Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Watch the rest of Niel deGrasse Tyson's interview http://bigthink.com/neildegrassetyson. Neil deGrasse Tyson says Newton's writings defy gravity by making his hair stand up. Question: Who's the greatest physicist in history?DeGrasse Tyson: Isaac Newton. I mean, just look... You read his writings. Hair stands up... I don't have hair there but if I did, it would stand up on the back of my neck. You read his writings, the man was connected to the universe in ways that I never seen another human being connected. It's kind of spooky actually. He discovers the laws of optics, figured out that white light is composed of colors. That's kind of freaky right there. You take your colors of the rainbow, put them back together, you have white light again. That freaked out the artist of the day. How does that work? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet gives you white. The laws of optics. He discovers the laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. Then, a friend of his says, "Well, why do these orbits of the planets... Why are they in a shape of an ellipse, sort of flattened circle? Why aren't... some other shape?" He said, you know, "I can't... I don't know. I'll get back to you." So he goes... goes home, comes back couple of months later, "Here's why. They're actually conic sections, sections of a cone that you cut." And... And he said, "Well, how did find this out? How did you determine this?" "Well, I had to invent integral and differential calculus to determine this." Then, he turned 26. Then, he turned 26. We got people slogging through calculus in college just to learn what it is that Isaac Newtown invented on a dare, practically. So that's my man, Isaac Newton. Question: Who's the greatest physicist in history?DeGrasse Tyson: Isaac Newton. I mean, just look... You read his writings. Hair stands up... I don't have hair there but if I did, it would stand up on the back of my neck. You read his writings, the man was connected to the universe in ways that I never seen another human being connected. It's kind of spooky actually. He discovers the laws of optics, figured out that white light is composed of colors. That's kind of freaky right there. You take your colors of the rainbow, put them back together, you have white light again. That freaked out the artist of the day. How does that work? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet gives you white. The laws of optics. He discovers the laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. Then, a friend of his says, "Well, why do these orbits of the planets... Why are they in a shape of an ellipse, sort of flattened circle? Why aren't... some other shape?" He said, you know, "I can't... I don't know. I'll get back to you." So he goes... goes home, comes back couple of months later, "Here's why. They're actually conic sections, sections of a cone that you cut." And... And he said, "Well, how did find this out? How did you determine this?" "Well, I had to invent integral and differential calculus to determine this." Then, he turned 26. Then, he turned 26. We got people slogging through calculus in college just to learn what it is that Isaac Newtown invented on a dare, practically. So that's my man, Isaac Newton.
Views: 2764190 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Rollins describes the seminal moment when he decided to leave his job as manager of Haagen Dazs to become the lead singer of Black Flag. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd http://bigthink.com/
Views: 3286844 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 We don't really want what we think we desire, says philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
Views: 1444388 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title "scientist" above all other "ists." And yet, he says he is "constantly claimed by atheists." So where does he stand? "Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic." Neil deGrasse Tyson: I'm often asked -- and occasionally in an accusatory way -- "Are you atheist?" And it's like, you know, the only "ist" I am is a scientist, all right? I don't associate with movements. I'm not an "ism." I just - I think for myself. The moment when someone attaches to a philosophy or a movement, then they assign all the baggage and all the rest of the philosophy that goes with it to you, and when you want to have a conversation they will assert that they already know everything important there is to know about you because of that association. And that's not the way to have a conversation. I'm sorry. It's not. I'd rather we explore each other's ideas in real time rather than assign a label to it and assert, you know, what's going to happen in advance. So what people are really after is, what is my stance on religion or spirituality or God? And I would say, if I find a word that came closest it would be agnostic. Agnostic -- the word dates from the 19th century -- Huxley -- to refer to someone who doesn't know but hasn't yet really seen evidence for it but is prepared to embrace the evidence if it's there but if it's not won't be forced to have to think something that is not otherwise supported. There are many atheists who say, "Well, all agnostics are atheists." Okay. I'm constantly claimed by atheists. I find this intriguing. In fact, on my Wiki page -- I didn't create the Wiki page, others did, and I'm flattered that people cared enough about my life to assemble it -- and it said, "Neil deGrasse is an atheist." I said, "Well that's not really true." I said, "Neil deGrasse is an agnostic." I went back a week later. It said, "Neil deGrasse is an atheist." -- again within a week -- and I said, "What's up with that?" and I said, "I have to word it a little differently." So I said, okay, "Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic." And some will say, well, that's -- "You're not being fair to the fact that they're actually the same thing." No, they're not the same thing, and I'll tell you why. Atheists I know who proudly wear the badge are active atheists. They're like in your face atheist and they want to change policies and they're having debates. I don't have the time, the interest, the energy to do any of that. I'm a scientist. I'm an educator. My goal is to get people thinking straight in the first place, just get you to be curious about the natural world. That's what I'm about. I'm not about any of the rest of this. And it's odd that the word atheist even exists. I don't play golf. Is there a word for non-golf players? Do non-golf players gather and strategize? Do non-skiers have a word and come together and talk about the fact that they don't ski? I don't—I can't do that. I can't gather around and talk about how much everybody in the room doesn't believe in God. I just don't—I don't have the energy for that, and so I . . . Agnostic separates me from the conduct of atheists whether or not there is strong overlap between the two categories, and at the end of the day I'd rather not be any category at all. Directed / Produced byJonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 3048204 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 The physicist scoffed at the idea of quantum entanglement, calling it "spooky action at a distance." And while it has in fact been proven to exist, this entanglement can't be used to transmit any usable information.
Views: 854565 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 We'll have to recalibrate everything -- the age of the universe, the age of stars, the distance to the stars, the basic structure of modern electronics, the GPS, nuclear weapons -- all of that would have to be recalibrated and rethought ...
Views: 4150595 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 The physicist sees two major trends in the world today: the first is toward a multicultural, scientific, tolerant society; the other, as evidenced by terrorism, is fundamentalist and monocultural. Whichever one wins out will determine the fate of mankind.
Views: 2268477 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Dr. Kaku answers the question of whether it is possible to resurrect the dinosaurs by "turning on" their ancient genes? Moreover, now that we have also sequenced the genes of the Neanderthal man, at some point in the future it may be possible to bring him back. And then of course, if a young Neanderthal boy is born then the question is where do you put the boy, in a zoo or at Harvard? Transcript-- Michio Kaku: We have taken cells from the carcass of an animal that died decades ago and brought them back to life and so it is possible using today's technology to take bodies, carcasses of animals that died decades ago and resurrect them in the form of clones. Now we have also sequenced the genes of the Neanderthal man, meaning that at some point in the future it may be possible to bring back the Neanderthal man. In fact, at Harvard University one professor even made a proposal as to how much it would cost to reassemble the genome of the Neanderthal man. And then of course, if a young Neanderthal boy is born then the question is where do you put the boy, in a zoo or at Harvard? This is a question that we're going to be facing in the coming decades because it is possible that we might be able to bring back the mammoths. We're talking about creatures that walked the surface of the earth tens of thousands of years ago and we have their genome and it's a serious proposal now that we're closing in on sequencing all the genes of a mammoth to bring the mammoth - by inserting a fertilized egg inside the womb of an elephant and having an elephant give birth to a mammoth. Now dinosaurs are much more difficult. They perished 65 million years ago, not tens of thousands of years ago. However, something has happened that I thought would not happen in my lifetime and that is we have soft tissue from the dinosaurs. I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime. If you take a hadrosaur and crack open the thigh bones, bingo. You find soft tissue right there in the bone marrow. Who would have thought? T-Rex's too and scientists have analyzed not the DNA, but the proteins inside the soft tissue. Not surprisingly, we find the proteins of chickens and also frogs and reptiles, which means of course that dinosaurs we can now show biochemically are very closely related to birds. In fact, we think birds are dinosaurs that survived the cataclysm of 65 million years ago. Now there is another proposal to use what is called epigenetics. Nature does not simply throw away good genes. Nature simply turns them off. For example, we have the genes in our own body that would put hair all over our body and you can actually turn that gene and create, quote, unquote, a werewolf. In fact, in Mexico City there are two young boys with hair all over their bodies that are acrobats in a circus and scientists have sequenced the genes and yes, it is a very ancient gene that they have. With chickens we can actually see the genes for chickens that were turned off because of epigenetics, genes that give webbing between the toes of a chicken because a long time ago chickens had webbed feet and also teeth. You can actually bring back teeth inside chickens. So then the question is, is it possible to make the next big leap to use epigenetics, to use gene therapy, to use all the different kinds of therapies we have, mix all these things up in the memory of a computer and have the computer give the best fit for a reptile that is like a dinosaur, insert that perhaps, into the womb of maybe an alligator or a whatever and perhaps give birth to an egg, which will hatch something resembling a dinosaur. Well that's not possible today, but it's not out of the question. It's not out of the question that at some point in the future we'll use a computer to take all these bits of DNA from living lizards, from the—extracting information from the proteins of soft tissue from hadrosaurs and assemble the best mathematical approximation to a dinosaur and have it give birth to an egg. Directed / Produced by Elizabeth Rodd and Jonathan Fowler
Views: 979527 Big Think
Today, Dr. Kaku addresses a question posed by David Hernandez: If subatomic particles can be in two or more places at once, could parts of us be traveling back and forth between parallel universes and could these particles be dark matter? The answer to this question is at the cutting edge of science, but one theory states that dark matter is nothing but ordinary matter in another dimension hovering right above us. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/dr-kakus-universe/what-is-dark-matter Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Well there is a theory, David, about what dark matter is. You talk about different universes and let's say that our universe is a sheet of paper. We live our entire life on this sheet of paper, but directly above us there could be a parallel universe, hovering right over us, perhaps inches, centimeters away and objects in this parallel universe would be invisible. Light travels beneath the universe, so we never see this other galaxy. But gravity, gravity goes between universes because gravity is nothing but the bending of space, so if the space between two sheets of paper is bent slightly gravity then moves across. So think about it. This other galaxy in another universe would be invisible, yet it would have mass. That's exactly what dark matter is. Dark matter is massive—it has gravity—but it's invisible. It has no interactions with light or the electromagnetic force, so there is a theory that says that perhaps dark matter is nothing but matter, ordinary matter in another dimension hovering right above us. We should also point out, however, that there are other theories too. Dark matter is the cutting edge of science. Some people think that maybe it is a higher vibration of the string. All the atoms of our body represent the lowest octave of a tiny rubber band vibrating all over our body, and the rubber band could have a higher octave. That next octave could be dark matter. So that's yet another explanation for what dark matter might be. So the bottom line is this. There is a shelf full of Nobel Prizes waiting for you, waiting for anyone who can come up with a convincing and experimentally verified explanation of the origin of dark matter.
Views: 547082 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Quantum computing already exists, but on a truly miniscule scale. We'll probably have molecular computers before true quantum ones, says the physicist.
