Ask a Question, Answer a Question

We’re trying something super simple for this week’s dinner table.

Do one of the following:

1) Ask WBW readers a question.

2) Answer someone’s question.

___________

You can sign up for the Dinner Table email list here to be notified about the new topic each week, and remember to submit future topic suggestions to [email protected]

  • Rein van der Laan

    What kinds of questions are you expecting, Tim?

    • Iago Drumond

      Unexpected questions

    • Tim Urban

      Anything you want. Be creative.

  • Innocent Bystander

    What is the meaning of life?

    • Shrivathsa MS

      42

    • 42. Easy one ?

    • jack gondela

      It is meaningless. Meaning is an illusion.

    • Blowntobits

      42 is ok when traveling through the galaxies.
      On earth, define your core values and live by them.

      • wousjee

        42 is not the meaning of life, but the answer to
        Life, The universe and everything 😉

        • Blowntobits

          and according to Douglas – he just thought 42 will do.

    • Miko Kuta

      Make more of yourself. Life’s literally only reason of being is to make more of itself.

    • Adam

      My opinion: Both “Life” and “Meaning” are human words that help us understand the space around us better, and to communicate to each other experiences we have in that space.
      “Life” really has no “Meaning” because “Life” is amoral. we are just projecting our humanity, hoping that there is supposed to be some sort of goal. If you want “Meaning”, it is up to you to find one. And realistically, you probably are already living out your “Meaning”.
      “Life” could be WAY more complex than we know. Planets might be alive as far as we know, and we would be the fleas. But like Miko Kuta said, life consumes and creates more of itself, until eventually there is nothing left.

    • Jesper

      There’s no meaning to life, what your life means to you, is something you are free to invent for yourself.

    • A quote I like is “the meaning of life is a life of meaning.” Also, check out Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He’s a psychologist and a holocaust survivor who’s a big believer in anyone being able to choose how they feel about most situations. Or 42.

    • epistememe

      To get on with it and stop the navel gazing.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=148&v=EKR-HydGohQ

    • gatorallin

      The meaning of life is to give life meaning.

  • Iago Drumond

    Where can someone by an upgrade for brain memory?

    • DrSuess

      any bookstore.

      • Iago Drumond

        I meant in terms of capacity

        • Miko Kuta

          Play memory games, teach yourself to organize memories better, google “how to improve memory”. Not really any way to buy brain improvements, but with about 100 terabytes of space in your brain chances are you just need to organize it better.

    • JuneHo Yeo

      Take notes?

    • epistememe

      Do as I have done and use technology as an aid to poor memory, i.e. a pad of paper, iphone camera, Evernote.

  • Juggernaut93

    Are you who are answering my question a liar?

    • ΚΤ

      Yes.

      • David

        Assuming a liar cannot tell any truth, then you can’t be a liar KT because you would have told the truth by answering “Yes”.

        • ΚΤ

          But then, if I told the truth I should actually be a liar which, if I am, means that I cannot have possibly told the truth and… Bam! Paradox!

        • FuzzyBunnyFeet

          OTOH, if KT had answered “No” then the answer would have been ambiguous.

      • jack gondela

        Me too.

    • aisha

      Maybe.

    • Blrp

      Self-referential statements are logically inadmissible.

  • Carl

    Is consciousness the driving force of the universe?

    • J.Nerdy

      Loaded question: Does the universe exist as a function of our awareness or peception of it or random quantum events that may or may not take place (schrodinger’s cat)? If all life ceased, would all functions of universal existence cease. Hydrogen stops fusing? Radioactive decay ceases? Gravitational, strong, weak, nuclear forces all dissolve? To be the supreme skeptic, I think not. Consciousness, while innately mystifying and wildly complex, is just another system within system within a system.

      Why as individuals are people capable of incredible kindness, yet the very same individuals aggregated capable of such cruelty?

    • Jack Carroll

      Maybe. Probably not. Depends on what you mean by “driving force”. We’re our own driving force, I guess.

    • epistememe

      The universe will continue unaffected at the macro level by any and all consciousness entities in it. But the most interesting stuff will happen at the micro level of conscious entities.

    • Korakys

      No.

  • JuneHo Yeo

    What’s something I can do every day to improve my life?

    • Annie

      Meditate and/or stretch

    • ladybenko

      30 minutes of moderate physical activity. Even just brisk walking will improve your health and mood a lot.

    • Matthew Feinberg

      Read everything and anything

    • AERS

      Pick up cycling. It’s cheaper than a car and gets you very fit.

      Learn to be a good cook/baker.

    • Carlota Bolado

      Smile

  • DrSuess

    should you put sand or gravel down before you pour a cement floor?

    • Brandon Lacquement

      Yes. How big?

    • jack gondela

      Sand, it will provide better drainage.

    • epistememe

      The best is a crushed gravel. It is a bit more expensive but worth it. Compaction is key. Use a jumping jack for looser soil or a vibratory plate compactor for firmer soil.

  • Pritish

    How to do you think reduce the friction connecting Angel Investors and Startups or make AngelList model better?

  • ΚΤ

    What’s the best tip you could give someone starting a university/college?

    • Tim

      Take classes with who your friends say are excellent professors, independent of whatever it is they teach. Because everything’s fascinating with the right guide.

    • Diane

      You get out of it what you put into it.

    • ladybenko

      There are these reasons for going to college:

      a) To learn
      b) To get a specific job that needs a degree
      c) Both A and B

      Just make sure you know which one is your reason, and pick your degree (or decide not to go!) in consequence. If you want a B, do your research make sure your degree is something that will definitely help you to land the job. If you just want an A, don’t let external pressure make you to choose something that might be more profitable.

    • Patrick Bowman

      Cultivate a pile of rich benefactors who can keep it running for five years until you have a positive cash flow. Oh, wait, you meant “starting AT a university/college” …

    • BillMontreal

      Make sure you know *how* to go to college before you start. High school does not prepare you for this yet the instructors expect you to magically or intuitively know. It is a very expensive place to learn on the job, so to speak. There is no wiggle room to catch up.

    • epistememe

      Make sure College is really for you first. Explore other options as there are many trades that make excellent money and give more freedom.

    • gatorallin

      Don’t pay out of state tuition costs.

      Focus on what you love to do first, vs. what you think makes money or what your parents or friends think you should do for a career.

    • JunoEven

      I was a college lecturer for 10 years, and currently work in educational administration, so I’ve got quite a bit of schema in this area. Here are three simple things I’ve observed which take very little effort or time commitment, but will have a major impact on your grades and learning retention:

      1) Always be in class BEFORE the professor arrives: you should be the person who says “good morning” or “good afternoon” when he/she enters the room. Repeated over the course of a semester, this WILL be noticed and appreciated. Conversely, there’s nothing worse than a student coming into your lecture after you’ve begun your spiel. Your professors are only human, and when it comes time for them to grade your final papers/exams, your courtesy and enthusiasm will be the lens through which they read and mark. This alone will consistently push you up a full letter grade with most professors.

      2) Sit in the front row, in the very center of the room: this keeps you from falling asleep, being distracted by classmates, or being tempted to use electronics. You’re paying major $$$ to be there, so treat it like a job and maximize your ability to pay attention. As with point #1, the professor will also take note of your “keener” status, which is always a good thing.

      3) Take copious notes during every lecture, without fail: this is the best way to ensure that you pay attention to the lecture, and cuts down on daydreaming (a major problem for 18-year-olds, especially with drier lecturers). You’ll also note that this drastically cuts down on the amount of time you need to study outside of class cramming for exams, as the act of focusing, listening, and writing sticks the material in your long-term memory much more effectively than listening alone. It’s a bit of a pain the first few times you do it, but ironically, it also makes the class period go by faster (subjectively speaking) since you’re busy and engaged for the full lecture.

      Try these three things, make a habit out of them, and I guarantee they’ll pay off….

  • Tim

    Do you feel lonely when you are alone?

    • Nishit Parekh

      Yeah. But it is only temporary, for my self arrives a few minutes late. Always.

    • JuneHo Yeo

      Not necessarily, I feel like there are times that you need some time by yourself.

    • epistememe

      Usually not and I am alone a lot (by choice). I frequently feel more angst when I am with people and feel I am wasting much of my precious time on mindless social “niceties”, posturing, boring conversations and the like. I frequently long for more alone time. BTW I am an introvert but do very much look forward to and enjoy social interactions, just in moderation.

    • marisheba

      Depends on if it’s by choice or not. If I know I have the option of being with people I care about and am alone by choice, I’m never lonely. If I am alone not by choice, I am generally at least a little bit lonely.

    • JunoEven

      Hardly ever — there’s nothing I love more than a 3-day weekend all to myself at home (or at least, alone with my wife and son). Conversely, I find social gatherings to be exhausting in general, especially if they involve more than 4-5 close friends.

  • Matt Hawkins

    What?

    • JuneHo Yeo

      Yes.

    • gatorallin

      ………….because.

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      I told you once.

  • Arkadeep Banerjee

    Can we humans measure/understand something only if it changes? That is, we can only feel differences?

    • Jan Rudzki

      If you measure something it WILL change because of the uncertainty principle. So yes

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        OK..but I was not exactly talking about quantum mechanics..
        Let me clarify.. we measure distances with respect to something, which is a fixed length chosen as convention..when we measure the length of a object, we compare the object’s length to scale and observe their difference..

        • Jan Rudzki

          I think the answer is still yes, because our brains work in a proportional way, and not an absolute one – say the difference between 96 and 97 seems smaller than that between 1 and 2 even though in absolute terms it is the same.

          • Arkadeep Banerjee

            Yup..thats what I think too..I am hoping WBW can shed more light on this.. 🙂

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Another example : When we see something, we can only do so because there is a difference in colour in between the object and the background..

    • Juggernaut93

      Were you thinking about quantum physics when asking this question? 🙂

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Not exactly..but I think it can be applied in quantum mechanics too though I’m not talking about change during observation in sense of the uncertainty principle..
        See my other comments about this.. 🙂

    • Matias Frank Jensen

      Actually a lot of brain research points in that direction. If we just for now focus on the sensory input we get and our interpretation of it, it turns out that without change, we dont really perceive anything.
      How would you recognize a song or a spoken word if you only heard a static noise? You wouldn’t, because a single static sound wouldn’t convey any real mening to us. Only when the sound changes over time do we start to recognize patterns and infer meaning.

      The same can be said about feeling. If you took a sleeping person’s hand and put it into a bucket of gravel, woke the person up and told him/her not to move the hand, would that person know what substance the hand was in? No, only when he/she began to wiggle the fingers or move it around, essentially changing the sensory input over time, could the person recognize it.
      I could give a lot of other examples but the main point remains: your brain works primarily with changes over time.

      Studies of the neocortex have shown that the “language” of the brain, the tools it uses to processes information and infer meaning is primarily sequences of patterns that changes over time. Your brain recognizes patterns, and it recognizes sequences of patterns which change over time and based on these sequences of patterns it memorizes, it tries to predict future patterns, it tries to predict the future.
      That is some very basic fundamentals of brain research.

      So in some sense, yes, we primarily feel differences, and I could go into a lot more detail and many more examples that shows how we perceive our world not through the absolute, but through difference.

      It is a really good question by the way, kudos to you!

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        THANKS A TON FOR THE INFORMATION!! 😀
        I’d would love it if you could go into more detail and give many more examples..provided it does not cause any difference in your convenience 😉

        • Matias Frank Jensen

          Of course, this is also very interesting to me as well! My quite limited brain knowledge primarily comes from a book I read on the subject called “On Intelligence” which tries to come with a theory for how intelligence works based on neuroscience. It is written by Jeff Hawkins, whom you may or may not know from Palm Inc; he has now created a company called Numenta that tries to create brain-like computing algorithms. Anyway, back to the topic.

          In the book Jeff Hawkins calls his theory the “Memory Prediction Framework”. In basic terms, it proposes that human intelligence is a proces of prediction that your brain is constantly predicting stuff. Think about it, before you sit down in a chair you have a mental picture of how it is going to feel, how far the chair is from your body, the sound it is going to make and everything. You actually have a quite clear mental picture of this about almost everything you do. However, you only notice this when you subconscious predictions fail. For instance, if your lift a milk carton that is surprisingly heavier than you thought you immediately notice it. Or if you listen to a remix of a song you know well and you suddenly encounter notes you did not expect. Things like that.

          Now this is where the differences come in. As I wrote in my last response the “language” of your brain, of your neocortex (the part of your brain that handle stuff we generally conceive of as ‘intelligence’), is temporal patterns, that is patterns which change over time.
          As I wrote in my last response, just about all our sensory input only gives meaning to us as a change over time. This is actually also to some extend the case for vision. You may not notice it, but your eyes makes saccades, small jumps from one thing to another 2-3 times a second, every second. You are constantly changing your visual input a bit, so your neocortex receives a changing input with regard to vision as well.
          Now what does this mean?
          Well, your brain is constantly receiving changing patterns over time and it learns to recognize these patterns. So patterns it sees often it has an easier time recognizing again, and if it often sees a particular pattern following a different pattern, it learns to recognize this as well. And as this proces continues you could imagine your brain storing all these sequences of sequences of patterns, all which arises from the change in time.
          So know your brain has stored all these different sequences of sequences of temporal patterns and it uses that to make predictions about the future, those predictions I mentioned in the beginning.
          Imagine you are reading. Most of the time you dont read every single letter of every single word, but you see some of it and predicts what the particular word is going to be like. For instance if you saw this sequence of letters: “Shakesp” your brain would recognize this pattern and perhaps predict the next letters you see is going to be “eare” to create the sequence “Shakespeare”.
          On a little higher level, if you saw these words “We know each other so well we can finish each others …” you might predict “sentences” to come next (and you will probably be right).
          On an even higher level, if you were reading a fairytale you would have an expectation (ie a prediction) that the prince wins the princes in the end while you were reading the text, and the sentence “And they lived happily ever after” might already be stored in your mind as a probable sensory input you soon will experience.

          So that was a brief overview of the Memory Prediction Framework (with quite a few details left out), which shows how we use difference over time to store temporal patterns, and how our brain stores these sequences of patterns and uses it to do prediction about everything it sees. But remember, without the difference over time there isn’t much of a temporal pattern to be recognized, and your brain can’t do much.

          This became quite a long answer, if you are still interested after reading it I would advise you to look up some things I have mentioned here (e.g. Memory Prediction Framework, the book On Intelligence, talks by Jeff Hawkins), there you will be able to find resources that explains this better than I can and in much more detail.

    • Andreas

      Yes, that’s why universe keep moving and changing. To understand itself.

    • Jed

      We can measure temperature and size in static terms?

    • marisheba

      To go to a deeper philosophical level, reality itself IS change. There is no such thing as something staying the same. We can imagine something frozen in time, but it is the changing and becoming, the movements of energy states from one to another, that makes up reality. That we can only feel differences – it’s almost difficult to comprehend what the alternative would be.

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Oo..That’s quite deep but nevertheless it’s absolutely correct..Thank you!!

    • Anu

      Our nervous system is biologically trained to respond to changing stimuli in order to respond to the environment. If you walk into a kitchen where someone is baking cookies your nose will pick up on the chemicals accounting for that smell and send it to your olfactory receptor. If you stay in the room however, you will adapt to the environment and stop noticing the smell. If the oven with the baking cookies is reopened however, you are re-stimulated as the intensity of the original stimulus has increased, and you will smell the baking cookies once again.

      This is a simple example discussing the body’s ability to adapt to sensory stimuli. A similar scenario plays out when you are sitting in a noisy cafe and the noise becomes background noise, and when you jump into a cold pool of water and then get used to the temperature.

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Nice examples! Thank you!!

    • My personal non-scientific understanding is that Time = Movement. If there is no movement of any molecule or anything, time stands still. And as movement is change, yes we can also only see/measure differences. I would love a WBW-post about what time is!

  • David Shingirai Gate

    What’s the capacity of the average human brain in Gigabytes?

  • klajdi

    What is the force that drives our brain away from engaging in anything that seems hard to do or difficult?

    • Gal Green

      Fear

    • Matt Hawkins

      I’m sure I read somewhere it’s something to do with monkeys

      • klajdi

        Yes I read that too, but the monkey wants yout to do something you like, not to just stay without doing nothing for the sake of not doing something that bothers you

    • Miko Kuta

      That’s the conservation of your energy. In nature everything will try spend as little energy as possible untill it’s absolutely necessary. Also your brain heuristically determines that hypothetical long term gains aren’t as worthwhile as guaranteed short term gains, and it can’t plan long term as well as short term because it would require analysis of a far larger quantity of simulations, and a lot more can go wrong, so we evolved to avoid hard things unless they’re absolutely necessary.

    • gatorallin

      Fear. Flight or fight survival instincts (conserve energy).

  • Gal Green

    What is the one thing that would make WBW even greater?

    • mtjces

      More audience + Tim should get a clone of himself.

    • A huge post about free market vs government services. Capitalism vs socialism, growth, the libertarian take on things, and why are most countries run the way they are, is there a better way and what does the status quo mean for progress as species…

    • modrapetka

      If all spammers etc. stopped commenting here.

    • Alex Mac

      Probably enough Patreon money so that Tim can find and hire someone like him to make more articles or podcasts or videos, Wait But Why has very high quality but it would be so much better if more content was made (not suggesting for Tim to make more blog posts that aren’t as good), also a forum would be nice

    • gatorallin

      Tim personally commenting on every single comment.

  • Γιώργος

    Well… I dont know if this is the right place to ask this but the other day I was wondering if there is a way to 3D print a face of your choice with the characteristics you want and make a surgery. I know that the cost of something like this, if it could be done, will be forbidden but, what are the difficulties that make it impossible or what are the restrictions for something like that to take place in a society in a huge scale. I mean anyone could be everyone!

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      A fascinating idea, though faces are largely composed of the bone structure underneath them. The bones would also have to be changed, and that would be a lot more difficult. In the future it will likely be possible, but I wager it would be a very long time from now.

      • Γιώργος

        Bones are major factor of the face structure but I think that medicine has advanced enough for this kind of operations. Also it has been proven that 3D printing makes miracles in prosthetics, so my question remains. Why the idea of combining 3D printing and surgery hasn’t make its appearance yet? I really would like to know if there’s a research about this idea (I don’t believe that I ‘m the first or the only person wondering this) or if there’s a medical explanation about why this is not feasible. Lets hope that the answer to that question is as simple as it seems!

        The idea stuck in my mind when I saw the damaged face of Turia Pitt. Think how salutary would be these operations for people with such huge deformations and burns! One difficulty for the implementation of a treatment, I believe, lies in the fact that cell culture can not get the form of face so easily(3D-bioprinting can solve this). But biology is advancing rapidly, so in the future it’s a possible outcome.

  • Miko Kuta

    Let’s say you set up a laser in front of a mirror angled 45degrees
    towards you so every time the laser sends photons you see it reflected
    in the mirror (the laser, mirror and you form an L). Then find a way for
    the mirror to send a signal to the laser whenever it receives some of
    photons, resulting in a closed loop with the laser shooting at fixed
    intervals, and you seeying it at fixed intervals. Let’s say the laser is
    on the ground, the mirror is on the moon, and your are at a distance of
    4 light years and you wait there until you receive the 1 second laser
    blip. After you receive the laser blip you start accelerating towards the light and when you reach
    relativistic speeds something weird should happen: The time on the
    machine should be running faster, resulting in a much higher frequency
    of blips, but that would mean that the speed of light between the moon
    and earth had to be much higher, alternatively it would have to mean
    that in relation to you the distance between the moon and earth grow
    smaller and smaller, but that’s perpendicular to you, so it would mean
    that not only during relativistic speeds the distances along the axis of
    travel get shorter, but also all the perpendicular. So what gives?

    • JuneHo Yeo

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that there would not be a higher frequency of blips.

      • Miko Kuta

        I’m thinking about the twin experiment/paradox when asserting this. Which is why it’s you that accelerate/decelerate. i could be misinterpreting it though. I’m not a physicist and this has been bothering me for some weeks already which is why I asked.

  • mtjces

    Why do women break up without explanations?

    • Patrick Bowman

      There are probably a dozen possible reasons, but the most common ones are:
      if she tells you her reasons, you’ll talk her out of a decision that she’s a bit iffy about anyway. Another possibility is that her reasons

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      It is often, at least in my experience, that the explanation is there, but it is not really heard. It catches someone by surprise because they did not ‘see the writing on the wall’, or refused to believe it and went along, unfettered and unchanging, until it got too much for her to bear, and she leaves.

    • marisheba

      Why do people break up without explanations?

      There, I fixed your question for you.

    • gatorallin

      Because… women.

  • Nathalie Gil

    Is consciousness a ‘thing’? Does it exist (and therefore can be potentially transferable to a robot, with the right technology, for example) or is it an evutionary fluke that only works inside our bodies and has no option but to completely disappear with them?

    • Miko Kuta

      Unless consciousness comes from a supernatural soul there’s no reason not to be able to transfer it. However would probably not be a thing, it would be the arangement of the neurons that compose it. To transfer it to a robot you probably wouldn’t be able to upload it, that would just be a copy. You would have to replace your brain step by step, every neuron with an electronic neuron, for it to be transfered, as each new neuron takes over the information stored in the one replacing it and the old neurons keep communicating with the new ones the structure is mantained and you effectively transfer consciousness (which already kinda happens since neurons die off and new ones grow).

    • gatorallin

      I think it is a very complicated interwoven set of ideas, experiences, rules that drive an intelligent being that is always in a process of transformation or flux. It is affected by an array of different sensory input and output systems. It is not a physical thing that has mass anymore than a hard drive with or without information stored weighs the same, but clearly is different. Each consciousness is truly unique and no two can be the same. They may one day learn to mimic it or create a copy so similar that most could never tell it from the original, but it would always be just a copy that over time would only further deviate from the original. I respect Ray Kurzweil, but IMHO, I think he is wrong about this detail.

  • Julianne

    Should i worry about whether or not I’m dating people? my friends are assuming i want to, but i’m not sure i do.

    • If you have to ask whether you should [blank] then you probably shouldn’t [blank].

    • Miko Kuta

      People have varying degrees of attraction to other people, and most of us feel the need to be with someone, so naturally your friends will think that if you’re alone you must feel lonely. If you’re not attracted to anyone then you can just try to explain to them that you’re a bit different in that regard and hope they understand (depending on their upbringing they might or might not)

  • modrapetka

    What is the weirdest discussion on the internet you ever read? (Flame wars don´t count)

    • Joe

      If you should put the cocoa into the glass before or after the milk.

      • Demi

        I don’t know why there’s a discussion about this, its clearly before the milk is put in.

        • modrapetka

          No, I do it after!

    • modrapetka

      Okay, let´s try some other variation: What was the longest one you ever read? (Flame wars, also, don´t count)

    • Innocent Bystander

      Is a hot dog a sandwich?

      • SaraNoH

        It’s the same shape as a Subway sub…

  • Jack Carroll

    What are Red Dwarf Stars, where do they come from, and why do they produce so much energy?

  • Why are yellowjackets such dicks? I mean you’re minding your own business, and POW, you’re being stung repeatedly from every direction. Dicks.

    • Cate

      I just googled this and apparently ground vibrations (caused by stepping, mowing a lawn, etc…) can shake their underground nests and make them attack. So you wouldn’t even have to accidentally touch or step on their nest to provoke them, you could just walk by and BOOM, they’re all over you. Such dicks.

    • JunoEven

      I’m pretty sure it’s both nature AND nurture.

  • David

    Is it possible to set up a room with mirrors such that lighting a small candle will fully light up the whole room from the reflections on the mirrors?

    • Miko Kuta

      Theoretically it’s possible, in practice it’s more difficult as the mirrors absorb a bit of light. Also it depends if you want to be inside that mirror room as your body will absorb a lot of photons.

    • modrapetka

      The candle would have a shadow, probably.

    • Alan Collier

      Sort of… The candle only emits a certain amount of light, which would be shared across all the absorbing surfaces. A similar trick is used for the measurement of light intensity via the use of an Ulbricht Sphere (I’m not sure if links get through – here goes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrating_sphere )

  • JuneHo Yeo

    Since when did WBW have a Chinese Version?

  • Are any of you guys using Headspace for meditation?

    I guess I only want to discover more random affinities- two topics that share nothing other than an audience.
    We can even introduce a new angle of this dinner table discussion- upvoting a comment as a mean to say “yes” (or “yes of course”, “hell yeah” or an affirmation of your choice).

    That ok Tim?

    • Pedro Farage

      No. I guess it depends on what kind of results you are aiming for when you meditate (if you aim for any results at all, since it is said that highly experienced meditators have to let go of even the desire to become enlightened as one of the final steps of meditation mastery). I’ve been a buddhist for some 7 years, and because of that, I believe we shouldn’t depend on any kind of external aide to sit down and meditate. I practice an hour a day, with just a small cushion to help me with my posture.
      But I also think it’s valid to use any help you can, especially if you don’t have a teacher. And since it depends on your objective, I think it’s great to meditate in any way possible. Cheers!

      • Andy is a great teacher. Kinda like a mentor- a weird thing to say since I never met the guy, but nonetheless. The sessions are really helpful in teaching different techniques and an ever changing fresh perspective.

        No expectation for results at all- simply exploring- seeing things for what they are, allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go while gently trying to focus on the technique at hand. Changed my life in a number of cool ways 🙂

        7 years man- wow, that must be great. Cool

        • Pedro Farage

          Awesome! I think I know what you mean… a lot of the monks from the tradition I follow feel like mentors and personal teachers, even though I haven’t met them personally. I think that’s one of the marks of a great teacher, one who can understand the human condition without having necessarily to appeal to your personal experiences.

          Your attitude is, to me, the greatest way to approach meditation. I hope you keep reaping the benefits of the practice. All the best, man!

    • vacations

      I used it when I first started practicing meditation. I thought it was great! Kind of like training wheels. I ditched it after a few weeks but it was definitely helpful in getting me started. I also liked the lack of any “new age” feel to the app and the narrator’s voice. Good luck!

  • Gokhan Arslan

    What is the tiniest element ever? What are quarks made of? What are they made of? Then what are they made of?

    • The tiniest element ever is and will always be hydrogen. The smallest particle ever? That’s what things like the Large Hadron Collider are continuing to pursue. And quarks don’t necessarily always have to have smaller and smaller things making them up. We just don’t know anything beyond it yet, but nothing says it has to be a chain that goes on forever.

      • Gokhan Arslan

        Say you can observe the quarks with a 10^15x microscope. What would we see if we observe a quark with a 10^18x or 10^21x microscope? Or 10^60? My opinion: microinfinity does exist.

    • Blrp

      According to the standard model, quarks are fundamental particles, i.e. not made up of anything smaller. Same for leptons and some bosons. String theory says that everything is made up of strings, and as I understand it strings behave as different standard model particles depending on their vibrational mode.

      I’m not sure there can be said to be an objectively true description of reality. All our theories are just approximations based on how things seem to behave in testable or observable circumstances. We can’t ever be sure that, say, string theory explains all possible observations in our universe, but even if it did, how can it be said objectively that reality is composed of strings? String theory is just a mathematical model, and to say that the world is made of strings is just a human interpretation of that model. Also, it’s conceivable that there could be another mathematical model that predicts exactly the same things as string theory.

      More importantly, for the model to be “objectively true”, it would have to somehow be written into the fabric of reality, as the principle that “decides” how the world behaves, rather than just a model set up to predict how the world behaves. If humans were to create a world through computer simulation (or if we are in one) it could be said that certain rules are written into the fabric of that reality, but when it comes to the “ultimate reality”, how could it be said that its laws are written into it? The truth is we have no clue how the laws of reality were decided (for lack of a better word) or in what manner it can be said that any such “laws” “exist”, and I don’t think it’s possible to know, so it’s impossible to say objectively that reality is made of this or that. All we can do is try to come up with a good approximation.

  • Chevy

    Can man ever live past 150 years old?

    • JacksonKG

      The first person to live to 150 is supposed to be born soon, or is supposed to already have been born. So almost definitely

    • Matias Frank Jensen

      As far as we know there certainly isn’t any fundamental reason to why we have to die at some point in the near future. How long can a car last? As long as you want to repair it. Today there exist cars that are 100 years old and work perfectly because they have been continuously repaired.
      The same logic could be applied to the human body, the problem is it is just 1000 times more complicated to repair the human body than a car, so….

      But to be honest, I don’t think the question is if, but when. Considering the advances in biotechnology the past 50 years, it is tough to argue that we NEVER should be able to cure aging, its a bit like a middle-nineteenth century person proclaiming the impossibility of ever going to the moon. So absolutely, man will live past 150 at some point, but when?

      I have heard multiple researchers saying the first person to turn 150 years old is alive today, but who knows?

    • Eric

      Absolutely. Some scientists believe the first person to live past 200 has already been born.

    • Margling53

      Trust me. At some point, you will not want to live past 150 or even past 100 or maybe even past 80. Enough is enough. Live your four score and ten if you can do it in good health and productively. Then let go and make room on the planet for the next generations. Any added years are very likely to be lived in diapers with a walker to help you get around.

    • gatorallin

      Yes,

      but not without some real modification to the dna code and or telomeres or stem cell replacement (or young blood transfusions). My guess is there is a built in limit (hayflick limit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayflick_limit) and for most of us, this number is likely in the 95 -110 range. Here is the current list of the oldest known humans thus far and you see it max out at 122. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_verified_oldest_people and is interesting to see only 8 people currently alive that range from 114-116 of the top 100 on the list. Of course we will decode our dna over time, much like reverse engineering any complex software or other system as we struggle to cure cancer and diseases. Most of us die off due to disease way before our max lifespan limit and modern medicine will continue to extend our lives and hopefully give us more healthy lives or good years along the way. So far we have done great at reducing infant mortality rates across the globe and this has improved our average https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Human_life_expectancy_patterns, but has done Nothing to extend our max lifespan. Modern medicine has also done well to extend our lifespan as we get older, but almost nothing to extend our max lifespan (we can’t even get a research mouse to live 5 years and there are really smart and well funded scientists working on it for decades now, with big prize money awarded if they can pull it off).

      I wish your question was… can I/Chevy live past 150 years old….or what do I need to do to be the first human to live past 150 years?

  • JacksonKG

    I put this somewhere before, but I didn’t really get anything definitive

    1. Easy Repeat

    If the first Law of Thermodynamics is correct (energy transforms, can’t be created or destroyed), and matter cannot be created or destroyed, then this should lead to the conclusion that everything should technically happen an infinite amount of times, as long as time itself is infinite. Theoretically, at one point in time, as long as the chance is not zero (or maybe one over infinity, but that’s a sketchy subject), it should happen at some point in time. Let’s say that the point in time is a minute. If the chance of a specific rock hitting another rock is, overall, let’s just say one over a google to the power of a google to the power of a google, a number incomprehensibly small, as long as the numerator is multiplied by the overall time period (infinity), then that rock hitting the other rock should happen numerator/denominator amount of times. But the numerator is infinity (Also basically incomprehensible), which automatically converts the number itself to infinity.

    What I’m saying is, essentially, if the Earth explodes, the universe ends, but all of the matter and energy is the same, then at one point in time, as long as the chance isn’t zero, the matter and energy should be in the same place at the same time at some point. And we know the chance isn’t zero, because it the repeating event has already happened. If the chance of it happening was one in infinity when it happened for the first time however, then I honestly don’t know if it could occur again (or if one in infinity is even possible, it could maybe be argued that zero is impossible, as I said it’s a very sketchy subject and I haven’t really done much research). But let’s just say it wasn’t zero or one in infinity. Then technically, no matter how large the denominator, a numerator of infinity should mean that it will happen an infinite amount of times. Ex. I die now, the universe ends in a few billion years, a few quadrillion (way later) later the same mass and energy of our original universe finds itself in an event under the same circumstances, therefore recreating the same universe an infinite amount of times, with maybe a few hundred (thousand, million, etc.) universes in between. Since it’s the same exact circumstances, the same atoms, and the same energy all in the same places (presumably), it should therefore also be the same consciousness. And therefore, in however many years, I should actually be back and live the same exact life that I already have. There could possibly even be some wiggle room, and the time is essentially incomprehensible, but I’ll get to that later. Now we’re on…

    2. The First Law of Thermodynamics is wrong

    It’s right as far as we know, I’m not saying it’s wrong. The main thing that makes me think of this is the idea of a sort of consciousness ladder (waitbutwhy.com, I don’t want to find the source but almost everything he posts is very interesting regardless). It basically treats consciousness in multiple stages. So if an ant were on one rung of the ladder, I would be two rungs above the ant. I’m two “levels” of consciousness above the ant. And maybe below me there’s a dog or something. If you could somehow communicate with ants, no matter how hard you could try to tell an ant how some large fundamental concept works, maybe the Law of Thermodynamics, the ant will not understand it, because it cannot understand it. If there were ever some thinking entity a “rung” or two above us on the consciousness ladder (I actually think it was a staircase now) we would be to it as ants are to us. Showing a fundamental concept of the universe as it knows it would just be nonsense to us. Incomprehensible.

    So in this scenario, let’s just say that that law is wrong. The matter that makes up our universe, and the energy, was created, and will ultimately be destroyed. If you think about the possibility of anything being created from nothing in the first place, “anything” turning back to nothing doesn’t sound as ridiculous. So maybe everything that makes this universe “ours” is now obliterated. But, relating back to everything I said in the first thing, time is still infinite (maybe, I’ll get to that later also). If we say that, then that must mean that “our” universe, everything that composes it, somehow “became” in the first place. Even if it can be destroyed, completely, as long as it was possible for the same thing to exist in the first place, it should be theoretically possible for it to “become” again. And, in the same incomprehensible way I’m treating a lot of this, it should be possible for it to be the same matter and energy we have now, unlike a clone or something. And if something is possible, and time is infinite, then it should happen an infinite amount of times. Now before part 3…

    A. Infinity is a pretty long amount of time

    You could probably ask if it even matters that everything will happen again if there’s such a long gap between “everything”. But it really does matter. Because, regardless of the gap, if there isn’t an afterlife or whatever (dependent on the person), if you’re dead you probably won’t experience the gap. I know there’s a lot of speculation of what happens when you die, but if you do come back to life under the same, or similar circumstances, it’ll feel as if nothing ever happened at all. It’s possible that your life, as it is, will happen again and again in the same way, infinitely. But time is a weird concept, so for part 3…

    3. Time might not be infinite

    Relating back to what I said in part two, about how some concepts might just be incomprehensible to us, time could be one of these concepts. This really counteracts what I’m saying, so it’s probably also gonna be the most rudimentary out of all this. But if time isn’t infinite, maybe there are a bunch of different “timelines” even, then there still exists the fact that our time exists in the first place. And that means, in relation to the second part, it should have the capability to exist again. But this is, as I said, really weird because I’m basically talking about time as if it exists in a different kind of time. For all we know time could even be an infinite loop, and everything could happen again and again in an entirely different way. I have no idea. That’s pretty much it, except for one more note…

    B. Contradictions

    This kind of relies on the idea that it has the ability to happen again. If all of this is right, and this “universe” is somehow the first one to ever occur, then that would mean that some unforeseeable event could occur in which this particular universe is purposefully prevented from creation. Maybe by Artificial Super Intelligence, or something like the idea of God or something. And also, of course, if everything didn’t happen infinitely in the first place, then that implies that this universe did not exist in the first place. This only really works if time is infinite, forward and backwards, or if time is a loop or something. If time is more like a segment than an axis, then technically there would be a limited amount of it. But that’s part three. For all we know, time could just be something like a vector. There might be a starting point, but no ending point since it just stretches on into infinity. But a starting point is basically incomprehensible, as a start in the first place implies, of course, time.

    So yeah, am I just completely wrong about all this? It’s just something I’ve kinda thought about before

    • Jan Rudzki

      Entropy

      • JKG

        Entropy would supposedly be what would cause a universe to end. That doesn’t mean a new one couldn’t start, the same as ours

        • Jan Rudzki

          Well it wouldn’t since ALL the mass / energy would be spread out as radiation across the massive universe. As far as we know, the universe is expanding and it’s accelerating, so gravity is clearly not enough to slow it down, and create a new universe. So unless the mysterious dark energy causing this even more mysteriously disappears, then entropy will be the end of the universe as we know it.

          • JKG

            My overall point is that existence, as far as we can comprehend, makes no sense. How did that dark energy exist in the first place? If there were some point when it didn’t exist, doesn’t that mean we could have that point of nonexistence once again? And couldn’t it, therefore, come into existence again. As long as something is possible, and time is infinite, it should theoretically happen an infinite amount of time. If it’s possible for the universe to begin and end, and it’s possible for us to exist specifically, why don’t we exist an infinite amount of times? The universe is crazy dawg

  • Matias Frank Jensen

    How should we explain the existence of paradoxes in mathematical logic?

