Thursday, 23 June 2016
Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Monday, 20 June 2016
I have recently encountered a gentleman on YouTube who insisted that genetic information is lost during speciation. I asked him to demonstrate his reasoning and his evidence for this is "because it's obvious." He is under the impression that because a chihuahua is smaller than its wolf ancestor and doesn't look like a wolf, then the genetic information needed to make a wolf has obviously been lost. This reasoning comes as a result of a common misunderstanding among evolution deniers. The fact is, a chihuahua still has the genes of its wolf ancestor but they reside in the genome as obsolete data.
I frequently hear this in combination with the fallacious second law of thermodynamics argument where it is argued that everything degenerates, therefore genetic information can only be lost, not gained. Of course this is entirely untrue, but let's look at the crux of these arguments; the failure to understand what genetic information actually is. The following is an excerpt from my book Answers In Evolution - Can Genetic Mutations Add Information to the Genome?
Read the following two sentences.
1. The large Boeing 747 passenger jet plane landed on the long flat runway airstrip before coming to a stop.
2. The Boeing 747 landed.
What is the difference between these two sentences? Does either one convey more or less information than the other or do they both tell the same story? At first glance, one may be forgiven for claiming that there is more information in the first sentence than the second sentence. But look again. When you read, ‘The Boeing 747 landed’, does that give you a different picture than the first sentence? We already know that a Boeing 747 is a large passenger jet plane, we already know that planes land on long flat runway airstrips, and we already know that the plane will inevitably come to a stop.
The information in the first sentence is uneconomically portrayed, wasting time, data and money if this was a message sent via a paid means of communication such as text messaging, emails and the old-fashioned telegrams.
Now let’s say we have a person who has never seen a Boeing 747 or an airstrip before. This scenario changes our perception of information. Whilst the second sentence contains enough information for a person who knows about aviation, it’s meaningless to one who does not. In this case, the first sentence contains more information than the second sentence.
So we see, information is only as valuable as its ‘surprise factor’. If you didn’t know that the Boeing landed, then giving you the new information results in the surprise. All of the superfluous information in the second sentence is of no surprise to you at all. Therefore, nothing is gained. From this, we can draw two conclusions. The first conclusion is that information can be useful in some applications and obsolete in others. Information has no effect unless it causes a change. The second conclusion is that there is a lot of obsolete information which is nothing more than random noise in the grand scheme of things. This information causes no change under the relevant circumstances.
If you'd like to learn more on genetic information, you can purchase my book here.
Friday, 17 June 2016
All heaters (except for heat pumps which don't actually convert electricity to heat) are 100% efficient. If a salesman tells you one 2000W heater is cheaper to run than another 2000W heater, they are either lying or don't know what they're talking about. It's like saying one 2L bottle of milk has more milk than the other 2L bottle of milk. The thing you need to base your decision on is what style of heating you want. Fan heaters heat the air in the room more quickly, but the air is then cooled by the floor, walls and ceiling. Convection heaters take more time to heat the air, but at the same time the heated air slowly heats the walls, ceiling. Radiators, like panel heaters and oil heaters take even longer, but they are a more consistent heat since they heat the walls, ceiling etc which in turn evenly distributes the heat throughout the room. Once the room is heated, the ambient temp is easily maintained.
So if you're icy cold and want instant heat, sit in front of a bar heater or fan heater. If you want the room to be comfortable, switch on a convection or panel heater about 20 minutes before you want to use the room (depending on how cold the room is, you may need to give it longer). The more you spend on a heater with a thermostat, the more consistent the ambient temperature.
If you have a heat pump, turning up the temperature doesn't heat the room more quickly. Just set it to the temperature you find comfortable and wait for it to bring the room to that temp. Setting it at a much higher temperature takes the same amount of time to heat the room, but then it keeps on raising the temp until it reaches the dialled temp. Keep curtains closed and keep doors closed that will allow heat to escape, like bathroom, hallway, toilet, laundry doors etc.
Don't heat parts of the house that you seldom use, such as toilet, spare bedroom, etc. Keep those doors closed. Try to localise the heat to where it's needed most. Unless you plan to spend the evening sitting in your hallway, keep the doors closed and retain the heat in your living area.
The most efficient form of heating is the heat pump. Spending a couple of thousand dollars on a heat pump will pay for itself within a few years and you also gain the added benefit of cooling in the hot summer. If you don't want to have a fixed heat pump installed, you can always purchase a portable heat pump (portable air conditioner) for a fraction of the cost. Generally you'll find these portable heat pumps are rated at around 1kw power consumption and they will produce around 3kw of heat. That's like having three 1kw heaters for the price of one!
So at the end of the day, when the salesperson says to you, "This heater is more efficient to run that that heater," what he's actually saying is either a. "I don't know what I'm talking about" or b. "This heater is a lower wattage and will produce less heat than that heater."
Looking back, I based my belief on authority. My mother based her belief entirely on the fact that it was yellow and not a common wasp. As a result, I believed something that wasn't true because what I saw was in fact the venom sack of a bee. This is a fine example of how unreliable personal experience is in finding truth.