13 November 2009

Not necessarily profound questions from my notebooks – Part 1

—The results of one set of data may be interpreted in conflicting ways to produce more than one truth statement. How can a minimalist research program avoid this difficulty?

—Once while walking, I encountered 5 Canada geese. Two of them started honking and flew away, but the other 3 simply walked out of my way. Will we ever be able to understand what factors create such behavioral differences at a given moment?

—Do the internal vestigial shells of slugs have a function?

—How small is the smallest piece of cytoplasm that can be considered alive?

—Is there a dimensional threshold below which a brain cannot develop consciousness or is consciousness present all the way down to the smallest animals with brains?

GreyHeron
Grey heron in the C&O Canal.

To be continued.

4 comments:

xoggoth said...

Wasn't there a case last year of a chap treated for a head injury and they found he had almost no brain? Yet he was only moderately subnormal. He was a civil servant I recall. Figures.

xoggoth said...

Here it is!

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKN1930510020070720

Joel VanDerMeulen said...

Some interesting questions. Some I can't answer.

For the vestigial shell you could test it. Perhaps using a species of Harvestmen and measure the success rate of the Harvestman preying on the slugs with the vestigial shell as compared to a species of slug without the shell. Anotehr dimension could add slugs with fragmented shells compared to slugs with fused shells.

Supposedly the smallest organism alive is the archean Nanoarchaeum equitans measuring in at an astounding 400 nm in diameter. I'm not sure if anything could be smaller though. I like to think viruses are an organism in their own right.

Anonymous said...

"Grey heron"? Did the A.O.U. change the name of the once-familiar GBH?

CCC