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Tu-Anh Vu's picture

some thoughts to ponder...

When Paul showed us the picture of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and told us how many light years it was away from us, I felt very humbled.   I felt as if I was just a small ant in a huge cluster of ant farms.  It also brought up the idea that time is relative.  So if the galaxies are millions of light years away from us, I guess we are seeing the galaxy millions of years before and not what it is in the present time, which must mean the galaxies are very old.  Then it got me to think that the human species is a relatively new branch.  The relative time we spent on Earth is small compared with the explosion of the universe.  This is also a humbling effect knowing that our ancestors survived so many obstacles to evolved to us. 


Reading the last chapters of Mayr’s book made me question the idea of progression and how we might define it.  Yes, humans have evolved and we are unique due to the “enormous development of the brain and to the development of extended parental care” (p. 253).  If we define progression from a biological/evolutionary stand point, this might be a good summary of observation to use for progression of men.  Mayr also points out that “our superb brain has enabled us to create one invention after the other by which to become increasingly independent of the environment.  No other animal was ever able to exist successfully on all continents and in all climates” (p. 260).  This is rather impressive from an evolutionary stand point.  But upon re-reading Mayr’s discussion about extinction, it made me wonder if men really have progress for the better.  Yes, we do have a better form of transportation in the case of cars and airplanes, but these inventions, although they do allow us to become independent of the environment, has become deleterious to our species.   We our exploiting the nonrenewable resources and one day this will be a limiting factor for our survival.  Mayr explicitly said that men is causing their own mass extinction, “We are now living in another era of mass extinction caused by humans through the destruction of habitats and the pollution of the environment” (p. 202).  If we believe that men have made a progression to be better adapted, why are we not smart enough to stop the destruction we are causing to ourselves?  Will we be known in history as The Species that cause their own extinction? It seems like a funny idea, because by then when we are extinct, who will write our stories?  Some thoughts to ponder…



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