The apparent impossibility of life emerging out of “nothing” is an illusion

“Every single event that can be thought of, has assigned to it a probability which determines what the chances of that event occurring are. All events therefore can happen, but for some events the probability of occurring is infinitely small. Given an infinite amount of time however, what can happen, will happen.”
-Murphy’s law (paraphrased)

Imagine an earth without life on it, no animals, no plants, not even microorganisms, just land surrounded by a giant ocean, dust and inorganic chemicals swimming in the seas. This not so pretty planet revolves around the sun, and gets its daily dose of sunlight, which energizes the chemicals causing them to react with one another; a process which continues for about a billion years until a remarkable reaction occurs! The accidental production of the first replicator; a molecule that carries the innate tendency to accidentally produce copies of itself!

DNA is a replicator, however the first self-copying molecule – the “original” DNA – must have been different, and much simpler than the double helix we are all familiar with. To get a sense of what the first replicator molecule could have looked like, think of a small molecule called A and another one called B. Let’s presume for the sake of the argument that A and B were some of the byproducts of the chemical reactions induced by the sun’s radiation. Molecule  had the tendency to form strong bonds with other A molecules and molecule B would form strong bonds with other B molecules, forming chains of similar blocks – or polymers. The two molecules had also had the propensity to attract each other weakly – at least in comparison to the attractive forces they would generate on molecules similar to themselves (i.e. molecules with which they formed chains with).

Having these two characteristics, when a lot of As and a lot of Bs happened to be found close to each other they would form configurations similar to this:
A-A-A-A
B-B-B-B
For the attraction forces between the two chains is weak, such configurations would get disrupted when subjected to the forces of nature. The two separated chains would then be free to attract other B or A blocks respectively, and aggregate them close to each other, enabling them to react and form chains themselves; introducing with each separation a new copy of the original molecule.
A-A-A-A
B-B-B-B
would break into A-A-A-A & B-B-B-B which would then result in:
A-A-A-A         B-B-B-B
B-B-B-B and A-A-A-A

Now let’s introduce some errors to the process, because nothing is always 100% perfect. Imagine that for some reason you were told to copy an original string of words such as a paragraph 1000 times, by hand, in a notepad. Most probably some of your copies will contain spelling mistakes, in others you might have changed the order of some words a bit, or you might have omitted a few words, but ultimately you managed to keep the context of the paragraph unchanged. Imagine that those copies you created are now passed on to others, who are too asked to make copies of your copies; the copies they made are then given to others and so on. At some point, as you can imagine, the context of the original paragraph is bound to become distorted, as the words become rearranged and omitted, spelling mistakes are propagated and amplified etc. Given enough time, the end result is a huge amount of paragraphs, each different from each other and all having a single common ancestor (the original paragraph). Some of these paragraphs that make no grammatical sense are considered as unstable and are discarded from the “paragraph pool” whereas the rest are more stable and coexist for the time being.
Side note: Food for thought: Ever wondered how it came to be that there are so many religions and sects in this world?

Exactly the same principle applies to our replicators! For instance, something like this could have happened: During the process of chain construction, a third type of molecule called C found itself close to the chain or As, and it turned out that C had similar (but not exactly the same) properties to A, and managed – under the influence of UV radiation – to find itself attached to the chain of As. The C now attracted Bs but also attracted Ds, leading to a new configuration of chains…you can see where this is going. The main point is that the primordial ocean was now populated with multiple types of replicators, which as you can imagine, have access to and compete for the same building blocks (by compete I don’t mean consciously; after all, these are simply molecules who unintentionally make copies of themselves using the blocks of chemicals found around them).

Competition must have caused many replicators to become extinct, and only the most competent ones – the ones most chemically prone to adaptation under the subject of nature’s environmental pressures – get to propagate themselves while time passes (this is by the way the basis of the theory of evolution). At some point, some replicators must have acquired features such as the capability to abstract chemical building blocks from other replicators, or, the ability to protect themselves from such attacks by using some sort of encapsulation, or even the ability to move around using the energy released from chemical reactions, and perhaps the capacity to sense large concentrations of building blocks etc…and thus the beautiful journey of life began, and here we are ~3.8 billion years later.

