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Cognitive Science

Henry James: Cognitive Introspector-in-Chief

I look forward to unpacking and reflecting on this passage from Henry James’s The American:

His smile went through two or three curious phases. It felt, apparently, a momentary impulse to broaden; but this it immediately checked. Then it remained for some instants taking counsel with itself, at the end of which it decreed a retreat. It slowly effaced itself and left a look of seriousness modified by the desire not to be rude.



David J. Linden – The Accidental Mind: Point of Inquiry Interview

David Linden

David Linden

An new interview with neuroscientist David J. Linden provides some physiological context and grounding for reconsidering and thinking anew about what it means to be human.

From the Point of Inquiry introduction:

In this broad discussion with D.J. Grothe, David Linden challenges widespread beliefs about the brain, such as that people only use ten percent of it and that it is amazingly designed, arguing instead that the brain is “accidental.” . . . He discusses the neuron, and how it is a “lousy processor of information,” describing how evolution has nonetheless used it to build “clever us.” He talks about how our brains have constrained us, and may have physically led to the necessity of marriage, family and long childhoods. . . . And he argues that the brain has evolved to make everyone a “believer,” describing the similarities between belief in science and in religion, that both are similar “branches of the same cognitive stream.”

Click here for the complete Point of Inquiry introduction and links to the interview and the iTunes subscription page for P.O.I.


Ken Wilber – The Asimov of Consciousness

The life and career of Ken Wilber is nothing if not interesting. A google search will reveal that episodes and chapters of recent years involve Wilber losing former fans, readers, followers, and promoters. Why? Ken Wilber is a scholar, critic, teacher, observer, and prolific writer who has written extensively and critically about science, psychology, religion, and philosophy–eastern as well as western. But he is not himself a peer of those whose writings and work he reports and critiques. This leaves profoundly disappointed many of those who take him to be or want him to be taken seriously by evolutionary biologists, academic philosophers, and practicing psychologists and neurobiologists. Wilber is an incredibly well-informed critical analyst and popularizer of the subjects he writes about, but he is not a practicing expert in any of them. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Would it be so bad to begin thinking of Wilber as a critical writer whose essential role is to popularize promising lines of thought and research as they appear on the scene. He would make an interesting talking head on MSNBC or CNN. There is a place and a need for someone who can do for philosophy, evolutionary biology, brain research, and consciousness studies what Isaac Asimov did for the subjects he took up. Why not think of Ken Wilber as the Isaac Asimov of consciousness?

During the past 5 years or so, since the founding of his Integral Institute, Wilber left behind his erstwhile reclusive, private lifestyle to take up a very public, visible role in the activities of the Institute and its related enterprises. How it will all turn out remains an open question. Currently there are serious controversies dogging the Institute and Wilber. One of the biggest problems confronting Wilber is his unwillingness to engage his critics (many of them would-be sympathetic colleagues and students) in good faith argument and discussion.

A growing number of those who have been reading Ken Wilber since the mid-1970s have begun to compare his writings with the writings of figures in various other disciplines and subjects–evolution, Buddhism and Eastern philosophy, western philosophy, politics, literature, the arts in general. A growing number of these readers are coming to see that Wilber’s ideas are not all that original. OK. No blame there. Original ideas are hard to come by. But, as noted above, Wilber should not be taken as an exponent of original, cutting edge research and thought. Instead, Wilber writes critically about cutting edge research in science, philosophy, and psychology. Other venues and media Wilber uses to get his material to the public include his Integral Institute and regularly recorded and published interviews available on the internet and the What is Enlightenment magazine quarterly.

Wilber’s originality lies in his having mapped truly vast amounts of content from various philosophical, religious, psychological, and scientific systems of thought. But his claims and assertions for the applicability of his ideas (those of his AQAL model in particular) to not just psychology and philosophy but to politics, religion, education, law, art, business, acting, theatre, film, and ecology belie a premature, grandiose sense of their validity and importance.

