Susan LaCroix's Comments

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At 1:14pm on May 19, 2011, Ruth Anthony-Gardner said…
Greetings, Susan! I'd like to invite you to a group where we talk about anything on our minds, Hang With Friends.
At 8:59am on March 1, 2010, Little Name Atheist said…
Happy birthday, Susan!
At 5:54pm on January 10, 2010, Howard S. Dunn said…
SF is one of the most intelligent bastions of atheism available to children - I started to read it - with the encouragement of a nun - in the sixth grade (the same year I was 'confirmed'.) Go figure.
At 3:35pm on January 6, 2010, SJ said…
Please post some pics of your art. I've always admired/been annoyed by people who have a creative side and are able to express it well.
At 4:59pm on December 29, 2009, Little Name Atheist said…
How are things in Columbus?
At 10:37pm on December 26, 2009, Jim DePaulo said…
Thanks for the friend invite
I was re-reading the discussion you started in the SF group on the top 3 favorites and came acrossed this comment of yours,
"I can't write but I do value having a great imagination, nothing is better than losing myself in another universe for a few hours."
On Xmas I saw Avatar and it will take you to that other universe of which you write and immerse you in it for 2 1/2 hours. My wife is a professional artist and she was in a trance for 2 1/2 hours . There is so much in the film that one can't possibly absorb it all in a single viewing - I know I didn't. Make sure the theater is showing the 3D version - preferable in IMAX
At 1:58am on October 21, 2009, sekhar said…
Hope you had seen my paper called virtual reality.Your comments invited
thank you
At 8:24pm on September 26, 2009, Stephen Goldin said…
Welcome to the SFF group. Hope you have a lot of fun here.
At 8:09pm on July 11, 2009, Richard Healy said…
The Switzerland photos are now all up as promised.
At 3:31pm on July 11, 2009, Richard Healy said…
S'funny I thought you'd seen the pumpkins before! ;-)

I never did update my page with the Switzerland photos. I really must. I'll let you know when they are up - some of them are stunning if I do say so myself....

I've not been around much either. I sort of lurked and didn't post much. Sorry to hear you've had a hectic time from the sounds of it!

I gave up on windows and moved onto mac. :D Best decision I think I ever made.

I thought they made harddrives to crazy sizes these days - what is your hard drive full of???
Don't answer that ';-)

Well the thign about a new harddrive installation is whther or not you intend to run the operating system off of it.

If the second hard drive is just going to serve as a data dump where you can stick all the files and folders you don't want clogging up hard drive 1, then formatting it should be as simple as finding the hard drive once installed and saying "format this form me please" (I think right-click on the drive.)

Whatever you do DON'T format the drive with all your files on - otherwise they are gone for good and if you don't have the install discs then you'll be well and truly buggered.

So Step 1) Check which hard drive is which. (Hint: one will say 99% full the other will be empty - again under preferences right click on the drive icon.)

but assuming you've found the right drive right-click select format and go through the instructions and prompts and windows *should* format the thing and sweep it clear. Ready for you to drag and drop everything you've got on the other one to clear some room.

Essentially you'll be treating it as a portable USB drive, with the one major exception that if you try to suspend it from a dongle around your neck you'll probably give yourself spinal damage! ;-)

Re: work yup still unemployed but I had an interview on..letmesee...Thursday 9th. So *fingers crossed*

I started a new Dennet (Darwin's Dangerous idea) and started on some Pinker (The Language Instinct)
At 10:13am on July 11, 2009, Richard Healy said…
How's things?
At 1:46pm on April 4, 2009, Micheal said…
you have a a great home page
At 1:53pm on March 14, 2009, Richard Healy said…
Good news on having your eyes checked! *waggles spectacles in a Grouch-Marx-ish , quasi-celebratory moment of myopic joy*

Sharing this stuff: it's a pleasure, it's just a matter of reading the title of the shelf to my left. ;-) and then I think 'oh yeah - that's what I liked about that one' so dash of a quick summary to whet thine appetite. :-) it's actually fun to share some of the stuff I read with someone else.