Views: 1082803 Big Think
Why should you bother to wake up tomorrow knowing that we're all going to die billions and billions of years from now when the universe turns to absolute zero, when the stars blink out, when we have nothing but neutron stars and black holes? Dr. Kaku says that billions of years from now we may be able to move to a different universe. Transcript -- In cosmology we believe that the universe started off in a big bang 13.7 billion years ago. All alternatives have been pretty much ruled out. Steady state theories, other alternatives have been ruled out. However, how will the universe end? We have several possibilities. One possibility is a big crunch when the universe squashes together in a gigantic ball of flame and maybe bangs once again. Another possibility is the big freeze, that the universe expands and just keeps on going and we're all going to freeze to death and we're all going to die when the universe reaches near absolute zero. Then there is something called the big rip where the universe goes into an exponential expansion and expands so rapidly that the distant galaxies can no longer be seen because they travel faster than the speed of light, that even the distant galaxies break the light barrier, and that's called the big rip, meaning that the night sky will be totally black except for some of the nearby stars. Which of the three alternatives is the fate of the universe? Well, the short answer is we don't know. However, what we do know is that the universe is undergoing an exponential runaway expansion. The universe at the present time is careening out of control. Every astronomy textbook says that there was a big bang. The universe is expanding, but it's slowing down. It also says that the universe is mainly made out of atoms. Every textbook says that. The universe is made out of atoms. The universe is expanding, but slowing down. Both are wrong. We have to rewrite every single high school textbook on the planet earth. The universe is not mainly made out of atoms. Four percent of the universe is made out of atoms, just four percent. 23% is made out of dark matter. 73%, which makes up most of the universe, is dark energy, and unfortunately, we are clueless as to what dark energy is and what dark matter is. In fact, if you ever find out what dark energy and dark matter is, be sure to tell me first. Now why is that important? Because the amount of matter and energy in the universe determines the rate of expansion. We now know there is a lot more dark energy than we previously thought. Therefore, the universe is undergoing an inflationary exponential expansion. It is in a runaway mode, but here is the catch: we don't know how long that runaway mode is going to last. Some people say that it's temporary. We're in this huge expansion right now, exponential expansion, but it's going to reverse itself. Instead of a red shift, we'll have a blue shift as the universe collapses. At the present time we simply don't know. Why don't we know? Because we don't know what dark energy is. In fact, if you were to try to write down a theory of dark energy, your number would not correspond to the data by a mismatch of 10 to the 120. That is the largest mismatch in the history of science. There is no mismatch bigger than 10 to the 120. So this is a mystery. Until we solve the mystery of dark energy, we do not know the ultimate fate of the universe. My personal thoughts are that perhaps we will continue with this exponential expansion and perhaps go into a big rip mode and at that point all intelligent life in the universe will die. All the tears and all the struggles and all the heartbreak of humanity since we rose from the swamp, it's all for nothing. Why should you bother to wake up tomorrow knowing that we're all going to die billions and billions of years from now when the universe turns to absolute zero, when the stars blink out, when we have nothing but neutron stars and black holes? What does it all mean anyway, if we're all going to die in a big rip? Well, my personal attitude is that when the universe is about to die, why not leave the universe? Trillions of years from now, we will have the ability to bend space and time into a pretzel. We'll be able to tie space into knots. We'll be what is called a type three, maybe a type four civilization, a galactic civilization with the capability of harnessing galactic power. At that point, when the universe becomes so cold that all life is freezing to death, I say let us escape the universe, go into hyperspace and go to another universe. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 401405 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Enzymes like Telomerase and Resveratrol, though not the Fountain of Youth unto themselves, offer tantalizing clues to how we might someday soon unravel the aging process. Question: Do you think the enzyme Telomerase could be used to reverse the aging process in our lifetime? (Submitted by Paul Cellura) Michio Kaku: Paul, Telomerase hit the headlines; however, I think we have to put it into perspective. It is not the fountain of youth; however, it is a significant breakthrough. We have to put it into a much larger perspective. First of all, we know that DNA is sort of like a shoelace. It has plastic tips at the end. Every time a cell reproduces, the tips get shorter and shorter and shorter until finally they fray. And you know that your shoelace, without the plastic tips will simply fall apart. That's what happens inside a cell. A cell, for example, your skin cell, will divide about 60 times, that's called a Hayflick Limit. Then the cell goes into senescence and eventually dies. So in some sense, every cell has a biological clock. It is doomed to die after about 60 reproductions. However, Telomerase can eliminate some of the contraction of the chromosomes and the chromosomes can maintain their length. So at first you may say, "ah-ha! We can now defeat the biological clock." But not so fast, first of all, cancer cells also use Telomerase. Cancer cells are immortal. Cancer cells are immortal and that's precisely why they kill you. Why are cancer cells so dangerous? Because they are immortal. They grow and they grow and they grow until they take over huge chunks of your body, meaning that your bodily functions cannot be performed and you die. So we have to make sure that when you hit ordinary cells with Telomerase that you don't also trigger cancer in the process. Now, also you have to realize that genes are also very essential for the aging process. It turns out that we know what aging is. Aging is the buildup of error. That's all aging is. The build up of genetic and cellular error. And cells begin to age; they begin to get sluggish because genetic mistakes start to build up. Now cells; however, have a repair mechanism. They can repair damage to their cells; otherwise we would all basically rot very soon after birth. However, even the repair mechanisms eventually get gummed up and then the cell really starts to get old as a consequence. So then the question is, can you accelerate cell repair? That is another branch of gerontology which is being looked at using genes and using chemicals to accelerate the repair mechanisms. For example, if I take any organism on the planet Earth from yeast cells to spiders, insects, rabbits, dogs, and even monkeys now. And I reduce their caloric intake by 30%, they live 30% longer. In fact the only organism which has not yet been deliberately tested by scientists are homo sapiens. All the other species obey this basic rule. You starve them to death, they live longer. This is independent of Telomerase. This is a function of the wear and tear that we have on the cells. And this is the only known way of actually deliberately extending the lifespan of any organisms almost at will. Now, what we want is a genetic way of mimicking this mechanism without having to starve yourself because how many people do you know would be willing to starve themselves in order to live 30% longer? Not too many. So then the question is, are there genes that control this process. And the answer is apparently, yes. There's something called the Sirtuin genes, Sir2 being the most prominent of them. They in turn stimulate certain enzymes, among them Resveratrol, which is found in red wine, for example. So this does not mean that drinking red wine or taking Telomerase is the fountain of youth. I don't think that anyone has the fountain of youth yet. What I am saying is, we are now finding pieces of the fountain of youth, tantalizing clues that mean that perhaps in the coming decades, we might be able to actually unravel the aging process. We don't have it yet. Don't go out to the drug store and stock up on these kinds of chemicals and enzymes thinking you're going to live forever. However it is conceivable that in the coming decades we'll come very close to finding it.
Views: 1785597 Big Think
Michio Kaku on why Hollywood needs to make better aliens. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/the-alien-mind Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: I love to watch science fiction movies but I cringe – I cringe whenever I see a depiction of the aliens. First of all the aliens speak perfect English. Not just British English. They speak perfect American English. And obviously they’re a human inside some kind of monkey suit. I mean we have Hollywood special effects, right. So why can’t we get better aliens. And then the aliens think just like us. They’re territorial. They want to conquer. They want resources. They want – they see humans as inferior. But you see, that’s only a byproduct of our evolution. Look at other animals in the animal kingdom. Some animals are not territorial, okay. They don’t have to conquer. We have other paradigms in the animal kingdom which are totally different form the way our brain is constructed. But when we look at aliens in the movies we’re basically projecting our own consciousness in aliens. Our fears, our desires are projected and they are a mirror of who we are, not a mirror of who they really are. For example, if we take a look at a bat or a dog, the dog’s brain is mainly interested in smells. It’s swirling in a universe of smells while a bat’s brain mainly is concentrated on sonar, on detecting clicks and echoes. Same thing with the dolphin brain. Their consciousness is totally different from our consciousness because they see things differently than us because of their evolutionary history. For example when we see a cat and the cat comes up to us and tries to purr next to us, we say to ourselves, “Oh, nice cat. The cat is being affectionate.” No. The cat is not being affectionate. It’s simply rubbing his hormones on you and saying, “I own this human. This human is mine. I’m marking my territory. This human feeds me twice a day. I’ve trained him.” So a cat sees the universe totally different than we do and yet we impose our thinking on an alien. Now on the question of intelligence. If these aliens are more intelligent than us, how would they be more intelligent? In the book I say that one of the main ingredients of intelligence is to predict the future. The ability to simulate today so we see tomorrow. And that requires a high level of intelligence to be able to understand the laws of nature, the laws of people. What is the most likely outcome of a future event. That requires intelligence. If they are more intelligent than us they will see the future much better than us. They will see outcomes that we cannot foresee. They will simulate scenarios that we cannot even dream of. They can outwit us every time. Think of a safecracker. A safecracker may have a low IQ, may have dropped out of elementary school. But the safecracker can simulate the future much better than a cop can and that’s why he can rob banks and get away with it. And so in other words, the criminal mind is not necessarily stupid because it has low IQ. It’s quite well adapted for what it does. And what it does is to simulate the future of a crime. Now think about when we encounter intelligent life that is more intelligent than us. They may see the world totally differently. Their world may be a world of smells, a world of sounds rather than a world of eyesight like our brain is constructed. And most important, they may be able to see the outcome of future events much better than us. They’ll be able to actually run circles around us because they see the future. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Views: 743358 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Michio Kaku says that God could be a mathematician: "The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God." Transcript-- Some people ask the question "Of what good is math?" What is the relationship between math and physics? Well, sometimes math leads. Sometimes physics leads. Sometimes they come together because, of course, there's a use for the mathematics. For example, in the 1600s Isaac Newton asked a simple question: if an apple falls then does the moon also fall? That is perhaps one of the greatest questions ever asked by a member of Homo sapiens since the six million years since we parted ways with the apes. If an apple falls, does the moon also fall? Isaac Newton said yes, the moon falls because of the Inverse Square Law. So does an apple. He had a unified theory of the heavens, but he didn't have the mathematics to solve the falling moon problem. So what did he do? He invented calculus. So calculus is a direct consequence of solving the falling moon problem. In fact, when you learn calculus for the first time, what is the first thing you do? The first thing you do with calculus is you calculate the motion of falling bodies, which is exactly how Newton calculated the falling moon, which opened up celestial mechanics. So here is a situation where math and physics were almost conjoined like Siamese twins, born together for a very practical question, how do you calculate the motion of celestial bodies? Then here comes Einstein asking a different question and that is, what is the nature and origin of gravity? Einstein said that gravity is nothing but the byproduct of curved space. So why am I sitting in this chair? A normal person would say I'm sitting in this chair because gravity pulls me to the ground, but Einstein said no, no, no, there is no such thing as gravitational pull; the earth has curved the space over my head and around my body, so space is pushing me into my chair. So to summarize Einstein's theory, gravity does not pull; space pushes. But, you see, the pushing of the fabric of space and time requires differential calculus. That is the language of curved surfaces, differential calculus, which you learn in fourth year calculus. So again, here is a situation where math and physics were very closely combined, but this time math came first. The theory of curved surfaces came first. Einstein took that theory of curved surfaces and then imported it into physics. Now we have string theory. It turns out that 100 years ago math and physics parted ways. In fact, when Einstein proposed special relativity in 1905, that was also around the time of the birth of topology, the topology of hyper-dimensional objects, spheres in 10, 11, 12, 26, whatever dimension you want, so physics and mathematics parted ways. Math went into hyperspace and mathematicians said to themselves, aha, finally we have found an area of mathematics that has no physical application whatsoever. Mathematicians pride themselves on being useless. They love being useless. It's a badge of courage being useless, and they said the most useless thing of all is a theory of differential topology and higher dimensions. Well, physics plotted along for many decades. We worked out atomic bombs. We worked out stars. We worked out laser beams, but recently we discovered string theory, and string theory exists in 10 and 11 dimensional hyperspace. Not only that, but these dimensions are super. They're super symmetric. A new kind of numbers that mathematicians never talked about evolved within string theory. That's how we call it "super string theory." Well, the mathematicians were floored. They were shocked because all of a sudden out of physics came new mathematics, super numbers, super topology, super differential geometry. All of a sudden we had super symmetric theories coming out of physics that then revolutionized mathematics, and so the goal of physics we believe is to find an equation perhaps no more than one inch long which will allow us to unify all the forces of nature and allow us to read the mind of God. And what is the key to that one inch equation? Super symmetry, a symmetry that comes out of physics, not mathematics, and has shocked the world of mathematics. But you see, all this is pure mathematics and so the final resolution could be that God is a mathematician. And when you read the mind of God, we actually have a candidate for the mind of God. The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 3225585 Big Think
