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The Puzzle of Consciousness: Watch Full Video of World Science Festival Panel

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Unraveling the mystery of consciousness remains perhaps the biggest challenge in all neuroscience, so big and amorphous that most brain scientists won’t go near the topic, leaving philosophers to speculate about the a prioris. Even defining what consciousness is quickly devolves into lengthy and often ponderous treatises.

The World Science Festival assembled a panel of luminaries who will attempt to make sense of this sprawling theme in the allotted 90 minutes. They included Mélanie Boly, a researcher and physician who has performed studies on minimally conscious patients; Christof Koch, a leading researcher on the neural basis of consciousness; Colin McGinn, known for his work on the philosophy of mind, and Nicholas Schiff, a physician-scientist who specializes in disorders of consciousness.

Click below here to see these leading lights gathered at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on May 30 to take on whether Homo sapiens is  the only conscious species, the question of whether consciousness transcends the physical boundaries of the brain, and an exploration of the biochemical processes that underlie the life of the mind. The session, entitled “The Whispering Mind: The Enduring Conundrum of Consciousness,” is moderated by ABC Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran.  (Image Source: World Science Festival)


Gary Stix About the Author: Gary Stix, a senior editor, commissions, writes, and edits features, news articles and Web blogs for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. His area of coverage is neuroscience. He also has frequently been the issue or section editor for special issues or reports on topics ranging from nanotechnology to obesity. He has worked for more than 20 years at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, following three years as a science journalist at IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism from New York University. With his wife, Miriam Lacob, he wrote a general primer on technology called Who Gives a Gigabyte? Follow on Twitter @@gstix1.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. ShaikhRaisuddin 3:03 pm 03/24/2015


    Physics is BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE of matter.
    It is not Physics that gives behaviour to matter; instead it is behaviour of matter that gives Physics. Physics is Psychology of matter.

    Awareness comes by changes. No change no consciousness. To be aware is to be effected (changed). Stimulus is a change causing agent.

    Only matter is tangible thus changeable.

    Thought, emotion, thinking, memory etc are by behaviour of matter of brain.

    INERTIA is source of consciousness! Inertia of matter is beholder of discreteness, collectiveness and consciousness. By consciousness it maintains discreteness externally and collectiveness internally. It is the property of protection of identity. It resists change by causing time-lag and mandating threshold intensity to preserve integrity. It is a work or energy distribution function. It causes all work whether added or subtracted to be evenly distributed throughout volume of matter. It differs by internal mass composition, distribution, their connectedness and momentum. Broadly there are two parts of inertia 1) morphological inertia and 2) physiological inertia (potential-balance, equilibrium, homeostasis and heterostasis)

    Time is fictitious concept. It is measure of change of context of sources of stimuli.

    Information is fictitious, it is TRAVEL EFFECT of matter which causes exchange of energy and change of direction of travel. For ease of comprehension compare information from voice recorder.

    Subjectivity is inertial system of human body. Recall how in theory of relativity inertial frames influence physical process.

    Duality of body and mind and subjectivity of experiences is a linguistic error. Communications between matters happen in LANGUAGE OF MATTER and not in social language.

    The words, “mind” and “consciousness” are not ‘nouns’ but ‘verbs’ because they represent neurological process that is “series of actions”

    Consciousness is HIERARCHICAL. Degree of consciousness increases with increase in variety of inertial systems and variety of number of languages of matter evolve from inanimate matter to Man.

    Consciousness is automatic CHANGE MANAGEMENT process.

    Consciousness interfaces internal structure with external environment like touch screen of mobile

    This is my Interface Theory of Consciousness whose abstract has been accepted by TSC 2015 Helsinki conference

    -Shaikh Raisuddin
    Mobile +91-9873188653, write to me: shaikhraisuddin at yahoo dot com
    Address: C-36, ONGC Colony, Sector 39, NOIDA Delhi NCR, India

    Link to this

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