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05/18/15 PHD comic: 'What to call yourself in Academia'

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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
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title: "What to call yourself in Academia" - originally published 5/18/2015

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

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RoadRageRyan
2641 days ago
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Where do we put MIT Lincoln Laboratory. There needs to be a bonus little blip for institute & National Lab
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2646 days ago
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Why you shouldn't drive slowly in the left lane

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There are basically two types of drivers: those who get worked up about people driving slowly in the left lane, and those who do it all the time and have no idea they're upsetting everyone else.

In case you're in the second group, some background: every state has some sort of law that discourages people from traveling in the left lane on multi-lane roads and highways. It's not that you're never allowed in the left lane, just that you should only use it when necessary, for passing, then get back over.

That's because even if you're driving fast, there's always someone going faster. If you promptly get back over after passing, that car will be able to pass you,allowing everyone on the roadto get to their destinations as quickly as possible. If you don't, it'll inevitably lead to buildups of traffic and likely raise the chance of accidents.

The system works best when people aren't hogging the left lane. That's one reason why National Motorists Association has declared June Lane Courtesy Month in an effort to to raise awareness about the importance of getting out of the left lane.

Here's Vox's small contribution — an explanation of the reasons why traveling in the left lane is a bad idea.

State laws restrict driving in the left lane

left lane driving
Screen_shot_2014-06-24_at_9.52.21_am

Every state has some lawon the books restricting use of the left lane. In 29 states (shown in yellow), states, the law says any car that's moving slower than the "normal speed of traffic" should be in the right lane — so even if it's going at the speed limit, a car that's not moving as fast as the other cars around shouldn't be in the left. Georgia has recently increasedthe penalty for violating this law to a misdemeanor.

In 11 states (shown in green), states, the laws are even stricter — specifically saying the left lane is only for turning or passing. Most of the remaining states say cars need to get over if they're blocking traffic that wants to pass, or if they're traveling more slowly than the speed limit.

Police are cracking down on left lane drivers

MyLoupe/UIG via Getty Images

Traditionally, these laws have seldom been enforced, and were often just used as a legal excuse for police to pull people over for unrelated reasons.

Recently, though, police in several states — including WashingtonTexas, andOhio— have increasingly been issuing tickets to people they spot traveling slowly in the left.

It impedes traffic and probably makes everyone less safe

There's a certain rationale for these laws and enforcement campaigns. When drivers travel in the left lane, it makes the road more congested and probably more dangerous for all parties involved.

Research showsthat many traffic jams result from a surprisingly small number of slow cars obstructing traffic, with their effects rippling outward. A small buildup of cars that can't pass because someone is driving slowly in the left — right next to another car traveling slowly in the right — is the exact type of scenario that can start this cascade of traffic.

Now, some people counter that as long as they're going the speed limit, they don't have to move over— and by slowing down would-be speeders, they're making the roads safer.

Apart from the fact that in 44 states, simply going the speed limit doesn't permit drivers to travel in the left lane, this argument doesn't make a lot of sense based on research into how accidents occur.

Unfortunately, there isn't much research on the effect of impeding people from passing in the left lane specifically. But there is evidence thatslowing down and changing lanes is more dangerous than speeding.

Lanes changes account for about four percentof all car accidents in the US, and perhaps as much as ten percentof accidents on highways. Meanwhile, research has generally shown that the strongest predictor of an accident isn't speeding, but variance from the average speed of traffic — and a car going five miles per hour slower than the surrounding traffic has a greater chance of causing an accident than one going five miles per hour faster than it.

If relatively slow drivers are scattered among the right and left lanes, faster drivers have to repeatedly slow down and weave back and forth, changing lanes many times to pass all of them. If the slower drivers are all driving in the right lane, a faster driver can pass several at a time, then get back into the right, cutting down on the total number of lane changes and eliminating the slow downs.


Update There's even some evidence that this is why accident and fatality rates are so much lower on the German autobahn, compared to US interstates, even though speed limits are higher (or in some places nonexistent) in Germany. Lane discipline is much more strictly maintained there, allowing drivers to travel more safely at faster speeds.

