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Invisibleinfinitedot
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Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O
    #4277007 - 06/09/05 07:36 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Excerpt from "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson

INTRODUCTION


"Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.

To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally underappreciated state known as existence.

Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level. For all their devoted attention, your atoms don't actually care about you-indeed, don't even know that you are there. They don't even know that _they_ are there. They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive. (It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.) Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single overarching impulse: to keep you you.

The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting-fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes past, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will shut you down, silently disassemble, and go off to be other things. And that's it for you.

Still, you may rejoice that it happens at all. Generally speaking in the universe it doesn't, so far as we can tell. This is decidedly odd because the atoms that so liberally and congenially flock together to form living things on Earth are exactly the same atoms that decline to do it elsewhere. Whatever else it may be, at the level of chemistry life is curiously mundane: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, a little calcium, a dash of sulfur, a light dusting of other very ordinary elements-nothing you wouldn't find in any ordinary drugstore-and that's all you need. The only thing special about the atoms that make you is that they make you. That is of course the miracle of life.

Whether or not atoms make life in other corners of the universe, they make plenty else; indeed, they make everything else. Without them there would be no water or air or rocks, no stars and planets, no distant gassy clouds or swirling nebulae or any of the other things that make the universe so usefully material. Atoms are so numerous and necessary that we easily overlook that they needn't actually exist at all. There is no law that requires the universe to fill itself with small particles of matter or to produce light and gravity and the other physical properties on which our existence hinges. There needn't actually be a universe at all. For the longest time there wasn't. There were no atoms and no universe for them to float about in. There was nothing-nothing at all anywhere.

So thank goodness for atoms. But the fact that you have atoms and that they assemble in such a willing manner is only part of what got you here. To be here now, alive in the twenty-first century and smart enough to know it, you also had to be the beneficiary of an extraordinary string of biological good fortune. Survival on Earth is a surprisingly tricky business. Of the billions and billions of species of living thing that have existed since the dawn of time, most-99.99 percent-are no longer around. Life on Earth, you see, is not only brief but dismayingly tenuous. It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.

The average species on Earth lasts for only about four million years, so if you wish to be around for billions of years, you must be as fickle as the atoms that made you. You must be prepared to change everything about yourself-shape, size, color, species affiliation, everything-and to do so repeatedly. That's much easier said than done, because the process of change is random. To get from "protoplasmal primordial atomic globule" (as the Gilbert and Sullivan song put it) to sentient upright modern human has required you to mutate new traits over and over in a precisely timely manner for an exceedingly long while. So at various periods over the last 3.8 billion years you have abhorred oxygen and then doted on it, grown fins and limbs and jaunty sails, laid eggs, flicked the air with a forked tongue, been sleek, been furry, lived underground, lived in trees, been as big as a deer and as small as a mouse, and a million things more. The tiniest deviation from any of these evolutionary shifts, and you might now be licking algae from cave walls or lolling walrus-like on some stony shore or disgorging air through a blowhole in the top of your head before diving sixty feet for a mouthful of delicious sandworms.

Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely-make that miraculously-fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result-eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly-in you."

[...]

"Martin Rees, Britain's astronomer royal, believes that there are many universes, possibly an infinite number, each with different attributes, in different combinations, and that we simply live in one that combines things in the way that allows us to exist. He makes an analogy with a very large clothing store: "If there is a large stock of clothing, you're not surprised to find a suit that fits. If there are many universes, each governed by a differing set of numbers, there will be one where there is a particular set of numbers suitable to life. We are in that one."

Rees maintains that six numbers in particular govern our universe, and that if any of these values were changed even very slightly things could not be as they are. For example, for the universe to exist as it does requires that hydrogen be converted to helium in a precise but comparatively stately manner specifically, in a way that converts seven one-thousandths of its mass to energy. Lower that value very slightly from 0.007 percent to 0.006 percent, say and no transformation could take place: the universe would consist of hydrogen and nothing else. Raise the value very slightly to 0.008 percent and bonding would be so wildly prolific that the hydrogen would long since have been exhausted. In either case, with the slightest tweaking of the numbers the universe as we know and need it would not be here."


