Failing In Your 20s

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” -Henry Ford

The quote used above may or may not have been said by Henry Ford. I googled it under “quotes about failure” and it’s entirely possible that this man hasn’t said this at all. However, from what I know about Henry Ford’s background he has failed numerous times to create one of the most groundbreaking machines in modern history; the Model T. He failed spectacularly; so much so that the majority of people lost faith in him. But his setbacks weren’t equal to his comebacks. In Robert Greene’s Mastery he discusses Henry Ford’s personal history as apprenticing yourself through failure. He even states that when people initially start a venture a small part of them should hope that they fail because they have everything to gain from such an experience. Ford’s failures eventually led to the Assembly Line and the popularization of automobiles that are woven into our society today.

Starting out, we all face challenges and hurdles on our journey to becoming our best selves. Through persistence and clear vision we can overcome these hurdles and blossom into the magical creations we always were. Who we always knew we could be. Sometimes we encounter fear and doubt which might cloud our vision and lead us into failure. It’s funny…as I’m writing this I think of the hit show Power‘s theme song where 50 Cent starts by saying “I never took a straight path nowhere, life’s full of twists and turns, bumps and bruises, I live I learn.” Isn’t that the truth? Even 50 Cent has had his major slip ups and look at him. Society labels him as “successful”. It’s all about embracing life as it happens with clarity and correcting the mistakes you make.

When you fail in your 20s it’s considered ok. Not quite as catastrophic as when it happens in your 30s or after. Because you’re still young enough to “not completely ruin your life”. I’ve become quite familiar with failure all throughout my life and my 20 something years have been no exception, although there were quite a few more highs than lows, as I’m sure many 20 somethings in my demographic can relate. My 20s have been remarkable and sad, wild and free, lonely and reflective and they’re still not over. I’ve dealt with major setbacks that I didn’t think I would ever recover from and somehow I managed to get to my destination. I’ve gone so far out of my comfort zone and managed to make some of the most amazing memories I’ll ever have. Indeed, there have been twists and turns, as well as bumps and bruises, but I live and learn. Right now I’m facing a problem that I’ve never really dealt with before, but I know I’ll overcome it because I have hope in myself and God.

I’ve even watched YouTube videos about celebrities, like Steve Harvey, who lived out of their cars in their 20s to enjoy success later in life. In my 20s I’ve heard numerous stories of struggles I cannot comprehend and have been blessed to not have been exposed to. I’ve never had to live out of my car (well, I occasionally live out of my car), and I’ve never been to prison (not yet at least, fingers crossed). But even though bad things happen there’s always hope. Most people who fail to begin with are actually making progress. Because we all know failure is a part of success. You don’t become successful without making mistakes and maybe even embarrassing yourself. Yes, hard times come around, and yes they are very uncomfortable, but that discomfort is what helps us grow. I would not be who I am today without the endurance of the hard times in my past. So, with that being said, I kind of celebrate the living out of the car and the empty wallet adult phase of my life as a kind of rite of passage. I know that these things won’t last and I will.

-Isaiah Dix

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Inventing Humanity [Part 2]

Continued from Inventing Humanity, last week on The Fire

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Standing Up To Evolution

Strong LegsIt’s widely understood that ancient humans had to learn to walk upright, or bipedally, in order to improve their chances of survival in the unforgiving African savanna. This way we were able to keep alert for meandering dangerous animals ranging from Smilodons to hyenas while we hunted, gathered, and raised our families. This adaptation gave us the advantage to develop and enhance our tool making capabilities, conserve energy, and thus, develop larger brains.

In order for our ancestors to survive environmental changes of the Pliocene and thereafter they did away with their hindering quadrupedal habits and became mostly bipedal, and as the environment changed selection pressure was refined, as is the nature of evolution and life in general. Quadrupedal apes can expend up to 35% more energy than we do, and when food on the savanna is scarce, as it can be at times, this can become a death sentence. Another great adaptation our ancestors developed to this changing environment was a forward-facing big toe which helped support around 30% of our body weight.

