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Remember the honeybee problem from last year?
Posted: 11 June 2012 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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FreeInKy - 11 June 2012 10:08 AM
macgyver - 11 June 2012 09:39 AM

The Borg are very interesting. I have been working on a short story about how they arose from a civilization not unlike our own. Its kind of creepy but fun to speculate about.

Sounds cool. I would love to read that.

Some proponents of the “singularity” idea think that becoming borg-like is one of only two possible outcomes for humanity; the other, of course, is extinction.

We’ll need Mriana as the Startrek expert to clarify this, however I seem to recall that Gyanan (Whoopee Goldberg) or Q made some comment about the origins of the Borg as being separate purely biological beings.

Nah, F.I., there are a couple of other scenarios I can think of.  1)  We become skilled enough at genetic manipulation that we convert the humans into super-beings, i.e., “gods”.  2) We develop efficient, long term space travel and proceed to inseminate the rest of the universe with us, just as bacterial and viral infections do. 

If we do both but just use standard human DNA for the other planets then they would probably come up with the silly idea that our superior descendents really are gods.  LOL

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Posted: 11 June 2012 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Occam. - 11 June 2012 11:30 AM

Nah, F.I., there are a couple of other scenarios I can think of.  1)  We become skilled enough at genetic manipulation that we convert the humans into super-beings, i.e., “gods”.  2) We develop efficient, long term space travel and proceed to inseminate the rest of the universe with us, just as bacterial and viral infections do. 

Yeah, I too can think of many possible future states of existence. But I think the point of the singularity people is that once technology reaches that point of no return, we either merge with it or get destroyed by it. We will not be able to go on existing separately from it. (That’s their argument, not mine.)

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Posted: 11 June 2012 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Right, one that does move a bit toward the Gaia idea as far as humans go, is when we learn to implant cell phone devices so that anyone can just think and connect with anyone else so they would both have access to the mind of the other.  A worldwide conference call would convert us into one organism, at least in terms of the mind.

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Posted: 11 June 2012 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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The solid line delineating what is an organism and what is not starts to look a bit arbitrary.

Now you sound like a Buddhist! There is no self because no bright line can be seen separating self from non-self. What we identify as an organism is simply a temporary pattern contingent on all the causal factors that led to its existence, constantly exchanging substance with the environment, and ultimately dissipating to the point of not being perceptible as a discrete pattern anymore.

I would say that the line between organism and colony probably is somehwat arbitrary, just like lines between life/death, fetus/person, Race X/Race Y, and so on. Biological processes tend to be continuous and not entirely amenable to the kind of category making we humans find so useful. Still, if one has a specific set of parameters in mind, these categories can be useful and good enough for everyday work. It’s only when we hyperintellectuals start thinking too hard about them that they break down! grin

The role of our microflora in our functioning is a huge, complex, and fascinating subject that I have a particular interest in. I cannot imagine we will ever be able to untangle all the organisms and relationships of our personal exologies to the point of being able to do much, good or bad, about them, but it’s a neat topic.

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Posted: 11 June 2012 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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I just realized I’ll be responsible for the deaths of billions of organisms when they follow my order to cremate me after I die.  red face

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Posted: 12 June 2012 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 June 2012 06:39 PM

Now you sound like a Buddhist!

Hey I resemble that remark tongue laugh

I can see your point. Obviously creating categories (organism vs not an organism) is an essential tool of science and it certainly helps us understand the world around us by comparing things within and between categories but it can be just as important to re-examine the criteria we use to define categories if it allows us to see new patterns we may not have recognized otherwise.

Obviously a bee hive is different sort of organism than an individual bee but there may be useful conclusions or discoveries that can be drawn from the comparison.

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Posted: 12 June 2012 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Well this discussion went into all sorts of interesting directions.  Makes my wavy-gravy hippy-dippy one with nature self radiate with a Darma Bum smile.


The list of difficulties kid’s born by C section have, seems to keep growning, a lot of it doing with a) lack of bugs they pick up; b) the exercise they get pushing through the canal; c) probably other stuff i’m not aware of.

As for the colony collapse and the virus always being present, made me think of the Bark Beetle epidemic, the little buggers have always been around, but cold winters used to keep them down, now the mountains are simply not getting the freezes they had been historically, and summers are so mild, that some area are now going through two life cycle in a summer, something else that didn’t happen historically.

Yup I agree the whole freak’n thing’s like a giant organism.  Heck look at climate, it’s a global climate heat engine with all the parts interplaying with all the other components… and biology actually gets into the act here and there.