    • modrapetka

      They are indicators that something is wrong. Either some wrong premise is taken while constructing the paradox, or the theory within which it exists is wrong.

      • Rein van der Laan

        Or the thing that is wrong is our intuition that something is wrong at all. This happened with, for instance, the mathematical use of infinity. The paradox of some infinite sets being bigger than other infinite sets was solved by accepting that this is not contradictory, even though out intuition tells us otherwise.

        • Matias Frank Jensen

          But some paradoxes just really are strange. I dont know if you know this one, but I will try to explain it briefly:

          Sunday night a prisioner is told by the judge that he will be hanged sometime in the next week from monday to friday. If he is going to be hanged the particular day the executioner will knock on his door at 12 o’clock and hang him. But there is one catch: The prisoner will in no way be able to predict what day the executioner will come.
          So the prisoner deduces that he cannot be hanged friday, since if he isn’t hanged by thursday he will know it must be friday. But armed with this information he can’t be hanged on thursday either, since if he isn’t hanged by Wednesday and he know he can’t be hanged friday, thursday is the only day left.
          He continues with this deduction and arrives at the fact that he can never be hanged and he is suddenly relieved.
          However, Wednesday at 12 o’clock the executioner knocks on his door and hangs him, completely catching the prisoner by surprise.

          What is going on in this? It is really strange, and even though it seems like there should be an obvious explanation to this paradox, I can’t find it!

          • Nathan M

            Interesting. As posed, I believe the paradox can be unwound and resolved.

            The deduction from Friday to Monday is correct. The fact that the prisoner was hanged is correct. However, the prisoner’s conclusion that he cannot be hanged is incomplete.

            He was told both that he will be hanged and that he will at no time be able to predict the day that he will be hanged. When his deduction reached Monday, he knew the following:

            A) I will be hanged.

            B) From my deduction, the only day I can be hanged is Monday.
            C) Therefore, I must be hanged on Monday.

            X) I will not know what day I will be hanged.

            Y) From (C), I know I will be hanged on Monday.
            Z) Therefore, I will not be hanged on Monday.

            The statements Y and Z contradict. If we accept the initial assumptions, the problem is a paradox. However, I don’t think we have to accept the initial assumptions. We can use the law of the excluded middle to do away with Tuesday through Friday. An equivalent statement from the guard would be:
            1. You will certainly hang tomorrow.
            2. You will not hang if you know when you would be hanged.

            Past, present, or future doesn’t matter to the logic, either. If he was in the afterlife with amnesia, he could be told, “You hanged yesterday. You did not hang yesterday if you know when you hanged.” The statement would be equivalent.

            In other words, the problem assumes that the prisoner’s knowledge of an existing event implies that the event does not exist.

            (Hang) AND (Prisoner Knows) => (Not Hang)
            This is a direct contradiction. Therefore, the assumptions are self-refuting, the problem is illogical, and the prisoner should be rather upset.

            If the prisoner had been told that he would only be hanged IF it is never possible for him to predict when he would be be hanged, all of the above is void and I have absolutely no freaking idea.

        • modrapetka

          Yes, I forgot that one. Thanks for pointing this out.

      • FuzzyBunnyFeet

        That statement may be a bit simplistic. I believe that Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems depend on a paradox.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Gödel

    • gatorallin

      by drawing complicated loops with math

  • Yash Pote

    How do I do interesting AND productive stuff in my free time if the only thing I’m good at is Mathematics?

    • epistememe

      Join a group/team/project where your mathematical skills are sorely needed to accomplish the goals of the group.
      or
      become good at something else besides mathematics, not as hard as it seems really.

    • If you are really good at mathematics, you have been already ahead compared to most people on earth. It is highly likely that you are capable of learning something new faster than most people. And it looks like you understand english well, so nothing can stop you to learn. So go ahead, learn something new. Open your mind to everything. You can even look for problems that might be interesting for you, learn everything that you need to learn, and work really hard to solve it. Life could be really interesting that way.

    • Andreas

      Counting bald people in a train station.

    • Reuben Hopper

      Making a video game.

    • gatorallin

      Write a movie about how a janitor is good at math and then escapes a boring life in Boston… oh nevermind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Will_Hunting

  • I think the essence of physics can be stated very concisely (All matter is made of electrons orbiting around a nucleus, with different configurations [elements] having different properties) and then someone could spend a few years filling in the details: what laws govern the way electrons orbit (quantum mechanics)? what holds the particles in the nucleus together (strong force, gluons)? How do these building blocks go on to form the different states of matter? etc. I think I could do the same for cosmology. It helps to have that basis when accumulating new facts so you can see how they fit into the big picture.

    Can someone do that for me in economics? Biology? Is there a single sentence upon which all information in those fields can be organized?

    • Kelly Burke

      For biology (in similar wording as yours): “Every living thing is made of one or more cells that contain a unique sequence of DNA, which codes for the production RNA and then protein so that the cells can replicate.” To fill in the details, what are DNA, RNA and protein made of and how do they work in a cell? How do you go from DNA –> RNA –> protein in the first place? How and why do cells replicate? How do you go from being a single-cell organism to multi-cell? How and why do organisms change, i.e. evolve, over time?

      Hope that helps!

      • Ricardo

        By that definition, are viruses not living things? Because they do have a DNA, but they are not in a cell.

        • Kelly Burke

          No, they would not be considering living. Although they can replicate their genetic material, they can’t do it on their own. They need a host cell to help them.

          Extra note – many viruses don’t have their own DNA but instead have RNA.

      • marisheba

        Impressively done! This applies to a specific area of biology though, and leaves out the macro scale, like ecology. But I suppose the same critique could be made about the physics description above, which doesn’t include the macro level of newtonian physics or relativity.

        • Kelly Burke

          Thanks! True – this description is on the molecular biology side and only scratches the surface of all that biology encompasses.

    • epistememe

      As for economics:
      Anything with more than 7 variables is an Art and not a Science

  • Jales Naves Júnior

    How do I start World War 3?

    • Blrp

      If Trump becomes president, wear a Putin mask and punch him in the face.

    • gatorallin

      …Kim Jong-un… is that you again?

  • alluqa

    Have you answered the “xkcd Survey”?
    http://xkcd.com/1572/

    • modrapetka

      Yes, but where can one get the results?

    • Innocent Bystander

      Just did it

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      Yes, but some of the questions are a bit presumptuous. For example, how should a person answer the (from memory) “what kind of smart phone do you have” question of one has more than one kind of smart phone?

  • What is the book that most changed how you see the world?

    • Probably Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

      • Also, very high on my list, can’t wait to check out.

      • Matias Frank Jensen

        Oh god yes!! This book is amazing, it really changes a lot of things when you really think about it. There are so many situations where you can see the concepts and fallacies he introduces to have a clear effect on the decisions people are making, often in the worse direction.
        It really shows some of the limitations of the human brain, how our perception of the world is almost constantly fed through a distortion filter so our interpretation better accommodates what we think is true or what we want to be true.
        Amazing read.

      • marisheba

        Yes, totally on the list!

    • Demi

      A Brief history of the World by E.H. Gombrich
      His writing style and Tim’s are quite similar and a young me was fascinated by his description of humans in history.

      • I actually just added that to my list a week ago, heard about it on the Farnam Street blog and sounds right up my alley. If it fits into Wait But Why’s style, all the better!

    • Innocent Bystander

      “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis. Simply, I realized that things I believed could be challenged and I could change my mind. https://jeffgirgenti.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/tradition/

      • How does it compare to the movie?

        • Innocent Bystander

          I liked the movie, but it is not the book. The movie ignores half of the book (preparing for the amateur draft) and only focuses on the major league team. Also, the movie Disney-ifies the story. For instance, I don’t recall the book even mentioning Billy Beane’s daughter, but she was a plot line in the movie.

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      I have a few. “Wizard’s First Rule”, by Terry Goodkind, has to be the most influential for me though, because of the philosophy behind the actual rule. The series is well written and fun, and very long, but it is another fantasy series in the end.

      Wizards First Rule states: People are stupid. They are stupid because they will believe something if A) they wish it to be true, or B) fear it to be true. The actual truth is largely irrelevant.
      (That was paraphrased, but it’s the core idea)

      Looking around human society, I see this rule being used over and over again, often to great detriment of everyone, by people who unknowingly use it to control others and subjugate them. Politics, advertising, religion – it’s everywhere. I believe that I am much more aware of the world and how it works whenever I see this rule being used, but it rarely brings me any kind of joy, but rather a deep sense of powerlessness and hopelessness for our future.

      Also, the Discworld Series, by Terry Pratchett, is fun and humorous, but can be surprisingly deep and philosophical at times. Mr. Pratchett was a shining example of a wonderful author, and the world is just a little darker with his passing.

      • jonathan

        I loved the Sword of Truth series as a teen. Although, after about four or five books in I realized I wanted more variety in my authors so I stopped. Some crazy themes and ideas brought up in those books though. I can still vividly remember the worlds I created in my head. From the very first scene where he sees the spiderweb is broken onward.
        Thanks for jogging this memory! 😀

    • fili

      Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead

    • marisheba

      Great question. “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn.

      Was the first time I fully embraced how much the scientific enterprise, and all knowledge, are human constructs, and therefore subject to the same imperfect human biases and limitations as everything else. Don’t worry, I’m not a crazy climate change denier. It had a profound and lasting impact, though, on the way I view people, institutions, scientific knowledge, and the way I think critically about, well, everything.

    • Korakys

      The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

  • Jon Snow

    What do you live for? If you have to choose now between live or die, what single reason that you genuinely believe you should choose to continue living? Is it just because you have no reason to die? Forget survival instinct for a moment, but truly, what’s make you thinking that living is a better choice?

    Especially when you have given everything you’ve got and fight all these White Walkers to protect everyone, and they just betrayed you and literally stabbed you multiple times to die? Why should I get back alive next season or the season after?

  • Tommy Juszczyk

    Do you think it’s a coincidence that Elon reached out to you shortly after the release of his autobiography?

  • Trevor du Buisson

    Does humanity deserve to continue?

    • Maybe I am biased because I am human, but my answer is yes. 🙂

    • TESKAn

      Yes. Wheter you like it or not, we are the most intelligent species on
      this planet, in this corner of our galaxy. So discontinuing humanity
      serves no purpose other than depriving this part of the universe from
      single species that is developed enough to be able to ask itself these
      questions.

    • Ricardo

      Yes. Although there are people who are evil/bad, there are people who are very kind/good. Who genuinely care about the world, other people, other animals, etc. Actually, this difference in personality can be seen in most mammals (and some other animals too). Now, would it be fair to end things for good people, only because some (or most) of them are bad?

    • Kestrel

      Yes: until we find another species that can win the debate.

    • marisheba

      For me that’s not the right question. Does anything deserve anything? From whose perspective? What are the criteria?

      Whether we “deserve” to be or not, we are here. I personally believe that all living creatures have inherent rights, but that belief is rooted in the empathy that I feel for them, and in my own desires for meaning, connection, respect, freedom from pain, etc. Yet nature itself doesn’t see it that way, or any way, it all just is.

      I guess I’m mostly just glad that no one is in a position to decide one way or the other–that’s the way it should be.

  • Jon Snow

    What do you live for? If you have to choose now between live or die, what single reason that you genuinely believe you should choose to continue living? Is it just because you have no reason to die? Forget survival instinct for a moment, but truly, what’s make you thinking that living is a better choice?

    Especially when you have given everything you’ve got and fight all these white walkers to protect everyone, and they just betrayed you and literally stabbed you multiple times to die?

  • Jon Snow

    What do you live for? If you have to choose now between live or die, what single reason that you genuinely believe you should choose to continue living? Is it just because you have no reason to die? Forget survival instinct for a moment, but truly, what’s make you thinking that living is a better choice?

    Especially when you have given everything you’ve got and fight all these White Walkers to protect everyone, and they just betrayed you and stabbed you multiple times to die a cold death? Why should I get back alive next season or the season after?

  • aisha

    Does it get any less crazy after high school?

    Like, after you stop trying to be a part of every club and have leadership positions and volunteer and get the best grades for college apps – once that’s over and you’ve been accepted, can you relax a little?

    It seems like a silly question, but I’m in high school and right now everyone is going a little crazy from pressure and competition. Right now everyone’s lives revolve around doing what it takes to get into a good college, so I was wondering if the same thing happens in college/the rest of your life. Is life just focusing on getting to the next thing?

    Sorry to make a post about something so unoriginal, but it’s preoccupied my mind lately. :-p

    • SaraNoH

      Honestly, “it” is what you make it. If you call your life crazy now and plan to do things the same way later, you’ll probably call it crazy then too.

      But to be practical: college is crazier than high school. In high school, to me, it felt like there was less diversity of mindset. There were lots of cliques, sure, but pretty much everyone settled into one of those (except the “non conformists”, who really just became their own group and thus, conformed). In college, I found that people were working harder to discover who they were and branching out into other mindsets. There is definitely competition in college, and then in the workforce, so in that way, it probably won’t change much. But what gets better is that you become more of a functioning human being and you get to know yourself and how to say no to things you don’t want and how to pursue the things you do.

      Life CERTAINLY gets better after high school. Become you, love who you are, keep growing, and all the craziness of life, no matter the stage, will be fulfilling. And it will continue to improve.

      <3 You're great. Keeping being that.

      • aisha

        Thanks for responding, that helped a lot. 🙂

    • TESKAn

      No. You find yourself thinking “Just this one more thing is over, and
      then I will be able to relax.”. It does not. This is how life is,
      accept it and then it gets easier to deal with it, because whatever is
      going on, it is not something special or unique to you, all the people
      around you have the same problems, the same questions and so if they
      manage to get through it, so can you.

      • aisha

        I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.

    • Honestly, even if certain things are more competitive later in life, you will be able to handle them much better. I have many more things to be stressed about now, but in high school for some reason I felt immense pressure from standardized tests that felt much worse than things presently. College had harder tests, but man, something about high school standardized tests felt like everything rode on them, which isn’t true at all.

      So no, the rest of life is not just always focusing on the next thing. At least not in that same way it feels for school. High school and even college are such specific bubbles in your life that you probably simply won’t be able to have perspective on it until mid to late 20’s. Just know that it will happen.

      Take it seriously, but high school is very far from real life in pretty much every way.

      • aisha

        That’s good to hear. Thanks for your insight 🙂

    • wousjee

      That depends on yourself and your attitude. Are you very ambitious or are you someone who can be happy with a fun job. For example, i’m a secretary and love my job. I don’t have the ambition to become a pa for the executive board. I have a challenging job, bit I don’t need to fight for a higher position. I do try to be the best though.

      • aisha

        That makes sense, thanks. 🙂

    • Luci Erisman

      Yes, it does get less stressful. I was in your shoes in high school and college was where I found the space to find the things I wanted to do, not what parents, teachers and peers were telling me. It does get less crazy – tho I would really, really recommend trying to be as crazy as possible. It’s a big wonderful world out there. Explore it, be open to all sorts of new people and experiences. But most of all – have fun and follow your heart. And by fun I mean the things that make you happy deep down inside – for some that is following the path our society dictates, for others it mean blazing a new trail. Only you can know and it takes experience to find your ‘happy place’. So get out there and enjoy this big, crazy world of ours.

      • aisha

        That’s great advice, thank you 😀

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      A very good question Aisha, I’m 29 and here’s my answer. On each of the stages (next up college if you choose to pursue it, then real life) you will find a brand new set of responsibilities and head aches. What you will also find is that you will care much less about your peer’s acceptance and generally about anyone’s opinion on what you do and say, how you look, etc. Until then, soak in all knowledge you can, surround yourself with great thoughtful people, and don’t forget to find time for something you deeply care about. Then when the real life arrives, you are fully equipped.

      • aisha

        Words to live by! 🙂

    • pomegranates

      Hello Aisha! I’m in high school too, and understand what you mean by the pressure and competition of the clubs, leadership positions and the volunteering. I’d like to ask — over there in your school, exactly how intense are these things? Do your schoolmates get ultra stressed/depressed or get mental health issues as a result?

      To the other WBW readers: How important do you think getting into a good college is? (In the grand scheme of things, how important is “doing leadership positions, getting amazing grades etc”?)

      Thing is, over here in my school, people tend to have this mentality that if one has good grades (and leadership positions and community service records etc etc), then one will get into a good college, then one will get a “good job”, which will result in a “good life”. Hence “If I don’t have good grades, I am probably doomed for life.” I think that this mentality is flawed, but I’m not too sure how to argue this to my friends.

      Does anyone want to comment on this…?

      • aisha

        I’d say that it’s pretty intense over here. I don’t think it’s as bad as getting depression from the pressure (or maybe it is, I don’t personally know of that happening to anyone) but I would say there are really stressful periods, to the point where I have a couple friends who get ~4 hours of sleep consistently during the school week. It doesn’t help that one of the top schools in the nation is right next to us. XD
        The mentality in your school is pretty prevalent here also. This might not change their mindset, but try asking your friends if all of the well paying jobs in your area are taken by people who went to “good” colleges. Also, something adults have told me is that if you’re planning on going to grad school, it doesn’t really matter whether you go to what is deemed a “good” undergrad college (please correct me if I’m wrong!). Maybe that would make them place less importance on the chain you described?

        • pomegranates

          Oh, I never actually thought of asking whether the well-paying jobs in my area are taken by people who went to “good” colleges. (But the thing is, how do we find out? In order to get a reliable answer we need to find people who are relatively young and the system they went through is more similar to ours. I don’t know any relatively young person who has graduated from a “good” college or is doing a well-paying job.)

          There is a graduate glut in my country (ok not really, but recently the ministers have been giving speeches on how we need to reduce the emphasis on college education, and that “a degree is not needed for success”.) But I’m unsure whether people from brand-name colleges do actually get better chances of landing jobs, well-paying jobs too, than others.

          As in, some reasons why I think this mentality is kind of flawed:
          – it’s a slippery slope fallacy
          – Being good at getting grades (etc) doesn’t necessarily translate into being good at work. I think good grades and a good school record do indicate something about your conscientiousness, your determination to work hard and excel, etc. But these don’t necessarily translate into being good at work

          – In the real world, other things matter — social skills, ability to work with others, creativity, risk-taking, resilience, ability to think out of the box, etc. Right?

          (Then again, I think it also depends on what job you want. If you want to be a doctor then you need to get into med school, and med school is very competitive so you’ll need all those grades and other things to present a good CV during college applications. )

          I don’t know man… I’ve been thinking about this topic and this mentality for a long time but can’t figure out anything.

          Also, may I ask where you’re from, if you’re comfortable sharing? 🙂

    • Anu

      I’m afraid not. University is like unlocking a level in the game of your life. You get new privileges and experiences, but getting to the next level after that becomes more difficult regardless of what ‘the next level’ is for you. If you’re looking to get into a grad program or professional school you have to focus on your grades and overall application. If you’re looking to land a job right after graduation, you want to get some exposure in your field.

      I’ve just finished my university degree and I’ve spent the last few years joining clubs, trying to land leadership positions, and working towards getting good grades all for the next level. Having said that, I’ve also spent my time learning from and about people, taking electives that taught me more about life than my required courses, learning to enjoy being alone without becoming lonely, and figuring out how to do my laundry.

      I won’t lie to you and tell you it becomes easier, but you do become better equipped to deal with the difficult stuff. I spent the last four years of my life making more mistakes than my toddler years and being resilient enough to recover from them.

      Also, please don’t apologize for things that don’t need an apology! All your thoughts & emotions & concerns are valid and worth saying outloud.

      • aisha

        Thanks for that! As long as we get better equipped as time goes along that’s good enough for me. 🙂

  • Jon Snow

    So many questions, not enough answers. Life…

  • TESKAn

    Never mind…

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      OK

  • Kelly Burke

    How much longer do you think we’ll keep the University system, considering all the growing options now for much cheaper and high-quality education online?

    • Innocent Bystander

      I don’t know when, but when light is shined on issues like endowment management fees vs student financial aid, I am hopeful that change is coming.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/19/opinion/stop-universities-from-hoarding-money.html?_r=3

      • Kelly Burke

        Thanks for sharing the article. Nice to get more transparent information.

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      Was just debating over this with my friend as we both graduated from top schools in our countries. Not for long is my opinion, the days when a specific degree was needed to guarantee you a good life (meaning, an office job with gradually progressing career path) are gone. Why bother if you can start from studying all sorts of things and gradually narrow it down to the ones that are your passion, and then drill even deeper with those and finally start something of your own with the progress path you choose? Not that I am ready to trash my education, it absolutely mattered, only saying that for me personally the biggest value was in getting to know some like-minded and inspiring people who I’m lucky to have as my close circle of friends. This thinking really justifies that 6 years ordeal. NB I love learning, constantly completing new courses, but in subjects completely unrelated to my education

    • Margling53

      The term “high-quality education” is an oxymoron when combined with “on-line.” The term “university” is derived from the Latin for the whole, as in the whole universe. Only a liberal education in an environment which facilitates examination and discussion of everything can be called an education. We should be going the opposite direction and rebuilding a system in which students begin with liberal studies and only go on to specific major studies (e.g. engineering, medicine, teaching, law, etc.) when they have a solid grounding in the world that existed before their small dot of being came about.

  • TESKAn

    Still learning how to use this forum….

  • SaraNoH

    What movie line do you quote most often?

    • Arkadeep Banerjee

      I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse..

    • wousjee

      You shall not pass!

    • modrapetka

      Oh come on…

      • SaraNoH

        Which movie?

        • modrapetka

          How to train your dragon

    • that’s just like, your opinion, man.

      • SaraNoH

        YES! (Do you do the stretch move while you say it?)

        • lol i forgot about that. I’ll have to start doing it to add to the already high level of confusion people have when I say it. But I guess it would only affect uncool people in a confusing way 🙂

    • Andreas

      “Bond. James Bond.”

    • Kestrel

      I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure

    • BillMontreal

      Dr. Strangelove

    • Levente Ladomerszky

      every tarantino movie ever

    • epistememe

      “Ive seen things you people wouldn’t believe”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARPCjp0ppEE

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      “I’m getting better…” – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
      “I’ve had worse…” “You lie!” “Come on you pansy!” – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
      “Jabba won neechee kochba mu shanee wy tonny wya uska.” – Greedo, in Star Wars A New Hope
      “Inconceivable!” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – The Princess Bride

      I say these lines all the time.

      • Inconceivable! But only a few people I am around actually complete the quote.

      • marisheba

        Also “No more rhymes now, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?”

        and

        “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

        Apparently I only quite the Princess Bride.

    • Stay on target…

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        Oh yeah! I use that one, too! There are quite a few from Star Wars, it seems.

        • jonathan

          “This will be a day long remembered” is one I use ALL the time with my friends. And I’ll say “Laugh it up furball” to my little brother. Haha.

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      “Knowledge is a mirror, and for the first time in my life I was allowed to see who I was and who I might become.” (Cloud Atlas)

    • jonathan

      I’ll also say “Finish what you started, human” to people and often they have no idea what I’m talking about. But when they DO know it’s epic! (It’s from spirited away)

    • gatorallin
    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.

    • Brian R.

      It varies, but it’s almost always something from Tombstone.

      Favorites include:

      “I’m your Huckleberry.”
      “You gonna do somethin, or just stand there and bleed?”
      “Well…..bye.”
      “I have not yet begun to defile myself!”
      “Your friends might get me in a rush, but not before I make your head into a canoe, you understand me.”
      “You’re so drunk you can’t hit nothing. In fact, you’re probably seeing double.
      (Pulls out second gun). I have two guns, one for each of ya!”
      “Go ahead, skin it. Skin that smokewagon and see what happens.”

    • JunoEven

      “They mostly come out at night, mostly.”

  • modrapetka

    What would happen if you filled the entire observable universe with sand?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      Well, that would depend on the density of the sand (sand-to-vacuum ratio). If it is completely filled, so the sand particles can’t float around, nothing would happen. You would end up with a boring, homogeneous universe of sand.

      If the sand-to-vacuum ratio is much lower, it will float around in the otherwise empty universe, kind of resembling hydrogen atoms in the beginning of the universe. Eventually, small differences in local density will begin to generate local variations in the gravitational pull, creating an escalating effect where more sand gets pulled by gravity creating a larger gravity. In theory, with enough sand, the sand clumps would eventually generate such a large gravitational pull that the silicon in the sand would fuse, and stars would be born!
      Really interesting scenario actually

    • gatorallin

      everyone would have dirty thoughts.

  • Levente Ladomerszky

    Im from hungary , europe.How much does an average american know about europe?Do you even heard from the smaller countries like hungary?

    • Innocent Bystander

      Hardly anything. It’s not taught in school and not talked about in the media. You have to diligently search out information if you really want it. Unless there is some kind of catastrophe. Death sells, so then we would get the news.

      • modrapetka

        That´s sad…

        • Andreas

          That’s happen everywhere I think. People are so self absorbed they hardly look outside.

    • aisha

      In class we definitely learn the names of most countries in Europe, but not really anything beyond that (apart from when you take World History and learn about some of the bigger countries’ pasts).

    • epistememe

      I good way for Europeans to relate to our knowledge about their respective countries is your knowledge about our 50 states. How many can you name? Do you know any of their largest cities/capitals/populations/industries?

      • Levente Ladomerszky

        I guess your right, i dont know all the states. i think i can name like 10 and their capitals.

    • EAE

      I am an American who has been to Budapest (a very interesting and beautiful city!). The average American has probably heard of Hungary and knows it’s somewhere in Europe but not much else. But let me put it to you this way: how much do you know about Botswana, Bolivia, or any other smaller country in a different part of the world from you that is not talked about much in the news?

    • Krzysztof

      I’m from Poland and Hungary is one of the countries that has appeared most frequently in the news for last 4 years, maybe you’ll find it interesting. Alongside with Ukraine, Germany, USA, Russia.

    • wobster109

      I think most of us know that Hungary exists as a country, but we probably couldn’t tell you anything about its history or culture. We could probably name a couple famous people, and that would be the extent of it.

    • JunoEven

      The average american? Keep in mind that only 35% of Americans have ever traveled abroad…

      They may be able to identify Hungary as a European country, and the first thing that comes to mind will probably be either ‘goulash’ or ‘Franz Listz’. Most Americans have heard of Budapest as well, but aren’t sure which country it belongs to (and constantly confuse it with Bucharest). Beyond that, I’m afraid that we don’t know much about your fair country, on average.

      As others have noted, though, people are much more likely to know about locations close to them than far away from them. As a point of fair comparison, the state of North Carolina has almost exactly the same number of people as Hungary (roughly 10 million). How many cities can you name in North Carolina? How much do you know about their specific culture (as it differs from New York or Los Angeles)? Very little, I imagine — but that’s only natural and understandable.

  • epistememe

    Have we reached an inflection point for religion/superstition vs rationality/science?

    • Innocent Bystander

      I doubt it because if we are at that point I can’t even tell which direction we’re turning to. When Kim Davis is being compared to MLK and Rosa Parks, it’s difficult to tell.

  • If Tim Urban were a cat, what does his face look like?

    • Olerius

      Kind of like Grumpy cat, but with the bone structure of an ocelot.

    • Andreas

      Wah ada orang indo yg baca WBW jg.. Dari mana om?

      • Hello Andreas… hmm.. dari Indonesia 🙂 Okay, Jakarta. Jangan panggil om, wisnu aja. Andreas dari mana yah?

      • Saya juga dari Indonesia, asal Sukabumi, Jabar, tapi sekarang mulai tinggal di Yogyakarta. 😀 (nggak ditanya juga jawab saya)

    • marisheba

      https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8e/a7/e9/8ea7e9713b9dfc8ae564ca2103033ea0.jpg

      PS – There are an unbelievable number of photos of cats (and other fuzzy creatures) wearing glasses out there on the internets. I don’t know why this surprises me.

    • halo, bang wisnu 🙂

  • wousjee

    how can we help the refugees from IS?

    • Kestrel

      Arm and train the young males, and send them back to kick butt.

    • Korakys

      Read, then vote.

    • Margling53

      Contact your reps in D.C. and urge them to pass legislation that puts the U.S. on par with European nations and Canada in terms of numbers of refugees allowed to enter. Even the U.K. is allowing more refugees into its tiny island territory than is the U.S. with its 50 states.

  • Dominic D.

    @modrapetka:disqus
    Q: What would happen if you filled the entire observable universe with sand?

    A: I’m not a physicist or anything, but I’m pretty sure you would die very quickly. Light would be blocked from the Sun and the gravitational pull from Earth would be enough to pull the sand to Earth, killing everyone on it.

    • modrapetka

      No, I meant more like, what if you removed all matter and fill the resulting empty space with sand?

      • Kestrel

        It would collapse either into many black holes, or one supermassive black hole.

        • Dominic D.

          I think many black holes is more likely, at least to start, and then they might combine into one huge black hole.

      • Ricardo

        I think the sand’s gravity would attract itself, creating something like a really, really giant planet.
        Since most of the universe is empty space, filling the observable space with sand would be a huge increase on mass for that part of the universe (something like 10^80 tons).
        Together, this would have a huge gravitational potential, attracting everything near it (intuitively, I believe it would be stronger than a dark hole, but I’m not sure).
        Then it would just wander throughout space, attracting everything in its way and possibly become something that entire galaxies orbit around.

  • Arkadeep Banerjee

    If I keep a block ABSOLUTELY at the base of a container carrying water, will it experience a buoyant force ?

    This sounds like a very simple question but I am talking about an ideal scenario where the base of the container is absolutely plain and non-porous and so is the block. As Archimedes said, any object completely immersed in a liquid will displace an equal volume of liquid as the object and thus, experience a vertically upward force equal to the weight of the displaced liquid.

    But in my case, there are no liquid molecules below the block to push it, the block is in direct contact with the bottom of the container. There are only liquid molecules above and beside the block. So then, how does the block get the buoyant force ? Or, does it not experience a buoyant force ? Wouldn’t “not experiencing a buoyant force” violate Archimedes principle ?

    • epistememe
      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Thank you but I couldn’t understand anything..could you please reword it?

    • Ricardo

      I believe it wouldn’t have a buoyant force, because this force exists due to the pressure below being higher than the pressure above. In your scenario, there would be no extra pressure from below.

      Assuming the object is PERFECTLY touching the floor, If it went up, there would be momentaniously an “induced vacuum” below the object (a region with no water, no air, no anything), and that has a lot of resistance to exist. In fact, even if somebody pulled it upwards, it would be very hard to make it move.

      If the smallest amount of water managed to get under the object, then it would create an pressure on the bottom, making it go upwards.

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Exactly..But then isn’t it violating Archimedes principle?

        • Ricardo

          No. Archimedes principle is based on the different pressures in the upper/lower parts (I don’t think he stated it like this, but this is how we know it today).

          To describe it mathematically, we assume that there is liquid surrounding all the object. After doing the maths (the most complete case would be using differentials and integration), the conclusion is that the force is equal to the weight of the liquid that was moved.

          But we only get to this conclusion because of the premise that there was liquid below the object at the first place (because this is what creates the pressure). If this premise is false, then we won’t get to the same conclusion as before.

          • Arkadeep Banerjee

            Ook..Thank you! 🙂

    • Michel Kangro

      I’d say, without having more then high school physics, that it does experience a buoyant force, It doesn’t matter if there are particles beneath it, it is just “lighter” then water. It might not actually rise since if it is in direct contact with no distance whatsoever with the bottom of the container, it might adhere to it by preventing the water to take its place, but there’d definitly be an upward force.

      • Simon Bækkegaard

        Assuming that the sides of the block are also perfectly flat and perpendicular to the direction of gravity, there would not be an upward force.
        What we perceive as buoyancy is actually the direct result of gravity creating a slightly higher pressure in the bottom of any liquid (or gas) than higher up. This pressure difference makes it push harder at the bottom of an object (the sides and below), than the top. If the density of the object is lower than the density of a liquid, this pressure difference generates a larger upwards force than gravity, making it float. In this case, none of the forces pushing on the block are directed upwards in any way, so it stays on the bottom.

    • Josep Abenza

      According to your wording, your ideal object would behave just as a wall. Since no water can get below it, there’s no distinction between your object and a protuberance in the floor. So, I’d guess no buoyancy for you, young man!

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        Nice thinking!

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      Assuming that the sides of the block are also perfectly flat and perpendicular to the direction of gravity, there would not be an upward force.
      What we perceive as buoyancy is actually the direct result of gravity creating a slightly higher pressure in the bottom of any liquid (or gas) than higher up. This pressure difference makes it push harder at the bottom of an object (the sides and below), than the top. If the density of the object is lower than the density of a liquid, this pressure difference generates a larger upwards force than gravity, making it float.
      In this case, none of the forces pushing on the block are directed upwards, so it stays on the bottom.

  • Innocent Bystander

    My question…
    Do any WBW readers live in South Jersey? And do you want to start a discussion group where we get together to talk about the posts here?

  • Pedro Farage

    What is missing from the world that could make it more interesting, in your opinion?

    • Michel Kangro

      Aliens.

    • epistememe

      sentient dolphins, bonobos, octopuses

    • vacations

      Talking dogs. (Cats can just keep their opinions to themselves)

    • Blrp

      The world would be a lot more interesting if artificial superintelligence was impossible, because once that arrives, that will be the only thing that matters. All other cool shit we might see in the future is rendered irrelevant. That video on the SpaceX article with people skydiving on some moon in the solar system? Who gives a shit, we can just manipulate our senses directly to get the same thing. Bioengineering? Multiplanetary or even galactic societies, and all the new interesting social dynamics that come with it? Pft.

      Then again, I guess opening up new levels of consciousness really is the most interesting thing in the universe.

      • Pedro Farage

        Yes! I’m actually reading Nick Bostrom’s “Superintelligence”, and I couldn’t agree more. The risks and the rewards are potentially so great that it will surpass our ability to catch up very quickly. I can’t help but feel that even if we do achieve a friendly and stable ASI, it will feel like constantly having a magic lamp at our disposition. Where’s the fun in that?

    • Nathan M

      A perfect social network that:

      – Allows people to interact naturally
      – Accounts for the different ways in which every type of relationship functions
      – Presents the perfect format at the perfect time for every conceivable social situation (e.g. timeline, chatroom, public forum, livestream, phone call, video meeting, personal message, mail, etc.)
      – Is somehow still easy and intuitive to use
      – Doesn’t give anyone a reason to feel left out
      – Doesn’t guilt anyone into including others they would rather not include

      It would definitely make my world more interesting, at least.

      What features would you have on your ideal social network?

  • Michel Kangro

    My question: Are there truly evil humans?

    Maybe you have or maybe you have not seen the image of the little boy on turkeys coast who drowned in the Mediterranena Sea while trying to flee to Europe with his family. I just yesterday saw a post of some anti-refugee-people explaining that the father risked his families lives just to get his tooth done. That’s bullsh**, because it’s clearly cheaper to get your teeth done in Turkey, but my thoughts were, who would make up such a lie, obviously to cause more hate and violence towards the refugees here in Germany? Isn’t a person so blatantly lying to make stupid people hate refugees and foreigners evil?

    • Reuben Hopper

      You have to remember that humans are a machine. An extremely complicated one. The way people are has to do with what they experience and how they perceive it. When people do bad things to others it’s because people have done bad things to them. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t agree with revenge is because it continues the system of ignorance that when someone does something bad to you, you should do something bad to them. A good example is Hitler. I read an article that asked people if they would go back in time and kill Hitler (mind the time travel Paradox) it talked about how men are more likely to say yes then woman. And then it talked about how you don’t need to kill him to keep everything from happening, but you could go back and compliment his paintings, hang out with him, show him that you care about him. See, Hitler was treated badly, which got him angry, which then ignorance led him to killing millions of Jews. See how it’s not really evil that caused him to be that way, but a mix of ignorance and that people treated him like shit.

      • Krzysztof

        Wow, I deeply believe you are wrong and that the idea, that praising his work as a painter would make Hitler a calm man, good worker and loving father is incredibly naive, but the truth is we can never test this hypothesis. Remember, that he was respected and awarded after I World War.

    • fili

      some people are born sociopaths, lacking empathy, but can be charming when it suits their purposes. (think Ted Bundy)

  • Kestrel

    If you took away the sex drive from humans, would the human race continue to propogate?

    • Taylor Marks

      If they still grew weak and died, then yes, definitely. You propagate to cement your legacy and so that they can help you when you’re older. Plus you might do it just so that you can have a family.