It’s important to realize that features such a straight big toe and and renewed bipedal abilities are random genetic features in the grand scheme of things. Genetic mutations occur randomly. Some of these mutations turn out be prized and some turn out to be unpopular; just like the development of lungs in Devonian tetrapods like Tiktaalik eventually proved to be miracles that shaped the history of our world forever. These genetic mutations eventually alter the way in which we live our lives. Tiktaalik would eventually venture onto land, perhaps to escape predators, and our human ancestors would grow smarter and develop a diet richer in proteins from meat. A meaty diet also contributed to larger brains as the plant based diets of our robust cousins, Paranthropus, demanded more resources for the digestive system. The same reason cows have four stomachs. With the brain demanding such a significant percentage of our daily energy intake it was able to grow faster and make better humans. Better humans= better chances of survival.

Grade Ape Brain

Where would I be without my brain? Now that’s a question I cannot answer. Personally, my brain is quite an interesting place. A vast space of neurons and miracles set to give me the best life I can possibly have in relation to limits of my DNA. Some people compare human brains to the expansiveness of the universe because of how complex and miraculous it genuinely is. My brain is so amazing I can even talk to myself in it! That’s cray. I can also plan for the future, interpret abstract concepts, or even complete university programs with my big human brain. These natural gifts are quite extraordinary in nature, and also rare.

RIP DinosaursOur species has come such a long way in the last couple million years (still such a short amount of time in the history of life on earth) that it’s hard not marvel at the rate at which hominin brains have developed throughout time. I say this understanding how unfortunate it was that the dinosaurs never quite got the chance to develop into their full potential because of a stupid asteroid. GRRRR I hate that stupid asteroid that killed them, even though it made room for us. Why? Because I’m not selfish, that’s why. I know who the real legends of earth are.

Either way humans are very fortunate to have come as far as we have, although people begrudgingly acknowledge the average human brain size has decreased by 10% since the stone age² (Discover Magazine, September 2010). We also begrudgingly admit how much more complex the world has become due to this gift of ours, which causes serious trouble for us with issues related to environmental impacts and warfare. What other great ape can say they’ve killed members of their own species by the tens of millions using bombs, guns, gas, etc? What other animal can say they’ve nearly doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the last 80 years? Because although we are among the most intelligent species to inhabit the planet we are also one of the most destructive.

This is not to take away from the profound contributions the human mind has made to our lineage and survival, it simply sheds light on the negative effects of our gift. We used our brains to survive and we managed to do quite well, genetically speaking.

What’s Next?

Future HumansGood question, Isaiah. I guess we’ll just have to never find out because we’re all gonna die, because we’re all mortal and primitive 😉 . Some believe that our knack for engineering and robotics will eventually lead to cyborg, space traveling hominins and others believe our brains and eyes will get bigger and bigger as time passes due to environmental change. So maybe we’ll end up looking like the aliens we imagine. Some even believe the human race is on thin ice and may not make it too much longer into the future, not to mention nearly as long as Homo Erectus.  But nobody knows for sure. That’s the thing about the future, isn’t it? It’s uncertain.

Regardless of what we imagine the future of human evolution to be we know that as long as people are reproducing and genetic diversity exists we will have a future. There will be a next evolutionary step. Hopefully that next step involves space travel and grand innovations, but I’m also ok with just plain, simple survival.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to human evolution.

-Isaiah Dix

Inventing Humanity

Human Evolution GifThe story of humanity is something every one of us can learn from, as well as add to, if we’re patient enough to embrace the details. Analyzing the details and complexities of the human story is something mostly done by scientists (paleoanthropologists) today, but I believe it shouldn’t just be limited to scientists. Thankfully we live in a society where the public can access libraries and even buy subscriptions to online scholarly databases like JSTOR and EBSCO (in high school we called this Ebscohost) that allow us to have access to this pertinent information at our fingertips. Information that can blow your mind or even change your life.

We have overcome some long odds and harsh conditions on the ancient African savanna to get to a taxing 7.5 billion global population. A population that is growing faster and faster. Some predict it will be around 9.7 billion by 2050. Interestingly, at the center of this rapidly growing population is Africa, the continent with the fastest growing population on Earth. Yet Africa is the same place human lineages have had to adapt and struggle to survive so many millions of years ago.

