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Found in Translation
Essays, Photos, and Efforts in J -> E translation

koorinohonou
Date: 2014-05-23 13:45
Subject: Aural bliss
Security: Public
Thanks, NwAvGuy.
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koorinohonou
Date: 2012-04-18 22:53
Subject: (no subject)
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Music:Civ 5 OST: 13.18 Pakistani Sufi Rhythm
Every organism is a solution to a problem.
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koorinohonou
Date: 2011-09-16 16:49
Subject: Brains
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Writing everything I have to say about this subject is such an impossible idea that I've decided to restrict myself to shorter, periodic installments just to get my disconnected (yet related) thoughts down.  If I still feel motivated at the end, maybe I'll clean things up and organize them.

Having taken several long and introspective journeys into the nature of mind and perception over the past few years, I want to set down my discoveries.  I have read accounts of men who embark on similar journeys- spiritual journeys, meditation and vision quests of all kinds.  I do regret not having a mentor such as those who study zen with a master or drink ayahuasca with a tribal leader, and one consequence of this is that I cannot even attest that my methods are essentially related to those well trod paths to enlightenment.  I can however state that my conclusions are entirely my own, which is surely worth something in this world of unoriginal ideas shared among many billions of minds via the Internet.

Let's get the core hypotheses out of the way, then explore their implications with concrete examples later.

1.  Material reality is dictated in many aspects by pure logic. 

This troublesome statement will lead to paradoxes down the road, and what's worse, I haven't phrased the idea properly from the perspective of someone who understands its implications.  This is the most likely approach vector for those carrying deep-seated traditional views of existence and perception, however.  What I mean is that a truth-statement and material reality are fundamentally the same thing.

As humans we spend a great deal of our time devoted to the exploration of fantasy.  From our earliest childhood days we play at make-believe.  Our fantastical constructions grow more elaborate as we age and our experience of the world deepens, and some of us devote our entire careers to the pursuit of fantastical worlds, through drama, art, writing, creating strongly storied video games, or simply dreaming.  And each of us has probably, at some point in our lives, wondered why our everyday reality can't be more like some particularly appealing fantasy world.  Ultimately the reason fantasy is fun for us is that it differs in some aspect or aspects from that everyday reality.  Most of them break physical 'laws' for the convenience of an entertaining story.  We imagine utopias of unlimited energy, or supernatural landscapes over which winged men fly, or even dystopian fantasies in which we are subjugated by alien races or by Big Brother.  But each of them dispense with some law of the universe, and whether the transgression be subtle or distinct, it becomes the nucleus of the fantasy world.

What about reality, then?  What are its laws and why do we find them immutable?
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koorinohonou
Date: 2010-12-02 16:18
Subject: Asymmetry
Security: Public
Tags:body, brain, computers, dna, existence, human, information, math, nature, philosophy, physics, universe
Lately I've become fascinated with symmetry and asymmetry in nature.

1.   One of the greatest unsolved problems in physics is why the visible universe appears to have favored the genesis of matter over antimatter.  We have generated antimatter in physics labs, and so far no scientist has observed any anomaly in the expected behavior of any antiparticle versus its complementary mundane particle.  That is to say, an anti-electron (positron) behaves exactly as an electron of opposite charge would be expected to.  An anti-hydrogen (composed of an anti-proton and anti-electron) behaves exactly as the ordinary hydrogen we know.  Yet we cannot find antimatter in substantial quantities of any natural origin, terrestrial or extra-terrestrial.  If matter galaxies and antimatter galaxies coexisted in the universe, we would certainly know them by characteristic radiation emitted in the large-scale annihilation that would take place at inter-galactic boundaries. 

How did the universe come to be composed of mostly, if not exclusively, one type of matter over the other?  The fact seems to suggest that antimatter is not functionally equivalent to matter, but if this is so then it must be in a way we have not seen, or are perhaps incapable of seeing.  To state it another way, matter (that is, matter and anti-matter, stuff that exists) must have certain properties which are not described by our current model of particle physics, properties which were selected upon during the origin of the universe, and which resulted in the matter-dominance we now observe.  Alternatively, it could be that some initial conditions resulted in the creation of more matter than antimatter.

2.  The human body is another study in symmetry.  Stochastic (random but fitness-oriented) evolution implies that where it benefits us to have two of a given organ, we have two (lungs, hands, eyes, gonads), and where the burden of supporting a pair of a given organ is prohibitively high, we have only one (brain, heart, liver, digestive tract).  At the same time, there is a deeply-ingrained conservatism in our genetic code that favors duplication and symmetry. As one example of this, consider the following.

