1. Subscriberysterbaard
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    02 Dec '13 16:30
    This is just a thought, so take it at face value please.

    I'm from south africa where we are experiencing the worst drought in a century. In the paper a few weeks ago the drought "officially" surpassed the previous "worst" of 1933.

    In 1933 there was a famine, this year there wasn't. in 1933 there was large scale livestock deaths, this year there weren't. I can continue along this line. in 1933 there wasn't trucks to move cattle and feed around. those days there were windpumps for water , or they had to use streams etc. but today we have solar powered pumps in boreholes.

    So the question is: Did we evolve in the short time of 100 or even less years?

    Why was a drought of this magnitude a disaster in 1933 but today it is nothing more than an inconvenience?

    Wich brings me to my last question. Again don't bust me for the numbers here, this is just hypothetically..

    It took the human race say for example 10,000 years (just a number don't bust me on it) to get from zero to today where we have technology to overcome stuff like serious droughts. If we would experimentally "kill off" everyone exept a few people with "today's" brain power and let them "start over" would it take 10,000 again all over, or would we be able to do it faster this time around?

    I just thought about it so let me know what you think.
  2. Subscribersonhouse
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    02 Dec '13 17:032 edits
    Originally posted by ysterbaard
    This is just a thought, so take it at face value please.

    I'm from south africa where we are experiencing the worst drought in a century. In the paper a few weeks ago the drought "officially" surpassed the previous "worst" of 1933.

    In 1933 there was a famine, this year there wasn't. in 1933 there was large scale livestock deaths, this year there we ...[text shortened]... able to do it faster this time around?

    I just thought about it so let me know what you think.
    The key is knowledge known ahead of time. Maybe you didn't know but electricity was known in ancient times but was thought of as some kind of party trick or something and went nowhere because they didn't understand what they had discovered. In ancient babylon, they actually took it a few steps further, discovering electrochemistry and batteries, but again, it was used to plate statues with gold and that was all their imaginations would get them to do with it. It may have been in that case the dogma of the priesthood that prevented anyone outside a very small cadre from knowing about this secret technology. Which is too bad because after WE discovered and controlled electricity we were on the moon in less than 200 years. The babylonians, again, did not know the potential of what they had discovered.

    So if it was at THAT time when the fit hit the shan, it would have been somewhat like England after the fall of the Roman empire, we already have that as an example. After the fall, what, the year 400 to 600 AD, something like that, the indigenous people had very little in the way of built in knowledge like the Romans, who had developed engineering and technology to a pretty high degree, inventing concrete, for instance. But the Brits back in the day had none of that and so fell into dark ages that lasted nearly 1000 years. Well, maybe 300 or 400 years before things started looking up, then they got hit with the plague and that screwed things up once more for another few hundred years and it wasn't till around 1800 that things really started to pick up technologically.

    All that said, if today the fit hits the shan, we would still have places with solar cells powering stuff like computers, laptops, tablets, and the like, and they could use that knowledge to get off the ground a LOT faster than the ancient Brits, for instance. There would be survivors who knew math, geology and so forth, so they could in theory find iron ore to start building machines and start up with drill presses, lathes and so forth. They would be like the US in the year 1700 or so where they were burning wood by the megaton to melt iron but they got the job done and bootstrapped themselves into the premier civilization on the planet today, premier in the technology sense, not morals or political correctness or any of that stuff, just talking about inventions.

    So it was not evolution that led us to today's technology, it was the application of the same brain power for several hundred years, adding bit by bit to the earlier knowledge, like the stupendous development of calculus by Isaac Newton and Leibniz (controversy there but it seems they both figured it out independently). That was the biggest single boost to technology in the last thousand years. Hopefully we would still have that math, someone who can teach the rest of the survivors, and other mavens of other sciences. All it takes is a few of each of those and eventually it will all come back.

    Of course there would be less in the way of natural resources since our present civilization has eaten up so much of everything, fossil fuels, minerals and so forth but the number of people would be so small compared to today that the leftovers would be plenty to start a civilization from scratch.

    There is a movie made from a book I liked a lot, the Postman, by David Brin, and the movie by that name with Kevin Costner, that shows kind of that scenario, post apocalyptic future pulling themselves out of barbarianism and back to our modern world.

    If you can find it, take a look at it, I thought it was a great movie. It also had Tom Petty.

    The way our present civilization is developing, we may have the power to stop some of the worst disasters like that which hit the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, the asteroid hit in Yucatan that, between that strike and the rampant volcanism also going on back then, did the dino's in.

    This is another example of where our civilization can build the resources to stop or deflect such asteroids from ever hitting Earth again, at least the big life ending ones, give us 20 years advance warning and we can nudge the suckers out of the way.