In the mid 00s a number of readers and students of Wilber’s writings began to criticize his tone and style, characterizing it as arrogant, pompous, patronizing, and elitist. Some also commented on how annoyingly repetitive his writings had become. And others noted that in his otherwise interesting recorded and published interviews and dialogues, Wilber exhibits an annoying tendency to do his guest or interlocutor the “favor” of explaining what he or she really meant by translating what was just said into the jargon of AQAL.

OK, so Wilber is human, imperfect. But the situation is a bit more bleak and serious than outlined so far. If becoming repetitive and jargon-prone were all that seemed to signal that Wilber had exhausted his potential, well that would have been unfortunate enough. Events of just a few years ago indicate that Wilber apparently thinks his work deserves the same kind of respect and attention given to that done by practicing psychologists, philosophers, and scientists. But Wilber and his work are not taken seriously by most professional psychologists, philosophers, and scientists and anyone pointing out this fact to Wilber, however directly or indirectly, formally or informally, risks–as you will see shortly–making Wilber quite cranky.

In a infamous series of blog postings in June 2006, Wilber viciously attacked his critics, including one erstwhile sympathetic reader and follower, Frank Visser. Wilber could not apparently tolerate the close reading and criticism Visser was publishing on his website, Integral World. In the first of these blog posts, “What We Are, That We See,” dated June 8, 2006, Wilber threw Visser and other unnamed critics “under the bus” with language so offensive that it is now highly unlikely Wilber can ever hope to communicate to the size and type of audience he may have once aspired to inform and educate.

Footnotes in works of cultural histories to be written in the coming years, decades, and centuries will likely include references to Wilber, including references to the infamous June 8, 2006 blog posting just cited. Towards the end of that post, Wilber lets loose with this spooge of angry, figurative prose that no amount of “context” placement can rescue.

It’s gotten to the point that one critic cringes when I simply use the word “simply” (as in the previous paragraph), because it means something horrible is going to follow. In this case, true; the horrible thing that followed was this critic’s charge. But simply still, I simply cannot stand this simple criticism of simply anything, let alone “simply,” so simply suck my dick, whaddaya say?

Well, enough. Wyatt has got to go back to work now, back to the real world of real problems, problems that beg for integral care and consciousness. And thus. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot to include a violent metaphor. Let me think. Let me think really hard. Okay, Wyatt has got to go back to work now, protecting the true and the good and the beautiful, while slaying partial-ass pervs, ripping their eyes out and pissing in their eye-sockets, using his Zen sword of prajna to cut off the heads of critics so staggeringly little that he has to slow down about 10-fold just to see them . . . and then rip their eyes out and piss in their eye-sockets . . .

In subsequent posts Wilber claimed he was just testing his readers. Apparently anyone unable to see humor in Wilber’s fantasy of murdering, “ripping” the eyes from his slain critics’ eye-sockets, and washing away the blood with his piss is “simply” not evolved enough to appreciate or understand his writings or his mission. Many were not amused. See this page posted by Frank Visser at Integral World for more reactions to Wilber’s June 2006 postings, as well as links to more commentary and criticism.

Wilber started off in the 1970s as a popularizer of the then still relatively little known traditions of eastern thought and philosophy, a la Alan Watts. Like Watts he popularized much important, good stuff. But unlike Watts, in the years subsequent to his early work, Wilber often tries to take credit where none is due. And, as we have just seen, when Wilber doesn’t get the credit, approval, and respect he thinks due him and his work, well–look sharp!

Ken Wilber has been referred to as the Einstein of consciousness. As suggested above, his students, admirers, and those who have yet to discover his writings might be better off–less subject to disappointment and delusion–if they would think of Ken Wilber as the Asimov of consciousness, not its Einstein. Wilber and the fate of his work might fare better as well if he would more modestly assess what he has so far or may yet still accomplish. What follows is suggestive of how Wilber might proceed to more effectively communicate and engage his critics.

