Anything about the human body

Mar 2017
801
Colorado
#21
Birds are fascinating, both because and in spite of being living dinosaurs.
We often envy the spatial memory of birds, such as chickadees and magpies, when we misplace our items.
Our daylight eyesight is substantially poorer than most birds already, and we envy the natural HD eyesight and the super eyesight of birds, such as raptors (not owls here!) and ostriches.
Can we see like birds in daylight?
Flight without mechanical aids is a persistent human dream; can it be realized?
It sounds as if we break through the secrets of birds, we can fulfill many of our dreams.
You're right. Birds are amazing.

There's a swallow that migrates all the way across Europe to Africa, and back, every year. They hatched some eggs and raised the birds indoors, then put them in a planetarium with a star machine at migration time. The birds would always orient themselves in the proper direction, indicated by the stars. When the stars were rotated to a different position, the birds matched it.

So, in the egg, the birds had some sort of star chart embedded in their brains ... but over years, the stars change a bit (with respect to Earth), and the birds must have some mechanism for adapting.

Their tiny brains must work very differently from ours.



Would you give up your arms to have wings? Cut down your legs to sticks to get rid of weight? You're limited to four limbs ... and maybe a tail.
 
Mar 2017
801
Colorado
#22
I don't know of any other species where the mother's life is at risk at childbirth. Elephants and whales give birth more easily than humans. EVERYTHING gives birth more easily.

Why is that?

I read an anthropology analysis once. Women started having trouble with childbirth when they became bipedal. The hip structure is a compromise between having babies and being able to walk. Of course there are exceptions, but ON AVERAGE, a male's hips are better evolved for walking/running than a female's. For example, there's a joint at the pelvic bone that's rock solid in men. In women, it completely dissolves for childbirth so the hips can "swing open" (women have problems if they don't reconnect properly afterwards) ... consequently the "joint" is less solid, can take less stress. There are other mods ... it's more complicated than you would think.

Given that, it's kind of surprising we're a successful species.

One contributing offset is the intense child care we provide. Consider that fish and amphibians can lay 100's to 1000's of eggs in their lives, and yet replace themselves with a single individual in a stable population. Mortality is quite high, which is why there's so many eggs in the first place.

There are 1st world countries approaching ZPG (Zero Population Growth) but most of the world has multiple babies that grow to reproductive age. I think about 20% of all pregnancies result in miscarries, and there's a constant number for natural childbirth mortality (can't remember it), but humans seem to be able to make up for child & mother mortality with long term child care. Most humans don't replace themselves .. they multiply themselves. Any family you see with more than two children is doing this.
 
Mar 2017
801
Colorado
#23

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,171
Brassicaland
#24
I don't know of any other species where the mother's life is at risk at childbirth. Elephants and whales give birth more easily than humans. EVERYTHING gives birth more easily.

Why is that?

I read an anthropology analysis once. Women started having trouble with childbirth when they became bipedal. The hip structure is a compromise between having babies and being able to walk. Of course there are exceptions, but ON AVERAGE, a male's hips are better evolved for walking/running than a female's. For example, there's a joint at the pelvic bone that's rock solid in men. In women, it completely dissolves for childbirth so the hips can "swing open" (women have problems if they don't reconnect properly afterwards) ... consequently the "joint" is less solid, can take less stress. There are other mods ... it's more complicated than you would think.

Given that, it's kind of surprising we're a successful species.

One contributing offset is the intense child care we provide. Consider that fish and amphibians can lay 100's to 1000's of eggs in their lives, and yet replace themselves with a single individual in a stable population. Mortality is quite high, which is why there's so many eggs in the first place.

