The mismeasure of neuroscience by Massimo Pigliucci These days you can’t turn around without bumping into yet another news story about “the neuroscience of X.” Some of it is fascinating, some controversial, and quite a bit of it is, well, let’s say at the very least, misguided. Julia and I have already done a couple of Rationally Speaking podcasts touching on this subject (one on Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions of Gender” and one on what we term “neurobabble”), and no doubt there will be plenty of occasions to do more. On the blog, I have criticized Sam Harris for making unwarranted statements concerning alleged scientific solutions to moral issues, which he largely bases on new findings from neurobiology (I know he has a new book on free will! Can’t wait!). Fortunately, not everyone falls prey to easy sensationalism about neuroscience. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. This does not at all mean that I don’t find these studies fascinating, they surely are.
Free Will Is as Real as Baseball | Cosmic Variance A handful of musings about free will have been popping up in my blog reader of late. Jerry Coyne has been discussing the issue with Eric MacDonald in a series of posts (further links therein). Russell Blackford writes a long post that he promises isn’t the post he will eventually write, David Eagleman has an article in the Atlantic, and Zach Weiner also chimes in. So we have a biologist studying theology, an ex-Anglican priest turned agnostic, a philosopher and neuroscientist both of whom write science fiction, and a webcartoonist studying physics. In some ways, asking whether free will exists is a lot like asking whether time really exists. It’s possible to deny the existence of something while using it all the time. When people make use of a concept and simultaneously deny its existence, what they typically mean is that the concept in question is nowhere to be found in some “fundamental” description of reality. This kind of tension also appears in physics.
Gerard ’t Hooft, Theoretical Physics as a Challenge by Gerard 't Hooft Note: This web site will soon be removed from its present address. An updated and renewed version is available at: This is a web site for young students - and anyone else - who are (like me) thrilled by the challenges posed by real science, and who are - like me - determined to use their brains to discover new things about the physical world that we are living in. In short, it is for all those who decided to study theoretical physics, in their own time. It so often happens that I receive mail - well-intended but totally useless - by amateur physicists who believe to have solved the world. It should be possible, these days, to collect all knowledge you need from the internet. I can tell you of my own experiences. Theoretical Physics is like a sky scraper. Note that this site NOT meant to be very pedagogical. Languages:English is a prerequisite. Return to List Now, first things first : Algebraic equations.
Why It's Impossible To Be A Vegan Why It's IMPOSSIBLE To Be A Vegetarian (Magazine Article from: Vegetarian Times, May 1991, by Carol Wiley, p.59-62, 89.) Wait a minute, run that by me again. It's impossible to be a vegetarian? Well, if you mean it in the very strictest sense... The fact is, almost everything — no we're not exaggerating — contains animal products, and we're not just talking food here. Just to give you an idea of how pervasive animal products are, take a look inside the home of an average American vegetarian family: The bathroom contains a host of products that use animal derivatives. Dad shaved this morning with a shaving cream that contains hyaluronic acid from the combs of roosters. Big Sister just started experimenting with makeup. Workers are painting the house. Mom and Dad built a bookshelf for the living room. Little Sister is into photography. Bricks, plaster, home insulation materials and cement mix may contain dried ox blood and / or animal tallow (fat), which make them last longer. Winter, Ruth.
Genetic Modification and Human Ontology | Cognitive Philosophy Imagine a world where human beings weren’t susceptible to diseases, where we were all strong and smart, where we couldn’t feel pain and could be put in a state of ecstasy due to things which today produce only mild excitement. Imagine a world where human beings could fly of their own volition, where we have gills and could breathe under water, where we could see the entire electromagnetic spectrum, smell as richly as a dog, and hear as richly as a bat. These advances are far off, if possible at all (and whether we’d even want them is a different question), but the debate around genetic modification or engineering is a heated one. There are host of objections to genetic modification, but there is one in relation to morality that is rarely, if ever, addressed. Before I focus on that one, I’ll mention a few common objections that are considered, as a way to set up some background conditions to why the particular ethical consideration I have in mind is more interesting.