Vox Video Archives: The Better Way to Board an Airplane



Download video: http://www.vox.com/vox_rss/mp4_redirect?url=http://ak.c.ooyala.com/5kYWJ4cTrbnEoffci_iGlo7g7I4cYL1O/DOcJ-FxaFrRg4gtDMwOjFpaDowODE7X4
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RoadRageRyan
2641 days ago
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@zwol There is no critical density in respect to spacing in flow. YOU are the one establishing the safety margin by leaving adequate distance. I have been on several long-haul routes driving and had no issue. If the trucks slowed down below the limit that I wanted to go I passed them on the left while I was in the group with them I maintained an adequate stopping distance which was greater than normal so as to get increased forward visibility but also to be able to stop in an adequate amount of space for both me and the truck behind me if the truck in front of me were to slam on their brakes.

As I stated, in this case I was the one establishing the safety margin.
zwol
2641 days ago
I can only repeat that that works only below a critical density of trucks and you would not be saying this if you had ever driven a long-haul route in the USA. It is _not possible_ to "establish a safety margin by leaving adequate distance" in the truck lane unless you are driving a truck yourself (and maybe not even then -- the behavior I have repeatedly observed from truck drivers does not strike me as terribly safe for them, either).
RoadRageRyan
2641 days ago
@zwol, Anecdotal evidence and repeating the argument do not make it true... Driving in a way that is against the law in every state IS inherently more dangerous as you are violating the expected behavior, causing a cognitive dissonance which means the brain must perform additional processing taking away from its ability to process other safety hazards. Further is its easily provable that safety margins are established by YOU, if you have enough stoping distance such that you also ensure the person following you has enough stopping distance IT IS almost entirely in YOUR hands for that safety margin. If people are driving in anything other than the right most lane they are removing escape avenues in that the lane to your left is no longer open and the shoulder to your right is not accessible. The shoulder is almost always an escape route with no consequence. Maybe expounding on why it is not possible for you to leave additional room to establish that safety margin would shed some light on where your point is coming from?
zwol
2641 days ago
(edit: expanded) It's not possible to leave additional room because the truck drivers won't cooperate. In a small, low-to-the-ground car, if I'm going to be in the lane with the trucks, I require at least five truck-lengths of space between me and the trucks on either side to have adequate stopping distance and adequate visibility. The truck drivers want to maintain an average gap between successive trucks of maybe four truck-lengths, at most. If a car enters the gap they WILL NOT fall back and open up additional space; they seem to care only about the distance between them and the next truck, not the next vehicle. (It is possible that someone driving a larger car would be given more space, but I don't like large cars and I shouldn't have to buy one to be safe on an interstate.) The only way I can open up enough space between me and the truck in front of me is by deliberately driving too slow for traffic, at which point the truck behind me will tailgate me, which is even more dangerous. Your response is probably going to be "well, so don't drive in the middle of a convoy of trucks," and that is exactly what I mean about the critical density. If there aren't that many trucks on the road, you can do that. But if you're on a US interstate that carries enough truck traffic, there won't be any breaks between convoys. One truck after another, for as far as the eye can see, all maintaining no more than a few truck-lengths of space between them. And as far as "violating the expected behavior, creating a cognitive dissonance," again, you must never have driven a long-haul US route or we wouldn't be having this argument in the first place. It ain't just me who has resorted to staying in the left lane at all times (except very briefly to enter or exit); it's the majority of car drivers on the road. You would also know if you had driven these routes, that in all cases either there are _three_ lanes each way (in which case the cars use the middle lane and the left lane remains open for passing) or there is an open space in the middle, reserved to add a third lane should it become necessary in the future (in which case there is an escape route to the left for drivers in the left lane).
zwol
2641 days ago
apologies for wall of text, newsblur apparently does not permit paragraph breaks in replies
RoadRageRyan
2641 days ago
@zwol Yeah I was having the same issue, seems like a starter reply can add breaks but not a sub reply
RoadRageRyan
2641 days ago
@zwol I understand what you are getting at now. I have not experienced the same problem as I agree with you. I leave a 5-10 car gap depending on speed and have slowed down to leave that gap, then had a truck tailgate me at which point I made the gap a bit larger to preserve what would allow the new comfort zone for me ~10-15 cars. I also drive a smaller car and I leverage the safety margin that I feel comfortable with like that, if they don't like it they can pass me but in general I have found that after a minute or so they have felt they have proven their point and back off to a safe distance at which I return to my nominal position. Thanks for clarifying!
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2644 days ago
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fredw
2627 days ago
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The article makes an interesting point mentioning Germany.

The key difference I see there is that passing on the right is in fact illegal (and quite strictly enforced and painfully ticketed). The fear of a passing-on-the-right ticket results in a taboo that will keep people from passing you on the right, but will also ensure that they are *furious* if you block their way from passing on the left, particularly on 3-lane roads, where a slow car absolutely never has an excuse to stay on the left.

So as long as "just pass me on the right" is a valid, and legal, excuse, I am not surprised left-lane-hogs are abundant in the States.
Portland, OR
TIMOOOO
2637 days ago
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Can't wait until humans aren't allowed to drive anymore.
Madison, WI
zwol
2644 days ago
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I can't endorse this, because it's not safe to be in the lane with all the trucks for any extended period unless you are yourself driving a truck. On most US interstates (two lanes each way), that means there is the truck lane and the car lane, and nobody should be even trying to pass.

State legislation that fails to take this into account is actively mandating unsafe driving, and needs to be changed.
Pittsburgh, PA
rocknroller
2644 days ago
What about the motorcycles, do they need their own lane too?
zwol
2644 days ago
Motorcycles can safely share the car lane. It's only a problem with big rigs and only when they reach a critical density; unfortunately, we're at or above that density on most of the long-haul routes already.
RoadRageRyan
2643 days ago
Where is your research to back this statement? There is nothing inherently dangerous about driving with bigger trucks. If you are all staying the same speed it doesn't matter if the vehicle in front of you is 5 ft or 10 ft tall. The danger comes when someone cuts a truck off causing them to slowdown and the trailing vehicle not leaving adequate space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them.
zwol
2642 days ago
@Rmpratt1 Above some critical density of trucks, a car in that lane cannot maintain safe distance from the trucks or achieve adequate forward visibility for highway speeds. You would not disbelieve me if you had ever driven a long-haul route in the USA with a lot of trucks (e.g. Interstate 40 from Texas east to Nashville).
sirshannon
2645 days ago
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the older I get, the more I want automated traffic ticketing for things like this.
2644 days ago
Or any ticketing at all, ever.
sirshannon
2644 days ago
They claim tickets will now be written here for driving below the speed limit in the left lane but unless there is huge education campaign with tons of signage and dozens of officers writing tickets constantly for months, I don't see it making any impact.
2644 days ago
And they only claimed that for a few states. Here in CA it would take... hundreds of officers for years. It would however, raise lots of money.
freeAgent
2645 days ago
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Yes.
Los Angeles, CA
skorgu
2645 days ago
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DUH

API

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ACCESS LIMITS: Clients may maintain connections to the server for no more than 86,400 seconds per day. If you need additional time, you may contact IERS to file a request for up to one additional second.
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RoadRageRyan
2754 days ago
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That second is only able to be obtained in the following years:
1972-1979
1981-1983
1985
1987
1989-1990
1992-1995
1997-1998
2005
2008
2012
2015

For future second chances see Bulletin C.
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reconbot
2754 days ago
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Its how I make them
New York City
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2754 days ago
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ACCESS LIMITS: Clients may maintain connections to the server for no more than 86,400 seconds per day. If you need additional time, you may contact IERS to file a request for up to one additional second.

