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Week 2  Mixmaster Blog Page

Page history last edited by Trish Stevenson 11 years, 4 months ago

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"The ash of stellar alchemy emerging into consciousness."  We spend so much time and energy trying to define life, as if somehow our definition of it could set limits on what life is and should be.  No matter what we believe or what we are certain of, life is what it is no matter how we define it or whether we even recognize something as life or not.  A few hundred years ago, if you had suggested that there were tiny forms of life so small that no one can see them and they were responsible for making people sick you'd be thought of as crazy.  With the passage of time comes the expansion of human knowledge.  In a few centuries what will our progeny consider to be life and where will that knowledge take us as a species? 


In the end, does it even matter.  Before there was man, there was life on this planet.  Long after man has gone the way of the dodo, life will still exist, if not on this world then perhaps somewhere else in the universe.  Whether man is there to define it, recognize it, or disect it up in an attempt to understand it, Life will go on.  When I see the question "What is life?" I see within it other questions that we are trying to answer; Why are we here? Is there a God? Are we alone in this universe? Is this a rash and should I have a doctor look at it? ;)


"What is life?" isn't a question that has a definitive answer.  It, like the others, is a question whose answers will lack certainty so long as the sum of human experience is confined to our little corner of the universe.  Maybe an answer to the question of "why are we here?" is to answer all of the other questions.  I am reminded of Carl Sagan in one of his episodes of "Cosmos."  He tells of the origin of matter from the Big Bang to the coalescing of stars.  Stars convert hydrogen to helium, helium to carbon, carbon to oxygen, oxygen to neon, neon to silicon, silicon to iron, the resulting supernova creating all of the heavier elements and casting them out into the depths of space eventually forming other stars and all of the planets.  The matter which makes up the liquid crystals in this display, the plastic of this computer, the steel plate in my head, and all life on Earth is the result of the life and death of stars.  If we are made up of the same matter of long dead stars, then in a sense aren't our attempts to understand the universe actually the cosmos trying to know itself?  Sagan posed this question at the end of his show and I am left wondering if by some broad definition of life could the universe be alive. 

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I know Carl Sagan probably isn't the first and certainly isn't the last to pose this viewpoint but 25 years ago I watched the "Cosmos" series with my dad and it helped define how I looked at things from that day forth.  Please watch this clip and enjoy and then you can check out whole episodes here, "Cosmos".



Charles Piercey

Do Toasters Dream of Electric Bagels






When reading the first chapter, "Life: The Eternal Enigma" of Margulis and Sagan's book, What is Life?, I found myself questioning out of all the broad academic and scientific information so beautifully written about life, why do the foundations of the authors' belief systems lie in a supernova explosion? Or so it seems. I ask myself, how can one believe all this (the enormity of the marvelous expanse of space and everything in it) "formed itself out of star stuff"?


Instead, why not the concept of life originating from Intellegent Design with God before and through Creation? I choose to walk the "ancient paths."

Here is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask about the ancient paths, ‘Which one is the good way?’ Take it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16


What is life? For me life is not only the wonders of the physical aspect of nature, the wonders of the human body, the grandeur of all of space, including the many novas and the galaxies in this universe, but I believe life does encompass time, energy and matter...


I totally agree with Milton's writings in his epic poem, Paradise Lost, of God being the author of creation. I envision life when I think of God existing before there was time, and I especially think of life when I read in the book of Genesis about God creating our universe, choosing earth to be the home of the first man and woman and breathing the "breath of life" into Adam. Life is not only measured by the years we live, but it is in the substance all around us. Life is in the air we humans, animals, and plants breathe. Linguistic Cafe


Sue's place


What came up in class?  Dr Conner drew, wrote, whatever you want to call it, a “J” shape, form on the board.  My immediate recall was a reminder of a Christmas stocking, and how I should probably begin looking for stocking gifts for my children.  It may sound like an easy task, but believe me it is not.  The stocking involves much thought, no candy, no junky toys that break the minute they are opened and something fun and exciting!  I often regret why I ever started this tradition, however, the kids really enjoy the stocking as much as their gifts.


What is Life? 


L i f e=?



What is life? Everyone has their own opinion on how life was created, wether it was through science or some omnipotent, but to me that is not the point of this text. The question that we should ask ourselves is, what does it truly mean to live? Some may define it as anything that is a breathing or free thinking being, but to me even that is too vague. In order truly live, you must break free from all constraits that are preventing you from achieving true happiness. Is a person who goes to the same job everyday, does the same meaningless work, and then goes home to perform the same nightly rituals truly alive? No offence to them, but to me their brains have been sucked out of their skull by some higher being, and now they are just mindless drones. I know most of them do not enjoy their current stage in their life, so what is preventing them from breaking free? Fear. If you can not or will not take a chance to better yourself or family, what is the point of living?