What the Dinosaurs Left Behind

After the KT extinction event that obliterated the dinosaurs, primate-like mammals began to appear on the scene. These early primates during this time inhabited the warm climates of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and Western North America¹. These small insect-eating animals eventually evolved to become prosimians. When you think of a prosimian think of a lemur. I especially remember the lemur from Zoboomafoo who had always made my childhood a little brighter. Prosimians also include animals such as tarsiers, aye-ayes, and bush babies.

During the Eocene Epoch (55.8-33.9 mya or million years ago) the prosimians gradually developed bigger bodies and brains as time went on eventually leading to the old and new world monkeys as well as apes. They were next evolutionary step.

Tetonius Homunculus
Artist rendering of an Eocene prosimian, T. Homunculus.

As monkeys came onto the scene and primates developed increasingly vertical postures, stereoscopic vision and bigger brains, competition, along with climate changes, thinned out the herd. There were many more prosimians that have existed than what we know of today. One of them includes my friend to the right. The prosimian population was nearly four times greater until a global warming event that prompted rapid evolution hit many species pretty hard.

Unfortunately, the fossil record is spotty and hard to acutely decipher. This is why there is so much disagreement within the discipline of paleoanthropology. We don’t have all the evidence at our fingertips to answer all the questions we have regarding the past. It’s something we need to continue to work towards as time goes on; but based on what we do know our ancestry is special.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

It’s fascinating to look at the creatures we once were. We came from small rodent-like animals to being medium-sized hyper intelligent creatures who can invent artificial organs. But we’re not the only ones who have gone on to evolve in such unexpected ways: the ancestors of whales were hooved and walked on land quite like hippos, and, of course, birds evolved from dinosaurs. It’s amazing how unpredictable evolution can be.

African SavannaNow let’s fast forward to the divergence of chimpanzees and us. Sahelanthropus Tchadensis (discovered in Chad in 2001) was an upright walking ape that heavily resembled today’s bonobos³. He was one of the ancient humans, along with Kenyathropus and Ardipethicus. Not much is known about this seven million year old human ancestor, but scientists understand it lived in the western-central region of Africa and had a diet consisting mainly of plants. However, as the landscape started to change and evolutionary paths diverged many hominids found themselves living on the African savanna where they had to adopt new strategies for survival opposed to the ones used in the jungles.

As time went on more human lineages began to emerge. There were the robust humans which included the Paranthropuses and there were the gracile humans which included most other species. For example, Paranthropus Boisei was a man with a huge sagittal crest and powerful jaws that had a mostly plant based diet. Some might refer to him as Nutcracker Man. On the other hand, there were more gracile humans like Homo Erectus who ate meat, which in turn led to a less complex digestive tract and more resources to give to the ever so demanding brain. It was the carnivorous diets of our ancestors that contributed, in part, to our enlarged brains. With large brains came less facial prognathism, more resources for hunting prey, and more complex humans. Meanwhile our robust cousins were suffering because of how insufficient their diets were relative to the energy they needed to survive. This is why they did not last. Gracile humans had to leave their comfort zones and develop new ways of surviving and even reproducing in order to last to the next generations.

Forever Young

Our ancestors had to develop new ways in order to survive on the harsh environment that is the African savanna. One particular way in which we survived in conjunction with our improving bipedal ability was giving birth sooner. Early humans that gave birth sooner were more likely to survive the birth (first of all) and there were also a variety of other benefits as well.

We humans are generally born helpless and relatively early compared to some other species. We take decades to mature into adults when parts of our bodies stop growing. Other animals don’t really do this. This is referred to as neoteny. With smaller hips due to bipedalism and innovations in the birth process we were able to survive. One of the benefits of neoteny included further innovations in brain development.

Humans are born with very large brains compared to other apes. We also don’t stop developing our brains completely until we’re in our 20s while monkeys, for example, arrive at birth with 70% of their cerebral development, with the next 30% being created within the next six months². Our unmatched brain power has been described by some as extraordinarily strange and unique in nature.

