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“There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.”

David Attenborough

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The European Southern Observatory has just released this image of the Lagoon Nebula, 100-light-year-wide stellar nursery where bright new stars are constantly being formed. Lying at a distance of about 5000 light years from Earth, the Lagoon Nebula can be seen with the naked eye as a faint smudge in the Sagittarius constellation. The image was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile, a powerful visible light telescope that is currently imaging wide stretches of the night sky.

The European Southern Observatory has just released this image of the Lagoon Nebula, 100-light-year-wide stellar nursery where bright new stars are constantly being formed. Lying at a distance of about 5000 light years from Earth, the Lagoon Nebula can be seen with the naked eye as a faint smudge in the Sagittarius constellation. The image was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile, a powerful visible light telescope that is currently imaging wide stretches of the night sky.

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Quantum computing is thought to revolutionize the way information is processed and is considered to be the current frontier of computer science. John Preskill, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, explains the science behind this revolutionary technology.

“Why is there space rather than no space? Why is space three-dimensional? Why is space big? We have a lot of room to move around in. How come it’s not tiny? We have no consensus about these things. We’re still exploring them.”

Leonard Susskind

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Science is fascinating not just because of the way it changes our perceptions of the world but also because of all the ethical questions it raises. Recently, advancements in neuroscience in particular have not only told us more about how our brain works but also lead to many heated ethical debates. Here are some of the moral issues that may arise as our knowledge of the human brain expands: 

1) Using Neuroscience to predict people’s behaviors or actions
Will my Dad or I get Alzheimers? Is this individual more likely to commit a crime? Does the person applying for this job have the right type of brain for it? Such questions will not only have big effects on preventative therapy but may also restructure our entire justice system. 

2)Mind Reading
This is not as impossible as it sounds. A recent study involving MIT undergraduates was able to tell when they were visualizing a face or a place with 85 percent accuracy, for example. Lie detection, in particular, raises innumerable ethical questions with the justice system. Its even more interesting to consider how the way we think will start changing as mind-reading technologies advance. 

3)Using Neuroscience to determine whether people have free will
Fascinatingly, neuroscientists are still not completely sure whether or not we possess free will and a lot of them worry that the effect of this knowledge will make the court system irrelevant.  We already make exceptions for cases where an individual acted under an uncontrollable influence such as a brain tumors (“my brain made me do it”). So where do we truly draw the line between a criminal who committed a crime with free will and one who didn’t? 

4)Using Neuroscience to enhance our abilities
In the future, we may be able to do this either by taking drugs that influence our brain chemistry or by integrating digital components into our brains. Is any of this fair to individual who choose not to take advantage of this? How do we start to judge talent? Will people who can’t afford such technologies be at a disadvantage? 

There’s not doubt that we’re seeing incredible advancements in neuroscience and other fields. But it’s important to not only make these advancements happen but also explore the impacts they can have on our society.

Science is fascinating not just because of the way it changes our perceptions of the world but also because of all the ethical questions it raises. Recently, advancements in neuroscience in particular have not only told us more about how our brain works but also lead to many heated ethical debates. Here are some of the moral issues that may arise as our knowledge of the human brain expands:

1) Using Neuroscience to predict people’s behaviors or actions
Will my Dad or I get Alzheimers? Is this individual more likely to commit a crime? Does the person applying for this job have the right type of brain for it? Such questions will not only have big effects on preventative therapy but may also restructure our entire justice system.

2)Mind Reading
This is not as impossible as it sounds. A recent study involving MIT undergraduates was able to tell when they were visualizing a face or a place with 85 percent accuracy, for example. Lie detection, in particular, raises innumerable ethical questions with the justice system. Its even more interesting to consider how the way we think will start changing as mind-reading technologies advance.

3)Using Neuroscience to determine whether people have free will
Fascinatingly, neuroscientists are still not completely sure whether or not we possess free will and a lot of them worry that the effect of this knowledge will make the court system irrelevant. We already make exceptions for cases where an individual acted under an uncontrollable influence such as a brain tumors (“my brain made me do it”). So where do we truly draw the line between a criminal who committed a crime with free will and one who didn’t?

4)Using Neuroscience to enhance our abilities
In the future, we may be able to do this either by taking drugs that influence our brain chemistry or by integrating digital components into our brains. Is any of this fair to individual who choose not to take advantage of this? How do we start to judge talent? Will people who can’t afford such technologies be at a disadvantage?

There’s not doubt that we’re seeing incredible advancements in neuroscience and other fields. But it’s important to not only make these advancements happen but also explore the impacts they can have on our society.

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Why is Stephen Hawing the most celebrated living scientist? In this awesome animation for The Guardian, UK-based animation studio Scriberia condenses Hawking’s revolutionary theories down to 150 seconds. 

“Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.”