      There would probably be a lot fewer accidental babies, though.

    • Brigitte

      To perpetuate one’s existence, only biology plays a role. We see that by homosexual’s parents and surrogates, where no sex is involved. So no, the drive to populate the world doesn’t exclusively depend on sex.

    • clock

      Yes. Proof?
      Eternally closeted gay people. The gay men and women that never come out of the closet really, or stay in long enough to have a ‘normal’ family and children of their own out of sheer pressure to fit in, not accepting their sexuality or whatever…

      So yeah, they don’t really have the sex drive towards the opposite gender, yet manage to propagate.

      • Taylor Marks

        I disagree – they may not have internal sex drive but they have external societal pressure that forms a kind of sex drive. They want to be normal and fit in – if they think sex is required for that, then they have sex.

        In a world with no sex drive in the first place though, sex isn’t normal, so closeted gay people wouldn’t have sex.

        • clock

          Good point. However, I wasn’t talking only about gay people in world without sex drive. Just wanted to use it as an example where you don’t have the proper ‘biological sex drive’, yet manage to procreate

    • jfenbauer

      some people don’t want to have sex, they just like children and want them so yes. i know a lot of single mothers that are that by choice.

    • Margling53

      I don’t know, but let’s try it for two or three generations and see if we can get the population down to a manageable level.

  • Andreas

    Is there any existence without perception? How can we verify our existence without all our five senses?

    • Arkadeep Banerjee

      On a side note..we have a LOT more than 5 senses 🙂

      • Andreas

        Yeah, I know, we’re not sure how many sense we have but I think the laymen concept of 5 senses just more common. Thanks for the note though..

    • Andreas

      Or let’s say a baby is born without any sensory receptors, is “self” exist in such a baby?

      • Arkadeep Banerjee

        If the baby has no sensory receptors AT ALL, I think it is probably as good as dead..

    • Reuben Hopper

      We can’t, and quantum physics says that the world is completely made up in our mind. Look up split hole theory and find the video with a weird looking animated dude.

      • Andreas

        The Dr Quantum one? I watched the video not a long time a go, cool experiment!

        It’s fascinating isn’t it, if you think about it, that all of this could be just in our mind. Oops, sorry not ours, ‘my’ mind.

        I just read about solipsism and come across these questions. It’s almost 4am here and I kinda mindfucked right now with all these thoughts…

    • aisha

      I would imagine it feels kinda like those few seconds right before you fall asleep… just your own thoughts in your head and darkness surrounding you. Oops, that sounded slightly ominous XD You’d still be existing, but only in your own little world.

  • Adam

    How many replies will this question get?

    • Taylor Marks

      None.

      Wait, damnit.

    • ThePete

      None.

      • Taylor Marks

        Does my response to your response count as a reply to the original question?

        • Adam

          I was wondering that. I think not.

          • FuzzyBunnyFeet

            So, the count can stand at two if all future responses are replies to existing replies?

            • Adam

              Yep. But that’s still two more replies than I thought I would get.

    • Sid

      One more.

    • JunoEven

      As many as it deserves.

  • Taylor Marks

    How much does the average Tesla Model S owner make and how do they afford it? Do they typically have the savings to pay for it in cash, or do they have to get a loan to finance it?

    • redpill2010

      I don’t believe there are definitive statistics on this, but there are plenty of incentives to finance your Tesla Model S. First, the interest rates available from their finance partners are very competitive, so cheap money is often worth borrowing. Secondly, if you use one of their finance partners, after 36 months you have the option of selling the car back to Tesla for 53% of the base cost plus half of any option packages. This percentage was chosen to exceed the industry average for the luxury car segment. So even if many would have the savings to pay for it, they may finance it anyway.

      Secondly, you have to think about the effective cost of purchase. At the bottom end, the car starts at around $75,000. But you get a $7,500 tax credit from the feds, and a state rebate up to $2,500. And if you save an average of $1,500 a year on gas (very conservative estimate), and drive it for 5 years, that’s another $7,500. So essentially it’s the equivalent of a car that costs $17,500 less, or $57,500. That is comfortably in BMW 5-series/Mercedes E-Class territory, and there are a lot of those vehicles on the road. Now obviously Teslas can get a lot pricier than that (the average sales price is around $100,000 with options), but that’s in the territory of a BMW 7-series or Mercedes S-Class, and both of those cars have maintained healthy sales levels literally for decades.

      Long story short, while official statistics are not available, I believe it is safe to say that the majority of Tesla buyers have strong incomes that they can document to qualify for financing, and they likely finance it through one of Tesla’s finance partners.

  • TheMajor88

    Any astrophysicists out there? What would happen if two stars collided with each other? The more details the better!

  • vacations

    Do you talk to yourself when you’re alone? If yes, then how? Do you narrate your thoughts? Practice for upcoming conversations? Go though lists? Imagine social scenarios?

    • Adam

      Yes. Using my voice. Yes. Sure. Sometimes. Definitely.

      In more detail: I sometimes make soliloquies when I’m alone. It helps me collect my thoughts into a continuous flow of logical ideas; I try typing things up sometimes but I find saying words aloud works better. It might be about something serious (e.g. AI after reading Tim’s post on it); it might be something relating to real life. Occasionally I’ll mutter items from lists, usually counting on my fingers at the same time. More often than I would like, I mutter random words and phrases, like ‘okay then’ or ‘fine’, as a reflex when I’m imagining a conversation with someone else.

    • TheMajor88

      I do and I have done so since as long as can remember. The best way I can describe it is that I have to say what I’m thinking and reply to it as if I’m having a conversation. The subject can be anything that is on my mind and its the most rewarding when it feels like a discussion. Sometimes I will practice conversations if I want to make sure that I’m able to come off the way I want to.

    • bszert

      Yes. Rarely speak out loud, mostly just mouth the words: I know what I’m saying anyway. I narrate, practice, and imagine social scenarios, I don’t really go through lists at all. My favourite is imagining an alien who just landed, and trying to explain everyday human interactions that would weird them out.

    • Nicolás Laurito

      Totally. Same as @disqus_FNBykg1BAS:disqus, it helps me to bring my thoughts into a continuous flow of ideas. I find myself talking a lot when I have to meet with someone and explain or talk about something specific with him. It brings all my separate ideas into a nice train of thought that I can better explain to someone else.

    • jfenbauer

      yes. all of this = yes. i sometimes pretend i’m talking to the dog, but we all know that’s not true. laugh at my own jokes all the time too. by myself.

    • Flaksen

      There’s lots of different versions of me talking to myself but the most interesting might be this one:
      Sometimes I have to explain my thoughts to myself. So, I have I thought – which is not a sentence, it’s not actually “language”, but of course I know what I mean [do YOU know what I mean?]) – and I have to transform this thought into sentences, as if I wanted to tell it to someone else. I often struggle to find the exact words that describe the thought best and start from the beginning over and over again, as if I wanted to write it down perfectly in a book, for example. Most of the time I do this in my head, but when it gets really “important” I do it out loud.

      • aisha

        This is exactly what I do! I have to backtrack and explain it as if I were saying it to someone else. xD

    • pomegranates

      Yes — I talk to myself, I have imaginary conversations with my friends or my imaginary best friend. I don’t really practise for upcoming conversations but I think I’ve done that before. And especially when I was younger, I imagine that I have this friend who came from the past and is invisible to others, and then when I go about the day I’ll explain to him/her everything that’s going on. (sort of like bszert and his/her alien friend)

  • Mih

    Physics: Anyone ever tried to perform Michelson–Morley experiment on a moving platform like train or airplane?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      I don’t know, but i’ll say probably not. Because:
      1. Why would that be relevant?
      2. That would be extremely hard to do accurately because of how fast the speed of light is. You would need a really high speed for it to make any difference, and then you would have a lot of instability. The only reasonable suggestion would be in space i guess.

  • Brigitte

    Suppose you have a dream. It doesn’t matter which one. But in order to make it true, you need another person to get involved. She/he seemed OK with the idea, but bailed out and left you alone with the dream/project in question. There’s no way it is gonna happen since that person is no longer committed and is crucial for the development of the dream. Would you let it go and try to forget everything? If not, what would you do? (If you’re stubborn like me and have a hard time to let things go?)

    • vashek

      Too generic for me to imagine the situation and give you an answer, I’m afraid.

      • Brigitte

        A two-hand written book, with dependent information which overlaps at some point…

    • marisheba

      Figure out what it was about this project that excited you so much; did something for you. Creating something? Exploring/sharing a set of ideas? Collaboration itself? Expression? So many possibilities here. But figure out what made it so exciting, what your contribution to it was. From here you have two options:

      1) Get creative, and figure out how your contribution can do something else that excites you, in a different way (you might even luck out and come up with an alternative that’s pretty similar to the original project – but maybe not). Feel free to bring in friends and colleagues to brainstorm and help you with this.Take on this new project and systematically make it happen.

      2) Continue with your life, being open to what comes, and with this understanding of your priorities and talents. You never know what will come along, but you’ll be well poised to take care of future interesting projects, collaborations and opportunities you may find or create, that you couldn’t even conceive of now.

      I think option 1 vs 2 really depends on your personality, the specifics of the situation, and a whole lot of other things. For me number 2 really works best, but I’ve seen number 1 work for people as well.

      All of this is a long way of saying: yes, let it go, because what other choice do you really have? But that doesn’t mean you don’t take something from it and move forward. But don’t brood so much on the past that you lose the opportunity to create a new future.

      • Brigitte

        Thanks so much marisheba, it’s really nice to get a fresh perspective on things. You’re right, brooding is not helping at all and yes, it’s easier said than done, but I’ll use your insights to come up with something else. Maybe letting go is just what I need to make space for the new 🙂

        • marisheba

          I hope I didn’t come off as too flip – it’s totally okay to grieve and/or stamp your feet like a toddler for a little while before you move on. Disappointments are, well, very disappointing. Good luck!

          • Brigitte

            Not at all, I really appreciated your ideas! Thank you again 😉

  • How does someone in their 30’s make new friends and meet new people? But here’s the catch, the mode of meeting new people can’t involve alcohol or bars/pubs.

    Ultimately of love to meet people like those here at WBW, but where do we find each other IRL?

    • vacations

      I think using meetup.com is a good place to find people with common interests.

      • jonathan

        There are a few things I’ve learned:

        Familiarity breeds affection.
        Dating sites are broken.
        You have to turn off the Netflix, stop looking at your phone, make an effort to get yourself in same room as potential mates.
        Find something you’re into and do it with others.
        Don’t go places where you’ll have lots of competition. The saying is “If you’re a guy, go where the guys aren’t”
        You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. If you’re rejected, accept it.
        If you make a friend… REJOICE! Most marriages are from friend-of-friends. You’ve just opened a vast new trove of potential mates.

        Good luck!

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      I have struggled with this for a LONG time!! (Heck, I’m 45 now, and still trying). I don’t drink or watch sports, and can’t be around cigarettes (both parents died fro them). I’m also atheist, so churches are right out. That knocks out 90% of designated social gatherings.

      • John

        Join an atheist/freethinker meetup group 🙂

      • Sabrina Sambo

        I met my husband on an online forum about travels (where people ask about a destination or publish the diary and photos of their trips). He organized a meet-up for forum users of our city, we met and liked each other immediately. If you have a passion, any passion, just enjoy it. You will meet other people who enjoy it, and at the very least you make some friends. 🙂

    • MamaSass

      I think the key is putting yourself out there and delving into your interests. Being curious, and passionate, with good energy seems to attract others. And I think introverts and extroverts can accomplish this equally well in their own style. Using platforms like Meetup is a start, but there is a wide variety of ways to do it.

    • jfenbauer

      join stuff. book clubs. gyms. sewing bees. classic car rallies. it’s easier in some places than others. also volunteering for things that interest you. but be sure it’s something that interests you. then, meet the people there, worm your way into their lives, meet all their friends, worm your way into *their* lives, etc etc. the more folks you know the more folks you meet. it is a lot easier in some places than others.

      • Ksenia Kolchina

        Errr please don’t join a gym to meet someone. Chatting up someone sweaty after they’ve been torturing themselves for those abs is just not the right time and place. I personally get massively annoyed with men who are so obviously there for the wrong reasons. And ‘warming’ yourself into someone’s life? This sounds… creepy

    • John

      +1 for meetup.com

    • Lala

      Get a cute dog and go to the dog park. Women everywhere.

    • Raymond Firehock

      Volunteer at a bunch of different places. Even if the other volunteers are older, they have lonely sons and daughters, too.

      • JunoEven

        This is EXCELLENT advice, IMO. Volunteering at places like retirement homes, community improvement projects, or the Special Olympics may not seem like natural places to make new friends, but I think you’d be surprised at the number of high-quality people you’ll come into contact with!

    • This reads like a WBW project waiting to happen.

    • Robin DeLisle

      Try MeetUp.com

    • redpill2010

      Try Ingress 🙂

  • EAE

    Where is the best place to live in the world if you are 1) rich, 2) middle class, 3) poor?

    • sdf

      1) 2) 3) EU

      • I just voted up your answer. But on the second thought, I think number 1 shouldn’t be EU. I would be better if you live in a place where your wealth matter most to the society. Improving education, solving health and poverty problems… Indonesia maybe. 🙂

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      1) USA
      2) 3) northern/western Europe

  • Jhean

    Trump for president? Yes or no, and why?

    Something to remember when answering:
    We are not apes. Do not angrily fling your poop at other responses. (Be respectful please.)

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      No. I value my offspring’s future, and I see a multitude of Bad Things coming about if it gets elected.

      I am biased, I’ll admit, being a very left-leaning liberal, but I got to this point by observing the world around me, the people in it, and wondering why they do what they do, from all sides. The Right, to me, is not a productive way to head for mankind.

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        P.S., we are apes, but I still don’t throw poop.

        I’m personally hoping for Bernie Sanders.

    • Taylor Marks

      There are two things to consider when deciding whether to vote for someone or not.

      #1 – Are they competent?
      #2, only relevant if they pass #1 – Do they want to fix things that you consider to be problems?

      Most candidates fall apart on #1. Hillary Clinton was married to someone who became president, and rode in on the coattails of another. She has never herself actually managed to do anything – she’s about as qualified as a Kardashian. Famous? Yes. Competent? No.

      Trump does not fall apart on #1 – he didn’t accidentally come to be worth $10B.

      As far as the things Trump wants to fix… I don’t know enough yet. He hasn’t been screaming about tearing up the Iran Deal (which, whether the deal is good or bad, would be a bad thing to do, as it makes the US an unstable country that you just don’t want to negotiate with.) He doesn’t seem to particularly care one way or the other regarding homosexuals, which is about as good as you can hope for with someone running for the GOP.

      So I’m not against it. If it came down to Clinton vs Trump, I would pick Trump. But in 5 months I actually need to vote in the primaries… so I’m going to be watching the debates closely and doing some more research and then I’ll probably start campaigning door to door for whoever I decide is best.

      • vashek

        I don’t feel qualified to comment on US politics, but let me just put forward some generic comments:
        * The ability to make money in business is not necessarily a good predictor of the ability to achieve goals in politics. For example, consider the differences in executive power (you can’t just decide anything you want as a president, you have to deal with the congress and senate and foreign counterparts – you have to be a good negotiator), the time frames (you have time until the next election), the failure modes (in business, it is perfectly acceptable to try ten times, go bankrupt, lose a lot of your own or investors’ money, and eventually succeed and gain more than you lost; try than in politics!), etc.
        * Arguably, I would hope there is at least a third thing to consider, something like an ethical aspect of how things are done. That’s not really much of a factor in business when you’re the owner.

      • marisheba

        #1) Hilary Clinton was a successful senator and secretary of state (whether or not you agree with her positions). If her background as first lady disqualify those as accomplishments, why does Trump’s background of being born into a rich, successful real estate family (and going bankrupt several times) not disqualify his?

        #2) This could quickly devolve to poo flinging, so I’m going to skip over it because:

        #3) I think there are some other very important criteria as well. The top one on my list is integrity. I Trump gets an F, Hillary gets a C-, and Bernie Sanders gets an A.

      • Korakys

        That was neither a question nor an answer.

    • Blrp

      I wrote this in response to a guy who argued that Sanders is not that different from the Democratic establishment and Hillary in particular, and that Sanders would “spoil” the election if he lost against Hillary, and that “running as an independent is a game of chicken. It’s something you use to manipulate the big tent into incorporating enough elements of your platform that voters will no longer feel an interest in taking a risk on an independent. The only useful purpose for a third party is to hold an out-of-touch party’s constituents hostage until demands are met.”. My main focus in the answer is not Sanders and Hillary, but the political system and how third parties fit into it, which indirectly answers your question. I added some more specific stuff at the end too.
      _

      Obama was a fairly impressive candidate back in ’08, but all that was rhetoric, and he ended up being Bush 2.0. We have absolutely no reason to believe Clinton won’t be Bush 3.0. Unlike Obama we all already know Clinton is fake as fuck and doesn’t believe in anything, and even taken at face value she’s less impressive than Obama.

      Sanders, on the other hand, has strong principles and cares about policy. That, together with the policy differences, makes him not even remotely similar to Clinton, in all but superficial ways.

      Take the issue of money in politics, for example. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but money IS politics in the US at this point. It’s a corporate oligarchy, and only superficially democratic. The fact that Sanders has a real position on this issue means that a more appropriate classification of candidates than Democratic/Republican would be Sanders/Non-Sanders, because all other differences pale in comparison.

      Sanders could absolutely win as a third candidate. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination narrowly and Sanders keeps gaining momentum after that, and the people roundly reject the Republican candidate, Sanders could win. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

      The only reason the system works the way it does with respect to third party candidates is because people are too fucking stupid to vote independent. People keep bouncing like retarded ping-pong balls between the two parties, deciding whether they want to be ruled by the corporations that have bought candidate A or the corporations that have bought candidate B, and they fear that if they choose wrong the streets will run red with blood for the next four years. None of them can see the bigger picture: if the two-party system continues to dominate, true progress is impossible. They know they will win no matter what, so they don’t have to try. If the two-party system was replaced by a free-for-all, politicians would have to do more than the current bare minimum to appeal to voters while mainly focusing on their corporate masters.

      Let’s say a third party gets more votes than usual in an election. That means there will be more awareness for the party by word of mouth, they will have more local press coverage and might even get national press coverage, and they might get more ballot access in the next election, and most importantly, there will be greater awareness of the fact that third parties are an option. Let’s even say the third party “steals” enough votes from the Democrats to make the Republican candidate win. That would be huge. It would have an even greater effect of giving exposure to the party than the increased amount of votes alone would, by far. And which of the two main parties wins in a given election doesn’t matter in the long run anyway.

      The marginal impact of voting for a candidate (or party) is greater the smaller that candidate is. This is especially true when you consider all the mechanisms that prevent small candidates from getting bigger, such as ballot access and election thresholds. Another thing to keep in mind is that winning is not the only way to make an impact. As you said, a bigger candidate can incorporate policies from a smaller candidate. The presence of a small Green or Libertarian party or whatever, as opposed to no party, might be that people who hold those opinions feel less alienated because they have a voice, and it might galvanize them into speaking up and spreading the word (even moreso if the party is good at rallying its constituents), and as the party gets bigger and the people get louder, what follows is not just a greater awareness of the party but of its pet issues, which might eventually lead to policy changes in a very indirect way. The path to change is vastly more complicated and chaotic than just getting your guy into office, and every vote and voice counts.

      With all of that in mind, I think the only sensible course of action is to vote for the party you agree with the most, regardless of size, and taking into account how much of what they say they actually intend to deliver on and what their real priorities are.

      Verdict:
      – Pretty much never vote for a Democrat or Republican.
      – If there’s a (relatively) reasonable candidate in either party’s primary, vote for them regardless of how likely they are to win, and regardless of whether you’d vote for them in the general election.
      – You should probably vote for Sanders, who is Democrat in name only.
      – Otherwise find a reasonable third party, even if they’re tiny and unknown, or even unknowable.

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        “The only reason the system works the way it does with respect to third party candidates is because people are too fucking stupid to vote independent.”

        I have to disagree with this one. It’s true that third party candidates would often be a better choice, but they are essentially locked out of any race due to the way the electoral college is set up. People who vote for a third party candidate feel as though their vote is worthless, because ‘everyone else’ votes for the main two. If we went popular vote (and we really should), independent voters and candidates would feel they actually have a fighting chance to get somewhere. An example of this is Ross Perot, who, despite of what you may feel about him, got 19% of the popular vote in 1990, almost 1 in 5 people, yet he received zero electoral votes, and was thus marginalized, or seen as taking votes away from Bush or something.

        • Blrp

          What, are you expecting a prize for voting for the winner? I don’t get it. Nowhere in your post do I see even a hint of a suggestion of an excuse to not vote third party.

          If half of people were voting for lung cancer and half were voting for skin cancer, would you reason that since it’s one of those that will win, you should… uh… what exactly? Give in to peer pressure? I’m trying to understand your position, but it doesn’t seem to make any damn sense. Personally, I’d go the independent route and vote chemo.

          Your vote is indeed worthless, in the sense that you can’t single-handedly put a third party in office. But you are no more capable of single-handedly making either main candidate win. So what? The status quo will remain for the time being, and you can do your small part in either upholding it or ending it.

          Yeah, popular vote is a far superior system and the current system favours the establishment. But as I’ve already argued, the marginal impact of voting for a candidate (or party) is greater the smaller that candidate is.

    • Lala

      Trump reminds me of my brother Scott. He can be angry, bombastic, cruel, but also sweet, nice and kind. However, you just never know when which side is coming so you have to be prepared all of the time. So no, I do not want a slightly unhinged president.

    • Margling53

      Are we really at a point in our civilization when such a question can even be asked?

      (I guess this is what’s called a rhetorical question.)

  • ScHmo

    Have several people close to me in very poor health. So…When is it time to die?

    • vashek

      Too complicated, but here’s a start:
      1. When you suffer more than you can enjoy life
      2. And when you have become a great burden to others, and it didn’t fix point 1 anyway
      3. And there isn’t really much of a hope of 1 and 2 improving anytime soon
      4. And you’re not contributing to society in some hypothetical amazing way

    • wobster109

      For each person the answer’s different, so a good place to start might be to ask your close friends/family what they feel is worthwhile about life. In Augie and the Green Knight, the newt says that what makes you happy is sometimes different from what makes someone else happy, and you have to be ok with that. So please don’t judge their answer, even if you don’t agree. Then respect their decision, even if you don’t agree.

      A common answer is when a person is terminal and in a lot of pain.

  • bszert

    If you could change one and only one thing about the English language, what would it be?

    • Demi

      All the rules have so many exceptions you may as well not call them rules. If the language was more consistent it would be much easier to learn and deal with. Plus I would also add a punctuation mark to show sarcasm.

      • jfenbauer

        i like the sarcasm punctuation thing (<—- fyi – not sarcasm. totally want that)

        • marisheba

          I’m mixed on sarcasm punctuation. I frequently find myself wanting it when I’m writing. But sometimes I wonder if a bright flashing arrow pointing out sarcasm would really even be sarcasm any more? I feel like it might lose some of its charm or potency. Maybe it just means I need to learn to be a better writer if I want to wield sarcasm.

          But then other times I’m like, nah, we totally need sarcasm punctuation.

          • bionelly

            I like the idea of something to denote sarcasm in writing. In speech, you can recognize sarcasm through tone of voice, but writing doesn’t really allow for that, and it seems to me that there’s a milder case of Poe’s Law which makes it really hard to tell whether or not something is mean sarcastically unless you either know the writer well, or it’s part of a longer piece so you can tell from context. For things like, say, discussions such as this one, I think it would be extremely useful.

            I’m not so sure about it being punctuation, though, since it seems kind of awkward if you’re trying to, say, ask a sarcastic question. I remember seeing a “sarcasm font” which was basically backwards italics, and I thought that worked pretty well.

          • jfenbauer

            i’m with you on this. although, i do think FB should add it as an option. few people (there) are good enough writers to pull off blithe sarcasm without starting a firestorm. :

            fewer still bother to think long enough to try to make their sarcasm clear.

      • Taylor Marks

        I’ll take our inconsistent spelling rules over assigning genders to nouns any day… is it just me or does every Latin derivative other than English seem to do that?

      • toandfro

        That’s an interesting idea but the beauty of sarcasm is the cognitive delay in realising that the comment is indeed sarcastic. Using punctuation to alert the reader is akin to the habit of American comedians of continuing to explain the joke after the punchline has been delivered, presumably on the basis that a good share of the audience is too dim to ‘get it’.

        • bszert

          But in spoken language, there are plenty of neon red flags the size of Jupiter screaming “SARCASM!”, like tone of voice, facial expression, context, etc., and we still find it funny (is it just me?). Would that be different in writing?

      • John
      • Margling53

        The day we have to put up signs pointing out sarcasm, or irony, is the day we no longer have a way of assessing intelligence, either in the ability to write or the ability to comprehend.

    • Cannon Hackett

      Add a third-person gender-neutral singular pronoun.

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        Yes. This. Very much this.

      • Raymond Firehock

        That is “y’all”. The plural is “all y’all”. Got it?

        • wobster109

          “Y’all” is second person. If I want to say Dr. Zhang went to school in Florida, and I don’t know what gender Dr. Zhang is, I wouldn’t say “Y’all went to school in Florida”.

          • Raymond Firehock

            Y’all are right about that, of course. Are we stuck with “S/He”? If so, I think I will start speaking Klingon again.

      • aisha

        i thought “they” works?

      • Brankstone

        i heard about a group who did that, they came up with “xe” instead of “he” or “she”

    • Korakys

      The orthography.

    • Popescu Marius Catalin

      I’d make it universal.

      • bszert

        Do you mean making it the only language, spoken by every human, or do you mean making every English-speaker speak the same way?

        • Popescu Marius Catalin

          I was thinking at making it common for every human.

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      A consistent spelling system. Granted, your, you’re and yore would all be spelled the same, but meaning would be apparent from context, just as it is in spoken English.

  • Will elon must win the bet over his friend about solar energy? Why?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      what was the bet about, again?

    • Popescu Marius Catalin

      We all know that Elon Musk is a bit optimistic when it comes to delivery dates and deadlines but he also delivers, even when he’s off by a few years, which, when thinking about the massive impact of solar energy, is incredibility awesome!

  • Jales Naves Júnior

    Is there an afterlife?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      All evidence strongly points towards no. And i’m actually okay with that

    • Levente Ladomerszky

      I was raised as a catholic and learned religion in the past 8 years.Im also going to a religious high school in hungary but as i learned it i became more and more an atheist.Today i believe that it is all a big fake illusion and i think there isnt afterlife.

    • Andreas

      It depends on your definition of afterlife. If it is as decribed by most of the religions (paradise, hell, etc), then no.

      But other than that, nobody knows for sure how or where life is coming from, and nobody knows where will it go (or not go). Seriously, nobody knows for sure what exactly life is in the first place.

    • toandfro

      All deity-based religions are just a control mechanism for a self-selected group to exert their influence over others. So their promises/threats of your place in any kind of afterlife is just a fiction based on fear of the unknown. The actual answer to your question is unknowable.

    • Raymond Firehock

      You’ll find out soon enough.

      • Flaksen

        or not..

    • Margling53

      No.

    • thePete

      I would say yes but it is a matter of faith.

    • gatorallin

      Depends on if your soul has any mass? (copy and paste from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_mass ) The law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy (both of which have mass), the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system mass cannot change quantity if it is not added or removed. Hence, the quantity of mass is “conserved” over time. The law implies that mass can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space, or the entities associated with it may be changed in form, as for example when light or physical work is transformed into particles that contribute the same mass to the system as the light or work had contributed. The law implies (requires) that during any chemical reaction, nuclear reaction, or radioactive decay in an isolated system, the total mass of the reactants or starting materials must be equal to the mass of the products.

    • Joe A Jordan

      Is there going to be another sequel to life? I think we dissolve and return. To say there is nothing after death is illogical since before you were born there was nothing . So if there was nothing before ,and you are here now. When you die you go back to the same state of nothingness So why did we come from nothing to begin with? That hints that death is not death at all , its nothing and from nothing comes life. There is no judge or god that we have to bow down to . All of that is created out of the fear of the unknown. I believe we evolve after death but Jesus and religion has nothing to do with it.

      • FuzzyBunnyFeet

        “To say there is nothing after death is illogical since before you were born there was nothing”. Boy, that’s a non-sequitor. We didn’t come from nothing. Life begets life. Our consciousness/self-awareness is part of the package. I see no reason to think that consciousness endures after the package is gone.

    • bszert

      Never seen evidence to indicate there is, but there is evidence against it. Your life, as we know it, is defined a lot by your genetics, friends, parents, surroundings, etc. Once you die, you’ll leave all of that behind. So even if some parts of you survive, can that still be called ‘you’? This applies less if you believe in the concept of a soul, but again, no evidence.

  • Simon Bækkegaard

    What would happen if you replace everything in the universe with water?
    So removing all matter in the universe and then “filling” it with water

    • wobster109

      In planets and larger bodies, it would probably get super-condensed due to gravity. The core would become very heated and be under intense pressure, and after that it probably wouldn’t be water anymore.

      • Simon Bækkegaard

        But i mean, in an empty universe without anything but water. Would it resemble the early universe, condensing to stars, or would nothing happen?

        • bionelly

          So, you mean completely filling the universe with water? I would say that as long as nothing disturbed the equilibrium, nothing would happen, since with matter evenly spread throughout the universe, gravity would be pulling each particle equally in all directions, keeping anything from collapsing. If anything happened to disturb that, though, then I think we would see star formation, although it would probably look pretty different from the early universe, since there would be a lot more matter, packed a lot more densely, and we’d be starting with oxygen as well as hydrogen.

          • Simon Bækkegaard

            But what about surface tension? Wouldn’t that stop any “clumps” to form?

        • Sid

          Depends on the temperature. As long as it wasn’t absolute zero, there would be molecular motion, so the density wouldn’t stay completely uniform. Probably with quantum effects you’d get this even if you synchronized all the water molecules initially. If you ignore the quantum stuff then it would be an interesting problem to see whether an equilibrium is possible. I would expect that it wouldn’t be, and you’d get density waves in the water. It might take a long time to overcome surface tension and get actual clumps, but given an arbitrary amount of time you almost certainly would. Then there’s atomic decay. I can’t seem to find the half-life for the normal isotope of oxygen, Oxygen 16, but there’s no way it’s infinite.

          It might take billions or trillions of years for anything interesting to happen, but ultimately there would be clumps or different materials that formed and that would probably make stars or something. Possibly instead of stars you’d get black holes, with so much matter.

          I’ll try asking some physics people this one.

  • Carley

    What’s the most important thing you’re learned in your life so far?

    • J.Nerdy

      The more I learn, the less I know, the more complete I feel.

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      The most important and impactful thing you can do is to improve on yourself as a person. Both intellectually, socially, mentally and physically. In small steps, of course. Once you can look back and see that you are a better version of yourself than earlier, it will be a tremendous source of confidence, inspiration and happiness for you 🙂

    • fili

      When you die, no one is going to engrave “Beloved Employee of XYZ Corp” on your tombstone.

      Life is more than a job or a clean house. Love your family and friends, have fun, be kind to people and live life to the fullest til you get to what comes next.

    • ImmortalWind

      Time flies.

      • malinda

        That it does! ! Our time on earth is gone before we know it. Love your family!!

    • wobster109

      Language, I guess.

    • John

      Don’t sweat the small stuff

      • fili

        and remember, it’s ALL small stuff!

    • Lala

      Everyone is just as screwed up as you are. Play nice

    • Raymond Firehock

      Nothing lasts forever.

    • Flaksen

      Nothing matters, we’re all gonna dye.

    • Korakys

      Learning how to read.

  • AERS

    What’s your favourite “educated” joke?

    • DarkEnergy

      Pi and i have an argument. Pi: “Get Real!” i: “Be Rational!”

    • wobster109
    • toandfro

      There are 10 types of people. Those who understand binary, and those that don’t.

      • Brankstone

        So many good math jokes, yours is the best though XD

    • CorbecJayne

      “Technically, Alcohol is a solution.” Sorry!

      • Lala

        That is hilarious!
        What’s blue and smells like red paint?
        Blue paint.
        Few over 25 have gotten this.

    • Travis Rice

      A chemist, a physicist, and an economist are shipwrecked on an island with a box of canned food. The chemist says, “if I can find the right elements on the island, we can dissolve the can lids to get the food.” The physicist says, “if we drop the cans from the proper height at the proper angle we can force open the cans.” The economist says, “let’s assume we have a canopener.”

    • Popescu Marius Catalin

      There was a party in which all the functions were having fun together. All were having fun except
      e [superscript x]. So everybody was like:”why don’t you join the party”. They didn’t understand that she couldn’t be integrated.

    • Popescu Marius Catalin

      The doom day has come into the function world. One by one, every function was being eaten by the Doom’s day monster THE DERIVATIVE! X was gone, ln x was gone x^n gone! Suddenly e^x appears:”Be gone derivative I am imune to your tricks!”
      Derivative: “STFU fool! I’m d/dy!”

    • bionelly

      An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer, the second orders 1/2 a beer, the third orders 1/4, etc. After a few orders, the bartender pours two beers and says, “You guys should really know your limits.”

    • jonathan

      What does the “B” in Benoit B. Mandelbrot stand for?

      Benoit B. Mandelbrot

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      Why do computer engineers confuse Halloween and Christmas?
      Because Oct 31 = Dec 25.

  • What question do you wish someone asked you?

    • wobster109

      Today it’s “Do you want to hang out?” I’m shy and uncomfortable about asking other people that. 🙂

    • John

      Asking “How are you doing today” but taking a genuine interest in the answer.

    • Korakys

      “What is your opinion on the economy/politics/religion?”

      Only spoken though, I can’t write long enough to do my thoughts justice.

  • ImmortalWind

    Yeah… Well.. I was about to answer to a question that was way below, but my ios safari crashed once again (some day ipad mini, some day…) and I’m too bored to look for it again.

    Anyways, the question was from a teenager about whether life gets less crazy and stressfull after highschool. Well, I’m 15 good years after highschool and from my point of view I can say that I had some crazy boring months in my life and some crazy stressfull months as well. The pattern would probably be a curve like a wavelength that’s slowly rising through the years and sometimes really spikes high when you REALLY realise that “omg, I’m getting old and have so many things left to cross of my everexpanding bucket list. But let’s just check facebook in the meantime…”

    Agree? Disagree?

    Hey Tim, does this count for both a question/answer?

    • Lala

      I am 30+ years after high school and the craziness abounds, but the stress is optional. It’s all crazy, people are weird, and on the whole it’s kind of funny.

  • Blyxx

    How difficult is it to immigrate to Iceland from the United States assuming you are a low income earner and you have no special connections to help?

  • wobster109

    Is running good or bad for your knees? I’ve heard it both ways, so which is it?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      Depends on your health, age, weight and injury history.
      But generally, if you run correctly, and run shorter distances (like 5 kilometers max), then you build muscle tissue and strengthen your tendons which is great for your knees. Just make sure you don’t overburden them

    • Magic Michael

      Casual running doesn’t affect your knees at all, really. Of course if you run 5 miles every day, your knees will start hurting earlier (maybe 60-ish?) but if you just run for exercise, like 1 mile a day, or 1 every 2 or 3 days, it shouldn’t affect your knees at all.

    • Ferival

      Proper running form is important. If you’re like me who slams their heels into the ground as fast as possible, running will at best strain your ankles, knees and hips. If you run on the balls of your feet and maintain good posture and stride, you should be fine

  • malinda

    Is there a way I can overcome my fear of me dying?

    • Brigitte

      Thanatophobia is one thing to consider, but you’d have to dismiss other illnesses that could provoke your fear of death. I suggest you talk to a psychiatrist to get a proper evaluation and a correct treatment.

    • marisheba

      The answer is simple: accept it. Fully. Simple doesn’t mean easy though. I’m about a million miles off from acceptance myself. But many people do reach it.

    • John
      • gatorallin

        Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953
        Do not go gentle into that good night,
        Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
        Because their words had forked no lightning they
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
        Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
        And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
        Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    • Andreas

      Really? I’ll gladly accept it. Though I’m not sure I can be ‘glad’ if I die.

      Understand that there is no significance differences between living and dying. The universe will still be at the same state when you die. So no fear.

      • Margling53

        I can only tell you what I did: reach the age of 80 (or more accurately, about 70). With old age, death becomes irresistible and is firmly embedded in your everyday life and thoughts. One arrives at a profound acceptance without fear or dread. Just get all your affairs in order and then don’t dwell on it until it happens. For now, if you are young, just know that acceptance is coming.