The Power of Man

Humans undoubtedly rule the world. We create and innovate things that have never been done before on a daily basis that raise the quality of life for most living things. We can be found in so many different environments all around the world. We also out competed previous hominini tribesmen to be able to thrive the way that we do. But that doesn’t mean we’ve never had our moments of uncertainty, or possible extinction. The turbulent climatic shifts of the last ice age was a test we almost failed, but we endured and made it through to eventually become what we are today.

To be continued, next week on The Fire

-Isaiah Dix

Sources:

  1. http://anthro.palomar.edu/earlyprimates/early_2.htm
  2. Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter
  3. humanorigins.si.edu

Feeling Like A Failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog The Fire. Today I’ll be talking about my feelings of failure in different aspects of my life and how intense they can be at times. I’ll also be talking about the remedies to these feelings and the success that is often times right around the corner from temporary defeat. This article will be very self centered, but there will also be more anecdotes of wisdom for you, the reader. Let’s get started, shall we?

So right now, at this point in my life, I feel like a huge failure. There are some things that have taken place that I don’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone because I don’t want people to look at me differently, but they certainly exist. Perhaps someday Michael McCrudden will talk about my hidden failures on his YouTube series Before They Were Famous. I’ve experienced tremendous failure in my 20s as well as tremendous success, but right now the skies are cloudier than they’ve ever been and I’m not quite sure how I’ll make it out of this one. Perhaps some of you can relate.

How Feelings of Failure Effect Our Mindset

I’m a 28 year old man. My birthday was on June 13th. That means that I’m at a point in my life that when I look around I see folks I went to grade school with being successful adults and having moderately satisfying lives and whatnot. I’ll be 30 years old in a little less than two years. Of course, by then I want to not feel like a success (and I’m sure I will) who has not wasted years of his life.

Paradoxically it is your highest self that will fail over and over when trying to climb to the top of the self expression ladder in life.

Sometimes these feelings of inadequacy can effect the way you move through life and your future, if you’re not careful. For example, one thing I need to hurry up and do is get back to school, but I haven’t got a job at the moment and I’m living with my Mom. I have to get certain things in order in my life and I will. I will prioritize and plan and execute my way back on track to success, as I’m sure most people do when faced with adversity. This will require some discomfort and pain, but later on it will be well worth it. So to anyone out there who feels similarly please just be patient.

Hear me when I say patience is a virtue.

Often times when people are feeling like failures they make decisions that limit themselves because of their self limiting beliefs, but you cannot do this! You must ALWAYS believe in the your highest self, because that is the winning self. Paradoxically it is your highest self that will fail over and over when trying to climb to the top of the self expression ladder in life. So keep believing in that higher (insert your name) and just be patient with your current self as you work to bring them out.

Another way failure can affect your mindset can be through trying to find “a way out” of your feelings; i.e drugs, pornography, etc. Respect and love yourself enough to know that bad habits are something you are above. You are above these destructive behaviors because you love yourself. Don’t throw your life away because you can’t deal with life’s inevitable challenges. Instead, find positive, productive ways to relieve your anxieties from failure; i.e boxing, working out, writing, playing chess, video games, etc. My Playstation 4 is one of my most, if not the most, prized possession I have right now. It provides both an escape and a challenge; healthy ways of dealing with stress associated with failure.

Be Kind To People, but Don’t Take Their Opinions Too Seriously

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Yes, be kind to those in your life, but don’t take their opinions too seriously. Some people you know may have negative opinions about you based on your choices and the direction you may be headed in your life and the resulting failure you are experiencing, but understand that most great people in this world have taken unpopular routes in life and have become wildly successful. Things happen for a reason! Don’t ever take someone’s opinion too seriously, no matter how much this person means to you. What truly matters is how YOU feel. Also, remember to be kind to your people because it is a mark of great character and they don’t deserve to suffer because of the all the stress you’re dealing with.