When relating this text with What is an Author, there are some connections that can be made, which is primarily the role of the author. The author is the creator and voice of his work, allowing the text to evolve throughout the pages. This is almost like a life and death scenario, through the beginning and end. They can create life, but also take it away when need be. By being the voice of the work, the author is able to express his feelings and concerns by creating characters to convey the message. In a way the author is a God.


Jacob Grimes


The Conditions of Emergence


One of the things I wrote down in my notebook during last week’s class was “What are the conditions of emergence?”  In trying to answer this question, I feel I must say that it is as learning exercise for me and not in any way an attempt to convey any knowledge.  I still feel like a total n00b on the ideas of emergence and convergence, but hopefully this prompt will help me to gain a little perspective on the topic.



From dictionary.com:



Emergence is:




the act or process of emerging.




an outgrowth, as a prickle, on the surface of a plant.




Evolution. the appearance of new properties or species in the course of development or evolution.



From the Wikipedia entry, “emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.”



In my own words, then, emergence seems to be when causes and conditions come together to produce a new outgrowth of what is already existing.



Broadly, it seems that in this complex web of interrelated causes and conditions that we call a universe, it seems that there is nothing but a situation of emergence taking place all the time.



As a social theory with the emphasis on making advancements in a myriad of existing systems, certain criteria seem to need to be in place.  Chiefly among these, I would presume, would be having access to existing knowledge and the ability to freely share and expand upon current paradigms with a vision of improving or advancing systems and ideas.  The ability and rate at which this could happen would seem to be highly correlative to the extent that the existing knowledge is available, and how freely others are able to incorporate it into their own research.  The exponential rate at which technology has advanced in the last hundred years seems to be an example of this, with the hindrances being visible in the idea of proprietary information.



I’m sure this is an over-simplified view, but I hope to learn a deeper understanding as we journey together throughout the semester.


Travis May


forms. genre: tropes/patterns/forms. content/form.



I wanted to reflect on yesterday's class for a minute. We were talking about hyper attention, channel surfing, tabbed browsing, etc. Dr. Conner pulled up an article by Nicholas Carr, "Is Google making Us Stupid?" I read over the article because I was curious what the author had to say about my favorite search engine. Afterall, did we not GOOGLE this article to locate it on the Internet? I find it humorous that Carr's audience locates his work through the exact search engine that makes us all "stupid." The premise of the article is that we have become skimmers, disengaged in our reading and that artificial intelligences, such as Google, have taken away our ability to mentally absorb information. Carr worries that the advancement in our technology will ultimately lead to the demise of our ability to think on a deeper level. I love to read a good book and I love to access information easily...I have control over how much time I spend on both. According to the US census, book sales have increased every year since the 1990's. I would even hypothesize that the Internet is responsible for a portion of this increase every year. Afterall, who hasn't looked up critiques of a book online before buying it? Should we worry that artificial intelligence is making us "stupid"? On the contrary, I feel like we are able to reflect on more topics because of the Internet. I mean, am I not reflecting on an article that I accessed through Google? I suppose I am pro-technlogy. Look at the advantages that we have now that we did not have in the past. We can choose to do so much more with our time or we can choose to slow our pace when needed. Automobiles and air travel are advancements in technology...can we not see more and do more because of these advancements? Google is a useful and powerful resource that I use on a daily basis. Let's not blame Google and the Internet for our lack of attention span...we have control over how we spend our time. 

Let's get the MixMaster going...please feel free to respond. :) Carola


MixMasterBlog MixedUp : DMae

"Dr Conner drew, wrote, whatever you want to call it, a “J” shape, form on the board." "The question that we should ask ourselves is, what does it truly mean""as anything that is a breathing or free thinking being""to think on a deeper level."  "The stocking involves much thought""that makes us all "stupid.""  "This is almost like a life and death scenario,""to access information easily""but I hope to learn a deeper understanding""of interrelated causes and conditions that we call a universe,""before buying it?"  "The ability and rate at which this could happen""to freely share and expand upon current paradigms""to do so much more with our time or we can choose to slow our pace""of relatively simple interactions.”  "As a social theory with""our lack of attention span""making advancements in a myriad of existing systems,""emergence seems to be""artificial intelligence""with a vision of improving or advancing systems and ideas.

Comments (1)

ShareRiff said

at 10:59 pm on Sep 14, 2009

WOW! Word magic! This is one of those "wiki sprouts" that topples the whole wiki over into another realm....we are on our way....spontaneously/simultaneously meaningful/nonsemantic!

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