Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scientific American is Wrong

In their June 2010 cover story, 12 Events that will Change Everything, they got it wrong. They got some things right, but it is what they got wrong that is the problem.

I realize this is some time after the article appeared, but it has been bothering me ever since.

While their wild speculation about extra dimensions and asteroid collisions was a bit much and their dated or miss titled speculations of cloning of humans missed the mark, they left out at least three glaring probabilities. Here for your reading enlightenment if not pleasure, is some life shattering events that are going to occur:

Taking control of the DNA molecule. The article on cloning of humans highlights this, but it should have been the meat of the story. The code of life, the program by which each life is initialized, is found in the DNA molecule, and we are about to not only decode it, but to take control of it. Somewhat similar if not analogous to computers, we will run the program.

Not just human DNA, all of it - eventually. I don't know if that person is born yet, but one day here shortly - within the next 100 years - someone will be born who will be the first to live forever. We will take control of the DNA molecule and we will live forever. While aged we will become, infirmed we will not. Given the optimum age is the mid to late 20's, all humans will maintain their mid-20's forever. We may choose to move our awareness into something more durable than our carbon-based bodies. We will all become ironman or woman, or maybe sex will no longer matter.

Extinction Event. Their asteroid collision story should have gone in this future event. The more likely is something volcanic, maybe the inevitable Yellowstone caldera eruption, but a major extinction has happen several times since life arose on earth, and it will happen again. The questions is are human adaptable enough to survive it. And we may not only need to keep our own line going, but the line of anything we want to eat going too.

I could see a futuristic science fiction story about earth after an extinction event - well after the catastrophic survival and transition period - in which the only higher life forms are humans and the plants and animals humans designed to save in some sort of pastoral setting. Idealistic - except their pest and parasite would come with them.

An extinction event is so inevitable, I'm bothered by the fact that the only evidence we find is that of the dinosaurs and even lesser life forms. Plagues and climate change may contribute to an extinction event be will not cause massive extinctions by themselves. There may have been a minor extinction event in North America at the end of the last Ice Age that killed off all the large land animals including the Clovis culture. Today, such a castastrophe would be life changing for everyone on earth, including the future history.

Climate change. Lost in the fuss over global warming, is that climate change is inevitable. Global warming and global cooling are eventually going to happen. Like living forever mentioned above, I don't know if that person is born yet, but one day not to far off, someone will be born who will see the Florida Keys disappear beneath the waves, as well as coastal lands all over the world. And then there is the return of the ice. Something going on for millions of years is suddenly going to stop? I don't think so, homie, anymore than I think people will stop believing that the climate that has been around for the past ten thousand years is all there is. The climate is going to change and all that is affected by it will change too.

That's three things Scientific American got wrong. Of course, trying to predict the future is wrong too. Detemining what is inevitalbe is hard enough.