Why Do Astronauts Experience God? By Rebecca Sato Source: Daily Galaxy In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”. He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, he says, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe. China brain China brain In the philosophy of mind, the China brain thought experiment (also known as the Chinese Nation or Chinese Gym) considers what would happen if each member of the Chinese nation were asked to simulate the action of one neuron in the brain, using telephones or walkie-talkies to simulate the axons and dendrites that connect neurons. Would this arrangement have a mind or consciousness in the same way that brains do? Early versions of this argument were put forward in 1974 by Lawrence Davis and again in 1978 by Ned Block. Block argues that the China brain would not have a mind, whereas Daniel Dennett argues that it would.
Infographic of the Day: How the Global Food Market Starves the Poor To understand the complexities of the international food market--and how traders in Chicago can cause Africans to starve--you could get a ph.D. in economics, or read a 400-page report from the World Bank. Or you watch this superb nine minute video, directed by Denis van Waerebeke. Though ostensibly created for a science show in Paris for 12 year olds, it's actually probably waaaay over a kid's head.
How I Was Able to Ace Exams Without Studying Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Scott Young of ScottYoung.com. In high school, I rarely studied. Despite that, I graduated second in my class. In university, I generally studied less than an hour or two before major exams.
Neuron All neurons are electrically excitable, maintaining voltage gradients across their membranes by means of metabolically driven ion pumps, which combine with ion channels embedded in the membrane to generate intracellular-versus-extracellular concentration differences of ions such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium. Changes in the cross-membrane voltage can alter the function of voltage-dependent ion channels. If the voltage changes by a large enough amount, an all-or-none electrochemical pulse called an action potential is generated, which travels rapidly along the cell's axon, and activates synaptic connections with other cells when it arrives. Neurons do not undergo cell division.
Neural correlates of consciousness Figure 1: The Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) are the minimal set of neural events and structures – here synchronized action potentials in neocortical pyramidal neurons – sufficient for a specific conscious percept or a conscious (explicit) memory. From Koch (2004). The Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) can be defined as the minimal neuronal mechanisms jointly sufficient for any one specific conscious percept (Crick & Koch 1990). The Neurobiological Approach to Consciousness Consciousness is a puzzling, state-dependent property of certain types of complex, biological, adaptive, and highly interconnected systems.
The Chinese Room Argument 1. Overview Work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has produced computer programs that can beat the world chess champion and defeat the best human players on the television quiz show Jeopardy. AI has also produced programs with which one can converse in natural language, including Apple's Siri. Our experience shows that playing chess or Jeopardy, and carrying on a conversation, are activities that require understanding and intelligence.
Once Upon a Time, the Universe Was Really Weird Today, looking out across a seemingly boundless cosmos filled with an unimaginable variety of exotic objects, it’s easy to forget that the Universe we currently admire is the product of a violent event that occurred 13.75 billion years ago. As we know, the leading theory for universal birth is the Big Bang, where everything came from nothing, in a single energetic burst of inexplicable creation. So, if we turn back the clock back 13.75 billion years, what would we see? 7 Lessons From the World’s Greatest Minds photo by karlequin Have you ever wished you could go back in time and have a conversation with one of the greatest minds in history? Well, you can’t sorry, they’re dead. Unless of course you’re clairaudient, be my guest. But for the rest of us, we can still refer to the words they left behind. Even though these great teachers have passed on, their words still live, and in them their wisdom.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging Researcher checking fMRI images Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) is a functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases. The primary form of fMRI uses the Blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) contrast, discovered by Seiji Ogawa. The procedure is similar to MRI but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure. This measure is frequently corrupted by noise from various sources and hence statistical procedures are used to extract the underlying signal.
Gabriel Kreiman Tests Free Will with Single-Neuron Measurements of Pre-Conscious Activity It was an expedition seeking something never caught before: a single human neuron lighting up to create an urge, albeit for the minor task of moving an index finger, before the subject was even aware of feeling anything. Four years ago, Itzhak Fried, a neurosurgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, slipped several probes, each with eight hairlike electrodes able to record from single neurons, into the brains of epilepsy patients. (The patients were undergoing surgery to diagnose the source of severe seizures and had agreed to participate in experiments during the process.) Probes in place, the patients—who were conscious—were given instructions to press a button at any time of their choosing, but also to report when they’d first felt the urge to do so. Later, Gabriel Kreiman, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston, captured the quarry. There is no “god in the machine”—only neurons that are firing, Kreiman says.
Qualia 1. Uses of the Term ‘Qualia’ (1) Qualia as phenomenal character. Consider your visual experience as you stare at a bright turquoise color patch in a paint store. There is something it is like for you subjectively to undergo that experience. What it is like to undergo the experience is very different from what it is like for you to experience a dull brown color patch.
Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at IUPUI When Jacob Barnett first learned about the Schrödinger equation for quantum mechanics, he could hardly contain himself. For three straight days, his little brain buzzed with mathematical functions. From within his 12-year-old, mildly autistic mind, there gradually flowed long strings of pluses, minuses, funky letters and upside-down triangles -- a tapestry of complicated symbols that few can understand. He grabbed his pencil and filled every sheet of paper before grabbing a marker and filling up a dry erase board that hangs in his bedroom. With a single-minded obsession, he kept on, eventually marking up every window in the home.
Teach Your Children Well - Joseph Sobran Because I write about politics, people are forever asking me the best way to teach children how our system of government works. I tell them that they can give their own children a basic civics course right in their own homes. In my own experience as a father, I have discovered several simple devices that can illustrate to a child's mind the principles on which the modern state deals with its citizens. You may find them helpful, too. For example, I used to play the simple card game WAR with my son.