Thursday, July 16, 2015

Does evolution work for dominant species?


That one word explains everything about life on Earth. From the simplest of bacteria to the most complex of organisms Evolution is the one tool which has made it all.

This brings up the question does evolution still work when a species becomes the dominant one on the planet?

Dominance may be defined as when a species begins to have the largest fraction of the population of life in a given area. Humans are definitely the largest population (I am ignoring bacteria here) of multi cellular life on the planet in my opinion.

Evolution works on the thumb rule of limited resources. With limited resources, species have to contend for food. This causes them to evolve by natural selection, as in those unable to gather enough food die out as a result of having no children. This puts evolutionary pressure on the species to evolve and get better at gathering food and creating children or die out. What this means is that everything that a species does is somehow allowing it to be better at producing more children. Everything in this world results from that on drive.

Humans on the other hand are unique. They are undoubtedly the dominant species on this planet. How does evolution affect us? Does it even count? A species which becomes dominant implies that it has a method or some tool which allows it to produce a lot more children than the other species. They can actively control the population of other species and cause artificial selection within them. That is how animal husbandry began and how it works.

For a dominant intelligent species however, the number of children per individual is not dependent on the traits of the individual, unless the traits interfere in actual child creation.

Social service and community concepts work against natural selection by giving everyone an equal chance to produce an equal number of children irrespective of what makes them better. That eases the evolutionary pressure on the dominant species to evolve.

The very attribute that made them dominant now stops their evolution. Let us take another theoretical example.

Imagine a world that is inhabited by lizards, say. Now these lizards are of many different species and of many different regions. Each has evolved to be perfect in it's surroundings. Now there arises a species of lizards which goes on to become the dominant species in the planet. The dominating lizards, lets call them God for lack of a better word. The dominating feature allows them to have unparalleled advantage over every other species on the planet. Let us say that they are the only lizards that can fly, walk and swim.

Now how does this pan out for Gods? Anywhere they go on the planet they dominate the local populace. This leads to them having a population explosion because they can get their food too easily. With that the evolutionary pressure is gone. They stop evolving at the same rate as the rest of the species. A sick God is still a God. A handicapped God is still a God. Hence a God will always have more children than a normal lizard.

So what might happen next? Evolution is still in play but it is in slow motion for the Gods. They do not evolve until they are forced to do so by competing lizards (Titans lets say). Thus if a titan species does not come along, Gods will be stuck where they are. If the titan species does come along, natural selection will proceed at the normal pace.

This might be thought of as a local maxima. Thankfully due to the nature of evolution, The population of lizards will not get stuck there. There will be change, and it might be drastic. The dinosaurs were the dominant species on the planet for quiet some time. Presumably they were wiped out by an asteroid impact. The next best species, humans, which were Titans came out unscathed. The dinosaurs might be thought of as a local maxima. Evolution overcame that and created humans which can read blogs like this one.

All in all evolution may be slowed down for dominant species until one of the other species can compete with them, but it never really stops. Have other theories? Comment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


For this next bit play along with me. I propose a few trips in the world of imagination you can muster.

Imagine a world where the ground is a mirror. You have only one sense, the sense of sight. You cannot touch, hear, taste or feel heat etc. All you can do is see. In such a world everything will appear dual. One above the 'ground' and one below. The question then arises, how would you distinguish image from object? How would you decide what is real?

Is the sun above or the one below real? Are you an image or the one below you? How would you know that the other guy does not have thoughts and feelings? If at all how do you decide that you are in control and not merely the reflection of whatever the other guy does?

I think in such a world one cannot distinguish what is real and what is not. Thoughts are welcome in the comments.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hollow storms

Over a hundred years have stood witness to the men and women who enter this institution and leave with something not explained by words. That something makes them special in this world. They can see what is not seen by many, do what most are ashamed to do and when needed plunge themselves into service with all that they can muster.

This institution stands on something solid, on a bond which surpasses any seen today. My college stands on the foundation of family. That very bond which made the Godfather powerful and gave rise to the Rothschild name makes this college special. As all families we have a head in the Principal, elders in our Professors and siblings in our friends. All said and done we know each other inside out and stand by each other in the face of adversity.

Over the past year my college has been in the eye of a storm of media coverage. Trust me when I say that this storm is of malicious making.Three years I spent in the college. I am the kind of person who attended college on Sundays and from 0600 to 1700 hrs. Most of this time was spent in classes but some was spent with family. Eating, playing, discussing and in general simply enjoying the security of this house. I know just about everyone in college and can say that a lot of people are more than just the casual acquaintance.

It is my general practice to avoid popular news channels. This stems from my experience of seeing them running after headlines and providing very little news about what actually matters. Imagine my surprise when I saw the slandering articles against my Principal in the newspaper on one of my visits to the library. The man I had recently written a thankful letter to, was shown to be a complete fraud. Like I had been taught in college, I tried to verify these facts for myself before reading further. The facts came out fine but during the digging came up other things. The other things which gave solidity of character and intent to my Principal were suspiciously left out of the articles and news coverage. I became suspicious of the news papers.

Next came the all famous magazine string of articles in the newspapers. The Principal was under attack once again. I was in the middle of my studies and so like most of my friends discussed the matter as a side issue. The matter was settled and the media simply did not lose a chance to gather up and throw muck into the college name. It did not matter to us as we were inside the college and knew it better than most reporters who came to college, talked to a few people and the next morn had their respective papers claiming that St. Stephen's had been 'rocked' by some thing or another.

When I was a child I used to think of a newspaper as a medium of truth. Now I understand that the truth is different for a lot of people. Hence opinions may differ. What I completely refuse to accept is that in a population like India, with as many newspapers as hair on my head, I have not heard of one newspaper which favors my college. Nothing else is needed to know that something aligns these papers together against my college. What that might be I do not know. What I will do is believe in what I have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears.

I choose to believe in my Principal, in my college and in the family that accepted me and which is seconded by none other than my blood relatives. I choose to believe that the media is a headline churning economic monster which has chosen to attack my college simply because of the name it bears. A decision soaked in monetary gain or some other cold reason along the same lines. Like street hooligans wanting to gain fame by challenging a champion the news tries to break the spirit of my college. Like the champion we shall respond, not by accepting the challenge, but by politely asking them to work their way up the ranks before they challenge us.

This college gave me my life. It gave me purpose and for that I shall defend it to the last breath in my body.