

Imagining this perfect scenario where we have mastered eugenics in such a way that it can produce perfect humans with no diseases whatsoever, is the key to the answer we seek. You see, the problem of technology as Heidegger put it, is not that it does not work, but that it does.

Humans without disease.

Humans not dying.

Humans perfect in any way.

This is our dream. But we have been into that dream for so long, that we have forgotten it is a nightmare. Humans not dying, means humans enslaved into the material world were we do not belong in the first place. A cosmos without disease and pain, means a world where there are no warning signs. We might all fear pain and death, but philosophy does strongly indicate that these might not be issues after all, in a cosmos which strongly suggests that the material aspect is insignificant in front of the spiritual one that engulfs it. A world with perfect humans, is not a dream of a rational man but the hubris of an irrational psychopath looking for perfection is a world which is nothing but. A world with people not dying is no different than a world full of zombies.

In simpler words: Yes, a car might get you faster where you go. But that does not say anything whether your destination is the right one.

Eugenics is a way to build on modern materialistic dogmatism and enhance it to new unprecedented heights.

But is materialism correct as a philosophy?

Is the cosmos made of matter only?

Do you breath only because your cells do?

Do you think because your brain does?

Do you love because of chemistry?

Do you cry because of molecular interactions?

Sorry to break the news, but if your answer to the above is “Yes”, then it doesn’t even matter if eugenics works or not.

Because you are already dead.