There are 1st world countries approaching ZPG (Zero Population Growth) but most of the world has multiple babies that grow to reproductive age. I think about 20% of all pregnancies result in miscarries, and there's a constant number for natural childbirth mortality (can't remember it), but humans seem to be able to make up for child & mother mortality with long term child care. Most humans don't replace themselves .. they multiply themselves. Any family you see with more than two children is doing this.
Child mortality rate has declined massively over the last century; we consider any losses of children (especially healthy ones) as great losses.
In the developed world, China, and parts of the developing world, birth rates have dropped below replacement rate.
Do any people know about Abh humans in the Seikai series? These people are genetically modified for ability to thrive in spaceships, lifelong lasting youth, and a few different abilities.
Realizing parts of the Abh humans will be revolutionary.
 
Nov 2017
69
New Jersey, USA
#25
Can we see like birds in daylight?
Flight without mechanical aids is a persistent human dream; can it be realized?
It sounds as if we break through the secrets of birds, we can fulfill many of our dreams.
I mean the sky is probably the limit when it comes to genetic enhancement and transhumanism. But the biggest problem I see with biological immortality (to stay on that subject) is that a great deal of knowledge, know-how, wealth, social capital, etc. might become highly concentrated into the hands of only a few who have access to the technology and who control society's access to the technology.
 
Mar 2017
801
Colorado
#26
I mean the sky is probably the limit when it comes to genetic enhancement and transhumanism. But the biggest problem I see with biological immortality (to stay on that subject) is that a great deal of knowledge, know-how, wealth, social capital, etc. might become highly concentrated into the hands of only a few who have access to the technology and who control society's access to the technology.
There are many sci-fi writers that have explored immortality with respect to society.

Who could afford it? Not poor people. So the people, already at the top, continue to maintain their position and increase their wealth and power. It never turns out well.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,171
Brassicaland
#27
I mean the sky is probably the limit when it comes to genetic enhancement and transhumanism. But the biggest problem I see with biological immortality (to stay on that subject) is that a great deal of knowledge, know-how, wealth, social capital, etc. might become highly concentrated into the hands of only a few who have access to the technology and who control society's access to the technology.
We still have limited means to improve the lives of amputees and others with severe disabilities, let alone realizing trans humanism.
 
Apr 2017
612
Lemuria
#28
https://www.newscientist.com/articl...ispr-gene-editing-of-normal-embryos-released/

https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_96339

Got a genetic disorder? China will take a crack at it tomorrow, if you like.

Have you decided whether you want your next child to be a professional athlete or the next Albert Einstein ... or both?

Genetic engineering of humans. What can go wrong? Let's flip a coin. I bet they'll turn into big headed, etiolated, emotionless, scrawny infertile little midgets in the future instead of tall muscular beautiful humans with super human attributes. I'm for selective breeding (even technological enhancement) but strictly against genetic engineering (except for anti-aging processes).
 
Last edited:
Feb 2017
423
Minneapolis
#29
Genetic engineering of humans. What can go wrong? Let's flip a coin. I bet they'll turn into big headed, etiolated, emotionless, scrawny infertile little midgets in the future instead of tall muscular beautiful humans with super human attributes. I'm for selective breeding (even technological enhancement) but strictly against genetic engineering (except for anti-aging processes).
From the perspective of the long-term survival of species, evolution favors diversity. A type ideally suited to one environment may be poorly suited to survive if the environment changes (see Jonathan Weiner's "Beak of the Finch"). So it seems risky to me to deliberately move humanity toward idealized types, whether through breeding or genetic engineering. We don't know what the future has in store or what traits might be needed.

One example is a gene that's identified with obesity. In the U.S. today, the gene is debilitating but it's also a gene that helps people survive in times of famine. Purging it from the human genome might spell doom in some situations. Maybe it's just what the species needs to survive a big asteroid hit.

Culturally people tend to idealize tall, buffed, athletic types but those types really aren't all that well suited for survival in, say, desert conditions. The !Kung people of the Kalahari might represent a more practical ideal to strive for.

Also, I'm wary of "intelligence" enhancements. I have this suspicion that human intelligence lives near the borderlands of stability ("What on earth would give a person that idea?"), that our big mammalian brains represent a near maximum complexity before the structure becomes inherently unstable (see Philip K. Dick).
 

Similar History Discussions