Assortments of Thought

Posts Tagged ‘WPLongform

Other than all the stars, the Moon and the planets classically held attention and commanded wonder, whenever a civilization gazed into the heavens. Of course this was largely because so little was known of outer space, about what else was up there besides what could clearly be seen, but it shouldn’t be denied that the planets of our own solar system are indeed magnificent. And now, while we unfortunately have to rely as yet on artists’ conceptions to visualize them, the recent multitudes of exoplanets found have, along with theoretical considerations, yielded even more diverse and wondrous planets to inspire us. Yet moons and rings are presumably integral parts of planetary systems as well, and while moons at least are virtually certain to exist alongside and beyond many of the planets of our galaxy’s systems, their small sizes have presumably kept them invisible as yet to our instruments and detection methods. Even so, we might hazard that “large” planets nearly always have moons and rings, while “small” ones have them much less so; that most moons are “very small”, except that “large” planets typically have a few “larger” but still non-gaseous ones; that extensive rings are less common, and only ever exist around “large” planets; that most moons lack atmospheres, yet a fair number of systems have at least one atmospheric moon; and that non-unitary planets and moons are comparatively rare, as are moons or rings of moons. To see why these conjectures might be true, let us consider what, in terms of moons, rings, and non-unitary bodies, planetary systems in our galaxy and across all the cosmos might be like.

Continue reading “Moons and Rings of the Cosmos” …

To become romantically involved with another person–to go through the highs of being attracted to someone and spending time with them, but then again the lows of relationships not quite working out or otherwise ending–is among the very core of human experience. Poets, songwriters, and other creative people have thus made it a subject of their works for ages, for this very reason. And indeed it isn’t always easy or straightforward, but most especially so for people seeking “true love”–or, that is, genuinely caring, enduring, monogamous relationships–if only because then, the stakes are even so very much higher. Yet perhaps early experiences with dating and various cultural pressures make the whole journey to finding a lifelong companion even harder than is should be, by encouraging patterns and approaches that are at best ill-advised. Indeed, maybe the key is to simply realize that what one is seeking is a dearest friend before anything else; that finding such a companion oughtn’t to be rushed; and that if it never happens, well, being alone isn’t exactly a bad fate either, particularly if the only alternative was to have been with someone who wasn’t that dear, true companion one had always sought. While the process of finding a lifelong companion is certainly much more complicated than this even–involving the entirety of one’s motivations for seeking a true love relationship and one’s suitability and preparedness for it, and an acknowledgement that there simply aren’t any guarantees ultimately–nonetheless, perhaps the journey doesn’t have to be quite as difficult as it so often is. And so just maybe, the aim of finding true love is one we might all more successfully chance just from recognizing a few basic things about it, and perhaps seeking it with such a good approach we should, for the freedom to seek it at all, is, after all, really quite special.

Continue reading “When Seeking True Love” …

As the days grow cold and the nights grow long, it’s that time of year again. Families and individuals across the nation–and much of the world–are gearing up to celebrate, or else already have. It’s a time of joy and yet stress, of frantic paces and yet quite moments, and a time of remembrance, indeed, and yet of looking forward as well. Yet it’s also a time of some controversy, over the usual squabbles; whether the proper greeting is “Merry Christmas” or not–whether “Happy Holidays” is offensive or not–and how much or how little governments, businesses, and schools should adhere to given traditions. Such may colorfully be referred to as the “War on Christmas”; but despite the strong feelings often involved, perhaps there’s really very little we have to fret about. Such diverse holidays as Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Chinese New Year, Eid al-Fitr, and Kwanzaa do indeed represent divergent traditions, traditions that can’t be entirely reconciled. Perhaps there’s nonetheless a common thread throughout all our “winter” holidays though–a spirit of togetherness, love, and hope for the future–that’s really all that need matter to all of us outside of most traditions. The issue with public institutions is a bit more complicated, involving separation of church and state; private rights in public but privately-owned businesses; and cultural or secular traditions versus religious ones; but, even there, just accepting each others’ traditions needn’t be so hard. We need only to think of each other in the spirit of the season, and then whatever our own traditions or choices of greeting may be, speaking and listening with our hearts, we’ll surely have happy holidays for all.