In this excerpt from his Floating University/Great Big Ideas lecture, Dr. Michio Kaku explains that string theory begins where Einstein's framework breaks down. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/michio-kaku-explains-string-theory Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Full lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NbBjNiw4tk
Views: 763561 Big Think
Lawrence Krauss describes quantum computing and the technical obstacles we need to overcome to realize this Holy Grail of processing. Lawrence Krauss: Let me briefly describe the difference between a quantum computer and a regular computer, at some level. In a regular computer, you've got ones and zeros, which you store in binary form and you manipulate them and they do calculations. You can store them, for example, in a way that at least I can argue simply. Let's say you have an elementary particle that's spinning. If it's spinning, and we say it's spinning, it's pointing up or down depending upon whether it's spinning this way or this way, pointing up or down. And so, I could store the information by having lots of particles and some of them spinning up and some of them spinning down. Right? One's and zero's. But in the quantum world, it turns out that particles like electrons are actually spinning in all directions at the same time, one of the weird aspects of quantum mechanics. We may measure, by doing a measurement of an electron, find it's spinning this way. But before we did the measurement, it was spinning this way and this way and that way and that way all at the same time. Sounds crazy, but true. Now that means, if the electron's spinning in many different directions at the same time, if we don't actually measure it, it can be doing many computations at the same time. And so a quantum computer is based on manipulating the state of particles like electrons so that during the calculation, many different calculations are being performed at the same time, and only making a measurement at the end of the computation. So we exploit that fact of quantum mechanics that particles could do many things at the same time to do many computations at same time. And that's what would make a quantum computer so powerful. One of the reasons it's so difficult to make a quantum computer, and one of the reasons I'm a little skeptical at the moment, is that - the reason the quantum world seems so strange to us is that we don't behave quantum mechanically. I don't -- you know, you can - not me, but you could run towards the wall behind us from now 'til the end of the universe and bang your head in to it and you'd just get a tremendous headache. But if you're an electron, there's a probability if I throw it towards the wall that it will disappear and appear on the other side due to something called quantum tunneling, okay. Those weird quantum behaviors are manifest on small scales. We don't obey them - have those behaviors 'cause we're large classical objects and the laws of quantum mechanics tell us, in some sense, that when you have many particles interacting at some level those weird quantum mechanical correlations that produce all the strange phenomena wash away. And so in order to have a quantum mechanical state where you can distinctly utilize and exploit those weird quantum properties, in some sense you have to isolate that system from all of its environment because, if it interacts with the environment, the quantum mechanical weirdness sort of washes away. And that's the problem with a quantum computer. You want to make this macroscopic object, you want to keep it behaving quantum mechanically which means isolating it very carefully from, within itself, all the interactions and the outside world. And that's the hard part, Is isolating things enough to maintain this what's called quantum coherence. And that's the challenge and it's a huge challenge. But the potential is unbelievably great. Once you can engineer materials on a scale where quantum mechanical properties are important, a whole new world of phenomenon open up to you. And you might be able to say - as we say, if we created a quantum computer, and I'm not - I must admit I'm skeptical that we'll be able to do that in the near-term, but if we could, we'd be able to do computations in a finite time that would take longer than the age of the universe right now. We'd be able to do strange and wonderful things. And of course, if you ask me what's the next big breakthrough, I'll tell you what I always tell people, which is if I knew, I'd be doing it right now. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 360692 Big Think
Ex-FBI crisis negotiator Chris Voss explains the golden question that will give you the upper hand in a negotiation. Chris Voss is the author of "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It" (http://goo.gl/04OgLC). Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/chris-voss-on-how-to-gain-the-upper-hand-in-negotiations Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript - The secret to gaining the upper hand in negotiations is giving the other side the illusion of control. And the illusion of control is typically best given with either questions that begin with the words what or how. Well what and how should be the form of nearly any question where you're trying to gather information. And it's actually one of the ways we say no. The first and best way to say no to anyone is how am I supposed to do that? Now the other side actually has no idea as to the number of things you've done with them at the same time. You conveyed to them you have a problem. It's something that we also referred to as forced empathy because one of the reasons why we exercise tactical empathy is because we want the other side to see us fairly. We want them to see our position; we want them to see the issues we have; we want them to see the constraints that we have. And when you say to somebody, "How am I supposed to do that?" You make them take a look at your situation before they respond. And they think about it in a number of different ways. And a number of different people I've coached through negotiations who have felt completely helpless, they felt completely taken hostage, in the one instance where a woman thought she was taken hostage to the future and she just wasn't getting paid. They called her up to give her more work and we taught her to say, trained her, counseled her to say, "How in my supposed to do that?" They thought about it for a while and they said, "You're right you can't." Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/9fnEno.
Views: 153018 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Graphene is in incredibly strong, one-molecule thick layer of carbon atoms that could someday be used to create life-sustaining nanorobots. Michio Kaku: Matthew, there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots, microscopic robots, from circulating in the bloodstream and bulking us up, strengthening our bones, giving us the power of Superman. There is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent that. However, the reality is much, much more complicated. Let's take a look at nanotechnology today. It's very primitive. It is a multibillion dollar industry only because we use it for coatings, coatings to make fabric stronger and coatings for different kinds of appliances. We also use it in airbags. Believe it or not there is a tiny sensor, an accelerometer in your airbag—compliments of nanotechnology—that create the gigantic explosion of an airbag. But that's today. The promise is that in the coming decades with carbon nanotubes, with graphene, we'll create even new substances which can replace the silicon of computers, maybe even give us a space elevator. Graphene for example, is a substance made out of one-molecule-thick layer of carbon. Think about that. Think of like Saran Wrap made out of one-molecule-thick carbon atoms. That graphene is so strong in principle you can take an elephant, put the elephant on a pencil, suspend the pencil on graphene and graphene will not break. That is how strong it is. It is the strongest material known to science at the present time. However, having these nanobots in our body—that is decades away. We can't even create a nanobot that is large that will do most of these things on a microscopic scale. Forget going down to the atomic scale. So to summarize: yes, in principle there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots from invigorating us, changing our molecular structure, changing our bone structure and skeleton. However, the practical implementation of that is staggering. It's not going to happen for many decades to come. Michio Kaku: Matthew, there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots, microscopic robots, from circulating in the bloodstream and bulking us up, strengthening our bones, giving us the power of Superman. There is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent that. However, the reality is much, much more complicated. Let's take a look at nanotechnology today. It's very primitive. It is a multibillion dollar industry only because we use it for coatings, coatings to make fabric stronger and coatings for different kinds of appliances. We also use it in airbags. Believe it or not there is a tiny sensor, an accelerometer in your airbag—compliments of nanotechnology—that create the gigantic explosion of an airbag. But that's today. The promise is that in the coming decades with carbon nanotubes, with graphene, we'll create even new substances which can replace the silicon of computers, maybe even give us a space elevator. Graphene for example, is a substance made out of one-molecule-thick layer of carbon. Think about that. Think of like Saran Wrap made out of one-molecule-thick carbon atoms. That graphene is so strong in principle you can take an elephant, put the elephant on a pencil, suspend the pencil on graphene and graphene will not break. That is how strong it is. It is the strongest material known to science at the present time. However, having these nanobots in our body—that is decades away. We can't even create a nanobot that is large that will do most of these things on a microscopic scale. Forget going down to the atomic scale. So to summarize: yes, in principle there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots from invigorating us, changing our molecular structure, changing our bone structure and skeleton. However, the practical implementation of that is staggering. It's not going to happen for many decades to come.
Views: 1972384 Big Think
Michio Kaku describes how our prefrontal cortex disengages as we dream, thus suppressing the fact-checking component of our consciousness. Dr. Kaku's latest book is The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (http://goo.gl/G06jvb). Read more at BigThink.com: http://goo.gl/odYmq4 Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: There’s a whole lore about dreaming. In fact, Sigmund Freud wrote a book called The Interpretation of Dreams which many people think is the foundation of psychoanalysis. Well scientists now have looked at Freudian psychology and the brain using all these modern techniques. And first of all we realize that perhaps Sigmund Freud wasn’t totally wrong. There are many textbooks which simply dismiss Freudian psychology calling it nuts. That is nothing but the sexual fantasies of a repressed Venetian scientist of the last century. But now we realize there’s more to it. First of all the unconscious mind. We can actually see the brain in motion and we realize that much of the activity is totally unconscious. Just like what Freud predicted. And Freud also said there is the ego, the id and the superego, that we are in a constant battle with our desires and our conscious. And we see that now with brain scans. The ego is basically your prefrontal cortex. That is who you are. When you wonder where am I anyway. Well, you’re right there. You are sitting right behind your forehead. And then your desires. We see the pleasure center right there at the center of the brain. That is the libido. We see where the pleasure center is located. And then your conscience is right behind your eyes. The orbital frontal cortex right behind your eyes is where your conscience is. And so we actually see that in motion. If you were to see a chocolate cake you would see these three parts of the brain going zippity back and forth like a ping pong ball because you’re constantly debating the pleasure of eating a chocolate cake versus how fat you’re gonna become and all the sugar and the calories that you don’t really need. So we see the beginnings of Freudian psychology coming out of brain scans. And now dreams. Freud had a whole collection of interpretation of dreams. Scientists have looked at and said, “Nonsense.” Now we understand the physiology of the dreaming process. And we realize that it comes at the back of the brain, the very primitive part of the brain and that certain parts of the brain are shut off when you dream. First of all your prefrontal cortex is basically shut off, it’s quiet. Your orbital frontal cortex that is your conscience is also shut off. But that part of the brain is your fact checker. The part of the brain that said, “Hmmm, that’s not right. Something’s wrong” is right behind your eyes. That’s shut off. What is active when you dream is your amygdala. Now what does your amygdala govern? Fear and emotions. And so right then you know that when you dream the active part of the brain is not the fact checker, not the rational brain – it’s the emotional brain, the fearful brain that is active when you dream. And then there’s some superstition called lucid dreaming where you can actually control the direction of the dream. Well that superstition last year became science fact. At the Max Planck Institute in Germany they were able to show once and for all that lucid dreaming is testable, reproducible – it is real. And here’s how they did it. They took a person who was about to go to sleep and told them that when you dream clench your right fist and then clench your left fist. Now when you dream you are paralyzed. You cannot move when you dream. Otherwise we’d be able to carry out all sorts of horrible things and destroy ourselves. So we are paralyzed when we dream. But when this person went into a dream state you can clearly see that the brain initiated orders to clench your right fist and your left fist. In other words, he was conscious while he was dreaming. There are many Buddhist texts, many texts hundreds of years old that give you the outlines of how to control dreams. Lucid dreaming. We now know that it’s not hogwash that you can actually do this. You can actually direct the course of your dream. And then one day we may be able to brain scan the brain as you dream and put it on a screen. In which case somebody will be able to see you dream and know the direction of the dream and you are conscious of the process. In other words, the movie Inception is not totally hogwash. Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Views: 430439 Big Think
What's beyond silicon? There have been a number of proposals: protein computers, DNA computers, optical computers, quantum computers, molecular computers.