A couple of things worth noting:
a) The first step to the beginning of life was the emergence of a replicator molecule, an immensely improbable event which occurred only because of the immense amount of time it had to its exposure to occur. If this is hard to comprehend think of it this way: Your chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 14 million. If you could play every day for 1 billion years (approximately the time it took for the first replicator to emerge), you could possibly win ~71 times.
b) Note that the process of the development of life is not a conscious process! It is a process driven by nature and this is what makes it so perfect; because nature never gave second chances to the ones who could not adapt to its pressures and never will. The resulting species that coexist in the present are the best ~3.8 billion years of dynamic adaptation have to offer. Life as we experience it now is not so improbable after all!

Optimistic ways of a nihilistic mind

Did you know that with each moment that passes, the way you perceive the environment and your self in it changes? In small, unnoticeable incremental bits, the most distinct characteristic of the human being,  the ego, becomes distorted by the noise of our background. People change; you are not the same as you were a year ago, and you are very different than who you were 10 or 20 years ago. Religion teaches us to believe in eternal life; yet theoretically given enough time, the person at point A, would be a completely different person than the exact same person at point B. Even immortality isn’t forever.

Eternal life is not of interest to me however. As far as I’m concerned I can only exist as this person – body and mind – I am only once. I recognize that for a species gifted with consciousness – awareness of their existence – the idea of not existing at some point in the future attacks core – survival – instincts which then try to push it away. What do you think it means to carve ones name on a tree, or as a more extreme example, to invent a religion? We want to last forever. As soon as you wrap your brain around the inherent meaninglessness of existence however, it’s hard to turn your back to it.

When I think of my life, I get this weird exciting sensation down my stomach that never fails to make me smile. It is incomprehensible how much randomness was accumulated to produce the chance event my parents called “me”. This life I was granted out of nowhere defied all odds, and I get to squeeze out all the experiences I can/want from it for about a whole century. I get to be happy, sad, embarrassed, angry, ecstatic, nostalgic, humiliated, amazed, amused and entertained by it. Will it ever matter? No, it won’t, because those 100 years are just a drop of water in an endless sea of time. But how liberating that is! It means that, I get to cherish as much good as I can while at the same time all disappointments, humiliations, embarrassments, failures, losses, defeats, shames and confusions will be eventually forgotten.

After all: “It is not the destination that makes a ride fascinating, but the actual experience of it while it lasts.”

 

Stop complaining

Seriously stop! Its unattractive, unbecoming, and tiring for everyone; and frankly, its not what people want to hear no matter how much they may empathize with you. Also, there is no right time to complain, there is only a “less wrong” time to complain but even then you are still a killjoy.

Why do you complain???
-Do you honestly enjoy embracing negativity?
-Do you like spreading negativity around you?
-Is your aim to look weak and pessimistic?
-Do you expect your problems to magically disappear as soon as you spell them?
-Are they really that troubling?
-Do you just want someone to tell you everything will be okay? Will you be needing someone to tell you everything will be okay every-time something troubles you for the rest of your life?
-Do you not have ambitions to improve on the social sector of your life?
-Can you not bond with someone over something not negative?
-Do you not see how it brings you down when someone close to you is in a bad mood?
-Do you remember complaining on the best days of your life?

The funny thing is, you probably dislike it when people complain too. Most of the times we don’t even realize we are complaining, it’s just a bad habit we’ve picked up and it comes out naturally without us consciously thinking about it.

How to stop:
To complain is to express some form of dissatisfaction. Whereas oftentimes that dissatisfaction is only superficial, when complaining occurs constantly it is a sign of a more deeply rooted problem. The latter usually means you’ve been suppressing yourself for too long, and to the idle person, expressing negative thoughts is next “closest” thing to taking action. You need to start taking action. Any type of action will do, anything that will get you out of that bubble/comfort-zone you’ve been living in, because life is moving and its changing, and so should you. You may need small changes or you may need big changes in your life, that’s up to you to figure out, just stop complaining and do something about it.

Lateral thinking – Pt 1

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense”
Pablo Picasso

If an idea in your mind is made up of small blocks of information, expanding in an additive fashion each time you receive one from your environment, then all your “new” beliefs are, by application of rationalism, biased.

What if I told you that the method of thinking we call logic operates in exactly the way described above. We routinely take up multiple blocks of information, pass them on into our hard-drives and based on previous information we have already stored there, we find a way to add the new information on top of that. This is the reason why it is so ridiculously hard to alter someone’s way of thinking, or to pass an idea which is incompatible to someone else’s already stored information. Logic is the most common method used for thinking, primarily because that is the main – if not the only – method for thinking we have been taught at school, college, university et cetera, sometimes, indirectly even by our families. 