Let people know that although you don’t feel or seem like the all-star you know you are you still appreciate them being in your life. Because when you do get to that magical place of success and fulfillment you will want them to enjoy it with you. I can almost guarantee it. So be nice and have some self control.

Success Is Closer Than You Think

Often times failure is just temporary defeat. Don’t ever think that monumental success is forever out of your reach. Even in my darkest, hungriest, and most pathetically depressing of days I still have hope. Hope for my potential and an unshakeable belief in my spirit. In Napoleon Hill’s classic self help book Think and Grow Rich he talks about how failure is temporary and success is often much closer than one might think. He basically says for every magnitude of failure there is an equal magnitude of success. Meaning big failures can lead to huge successes. Just don’t give up! Once you’re there you’ll shine brighter than you ever have in your entire life! I promise you.

So place all those regrets into the lessons folder on your Mac Pro and keep going. Because failure is a part of the process. Instead, focus on celebrating the small steps you take towards victory.

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-Isaiah Dix

Forgiveness: Learning To Let Go

Heal yourself; you’ve got to heal yourself!

I sat up early this morning thinking about some powerful advice I’ve been reading over and over in one of my favorite books Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. In the chapter where he talks about healing the emotional wounds that people have one very important part of the process is forgiveness.

Ruiz describes healing the emotional wound like treating a real wound (the guy is a former surgeon). First, you open the wound by addressing the problem. Second, you disinfect the wound with the truth. Lastly, close the wound with forgiveness.

Forgiveness Gif

Forgiveness of yourself and others is something this world could certainly use more of. We need to forgive each other for things that have been done to us and ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. This is because people are not perfect. Learn how to forgive people, to make the world a better place.

Have I made mistakes in my life and career? You bet! Have I pointed out flaws in others that I wouldn’t accept in myself and held it against them? Absolutely! Do I feel good about doing this? No. Because when I make mistakes, which I inevitably will, I want people to see the good parts of me that should be forgiven. I hope people will forgive and accept me in this inherently cruel human society we are forced face every day we are alive. My past isn’t perfect, it’s also not too bad, but that’s not where I live anymore. I live here in the present.

So before you go pointing fingers at people make sure your own hands are clean. Chances are they’re not as clean as you make them look.

Choosing the Wrong Major In College

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Fire where I talk about things ranging from population density to overcoming obstacles. Today I want to talk about the impacts of choosing a wrong major in college. Of course, this is all from my own perspective but I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

 

When I was in college I took the liberal arts path and studied Anthropology. At first I loved it. The subject matter really expanded my horizons from the limited world I knew before. It was like a breath of fresh air. Then, as time went on, I became less and less interested in my studies and, needless to say, my grades dipped. I started to hate the discipline and I thought it was way too confining; clear signs that it was time to move on to next level. But I was too far along (a second semester junior) and didn’t want to change my major.

I didn’t want to change course in my undergraduate career and instead I just kept studying anthropology/archaeology trying my best to keep my head above water and make it to the finish line. Fortunately for me, although mentally, emotionally, and sometimes, physically tattered and exhausted, I made it to the finish line. Barely. Sometimes I think to myself “if I could go back I would do some things differently”.

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My grades would have been higher, I would have been way more inspired, and I’m sure there would have been some great positive changes in my life if I had instead decided to major in Biology or the like instead of the major I chose. But I didn’t, and this is for the following reasons:

  • I didn’t want to incur too much extra debt.
  • I wasn’t in a good place in my personal life to feel confident enough to make the decision and follow through successfully.
  • My mediocre performance in my chosen major had almost completely convinced me that I would expect the same results in another major.

Following Your Heart Can Mean Losing Your Mind

 

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Me changing my major would certainly have made it look like I had lost my mind. But it also would have been very smart. I probably could have avoided so much embarrassment and saved myself some much needed time OR I could’ve brought on even more embarrassment and discouraged myself even further. I suppose there’s a reason for everything. Perhaps my overdrawn education in Anthropology is preparing me for something greater along my path. In either case I’ve been able to educate myself on the subjects that interest me most, and I can now build on my continued education here on this blog.

