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The end of the quantum road?

September 26, 2011

Physicist Caslav Brukner at the University of Vienna in Austria is researching whether quantum physics provides the ultimate description of reality or there are other more fundamental theories lying in wait, FQXi blogger Bob Swarup reports.

Some physicists hope to retrieve a classical concept of realism in which properties of the world about us exist regardless of whether or not we observe them. Brukner thinks information theory is… read more

The Enlightened Universe

July 13, 2005

The challenging task of keeping pace with the exponential rate of technological change is the subject of two online audio interviews with Ray Kurzweil on WIE Unbound, a streaming media service of What is Englightment? magazine.

A free one-month trial subscription to WIE Unbound is available, providing access to all audio recordings on the site.

The Enthusiast

August 17, 2007

David Sinclair, a controversial Harvard biologist, claims he can extend life span and treat diseases of aging.

He discovered that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, extends life span in mice by up to 24 percent and in other animals, including flies and worms, by as much as 59 percent. Sinclair hopes that resveratrol will bump up the life span of people, too.

Sinclair thinks resveratrol works… read more

The ethics of brain science: Open your mind

May 26, 2002

Advances in neurotechnology raise ethical and legal questions.

  • Neuroscientists will soon be able to screen people’s brains to assess their mental health; functional MRI can identify depressed individuals and other personality traits and detect lies. That information could be available to employers or insurers.
  • Faulty personality traits, brain deficiencies and psychological ailments can be enhanced with drugs or implants, leading to haves and have-nots.
  • The Ethics of Creating Consciousness

    June 14, 2005

    Next month, IBM is set to activate the most ambitious simulation of a human brain yet conceived. It’s a model they say is accurate down to the molecule.

    No one claims the “Blue Brain” project will be self-aware. But this project, and others like it, uses electrical patterns in a silicon brain to simulate the electrical patterns in the human brain — patterns which are intimately linked to thought.… read more

    The Evelyn Wood of Digitized Book Scanners

    May 13, 2003

    New book-scanning robots can turn the pages of small and large books as well as bound newspaper volumes and scan more than 1,000 pages an hour — speed and quality control unattainable by manual systems.

    The Even-More-Compact Disc

    August 30, 2002

    The new miniaturized DataPlay digital media offers CD performance and 500 MB storage at a tiny size but at expensive prices initially for media and players.

    DataPlay discs will be available in blank, recordable form as well as prerecorded, copy-protected albums.

    The evolution of life, on a wall

    July 8, 2010

    A wall-painted animation created by the street artist Blu tries to illustrate the history of the universe since the big bang, with a particular focus on the evolution of life on Earth.

    BIG BANG BIG BOOM – the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

    The evolution of robot soccer

    February 13, 2012


    “By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, complying with the official rule[s] of the FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association], against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

    This is the official goal of the RoboCup soccer competition, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

    The new version of Honda’s ASIMO kicks a soccer ball in… read more

    The evolution of Web search

    December 18, 2007

    Integration of various kinds of content, speech recognition, and phone interfaces are among the coming new directions for Google search, says Google director of research and AI expert Peter Norvig.

    The Evolution Will Be Mechanized

    September 8, 2004

    “A singularity looks great in special f/x, but is there any substance in the idea?” asks writer Bruce Sterling.

    “When Vinge first posed the problem, he was concerned that the imminent eruption in artificial intelligence would lead to ubermenschen of unfathomable mental agility. More than a decade later, we still can’t say with any precision what intelligence is, much less how to build it. If you fail to define… read more

    The evolutionary origins of optimism

    June 13, 2012


    Positive feeling evolved to make us do critical tasks — but new findings suggest it can also help us live longer.

    This article is an adapted excerpt from the new book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain from Basic Books.

    The function of our pleasure system is to entice us into doing things that are biologically good for us. This is why delicious food, especially in the company of… read more

    The expanding electronic universe

    December 6, 2005

    The Dec. 1 issue of Nature looks at what wikis, blogs, digital libraries, Google Base, and other Internet technologies may mean for the future of scientific communication beyond the confines of scientific journals.

    These tools offer fresh opportunities both before publication, when people are debating ideas and hypotheses, and after, when they are finding and discussing published results. They also provide scientists with exciting new possibilities for communicating with… read more

    The Expert Mind

    August 16, 2006

    Studies of the mental processes of chess grandmasters have revealed clues to how people become experts in other fields as well.

    The Extraordinary Tale of Red Rain, Comets and Extraterrestrials

    September 1, 2010

    Optical microscope images of red cells: (A) red cells before autoclaving (400x): cells evenly dispersed in the rain water. (B) red cells after 1 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).(C) after 2 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).

    For years, claims have circulated that red rain that fell in India in 2001 contained cells unlike any found on Earth. Now new evidence that these cells can reproduce is about to set the debate alive.

    “The flourescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle planetary nebula and other galactic and extragalactic… read more

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