"Since then, Dr. Crick has been a tireless champion of the brain. In a 1979 editorial in Scientific American, he argued that the time had come for science to take on the previously forbidden subject of consciousness.
In his 1994 book 'The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul,' he went further. 'You,' he wrote, 'your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.' He outlined an empirical approach focusing on visual consciousness.
His ideas have formed the inspiration for Dr. Koch's research at Caltech: the goal is to find 'the neural correlates of consciousness,' or N.C.C.'s � the neuronal states and processes associated with conscious awareness. Dr. Koch and his graduate students are finally gaining experimental evidence for what Dr. Crick had termed the 'awareness neurons' that enable us to see...
...One potential application, he says, is some kind of instrument for measuring its intensity, perhaps a "consciousometer." Anesthesiologists might use it to determine when a patient under sedation is truly out. But in his book, Dr. Koch also raises the possibility of more troubling uses, including measuring the awareness levels of severely retarded children and elderly patients with dementia.
Or, he asks, "How do we know that a newborn baby is conscious?" Perhaps consciousness is something that doesn't begin at birth, he said, but gradually emerges.
"This research is going to pose enormous legal and ethical questions," Dr. Koch acknowledged in the recent interview.
"I'm not convinced that people want to know how consciousness works," he said. "They feel cast out of the world of meaning."
Having solved one of the basic mysteries of life here on Earth, Dr. Crick seems happy to skewer any notions of a life beyond. For him, the most profound implication of an operational understanding of consciousness is that "it will lead to the death of the soul."
"The view of ourselves as `persons' is just as erroneous as the view that the Sun goes around the Earth," he said. He predicted that "this sort of language will disappear in a few hundred years."
"In the fullness of time," he continued, "educated people will believe there is no soul independent of the body, and hence no life after death."
"A US geophysicist has set the scientific world ablaze by claiming to have cracked a holy grail: accurate earthquake prediction, and warning that a big one will hit southern California by Sept 5.Why do people keep trying to find a finite universe? Used to be they were all excited about a 'torgue' shaped universe, then a 'soccor ball', and now a horn of plenty:
Russian-born University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok says he can foresee major quakes by tracking minor temblors and historical patterns in seismic hotspots that could indicate more violent shaking is on the way.
And he has made a chilling prediction that a quake measuring at least 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale will hit a 31,200-square-kilometre area of southern California by September 5.
The team at UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics accurately predicted a 6.5-magnitude quake in central California last December as well as an 8.1-magnitude temblor that struck the Japanese island of Hokkaido in September.
'Earthquake prediction is called the Holy Grail of earthquake science, and has been considered impossible by many scientists,' said Keilis-Borok, 82."
"Could the Universe be shaped like a medieval horn? It may sound like a surrealist's dream, but according to Frank Steiner at the University of Ulm in Germany, recent observations hint that the cosmos is stretched out into a long funnel, with a narrow tube at one end flaring out into a bell. It would also mean that space is finite.Space exploration and Ray Bradbury (what else is there to say?):
Adopting such an apparently outlandish model could explain two puzzling observations. The first is the pattern of hot and cold spots in the cosmic microwave background radiation, which shows what the Universe looked like just 380,000 years after the Big Bang."...
...In the model, technically called a Picard topology, the Universe curves in a strange way. One end is infinitely long, but so narrow that it has a finite volume. At the other end, the horn flares out, but not for ever - if you could fly towards the flared end in a spaceship, at some point you would find yourself flying back in on the other side of the horn (see Diagram)...
...And the idea has another advantage. In the flat space of conventional cosmology, the smallest blobs on microwave sky maps ought to be round. But they are not. "If you look at the small structures, they look like little ellipses," says Steiner. The curve of the horn-shaped universe could be just right to explain this. If you look at any little piece of the horn, it is saddle-shaped like a Pringles potato chip - curving down in one direction and up in the perpendicular one. This "negatively curved" space would act like a warped lens, distorting the image of round primordial blobs in a way that makes them look elliptical to us. Mathematicians can construct an infinite number of different kinds of negatively curved space, most of them with one or more horns, and many of which might fit the data, but the Picard topology is one of the simplest.
"Human exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond will move humanity past terror and war, much like earlier voyages found a new world for Europeans mired in conflict 500 years ago, science fiction author Ray Bradbury told a presidential commission Thursday.First it was face recognition systems, now we get building recognition systems:
Bradbury, who wrote about the human colonization of Mars in 'The Martian Chronicles,' praised President Bush's initiative that would return humans to the moon by 2020 and to the Red Planet after that. He said such a program would inspire children and adults.
The legendary writer, still starry-eyed and looking to the future at 83, was met with skeptical questions by some on the commission that will later this year report on strategies for implementing the president's plan.
Commissioner Paul Spudis, a visiting scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, said Americans tend to be very practical and pragmatic. He asked how space exploration could be sold to the 'practical side' of the American public.
'If you sell it on the basis of a new freedom, a new movement away from the politics and horror and terror on Earth, I think people will recognize how (important) that is,' Bradbury said via a satellite link from Los Angeles."
"For a small fee, photo recognition software on a remote server works out precisely where you are, and sends back directions that will get you to your destination.
You are lost in a foreign city, you don't speak the language and you are late for your meeting. What do you do? Take out your cellphone, photograph the nearest building and press send.
For a small fee, photo recognition software on a remote server works out precisely where you are, and sends back directions that will get you to your destination. That, at least, is what two researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK hope their software will one day be used for.
Roberto Cipolla and Duncan Robertson have developed a program that can match a photograph of a building to a database of images. The database contains a three-dimensional representation of the real-life street, so the software can work out where the user is standing to within one metre."