Freeman Gerhardt

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What is the next step of human evolution?

Since the emergence of the homo-sapiens from the tree of life, I have not been able to find much of a difference between generations. Aside from the creation of language, assimilation to countries, the agricultural and industrial revolution, we as a species have not changed. Yes, these do seem like drastic changes, and they are; however, biologically and psychologically have we changed? I would say no we haven't. There has always been a leader of the tribe, some form of greed arguably stemming from the accumulation of wealth. All people have these desires even with the proliferation of religion. In thousands of years our human nature has not changed. I am not sure if we are destined to fail as an organism or we have greater feats ahead of us. With the technological innovation of genetic modification and designer babies, maybe our desire for greatness can in fact, change the course of evolution and rewrite the pages of Darwinism. Quite possibly we may diverge into another branch on the tree of life and be part machine. The biology of our body dictates we can't live forever even with drugs. The only thing that continuously exists is energy, which our brain waves exist as. Maybe down the road technology will give us the capability of existing forever which unfortunately is in the back of many peoples heads. Death us the ultimate fear which drives many decisions. With that being said, i may be completely wrong or just impatient to see what we as a species can turn into, good or bad.

  • Jan 10 2014: My guess......We will stop wondering 'Where we are going' and begin examining 'Where We Are At'

    I see this as more of a Wave rather than a Step.
  • Jan 13 2014: The next step in evolution must be of the mind.
    The way humans think is insane.
    The way they act is even more insane. It is sociopathic, psychopathic, cruel, sadistic and suicidal.
    Keith got it right below.
    "Only white man dumb enough think he improve system like that."
    So it has to be the mind. It is evolution of thinking not of doing, not of biology,
    but of consciousness.
    Some things might be getting rid of money, even ridding the world of the evils we all perpetrate upon
    one another and have for millennium: based on our thinking.
    Our thinking, it seems apparent to me, has not evolved at all.
    We are still acquisitive, we murder, rape, steal, lie, destroy, cheat, and on and on,
    and continue to use words like "civilization" to describe what it is we have and do!
    Intense brainwashing, and most have fallen for it.

    One example is the simple phrase: "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."
    This is simply not true.
    We cannot repeat what we don't remember but what we have done is to repeat history
    over and over again, because we "don't forget it" and we repeat what is so familiar to us.
    It has to be the mind, or forgeddiboutit!
  • Jan 13 2014: Where is the evolution?
    "When white man find land, Indians running it. No taxes, No debt, Plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water, women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex."
    "Only white man dumb enough think he improve system like that."
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      • Jan 13 2014: It was just a story to point out the obvious. The human race is not evolving, for the most part they are getting dumber, violent and crazy, I believe because of what we eat. There are some exceptions but they are few and insignificant, IMHO.
  • Jan 10 2014: Our ability to change the environment has slowly but steadily pushed our own biological evolution to a full stop, we are not longer exposed to dramatic changes in the environment for long periods of time, nations mix their biological heritage with each other more often every time, no human group is biologically isolated anymore, so no wonder there's no noticeable change between us and the first modern humans. Human natural evolution will stop completely in a matter of decades, however (if we don't destroy ourselves first) that will also be the beginning of artificial (engineered) evolution.
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      Jan 10 2014: I very much enjoy this answer even though it is not a good look at humanity, it speaks to my question perfectly
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    Jan 10 2014: First of all evolution means an adjustment (whether it appears to us as a long or short process) to the ever changing environment for the sake of survival. We do the opposite - we do not change but we change our natural environment in stead.

    I think we, humans, do not evolve for a long time so far - we are becoming mutants.

    Surrounded by our artificially built stages of "reality" we have not developed any natural fur or feathers to protect our naked bodies from the bad weather, we cannot fly at all on our own, or swim well enough, we poorly sense, and can see only in a very short distance, we need a ton of gadgets/devices to help our poor sense-perceptions somehow hear or see each other, and some shallow appearances of the visible environment.

    In spite all that technology we produce and use, and our manmade language, we still do not understand each other any better than millennia ago. If we continue in the same direction we are doomed, we are obviously self-destructive.

