Blog

Page 1873

Oct 30, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5c)

Posted by in categories: education, engineering, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

In this post I discuss the third and final part, Concepts and Logical Flow, of how to read or write a journal paper, that is not taught in colleges.

A paper consists of a series of evolving concepts expressed as paragraphs. If a concept is too complex to be detailed in a single paragraph, then break it down into several sub-concept paragraphs. Make sure there is logical evolution of thought across these sub-concepts, and across the paper.

As a general rule your sentences should be short(er). Try very hard not to exceed two lines of Letter or A4 size paper at font size 11. Use commas judicially. Commas are not meant to extend sentences or divide the sentence into several points!!! They are used to break up a sentence into sub-sentences to indicate a pause when reading aloud. How you use commas can alter the meaning of a sentence. Here is an example.

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5c)” »

Oct 29, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5b)

Posted by in categories: defense, education, engineering, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

In this post I discuss part 2 of 3, Mathematical Construction versus Mathematical Conjecture, of how to read or write a journal paper that is not taught in colleges.

I did my Master of Arts in Operations Research (OR) at the best OR school in the United Kingdom, University of Lancaster, in the 1980s. We were always reminded that models have limits to their use. There is an operating range within which a model will provide good and reliable results. But outside that operating range, a model will provide unreliable, incorrect and even strange results.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like what the late Prof. Morris Kline was saying? We can extrapolate this further, and ask our community of theoretical physicists the question, what is the operating range of your theoretical model? We can turn the question around and require our community of theoretical physicists to inform us or suggest boundaries of where their models fail “ … to provide reasonability in guidance and correctness in answers to our questions in the sciences …”

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5b)” »

Oct 28, 2012

Mapping the Mind to Merge with Machines: Experimental Research Approaches to Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs)

Posted by in categories: existential risks, futurism, robotics/AI

The historical context in which Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) has emerged has been addressed in a previous article called “To Interface the Future: Interacting More Intimately with Information” (Kraemer, 2011). This review addresses the methods that have formed current BCI knowledge, the directions in which it is heading and the emerging risks and benefits from it. Why neural stem cells can help establish better BCI integration is also addressed as is the overall mapping of where various cognitive activities occur and how a future BCI could potentially provide direct input to the brain instead of only receive and process information from it.

EEG Origins of Thought Pattern Recognition
Early BCI work to study cognition and memory involved implanting electrodes into rats’ hippocampus and recording its EEG patterns in very specific circumstances while exploring a track both when awake and sleeping (Foster & Wilson, 2006; Tran, 2012). Later some of these patterns are replayed by the rat in reverse chronological order indicating a retrieval of the memory both when awake and asleep (Foster & Wilson, 2006). Dr. John Chapin shows that the thoughts of movement can be written to a rat to then remotely control the rat (Birhard, 1999; Chapin, 2008).

A few human paraplegics have volunteered for somewhat similar electrode implants into their brains for an enhanced BrainGate2 hardware and software device to use as a primary data input device (UPI, 2012; Hochberg et al., 2012). Clinical trials of an implanted BCI are underway with BrainGate2 Neural Interface System (BrainGate, 2012; Tran, 2012). Currently, the integration of the electrodes into the brain or peripheral nervous system can be somewhat slow and incomplete (Grill et al., 2001). Nevertheless, research to optimize the electro-stimulation patterns and voltage levels in the electrodes, combining cell cultures and neurotrophic factors into the electrode and enhance “endogenous pattern generators” through rehabilitative exercises are likely to improve the integration closer to full functional restoration in prostheses (Grill et al., 2001) and improved functionality in other BCI as well.

When integrating neuro-chips to the peripheral nervous system for artificial limbs or even directly to the cerebral sensorimotor cortex as has been done for some military veterans, neural stem cells would likely help heal the damage to the site of the limb lost and speed up the rate at which the neuro-chip is integrated into the innervating tissue (Grill et al., 2001; Park, Teng, & Snyder, 2002). These neural stem cells are better known for their natural regenerative ability and it would also generate this benefit in re-establishing the effectiveness of the damaged original neural connections (Grill et al., 2001).

