A soul might very well exist, but we, as physicists, try to measure and quantify everything. So far, no one has been able to create an experiment to do this for the soul. Efforts have been made to weigh the body after death, but each time we find no evidence of a soul. So a soul may very well exist, but it is not a testable theory.
The job market of the future will consist of those jobs that robots cannot perform. Our blue-collar work is pattern recognition, making sense of what you see. Gardeners will still have jobs because every garden is different. The same goes for construction workers. The losers are white-collar workers, low-level accountants, brokers, and agents.
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There are so many wonders awaiting us. If we can upload memories, then we might be able to combat Alzheimers, as well as create a brain-net of memories and emotions to replace the internet, which would revolutionize entertainment, the economy, and our way of life. Maybe even to help us live forever, and send consciousness into outer space.
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It's humbling to realise that the developmental gulf between a miniscule ant colony and our modern human civilisation is only a tiny fraction of the distance between a Type 0 and a Type III civilisation - a factor of 100 billion billion, in fact. Yet we have such a highly regarded view of ourselves, we believe a Type III civilisation would find us irresistible and would rush to make contact with us. The truth is, however, they may be as interested in communicating with humans as we are keen to communicate with ants.
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The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative...
"Did God have a mother?" Children, when told that God made the heavens and the earth, innocently ask whether God had a mother. This deceptively simple question has stumped the elders of the church and embarrassed the finest theologians, precipitating some of the thorniest theological debates over the centuries. All the great religions have elaborate mythologies surrounding the divine act of Creation, but none of them adequately confronts the logical paradoxes inherent in the question that even children ask.
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Once again, my colleague Stephen Hawking has upset the apple cart. The event horizon surrounding a black hole was once though to be an imaginary sphere. But recent theories indicate that it may actually be physical, maybe even a sphere of fire. But I don't trust any of these calculations until we have a full-blown string theory calculation, since Einstein's theory by itself is incomplete.
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Chances are, the aliens will not want to land on our backyard, or even the White House lawn, with their flying saucers. They may have tiny, robotic self-replicating probes which can reach near light speed and can proliferate around the galaxy. So instead of the Enterprise and huge star ships, the aliens might actually send tiny probes to explore the universe. One might land on our lawn and we won't even know.
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Srinivasa Ramanujan was the strangest man in all of mathematics, probably in the entire history of science. He has been compared to a bursting supernova, illuminating the darkest, most profound corners of mathematics, before being tragically struck down by tuberculosis at the age of 33... Working in total isolation from the main currents of his field, he was able to rederive 100 years' worth of Western mathematics on his own. The tragedy of his life is that much of his work was wasted rediscovering known mathematics.
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In altre parole, uno degli scopi fondamentali delle emozioni e¨ fornirci una scala di valori, in modo da poter scegliere che cosa e¨ importante, costoso, bello o prezioso. In assenza di emozioni tutto ci sembrerebbe uguale, quindi ci ritroveremmo nella situazione paralizzante di non riuscire a compiere una scelta. Gli scienziati stanno quindi cominciando a capire che le emozioni, lungi dall'essere un lusso, sono uno dei fondamenti dell'intelligenza.
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Beyond work and love, I would add two other ingredients that give meaning to life. First, to fulfill whatever talents we are born with. However blessed we are by fate with different abilities and strengths, we should try to develop them to the fullest, rather than allow them to atrophy and decay. We all know individuals who did not fulfill the promise they showed in childhood. Many of them became haunted by the image of what they might have become. Instead of blaming fate, I think we should accept ourselves as we are and try to fulfill whatever dreams are within our capability. Second, we should try to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. As individuals, we can make a difference, whether it is to probe the secrets of Nature, to clean up the environment and work for peace and social justice, or to nurture the inquisitive, vibrant spirit of the young by being a mentor and a guide.
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[On the practical applications of particle physics research with the Large Hadron Collider.] Sometimes the public says, 'What's in it for Numero Uno? Am I going to get better television reception? Am I going to get better Internet reception?' Well, in some sense, yeah... All the wonders of quantum physics were learned basically from looking at atom-smasher technology... But let me let you in on a secret: We physicists are not driven to do this because of better color television... That's a spin-off. We do this because we want to understand our role and our place in the universe.
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After that cancellation [of the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas, after $2 billion had been spent on it], we physicists learned that we have to sing for our supper... The Cold War is over. You can't simply say 'Russia!' to Congress, and they whip out their checkbook and say, 'How much?' We have to tell the people why this atom-smasher is going to benefit their lives.