    Well, maybe there is a hope - but we need a different topic for thinking farther on.
    • Jan 12 2014: Awesome!! I wag my tail which has just developed through evolution after reading your thoughts.Look alike face story is often heard of , but look alike mind/brain/thought is very rare...

      Although we human beings have not developed furs to protect naked bodies, but naked bodies in the form of pornographies, skimpily dressed women with see through cloths not only creates much heat in her but to the surrounding people too. Naked Emotions,Naked Intelligence and all the human naked creates much heat that there is no need of furs.

      Although we human beings have not developed feathers , but human beings do fly without wings and feathers once someone achieved success or achieves something.Then while flying he/she/it while flying looks below at the people and then he/she/it laughs at them and say you foolish people , you can't even fly , see I am flying , but at the same time he/she/it blinded by his/her/its success and ignorance fails to see that it the people below them who have formed the human ladder , so that he/she/it can fly.

      Although we human beings have not developed fins to swims, but people do swim, some swim in the ocean of wealth, some swim in the river or money,some swim in the river of blood of innocent people, some swim in their emotions , and some swim in the poverty.
  • Jan 10 2014: Human evolution is currently stagnant because of civilization, and if left to its own devices, will remain so.
    Modern medicine, abundant food, and caring for the weak as opposed to ruthlessly culling them out as happens in the state of nature guarantees that. Quality of life shot straight up for it (my flat feet won't kill me? nice!), but don't expect any evolutionary change to happen on its own.
    If anything, we'll deteriorate genetically, as negative mutations are much more common then the positive and indifferent ones combined, and all mutations rack up under civilized life, because no one's being killed off (most people tend to agree its a good thing, despite the potential long term problems).

    There is another solution however. Artificial steering of the human evolutionary process via cybernetics and genetic engineering.
    I expect it to be a greater shift in the human condition then we've ever seen before. Its also politically charged enough to start riots and wars, as it has tremendous potential on the one hand, and yet gravely offends the sensibilities of so many people on other other.
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    Jan 10 2014: I would say that we, as a species, have changed a great deal, but it may be difficult to detect the changes.

    "In 2007, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks estimated that positive selection just in the past 5,000 years alone -dating back to the Stone Age - has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution."

    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/08/human-evolutionary-change-100-times-higher-in-past-5000-years-todays-most-popular.html

    "There are many things under selection that are making it harder for pathogens to kill us," Hawks says.
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    Jan 16 2014: There seems to be a lot of positive expression on the evolution of mankind, with the new technologies and all.....
    But... and you knew there would be a but... I am more pessimistic. I see mankind like chickens, there is an inherent evil in chickens. I learned this from my childhood and observed a flock of chickens. Now, don't get me wrong, I love chicken... boiled, baked, or fried and then there is stewed, but I digress.
    Chickens are societal. There is leadership and subjugation, class distinction.... every mean spirited activity you can imagine by man, you can find in a flock.
    My "favorite".... A young hen laying her first egg, it's large and in the passing, tissue is torn and blood flows, This frightened young animal runs squawking to the flock and almost immediately the flock turns on the young hen and pecks it to death.
    You say that man is better then chickens, I am not sure... on an intellectual level, mankind is smarter then a similar sized flock of chickens? You have a hard time making that case. And mean spirited? Have you looked at twitter or face book? No, I am afraid that mankind is about as evolved as it is going to be. My only hope that the next species will treat us better then the way we treated species on the ladder below us.
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    Jan 16 2014: Hi again Freeman,
    I believe that we have changed, we continue to evolve, and in my perception, technology now gives us an opportunity that we have not had in the past.....the ability to connect instantaneously around our world. I believe we are taking the next step in our evolution, which may be to genuinely connect (or maybe it's a re-connect?) with others.

    We (humans) seemed to be focused on technological advancements for quite awhile, and now, because of the technological advances, it appears that people have more desire and intent to connect with each other. In my perception, the ability to understand how the body/brain work because of technological advances, is contributing to understanding our "self", and when we "know thyself", it contributes to more interconnections with others.
  • Jan 13 2014: Our jaws have gotten smaller leaving no room for our third molar (wisdom teeth) which is why we have to have them removed. Our vestigial tails have disappeared. Our diets have changed (mainly since Prometheus gave us fire and we started cooking our food) so our appendix no longer has a purpose, though there is apparently research suggesting it plays a role in other processes. We have lost most of our fur so the bunching up of fur (goosebumps) doesn't work so well these days. I think we are quite obviously changing (as a species) we just don't live long enough to notice the changes. I think as we continue to evolve most of the changes will be to the structure of the brain and the proportions of the different parts of the brain.
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    Jan 13 2014: How is the changing of practically only skin color evolution? Wouldn't that be classified as a mutation? Even though I guess that is what evolution is, mutation.
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    Jan 13 2014: If you think humans haven't evolved in the last hundred thousand years, you haven't been looking at people. Since we emerged from (or stayed in) Africa we've evolved to the racial types (or "phenotypes," if you prefer) we see around the world today. If you're able to tell apart natives of Congo, Peru, China, Arabia, and Sweden, you're able to see evolutionary differences developed in a short time.

    We continue to evolve, of course, though modern medicine has the effect of increasing the frequency of deleterious genes in our DNA. Humans who earlier would have been stillborn or would have died in infancy due to genetic errors now grow up and pass those genes on, so that the "self-cleaning" mechanism of early death no longer functions. That will eventually have evolutionary consequences.
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    Jan 12 2014: Freeman, When members of a population die they are replaced by the progeny of parents better adapted to survive and reproduce in the environment in which natural selection takes place. This process creates and preserves traits that are seemingly fitted for the functional roles they perform. Natural selection is the only known cause of adaptation, but not the only known cause of evolution. Other, nonadaptive causes of evolution include mutation and genetic drift.

    I read the Flynn effect and opt for the Bob effect. Go back two generations and come forward ... how many of your ancestors had the opportunity to attend school ... what was the availability of news ... how many could read .... what was the life expectancy .... I am exposed to more information that my father and him more than his father etc ...

    By the way the "Bob Effect" does not exist ... that just my ego .... common sense says we should live longer, be more informed, and physically more adept, than our forefathers. Is that progress?

    The first paragraph is from writing of smart people .... I didn't done it.

    Be well. Bob.
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    Jan 12 2014: Biologically, Homo sapiens sapiens as some have said, I see at the end of their evolution ie. sharks, alligators and the like, The question begs, will some species of a higher order comes along and reduces us to extinction as we do to sharks and alligators... having said that, even with nanotechnology, gene manipulation, new pharmaceuticals, I don't see a endless existence and I am not sure it would be that desirable.

    What bothers me is the future of our species... I recently saw a C movie on late night. The plot was that a average minded soldier was a victim of an experiment for suspended animation that went wrong and he was warehoused away to prevent embarrassment to the government. I said it was a C movie. He wakens 500 years in the future and finds that he is the smartest man on earth. It seems that as people got smarter they lost interest in reproduction and those not so smart were like .... well, rabbits. Insomnia will lead to staying awake through most anything. Anyway, according to the movie..., in 500 years all the intellect has died off and the world is left with functional idiots. Anyway, our hero saves the day and begins the intellectualism of mankind. I enjoy a happy endings....

    Then, I read that the birthrate among recognized intellectual people across the globe have gone negative.

    Maybe we are going into.... what is the reverse of evolution?
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    Jan 12 2014: From a biological perspective this is what is happening:

    We are getting larger due to our access to nutrition. Our brains are also getting larger, the cerebral cortex mostly. Our IQ continues to rise with about 10 points for each generation (Flynn effect). We'll continue to lose our bodyhair and our teeth will continue to decline in quality due to "bad genes" being passed on, there's no natural selection for this.

    But on the whole we are in many ways put outside of the natural rules of evolution, instead what is driving our evolution is our society.

    What's really going to "enhance" us is probably trans-humanism, us employing more and more tech into ourselves.

    Gene-therapy may also move us to unforeseen heights, effectively making us into anything that we wish.
  • Jan 12 2014: Darwin gave the theory that we humans have evolved from apes and chimpanzees. Now, we humans have evolved ourselves from homo sapiens to Apes,chimpanzees and monkeys and other etc things.

