Monthly Archives: August 2018

ep 188: The Oligocene, getting cold and growing huge

The Oligocene, getting cold and growing huge

Today we talk about the Oligocene epoch, when the climate cooled and forest gave way to areas of open land. Grass spread beyond the lake shores and river sides where it had been living, and began to spread across the landscape. Many animal types changed their bodies to become better runners, and we got the largest mammal ever to walk the earth.
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Searching for a kinder gentler mutation

I spent a couple of weeks testing a notion I had. I’m not going to bother explaining—it would take too long for something that I’m not going to use. So far as I can tell, what I did to try and increase the system’s stability made it even more fragile. For example, with the usual approach, as few as 5 mutations have wiped out an entire population. With the other method, what I called snapcom, the one I’m tossing out the window, one mutation was enough. I gathered some statistics, but the results were inconclusive. Still, even if it is somehow performing better, it’s not enough better.
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Ep 187: The Eocene, giant birds and proto-herds

The Eocene, giant birds and proto-herds

We cover the Eocene epoch, including early horses that lived in forests, but didn’t climb trees. We also had early forms of bores, rhinos, whales and primates.
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Ep 186: Why would Paleocene males lay eggs?

Why would Paleocene males lay eggs?

Today, Phil and I get back to talking about the history of life and evolution, with the Paleocene epoch. During this time the birds spread out and diversify, along with the mammals. We talk about the early versions of the hooved animals and elephants, and a few other creatures. And I misspell champsosaurus. Hurray!
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Now that’s evolution!

Remember six? She’s a small population of the digital creatures I implemented, called “figures.” Six has a population size of 6, thus the name, and no matter how much room there is, no matter what the maximum population size happens to be, she always has a population size of 6 figures. Meanwhile, each figure will make one copy of itself and then die. There’s a constant stream of figures being born and copying themselves and dying, but the population size never changes/ it’s always 6.

I put six in a larger world. There was enough room for 200 figures. As expected, she still stayed at a 6 figure pop size. Then I started mutation.

Like I said in the last entry, the mutations are nasty, and often kill off an entire population. If that happened, six would be reloaded, back where she started before all this “mutation” business started going on, and do it all over again.

The notion was to see if six could evolve into a population that grows, instead of just holding steady. I set it up so it would beep at me when the population size reached 200, and pause the system so I could take a look at what six had become. I had no clue how long the experiment would run, or if six could be mutated into a growing population at all. I was all set to leave it running in the background while I did any&everything else.
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Messing with messy mutation

I’ve been experimenting with mutating some of the populations I had saved. To do such experiments, I had to implement mutation in the first place. I got the first form of mutation implemented on Tuesday night. It had been an interesting and long day, so I climbed into bed, ready to start experimenting in the morning.

I spent months doing all this very careful coding, keeping things as clean and well documented as I could. That was to implement the core system. Then I set it up so that the downstream programmer, which has been just me so far, could be as quick and dirty as they like. I can be as sloppy as I want, just hack things together, and the core system stays safe.

All that preparation is paying off. Implementing the first form of mutation didn’t take much more than half an hour or so. That’s good, because it meant that the next form of mutation was just as quick and easy to create. And that’s good, because the first form was far, far too deadly.
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Ep 185: More rocks

More rocks

After episode 184, phil and I were outside on the porch. We got to chatting about the bits and pieces about geology and rocks that hadn’t fit within the last couple of episodes. So, we setup the equipment, and recorded an episode with no plan or preparation. It came out pretty good, even if we had trouble remembering what we wanted to say as soon as we were rolling.
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This morning, sights, and sounds

You’d think, after a post like “Perceptions part I” that the next thing I wrote on the subject would be “Perceptions part II.” Those posts, including the one not written, are about sensory substitution and visual qualia, and my experiences over time. Today, I want to talk about today.

I pull open my bottom desk drawer, and pull out the battery. That’s about the size of a deck of cards, only a bit wider, a tiny bit thicker, and much much heavier. A USB cord is still plugged in, the rest of the cord wrapped around it. It only takes a second to unwind the cord, then the battery goes in my breast pocket. I’ll have to buy more shirts that have one. I just never considered the functional constraints of upper body clothing before.
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Playing with populations

For once, there are no bugs to report, or fix. There are some utility methods I should add, and the perennial chore of updating the documentation. All that is all well and good, and I’ll get it done well… or good. However, since I can, I spent a few days just playing with the system and some of the populations that have been generated.

Let me introduce you to some of the populations.
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