thought not static

where one think leads to another

Archive for May, 2008

so long (a john brehm poem)

Posted by thoughtnotstatic on 23 May 2008

To break this day
free from all
the others

to stand at the
morning end
of it and

push off from
the shore
sail beyond

the reach of all
my failures
calling after me

“You can’t just
leave us here”
shaking their fists

crowding into
the water
clamoring “We

made you who
you are” to
feel their voices

growing small
underneath
the surf

the wide un-
knowable ocean
all before me.

– “So Far” by John Brehm
Poetry Magazine Vol 178, June 2001

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the never ending lives of magnificent beings

Posted by thoughtnotstatic on 9 May 2008

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. -Woody Allen

you\'re looking pretty good for your agePreviously, I wrote about recent findings that learning can come at a rather dramatic cost – decreased life span. Today, I swing to the other end of the biological spectrum by sharing something I learned about the mighty redwood tree: “Science knows of no built-in reason why any particular redwood tree need ever die.” This according to a story in the April – June 2008 Bay Nature about the 100th Anniversary of Muir Woods. They are able to overcome broken limbs, resist invaders and susceptible to no known diseases. Further, they not only reproduce by seed they “propagate as clones, by spouting. The stems we now see may be only the latest shoots from rootstocks many times older. Just how ancient the oldest redwoods might be, as genetic individuals, is simply not known.” We’re talking dinosaur days, folks.

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the short lived lives of intelligent beings

Posted by thoughtnotstatic on 7 May 2008

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
Friedrich von Schiller

“You do not usually get something for nothing. Now a new study reveals that the evolution of an improved learning ability could come at a particularly high price: an earlier death.” So begins the article “Critical Thinking” which appeared in April 24 2008 print edition of The Economist. This article, along with a more in-depth story the May 6 New York Times, cite recent research that shows while learning is a common ability in the animal kingdom, it is not necessarily an advantageous ability.

In the results of experiments with fruit flies, for example, researchers found “that their fast-learning flies live on average 15 percent shorter lives” while “flies that have undergone selection for long life were up to 40 percent worse at learning than ordinary flies.”

Scientist speculate one reason for this may be in that learning is not free – biologically, it takes tremendous energy – and that this may, in fact, divert or take energy away from other biological functions necessary for survival…

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