I am starting out with Christine O’Donnell’s funny ‘Politically Incorrect’ sound bite where she supports her disbelief of evolution by asking, ‘why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?’. It’s obvious, to someone who has rudimentary knowledge of science, that monkeys do not have enough time to evolve into humans in our life span but we, humans, are still evolving before her eyes. Continuing evolution is still a great mystery to most of us. For instance, modern science allows us to study the human body in more detail. Quick genome sequencing puts us at a special time in history where we will understand our evolution better in the next few decades. Significant changes in our bodies occur within a few generations therefore soon we will understand why modern living and its millions of chemical additives is turning us into cancer factories. We will understand how globalization of population and therefore mixing of genes from far flung tribes affects our genetics.
But the biggest mysteries of humanity for me are the significant changes in our brain that affect more and more people each year. My friend who has Attention Deficit Disorder classifies it as a mutation of the brain. While his condition is somewhat debilitating if untreated, it provides him with ‘super powers’ in other areas which he has learned to use to his advantage. My spouse who is Autistic displays the same type of apparent super powers. However Autism is a very large mutation encompassing individuals in four different categories. Every autistic person I know is different. My spouse has Asperger Syndrome which is very common in computer nerds and scientists.
I, on the other hand is obviously one of the two but I do not have enough patience with our dysfunctional health care system to find out which one exactly.
It is obvious that we live in a time where great pressure is put on people to be part of a dumbed-down version of humanity which is also called the mainstream. It is important to educate young people about diversity in humans as a richness and not as a liability. We are living in a time where a small number of loud obviously under-informed people drag down the discussions to matters of feelings rather than facts. This whole circus seems like the continuation of the bullying epidemic that teenagers live everyday. I can understand how it is much easier to fill the continuous news cycle with feelings rather than facts… facts take a long time to gather and intellect to analyze. Outside of intellect or IQ, the ability to gather and analyze information is key to finding solutions and making decisions in all aspects of life and work. People who are under-informed are generally more concerned with being right and will use intimidation, emotional and physical violence to get the feeling that they are right. But this medieval-style bullying by the under-informed has no place in our modern world and I am glad to see that those who know better are becoming more and more vocal in defense of information, reason, science and facts. We can’t expect teenagers to behave better in regards to their schoolmates when bullies are allowed to rule the discourse in the world of adults.
There are a lot of TED talks by people with OCD, ADD and Autism but I am including one by Temple Grandin who explains her experience with autism as well as how she has used her gift to contribute to her field of work, designing gigantic modern abattoirs that are less stressful and cruel to animals in the slaughtering process. I had never imagined that our meat factories are so large so I thank her for that education as well.
“If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics there would be no more Silicon Valley and the energy crisis would not be solved” -Temple Grandin
As an ending note, the GE ecomagination submission phase is now over and Stéphane and I await the feedback from the jury on which technologies will receive $100K prizes or be considered for further funding. The Atomic Rave Engine is a very different green technology in a world that seems to be fixated on solar and wind. However, as the least expensive technology to R&D and deploy, we feel it merits a first round of funding and even with only $100K we would be able to complete the R&D phase and have a solid prototype design ready to build a Hovercraft for Jon Stewart.
“I always have this idea that invention and ingenuity is going to create a new fuel source our a new type of engine but basically when you track back society we had three sorts of innovations: farming, which allowed us not to be nomads anymore, the steam engine and, I guess, you know, microprocessing. Other than that… It’s three in 10,000 years. We’re going to be waiting 10,000 years to come up with, what I like to call… Hovercrafts.” – Jon Stewart