Views: 397889 Big Think
There's something fundamental we all need to understand about dark matter—it may not actually be matter at all. Neil deGrasse Tyson has a bone to pick with this misnomer that is distracting physicists and the public from the real discoveries to be made. Scientists know very little about "dark matter", and in fact it can only be observed indirectly by its effect on other objects. Tyson has a few suggestions for its re-naming: how about "Fred", he jokes, which is a name devoid of any implied meaning—suitable for our current level of knowledge. But if you want it to sound sexy and be accurate, then the way to go is dark gravity, according to Tyson. Why? Because when you add up everything in the universe—the stars, moons, gas clouds, black holes, everything—85% of gravity is unaccounted for. That is so-called "dark matter". What makes it so interesting isn't the wild-goose-chase question of whether or not it exists, but why it doesn't interact with ordinary, known matter? On the way to explaining that dark matter "doesn't give a rats ass about us," Tyson explores ghost particles, the essence of objects, and why we haven't found any dark matter planets. Tyson's new book is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/neil-degrasse-tyson-dark-matter-is-a-misnomer Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink
Views: 489622 Big Think
Dr. Michio Kaku returns to Big Think studios to discuss his latest book, The Future of the Mind. Here, he explains how the quantifying approach common in physics can be used to model consciousness. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/consciousness-can-be-quantified Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: In the entire universe the two greatest scientific mysteries are first of all the origin of the universe itself. And second of all the origin of intelligence. Believe it or not, sitting on our shoulders is the most complex object that Mother Nature has created in the known universe. You have to go at least 24 trillion miles to the nearest star to find a planet that may have life and may have intelligence. And yet our brain only consumes about 20-30 watts of power and yet it performs calculations better than any large supercomputer. So it's a mystery. How is the brain wired up? And if we can figure that out what can we do with it to enhance our mental capabilities. When you look at the brain and all the parts of the brain they don't seem to make any sense at all. The visual part of the brain is way in the back, for example. Why is the brain constructed the way it is? Is this nothing but an accident of evolution? Well one way to look at it is through evolution. That is, the back of the brain is a so-called reptilian brain. The most ancient primitive part of the brain that governs balance, territoriality, mating. And so the very back of the brain is also the kind of brain that you find in reptiles. Now when I was a child I would go to the science museum and look at the snakes sometimes and they would stare back at me. And I would wonder, "What are they thinking about?" Well, I think now I know. What they're thinking about was, "Is this person lunch?" Then we have the center part of the brain going forward and that's a so-called monkey brain, the mammalian brain. The brain of emotions. The brain of social hierarchies. And then finally the front of the brain is the human brain, especially the prefrontal cortex. This is where rational thinking is. And when you ask yourself a question where am I anyway. The answer is right behind your forehead. That's where you really are. Well, I have a theory of consciousness which tries to wrap it all up together. There've been about 20,000 or so papers written about consciousness and no consensus. Never in the history of science have so many people devoted so much time to produce so little. Well, I'm a physicist and when we physicists look at a mysterious object the first thing we try to do is to create a model. A model of this object in space. And then we hit the play button and run it forward in time. This is how Newton was able to come up with the theory of gravity. This is how Einstein came up with relativity. So I tried to use this in terms of the human brain and evolution. So what I'm saying is I have a new theory of consciousness based on evolution. And that is consciousness is the number of feedback loops required to create a model of your position in space with relationship to other organisms and finally in relationship to time. So think of the consciousness of a thermostat. I believe that even a lowly thermostat has one unit of consciousness. That is, it senses the temperature around it. And then we have a flower. A flower has maybe, maybe ten units of consciousness. It has to understand the temperature, the weather, humidity, where gravity is pointing. And then finally we go to the reptilian brain which I call level 1 consciousness and reptiles basically have a very good understanding of their position in space, especially because they have to lunge out and grab prey. Then we have level 2 consciousness, the monkey consciousness. The consciousness of emotions, social hierarchies, where are we in relationship to the tribe. And then where are we as humans. As humans we are at level 3. We run simulations into the future. Animals apparently don't do this. They don't plan to hibernate. They don't plan the next day's agenda. They have no conception of tomorrow to the best of our ability. But that's what our brain does. Our brain is a prediction machine. And so when we look at the evolution from the reptilian brain to the mammalian brain to the prefrontal cortex, we realize that is the process of understanding our position in space with respect to others -- that is emotions -- and finally running simulations into the future.
Views: 581585 Big Think
At the time of his arrest in 1995, Kevin Mitnick was the most wanted cyber criminal in the United States. The arrest marked the end of an intense two-and-a-half-year electronic manhunt, a game of cat and mouse that Mitnick likens to a video game. "I was a little bit insane," Mitnick admits. "Why I did this psychologically is I loved putting myself in dangerous situations and then trying to work my way out of them." To evade the FBI, Mitnick meticulously developed cover stories for himself. He worked in a law firm in Denver and a hospital in Seattle. "I was so into creating my cover it was almost like I was living another life," he says. This fantasy life was inspired by Hollywood. According to the Tsutomo Shimomura's book Takedown, "Early on, after seeing the 1975 Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor, [Mitnick] had adopted Condor as his nom de guerre. In the film Redford plays the role of a hunted CIA researcher who uses his experience as an Army signal corpsman to manipulate the phone system and avoid capture. Mitnick seemed to view himself as the same kind of daring man on the run from the law." Mitnik's ability to evade the authorities earned him considerable notoriety. He tells Big Think the story of how he toyed with the FBI when he figured out they were close to catching him. Transcript -- When the government was chasing me I wanted to get a sense of how close they were and to me this was a game. It was kind of like I was a little bit insane and I treated my fugitive status as a big video game. Unfortunately, it had real consequences and why I did this psychologically is I loved putting myself in dangerous situations and then trying to work my way out of them. I don't know why I liked doing this, but I did. So what I did is I hacked into the cellular provider in Los Angeles that serviced the FBI cell phone numbers of the agents that were chasing me, so to make a long story short I was able to get the cell phone numbers of the agents and then by hacking into the cellular provider I could monitor where they physically were, physically in Los Angeles. I could also monitor who they were calling and who was calling them. So based on my traffic analysis and my location data I was able to find out if the feds ever got close and one time they did. I had an early warning system set up in 1992 when I was working as a private investigator in Los Angeles and when the warning system was tripped off I found out that the FBI was actually at my apartment and I was a mile away in Calabasas, but I just drove in from the apartment to work, so obviously they weren't there to arrest me and I didn't think if they were still near my apartment that it was to surveil me, so the only logical thing is that they were there to conduct a search and that means to get a search warrant. They didn't have a search warrant yet. So in every criminal case when they have to get a search warrant from a judge they have to write down the precise description of the premises to be searched. It's the Fourth Amendment stuff and so I figured out that that was going on and so the very next day I cleaned up—well that evening I cleaned up everything from my apartment that the FBI may be interested in and then the very next day went out to Winchell's Donuts and got a big dozen assorted donuts and I labeled the box "FBI donuts" and I put it in the refrigerator. So when they were going to come search the only thing they would find is I had some donuts for them. They searched the next day. They didn't' find anything. I don't even know if they opened the refrigerator, but if they did they didn't help themselves to a donut for some reason. I don't know why. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Views: 302289 Big Think
Sam Harris discusses the virtues of psychedelics such as LSD and MDMA. While he does not condone the use of these drugs without caveat, he does acknowledge their profound consciousness-altering properties. Harris is the author of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/think-tank/sam-harris-discusses-mdma-and-psychedelics Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Well many people ask me about the virtues of psychedelics because I’ve written about this on my blog and in my book Waking Up. And they were at a point early in my inquiry they were indispensable and this is an experience that’s shared by many Westerners. It’s hard to really recommend psychedelics without serious caveats because some of them I think are probably neurotoxic. Some are really well tolerated but still you can have very scary destabilizing experiences on them. So you just can’t without a caveat recommend that people drop acid or take MDMA. So it’s – everything I say on the subject should be understood in that context. But for some people taking a drug is the only way they’re going to notice that it’s possible to have a very different experience of the world. They’re sufficiently lumpen and uninquisitive about the nature of their own minds that if you tell them to meditate, if you teach them mindfulness, if you tell them how to follow their breath they will look inside for 30 seconds or 30 minutes and see nothing of interest and walk away feeling that there’s no there there. Either it doesn’t work for them or that everyone else must be just faking it or there’s – it requires a certain talent and a certain degree of luck, therefore, to have enough concentration to connect with any “spiritual practice” the first time or even the tenth time or even after a year of attempting it because it’s just – these practices are difficult and the conditioning of our minds to just ceaselessly talk is deep. So, as Terence McKenna once said, “Psychedelics are the only method that truly guarantee an effect.” And this effect can be, again, very painful. You’re not necessarily going to have a good experience but there’s no question that if someone gives you 100 micrograms of acid something is going to happen. Two hours later, the significance of your existence will have just been borne down on you like an avalanche. And again this can be terrifying or it can be absolutely sublime depending on various causes and conditions. But the one thing it cannot be is boring. And that is you can’t say that about yoga or meditation or just going into solitude or anything else that – any other, you know, non-pharmacological means of inquiry. So, where drugs have been indispensable for many people is in advertising the possibility of a change in consciousness. And so I don’t think they’re durable methods for people that – I don’t think you need or should just keep taking drugs month after month, year after year, as a mode of spiritual inquiry. But there’s certainly a period in many people’s lives at the beginning where you wouldn’t even see a glimmer of reason to suspect that a radical change in the nature of your experience would be possible. My first experience with psychedelics that was important, that actually shifted my view of human possibility was with MDMA which I took before it became a club drug. I think this was in 1987 I took it. And no one I knew, no one of my generation had taken it. And although the drug obviously goes back many decades before that. And it had not been adopted by popular culture as a party drug. So this was coming pretty much coming out of the therapeutic community. People were doing in a closeted way psychotherapy with it. And I took it as a means of discovering something about the nature of my mind. It was not a social situation. I was just – a friend and I were alone and we took it together and just had a conversation on this drug. And what was revelatory about it was that it was an experience of absolute sobriety. It was not – there was no druggy component to it. We just became clearer and clearer and clearer in our thinking and feeling. And the crucial component of this was a loss of any feeling of self-concern.
Views: 566919 Big Think
Sales guru and persuasion expert Daniel H. Pink explains how you can use motivational interviewing to influence others' thoughts and behaviors. Pink's latest book is To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/the-right-questions-get-others-to-convince-themselves-youre-right Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: So let me give you a hypothetical. Suppose that you're a parent and you have a daughter, say a teenage daughter, who's room is an absolute mess. It just looks like a bomb went off in there and you want your daughter to clean her room. You're trying to sell her on the idea of cleaning her room. What do you do? Well, you could try to bribe her and that might work in the short term. You could try to threaten her -- that might work in the short term. You can try to exhort her, you can try to, you know, tell her about the meaning of clean rooms. But there's actually a technique from actually the counseling literature really crystallized by a fellow named Mike Pantalon of Yale University called motivational interviewing. And what you can do more effectively is ask two irrational questions. So, let's say that you have a daughter named Maria and Maria has a messy room and you want Maria to clean her room. The two questions you could ask Maria are this. "Maria, on a scale of one to ten, one meaning I'm not ready at all; ten meaning I'm ready to do it right now. How ready are you, Maria, to clean your room." Now, Maria's room is a pig sty so she's not going to give you a ten or a nine or even a five. Maybe she'll give you a two. So she says, "Dad, I'm a two." Well here's where the second question comes in and it's a really interesting counterintuitive question. You say to Maria, "Okay, Maria. You're a two. Why didn't you pick a lower number?" Now our instincts as parents is to say -- as a parent of three kids I have this instinct very strongly. If my kid were to say to me I'm a two, I would say, "What, why are you a two? You should be a nine." But you say, "Why didn't you pick a lower number, Maria?" So here's what happens. Maria has to explain why she isn't a one. Okay. So she says, "Well, you know, I am 15 and I probably should get my act together. You know, if I had my room cleaner I'd be able to get to school on time, faster and maybe see my friends a little bit more. You know, you and mom never know where anything is anyway so I'm kind of wasting my time asking you to help me." What happens? With that second question why didn't you pick a lower number, Maria begins articulating her own reasons for doing something. And this is really axiomatic in sales and persuasion. When people have their own reasons for doing something -- not yours -- their own reasons for doing something they believe those reasons more deeply and adhere to the behavior more strongly. Now suppose Maria says, "Dad, on a scale of one to ten I'm a one." Okay. That makes things a little more complicated but it's actually really, really important to understand this. If you say to Maria -- if Maria says, "Dad, I'm a one." Here's what you say to Maria. "Maria, what can we do to make you a two." And what often that does is this. Maria will say, "Well maybe if you and mom help me for 15 minutes to get this started." "Maybe if you maybe not set the table and take out the trash tonight, that would free up some time for me." Because usually when people are a one, it's often because -- not because they're purely obstinate. It's because there's some kind of environmental obstacle in front of them. And if someone says they're a one, find out what that obstacle is, try to make them a two and that might give you some more momentum. Now the example I just gave had to do with parenting but you can use this more universally. Now you can't whip it out at every single persuasive encounter but you can use it to persuade your boss. You can use it maybe to persuade a reluctant prospect in an actual sales encounter. You can use it with someone -- your neighbor who's resisting moving his garbage cans or something like that. The key here -- and again you've got to go back to first principles here. The key here is that we tend to think that persuasion or motivation is something that one person does to another. And what the social science tells us very clearly is that it's really something that people do for themselves. And your job as a persuader, as a motivator, is to reset the context and surface people's own reasons for doing something. Because it works a lot better.
