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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The Sweet Revenge of Man

Posted by PlanetGrok on March 6, 2010

I’m sure commenters here have heard about the Mancession. For those who haven’t, a picture says a thousand words:

Fortunately for the next generation of men, Nature has observed this imbalance and is taking matters into her own hands.

Selection in Utero: A Biological Response to Mass Layoffs,” has just been published in the American Journal of Human Biology. The researchers, led by Ralph Catalano and Claire Margerison Zilko, write that the previously reported health effects of economic insecurity may “represent only the tip of a more fundamental ‘adaptation iceberg.’”Specifically, their research supports the argument that when women receive signals that times are tough, their bodies retain the tendency, shaped over thousands of years through natural selection, to reject offspring less likely to survive.

…Such threats are bad news to small male fetuses because “a relatively large fraction” of them fall near “a critical rank below which gestations spontaneously end,” the researchers explain. If they are born, these small males are more likely to die than larger infants and females of equivalent size.

…they estimated that news of impending mass layoffs “predicted the loss of 3,090 males in utero” during the 61 months (out of the 141 they examined) in which unemployment claims exceeded the expected number.

Wait, you say. How does this misandrist male-baby-killing spree that pregnant women are committing (henceforth known as “The Great Culling”) actually help males?

By skewering the sex ratio in our favor, of course. With fewer males for the ladies to choose from, our sons will be able to be pickier than men have ever been (assuming anyone in this corner of the blogosphere ever gets around to reproducing). Women will clamor around the few remaining males who have survived the Great Culling and they will acquiesce to the demands of polygamy. Bring the Mancession on, I say. Balance must be restored to the Force.

Posted in Science | 11 Comments »

What is Time?

Posted by PlanetGrok on March 4, 2010

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time thinking about these sorts of question that I was not fully equipped to think about. Nevertheless, many of my thought experiments were not too far from the truth. As a child, I thought that Time was an illusion created by entropy (I called it ‘movement’ back then), because I thought that if every last subatomic particle in my body froze in place, then I would not age- I would be literally “frozen in time”. This cool interview with Sean Carroll brings back memories of my childhood speculations. Apparently, my prepubescent grokkian senses were wrong and physicists have decided that time takes place even in completely empty space, which I am in no position to argue with.

Sean Carroll also mentions in this interview that time travel backwards is impossible, which I don’t think is entirely accurate – time traveling backwards in our own multiverse “strand” is probably impossible according to what I’ve read, but if it were ever possible to jump back into other (extremely similar) strands of the multiverse, then we would in effect be traveling backwards in time and we wouldn’t run into prohibitive Grandfather paradoxes.

They also have some discussion on how a high entropy universe such as ours came to be. Aesthetically, I prefer the idea of a big bang / big crunch cycle, but I think that hypothesis has been falling out of favor recently, probably to be superceded by Carroll’s model (described in the article) or something similar.

Further on in the interview, we read about what sounds like some fun, far-out postdoc work:

In fact, I have a postdoc at Caltech who’s very interested in the possibility of universes bumping into each other. Now, we call them universes. But really, to be honest, they are regions of space with different local conditions. It’s not like they’re metaphysically distinct from each other. They’re just far away. It’s possible that you could imagine universes bumping into each other and leaving traces, observable effects. It’s also possible that that’s not going to happen. That if they’re there, there’s not going to be any sign of them there. If that’s true, the only way this picture makes sense is if you think of the multiverse not as a theory, but as a prediction of a theory.
I, for one,want to bump into a multiverse with vastly different local conditions than our own. I hope we get absorbed right into it.
As a parting note, this interview also reminded me that I forgot to point out to OneSTDV a nice exception to his Law of Black Intellectualism.

Posted in Science | 8 Comments »