    In the same way, getting independent colonies on the moon or Mars can do the same survival trick, no matter what happens to Earth in that case, humanity and our biosphere can go on.

    So as we grow, we include in our bag of tricks ways to circumvent disasters that would have killed all of us 100 years ago. That is the hope anyway.

    Another 100 or so years will show us whether we have the political will to carry any of that out.
  3. Joined
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    02 Dec '13 18:281 edit
    Originally posted by ysterbaard
    This is just a thought, so take it at face value please.

    I'm from south africa where we are experiencing the worst drought in a century. In the paper a few weeks ago the drought "officially" surpassed the previous "worst" of 1933.

    In 1933 there was a famine, this year there wasn't. in 1933 there was large scale livestock deaths, this year there we ...[text shortened]... able to do it faster this time around?

    I just thought about it so let me know what you think.
    As sonhouse has already implied, this is not really anything to do with 'evolution' as in Darwinian evolution which involves mutation and natural selection working on genes.
    I suppose that you could call it "political, socioeconomic and technological evolution" but that is using a much more vague and a much more generic common-dictionary meaning of the word "evolution" (which means very little more than just something very vaguely along the lines "gradual change esp for the better" ) that actually has very little to do with the much more specific and specialized Darwinian evolution meaning and the two meanings should not be confused.
  4. Standard memberfinnegan
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    02 Dec '13 21:421 edit
    Sonhouse is right. A history of Alexandria shows that in about the years 200 CE to 400 CE that city had access to all the technology required to produce an industrial revolution, such as steam powered engines. Euclid's geometry was produced here. They understood the circular character of the planet Earth and could measure its circumference quite accurately. Their critical demonstration that Earth was round was to stand at the famous Alexandria lighthouse (one of the wonders of the ancient world) and observe that when ships came into view, one first saw their mast tops, then their sails, etc.

    All this knowledge was snuffed out by the Christians with their systematic attack on the philosophers. For Alexandria the culmination of this process came with the murder by a Christian mob of Hypatia:
    The last scientist who worked in the Library was a mathematician, astronomer, physicist and the head of the Neoplatonic school of philosophy--an extraordinary range of accomplishments for any individual in any age. Her name was Hypatia. She was born in Alexandria in 370 A.D. At a time when women had few options and were treated as property, Hypatia moved freely and unselfconsciously through traditional male domains. By all accounts she was a great beauty. She had many suitors but rejected all offers of marriage. The Alexandria of Hypatia's time--by then long under Roman rule-- was a city under grave strain. Slavery had sapped classical civilization of its vitality. The growing Christian Church was consolidating its power and attempting to eradicate pagan influence and culture. Hypatia stood at the epicenter of these mighty social forces. Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria, despised her because of her close friendship with the Roman governor, and because she was a symbol of learning and science, which were largely identified by the early Church with paganism. In great personal danger, she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her works obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint.


    The trouble with this painful and truthful account of the martyrdom of Science at the hands of religion is that the most prominent application of technology in Alexandria was to provide mechanical wonders for the temples: immense doors that could glide open, a mechanical coin operated oracle, stunning theatrical effects. Science and philosophy were the privilege of a tiny elite having virtually no benefits for the general population. There was no need for an industrial revolution in a society built on slavery and with labour that was cheap enough to require no mechanical substitute.

    It is not evident that any of the scientists or philosophers of the time were capable of thinking outside the framework of their own age, its values and culture. That remains the case today of course.

    Despite the tragedy of Hypatia's murder, the real loss to civilization was the destruction of the great library and museum of Alexandria. This is surely because knowledge is cumulative and science is possible - as Newton famously said - only because each generation can stand on the shoulders of giants, meaning those who worked before. It is therefore a disaster to have our history torn up and burned.

    The loss of this wisdom to the Western world, its preservation in the Islamic world and its rediscovery in the West with the Renaissance, is something that does not require an evolutionary explanation but is part of history. We do not have greater brain power today. We see further only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. That includes, for example, Euclid.
  5. Subscribersonhouse
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    02 Dec '13 23:041 edit
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Sonhouse is right. A history of Alexandria shows that in about the years 200 CE to 400 CE that city had access to all the technology required to produce an industrial revolution, such as steam powered engines. Euclid's geometry was produced here. They understood the circular character of the planet Earth and could measure its circumference quite accuratel ...[text shortened]... e further only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. That includes, for example, Euclid.
    So the fate of Hypatia resounds today in the fate of Malala, eh. Can't have those uppity women getting an education when it is MEN who should be in control.

    Gee, what a legacy. Another notch on that despised religion, well both of them.