Hell Freezes Over: Cop fired for harassing photographer

jwz
1 Comment and 10 Shares
Sheriff Fires Cop Who Threatened to Arrest Me for Taking Photos of Cops

King County deputy Patrick "K.C." Saulet has been fired for threatening to arrest me last summer, when I was photographing several officers on a downtown street corner, and then lying to investigators about the incident, says King County sheriff John Urquhart.

The termination is effective today.

"You have a constitutional right to photograph the police," Sheriff Urquhart asserted in a phone interview with me today. Threatening to arrest a citizen for legally taking photos of cops while on public property, he added, "is a constitutional violation, as far as I am concerned."

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
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3113 days ago
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chrishiestand
3114 days ago
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Nice to see some cops take civil rights seriously
San Diego, CA, USA
RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
Most officers do. It's the rare ones who don't make YouTube, and the people who do their best to set them up to fail.
chrishiestand
3113 days ago
My statement could contain selection bias. I hope you're right.
RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
So wikipedia tells us there are about 765,000 sworn personal (power of arrest) in the US. The CATO institute tells us that there were 6,613 officers involved in alleged misconduct so less than 1%, say 1/2 of those are real so about .35% of officers have an issue.
chrishiestand
3113 days ago
There are a lot of incidents which are not reported, so 6613 is certainly an underestimate.
RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
I just don't buy the a lot statistic. People are usually up in arms about these things because they either can or think they can sue so I would wager that most go reported. Edit: but to buy
chrishiestand
3113 days ago
I'm sure that happens, but I'm going to agree to disagree on this point. There's plenty of people who don't report because they are disempowered: afraid, poor, or poorly educated.
RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
I completely appreciate that point and there is definitely merit to the statement I just don't know how to judge the degree of it. The engineer in me says when you guess and assume it frequently is off by an order of magnitude and in this case I honestly don't know which direction that would be, my gut says the low end for why I stated but there is another portion that says well how many people have no clue where to turn.
RoadRageRyan
3113 days ago
Ohh wait a minute... This is 'Merica and the internet, two people are not supposed to have civil discourse and be able to see each others point of view. We are supposed to scream and call each other stupid! :)
chrishiestand
3113 days ago
+1 for civil, reasonable disagreement :-)
llucax
3113 days ago
No cursing in a discussion? The internet is lost!

Hitting a comet

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Hitting a comet

Astrophysicists are always saying things like "This mission to this comet is equivalent to throwing a baseball from New York and hitting a particular window in San Francisco." Are they really equivalent?

Tom Foster

No; the baseball thing is much harder.

To throw something from New York to LA, you have to lob it out of the atmosphere like an ICBM.[1]Launched by New York at LA, as I'm sure happens now and then.

Unfortunately, baseballs are too small to punch through the atmosphere. No matter how fast they're going, they'll wind up stopping before they make it to space. If you wanted to hit a window in LA with a baseball, you'd have better luck throwing it at a plane and hoping it gets lodged in the landing gear during takeoff.

The comet-visiting comet spacecraft Tom's astrophysicists are referring to is probably Rosetta, which is about to orbit the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and send a lander down to its surface.

Note: 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is a mouthful, so for the rest of this article I'm just going to call the comet "Kevin".

Rosetta is currently about to arrive at Kevin, and is about 780 million kilometers from Earth. It's taken a roundabout route:

Kevin, Rosetta's target, is about 4 km wide. Since it's 780 million kilometers away. If it were as far away as San Francisco is from New York, the target would be two centimeters wide—even more impressive than the statistic Tom quoted.

So Rosetta hitting its target is like throwing an object from New York and having it hit a particular key[2]Tilde, if you're curious. on a keyboard in San Francisco.

It's not a fair comparison, but you gotta admit, it sounds pretty precise. I once heard an account from someone who worked on the Cassini-Huygens mission, where one of the designers pointed out that their spacecraft traveled to a target a billion kilometers away, and arrived within something like a second and a half of the scheduled time.[3]Despite searching, I've been unable to track down this interview. If you see it, let me know!

On the other hand, we could make less flattering comparisons.

