Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 10.14.45 PM

Neuroscientist Explores the Ethical Quandries of a Digital Afterlife

Now imagine the resources required to simulate the brains of millions or billions of dead people. It’s possible that some future technology will allow for unlimited RAM and we’ll all get free service. The same way we’re arguing about health care now, future activists will chant, “The afterlife is a right, not a privilege!” But it’s more likely that a digital afterlife will be a gated community and somebody will…

Richard Dawkins

Ex-Pope Benedict says the Selfish Gene is science fiction. He’s half right

The Selfish Gene is a brilliant phrase. It’s also accurate, so long as you realise that “selfish” doesn’t mean selfish, “gene” doesn’t mean gene, and the definite article is a bit of an abstraction. But taken as the literal truth, it’s about as much use as “In the beginning was the word”. Given Dawkins’s hostility to everyone else’s metaphysics, this is an unfortunate weakness. “Science fiction” may not be the…

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 12.53.05 PM
4

At 96, Dr. Heimlich finally uses his life-saving technique

The 96-year-old inventor of the eponymous anti-choking procedure had never actually used it to save a life — until the woman sitting next to him at a retirement facility got a bite of hamburger lodged in her throat. When he heard that a resident was choking, Perry Gaines, maître d’ for the Deupree House dining room, ran toward the table. Gaines has been trained in the Heimlich maneuver and has performed…

img_5749

Your Brain Does Not Work Like a Computer

The brain-as-computer is a powerful meme. It’s no more accurate than metaphors inspired by fluid dynamics or automata, which were cutting-edge technology in their time, says Robert Epstein. The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and…

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.17.56 PM
1

Quebec teen discovers ancient Mayan ruins by studying the stars

This sounds like the plot of a Young Indiana Jones episode, or maybe Johnny Quest. William Gadoury is a 15-year-old student from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, Quebec. The precocious teen has been fascinated by all things Mayan for several years, devouring any information he could find on the topic.  During his research, Gadoury examined 22 Mayan constellations and discovered that if he projected those constellations onto a map, the shapes corresponded…

image
6

An Experimental Autism Treatment Cost Me My Marriage

Interesting essay challenging the notion that medical difference equals pathology. With Children of a Lesser God, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, “Flowers for Algernon,” “Cathedral,” The Glass Menagerie, The Miracle Worker, and The Sound and the Fury, I can see putting together a special topics literature course on pathology and pathos in literature. An intervention to switch on my emotions succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, but…

20100119000290779863-minihighres
4

Comment: Why women taking their husband’s name could be about biology

I’m somewhat interested in the topic, but I’m actually posting about this because my freshman writing students are now in the process of gathering sources for their research paper. I have to train them to ignore reader-friendly science journalism like this, and instead engage directly with the academic source this reporter is summarizing. That’s a daunting task, especially for a college freshman who is still adjusting to learning from college-level…