The passing of the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot has triggered in me a wave of nostalgia for the 1980s, when Mandelbrot and other researchers seemed to be creating a scientific revolution.
Be wary of the righteous rationalist: We should reject Sam Harris's claim that science can be a moral guidepost
Say what you will about Sam Harris, the man's got guts. In The End of Faith (W. W. Norton, 2005) and Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf, 2006), Harris, a neuroscientist, rejects the notion that science and religion can coexist.
When soldiers commit atrocities, we must ask why. The question is being raised once again by reports that a handful of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan carried out premeditated killings—murders—of Afghan civilians.
Psychedelics are back! As readers of Scientific American know, scientists have recently reported that psychedelics show promise for treating disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety in terminal cancer patients.
My teenage son, Mac, shot me. Twice, on the same day. I felt pride. And pain. Together with about 60 other guys, Mac and I were playing an "Airsoft" war game in a wooded Army Reserve training camp in Tolland, a tiny town in western Massachusetts.
I've always thought of Stephen Hawking—whose new book The Grand Design (Bantam 2010), co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, has become an instant bestseller—less as a scientist than as a cosmic, comic performance artist, who loves goofing on his fellow physicists and the rest of us.This penchant was already apparent in 1980, when the University of Cambridge named Hawking Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the chair held three centuries earlier by Isaac Newton.
I suffer from eschatological obsession. That is, I spend lots of time brooding about ends. So the cover of the September Scientific American —which reads simply "the end."—made me all shivery, like when I hear the spooky sitar opening of The Doors' apocalyptic rock poem "The End." (I'm never more Freudian than when I hear Morrison's Oedipal yowl.)
Some issue highlights: Tom Kirkwood's article on why we shouldn't expect the end of death soon (someone send this to Ray Kurzweil); Arpad Vass's description of a corpse's busy afterlife (which reminds me of one of my favorite novels, Jim Crace's Being Dead , Picador 2001); George Musser's riff on whether time can end (which would mean the end of ends—like, grok that, dude!).
Transhumanists! Singularitarians! Listen up! You who harbor a fervent faith in science’s imminent transformation of our frail, fleshy selves.
Last week's post served up facts from Power to Save the World (Vintage, 2008) by Gwyneth Cravens, whose book forced me to see nuclear energy in a more positive light.
My belated education in nuclear energy continues. I just read Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy (Vintage, 2008) by Gwyneth Cravens, a petite, energetic novelist and journalist.
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