Neurochemistry and Neurotransmitters to be Mapped via Genomics
Cognition is electrochemical and thus the electrodes only tell part of the story. The chemicals are more clearly coded for by specific genes. Jaak Panksepp is breeding one line of rats that are particularly prone to joy and social interaction and another that tends towards sadness and a more solitary behavior (Tran, 2012). He asserts that emotions emerged from genetic causes (Panksepp, 1992; Tran, 2012) and plans to genome sequence members of both lines to then determine the genomic causes of or correlations between these core dispositions (Tran, 2012). Such causes are quite likely to apply to humans as similar or homologous genes in the human genome are likely to be present. Candidate chemicals like dopamine and serotonin may be confirmed genetically, new neurochemicals may be identified or both. It is a promising long-term study and large databases of human genomes accompanied by medical histories of each individual genome could result in similar discoveries. A private study of the medical and genomic records of the population of Iceland is underway and has in the last 1o years has made unique genetic diagnostic tests for increased risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer prostate cancer, glaucoma, high cholesterol/hypertension and atrial fibrillation and a personal genomic testing service for these genetic factors (deCODE, 2012; Weber, 2002). By breeding 2 lines of rats based on whether they display a joyful behavior or not, the lines of mice should likewise have uniquely different genetic markers in their respective populations (Tran, 2012).

fMRI and fNIRIS Studies to Map the Flow of Thoughts into a Connectome
Though EEG-based BCI have been effective in translating movement intentionality of the cerebral motor cortex for neuroprostheses or movement of a computer cursor or other directional or navigational device, it has not advanced the understanding of the underlying processes of other types or modes of cognition or experience (NPG, 2010; Wolpaw, 2010). The use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machines, and functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRIS) and sometimes Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans for literally deeper insights into the functioning of brain metabolism and thus neural activity has increased in order to determine the relationships or connections of regions of the brain now known collectively as the connectome (Wolpaw, 2010).

Dr. Read Montague explained broadly how his team had several fMRI centers around the world linked to each other across the Internet so that various economic games could be played and the regional specific brain activity of all the participant players of these games can be recorded in real time at each step of the game (Montague, 2012). In the publication on this fMRI experiment, it shows the interaction between baseline suspicion in the amygdala and the ongoing evaluation of the specific situation that may increase or degree that suspicion which occurred in the parahippocampal gyrus (Bhatt et al., 2012). Since the fMRI equipment is very large, immobile and expensive, it cannot be used in many situations (Solovey et al., 2012). To essentially substitute for the fMRI, the fNIRS was developed which can be worn on the head and is far more convenient than the traditional full body fMRI scanner that requires a sedentary or prone position to work (Solovey et al., 2012).

In a study of people multitasking on the computer with the fNIRIS head-mounted device called Brainput, the Brainput device worked with remotely controlled robots that would automatically modify the behavior of 2 remotely controlled robots when Brainput detected an information overload in the multitasking brains of the human navigating both of the robots simultaneously over several differently designed terrains (Solovey et al., 2012).

Writing Electromagnetic Information to the Brain?
These 2 examples of the Human Connectome Project lead by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US and also underway in other countries show how early the mapping of brain region interaction is for higher cognitive functions beyond sensory motor interactions. Nevertheless, one Canadian neurosurgeon has taken volunteers for an early example of writing some electromagnetic input into the human brain to induce paranormal kinds of subjective experience and has been doing so since 1987 (Cotton, 1996; Nickell, 2005; Persinger, 2012). Dr. Michael Persinger uses small electrical signals across the temporal lobes in an environment with partial audio-visual isolation to reduce neural distraction (Persinger, 2003). These microtesla magnetic fields especially when applied to the right hemisphere of the temporal lobes often induced a sense of an “other” presence generally described as supernatural in origin by the volunteers (Persinger, 2003). This early example shows how input can be received directly by the brain as well as recorded from it.