Views: 605924 Big Think
If we were able to move our brains, neuron-for-neuron, into a robot, would we still be the same person? Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/could-we-transport-our-consciousness-into-robots-2 Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Is consciousness imprinted in the brain, and will it be possible to transfer that via teleportation? (Submitted by Robin de Roover) Michio Kaku: Robin, you ask yet another very embarrassing question. Believe it or not even though tens of thousands of papers have been written about consciousness in the literature nobody has a suitable definition for "consciousness." What does it mean to be conscious and how do you encode it and what is the minimum amount of consciousness necessary to animate something else? This raises questions for artificial intelligence because some people in the field of AI believe that one day we will be immortal; we will live forever. But the question is what will live forever? The atoms that make up our body, that give us consciousness, that give rise to our personality and our fears and desires—that may die, but yet the essence of the neural circuits may survive. Now there are many ways to do this, so let’s break some of them down. The most ambitious has been proposed by people who believe that one day we will create a robot body that is perfect, a Superman, beautiful, elegant, super-powerful body with no brain. Then we will start to extract our brain tissue neuron-for-neuron and duplicate it with transistors. So for every neuron we take out of our brain we replace it with a transistor. Sooner or later chunks of our brain are removed and inserted transistor-for-transistor inside this robot body. Now we’re fully conscious during this process. Part of our brain computes here and part of our brain computes over there connected by wires. Well, after a few hours large portions of the brain are gutted and huge chunks of transistors are added to this robot of silicon and steel and when it’s finally finished you now have no brain in your head and here is a robot with a complete brain and a complete body. That is one of the most ambitious ways to transfer consciousness from our body to another body and then the question is: is that really you? Well there is another way to do it and that way was explored in "The Sixth Day" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In that movie the bad guys get killed, but each bad guy was cloned, cloned. And somebody was able to somehow photograph all the memories of our brain and insert these memories into the clone. Now we don’t know how to do that, obviously. That is way beyond our technology, so don’t expect Arnold Schwarzenegger to come back fully-formed, with all his memories, as a clone. That is not going to happen anytime soon. However, the initial steps are once again being made at CalTech for example. They’ve been able to take a mouse brain and look at a certain part of the brain where memories are processed. Memories are processed at the very center of our brain and they’ve been able to duplicate the functions of that with a chip. So again, this does not mean that we can encode memories with a chip, but it does mean that we’ve been able to take the information storage of a mouse brain and have a silicon chip duplicate those functions. And so was mouse consciousness created in the process? I don’t know. I don’t know whether a mouse is conscious or not. But it does mean that at least in principle maybe it’s possible to transfer our consciousness and at some point maybe even become immortal.
Views: 629932 Big Think
Named for its originator, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, the Fermi Paradox asks the question, "if chances are that we're not alone in the universe, how come we haven't heard from any of the other alien civilizations?" According to Bill Nye, he and the Planetary Society hold the opinion that we probably haven't been listening hard enough. The Science Guy goes on to explain how NASA is boosting efforts at intergalactic communication. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/bill-nyes-answer-to-the-fermi-paradox Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: For those of you who for some reason are not obsessed with the Fermi paradox, Enrico Fermi posed the following – the same guy with the nuclear reactor in Chicago and all that – posed the following question. If there are alien worlds as you might claim since there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies, you would expect billions of planets and then you’d expect a few millions of earth-like planets. Where, why haven’t we heard from these other civilization? And the answer I think is not that complicated. We’ve only been listening for other civilizations for 50 years, 70 years, it depends on how you count. And you have to acknowledge that civilizations have to emerge and be able to communicate at the same time. When you have something that’s been going on for 13.6 billion years there’s a lot of opportunities to miss each other. So the Fermi paradox, for me, is not a reason to give up and take the black capsule and have no hope for humankind because we are just this unique thing in the middle of nowhere and will never amount to anything. No. For me the Fermi paradox drives us forward. Why haven’t we heard from anybody? Because we’re not listening hard enough. We’re not being diligent enough. We’re not thinking it through well enough. So we at the Planetary Society support the, of course support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence but the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the optical bandwidths in what you and I call visible light. And as you may know, NASA is doing these tests using laser communication. In other words instead of sending radio signals with wavelengths the size of this room and so information packets spread out over the size of this room, you’d use light waves where the information packets are just a few hundred billionths of a meter long and so you can get a lot more – it’s fiber optic. You get a lot more – the comparison of fiber optic with traditional copper wire. You get a lot more information, a lot more bandwidth. So who knows, maybe the aliens are sending us optical signals and we missed the point. Come on. One way to be sure you never hear from another civilization and realize or validate Fermi’s paradox is to not listen. So this to me is an obligation of a civilization, of a civilized society is to prevent – is to present or to allocate just a little of our intellect and treasure to the search for extraterrestrial life. Because there’s two questions that get every one of us. Where did we come from? Where did we come from? And that’s, by the way, what the Rosetta mission is working on. It’s going to a comet which is part of the – seems to be and is certainly part of the primordial solar system. So by understanding that we’ll understand more about where we all came from. And the second question is are we alone? Could we possibly be alone in the universe? And to answer those questions you have to explore space. That’s what we do at the Planetary Society. Did I mention that? Planetary.org. Did I bring us up? Thank you. Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Views: 655102 Big Think
Dan Ariely, the author of "Predictably Irrational," believes in associating undesirable tasks with pleasurable activities.
Views: 227431 Big Think
Alain de Botton sees literature as a series of lenses that can significantly change the way you view the world. Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life.' He's written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. Alain's latest book is titled Religion for Atheists and is published in the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, Turkey and Brazil in 2011 and in the UK, US and other territories in 2012. Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love [titled On Love in the US], was published when he was twenty-three. Transcript-- I think the way to look at literature is as an instrument that sensitizes us to different things. We all know that if five different people are asked to describe one scene, they will all describe it differently. Some will describe the light, others will focus on what people's feet were doing, others will look at the, you know, material, shape of the room or whatever. A great writer picks up on those things that matter. It's almost like their radar is attuned to the most significant moments. What literature is about is a record of people with very sophisticated radars who are picking up on the really important stuff. The interesting thing is that, for me, that radar is not something we should simply passively accept while we read the book. It's something we should learn from. We should shut the book and then say, "Okay, I've read Jane Austin or Proust or Shakespeare and now I'm going to see my mother or I'm going to have a chat with my aunt or I'm going to go and, you know, talk to some friends in a coffee shop, and rather than just doing it the normal way, I'm going to look at them and I'm going to ask myself that basic question, 'how would Jane Austin see them? How would Proust see them? How would Shakespeare see them?'" In other words, I'm not just going to look at the world of Shakespeare or Jane Austin through my eyes, I'm going to look at my world through their eyes. That is the benefit that is the intelligence giving power of great literature. We are sensitized by the books we read. And the more books we read and the deeper their lessons sink into us, the more pairs of glasses we have. And those glasses will enable us to see things that we would otherwise have missed. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd Alain de Botton: I think the way to look at literature is as an instrument that sensitizes us to different things. We all know that if five different people are asked to describe one scene, they will all describe it differently. Some will describe the light, others will focus on what people's feet were doing, others will look at the, you know, material, shape of the room or whatever. A great writer picks up on those things that matter. It's almost like their radar is attuned to the most significant moments. What literature is about is a record of people with very sophisticated radars who are picking up on the really important stuff. The interesting thing is that, for me, that radar is not something we should simply passively accept while we read the book. It's something we should learn from. We should shut the book and then say, "Okay, I've read Jane Austin or Proust or Shakespeare and now I'm going to see my mother or I'm going to have a chat with my aunt or I'm going to go and, you know, talk to some friends in a coffee shop, and rather than just doing it the normal way, I'm going to look at them and I'm going to ask myself that basic question, 'how would Jane Austin see them? How would Proust see them? How would Shakespeare see them?'" In other words, I'm not just going to look at the world of Shakespeare or Jane Austin through my eyes, I'm going to look at my world through their eyes. That is the benefit that is the intelligence giving power of great literature. We are sensitized by the books we read. And the more books we read and the deeper their lessons sink into us, the more pairs of glasses we have. And those glasses will enable us to see things that we would otherwise have missed. Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 170038 Big Think
It's foreign-born scientists that keep the U.S. winning all those Nobel Prizes. But we can't rely on their superior education forever. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/the-secret-weapon-of-american-science Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Unfortunately, I'm rather pessimistic about the way we teach science. And some people ask me a simple question. They are visitors from overseas. And they say that, "Wow, America has so many Nobel laureates, but it has one of the worst education programs known to science." This is measurable. Our kids scored dead last of all the other developed nations. And our students ranked actually a little bit below the students of Jordan in science and math tests. So my friends from overseas ask a simple question. Why doesn't America collapse? I mean, where do all these Nobel laureates come from, and these innovations come from that we see coming from Silicone Valley? Well, America has several secret weapons that most nations have never heard of. First of all, our secret weapon, the weapon that keeps us at the forefront of innovation and scientific progress and high tech, is the H1B. That is our secret weapon that most nations and people have never heard of. The H1B is the genius visa. You are "a genius," a PhD, you have wealth, you're an established figure, zoom you go right into the United States to energize Silicon Valley, which is 50% foreign born. Yes, you see Bill Gates. Yes, you see Steve Jobs out there, but 50% of the **** scientists behind Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are foreign-born. There's a brain drain. A tremendous brain drain into the United States. The top talent comes here. This is where innovation takes place and is rewarded financially. But there are other reasons why America does catch up. First of all, America does "see the genius in the classroom." The young Bill Gates, the young Steve Jobs, the young Albert Einstein. These people **** because in the East there is an expression, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down." In the East there is this Confucian tradition that you're not supposed to make your peers look bad by excelling and trying to achieve something beyond their abilities. However, in the West, we have another saying, and that is, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." So, the innovators, the real imaginative thinkers, they are rewarded in the American system, while in the East they are hammered down. And third, our college system is not so bad. Even though our high school system graduates generations of near-illiterate students, by the time they hit college, then that's when they begin to accelerate. That's when they begin to get up to speed. But you know, we cannot sustain our scientific establishment this way. We cannot continue to depend on foreign scientists. We cannot continue to depend on the genius that may or may not arise, and we certainly cannot depend on college being a remedial high school.