Take remote surgery. If a surgeon in New York uses a remote surgery robot in San Francisco to do eye surgery, and the robot aims for the patient's eye with the precision of Rosetta's approach, it will point its laser somewhere around here:

However this isn't a fair comparison either. Both Rosetta and our laser surgeon[4]I really hope that's what this job is called will refine their movements as they make their final approaches, achieving very high precision.

When it comes down to it, the two tasks—remote surgery and remote probe-landing—are probably about equally precise, in a distance sense.

Which brings me to something a little different with which I'd like to end this article: A question for you to try to answer. Namely:

Would you rather bet a million dollars on a spacecraft landing engineer's ability to successfully perform eye surgery, or an eye surgeon's ability to land a probe on a comet?
I haven't been able to decide.
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RoadRageRyan
3115 days ago
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I would have to say the engineer. Engineers are trained to find the solutions, capabilities, deficiencies, and unknowns within a system. A surgeon is trained how to do a particular task given a very particular set of constraints and further general training to deal with a typical known system. That said surgeons are required to be able to respond quickly, calmly and competently to a situation.

Given that most non emergency procedures go off without a complication I would give it to the engineer.
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3115 days ago
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rclatterbuck
3115 days ago
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Office consensus (granted, we're a bunch of engineers) is that the smart money is on the engineer, rather than the surgeon.
gevil
3115 days ago
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it depends if the surgery is on my eye or not.
São Paulo -- Brazil
dc3
3115 days ago
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Great as always
Carlsbad, CA

The Truth About Evolution

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As you start reading this article, let's list some questions you haven't asked yourself in a while: awhile:

- Why do I exist?
- Why do I look the way I do?
- Where do the genes come from that make me who I am? If I trace those genes back far enough, do things start to get superbly weird, so weird that a series of low-grade Wait But Why drawings would need to get involved?

In order to get to the bottom of things, let's start at the present and work our way back, tracing our genes at major steps along the way.

We begin with you. I don't know you, but I can tell you look something like this:

To keep things simple, we're going to stick with your patriline, the male lineage of your DNA.

So moving one step back, we have your father:


We then get to your grandfather, great grandfather, and eventually, your great great grandfather, who was likely born sometime between 1825 and 1875. He looked like this:


Your great great grandfather lived most of his life without running water or electricity, and he was probably more racist than you are. You've never met him, but without him, you wouldn't exist.

Now we move to his father, his father's father, and so on—let's jump back 18 generations to your [great x 20] grandfather (putting the number of "great"s as the superscript number):


Your great20 grandfather kept it real. When he wasn't torturing somebody, he was being tortured himself. When he wasn't catching the Black Plague and dying, he was slaughtering women and children in the Crusades. And weirdly, he might have had the same last name as you.

If he could meet you, he'd be blown away by the ease of your current pussy existence. But not as blown away as your great500grandfather would be.


Your great500grandfather didn't spend years toiling over which career would be the best expression of his inner purpose. He hunted animals, battled other tribes, and somehow managed to impregnate someone before dying in his early 30s. Had he not, you and a few million other of today's people wouldn't currently exist.



Now we reach a time before humans were fully humans, and a time when a very special man lived. Scientists call him Y-chromosomal Adam. Y-chromosomal Adam is the most recent male ancestor from whom all current living humans are descended—in other words, he's not just your great14,000 grandfather, he is everyone's great14,000grandfather, and the last time in history a common male ancestor to all of us lived. All ancestors we discuss from this point onward are common to the entire human race.

So what was Y-chromosomal Adam like? He was a disgusting, highly unpleasant man who probably raped people. But the good news for all of us is that he lived and he survived long enough to pass on his genes. If he hadn't, the human race probably would have survived, but the current world would be completely different and not one of us would exist.

Okay here's where things begin to get weird. 3 million years ago, there were no humans. Our ancestors from that time were some hybrid of ape and human called Australopithecus. Your great220,000grandfather was not a sophisticated man—his brain was 35% the size of a human brain—and he was not attractive. But he was one of the first of your ancestors to be bipedal, meaning he could stand upright—this allowed him to use his hands for other things, like making and using tools, which in turn allowed the smartest to thrive, pushing the quick evolution of bigger brains.