Higher Resolution Recording of Neural Data
Electrodes from EEGs and electromagnets from fMRI and fNIRIS still record or send data at the macro level of entire regions or areas of the brain. Work on intracellular recording such as the nanotube transistor allows for better understanding at the level of neurons (Gao et al., 2012). Of course, when introducing micro scale recording or transmitting equipment into the human brain, safety is a major issue. Some progress has been made in that an ingestible microchip called the Raisin has been made that can transmit information gathered during its voyage through the digestive system (Kessel, 2009). Dr. Robert Freitas has designed many nanoscale devices such as Respirocytes, Clottocytes and Microbivores to replace or augment red blood cells, platelets and phagocytes respectively that can in principle be fabricated and do appear to meet the miniaturization and propulsion requirements necessary to get into the bloodstream and arrive at the targeted system they are programmed to reach (Freitas, 1998; Freitas, 2000; Freitas, 2005; Freitas, 2006).

The primary obstacle is the tremendous gap between assembling at the microscopic level and the molecular level. Dr. Richard Feynman described the crux of this struggle to bridge the divide between atoms in his now famous talk given on December 29, 1959 called “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” (Feynman, 1959). To encourage progress towards the ultimate goal of molecular manufacturing by enabling theoretical and experimental work, the Foresight Institute has awarded annual Feynman Prizes every year since 1997 for contribution in this field called nanotechnology (Foresight, 2012).

The Current State of the Art and Science of Brain Computer Interfaces
Many neuroscientists think that cellular or even atomic level resolution is probably necessary to understand and certainly to interface with the brain at the level of conceptual thought, memory storage and retrieval (Ptolemy, 2009; Koene, 2010) but at this early stage of the Human Connectome Project this evaluation is quite preliminary. The convergence of noninvasive brain scanning technology with implantable devices among volunteer patients supplemented with neural stem cells and neurotrophic factors to facilitate the melding of biological and artificial intelligence will allow for many medical benefits for paraplegics at first and later to others such as intelligence analysts, soldiers and civilians.

Some scientists and experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) express the concern that AI software is on track to exceed human biological intelligence before the middle of the century such as Ben Goertzel, Ray Kurzweil, Kevin Warwick, Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Peter Diamandis, Dean Kamen and Hugo de Garis (Bostrom, 2009; de Garis, 2009, Ptolemy, 2009). The need for fully functioning BCIs that integrate the higher order conceptual thinking, memory recall and imagination into cybernetic environments gains ever more urgency if we consider the existential risk to the long-term survival of the human species or the eventual natural descendent of that species. This call for an intimate and fully integrated BCI then acts as a shield against the possible emergence of an AI independently of us as a life form and thus a possible rival and intellectually superior threat to the human heritage and dominance on this planet and its immediate solar system vicinity.

References

Bhatt MA, Lohrenz TM, Camerer CF, Montague PR. (2012). Distinct contributions of the amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus to suspicion in a repeated bargaining game. Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. USA, 109(22):8728–8733. Retrieved October 15, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365181/pdf/pnas.201200738.pdf.

Birhard, K. (1999). The science of haptics gets in touch with prosthetics. The Lancet, 354(9172), 52–52. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/199023500

Continue reading “Mapping the Mind to Merge with Machines: Experimental Research Approaches to Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs)” »

Oct 28, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5a)

Posted by in categories: education, ethics, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

I was not intending to write Part 5, but judging from the responses I thought it was necessary to explain how to read a journal paper – and a good read cannot be done without a pen and paper. If you are writing a paper, when you have completed it, I would suggest you set it aside for at least a week. Don’t think about your paper or the topic during this shmita period. Then come back to your paper with a pen & paper and read it afresh. You’d be surprised by the number of changes you make, which means you have to start well before your deadline.

Note, you can find articles on how to review or write papers and here is one, by IOP (Institute of Physics, UK) titled Introduction to refereeing, and is a good guide to read before reading or writing a paper. This is especially true for physics but applies to all the sciences and engineering disciplines.

