Returning from a field season in southwestern Nevada and Death Valley. This trip was the first time that I’ve ever seen snow-covered Joshua trees.
The hills in the background contain the fossilized remains of sponges that built reefs some 520 million years ago. We’d like to understand what role these sponge constructions played in the Cambrian explosion, a time during when most modern phyla first emerged. .
Origins Higher dimensional science VI
Consciousness and Superintelligence
Now we come to another feature of reality.
We observe in ourselves a variety of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and perceptions that go beyond the simple ability of a machine to respond to external stimuli by some sort of data processing. In other words, our ability to function in an intelligent way is also accompanied by the phenomenon of consciousness. Consciousness is real-we all have experience of it. Yet although the behavior associated with consciousness is quantifiable, consciousness itself remains unexplained by quantitative methods. It cannot be accounted for by physical laws. So what is it and where does it come from?
We have been considering a cosmic computer exhibiting a higher order of intelligence as the original source of certain complex features of the observable universe. This suggests a beguiling idea-that this cosmic intelligence could be something more than a lifeless machine. It could possibly be a conscious superintelligent being from which originates not only the information that determines the forms of organisms but also the consciousnesses that animate them.
This conception opens up some interesting possibilities. If there were such an intelligent being, it would be capable of communicating exact information through means of its own choosing to those curious about ultimate questions such as the origin of living beings. And if it were benevolent it might be willing to do so.
This provides us with another possible strategy for obtaining answers to ultimate questions. The standard scientific strategy of assuming that ultimate causes are simple and then seeking such simple causes will certainly fail if the ultimate cause is irreducibly complex. But if the ultimate cause is a benevolent superconscious being, then the strategy of assuming that this is so and seeking a process for coming in contact with such a being may prove successful.
DEEP TIME: If the time of Earth were mapped onto the human arm, it wouId begun around the shoulder where the earth formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
Animals originated within the palm, but the myriad forms alive today exploded onto the scene around the first knuckle, in the Cambrian period. Blocks along the fingers represent the periods that followed, such as the Jurassic (dinosaurs!) and the Cenozoic (in which humans evolved, a microscopic sliver at the tip of a fingernail) .
Back with some #paleoart. This time I drew a Nanuqsaurus (a diminutive T-rex relative which lived in the Arctic) beginning to eat his autumn meal of a male Ugrunaaluk (a polar hadrosaur (duck bill)). Both of these dinosaurs likely had feathers, as the Arctic circle was very cold 69 mya, similar to how it is today. I gave the Nanuqsaurus grayish skin and off-white feathers, similar to some arctic birds and polar bears (the predator that Nanuqsaurus was named after). These feathers would have camouflaged it from prey items. I also gave it blue browtines, as male birds often have some sort of flashy coloring.
The deceased Ugrunaluk also has flashy facial coloring and feathers to attract mates, of which I based these features on modern puffins. The rest of the body has drab summer feathers, to help it blend in with trees and other members of its herd. The Ugrunaaluk also has a large, woolly patch on his shoulders, similar to musk ox and bison.
Paravian theropods are all the rage right now, and not just because of the phylotarded, retrofitted ones that appear in a certain blockbuster movie. This week sees the publication of a lengthy paravian-themed paper by long-time collaborator Andrea Cau, former student Tom Brougham and myself on the enigmatic and wonderful Romanian paravian Balaur bondoc, originally described in 2010 by Zoltán Csiki-Sava and colleagues and discovered by my friend and colleague Mátyás Vremir in 2009 (Csiki et al. 2010). Balaur got a rightful amount of press coverage following its discovery, with much of the attention being focused on the fact that it was regarded as an especially close relative of the east Asian, desert-dwelling dromaeosauridVelociraptor (Csiki et al. 2010). As discussed below, Balaur is anatomically weird when interpreted as a dromaeosaurid, and the hypothesis favoured by Csiki et al. (2010) and then by Brusatte et al. (2013) in their monograph on the animal was that this weirdness is down to its isolated evolution on an island.
Art: Jonathan Kuo 💘 Follow @Dinosaur___club for more 😉
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