Author Archives: SelfAwarePatterns

What’s at the edge of the universe?

Gizmodo has an interesting article that someone asked my thoughts on.  Part of their “Giz asks” series, it asks various physicists what’s at the edge of the universe?  The physicists polled include Sean Carroll, Jo Dunkley, Jessie Shelton, Michael Troxel, … Continue reading

Posted in Space | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Maybe the brain communicates via electrical fields after all

An interesting finding by scientists at Case Western Reserve University, that neurons may communicate via electrical fields: Scientists think they’ve identified a previously unknown form of neural communication that self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Did smell lead to consciousness?

Smell has apparently always been a peculiar sense.  The sensory pathway of smell information to the brain runs completely independent from the other senses.  The pathways for the other senses run through the midbrain and thalamus and are then relayed … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , , | 35 Comments

When does personhood begin?

Gary Whittenberger has an article at Skeptic on discussing personhood and abortion: The pro-person position, as I have outlined it in this essay, recognizes the late fetus and the host woman both as persons with human rights. When these rights … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Why are we real?

Nathaniel Stein has an interesting article at Aeon, The why of reality: The easy question came first, a few months after my son turned four: ‘Are we real?’ It was abrupt, but not quite out of nowhere, and I was … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , | 72 Comments

Is the brainstem conscious?

(Warning: neuroscience weeds and references to gruesome animal research.) The vast majority of neuroscientists see consciousness as a cortical phenomenon.  It may be crucially dependent on sub-cortical and sub-cerebral structures, but subjective experience itself exists mainly or entirely in the … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Strong vs weak emergence

The Neuroskeptic has an interesting post on a paper challenging theories of mind based on strong emergence. A new paper offers a broad challenge to a certain kind of ‘grand theory’ about the brain. According to the authors, Federico E. Turkheimer … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

Why faster than light travel is inevitably also time travel

I’ve always loved space opera, but when I was growing up, as I learned more about science, I discovered that a lot of the tropes in space opera are problematic.  Space operas, to tell adventure stories among the stars, often … Continue reading

Posted in Science Fiction, Space | Tagged , , , , , , | 81 Comments

Being committed to truth means admitting the limitations of what we can know

Michela Massimi has a long article at Aeon defending scientific realism. The time for a defence of truth in science has come. It begins with a commitment to get things right, which is at the heart of the realist programme, despite mounting Kuhnian … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 50 Comments

Consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder

There are few things that everyone who ponders consciousness can agree on.  It’s a topic where debates on the very definition of the subject are common.  The only definitions that seem to command near universal assent are the ones oriented … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , , | 91 Comments