    Here is a wiki about her:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia
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    02 Dec '13 23:28
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Sonhouse is right. A history of Alexandria shows that in about the years 200 CE to 400 CE that city had access to all the technology required to produce an industrial revolution, such as steam powered engines. Euclid's geometry was produced here. They understood the circular character of the planet Earth and could measure its circumference quite accuratel ...[text shortened]... e further only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. That includes, for example, Euclid.
    Very well said.
  7. Cape Town
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    03 Dec '13 08:41
    Originally posted by ysterbaard
    So the question is: Did we evolve in the short time of 100 or even less years?
    As others have said, it depends on the usage of the word 'evolve'. By meaning 1. below, we have evolved better methods of survival.
    However, this must not be confused with biological evolution (meaning 2.). Although we are evolving biologically all the time this is not responsible for our better handling of drought.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/evolve

    evolve
    v.tr.
    1. a. To develop or achieve gradually: evolve a style of one's own.
    b. To work (something) out; devise: "the schemes he evolved to line his purse" (S.J. Perelman).

    2. Biology To develop (a characteristic) by evolutionary processes.
    3. To give off; emit.

    v.intr.
    1. To undergo gradual change; develop: an amateur acting group that evolved into a theatrical company.
    2. Biology To develop or arise through evolutionary processes.
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    03 Dec '13 13:172 edits
    Rather that start o new thread on this, I thought is appropriate enough to put this here:

    Here is an example of parallel evolution where different species of high altitude hummingbirds independently evolved to have exactly the same changes to their hemoglobin at exact same amino acid sites so to have higher oxygen-binding capabilities to better cope with the low oxygen at high altitude:

    http://phys.org/news/2013-12-hummingbirds-evolved-high-altitude.html

    This shows that evolution can be far more predictable than many people suppose.

    The link doesn't explain exactly why these changes help increase the hemoglobin's oxygen-binding capabilities at high altitudes but, presumably, there must be some kind of biological cost with those changes at least for low altitude else all hummingbirds, including low altitude ones, would have evolved to have those changes.
  9. Subscribersonhouse
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    03 Dec '13 13:42
    Originally posted by humy
    Rather that start o new thread on this, I thought is appropriate enough to put this here:

    Here is an example of parallel evolution where different species of high altitude hummingbirds independently evolved to have exactly the same changes to their hemoglobin at exact same amino acid sites so to have higher oxygen-binding capabilities to better cope with the ...[text shortened]... all hummingbirds, including low altitude ones, would have evolved to have those changes.
    The implication there is these birds would not survive in low altitudes?
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    03 Dec '13 15:414 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    The implication there is these birds would not survive in low altitudes?
    I see no reason why they couldn't survive at low altitudes although I assume they would be in some yet unspecified and possibly subtle way (involving their hemoglobin ) be less adapted for low altitudes.
  11. Subscribersonhouse
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    03 Dec '13 16:08
    Originally posted by humy
    I see no reason why they couldn't survive at low altitudes although I assume they would be in some yet unspecified and possibly subtle way (involving their hemoglobin ) be less adapted for low altitudes.
    I was thinking of the possibility of hyperoxygenation.
  12. Subscriberysterbaard
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    03 Dec '13 20:55
    Thanks for all the answers. In fact thanks a lot. I wasn't expecting essays to be written on such a stupid question. I really appreciate all of the responses. I must say I understand it better now, although, having read all your replies I have a new question.....Again in a "fictional" scenario format. (And sorry in advance for my poor English it is my second language)

    The second apology is again in advance for the scenario I am about to sketch. It might offend some people but I don't intend being offensive at all.

    What if you had 4 humans, two males, two females. one of each gender with low IQs and one of each gender with high IQ. So obviously the smarter two goes to college or university, meet up and get married, have one child. The same applies for the "dumber" two, only they meet in a school for intellectually challenged people, get married and have one child.

    According to my small brain, except for some exceptions, if this pattern repeats itself, thus saying "smart" people will go to "smart" places, meet other "smart" people and in effect the children will get smarter and smarter.

    "dumb" people will do the same in opposite direction and get dumber and dumber.

    Will the genes segregate to make "average" people? Will everyone get smarter incrementally only very little over 1000 years?

    Again sorry for the "Politically incorrect" statements above, but I thought about this and don't know the answer. If it is a really stupid question, don't answer I won't be offended.
  13. Subscribersonhouse
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    03 Dec '13 21:29
    Originally posted by ysterbaard
    Thanks for all the answers. In fact thanks a lot. I wasn't expecting essays to be written on such a stupid question. I really appreciate all of the responses. I must say I understand it better now, although, having read all your replies I have a new question.....Again in a "fictional" scenario format. (And sorry in advance for my poor English it is my sec ...[text shortened]... and don't know the answer. If it is a really stupid question, don't answer I won't be offended.
    It could work like that but it would take a sustained effort for more like 5000 years. The fact that we don't have people around with IQ's of 1000 or people with IQ's of 10 shows that evolution selects for the average, IQ of 100.