As for the “pulley” idea for the Bee Hive, now that idea I like and wonder why we never kicked it around, since the yard has big trees, apple, cherry, mulberry, weird little plum/peach highbreds.  That’s why I really hope… and believe… those Bees set up housekeeping nearby.  Alas, I don’t live there anymore, eleven years was a beautiful run but it was time to move on.
~~~~~~~


Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to check it out.

George - 11 June 2012 10:06 AM

I saw it on TED. HERE is the link.

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Posted: 12 June 2012 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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You know, been thinking about the Global Organism a bit more, here’s another couple cool connections:

Life had impacted geology greatly, in lots of different ways,
to begin with up until about half a billion years ago there was nothing but rain, wind, sun, rocks, sand, mud, and gravity impacting the world’s low lands, which were nothing but huge ribboned delta sort of things.

During subduction living matter (and water) is pulled under and melted with rocks acting as flux and impacting who knows what all chemical reactions and minerals.

Many Limestones, most dramatically in examples such as the white cliffs of Dover, the rock is made up of all/very high percentages living organisms - so in a way the line between life and rock is a bit wavy-gravy in itself if we allow for the consideration of a few hundred millions or billions of years of time.

Some living organism precipitate (yup i’m sure that’s the wrong work) {metabolize ¿} minerals, and important building blocks, that couldn’t be created any other way.

And so on and so fort.

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Posted: 12 June 2012 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 June 2012 06:39 PM

The role of our microflora in our functioning is a huge, complex, and fascinating subject that I have a particular interest in. I cannot imagine we will ever be able to untangle all the organisms and relationships of our personal exologies to the point of being able to do much, good or bad, about them, but it’s a neat topic.

I found this to be an incredibly interesting area of research myself but you’re right, the possible number and complexity of interactions is mind numbing. Its hard to imagine how we will even begin to untangle what is going on but we are already seeing some progress.

On a side note and more up your alley than mine, I was listening to a podcast the other day where they were talking about an unusual role that toxoplasma plays in the interaction between mice and cats. Not sure if this is old news to those in the veterinary med field but it was another example of how organisms evolve together. Apparently they have found that when mice become infected with toxo it changes their brains such that they are no longer afraid of cats and are in fact attracted to them. Exactly how it affects the brain they didnt explain.

You could see the obvious benefit to the toxo organism as the mouse then gets eaten and toxo is spread to the new cat which then sheds it in its feces where it is picked up by another mouse that is then drawn zombie like to the nearest cat again and so on. The mouse doesn’t do so well in this scenario but the toxo is beneficial to the cat so one would assume they would over time evolve a method to retain this organism instead of letting the immune system get rid of it. They didnt discuss that part so I’m not sure if that has indeed happened but perhaps you have some insight.

Its an interesting concept to think about though. In some ways the cat is using these biological agents like weapons to take over the behavior of its prey. Dinner comes to them. They dont have to go out. A real life version of “invasion of the body snatchers”.

[ Edited: 12 June 2012 01:05 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 12 June 2012 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Fascinating.  I would have guessed that it was a way of mice getting rid of predators, but I checked and apparently toxoplasmosis can exist in cats without causing any symptoms so your scenario sounds quite reasonable. 

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Posted: 12 June 2012 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Do any of you watch Doctor Who?  They talked about the missing bees a lot in the fourth season of the new series.  It turns out that a lot of the bees on Earth are actually aliens from Melissa Majoria.

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Posted: 12 June 2012 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Yes, the cat/mouse/Toxo thing is a cool bit of biological wierdness. Of course, any such relationship we identify only represents a few frames in an evolutionary film. It is common for hosts to develop tolerance to parasites and parasites to become less likely to make hosts ill so that the relationship becomes stable, as has happened with toxo abd cats. And sometimes, it develops into mutualism or maybe even more (such as intracellular bacteria ingested or invading originally and eventually becoming mitochondria). Of course, selective pressure probably exists on the mice to evolve defenses, so the film might look different if stopped a few centuries farther along.

The relationship reminded me of the parasitic fungi that create Zombie Ants to spread their spores. Lots of this kind of cool wierd stuff in nature. Hard for us to invent stuff as strange as what’s really out there. grin

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Posted: 12 June 2012 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I remember when Sapolsky was talking about the U.S. military being interested in Toxo. Presumably to use it to make soldiers less fearful (?). Supposedly high percentage of people who die in motorcycle accidents are found to have traces of the Toxo bug.

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Posted: 08 July 2012 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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{Realizing that it’s been four years since rationaljeff’s post starting this thread ~ I figured I may as well add it to this one from July 2012}
Four years… scientists have learned a bunch. . . . . . .  society, business bosses, politicians, special interests haven’t learned a f^@#‘n thing.    downer

rationaljeff - 04 June 2008 08:10 PM

Well it is still a problem.

Here is a recent update on the continuing disappearance of billions of bees from around the world.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/31/animalwelfare.environment

...two million colonies of honeybees across the US have been wiped out. The strange phenomenon, dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD), is also thought to have claimed the lives of billions of honeybees around the world. In Taiwan, 10 million honeybees were reported to have disappeared in just two weeks, and throughout Europe honeybees are in peril.
<snip>
According to Albert Einstein, our very existence is inextricably linked to bees - he is reputed to have said: “If the bee disappears off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.”

Those intrepid scientists keep coming up with new information:

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=124679&org=NSF&from=news

July 3, 2012

View an infrared thermal imaging system video of bats emerging from a cave.

The effect on bat populations of a deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome may depend on how gregarious the bats are during hibernation, scientists have discovered.

Species that hibernate in dense clusters even as their populations get smaller will continue to transmit the disease at a high rate, dooming them to continued decline, according to results of a new study led by biologists at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

One gregarious species has surprised biologists, however, by changing its social behavior. . .

[ Edited: 08 July 2012 11:36 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 07 October 2013 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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NPR on colony collapse

I caught this on NPR the other day. Can anybody expand or comment on it? Any good references that can help with this? It focuses on some poor beekeeping practices instead of blaming everything on Monsanto.

A couple key quotes:

“Quite frankly, some of the colonies need to die, because they are not able to survive,” he said. “And the ones that are able to survive, we need to reproduce from them.”
If nature were left to its own devices and beekeepers stopped using chemical treatments, Spivak said 80 to 90 percent of bees would die.

I was disappointed the other night when Bill Moyers decided to focus on the neonicatinoids and said almost nothing about the mites. This has always been part of my discomfort with environmentalists. They seem too quick to blame a problem on a corporation and too easily ignore the big picture. Without doing my own digging, I would not have known that honey bees come from Europe. We encourage them to be here at some detriment to existing pollinators. Beekeepers use chemicals to control diseases in their hives. Die offs are part of beekeeping.

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