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 Synthesis & Connections

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NoCoPilot

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PostSubject: Synthesis & Connections   Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:22 pm


  1. One of my favorite TV programs growing up was James Burke's "Connections," which showed (in an often lighthearted way) how seemingly unrelated things can be connected.  Certain inventions had to become commonplace before other inventions could come along, certain ingredients had to be imported for another reason before scientists could combine them to make something new, and so forth.  It gives one a feeling for the serendipity of most everything we take for granted.

  2. One of my favorite apps on my iPad is one called "Earth Viewer" which shows scientists' best guess at global tectonics over the past 541 millions years.  There are overlays you can add showing average global temperature, oxygen levels, CO levels, major asteroid impacts, and biodiversity.  It's fascinating seeing how temperature and CO are related, how the continents were configured during various dinosaur eras and why bones found today in widely-scattered areas were tightly-grouped during the dinosaur's reign, and so forth.  It helps explain a lot of stuff which is otherwise inexplicable,  making a lot of sense when put into this new perspective.

  3. One of my favorite books of the past twenty years was "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" by Sean Carroll, which explains (or at least postulates) a mechanism for the pre-Cambrian explosion in variety of life on earth.  How life went from ubiquitous blue algae mats to chordates in a few hundred million years.  His theory is plausible and very helpful in understanding Darwinism on a genetic scale.  It highlights the serendipity of life itself.

  4. The book I'm presently reading, "The Singing Neanderthals," describes how between 80,000 and 72,000 years ago modern stone implements and carved bone artifacts appeared, but then disappeared from the fossil record until roughly 50,000 years ago.  Evidence of language and culture and art and clothing and all those beginnings of modernity only show up in sites newer than 50,000 years ago.  The author mentions this without attempting any explanation.

  5. I remembered reading recently about research that suggests that mankind came very close to extinction approximately 70,000 years ago, with as few as 1,000 breeding pairs surviving the 'nuclear winter' caused by the Toba eruption.  I realized this would explain the previously-mentioned gap in the fossil record.

  6. This also explains the rapid diffusion of language and culture (and the arrival of cave paintings) when mankind rebuilt from near extinction.


I wish someone would write a book synthesizing all these theories, Sean Carroll-like, James Burke-like, into a coherent narrative about how human speech, language, culture and technological bootstrapping arose after Marine Isotope Stage 4 based on the hourglassing of the population.  THAT would be an interesting book!


Last edited by NoCoPilot on Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Synthesis & Connections   Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:32 pm

This book, "When Humans Nearly Vanished: The Catastrophic Explosion of the Toba Volcano" to be published October 2018 might fill the bill. I have pre-ordered.
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PostSubject: Re: Synthesis & Connections   Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:36 pm

This one definitely would not!  Read the author bio and the reviews for a hoot.
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