Your great550,000grandfather was a very important monkey. Not only is he the ancestor of every living human, he's the ancestor of every living chimpanzee as well. This is the last time in history we shared an ancestor with chimps—scientists believe 6 million years ago is about the time the Hominini tribe split into two branches that would eventually result in humans and chimps. This means that around that time, there existed one monkey—who had one child that went on to become the ancestor of all humans and another child that went on to become the ancestor of all chimps.


Unlike most of his descendants, your great15,000,000grandfather had shitty timing and coexisted with the dinosaurs. Until the massive asteroid led to the extinction of the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago, mammals were small, second class citizens confined mostly to the trees. This unassuming fellow is a common ancestor to all modern primates.


I want you to take a moment and absorb the fact that your great55,000,000grandfather was a rodent. More specifically, he was a Eutherian—the first placental mammal, and the father to all mammals besides marsupials and egg-layers. So if there's a whale out there with a similar blog who plans on writing an article like this one, tracing his father's father and so on, he's on his own up to this point, but from this here forward he can just plagiarize this article and it'll apply perfectly for whales too.


Instead of screaming when he saw a millipede and then throwing a book at it and running away like a normal person, your great125mgrandfather ate it. He was an early lizard, the first in our lineage with legitimate arms and legs and an advanced nervous system—and he's the last time all mammals, reptiles, and birds shared a common ancestor. (Somewhere between him and our rodent ancestor was an awkward hybrid—the first of all mammals, who laid eggs, like today's duck-billed platypus.)



Your great160mgrandfather hated his life. The first member of our patriline to venture out of the ocean, he's the ancestor equivalent of the modern human who immigrates to a new country, leaving behind everything he knows to start from ground zero because it's best for the family in the long run. "Walking" is a generous term for what your great160mgrandfather did during his land excursions—he'dpull himself miserably through the mud, struggling to breathe, all so that you could one day live outside the hell that is the cold, dark ocean.

He's called an Acanthostega—and he pioneered a number of key modern features, including lungs alongside his gills and bones in his flippers, an innovation that led to arms and legs for his descendants.



Your great 220m 480m grandfather was a fish. Look at your arms and legs, and now look at this picture—your limbs are just a more evolved version of those two pairs of flimsy little fins. If the prehistoric fish had adapted differently to needing to balance itself in the ocean current, the human body might look vastly different today. His other claim to fame is being the first creature with a jaw—previous ancestors only had a suction hole.



If your great255mgrandfather seems like an embarrassing flatworm, that's because he is—but he gets credit for both the invention of the brain and being the first animal to be bilateral (having a front and back).



I don't know what to tell you. This is a part of your lineage.

I want you to pause and just ponder for a second that I'm not inventing silly shit here—if you take your father, and your father's father, and do that 435,000,000 times, you'll end up at a jellyfish. Evolution is boggling.

But let's not pass over the jellyfish without due credit for two huge innovations—nerves and muscles. Eyes first happened around this time as well, which one theory states as a major reason for the Cambrian explosion when animal life suddenly burst into diversity.



Your great555mgrandfather was a sponge and spent his life bored as fuck.

He does have one massive feather in his cap, which is that he's the world's first animal. Up until his time, all life consisted of single cell organisms, and he was the first creature made of multiple cells.

And no, those plants didn't exist then and shouldn't be in the picture. But I just realized that now, and I'm proud of having drawn them, so I'm leaving them there.



We have to go a whole lot of generations back to get to your great100bgrandfather, a complex single cell eukaryote.

He may not look like much, but he's both the ancestor of the entire animal kingdom and the inventor of sex. He's also adorable.



Going way, way back to the earlier part of Earth's existence, we arrive at your great850bgrandfather, a hapless simple cell bacterium with little charisma. His crowning achievement is the invention of photosynthesis, which filled the atmosphere with oxygen and paved the way for modern life to exist.