An interesting, not often noted fact about Wilber is that he was raised a fundamentalist Christian. A comparison between Wilber’s style of communicating with hostile or unsympathetic readers, listeners, and critics, and the contrasting style and approach of another contemporary writer about science–Edward O. Wilson, might be instructive here. Wilson, like Wilber, was raised a fundamentalist Christian. And, also like Wilber, Wilson often writes with the intention of inspiring and exhorting his readers to behave more responsibly on this small, shared, and very fragile planet.

The CreationHow much more effective Wilber might be if he would in the future adopt something like the approach Wilson uses in his recent The Creation: A Call for Help and an Invitation to Visit the Embattled Natural World in the Company of a Biologist (Norton 2006). Wilson opens The Creation with a chapter entitled “Letter to a Southern Baptist Pastor.” He continues to address this same “Pastor” in subsequent chapters. At the beginning of his “letter,” Wilson acknowledges that he has moved on from believing in a literal interpretation of the creation as found in Genesis to instead believing in the theory of evolution. He then proceeds to condemn the narrow, parochial views of fundamentalist Christianity, especially for its teaching–with little justification that makes sense in the 21st century–that unbelievers are condemned to hell for all eternity, the first “trillion trillion years” of which eternity areenough for the universe to expand to its own, entropic death, time enough for countless universes like it to be born, expand, and likewise die away. And that is just the beginning of how long condemned souls will suffer in hell–all for the mistake they made in the choice of religion during the infinitesmally small time they inhabited Earth.

Who’s more likely to be taken seriously here. Both Wilson and Wilber have moved beyond the fundamentalist beliefs of their youth. Both have spent many years thinking and writing about evolution, and both have devoted years of time and effort to spreading the gospel of evolution. But Wilson is the more effective in his reliance on and devotion to the scientific method and the norms of communicating scientific discoveries to not only his colleagues and peers but the public in general.

Wilber’s story isn’t finished yet. Being compared to Asimov is just a small episode in a much larger story that includes all of us.

This article was originally published on April 25, 2008 on my old, no longer existent, “Narrative Oversight” blog. Shortly after I posted it, Frank Visser wrote to ask me for permission to publish it in the blog section of his “Integral World” website. Six years later (today is August 29, 2014) you can still find it published on “Integral World.”

November 2020
Politics, Culture, Philosophy
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by William Rivers Pitt Read at Unless something truly extraordinary intervenes, we are on the cusp of what could become the bleakest winter in living memory. There are 166 days standing between us and... The post via Mitch McConnell Is Sacrificing the Entire Economy to Impede Biden Administration appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

via Washington Post: Trump’s racist appeals powered a White evangelical tsunami

By Dana Milbank Read at Washington Post As partisans and analysts puzzle over the higher-than-expected turnout for President Trump (nearly 6 million fewer votes than for President-elect Joe Biden, but still high), they are poring over groups... The post via Washington Post: Trump’s racist appeals powered a White evangelical tsunami appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

via Washington Post: This is a massive failure of character among Republicans — with evangelicals out in front

By Michael Gerson Read at Washington Post One of the better speeches I helped produce for George W. Bush was never given. On election night 2000 — standing outside in the rain, at an Austin victory... The post via Washington Post: This is a massive failure of character among Republicans — with evangelicals out in front appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

via Washington Post: Trump’s election challenge looks like a scam to line his pockets

By Dana Milbank Read at Washington Post President Trump isn’t really trying to overturn the election. He’s simply running one more scam before he leaves office that would enable him to enrich himself. That’s the... The post via Washington Post: Trump’s election challenge looks like a scam to line his pockets appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

My family knew the Bush family. Looking back, I can think of nothing that comes close to what Donald Trump is doing to stop President-elect Biden from taking part in Intelligence Briefings to prepare to... The post Trump deserves to be stripped of citizenship and deported appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

Joe, please bore us! Kamala, please heal us!

