Scientists have come up with a way to make whole brains transparent, so they can be labelled with molecular markers and imaged using a light microscope. The technique, called CLARITY, enabled its creators to produce the detailed 3D visualisations you see in this video.
The intelligence and sophistication of dolphins is not just mythological, of course. Decades of scientific research has confirmed that they possess large and highly elaborate brains, prodigious cognitive capacities, demonstrable self-awareness, complex societies, even cultural traditions. In 2001 my colleague Diana Reiss and I provided the first definitive evidence for mirror self-recognition in two bottlenose dolphins at the New York Aquarium. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this study demonstrated, along with many others since, that dolphins have a level of self-awareness not unlike our own.
Could human memories be uploaded and stored — just like data — in a computer? Scientists say not now, but in the coming decades it’s likely we’ll be able to store our memories in a way that allows us to retrieve them later. Long the stuff of science fiction novels, this kind of merger between computer technology and the human brain is being pushed by new findings in neuroscience, as well as advances in computer science and artificial intelligence. Read more
GROWING UP AS ANTI-ADULTHOOD
by Mike Rowe
If you’re an adult, you probably don’t sit in the backseat much anymore. When you drive you probably drive alone. Occasionally there’s a passenger. If you or someone else actually ends up in the backseat, the impromptu conversation becomes…
This is what happens when a society tacitly agrees that, while (theoretically, at least) its citizens have rights the government may not abridge, the government is free to subcontract that job to every other important institution that affects the lives of its people. Employers, for example, may drug-test employees without cause, and they may monitor the political and social media activities of those employees even when those employees are off the job. Your children lose their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights — and most of their First Amendment rights — as soon as they walk through the schoolhouse doors. There have been, of course, no effective counterweights to any of this. Union protection in the workplace is gone. Schoolchildren have no effective lobby for their rights. Of course, Verizon cooperated with the government. Even if they hadn’t been ordered to do so, do you think there would have been 15 minutes of serious debate in the boardroom over the privacy rights of their millions of customers? How’s that no-call list thing working for you?
This is the surveillance state writ large, with large corporations and the government in close cooperation, and hallowed by a warrant from a secret court that was supposed to be the last line of defense against this sort of thing. (Even though the FISA court has been a rubber stamp for years, which was an argument back during the previous administration for why that administration should have gotten a warrant. Ah, thim was the days.) And because we are supposed to be a self-governing political commonwealth, we are complicit, too. All of the powers under which the NSA operated were approved, over and over again, by the Congress, the members of which we freely elect, and none of whom will ever win an election on issues like this because, all tricornered hats and the outrage of the Paul family aside, there is no electoral constituency for the Bill of Rights any more. All of the powers under which Verizon operated were approved, over and over again, by its customers, who now know what the company was doing, and who, I predict, will keep handing over the data. Given the dark, midnight nature of government secrecy, a lot of the infrastructure behind this current outrage was put in place in the daylight. The fault, dear Brutus…
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars(via stoweboyd)
but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
It’s Time to Tackle Interstellar Spaceflight, Experts Say
If humanity is serious about traveling to other star star systems in the foreseeable future, it needs to get the ball rolling now, say experts who have organized an upcoming conference on the subject.
Pulling off our species’ first interstellar spaceflight will require many decades of hard work by some of the planet’s best minds. Some scientists and engineers are pushing for that work to begin now.