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Mar 19, 2018

Just Call Cryogenic Suicide What It Is: Selfie Death

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience, transhumanism

Even if a client isn’t fearful of death and doesn’t buy into the preposterous idea that his consciousness can be revived (scientists aren’t even close to figuring out how memories could possibly be preserved), having his brain preserved and uploaded as a “program” based on the idea that it is worth enough to have future generations maintain it, even interact with it, is the height of arrogance. It’s a self-centered ethos that seeks attention and admiration even after death. Transhumanism involves faith in science, sure, but that’s merely the means to the end.

Transhumanism is a religion of self, embedded with the doctrine of sola feels, all bundled into one medical procedure that literally ends your life.


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Mar 18, 2018

Vanuatu’s Ambae volcano rumbling again

Posted by in category: futurism

Volcanic activity on Vanuatu’s Ambae island has picked up again, with fresh ashfall reported across the island’s west and south.

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Mar 18, 2018

The Limits of Neuroplasticity in the Brian

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, engineering, mapping, neuroscience

One of the #brain’s mysteries is how exactly it reorganizes new #information as you learn new tasks. The standard to date was to test how neurons learned new behavior one #neuron at a time. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh decided to try a different approach. They looked at the population of neurons to see how they worked together while #learning a new behavior. Studying the intracortical population activity in the primary motor cortex of rhesus macaques during short-term learning in a brain–computer interface (BCI) task, they were able to study the reorganization of population during learning. Their new research indicates that when the brain learns a new activity that it is less flexible than previously thought. The researchers were able to draw strong hypothesis about neural reorganization during learning by using BCI. Through the use of BCI the mapping between #neural activity and learning is completely known.

“In this experimental paradigm, we’re able to track all of the neurons that can lead to behavioral improvements and look at how they all change simultaneously,” says Steve Chase, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and the Center for the Neural Basis of #Cognition. “When we do that, what we see is a really constrained set of changes that happen, and it leads to this suboptimal improvement of performance. And so, that implies that there are limits that constrain how flexible your brain is, at least on these short time scales.”

It is often challenging to learn new tasks quickly that require a high level of proficiency. Neural plasticity is even more constrained than previously thought as results of this research indicate.

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Mar 18, 2018

We’ll Never Know For Sure How Everything Began

Posted by in categories: cosmology, singularity

Roughly 13.8 billion years ago, the Universe as we know it expanded from an infinitely hot and dense singularity in space and time, first in a furious torrent of rapid cosmic inflation for a fraction of a second, and then in the more calm manner we see today – gradual, yet accelerating expansion fueled by dark energy.

This fleetingly describes the Big Bang model of cosmology, the most successful theoretical explanation for our grand Universe. Backed by boatloads of observational evidence, we can be very sure of its veracity. Caltech astrophysicist Sean Caroll even described the Big Bang as “100 percent true.”

But that percentage of surety dwindles to nothing when discussing the singularity that supposedly started it all. Where did it come from? What came before it? What caused it to “bang” in such a big way? As Carroll admitted, this singularity and its accompanying “bang” are essentially stand-ins for what we don’t – and currently can’t – actually know.

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Mar 18, 2018

How Light and Genetics may Treat Brain Disorders in the Future

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Imagine being able to treat neurodegenerative diseases and mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, PTSD, depression, and anxiety with non-invasive light-based therapy. This is the quest of pioneering scientists and researchers in optogenetics, an emerging field in biotechnology that uses light to control cells in living tissues such as neurons, in order to study brain function.

British Nobel laureate Francis Crick of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California put forth the concept of the ability to turn the firing of “one or more types of neuron on and off in the alert animal in a rapid manner” by using light as “the ideal signal” in his paper “The impact of molecular biology on neuroscience” published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B in 1999. Crick noted that his concept might be somewhat “far-fetched.” Yet as improbable as it would seem to the brightest minds in science before the turn of the century, this idea was proven in a little over half a decade.

In optogenetics, scientists add genetic code to target tissue, typically a neuron, which enables it to make light-responsive proteins called opsins. Gero Miesenböck and Boris Zemelman published a study in 2002 titled “Selective photostimulation of genetically charged neurons” in Neuron. They used opsin from the retina of a fruit fly to make a neuron light-sensitive. A year later, they demonstrated the use of heterologous proteins to sensitize neurons to light [1]. Peter Hegemann, Georg Nagel and other researchers published their discovery of phototaxis and photophobic responses of green algae in 2002 [2]. In August 2005, MIT neuroscientist Ed. Boyden, PhD, along with Karl Deisseroth, Feng Zhang, Georg Nagel, and Ernst Bamberg published in Nature Neuroscience a landmark breakthrough in optogenetics, “Millisecond-timescale, genetically targeted optical control of neural activity.

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Mar 18, 2018

Babies can get cataracts too, but this stem-cell research could help treat them

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Australian scientists use stem cells to create human eye lens cells, and then grow them into eye lenses, giving hope to children with cataracts.

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Mar 18, 2018

3.0-magnitude earthquake rattles parts of central Oklahoma

Posted by in category: futurism

LANGSTON, Okla. (AP) — A 3.0-magnitude earthquake has shaken parts of central Oklahoma.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was recorded at 1:50 p.m. Sunday about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north-northwest of Langston, which is about 43 miles (69 kilometers) north-northwest of Oklahoma City. The temblor was recorded at a depth of about 3 miles (5.5 kilometers).

No injuries or damage were reported. Geologists say damage is not likely in earthquakes below magnitude 4.0.

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Mar 18, 2018

Uber patent application discusses intention signaling system

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Reaching the highest levels of safety for self-driving cars will depend on how well the cars are engineered to know when communications are needed, and to be able to communicate with other cars, with bikes, with people on foot. Where to go? When to walk?

Uber Technologies has filed a patent toward that end, with a discussion on how might communicate with pedestrians.

The patent title is “Light output system for a .” The patent applicant is Uber Technologies.

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Mar 18, 2018

A painkiller more powerful than morphine is extracted from snail venom

Posted by in category: futurism

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Mar 18, 2018

Russian Scientists Are Devising a Plan to Nuke Asteroids

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics, space

You may have thought, “Hey, if we’re threatened by an incoming asteroid, we should just nuke it!” You’re not alone: a team of Russian scientists are working on a plot to do so, by detonating miniature asteroids in a lab.

In fact, several groups of researchers are now toying with the idea of asteroid nuking for the sake of planetary defense. The Russian team has even calculated about how much firepower they’d need to perform such a feat.

According to the translated paper published in the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics: “Given the scale factor and the results of laboratory experiments, the undeniable destruction of a chondritic asteroid 200 m in diameter by a nuclear explosion with an energy above 3 Mt was shown to be possible.”

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