Ethical Questions Surround “Electrical Thinking Cap” That Improves Mental Functions Child using transcranial direct current stimulation What if a drug could improve learning and cognition and had no untoward medical consequences? Wouldn’t it be justified to make it widely available? A group of scientists concluded three years ago that it would be. No such drug exists, but the question arises anew because of a brain-stimulation technique that appears on paper to fit the bill. Electrical therapies for the nervous system have a lengthy history. “Where can I get one?” Seems too good to be true. The authors, Roi Cohen Kadosh and a group of scientists and ethicists mostly from Oxford University, note that the electrical brain stimulator really does appear to be pretty safe in healthy adults: there are no reports of seizures, one of the first concerns for any intervention that turns up the volume on neural circuits. Source: Roi Cohen Kadosh
[nanocursus] De EPR-Paradox, het experiment van Bell en waarom het heelal waarschijnlijk niet gedetermineerd is - Cursussen en FAQ's - Wetenschapsforum De EPR-Paradox, het experiment van Bell en waarom het heelal waarschijnlijk niet gedetermineerd isDe EPR-paradoxDe EPR-paradox komt eigenlijk neer op de vraag of er toeval is in het heelal. Volgens de kwantumtheorie wel, daar gebeuren dingen die enkel van het toeval afhangen. 3 wetenschappers waren het daar echter niet mee eens: Einstein, Podolsky en Rosen. Daarom bedachten ze een paradox die aantoonde dat het heelal echt niet van het toeval kon afhangen. "Als het heelal echt toevallig is", zo zeiden ze, "dan komen wij de EPR-paradox uit. De EPR-paradox is echter te raar om los te lopen, dus kan het heelal niet van toeval afhangen." Om de EPR-paradox helemaal uit te leggen is echter moeilijk, ik snap het zelf niet helemaal, denk ik. Het experiment van Bell Het experiment kan op 2 manieren uitgelegd worden:1) Je kunt het volledige experiment begrijpen zonder iets van kwantummechanica af te weten. Verborgen inhoud uitleg met kwantumtheorie open klikken. Stelling 1) De wet van Malus zegt dat
On the Implausibility of the Death Star’s Trash Compactor. I maintain that the trash compactor onboard the Death Star in Star Wars is implausible, unworkable, and moreover, inefficient. The Trash Compactor Debate turns on whether the Death Star ejects its trash into space. I, for one, believe it does. Though we never see the Death Star ejecting its trash, we do see another Empire ship, the so-called Star Destroyer, ejecting its trash into space. I therefore see no reason to suspect that Empire protocol dictating that trash be ejected into space would not apply equally to all Empire spacecraft, including the Death Star. The Death Star clearly has a garbage-disposal problem. Here are the problems, as I can ascertain them, with the Death Star’s garbage-disposal system: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Please understand, gentle reader, I am all for creating hassles and headaches for the Empire.
Can you be gay by choice? Choosing one’s own (sexual) identity: Shifting the terms of the ‘gay rights’ debate By Brian Earp (Follow Brian on Twitter by clicking here.) UPDATE: See HuffPost Live debate on this topic here. Can you be gay by choice? Former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon says she is gay by “choice” – a statement that has riled many gay rights activitists who insist that people don’t choose their sexual orientation. Nixon is quoted thus: “I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ Karen Kaplan of the LA Times explains the problem: The question of whether sexual orientation is subject to nature or nurture – or some combination of both – has been hotly debated for years. I think the logic is a bit fuzzy in the above analysis, but we’ll set that aside for now. “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out.