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The post TO ADMIT WE NEED OUR ENEMIES IS THE ONLY WAY OUT OF OUR 2020 MESS appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

via The Atlantic: The Supreme Court Is Helping Republicans Rig Elections

Adding more justices to the bench might be the only way to stop them. By Adam Serwer For a judge with a brilliant legal mind, Amy Coney Barrett seemed oddly at a loss for words. Does... The post via The Atlantic: The Supreme Court Is Helping Republicans Rig Elections appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

Have confidence in American democracy—we’ll be okay

  Want more political videos and commentary? Show your support. The post Have confidence in American democracy—we’ll be okay appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

via The Washington Post: Seeking power in Jesus’ name: Trump sparks a rise of ‘Patriot Churches’

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The new congregation is gathered in a barn in Lenoir City, Tenn., with a roof that has a 60-foot American flag painted on it. And they are praying for a Trump landslide.... The post via The Washington Post: Seeking power in Jesus’ name: Trump sparks a rise of ‘Patriot Churches’ appeared first on Frank Schaeffer - Official Blog. [...]

Plato - Crito

After having been unjustly convicted of the bogus charges brought against him in that most infamous and influential of trials, Socrates was asked to propose a penalty for himself. Defying everyone's expectations (exile, paying a fine, delivering a public apology, etc.), Socrates claimed he should be rewarded with free room and board at the Prytaneum. This response upset the Athenians so much that an even greater number than those who had originally found him guilty decided the proper sentence should now be death.In the Crito, and against all sorts of arguments—moral, prudential, political, philosophical—urging him to escape this unjust punishment,… [...]

The Philosophy of Christopher Nolan

Ever since I first watched Memento and its fascinating exploration of the philosophical question of personal identity as constituted by memory through time, film director Christopher Nolan has been on my radar. And, Insomnia aside, he has consistently managed to set the bar higher and higher to the point where he stands on a category of cinematographic and philosophical genius all by himself.In addition of being a master of character development, non-linear storytelling and building hair-raising suspense—not to say anything about the pure aesthetic beauty of his films—Nolan is a director of big ideas. There's virtually no film in which he… [...]

Voltaire - Candide

The philosophical problem of evil—the question of how the existence of unnecessary suffering is possible in a world created and sustained by an all-powerful, all-knowing and benevolent deity—has vexed theologians and philosophers for millennia.Apologists have attempted to vindicate God's goodness in various versions of what is known as theodicy. One of the most famous was articulated by the Enlightenment polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Given that he thought the existence of contingent beings requires an explanation that is itself not contingent, Leibniz deployed a really clever argument to prove the metaphysical necessity of the existence of God. Since God was for… [...]

Arrow - A Celebration of Love

Life is hard enough as it is. Existence, in many ways, is suffering. Obviously, some have it much worse than others, and that matters, but at some point in our lives we all experience pain, disease, loss, betrayal. We struggle with existential angst, with the fear of meaninglessness, with questions of character, with the impending coming of oblivion. We struggle to pay rent, to put food on the table, and to have enough energy at the end of the day to make a positive difference in the world.And we don't all find love. Few things make the loneliness of existence… [...]

If 'Despacito' Were Written by an Evo-Devo Biologist

If you are a geek, you are likely to get excited over things others might find boring, laughable, lame, etc. You still like what you like, but you also know when to keep that to yourself.But sometimes you stumble upon something so incredibly brilliant that, no matter what else may be going on in your life, you just have to let your inner geek go nuts. And the following parody of 'Despacito' is just such an instance... [...]

James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley

James Baldwin, the great essayist, poet, civil rights activist, writer and orator, would have turned 93 this week. In order to commemorate the importance of his memory and legacy, we are showcasing today the very famous Cambridge debate in which—while surrounded by an overwhelmingly white audience—he courageously and adeptly defended the proposition that “The American Dream is at the expense of the American negro” against the influential conservative writer William F. Buckley, Jr.Prior to this debate, Buckley had made his reputation as a leading American conservative, at least partly, through his writings opposing the civil rights movement and desegregation, and by… [...]

