Editorial – May 2022: Evolution supports chance.

May 1, 2022 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone,

Another worrying start of the month. Just because there has been no third world war yet, doesn’t mean the man in the Kremlin hasn’t been contemplating just how much western weaponry has been used in attacking and destroying Russian military. It can’t be long before he decides threats aren’t enough…

In the meantime. I like having some deep thinking. Let’s try to be a little more cheerful and discuss chance. The random element of probability versus improbability and the odds of something happening. It’s played with a lot in gambling games, sometimes, as with roulette, adding the double zero gives a slight odds in favour of the house. Then again, considering how many gamblers consider favoured numbers coming up, you do have to wonder why there was ever a practice for fixing the wheel.

For the record, I’m not a gambler. Being able to read people gave me too much of an edge when I was at college and I swore off it. Even on random chance with the works random Grand National Draw at work, I won three years in a row was a bit much for them. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in how gambling appeases people because its in the animal. Saying that, the mathematical odds is something I do recognise and still puzzling over lotteries can appeal when the odds are so great against winning even the smallest amount of money. People like to be told of winners and neglect losers.

Anyway, this editorial is less about human nature but how random chance works in nature. You only have to look at evolution to see it in practice. I doubt if plant or animal life decides which is the better choice for survival. Every generation produces random mutations and if they prove successful in environmental changes then the species diverges to fill a particular niche. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be similarities. One only has to compare the marsupials range to what we have in other parts of the world to realise that even nature shows that certain types will be tried again or at least prove successful enough to become a species. I think one of the things I would be most interested in with meeting sentient extra-terrestrials is to have a look at their fern and fauna and see if this randomness in evolution exists on another planet. To paraphrase and re-interpret Einstein: God not only plays with dice, he does it on a regular basis!

Mankind is no exception. One only has to look at our own divergence in not only colour but medical differences to realise this randomness is still going on. The number of evolutionary failures resulting in early deaths clearly shows that not all of it are successful mutations. The fact that we don’t see many of the failures in other members of the animal kingdom is maybe because we tend to look for successes than failures. If anything, it does show how random evolution truly is. It doesn’t just choose good choices but bad and it is all random. The one thing it can’t beat is physical effects like volcanoes or meteorite impacts. The big one that wiped out dinosaurs took out the most successful animal group ever.

Mammals have been around barely a fraction of the time they were around. That’s not to say some reptiles didn’t survive but their model was not based purely on vertical giant-size but many being amphibious predators and lasting a long time between meals. The giant dinosaurs, whatever their diet, needed to eat regularly to support such bodies. The fact that evidence is coming to light that not all of them needed sunlight but were warm-blooded doesn’t surprise me. Evolution would have tried such a choice in its random mutations many times over not to succeed. Evolution favours survival. Ergo, it likes winners. Remember my comment at the beginning that we recognise winners more than losers. That might well be something hardwired into most of us.

The fact that it is coming to light that other species demonstrate levels of intelligence and tool-making also shows these things are not always necessarily hardwired but passed on from generation to generation. One could only wonder at how much an extended vocabulary and the ability to write would have produced directions towards greater sentience and passing on information to the next generation. We were no longer so hardwired like other species. Mankind was lucky but, as I’ve pointed out in the past, intelligence isn’t a requisite for species survival. The absence of mankind and nature would still carry on and if it had sentience not necessarily go up this route again.

Considering how rigid our depiction of science laws are, evolution seems to be random in comparison. In terms of a Boolean curve, it does make perfect sense of the extremes of order. If there is any chaos, it is the amount of randomness that enters into all of this.

If anything, it does tend to illustrate that the universe, at least on an organic level, is built up on random elements or chance. The fact that there is an order in such random chaos is even more remarkable. I mean, its not as though there is a single mutation of the same sort per generation, but enough to create a sub-species. It also appears to be a dynamic that beats entropy.

If that’s a deep thought, then I’ve seen some insight into a secret of the universe. Let’s hope we’re around to realise it and study failed evolutionary changes as much as successful ones.

Thank you, take care, good night and take a deep breath.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: To respire is to breathe, to expire is to die.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: A desire to share deep thoughts.

The Reveal: For evolution to work, it needs natural not unnatural forces at work.

Observation: Has anyone ever wondered why the Joker has never worn a moustache, let alone a beard? Either his accident that resulted in his white face destroyed his beard roots or he doesn’t want to be accused of looking like Cesar Romero.