There is a second, less pronounced school of though which most of us would agree it is more of a character trait, rather than something that can be taught, however, remember that we are biased to think by what we already know. Humor and creativity, are what is scientifically labeled “Lateral Thinking”. What both humor and creativity do, more notably, is that they make us smile when we acknowledge them. Less notably, they uptake information in a similar manner logic does, and instead of adding that information on top of previously stored data, they take the whole data (old and new information) and re-arrange their order in a new way. Think for example of a house made of bricks converted into something else made of bricks, such as a wall , or the words in a sentence rearranged to form a sentence with a different meaning, or the logical expectation or how a situation unravels to be challenged. Say you are in a coffee shop and you need a chair to sit, you walk up to a group of strangers who have a vacant seat next to them and you ask them “Is this chair available?” and if they say yes, instead of grabbing the chair, moving it to your table and then sit on it, which is what the strangers would expect you to do, you sit on it right away. The strangers will probably smile because for some reason its fun to redefine what’s supposed to be ordinary in our minds.

I believe for this same reason lateral thinking should be more commonly used in our daily lives. We should try to think of ways in which the blocks of information we possess about something can be rearranged, even if it seems absurd at the beginning. After all, it is change that makes the world go round. Time is not fixed, so why live as if it is?

(To be continued)

 

 

A simple algorithm to become a dominant man

Being dominant is a distinctive characteristic of alpha males in the animal kingdom. In men, it is a trait that emits confidence, satisfaction and fulfillment. So here is how you become dominant:

a) Create in your mind a model (i.e. A set of traits, followed by a mental movie etc…) of what you think a dominant male would be like.

b) Use that model to alter the way you perceive yourself. I.e. Become an actor, step into it, act as if that is you.

c) Expect everything to unravel according to the model as if that is the natural order of things. That is, don’t care who knows it or who sees it and don’t make excuses for it.

The same concept can also be applied to different contexts. e.g. How to become happy.
Eventually it grows on you and you become it. The process takes much less time than you’d think.

Happiness-induced confusion

Happiness, what a delightful little word we came up with to describe such a confusing topic. A sensation that usually goes side by side with a smile from a loved one, laughter, sunshine, appreciation of life, a feeling of fulfillment and an overwhelming energy that urges you to want to do and achieve more. Some will even argue that happiness and the meaning of life, are one..”The meaning of life is to do what makes you happy”, or “Find meaning in your life and then you’ll be happy”, we hear people say oftentimes. Man, what a bunch of bullshit…People are being (un)intentionally so vague when describing happiness, even a child catches up to the fact that they don’t really know what they are talking about.

So…what exactly is happiness?
The dictionary, defines it as the quality or state of being satisfied, joyful, pleased, etc. It’s a nice emotion, a feeling of positiveness. It’s the sum of the action of a bunch of different chemicals sitting on receptors in your brain, making you feel like you are doing a good job living life.
All living things, including our own species, are fundamentally nothing more than biological containers for their DNA. Our bodies and our brains, as well as all the emotions they are capable of feeling were designed and molded by millions of years of natural selection to serve one single purpose: To promote the propagation of our DNA beyond the temporal confines of human life as efficiently as possible. No matter how deeply distorted we choose to interpret them, from a biological perspective, emotions were designed by nature to do just this: To promote, reward, or punish behaviors, ultimately ensuring that our basic needs are being met, (in)directly achieving the purpose stated above. After all, the word emotion originates from the Latin word “emovere”, which means “to set something in motion”.

Hierarchy of needs:
It looks pretty straightforward then, if I manage to satisfy all my basic human needs, then I should feel happy, right? Here is where it gets a bit complex though. Where do I start? It may sound like a stupid question, but, what are my needs?
Luckily for us, a famous 20th century psychologist named Abraham Maslow figured it out. He came up with a pyramid build of 5 basic human needs, towards which he observed human behavior tends to turn to, moving upwards in a hierarchical fashion as soon as the most fundamental needs at the bottom of the pyramid have been met.

hiererachy_of_needs

  1. Physiological needs: Food and water, clothes and shelter, and sex.
  2. Safety needs: Personal and financial security, health and well-being.
  3. Social needs: The need to feel loved by those we consider “our people” and the need to feel accepted by some sort of social group.
  4. Esteem needs: i) The need for self-respect, ii) The need to be respected by others
  5. Self-actualization: This final part of the pyramid refers to what a person’s full potential is, and the realization of that potential. It is the need to accomplish everything one can.

