Monday, August 17, 2009

One of those moments

I had one of those moments. You know, the moment you might come across while watching the history channel, or discover channel, or national geographic channel. Maybe its reading a biology text book. Maybe its watching/reading anything Carl Sagan ever did. The moment when everything comes into perspective. On a day to day basis, you never think about the world, or yourself, you go on living your life the way you do. I'm currently reading a book called The Mind of the Market by Michael Shermer I'm not sure why I got it, but every few months I hop onto Amazon and buy 3 or 4 books. This happened to be one of them months ago and I'm just now getting to reading it. I'm only 20 pages in, and I can assure you its not exactly what I thought it was. Well it is and it isn't at the same time. The underlying tone and message I think is on point, but the supporting arguments are a little unexpected.

I came across this excerpt (bear with me, its not short):

Life is a self-organized emergent property of prebiotic chemicals that came together in a manner that allowed them to be self-sustaining and capable of duplication and reproduction.

Complex Life is a self-organized emergent property of simple life, as when simple prokaryote cells coalesced into the more complex eukaryote cells of which we are made, which contain within them organelles that were once prokaryote cells (such as mitochondria, which have their own DNA).

Multicellular Life is a self-organized emergent property of single-celled life forms, which merged together as a cooperative strategy for more successful survival and reproduction.

Immunity is a self-organized emergent property of billions of cells of our immune system working together to combat bacteria and viruses.

Consciousness is a self-organized emergent property of billions of neurons firing in complex patterns in the brain.

Language is a self-organized emergent property of thousands of words spoken in communication among language users.

Law is a self-organized emergent property of thousands of informal mores and restrictions that were codified over time into formal rules and regulations as societies grew in size and complexity.

Economy is a self organized emergent property of millions of people pursuing their own self-interests with little awareness of the larger complex system in which they work.

So I can see how the author tried to explain how economies are organic, a product of evolution over time, but it made me think about life in general. Its like when you watch a Carl Sagan documentary and you realize how small our planet is within the universe. And then you think about how small you are in comparison to the planet. And then you think about what you are actually made of. It's utterly amazing. And you have to think that this impossible coincidence of chemicals and environment a billion years ago has to have occurred elsewhere. I think that those who believe there is no other intelligent life in the universe is an idiot. Plain stupid. Will a District 9 scenario occur? (see what I did there bringing this back to a movie) Probably not in our lifetime, but that doesn't mean it won't ever happen.

I don't often think about things like this, but I doubt I'm the only one that ever does from time to time. It was just one of those moments...


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