    On average, like with 1000 people, two people with IQ's of 70 get married, the kids will likely to have IQ's of 90 or so. Similarly, people who marry and they both have IQ's of 150 will likely have kids maybe more like 120. The gist of that is, statistically, high IQ parents will likely to be somewhat disappointed their kids didn't turn out like them.

    That said, there is always the family like the Polgar's where the parents are in the extreme high end of intelligence and the kids are pretty close to them, Susan Polar, the strongest woman chessplayer basically of all time, took on that game to excel in and her parents turned it into a study. But she is WAY up there in IQ and motivation (both are needed for the upper levels of accomplishment) and so became a very strong grandmaster, having a great number of men GM's under her belt, taking their scalps including Kasparov.

    I think they are way out on a limb statistically though, the main thing way intelligent parents will be is a bit disappointed the kids are not as smart as the parents.

    On the other hand, the IQ 80 parents will likely be surprised their kids are smarter than they are, much to their delight I would expect. If the kids have normal IQ's, 100, 110 something like that, the parents can be proud.

    Of course genetically we could breed higher intelligent people but it would take a god to keep us motivated for the thousands of years it would take for such a project to bear fruit, where the average IQ is say, now 150 instead of what to us would be 100.

    Now if that happened, the 150 crowd would now be the new 100's....

    If everyone had an IQ of 150, they would have to re-calibrate the numbers to show what is average and the 150 set would now be downgraded to 100, although their intelligence would still be very high indeed.

    Of course then if everyone had an IQ of 150, there would be a small number of people with IQ's of 300 or 400, more like the brains of a Sidis. William Sidis was a guy whose estimated IQ was something like 300 or better but turned out to be so extremely arrogant he was run out of town, having gotten an MD at the age of 10, was not the slightest bit tactful in assessing the intelligence of his teachers as not very bright, not something that would endear a 12 year old to a bunch of tenured professors, even if he was completely right! He anticipated the idea of black holes some 20 years before they were discussed in academic circles but ended up with a bunch of odd jobs and collecting subway tokens as a hobby, dying penniless around 1945 or so.

    A sad case for sure.

    Anyway there would be a lot more people of that level if everyone had an IQ of 150 as an average. But that would be basically impossible to achieve because of the extreme long term commitment it would take to produce such results.

    It seems we humans tend to an IQ of 100, children coming from both lower and upper intelligent parents.

    Which doesn't mean the IQ 70 parents can't have a kid with an IQ of 50 or the parents with IQ's of 150 could never have a kid with an IQ of 200, it's just that the norm is for folks to trend to an IQ of 100.
  14. Cape Town
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    04 Dec '13 07:04
    Originally posted by ysterbaard
    What if you had 4 humans, two males, two females. one of each gender with low IQs and one of each gender with high IQ. So obviously the smarter two goes to college or university, meet up and get married, have one child. The same applies for the "dumber" two, only they meet in a school for intellectually challenged people, get married and have one child.
    It is true that people tend to marry partners similar to them, in intelligence, social standing, culture etc.
    However, until fairly recently, the vast majority of the worlds population, did not move very much in their life times, and tended to marry someone living in the same community or a nearby community. There really wasn't enough opportunity for what you are talking about to have a significant effect.

    More recently, the apparent intelligence of people has had a lot to do with environment eg nutrition, education, and the education of the parents. So although people of similar intelligence might marry, a large part of that intelligence is not passed on through the genes. Some of it is passed on through culture ie rich people will have rich children and better educated people will have better educated children simply due to cultural effects rather than genes.

    In the long term however it is quite likely that there will be some divergence of intelligence due to the effect you mention, but it will take many generations for any noticeable effect.
    We are however talking about the far future as currently the majority of the worlds populations apparent intelligence is still very much influenced by environmental factors. I would say the vast majority of people who fail to get a degree for example fail to do so for reasons other than genetics. Simply comparing the percentage of degree holders in rich and poor countries demonstrates this environmental factor.
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    04 Dec '13 08:561 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I was thinking of the possibility of hyperoxygenation.
    But if that was because the hemoglobin of the high altitude birds was 'too good' at holding and transporting oxygen to the organs at low altitude, I would presume evolution would still make the low altitude birds evolve to have the same hemoglobin but simply compensate for it being 'too good' at its job by making them have less of it by, for example, making them have less red blood cells and at a lower concentration?
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