Views: 467574 Big Think
http://bigthink.com Stroustrup shares some secrets about his work habits. Question: What is your work setup like? Bjarne Stroustrup: I travel with a little laptop, the smallest real computer I can get. So the 12-and-something screen and... but a decent processor speed. And where I am, I plug it into a dock and I use two screens and such and then I network to any other resources I want. If at all possible, I would like to make that machine smaller, but... or at least lighter. Larger and lighter would be nice, but I don't get it and too light if you're stuck in a sardine-class seat on a plane, you still should be able to open up and write. And you can't do that with one of those bodybuilder's editions. So a smaller machine, convenient machine that you can carry with you and plug it into a bigger system network to more resources. My laptop is a Windows. People always ask that. And they can't understand why it's not my Linux. Well, my Linux happens to sit on my desk and it talks to a traditional Unix through it. So I use both on a daily basis. It just happened that it's easier to carry the Windows books around. Question: Do you prefer to work at night or during the day? Bjarne Stroustrup: Real thinking, real work goes on fairly early in the day. And then in the evening, no, not really sort of thought work, not creative work. I can polish stuff. I'm not a night bird like that. I like to think when I'm fresh. Question: Do you listen to music while writing code? Bjarne Stroustrup: Quite often, yes. I have a mixture of stuff on the computer; I just plug in the earphones and listen. And there's a mixture, there's classical, there's a bit of rock, there's a bit of country. It's quite surprising what I can actually work with and what I can't because it really does affect it. There's music that sort of takes over and you think about the music, rather than the code. That's no good. And then there's music that you don't hear... that doesn't help either. And well, so well I found something that works, probably just for me, but I like some music. Recorded August 12, 2010 Interviewed by Max Miller
Views: 322395 Big Think
You've just achieved a goal you've been working towards for two years. You did it! Congratulations. Someone asks you: how does it feel? "Kind of anti-climactic, actually," you say. This scenario is quite common among those who have achieved even the highest benchmarks in business, athletics, or art, says Adam Alter, and it's because the goal setting process is broken. With long-term goals particularly, you spend the large majority of the time in a failure state, awaiting what could be a mere second of success down the track. This can be a hollow and unrewarding process. Alter suggests swapping quantitative goals (I will write 1,000 words of my novel per day. I will run 1km further every week) for qualitative systems—like writing every morning with no word target, or running in a new environment each week—that nourish you psychologically, and are independently rewarding each time you do them. Adam Alter is the author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/adam-alter-want-to-succeed-dont-set-goals-set-systems Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Goal setting is fascinating because it's sort of a broken process in many respects. This is the way a goal works: You say to yourself, “When I achieve (whatever the thing is), that's how I'll know I'll have succeeded, and I'm going to do everything I can to get to that point as quickly as possible.” What that means is you exist in a failure state for a long time until you reach that goal, if it's a long-range goal. And so as you evaluate your process all you get is the negative feedback of not having achieved that goal. Perhaps as you move closer to it there's some positive feedback, but if the goal is really the end state that you're seeking out, there's a lot of failure before you get there. And now here's the thing: when you do get there it's a massive anti-climax. So there are people who achieve the highest highs; people who achieve the highest highs in athletics, in business, and if you talk to them and you ask them to describe what it's like to reach their goals they say things like, “I got there and it was an incredible anti-climax. The minute I got there I had to start something new, I had to find a new goal.” And that's partly because there's something really unsatisfying about the moment of reaching the goal. Unless it has its own benefits that come from reaching the goal, if it's just a sort of signpost; that doesn't do much for us, it doesn't nourish us psychologically. And what that ends up meaning is that we have to try to find something new. So really if you look at life as a series of goals, which for many of us it is, it's a period of being unsuccessful in achieving the goal, then hitting the goal, then feeling like you haven't really got much from that goal, going to the next one—and it's a sort of series of escalating goals. A really good example of this is, say, smart watches or Fitbits or exercise watches. People, when they get those watches, a lot of them hit on the number 10,000. “I want to walk 10,000 steps.” When you do that, the thing will beep; you'll feel pretty good about it for a minute but then that feels a little hollow and the goal escalates over time. People will describe going from 10 to 11 to 12 to 14,000 steps to the point where they're moving through injuries, through stress-related injuries, because the goal is there; they respond to the goal more than they do to their internal cues, and basically there's something really unfulfilling about that. The reason the goal keeps escalating and becoming more and more intense is because when they achieve the goal they don't actually get anything for that achievement, and so goals, generally I think, are in many ways broken processes. I think part of the problem with goals is that they don't tell you how to get to where you're going. A better thing to do is to use a system. So the idea behind a system rather than a goal is that a system is saying things like, “I’m a writer, my goal is to finish writing this book but I'm not going to think about it in that way. Eventually I'll have 100,000 words, but my system will be that for an hour every morning I will sit in front of my computer screen and I will type. It doesn't matter what that looks like. I'm not going to evaluate the number of words. I'm not going to set some benchmark, some artificial number or benchmark that I should reach, what I'm going to do is just say, 'Here's my system: an hour a day in front of the screen. I'll do what I can—bam.'”
Views: 523397 Big Think
The story of the Penn Jilllette's weight loss is, as you might expect, quite extreme. In fact it was the radical nature of his diet that attracted him to it in the first place. Jillette's latest book is "Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales" (http://goo.gl/jJDkz1). Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/penn-jillette-on-losing-100lbs-of-weight Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: I lost over 100 pounds, a third of my weight. I was probably at my heaviest. You don’t ever weigh yourself at your heaviest but I was probably over 340, certainly around there. And now as I sit here in front of you I’m probably about 232. There’s a fluctuation of a couple of pounds, it goes back and forth. That’s a lot of weight. And I did not lose it for vanity. I was pretty happy with myself fat. I didn’t mind being fat. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I didn’t mind how I looked. But my health was getting bad. I didn’t even mind how I felt very much. I didn’t mind not being energetic and stuff. But I started having blood pressure that was stupid high like, you know, like English voltage, like 220 even on blood pressure medicine. And I have two young children. I’m an old dad. My daughter was born when I was 50. So I’m 61 now. And my life expectancy, the actuary tables were crashing down and the doctor said that I had to get a stomach sleeve. It was a wonderful moment because it then gave me the option to go crazy. If you’re going to surgically do something to me to stop me from swallowing that means I don’t have to worry about doing a sane diet. I can get nutty. And being given the option to be nutty was all I needed. I realized that not only am I not good at moderation, I also don’t respect moderation. Anyone I know who’s able to do moderation I don’t like them. The people I respect and love are people that go wild. I mean I don’t want to go into Kerouac here but the mad ones. No one brags about climbing a nice little slope. You brag about climbing Everest. So once my friend Ray Cronise who I can Cray Ray, once Cray Ray told me that I could lose the weight but it was going to be really hard, it got really easy. Once you make something a challenge, you make something I can brag about, I can do it. Read Full Transcript Here: https://goo.gl/X54URE.
Views: 1640599 Big Think
Geniuses like Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman both had the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals to grasp. Transcript -- I'm tempted to say smart, creative people have no particularly different set of character traits than the rest of us except for being smart and creative, and those being character traits. Then, on the other hand, I wrote a biography of Richard Feynman and a biography of Isaac Newton. Now, there are two great scientific geniuses whose characters were in some superficial ways completely different. Isaac Newton was solitary, antisocial, I think unpleasant, bitter, fought with his friends as much as with his enemies. Richard Feynman was gregarious, funny, a great dancer, loved women. Isaac Newton, I believe, never had sex. Richard Feynman, I believe, had plenty. So you can't generalize there. On the other hand, they were both, as I tried to get in their heads, understand their minds, the nature of their genius, I sort of felt I was seeing things that they had in common, and they were things that had to do with aloneness. Newton was much more obviously alone than Feynman, but Feynman didn't particularly work well with others. He was known as a great teacher, but he wasn't a great teacher, I don't think, one on one. I think he was a great lecturer. I think he was a great communicator. But when it came time to make the great discoveries of science, he was alone in his head. Now, when I say he, I mean both Feynman and Newton, and this applies, also, I think, to the geniuses that I write about in The Information, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Ada Byron. They all had the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals like me to grasp, a kind of passion for abstraction that doesn't lend itself to easy communication, I don't think. Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Views: 2189876 Big Think
Dr. Kaku addresses the question of the possibility of utopia, the perfect society that people have tried to create throughout history. These dreams have not been realized because we have scarcity. However, now we have nanotechnology, and with nanotechnology, perhaps, says Dr. Michio Kaku, maybe in 100 years, we'll have something called the replicator, which will create enormous abundance. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/dr-kakus-universe/can-nanotechnology-create-utopia Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: Throughout human history people have tried to create utopia, the perfect society. In fact, America, the American dream, in some sense was based on utopianism. Why do we have the Shaker movement? Why did we have the Quakers? Why did we have so many different kinds of religious movements that fled Europe looking to create a utopia here in the Americas? Well, we know the Shakers have disappeared and many of these colonies have also disappeared only to be found in footnotes in American textbooks, and the question is why? One reason why is scarcity because back then the industrial revolution was still young and societies had scarcity. Scarcity creates conflict and unless you have a way to resolve conflict, your colony falls apart. How do you allocate resources? Who gets access to food when there is a famine? Who gets shelter when there is a snowstorm and all of the sudden you've eaten up your seed corn? These are questions that faced the early American colonists, and that's the reason why we only see the ghost towns of these utopias. However, now we have nanotechnology, and with nanotechnology, perhaps, who knows, maybe in 100 years, we'll have something called the replicator. Now the replicator is something you see in Star Trek. It's called the molecular assembler and it takes ordinary raw materials, breaks them up at the atomic level and joins the joints in different ways to create new substances. If you have a molecular assembler, you can turn, for example, a glass into wood or vice versa. You would have the power of a magician, in fact, the power of a god, the ability to literally transform the atoms of one substance into another and we see it on Star Trek. It's also the most subversive device of all because if utopias fail because of scarcity then what happens when you have infinite abundance? What happens when you simply ask and it comes to you? One of my favorite episodes on Star Trek is when the Enterprise encounters a space capsule left over from the 20th century, the bad 20th century. People died of all these horrible diseases, and many people froze themselves knowing that in the 23rd century or so they'll be thawed out and their diseases will be cured. Well, sure enough, it's the 23rd century now. The Enterprise finds a space capsule and begins to revive all these people and cure them of cancer, cure them of incurable genetic diseases, and then one of these individuals, however, was a banker. He is revived and he says to himself, "My God, my gamble worked; I'm alive; I'm in the 23rd century," and he said, "Call my stock broker; call my banker; I am rich; I am rich; my investments, they have been sitting there in the bank for centuries; I must be a quadrillionaire!" And then the crew of the Enterprise looks at this man and says, "What is money; what is a bank; what is a stock broker? We don't have any of these in the 23rd century," and then they say, "If you want something, you simply ask for it and you get it." Now that's subversive. That's revolutionary because if all utopian societies vanished because of scarcity and conflict, what happens when there is no scarcity? What happens when you simply ask and you get what you want? This has enormous philosophical implications. For example, why bother to work? Why bother to go to work when you simply ask for things and it comes to you?
