Anthony Parisi

Olympia, WA, United States

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Comments & conversations

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Anthony Parisi
Posted over 3 years ago
Will we ever truly be able to model nature?
I think the answer is that it is incredibly useful to have an accurate model of nature. If I want to know how to stop a building from being demolished by an earthquake or a tornado, I need an accurate idea (or model) of how earthquakes and tornadoes generally cause their damage. There are a lot of things in the world that could be better, and we want them to be better. In the end, that requires accurate information, which can be expressed in terms of models, as well as the general rules used to build those models. So I guess my answer is that we model nature because we hope to use the rules we find to improve our lives and the lives of others around us: cure disease, improve the quality of food, build structures, the list goes on.
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Anthony Parisi
Posted over 3 years ago
Will we ever truly be able to model nature?
As to the general question, of course we can model nature. How accurate our model will be will of course depend on the scale of representation and what we seek to accomplish. The good news is that we don't actually have to form a complete model of the universe to understand how that model functions: general laws and principles can be used to give us (at least as ceteris paribus definitions) laws that allow us to generalize phenomenon: often to a degree where we can find the specific mechanics involved. Once we have the general rules, we can apply them to a specific circumstance and (if our model is more or less accurate) we can describe the phenomenon as it will occur. However,we DO know (or at least, have a very strong idea) of how bees fly, dolphins swim, and geckos climb. Some quick links that I found with a brief Google search: Bees flying: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1076/is-it-aerodynamically-impossible-for-bumblebees-to-fly Dolphins swimming: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/200/1/65.full.pdf Geckos climbing: http://geckolab.lclark.edu/dept/geckostory.html There are some mysteries out there, but these are often touted as areas that “science has failed to solve,” which first, isn't indicative of the process of science and second, isn't factually true. In cases where science has not yet penetrated a phenomenon and discovered an adequate rule or set of rules to describe how the phenomenon occurs, that doesn't actually indicate a problem with our ability to model but rather indicates that we have not yet modelled the phenomenon accurately. If we believe ourselves to have a complete model and something is still unexplained, that may indicate a flaw with our model, it may indicate we are asking the wrong sort of question, or it may indicate that we are mistaken about a general principle of the phenomenon in question. In any of these cases, it doesn't indicate that we cannot, in principle, model the phenomenon.
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Anthony Parisi
Posted almost 4 years ago
If your cells were used to grow an organ in the lab, is it still "your" organ?
I think it has to do with consent and information content. In a certain sense, the organ is using an information pattern that is a part of the person's body, and that information content seems like something that is owned by that person. While this would not render an organ grown in a lab the legal property of said person (unless, of course, that was part of the terms of the agreement with the lab) it would mean that copying that information without consent or under an unenforcable contract would constitute some sort of legal damage, and the value of the organ (or potential future organs) used might well be a good method of signifying the "loss" to the person in a legal sense. So, in a broad sense, it would not be "your" organ- all things being equal; but there could still be legal damages assigned should your cells be taken without your consent, or under a contract that was not enforceable.