March 25, 2005

Links for March 25, 2005

In Search of the Sixth Sense (Fast Company)
In this expanded interview transcript, inventor Ray Kurzweil discusses birth, death, and the potential offered by non-biological thinking processes.

Rocket Plane Venture Star (The Space Review)
David Urie was chief engineer for VentureStar and, now, Rocketplane. In the first part of an extended interview with Sam Dinkin, Urie talks about the operational and engineering issues associated with the Rocketplane XP.

How to Talk to Aliens (ChessBase)
Teach 'em chess.

At War With Their Bodies, They Seek to Sever Limbs (NY Times)
Body integrity identity disorder.

Elephants Can Mimic Traffic, Other Noises, Study Says (Nat'l Geographic)
It isn't only children playing with toy cars who make engine noises. Elephants produce a similar roar, though in their case it's the rumble of trucks on an African highway that the animals imitate, scientists say.

Strategies In “War On Drugs” Need To Be Reassessed (RAND)
Anti-drug policies in the past two decades have not been a principal influence on illegal drug use and need to be more carefully tailored to address changing drug use trends.

Is Terri Schiavo Minimally Conscious? (Reason)
And does it matter? -- Ronald Bailey

Are We Ready for Robots? (Tech Central Stupid)
As advances in robot design continue, we'll be confronted with the same conundrum we face in biotechnology: not how far can we go but how far should we go?

Scientists May Use Mammoth Cells for Cloning (IOL)
A group of Russian and Japanese scientists hope to clone mammoths from remains by using elephant egg cells.

13 Things That Do Not Make Sense (New Scientist)
New Scientist highlights some of the great mysteries facing science.

Complex Instincts (The Engineer Online)
Roboticist Tony Prescott believes that the development of robots will play an important role in the search for answers to one of the most fundamental mysteries of life: The workings of the vertebrate brain.

Corpses Frozen for Future Rebirth by Arizona Company (Nat'l Geographic)
At the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, 67 bodies—mostly just severed heads—lay cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen, waiting for the day when science can reanimate them.

Forget Me Not (Slate)
The U.S. Memory Championship shows the radical potential for the capacity of human memory and the prospects for memory enhancement.

Asexual Healing (Utne)
"Baby, when I think about you, I think about l-o-o-ve." So begins the hoary ballad by Bad Company, a British band whose "Feel Like Makin' Love" has been a sleazy anthem for the horny masses since 1975. But what if you think about other people and feel like making lunch? There is a minority group out there that has absolutely no interest affirming love by exchanging bodily fluids. Coalescing on the Internet, this small but increasingly vocal faction claims to be perfectly healthy and happy not to be getting any."

Methuselah Mouse Man (Slate)
Aubrey de Grey is helping humans live forever, whether or not he's a real biologist.
By Paul Boutin

Now Here's a Foundation for Bioethics: I Saw it on Star Trek! (Bioethics Blog)

A fireball created in a particle accelerator bears a striking resemblance to a black hole - but thankfully not the sort that could consume the Earth (New Scientist)

Welcome to Doomsday (NY Books)
"There are times when what we journalists see and intend to write about dispassionately sends a shiver down the spine, shaking us from our neutrality. This has been happening to me frequently of late as one story after another drives home the fact that the delusional is no longer marginal but has come in from the fringe to influence the seats of power. We are witnessing today a coupling of ideology and theology that threatens our ability to meet the growing ecological crisis. Theology asserts propositions that need not be proven true, while ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The combination can make it impossible for a democracy to fashion real-world solutions to otherwise intractable challenges." -- Bill Moyers

Italian, US cosmologists present explanation for accelerating expansion of the universe (Eurekalert)
Was Einstein right when he said he was wrong?

Noted Inventor and Developer in the Area of Artificial Intelligence, Disputes Contentions of Celebrated Inventors Ray Kurzweil and Jeff Hawkins (Yahoo News)
During a recent invited talk at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, noted physicist, inventor and developer in the area of Artificial Intelligence, Stephen Thaler, PhD, disputed the claims of Ray Kurzweil and Jeff Hawkins that useful artificial intelligence is futuristic.

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