Works somewhere…works everywhere?

The enlightenment philosopher David Hume wrote, “in our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.” As I wrote in my last essay, the scientific method built on evidence, has… Continue reading Works somewhere…works everywhere?

Evidence of, Evidence for

In the human world, ideas and concepts are more robust and impactful than anything organic or material. Concepts and ideas often outlive their originators. As culture, language and their embedded concepts multiply and diverge, exchange and reconvene, they shape our world in unpredictable ways. One concept that has evolved to loom over all aspects of… Continue reading Evidence of, Evidence for

Intuitions in the Wild

In reality, there are probably no wild places remaining. The watering hole has a water tank and fences, the lions have identification tags, and are largely habituated to the gawking tourists with binoculars. Analogously, the emergency department has protocols, clinical guidelines, and triage scores. Both environments are semi-wild; neither completely open and wild nor fully closed… Continue reading Intuitions in the Wild

A Tale of a Springbok

In my last essay, I wrote about the bold (if foolish) springbok who left the safety of the herd and made his way to the watering hole on a sweltering Namibian day. Although he seemed to be aware and on the lookout for theoretical lions as he episodically and intently scanned the periphery, he was… Continue reading A Tale of a Springbok

Unknown Unknowns

Picture a late morning scene at a watering hole in Etosha National Park in Namibia. The sun is getting close to its apex position in the sky, its fierce rays pierce through the cloudless sky onto the ground.  All types of animals from a family of majestic African elephants to a tower of leggy giraffes… Continue reading Unknown Unknowns

The Present of Things Past

As stated in one of Zeno’s nine paradoxes, an arrow in flight is “somewhere” and “somewhere in transit”, implying the flow of time as a continuum. Thereafter, approximately a thousand years after Zeno, the theologian Augustine of Hippo attempted to categorize time by writing, “perhaps it would be exact to say: there are three times -… Continue reading The Present of Things Past

The Single Aim

Evolutionary biologist Leslie Orgel’s second rule of biology states that “evolution is smarter than you are.” Evolution and its mechanisms can explain much of the seemingly boundless complexity and organization evident in biological ecosystems. As I discussed in my last essay, biological evolution with its objective function of survival and reproduction driven by the processes… Continue reading The Single Aim

Problem of the Criterion

In the 1930s, the evolutionary biologist, Sewall Wright, developed the concept of the fitness (adaptive) landscape as a visualization of evolution. The fitness landscape, conceived as a topographic map that resembles a mountain range with peaks and valleys, described different phenotypes of an organism that can vary over a continuous range of genotypes. The vertical… Continue reading Problem of the Criterion

Similarities in Dissimilars

The name Homo sapiens was applied by the 18th-century taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758. Sapien - the wise - suggests that the defining attribute of our species is a distinct and unparalleled cognition. We think differently from all other animals, and we are able to share those thoughts with one another in ways that are… Continue reading Similarities in Dissimilars

The Zombie Zone

The term circadian is derived from Latin to mean “about a day.” Organisms ranging from single-cell organisms and plants to sea slugs and humans demonstrate circadian rhythms near twenty-hour patterns. In humans, numerous physiological and behavioral processes demonstrate circadian rhythms but the sleep-wake rhythm is one of the most important and observable cyclical rhythms.  The… Continue reading The Zombie Zone

😴💤

The 20th-century evolutionary biologist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, said, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” From the perspective of evolution and its twin fitness functions of survival and reproduction, sleep is a seemingly difficult phenomenon to make sense of and explain. When we are asleep, we cannot gather food, socialize, find a… Continue reading 😴💤

The dose makes the poison…

Stress is defined “as a process of altered biochemical homeostasis produced by psychological, physiological, or environmental stressors.” Etymologically, the word is derived from Latin, meaning “tight, compressed, drawn together.” Conceptually, it can be found in the physical sciences as early as the 17th century. In physics, Hooke’s law (F = -kX)  states that the strain… Continue reading The dose makes the poison…

Hormesis

The rise in modern human life expectancy is one of the crowning achievements of the scientific revolution. Throughout the world, life expectancy has increased exponentially over the last two hundred years directly due to technologies such as refrigeration, sewage, clean water, fertilizers, indoor living, antibiotics, and vaccinations. Through these technologies, we began to insulate ourselves… Continue reading Hormesis

Only Entropy Comes Easy

Approximately five hundred years ago, the North African polymath, Ibn-Khaldun, observed that “the goal of civilization is sedentary culture and luxury. When civilization reaches that goal, it turns towards corruption and starts being senile, as happens in the natural life of living beings.” The analogous natural history of socially constructed civilizations and the biologically constructed… Continue reading Only Entropy Comes Easy

Carrots & Sticks

In my last essay, I not only described the historical underpinnings of the model of homo economicus but also described it as a foundational element of modern economic theory. Homo economicus is the smallest unit of analysis in economic theory and is characterized as a solitary agent, calculating in his utility, solely driven by competition,… Continue reading Carrots & Sticks