Going back 1,150 billion generations and roughly 3.8 billion years, we arrive at the end of our line—the first living particle and the founder of all life on Earth. We're not quite sure how he started living in the first place—it's one of the great scientific questions of our time. There are a number of theories, including spontaneous generation, emergence from a primordial soup, and some even suggest he came to Earth from somewhere else in space. Either way, we owe a lot to him, and we should take a moment to appreciate his lonely moment of life 3.8 billion years ago that led to everything we know.

As we wrap up, two things to reflect on:

1) How rich the story of your genes is.Your genes have come a long way, have passed through trillionsof other organisms, and have undergone an insane number of optimal mutations to finally arrive packaged up together in your chromosomes. You are the way you are because of things that happened to that jellyfish, that lizard, that monkey and the way each of them adapted to their environment for billions of years.

I read that when we hiccup, it's a remnant of a prehistoric impulse in fish—when your body does something or feels something, it's a window into your deep intertwined connection to all of these other species and to the history of life.

2) How incrediblyunlikely it is that you exist. Going back to the first particle of life, there are over a trillion fathers and father's fathers that eventually ended with your parents conceiving you. And if any one of those fathers (or mothers) had died before reproducing—if any of the millions of fish in your line had been prematurely eaten, if any of the millions of rodents in your line had been crushed by a falling tree as a baby—you would not exist. Maybe someone similar to you—but not you.

________

One other thing

I'm making a New Year's Years Resolution comic to post on Wait But Why as the New Year's Years post. It'll be made up of readers' resolutions. If you want your resolution(s) in the comic (anonymously unless otherwise requested), email them to contact@waitbutwhy.com by 12/27.

________

Sources
- Toth, Nicholas and Schick, Kathy (2005). "African Origins" in The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies (Editor: Chris Scarre). London: Thames and Hudson. Page 60.
- Richard Dawkins 2004 The Ancestor's Tale page 136, 250, and 289.
- A Jurassic eutherian mammal and divergence of marsupials and placentals http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10291
- Eckhart L, Valle LD, Jaeger K, et al. (November 2008). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105 (47): 18419–23.
- http://web.archive.org/web/20090319201312/http://www.uhh.hawaii.edu/~ronald/392/Homol-Gill-Jaw.JPG
- http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/protista/proterospongia.html
- Lots of Wikipedia, obviously, but since that's "unprofessional," we'll just pretend it wasn't part of it.

A note on how I calculated the number of "greats" in each case
I did so by making rough generation length estimates based on the typical lifespan and age of reproductive maturity of the various species along the way. I began with 25 years for human generations, then 13 years for Australopithecus and advanced primates, five years for early tree primates, two years for rodents, lizards, fish, and worms, two months for jellyfish and sponges, and one day for single cell organisms.





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RoadRageRyan
3163 days ago
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WBW is awesome and needs to be read by all. Nuff Said!
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jlvanderzwan
3161 days ago
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The problem I have with this is that it doesn't really address the "why do I exist" question, because that usually means "what is purpose the purpose of my existence?"

Evolution imposes no purpose, in fact that's one of the most common misunderstandings of it.
meertn
3161 days ago
Strictly speaking, 'why' in this case can refer to 'for what purpose' or 'because of which causes'. The start of the article suggests an answer to the first question, but instead provides some insight into the second. Of course, the first question cannot be answered by any science, not just evolution.
jlvanderzwan
3161 days ago
Exactly. I think it is a distinction that should be explicitly addressed in any article that promises to tackle either question, to reduce the odds of people rejecting the answer.
sredfern
3163 days ago
reply
You should read this
Sydney Australia
thraco
3165 days ago
reply
Humorous look at our cultured heritage
Raleigh, NC
glenn
3165 days ago
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That's it... I am sharing every damn "wait but why" post forever until everyone on Newsblur subscribes to it
Waterloo, Canada
digdoug
3164 days ago
I'm subscribing right now.
sredfern
3163 days ago
I'm joining this "Share or be spammed" approach to wait but why
glenn
3163 days ago
Excellent! Maybe this will show up on popular too