Note, for those who have been following the comments on my blog posts, IOP explicitly states “Do not just say ‘This result is wrong’ but say why it is wrong…” and “be professional and polite in your report”. So I hope, we as commentators, will be more professional in both our comments and the focus of our comments. Thanks.

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 5a)” »

Oct 27, 2012

Today, a Young Man on Acid Realized that all Matter is Merely Energy Condensed to a…

Posted by in categories: biological, complex systems, cosmology, engineering, existential risks, homo sapiens, human trajectories, humor, information science, particle physics, philosophy, physics


…here’s Tom with the Weather.
That right there is comedian/philosopher Bill Hicks, sadly no longer with us. One imagines he would be pleased and completely unsurprised to learn that serious scientific minds are considering and actually finding support for the theory that our reality could be a kind of simulation. That means, for example, a string of daisy-chained IBM Super-Deep-Blue Gene Quantum Watson computers from 2042 could be running a History of the Universe program, and depending on your solipsistic preferences, either you are or we are the character(s).

It’s been in the news a lot of late, but — no way, right?

Because dude, I’m totally real
Despite being utterly unable to even begin thinking about how to consider what real even means, the everyday average rational person would probably assign this to the sovereign realm of unemployable philosophy majors or under the Whatever, Who Cares? or Oh, That’s Interesting I Gotta Go Now! categories. Okay fine, but on the other side of the intellectual coin, vis-à-vis recent technological advancement, of late it’s actually being seriously considered by serious people using big words they’ve learned at endless college whilst collecting letters after their names and doin’ research and writin’ and gettin’ association memberships and such.

So… why now?

Continue reading “Today, a Young Man on Acid Realized that all Matter is Merely Energy Condensed to a...” »

Oct 26, 2012

Radioactive Pollution: Fishing for Answers off Fukushima

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy, policy, sustainability, treaties

A recent article in Science Daily reported on efforts to measure Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 in bottom dwelling fish off the east coast of Japan to understand the lingering effects and potential public health implications. As the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history, it is not surprising that many demersal fish are found above the limits for seafood consumption. What is more significant is that the contamination in almost all classifications of fish are not declining — suggesting that contaminated sediment on the seafloor could be providing a continuing source. This raises a concern that fallouts from any further nuclear accidents would aggregate over time.

One would question if the IAEA is taking a strong enough position on the permitted location of nuclear power stations. It perplexes me that the main objections to Iran attaining nuclear power are strategic/military. Whilst Iran is not at risk to the threat of tsunamis as Japan is, Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, where destructive earthquakes often occur. This is because it is crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90% of the country. How robust are nuclear power stations to a major quake? The IAEA needs to expand its role to advise countries on what regions it would be unsuitable to build nuclear power stations — such as Iran and Japan. Otherwise we are risking a lasting environmental impact to eventually occur — it is only a matter of time.

How the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which sits just miles away from the notoriously active San Andreas fault was allowed to be located there let alone operate for a year and half with its emergency systems disabled (according to a 2010 safety review by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission). It seems as if there’s a missing link worldwide between the IAEA and regional planning authorities. Or perhaps it is simply down to responsible government.

Oct 25, 2012

Bad Year for Security Issues

Posted by in categories: defense, ethics, existential risks, geopolitics, homo sapiens, particle physics, policy, rants

2012 has already been a bad omen when it comes to humankind solving the dangers ahead. Perhaps an early review will make next January 1 brighter.

There has been strong information questioning the existence of Hawkins Radiation, which was a major reason most scientists think Black Hole Collider research is safe, without any increase in a call for a safety conference. Once, due to classification keeping it away from the general public, there was a small debate whether the first atomic explosion would set off a chain reaction that would consume the earth. On March 1, 1954 the Lithium that was, for other purposes, put in what was intended to be a small Hydrogen Bomb test, created, by far, the dirtiest atomic explosion ever as the natives on Bikini Island woke up to two suns in the sky that morning. History would be different had the first tests gravely injured people. Eventually people in the future will look back at how humankind dealt with the possibility of instantly destroying itself, as more important, than how it dealt with slowly producing more doomsday-like weapons.