Views: 546657 Big Think
In the late 1970s, Stroustrup applied the idea of "classes" to the C programming language to create a new language that allows for high level abstraction—but is efficient and close to the hardware. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/why-i-created-c Follow Big Think here: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigthink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript: What inspired you to create C++? In the really old days, people had to write their code directly to work on the hardware. They wrote load and store instructions to get stuff in and out of memory and they played about with bits and bytes and stuff. You could do pretty good work with that, but it was very specialized. Then they figured out that you could build languages fit for humans for specific areas. Like they built FORTRAN for engineers and scientists and they built COBALT for businessmen. And then in the mid-'60s, a bunch of Norwegians, mostly Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard thought why can’t you get a language that sort of is fit for humans for all domains, not just linear algebra and business. And they built something called SIMULA. And that’s where they introduced the class as the thing you have in the program to represent a concept in your application world. So if you are a mathematician, a matrix will become a class, if you are a businessman, a personnel record might become a class, in telecommunications a dial buffer might become a class—you can represent just about anything as a class. And they went a little bit further and represented relationships between classes; any hierarchical relationship could be done as a bunch of classes. So you could say that a fire engine is a kind of a truck which is a kind of a car which is a kind of a vehicle and organize things like that. This became know as object-oriented programming or also in some variance of it as data abstraction. And my idea was very simple: to take the ideas from SIMULA for general abstraction for the benefit of sort of humans representing things... so humans could get it with low level stuff, which at that time was the best language for that was C, which was done at Bell Labs by Dennis Ritchie. And take those two ideas and bring them together so that you could do high-level abstraction, but efficiently enough and close enough to the hardware for really demanding computing tasks. And that is where I came in. And so C++ has classes like SIMULA but they run as fast as C code, so the combination becomes very useful. What makes C++ such a widely used language? If I have to characterize C++’s strength, it comes from the ability to have abstractions and have them so efficient that you can afford it in infrastructure. And you can access hardware directly as you often have to do with operating systems with real time control, little things like cell phones, and so the combination is something that is good for infrastructure in general. Another aspect that’s necessary for infrastructure is stability. When you build an infrastructure it could be sort of the lowest level of IBM mainframes talking to the hardware for the higher level of software, which is a place they use C++. Or a fuel injector for a large marine diesel engine or a browser, it has to be stable for a decade or so because you can’t afford to fiddle with the stuff all the time. You can’t afford to rewrite it, I mean taking one of those ships into harbor costs a lot of money. And so you need a language that’s not just good at what it’s doing, you have to be able to rely on it being available for decades on a variety of different hardware and to be used by programmers over a decade or two at least. C++ is not about three decades old. And if that’s not the case, you have to rewrite your code all the time. And that happens primarily with experimental languages and with proprietary commercial languages that change to finish—to meet fads. C++’s problem is the complexity part because we haven’t been able to clean it up. There’s still code written in the 80’s that are running and people don’t like their running codes to break. It could cost them millions or more. Interviewed by Max Miller
Views: 1334261 Big Think
http://bigthink.com John Waters knew he was gay the moment he saw Elvis Presley, but people rarely asked him about his sexuality because they feared it was something "worse" than homosexuality. "They were afraid to hear the answer," he says. Question: How did you come out?John Waters: Coming out! It's just so square to me. I mean, I always was gay. I knew I was gay the moment I saw Elvis Presley, when I was probably about 10 years old. I thought, what the hell is that? But I know it's important to some people, but I just... no one, I never just came out and made it a ceremony or an announcement. Like when people say, "Are you a bottom or a top?" What is it, a political party? It depends. It's amazing to me the seriousness with these questions we're asked about. To me, most of the gay people I know sort of just always were, but they didn't only hang around with gay people, they hung around with straight people that... I'm for mix. I'm against separatism of any kind. I don't like men that call women fish and I hate that. I hate separate lesbians that hate men. I like them better though. But I know it's important to people. No one ever asked me if I was gay because they thought something was worse than that. They were afraid to hear the answer. I was on the cover of the Advocate and it said, "The World's Most Out Director," but they never asked me if I was gay. They never asked me a gay question. I was waiting. And my father once said, "Do you have to say it in USA Today?" so I didn't. I thought that was fair, you know. He doesn't care if I'm on the cover of Out because his friends don't see that. So I thought it was a funny question. I honored that, sure. USA Today would never ask you that question anyway. So I'm for it, but I kind of just always felt like I always was. I mean, I was on the cover of a gay magazine in like 1972, something called Gay Times and it wasn't because I was brave, just nobody else wanted to put me on the cover. Really. So, and my films have... I've always said that my audiences, even gay people that don't get along with other gay people, black people that don't get along with other black people. Minorities that can't stand even the rules of their own minority. And I'm one of them. Too much gaily correctness makes me crazy too. You now, that GlAAD came out against this tranny movie? Oh please, we have more enemies than that. It was like, what, are gay people losing their sense of humor they have to be perfect now? I'm for gay villains. I think it's healthy to admit there's bad gay movies. Gay's not enough, it's a good start. Question: As gay culture has entered the mainstream has it become more homogeneous?John Waters: I think, yeah. I don't understand what gay people want to be like everybody else. To me, we were outlaws, we used our wit for fighting words, you know, act up, act bad I wanted. But I understand that people... straight, gay, people want to get married, they want to have children. I'm for that, I'm all for that. I'm for like, why would anyone be against gay adoption? I can't understand it, or when celebrities get babies. Madonna's child won the lottery, if you ask me. The one she just got in Africa. I'm for anybody getting any kid, if they can love it. And I'm for abortion. If you can't love your kid, don't have it because it will grow up and kill us. Recorded September 10, 2010 Interviewed by Max Miller
Views: 170992 Big Think
Dr. Michio Kaku returns to Big Think studios to discuss his latest book, The Future of the Mind (http://goo.gl/1mcGeb). Here he explains the evolution of human intelligence. Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Transcipt - Some people think that intelligence is the crowning achievement of evolution. Well if that's true there should be more intelligent creatures on the planet Earth. But to the best of our knowledge we're the only ones. The dinosaurs were on the Earth for roughly 200 million years and to the best of our knowledge not a single dinosaur became intelligent. We humans, modern humans, had been on the Earth for roughly a hundred thousand years. Only a tiny fraction of the 4.5 billion years that the Earth has been around. So you come to the rather astounding conclusion that intelligence is not really necessary. That Mother Nature has done perfectly well with non-intelligent creatures for millions of years and that we as intelligent creatures are the new kid on the block. And so then you begin to wonder how did we become intelligent? What separated us from the animals? Well there are basically three ingredients -- at least three that help to propel us to become intelligent. One is the opposable thumb. You need a tentacle, a claw, an opposable thumb in order to manipulate the environment. So that's one of the ingredients of intelligence -- to be able to change the world around you. Second is eyesight. But the eyesight of a predator. We have eyes to the front of our face, not to the side of our face and why? Animals with eyes to the front of their face are predators -- lions, tigers and foxes. Animals with eyes to the side of their face are prey and they are not as intelligent -- like a rabbit. We say dumb bunny and smart as a fox. And there's a reason for that. Because the fox is a predator. It has to learn how to ambush. It has to learn how to have stealth, camouflage. It has to psych out the enemy and anticipate the motion of the enemy that is its prey. If you're a dumb bunny all you have to do is run. And the third basic ingredient is language because you have to be able to communicate your knowledge to the next generation. And to the best of our knowledge animals do not communicate knowledge to their offspring other than by simply communicating certain primitive motions. There's no book. There's no language. There's no culture by which animals can communicate their knowledge to the next generation. And so we think that's how the brain evolved. We have an opposable thumb, we have a language of maybe five to ten thousand words. And we have eyesight that is stereo eyesight -- the eyesight of a predator. And predators seem to be smarter than prey. Then you ask another question. How many animals on the Earth satisfy these three basic ingredients. And then you come to the astounding conclusion -- the answer is almost none. So perhaps there's a reason why we became intelligent and the other animals did not. They did not have the basic ingredients that would one day propel us to become intelligent. Then the next question asked in Planet of the Apes and asked in any number of science fiction movies is can you accentuate intelligence. Can you take an ape and make the ape intelligent. Well, believe it or not the answer could be yes. We are 98.5 percent genetically equivalent to a chimpanzee. Only a handful of genes separate us from the chimps and yet we live twice as long and we have thousands of words in our vocabulary. Chimps can have maybe just a few hundred. And we've isolated many of those genes that separate us from the chimpanzees. For example the ASP gene governs the size of the crane, cranial capacity so that by monkeying with just one gene you can literally double the size of the brain case and the brain itself. And so in the future -- not today but in the future we may use gene therapy to begin the process of making perhaps a chimpanzee intelligent. We know the genes that'll increase the size of the brain. We've isolated now the genes that give you manual dexterity by which you can make tools. We have found the genes which give you the ability to articulate thousands of words. And so it may be possible to tinker with the genome of a chimpanzee so that they have a larger brain case, they have better manual dexterity and they have the ability to articulate a larger vocabulary. But then what do you get? You get a primate that looks very similar to a human. And so my personal attitude is why bother. We already have humans, just look outside the door. So why bother to manipulate a chimpanzee because as you make a chimpanzee more and more intelligent it becomes more and more humanlike with a vocabulary, with vocal chords, with manual dexterity, with a larger brain case and a spine to support a larger brain case. That's called a human. Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Views: 636004 Big Think
Our brains react subconsciously to what is said during business negotiations. To succeed, it's important to choose your words carefully and be aware of the tone of your voice. Chris Voss is the author of "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It" (http://goo.gl/04OgLC). Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/chris-voss-gives-language-tips-for-negotiations Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript - How you use your voice is really important and it's really driven by context more than anything else, and your tone of voice will immediately begin to impact somebody's mood and immediately how their brain functions. There's actually scientific data out there now that shows us that our brains will work up to 31 percent more effectively if we're in a good mood. So if I smile at you and you see it or you can hear a smile in someone's voice, if I automatically smile at you and you can hear that I like you, I will actually be able to reach into your brain, flip the positive the switch, it puts you in a better mood there are mirror neurons in our brain that we have no control over; they automatically respond. And if I intentionally put you in a good mood your brain will be working more effectively and that already begins to increase the chances that you're going to collaborate with me. You'll be smarter and you'll like me more at the same time. Now upward and downward inflexion, downward inflexion is often used to say this is the way it is; there's no other way. And I will say it exactly like that. If there is a term in a contract that there's no movement on and I want you to know it and feel it without me having to say there's no movement on this, which maybe you want to yell at somebody and that's ineffective because that triggers a different part of the brain and makes people angry and they want to fight. And I've done this in contract negotiations. I've said things like, "We don't do work for hire," just like that. It lets the other side know there's no movement whatsoever. I also may need to put you in a more collaborative frame of mind and if I want to ask you a question I'll say something like it seems like this is important to you and I'll inflect up. It's more driven by context. And I can use an upward inflection to encourage you and smile while I'm questioning you. And that will make you feel less attacked by being questioned because people are made to feel a little bit defensive when they're question anyway. So if I know if I have to question you, if I want you to think about a different option then I'm going to be as encouraging as possible while I may be very assertive at the same time. Read The Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/jGBM66.
