Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is Jupiter a Ho?

I have been so busy with school that I've not had much of a chance to blog about anything worthwhile. But here is another bit of science-type humour in the mean time which I stole from a friend.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Aloof is My Middle Name

Here is something a little different than usual. This is a little story about how aloof and absent-minded I can be sometimes. It happened to me yesterday evening.

In my haste to attend a lecture presented by one of my professors about a certain video game of which I am rather fond, I decided to head up to the university a half an hour earlier than was necessary, in order to get a good seat.

I arrived outside of the classroom in which the lecture was to be given.

"Strange," said I to myself, "there are a lot of people in there . . . why do they all have the same book? Where is the prof? What are they doing here anyway?"

I looked around.

"There does not seem to be a professor lecturing," I mused silently to myself, "I guess all of these people came early just like me."

I spied one of my friends seated in the middle of the hall, so I entered the room and asked her what she was doing. I ignored the rather awkward silence that my entrance seemed to generate . . . I also ignored the laughter of a few of the girls seated towards the back of the room. Why would they be laughing at me anyway?

I asked my friend what she was doing there. She was in a lecture, it turned out, so I informed her that I was also waiting for a lecture to begin. Since this didn't seem to be it, I decided to leave.

I gathered from the silence I was met with upon my entry to the lecture hall, that the lecture my friend was waiting for hadn't yet begun: it was indeed silent in the room, and I saw no lecturer.

"Weird! If she's waiting for a lecture, it must start at 6:30 . . . but that's when the lecture I want to see is supposed to begin. I wonder if there has been some terrible confusion about the times of the different presentations."

I went to the cafeteria to buy a drink since I still had some time to waste.

"Yes," said I to myself, "that's it. There must be some confusion here. That's exactly it. Someone has bungled the scheduling of the presentation I am going to see. That is, unless . . ."

. . . unless the room I chanced to enter was actually a class that was already in progress. Unless those girls were laughing at the aloof stranger that just happened to randomly grace them with his presence. Unless the professor just happened not to be standing right at the front of the class, and was really standing off to the side somewhere. Unless that awkward silence was of my own inadvertent doing, caused by my sudden appearance in the middle of said class. Unless, indeed.

I wanted to apologize to the professor, but I was so embarrassed over what I had just done, as well as the fact that it took around 15 minutes for me to realize my blunder, that I just couldn't bring myself to face her.

Instead I picked a nice comfy chair and buried my face in a book as the last of the students and the rather surprised, but not enraged (so I am told), professor left the room.

If it were not for moments like these, I wonder, would my life be as exciting?

Friday, March 14, 2008


One of the focuses of my introductory philosophy class is on something called Transhumanism, which is really interesting stuff to be sure.

The transhuman period is the name which some philosophers and scientists give to the era between the human and posthuman eras. The exact times when each of these eras actually begin and end is probably not widely agreed upon, but this is not a new problem in history. The dates of other eras, such as the beginning and endings of the dark ages, the renaissance, et cetera, differ depending on which textbook you read, although there is a loose consensus among historians . . . but we can at least pin down what century the renaissance began in. Whether or not we will be able to do this with the transhuman age is still an open question.

The basics which we've been learning about transhumanism over the past few weeks in my philosophy class are that humans are on the verge on a significant step in evolution. We are slowly moving from 100% organic beings to animals which incorporate the synthetic. We do this to extend and enrich our lives. Of course, we've been doing this sort of thing for a while: we have added extra layers of skin for warmth and fashion, which we call clothes; we inject dead microorganisms into our bodies to give our immune system a preemptive advantage against foreign germs; we add synthetic components to out bodies also, either for aesthetic purposes (like breast implants, piercings, and tattoos) or for health purposes (pacemakers, hip replacements, artificial blood vessels, and so on). This is why it's not exactly easy to say when and how we begin this transhuman period. It's not as if we have already stopped being human and started being transhumans. Rather, if the transhuman age is to lead to any sort of posthuman age at all, it will be on a very slow gradient. It will be difficult to say when exactly we officially become something altogether different, if we do at all.

It has been interesting to speculate in class about what, if anything, we humans might eventually end up as (if we do not destroy ourselves first). Perhaps we will achieve significantly longer lifespans; perhaps we will finally conquer disease; it may be that we will be able to someday transfer human consciousness to some type of artificial brain, making the immortality of our minds a possibility (a la The Matrix); maybe we will become a race of cyborgs like The Borg of Star Trek; the possibilities are varied and interesting.

I can't wait to study this in a more in-depth fashion in my future years at university.