Category Archives: Biology

Free will and its impact on our political views

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to pinpoint the difference between liberals and conservatives in the United States and kept coming back to the idea of free will. I want to get at the fundamentals of where we differ, not superficial policy debates, not fiscal arguments, but basic fundamentals of how we see the world. And the first thing that stood out to me is how we see equal opportunity. How do we view our ability to succeed in this world as compared to someone of a different race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc? While conservatives, for the most part, believe that we can ‘pull ourselves up by the bootstraps’ and believe in equal opportunity to the top, liberals fundamentally disagree. Liberals believe that we are staggered from the gun and some people are given a head start. What we are disagreeing on, fundamentally, is the impact of free will and politics. Continue reading Free will and its impact on our political views

How to prevent another Trump presidency

Trump’s electoral college win this month and the failure of logic and reason to prevent a Trump presidency will probably go down in history as nearly analyzed as much as Hitler’s rise to power. In only two weeks I’ve read proposed hundreds of reasons for his success, from lying news to liberal arrogance. And it’s taken me a while to compose myself enough to analyze it and get past the pure vitriol and disgust I have for anyone who voted for that man. But while we cling to simple answers and quick solutions, and of course if we changed any one element of the campaigns and election, the outcome could have and should have been drastically different. I’m not sure though that my thoughts on the matter constitute a simple answer, because the question I’m asking myself is not how he won, but rather how he got any votes at all. And the answer to that question, the source of Donald Trump’s rise to power stems not from liberal media bias or Hillary’s slip ups, but rather from the ignorance, lack of education, and inability to think critically that plagues humanity. And the only way to prevent another Trump presidency is to combat all those things. Continue reading How to prevent another Trump presidency

Weight loss isn’t simply a math problem

I used to cite the simple math of calories in<calories out=weight loss as an argument for the ease of weight loss. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve believed and said some extraordinarily stupid stuff. It sometimes takes me a while, and I may never learn, but I have to get over my insecurity of admitting I was wrong and admit that this claim about weight loss was fundamentally naive. Continue reading Weight loss isn’t simply a math problem

The hallmark of a healthy diet

Since I was a kid, my dad would inform me of the recent dietary trend, from entire dietary restrictions to minor single food alterations. He would read about it in Men’s Journal and then tell me, “Oh, avocados are very good for you,” or “bread is very bad for you,” with no explanation further than that. It could have been attributed to the most recent journal article on the subject, some undergraduate run correlation study, or it could have just been the musings of a physician who overstepped their authority. I used to think that the reason these adjectives, good and bad, bugged me so much when applied to nutrition because they oversimplified things, but recently I realized that it’s because it massively overcomplicates nutrition. Continue reading The hallmark of a healthy diet

Science!

There are two types of opinions with respect to science: that it can be used to explain everything and the alternative that its scope is limited. I know a lot of us are tremendously resistant to the belief that science can explain everything. We crave mystery in our world and we often believe science takes that away. But what sometimes we fail to realize about science is that more often than not, it creates mystery where there previously was none, it creates questions more than answers. Scientists themselves are fueled by the mystery surrounding our universe and the entities within it. It is exactly the lack of knowledge that drives them. But they base their search on the premise that knowledge can be obtained, and that is why they keep looking. Continue reading Science!

Swimming with intestinal gas

Just over a year ago I set my personal record for 800 yards. It was nothing to brag about, but having been known as a chaser throughout my triathlon career, it was nice to finally be able to come out of the water with the leaders. At 9:38, a personal record by over twenty-five seconds, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was thrilled that my swimming was finally taking off after years of flopping around in the water. But at the same time I wanted to know how I made such a giant improvement in a matter of a couple months. I looked back at my training and it looked consistent as ever. My form had adapted only slightly, but that day something felt different. I felt like I was on top of the water; I felt absolutely fatigue-free for the first six hundred yards. My flip turns were smooth and my stoke held strong. But what led to all this if my training and stroke improvement very likely didn’t? I was swimming with intestinal gas, loads of it. Seriously, I think it was because I had to fart. Really. Goddamn. Badly. Continue reading Swimming with intestinal gas

Sexism in kids

Nearly every day I hear of some case of sexism in the world, why it should end, and how we are to combat it. The adult world shuns this sexism. But after being surrounded by kids the past few months, I realized that it is no wonder adults are often sexist. We raise our kids that way. We teach them differences between genders that are not innate. We encourage boys to play with construction toys and discourage them from princesses. In this light it seems no wonder that engineering schools are flooded with males. I hear a sexist comment nearly every hour in my life surrounded by children and their parents, and yet no one acknowledges it, or is even aware of it. Prepubescent children are nearly identical biologically and the behaviors that we tie to them and differentiate with them are almost completely trained. I wonder too how much of these ties later in life are due to this sexism ingrained in them from birth. Continue reading Sexism in kids

Cosmological significance

Yesterday I listened to a talk from Sam Harris on the subject of free will. It was a brilliant speech, one that I definitely feel is worth watching and may clarify some elements of my last post. What he is addressing is that not only does free will not exist but that it could not exist, that the concept itself is impossible, that to imagine free will is muddled and intangible. Harris spent a large portion of his speech outlining the benefits to knowing that we do not have free will, how an acknowledgement of this reality could help retain fear but abolish hatred, how it could help inspire a reconstructing of our justice system, and many other reasons for adopting an awareness of our true freedom. I was challenged the other day on my analysis of life and my inspiration in life coming almost purely from a cosmological perspective. While Harris supplied us with an adequate and logical reason for understanding that our thoughts are not our own, I wondered about the benefit of analyzing everything from a cosmological perspective. Continue reading Cosmological significance

Biological immortality

Imagine watching nuclear fusion come to be standard as energy on the earth. You stand by as you witness one of the greatest advancements in humankind-the transition to sustainability. Imagine, with the discovery of better methods of space travel, abandoning our terrestrial life to become space-faring, trans-galactic beings. Imagine interacting with beings from another planet, learning their language, their culture, their technology. Imagine studying their biology, making friends on another planet, learning their planet’s history, and having access to information about the universe that we have not yet acquired. Imagine watching our planet develop, new species forming, continents shifting. What if I were to tell you that all of this could potentially happen within your lifetime? Continue reading Biological immortality

Badass pictures

Yesterday I rode for the first time in months. I ventured down south of the James and rode on the beautiful low traffic roads that I remember once believing were hilly. It was an amazing feeling to be mobile and fast again. Despite the occasional tweak in my ankle, the pain couldn’t compare to what I experience when running or swimming. And the pain from my lack of training was an adequate distraction. For the first time in many, many years, if not ever, I was passed on a solo ride by another cyclist. It was awkward as hell and I’ll admit my heart sank when I heard the whir of his spinning chain slip by. I felt broken but I remembered I had vowed to not let my insecurity be my motivation and I continued to enjoy my ride. With my hairy, skinny legs, I was determined to accept the state where I had arrived with acceptance and pride.

I had my MRI yesterday morning. Ever since learning about the basic of an MRI in my organic chemistry class, I have been fascinated with that form of medical imaging. For the twenty-five minutes I lay with the magnets clambering around my leg, all I could think about was the amazing feat of human knowledge and engineering to be able to create such a machine. Continue reading Badass pictures