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Profile: Absinthius
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User Name: Absinthius
Forum Rank: Advanced Member
Occupation: Molecular Biologist
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Gender: Male
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Joined: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Last Visit: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 8:24:41 AM
Number of Posts: 374
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  Last 10 Posts
Topic: Dreams ...
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2019 10:52:11 AM
I'm not sure anyone really knows the answer on why we dream. But the way I always thought about it based on my very limited understanding of the biology of sleep would be something like this:

The necessity of sleep is to 'clean' our brain of metabolite and waste products it produces during its normal function. As the brain does not have a lymphatic system, draining of waste products is a lot harder for this organ compared to most other organs in our bodies. Considering that the brain uses up a relatively huge amount of energy, there are bound to be a lot of waste products generated that way.

I think there is a pretty amazing TED talk on this, they outlined the hypothesis that during sleep your brain cells expell fluid (and thereby effectively shrink a little). This results in a lot more space between the brain cells, which is then filled by a relatively large volume of fluid. The scientists who conducted this research had given this fluid a fluorescentdye, allowing them to visualize this as a green color using a microscope. They then could show that during sleep, this fluid seemed to flow through the brain in waves, and these waves seemed to be following the outside of the bloodvessels that run through the brain. Their conclusion was that this was very likely how waste products are removed from our brain during sleep.

So considering that, my thinking is that this seems to make a lot of sense. We all know that when we stay awake for too long, our brain function starts diminish. Thinking becomes slower, coordination becomes harder, it is much harder to focus and it feels like alltogether a kind of fog falls over you. When considering that the buildup of waste products accumulates during waking hours, it kind of makes sense that more waste products will negatively impact your brain function. Which also shows the absolute necessity for sleep.

As for dreams, these are thoughts that happen during sleep, when your braincells are shrunk down and are exposed to fluids waving around in your brain. Quite a different situation from when you are awake, no wonder the function of brain cells will be impacted by this. As I don't think any of us are really able to 'turn off' our braincells, during our sleep they probably just keep working and as a result they keep generating thoughts.

Taking this all together, my conclusion would be that therefore I don't think there is a real purpose or reason behind dreams, they are merely a by-product of how the organ works. A very funny, confusing and often puzzling one.

Just my 2ct. And as a disclaimer, I am not a neuroscientist.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: Probability of life
Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019 10:52:33 AM
Another nuance to consider is that the context in which this initial reaction would have occurred is very different from what we have now. Conditions such as temperature, pressure and available molecules and compounds in the air, water or soil are nothing compared to what they are now.

I am sure that the experts are taking these kinds of differences into account, but it will be nearly impossible to understand them completely. Therefore the probability calculations will have a fairly large degree of uncertainty and the actual probability could be lower, or higher than what is estimated here.

As for the question in general, as is stated very humorously in a book by Terry Pratchett: (I paraphrase) "Things with a chance of one in a million happen all the time)". This principle applies here as well. The odds of this happening on any planet or in any universe are astronomically small. But considering the amount of potential things with astronomically small chances, some are bound to happen..

Just to state the obvious.. apparently this one has happened! No other hypothesis with a higher probability has so far been brought up, so this is the best we got. Let's apply Ockham's razor.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: Calls for the Ku Klux Klan to 'night ride again'
Posted: Friday, February 22, 2019 10:54:22 AM
This neo-tribalism in America is just getting ridiculous. Everything evil in the world is due to the 'other half' of the population now, is it?

The society that still delusionally considers itself to be 'leader of the free world' has plummeted back in time several centuries it seems. Championing narcissistic strong-men, resisting science (climate change denial and now the ridiculous anti-vaxx nonsense), I'm really not looking forward to the next addition to the list. Is this really the greatness you and your stupid red hats wanted to return to?

Perhaps invading so many countries riddled with tribalism and intolerance rubs off more than anyone ever expected.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: Oops...heh,heh,heh
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2018 7:09:03 AM
Thanks for bringing our attention to this Foundit, it very nicely illustrates how the scientific mindset is supposed to work and why this is by far the best methodology to approach any kind of challenge.

Scientists also make mistakes, they are only human after all, but when confronted with facts that contradict their earlier convictions they are willing and quick to adapt! A beautiful example of great scientific conduct and a clear example of why the scientific method is the best we got!

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: Will all Russians go to heaven?
Posted: Monday, October 22, 2018 5:26:27 AM
Wilmar (USA) wrote:
Heaven has nothing to do with nationality or politics.


Or reality...

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: An Open Letter to the Admin
Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2018 9:03:19 AM
Agreed Bob!

I'm kinda falling for Lotje a little more everytime I see one of those dissecting posts! Very enjoyable to read!

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: When will Jesus come back ?
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 10:10:00 AM
I am not pretending Hedy, and how very 'christian' of you to seemingly take pleasure in the prospect of eternal torture for those you disagree with.

If your God were to exist and he would take disbelief as sufficient reason for eternal torture, he is a vile, petty, malevolent and evil being that does not deserve my respect or worship.

So let's rejoice in the fact its all nonsense. Feel free to join us! No torture, just beer and cookies.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: When will Jesus come back ?
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 6:59:14 AM
Maybe it's just me, but I'm really not seeing the value of this analogy.

As far as I am concerned analogies can very useful as long as there are factual points on which you can demonstrate the similarities. Comparing a 'soul' to a computer program in no way helps you define what a soul is, you have still no way of demonstrating this comparison is valid.

What it comes down to in my opinion is that if the only way to explain something is by explaining something else... it's not much of an explanation.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: When will Jesus come back ?
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 9:24:37 AM
Y111 wrote:
You can have several operating systems running on virtual machines and exchanging information via a virtual network.

I guess this proves telepathy then, you are a goldmine for supernatural facts!

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.
Topic: When will Jesus come back ?
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 4:01:46 AM
Y111 wrote:
Your soul is obviously your operating system. It's not entirely software,

It's software, but not entirely software? Not the best start if this is meant to be a definition.

As far as the analogy goes, an operating system controls whatever it is operating, I'm assuming in your analogy, this is your body? We have pretty much worked out how our bodies work, no operating system is needed.

From what I remember, religion teaches that only humans have souls, right? Yet every living organism has a functioning body. Clearly an operating system is at best optional.

Y111 wrote:
but I guess it can be implemented as such and then installed on another hardware.

You are right in qualifying this as a guess, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. As far as guesses go, I'd wager it's probably not a correct one. How would this work exactly?

Y111 wrote:
Probably a backup copy of it is made at some point in your life (hopefully not when you are in senile decay) and stored somewhere.

Uh huh.. In 'the cloud" I presume?..

I'm aware that your post wasn't intended to actually try and define the word soul in this way, don't worry. But considering the operating system analogy seems to be a rather popular one why not comment right away?! It's a fun one.

Look, how about this? Let's pretend we've had the row and I've won. See? It saves a lot of effort.

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