Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Atheist's Riddle - attempt to solve

Longtime no write... oh well, here I go again:
This time, it's about something I read a long time ago and namely The Atheist's Riddle. To put it simply it states that information can only be created by a conscious entity and since DNA is also information (genetic one), it MUST have been created and not spontaneously/randomly appear. Here are two examples of it, the first is the original one I received on an email and that got me thinking, the second one is just another restatement of it I found on the net.
"Messages, languages and coded information never,
ever come from anything else besides a mind.
No one has ever produced a single example of a message 
that did not come from a mind.
 
Nature can create fascinating patterns - snowflakes,
sand dunes, crystals, stalagmites and stalactites.  Tornados 
and turbulence and cloud formations.
 
But non-living things cannot create language. They
*cannot* create codes.  Rocks cannot think and they
cannot talk.  And they cannot create information.
And the second:
Proof that DNA was designed by a mind:
1. DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism. 2. All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind.
3. Therefore DNA was designed by a mind, and language and information are proof of the action of a Superintelligence.

This has kept itself on the back of my mind for I guess around an year since I first received the email with it.
In that time, I came up however with two possible theories to explain it:

My first attempt was based on the interesting property of DNA (and RNA for that matter) that is to replicate. I thought that given the right conditions you can obtain a molecule that is stable and that can interact with other matter around it, creating copies of itself. This consumes work and thus the molecule would probably have to unbind some part of it in order to have energy to make the replication. It could then reform itself to it's complete state by re-assimilating the missing part using some sort of external energy (solar, geothermal, etc).
Problem with this theory is that after you get enough copies of this molecule, nothing happens so then I though that maybe it could sustain modifications and still retain it's properties, then you could have something very similar to RNA.
Still, it requires the chance to have spontaneous creation of the first molecule, but it's pretty decent as a first explanation of the riddle.

My second attempt was a few days ago, when I asked myself "what is information?". The riddle states that
"[rocks] cannot create information". But as it turns out information can spontaneously appear in nature, even more often than you might think about. This is based on a definition of information I came up with:
A region in space that has an entropy value different than the rest of it's surroundings.
Note that I do NOT know if it is a correct definition, but it seems that everything that has a lower/higher entropy contains some sort information.

Oh, I'm assuming you know what entropy is, if not I strongly recommend you look it up on the internet, but in case you prefer to continue reading, entropy is basically a measurement of how much something is disorganized. So, for example a row of soldiers has a lower entropy (is more organized) than a crowd of people.

The key is to note that information in this form occurs very often in nature, take for example a tornado it leaves a mark on the terrain it traversed, it obeys the first law of thermodynamics, as it does work (spins) in order to leave a mark on the ground. That mark is information: information that a tornado passed, it contains maybe the side and speed of it. Now there may be a big step from tornadoes to the creation of life, but I've shown that there nature is capable of producing information. This information could take form in RNA (though I admit it's a big leap) or DNA

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don't you just hate...

... the number of days in a week? I mean have you ever though of doing something twice a week with equal time intervals between each day? Or maybe three times a week or four times. It's impossible, now my question is why choose 7 days to determine a weekly cycle? Those early Christians didn't put much thought in prime numbers because if they did, they would've recognized it as a prime and chose a different one. The Sumerians were much smarter, they used multiples of 12 (actually it was a hexadecimal base): think about it: 60 = 5 * 12 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 12 months in a year, (almost) 360 = 60 * 60 days in a year.
The cool thing about 12 is that a lot of divisors. You can divide it equally by 2, 3, 4, and 6. Giving you lots of options to partition your week. So, if you ask me, God should have created the Earth in 12 days

... when you are tired and want to go to sleep, but you can't because you're anxious about something and finally when you fall asleep you have one of those weird dreams in which you stumble and have a sensation of falling and then wake up, with your whole body twitching?

... (this one only applies of you generally read science magazines) articles that always give an introduction to subjects a little more advanced like 'special relativity' or 'uncertainty principle' but it's always the same thing you heard time and time again. People that read that kind of stuff, generally know what those subjects are and if they didn't they would search the Internet, find out and then return. You don't need to introduce things like what causes earthquakes each time you have an earthquake-related article for example.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Are we not alone?

For a long time I thought that aliens could have not visited us due to the immense distances between star systems.
Yesterday however, I started thinking about the twin paradox and realized that it could be used to send creatures from one star system to another and have them travel the distance in a very short time. This idea crossed my mind a long time ago, but now, after reading a bit on my favourite 'book', Wikipedia do I see that I was in fact correct.

