About Brett Vollert

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So far Brett Vollert has created 65 blog entries.

Patenting People: Should we be able to patent genes?

By | 2015-11-06T07:55:42-08:00 June 18th, 2013|Biology, Featured|

As the human genome has become better understood, we have uncovered pieces of DNA that are incredibly valuable for human health.  That value has in turn been monetized, which is expected from any good capitalist society.  But is human DNA fair game for capitalistic gain?  Perhaps it is because, at this point in time, there are over 10,000 genes of the human genome that have been patented.  That means that nearly half of the human genes that we know to code for proteins are "owned" by a cooperation. Does this give you a sinking feeling?... One specific example of this genetic monopolization is seen in the diagnosis [...]

Evolution Myths: Could Mermaids Have Evolved?

By | 2015-11-13T17:51:27-08:00 June 10th, 2013|Biology|

A recent mockumentary put out by Animal Planet, "Mermaids: The Body Found", sent the social media marketplace buzzing with tweets from ill-informed mermaid enthusiasts who thought that the mythical creature had finally been discovered. The program began with a disclaimer that the events were completely fictional, but as prime time TV viewers surfed the channels and happened upon the mockumentary after the opening disclaimer, they wrongly concluded that the world had at last found our elusive aquatic cousin, the mermaid (and in the words of Ben Stiller, "MERMAN!") . While this assumption seems irrational, the program was filled with convincing interviews and dramatic reenactments  that (while completely fabricated) did spark some genuine [...]

DEEPS discuss: The Apocalypse

By | 2013-07-23T02:20:24-07:00 June 3rd, 2013|Politics|

Do we want the world to end?  Our first reaction to this statement screams an emphatic, "NO!".  But perhaps the world is not so bifurcated and questions like these are not so simple.  Or even more strange, this question might just stem from the very real and penetrating bifurcation of existence: life and death, beginning and end, good and evil.  These are the themes of our universe and we are constantly in fear and wonder of their encompassing truth. Never does a human feel more alive than in free-fall; when the fragility of existence is exposed and the ground is inevitably approaching.  The end [...]

In Search of Europans (On Jupiter’s Moon)

By | 2015-11-11T07:27:20-08:00 April 6th, 2013|Astronomy, Biology, Featured|

No, this article's title is not a typo and this search is not for our friends across the Atlantic.  These potential Europans are not as conveniently located; in fact, they live on the distant moon of Jupiter.  The icy surface of this moon, named Europa, might seem like a barren wasteland, but below its outer shell could lurk a hidden ocean; an ocean of liquid water that, until recently, has remained hidden without our knowledge.  As Europa orbits Jupiter, the gravitational stress causes the moon's core to heat up, which could melt the ice into a possible haven for life.  Pictures of Europa's surface, taken [...]

The Panspermia Hypothesis

By | 2015-12-07T22:44:46-08:00 March 19th, 2013|Astronomy, Biology|

  They tumble through the blackness of space; frozen and isolated.  Their solar systems have abandoned them and the light from the star that gave them birth fades into the void of interstellar space. Perhaps this journey began with tragedy; a distant world in turmoil.  It's inhabitants scrambling to save their oasis of life from an impending collision, but to no avail.  And from the ashes of this scattered world falls a freeze-dried microcosm; a comet carrying with it the remains of its parent planet. Normally an ambiguous occurrence of the universe, but this comet is headed for Earth.  Not an Earth we [...]

What are we teaching these kids?!

By | 2015-11-11T07:27:46-08:00 March 18th, 2013|Astronomy, Biology, Featured, Physics, Politics, Science|

  Sadly, the human mind has a limited knowledge capacity.  So why then do our schools continue to waste student's valuable brainpower on outdated paradigms and extinct scientific rationale?  Without even qualifying these dated lessons as science history or as a step in the progress of science, we are building scientific scaffolding in the minds of our young students that leads them to build a incorrect view of our world.  Even more frightening, it could prevent our future generations from being able to progress our scientific understanding. I will consent with Isaac Newton's sentiment that, " we stand on the shoulders of giants," but even Newton [...]

An Anthropic Universe (Many Worlds Theory)

By | 2016-02-03T22:58:43-08:00 January 29th, 2013|Astronomy, Biology, Featured, Science|

  The problem with proving the theory of multiple universes is that these universes are inherently not apart of our own.  Due to this seemingly obvious fact, designing and tediously carrying out experiments in our universe have failed to detect anything beyond.  But still, our great minds ponder a bubbling foam of multiple universes and our whole universe trapped inside one of those many bubbles.   Perhaps we will one day decipher a method for crossing through the thin skin of our cosmic bubble, but for now the idea of multiverse is entirely theoretical and mathematical. Quantum does theory suggests these hidden worlds with cornerstone principles such [...]