With genetic engineering the results are amazing, goats with hair thousands of times stronger than wool would offer some increased protection from its predators. Think what would happen if, 1 foot long, undigestible fibers possibly with some sharp spots gets accidental inbreed in goat meat, or very un-tasty animals spread in the wild throughout the ecosystem. In 2001 Genetic Insecticide intended only to protect corn to be used in animal feed spread by the winds and cross breading to all corn in the northern hemisphere. Bees drinking corn syrup from one discarded soda can can endanger an entire hive. Now there is fear of this gene getting into wheat, rice and all plants that don’t rely on insects in some way. The efforts to require food to be labeled for genetically modified ingredients doesn’t address the issue and may actually distract from warning of the dangers ahead.

There are some who say bad people want to play God and create a god particle, likewise some say evil Monsanto,with bad motives, is trying to prevent us from buying safe food. This attitude doesn’t help create a safer future, or empower those trying to rationally deal with the danger.

Continue reading “Bad Year for Security Issues” »

Oct 24, 2012

Dear Dr. Kerwick, Lifeboat Administrator and first public scientific supporter of CERN’s for years:

Posted by in categories: ethics, existential risks, particle physics

A systematic decay rate of white dwarf stars in the galaxy is possibly implicit in the data that the LSAG scientists of CERN just sent you and which you kindly forwarded to me.

This preliminary evidence is quite alarming. It allows one to extrapolate to the effects that the same causally to be implicated agent (black holes) has when produced on earth in ultra-slow form at CERN. This CERN attempts to do for 2 years – and with maximum luminosity during the remaining weeks of 2012.

Much as in nuclear fission the “cold neutrons” (slow neutrons) possess a much larger “cross-section” than fast ones, so the artificial “cold mini black holes” predictably possess a much larger cross section than their ultra-fast natural cousins in white dwarfs. Hence the nightmare of but a few years remaining to planet earth would be supported by empirical evidence for the first time.

Can you arrange for a first public dialog with CERN?

Continue reading “Dear Dr. Kerwick, Lifeboat Administrator and first public scientific supporter of CERN’s for years:” »

Oct 23, 2012

The Witch-Hunt of Geophysicists: Society returns to the Dark Ages

Posted by in categories: education, ethics, events, geopolitics, information science, physics

I cannot let the day pass without contributing a comment on the incredible ruling of multiple manslaughter on six top Italian geophysicists for not predicting an earthquake that left 309 people dead in 2009. When those who are entrusted with safeguarding humanity (be it on a local level in this case) are subjected to persecution when they fail to do so, despite acting in the best of their abilities in an inaccurate science, we have surely returned to the dark ages where those who practice science are demonized by the those who misunderstand it.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/10/20121022151851442575.html

I hope I do not misrepresent other members of staff here at The Lifeboat Foundation, in speaking on behalf of the Foundation in wishing these scientists a successful appeal against a court ruling which has shocked the scientific community, and I stand behind the 5,000 members of the scientific community who sent an open letter to Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano denouncing the trial. This court ruling was ape-mentality at its worst.

Oct 22, 2012

New whitepaper on Nuclear Industrial Safety

Posted by in categories: engineering, existential risks, nuclear energy, transparency

New whitepaper/critique on Nuclear Industrial Safety — International Nuclear Services Putting Buisness Before Safety and Other Essays on Nuclear Safety — Asserts specific concern over the 2038 clock-wrap issue in old UNIX/IBM Control Systems. This is an aggregation of previous contributions to Lifeboat Foundation on the topic of Nuclear Safety.

http://environmental-safety.webs.com/apps/blog/

http://environmental-safety.webs.com/nuclear_essays.pdf

Comments welcome.