    • Flaksen

      dying is maybe the only way at the moment

    • wobster109

      Live healthy, donate to gerontology research, and consider cryonics.

    • gatorallin

      The meaning of life is to give life meaning. Maybe you need to live a fuller life (one with no regrets), or live a happier life (the trick to being happy is being truly grateful each day for the days you do get above ground. Or just hope you were born at the right time when they allow life extension to be beyond 12 months per year and you then are on the event horizon to living forever and never have to die. I plan to live forever… so far, so good.

  • Popescu Marius Catalin

    I guess most of you know about Massive open online courses, sites în which you can take various courses, some taught even by professors from the best universities in the world.
    Do you think they can substitute the classical teaching methods and what would make them easier/more useful for you to use?
    PS – A side question for the ones which use them: what do you think they lack most?

    • marisheba

      No. For most people face-to-face interaction is a critical part of learning. Sort of like how babies can’t learn how to speak from watching videos, they need real people. Don’t get me wrong, MOOK’s have a great role to play for learning specific skills or learning something about a particular content area. But it’s hard for me to imagine someone gaining a true education. It’s possible that in-person peer meetups would be enough to change that, but I’m not sure.

      • Popescu Marius Catalin

        You may be right about the impact of human interaction but we should dig for some studies treating the teaching medium problems. I remember a video from Veritasium in which the guy was saying that he looked it up for us and that in fact the medium is somewhat irrelevant but that’s currently my only source.
        If it is true that classical the teaching methods are necessary I wonder if technologies like VR/Microsoft HoloLens would be able to solve that problem. It seems that some users become really immersed into these “realities”.

    • Andreas

      Yes, with free access and fast internet to the people in less developed countries with no ‘classical teaching methods’ at all.

    • Lala

      I would never take an online course, because verbal discussions with others is how I learn. Typing in a chat room is a poor substitute. Read, discuss, debate. you need all perspectives.

      • Popescu Marius Catalin

        Have you ever tried taking one? What about the moment when others would take the same course as you?

    • wobster109

      I think yes, especially for adult learners. I especially like that if something goes too fast for me, I can pause the video or replay it.

      In classes I’ve taken it’s often thousands of learners and 2 professors, so they lack the “office hours” attention to work through difficult topics with a teacher.

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      I don’t remember ‘interacting’ with my teachers much at uni, and I cannot stand so-called brain storms. I’ve always been a sole learner, who would only interact with carefully selected few. What I do remember is that I didn’t like some teachers and those were exactly the units I wouldn’t care for, as a result. And that I was finding it hard to concentrate in the morning because my brain is not functioning before 2pm, peaking late in the evening.
      I’ve been doing a lot of online courses for the past 4 years, and I love them, because:
      – I can choose a subject and then try different teachers before choosing the one I like
      – I can even take two classes simultaneously on the same subject, which I did once – gives you a much better perspective on the subject
      – I can listen to the material whenever I want, go back and forward. And by whenever I want I mean whenever I’m actually in the right mindset and able to comprehend
      – I don’t have distractions around me as I choose the environment where I learn, which is sometimes a quite spot in the park
      – I’m very motivated and driven, so have no problem at all with finding time to complete the course and do assignments. I often do those last minute, but I do them and do well

      What I sometimes lack:
      – I do a test and there’s this one mistake at the end but no explanation on why the answer is wrong. That’s just infuriating.
      – some people don’t do a peer review thoroughly enough, not realising that a meaningful and constructive feedback is a good learning tool

  • CorbecJayne

    How much data is posted online every second/minute/hour/day/year?

  • ZPGoldstein

    Will technological growth lead to a future of high unemployment as robots, AI, and computers make more and more human jobs obsolete? Or, will the economy adapt and new jobs will be created to replace the old ones?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      Tough question.
      My guess is that the robot industry will grow significantly, which will create a lot of jobs, especially in engineering. Generally, more jobs will involve engineering and managements, which will almost make up for the lost jobs. The industrial revolution indicates that economy will adapt.

    • jonathan

      There have been some videos made about this… A recent one suggested that we’d have so much wealth from automation that the Government could give every person a “Salary” no matter if they worked or not. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgssy3AkVRc

      CGPgrey is not as optimistic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU But if you listen to his follow up blogs he talks about the basic universal income too.

      At the very least, it is absolutely clear we’re in for a test of society’s ability to adapt. But so far humanity has a pretty good track record for adapting to major changes. There are so many different incredible things happening all at once right now though, some of which are talked about in Wait But Why posts, that it’s really really hard to say what is going to happen.

      That’s not really a great answer. :/

      • gatorallin

        There may be some interesting challenges with inflation if everyone was given free money…

    • Kestrel

      I was asked this exact question 35 years ago at a job interview. So far, technology has created MORE jobs.

    • ericsp23

      To a certain extent it may be starting to happen already. The recoveries after the last two recessions have been called “jobless recoveries”, where the unemployment rate took much longer to come down than it did after past recessions. Some economists have speculated that when companies downsized during the recessions they found that they could get by with fewer employees so they don’t hire as many people back when the economy recovers as usually happens after a recession. Its only likely to get worse as technology advances. There is no reason to assume that the job losses from technological advancement will be exactly offset by job gains as a result of new technology.

    • Korakys

      Working hours will be reduced; there will be less work and more jobs.

    • HammerOfThor

      New jobs will be created but not nearly to the extent that will be necessary to replace the old jobs. The economy will adapt, whether we like it or not. The only question is if it will adapt in the direction of a huge economic crisis leading to warfare and misery, or if it will adapt in the direction of better standard of living for everyone. Both scenarios are possible. The only solution that would be to our advantage would be a type of socialism where excess labor from automation is used to provide everyone with a minimum standard of living, including food and shelter. In this scenario the average person would only need to work 1 or 2 hours per week, or less, and could still live a very good life. Of course, you could work more if you wanted to, but you would probably have to be VERY good at your job.

      The main barrier to this scenario is greed. The outcome of the next presidential election might go a long way towards deciding this future.

  • Evan

    If Watergate happened today, would Nixon be impeached?

    • Nathan M

      I doubt it. Without directly referencing more recent political controversies… Let me just say that we have seen worse, with no accountability.

  • Shulan

    I moved to NYC 3 years ago for my husband and have been too scared to look for a real job (procrastinating with movies, FB). How do I start taking my life in my hands and start looking for a real job?

    • Andreas

      By taking a real job.

    • John

      Volunteering regularly for a charity would be a good place to start. It’ll force you to follow a schedule and get out of the house 🙂

    • Ymmit

      Reading Tim’s post on procrastination is a good start. Volunteering is good too (John stated below).

      If you really want a job job and not volunteering, I’d recommend treating ‘finding your new job’ as your job. Get up, get ready, dress like your going to work (if that helps) start looking at 8:30am, take and hour for lunch and look for a job until 5pm. Do it mon -fri. Make a plan (if you like doing that) and execute the plan (i.e. finding the job plan). Doesn’t matter, if it’s on-line searching, face to face networking (Linkedin too!), or hitting the streets to go door to door – depending on the type of job. Good luck!!

    • Get curious about yourself. What’s so scary about trying?

      Because here’s the thing: you know how to look for a job. And you know what you’re looking for (taking life in your own hands). Right now it sounds like fear is running the show because you’re avoiding it. Let yourself be scared! I don’t know what you’re scared of, but it’s like a monster under the bed – once you take a good look at it, it loses its power over you. And then voila! Off looking for jobs you go

  • Nathan M

    What is a personality quirk, life experience, or such that you believe is literally unique to you? (Or at least that you have never heard of or witnessed in anyone else.)

    • Innocent Bystander

      I have 2 super skills:
      -At a restaurant I always order the best thing on the menu.
      -Nobody in the world can stack a dishwasher as efficiently as I can.

    • jonathan

      I think I’m the only person ever to land their dream job by working at a grocery store deli. Lol.

      I worked the hot foods section and these 4 guys would come in on Fridays. I saved them the good ribs under the gross ribs haha. Then one day they said “Character Sheet” among themselves. That’s an animation term and I wanted to become an animator to do Transformer cartoons (I was a bit obsessed). I asked them what they did and they looked at me suspiciously, then shrugged and said “We work for Hasbro designing Transformers, Gi Joe and Star Wars figures.” My jaw DROPPED. I was like “I’m designing my own transformers!” They laughed and said “Why don’t you drop by the studio?” I went there and it was heaven. Robots everywhere, designs, concepts… everything. A block from my apartment. I noticed a rare robot on the desk… I said “Oh it’s fei yen.” and they all stopped and asked “You…. Played Virtual On?” And I’m like “Yeah it’s only the best arcade game ever!” And they blew up… “We love that game!”

      I interned there for 2 years… then went to school for art and design.

      • Nathan M

        That’s awesome! Thanks for the story. 🙂

    • JunoEven

      I have the opposite of test anxiety — I’ve always LOVED taking exams for some reason, and consistently score higher than I should, even when I haven’t studied.

      Wish I could do the same thing at sports, but I’m a bit of a choker with the game on the line….

      • Nathan M

        Wow, that’s awesome! I’m the same way to a slightly lesser extent. Most of my intelligence is focused in abstract logic and language, so I’m a really good test taker. I sound smart and look smart to boot, so everyone insists that I’m smarter than I actually am. 😛

        I’m really not much for sports, though. Good on you for making an effort.

  • jonathan

    What one school subject would you remove and what would you replace it with?

    • suq_madiq

      drivers ed. –> Sex ed.

    • Brian

      Can’t think of any I would remove (maybe art?), but I would definitely add a Personal Finance class to high school. Simple stuff like budgeting, bank reconciliations, and most importantly, how to do your own personal tax return.

      • Brankstone

        my school did a class like that here in Australia, i took it too, it was really helpful

      • JunoEven

        Personal finance is absolutely the one thing missing from our education system. 95% of us won’t use any math higher than algebra, but 100% of us have to deal with bills, mortgages, taxes, and the like….

    • Innocent Bystander

      Tough to pick just one to remove because I think the whole system needs overhauling, but probably art, music, phys ed, reading. And replace with something like entrepreneurship.

    • Margling53

      After I reinstated art and music, literature (reading), and physical education, I would sit down with Brian, suq_madiq, and Innocent Bystander and have a tutorial about the value of a liberal education.

      • jonathan

        As someone with a Degree in the most liberal of liberal arts I found this comment supremely funny/reassuring.

    • bionelly

      Honestly, I don’t think we can afford to remove any (certainly not art or music), and aside from reinstating ones that some districts have been removed, I can’t think of any I’d add. I would like to change the way a lot of them are taught, though, since the current way of doing things tends to suck all the joy out of most subjects by middle school at the latest. This particularly gets to me with regards to math and science, since I managed to keep my passion for those despite the school system’s best efforts, but I’m sure it applies to other subjects just as much.

    • bszert

      I’d remove the shit out of art. I have loved drawing ever since they stopped trying to teach me. Or let’s make Mark Crilley the art teacher everywhere.
      I’d probably add something like “How to live”. It would include paying taxes, budgeting, getting hired, CV writing, kid raising, things of that nature.

      • jonathan

        I like what you’d add. I often wondered why we never got trained how to find an apartment.

        I’m happy you love drawing now!

    • JunoEven

      I’d remove P.E., but replace it with required participation in sports after school for all students. Too much time is wasted in P.E. courses by changing clothes, then showering and changing clothes again in a 50-minute class period for P.E. to be very effective in the school day.

  • Raymond Firehock

    Why do near majorities of American adults reject the science of evolution and of anthropogenic climate change?

    • wobster109

      Oh gosh, that’s complicated. It’s because the results of scientific questions become part of your group identity. For example, suppose it’s important to you to be “the sort of person who works hard”, but it doesn’t affect you personally whether tree sloths hibernate during the winter.

      Now imagine that tree sloths get tied into your values somehow. Every hardworking person you know believes tree sloths hibernate, uniformly, and that’s what you hear from everyone around you. Suddenly I come along and say “no they don’t”, and I think I’m talking about sloths, but you hear “wobster109 is criticizing all my friends and family”, or even worse “if my friends and family were wrong about sloths maybe they were wrong about working hard too, and what if they were wrong about everything else too, what will I do then???!!!!” And if it were just sloths and nothing else, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s so scary to have everything you’ve ever believed tied into it.

      • jonathan

        That’s a really interesting perspective wobster109. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.

      • JunoEven

        VERY interesting comment by wobster109 there — food for thought, for sure!

    • I like the idea of intelligient design without all the man-made silliness. It gives me hope that there are super beings out there somewhere not doing all the stupid stuff we do over and over and over.

      • On climate change I do not believe human nature is going to be taxed into the ability to control the mood swings of Mother Nature. The sun, our molten core and our vast oceans determine our climate exponentially more than 7 billion puny humans.

        • Raymond Firehock

          Maybe our alien overlords are changing the climate?

    • HammerOfThor

      Several reasons.

      1. Anti-science propaganda that has been designed to fool people extremely effectively. This has become inextricably linked with religious beliefs and political orientation.

      2. Climate science isn’t very accessible to the layperson, making it easy to spread misinformation.

      3. A convenient coincidence of the Earth’s climate that has led to America and Europe largely being shielded from the effects of climate change so far, whereas the areas that have had the most severe warming tend to be the places humans don’t inhabit, such as the poles.

      4. Overzealous alarmists who predicted insane things like half of the Earth being underwater by 2020, leading to distrust from people who have a hard time separating scientific facts from nonsense.

      5. The slow rate of warming. Even in 20 or 30 years the Earth will not have warmed much. But in 100 or 200 years? Things will be VERY bad. It is hard for people to care about events so far into the future.

      • Raymond Firehock

        Nice summation. I would add to that the natural tendency of people to ignore or downplay things which threaten them, or require action that is painful or out of the ordinary. We don’t like to leave our comfort zones.

  • Lala

    I am 52. Is it too late to go to law school?

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      That’s never too late. Especially if you find it fascinating and want to learn. But it might be hard to find a job afterwards, though.

    • you’ll be 55 in three years. Do you want to be a 55 year old lawyer or a 55 year old?

      • Lala

        A 55 year old.. human.. that’s a little smarter?

      • MamaSass

        How about a 55-year-old capable of practicing law if she so chooses to.

    • jonathan

      Never too late. I went to school late to do my dream program and it has made my life so much better! As an older student you bring a wealth of knowledge and a different perspective to the course. I know I took my course far more seriously and got more out of it than the 19 year olds fresh out of high school.

    • Angela

      No, it’s never too late if that’s what you want to do. I say go for it!

  • What time is dinner time?

    • WAKAWAKA

      Between 5:30 and 8:30, but both are extremes I prefer not to meet.

      • Kyle Nieman

        Good point. Sometimes the kids start clamoring for dinner at 4:45. It’s just not right.

    • vacations

      7:30 pm in the burbs. 9:00 pm in the city

    • Korakys

      7pm in winter, a bit latter during DST.

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      On, come on! Time is an illusion, dinner time, doubly so.

    • A

      ‘Dinner’ can refer to the main meal of the day. I know my dad prefers to think of lunch time as dinner time. But then he sleeps in til late most days, so dinner time could be his breakfast time too.

    • bionelly

      I don’t really have a specific dinner time, I just eat when I’m hungry and the food is done. Today that was around 8:00.

      • JunoEven

        Between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., never earlier or later.

  • suzanne

    Who would be the first one (who really has more chances, not who you like more) to step on Mars and when?
    Of course we are talking about an organizations, not single people.

    • Mars One has a really good chance

      • Popescu Marius Catalin

        You better be trolling mate

        • No. I didn’t intend to. But are there any other efforts to put man on Mars?

          • Popescu Marius Catalin

            Ok even if it’s hard to belive I will answer your question on short. Mars One suffered a lot of criticism from many different sources like NASA, MIT and even some contestants. The criticism was aimed at the budget, unfeasible tech/medical solutions, recruiting process and other areas. It all seems a scam. I’m on the phone so it’s hard to provide sources but wiki/Google will help you get the picture.
            As if there is someone really trying to get to Mars I think you missed the last articles Tim wrote on waitbutwhy. It’s exactly about colonizing Mars! On short: It’s Musk and SpaceX. If you want the long story waitbutwhy has now a long text and audio version and also a podcast. Read’em cause they’re cool.

            • Wow, am I wrong! Sorry about that.

              This turned out be a perfect example of a moronic, uninformed opinion. At this point I’m pretty embarrassed :/

              Thanks for correcting me 🙂

            • Popescu Marius Catalin

              You’re welcome! It was nothing moronic in your post and I could say that you were at most misinformed.
              I didn’t know either about all this until last winter since there is little to no coverage on the topic in the media. The only time when I heard about SpaceX on TV was this summer when their cargo transport blew.
              They also got hyped all over the news about Mars One because there was someone from my country who got elected to be part of the crew. It didn’t even matter to them that the interview was held on Skype and she only needed to have some basic blood analysis in order to be accepted. WTF?! Even a helicopter pilot or an airforce future student has to make tons of medical checks but it didn’t ring any bells to the TV stations…
              You also don’t have to be embarrassed since you genuinely asked for further info about the topic. Hope I helped you!

    • Kyle Nieman

      It’ll be soon after 2020.

    • suzanne

      I think it will be some fly-by by NASA of course, but for the first step I don’t really know…

  • If elephants or whales had opposable thumbs which would develop (evolve) the greater intelligience?

    • Jeffrey Quave

      elephants – opposable thumbs are not as useful under water as on land

    • Ricardo

      If the elephants continue being quadrupeds, then the whales have an advantage. Opposable thumbs are much less useful if you can’t use them while moving.

      • gatorallin

        There were some interesting discussions about how humans evolved and they finally settled on that humans started walking upright before having bigger brains… once our hands were free (not walking with them) then our brains developed to be larger in part that we could do more things with our hands (like use tools) anyhow, loved your comment about quadrupeds and how/when humans became bipedal was a big jump in our evolution.

    • gatorallin

      Cool question…. but, opposable thumbs may not help either species develop greater intelligence. I think the trick to developing greater intelligence has to do with being able to better communicate and pass on knowledge learned from this generation, on to the next (so each generation does not need to start from zero). Some would argue that developing better vocal cords was critical for human speech and thus lead to our ability to share info around the campfire and later we developed written language that was a huge leap in spreading ideas, or transfer of knowledge to future generations. Of course having an opposable thumb to hold a writing instrument would sure help (or elephants have been shown to paint using their trunks already, lol). If you have not seen this ted talk, it is worth checking out and talks about how humans work well together in large groups and how this helped us advance (also our brains in thinking of abstract concepts like the invention of money or corporations http://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_what_explains_the_rise_of_humans). This ted talk is another good one that talks about what is special about the human brain and how many calories it takes to run it (maybe the cooking of foods helped process food outside of our bodies and thus give our brains more fuel needed). http://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain.

      In summary to your question, I think whales have access to more food and thus could develop larger brains (if calories are needed to run smarter brains and work together in groups to think with abstractly etc….) However, whales are in the water and I don’t think whales will ever evolve to build radio towers or technology if they stay in the water so elephants have them beat there. I guess it depends a lot on how you define greater intelligence (if you mean to be most human like, then elephant would win that one).

    • gatorallin

      A really cool documentary is here about the evolution of fish to man…. and talks a lot about the hand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDenTqtOsUo

  • Kyle Nieman

    When will people finally start saying “Twenty” instead of “Two-Thousand”? Nobody ever said “One-Thousand, Nine-Hundred, Ninety-Nine. (I sure hope Sanders wins in Twenty Sixteen!!”

    • LWeston

      I feel confident that they already have. At least in in everyday speech. You may not hear it on the news or in a formal setting, but I’ve been using it and hearing it since twenty-ten.

    • Brankstone

      people started saying twenty way back in 2010

  • WAKAWAKA

    If you have a good dream about a horse, is it still a nightmare?

    • Kyle Nieman

      It’d be a dream about a night mare, I should think.

    • Raymond Firehock

      Might be a stallion or a gelding you dreamt about.

    • Lala

      Nightmare: Middle English (denoting a female evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers): from night + Old English mære ‘incubus.’

    • gatorallin

      ….inside the dream it is always daytime for me… so for that reason… No.

    • Blrp

      It would be a night-time mare-dream.

  • Jane

    Do you think Bernie Sanders has a decent chance to get elected?

    • marisheba

      Absolutely he has a chance. His policy positions align quite well with voter opinions. Not going to predict how things will go, because there are way too many variables. But I think thinking he has a chance, and thinking he doesn’t, both have the potential to be self-fulfilling prophecies.

  • Kyle Nieman

    I think, if he can defeat lame-oh Hillary, no Republican could beat him.

  • al holman

    Will the Buffalo BILLs finally make the playoffs this year ?

    • asdf

      No

  • girly freak

    What has happened before the big bang?

    • wobster109

      Short answer: We won’t ever know. Everything got scrambled. If I knocked down a house and ground up all the pieces into powder, you wouldn’t be able to go back and figure out what the house looked like.

      Long answer: Time and space are actually the same thing, all tied together with itself. We’re used to thinking of space as this free world. We choose where we go in space, and time just pushes us forward, so how can they be the same thing? But they are, and they all started together at the Big Bang. This is why time slows down when you move faster. It’s because time isn’t stable and untouchable the way we’re used to thinking of it. What happens in space affects time too. So it’s really like asking “what’s north of the North Pole?” There’s no such thing. 🙂

    • suzanne

      big bang is not the beginning but the end of an inflationary “matter”. So the question would be what is the inflationary “matter”… I ll recommend you “our mathematical universe” by Max Tegmark

    • gatorallin

      Wild speculation, but instead of a long slow cold death at the end of the universe where everything drifts farther apart, I think gravity will pull us all back together somehow… toward the great attractor.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rENyyRwxpHo so a bunch of little crunches as our superclusters all cruch together.. then those meet up to some big crunch in the final end, then that turns into the pin head dot that turns into the big bang and we cycle all over again. So in summary to answer your question… another big bang cycles about every 2-4 trillion years or so to reset the clock (forever).

  • Ben Issenmann

    Do people who say they’ve found their life’s mission/purpose lie to themselves?

    • wobster109

      About the life’s purpose? Probably not for the most part. I mean, how would you even lie about that? I got confused.

    • Popescu Marius Catalin

      There are studies which show that the most realistic views are held by depressed people. It seems that a ‘normal’ person is optimistic by nature and over evaluates it’s own achievements. So I could say that most of us lie to ourselves.
      You must not worry that much of others life purpose since that may make him happier and also more productive without affecting you that much. So why really care? Are you afraid to find your own goals/will/duty/mission/purpose/whatever because you may dedicate a big proportion from your short lifetime to it and you may realise when you will be older that you were wrong or what?Then you can just live a purposeless life if that suits you but what if you are wrong? That would be even worse than ‘lying’ yourself you have a purpose. PS: could you detail your question. I found it hard to make sense to what exactly you were referring to.

    • d

      Statistically, some do, some don’t

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      Firstly, to lie about something means to know exactly what the truth is and deliberately tell a lie. There simply isn’t such an absolute truth that defines anyone’s sole purpose for life. Inclinations, interests and impact you can bring to the world might be a mission but they are not a purpose.
      Secondly, whatever your life mission is, it is your very own decision to make. And it’s a decision, not something that you’ve been wired with.

    • Jensax

      I wouldn’t say they necessarily lie to themselves, but maybe harmlessly deceive themselves. When I feel depressed I think, “THIS is the true reality – everything is meaningless, all our striving is for nothing.” I decide that when we’re up we are just masking reality, bouying ourselves up temporarily, because the truth is too awful to contemplate.
      Then I see people who bounce out of bed each day. They’re on a mission. It’s not contrived. They don’t even know about meaninglessness. I say good luck to them. They’re being productive and positive.
      Could it be as simple as different brain chemistry?

    • Jock Macdonald

      No, people who think they can live a life without one do.

  • Ricardo

    What is the maximum population you think there will ever be on Earth? (If you believe humanity will eventually become multiplanetary, consider only those that will be living on Earth).

    • Korakys

      More than 9, less than 10 (billion obviously). Considering only biological humans younger than age 100.

    • Andreas

      If the average population density of earth is as densely populated as Manhattan now (about 27,000 square km), then Earth population would be 27,000 x 510,000,000 (total area of earth (land+water)) =13,7B. I think the maximum population where we can still live (pretty much) comfortably will be around that number (13 to 14B).

      But…if you okay with living on top of each other like people in Mong Kok or Mumbai (two of the most densely populated places on earth with +-120,000 people in a square km) the earth population can go up to around 60B. People will taking up almost every space on earth (some will live underground, or in the tallest buildings, even on the ocean), which is unlikely. 10B is a hell lot of people, and we just hit 7B. We should be thinking about migrating somewhere outside the earth now!

      • bionelly

        Even 13B seems like an awful lot to me. We do need to produce food somewhere, and the more people we have the more food we need to produce, which cuts down on the living space even if we do somehow manage to make all environments liveable. 10B seems like about the max to me.

        • Andreas

          With the current birth rate, we will reach it before 2050! 35 years left before the earth become ‘unlivable’, unless we find a solution to it.

          • bionelly

            Upsetting, isn’t it?

    • gatorallin

      This ted talk has some interesting ideas on the subject. Worth a peek if you had not seen this one yet. http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies

  • d

    How would we know if a species were more aware (cognisant?) than us(humans?)

    • Read David Brin’s “Uplift” books where dolphin’s were instinctively better spacefarers than humans due to the fact that they evolved/were created for weightlessness and thought in 3D. But when it came time for conflict with the bad guys the humans had to assume the leadership role as we were more adept at problem solving.
      I guess it all boils down to needs and generations of experience as to what is considered “cogniscent”.

    • Paul Starr

      THEY’D BE IN FUCKIN’ CHARGE, IDIOT.

      • jonathan

        Paul this is a welcoming community… This question is as legitimate as any other. In fact, its quite good.

        I think we would know as much about more aware species as ants know about humans.

    • bszert

      We wouldn’t. I guess if the difference is huge – like they have technology that, for all intents and purposes, is magic – then we would notice. But other than that, I don’t think we would. Here’s why:

      1) The average person thinks they’re above average.

      Because we see our thought processes from beginning to end, so if we fuck up, what we are is like “Well, I was wrong here, and here, but other than that, I was logical.”. If someone else fucks up, we tend to think “What an idiot”. That’s probably what would end up happening to the other civilisation: we’d underestimate them, and overestimate ourselves.

      2) Everything seems only as intelligent, as the observer can imagine.

      Think of it as a 2D creature seeing a cube. It would see it as a square (or some weird shape, in 2D nevertheless), not even realising that there is a whole other dimension to the cube.

      3) There are plenty of species that are more aware than us. Did you notice? 🙂

      Dogs hear better, snakes perceive fine vibrations in the earth, flying animals perceive the 3rd dimension a lot better than we do, octopuses have better eyes, etc. It’s hard to define cognisant, and it’s unlikely that there is a species that is better than us at everything. And even if there was, we’d have a hard time internalising how much we suck.

  • Hannah Jones

    How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

    • wobster109

      By recognizing when a life path isn’t working for you and trying something new. 🙂

      You can’t catch a cloud and pin it down, no more than you can make a person like Maria fit in at a convent.

  • Karen Parker

    If lightening strikes the ocean, why don’t the fish die?

    • Ricardo

      Unlike air, the sea is a very good conductor as it contains salt.

      Rather than creating an direct narrow, path concentrating the “punch”, the charge from the lightning strike spreads out sideways and downwards in an expanding half sphere from the surface.

      Any fish within a few meters of the strike area would probably be killed but beyond that they would probably just feel a tingle.

      Fish also tend to be a bit deeper in the water and not at the surface where the current is concentrated.

      source: http://www.tidaltao.com/blog/87-ocean-laughs/246-why-dont-fish-die-when-lightning-strikes-the-sea

  • LWeston

    If you could unlearn one thing, what would it be?

    • C KARTIK

      I spent more than 2 decades learning stuff about airplanes,even flying a single engine.In the end,not worth much.

    • Margling53

      Easy. I would unlearn any and all familiarity with computers and tablets and cell phones and televisions and return to a life of reading and contemplation and dancing and eating and drinking wine and smoking dope and all the stuff of reality that we left behind when an excess of technology ruined our lives forever (said while typing furiously on an iPad, effing hypocrite!).

    • jonathan

      I’d unlearn my fear of math.

      • bionelly

        Same, except with writing.

    • Andreas

      I would unlearn the truth that this pineapple pie is sooo good so I can eat it again with the same excitement I get as when I first try it.

      • jonathan

        Ahhh… The perennial pineapple pie paradox.

  • Ksenia Kolchina

    If you could take a sabbatical for a year and work/volunteer as anything you like in any country you want – what would that be and why in that exact location?

    • Tabatha Soltay

      I would love to go into Canada’s far North and teach. In the evenings I would work with women. I would love the opportunity to learn more about Canada’s Inuit people and their rich history.

      • jonathan

        I’ve known people who go to the North and are paid well for it because they need skilled workers. I would look into the official government of Canada website because you just might find something.

    • Jock Macdonald

      I would go to East Africa, where I spent 6 years as a child and spend a year educating people on Human Rights, because it is an awesome place and the people are worth the effort.

      • Ksenia Kolchina

        Where about in East Africa? I used to work in Tanzania in a pretty pan-African environment, really missing those days

        • Jock Macdonald

          Jambo, Habari!
          I lived just outside Kampala in a suburb for foreign advisors, attaches, etc. My parents taught medicine at Makerere University. (this was the 60’s mind you) I have been back twice since then but just to visit. Looking for a volunteer opportunity when I retire. I love Kenya and the coast along Mombasa way. and the Masai Mara ain’t too shabby either. We used to go on safari for our vacations. How cool is that?

          Beautiful place, beautiful people. If you ever go back you MUST go white-water rafting on the Nile – the best!

          • Ksenia Kolchina

            Sijambo! Plenty of NGOs there, and Tanzania is a darling for charities of all kinds. I had a chance to travel around while there and absolutely fell in love with nature, culture and people. Contemplating a 7-day mount Kilimanjaro ascent and will absolutely check out your suggestions.

            Asante sana

  • Cate

    Would you rather…
    a) Have every mean thing you’ve said behind the back of other people made public?
    or
    b) Be told every mean thing anyone has ever said about you?

    And why?

    • C KARTIK

      Both.I’d like to listen to and get things off my chest. Catharsis.Test of maturity.

    • Angela

      B! I’d much rather be the one hurt than hurt someone else because I can’t remember all the mean things I’ve said about whom and if I didn’t say them to their face to begin with then I most certainly don’t want them to know now (and be mad at me).

    • SelectFromWhere

      Wow, very interesting, but I would choose to hear the things said about me, since I can probably pretty much guess the general character of most of them anyway 😉

    • Krusty Shakelford

      Probably one of the best questions I’ve heard in a long time. I’m gonna say that I’d rather hear it. The guilt I would have from the things I’ve said would crush me. Plus, I’m in my own personal hell right now, so I think I can take any punch thrown at me.

    • Alyssa Tran

      Good thought experiment.. wonder what our answers mean. These hypothetical “A or B” questions are usually too hard for me to choose, but option A is, I think, the much better option.

      1. Each person has to live with his or her own mind, and it would be too hard not to internalize all the mean things anyone has ever said. That’s a lot of people, and probably a lot of people we think we’re close to. And what if they’re all very similar comments? We could improve these traits, but they could also be characteristics that are just part of our makeup.
      2. Choosing A means we hear all the mean things one person has ever said us, which could be brushed off much more easily than one person hearing mean things from everyone.
      3. If I’m saying a lot of mean things about people, especially ones I’m closest to who would be most affected, then that’s a reflection of me and my problem. I would need to work on that, so that the things I say behind the back of others are not so incongruent with how I am face-to-face. Hmm, I could work on this in my real life….

      Maybe my answer means I have a pessimistic view of others and their motives, and I have an inflated view of my own past goodness.
      😐

    • bszert

      B. Because I get to define what’s mean to me, and I don’t tend to mind other people shit talking me. But I know plenty of people who are over-sensitive about that.

    • Brankstone

      B) because i like to know where i stand with people. if i knew who was talking trash about me it would be easier to know who to put my trust in… as it stands now, i have a hard time trusting anyone because i know theres a very real possibility that anyone i know could be two faced.

  • Jock Macdonald

    AS this is the dinner table, I wonder what is the best meal you have ever had? For example, one of my best was poached eggs and potatoes in a village in Ecuador after climbing down off a volcano, so not necessarily “lunch at the Russian Tea Room” if you know what I mean….

    • Matt

      My dads a renowned chef where I live, and the first time I had Fettacini Carbonara was amazing, I was hooked on it.

    • C KARTIK

      Mother’s home cooking after 2 years away form home.

      • Jock Macdonald

        Right on! I know what you mean…

    • marisheba

      Honestly? The 9-course Italian wedding I went to once upon a time. Each dish was small, and it was spaced out to take hours, so you were never starving but never full, and each dish was delightful and quite different from the last. Just an incredible food experience.

      Second-best was probably the first time I ever had sushi. I was fortunate, and went to a good place, with people who knew what to order, and it was a complete revelation.

    • Margling53

      Mussels and frites at a small seaside cafe in Normandy. With bread and chilled white wine.

    • Innocent Bystander

      Got it. I’ll never forget dinner on the rooftop restaurant at Monte-Carlo Casino. The Palace was lit up in the background. It was the first time I ever experienced tapenade. (Yes, the tapenade made an impression on me.)

    • jonathan

      The best meal I’ve ever had was with a long time online friend and their friends at a Comic Convention. We spent the whole day walking around soaking in nerdy joy then walked out into the 6:00 downtown summer sun. We wandered north and found a pub. I got a veggie burger and it was amazing and we just spent the whole time joking and laughing and singing.

  • Tabatha Soltay

    What has been your favorite Wait But Why, and Why?

    • C KARTIK

      THe Big Bang one.

    • Anu

      Its a tie between the Fermi Paradox post and the two posts on Artificial Intelligence. Tim Urban has a way of making such big picture topics so easy to understand for the layperson.

    • marisheba

      I think the one about numbers higher than a million. I love the ones about procrastination and choosing a partner as well. I think Tim is at his best when he goes really theoretical, or when he writes about things rooted firmly in his own experience.

      The AI and Tesla posts have been as incredible, entertaining, and informative as always, but they are also written around a framework of a LOT of assumptions about the future, and about how people, history, and technology work that I don’t think are very well founded, and so they lose something for me.

      • SelectFromWhere

        Yeah, I hope we move on from the Tesla/Elon posts soon; the blog has lost its “spirit”.

    • Cate

      The AI posts. Stayed up all night reading them once I discovered this website. I had never really thought about that topic before, and they got me SUPER interested about the future of Artificial Intelligence.

      • Anu

        If you haven’t already I strongly recommend you watch “Transcendent Man”. Not ‘Transcendence’ the hollywood spin on the same subject, but rather the documentary on Kurzweil. Its what really got me into all this AI stuff!

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      I was at this party very recently, evening gowns and all, and I was so bored that I was sneakily reading Tim’s posts pretty much all evening. Tim has a great sense of humor and the ability to grasp the very essence of things in a very uncomplicated way, or look at something very mundane and turn it into such a fun read. I also love all sorts of graphs, timelines, charts, etc., so Tim’s drawings are an eye candy

    • Ekin K.

      Procrastination posts, they were such spot-on it made me re-read again and again.

    • Chris Wizzard Williams

      The posts on elon musk. It has made me a fan of his. I remember hearing about the space x failures and laughing, only because I didn’t know better. Now that I know what was happening I’m like “damn that sucks”.

    • Shulan

      The Procrastination post. Somebody finaly put my actions( or non -actions) in words and made me understand myself and I realized I wasn’t the only one having this problem!

    • bszert

      Any of the A.I. posts, or A Religion for the Non-religious. All of those made my skin crawl.

    • wobster109

      How to Name a Baby. It was the first one I ever read, and it was just so sarcastic about it. A brilliant mix of lots of data and humor. 🙂

    • Carlota Bolado

      Why generation Y Yuppies are unhappy that was the first WBW post I read, and How to name a baby that is absolutely fabulous

    • JunoEven

      The two posts on artificial intelligence — these were things I’d been thinking for some time privately, but was afraid of talking about them as I might sound like a crackpot. Tim (and Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steven Hawkings) have all stepped up and are now getting the issue into the public conciousness.