25 Greatest Science Books of All Time Read an essay on the greatest science books by Nobel laureate Kary B. Mullis. 1. and 2. The Voyage of the Beagle (1845) and The Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin [tie] One of the most delightful, witty, and beautifully written of all natural histories, The Voyage of the Beagle recounts the young Darwin's 1831 to 1836 trip to South America, the Galápagos Islands, Australia, and back again to England, a journey that transformed his understanding of biology and fed the development of his ideas about evolution. Fossils spring to life on the page as Darwin describes his adventures, which include encounters with "savages" in Tierra del Fuego, an accidental meal of a rare bird in Patagonia (which was then named in Darwin's honor), and wobbly attempts to ride Galápagos tortoises. Yet Darwin's masterwork is, undeniably, The Origin of Species, in which he introduced his theory of evolution by natural selection. "The most important science book of all time. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
A Double Slit Quantum Eraser Experiment A Double-Slit Quantum Eraser Experiment This web-page was created as an assignment for PHY 566, taught by Prof. Luis Orozco at Stony Brook University in the fall semester of 2002. The following describes work done by S. This experiment uses the phenomena of interference, produced by light incident on a double slit, to investigate the quantum mechanical principle of complementarity between the wave and particle characteristics of light. A Peculiarity about Quantum Mechanics Interference Any wave in nature is capable of producing interference. Interference and photons Quantum mechanics governs all phenomena on the atomic scale. Mathematically the quantum description is not any different from the classical wave interference description. A single photon cannot of course make a whole interference pattern on a screen by itself. Formation of the interference pattern. Which Way? It is difficult at this point to not be tempted to ask, which way does the photon really go? Experimental Investigation
7 Man-Made Substances that Laugh in the Face of Physics Odds are pretty good that some of you are reading this on an LCD screen while the rest of us are trying to make it out on the 13-inch monochrome monitor that came with our garage sale Commodore 64. But even with the LCD, some laptops still weigh over 10-pounds. And while that doesn't seem like much, the level of muscle atrophy experienced by the average Warcraft addict makes that weight a thousand times heavier. However, elastic conductors could fix that and make smuggling your porn collection into church even easier. Also, oooohhh. Elastic conductors are made of "ionic liquid" mixed with carbon nanotubes. What the Hell is it Used For? In addition to making screens that can be rolled up and stuck in our back pocket, a lot of scientists and doctors want to use elastic conductors to make flexible-lensed cameras... to be fitted to the back of the eyeball. A non-Newtonian liquid, in practical terms, is a liquid that turns solid when sufficient stress is applied. Also, something with lasers.
Nature, nurture and liberal values Biology determines our behaviour more than it suits many to acknowledge. But people—and politics and morality—cannot be described just by neural impulses Beyond Human Nature by Jesse Prinz (Allen Lane, £22)Incognito by David Eagleman (Canongate, £20)You and Me: the Neuroscience of Identity by Susan Greenfield (Notting Hill Editions, £10) Human beings are diverse and live in diverse ways. Should we accept that we are diverse by nature, having followed separate evolutionary paths? Or should we suppose that we share our biological inheritance, but develop differently according to environment and culture? For much of the 20th century social scientists held that human life is a single biological phenomenon, which flows through the channels made by culture, so as to acquire separate and often mutually inaccessible forms. More recently evolutionary psychologists have begun to question that approach. This new way of thinking gained support from the evolutionary theory of morality.
Get Better at Math by Disrupting Your Brain We tend to believe that our brains work as well as they can. Thus, we assume that if you are good at math, it means that your brain is superior to the brains of those who find math more challenging. Of course, we have come to realize that people are better at some things than at others. Being better in math does not mean being smarter at everything. But we assume that, at least within a given domain, better behavioral performance implies superior brains, because we take it for granted that the brain is working as well as it can to optimize behavior. However, a growing number of instances in clinical neurology and a growing body of research in cognitive neuroscience reveal that this assumption is incorrect. For example, if the brain optimizes behavior, disruption of normal brain activity ought to lead to a loss of function, and never to enhancement. The parietal lobes are thought to be critical regions in the processing of magnitudes and the representation of numbers.