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Something as superfluous as "play" is also an essential feature of our consciousness. If you ask children why they like to play, they will say, "Because it's fun." But that invites the next question: What is fun? Actually, when children play, they are often trying to reenact complex human interactions in simplified form. Human society is extremely sophisticated, much too involved for the developing brains of young children, so children run simplified simulations of adult society, playing games such as doctor, cops and robber, and school. Each game is a model that allows children to experiment with a small segment of adult behavior and then run simulations into the future. (Similarly, when adults engage in play, such as a game of poker, the brain constantly creates a model of what cards the various players possess, and then projects that model into the future, using previous data about people's personality, ability to bluff, etc. The key to games like chess, cards, and gambling is the ability to simulate the future. Animals, which live largely in the present, are not as good at games as humans are, especially if they involve planning. Infant mammals do engage in a form of play, but this is more for exercise, testing one another, practicing future battles, and establishing the coming social pecking order rather than simulating the future.)
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A hundred years ago, Auguste Comte, ... a great philosopher, said that humans will never be able to visit the stars, that we will never know what stars are made out of, that that's the one thing that science will never ever understand, because they're so far away. And then, just a few years later, scientists took starlight, ran it through a prism, looked at the rainbow coming from the starlight, and said: "Hydrogen!" Just a few years after this very rational, very reasonable, very scientific prediction was made, that we'll never know what stars are made of.
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It would take a civilization far more advanced than ours, unbelievably advanced, to begin to manipulate negative energy to create gateways to the past. But if you could obtain large quantities of negative energy-and that's a big 'IF'-then you could create a time machine that apparently obeys Einstein's equation and perhaps the laws of quantum theory.
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Physicists often quote from T. H. White's epic novel The Once and Future King , where a society of ants declares, 'Everything not forbidden is compulsory.' In other words, if there isn't a basic principle of physics forbidding time travel, then time travel is necessarily a physical possibility. (The reason for this is the uncertainty principle. Unless something is forbidden, quantum effects and fluctuations will eventually make it possible if we wait long enough. Thus, unless there is a law forbidding it, it will eventually occur.)
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Recent brain scans have shed light on how the brain simulates the future. These simulation are done mainly in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the CEO of the brain, using memories of the past. On one hand, simulations of the future may produce outcomes that are desirable and pleasurable, in which case the pleasure centers of the brain light up (in the nucleus accumbens and the hypothalamus). On the other hand, these outcomes may also have a downside to them, so the orbitofrontal cortex kicks in to warn us of possible dancers. There is a struggle, then, between different parts of the brain concerning the future, which may have desirable and undesirable outcomes. Ultimately it is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that mediates between these and makes the final decisions. (Some neurologists have pointed out that this struggle resembles, in a crude way, the dynamics between Freud's ego, id, and superego.)
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These computer simulations try only to duplicate the interactions between the cortex and the thalamus. Huge chunks of the brain are therefore missing. Dr. [Dharmendra] Modha understands the enormity of his project. His ambitious research has allowed him to estimate what it would take to create a working model of the entire human brain, and not just a portion or a pale version of it, complete with all parts of the neocortex and connections to the senses. He envisions using not just a single Blue Gene computer [with over a hundred thousand processors and terabytes of RAM] but thousands of them, which would fill up not just a room but an entire city block. The energy consumption would be so great that you would need a thousand-megawatt nuclear power plant to generate all the electricity. And then, to cool off this monstrous computer so it wouldn't melt, you would need to divert a river and send it through the computer circuits. It is remarkable that a gigantic, city-size computer is required to simulate a piece of human tissue that weighs three pounds, fits inside your skull, raises your body temperature by only a few degrees, uses twenty watts of power, and needs only a few hamburgers to keep it going.
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The real bottleneck is software. Creating software can be done only the old-fashioned way. A human -sitting quietly in a chair with a pencil, paper and laptop- is going to have to write the codes... One can mass-produce hardware and increase it's power by piling on more and more chips, but you cannot mass-produce the brain.
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In science fiction, telepaths often communicate across language barriers, since thoughts are considered to be universal. However, this might not be true. Emotions and feelings may well be nonverbal and universal, so that one could telepathically send them to anyone, but rational thinking is so closely tied to language that it is very unlikely that complex thoughts could be sent across language barriers. Words will still be sent telepathically in their original language.
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Wormholes were first introduced to the public over a century ago in a book written by an Oxford mathematician. Perhaps realizing that adults might frown on the idea of multiply connected spaces, he wrote the book under a pseudonym and wrote it for children. His name was Charles Dodgson, his pseudonym was Lewis Carroll, and the book was Through The Looking Glass.
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...the laws of physics, carefully constructed after thousands of years of experimentation, are nothing but the laws of harmony one can write down for strings and membranes. The laws of chemistry are the melodies that one can play on these strings. the universe is a symphony of strings. And the "Mind of God," which Einstein wrote eloquently about, is cosmic music resonating throughout hyperspace.
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