      It’s sad though, because so many people think that, because they saw it on the Terminator movies or Star Trek, it can’t possibly happen in real life.

  • Anu

    Referring back to the post on the Fermi Paradox, which of the possibilities for “Where is Everybody” do you lean most strongly towards?

    • Cate

      I lean towards the Rare Earth Hypothesis, that the Great Filter is life itself forming. Cells are so complex, and evolution is so random that intelligent life forming seems as likely winning the lottery.

    • marisheba

      Too lazy to go back and look at the post, so I don’t know if this fits neatly into one of his categories. But I think it’s a combo of the vast distances and time-scales of space, and limits to what is physically possible, in terms of technology for communication and manipulating the environment. Our technology could advance so so so far from where it is today, and still not even get us a little bit close to being able to make an observable impact on species billions of light years away. Add to that the likelihood of not having the right receptors to understand even if we did see/hear from “them” at some point.

    • gatorallin

      Short answer… Distance and time.

      I think it is a combo of factors…. mostly that we are just too far apart and we just started looking.

      Also, what about the idea that the universe is very young overall compared to the total lifespan. So here we are at the 13.7B year point and what if the universe will easily live to 2 trillion years (life of just 2 small consecutive red dwarf stars) and what if intelligent life is rare enough that we are first by just a small fraction… like 1% of the lifespan… We know that live evolves in stages or levels of complexity, so what if we are early by only 20 billion years or so (just 1% early)? Plus we are really, really far apart from anything/everything else (assuming no fancy movie theories on wormholes or faster than light travel options).

      Everyone looks at how many stars and how many galaxies and then assumes there must be more Earths because we all live on an Earth. Kinda fun to do the math of how fast/easy it is to divide that really big number down to just 1. What if there are just 15 factors where earth is quite rare… or so rare it is 1/1,000 factor. Of course there could be 50 critical reasons that make intelligent life rare… with the factor ranging from 1/more than 1… up to 1/billion.

      Also… the great filter may be that all life goes to Zero. Time is the thing working against us… unless you can get off this rock and decode all the secrets to the universe (unlimited energy, resources, lifespan), so maybe life never forms around red dwarf stars (like baking a cake with a light bulb at 200 miles away) and thus you need a Sun like star, but the always burn out at 10 billion and they heat up at 10% every billion years, so at 6.5 billion they boil off all your oceans and thus you must always build rocketships and escape your own planet in time at 6.5 or else… and lets say life never develops that fast unless you get lots of critical factors going in the right order (like a giant moon to mix the early tides, or the right mix of chemicals that normally never happen on one planet without giant impact theory) and so again.. you run out of time everywhere else.

      • Anu

        If you wrote a book I would read it. The bit about the great filter being that all life goes to zero is about to inspire some very creative dreaming.

        • gatorallin

          (*grin)… my fav.post thus far from WBW is the Fermi one and I hope Tim does a podcast where they discuss all the ideas that have come up since his original write up as I think a lot of us find that subject interesting and with the Podcast being a new way to share these ideas to a larger audience. I am guessing you have a few ideas on the subject yourself, or you would not have posed the question… Hope you post up answers to your own question.

    • ericsp23

      I don’t know that we have enough knowledge yet to even state definitively that the Fermi Paradox even exists. The galactic civilization may be all around us and we can’t even see it for what it is. There may be Von Neumann probes all over our solar system and we just haven’t found them yet (and most likely we would never find them if they didn’t want to be found; the places they could hide are vast). We are likely irrelevant to any species that is advanced enough to colonize the galaxy so they have no reason to communicate with us. Radio might be as irrelevant a form of communication to them as smoke signals are to us.

    • Jimmy Cooper

      I think they’re avoiding contact with us because we’re still too primitive. We also may be a result of their genetic manipulations in the distant past and they may be monitoring us from a safe distance. It’s also possible some of them are living here with us and we’re not aware of their presence.

  • C KARTIK

    If you could undo some of the mistakes of your life(and do list some interesting ones,please),would it be worth travelling back in time to do so?If so,how far would you go?

    • Korakys

      It is never worth considering time travel (to the past at least).

    • Chris Wizzard Williams

      I would travel back to 2008, when I was in the 8th grade. I’ve let a lot of opportunities pass me by, simply out of laziness or fear. Plus I wasted a huge amount of time being unproductive. So basically I would do it to live my teenage years BETTER that I did the first time around

    • April

      I would not change anything about my past life, and there’s been some shit, because I’m happy with where I am today and who I am today, and I would not give up these nor the relationships I currently have for a more pleasant past.

    • jfenbauer

      with the caveat that i really love how i’m living now, out of curiosity when the CEO of Esprit Corp offered me “any job you want here” (this was of course within reason – ie not his) i would have come up with an answer.

  • Matt

    Should we have one government system for the world? Would your answer change if we were a multiple planet species, or even in amongst several sapient, organised alien governments?

    • marisheba

      I don’t think so. Having an EU-like federation might make sense, but in general, I think government works much better when it is more directly connected to its people and cities. I think one of the US’s problems is it’s just too big to govern well from one over-arching government.

      Also, this is a thing that always bothered me about a lot of sci-fi, that an entire planet is usually just assigned one government/culture/species. Lazy writing!

      • Anu

        I think the mono-government/culture/species bit has more to do with Kardeshev’s scale than lazy writing. If the means to colonize other planets exists, it implies that ‘people’ (in the vaguest definition of the word) have migrated over from a home planet and taken their government/culture over with them.

        • marisheba

          But people will still diversify over time after colonizing the new planet. It’s just inevitable, once there is a big enough population.

          Also, do you think the writers of Star Trek were really thinking it through on that kind of level when they made all of the Klingons, for example, look and act a certain way and be of a certain race? I love Star Trek, but I’m still placing my bets on lazy writing. –Though I’m sure you’re right that some sci-fi authors surely have though these things through at a deeper level.

          • Anu

            That I agree with. Over a long enough time frame the ‘sister colony’ would evolve and adapt to the surroundings of the new planet. But hasn’t Star Trek accounted for this evolutionary variation?

    • Anu

      If we are in fact on the road to becoming a Type I civilization a global government system seems inevitable (along with a global language, culture, etc). This question reminds me a lot of Asimov’s ‘Foundation and Earth’ where the main underlying question was whether individuality or assimilation are better for the greater good of the species.

      As much as I hate to imagine a world without cultural/political variation, it seems important (if not necessary) to unify the species before we begin to consider panning out to colonize other planets, stars, and galaxies.

      • Anu

        Having said this, its interesting to see how far we really are from achieving this sort of ‘global community’ status. If you drive across the country in Canada or the US you don’t see much change apart from the physical landscape. Having traveled across provincial/state borders you’ll still be able to communicate with the locals and find familiar chain restaurants and retailers for your consumption needs.

        If you were to make this sort of cross-country drive in another country on another continent however, you may find that even people living in bordering states have their own distinct cultures. They have different cuisines, dress differently, and speak different languages. India is a great example of this sort of national diversity.

        Kind of deviating away from your question, but just sharing some thoughts.

    • HammerOfThor

      I favor a hierarchical micro-government approach, where every community defines its own set of rules, and the large-scale government is only tasked with a ‘policing’ role. That is, making sure that people are not restricted in moving between micro-governments and that neighboring micro-governments don’t act aggressively towards one another (neither militarily nor economically). Otherwise, rules of conduct would be mostly defined by your own community.

      This way people would be free to experiment with different forms of government and to move to better societies if they wish. This would set up a kind of controlled, non-violent Darwinian evolution towards better and better systems of government.

  • Anu

    A thought I’ve entertained for quite some time now:

    Our evolution thus far has been a result of natural selection, but we as a species have learned to eliminate threats and replicate resources in our environments. We’re at the top of every food chain, medical and technological innovations have [nearly] eliminated communicable disease, and since the industrial revolution sustinence is a manufactured commodity. Have we become resilient to natural selection? If not, what’s next in terms of biological evolution? Is it biological at all?

    • Chris Wizzard Williams

      I’d say our life-hacking the planet counts as natural selection. But I think you’re taking about the genetic mutation side of things, and I think on that note, we won’t change too much genetically, unless we do it to ourselves, or something happens that take away or technology, and forces us to rely on biology. Or we all die as a species simultaneously.

      • Anu

        Your comment reminds me of one of my favourite Ted Talks. Its about using robotic parts to better ourselves. Taking prosthetics to another level so that they’re not just for the disabled, but can actually be used to make fine functioning bodies better. Check it out, it’ll be 20 mins of time well spent.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDsNZJTWw0w

      • Anu

        Also, cool book on a similar topic to the one I posted below: Machine Man.

        I’m in the middle of it now, but so far its great

    • Ferival

      That’s a very interesting question. These days the majority of humans will mate, not just the strongest or the smartest. Even those of us living in regions with the shortest lifespans will more often than not pass their genes along. The phenomena of natural selection as it has so far taken place on Earth seems to no longer apply to us. However, I would say humans have overcome natural selection, not become resilient to it. Biologically, we remain only slightly different from apes, only our intelligence has allowed us to slowly overcome natural selection. At any time our edge over nature could be lost; only our infrastructure protects us from the harsh realities of nature. Any number of impacts could soon revert our technological advantage over other species and drive us toward survival of the fittest. If that were to happen we would undoubtedly find our bodies slower, weaker and frailer than other predators. Countless imperfections exist in the human genome, and our current lack of natural selection will keep us from growing stronger. Natural selection is the process that adapts biology to its surroundings; our intelligence is more efficient than that process and in the last few thousand years has superseded it.

      I find your question on the evolution of our species even more fascinating. For the first time in natural history, a species will evolve towards itself, not away. Almost all species have emerged by developing differences from their original species. Without natural selection to make one mutation more prevalent than another, evolution will prevent any subspecies from forming. Growing global migration ensures the intermixing of people from different regions, preventing anyone from becoming more than a few dozen generations different. Even racial differences, the most prevalent evidence of recent human evolution, will begin to blur as we intermingle. I doubt even a Martian colony could show signs of biological differences, despite the obvious separation. Immigration and emigration there would undoubtedly grow as humanity continues its technological advance; intermingling will be just like it already is here. Evolution will happen, but it will be convergent, not divergent. If any normal evolution is to occur from now on, it will be artificial. Government imposed breeding regulations or even targeted genome alteration could alter our species. Perhaps globalism will stifle and regionalism will allow humanity to diverge. Maybe sexual selection persists in our biology and will replace natural selection. Regardless of what it may be, a driving force like natural selection, but stronger, is necessary for humanity to evolve as life has. Only time will tell if such a force ever comes around, otherwise a new era will bring about a new kind of evolution.

      • Anu

        Very good point on our infrastructure protecting us. I suppose we’ve only overcome our ‘predators’ (other species, illness, food shortage) as long as we remain in the confinement of our manufactured environments. Theres a quote in one of Asimov’s foundation novels about it being human instinct to alter our environments so they become suitable to our needs rather than altering ourselves to fit our environments. What most of us consider to be ‘nature’ is a watered down version of its reality, and if a situation were to arise that reversed that, humans would become vulnerable and bring survival of the fittest back into play. Thanks for that.

        Your comment about those living in regions with the shortest lifespans spurred another thought. Is it perhaps that evolution is taking a more social route? The rungs of the social hierarchy are steepening regardless of what we choose to believe. Its been said too often, but I’ll say it again- the rich are becoming richer at the expense of everyone else. With health being dependent on socioeconomic status, will there be a day where people can’t afford to reproduce, and reproduction is a luxury only some can afford? Could that spur a sort of ‘evolution’ of its own? This conversation is bringing some dystopic scenarios to mind.

    • Edgard

      When we talk about natural selection I always think of a process that takes hundreds of thousands years, at least. From an evolutionary point of view, a smaller time scale makes very little sense. Considering that our species has at least one order of magnitude less than that, it seems to me we are way too early to think ourselves resilient to it.
      (Even on the tiny time scale of one individual human life, I cannot help my truly cold-blooded self from thinking “hey, there is the good and old natural selection doing its stuff” when I see people who die doing really stupid things…)
      Another reason why I don’t agree we can claim that monstrous victory is the (risk of) lack of natural resources. Despite we talk a lot about climate change, fossil energy and a little less about water scarcity, sometimes I feel we (as mankind) deeply believe we will find ways to overcome those, even if today we do not have concrete evidence of that. Not even the very clever posts and comments in WBW seem to take this issue as seriously as I believe we should.
      It is absolutely amazing the growth of our capacity to exhaust such resources. I’d dare to say that merely 200+ years ago, mankind’s lifestyle was pretty much sustainable, by the simple reason that one had to produce almost everything he consumed. Can you roughly estimate your annual personal impact on the consumption of all non-renewable resources? Can you extrapolate it to the world population? And what about a very short time scale (again, from the point of view of evolution) of 1,000 years?
      I am a big fan of technology, and I deeply believe there is (yet) no better economic system than capitalism, but even so I am inclined to say the combination of these are more likely to lead us to doom than eternity.

    • Ravion

      Well it’s just a matter of who makes the most kids… so yea, seen idiocracy? Now I don’t thing that will be a severe factor but that’s really the only thing that matters genetically at this point.

  • Alex Mac

    When do you think self driving cars will be out to the public and cheap, how about a robot that can do every house chore?

    • jfenbauer

      i would trust a self driving car any day over a humanly driven car. humans are idiots when driving. so… when? no idea. when do i want it? yesterday

  • John

    Which book(s) had the most profound impact on your life? In terms of personal growth, the way you see yourself, the way you see others, and the world…

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      I’m OK you’re OK, Thomas Anthony Harris.

    • Marvin

      I wouldnt say it had a “profound impact”, but one book that I do find has a good message is One Flew Ove the Coockoo´s Nest. For me, the most important character in this book is the Chief. I many times feel like him in that its easyer to just let yourself fall into “the fog”, the comfort of just staying put and not trying something instead of going out and doing it. Many times we are tempted to just say no because the way we are at that very moment works. But like the Chief discovered in the end of the book, it is always better to fight “the fog” and dive into a situation it would have been more comfortable to ignore. You never know what a situation will bring, and its usually better to find out thatn to asume that its now worth it.

    • jonathan

      John Wyndham’s “Chocky” and “Chrysalids” really helped me deal with being “Different” and having an odd brain.

    • Ben Heckler

      Island by Aldous Huxley was really instructive for me. I feel like taking the time to really imagine what a close-to utopian society would look like really puts into perspective how one should act in the world, and the goals one should have.

    • jfenbauer

      The Razor’s Edge –by W. Somerset Maugham

  • Marvin

    What is one thing that you find extremely fun and everyone who reads this post should try tomorrow?

  • Evan Glassberg

    Why do cats love to knock things over?

  • Chris Wizzard Williams

    Why is Donald trump being seriously considered as a potential u.s. president? His level of douchebaggery should disqualify him immediately.

    • John

      You have to remember that by definition 50% of the population is below 100 IQ 🙂

      • Chris Wizzard Williams

        Well that’s true…Let’s see how the electoral college turns out lol

    • Nathan M

      I’d like to take a shot at answering you seriously… because this has really bothered me, too. (Please forgive my excessive use of pronouns. I’m tired of hearing his name.)

      It boils down to this:

      1) He is not a politician.
      2) He says what everyone is thinking.

      The american public at large is so, so tired of politicians. They are tired of empty promises and professional BS-ing. They are tired of people who won’t just call a spade a spade. The problem is that he’s a businessman and a TV personality. It’s not that he doesn’t BS. It’s that he’s so astonishingly good at it that it sounds like straight talk.

      I’m surprised that so many conservatives are being lured into his trap, though. He only has an official stance on one issue, he was a democrat until fairly recently, he lies, and he’s a jerk.

      All the things that liberals seem to hate about conservatives aren’t even true about the vast majority of conservatives… yet this candidate somehow embodies all those things and more.

      I am slowly but surely loosing the ability to even.

    • Hunter Bronson

      It is actually a fascinating question, and it has a surprising answer if you can dig it. Trump is actually a master of linguistic human manipulation. No I’m not shitting you. Check out Scott Adams’ blog (Dilbert guy). I could go into all of the examples here, but Scott does such a great job that I will leave it to him. http://blog.dilbert.com/

  • bwouns

    Why is strawberry-rhubarb pie so much more common than strawberry pie?

    • SelectFromWhere

      I don’t believe it is.

    • marisheba

      Wild speculation: rhubarb is a bit much on its own. It needs to be baked into something sweet, and it needs something, like strawberries, to soften it. So you’re left with a lot of strawberry rhubarb pie/crisp/crumble (that said, my mom makes a mean rhubarb crisp, no strawberries required). Strawberries, on the other hand, are delicious in about a million different things, and are probably even better uncooked than cooked, so the pie thing just doesn’t happen so often.

      • bwouns

        Yes perhaps, but the same could be said of apples,blackberries peaches etc, but these are all common pies.

        Another question. Why is blackberry pie so much more common than raspberry pie?

        I like pie. I think about pie a lot.

    • Joe A Jordan

      Because it taste better.

    • jfenbauer

      easier to make. rhubarb holds the strawberry juice in place/at bay

    • Hedgielurch

      Strawberries are very wet and liquidise … rhubarb gives the filling texture.

  • Janice Jiang

    Can intelligence be quantified? Or be measured in a very comprehensive way?

    • Chris Wizzard Williams

      What if it could be measured by like a measurement of neuron transmission or something. So it would measure the time it takes to get a result from a to b.

      • Ferival

        A computer’s intelligence can be quantified, but it isn’t easy. A computer made 10 years ago can’t hold a candle to ones made today, largely due to the larger number of transistors. However it isn’t just the hardware that makes a computer powerful, the software is just as important. Could you accurately and justly quantify the intelligence of a computer that uses firefox compared to one that uses chrome? How would you compare a computer made today but uses Windows 95 with a computer from 2005 that runs Windows 10? I’m sure the anatomy of the brain plays a major role in intelligence, but the psychology of the mind also contributes. Our experiences and our personality affect how we learn, store and process information. The human brain is by far the most complex object we have ever come into contact with and quantifying its power is an incredibly complicated task. I do believe it is possible, but not without furthering our study of both how the brain works and how the mind works.

    • Ravion

      In computers it’s easier but for humans there are so many sub-classes of thinking that can all vary that it would be many many pages of statistics and even then performance varies on a day to day basis so… yea but not easy.

  • SelectFromWhere

    I personally believe that a drug that completely suppresses appetite is not only possible, but probably already been invented, but that the FDA will not allow its distribution because it could be so easily misused by people with eating disorders.

    Thoughts?

    • Chris Wizzard Williams

      I think it could be very dangerous. As well as obesity problems there’s still bulimia problems , and I think those people would starve themselves out of existence lol. But yeah.

    • Scott Pedersen

      Biology is complicated, and things like your appetite interact with lots of other systems in your body. Anything that shuts off your appetite completely would likely have many severe side effects. Consider, for example, that meth is pretty good at shutting off your appetite. It also shuts off your need to sleep, melts your brain, and makes your heart explode. Abuse by people with eating disorders would be the least of your worries.

      • jfenbauer

        you talk about meth like it’s a bad thing.

    • Margling53

      Are you kidding? I think if such a drug existed, Big Pharma would be falling all over themselves to get it to market. Misuse? Not a problem. They would hide much worse side effects as long as possible, since such a drug would be worth billions.

  • Jill Dicen

    If you could live your dream, what would it be? Mine would be to travel Europe.

    • Rachel

      Mine would be to live financially comfortable.

      • Adam Hicks

        I’d have to say to live financially comfortable is something everyone wishes for, but in the wording of the wish (devil in the details) is that;
        A. where you no longer have to work to survive
        B. Employment provides satisfactory pay and benefits to make living comfortable

        If the answer is A do you still work and set aside these extra funds to pursue other ventures?

    • Rimi Jain

      To be a successful screenwriter and write stories that move people. There is also someone I absolutely want to be acknowledged by as an equal.

    • jfenbauer

      i made a list when i was 13. got through all but two (ranching in Australia and one other i can’t remember off hand) by the time i was 35. so now i’m working on the next set. this set of dreams pops up more like one at a time. for my part, it’s all about planning. and – as my friends and family will tell you – talking about it “constantly” (<— their word not mine)

    • ericsp23

      I would be a professional cellist in a symphony orchestra and make enough money to be able to support myself and my family comfortably.

    • Ravion

      Become a robot and move to mars. ouo

  • Sooty Mangabey

    Why can’t we get rid of the electoral college, and why vote at all in the presidential election if the Prez & his VP are not elected directly by the voters?

    • bionelly

      Why can’t we get rid of the electoral college? Inertia, mostly. It really doesn’t make much sense to have it anymore, but it’s hard to get something as big as that changed, especially when whoever is president at the time really has no reason to want it changed, since it worked perfectly well for him, after all.

      Why vote at all? Well, it depends on which state you’re in. If you’re in a deep blue or red state where it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion who will win, then you’re right, it doesn’t make much difference. If you’re in a swing state, though, then there’s the chance that your vote will end up determining what the electoral college does, so it’s still definitely worthwhile (arguably even more worthwhile than it would be if we did get rid of it.)

    • Scott Pedersen

      We can’t get rid of the electoral college because the people who would benefit most from a change to the electoral process are not currently in power and can’t enact any changes, and the people who would be harmed most by a change to the electoral process are those who are currently in power and can prevent any changes. This is the same reason we still have things like Gerrymandering as well.

      Why should you still vote? I don’t know. Patriotism? Individual votes don’t matter much, but they’re one of the few inputs into the system that private citizens have. I’ve heard good arguments for voting for the lesser of two evils between the two major parties, for voting for a protest third candidate, and for not voting at all. Take your pick. But your decision probably shouldn’t be influenced by the existence of the electoral college since the electoral college and the popular vote almost always arrive at the same result (The only exceptions were 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000).

    • John

      This is a great educational series, it explains why the system is so screwed up.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUS9mM8Xbbw&list=PL8BqMvdatmagT8K8Ysr3rrI_l6B9FOSVB

    • ericsp23

      The short answer: its in the Constitution so it won’t go away until the Constitution is amended. There has to be pretty strong, bi-partisan support to amend the Constitution, and one side of the partisan divide is always going to be the beneficiary of the status quo; so any Constitutional amendment on this issue is highly unlikely.
      Interestingly, there is an effort that has been going on in some states called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that might offer a way out of the electoral college without an amendment. The Constitution also allows the states to apportion their electors as they see fit. Most award all electors to the presidential election winner in the statewide election, while a few break it down by House districts. States that have joined the Compact have passed legislation that would make it so that all of their electors would be awarded to the candidate who won the NATIONAL popular vote, regardless of who actually won the statewide election. These laws would go into effect as soon as enough states had passed similar legislation to make up at least the 270 electoral college votes. Last I checked only 10 states and the District of Colombia has joined the Compact for a total 165 electoral college votes.

  • Beebles

    If you are prejudiced, who is it against and why?

    • John

      Not a direct answer but if you guys want to figure out who you are prejudiced against, you can take some of these tests: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

    • Lontar

      Christians. Hear me out: I grew up as a Christian and had a very bad experience. I grew to resent the church and the requirements of biblical living. I never felt that I had a personal relationship with God and chose to leave the church and my faith as soon as I moved out of the house. Older and wiser, I still have a general negative view of the faith. Older and wiser still, I’ve come to realize that I treat many of respectable Christians poorly outright, and it’s become a situation of hating the forest because of a few bad trees. While I have no desire to rejoin the faith, I’m aware that my harsh judgments are unfair and damage many of my interactions. I’ve improved greatly in being less severe with my opinions, but I still have a long way to go.

      I’m prejudiced in a lot of ways. Most of it is traceable to society in general, and the significance of imprinted beliefs on a young malleable mind. I try to stay free of judgement through education and open-mindedness. For example I was taught or shown certain gender roles growing up which I now see are outdated and in need of adjustment. People are not raised in ideal environments, but their environments become the normal center. Anything too right or left of center is seen as too abnormal and (at least for me) feels wrong on some gut level. I can reason downward with the higher-thinking parts of my brain and adjust my behavior but my initial gut reactions tend to be much more stubborn.

  • Michelle Gay

    Do you think personality is coded in your genetics or that it is completely a product of your personal experiences throughout your life? Obviously your experiences shape your personality but does your REAL personality dictate the kind of personality that will develop based on your experiences…? Ive never been able to articulate this question well…

    • Oh, personality is pretty much set when his DNA data blends with her DNA data at conception and the program is powered up. Too many kids that are just like their parents/grandparents. My father, my brother and my daughter are peas in a pod.

      • C KARTIK

        I developed several traits because of some bitter experiences.
        I can say the same thing about my brother. Notwithstanding some positive traits handed down such as love of food,affection towards animals and a tendency to laugh at myself,there’s not much common going between those DNA strands.

    • Andreas

      Your personality is made up by your life experience and by society. The structure of the brain relates to various psychological processes and behaviors. Different processess of information means different brain structure, and that’s make different personality.

      The DNA stores biological information, about how to synthesize protein. It affects your biological appearance and instinct.

    • Walter Adams

      Take a look at MBTI. I know, I know, scholars will say this way of personality typing is not scientifically based but that is just the narrow-minded scholarly point of view. For people living in the real world, it is a reasonably accurate measure of part of your personality (not all of it). Do some research on it and judge for yourself.

      Taking MBTI profiles into account and from personal experience in myself and several people in my surroundings, I notice the personality they develop in later life was definitely present already at a young age. Sure, we are shaped by events in our life and tragic events can have powerful impacts tweaking or distorting how personality is filled-in but I believe the fundamentals programmed at birth remain in place. There are simply different interpretations of the same personality traits making people seem very different on the surface.

      Is this coded in our DNA or simply developed at random in the developing foetus brain? Don’t know but it makes sense DNA is not merely the coding of proteins. Everything which is instinct and the fact that horses and some other animals can walk mere hours after birth is not due to protein coding. It is simply a part of our DNA coding basic operating system functions. It’s most likely part of what traditional science call “junk DNA” because they can’t find any protein coding in it. It covers 98% of the human genome. Why does nobody (besides WBW readers :-)) ever ask these questions?

    • Anu

      Over the last little while I’ve been toying with this question. If my personality/who I am is the product of my experiences and interactions, and I are able to recognize that some of my traits are results of an experience, why can’t I decide on a train I want to see in myself and expose myself to the needed opportunities to get me there (excuse the run on)? Its kind of a ‘fake it till you make it’ thing. You can assume habits that reflect what you want to see in yourself. Although these actions will start off seeming forced, they’ll eventually become habits, and that will eventually become you. A book I can’t recall the name of said something along the lines of “we are all whoever we’re pretending to be” and I haven’t been able to get that thought out of my mind.

      On the contrary, I understand what you mean by “real personality”. Loosely linking your question back to some sciencey stuff, theres a theory called the ‘observer effect’ which pretty much states that the act of observing an event/process/phenomenon changes its outcome. This could especially be applicable to your question because actively contemplating who you are/what you’re becoming inevitably causes you to make changes, which may deviate from this ‘real you’ that could have existed on her own.

      • Anu

        And then we have determinism which is another topic on its own.. haha

      • Michelle Gay

        I love that quote but it also makes me think of more questions… Do we pretend to be who we want to be because we recognise that who we really are inside isn’t how we want people to perceive us… Is it admirable to accept who we truly are and stop pretending? Probably not if you recognise your flaws and actively work to improve yourself…

        • Anu

          How I see it, self improvement is the admirable trait. Whether it be in terms of personality, fitness, knowledge. Being content with your state of being means you’ve ceased to grow. This is a personal opinion.

          And I also wouldn’t call what is in question of change a ‘flaw’ per say. For example, I have been an introvert for much of my life. I would shy away from social situations, and have the toughest time during presentations. After one particularly traumatizing experience I decided this was a trait that was holding me back and something needed to change. I ‘pretended’ to be more of an extrovert by forcing myself into brutally uncomfortable situations. I began conversations with strangers on the bus, went on blind dates, and ran for the student body (which involved a public speech). It all seemed like I was faking it, and it was reversed but eventually I became great at all of the above. I’m a great public speaker and can talk my way through most situations.

      • Anubis M

        And then theres determinism, but thats an entirely different conversation

    • Bindle

      We are, in fact, many people. In psychology, the term is a role https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role, and it can clearly be seen in that we are children to our parents, parents to our children, subservient to our bosses, dominant over our employees, students to our teachers, teachers to our students, etc. Each of these roles has distinctive behavioural patterns associated with them. You could not imagine disciplining your parents as you would your children, for example.

      The famous Zimbardo experiment at Stanford and the Milgram experiment
      at Yale are instructive here. (Many/most of you are no doubt aware of these
      studies.) Rather than my clumsy descriptions, these come from those Wiki
      entries.

      Zimbardo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment “The experiment is a classic study on the psychology of imprisonment[3] and is a topic covered in most introductory psychology textbooks.[4]

      “Twenty-four male students were selected, from an initial pool of seventy-five, to adopt randomly assigned roles of prisoner and guard, in a mock prison, situated in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department building, for a period of between seven and fourteen days. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo’s expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment
      even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to
      continue.”

      Milgram: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment “Three individuals were involved: the one running the experiment, the subject of the experiment (a volunteer), and a confederate pretendingto be a volunteer. These three people fill three distinct roles: the Experimenter (an authoritative role), the Teacher (a role intended to obey the orders of the Experimenter), and the Learner (the recipient of stimulus from the Teacher). The subject and the actor both drew slips of paper to determine their roles, but unknown to the subject, both slips said “teacher”. The actor would always claim to have drawn the slip that read “learner”, thus guaranteeing that the subject would always be the “teacher”. At this point, the “teacher” and “learner” were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.[1]
      . . .”

      “After a number of voltage-level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, all responses by the learner would cease.[1]

      At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.[1]”

      So . . . in Zimbardo presumably normal, average college students played the roles they perceived went with their status, guards and prisoners. In Milgram, presumably normal, average people suppressed whatever moral qualms they had in the face of an authority figure, their ‘boss.’ (I’ve heard somewhere that about two thirds of the original Milgram subjects delivered near-lethal doses and, depressingly, modern reruns reach three quarters. So far as I know, the Zimbardo experiment has never been rerun, for perhaps obvious reasons.)

      In this version of human psychology, we are to some/a large extent what we believe others expect us to be. Here’s a little thought experiment: imagine one of those (legendary) feral children, like Romulus and Remus, raised by wolves until, say, adolescence. Who would the ‘be?’ Would they even be human in any way other than biological? How important is culture in defining human/human psychology/personality? Would they drool at a picture of a Big Mac?

      Personality is not only nature plus nurture, it’s also how you perceive your role to be at any given moment.

  • MamaSass

    If you could pick any famous author to write your life story, who would you choose?

    • wousjee

      Patrick Rothfuss or Neil Gaiman

    • C KARTIK

      Robert Ludlum.

    • Per Wallin

      Neal Stephenson

    • Simon Bækkegaard

      Andy Weir

    • John

      Stephen King 🙂

    • Tom Dobbels

      Charles Bukowkski

    • MamaSass

      It’d be a toss up for Charles Dickens or Nabokov for the trade paperback version or Sidney Sheldon for the fun, mass market.

    • marisheba

      Jane Austin (assuming we can pick someone not living). Not only ins she a great writer, but she’d find all of the humor. Seems important in a biography.

    • JunoEven

      Douglas Adams

  • Scott Pedersen

    Have you seen the fnords? What have you done to immanentize the eschaton?

  • Rachel

    How was your childhood?

    • Brian Scaramella

      Quite uneventful, I feel. I had/have great parents, a great school, etc.
      I was always busy with chess events that my mom would spend all day at with me, and a variety of sports my parents wanted me to play. I dreaded having to go to sports practices or anything that would tear me away from the nintendo games I would play all of the time. To this day I still don’t enjoy playing baseball as much, because I was never the best on the team. I saw family once or twice a year, for Christmas or Easter. I had no childhood romances, and most friends I made in grades 1-3 I had for a while, until I switched to a private school and grew apart from some of them. There were a few things I’d never done but I felt everyone had done: camping, fishing, riding atv’s.

      My most vivid memory from my childhood is waking up in my parent’s bed and watching as they moved around and got ready, wiggling my first loose tooth until it fell out much to my surprise.

    • jfenbauer

      like everyone else: i thought it was normal.
      till i started comparing notes.

  • Andreas

    Why so serious?

  • bwouns

    Why do cats like to384′[okfrrswwqz walk across keyboards?

    • Philippa Mandeno

      Probably because they want your attention, and they can’t sfsdyfguhoigdjastand that something else is getting your unconditional attention as they should be. Also computers are warm. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • jfenbauer

      because cats.

      i’m trying to answer quopopouagfass fdq quickly awwl./.l,kjhnnnm’pil but that didn’t jljo;iyh work

  • Philippa Mandeno

    What kind of death do you want? A long-time-coming peaceful one, surrounded by loving friends and family? Or an epic one that is unexpected and outrageous that everyone will be talking about in years to come?

    • Roshni Devi

      Not a big fan of the death thing, but if i had a choice, it’d rather be a glorious one with lots of drama, action, and stories that generations to come can mythologize on. And my organs should be donated for good too after all the fanfare

      • Joe

        One problem is, that a glorious dead actually means, that in most of this scenarios, which one could call “glorious”, you wouldn’t match the requirements of a donation. (A glorious dead controverts a situation, in which you lie in a hospital connected to a life support machine. But maybe it’s just one of these problems, Future-Roshni and his mankind-fellows should solve. ;))

    • Romesh Srivastava

      I would die by falling into a black hole.
      Sure, I’ll be ripped apart by the tidal forces and people won’t be talking about it for years. But if I choose a large enough one, I’ll survive just long enough to watch the awesome curvature of space!

    • Joe A Jordan

      Well the first thing is I don’t want any kind of death but it will eventually happen. I don’t care about my legacy after death. It doesn’t matter because I will be dead.

    • C KARTIK

      Quick and painless!!!Preferably,in my sleep.
      What kind of death would I not want?
      A.Being mangled alive underneath the tyres of a truck,something I dread everyday while I drive my motorcycle to work.

    • Kate

      Ahh something tragic and epic, like when jumping off a cliff… with only one condition – the death has to be instantaneous! No ending up in hospital all mangled but breathing!

    • gatorallin

      No death at all, thanks. I plan to live forever… so far, so good. but if I had to pick, then a long-time-coming peaceful one, surrounded by loving friends and family.

  • Joe

    For what reason will mankind’s life on earth finally come to an end? (Because of an actual fault or becauce of an unavoidable catastrophe?)

    • Rebecca George

      Mankind’s selfishness will be it’s doom. We all live (well, the privileged lot of us, at least) in a bubble of falsely perceived comfort and debt that we try to ignore but spend our entire lives trying to pay off; we don’t call our parents nearly enough let alone make time to go visit them; we think posting pictures of our “perfect” lives on social media correlates with actually enjoying our life; we complain about technology not working in our favor every once in a while when most of us don’t even understand how our devices function! We are not just selfish, we’re also quite stupid. We honor presidential candidates who speak about “Making America great again” but show no humanity when little dead babies are found washed up on shore. Our selfishness and ignorance will lead to pain, anger, drought and famine which will in turn lead to war- which will only conclude with the end of human life on this planet.
      Call me a pessimist- but I’m not. I’m a realist. The way things are going, not much hope is left.

    • gatorallin

      Reason: It will be the natural lifecycle of a class G2V type star as our Sun is…..which lasts about 10 billion years total (we are only 4.6B/10B), but note it heats up or gets brighter by about 10% every billion years as the energy/mass is lost in fuel burning this then allows it to expand with less mass to hold it compressed. Anyhow in about 500 million years from now Earthlings use technology to create a special space shield that is placed far out in orbit as a heat deflector to reduce this effect (normally the increase in heat will boil off all your oceans at this time killing off every living thing on the planet). This works for a while (and sends back unlimited energy to the earth in the form of redirected sunlight energy), but most Earthlings leave for the many starships that orbit the Oort cloud and mine them for gravity free resources. Final exodus occurs at the 6.1 billion year mark with a few holdouts and extremists. A core of evolvists (humans known to evolve their DNA and merge with extremophiles) do successfully convert their DNA to allow for extreme heat conditions and most tunnel deep in the earth to escape the changing heatwaves, but a strange series of solar flares create some horrific and unexpected CME’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection that destroy what is left of the atmosphere and the last of the humans die off on 6,122,718,423th day. (assuming you don’t count really count “mankind” as when the last human did morph with dna modification into being an extremophile).

  • Roshni Devi

    What’s the highest level of idealism (near-perfect-ness) that a society can aspire to be? Are there any that exist?