Ever heard of the "Twin Paradox"? It's a famous example of special relativity: say you have 2 identical twins both 20 years old. One stays on Earth (let's call him Andrew) and the other (named Benjamin) flies in a space-ship close to the speed of light. When he returns to Earth, from his point of view, 5 years later, he finds that his brother aged 60 years. Now how is this possible? During the trip Andrew aged only 5 years, while his twin 60. The interesting part is actually managed to cover in 5 years a distance that light would have traversed in say 50. Note that we consider two frames of reference, so Andrew didn't actually went faster than the speed of light.

The paradox is related to relative motion, so basically why did the stationary brother age faster? Shouldn't the fact that speed is relative mean that we could've consider Andrew stationary but in that case he would have aged, and we know that Benjamin is the one aged... contradiction. This isn't important here (a possible explanation if you must, could be given by accelerated motion).

Now, with a little help from Wikipedia, let's give a more accurate example: Say an alien race (let's call them Zorgonians), found our planet 1 billion years ago. I would recommend you pay attention to the time-line because we're talking in relative terms here. After analysing the constituents of Earth's atmosphere they found out that it could support life. Zorgonia, their home planet is located some 100,000 light years from us (100000 ly is about the diameter of the Milky Way), so what they were seeing was actually the Earth 1,000,100,000 years ago. They sent a ship equipped with the Faztzorg-9800 engine that can reach a speed of 98% of the speed of light, carrying a crew of Scientzorgs. Given it's speed, the space ship should reach Earth in 102040 years, from our and from the Zorgonians' point of view.
But what do the Scientzorgs think of their trip? Because of distance contraction at very high speeds they only have to travel a fraction of the 100000 ly, more exactly for them, the trip takes about 20000 light years. But what about, if we use after-burners? Increasing our speed to 99.5%? Then the trip would last 10000 years, a unbelievable speed of 99.99998% of the speed of light gives us a trip time of only 63 years from the Scientzorgs' point of view. However, as the speed increases the mass of the space ship for also increases. So, a 1,000 ton space-ship, at 99.99998% of light-speed has a mass of 15 million tons. Which is quite heavy.

Truth is, that now, once I've done that math, a space ship travelling at 99.99998% of the speed of light seems unlikely, however, the point of this article was to show, that a sufficiently advanced civilization, could send scientists to another planet without having them die of old age before they reach their destination.
Still, the Zorgonians on Zorgonia would have to wait 2 * 100,000 years to hear from their Scientzorgs...

NOTE: A quick insight on the math / equations I used to get my results can be found on my blog's helper wiki: http://neduard.wikidot.com/specialrelativity

Monday, February 16, 2009

Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

A simple question that almost all of us are familiar with. But who has actually spent more than a few seconds of thought trying to work out this conundrum. Most will probably get a headache after a few iterations of the chicken-egg cycle and truth be told this is a very interesting concept indeed. I'm going to work specifically on the 'chicken' and 'egg' problem and I'm not going to tackle any of the more philosophical notions like: "If X depends on Y and Y depends on X, X is different from Y and they can not happen simultaneously. Thus, which came first, X or Y?"

I started to think about this during class, I can't remember what was the subject of discussion, but the teacher said "it's like the old chicken and egg question..." to which I replied with a proud tone in my voice: "It was the egg! The egg came first!". My colleagues, hearing this, instinctively adopted the opposite belief. I held a quick argument with them that evening but not much to show for. It was the day after that I elaborated and refined the proof for which the egg came first.

For those of you that are simply searching the internet for a answer to this question my opinion is this: The egg came first. Now for the proof:

Suppose that chickens evolved from reptiles (could have been dinosaurs for all I care) and that the only distinction between a bird and a reptile is the existence of feathers (the proof accepts further differentiation, but for the sake of simplicity let's just use feathers). Now, the reptiles were living happily when a mutation occurred and they started developing feathers. At first, this is called a mutation because the evolving feathers don't provide a sufficient increase in survival chances. So in the course of millions of years there were reptiles with feathers and reptiles without them (i.e. some generations had feathers and others didn't). Now suppose that we define a chicken to be the animal coated with feathers after 1000 consecutive generations of feather-bearing reptiles. We do this in order to eliminate the possibility of mutations: the fact that even then, individuals still have feathers means that they have an increased survival chance compared to their feather-less cousins. Ok, so the 999th egg is laid and a reptile with feathers comes out, that reptile in turn lays the 1000th egg. From that egg a chicken hatches (being the individual that corresponds to our definition). So, basically the first chicken appeared from an egg, and thus the egg was first.

Good, now you might consider our definition: the 1000th member with feathers, the idea is to strictly define the difference between a chicken and a reptile. You can use any definition you like, it's fundamental property is to classify all of the egg-laying animals into two categories: chickens and non-chickens. Once you have that it is easy to rebuild the proof.