    Eons ago Darwin met me and he told this to me.
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    Jan 11 2014: this question always seems unsolvable but it is only because of the nature of the question.

    the difficulty with asking this question in this way comes from considering humanity as one thing instead of a very large group of individuals.

    i would suggest that the evolution you speak of is actually maturing - changing over time through experience.

    it is something we all go through, in our own time, in our own way. i don't believe it's something we can pass on genetically or carry out collectively as a species.

    but i have faith in people - we hear mostly about the bad but we take the good that is constantly around us for granted because it is normal.

    in the future, as long as people come first (before money and machines) then all will be well.
  • Jan 11 2014: A good question.

    First and foremost, I need to make this clear. We ARE part of this planet. We have been ever since we evolved as a species. Everything we have ever created for ourselves, our technology, beliefs, concepts, religion, is all guided by evolution. The simple fact is, a species cannot evolve itself out of nature. Sorry, but it's true. The term 'manmade' has taken on a rather untrue meaning as something that is not a natural part of the planet. It really means something our species created. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this.

    Okay, so now that that's done.... I agree with Demetrius Amadeus; partially, on the matter of slowing down of human evolution, all his reasons are very valid. But I disagree when he says it comes to a full stop. Anything we do is a natural process, so anything we do to enhance our bodies with technology should be viewed as the next step in our evolution.
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    Jan 11 2014: Just a short comment.

    In our conversations, of all sorts, we commonly use manmade terms which we believe are real "things", "events" and even "natural laws". When we use the term "Evolution" each of our minds imagines something different from the abstract, conventional concept (concepts do not exist in nature.)

    The sense of what Evolution means in our personal thinking is, most likely, related to Change within every living form reveling its reaction on its environment. How we may interpret change - is up to our personal experience and imagination.

    How we might categorise and consider the "shrinking brain"? let our intuitive intelligence make a decision.

    One might worry about that process of this shrinking, but someone, like myself would say, lets compare - the most intelligent and successful life forms we may detect on this planet have no brains, and we with tons of brains and tons of artificial gadgets and technical toys cannot augment our intuition, and senses, to match the great natural abilities that other creatures have.

    If we will continue to think based on our manmade terms only, arguing about what they mean to professionals, we are doomed.

    The most precious gift, we stil possess, is nature's given intuition. We do not value this gift - it is not "physical". We merslessly suppress it replacing it with artificial tools, systems, laws and rules. No matter how huge our brains might grow we might stay here as the most retarded and dangerous creatures on this planet.

    What I'd like to say in a positive tone is that the mysterios and unfortunately still unknown to us mechanism that drives our life, every single life, will reveal for us the invisible to us powerful nature's laws which incomparably greater than those we discover in electromagnetic or subatomic fields, because without these nature's laws we would not sense of feel anything at all.
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      Jan 10 2014: Very very interesting response!
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        • Jan 10 2014: Seeing that part of the evolutionary process is the ruthless culling out of harmful mutations (which the vast majority of mutations are), and that civilization pretty much put a stop to the practice, without genetic engineering we're looking at each future generation of humans being slightly worse off then the next as the mutations pile up.
          The longer it goes on, the farther the species deteriorates. It hasn't been significant so far (civilization is only up and running for some 5000 years, and things that really stop the culling out like modern medicine and plentiful food for two orders of magnitude less), but given enough generations, it will be.

          Genetic engineering could put a stop to it, fixing harmful mutations at first, and eventually improving even the things that weren't "wrong" per say. The genes that would go into humans will simply need to be held to higher standard then dogs. The potential is simply too great to pass up.

          Cybernetics are also an option. Easier application on an adult helps, though it'll be so different from what we know as traditional evolution that I'm not sure we'll call it evolutionary development. Semantics aside however, I see in it even greater potential then genetic engineering.
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          R H