    • Joe

      Idealism and perfectness are concepts, which have to be filled with politics and values. For example, one can argue, Germany 1933 – 1945 achieved a really high level of idealism – but in a way, we would never see as idealistic.

      Beside that I’m quite sure, idealism is only practicable in really small societys. But on that level there are actually a lot of examples.

      • Roshni Devi

        Hmm, so what are the small-level examples?

  • Rimi Jain

    Who or what has been the biggest source of inspiration in your life? It can be anybody, a family member, Albert Einstein or even Hachiko; or anything.

    • Romesh Srivastava

      Feynman without hesitation..

    • Probably A. C. Grayling.

  • Ben Heckler

    Which country/culture have you most connected with and why? Presumably you’ve traveled a bit to answer this question.

    • C KARTIK

      Canada.Liberty,Tolerance,Friendliness in general.Awesome weather.Good opportunities.And I’ve traveled across W.Europe.the UK and the US.

  • Joe A Jordan

    I am very open minded to ideas but also very skeptical about the extraordinary claims made by conspiracy fanatics that claim they know the real truth and have no evidence other than what they make up. What I want is just an answer from NASA and if they don’t know ,at least be honest enough to admit they are as stumped as the rest of us. What they have no explanation for is met with silence . And that bothers me. That being said, I asked NASA a few times what do they think this object is . No answer. Do you think Is it unreasonable to ask NASA about this image ? What do you think this is and why does NASA refuse to say anything?

    • jfenbauer

      scale is a weird thing. i would say dust storm but i have no idea if there’s wind. left over volcanic ash/cone/bubble?

    • jfenbauer

      find a specific person at NASA to ask. or ask someone at Goddard, or Livermore. someone who reads all the lit on Spirit

    • marisheba

      Did you post a photo? I can’t see it. I’m curious now!

    • gatorallin

      Strange stuff on Mars or the Moon…. its a rock. yes, just a weird rock. Out of billions and billions of random rocks, some are just going to look weird. Our brain is desperately using pattern recognition to come up with some earth like or human like form to compare to and then jump to a possible conclusion.

      No, just kidding, it is a hunting blind…you can clearly see it is a camo like drape to hide behind and then pop out and yell…”surprise!” and snatch up those silly drones we keep sending and saying we lost half of them. https://batdoc.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/mars-rover-aliens.jpg

      ….but seriously, I liked jfenbauer’s suggestion below to find a specific person at NASA to ask. They must get thousands of silly emails per day from good folks like yourself to the general email pile with real/honest questions and then have a hard time differentiating the kook emails and most of those emails are never seen or taken seriously.

      Keep in mind that heat and light can play tricks on cameras… and is likely just a volcanic rock or some weird meteorite (i do admit that object looks very strange and could lead to a cool discovery).

      Please post up when/if you get any reply and what it turns out to be!!!

    • Ricardo

      Not really related to this specific photo, but I believe that, if NASA eventually finds any evidence (not proof, evidence) of other life forms, they would not show it to the public at first. They would study it A LOT until they could have a definite conclusion about it, and then (maybe) show it to the public

  • pomegranates

    Scandinavia seems rather utopic. Is it actually? What are some bad things about Scandinavia?

    • punction
    • marisheba

      I’ve talked to Americans that have moved to Denmark. Overall they like it better in Denmark, but there are still downsides of course. They feel like Denmark is more conformist. And though life is simpler, fairer and easier there (it really is), there’s also more sameness and complacency, less of a sense of entrepreneurial spirit and spitfire. They missed that.

      • pomegranates

        haha, your description of Denmark sounds nice! I like simple, fair and easy. I don’t mind conformist.

    • Life is simpler with more safety nets and the feeling that your always taken cared of. Free education, healthcare are two of the biggest things. Bad things are weather and a growing nationalist party.

      As for the missing “entrepreneurial spirit” mentioned about Denmark, Stockholm is booooming with start-ups now (mixed feelings about that tho!)

  • pomegranates

    how does one become an environmental activist, or get a career related to this?

    • Thecaptainzap

      Degree in environmental science and then on to law school. There are schools that have specialties in environmental law

    • gatorallin

      …………..work one week on a whaling ship. Learn what/how the enemy thinks from the inside out. Test your convictions, walk a mile in their shoes. Find a new way to feed their family…..give them an out to change or consider your way of thinking…. make it a win/win, vs. I am right, you are wrong and must change. All you need is passion (the rest will take care of itself).

  • pomegranates

    What would you advise a current 17-year-old to spend his/her time doing?

    • jfenbauer

      learn a trade. i wish i had. you get to make stuff and you have a back up plan if the Medieval Linguistics and Critical Thinking Phd doesn’t work out as anticipated. i’m not saying don’t do the Phd, deffo do it, i’m saying have a back up.

    • Kate

      Travel, travel, travel. See the world. Go on a backpacking trip through Africa, then Europe, then the Americas, then Russia, then Australia… just keep travelling and experiencing different cultures and people.

      • pomegranates

        I’ve been thinking about doing this, but my utmost concern (and hence obstacle) is my safety. What if I get kidnapped/murdered/etc. How can i go about my safety fears?

        • punction

          Use Tripadvisor to do your research. Learn basic phrases. Don’t go alone or carry all your money on you. Read all the reviews (all of them).

        • marisheba

          So long as you avoid the most dangerous countries and use common sense, your chances of being kidnapped or murdered are extraordinarily low – no higher than they are living your normal life at home. Read up on the statistics, and there are lots of good resources for people traveling alone, and particularly women traveling alone (even if you’re not a woman, most of the advice will still apply). If you know people who have traveled, talk to them. Read travel blogs.

          That said, if you’re truly scared, you may not have that much fun. If it’s a matter of getting over a little hump of fear, then go for it! If it’s a matter of pretty deep-seated fear, then figure out something else adventurous and fun, and maybe travel will be more right for you later.

        • Kate

          As Marisheba says, if you avoid the dangerous countries and use common sense, you’ll be fine. Travel with a friend if possible. Ask around for a contact in the country you’re visiting, speak to people who have been there and do read reviews. Also use trusted companies for everything you require. If you like travelling, this will be really fun!!

        • JunoEven

          We fear what we don’t know – the world is much less dangerous than you think it is ; )

          I currently live in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), and feel it’s MUCH safer than a comparable large city in the US. Same thing for Seoul, South Korea — I lived there for three years, and felt perfectly safe walking on the street at midnight.

          • pomegranates

            Ah yes. I’ve heard people said that the media makes the world seem like a dangerous place, when actually it isn’t.

            But how would you actually know that the world (the entire world) isn’t that dangerous…?

            • JunoEven

              Of course, some places are extremely dangerous! You could probably time your life expectancy with a stopwatch while walking through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or parts of Syria.

              Generally, the safeness of a place goes hand in hand with the prosperity of a place — I wouldn’t think twice of visiting the top 50 countries by gdp, with the possible exception of equatorial guinea. However, I’d only visit the bottom 20 if I were in some type of guided tour in a controlled environment.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    • gatorallin

      ………..figure out what you are passionate about and why…. then do more of that with a purpose (and option to make that a career vs. just a fun hobby). Surround yourself with those that you admire and respect and want to emulate. Never stop learning… show up… put in the work….. never stop asking why? Offer to be an intern at as many places where the work they do will change your world or that you are passionate about. (and stop texting or being on your phone for any reason when driving).

    • Margling53

      Take a couple years to do some reading and learning about your own history and culture as well as that of other cultures, preferably in college classes. Learn at least one language besides your own. Then take a job doing some difficult physical work for a year or two. By this time, you should be at least 21. Then and only then would you be ready to venture out into the world of travel to different cultures or to foreign contries with enough moxie to learn something and keep yourself out of trouble.

      • pomegranates

        I’m reading up and learning about other cultures right now! Why the advice with physical work (can you give me some examples)? Thanks for your advice!

    • JunoEven

      Life is not a race — don’t feel like you NEED to graduate college by age 22, or NEED to be on a career track by the age of 25. In fact, if at all possible, take a gap year after high school, and another one after college to travel abroad (I’d recommend WWOOF-ing) and observe how people in different cultures experience life.

      • pomegranates

        Thanks for the advice! Also thanks for introducing me to WWOOF, i just googled it and it seems interesting and I’ll look into it further.

        Many people give advice that we should travel around when we are young, but how can I go about funding my trips abroad?

  • pomegranates

    How does one get over terrible past experiences (memories)?

    • Eric

      Time and a strong support system

    • Karen Edgerton

      Understanding why something happened can help a lot. People act according to their own agenda. Most of the painful things inflicted on us have nothing to do with us. They are because of the other person’s pain. Realizing it is not our fault, we are not to blame, because it was all about the other person hurts more at first because we feel so unimportant and in pain. But with time and work to be stronger ourselves, the event(s) become a part of our past and a tool to better understand the world.

    • Ksenia Kolchina

      The memories of our past experiences are a slippery slope. Not only they change and transform over time, but so does their significance and meaning. I’ve had a very traumatic experience when I was at uni, and just recently, 10 years after that incident, took a course in neurobiology that shed some light on how those kind of memories form and what to expect next. Understanding of how our brain, and specifically memory, operates, and how exactly it might affect future decisions and behaviour was a huge step for me in dealing with those memories. And the key is not to forget at all – but to understand and crack that mystery open

    • Onoola

      Neuro-linguistic programming might help. There are some techniques wich help change the perception of memories, especially traumatic ones. From the wikipedia page:
      “VK/D stands for ‘Visual/Kinesthetic Dissociation’. This is a technique designed to eliminate bad feelings associated with past events by re-running (like a film, sometimes in reverse) an associated memory in a dissociated state.”
      The memories still exist, but they don’t hurt as much.

    • marisheba

      If the memories actually haunt you – replay in your mind, especially at unwelcome moments, and you can’t get past them, you might seek out EMDR, which has an excellent clinical track record of helping people get past traumatic memories. I have a good friend that was greatly helped by it. Look it up: in addition to being effective, it’s really fascinating.

    • gatorallin

      Ironically we are attracted most by the people that can heal us (unfortunately these same people then can be the ones most likely to wound us again in the same ways). Create a safe environment with love and trust and then carefully (with the help of a professional) take control of what damaged you in the past and learn new ways to understand your feelings. Learn the power of forgiveness (not to let the past steal your future from you with anger or hate) is really for yourself and nothing to do with the offender. Retrain your brain to think of these past negative experiences as an oppourtunity in disguise to test and strengthen you to be so much more than you would have been otherwise. Learn to see yourself differently and view your future from the positive side of life.

    • jonathan

      The way I got over mine was by talking… a lot… to someone who was trained to listen and give real advice. I highly suggest finding a trusted professional counselor. Emotional trauma is easier to overcome when you have someone to share it with who knows what they’re doing. Friends, family, books and internet sites can help a lot… but one on one therapy is by far the most effective thing I’ve ever found.

      I’m sorry for your terrible experiences… you’re not alone… that’s why counselors exist! Be well pomegranates.

  • pomegranates

    Do you think human nature is inherently good or bad? At the core, are people kind-hearted or selfish?

    In our lives, should we veer more towards selflessness and altruism, or competition? Because there are people who say “It’s a tough world out there, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, don’t be afraid to step on others. This is human nature.”… What do you think? Or is altruism and competition even mutually exclusive?

    • There’s no such thing as “good” and “bad”. There are actions and consequences. And in every action there are good and bad consequences. Humans try to do what we think is best for 1) ourselves and our close relatives, 2) our group/nation, 3) our race, etc. By doing so, they cause consequences for others. I myself think that selflessness has ultimately better consequences for individuals, humans and life in general, so I’d strive for that.

      • marisheba

        There IS such a thing as empathy though. Some people clearly have it in larger doses, or are willing to apply it to a broader swath of humanity, than others.

        I certainly think that all people have the capacity for both great benevolence and great harm, in the right circumstances, but different people have more greater and less propensities to each.

        • gatorallin

          ..but is that empathy built in, or learned? (nature or nurture?) My guess is both.

          • marisheba

            I agree, I believe it’s both.

          • JaapVerlinde

            It’s definitely both. There is a lot of evidence for this.

    • Michelle Gay

      Hmmm 😀 I think that feelings of love and friendship and companionship show that humans have evolved to live in close small communities and that wouldn’t work if everyone was secretly trying to manipulate and take advantage of others. Most people easily do the right thing by those people they care about, not just because it is good for us but because we care about their happiness also.

      A lot of distinct human groups with very different cultures and beliefs and histories came together and started living in MASSIVE societies in a really short time, in evolutionary scale…. we are probably inherently suspicious and “territorial” towards people that are very unfamiliar… maybe that helped us prosper as a dominant species… but we know better now so it isn’t acceptable and slowly people are becoming more tolerant of people who are “different”. I think we are good, that behaving altruistically in small groups definitely helped us to prosper and that we can learn to do it on a more global scale 🙂

    • JaapVerlinde

      Definitely both. It is absurd to pose this question as either/or, and I honestly don’t understand why people keep insisting asking it this way. People have evolved in environments that have both shaped our capacity for cooperation and altruism, and our capacity for rape and murder. We have both in us.

      Of course the question ‘what is human nature’ (scientific question) is very different from how should we live our lives (ethical question). I have no specific recommendations for the second, except don’t be an asshole and put yourself in others’ shoes before you do things.

    • JunoEven

      Both — I think that nature and nurture combine to ‘hard wire’ people in a myriad of combinations. Some people seem to be, as a default, more community-minded and altruistic than others. I’ve also known some small children who seem to have been ‘born bad’, even though they had good-natured parents and grew up in a loving, nurturing environment.

  • Karen Edgerton

    Why is money the most important value our world has?

    • asdf

      By definition, money is important. It is by definition the most versatile substance there is. You can use it do have or do just about anything. If you can’t do that, you can give it to someone who will then do the desired thing in time. What’s not to like?

      Favorite subreddit?

      • Karen Edgerton

        But WE are the ones who decided it was important enough to control the world over. That wars are fought over it. People kill and die for it. Life appears to revolve around having lots of it. That we can be punished if we don’t have enough. That some are ‘so special’ they get to have tons of it and too many are not ‘good’ enough to have what they need.
        That’s what not to like.

    • punction

      It’s the quickest way to satisfy your immediate desires.

    • Daniel VF

      I’d say that part of the answer lies in the “substitution problem” that Daniel Kahneman talks about in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. As I’ve understood it (and this is a BIG caveat), what happens is that when confronted with a difficult/uncomfortable question you substitute it for an easier one. E.g. “Who is the best person for this job?” becomes “Who is the person most like myself.”

      I think that since the importance of the other values that we face are far more difficult to acertain than the amount of money any particular action brings, we change the concept of realtive importance into how relative monetary value. In no way does how much money equal the question of what is most important, but it’s a much, much easier question to respond to.

      My 2 cents… I don’t think for a second that this would be the only reason but maybe it is part of it.

    • marisheba

      For most people, money is survival. Makes sense why it’s so important to the majority. Beyond a certain level, money is power, and seeking power is coded into our DNA well enough that it is THE major driver for a subset of people – this is what runs politics and the economy in such destructive ways (in the US anyway).

    • DLJewett

      Money when used to “buy” is actually a means to control someone else’s behavior. A five-dollar bill says “Please let me take this box of breakfast food, and don’t call security”. A big bank account lets you say “build me a house on this empty lot that I own”. When you see it this way, it is easy to understand that we all want “money”. What is it like to be without money? Look at the homeless.
      HOWEVER, there are some things that are worth more than money— “priceless”. The hug of your child, the warmth of a lover, the inspiration of a lecture or book. You can’t buy these. You have to find other ways to get them. If money helps you to get them, you may be disappointed, or not feel them “genuine”.

    • gatorallin

      its not… love is the most important world value.

    • JunoEven

      Money is potential energy.

  • Edgard

    Capitalism + Technology => Eternity or Doom?

    • Exorack

      Eternal doom.

    • DLJewett

      Alas, you haven’t specified enough to allow an answer. “Eternity” is “forever” which is “infinity”. It is not for this world. If your question asks about Capitalism and Technology GIVEN A FINITE WORLD AND A CONTINUOUSLY GROWING POPULATION the answer is Doom. If you postulate a society that has solved the Tragedy of the Commons, then it might succeed. But not having solve TOTC and because the OIL is running out, and because those that own the oil lower the price to PREVENT development of alternatives, you very definitely have a doom since we run out of easy energy as the population increase takes remaining resources and pollutes remaining commons (such as air, water, land). Sorry.

    • gatorallin

      I see at first that there is a divide… the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the same is true regarding education, oppourtunity, etc. For the middle class and up, Eternity… for Most of the lower class a downward spiral of negative locked in doom. Until the creation of unlimited energy that leads to unlimited resources for everyone (a few of the mega wealthy started off by Bill Gates and Buffet and Google founders and Zuckerbergs and hundreds like them pool their resources to bypass corrupt governments and become the true robin hoods of the future). A future chip is implanted in all humans in the future that controls childbirth so that no child is born without proper planning and care, this limits overpopulation, but every child grows up with unconditional love and a real future. Then Eternity for all.

  • ericsp23

    If you were to emigrate to another country, which one would it be and why?

    I’ve always thought New Zealand would be an ideal place to live. It is an English speaking country, so there would be no language gap to overcome. It would also be a good fit for me politically. I’ve heard the climate is very nice and the landscape is beautiful from what pictures I’ve seen. It just sounds like such an idyllic place to me. It seems like it would be pretty safe from a geopolitical perspective as well; it isn’t really in a strategic location, and it doesn’t provide the kind of high visibility targets that terrorists are looking for.
    The only downsides I can think of are that earthquakes are a real concern (I seem to recall there was a big one there recently), and that my family would be on the other side of the world from me.

    • Kate

      In my head, I’d want Italy. It was absolutely beautiful when i was there. But i was also racially discriminated against… so maybe not.

    • pomegranates

      Yes, the climate and landscape and scenery make New Zealand seem like such an idyllic place to live in!!!

    • Garth Peterson

      I moved to NZ last year and it is a great place to live but no place will be a utopia, and NZ has some problems like anywhere else. I live in Christchurch (the city that had the earthquakes) and they are still rebuilding after two strong earthquakes struck within a year and a half of each other. The rebuild has been slow (less than a block from where I work there is still a pile of stone rubble where a church used to be as it is stuck in legal limbo like many properties around the city), but new buildings are finally being built. The changes in the year I’ve been here have been huge. I’m a 5 minute drive to the Port Hills with hiking overlooking the city and the ocean. Also 5 minutes from the beach and surfing. An hour west is the Southern Alps with tons of stuff, hiking, camping, kayaking, off piste skiing. The people are friendly and trusting.

      • pomegranates

        So do you think that despite the earthquakes, it’s worth living in New Zealand?

        • Garth Peterson

          Yes, without hesitation. No matter where you live there is some threat of natural or manmade disaster.

    • JunoEven

      South Korea (specifically, Jeju Island) — good climate, good food, and my wife is from there.

  • What kind of future would you strive for?

    • Exorack

      One where people would stop asking ridiculous questions. just kidding, its a future where people would no longer care about people who don’t care about those people who care.

    • gatorallin

      A future where we as humans are all on the same team. One that combines its resources not for military might, but to fight the common challenges of hunger, disease, poverty, etc.

    • Ravion

      For the World: A world where everyone tries to afford others understanding, even when they’re not on your side.

      For Me: Becoming a robot and chilling out on mars playing video games. ^^

  • Kate

    If God (if you believe in him) could answer you one question today, what would you ask?

    • Michel Kangro

      How do I cure my wifes disease?

      • jonathan

        My sympathies Michel Kangro.

      • gatorallin

        Hope this question was just an example and not real, but if it was real, I could not help but suggesting this…. use the power of the internet to solve it for you, both with costs and answers. Get the money to pay for treatment here https://www.indiegogo.com/ then learn from this guy that is trying out the idea to open source a disease. http://blog.ted.com/why-i-opensourced-cures-for-my-cancer-salvatore-iaconesi-at-tedglobal-2013/

        • Michel Kangro

          Unfortunatly the question was real and where there a god and would I be granted a question to ask him, this would be it.

          Thanks for your answers and suggestions. We do have enough financial aid and have a very good health insurance, for which I do thank my financial helpers. There are still ailments that aren’t easily cured, though, and while good doctors do whatever they can, we are far from through with it and may never see a full recovery.

          Again, thanks for your compassion.

          • Kate

            My very deepest sympathies Michel Kangro. I hope and pray you get all the help you need.

    • gatorallin

      Please explain how an all powerful god can allow extreme human suffering (Holocaust), is this some excuse for the evils of mankind or the cost of free will? When or how will you (God) apologize?

      • Anthony Churko

        I think you’re violating the spirit of the topic (either ask one question or answer one question) by answering every single question.

        • gatorallin

          Sorry, I did not realize the idea was to ask 1 question and then answer only 1 question. I was thinking this was a normal style blog where the basic idea was to get involved and spark debate and provide real feedback as much as possible when you had something to say… My error!

    • gthog61

      How do you keep from getting bored, what with knowing everything already?

  • Annie

    What is your favorite color?

    • Balaji

      Blue

    • Michelle Gay

      yellow 🙂

    • gatorallin

      polka dot with orange and blue colors that move on their own as an optical illusion. Kinda like this http://i.ytimg.com/vi/J4fJxavHRAA/maxresdefault.jpg

    • Ravion

      Black… I’m boring o.o

    • Cate

      Orange

    • JunoEven

      Green… ish….

  • Exorack

    Why am i asking this question?

    • Orkhan Jafarov

      So that I can answer it.

    • gatorallin

      …..because.

    • Burleigh Charlton

      And thus is the struggle of humanity.

    • JunoEven

      For attention.

  • Orkhan Jafarov

    How do you, as a reader, imagine the future of this website and community?

    • punction

      I think it’ll get much, much bigger as more people learn about it, and content will change to accommodate that new scale. That would make me happy, but I’d probably miss feeling like I can always talk to you all and Tim personally.

      I’m not worried about Tim’s voice changing, though. A real person is writing these things, and a real person is speaking to us.

    • gatorallin

      1) It starts off small with a core group of passionate and like minded nerds with a love of science and space and all things worth discussing after watching old Star Trek reruns.

      2) It grows surprisingly quick, special thanks to a few superstars of the tech community who get involved (Musk, etc).

      3) It adds a weekly podcast to broaden the listening audience and allow more detail (longer posts) to be discussed on your ride home from work.

      4) It adds a low budget documentary film crew to do small weekly video-casts next and end up shooting a pilot for a weekly TV show that plays just behind the Neil deGrasse Tyson or Brian Cox timeslots. A bidding war ensues and ends up on the http://www.sciencechannel.com/ as a huge sucess.

      5) Patreon supporters are invited to meet yearly at the founders picnic and turns into a cross between comic-con and burning man. Why this is relevant is that at one of the events, the subject of who is going to Mars is discussed and from that comes one of the first 4 astronauts chosen to go to Mars (otherwise she would have never gotten interested in Mars had it not been for the post). They do daily posts to the WBW readership and grows the following 10 fold. Six years almost to the day the cure for cancer is found and credit for the discovery is traced back to an earlier podcast (started off as a funny topic of why can’t we cure cancer yet, “where is the money from Jerry’s Kids really going?”) to a crowd source testing method for new cancer drugs that jump starts new research that unlocks the discovery.

      6). An oddball email comes into Tim from as New fan of the WBW subscriber list that claims they have a real time machine. The important detail is that this time machine can only go forward and not back in time and this person was from the past. In an effort to catch up and understand all the new things in the current timeline, they became interested in WBW. Tim in an effort to stay transparent with the readership and also in a way to flush out possible scientific hoaxes ends up baiting this reader into proving if the time machine is real or not. The reader calls his bluff and instead of setting it ahead for a 2 weeks as planned accidently sets it ahead for 20 years. It turns out to be true and disappears overnight…..with conspiracy theories abounding (somehow David Khari Webber is brought in to be comedic relief on the video-casts and he takes off as the new successful host). 20 years later Tim shows up to the bewilderment of himself and the readership to find out the WBW community is alive and well, but feels there is nothing left on Earth to accomplish and sells his stock in WBW and buys a seat on Musk’s next trip to Mars to be a critical player in the development of the new government and new society being setup on Mars.

      7) I could tell you the rest, but it would just spoil all the real fun that comes next….

  • Balaji

    If you find out a quicker method (in terms of effort required) to achieve one of your dreams which might be immoral but legal, would you still go ahead with the quicker method? Would your decision depend on the % reduction in effort?

    • marisheba

      It would depend on the nature and degree of the immorality. But most likely not. Being able to live with myself is pretty much number 1 on my list of life goals.

    • Kate

      No. No.

  • punction

    How do I build rapport with strangers? I’d love to get better at this as I’m traveling right now.

    • Brigitte

      I guess intuition plays an important part. After observing people for a while, you’ll feel the connection – or not. Try to engage in a neutral but friendly conversation, just chitchat and show genuine interest in the other person, but don’t push to hard. Being kind, spontaneous and having a gentle smile will certainly do more good than harm. Wish you nice travels and meet interesting people 😉

    • gatorallin

      Love to hear for what purpose…? Example, I am traveling and like to be able to chat with strangers on what things to see locally, etc. Answer: Have a go to story. Hi, I am from out of town, but I have a travel blog and would love to find out what the coolest things in town are to do for the 20-30 year old crowd…. This gives you an excuse to walk up to total strangers and have a reason to ask them almost anything and neither side would feel awkward.

    • Jonathan Wells

      Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Cheesy, but kind of true. One of the things that helps me is looking for the similarities rather than differences between people, generally. I also try not to put people into categories, especially not based on outward appearances. If you think about people you would never be friends with, ask yourself, “Why not? Under what circumstances could I become friends with such-and-such a person? What if I was stuck in a lifeboat with this person for two weeks floating on the ocean? How would I begin to get to know them, in order to work together to survive?” Allow yourself to be surprised. Also remember the huge range of human experience, and that each person has a small slice of it. For every most-frightening, most-horrible, most-exciting, most-dangerous, most-hair-raising, most-enlightening, most-romantic, most-fun, most-hilarious, most-profound experience you’ve had, every other person has had their version, and some are way crazier than you can imagine. It takes a long time to cultivate humility and be truly curious about other people. Most people are pretty much only interested in themselves. Keep that in mind, too. Some people won’t be interested in talking to you.

  • DLJewett

    Does the statement “the map is not the territory”, if true, negate Godel and Hofstaedter?

    • wobster109

      To begin with, I’d find it easier to answer questions (in general, not just yours!) if you could give a brief description of phrases that weren’t general knowledge. 🙂

      By “map” and “territory”, you mean belief (predicted outcome) and reality (experimental outcome), right? And I’m guessing Godel/Hofstaedter means Incompleteness Theorem, which says any formal system contains true statements that can’t be proven? (Godel and Hofstaedter said lots of things, and that’s the most famous thing they have in common.) Please respond and correct me if I’ve misunderstood you.

      I don’t think they’re contradictory. For one, experimental observations aren’t formal mathematical systems. It’s accepted knowledge that grass is green, not because we proved mathematically that grass is green, but because we’ve looked at a lot of grass. In contrast, you wouldn’t be able to say that prime numbers are odd even if you looked at a million odd primes!

      Another thing about the “map” is that it’s our internal model of the world. My map is my collection of beliefs, and your map contains all your beliefs, and so they are already flawed and incomplete, but that’s ok! If we remember that they are just maps, we feel more free to change them. Like, if I drew a map of my neighborhood and put the log in the wrong place, the best thing is to change my map, and if I’m stubborn about the map I’ll trip over my log because I’m too busy convincing myself it’s somewhere else. Also like a map, it’s also ok to have things you can’t put on it (incompleteness). For example my neighborhood map is still useful even if I can’t draw my neighbor’s floor plan on it.

  • Adam
    • Julianne

      yeah, and its cool that just a click can amount to something fighting world hunger. 🙂

    • Burleigh Charlton

      No, but I have now.

  • JuliaNP

    What would you do if you achieved your dream but doing it is killing yourself??? like, I just got into med school, I’ve been fighting to get in for 4 years, I dropped 2 universities and moved 4 times to get in better schools and learn enough to get into it. Now that I’m here I got depressed and have no time to spare with things I love (drawing and writing for example) and I feel like I’m killing the person I am to fit into the medicine… any help?

    • gatorallin

      Find a new angle to be both… Medical illustrator.

    • wobster109

      Since you’re just starting, I’d say talk to a mentor-figure in your program. They might be able to point you to resources or time-management strategies or study groups.

      If it keeps on being difficult, then ask yourself why it’s your dream? Perhaps there’s another way to achieve your dream that isn’t med school. If your goal is to help people, there are other ways, such as teaching or nursing (if you want to stick with medicine). If it’s to have a stable future then consider something in tech. And if it’s because your parents told you all your life “we sacrificed so much so you can become a doctor” then throw off your guilty feelings; they may have had a hard time but that’s no reason to make you miserable.

    • JunoEven

      Sounds like you’re having some cognitive dissonance with what your teen-age self thought the dream would be like, and the reality.

      Don’t feel like you need to be locked in to what your 16-year-old self thought would be an ideal life — she certainly didn’t have the knowledge base and wisdom that you have now. If the life of a medical-field practitioner is making you unhappy, and will continue to make you unhappy for the foreseeable future, then by all means change tack!

      “When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?”
      -John Maynard Keynes

  • Romesh Srivastava

    Why would an alien civilization visit the earth?
    I mean, if they are advanced enough to be able to come here ( I’m assuming they are far away) wouldn’t they be able to get the stuff they want from the earth from their own cosmic neighbourhood?
    If they want to communicate, they don’t need to come here.

    I read somewhere that Hawking said that if the cosmic phone rings, we should not pick it up. My question is – Why?

    • Robin DeLisle

      The “Aliens” were here before we were. They are the ones who seeded the planet with the different races, according to geography, and tweaked genetics as needed along the way. They have always been here, working to help us advance a lot faster than we would on our own. Humans, in general, are not that bright, to advance from cassette tape to compact disc seemingly overnight. The advancements between 1895 and now are far beyond the capabilities of humans on their own, so a lot of intervention has been required. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really been for the betterment of humanity, but more of a trade off between the money men and the Aliens in a “we’ll do this for you if you’ll do this for us, and humanity be damned” kind of thing. However, there are more than one race of alien looking out for humanity, so a lot of times the bad guys get thwarted in a lean more to the good, so, you see, the alien wars are taking place right here, on this very planet, and have always been. There are others, light workers, that do their best to protect mankind, from the bad aliens, and from themselves. Man’s own ego and greed is humankind’s worst enemy. There are good aliens helping to keep us from self-destructing, but Free Will is the code of the Universes. They are not to intervene, or ‘stop’ us, but they can negotiate, so we make better choices. That is it in the simplest form. It’s all very complicated. Suffice to say that the Reptilians are the bad guys, and steer clear.

      • Simon Bækkegaard

        supposedly

    • gatorallin

      First of all… Thank You for asking this question… It is one that I think most people have not really thought long enough about (thinking in a logical progression) and of course all of us have (for good or bad) been influenced by Hollyweird movie plots to think some alien will show up to steal my stamp collection (or any resource). Ironic about the logical progression of logic with Hawking as the person who is often being quoted and then the idea of aliens used to create fear, knowing his early work was based on the logical progression back in time to the big bang…(I have to give Hawking a pass, knowing that most of what gets attention for “clickbait” articles is fear based, so anything he says is often taken out of context or at least partially quoted at best)

      The official Hawking quote is, “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” key word here though is IF they did visit us…

      I think it is critical to imagine first what it would take to visit us… so this is simple really… just think logically for what it will take us to go visit any other alien culture as they had to go through the same challenges. Step #1 is we have to advance our technology 10x or 100x what we have now. Simply put we have to unlock almost all of the mysteries of math, physics, space, human dna, etc…part of that is to solve the unlimited free energy problem (cold fusion, or small reactor nuclear fission or great solar power, etc all need to be figured out and assuming Moore’s law is in effect here we will get there eventually and yes, before we run out of fossil fuels). Step #2 start moving off this planet and living in low or no gravity environments on Mars or deep space for extended periods of time so we are forced to fix the problem that space easily kills off carbon based lifeforms. Step #3. Learn to recode our DNA just to deal with radiation and healing… and one more thing… fix aging … yes, live forever.. or darn close to it.. so you can travel anywhere and not die on the way. Let us assume you can’t make any wormholes or you can get even close to 60% the speed of light… we are trapped by time and distance and rules of physics and yes it is a serious problem (arguably the great filter!).

      Anyhow… Yes, we should pick up the Alien phone call…. No it will not be a 2 way conversation, but a signal of some sort that we can start to decode and listen in on. It will likely be only 1 million years old and thus at the speed of light only take 1 million years to get them a reply, thus no 2 way conversation is or will happen.(still enough to change how we think about a lot of important things).

      WE ARE SAFE from alien invasion…. for one simple reason…We have No Resource an advanced alien race would want…. #2 we are of ZERO threat to any other advanced alien race. #3 we are too far away to matter. #4 If you could travel the universe, you already have Unlimited resources. #5 The only thing we have of value is another perspective… another story… they would likely be just as curious as we are and glad we are not alone in this journey of life/evolution/decoding the universe and either play benefactor, god, or just ignore us and leave us alone.

      The good news… no one is going to come get us… The bad news…. no one will come save us or give us the secrets of the Universe. The good news.. we get to figure it all out on our own.. The great news…we can figure it all out on our own if we don’t screw it up on stupid things first with our old lizard brain thinking (easily distracted by religion, politics, or things that make us different vs. unite us).

      I predict that we are not alone, but we are so ridiculously far apart that we will never get that call, but we will send out our own call and it will be every secret to the universe we have ever figured out, to share it with others on what we have found, in hopes it helps out someone, something else out there. We sent it just because we could (if they get the message, but we never confirm anyone did, does it still make a difference? my guess is yes it does matter just like karma matters).

      • Romesh Srivastava

        I kind of thought the same thing but wanted to see if others agree. So I guess that METI – Messaging to ET Intelligence, isn’t a thing because of the ignorance of the society about probability – if aliens are ahead, they’re likely to be far ahead and if behind likely far behind in every field; about the vastness of space – it’s incomprehensibly huge; and the fact that we have nothing special that they might want, other than a specimen of life.

      • Jonathan Wells

        We have no resources an alien race would want? How can we even begin to speculate on that? What if we’re a delicacy to them, that they like nothing better than popping a fresh human in their “mouth” and we’re simply harvested as food? Good enough reason to visit. Would you visit a planet swarming with ice cream cones? Considering the myriad forms of life that developed here on Earth under a certain set of basic conditions, I think we have no idea what type of “life” might be out there. We may already be co-existing with a type of life-form we just haven’t figured out how to communicate with yet. (These are not my official questions, by the way.)

        • gatorallin

          honestly, I think there are lots of ways to speculate and just part of our nature to be insanely curious on all the what if’s.

          I just don’t see any alien species traveling a few hundred thousand years to eat 7 billion ice cream cones. Especially when the odds are more likely that they have a robot chef and 3d food printer that would make up anything they could dream up. (assuming they even need/want to eat after manipulating their dna codes to survive deep space travel).

          • Jonathan Wells

            You’re approaching it very logically, a problem I find with a lot of theorizing about aliens. For example, reverse the situation. An alien scientist is trying to imagine (not based on observation) what humanity’s relationship to food is. Do you think they would guess that we use another species, the pig, whose sense of smell is better than ours, to dig around in the dirt to find one of the rarest and most exquisite delicacies that sells for $5000 per kilogram? Of course we don’t have to do this. We have plenty of other more easily accessible sources of food, but our whim, fancy, taste, desire for exclusivity, yearning for perfection, who knows what motivates us to search out and eat white truffles. Perhaps we would be the white truffle to an alien civilization? Or they simply want to play with us, like a cat, and end up killing us?

    • Federico Naranjo Bellina

      Well I can only speculate. What Hawking was referring to was how the technologically advanced European explorers came to the New World and quickly conquered and exploited the Natives. What is to say said Aliens would not come here and simply take all of our natural resources and enslave humanity? This is effectively what happened in the Americas and Africa. Also, Earth as a habitable planet may be a rare gem, perfect for a civilization’s backup. Earth might be irresistible for these Aliens. I’m not saying this that is the only possibility, but is it a chance we are willing to take?

    • HammerOfThor

      Of course it wouldn’t make sense for aliens to come here and steal our bodies or our water or stuff like that. These things are extremely plentiful in the galaxy. And if all they wanted was stuff like hydrogen and helium and oxygen or carbon, they’d skip the Earth and go straight to Jupiter (imagine alien construction crews casually taking Jupiter apart while we watch in horror).

