Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16 - The Future of Evolution: What Will We Become?‏

Dear Friends,

Love and Light.


future human
Could humans split into two species? Perhaps, if we engineer one or if a colony is isolated in outer space. Image credit: stockxpert

The Future of Evolution: What Will We Become?

By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 16 November 2009 11:24 am ET

Editor's Note: This is the last in a 10-part LiveScience series on the origin, evolution and future of the human species and the mysteries that remain to be solved.

The past of human evolution is more and more coming to light as scientists uncover a trove of fossils and genetic knowledge. But where might the future of human evolution go?

There are plenty of signs that humans are still evolving. However, whether humans develop along the lines portrayed by hackneyed science fiction is doubtful.

Clichés dashed

An old cliché has the highly evolved humans of the future sporting large heads to hold their advanced enlarged brains, "but that's nonsense, whole nonsense," said paleontologist Peter Ward at the University of Washington at Seattle, author of "Future Evolution."

"If you've ever gone through a childbirth or witnessed one," Ward says, "we're already anatomically right on the edge of how big our heads can go — our big brains have already caused extreme problems in childbirth, and if we had bigger and bigger brains, that'd cause more mothers to die in childbirth, so evolution would select against that."

Another idea, suggested by evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics, seems like a retread of ideas from science fiction writer H.G. Well's classic "The Time Machine," with the human species split in two over time — an underclass of dim-witted, short goblins, and a genetic upper class of tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent and creative superhumans that eventually are spoiled by technology that will do everything for them, resembling domesticated animals.

"That's crap," Ward said. "Why would that happen? Are we like blind cavefish? After we get Google, do we get stupider? Intelligence is coded on too many genes to just lose a trait like intelligence. That's not going to happen."

As to whether humans will evolve to lose the arguably extraneous pinky for a cartoonish four-fingered hand, "that's crap," Ward said. "We've had five fingers for a long time. What aspect of natural selection would opt for four? Once a body plan seizes upon a number of digits, it doesn't change unless there's a damn good reason. It made sense for the horse to go down to a single hoof, but I can't think of why we would lose fingers."

Ward suggests that, if left untouched, humans might converge in appearance as populations mix. "I kind of view us all as eventually having chocolate-covered hair and medium stature, getting rid of all extremes," he speculated. "Of course, the big elephant in the room, the change from the past that you cannot ignore when talking about the future of human evolution, is genetic engineering."

Genetic engineering

Humanity now has an unparalleled means by which to direct our evolution — genetic engineering. By using viruses and other techniques, we can in theory modify our genomes, and over time, scientists may uncover genes underlying intelligence, health, athletic prowess, longevity and other desirable traits, engineering what might seem like superhuman progeny. Genetic engineering is how Ward speculated new species of humans might emerge.

"Let's say we create someone that can live 100 or 120 years," he said. "If you know you can live up to then, your whole pattern of investing could radically change. The amount of money that you could invest would go way, way, way up, and then economic incentives could drive selection away from mating with other creatures to seek out those similar to you."

Once populations are separated, given enough time and near-total lack of interbreeding, you would get divergence, he conjectured. Although short-lived humans could genetically engineer their own offspring for longevity, Ward suggested that interbreeding between populations would still remain low.

"I think taboos would arise which would prevent mating between populations — 'I don't want them anymore' or 'We want natural people,'" he said. "Of course this is all pure speculation, but this is the only way I can see new human species emerging — unless we get off the planet."

The final frontier

Another way new human species might occur is if we finally leave the cradle of our home world.

"If you want to make a new species, you have to really separate populations out," Ward said. "If we're all holed up on Earth, I don't see new species emerging, unless of course we engineer one. However, if we get some populations to split off by sending them off to space colonies, where they might evolve under different environments, it's possible."

The challenges entailed with leaving the solar system "could mean we might not ever colonize another star," Ward said. "But it could be that genetic engineering could make it possible."

Besides reducing human size to make travel easier on spaceship life support systems, Ward noted his colleague Mark Roth of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle is conducting research to put humans into a hibernation-like state by having people inhale hydrogen sulfide.

"We might actually start selecting for the types of brain or nervous systems that allow one to go into hibernation," Ward said.

Our technology might readily spin us far past human shapes. Science fiction has long speculated as to whether or not we might one day be able to download our brains into computers or engineer bodies that can perform like spaceships.

"We're opening up new ways of evolving involved with machines," Ward said.

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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