A Time Traveler’s Quandry

By | 2015-11-11T07:28:11-08:00 January 21st, 2013|Physics, Science, Technology|

  Time is such a familiar mystery.  We boast ourselves intimately acquainted but with one question we are at a loss, straining to describe the face of a stranger. What is time? Einstein describes time as, "the reason things don't happen all at once," even though at times it seems that they do.  However, many people are dissatisfied with such a simplified explanation (and frankly so was Einstein) .  Scientifically, time is most often described as a measure of change.   In a closed system this net change is always from ordered to disordered. For a system to go from configuration A to configuration B, it [...]

Struggling with Evolution: 7 Misconceptions

By | 2015-11-06T07:59:16-08:00 January 4th, 2013|Biology|

  "I am not a monkey and my grandfather was not a monkey so how could evolution be real?"  This statement might seem ridiculous to some and yet this sort of misunderstanding of evolution is found throughout society.  Perhaps it is the expansive temporal scale of evolution that is leading to so many misconceptions and false ideas.  Or maybe there are too many cultural barriers that are obstructing its progress.  Either way, I thought I would take this opportunity to address the 7 Misconceptions of Evolution: 1. Humans evolved from monkeys, so why are there still monkeys:    Humans did not evolve from modern day monkeys.  Instead, humans [...]

December 21, 2012: Mayan Apocalypse

By | 2015-11-11T07:28:19-08:00 December 18th, 2012|Astronomy, Featured|

  There is a lot of misinformation out there so let's set the record straight before we all start running for the hills because after a few ridiculous blockbuster movies and some thought-provoking history channel documentaries, we are now a society closely approaching a highly anticipated date. The Mayan calendar known as the long count will end its 13th baktun (a period of 144,000 days) which marks the end of the first "Great Cycle" on December 21, 2012. There are questions on the accuracy of this date due to the calendar not accounting for leap years, however the issue of [...]

I might believe in UFOs, but I don’t believe YOU…

By | 2015-11-11T07:28:40-08:00 December 7th, 2012|Astronomy, Biology, Featured, Science, Technology|

  I love a good UFO conspiracy as much as the next guy. However, traveling across the universe and through the vacuum of space to probe some humans seems ridiculous. And while the numbers are clearly on the side of the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life, it is hard for me to believe that these same advanced aliens fail to be able to land securely and crash into the the deserts of New Mexico. Although if these are aliens are crashing into our planet, I have new found confidence that we could successfully defend ourselves against a alien invasion. Because [...]

Our Cosmic Bubble

By | 2015-11-11T07:28:51-08:00 December 4th, 2012|Astronomy, Biology, Featured, Philosophy, Science|

  Our cosmic bubble is a nurturing oasis, yet so fragile and vulnerable.   The Earth is home to us all, the only known refuge for life across the universe.  Past its thin atmosphere, we find life growing abundantly.  From the oxygen rich atmosphere, to the shielding magnetic field; the Earth seems to be almost perfectly adjusted for life.  As if the planet was made with humanity in mind.  As if this place we call home was predestined for life.  So much had to have gone right for the earth to be so hospitable. However, this third rock from the sun has not always been [...]

Programmable Consciousness

By | 2015-11-11T07:29:03-08:00 November 14th, 2012|Biology, Philosophy|

  The most common assessment of human consciousness among scientists is that it has spawned from the unique complexity of the human mind.  That within our DNA lays a design for a being capable of dreams, hopes, and fears.  Yes, these seemingly intangible qualities are thought to be simply manifestations of a complex physical structure.  It is ironic that the concept of consciousness being the product of complex bio-chemistry is hard for that same consciousness to accept.  That mechanical processes, quantum effects, chemical interactions and biological machines can generate such a seemingly unique, self-aware, and sentient being. But if it is only a matter of complexity then it could be [...]

DNA’s Cat in the Bag

By | 2015-11-11T07:30:02-08:00 November 9th, 2012|Biology, Physics, Politics, Technology|

Maurice Wilkins was a chatty Cathy. Steeped in a war of secrecy he handed the opposition his most precious intel and watched them claim victory. Some may think him the fool who let the cat out of the bag, but he just may be the hero science needed. At a time when life was thought to have some immaterial quality, three opposing factions were racing to be the first to give the essence of life a physical explanation. It was a race to see the structure of DNA, the “life molecule”. Maurice Wilkins was working with Roslyn Franklin at Kings [...]