Isaac Asimov

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Progress in AI and Robotics
"We have a huge potential to create increased productivity in the home and release us from the daily drudgery to increase productivity, increase the global economic output, but it’s really when you combine AI & Robotics together that you have magic happening." - Peter Diamandis 
Peter Diamandis is right to point out that because of advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics, the next few decades are going to be revolutionary. We’re talking about extraordinary impacts on society and our individual lives. We’re talking about technologies that will make our current ones seem rather like stone tools. 
Its both frightening and thrilling to consider that at the current rate of Moore’s Law it’s estimated that the average laptop will be computing at the rate of the human mind in less than 15 years. In other words, we’re going to start to seeing super computers with the capability of the human brain now in this next year or two. This would not only give rise to a whole array of ethical issues and dilemmas, but also dramatic shifts in the workplace, our personal lives and society as a whole. In simple terms, this is going to change the world. 
I mean think about it, if these supercomputers pass the Turing test as self-aware, would we consider them human? Would they get human rights? How will we get to treat them? What if we we’re to upload our individual human consciousness and memories onto these computers? Would we then be human or computer? 
There is no doubt though, as Diamandis himself points out, that we have huge potential to create increased innovation, productivity and global economic if we use the technology the right way. We have the potential to truly push our species forward and become even more extraordinary. 

Progress in AI and Robotics

"We have a huge potential to create increased productivity in the home and release us from the daily drudgery to increase productivity, increase the global economic output, but it’s really when you combine AI & Robotics together that you have magic happening." - Peter Diamandis 

Peter Diamandis is right to point out that because of advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics, the next few decades are going to be revolutionary. We’re talking about extraordinary impacts on society and our individual lives. We’re talking about technologies that will make our current ones seem rather like stone tools. 

Its both frightening and thrilling to consider that at the current rate of Moore’s Law it’s estimated that the average laptop will be computing at the rate of the human mind in less than 15 years. In other words, we’re going to start to seeing super computers with the capability of the human brain now in this next year or two. This would not only give rise to a whole array of ethical issues and dilemmas, but also dramatic shifts in the workplace, our personal lives and society as a whole. In simple terms, this is going to change the world. 

I mean think about it, if these supercomputers pass the Turing test as self-aware, would we consider them human? Would they get human rights? How will we get to treat them? What if we we’re to upload our individual human consciousness and memories onto these computers? Would we then be human or computer? 

There is no doubt though, as Diamandis himself points out, that we have huge potential to create increased innovation, productivity and global economic if we use the technology the right way. We have the potential to truly push our species forward and become even more extraordinary. 

“Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.”

Issac Asimov 

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Brilliant

Brilliant

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Are there certain character traits that all geniuses have in common? James Gelick, who wrote a biography of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman, points out that you can’t generalize the personality traits of a genius but according to him, there is one thing that most do have in common.

According to Gleick, both men possessed some sort of “aloneness”. In other words, when it came to making the great discoveries of science, both men were alone in their head. This also interestingly applies to other great minds like Charles Babbage, Alan Turing and Ada Byron. Gleick points out that such geniuses had "the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals like me to grasp." 

Gelick is both right and wrong in many ways as the very definition of genius is debatable. It is justified to say that Newton and Feynman were of the same category of “genius” in that were both talented when it came to scientific and analytical thinking. It is perfectly possible that other great minds with different talents, such as extraordinary artists and athletes, think and work very differently.

There are so many different ways of being a genius that it’s almost impossible to come up with fixed character traits to define it.

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Once again, researchers have been left baffled by the sheer diversity of life in the ocean. This time it was by discovering that biofluorescence in fish is actually quite common: They identified 180 different species of fluorescent fish, from 50 different families. The researchers found fish that naturally emit neon red, green and orange light. 
Even more fascinating is this question: What is the purpose, or evolutionary advantage, or glowing in the dark when you are a marine animal? Scientists think that the fluorescence may allow individuals of the same species to recognize one other, like a kind of glowing uniform that may not be detectable by certain predators.

Once again, researchers have been left baffled by the sheer diversity of life in the ocean. This time it was by discovering that biofluorescence in fish is actually quite common: They identified 180 different species of fluorescent fish, from 50 different families. The researchers found fish that naturally emit neon red, green and orange light. 

Even more fascinating is this question: What is the purpose, or evolutionary advantage, or glowing in the dark when you are a marine animal? Scientists think that the fluorescence may allow individuals of the same species to recognize one other, like a kind of glowing uniform that may not be detectable by certain predators.

“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

Max Planck

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"To my dearest daughter,
Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me. Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know? How do we know, for instance, that the stars, which look like tiny pinpricks in the sky, are really huge balls of fire like the Sun and very far away? And how do we know that the Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the Sun?The answer to these questions is ‘evidence’.” 
Above is an extract from the wonderfully thoughtful letter that Richard Dawkins wrote to his daughter on her 10th birthday. Within the letter, he talks to her about the importance of critical thinking and offers a superb definition of science. He then goes on to talk about the three bad reasons to believe in anything: “tradition,” “authority,” and “revelation” .  He also deals with the issue of love and the evidence of experience. This letter is proof that it’s never too early to start thinking critically. 

"To my dearest daughter,

Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me. Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know? How do we know, for instance, that the stars, which look like tiny pinpricks in the sky, are really huge balls of fire like the Sun and very far away? And how do we know that the Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the Sun?The answer to these questions is ‘evidence’.” 

Above is an extract from the wonderfully thoughtful letter that Richard Dawkins wrote to his daughter on her 10th birthday. Within the letter, he talks to her about the importance of critical thinking and offers a superb definition of science. He then goes on to talk about the three bad reasons to believe in anything: “tradition,” “authority,” and “revelation” .  He also deals with the issue of love and the evidence of experience. This letter is proof that it’s never too early to start thinking critically. 

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10 awesome things you should know about space travel.