On the matter of getting older (I'm going to be 30 in a little over a year - help!!!)
Time and tide wait for no man. Neither do trains or busses.
Cheese and wine age gracefully. People don't.

I'll freely confess to not remembering *everything* I expose my mind to. I think it's enough that some of it settles, and you know you can always read a book twice or read another in a similar vein. I read a lot of geology books back to back, and those documentaries I mentioned which really cvlued me in to an old passion which is thinking about natural history that then led me onto a series of books on evolution, until I got sick of the basically repeating information, which meant I was recognising what I'd already learnt (eg the role of HOX genes in gene activation in phenotypes) - okay that might not mean anything to you yet: read Your Inner Fish and The Ancestor's Tale to correct that - but what it means to me is, I can watch this video and I 'get' the joke. :-D
At 9:10am on March 14, 2009, Richard Healy said…
On the subject of stating one's education over from scratch:

Another source of information is online lectures.

Recently some major universities Yale, Stanford - Harvard, I think - and MIT amongst them) have been broadcasting on the web whole lecture series covering entire semesters.

I posted one of these in the ORIGINS Group, you may remember, from Stanford on Darwin's Legacy.

But Stanford have other lecture series on their youtube channel not just this one.

Secondly, and more relevant to our discussion, I recently came across a website called "academic earth" - same idea as the Stanford youtube channel - uploads of filmed course content from course given at major academic institutions. I'm currently working my way through a series of philosophy lectures (I'm a graduate in philosophy so this is something like home territory) in the dualism of mind and body.

However I'm very interested in science lectures that are available, since despite my pretensions to knowledge, I've never actually taken a science class outside of school (and I wasn't terribly good at it then; where I've improved is in my understanding of concepts.)

So I'm starting on Physics 101: Lecture 1; Classical mechanics.

and I'm going to work through physics 2: Electricity and Magnetism (something I really want to understand better!!)

and I may swing by Physics 3 Vibrations and Waves
provided my head hasn't exploded by then.

I invite you to join me.

I'm particularly looking forward to Physics 2, Lecture 31: Rainbows.
At 7:13am on March 14, 2009, Richard Healy said…
Good luck!

Computers are sent here to try us. (for more on this, see the dedication at the top of my page!)

I'm glad I made sense - even if half of what I said had vanished! ::phew!::

I can still see the book titles I sent you I can post them again if you like.

I realised I missed a few off last time. Those were:

Krakatoa: the day the world exploded. by Simon Winchester.
A terrific mingling of historical record and description of one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in modern times 27th August 1883. (I like to reflect I was born 97 years and one day later!) What I liked - and learnt - from this book was more about colonial history The Indonesian region was the province of alternatively the Dutch and The British, but mostly the Dutch. It's also where I first encountered the name Alfred Russell Wallace (the co-publisher of The Theory of Evolution by natural Selection along with C.Darwin.) and where I also began to grasp the sense of rapid change within the 19th century. When abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, the news took a fortnight to cross the atlantic by boat. A mere 18 years later, The Times of London carried the news of the eruption and the destruction of the colonies as a headline, the next day (allowing for time zones). This was due to the completion of the the vast underwater telegraphing network and the completion by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail of The (now defunct) Morse Code. The subtitle is both descriptive of the event as perceived from the native Indonesians living on the coast around Krakatoa, but also metaphorical for the age in which it happened: the birth of the "modern" industrious, media-informed world. In short: this book spoke to me on a number of intellectual levels - not just scientific - and it is with that thought in mind that I recommend it to you.

This is a classic, it is on my bookshelf and I have read it.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
Really seminal text setting out on of the foremost thinkers of our age's views on the interaction of relativity and quantum theory and where we go from here. It's semi-technical as I recall, dealing as it must with some quite complex ideas, but it's also written with the intent of explaining these ideas to people who'd never encountered them before and succeeds in doing so in an easy to understand and engaging way.