Genius of the Ancient World - Socrates

Few figures have been more important and influential in the history of civilization than the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. And it's not simply that he was a philosopher either. Despite the importance of the intellectual contributions made by his predecessors, and despite the vast differences between them (just think Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Democritus, etc.), virtually all philosophers who preceded him were ultimately consigned to the category of Pre-Socratics.So what exactly was so special about Socrates that it would be he, and not any of his forerunners, who would be generally recognized to be the first master of philosophy?… [...]

The Presocratics

Anyone who's ever contemplated Raphael's celebrated painting The School of Athens knows that the painting centers, quite literally, around Plato and Aristotle (the former pointing up toward his transcendent Realm of the Forms, while the latter attempts to ground his understanding of reality on a much more naturalistic conception). A quick glance also reveals a few other obvious personalities: Socrates, Diogenes the Cynic, Pythagoras, and Euclid (or perhaps Archimedes?). But if you look even closer, you can see that this painting is also paying homage to the Presocratics, those thinkers who dared to imagine the cosmos might be intelligible to… [...]

President Obama's Farewell Address

As his presidency sadly comes to an end, President Obama delivered last night what is sure to become one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in his already admirable history of powerful and memorable speeches.In a time when democracy, justice, freedom, equality and human rights have come under threat in America—as a right-wing administration inspired by unabashed hatred, divisiveness, racism, xenophobia and greed prepares to take office—President Obama's message is a sober and thoughtful reminder that this experiment in self-governing is not a foregone conclusion but a process that requires permanent work, vigilance and cooperation.Thank you for being an… [...]

John Berger - Ways of Seeing

Art critic John Berger's recent death has left a huge void in the world of art appreciation. While his career prompted numerous controversies and instances of outrage and public condemnation, Berger's attacks on what sometimes amounts to the condescending and elitist attitude of his own profession helped popularize the appreciation of art. His 1972 BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing, as well as its subsequent eponymous book, helped bring the world of thoughtful art appreciation to an entire generation of people who may have otherwise never gotten interested in the fine arts. Unlike conventional forms of art criticism and appreciation—which tend… [...]

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We all have an attitude, says Zen teacher Norman Fischer, our own way of approaching life. You can start to take a bodhisattva’s attitude toward life by practicing generosity and appreciation. The post The Bodhisattva Attitude appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

Enlightenment is everywhere we look, says Joan Sutherland — we can choose to notice it, but at the same time, we can also trust that it will find us, wherever we are. The post Everything Is Enlightenment appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dagri Rinpoche has been declared to have “committed sexual misconduct, which also qualifies as spiritual abuse given his position as a spiritual teacher.” The post Dagri Rinpoche found to have committed sexual misconduct, FPMT states appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

To be without a reference point is the ultimate loneliness. It is also called enlightenment. The post Six Kinds of Loneliness appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

Are we all alone in this world or at one with everything? Nick Walser shines a spotlight on the paradoxical nature of loneliness. The post All Alone or One With Everything? appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

The iconic doll, once notorious for her unattainable body proportions and unabashed materialism, is changing her ways one Buddhist practice at a time. The post Barbie, a Mindfulness Vlogger? appeared first on Lion's Roar. [...]

TREASON: GA Gov. Kemp and CA Gov. Newsom bought off by communist China in covid supplies kickback and money laundering schemes - report

(Natural News) In July of this year, Natural News reported how California Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught wiring half a billion dollars to communist China as part of a “massive face mask money laundering scheme.” Back in April, even the mainstream media was questioning what Newsom was up to when it was revealed that he... [...]

History's tipping points: When is violence the RIGHT answer to tyranny and oppression?

(Natural News) You can’t study history without wondering, in each chapter of government genocide against innocent people, where was the line where violence on the part of the innocent people was the right answer to government tyranny? Where could such violence carried out in self-defense, in other words, actually have saved lives and ended democide?... [...]

Don't want a warp speed vaccine? Fauci says you're a threat to public health

(Natural News) The biggest public health threat facing America today is not the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19), according to Anthony Fauci. It is Americans who are planning to refuse Big Pharma’s fast-approaching experimental Covid-19 vaccines. Speaking to The New York Times in a recent interview, Fauci whined about the fact that tens of millions of Americans... [...]

