cutting edge science presentation's in Alaska!

From: john grigg (
Date: Fri Mar 10 2000 - 23:53:50 MST

I had an interesting day. I went to a presentation(part of a series running
the semester) that dealt with cutting edge science involving complex
systems. A UAA professor who is Russian (barely decent english but VERY
smart) spoke about the biochemistry involved in the earliest evolution of
life and focused on studies to simulate through computer or chemistry a
living cell. He talked of the current project to actually create life.

It was funny seeing a math professor who was used to 'clean and neat'
mathematics(just my opinion) and had trouble grasping the 'messy' complex
interactions of biochemistry but then it was not his specialty. He simply
kept on asking questions till he got it. I never totally did! Most of it
flew over my head since the seminars though open to all, are really for the
postdoctorate hard science crowd.

But I grasped a little of it and enjoyed talking to the russian prof
afterward about whether he thought their was life spread throughout the
galaxy. He joked that there must be since so many people report seeing
UFO's! I replied that the people at Seti would take offense at that! He
didn't quite catch the Seti reference so I explained how they used radio
telescopes and disliked the 'flying saucer' crowd that said every
Saturday-night the aliens would abduct them. That got a big laugh from the

I enjoyed listening to a biology professor afterward, (with the Max More
ponytail thing going!) who explained how it is so hard for humans to
conceive of the prelife earth because conditions were so different then and
now the biosphere permeates everything. He said the earth must had a great
deal of protein then and proper conditions to nurture it and he could not
understand how some scientists consider life forming on the earth as such a
lucky roll of the dice. He felt it was bound to happen.

I regret having missed all the previous presentations so far. They were
about, let's see.. turing machines and computation, early microbial life,
the lyganov exponent and sexual selection, replicating automata, the origins
of social hierarchies and the simplicity in complex systems. I complain
about being to far away from Extro's and then don't attend these meetings in
my own hometown! I could have learned so much. I must get my act together.

The remaining presentation's will be about complexity in the field of
history, complex weather systems, and then two open forums, one about the
future of our species and the other about the future of the universe. I
will absolutely be at those two concluding meetings. It will be interesting
to see to what extent they take a transhumanist bent. Maybe I can influence
that. Or perhaps during the Friday morning it happens, one of you could fly
up here to give your views! lol To go that far far you might as well be the
speaker. But UAA prof's can be an ornery crowd!!


John Grigg

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