So there you go, proof that the egg came before the chicken. I came up with this in the course of an evening, about a week ago. The big surprise came then I searched the internet today and found that I was right: according to evolution, the egg DID in fact come first.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Let's laugh a little

I just found this site while on #teensonlinux . It was all a coincidence I guess.
http://www.bash.org/?top

First, the too long or too naughty to post here ^_^
Here's _my_ password ********
Buried in sand
How many inches are from a to z?
Don't mess with the admins
YABNV = Yet Another Blood Ninja Victim
You won't get it!
Be careful what you say on IRC or you may end up on bash.org
Curse them typos
There's no justice in the world

next, the clean LOLed ones
<khassaki> HI EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!
<judge-mental> try pressing the the Caps Lock key
<khassaki> O THANKS!!! ITS SO MUCH EASIER TO WRITE NOW!!!!!!!
<judge-mental> fuck me


<i8b4uunderground> d-_-b
<bonynomore> how u make that inverted b?
<bonynomore> wait
<bonynomore> never mind

<reo4k> just type /quit whoever, and it'll quit them from irc
* luckyb1tch has quit IRC (r`heaven)
* r3devl has quit IRC (r`heaven)
* sasopi has quit IRC (r`heaven)
* phhhfft has quit IRC (r`heaven)
* blackersnake has quit IRC (r`heaven)
<iban`reo4k[ex]> that's gotta hurt
<r`heaven> :(

<frank> can you help me install GTA3?
<knightmare> first, shut down all programs you aren't using
frank has quit IRC. (Quit)
<knightmare> ...

* Porter is now known as PorterWITHGIRLFRIENDWHOISHOT
<strayed> he shot his girlfriend?

Monday, January 26, 2009

YAST

No, I have not started using SUSE. Here, "YAST" stands for Yet Another Scientific Theory :)
Remember my old post regarding LHC? I haven't mentioned it before, but besides being sort of a nerd, I'm also into physics, mainly astronomy and particle physics.

A few days earlier I went to an activity organized at my school at which a university professor presented the accelerator. After the main event, me and two fellow students discussed with him various theories. One of his claims was that the Universe isn't expanding at an accelerated rate and that it might in the distant future stop altogether and start contracting, ultimately undergoing a 'Big Crunch'. After that it would explode and thus our Universe would be cyclical in nature. Of course, I was aware of this theory for a long time and even considered it the most likely one to be true at some point in the past. However, I recently read Stephen Hawking's book, "A Brief History of Time" (published in '88 I believe). In it, professor Hawking was against this cyclical nature of the universe, instead he opted for a Universe that was expanding at an accelerated rate. I'm not going to talk about this hypothesis, only about the 'Big Crunch' scenario version.

The way I see it, even IF the Universe would have enough dark matter to stop the expansion and gradually contract all the way back to a singularity it wouldn't be able to explode again with a Big Bang. This is because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which states that the entropy of a system (and in our case the whole Universe) increases. If this is the case, then at each consequently Big-Bang the entropy is higher and higher. Finally there would be a state in which the entropy would be high enough not to cause a Big Crunch, all the matter in the Universe will be uniformly distributed, thus not allowing for galaxies, planets and life-forms to exist.

If the Universe doesn't undergo these cycles then it means that it must have a cause. Such a cause may be the "colliding Brane" theory, but it seems scientist aren't quite preoccupied with what happened before or what caused the Big Bang. In case you attribute it to quantum mechanics, then what are the conditions for a Big-Bang to occur? A completely-empty region of space it might seem. If there was mater inside the Universe at the moment of the Big-Bang then it might have had a strong impact on the Universe we see today, or the Big-Bang somehow annihilated everything, but if that's the case then another Big-Bang might just happen tomorrow, which seems pretty unlikely. Not to mention that we have to account for the massive amount of energy that's being thrown in, or if you want, you could say that in this model, a Big-Bang doesn't annihilate matter (energy) it simply absorbs it and then goes of. However, this again seems to contradict the 2nd law previously mentioned.

So, it would seem that in order for a Big-Bang to occur, you need a region in space (to be honest I don't know if you can call that space) that has no matter in it. But then, where would the energy come from? In quantum mechanics it is possible for matter to appear out of nowhere, but only on the form of a virtual particle-antiparticle pair. This is at the basis of the Hawking Radiation theory, I'm not going to go through that, my question is how is it possible for such a large amount of matter to be spontaneously created solely on quantum theory. And where all of the antimatter went? Is it because of the broken P symmetry?

So many questions to answer so few answers... it seems that for now at least, all we can do is guess, measure, and do the math, but at the end of the day, we still have to guess which result is correct.