Musings on Everything

I muse, therefore I write.

On Chemistry


Well, right off, I have to make one thing quite plain: I began failing chemistry after two weeks. Like, I got through the first unit about lab safety, and right after that, I tanked. And I have been tanking for the past two years now. I have not managed to pick up more than the basic rudiments of chemistry. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I really understood a concept completely. Take our latest unit: The class was engrossed in something known as "hydrolysis" when I walked in late, having been detained from my rightful seat of learning for the first fifteen minutes of class. From my Biology past, I knew that hydrolysis as Biology defines it is when peptide chains are broken using water as a catalyst. So maybe it has something to do with water and breaking things apart, like perhaps dissociation. So far so good. I got that. It is the only thing I have understood about hydrolysis so far. This is what most people would call a Very Bad Thing. Not that I don’t appreciate chemistry. Oh, no, I get the concepts. I can see in my head that what the teacher is saying would make sense when applied to a real-world example. I know that a buffer is a mixture of an acid and a base in rather high concentrations, so that whenever an attempt is made to try and make said buffer solution acidic or basic, it won’t do anything due to the high concentration of the opposite ion. I get that. Now, if somebody were to ask me to do three basic buffer-related problems, odds are I wouldn’t get a single one of them right. At this point, I’m sure most of you would be saying, "Read the textbook, that’s what it’s there for, doofus,” and I’ll say right back that the textbook doesn’t help and I’m doomed to failure. Oh, woe is me. I’ll never get a good grade in chem, I’ll never get into a decent college, I’ll be forced to live out my days making minimum wage as a janitor and die cold and alone in a ratty apartment in a bad area of a major metropolis. I’ll have squandered my potential and been disowned by my family. OH THE HUMANITY.

Man, that sounds like an emo post.

Here, let’s try again.

What makes people attracted to each other?

Is it merely a hormonal response to an instinctual realization on Party 1’s part that Party 2 is most desirable due to subtle facial and body features of Party 2 meant to clue members of the opposite sex like Party 1 into the sexual and reproductive fitness of Party 2? Or, as all the romantics of the world contend, is it something that grows with time, a deeper understanding of the other through friendship that leads to something more?

Or is every human just looking for another human that they can stand to look at, and who will stand to look at them? Because, let me tell you, there are some people who really are on the left end of the bell curve, if you know what I mean. But, then, what if two really really hot people have kids?

I mean, people have been speculating for years that if two uber-attractive people make babies, then those babies have a lower chance of being attractive than a baby born to average people. This is because the facial characteristics that go into making somebody attractive are expressed too much in the baby’s features, causing him/her to look slightly abnormal or, in the case of girls, like a man. This is rather interestingly backed up by scientific evidence:

…you might imagine that a particular shape of the nose or turn of the chin would look drop-dead hunky on a male, but horsey on a woman; dad got to mate because his looks attracted a female, but the result of their togetherness produced daughters whose pulchritude was less than obvious. Traits that evolutionary psychologists tell us make women unfit for mating (having the “wrong” shape) remain abundant in the human race because the DNA for the traits, when inherited by sons, confers a selective advantage; when those sons have daughters, presto—more females with less-than-hourglass shapes. Or as the Edinburgh biologists put it, “optimal genotypes differ between male and female red deer, because a genotype that produces a male phenotype with relatively high fitness will, on average, produce a phenotype with lower fitness when expressed in a female.”

And now the odd bits begin. So if that ugly offspring of those hot people doesn’t make babies because he/she is downright horrible looking, then, wouldn’t that mean that the evolutionary fitness of that hot parent has just been rendered useless, as his/her bloodline just died out? How does that end up working out at all for that hot person’s family? Shouldn’t moderately attractive people be the evolutionary ideal, then?

Which brings us to my next point: If moderately attractive people are the ideal, then they would be subject to the situation that our esteemed scientific quote up there and not our current ideal of really hot people. So now we’re in a catch-22 of sorts. Dammit.

So, then, how does the whole “beauty” concept work? Because nature can’t have built that into our brains. I mean, some things, like waist-to-hip ratio and v-shaped torsos, are no doubt instinctively attractive only because they are effective measures of health and fertility, but the other stuff comes from culture, I guess. So couldn’t they counteract each other? Like the current fixation on stick figures that leads girls to starve themselves to death?

I mean, what does this say about humanity as a whole? For me, at least, it just means two things:

One: We, as a species, have definitely not evolved enough.

Two: This new Americanized culture of anorexia combined with Big Macs confuses the hell out of me, and, I’m sure, of many other people too.

What do you say? Useless and off-topic comments, I’ve decided, will be disemvoweled from here on out. Consider yourself warned.


Written by Sri

January 30, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Posted in Musings

Tagged with , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. 1. Just reading the Textbook doesn’t help. However, doing more textbook problems definitely helps. All of the test questions are just homework problems with different numbers. For chem tests, only stupid mistakes and not lack of knowledge should be keeping you from 100’s if you actually spend time understanding the homework problems. Stupid mistakes can be fixed by doing the tests quickly then using the remaining time to check calculations, but chem tests often don’t leave much time for checking.

    2. Umm…go get a better understanding of evolution. First of all, it’s only a tendency. Second of all, evolution only creates local maximums that are never perfect. Your cited scientific study overgeneralizes…you have to remember that the stuff scientists say after their studies is mostly speculation. Also, customs/cultures undergo evolution too, albeit at a different rate and form. I agree that human genes definitely are not evolved enough, but trying to get humans to evolve more would horribly set back the evolution of human customs/cultures.
    [Sri’s note: Did you read the article itself? I ask because the paragraph right before the one I cited actually does show concrete results that support my point. Furthermore, Angelina Jolie’s face on a guy? Scary. Brad Pitt’s face on a girl? Shouldn’t happen. And I know that evolution isn’t really a be-all end-all thing, thank you very much. And yeah, I know that furthering biological evolution would most likely be a bad idea at this point. I know the story of the Nazi eugenics and selective breeding programs. I guess what I should really be asking is how Big Macs and anorexia are all we have to show for 3000+ years of evolution. I mean, what would the aliens think of us? But then, I wonder if the Romans counted as part of that, since their civilization was crushed by the Goths and other barbarians in the Fall of Rome. Hmmm….]


    January 30, 2009 at 12:37 PM

  2. Amusing Sri. Where did that second half come from? And maybe this is fitting your stereotype, but chem isn’t making that much sense to me either.


    January 30, 2009 at 4:19 PM

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