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          Jan 12 2014: is it possible that our brains have been 'shrinking' in response to population density (ostensibly because of 'shared burden' of living) because our living 'dynamics', our 'needs' for living have changed so little since the dawn of civilization? We still fight for territory, fight for food and sustenance, compete for mates, and build 'tools' to improve our lot and make us even lazier, 'stronger', and therefore more brutish. And isn't it possible that we are now, for the first time in history, developing the ability to not only build these better 'tools', but to actually transform ourselves as a species for the very technological reasons you cite? Genetic engineering, bio-engineering, randomness/string/multi-universe theory, alternate knowledge reception exploration, economic theory to name a few are all heavily cerebrally (sic) intensive whereas up until now (the modern age) we've merely built 'better mouse traps' and bombs. This, I believe, is the basis for the depiction in so much futuristic science fiction of 'large-headed humans' with skinny long bodies. That our need for physical exertions will be negated by the sophistication of our tools, and our desire for the next evolutionary step will necessitate an ever-increasing cerebral capacity. Although in its infancy, genetic et al research will only expand, refine, and conquer new horizons - don't you think?
        • Jan 12 2014: I meant that the engineering done on humans will have to be held to a higher standard, not the genes themselves. I'm quite aware that I share DNA with everything from bacteria to plants to animals, to a point where some of the genes could be switched and no one would notice the difference.

          Messing around with human genetics, first for repair and ultimately for improvement, will have its side effects, I'm aware of that.
          So does testing medicine. People occasionally die testing new drugs, but we still do it. The net benefit is greater then the net harm, especially in the long run.

          As for genetic class distinctions, that's certainly an issue worth addressing. The "all in" approach is probably the best counter for it. Genetic modifications will happen, sometime, somewhere in the world; trying to stop technology from being developed is a fool's errand. Might as well accelerate and perpetuate its spread instead, so that a measure of control over it could be imparted.
          Better taxed and regulated then done in some back alley, after all.

          Again though, if we're going towards transhumanism, cybernetics are also worth consideration. Unlike the genetics and the myriad complex mechanisms interacting with them that make up a living organism, cybernetics will be man made and fully artificial in every way, which means we'll understand precisely how they work and what they do from square one.
          Significantly reduced side effects and easier testing compared to genetics helps tremendously, as is the potential for installation on adults. As computers will eventually overtake the human brain when it comes to pure processing power, and machines are only getting better at doing biology's other jobs, genetic engineering may be rendered completely obsolete in time, just like the biological horse in all its complexity was replaced with the simpler and more efficient automobile.
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    Jan 10 2014: if I have my way, more people will begin to live on milk as I do. For the last five years I have been living almost entirely on skim milk, every day I drink about two gallons of skim milk and hardly eat or drink anything else. It is fantastic for physical health, for instance at my height of six feet one inch I maintain easily at about 165 pounds, about the middle of normal on the BMI. I would like to see more people at a healthy weight like I am. It is also excellent for clarity of thought, well, when you're slender and feel good you think more clearly.
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      Jan 12 2014: Greg, I think that your diet is missing many vital vitamins and minerals... and some of the ones you are getting is not in sufficient amount...
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2
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        Jan 13 2014: yes, it is missing certain nutrients that the us government recommends. I was able to look at 20 nutrients and compare what you get in my diet versus what the government recommends. I found that my diet is adequate on 13 recommended nutrients; it is slightly deficient on four; and wholly lacking three. But I don't worry about it, Jimmy, because I've been following this diet five years now, and I have never seen any harm from the deficient or missing recommended nutrients. All I've seen are huge benefits from this diet. Since my body is not very different from other people's, I would think it would be the same for them.

        I did read a suggestion that certain of the recommended nutrients are more important than others, which might account for why I don't suffer from my diet. But I'm afraid I haven't been able so far to learn which are more important than which. I would think, for example, that protein is quite necessary, and cow milk is very good on protein.
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          Jan 13 2014: If you look at my link again you'll find something called a "nutrient balance completeness score" with a graph. Milk has a score of 45, while you'll need a score of 100 to fully get all the nutrients you need.

