Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Super Sloths

People and animals often get judged at first glance.  First impressions often follow us around for a lifetime.  I'm often guilty of the same thing, but I have been trying to make a real effort to take that deep look at a person or animal.  A wise lady once told me, "the greatest complement you can give someone is getting to know them."  This was a few years ago, at the time I kinda laughed those words off as the ramblings of a lonely older lady, but she was right.  
One animal who doesn't get the respect it deserves is the Sloth.  This animal moves extremely slow, is very helpless if ever on the ground, overall not impressive looking.  But, the Sloth is actually extremely well adapted for its lifestyle.  Sloths come in two varieties, two-toed and three-toed.  They spend so much time hanging upside down, with their legs above their bodies, their hairs grow away from the extremities, the opposite of other mammals, in order to provide protection from the elements. In moist conditions, the fur hosts two species of symbiotic cyanobacteria, which serves two benefits for the Sloth. It gives the fur a green tinge which help camouflage the Sloth. The bacteria also provides nutrients to the Sloth, who will lick them off the fur. Their claws are razor sharp and are curved to make ideal attachments on a tree limb, it's like having super strong coat hangers growing out of your arms.  If a predator catches sight of a Sloth, these claws make good deterrents.  Picture a heavy predator trying to walk out on a limb to make a Sloth into a snack, already the predator is very unstable but in addition they also have to dodge a grumpy Sloth with dagger claws, it's typically not worth it to snag the Sloth up in a tree.  A Sloth lives in a single tree most of its life and only comes down once a week to use the restroom.  The Sloth likes to dig a small hole at the base of its tree for its privy, therefore fertilizes his own tree.  A defining feature of the Sloth is also how it got it's name, it is incredibly slow.  This has many reasons, first off, the Sloth fur already blends in nicely with the trees and green bark, you move nice a slow so you literally look "one with the tree".  Second reason for their snail like speed is it uses much less energy.  Great bursts of speed use up lots of energy and calories.  It is very hard to consume mass amounts of nutrients from plants alone, much more work than meat.  So a Sloth is a master conservationist for calories! 
I'm sure the Sloth has even more abilities that people have yet to discover, but the important point is always keeping an open mind when seeing something you don't understand.  Their is reason that creature was created that way.  As humans it is our job to not be judgemental and to take the advice of an 80 yr old lady and get to know them.  I assure you it wont be time wasted.
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New But Is It Improved?

So I came across this post in the msn news feed today http://slate.me/pzmQ1A it is all about enhancement of our environment and focuses specifically on human enhancement.  Now humans have tried our best to conform the world and environment to our preference, but in the end, nature keeps on winning.  For example, bacteria and viruses keep getting stronger, each year we have to take a guess at a new flu vaccine.  Despite all our technological advances we cannot even combat a simple flu virus.  This article talks about the various ways humans have altered themselves to be their ideal, but with nanotechnology blooming what could happen next?  When I hear the word nanotechnology I envision microscopic robots being inject into us to purge our bodies of infection an disease...  Initially this seems amazing, but then I think a little deeper.  How do these nanobots know when to stop, what is preventing them from attacking healthy tissue, what else could go wrong?  Right now, I'm holding onto my faith that nature still has made a better solution, we humans just haven't found ways to utilize it. 
On the whole humans are extremely narrow minded, we see the world as something to conform to our own will, instead of looking at ourselves as one part to the whole.  We may be influential, but in no means do we control everything.  Control shouldn't be a main goal.  The objective should be to work in harmony with the world and use our power/influence to help it excel in a manner that will allow humans and many other creatures to live for the longest duration possible.  All organisms on this world have a finite lifespan, even our world and sun will eventually die.  This is simply natural order.  In contrast it is also natural for all organisms to want to live as long as possible in order to propagate as many offspring as possible.  So how do we battle these dueling pre-sets within ourselves?  A big question that truthfully I don't think anyone has a certain answer.  A few things are for certain, humans will continue pushing their bodies and technology to the limit, nature will continue finding ways around it.  Other than that it is all variable.  To be continued...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So You've Had a Bad Day

I had a rotten few days, my house is infested with fleas, and nothing seems to kill them.  I've been feeling low about my appearance and just plain exhausted most days.  This all reminds me of a piece I wrote awhile ago about what to do when you're feeling rotten, hopeless, and defeated.  Keep fighting my friends, good things happen to good people. 

Sometimes there are no positives to a situation, but those are the times one draws upon a reserve store of emotion and energy deep that lies deep inside.  I use the absolutely bleak moments as fuel to make a huge change.  It’s like hitting rock bottom, once you’re there, it is now possible to stand and push off and the perfect time to make huge life changes. 

For multiple reasons, the modern environment has caused individuals to lose sight of the power they have in themselves.  One needs to have faith in themselves first and foremost.  We rely on doctors or drugs to heal us; others have become dependent on antidepressants and try to find answers in a pill instead of doing some soul searching.  People with problems now look to the government to bail themselves out.  Life is hard for everybody.  There is never a simple easy answer, or everyone would do it.  I believe that if you are confident in your own abilities, you can survive any situation and turn it into a positive.  While a positive attitude is infectious and helpful, attitude alone cannot make changes in your life.   It is up to each individual to actively seek out ways to improve their lives in any area.  Actions, drive, and perseverance are the only paths that are guaranteed to bring results. 

Lastly here's a song that has sometimes mad me cry harder, sometimes cheered me up, both were absolutely necessary at the time. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Sleep Diet

So it seems my little intro of Biomimicry sparked a lot of great conversations, and inspired the hell out of me.  Last time I explained what Biomimicry was, but what do I see as the great use for it?  I think it can go far beyond a reason to conserve the planet, it could be used as a way to greatly increase efficiency for any business.  It is also an amazing source of ideas. 

The other day I was talking to my best friend Mallory about polar bears and some of their unique attributes.  Why would humans want to be more polar bear-like?  Polar bears can gain muscle mass and strength simply by sleeping.  Human muscle mass is driven by mechanical factors mainly exercise (lots of exercise).  Humans force muscle mass building by eating protein and can even take steroids to speed up the break-down and build up of muscles.  Unfortunately once a human stops using their muscles they break down into fat.  A polar bear takes the completely opposite strategy by eating large amounts of fat and slowing down muscle breakdown.  What person wouldn't want to be able to eat tons of fat, sleep as much as they want and wake up with less fat and more muscle?  That is the true dream diet!