      But what about stuff like iron? The Earth is mostly iron. There’s a lot of iron under our feet – far more than any object in the solar system except maybe a couple of the gas giants and the Sun – and importantly it’s highly accessible. You don’t have to go through deep gravity wells and you don’t have to go through hot plasma or thousands of kms of dense gas. You just have to remove the rocky shell and scoop the iron off layer by layer. It’s also conveniently pre-melted, making extraction and casting easy. You couldn’t ask for a better deal.

      Imagine a colony of ants being eradicated by the pouring of hot asphalt for a new highway. The highway builders don’t hate the ants and they aren’t evil. They are just indifferent. The ants are so unimportant to them that they don’t even check to see if they are there. If an alien civilization wanted our iron, they’d just set up their demolition crews in our backyards and completely ignore our existence. If we tried to deter them via, for instance, nuclear weapons, THEN they’d get annoyed and try to eliminate us.

      > I read somewhere that Hawking said that if the cosmic phone rings, we should not pick it up. My question is – Why?

      To me, the most hilarious thing about this is that Hawking seems to think that if we don’t pick it up that would change our chances of survival.

  • Carlota Bolado

    Is there any WBW reader working at Google?? If yes, how do I get an interview? 🙂

    • gatorallin

      Step #1… Google the shit out of how to get an interview there… lol.

      here are 3 links of interest. https://www.google.com/about/careers/lifeatgoogle/hiringprocess/

      http://www.cnbc.com/id/42608205

      http://www.cosmopolitan.com/career/news/a36390/interview-insider-google-career-jobs/

      Step #2… give up on step #1 and create a cool tech product that they want to buy from you. Change your mindset from working for google, to allowing google to work for you.

      Step #3… use your passion and new riches to change the world.

      …. disclaimer… no I don’t work for google, but I do google the shit out of almost everything I can get my adhd brain to focus on long enough to get excited about…

      • Carlota Bolado

        haha good answer

        #1 I did, #2 just not there yet. Thanks!

    • Wondertwin2

      Do you know someone? Internal recommendations make a HUGE difference for whether you get an interview. I didn’t even apply for a specific job and I got an interview based on another person’s recommendation for me and whatever weird job-matching system their HR uses. (Note: I didn’t get the job they matched me with, which I honestly didn’t have the right requirements for, so their job-matching system isn’t foolproof. Also, I have a Ph.D. YMMV.)

  • TESKAn

    gatorallin posted this image:
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/J4fJxavHRAA/maxresdefault.jpg
    Question: In which direction do you see the dots spinning? Are they going right or left? I see them spin right.

    • gatorallin

      I also see the dots moving from left to right, but the funny thing is that I read your answer first and wondering if this influenced how I see it now…. (I swear that earlier when looking at this image I did see them shift both directions). maybe this effect of direction is controlled somehow by your dominant eye? What is your dominant eye and does that change the direction of the dot flow? To figure out what eye is dominant for you, try this….btw… I am Right Eye dominant and it moves to the right for me.
      Extend both hands forward of your body and place the hands together making a small triangle (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch per side) between your thumbs and the first knuckle like this.

      With both eyes open, look through the triangle and center something such as a doorknob in the triangle.

      Close your left eye. If the object remains in view, you are right eye dominant. If closing your right eye keeps the object in view, you are left eye dominant.

      • HammerOfThor

        I’m guessing it has nothing to do with your dominant eye; the asymmetry seems to be built-in based on the shading of the dots. My left eye is dominant and I still see it moving left to right.

        An interesting observation though: With my left eye closed, I see it definitely spinning, but with my right eye closed, I barely see it spinning. I don’t know if this is real or I’m just imagining this.

        • gatorallin

          I think you are correct that the shading of the dots is the critical factor.

          • HammerOfThor

            Nice! I actually wasn’t 100% sure but I’ve seen enough of these illusions and done enough research into human vision (and machine vision) to guess.

    • JaapVerlinde

      To the right.

    • Tovi Borins

      When I look at this image the dots appear to be spinning neither right nor left, but rather staying still

  • R Sinha

    The world is running out of arable land [1][7] and drinking water [2]. Also, rising energy prices [3] and degradation of fertilizer resources [4] are making food markets more volatile. Apart from long term solutions such as multi-planetary colonization (and the possible evolution of ‘friendly’ strong AI which can devise original solutions), what is being done or should be done in order to prevent worldwide famines and droughts and the related violence/destabilization[5] [6] which will follow?

    Links:

    [1]http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/land_deg/land_deg.html

    [2]http://sitemaker.umich.edu/section9group6/water_scarcity

    [3] http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/section_prices.cfm

    [4]http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/solutions/phosphorus.html

    [5]http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/the-making-of-world-water-wars

    [6]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/09/global-water-shortages-threat-terror-war

    [7]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/dec/14/soil-erosion-environment-review-vidal

    • Federico Naranjo Bellina

      What should be done: Rising energy costs will fall after we figure out a sustainable way to produce energy for everyone; the prices will only continue to increase as fossil fuels run out. As such we should focus on cleaner energy to bide us until we reach this goal. The food crisis that may come can be minimized to some extent by the everyday consumer being smarter. 30-40% of all food in the US is thrown out, never eaten. Thats 20 lb per person per month [1]. Another thing that needs to be done is helping those smaller farmers in Africa and other developing nations to become bigger. My understanding is that small individual farms are nowhere near as efficient at producing as the big mega-farms. If we want to feed the 10 billion that we will have soon we will have to figure out solutions to these issues.

      Sources:
      [1] http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts

  • If you could have the definite and true answer to any philosophical question, what would that question be?

    • Margling53

      Everyone, if they’re being honest, would say, “Is there a supreme being (God) or a prime mover?” It’s the only question/answer that would allow us to move on with our lives here on earth and stop fixating on religion(s).

      • Ravion

        Even if we had the answer people would still believe it. Arguing for that is like arguing for flat-earth at this point and wondering if Santa’s real, so no that’s not what I’d use the question for. I think answering if we’ll ever meet aliens would be more interesting, though there are probably better ones.

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        I have no use for this question, as I am 99.999992% convinced there is none. I’ve moved on with my life and only fixate on religion whenever its uneducated followers dictate my well-being on its behalf.

        • The Rabbit

          Being 99.999992% convinced still leaves room for doubt. Until you’re absolutely certain, deep down, you’ll always want to know.

          • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

            I’m fairly certain there is no teapot floating in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, but I really have no desire to know for certain. There are many things in life where this applies. I am less certain about what I ate for breakfast last Thursday.

            What I am truly railing against, I suppose, is the blanket statement you made, “Everyone, if they’re being honest, would say…” I have more pressing philisophical questions, like, “If people had equal viewpoints, would we find as much to talk about?”, and “Is empathy genetic or environmental”, and “Are there multi-dimensional beings, or other 3rd dimensions that cross ours at an angle with a 2-d sliver of shared common reality?” and the like.

            “Reality is not only stranger than we suppose but stranger than we can suppose.” – J. B. S. Haldane.

            Attributing the unknown to god is the arena of the simple-minded.

        • Margling53

          Good for you. My question was to get at a more universal—not personal—answer in order to once for all get this issue out of the way so that all humanity would know the truth and could live their lives with the understanding that we owe everything to each other and nothing to a mythical force.

    • Romesh Srivastava

      Why is there anything rather than nothing? That’s the ultimate one.
      Why observation in quantum experiments lead to different outcomes? Who can be considered an observer?

      • JaapVerlinde

        Absolutely, that’s the one (the first one).

    • AnnaQS

      Is consciousness a true representation of free will or is the world fully 100% deterministic?

  • Federico Naranjo Bellina

    What is your greatest accomplishment?

    • faceboy

      I hope I haven’t achieved it yet, so I don’t know!

    • JunoEven

      From an evolutionary standpoint, having a child.

    • AnnaQS

      Not turning a mindless zombie stuck between work, children, cleaning the house and staying pretty and fit. Having my own set of original thoughts coming from processing what I experience.

  • Alvaro DG

    Would you choose the same way Dorian Gray did?

    • IsAnyoneThere

      Not at all. Life is very interesting as is. Best not to mess with it.

  • Marcin

    A young neurobiologist with the MSc. diploma and the multidisciplinary background in cognitive and molecular neuroscience wants to live according to the simple principle of Stephen Hawking: “we should seek the
    greatest value of our action”. He plans to utilize his skills in the emerging brain research concerning brain-computer/brain-to-brain interfaces and AI studies in order to make the most meaningful, translational impact. The guy would be happy to live in US or, preferably, in one of the European countries. While he was interested in pursuing a PhD degree, the flaws of academia hugely disappointed him.

    What should this guy do with his life? ( ͡° ʖ̯ ͡°) Sages of WBW, do your best.

    • Kazebu Honda

      Well, I think if this person doesn’t get a PhD, he/she will have almost no chance of using their skills for the betterment of humanity in a big way. It’s true that academia has many flaws, but it’s still the best spot for a person like this. If you want to change a system, it should be done from within. After a successful carrier as a neuroscientist, people will listen to his/her opinion. Nobel prize laureates have an especially big impact on their fields. And with all the flaws, in my experience true greatness always pulls through in the end.
      And I also think that a “noble motive” like the betterment of humanity will lead to successful carrier in science much more likely than if you lack passion and see it as just a job. It’s the inspiring people that get the grants.
      Also, AI and brain research are among the most important and most pressing (and potentially dangerous) fields. So yeah, inspired people should definitely work on that. As for the workplace: If USA or Europe should mostly depend on preference in working conditions and culture. I think for the overall carrier it doesn’t matter.

    • JaapVerlinde

      Get a PhD. Play the game of academia despite the flaws, there is no perfect world outside of academia either, whatever you may think. Do the shitty things, follow grant writing courses and this kind of shit, learn to sell yourself and your research. Become good at the game. At the same time, do not lose sight of your principles, and regularly check if scientific quality is still in first place for you. Become a good scientist and join us in preventing academia from going to shits. Remember: complaining is easy.

      I’m getting my PhD in evolutionary biology in December at a Dutch university by the way.

  • Marcin

    What are some easy, preferably passive ways of making big money without taking a major risk and investing a large capital from the very start? Do you happen to know any legal, lesser-known money making strategies working similarly to these legendary “loopholes in the system” or “one weird tricks”? 🙂

    • IsAnyoneThere

      A really good color copier works great for me.

  • gatorallin

    Question: You get to take over the brain power of Elon Musk for 24 hours and can use it to solve only 1 of these 2 problems. You make no money from the invention as it is done only to better humanity. Which one do you choose and why?

    A). You solve all the deaths and injuries related to automobile accidents that occur each year in the USA, by creating a low cost, but high tech solution to create driverless cars. It is easily retrofitted to older cars so that this technology can be adapted for everyone to take advantage of instantly. People can still chose to drive themselves, but in the event of an accident the self driving feature takes over to save lives and just works. For the sake of this discussion focus only on the effect of this invention used in the USA and no extra jobs created or lost in this process.

    B). You solve all the deaths and injuries related to US servicemen and women in the Military. This includes all deaths related to active wars as well as peacetime activities. The invention is a robot in human form that is piloted by the same military person that normally would be doing the job in person with 2 way video screen so all human interaction is basically the same, however when the robot is shot or destroyed no harm to humans occurs and thus all military lives are saved that normally would be lost at war, etc. For the sake of this example there is no downsizing of the military or jobs lost the critical difference is the saving of lives and reduction of on the job injuries. For discussion purposes only, there is no lives saved for non-US personnel or enemy combatants or innocent bystanders.

    • gastromax

      Obviously 100% Option A. Option B would be a truly horrible thing, seeing as how today, even with the terrible injuries and cost of life on their own side, the US seems completely unable to stop being at war. With a robot army you’d go completely apeshit until everyone everywhere is dead or dying.

      Also, I doubt even Mr Musk would be able to figure thgese things out in 24 hours. If he could, you’d think he’d probably have done it by now.

    • HammerOfThor

      Option A.

      > For discussion purposes only, there is no lives saved for non-US personnel or enemy combatants or innocent bystanders.

      For further purposes of discussion, let’s not accept this and consider the following instead. Every time some country with access to that technology (let’s call it “remote soldier” technology) makes war on another country, they have to give that other country the option of buying the same amount of remote soldiers that they plan on using. Assuming the defending country wins, they have to compensate the attacking country for the cost of the remote soldiers. If the attacking country wins, they don’t have to compensate anyone.

      The net effect of wars waged in this manner would be reduced cost in human life with few downsides. Would you still support the idea? If not, why?

    • wobster109

      I’d say option A. I believe about 7000 US service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan put together? 30000 Americans die in car accidents each year.

  • Meghan McLaughlin-Polaniecki

    What living person is closest to – or actually achieves – your definition of a superhero?

    • Carlota Bolado

      mum 🙂

    • Ádám Zovits

      It’s a tie between Elon Musk and Tim Urban 🙂

    • JaapVerlinde

      Nobody does. We want heroes, but people are always just people, whatever you want to believe.

    • AnnaQS

      my definition of a superhero is someone, who: one- understands the way the world works and two – is capable of taking meaningful action to improve the existing situation.

  • Ravion

    If the technology were available would you become a robot?

    • Cate

      I would prefer to stay human, except if I were very sick, unable to move, or constantly in physical pain. But I would keep my brain the same and still be me, just with new hardware.

    • bszert

      Hell yes. If I could keep my brain intact, but get a robotic body, I’d just be stronger, more durable, etc. What’s not to want? If my brain gets roboticised, too… I don’t know. I have some more problems with that. But I’d still say yes, I think.

  • Ravion

    How do you think civilization is going to change in the next 50 years? Technologically, culturally, structurally?

    • Wiremu Hohepa

      I think that artificial intelligences might convince us, each other and/or themselves that artificial intelligences are a good idea or an acceptable/undeniable posthumanist adaptation of the ‘normal’ human brain network(s.)

  • Ravion

    What’s the coolest/weirdest/most interesting dream you can remember?

    • Cate

      I recently had a dream that I got arrested while at Ikea. I have no clue what this means about my subconscious, but it was definitely interesting.

    • Chad S

      I had one where a coworker and I were trying to get out of this multi-story ruined labyrinth. There was all this rubble everywhere, but also weird objects like stone Chinese masks. During our conversation, I could only refer to myself in the plural, and when I spoke multiple male and female voices came out of my mouth in unison, like a Greek chorus. In one room was a burgundy marble bust of a philosopher, and when I came in it smiled at me, and somehow I knew we were friends. It communicated telepathically, but only in riddles. After a few minutes, my coworker was already going to the next room, and I told the bust I had to leave. It said that it possessed vast knowledge and that, if I correctly answered its next riddle, it would give me the solution to any problem I could imagine. Just as it was about to ask me the riddle, I woke up.

    • faceboy

      I remember my dreams every night, and sometimes have lucid dreams. The first lucid dream I remember went as follows:

      I was in a cave with no entrance, wasn’t sure how I got there. Just ahead was a cliff, within the cave, that went down for hundreds of feet into a lake. The cave was mostly vertical, the back wall was only fifty or so feet past the cliff, but it went straight down to the water below.

      As I peered over the ledge, I realized it was just unreal that I should even be there. How did I get there? I then realized that I was dreaming.

      Having realized this, I waited to wake up, which is what normally happens when I realize I’m dreaming. This time, I did not wake up. So I re-opened my eyes, still in the cave, and looked around. Sweet!

      So i thought I’d enjoy a nice freefall down to the water, where I would certainly “die” in my dream and wake up. So I jumped a felt the wind on my face, and saw the water get closer and closer, and the moment I was to hit the water with a body-exploding force . . . I WAS AT THE TOP OF THE CLIFF AGAIN.

      I didn’t die, as expected. Still aware this was a dream, I was back where I started. And the fall was so epic fun. So I jumped again! Reset And again! Reset! And again! I was able to enjoy 10 or 12 jumps before it finally ended. This has always been, and most likely will be, the coolest dream I’ve ever had (excluding a certain genre related to testosterone levels).

    • Simon

      My coolest dream:
      I’m at work, during coffee break. I go outside and it’s raining. I look on the wall of the building where I work and an electrical wire caught fire. I hide myself inside a tunnel. Two of my friends are inside, yelling to join them. The tunnel is old with junk everywhere. On one of the walls, there is an ancient tree trunk, fossilized. It is suspended horizontally on the wall and looks like a mast ripped from a boat. There is a small opening at one end of the trunk, with Egyptian hieroglyphs and a swastika drawn at the top. Inside the hole, there is a mask with Mongol facial features. Looking at the mask, we discover that it’s actually a mummified head. Its skin is like rubber. The skin is soft, very old and fragile. Its color is very pale. We pull the head out from the hole, and there is also a torso and two arms that come out, attached to the head. The torso is wearing a very modern shirt, torn at the bottom. The torso seems to have been ripped apart from the rest of the body. There are shreds of flesh hanging out from the bottom of the shirt. We look inside the torso from the bottom where it has been ripped apart. Inside we see a spine made of metal, internal organs made with white plastic and some white, dry stuff that must have been liquid a long time ago. My friend says: “It’s an android! It’s thousands of years old!”

      Then I wake up…

    • AnnaQS

      I dreamt I was a triangular tile in a swimming pool filled with a colour that doesn’t exist. I really felt being that tile and saw that non-existent colour.

  • Ravion

    Do you take the red pill?

    • Annie Rousso

      Would you rather stay asleep and be happy dreaming awesome dreams or be awake and know the awful truth?

      • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

        As someone who has lived a great deal of her life in denial of the awful truths around us, and has only recently (last few years) begun to delve deeper into the horrible reality of the world today, I can tell you that I would rather go back into my shell and pretend the world is a shiny happy place full of rainbows and unicorn farts. However, once something is learned, it is nigh-impossible to unlearn.

        Facts also build upon themselves, and the stark reality becomes more clear over time. Some of these truths are beautiful, while many of them are horrible, and overshadow the joys inherent in learning new things. I feel supremely disappointed in humanity as a whole, and wish I could sink back into blissful ignorance and convince myself of the happy delusion of joy for the rest of my life.

        Let me go back to sleep, please?

        • Annie Rousso

          Oh I get you. I ve never been sheltered but I do get the feeling and it is a nice one. Unfortunately, I agree once you have been exposed, you can never go back. I guess one can only try to find some place real or spiritual where one can be safe from outside ugliness.

          Thank you for answering!

    • gatorallin

      …….show me how deep the rabbit hole goes. (redpill)

    • JunoEven

      Red pill AND blue pill, simultaneously.

      I do what I want.

  • pomegranates

    What are the differences between the various US states? As a non-US citizen, to me all the US states sound pretty much the same… I’m aware there are some stereotypes of certain states, but I’m not too certain. Can someone elaborate on this?
    (Eg on Geoguessr, I often can tell if a place is from the US, but I have no idea where in the US it is)

    • Trey Chambers

      As a yes-US citizen, and one who’s actually been to one or two dozen states, I think it’s more about regions that states. I mean, if you named a state, I could probably tell you something about it, but on geoguessr or guessing random people’s accents, I can usually only get within a state or two.

      If you’re looking for geoguessr hints: suburbs look the same everywhere so I can’t help you there. Small towns are usually more wood buildings in the south and more brick in the north. Desert is all to the west and mostly south. Swampy or mossy trees is far southeast. Flat and farm-y is somewhere in the middle. Rolling hills are more to the east. REAL mountains are definitely to the west. That’s about all I go off of and I get around 12k on geoguessr on the US map.

      (Oh and thanks for introducing me/addicting me to geoguessr.)

  • pomegranates

    Why aren’t enough people concerned enough about global warming, climate change and environmental problems yet? How can we get the whole of humanity to get hyped up about this and cooperate to deal with this?

    • Wiremu Hohepa

      It might be partly because procrastination is a significant mode of our time and/or because having a pressing goal that you prioritise over other people’s wellbeing is somewhat exploitative (and ineffectual.) I’m not sure if this is just a complacent view but enough people are (only) concerned enough about preservation of the environment in order to efficiently/optimally learn as much as possible from nature (because it would presumably change somewhat proportionally to our exploitation of it and the environment would change slowly without us.) (Some ideas are uninterested in the corporeal conservation of environment rather than the memetic translation.)

    • Elise

      Because the changes are too slow, and they do not (yet) impact enough people in a significant enough way. “Why should I bother when no one else does”.

  • ScribblePouit

    Does mathematics intrinsically exist, or is it a pure invention of men? In other words, is it invented or discovered?

    • Mathematics is discovered, it exists long before human exists. However, the language and symbols that are used to describe it are invented.

      • gatorallin

        love your answer… I like to think mathematics is reverse engineered vs. just discovered (but you stayed within the original question).

        • Thank you. I was thinking about the question again when crossing the road. Think about it this way: The car speeding up at x m/s. I was crossing the road with y m/s. Some combination of x and y would make me get hit by the car. Although I don’t know what are x and y exactly, yet, I knew the car won’t hit me. Thus, I decide to cross the road. My brain (intuition?) calculate everything and then decide that crossing the road is safe. Did I do mathematics by crossing that road? Probably yes. At least intuitively. The mathematics (speed of car, its initial position, my initial position, my speed) is there. It only needs to be discovered.

    • eduardo eller

      I’ve discussed this with some friends just the other day! My opinion was that there’s something not quite right with this question because you can always broaden the meaning of these words to your liking. Thinking about it again I’m feeling that whenever someone is being purely creative with math they’re inventing it, but when they’re solely performing calculations not knowing where it will lead them it’s more like a discovery.

    • Joeswam

      Math is a tool for interpreting natural phenomenon in a concrete way that our brains can comprehend. By converting things we observe into numbers and formulas, we can easily relate them to other observations and even extrapolate to things we expect to observe in the future. So in the sense that math is a tool, it is an invention of man. But the notions that are described by math definitely exist. Math is like a television showing a live event. The image on your box isn’t the event, but it gives an accurate representation of what is actually going on. That may be a shitty analogy but it’s the best I could think of.

      disclaimer: I’m not a mathematician

    • Hedgielurch

      Mathematics is a language used to express ideas and particular phenomena. As such, a language describes what is there (or imagined) but at the same time it places limits on the content that can be expressed. To recognise the phenomena requires insight – the language of math is simply to express it. There is likely phenomena that be recognised/imagined but cannot be expressed in mathematical terms, and because of that are not labelled “math” but “other”.

    • Seth Berkman

      I do not presume to be able to “answer” this…

      But it caught my eye because I have long had a similar question… Was the “major scale” invented or discovered?

      I think in math’s case, it intrinsically exists. Math describes relationships between abstract concepts. Those relationships would remain regardless of whether humans talked, wrote about, or used them. (Unless you think that even abstract concepts such as numbers are socially constructed. But I do not think that.)

      The major scale seems a bit tougher because, in short, I think it’s easier to make the case that music in general and the major scale in particular are socially constructed and neither have nor refer to something independently real or extant. That being said, the major scale is not just some random combination of pitches. The pitches have a specific mathematical relationship (ratios)… I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the major scale is what it is.

      One interesting approach to evaluating these questions is to look at how different cultures relate to math and music.

      For math, many cultures and societies independently established the same basic mathematical principles (from which most of the rest of math is derived). This seems to point to math’s independent or intrinsic existence. This is slightly less true of the major scale.

      I could go on but that’s most of what I’m getting at.

      I’m curious, what do you think?

      • Scott

        In the case of Math or the Major Scale (or any other mode for that matter), aren’t we talking about the man made description of these relationships? I’m playing devil’s advocate for the sake of interest, but I think the case can be made that both math and the major scale are our ways of describing these….truths, for lack of a better word. It’s not coincidence that a “C” sounds like a C, whether it be C4, C5, C6, etc. They are each twice the frequency of the preceding C. So, like you pointed out with math, these abstract musical concepts exist. Because we sense them with our ears, I think it’s tempting to say it’s a social construct. Of course, I’ve only referenced the relationship of an octave, the easiest to understand interval.

        The major scale is really a collection of arranged interval. And as I’m thinking about it…..I think you may be right. You can arrange the intervals anyway you like. And some cultures don’t even use the 1/2 step in the way western music does. Hmmmm. This is a good one. I guess as a sort of cop out, I’ll say that much of music is absolute (the theoretician in me), but within those absolutes, social convention has invented many ways to arrange these absolutes into pleasing, or at least different, patterns, one of which is the Major modality. I don’t think I can come up with an absolute scientific reason why the Locrian mode sounds awful. I’ve run out of words to type, but I’m still thinking. May revisit this later. Thanks for the question!

    • JaapVerlinde

      Mathematics is just axioms and logic, right? Logic should be objective, I would say that is a defining property. From that it follows that logic is there independent of any person. It can not be invented, it must be discovered. Regarding the axioms I am not sure how universal they are…

      I seem to remember that Gödel proved that formal systems always have true propositions that you cannot prove from the axioms. I’m not too sure what that means in the light of this discussion, but this kind of insufficiency to me hints at a non-perfectness of logical systems. Not obstructed by any actual knowledge on this, I will therefore conclude that mathematics is invented, not discovered.

  • Hedgielurch

    Where in the world are you; and what book are you reading right now?

    • pomegranates

      I’m from Asia and I’m reading my physics textbook for exams

    • Carlota Bolado

      I’m currently in Switzerland but I’m from Spain, and I’m reading ‘Hombres buenos’

    • Annie Rousso

      Greece. Reading welfare law for work.

    • Rimantas Galvonas

      Lithuania, Clockwork Orange.

    • Michel Kangro

      Bonn, Germany, reading “Error”, by Neal Stephenson

    • Brian

      Manhattan, currently reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

    • mujokan

      Newport, Rhode Island, reading Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit.

    • Jeff

      Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

      • Jeff

        In New Jersey

    • Kazebu Honda

      Würzburg, Germany, reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons

    • homelesscactus

      I started The Children Act by Ian McEwan a couple days ago. It’s actually my first time reading one of his novels, and I’m expecting it to get better. 🙂 New Zealand.

    • Ádám Zovits

      Ulm, Germany, reading 1984 from Orwell.

    • JaapVerlinde

      Brussels, Belgium, reading ‘Blauwe Maandagen’ from Arnon Grunberg.

    • Brian R.

      Austin, Texas, USA

      Reading Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 by Stephen Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley

    • J

      St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    • Yaroslav

      Łódź, Poland, reading memoirs of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds

    • jonathan

      Ontario, Canada. I’m reading Focus by Daniel Goleman.

    • Adrian Canto

      Yucatan, Mexico. I´m reading Ubik by Philip K. Dick

    • JunoEven

      Abu Dhabi, UAE — currently reading Dataclysm: Who We Are (When we Think No One’s Looking)

  • Joeswam

    In Clash of Clans, is there a layout for town hall level 7’s that can survive lightning spell/all dragon attacks?

    • Jeff

      There are tons of them on this amazing website called clashofclanbuilder.com.

  • Jiri Roznovjak

    Would you rather die now or become immortal?

    • pomegranates

      That’s a very difficult question………. I’d choose to die now (ugghhh) because living forever is a worse option.

    • Romesh Srivastava

      Need more details on that question like Do I get to chose the age I decide to be like forever? In what sense do you mean living forever – not ageing or not die from any disaster like ‘I can survive empty space’ live forever?

    • Kate

      Definitely die now. Living forever in this world would be the greatest punishment!!

    • Mehman

      Definitely live forever. I don’t think death is something bad but it is most surely boring. On the other hand, there is high chance of super exciting stuff happening while experiencing eternity. As high chances of eternal torture is a fair price in my opinion.

      • Romesh Srivastava

        Exactly. Even if you assume that nothing interesting would happen from now on (although that would be interesting), there are so many things that I want to do that I cannot possibly do in a lifetime. The knowledge that we humans have collected in our short time of existence is so large that I cannot believe that people would want to die now!

  • Kapucchu

    Should we nominate Tim for a TED talk? More people needs to know about electric cars and procrastination!

  • Kazebu Honda

    Who makes it, doesn’t need it.
    Who needs it, doesn’t want it.
    Who has it, doesn’t see it.

    What is it?

    • machosalad

      A name

      • Kazebu Honda

        Not bad at all! Still, a coffin fits better, since it is actually made in the straigthforward sense of the word and also parents who give their children a name kind of need it to call them and stuff.

    • fearian

      Glasses?

      • Kazebu Honda

        Well, there are “glasses makers” who need glasses, so no.

    • Annie

      A coffin

      • Kazebu Honda

        Very good. I guess you were the first one. Congratulations 🙂
        Did you come up with that on your own?

    • Steffanie

      A coffin?

      • Kazebu Honda

        Yes, that’s it. Did you come up with that on your own? 🙂

        • Steffanie

          I’ve heard a variation of it before.

    • bszert

      Sperm. Dad makes it, kid needs it, but doesn’t want it nor see it.

      • Kazebu Honda

        Well, not bad, but it fits a bit awkwardly. There are people who need it and want it, for example. Good shot, though.

    • JaapVerlinde

      coffin 🙂

  • machosalad

    How big of an influence does our DNA have on our probability of leading a successfull life?

    • tinwhistle1

      This depends on how you look at it:
      If you are referring to the role that DNA plays on our own abilities, it is probably close to zero for most of us. Excepting those with genetic disease or disorders, the vast majority of our accomplishments are the result of our upbringing, environment, and society we are in. Most Africans are poor (what we in the West would call “unsuccessful”) but I think all but the most regressive among us would agree that Africans are no less intelligent or able than their counterparts in Europe, who tend to be comparatively rich. Now there are likely to be outliers of those with exceptional abilities (the freakish athlete, the super intelligent, the average Donald Trump supporter, etc.), but on the whole, our circumstances are much more important to our success than our genetic heritage.
      Unless you are arguing that DNA determines our gender and skin color (among other extraneous signifiers that are subject to prejudice and social bias), giving Caucasian males an inherent advantage in determining success. In that case, it would be very high.

      • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

        I think you gotta factor in gender, skin color, beauty, etc. But you need to be careful not to factor in the place of birth or the social environment.

        I’ll throw in a number, just for the sake of the discussion: 15%
        But I’d expect this number to decline over time, probably decreasing to below 5% at some point in the future. Even lower if we manage to incorporate enough technology into our bodies.

  • 4lex

    Here is a question taken from Socrates , I just want to check if it’s still makes sense in our times:
    “Is an action loved by the gods because it is pious?
    Or Is it pious because the gods love it?”

    • JaapVerlinde

      That’s a good one 🙂

    • wobster109

      I hope it’s the first one. We all have different gods, so if the whole world did all different things because all the different gods loved different things, that would be totally chaotic! Better to figure out what’s good for people and call that “pious”.

  • Gregor

    Why is the meaning of life 42?

    • Sean

      You just have to ask the right question: “the answer to life, the universe and everything is”

    • machosalad

      It’s a reference to A Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy.

    • JaapVerlinde

      42.

    • Brigitte

      If I find out over a year, I’ll share it with you. For now, haven’t figured it out yet. Let’s see if I I’ll make it. I had a theory when I was younger that when I’d reach 21, I’d have all figured out. But then all my naïve concepts went upsidedown. So maybe 2 decades later everything can change. Or not…

  • Mehman

    Why don’t we use decimal system for time (instead of hours, minutes and seconds)?
    Why don’t we use 60 based system for everything?
    y US no metric?!

    • bszert

      Don’t quote me on this:

      I heard that we used to use a 12-based system (it’s easier to divide into thirds, quarters, sixths), until France said Fuck it, and started decimalising everything. Even time, at one point, in France, used to be in increments of 10. The western world has since stuck with the French way, except for time for some reason.
      As for the U.S., I have no idea.

      • Mehman

        Why don’t we have another revolution, but do everyting right this time. I understand the inconvinience utill everybody gets used to the new system, but what about the permanent inconvinience of having this incomplete system. And maybe good folk of the US will join the rest of the world this time (or start the revolution, I don’t mind either way).

        • Ricardo

          Don’t change something that works. The only reason we mostly use base 10 is because we have 10 fingers, and since birth we get used to it.

          Because of this, we have 10 “drawings” that represent each number. But if we had always used binary systems, we would be used to it.

          But we are perfectly used to using base 60 for time, or having 12 months a year.
          If we had 10 months a year, each season would last 2.5 months, and that would be confusing at first.

          Each day has 24*60*60 = 86400 seconds. If we were going to use base 10 for time, our definition of “one second” would need to change, or we would have to use the “864” part in some way (It is arbitrary, yes, but we know it this way).

          Changing the definition of “one second” would change most physics constants (ie gravity would no longer be 9.81 m/s^2, because one “old second length” wouldn’t be the same as one “new second length”).

          tl; dr: If something works with 0 problem, then there are 0 reasons to change it

    • Luca Bianchi

      I think that’s just because we happen to live on Earth.
      86400s per day is not decimal, 365 days per year neither.
      In outer space there are not days or years to be divided in integer submultiples and you’d use ns, us, ms, s, ks, Ms, Gs without thinking.

  • wordoch

    If you travelled away from Earth at the speed of light but had a camera with infinite zoom so you could keep looking at the same point where you left from at the same zoom level, would you see time running in reverse on that spot?

    • Brian

      Wouldn’t everything look like it was frozen in place in that situation?

    • bszert

      You know how if you’re one light year away, what you see happened one year ago? I

    • Panda

      Not sure I understand your concept of time running in reverse. From Earth perspective, time is going by as normal.
      From your perspective, you’re going to see the first frame of Earth as normal since you’re still within the distance for light to travel to update you in real time. As you’re travelling away, in order to capture the image from Earth, the light will have to travel to catch up to you so you’d be seeing the first frame of Earth until you stopped traveling to let the light from Earth catch up to you, which by then you’d be seeing things that have happened in the past (from Earth perspective).

  • Henry Civinskas

    if you had a plant on that spot you’d see it wither and die….traveling at light the theory states that time moves normally on you ship , but it speeds up on earth so that when you return your child for instance could be old as a grandparent

  • mmKALLL

    Does thinking about problems solve problems?

  • Simon

    Is it possible that when looking through a telescope, out of the billions of galaxies that you can see, one of them is actually an image of the milky way seen millions or billions of years ago? If gravitational lensing exists, can light be bent in such a way that you can see your own galaxy?

    • Garth Peterson

      I’ve had a similar question. If you have a powerful enough telescope with the right technology, could you “see” the big bang?

      • ericsp23

        The universe was opaque to light for the first 380,000 years after the big bang. It was far too dense and hot for light to propagate.
        However, we can see the aftereffects of the big bang by studying the cosmic background radiation.

    • AnnaQS

      Wow! This has NEVER crossed my mind 🙂 Amazing thought

  • Jonathan Wells

    This is sort of a multi-part question, concerning people’s relationship to the idea of government. I’m talking about the general public of N. America, and Canada specifically. The questions: Are people less interested in government than they used to be? Are people more interested in their own personal success than the welfare of the society they live in? Is it too overwhelming to think about society’s problems, and easier to simply focus on having the most financially and professionally successful life you can have given the conditions? Have people given up on politicians, who they see as power-hungry attention-whores, also only in it for themselves, with one party is no better than another? Do you vote, and why or why not? Has global capitalism and the interests of multi-national corporations become so all-powerful that they are now effectively the world government, and actual governments don’t stand a chance? Ought we dispense with government altogether, when we already do most of our voting with our wallets anyway?

    • bszert

      Probably, because there are more layers between a government and its people than there were at one point.
      Yes, we’re individualists.
      It’s not TOO overwhelming, since there are plenty of successful collectivist societies.
      Not sure about this one, but yeah, probably.

      Maybe, but governments are still pretty powerful. They are the ones enforcing laws and stuff, so corporations can’t do ANYTHING they want. Which kind of answers the next question, too: Let’s not give up on government altogether; who would keep McDonalds from fucking with the planet?*

      *I know they fuck with the planet anyway, just not as much.

  • John

    (I asked the question earlier but I should have been more precise)

    Which *non-fiction* book(s) had the most profound impact on your life? In terms of personal growth, the way you see yourself, the way you see others, and the world…

    • Joeswam

      The Perennial Philosophy – Aldous Huxley

    • JaapVerlinde

      Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow

    • Liam

      My fave is “To sell is human”by Daniel H. Pink

    • Y Shourya

      Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

    • Romesh Srivastava

      103 scientific principles ideas theories and stuff. Read it when I was 12. I knew right then that I want to be a physicist.

    • Brigitte

      In Africa with Schweitzer, by E. Bergman

    • Tomdog

      Probably biased by the fact that it has been one of the most recent, but check out “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert.