          For instance you're not getting enough vitamin; A, C, E and K not enough of Iron, zinc, copper and manganese and you're not getting any dietary fibers at all.
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          Jan 16 2014: I agree with Jimmy, and we've had this discussion before Greg, as you have also had with nutritionists in conversations here on TED, so I will not belabor the issue.
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        Jan 13 2014: yes, thanks for pointing that out, Jimmy. Actually, my diet is almost all skim milk, which has a higher score of about 57. But still not 100. Nevertheless, as I say, I have never seen any harm from this diet, only huge benefit. Among other things, I can easily and comfortably stay at about 168 pounds, about the middle of normal on the BMI for my height, six feet, two inches. Plus I feel good. I started this diet because I had eye discomfort and I was not satisfied with the eye doctor's solution. It was a case where the doctor had made me my yearly new prescription of eyeglasses, and, although I believe it was the right prescription, it strained my eyes. To deal with the eyestrain I had to put in dry eye drops every three hours, in spite of not having dry eye. It did not seem healthy to be putting in dry eye drops every three hours, 365 days a year, and it seemed like it would eventually cease to work. But with this diet I can go without glasses or eye drops and my eyes feel okay. However, if I eat solid food, my eyes start to hurt, also, I become more tired and get more aches and pains in my body. I think possibly solid food is harder for the body to break up, although you do break it up by chewing and digesting it, I think it is not as broken up as milk and hence clogs and irritates your cells as it travels about your body. I believe this diet would help with many diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, and so on, for the same reasons it helped me, promoting weight loss, and ease of digestion and use. I think there must be something more to why milk helps, however, because I find that when I drink tomato juice, which is also fluid, it bothers my eyes, therefore it's not just that milk is fluid and already broken up.

        What is your height and weight?
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          Jan 16 2014: I'm 186cm and weigh about 77kg. (I could translate it for you but I'm trying to start the trend of making Americans use the globally adopted metric system). :)
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        Jan 16 2014: Jimmy that is cruel!!! I have not learned to do the conversions!!!
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          Jan 16 2014: Haha, well you may think it cruel right now but you'll thank me later. ;-)

          The US is the last one to adopt the International System of Units. And I thought that instead of me always doing the calculations for 4% of the worlds inhabitants it would be better for 96% of the world if you learned to do those calculations also...

          I've know the ratio all my life so for me it isn't that hard to calculate. However your length conversation is really bothersome since you use two different units when giving it.

          So Colleen an inch is 2.54cm and a pound is 0.453592kg

          This conversion is what is happening every time a non-American is kind enough to provide Americans with their own measurements.
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        Jan 16 2014: Thank you teacher Jimmy:>)
        I KNOW it is "bothersome"....you don't have to tell me that! I could learn it if I simply spent enough time with it, but it has not been a priority because there are so many kind enough (like you Jimmy) to provide the information:>)
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          Jan 16 2014: There are of course conversion tools online for this, just Googling "Meter to feet" or something of the sort brings you an instant unit converter.

          Yes, I've been kind but I've also realized that I'm doing you guys a disservice... No more!

          Le Système international d'unités!!!

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_System_of_Units
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          Jan 16 2014: I'd also like to take the time to point out that our system is MUCH better and easier to learn.

          You just put another zero at the end and change the prefix.
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        Jan 16 2014: LOL!!! You say..."no more"....then proceed to help me more.....I LOVE it Jimmy:>)

        Ya, your system may be easier to learn when one is a wee little lass/lassie, but I am old....with a brain that is already full....I've already begun to let go of those things I don't need to remember any more:>)

        Perhaps the next step in our evolution is to embrace YOUR easier, better method. I know you are RIGHT Jimmy and maybe I will try:>)
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        Jan 16 2014: well, those are excellent numbers on your height and weight, Jimmy, in fact they're almost identical to mine. How is your health, do you have any problems or is it perfect? Well, my general impression is that when you're young it is easier to keep your weight down to a healthy number, it does get harder as you get older. For me, at 53, the easiest way to keep my weight down is to follow this almost-all-skim milk diet. If I were to try to keep the same weight by eating solid food, I think it would be almost impossible, because that would be a very small amount of solid food, and I would always feel hungry and deprived. One advantage of skim milk is that you can drink a large amount of it, but, because it is mostly water, it doesn't add as many calories to your body. So you feel satisfied and yet you are not adding many calories. I think there must be other reasons also that I don't feel as hungry and deprived when I live almost entirely on skim milk, it may get into your bloodstream quicker because of its fluid form, it also may spread out more evenly throughout the cells of your body because of its fluid form. But it really is easy to control my weight and feel good on this diet. I have never seen any harm from the small number of slightly deficient or missing nutrients, and, since my body isn't very different from other people's, I don't think they would either.