After graduation I immediately started to research and learn about topics that interested me most: biology, astronomy, and other scientific disciplines. I discovered my passion for science completely on my own terms. It’s now something I plan to spend my life doing as well as contributing. Obviously studying anthropology involves science and it has prepared me well, but I am not where I want to be so I must go back to school for either an undergraduate or masters education in a scientific field of my choice.

So the moral of the story is to follow your heart no matter what. Do what you want to do in this limited lifespan and make the most of your decisions. They will set you free.

-Isaiah Dix

Creating the Future

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Saint Francis of Assisi

 

NASA Space Tourism Poster

We humans are destined for greatness within our evolutionary paths. Destined to travel amongst planetary bodies in our solar system and, perhaps, throughout the universe entirely with enough time and effort. Humans are clearly among the greatest things to ever happen to this planet and it cannot be more clear to me that we are beings that will go far as cosmic time passes. We will solve problems like climate change and mass extinction with our profound intelligence and diligent spirits. Humans, and our proceeding evolutionary offspring, shall surely see infinite possibilities realized.

Over the past couple millennia our species has made profound innovations that firmly plant us at the very top of any other species in areas such as competition for resources as well as intelligence. We run this planet (to a sizable extent). Our genes are surely passing themselves along as over 7 billion people inhabit the earth and the number is increasing at an ever faster pace. There is more genetic diversity than ever before and humans are bombarding themselves with genius ideas and innovations we only know too well. We’ve been doing it, well, almost forever! We don’t stop, because we can’t stop. We will eventually use our extraordinary gift of intelligence to travel to different planets inside and outside of our solar system…someday.

Believe me, I’m well aware of the endless other problems and innovations we must solve and concoct to take us closer to a brighter future for all of us on earth, but we have only just begun to flex our brain muscles as a show of human excellence. Because in a geological sense, 500, 1,000, or 2017 years isn’t a long time. It’s an extremely short amount of time! However, many things have changed for humans in the past 2,017 years. And likely many many more things will change for us humans in the next 2,017, 4,000 and 500,000 years. There’s no question we’ll be interplanetary, if not intergalactic, within the next 500,000 years. Our next hominid relative after Homo Sapiens will certainly be a force to be reckoned within the universe; giving reality to the Star Wars and Star Trek fantasies we hold so dear. This kind of prediction (grounded in reality), albeit vague, makes me disappointed in those who say we shouldn’t go to Mars, and aren’t scientifically literate.

Manned Mars Mission Mania

Valles Marineris

Just the other day I watched an animated video on Facebook narrated by Bill Maher saying why we shouldn’t go to Mars. Now some idiots who watched the video might agree and shame reputable men like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, or even Donald Trump for wanting this amazing goal for our future. If Elon Musk wants to put a million people on the red planet he should be receiving nothing but encouragement. Once a goal like that is realized it will permanently alter the direction of human history. It would be a grand gesture of human innovation indeed.

Yes Mars has no air, and yes it is freezing. This is all because of the sun. The sun is responsible for stripping Mars of it’s atmosphere while Mars is responsible for not maintaining a strong enough magnetic field for keeping said atmosphere thicker. So while the red planet sits frozen in spacetime a couple million miles from earth (with some evidence of liquid water) humans here on earth are plotting on her iron rich soil. Forget making Earth great again, we’ll do that eventually, we want to MAKE MARS GREAT AGAIN. This is exactly what I mean when I say that we should be using our gift of intelligence to create the future. So please continue Elon, as I may someday witness ultimate greatness.

Gas Giant Goals

“Science progresses incrementally, patiently and ultimately spectacularly.” -Time Magazine

Jupiter Tourism Poster

When Curiosity landed on Mars President Barack Obama said the mission “proves that even the longest odds are no match for [America’s] unique blend of ingenuity and determination.” Of course, he wasn’t thinking of the potential humans have to utilize Jupiter and Saturn and their collective moons. Places like Europa are continually mentioned by Neil Tyson and, I can imagine, some other prominent astronomers as a hotspot for potential life. But what about the gas giants themselves? How will humans eventually come to form a closer relationship with these massive planets?