Governor of Hawaii becomes a tyrannical monarch, threatens $5,000 fine and jail time for people who do not wear masks

(Natural News) During a Facebook live stream, the Governor of Hawaii said it “will be required for everyone in the state of Hawaii to wear a mask when they’re in public, period.” Hawaii Governor David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that noncompliance with his mandatory mask order will be equivalent to a misdemeanor. Anyone caught... [...]

Leftists threaten violence against those supporting honest elections

(Natural News) Officials in Wayne County, Michigan, were on the verge of doing the right thing the other day by deadlocking a vote to certify its obviously fraudulent election results. They ended up backtracking, however, after receiving threats of violence from raging leftists who insist that Joe Biden is the rightful winner. The initial vote... [...]

Georgia election worker caught openly switching Trump votes to Biden

(Natural News) The so-called “recount” currently taking place in Georgia is turning out much like the first one, replete with the same deception and fraud that prompted a recount in the first place. Undercover journalists from Project Veritas were able to gain access to one of the counting rooms near Atlanta where they talked to... [...]

Advice to the unhinged left: Stop calling for revenge against Trump supporters or you’re going to regret what you unleash

(Natural News) With Democrats and the perpetually unhinged leftists who vote for them positively giddy that President Donald Trump may finally be driven from office thanks to massive vote fraud (just like he predicted by the way), many of them are also calling for punishing his legions of supporters for the ‘crime’ of voting for... [...]

Federal court nixes FDA's approval of genetically engineered "Frankenfish"

(Natural News) In a major win for wild salmon, the Court for the Northern District of California ruled on Nov. 5 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ignored potential environmental consequences in its approval of genetically engineered salmon produced by the Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. District Judge Vince Chhabria also said that the FDA violated the National... [...]

North Koreans with COVID-19 thrown into secret "quarantine camps" to die of starvation

(Natural News) A whistleblower recently revealed that coronavirus-infected people in North Korea are sent to “secret” quarantine camps to die. Christian activist Tim Peters said the quarantine camps were set up in cities near the Chinese border and that the North Korean government provided “absolutely minimal or no food or medicine” to people in these camps. Peters... [...]

Internet sleuths use Michigan government website to check for dead voters

(Natural News) Several internet sleuths made use of a Michigan government website to verify if some Democrat voters were deceased. Users from the internet forum 4chan came up with a list of names taken from a Michigan government site, which was taken down for a time. The list from 4chan came amid reports that at... [...]

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One of the Building Blocks of Life Can Form in the Harsh Environment of Deep Space Itself. No Star Required

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Mars Might Have Lost its Water Quickly

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Gravitational lenses could be the key to measuring the expansion rate of the Universe

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Arecibo’s Damage is so Serious and Dangerous, They’re Just Going to Scrap the Observatory Entirely

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A High Resolution, Cross-Eyed Look at the Entire Surface of Mars

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Scientists Have Re-Analyzed Their Data and Still See a Signal of Phosphine at Venus. Just Less of it

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The First Civilization We Contact Will Have Been Around Much Longer Than Humanity

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A 100-Meter Rotating Liquid Mirror Telescope on the Moon? Yes Please.

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Earth and the Moon Might Have Captured an Old Upper Stage Rocket

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There Might Be Water On All Rocky Planets

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Perimeter Institute launches Clay Riddell Centre for Quantum Matter

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CHIME receives Governor General’s Innovation Award

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Perimeter participates in #Strike4BlackLives

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Perimeter among top winners at CCAE Awards

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Four new Simons Emmy Noether Fellows announced

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Anna Golubeva earns Borealis AI Fellowship

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Kevin Costello admitted as Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy

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PI-NRC partnership to fuel made-in-Canada breakthroughsTuesday Mar 03, 2020A new collaboration between Canada's National Research Council and Perimeter Institute will facilitate leading-edge astrophysics and quantum research. [...]

