Tag Archives: Science

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

Manufacturing liquid fuel

One of the things that I think is often not appreciated about petroleum oil, is that it’s essentially stored solar energy.  Energy that was originally captured by life forms that died, sank to the bottom of oceans or lakes where … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Blindsight explained and conscious perception

Warning: neuroscience weeds. Every so often we get into discussions about where in the brain consciousness lies.  Sometimes it’s asserted to be in the brainstem, other times in the thalamus, sometimes in the parietal lobe, and yet other times in … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , , | 69 Comments

Dark energy and repulsive gravity

Over the weekend, Sean Carroll put up a blog post to address common misconceptions about cosmology.  I understood most of his points, but was confused when I saw this one: Dark energy is not a new force; it’s a new substance. … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

A qualified recommendation: Consciousness Demystified

A couple of years ago I did a series of posts inspired by Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt’s excellent  The Ancient Origins of Consciousness, a book on the evolution of animal consciousness.  Somewhat building on what I had read in … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Sean Carroll on the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics

Related to the post last week on quantum mechanics, here is a talk that got mentioned in the discussion thread.  Warning: Carroll is a passionate advocate for the Many Worlds Interpretation, so don’t expect a fair and balanced discussion.  The … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Do all quantum trails inevitably lead to Everett?

I’ve been thinking lately about quantum physics, a topic that seems to attract all sorts of crazy speculation and intense controversy, which seems inevitable.  Quantum mechanics challenges our deepest held most cherished beliefs about how reality works.  If you study … Continue reading

Posted in Science | Tagged , , , , | 54 Comments

Dogs have metacognition, maybe

Last year in a post on panpsychism, I introduced a hierarchy I use to conceptualize the capabilities of systems that we intuitively see as conscious.  This isn’t a new theory of consciousness or anything, just my own way of making … Continue reading

Posted in Mind and AI | Tagged , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Are there things that are knowable but not measurable?

It’s a mantra for many scientists, not to mention many business managers, that if you can’t measure it, it’s not real.  On the other hand, I’ve been told by a lot of people, mostly non-scientists, and occasionally humanistic scholars including philosophers, … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , | 93 Comments