As with anything we do in life, we have to advance step by step. You can’t tackle the big job until you’ve mastered the small jobs. Right? Same with the gas giants. Although they seem impossible places to send humans now, I firmly believe humans will seek them out as well. Perhaps once people can successfully inhabit Mars for a prolonged, sustainable amount of time we move on to new pastures. By then Earth will be old news.

Saturn and Jupiter are the biggest pieces of our solar system by far and share an ungodly abundance of resources. Resources, like practical things we can use to create new technology, and just, resources! Hello?!?!!?!?!?! It LITERALLY rains diamonds on Saturn! If that doesn’t sell you on a trip to Saturn then I’m truly at a loss for words. Anyway, the gas giants are amazing, but very challenging, destinations for our species. Also, don’t forget the tiny planet Ceres beforehand.

Ceres Tourism Poster

Outer Planet Odysseys and Exoplanet Expeditions

I’m thankful for the billionaires who have invested so heavily into space. For without them there’d be no breakthroughs of human innovation like this. We humans can do anything we wish as long as we’re willing. That’s why you shouldn’t take life for granted and that’s why you should always push yourself. Lest you find yourself just another unfulfilled ape stuck on earth (which means dirt btw, earth= dirt).

LET’S GO!!!

As we practice space travel we will get better and better at it; it’s that simple, folks. Practice makes perfect. Just like the disasters of the shuttle era led to the creation of Orion and it’s innovations. Just like the failures of the Ranger missions of the 1960’s would eventually lead to Ranger 7 which landed Neil Armstrong safely on the moon. The universe requires time to advance. Time and effort heal all wounds.

But the extraordinary success of the Mars Curiosity rover masks a far greater truth about space exploration: it requires monomaniacal commitment and an exceedingly high tolerance for failure.

Besides, we definitely don’t want to go back to the days of not committing to Mars when were actually able to send people there. Back in the 1980’s we were too busy warring with east vs. west/US vs. USSR, Reaganomics, and our climate change problems to really commit to space exploration. Something Neil deGrasse Tyson details considerably in a commencement speech he gave at Rice University. We owe it to ourselves to live up to our full potentials as humans to give this big wide universe a chance.

So don’t complain about space exploration or say it can’t be done. You’ll be on the wrong side of history while those on the right side pave the way for an astonishing future.

-Isaiah Dix

A Journey Through Time: Pleistocene and Pliocene Epochs

Everyone is so caught up in today’s time period; things that have only happened within the last 50 or 60 years at most. But you never really hear people comparing modern times to that of two or three thousand years ago, or one or two million years ago, do you? Why? Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the mammoths and terror birds, and other amazing, extinct creatures that lived during previous geological periods? Is it because not enough people know about them (probably, right)? If that’s the case I’m really happy we can enjoy science festivals and marches in today’s times. That oughta ignite that innate longing for discovery and knowledge that science represents.

To me, personally, science is a tool from which I learn about reality. I can’t go a single day without wondering what life might be like on other planets or what it will take for humans to ultimately inhabit other planets. These are the big steps as well as the big questions. Don’t make the questions too big, though, as you might find yourself overwhelmed and give up with fear and doubt clouding you. Although questions of the future get anyone excited questions of the past are also…interesting. The questions I’ll be reflecting on now are ones related to life in the most recent time periods: the Quaternary period and Neogene sub period of the Tertiary period. Actually, what the hell, I might throw in the Paleogene too. People just don’t know what they’re missing when it comes to natural history!

A Different World

To all my late 80s and early 90s sitcom watchers the “different world” I’m referring to is not the one with Jasmine Guy, ok? Haha. It’s a completely different world where countless events haven’t occurred yet; a world where humans don’t rule the earth. In much of the time during the Pleistocene humans had already or began evolving to contemporary form and had left other hominids behind. But if you go back just another four million years or so you’ll get to the Ardipithecus Kadabba (recently discovered in 1997) who lived during the Pliocene. This means that you would see human-like animals walking around in Africa who look more like a half and half mixtures of chimpanzees and modern humans than modern humans alone. Indeed a different world than we know today.

