Bare Bones Biology 294 – Languages; I want to know them all

Good Morning!


We have about three feet of new snow on the ground (and the roof, which is not good; why they put up flattish roofs in snow country is beyond me), and the temperature has zapped down overnight to zero degrees F. Bitsy is under the covers, she ran back in as fast as she ran out, so I didn’t have to go out with her. The sunlight is just the edges of the snow, which is otherwise blue with cold, at the tips of these magnificent Lodgepole Pines, and a flock of Stellar’s Jays are (is) calling to me outside my back door.


I woke up this morning understanding exponents, 160130-jays-asc_1634RSs


I went to sleep last night reading and rereading one of the little books that comes with The Teaching Company lectures – this one certainly a college level course, but not inexplicable. Surely we are taught to use exponents some time in our required lower grades, and I can use them. You just do your calculations with the exponent instead of the base number. I understand exponent. It’s the little number above. Like 22. That means you multiply the number you started with. 22 means two times two (that would be four). 23 means two times two times two = eight. 24 means two times two times two times two. Sixteen.


Do not scorn me folks, I am not joking. I am trying to listen to this physics geek on a DVD, and he thinks the whole thing is as simple as ABC and is rattling on and on about “base numbers.” WHAT IS A BASE NUMBER? There are only two numbers in an ordinary exponent statement. What’s with the base number?


Well, I woke up this morning realizing the base number is the original number two (or ten or whatever we wanted to multiply) that we started out with, and that is my point – not the exponent math, because in the long run it doesn’t matter very much unless you are interested in numbers like 223.


It’s the words that confuse me. Trying to learn math from the bottom up, for me, is like trying to learn any language by memorizing the words. Like “Good Morning,” or “Buenos Dias,” or “Ohyo Gozaimous.”


Now I’m quite excited about some new concepts concerning Life and how it stays alive. As you know, I’m writing a book on the subject, and I got stuck. I did not KNOW the words to explain what I see as the flow of Life through time. The evolution of naturally evolved systems as a function of their interactions. When I try, in this culture, whomever I am talking to will translate the reality into the meme “survival of the fittest,” conjuring some image of “red in tooth and claw,” both images I know to be so simplistic as to be a caricature of the reality, and in fact – I would use the word blasphemous. Just as tho se numbers have no meaning by themselves, 224 means nothing. 1018, what does that mean? Just as Ohyo Gozaimous will do me no good up here in the mountains with Bitsy; equally, “Survival of the Fittest” has no meaning, indeed it is not even true, if we associate with it a picture of dominance.


That’s not now it works, and we are at a point in time, the human species, where we need to find out how it really does work, as we try to use our knowledge in the service of human kind.


There I go, preaching again. I had in mind to show you the snowstorm we just enjoyed. Gorgeous! And us on a mountaintop, it was kind of scary too, lightning flashing out of the muffled peace of a heavy snow falling into deep silence, and onto deep snow crusted over with ice. I fell in up to my hips, walking where I know there is a road.   Had to call Bitsy for support to get out.


There are realities we need to appreciate before we go bounding off to save ourselves from ourselves. Things we cannot control, on small scale and on big scale. Maybe a little preaching can save a lot of suffering when we speak to the truth, rather than to our overblown human egos.


OK, I’ll do that too, the pictures, I’ll put them up on my blog on Friday or Saturday.


But it’s the same problem, isn’t it. Language. This is a blog; you can hear me but you cannot see. For seeing, you need to click on the blog post.



For hearing you need to click on the podcast post.



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