Your Science is Flawed!

By | 2015-11-11T07:30:13-08:00 November 5th, 2012|Featured, Politics, Science|

In philosophy, it's name is in-determinism but in science it is referred to as the burden of proof.  Yes, fact is the foundation that science rests upon.  In fact, the search for quantifiable and observable proof may just be the defining quality of science.  Science searches for truth and its compass is proof.  But much like the real thing, could this compass also not always point north?  Could this absolute dedication to observable validation lead us astray? As children we are confronted with the harsh reality that absolute certainty is realistically unattainable.  When children observe their favorite play toy covered by a [...]

Creationist Evolution

By | 2015-11-11T07:30:25-08:00 October 20th, 2012|Biology, Philosophy, Science|

There is a great divide between science and religion.  And these two groups have never had a more polarizing topic than the origin of man.  Evolutionists vs. Creationists has become a misconstrued bifurcation.  But this battle royal is an unnecessary one and this divide can be easily bridged.  There can be a peaceful union of church and science. Evolution through natural selection is a theory for a mechanism of positive change in organisms.  Simply put it states that the organisms that survive are the ones that have properties that encourage their survival.  This idea is a theory, much like the [...]

The Superior Species Complex

By | 2016-09-20T07:23:55-07:00 October 19th, 2012|Biology, Philosophy|

  Hello my name is humanity and I have a species superiority complex.  I am the pinnacle of evolution...or creation. I haven't unanimously decided yet.  Unfortunately, my neighboring species on this planet don't all feel the same.  They find me a nuisance and a danger to our planet, but honestly I couldn't care less because they are too inferior to even have an opinion.  In fact, I don't think they can even think at all. We humans have a giant ego.  However, have we possibly misevaluated our superiority?  It just might be the case that we have delusions of grandeur.  Does the towering [...]

Stargazing Monkeys

By | 2015-11-11T07:30:45-08:00 October 10th, 2012|Astronomy, Biology, Philosophy|

  We are as specks on a cosmic fabric, a vapor in the celestial wind.  However, our species have become conscious not only of our existence but also of the happenings of the universe we inhabit.   How is this revelation of existence evolutionarily significant?  Or is this question a leading one due to the assumptions imbedded?  There is strong fossil, genetic, and experimental data to support the selfishness of genes.  Meaning that genes that survive are the ones that promote the reproduction of the organism.  Or in some rare cases simply the reproduction of the gene itself.  This is [...]

The Nature of Nature

By | 2015-11-11T07:31:02-08:00 September 27th, 2012|Featured, Physics, Science|

  Science aims to reveal what the world really is.  Not what we think it should be or what we wish it to be but what it truly is.  Science seeks the true nature of nature.  But scientists have become increasingly aware that the world we see is only a shade of reality.  That the true nature of nature is an elusive entity.   An excerpt from my screenplay: "No, the universe doesn't scare me.  In fact, it is the universe’s expanse that entices me.  I find solace in its enormity.  Looking out at the night sky, I see that I am just part of a bigger whole.  And [...]

Goodbye Blue Sky

By | 2015-11-11T07:31:13-08:00 September 19th, 2012|Astronomy, Physics, Politics, Science, Technology|

  All men have looked up at the sky in wonder, but less have looked down from the sky in awe.  Few have been wrapped in the dark arms of the universe.  And even fewer have seen all of mans existence shrink into a pale blue dot as Carl Sagan so eloquently put it.  These men, through the help of our government were the pioneers of a new frontier.  And their efforts have paved the way for hundreds of new space fearing innovations like satellites, orbiting telescopes, and private space flight.  But even though this innovation has redefined the skyline, it still has found a glass [...]

What is Real?

By | 2016-04-25T21:47:13-07:00 September 8th, 2012|Featured, Philosophy, Physics, Science|

What can we not doubt? What can we be certain of? It seems all that we can be entirely certain of is that we are in fact experiencing something, even while not knowing quite what it is.  In the words of Decartes, “cogito ergo sum” or  “I think therefore I am,”  our experience is our reality, and our thoughts are our souls.  So how does this consciousness, capable of experiences, stem from matter. “Well whatever matter is made of it clearly isn’t matter” (source unknown).  At least not as defined by common understanding.  We see matter as inanimate, lifeless and [...]