Fundamentally, the genetic code provides a sequence of amino acids to be synthesized into proteins.  Each amino acid is represented in the code by a sequence, called a codon, of three base pairs, each of which can be one of adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine.  Therefore the number of possible codons that can be described within our DNA is 4^3 = 64.   However, there are only 21 potential meaningful responses (the "instruction set") a codon can elicit within our cellular apparatus: these provide for 19 unambiguous instructions to build amino acids, 1 instruction that either signals the start of a block of coded information within the DNA strand (start codon) or an amino acid (methionine), and 1 unambiguous stop instruction (stop codon). 

As a consequence of the number of instructions (22) in the set being smaller than the total possible permutations of base pairs (64), most codons are duplicates, that is, more than one codon can code for the same amino acid.  At first glance this may seem wasteful or inefficient, but consider that the physical processes of DNA transcription and protein synthesis take place within a living cell in a real world, subject to all the environmental stresses implied therein.  The processes are not exact or completely reliable; the code is under constant stress and mutations (errors in base-pair storage or retrieval) occur.  The mutiplicity of codons versus amino acid-instructions ensures that when mutations do occur, many of them may innocuously result in a code describing an identical protein to the original.  In this way, a sacrifice in the use efficiency of the coding space results in a system with increased robustness versus environmentally or systemically induced error.

In computers, we use an analogous device during the transmission and storage of information.  Error Correcting Codes (ECC) are used variously in CDs, RAM, disk storage and networking protocols.  Implementations differ, but the principle is the same.  For each frame of arbitrary length in bits, a constant number of bits is designated for storage not of information content, but of derived information that allows the reconstruction of any damaged information in the content section of the frame.  In general, the ratio of information content to error correction information in each frame defines the robustness of the medium to transmission and storage error.  Our cells have no mechanism for arbitrarily comparing and correcting the coding parts of a DNA 'frame' using any error correcting portion, if it even existed.  Instead, DNA incorporates redundancy by making whole glyphs functionally redundant.  As for what resulted in this particular ratio of instructions to codons, or why some instructions can be indicated by a greater number of codons than others (Methionine/Start share a codon, tryptophan's codon is unique, some aminos have 4 or more codons), it would take a biochemist to explain.

The imprecise and unpredictable nature of DNA-related processes in the living cell necessitate error robustness, achieved by a redundancy of glyphs (codons).  Likewise, they impose an economy of function.  Many more amino acids exist than are coded for in our DNA, and while our 'instruction set' only provides for 20, these must yet be sufficient to describe every aspect of our physical body.  Likewise, the process of mutation will ultimately select for the shortest possible genome to describe a given organism.  Mutation is understood to occur at a more or less constant rate, per base pair, over the life of the organism.  While there are natural mechanisms within the cell to recognize and repair damaged or mutated DNA, many mutations are fatal to the organism or render it unable to reproduce.  It follows that the fewer base pairs in an organism's genome, the less likely a fatal or sterilizing mutation will arise over its lifetime.  This, I believe, is one principle underlying our bilateral symmetry.

Unlike species of plants and fungi that remain stationary throughout their lives, we animals inhabit and roam a physical world.  A tree can sprout branches and leaves in a haphazard manner because its specific "fine" physical incarnation bears little influence on its survival and reproduction.  Terrestrial vertebrates, however, must have well defined limbs and digits to coordinate their movement over land in search of food and mate.  Our genes must then code for our specifically defined shape, placing a far greater burden of information content on us than is found in an average tree.  This burden, along with the constraints of  'imposed efficiency' due to natural mutation, result in our bilateral symmetry, which is perhaps not coincidentally one of the most obvious physically manifest differences between ourselves and plants.  Simply, it is convenient from the perspective of information conservatism to have left and right limbs that are identical to one another (apart from being stereo opposites).  When the genetic information to form a limb, a hand, or a finger is in place, recycling that information to produce a second limb, hand, or other fingers is exemplary of the the kind of brutal efficiency found so often in nature.

3.  While I listed the brain above as an example of an organ which we do not possess in pairs, it is in fact the most interesting case of bilateral symmetry yet.  And it will be the subject of my next entry.
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koorinohonou
Date: 2010-11-28 01:02
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
I'm spending too much time sitting down.  I think it's starting to affect my body and health.
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