Makes you think, huh?

But please WAIT, don't go yet.

Now think about this too:

1. 40,000 children under the age of five die each day from malnutrition and vaccine preventable disease.

2. Universal access to just four low-cost health care measures could save the lives of half of the 15-18 million children who die each year from preventable causes. Nearly 8,000 children are dying each day because they have not been immunized; nearly 7000 are dying from dehydration caused by diarrhoea, and approximately 6000 are dying every day from pneumonia, Making available today's low cost solutions to all of there child health problems would cost approximately $2.5 billion a year. This is as much as the 10% of the EEC's annual subsidy to farmers, as much as the Soviet Union spends on vodka in a month or U.S. companies spend on cigarette advertising yearly. $2.5 billion is as much as 2% of the developing world's military spending and what the world spends on the military in one day.

3. Nearly 100 million children of primary school age are not taking part in any education programs.

4. Only half the children in the developing world have access to clean drinking water, and fewer have access to sanitary waste facilities.

5. Half a million mothers die annually as a result of pregnancy or childbirth.

6. Breast feeding is on the decline in many developing countries although bottle-fed infants contract far more illnesses and are as much as 25 times more likely to die in childhood than infants who are exclusively breast fed.

7. Each year at least 250,000 young children lose their sight for the lack of a small amount of vitamin A in their diet. Two 2 cent doses of vitamin A could prevent this.

8. Over 100 million children throughout the world are forced to work under hazardous and often fatal conditions; many are employed under slave - like conditions for no pay.

9. More than one billion people - the majority of them children - either have no home or live in inadequate housing.

10. There are more than 10 million child refugees around the world, comprising 60% to 70% of the refugee population. Malnutrition, chronic infectious disease, physical and mental retardation are widespread in refugee camps. Many children, often separated from their parents, have spent their whole lives in closed refugee comps, encircled by gun towers and barbed wire.

Source: Statistics from UNICEF 's State of the World's Children 1989 & 1990 report PLAN International


Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion.
Number of children living in developing countries: 1.9 billion.
Number of children living in poverty: 1 billion - every second child.
Source: UNICEF - Childhood under threat report 2005.

OverMore than one third of all children are malnourished, lack basic immunizations, or are not enrolled in or attending school.

Number of children living in developing countries: 1.9 billion.
640 million children live without adequate shelter. 1 in 3.
400 million children have no access to safe water. 1 in 5.
270 million children have no access to health services. 1 in 7.

Number of telephones per 100 people in Sweden: 162 in Norway: 158. In South Asia: 2.
Total number of children in France, Germany, Greece and Italy under 5: 10.6 million
Total number of children worldwide who died in 2003 before reaching 5: 10.6 million.
Most of these deaths could have been prevented.

Daily toll of children who die before reaching 5 everyday: 29.158
Daily toll of children who die dayly for lack of safe water: 3.900. Yearly: 1.4 million.

Number of child lives that could be saved each year through routine immunization: 2.2 million.


Life expectancy: Japan - 82 years.
Life expectancy: Worldwide - 63 years.
Life expectancy: Zambia - 33 years.

Percentage of AIDS of 15 to 49 year olds: Bostwana - 37.3 Swaziland - 38.8
Number of children in UK: 13.2 million.
Number of children who have been orfaned by AIDS worldwide: 13.2 million

Number of children under 5 in Spain: 1.9 million.
Number of children under 14 in Sub-saharian Africa who are HIV positive: 1.9 million

Percentage of adults with AIDS in Mozambique: 12
Per capita anual income in Mozambique: $210
Approximate lowest cost of generic antiretroviral therapy for 1 year: $300

Percentage of people in developing countries who need antiretroviral therapy but do not have access to it: 93.

Number of HIV infections in 2003: 5 million.
Number of people living with AIDS: 38 million.