Of-course the human brain is a complex organ and capable of being stimulated by multiple desires at the same time. This is perhaps the reason we feel so confused all the time, ending  up feeling overwhelmed and powerless, and turning towards stereotypical modern society behaviors to shut our brains off with momentary satisfaction. For example, does it not feel easy and comforting to be able to indulge into the “order pizza and binge-watch Game of Thrones” habit to trick our brain from pushing us towards an existential crisis? Well, it doesn’t really have to be this way…You know now that when you feel sad, or unfulfilled, that is just nature’s way of saying: “You are not satisfying your needs, do something to change that”. Happiness will be the reward for the action you’ve taken, simple as that.

So next time you get this weird feeling of unfulfillness, before you start feeling compelled to write a novel, or to dramatically change your diet, or to go buy a self-improvement/spirituality/philosophy book, have a look at this pyramid. Chances are, you have been keeping to yourself for a little too many days; you probably feel like avoiding socialization (routine situations/conversations that do not exceed an impaired comfort-zone do not count) and this has negatively impacted your sense of belonging, your self-esteem, and your sex life. Maybe you don’t currently have financial safety and you feel unsure about the future. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever your problem is, the problem-solving process will always be the same: Identify the problem, get your ass off the couch, hit the bar…joking…get your ass off the couch and take appropriate action. It doesn’t matter if your actions bring immediate results or not, your brain will reward the effort anyway.

Meaning of life..?

I believe the most important thing the theory of evolution has ever taught us, is that we are nothing more but fancy containers for DNA material. That is the most important thing because it puts us in the same box with all the other living organisms and lets us study life from a less personal and egotistical perspective.

We love the idea of identity and passionately live our lives in accordance with our self-proclaimed image, we feel special and superior and we leave ourselves no choice but to adapt to the idea that there must be some sort of higher meaning to our existence on this earth and in this universe. The theory of evolution – as well as many non-scientific ideologies/philosophies – suggests otherwise.

“The fact than nature set me, and you, in a path which allowed us to understand we exist, does not make us anything more, or less, than overly confused animals.”

Rational thinking easily refutes any supernatural character in the beginning of life event, or as biologists might call it the formation of the first replicator (first “DNA” molecule). The chemicals were there, swimming in the archaic primordial ocean, and energized by the radiation of the sun. Even the most improbable chemical reaction – such as the formation of a “life molecule” – was bound to occur, given the extremely large amount of time it had in its disposal (hundreds of millions of years). There is no magic meaning in the creation of DNA!
The theory of evolution armed us with undeniable evidence suggesting that all life originates from that first DNA molecule. There is no reason to believe that at some point along the process meaning appeared out of nowhere along with our species.

There are all sorts of struggles for the inhabitants of the terrestrial realm. Once upon a time, during what I like to call the era of the body, we struggled to survive in the wilderness. As we gradually partitioned from that lifestyle, for whichever the chance events that lead to such transition could have been,  we entered the era of the mind. Now we struggle to find meaning.

From my viewpoint it seems that evolution is a timeless state of transitioning, during which brief stable (and unstable) ones come into existence, driven by environmental pressures, or “struggles”. I believe the act of contemplating upon the meaning of life will bring us face to face with the environmental pressures – artificial or natural – we will be needing to overcome it, not need it anymore, or perhaps, even create it.
“As a matter of fact humans have been creating meaning for quite some time now, our life is fueled by tremendous imagination. Religion, patriotism, philosophy and the arts are some of the tools we have been using to do it.”

I don’t know about you, but for me personally, knowing that there is no absolute meaning and that I am the sole director of my existence fills me with an incredible sense of freedom. It means that I can choose to take any opportunity that comes my way, it doesn’t matter if it’s something big or small because there is no big or small. It doesn’t matter if I fail, or if I get rejected or if I make a fool of myself, after all, there is no absolute failure or rejection. All I have to do to succeed in life is to just, keep living it, keep creating positive meaning.

“We have a limitless imagination; we should use it to make everything mean something, something positive, something fun, it’s a delusion I know, but it works (plus you’ve been subconsciously – and maybe consciously as well – doing it anyway to attach negative emotions and irrational fears to many aspects of your life and that worked just fine and you know it).”