Continue reading “Happy Holidays to All” …

By our own standards at least, communication of a high order remains the hallmark of an intelligent, sentient species. The ability to communicate thoughts, feelings, and abstract ideas sets us apart from all other known animals, and is arguably the basis of sentience itself, for to communicate without, one must first think (“communicate”) within. Yet in spite of its magnificence, should it ever come to meeting with intelligent aliens, communication will likely present a great many barriers to be overcome, beyond even “practical” and environmental ones that may hinder mere attempts at it. For different species may communicate through varying physical means, for instance, or else be physiologically incapable of producing or of even perceiving others’ languages. Further, just as two equally-functional computer processors typically can’t understand the other’s “languages”, so too might alien minds be incapable of comprehending languages that developed independently of them. While the use of multiple sign languages though–each species perceiving all others, while producing just their own–could likely be a workaround for the physical and physiological barriers (in fact, given certain characteristics of light versus sound, spoken languages could probably work in this way as well), no such simple workaround exists for the potential comprehension barrier. Indeed, only the rather extreme and questionable approach of creating a new species could seemingly handle it, for “universal translators” could only be built once someone had comprehension of the languages to be interpreted between. Hence inter-species communication may be far trickier than science fiction at least nearly always suggests, and with it, so too may be any true form of a cosmic community; serving as a reminder, perhaps, of the very special bond that we–like all members of any given species–truly share.

Continue reading “Cosmic Language” …

The end of the world was upon us, or so the notion went. Most of us knew it wouldn’t be so, but the ideas were certainly out there, and talked about, with a strange appeal born both of the stories, but also of our desires, perhaps, for a release from it all. But December 21st, 2012 came and went, and the world didn’t end; no cataclysms devastated it, or us; and in the end, the end of the Mayan calendar was just that, the ending of a calendar. Instead, we have since found ourselves in the same positions that we’ve always been in, journeying into an increasingly uncertain tomorrow, with the same old situations continuing to play out. And, while the world may never end as it was famously said it would on December 21st, 2012, we nonetheless face many problems that remain threatening to a brighter future. Perhaps the core issue is that we just don’t care sometimes, about our fellow human beings, about animals and other life, and about our future, the future of our world. Between different groups of people, we maintain divisions that aren’t truly there, and we sometimes even look down upon or turn away from others for no good reason, to all our detriments. And, perhaps we seek everything from others all too often, yet not so often give of ourselves in the many ways we can, a pattern currently playing out in and dominating political thought even. Yet in spite of all these things, there exists a way out, and an awesomely simple one at that. For if we can only learn to care more about the world than the world ever cared about us, acting under the auspices of our religious beliefs and psychologies alike, then, we will do what only living, conscious beings such as us can do in this universe: make it a better place in which to live. And it is accomplishing this aim, one step at a time, that we each ought to be focusing on, for there’s still time to make things right, even as greater challenges yet loom ahead.

Continue reading “Continuations and Journeys” …

There are foods that are largely known and widely eaten, and then there’re foods that are no less enjoyed, yet far less common. Take, for instance, peanut butter sandwiches. Nearly everyone has had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but many other peanut butter sandwiches are out there as well, loved by those who know them, yet largely unknown to many others. Such is the case, for example, with peanut butter sandwiches that include banana, mayonnaise, or marshmallow creme, or even such diverse items as honey, bacon, pickles, tomato, and lettuce. These sandwiches appear to be regional in their appreciation–yet quite cherished within families, after having been passed down through generations–and this probably all came about as people began eating them for their cheap and readily-obtainable ingredients. The fact is, however, that not only are these “alternative” peanut butter sandwiches good, they continue to be simple and inexpensive snacks or meals, and, compared with many snack foods, they’re relatively nutritious too. Hence if you’re ever looking for something new to try, you just might want to give some of these sandwiches a shot–substituting almond or some other alternative nut butter if need be–taking part in a very special tradition in the process.

Continue reading “Peanut Butter Sandwiches” …

It has often been noted that over the past 100 years or so, we’ve developed technology to a degree never before seen, greatly transforming our societies as a result. Indeed, unlike the advancements of previous centuries, the creation and widespread proliferation of computers, smart phones, and various online services in particular has eliminated some of the space between us all, and drastically impacted both how we live our lives, and how the world at large operates. Yet in spite of all that, our newest technologies have still served only to assist us, offering us much, while requiring only a few lifestyle changes in return. Now in the 21st century though, as we advance toward the creation of virtual brains and artificial life, we’re encroaching on the verge of a technological transformation that will impact us far more greatly than that of the previous century even, should we choose to fully pursue it. Indeed, strong and steady progress is being made toward the creation both of conscious software and of android bodies, and since there’s no reason to think that an android with a sufficiently sophisticated mechanical brain won’t possess awareness, within the upcoming decades, it seems that for once, “our technology” will compete with us and challenge us. Beyond some early years then when artificial life is still underdeveloped, it’s creation will cast us into great ethical and rights struggles, and present us with at least one other sentient species that we’ll have to learn to live with; a species that could even render us functionally obsolete, possibly forcing us to transition to mechanical bodies ourselves–if even possible by then–to keep pace. Over the next few decades then, we will have to contemplate our progress regarding artificial life closely, for however we proceed, unless we simply avoid creating it at human-level consciousness, it will impact us greatly, marking the greatest transformation of technology and society ever seen.

Continue reading “Creating Androids” …


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