General Interest

SENSE, THOUGHT, AND CONSCIOUSNESS

The late 19th and 20th centuries brought a revolution in the scientific understanding of the universe around us, one whose effects are still being felt around the world as it forces people to change their conception of the universe and the place of human beings within it.  Perhaps the greatest remaining mystery is the nature of consciousness itself, which has been a subject of human inquiry for at least the last several millennia. In this essay, I discuss the nature of thought and consciousness and argue that that consciousness and thought are natural biological phenomena.

SENSE, THOUGHT & CONSCIOUSNESS 12:14

Biology
Essays in Science
General Interest

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THE PRESIDENT JUST DOESN’T GET IT

USA TODAY MAGAZINE-November 2014

Defeat of the Islamic State cannot be achieved by solely military means and, most especially, not by Western military actions such as the air strikes—even if given the cover of a coalition containing Arab nations; nor can military operations decrease the spread of beliefs upon which radical Islam is based.

USA TODAY-MARSH-MIDEAST

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THE HUMAN CONDITION AND THE 21st CENTURY

The phrase “the human condition” has come to mean many things to different people, but here it simply refers to what history has shown to be the inescapable features of being human.  In this essay we take a look at current trends, what they foretell for the remainder of this century, and how the characteristics that make us human might affect the evolution of those trends.

PDF:  THE HUMAN CONDITION

Biology
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SCIENCE AND RELIGION

An interview by Prof. Adrian N. Guiu (Wright College, Chicago, IL) on Science & Religion.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

General Interest

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HAS THE WHOLE WORLD LOST ITS HEAD?

We surely have the means to deal with the locally rational but globally nuts dilemma, the question is whether we collectively have the will to do so. This perhaps is the most important problem we face in the 21st century.

USA Today Magazine-Nov 2013

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Spring Has Sprung, but the Middle East Remains a Muddle

USA Today Magazine (January 2013)

 

The Arab Spring was a dramatic result of a policy failure on the part of Arab countries. For many decades they have used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to divert the attention of their own citizens, the so-called “Arab street”, from their own economic and domestic failure to deliver a decent life to their people.

USA TODAY Jan2013

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The Challenge to the Enlightenment

USA Today Magazine (November 2012)

“. . . The conflict here and abroad really is between two fundamentally different and mutually exclusive world views; one based on science, reason, and observation; the other on an interpretation of Scripture that dates back to past periods of religious intolerance.”

CHALLENGE TO ENLIGHTENMENT.pdf

Biology
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The Problem of the “Prebiotic and Never Born Proteins”

International Journal of Astrobiology / FirstView Article / October 2012, pp 1- 5
DOI: 10.1017/S1473550412000468, Published online.

International Journal of Astrobiology 12 (1): 94–98 (2013)

It has been argued that the limited set of proteins used by life as we know could not have arisen by the process of Darwinian selection from all possible proteins. This probabilistic argument has a number of implicit assumptions that may not be warranted. A variety of considerations are presented to show that the number of amino acid sequences that need to have been sampled during the evolution of proteins is far smaller than assumed by the argument.

NeverBornProteins-IJAB

Published version: Int.J.Astrobiology12(1)94-98(2013)

How to cite this article:
Gerald E. Marsh The problem of the ‘prebiotic and never born proteins’. International Journal of Astrobiology, Available on
CJO doi:10.1017/S1473550412000468

Biology
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More to Fear than Fear Itself

 

Memo to the 1%: Be Careful What You Wish For

In the late 1960s and early 1970s large swaths of American cities burned. It could happen again, and this time it might not be restricted to poor areas.

USAToday Mag-Sept12

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Deployed Nuclear Weapons and Force Structure-II

Recently, Sir Menzies Campbell wrote in the Financial Times that British nuclear doctrine should be redrawn in ways that might no longer require the Trident submarines that are currently the basis of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.  It was maintained that doing so would require abolishing the so called “Moscow criterion” that presumably drove force level requirements.

This “Nuclear Question” was the subject of the lead editorial of the Financial Times on May 19th.  In response, I submitted the following letter that was published in the 22 May 2012 edition:

Weakening Britain’s nuclear deterrent could come at a cost

Your 19 May editorial Nuclear Question lays the appropriate ground rules for the debate on the future of Britain’s deterrent: ‘First, Britain must not scrap its nuclear arsenal’, and most importantly, it ‘should only do so in multilateral negotiation with other powers. Second, it must stick to a sea-launched deterrent’  But the issue of the ‘Moscow criterion’ is a bit of a red herring.

During the cold war, Soviet ‘sophisticated air defenses’ had no capability against warheads delivered by ballistic missile and were not a factor in U.S. targeting. I doubt that this has changed.  The defense-offense balance would, however, dramatically shift if Britain eliminated its ballistic missile deterrent and relied instead on cruise missiles carried on conventional attack submarines to replace the Trident system.  A deterrent based on cruise missiles could well require higher force levels to compensate for their vulnerability.  Using cruise missiles, because of their range limitations, could also require the attack submarines carrying them to operate in areas where they would be more vulnerable. And last, but not least–and this alone should rule out their use–there is the confusion that would be introduced by any cruise missile launch: is the missile carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead? Bad idea.

While four Trident submarines would still be required for operational reasons (yes, one should always be at sea), the real issue is how many missiles must each submarine carry and how many warheads need be on each missile.  In the end, maintaining the Trident missile system may well be Britain’s most cost effective deterrent for the future.”

General Interest
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