Zebra finches amazing at unmasking the bird behind the song

Like humans who can instantly tell which friend or relative is calling by the timbre of the person's voice, zebra finches have a near-human capacity for language mapping. [...]

Researchers examine which approaches are most effective at reducing COVID-19 spread

Researchers have found that physical distancing is universally effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, while social bubbles and masks are more situation-dependent. The researchers developed a model to test the effectiveness of measures such as physical distancing, masks or social bubbles when used in various settings. [...]

Memories create 'fingerprints' that reveal how the brain is organized

While the broad architecture and organization of the human brain is universal, new research shows how the differences between how people reimagine common scenarios can be observed in brain activity and quantified. These unique neurological signatures could ultimately be used to understand, study, and even improve treatment of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. [...]

A biochemical random number

Scientists have generated a huge true random number using DNA synthesis. It is the first time that a number of this magnitude has been created by biochemical means. [...]

Field geology at Mars' equator points to ancient megaflood

Floods of unimaginable magnitude once washed through Gale Crater on Mars' equator around 4 billion years ago -- a finding that hints at the possibility that life may have existed there, according to data collected by NASA's Curiosity rover. [...]

From the inside out: How the brain forms sensory memories

A new study identifies a region of the thalamus as a key source of signals encoding past experiences in the neocortex. [...]

Healthy sleep habits help lower risk of heart failure

Healthy sleep habits are associated with a lower risk of heart failure. Adults with the healthiest sleep patterns (morning risers, sleeping 7-8 hours a day and no frequent insomnia, snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness) experienced a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to those with unhealthy sleep patterns. [...]

NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts headed to International Space Station

An international crew of astronauts is en route to the International Space Station following a successful launch on the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history. NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off at 7:27 p.m. EST Sunday from Launch Complex 39A at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. [...]

Tree rings may hold clues to impacts of distant supernovas on Earth

Massive explosions of energy happening thousands of light-years from Earth may have left traces in our planet's biology and geology, according to new research. [...]

Climate change causes landfalling hurricanes to stay stronger for longer

Climate change is causing hurricanes that make landfall to take more time to weaken, reports a new study. Researchers showed that hurricanes that develop over warmer oceans carry more moisture and therefore stay stronger for longer after hitting land. This means that in the future, as the world continues to warm, hurricanes are more likely to reach communities farther inland and be more destructive. [...]

The aim of China's Chang'e 5 mission is to return samples of lunar soil to Earth by the end of 2020. The post China Launches Ambitious Sample-Return Mission to the Moon appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

Capella is the sixth-brightest star in the sky — and it's more than one star! The main two stars in the system are near-twins, bright yellow giants. The post Meet Capella, the Goat Star appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

An object set to pass near Earth next month may in fact be a relic of the early Space Age. The post Earth's New "Minimoon" May be a 1960s-Era Rocket Booster appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

What happens when two neutron stars don't add up to a black hole? The post Gamma-ray Flash Heralds Birth of a Magnetar appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

Whenever Fomalhaut is "southing" (crossing the meridian due south), the first stars of Orion are just about to rise above the east horizon. And, the Pointers of the Big Dipper stand upright low due north, straight below Polaris. The post This Week's Sky at a Glance, November 20 – 28 appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The iconic Arecibo telescope, damaged by two cable failures within three months, is beyond repair. The post Iconic Arecibo Telescope Damaged, To Be Dismantled appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

After 16 years, astronomers have figured out the origin of a strange ring of ultraviolet light, and shed light on a common — but rarely observed — event. The post The Case of the Blue Ring Nebula appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The already tentative detection of phosphine is under heavy scrutiny from the scientific community. A problem with the ALMA data hasn't helped. The post Is the Phosphine Biosignature on Venus a Calibration Error? appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

Use high-speed cameras to capture spectacular live views of galaxies and high-res images of the Moon and planets. The post Two Ways to Use Video for Astrophotography appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

Modest but reliable, the annual Leonid meteor shower returns this week. Take an hour or two to relax and enjoy the show. The post Leonid Meteor Shower to the Rescue appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]