 Observation: Here’s something to consider from ‘Pinocchio’. Where does the good fairy get the soul from to embed into the wooden puppet to bring it to life?

 Observation: Looking again at the 1977 film ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, why was the alien mothership flying upside down in the Earth’s atmosphere? Up the right way would have offered better defence if humans or any other sentient species attacked. Then again, that way up might also provide the better release of its support flying vehicles. I mean, why not come in the right way up than having to do so, other than to please the director or special effects team.

 Computer Observation: When playing the game of Solitaire, the software must know all the cards in the deck to know when there are no more options to tell you when to stop.

 Is It An Accident: We never see anyone combing their hair any more and yet everyone’s hair seems so perfect in films and TV shows. It’s as if there’s a hidden hair stylist getting them ready all the time. Now that’s very fifth wall.

 Feeling Stressed: Maybe you have the right to be stressed right now.

Submissions:-

I did think that having a lot of text about submitting material to SFCrowsnest would attract those with a compulsion to read and understand things the geek way. The main problem with the Internet is that it tends to encourage less reading, so time to take a different approach. The original notes will be left on July2009 editorial although the links aren’t likely to work.

With your cover email, tell me something about yourself so I don’t work in a vacuum. The boss in the tower, also called Stephen Hunt, describes me as a ‘Dutch Uncle’ in that I’m good with advice and can explain when I see something that is wrong. Egos should be left at the door as I’m only interested in your talent and how to improve it.

Reviews:-

I always have a clarion call for new reviewers and if you have the yen to learn, you’ll quickly get the ropes if you’re never done it before but you must show me a sample, especially if you can follow my guidelines. We can usually get paper-based books in the UK but if you live abroad, then you might have to stick with ebooks. If you’ve picked a book we haven’t reviewed, then it stands a better chance of being used so use the SFC search engine to see first but I need to see how you would write for us.

The obvious qualification is a desire to read regularly and like to tell others about the book without giving away too many spoilers. The benefit is access to free books for the price of a review.

I want to give you the opportunity to get things right so look up the Review Guidelines link: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-want-to-write-reviews-for-sfcrowsnest-what-you-need-to-know-by-geoff-willmetts/

Fiction:-

Although we can’t pay for submissions, what we do make up for is exposure. Only the Sci-Fi Channel gets more hits than us so it’s worthwhile getting us on your writer’s CV. Please avoid samplings from book’s you might be writing or have had in print elsewhere as I do check. New original work is best and whether I accept or reject, you will be told of any problems I see so you look your best and a grammar check that is equal to the pro-world. Even the boss finds me scarily accurate.

Flash or One-Page Fiction:-

Speaks for itself. The shortest fiction possible is also the toughest to write as no word must be wasted.

Link here for details: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/one-page-stories-or-flash-fiction-submissions-instructions-by-gf-willmetts/

Short Stories:-

The definition of a short story is anything up to 30 pages and then it becomes a novella. Bear in mind you want other people to read it on-line, stay somewhere between 5-20 pages. At least digitally, you don’t have to go double-line as HTML will do that automatically but think about being concise. If you want to send an attachment with these, then ask first and send as a TXT file as it removes most tetchy virus codes.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-really-want-to-write-an-sf-story-an-update-by-gf-willmetts/

Finally:-

The worse problem I see any samples is poor grammar. Although I don’t want you to think I seek perfection, the less work I have to do, the easier it is to focus on other problems you might have. It will also serve you in good stead if you ever approach paper-based publishers because they will send back any bad grammar samples because it’s not worth their time.

Good grammar is the tool of any writer. Don’t just depend on what you remember doing at school. There are plenty of decent grammar books out there, so remind yourself of the rules. If you think there are far too many to remember, get the major ones right before moving to the next so it becomes second nature.

This link, www.sfcrowsnest.info/the-guide-to-better-grammar-from-the-harrowed-hand-of-gf-willmetts/ will show you the common problems.

To submit, use our email address by joining the spaces as shown here: letters @ SFcrowsnest.info and use the subject matter as to what you’re submitting.

If you have any pastimes that can be used to pass the time in captivity, let me know and we’ll see if it can be turned into an article.

Comments directly to reviews should still work as before.

Good luck

Geoff

 

Category: Offworld Report


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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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