19 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 Extraterrestrials as Gods

[T]here are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. … As Arthur C. Clarke put it, in his Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In what sense would they be superhuman but not supernatural? In a very important sense, which goes to the heart of this book. The crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in ...
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10 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 How Science Enriches our Lives

The most obvious is the exhilarating achievement of scientific knowledge itself. We can say much about the history of the universe, the forces that make it tick, the stuff we’re made of, the origin of living things, and the machinery of life, including our own mental life. Better still, this understanding consists not in a mere listing of facts, but in deep and elegant principles, like the insight that life depends on a molecule that carries information, directs metabolism, and replicates i...
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The creation of knowledge and improving our quality of life.

05 APR 2013 by ideonexus

 Negative Capability

I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, upon various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason - Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caugh...
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According to wikipedia: "...the capacity of human beings to transcend and revise their contexts." Here is the first use of the term by John Keats, where it sounds more like the ability to remain calm and rational in the face of uncertainty and not jump to conclusions without evidence.

04 APR 2013 by ideonexus

 The BRAIN Initiative

As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears. (Laughter.) But today, scientists possess the capability to study individual neurons and figure out the main functions of certain areas of the brain. But a human brain contains almost 100 billion neurons making trillions of connections. So Dr. Collins says it’s like listening to the strin...
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Text of Obama's comments on the initiative itself.

15 DEC 2011 by ideonexus

 Bumbling Humans Made It to the Moon

So there he is at last. Man on the moon. The poor magnificent bungler! He can't even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and, vroom! there he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky.
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Written after the success of the Apollo mission, Baker points out how bumbling people are in everyday life, but with technology we can go to the Moon.