Mind you, this is not a lot of time; geologically speaking of course. But this is a lot of time for us to imagine. Religions such as christianity have been quoted saying that the entire earth is only 6,000+ years old. And the reality is that earth is more than 4.5 billion years. So roughly 11,000 to 5.3 millions years shouldn’t really be considered a long time, but, to us, it’s an overwhelmingly long amount of time to our humble minds to envision. Perhaps that should tell you where we are on our current evolutionary journey. Either way the world was similar, but different.

Another big difference between the Holocene and the past two epochs is the fauna. Wildlife of the past two epochs have been quite ferocious and different than what we know today. You might think of a lion or tiger and think to yourself “what could be worse than that?” But that’s because you aren’t considering the Terror Birds of South America, Smilodons, or Bear Dogs of Eurasia to name but a few. Other, bigger animals were in charge during these times. Who wouldn’t soil their paints if they ever saw a pack of smilodons or mammoths chasing them?!

Yet another one of the greatest differences between then and now would have to be the climate. You can’t talk about the Pleistocene without bringing up the last ice age!

Ancient Climate

Surprisingly enough carbon levels haven’t always been as low as they are now. That’s right, low! In past geological periods they’ve actually been much higher. The Cambrian has been estimated to reach numbers around 6,000 ppm and when the dinosaurs were last seen in the Cretaceous the average amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached around 1,500 ppm. Today we panic over carbon levels that are around 407.05 ppm like the entire world is going to end. Well, actually we panic more because of the amazing rate at which levels are increasing, not the actual number. If you look on a graph of how much greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, have increased in the atmosphere in the last two hundred years or so you’ll see a sharp uptick towards the 1960s and onward to today. This kind of change and short sightedness for time is what causes the discomfort in today’s society when it comes to climate change. But actually, is it really all that bad?

During the ice ages of the Pleistocene glaciers extended as far as the 40th parallel. That’s about where I am now here in Philadelphia. The earth was also roughly 5 degrees celsius cooler than it is now. Yet hominids kept truckin’. Truckin’ to survive and thrive as we crossed the Bering Land Bridge to explore the Americas some 20,000 years ago. We adapted to our environments and even beat out other hominids who also existed during that time. To all my Philadelphians out there and those above the 40th parallel in the USA be honest with yourself. How would you fare in a frozen world where most of the technology we know today is nonexistent? I hope my readers aren’t cowards (albeit realists) and assume they wouldn’t make it. Our ancestors did.

Perspective

To be honest it kind of amuses and saddens me when people talk about contemporary issues. People need to realize that it’s good to be present and all, but there is way more to life on this planet than the 90s or healthcare reform. There have been countless stories of survival across eons that have not been shared with the likes of the general public that people may even doubt completely because they are not aware of the vast amount of time that has passed. So use this article as a humbling tool to help you understand the history of life and your place in it. We are ultimately just a blip in the infinite expanse of time in the universe.

-Isaiah Dix

We Won Climate Battles, but Are Not Winning the Climate War: Here’s Why.

Can anyone take a hint? We need to work harder people!

Watts Up With That?

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” Lee Iacocca

In his essay, “Reflections on Mark Steyn’s ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’ about Dr. Michael Mann” Rick Wallace wrote,

Tim Ball, Fred Singer and others have been countering the AGW meme for a few decades, but to little avail.

He is correct. Yes, there is a slight increase in the number of skeptics as evidenced by the increased readership at WUWT, but it is a fraction of even total Internet users. Even those who read and comment on WUWT articles on the site often say they are not scientists or don’t fully understand the topic. Others demonstrate their lack of knowledge and understanding without the caveats.

Wallace continues,

But why is this? Why haven’t their voices carried? And, conversely, why was The Team so successful…

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BOOK: How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution

What’s better than a little groundbreaking science related to evolution? Nothing!

The Dispersal of Darwin

I await a copy of this new book from my local library, but wanted to inform folks about it.

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Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 240 pp.

Publisher’s description Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken—imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in…

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