United Nations Millennium Declaration Goals - September 2000:
Source: http://www.developmentgoals.org/
=============================================================
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

World military expenditure 2003: $956.000 million
USA military expenditure 2003: $417.000 million
Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2004
Cost of annual retroviral therapy for all the infected people in the world: $11.400 million
Cost required to Meet the Millenium development goals by 2015: $40.000 - $70.000 million




Number of major armed conflicts from 1990 to 2003: 59
Number of major armed conflicts between countries: 4

Estimated number of children killed in wars between 1990 and 2004: 1.6 million

Number of children under 5 living in the United States: 20 million.
Number of children under 5 forced to leave home due to war: 20 million.

Number of children born in Canada in 2003: 319.000
Number of children killed in Rwanda in 1994 in 90 days: 300.000

Number of children under 5 living in Australia: 1.2 million
Number of children trafficked worldwide per year: 1.2 million

Number of children living in Belgium: 2 million.
Number of children sexually exploited: 2 million.

Source: http://www.thehungersite.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CTDSites


Now do you and the rest of the world a favour.

Enjoy your life, it might be your last one.


Edited by infinitedot (06/09/05 08:06 PM)


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Invisibleblink
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O *DELETED* [Re: infinitedot]
    #4277050 - 06/09/05 07:42 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Post deleted by blinkidiot

Reason for deletion: Im sorry



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InvisibleOneMoreRobot3021
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: blink]
    #4277058 - 06/09/05 07:44 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

blinkidiot said:
reading that was like watching a world vision ad.

actually I didn't read it....




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Acid doesn't give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.

-Erik Davis


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InvisibleTHE KRAT BARON
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277069 - 06/09/05 07:45 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

OneMoreRobot3021 said:
Quote:

blinkidiot said:
reading that was like watching a world vision ad.

actually I didn't read it....







Can't say I did either. hah. :grin:

Ill get to it later. Not in the mood for such a long post at the moment.


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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277077 - 06/09/05 07:45 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I own the book that that excerpt is from. I've only read about half of it, b/c I had to stop when class began, but I can honestly say I've learned more about science from that book than my entire education up to this point.


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InvisibleOneMoreRobot3021
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: Redstorm]
    #4277084 - 06/09/05 07:46 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Woah.


--------------------
Acid doesn't give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.

-Erik Davis


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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277087 - 06/09/05 07:47 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Yeah, that's what I thought.


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277088 - 06/09/05 07:47 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I didn't read it either.


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InvisibleTYL3R
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277095 - 06/09/05 07:48 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

:diespam:


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Invisibleafoaf
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: infinitedot]
    #4277099 - 06/09/05 07:48 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

those kids probably had it coming.


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All I know is The Growery is a place where losers who get banned here go.


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: afoaf]
    #4277104 - 06/09/05 07:50 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

afoaf said:
those kids probably had it coming.




Once I didn't eat all day, so I went to carls jr. It sure helped me. I'm guessing this is about starving kids? Why don't they just get a dollar and go to a burger joint?


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InvisibleOneMoreRobot3021
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: Redstorm]
    #4277105 - 06/09/05 07:50 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

How long is the full text?


--------------------
Acid doesn't give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.

-Erik Davis


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277106 - 06/09/05 07:50 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

643 pages


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: OneMoreRobot3021]
    #4277113 - 06/09/05 07:52 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Ummm.... Lemme go check.

478 pages.

It's actually really good. He himself is not a scientist, so everything he explains is in laymen's terms.


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Invisibledownforpot
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: Redstorm]
    #4277127 - 06/09/05 07:55 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Where are the majority of these children? In areas where mothers expect high mortality rates so they keep popping them out?


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: downforpot]
    #4277131 - 06/09/05 07:56 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Why don't they just eat the miscarriages?


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: HELLA_TIGHT]
    #4277135 - 06/09/05 07:57 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

The savages don't have fire yet, and fetuses only taste good cooked.


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: Redstorm]
    #4277141 - 06/09/05 07:58 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Maybe we need to kill all their animals.


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: HELLA_TIGHT]
    #4277143 - 06/09/05 07:58 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

oh wait, they don't have any animals because they're staving.


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InvisibleHELLA_TIGHT
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Re: Food for thought. Have you heard the news about the 40000 children that died yesterday?? :-O [Re: HELLA_TIGHT]
    #4277144 - 06/09/05 07:59 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

That was terrible.


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