I'm currently reading:
Consciousness Explained by Daniel C Dennet.
I have found the interaction of philosophy and neuroscience and the patient and logic manner in which Dennet leads the reader through (again) some very complex ideas about how brains work and some of the fallacies of how people think brains work. A very, very good book.
At 3:39pm on March 1, 2009, Vanessa said…
Happy Birthday Susan!
At 11:42am on February 28, 2009, Shlarg said…
Happy birthday from Shlarg, Chloe and Speckles !
At 4:50pm on February 25, 2009, Richard Healy said…
Now my first post is missing! What on earth is going on?? I had two that set out the general frame of my reply to you about theory, hypothesis and fact with examples and definitions of each, and then my second post (still visible) which took those definitions into discussing what they mean....

I don''t where it's gone..... :-/
At 4:45pm on February 25, 2009, Richard Healy said…
That's weird the comment I was replying to has disappeared from my page. :-/
At 4:27pm on February 25, 2009, Richard Healy said…
How facts, hypotheses and theories interact and are interdependent, if you omit one or other side of the triangle the explanation falls apart.

Cold Fusion
In 1988, in a blaze of publicity some researchers announced results of experiments involving cold fusion. This was incredibly exciting. It offered the possibility of near limitless production of energy simply and cheaply. It all came to a big halt when other researchers were unable to replicate the results in experiments of their own based on the published findings. Scepticism grew and cold fusion was declared a hypothesis without any evidence (no facts to back it up but the original scientist assertions, if cold fusion were really, really true as they described, someone else could copy the experiment and get the same result that wasn't happening suggesting that their results were somehow false or their description somehow not accurate.

Without wanting to focus on the specifics it's important to note that what is missing here are observations to confirm hypothesis. Fusion typically occurs inside the hearts of stars which are so hot that hydrogen nuclei fuse to become helium atoms, the colossal release of energy by this process is why stars shine and why Earth isn't an ice cube. But the hearts of stars are regions of intense pressure and heat, consequently this theory to give it it's full title is usually referred to as high temperature fusion. What they researchers were claiming was that the fusion process could be initiated at much lower (terrestrial) temperatures.

Now this might be true. High temperature fusion is afterall, there may be a corresponding low temperature process - it's not impossible - but without the evidence of repeated observation of a phenomena, and without a clear theoretical underpinning to back up the claims the case for cold fusion fell apart.

Human Telepathy.
Now this is the claim that human minds are capable of gaining detailed knowledge of the interior process of another's thoughts. Now we do this all the time: it's called talking. But telepathy says it's not like this the knowledge is accessible through mental powers alone.
It's also, if you listen to psychics, tarot readers, mediums, astrologers, etc quite common.
However, try to test the hypothesis that this is true, by isolating the conditions so to maximise the possibility of observing the phenomena and invariably the success rate drops sharply to no better than guess work.

Moreover, given everything that we do know about how brains work, how information is normally transmitted, this seems to fly in the face of other more accepted theories. And more to the point the claim that some humans are able to read another persons mind has no theory to explain it. Even if it were demonstrably true, it doesn't have any reason to explain why it would be true. So human telepathy is a good example of something which does not benefit from any observed (scientific) facts or a theory to account for it.

This doesn't stop people from thinking it's true, practising it at county fairs or believing their were contacted by the recently deceased spirit of dear, departed Uncle George but such beliefs and rituals are not scientific and are profoundly irrational.

Now at last, I come to an example of theory, hypothesis and fact involving evolution, because you've probably waited long enough.

Chromosome 2

Why do Humans have one fewer pair of chromosomes than chimpanzees? Humans have twenty-three pairs, chimps twenty-four. Why? The theory of evolution (with all it's observations to date) says humans and chimps are related via a common ancestor and spectiated at some point in the past. So a question to ask is during the process for speciation, did humans loose one pair of chromosomes. This is an example of how observations and theory can generate new hypotheses.
In this case, the chromosomes didn't just up and vanish - so where did they go? We can hypothesise, that possibly that one event in the speciation of humans was that a pair of chromosomes that are still found in chimpanzees were in humans fused. Crucially we can make a prediction.( this is why it's science) If this hypothesis is true, there should be evidence in our genetic code of a chromosome with unique features. If one can be found the hypothesis that two other chromosomes fused will be correct.

So what was found when researchers went to check this out?

Human chromosome number 2 showed all the hallmarks of being the result of a fusion of two other chromosomes. How did they know this? All chromosomes have something called telomere cells at either end. When cells divide, the telomeres shed a layer. When The telomeres layers are all gone the cell can no longer divide this is why we a) get old and wrinkle B) get cancer because cells divide without surcease when this biological marker fails.

Human chromosome number 2 has two telomeres at either end and two telomeres in the centre. This observation can be explained if as hypothesised two chromosomes fused to form one.

()---() + ()------() became ()---()()------()

Furthermore if you take the corresponding 'extra' chromosomes' in say bonobos (2p and 2q) and lay them end to end you greater a chain of genetic material identical to human chromosome number 2, so it is precisely identified as genetic point of divergence between closely related species.

So here we have fact (observation) confirming hypothesis in accordance with theory (of common decent, variation, inheritance, adaptation over time leading to speciation. )

This is one of my favourite examples to use when debating creationists which is why I know it so well. (

You can read more about this here and here:

So now finally to answer your question: Aren't their enough scientific facts to prove the theory of evolution as correct? There are innumerable facts like the one I've outlined above, and confirmed hypothesis which inform and reinforces the theory of evolution. It will however never be 'proven' to return to something I said earlier: theories are the grand idea and the sum total of all observed data thus far. so the proof as it attaches to the theory is on the tested hypotheses and the observed data and not the to the theory as a whole which will always remain tentative.

However this being said the more evidence is confirmed; the more hypotheses are assembled and tested; the more confidence one can have in the theory being true.

One can see this probably best in physics. Unlike biology which had Darwin's big idea which makes sense of all of biology, physics has had lots of smaller no less important but less completely encompassing and explanatory: There's the theory of gravitation*; the theory of relativity, the theory of sub atomic particles, Quantum theory and quantum mechanics.

Quantum theory is a case in point: what it purports to describe matter on the fundamental scale is probabilistically indeterminate. Light behaves as both a particle and a wave. etc. clouds of electrons in energetic states around nuclei which are not really there in a physical sense (none have ever been observed) but unless electrons flowed through wires, we wouldn;t have electricity of for that matter fridge magnets.

but quantum theory makes incredibly accurate predictions (my favourite being the magnetic moment of the electron which has a predicted value of 2.002319304 confirmed by experiment) This is amazing!!! A theory that could predict events with an accuracy of 10 to the power -9 is very likely to be describing some aspect of reality even if it is very weird and incomprehensible. From which we can conclude reality is weird and incomprehensible.;-)

But seriously is quantum theory true? Maybe some future observation will bring pause, yield fresh discovery and maybe a new 'ultimate' theory, but my point was the confirmation and accuracy in tested hypotheses lends credence to theories being correct. And quantum theory (and by extension quantum mechanics - the physics of the manipulation of quantum energies and particles) is a very good and clear example of this.

So in a related way, the more evidence that is collected the more credence evolution has.
At this point Evolution is staggeringly successful (the creationists and IDiots are usually lying, ignorant or both of both matters of fact and theory) when they try to dismiss evolution, but it remains a (distant) possibility that a future explanation might be able to do it better. It's a possibility but it's unlikely.

Now I started off (if you recall) sayign the words that were important to understandign the answer to you question were theory, hyppothesis and fact What you'll see from those who don't accept evolution is either ignorance or manipulation of one of those three things. (presenting false facts - no transitional fossils - or misrepresenting the theory evolution - is a theory of chance - in a bid often to forward their own agenda which is neither scientifically rigourous, capable of generating testable hypotheses or backed up by an explanatory theory.

I hope that answers your question.


*the theory of gravitiation, normally called a law, but Newton was writing in the mid 1600's, Darwin in the mid 1800's two hundred years difference rendered law to the more hopeful 'theory' but had Newton of been similarly working in the 1800's the law of gravity would be the theory of gravity it is composed of mathematical proofs (the attractive force of gravity is equal to the inversely proportional square of the distance between the two bodies of mass) and observed phenomena and predictions and hypotheses ( like the irregular orbit, which Newton cannot explain but Einstein could...) as much as any other so it is properly referred to as a theory.

Of course, fundamentalists can still oppose it. ;-)

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