    • Abak

      T Boone Pickens bio

    • quarky

      Physics of the Impossible, by Michio Kaku. Put me on the path to becoming a physicist when I read it at 12 or 13

    • Scott

      The Black Swan by NNT

    • Yaroslav

      “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Ralph Leighton and Richard Feynman

    • JunoEven

      The Book of Lists Volume 3 by Wallechensky, Wallace, and Wallace

  • Em

    What is your favourite cheese? Please also state which country you are from. My favourite is Saint Agur and I am from the UK.

    • Oli

      I’m also from the UK, my favourite cheese is probably brie or red leicester (red leicester melts way better in a toasted sandwich unlike cheddar which sort of separates into oil and goo)

    • Jonathan Wells

      I’m lucky to have an excellent cheese shop near me. Probably my favourite one is Brie de Meaux, especially if I get it when it’s perfectly ripe. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the one I use the most and always have on hand. I live in Vancouver, Canada.

    • Melody

      My current favorite is Asiago, and I live in the US

    • Victoria

      Gouda, and I live in the U.S. : )

    • rascio

      Pecorino, from Italy

    • JunoEven

      Parmigiano-reggiano

    • punction

      none, i am mildly lactose intolerant in california 🙁

  • Oli

    Going on from Tim’s AI posts, what do you think people who don’t come from mathematical or computer science backgrounds can do to contribute to helping ensure humanity doesn’t fuck up when creating the world’s first AGI?

    • Cabnboy

      I think the first step is education. People have seen the Terminator movies but no one really thinks that’s a possibility. So, spread the word and explain that not only is it a possibility but it is a probability and it is likely going to happen sooner than people expect. Then, point them to WBW for more info as well as other sources.

    • Sahil Sharma

      Erm, not much, unfortunately. You can go over this lecture though https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pywF6ZzsghI wherein the professor talks about what the intelligentsia are ought to do to ensure humanity doesn’t fuck up. 🙂

  • Hunter B

    Would anyone like to buy me a Tesla? It’s worth a shot.

    • Dudeguy21

      Probably not.

      • Hunter B

        Thanks. I’ve got no in my back pocket, as the saying goes.

    • Luca Bianchi

      One for me too, please!

  • Satyanarayana Kandukuri

    What is ease for Siriyan refugees for going to Europe? Than finding some country near by.

    • nope

      Syrian refugees have already bulked up (over a million in each) in nearby countries such as
      Turkey, Lebanon, Pakistan etc. The refugees that make it to Europe are only a very
      small fraction who have somehow made it there in one piece. The reason they don’t stay in those countries is because they live in poor conditions, can’t get jobs etc.- basically the same problems their citizens also have, but harsher, cause they are refugees.. Then they look at Europe right at the doorstep and think they will be better off there.

      The reasons why they won’t go to other Arab countries could be that, well, Gulf states being a bunch of dicks, and Mediterrennean countries being the lesser evil- at least they have more or less a future in there. Who knows how Saudis would handle a Shia refugee flow or how could they make it in other poor Arab countries? Rich Gulf states don’t open their doors to refugees, the reason to that is a whole another topic of discussion. In short Middle East is a shithole, while Mediterennean countries are less of a shithole and double up as a bridge to somewhere that is no shithole for them, or so they think.

      And this is a very small part of the big picture.

  • Y Shourya

    Would you identify yourself as a nihilist? Do you think there is no real purpose to life? How is ‘service of humanity’ our purpose when we all know deep down nothing lasts forever ?

    • Romesh Srivastava

      I identify myself as a nihilist and I am glad that there isn’t a purpose to life. Imagine that there was a purpose to life and I wanted to do something else. How would that work out?
      As for service to humanity is concerned, I don’t think that that would be a problem for a nihilist. When I do a service to humanity – donate for education, not use plastic, save electricity and water, treat others with respect and kindness, it feels good. And I don’t think that there would be a person who wouldn’t feel good in doing those things.
      I don’t have a purpose in life; I do what makes me feel good.

      • Y Shourya

        But if we all did what makes us feel good, wouldn’t the world be a very immoral, lazy one? 90% people wouldn’t turn up for work if they could just do whatever felt good to them!
        Also, shouldn’t a true nihilist show apathy and indifference to crimes, rapes, murders, wars, etc. I mean, a nihilist believes that nothing humans do is of any real consequence.

        • AnnaQS

          I disagree. I think true nihilism is about the lack of any meaning of life. However there’s pain and suffering, and that should be avoided in yourself and others. That’s where antinatalism comes from – not wanting to bring more people to the world that is meaningless and full of inevitable suffering. I consider myself a nihilist and still I think you should not hurt others and that suffering is unnecessary (but inevitable unfortunately).

    • E. Batson

      I would say I subscribe to partial nihilism. I don’t think that the universe has any inherent meaning. However, that doesn’t imply that nothing can be truly “meaningful.” Humans are experts at deriving patterns and meaning from utter randomness–for instance, imagining that clouds form recognizable shapes. And just because something is “made up” doesn’t mean it isn’t real or important. Service to humanity is just another aspect of this invented purpose. Sure, the universe doesn’t care whether we’re nice to each other or not, but other humans do. That’s what makes it important.

      We probably don’t mean very much to the universe. That should be freeing, though, and not disheartening–we create our purpose, our destiny, and that’s not nothing.

  • Romesh Srivastava

    Cows can digest cellulose because of a certain bacteria in their stomach.
    How does the calf of a cow get these bacteria in their stomach?

    Why can’t others (like us) get that bacteria and digest starch?

    This one, I’ve been trying to find out for 2 years on the internet. No one has even attempted to answer this one…. Probably because this is an strange question to ask.

    • Jonathan Wells

      Cows and other ruminants have four-chambered stomachs. The breakdown of cellulose by microbes takes place in the first chamber, the rumen. Food then passes to the second chamber, where it is formed into cuds, which the animal regurgitates and chews to further break it down, then swallows again where it goes to the rumen, then three other stomachs. The last one is most like a human stomach. The ph level of each chamber is quite different, so organisms that could live in the rumen could not live in the stomach, and these microbes are in fact digested by the animal as part of its diet. Basically, a cow is marinating its food in yogurt, chewing it, and then eating it again, all within its own body, plus eating some of the yogurt with it. We simply don’t have the right chambers for this in our gut. As for how the microbes get there, the type of microbe is very dependent on the diet of the animal, and the microbes are present in the rumen shortly after birth. I’m guessing they are present in the cow’s milk? We actually can digest starch much better than cows. It’s cellulose we have trouble with. And cows can’t digest starch, which is why if they get into grain, they will eat so much that they will bloat and can even die from the gas produced in their guts. There’s other issues as well. It’s pretty cool I’ve always wondered about this, too, thanks for motivating me to research it. This explains it pretty well: https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Cellulose_Degradation_in_the_Rumen

    • punction

      For the first question, I’m guessing in a similar way to how babies get their gut flora – during birth and shortly thereafter?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora#Acquisition_of_gut_flora_in_human_infants

    • HammerOfThor

      Being able to digest cellulose is cool, but it takes a very long time, which is why cattle and other ruminants have large stomachs where large quantities of food can sit and gradually digest. They also have powerful jaws and teeth that can finely shred up the plant matter. We simply don’t have jaws of the necessary strength; our jaw bones and muscles are tiny and delicate in comparison since we evolved to obtain our energy from soft fruit/roots and the tender flesh of animals.

  • i have to write a a name

    What makes you differ from the people you look down upon? Are you doing any better than them? What makes a person unworthy of your approval?

    No, I am absolutely not trying to lecture you. Arrogance, even if we won’t use that particular word for it, is present in all of us. It becomes apparent when we judge another person for things they do, in a way we decide that our perception is superior to theirs and sentence them to the belittling punishment of disapproval, gossip, exclusion even, you name it. At the end of the day, you often won’t contribute much more than that particular person to society, art, science, you name it again. As I write more I find more and more things to ask or write about this concept, so I will just leave it there.

    • Abak

      Nepotism…

    • bassofclubs

      For me, it’s less about what you contribute to the world, but what you take from it. The people I admire and look up to are those who really ‘get’ life and the world around them. They’re not necessarily the most intelligent people (although they often are intelligent) but they’re the ones who live life ‘consciously’, who think about their choices, decisions and actions, and who appreciate what the world has to offer. Conversely, those I look down on are the people who blunder through life without giving much thought to anything, and without ever really appreciating what life has to offer.

  • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

    The average human IQ is 100, by definition. That is the mean IQ. What is the Median IQ? Is the curve skewed, or is it a true bell curve?

  • Tracie McCormick

    Why do people find this website and others like it so interesting? (It’s very interesting, this is not sarcasm, just wondering why)

    • 4lex

      I like this site because it offers different perspectives and points of view to topics that do require a minimum brain effort in contrast to many other mainstreams, while using doodles and language a 5yo can understand.

    • pomegranates

      Tim is very very funny and his writing style is engaging

    • Annie Rousso

      It is witty and entertaining. I learn a lot of stuff in an easy and friendly way.

    • punction

      It’s unpretentious, honest, and asks the questions we didn’t think of asking.

  • Abak

    If you could solve the California drought crisis, how would you? If u had 5 min with the governor what would you tell him about the drought?

  • Melody

    What’s your biggest tip for job hunting?

    • Gokul

      A kickass web portfolio. The recent Airbnb applicant woman who got their attention by making a what-i-can-do portfolio just proves the point. Besides, a friend of mine made a really incredible website to showcase his talent as a designer, which really helped him find good offers. Here is the site
      http://bil.al/

    • JunoEven

      Spelling mistakes on a resume are an instant killer — and it’s impossible to copy-edit your own writing, so have two or three friends look over your resume with a fine-toothed comb before you start sending it out.

  • Gokul

    I used to be part of a project in college which spanned 3 years (Formula Student), where i was constantly intellectually stimulated. Now even though i work as an engineer in a Semiconductor Company, my work has become more specialized and i miss learning and doing multidisciplinary work. I live in Bangalore.
    Are there any websites where users get together and do/discuss Engineering(Multidisciplinary or otherwise) actively?

    • Victoria

      I personally don’t know anything about it. It just came up in a Google search and the posts seem intellectually stimulating enough, but http://www.engineeringexchange.com/
      Good Luck!

      • Gokul

        Thank you

    • bszert

      I don’t know about engineering, but if you want to jerk off mentally, try to answer (some of) these:

      1) Can a human ever pick a sequence of numbers (indefinitely long) in a way that the distribution is indistinguishable from a computer? How would you go about trying?
      2) What is the fastest way from your work to your home? How do you know? What is the shortest?
      3) Is it possible to design a system that circulates water without a pump? Would that be any different from a perpetual motion machine?

      Or, I don’t know, try learning a language.

    • HammerOfThor

      I too would be interested in something like this. http://engineering.stackexchange.com/ might be close to what you want. I personally stay away from forums as they are typically dominated by mentally unstable individuals (waitbutwhy seems to be a nice exception to this, though).

      One problem with multidisciplinary engineering discussions is that things tend to get very technical very quickly, and very technical questions can often only be answered through hard and time-consuming work (math, computer simulations, scale model simulations, etc.). Hard work without the possibility of payoff tends not to attract a lot of people!

      • Gokul

        I totally agree with your hard work point . I am part of that forum actually, and its not bad at all. But it is true that people tend to be weird on forums. Many engineering forums that i have visited, people dont try answering the question well, but point to inane things like typos or assume you have done no research for no reason.

  • Sahil Sharma

    How many years before we can invent general AI?

    • Wiremu Hohepa

      I don’t really like the word ‘invent’ here (even though it’s okay as a quickly phrased question.)
      An interesting replacement word is ‘advent,’ (though it’s not as grammatically clean.)

  • Sahil Sharma

    This one is for tim – Tim, what other posts do you have in the pipeline for us? Thanks!

  • Lars Rindeskär

    Huuuuge amount of green house gasses

    I really love Musk´s great ideas on cars an batteries, and green solutions for our planet.
    But the Mars thing, I don´t know…
    Did I read that the new rocket engine consumes two tons of karosene per second? And that the big rocket that will take 100 persons to Mars vill use three of those engines. And the fuel will be burned for about four minutes in our athmosphere..
    Burning one ton of karosene or methan will produce about three times as much of CO2. Along with 1.5 times H2O, both green house gasses. Each trip will make 6500 tons of green house gasses. 10 000 trips will take expected one million earthlings to Mars, but will produce 65 million tons of those heating gasses.
    Wouldn´t it be better to stay on Tellus, and let all thouse bright brains use therir skills and creativity to preserve live for all Homo Sapiens?

    Lars Rindeskar
    Sweden

  • Scott

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate) What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done? Either because you’ve had to, or because you’ve chosen to.

    • Annie Rousso

      The most difficult thing I had to get the job I do now. It required a lot of sacrifices wrt my personal life. I dont regret but I wish it was easier. I chose to do it cause my financial independance is my raison d etre, it comes first, above any other need.

      • Scott

        Ooooo…financial independence. Yes please! Still working on it myself. Best of luck!

        • Annie Rousso

          Best of luck you too. I know family and personal life is so very important but there is no feeling like being able to carry your own weight and do your thing.

    • Victoria

      The most difficult thing I’ve ever done is learn to forgive. I’m not sure about others as to whether they prefer to forgive in the first place or find it easier than I did, but it seems to take years to really learn to put yourself in other’s shoes and be able to forgive for anything.

      • Scott

        That’s a really good one. In the same vein, learning when to forgive yourself when it’s clear external forgiveness will be withheld indefinitely. I’ve had to learn both.

      • Luke

        Bury my Mother.

        • Scott

          I’ve done that too. So very hard.

    • wobster109

      One of the hardest things was telling my friend I wouldn’t talk through her online interview questions with her. I knew it was cheating, and it was like, here’s my friend, and I’m looking at her face, and she’s asking for my help, and on the other end is this big nameless corporation, so why won’t I help her? So even though I knew the right answer was no, saying it made me feel so small and mean.

      • Scott

        Interesting answer. It does seem to be difficult to deny a friend help, even if it’s the right thing to do.

    • HammerOfThor

      Obtaining a PhD. I’m personally glad that I did it in the end, but it’s not everyone’s bag. http://www.princetonreview.com/grad-school-advice/why-you-shouldnt-pursue-phd

      • Scott

        I’ve heard (or been told to consider) that it is an all consuming process, and carries the risk of banishing any passion you have for the subject. On the other hand, several of my friends sound just like you. They are truly glad to have done it. I suspect some of them are glad because of the work they can now do, which is mostly research.

        I’ve not completely given up on the prospect myself. But I’d have to think long and hard on it.

  • Mehman

    It’s time to get meta. Question for you guys’n’gals who contribute to this discussion by answering.
    How much time do you spend on answers?
    Do you check your facts? Do you google your answers (nothing wrong with that IMO)?
    Have you learnt anything while answering?

    • Panda

      Anywhere between 1-15min (facts check included). Answers only included topics that I at least have some prior knowledge. Sometimes you learn of different reasoning (right or wrong or unknown).

    • Wiremu Hohepa

      I’m not sure if I have any facts.
      Becoming increasingly meta: There’s the fact that books can’t copyright facts (like in a non-fiction book) so unimportant errors or something are sometimes intentionally made in order to stop people from copying your book as their own. I have not checked this fact. ((I don’t think it’s logically consistent if that ‘fact’ was intentionally printed as a lie because of its truth.))

    • Jack

      Answering only using my brain – no fact checking here. Learning a fair bit though

    • ericsp23

      I try to spend a bit of time on an answer unless it is something that I am really sure of, which is rare. I am a voracious reader, and most of the time my answers come from remembering something I read a long time ago. If there is any doubt that I may be remembering something incorrectly, which is most of the time, I’ll google it to verify my memory.
      Sometimes I find that I remembered something incorrectly; sometimes I find that my original source was incorrect or that new information has come to light since then. Other times I find that there is disagreement as to the validity of something that I had come to believe and was just not aware of the controversy. I always adjust my answer accordingly (or sometimes just abandon any attempt to give an answer if I don’t think I can add anything useful to the discussion). I’m not perfect, and sometimes I find that there is a relevant source that I had not considered, even after googling the subject. All of this only applies to factual information of course; some answers are more a matter of opinion on some level or another, and in those cases I usually just go with my gut.

      If I come away from the experience having learned something new, all the better.

  • Annie Rousso

    Is it possible to fully become an adult and have a personal life and a carrer without having your heart shrink? I think when I was younger my heart was bigger, if that makes any sense…

    • Victoria

      I’m not an adult myself and couldn’t be certain, but from what I do know I’d say it’s defiantly plausible. I know plenty of adults who are just as passionate about certain subjects/work and care about other people just as much or even more than children do. The only difference is that in adults it’s seen as being too much of a reckless visionary or even socially naive rather than having a big heart. Sure, there’s people who learn to care less as they grow older and only focus on what they deem important, but it’s not impossible.

    • wobster109

      Having to ignore some things or say no doesn’t mean your heart has shrunk. 🙂

      Better to help 10 people than to spend all your time and money helping 1, even though it makes you feel like the Grinch when you say no to that one person.

  • Victoria

    Would you like you if you met you and why or why not?

    • Nicolas Guerin

      I would probably find myself pretty annoying… Most people I meet that have the same flaws as me get on my nerves…

    • Nathan M

      I often don’t like myself, but I have realized that if I met myself as another person, I would think he was awesome.

  • Adrian Canto

    When you hear the word “Mexico”, what is the first thing you think about? (I´m from Mexico, but don´t worry, I won´t get mad if your comment is offensive) (^^,

    • Victoria

      Two things. It’s somewhat split:
      a) Many of my friends and the culture of the entire town I lived in when I was younger. I lived in Mexico for a while as well as a rural community in southern Texas for a few years where my close family members were the only people I knew who weren’t from Mexico and some of the only people I knew who spoke English.
      b) Every stereotype in existence (I’m sorry)
      Even though I know Mexican culture isn’t like this for the most part, when I hear other people talk about Mexico (I now live in South Carolina) it’s mostly crime, short people, good food, large mustaches, unsanitary streets, and little opportunity that first comes to mind from stereotypes and jokes sticking in my head.

    • gatorallin

      drug cartel beheadings

    • Bram Koster

      Chichén Itzá, but then again, I live in a country where Mexico is mostly mentioned as holiday location 🙂

    • wobster109

      Dia de los Muertos.

    • d

      The Mexico map..so weird

    • JunoEven

      Mexican food… delicious, delicious Mexican food….

    • Dylan

      The colors of the Mexican flag and soccer jerseys

    • James Heffernan

      Mexico City

    • punction

      The flag!

      I surprised myself, I thought it would be food.

    • Jimmy Cooper

      Big waves!

    • jonathan

      The middle of mainland Mexico where there is baked dusty land and a child in a adobe house waiting impatiently for the mid day summer heat to be over so he can play again.

  • Panda

    How do we determine the square root of a prime number? (probably answered through some rigorous proof somewhere but a rough explanation is preferred :D)

    • wobster109

      I’d find the digits one by one. For example, with 13, I’d say it’s between 9 and 16, so I know the sqrt is 3.something. Then multiply out 3.6*3.6, and it’s 12.96, but 3.7*3.7 is too big, so now it’s 3.6something, and we know the tenths digit. Then, 3.61*3.61 is too big so it’s 3.60something. . . on and on. . . .

      A calculator could do it way faster than me. 🙂

    • Myd

      Square root of any prime number is an irrational number, so you cannot really “determine” it, you can only approximate its value. The process of approximating the value can be something like wobster109 suggested.

  • Burleigh Charlton

    Where do you see social interaction going to in the next ten years? We already have it mostly digital, where next?

    • Jimmy Cooper

      Wireless thought sharing, that would be cool.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Are you male and do you have a foot fetish?

    • ian porto

      yes, yes

    • JunoEven

      yes, no

  • Tyrone Wilson

    Kirk or Picard?

    • Kristen InaTavia Solindas

      Reynolds.

    • JunoEven

      Kirk

  • d

    What do you consider is good mental health?

    • Mahi

      I would say it depends more on how other people perceive the person, and not really on how a person perceives him/herself. I guess you’re always biased when it comes to your own mind, either towards the picture-perfect image of yourself, or towards the psychopath that you believe lives within. So only other people could really tell if a person is “sane” based on their behavior.

    • HammerOfThor

      In psychology, a mental illness is defined as a condition which causes “poor ability to function in ordinary life”. I assume that the opposite of this is good mental health. That is, you are in good mental health if you are able to function well in ordinary life.

  • Jack

    What do you consider to be the biggest problem facing mankind in the 21st Century?

    • Timoo van Esch

      I would say food, maybe drinking water.
      The biggest problem, not the biggest challenge. Food, because of the commercial overtake of our food supply; if seeds are owned by companies, our whole food supply is in jeopardy. Because they will have the same way to pressure society in a certain direction as Congress did in the USA by blocking the funding of the economy.

      That is why I personally think that securing our food supply, out of the hands of for-profit, faceless corporations, will be at the core of our global problems.

      Of course there is the global warming crisis, although I think there is enough attention for this to actually be dealt with before it really becomes a tremendous problem. See Tesla, SolarCity, etc.Food is just one problem that remained flying under the radar, with now 4 or 5 petro-chemic-producing companies own most of the patents on most of the seeds…

      • Raquel Bluhm

        Food is the main thing I’m concerned with. I have an idea for a business that I want to launch in the next couple of years where I get my food from local farmers and things grown in house and make food that is better for people, but actually tastes good. I have worked in the restaurant business my whole life and I think it’s about time that we stood up and took the business back from those corporations that don’t care what they’re feeding people. I want to teach people to be self-sustainable and to function as a community better. If we control our sources of food, energy and information then all the greedy people trying to control us will lose.

    • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

      I wanted to say the arrival of ASI, but I’m a bit more pessimistic (or optimistic?) regarding the timeframe, so my answer would be: the exponentially increasing amount of information our brains have to take in and process. Biologically, we’re not designed for this at all, and with humanity being too afraid of genetic engineering or hybridization of human brains and machines, this might lead to increasing numbers of problems.

  • burrow

    Why is it OK to kill some animals at will (cockroaches, flies, spiders), some only for food (cows, pigs and sheep) and some not at all (whales, elephants, koalas)?

    • ericsp23

      “kill some animals at will” – Because they are undesirable for some reason or another (spread disease, parasites, just being a general nuisance, etc).

      “for food” – Because our bodies are designed to take in various forms of sustenance, including meat. Our bodies require protein and animals are the most convenient source.

      “some not at all” – Because we find value in preserving some species (biodiversity, they’re useful to us alive, social norms, they’re cute, etc)

      There’s nothing irrational about any of it. Is any of it wrong? Maybe to some, but there is nothing unnatural about it.

      • jonathan

        I agree with you.

        Mostly we kill cockroaches, flies and spiders because of disease or perhaps they threaten life (Hello Australia!)

        I would add there are some moral questions being added to the mix that conflate things about animals for food. Like, should we cut down rain forest to raise beef? Should we use lots of farm land and water and soil health to feed pigs? Animals have nerve cells and feel pain… is it right to cause pain to another creature? People are divided on the answers to those questions and that causes the omnivore (Eats meat) vegetarian (Eats no meat) and vegan (Eats no animal products) points of view. And as you can imagine, everyone is very angry with each other.

        We don’t kill some species because there is a critical mass of people who fall into the “Preserve them” category. Unfortunately, there are thousands of species going extinct every year right now because they are ugly or rare or unknown. Many millions of dollars are spent to protect Pandas but that money could save hundreds of other species that don’t have a hope otherwise. If you feel that we should value nature over money then say something! Talk to your friends or buy eco-sensitive products or donate to charities or contact politicians. Nothing will stop the death and destruction except us.

    • pomegranates

      haha tim once wrote a post about this on his whole blog! 🙂

      • pomegranates

        old blog* i meant “old blog” not “whole blog” oops

  • Moonbot

    If you have ever experienced long term depression, what methods improved your experience with depression the most?

    • Timoo van Esch

      Friendship.
      Really. Starting to understand that, in spite of all the odds and imperfections, there are a few people who really care about you, your thoughts and your movements.
      And breakthroughs.
      Proof yourself to be worth more than you actually think of yourself. This will boost your self-esteem and in the long run will help you to stand on your own 2 feet again.

      *just my 2 cents, learned by experience…

    • HammerOfThor

      Getting a well-paying job.

    • Aron Morhoff
    • Q

      Competitive running on a team. Yes, this is highly specific, but it’s just an example: I think the interpersonal bonds achieved through sharing a passion, with the additional benefits of regular rigorous exercise to boot, helped most. It also didn’t hurt to have the metals and personal records to reassure myself of my worth.
      Another action I took that helped a lot more than I expected was changing the literature and music I expose myself to.

  • Jordan

    What are some of the best beginner songs to learn on guitar?

    • bszert

      Highway to Hell by ACDC, Enter Sandman by Metallica, Bloodshot Eyes by Irie Maffia

    • punction

      Wonderwall

    • wobster109

      You Are My Sunshine 🙂

      You can play it in every key to learn the I, IV, and V chords in every key.

    • jonathan
  • qwertyu

    Who would be best USA president and why Bernie Sandres?

    • Annie

      Not Trump, please anyone but Trump

  • Kelso

    If we successfully invented a way to upload our brains (in fact, our whole bodies, including our microbiomes), so that we could exist as silicon-based machines rather than carbon-based machines, would you upload yourself? If so, why? If not, why wouldn’t you or what more would you need to know (how might you be reassured if you’re scared) so that you would?

    • Dylan

      How would existence as a silicon based life-form differ from carbon?

      • Kelso

        Here are just some ideas:

        Self-awareness: It’s likely that our self-awareness would be greatly enhanced. We would be able to determine which “programs” in our mind we would like to minimize or possibly remove altogether, including those that are evolutionary older and more primitive “programs” (many of which I believe we struggle with today). The sub- and un-conscious parts of our minds would also likely become much more understandable as we would be more able to investigate and learn about them.

        Empathy/communication: Current methods of communication are inefficient and imperfect. As silicon-based minds we would be able to understand and connect on much deeper levels. We could decide to share with each other not just the products of our thoughts but the processes/”programs” that lead us to those thoughts, letting other glimpse deeper into our minds. This would allow for much greater understanding and communication among minds and could possibly lead to merging of minds into greater consciousnesses (whatever that means).

        Memory, learning, etc: We could likely learn new things very quickly with the ability to expand our memory capacity and our processing speeds.

        Beyond human knowledge: Eventually we could enhance our intelligence beyond the current capacity of the human biological mind, and we would be able to comprehend things that we find mind-boggling today, imagine things that we can’t imagine today, understand things that go against so much of our basic understandings (see: quantum physics), and know things that today we don’t even know that we don’t know and that we aren’t able to know today.

        • Skinjacker

          One thing though, how would emotions be affected? How about love/procreation? It’d be sad to see the latter go in the future.

          • Kelso

            I don’t see why we couldn’t keep all of those around unless we choose to get rid of them. Or choose to bring them back if we want them again.

            • Skinjacker

              Feelings aren’t so simple. They’re caused by releasing chemicals and hormones in the brain and body. I doubt it would be easy at all to replicate that.

            • Kelso

              Complexity and difficulty notwithstanding, I think you agree that feelings are part of the biochemical machine that we are, and therefore can be transcribed as part of a silicon-based being. The assumption in the given hypothetical is that we have the knowledge and power of how to do this (admittedly very complex and difficult) transformation. The question is – would you?

    • HammerOfThor

      For me, the answer is, “I don’t know yet”, because we simply don’t know enough about consciousness to know if it would be preserved during the upload. If I knew that it would be preserved, I would definitely do it. Even with all the risks that it entails, it’s still a far better option than staying in your fragile decaying body.

    • Václav Margy Sobotka

      But if you upload something, you do not actually MOVE it. You create a COPY somewhere else. Looks to me like the case that you would not move your consciousness at all.

      • Kelso

        Why would a copy not copy consciousness?

        • Václav Margy Sobotka

          I am not saying it would not copy consciousness.

          If you create a copy of yourself, even with counsciousness, it is now a different being based on you. You would not SHARE a consciousness. You would need to move your consciousness into the new shell to enjoy the new possibilities.

          Am I more clear now? I have to admit, I have still a lot of problems arguing 🙂

          • Kelso

            Yes, that is a fair point. No problem arguing at all. Tim brings this issue up on his post on identity.

            Personally, I would rather die and let my “copy” experience the joy of consciousness as a silicon being than continue to be a biological being, given the choice. But that’s just me.

            • Václav Margy Sobotka

              That is really interesting opinion. I would not mind coexisting with a being based on myself, but…

              As much as I was surprised with your opinion, as I am trying to formulate the answer I see the appeal of that. I don’t think I would be able to do it, though.

              Thank you for bringing up interisting question 🙂

            • Simon Lindmark

              Hey guys!

              I have some thoughts regarding your discussion. As Kelso pointed out, yes, we are extremely simple. Now, as a meditator (I’m not a tibetan munk, but we’re working in the same area, I guess) I’ve come to learn how the system of mind-body, or thoughts-feelings, works. Humans see feelings as the definition of us, what “makes us human”. But most creatures feel, i.e. interpret sensations. How we work is basicly: 1. We percieve something. 2. We get a sensation somewhere in our body 3. Our mind interpret the sensation (compare to old experiences) 4. We react (have an emotional reponse). Hence, a feeling (or emotion) is not real, it’s an idea.

              We are, in fact, biological machines that strive to have the feelings we consider good for us (make us feel good) and flee from the feelings we consider bad. What it boils down to is really that we want to live and not to die. The funny thing is, they’re the same things. And they’re not outside of us, external och separate from us, we a r e our feelings. Your idea of something that’s good for you, that makes you happy, can only exist as the opposite of your idea of something negative, within the same framework. Which means that while you’re striving for the positive, you’re actually living the opposite, feeling the negative, being miserable. (plus)times(minus)=(minus) = Happy=Miserable.

              Now, what we are, what our minds are, is the ackumulation of our thoughts, our feelings. That’s our c o n c i o u s n e s s. If a program, like our minds, have the core command of searching for happiness, as we have and we are, forever craving the good (and trying to flee the bad), then that struggle (i.e. our conciousness), I think, would end after being uploaded. Not having organic tissue and a body connected to that program would mean no e v a l u a t i o n, just pure information. And after that you’d be just like everything else in nature, a non-judgemental entity floating about on the sea of change. And the incentive to live an infinite life would be gone. What I’m trying to say is that the moment you decide to upload yourself, your life is over.

    • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

      Yes, I would. For the exact reasons you mentioned.

      There’s a few szenarios which would make me think though:
      1. If I had reason to believe that there was a time constraint on how long we would be able to exist in silico
      2. If it was (or might become) impossible to communicate with normal humans
      3. If I had reason to believe that my existence in silico might be infinite

      • Kelso

        I get why #1 and #2 would give you pause. But why number #3?

        • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

          I read Tim’s post about big numbers. After having thought every thought uncountable times and having felt every feeling uncountable times, there’d be an infinite time of nothingness.

          • Kelso

            Hm interesting. If infinite boredom is your fear I don’t see why suicide isn’t still possible (nay, simpler!) as a silicon being. That said, while I adore Mr. Urban, our understanding of large numbers is primitive. We are primitive. If indeed you discover all the secrets of the universe and you STILL want to kill yourself? Have at it, I guess. For some reason I guess I have faith that you wouldn’t want to. Also, you could delete the circuit that causes you infinite boredom and instead simply experience infinite pleasure to an extent not even imaginable by our puny biological minds.

            • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

              I didn’t know becoming an ASI was part of your szenario. Then, of course, #3 becomes obsolete.

            • Kelso

              Fair point – it wasn’t part of my original scenario. I guess I just think there’s a very good chance that once you become a silicon-based being, you could enhance your intelligence beyond what’s currently possible.

              For instance, there’s good reason to believe that you would be able to figure out how to enhance your own intelligence (starting with memory and processing speed), higher self-awareness (more insight into the “programs” that make your mind work, including your sub- and unconscious minds) and better communication among minds (no more relying on, say, the positioning of others’ eyebrows to figure out what others are thinking).

            • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

              All this would make our minds faster and get rid of some sources of error. The insights a tibetan monk could get in a lifetime would be accessible to us within a fraction of a second. But to be eternally happy we’d need to be able to change some of our inner workings. Which should be perfectly doable, bit which also brings us a bit away from “only” uploading our minds. One could argue these would not be our minds anymore, but something different, just like we are different from the cells and microbes in our body.

              Truly fascinating thoughts. I hope to live long enough to at least know whether or not this will become within our reach one day.

              Edited to add: Also fascinating that most people have a very hard time comprehending this idea. The fact that we are merely biological machines – very sophisticated machines, but nonetheless machines – is still alienating to our collective minds.

            • Kelso

              Hm. What is the argument for these being different than “our minds” (I assume it’s a different argument than the identity problem)?

              I’d argue we change our minds’ “programs” all the time. We develop new habits. We try new things that replace old things that we do. We constantly learn new information and incorporate that into our views of the world and other people. We go to therapy! If the purpose of therapy isn’t to change our “inner workings,” I’m not sure what the purpose is haha.

              I think there’s good reason to believe that, as a silicon being, changing your mind’s “inner workings” would be much more accessible and easier to do than it is now. And as we would learn and experiment in changing our own inner workings (rewriting, eliminating, or writing new “programs” for our minds, similar to new information, therapy or habits we do today), we’d get better and better at it until we’d have a self-awareness that is incomprehensible to us today. At least, that’s the way I see it…

            • Thomas Dirscherl (Primer2004)

              I agree! The main difference would be the scope of the changes, which, for our biological containers, is quite limited. But on the other hand, changes in silico would be incremental, too, as we could only change as far as our minds could understand.

              Thanks for your thoughts on that topic. They changed my inner workings, at least to some degree 🙂

            • Kelso

              Awesome! That is gratifying for me to hear. Thanks for your thoughtful replies. Really enjoyed this thread.

  • WaffleNation

    If you had the chance to talk to anyone (dead or alive) for an hour, who would it be?

    • HammerOfThor

      I’ve always wanted to talk to Tesla to see what he thinks of our modern world. I have no idea if he would love or hate what he sees.

      • jonathan

        I’d like to be alive and talk to a doctor to help me stay alive longer! D:

  • James Heffernan

    Do you think the difference between our intellect and an ape’s is one of degrees or kind?

    • HammerOfThor

      There is a lot of evidence that says both. For example, the evolution of the FOXP2 gene seems to be a critical factor in developing speech; there’s evidence that the gene has a crucial role in creating the neural circuitry that allows us to ‘creatively’ produce new complex grammatical structures (something that other apes that have been ‘taught’ language simply cannot do). On the other hand, a lot of other functions (esp. sensory functions like vision) seem to be simply a more ‘enhanced’ version (in e.g. number of object categories that can be stored) of what other apes can already do.

      • James Heffernan

        So what you are saying is that biologically our senses are different but on the same scale, while the brain is a difference of kind?

        • HammerOfThor

          No, I’m talking about the sensory parts of the brain (which actually make up most of the cortex!). I should have made this clearer, sorry.

  • Krzysztof Szczawinski

    Why would anyone not want a libertarian society once they understand what it means?

    • wobster109

      I remember many years ago, my mother told me about the secretary at her workplace. She (the secretary) had a lump on her breast, but she couldn’t afford to have it looked at by a doctor, and she’d gone to my mother for advice. But you can’t say anything for sure without cutting it out and looking under a microscope, and that procedure costs money. I was maybe 10 at the time, and I asked, well what’s going to happen to her? My mother answered, “I don’t know”.

      You know what it’s like being 10, you still believe the world is fair, and you want people to live happily ever after? The not-knowing drove me crazy. It haunted me, I couldn’t sleep thinking of this woman with maybe-cancer growing in her, and no way to get it out, and nothing she could do about it! My skin was crawling, and it wasn’t even anyone I knew! As I got older that feeling stuck with me.

      That’s why I do not want a libertarian society. There will always be some people who, because of their genetics or their circumstances, aren’t able to support themselves, or even if they are maybe they can’t afford expensive medical treatments. How should a society handle people who can’t afford food or medicine? There are many possible answers, but I just can’t get behind a philosophy that would look at a woman with a lump in her breast, shrug, and say “well just let her die”.

  • Peter

    Sorry for the morbid content of this question: If you went to your doctor today and he told you that you had 6 months to live, would you rather (if this were an option): A) Receive some sort of treatment that might extend your life by 3 to 6 additional months but would pretty much devastate you mentally and physically (something akin to Chemotherapy) and would be paid for entirely by