Tag Archives: Alien

What Will My Generation’s Version of Racism Be

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop. While working on a project, I couldn’t help but overhear a couple of older gentlemen talking about immigrants. Now, I currently live in Ottawa, Canada, so their discussion about immigrants was probably a bit different than I might have heard if I were in a coffee shop in a different part of the country, but more notably, the conversation would have likely been different had I been in an coffee shop in the USA.

I’m going to overgeneralize for a second, so I hope you’ll stay with me.

For the most part, younger generations are less racist than older generations. My guess is that this is because younger generations grow up having people from different ethnic backgrounds around them all the time. For instance, when I was in high school, it was normal to see people from very different backgrounds. There were people from China, India, the Middle East, Brazil, a whole host of European countries, and many more. If we rollback to the previous generation, scenes like this weren’t as common.

So, for generations like mine, it’s normalized to grow up with people who look different from you. In previous generations, this wasn’t the case. My guess is that this contributes to some of the latent (or otherwise) hostility that we typically see from older generations.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my generation in comparison to generations past, but the true purpose of this post is a juxtaposition of the generations to come. As I said, it seems that past generations had a harder time than mine digesting the mix of cultures. For kids growing up today (in certain countries), it’s abundantly clear that there are people who look different from them and it’s just normal to grow up and be friends with people like this. My question, what is it that my generation will have a hard time with that future generations will see as natural?

I’d like to think that I and my generation will be able to handle whatever comes our way in the future, but I’m sure that’s what previous generations thought. As a result, it seems to me that there will likely be something that some folks from my generation have a hard time handling. Will it be something like what we see in the Men in Black movies? Meaning, will we coexist on Earth with beings from another planet? If that were to happen, it’s quite plausible that there’d be an echo of what’s happening now.

The next time you see someone being ethnocentric, consider the possibility that you might be exhibiting a similar behaviour in years to come.

Wanna Make a Name for Yourself: Answer One of These Questions

In The Guardian today, there’s an article that lists “20 big questions in science.” If you want to be famous (at least in some circles), answer one of the questions. Of course, there are some ‘answers’ to the questions already. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that there are some hypotheses or that there is some ‘general knowledge’ in the domain of the question. However, there don’t seem to be any definitive answers, yet.

Here are the questions with a few thoughts after some of them:

1. What is the universe made of?

2. How did life begin?

3. Are we alone in the universe?

If pressed to give an answer on number three, I’d probably say something to the effect of: given how big the universe is, mathematically speaking, isn’t it more likely that there is other life out there somewhere than isn’t?

4. What makes us human?

5. What is consciousness?

On number five, I remember reading a very intriguing article in The Atlantic this past winter that explored the question: what does it mean to be conscious? It approached this question in the context of anesthesia. If this question interests you, this is one way to delve into the topic.

6. Why do we dream?

While there are many theories on why we dream, one of my favorite ways for interpreting dreams is through Jeremy Taylor’s method. This method also outside the context of dreaming.

7. Why is there stuff?

8. Are there other universes?

9. Where do we put all the carbon?

10. How do we get more energy from the sun?

Number ten, while also making you famous, would likely also make you extremely wealthy unless you went the route of Jonas Salk and polio.

11. What’s so weird about prime numbers?

12. How do we beat bacteria?

13. Can computers keep getting faster?

14. Will we ever cure cancer?

15. When can I have a robot butler?

16. What’s at the bottom of the ocean?

On number sixteen: when you realize that 95% of the ocean is unexplored, it sort of gets you curious about what might be down there. More than that, 99% of the Earth is water. There’s a lot we don’t know about the planet we inhabit.

17. What’s at the bottom of a black hole?

18. Can we live for ever?

19. How do we solve the population problem?

20. Is time travel possible?

On number twenty: if this turns out to be true, that would make for some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas.