Posted 1 day ago

The vast majority of us are not “Homo economicus”.

The vast majority of us are not “Homo economicus”.

Often, when I write about moral instincts, people respond with assertions that we’re essentially selfish creatures and that nothing about morality is natural.  There’s a name for this concept of the solely self serving  human being, “Homo economicus.”  The Neuroskeptic discusses a study that looked for them:  Spotted at last: “Homo economicus”? – Neuroskeptic | DiscoverMagazine.com.

Are we…

View On WordPress

Posted 2 days ago

Most science fiction is actually a blend of scientific fiction and fantasy.

Most science fiction is actually a blend of scientific fiction and fantasy. #ScienceFiction #scifi #fantasy

Quentin Cooper, looking over a top 100 sci-fi movie list which has many questionable entries, ponders this question: BBC – Future – Why is science fiction so hard to define?.

Time Out, the weekly listings magazine, recently ranked the 100 best sci-fi movies of all time. They did it by polling 150 “leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists” and…

View On WordPress

Posted 3 days ago

Learning the smell of fear: Mothers teach babies their own fears via odor, animal study shows.

Learning the smell of fear: Mothers teach babies their own fears via odor, animal study shows.

Some of the ways that mothers can teach offspring is pretty primal: Learning the smell of fear: Mothers teach babies their own fears via odor, animal study shows — ScienceDaily.

Babies can learn what to fear in the first days of life just by smelling the odor of their distressed mothers, new research suggests. And not just “natural” fears: If a mother experienced something before pregnancy that…

View On WordPress

Posted 3 days ago

How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Steve Conner looks at a new book by Peter Witzel that argues that the world’s myths have common origins: How did our legends really begin? – Features – Books – The Independent.

The similarity of the narratives could be just coincidence. Each culture might just have devised its own folklore independently of the other, coming to surprisingly similar storylines. But many myths seem to share similar…

View On WordPress

Posted 5 days ago

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

220px-12_Years_a_Slave_film_posterThis week, I saw the movie 12 Years a Slave.  Most of the reviewers have stated that the move is a hard one to watch, but that they were glad they did.  That pretty much sums up my reaction to it.  The violence in the movie is limited, but what is shown is brutal and realistic.

Unlike the Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained, the central figure in this movie, Solomon Northup, is based on a…

View On WordPress

Posted 5 days ago

How to find an exoplanet

I suspect many, if not most, of my readers are already familiar with the techniques listed in this video.  

Posted 6 days ago

Does the Higgs boson actually exist?

Does the Higgs boson actually exist?

I have to admit to wondering the same thing Nick talks about here.  Do any of these subatomic particles actually exist?  At least in the way we conventionally define “exist”?  We’re talking about entities that are sometimes a wave, sometimes a point particle and, as far as we can observe, behave randomly within certain probabilities.

View On WordPress

Posted 1 week ago

Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space

Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space #nasa #space

I have to say that I had no idea this was still being debated: Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space.

In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space, traveling further from Earth than any other manmade object.

But, in the nearly two years since that historic announcement, and despite subsequent observations…

View On WordPress

Posted 1 week ago

Transcendence

Transcendence2014PosterI finally watched the movie, Transcendence.  I had commented a while back, when the trailer came out, the problems I had with what appeared to be the central premise of the film.  Since then, there’s been a lot of harsh reviews of the film.  I did find a lot of silliness in it, but overall it was more intelligent than I expected.

I’ve written before that I think the danger of an AI revolt is…

View On WordPress

Posted 2 weeks ago

David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness?

David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness? #brain #mind #philosophy

In this TED talk, David Chalmers gives a summary of the problem whose name he coined, the hard problem of consciousness.

via David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness? – YouTube.

It seems like people who’ve contemplated consciousness fall into two groups, those who are bothered by the hard problem, and those who are not.  In…

View On WordPress