Views: 70162 Big Think
President of the Center for Applied Rationality Julia Galef described the pervasive "sunk costs fallacy." Transcript -- So I want to introduce you to a concept known as the sunk cost fallacy. Imagine that you're going to the store and you're halfway there when you realize, "Oh wait, the store is actually closed today." But you figure, "Well, I've already come ten blocks. I might as well just go all the way to the store, you know, so that my ten blocks of walking won't have been wasted. Well, this is a transparently silly way to reason and I doubt that any of us would actually go all the way to a store that we knew was closed just because we'd already gone ten blocks. But this pattern of thinking is actually surprisingly common in scenarios that are a little bit less obvious than the store example. So, say you're in a career and it's becoming more and more clear to you that this isn't actually a fulfilling career for you. You'd probably be happier somewhere else. But you figure I'll just stick with it because I don't want my past ten years of effort and time and money to have been wasted. So the time and money and effort and whatever else you've already spent is what we call the sunk cost. It's gone no matter what you do going forward. And now you're just trying to decide given that I've already spent that money or time or whatever, what choice is going to produce the best outcome for my future. And the sunk cost fallacy then means making a choice not based on what outcome you think is going to be the best going forward but instead based on a desire not to see your past investment go to waste. Once you start paying attention to the sunk cost fallacy you'll probably notice at least a few things that you would like to be doing differently. And maybe those will be small scale things like, in my case, I now am much more willing to just abandon a book if a hundred pages in I conclude that I'm not enjoying it and I'm, you know, not getting any value out of it rather than trudging through the remaining 200-300 pages of the book just because I don't want, you know, my past investment of a hundred pages, the time that I spent reading those hundred pages to go to waste. And you might notice some large things, too. For example, I was in a Ph.D. program and started realizing, "Gee, this really isn't the field for me." And you know, it's a shame that I have spent the last several years preparing for and working in this Ph.D. program but I genuinely predict going forward that I'd be happier if I switched to another field. And sometimes it really does take time to fully acknowledge to yourself that you don't have any good reason to stick with the job or Ph.D. or project that you've been working on so long because sunk costs are painful. But at least having the sunk cost fallacy on your radar means that you have the opportunity at least to push past that and make the choice that instead will lead to the better outcomes for your future. Produced/Directed by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Views: 170076 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Since Branson founded Virgin in 1970, the company has grown from a small record outlet to a global powerhouse. Can the brand continue its success without him? Question: What is your advice for entrepreneurs? Richard Branson: I think the most important thing about running a company is to remember all the time what a company is. A company is simply a group of people. And as a leader of people you have to be a great listener and you have to be a great motivator. You have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people. People are no different from flowers. If you water flowers they flourish, if you praise people they flourish. And that is a critical attribute of a leader. Question: What has been the most difficult part about running Virgin?Richard Branson: There is a very thin dividing line between success and failure. Most people who set off in business without financial backing they fail at some times in their lives. I've only just stayed at the right side of that dividing line. For instance, just after... You know we had a record company. I was fed up flying on other people's airlines. I felt that the experience of flying on other people's airlines was an unpleasant one and I decided to set up an airline. Well our bank went into a complete panic attack and when I came back from doing the inaugural flight of Virgin Atlantic's very, very first flight from London to New York I came back to find the bank manager sitting on my doorstep and informing me that they were going to close Virgin down on the Monday and this was the Friday and that I had two days to effectively pay them off the monies that they'd loaned us and I remember pushing the bank manager out of my house, telling him he wasn't welcome, which is a dangerous thing to do to your bank manager and then spending the weekend ringing around the world to all of the distributors of our music asking if they could give us a temporary loan to get us through the following week, which they were good enough to do and by the end of the week we had changed banks and we actually managed to find a bank that was willing to lend us 30 times the overdraft facility that our bank had lent us and we managed to survive. And I think the moral of that story is actually don't think of your bank as somebody that you're beholden to. I mean don't... You know people just don't move from one bank to another. Sometimes you need to be willing to step up and move your banks in the same way that you should step up and move your doctor on occasions and anyway, I learned from that lesson. Question: Can Virgin continue to be successful without you?Richard Branson: Virgin does work very well without me. I mean I use myself to build the brand, to build the sort of three or four hundred companies around the world, but I also learned the art of delegation. I have a fantastic team of people who run the Virgin companies, give them a lot of freedom to run the companies as if they were their own companies. I give them the freedom to make mistakes and the Virgin brand is now maybe one of the top 20 brands in the world, well respected. And when my balloon bursts Virgin will continue to flourish. And maybe I add the icing on the cake on occasions, maybe they'll have to spend a bit more money on marketing, but fortunately Virgin is in a state where it can live on healthily without me. Recorded September 22, 2010 Interviewed by Victoria Brown
Views: 1919191 Big Think
Tim Ferriss shares a bounty of strategies to help you really and truly overcome procrastination. And if it doesn't do it for you, hey, at least you just killed 10 minutes. Ferriss's latest book is "Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers" (https://goo.gl/BZTial). Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/tim-ferriss-on-procrastination-and-how-to-overcome-it Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink Transcript - Procrastination. Let's talk about it. It's a big topic. And by the way we all face it. It is a ever present evergreen issue for a reason and even the people you see on magazine covers, most of them, there are a few mutants, but they all have things they put off. And there are a few different tactics, approaches that I found very helpful that I've borrowed from, whether it's guests on the Tim Ferris Show or people I interviewed for Tools of Titans my newest book, here we go. So down the list. So one is break it down into the smallest action conceivable. And there are a few different types here. So if you have a macro goal, which is double the number of podcast downloads per episode. All right. I'm just giving that as an example. Well, we need to modify that to make it really actionable. So the first is making it hyper, hyper specific so we need a timeline at the very least. So let's say within six months doubling, and this is a real example for me, doubling the number of podcast downloads. Well, downloads are ongoing so by what point in time? All right, I want to double the number of podcast downloads per episode by week six after publication and I want to accomplish that within six months. All right. And then we can borrow from David Allen and just ask what are some of the prerequisites, the component pieces of doing that? Let's break it out into say content and organic. You could have it paid acquisition, you make a long list of these potential buckets of activities. From there you would look at next physical actions, and this is directly from getting things done. And you could apply that to any number of these, let's just say it's ten buckets but you would ask yourself, this is a question I ask myself very often when I'm procrastinating because there is indecision, and this is a particular breed of procrastination. In other words if I have ten things on my to do list or ten potential products I could pursue what to do in that situation? And what I ask myself is which one of these if done will make the rest the relevant or easier? This is a key question I ask all the time, which one of these will make all the rest easier to do if done first, or all the rest irrelevant, don't even need to do them. That is how I will hone in on one piece of the puzzle. Read Full Transcript Here: https://goo.gl/A7WnoM.
Views: 548714 Big Think
Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 There are no more evolutionary pressures driving gross human evolution, but that doesn't mean we won't be able to genetically re-engineer ourselves in the future.
Views: 1890644 Big Think
We want our surgeons to be excellent. We wants our classical music performers to be excellent. But do we really want excellence everywhere? This is the provocative line of thought economist and mathematician Eric Weinstein is currently chasing. We've figured out how to reliably teach excellence, which is useful — but there is a trade-off. Individuals and education institutions become hyper-focused on cutting variant individuals to a certain shape, pushing them into a mold so they can passably imitate the "excellent" population, but not really perform. "The key question is: who are these high-variance individuals? Why are our schools filled with dyslexics? Why are there so many kids diagnosed with ADHD? My claim is these are giant underserved populations who are not meant for the excellence model." To that end, Weinstein suggests that the label of 'learning disabled' is severely misguided. Perhaps we should call this phenomenon what it more accurately is: a teaching disability. How much genius is squandered by muting the strengths of these populations? Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/eric-weinstein-our-cult-of-achievement-is-crushing-the-genius-out-of-people Follow Big Think here: YouTube: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigthink I think that very few people see the words 'excellence' or 'consensus' as anything other than the most positive of words. These are the habits that most people seek to cultivate. They wish to be part of the consensus. They wish to be excellent in both their behavior and hope for excellent outcomes. I think the problem is that, we didn’t realize that excellence so far as it goes is fine but it’s involved in a trade-off. And that trade-off has to do with the fact that excellence is really about quality control. It’s about the fact that if I’m going to go for, let’s say, a classical music concert, I want to assume that the piece will be played flawlessly and I will concentrate only on the interpretive aspects of the piece above that. But, in fact, quality control can be deadly. For example, if in a jazz date where an improviser takes few risks the music may be pleasant enough as background music but it’s scarcely the sort of thing that would have animated the bebop generation who played live dates under open-mic conditions never knowing what would happen next. Perhaps the most famous jazz album of all time was Miles Davis’ 'Kind of Blue', and if you look at the sheet music for that date almost nothing was written down. It was just a question of bringing the most amazing minds together. And you can even hear a few flaws on that album which make it so exciting. So I think that the problem is that, we have to realize that excellence is about hill climbing. It’s about the fabled 10,000 hours. It’s about practice making perfect. And this is something that, to the credit of excellence, it’s something we do know how to teach. Perhaps we don’t know how to teach everyone how to achieve it but there’s always a class of people who through dedicated repetition will be able to bring their variance under extraordinary pressure so that they are reliable members of our society. We want this in our surgeons, often. We want this in our classical music performers. But the question is: do we want it everywhere? And because we do know how to teach excellence we’ve blinded ourselves to the role that a different thought process is involved in, which I would associate with genius. The key question is: who are these high-variance individuals? Why are our schools filled with dyslexics? Why are there so many kids diagnosed with ADHD? My claim is these are giant underserved populations who are not meant for the excellence model. They are meant to be the innovators, the people who bring us new forms of music that others will seek to perfect and hone in their performance. And, in fact, the problem is, is that we don’t realize that genius is really about adaptive valley crossing. It’s about taking on risk, taking on cost, doing things that make almost no sense to anyone else and can only be shown to have been sensible after the fact because, in fact, and I think, you know, Jim Watson said this beautifully, he said if you’re really going to do anything big you are by definition unqualified to do it. So the entire culture of credentialism, of professionalism, is really a culture of excellence. But, in fact, society is run by power laws. The very thick tails of these distributions suggest that life isn’t normally distributed but distributed by power laws. And we need a special class of people to play those tails, to get us the returns, to power us forward and advance society. And so what I’m really interested in is not being blinded by excellence to the prospects for other modalities, in particular genius.
Views: 180336 Big Think
Michio Kaku: I believe in solar power, but there are problems that we have to face, and one of them is low efficiency. Michio Kaku: Some people think that the time is right for the solar revolution, that one day solar power will replace oil and we'll all live in a world that is clean and renewable. Well, not so fast. I believe in solar power. However, there are problems that we have to face, and one of them is low efficiency. The other one is lack of a storage facility like a battery. That's' the weak link. We simply don't have the efficiency of solar cells necessary to make it economical and competitive today, and the ability to store the energy for long periods of time when the sun is dark, when there are clouds and your solar panels don't work.So my point of view is this: I think in the coming decade, as oil prices start to rise and as the cost of wind and solar and renewables start to drop, the two currents will probably cross in maybe ten years. So in ten years it will be the marketplace which then begins to drive the whole thing forward because of the dropping cost of solar cells and rising efficiency and the rising price of oil. Now, why do I believe that oil prices will rise? Because of something called Hubbert's Peak. Hubbert was a Shell Oil engineer way back in the 1960s who predicted that we would hit the halfway point for the production of oil in the United States and after that the bell-shaped curve would curve the other way and we would become an importer of oil. Well, people laughed at him because they said that, "Well, wait a minute. We have Alaska. We have Texas. We have lots of oil fields, and so we're not going to hit the 50% point. America will always export oil." Well, wrong. Hubbert hit it right on the nose to within the year at which US oil supplies peaked and then it went to the other side of the bell-shaped curve. That's called Hubbert's Peak, when we hit the 50% point. Now we know that Hubbard was right and the next big question is, are we hitting Hubbert's Peak for world oil production? That is the $64,000 question. Many people that I've talked to, senior oil analysts, energy analysts, say that we are either at Hubbert's Peak or within ten years of hitting Hubbert's Peak. Now some people say, "Well that's stupid. We discover new oil deposits all the time. Look at Canada. We have tar sands of Canada, right?" Wrong. It turns out that we will always have oil. We will never run out of oil, except oil will become more expensive as we go down the other side of Hubbert's Peak. We would have to discover a new Saudi Arabia every five to ten years in order for this curve to simply go on forever. That's not going to happen. I don't care how many tar sands you're talking about in Canada. You're not going to create a new Saudi Arabia, which produces very clean, very cheap oil, oil that is prized by the oil companies because it is relatively less polluting and has tremendous amounts of profits associated with it. So we do know that oil prices will fluctuate because of politics, but on average it will start to rise because we will be hitting Hubbert's Peak. Meanwhile, solar power is going to become cheaper and in 10 years or so the two curves could actually cross, and in 20 years a new game changer arrives and that is fusion power. The Europeans are betting the store on the ITER fusion reactor to be built outside Cadarache, France in Southern France, and if we have the power of the sun on the earth then sea water could drive all our machines. So if this scenario plays out as I predict, it means that global warming could actually be a problem only for the next several decades as we enter the solar era and the fusion era. The problem is we have already lofted so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and we will continue to do so for decades to come, that even before we enter the solar age and the fusion age we will have so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we will really screw up the weather. But on a long-term basis I think that solar energy and fusion power will be the solution, the ultimate solution, for the greenhouse problem. Directed / Produced byJonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
Views: 260529 Big Think
http://bigthink.com This super camera captures what is beyond human comprehension. For a sneak peek of the latest Michio Kaku clip visit http://bigthink.com/ideas/42479
Views: 353090 Big Think
The James Randi Educational Foundation has never met a "psychic" it couldn't discredit—easily. Still, Randi understands why such frauds appeal to people. Question: What does the JREF consider a legitimate test of paranormal claims? A test of any specific claim is going to depend entirely upon that claim. If you say you can speak to dead people, I've got a whole load of questions I would like to ask certain dead people. Answers to which I already have, and the dead people, since they are dead, I don't believe they've got the answers any longer, but if you want to call them up and ask them the questions and come up with the right answer, hey, you could win the million dollars. Now, many people say they can read minds, they can predict the future, they can interpret dreams and such, well, it all depends on the specific claim they make. All they have to do is say what they can do, under what circumstances, with what accuracy. And some people have taken, literally, years. One fellow, a PhD in California took four and a half years to answer those three questions, and finally when we got ready to enter into tests with him of "remote viewing," as he called it, and he actually gave courses in this at the university in California, he suddenly changed his email address and his telephone number. We haven't been able to reach him since. Isn't that strange? I guess he doesn't need the million dollars. Question: What has been the most difficult paranormal claim for the JREF to disprove?James Randi: I'd like to say that there has been one particularly difficult one, but no, they've all been so easy. They've been so easy because they've been so transparent. I've been in this business for a long, long time and I've seen everything. Recently, I got a nice contract to go to South Korea and do a TV series, which I did there, testing South Korean "psychics," so-called. And they told me before I left, they said, "Oh, Mr. Randi, you signed the contract, so I guess we should tell, we've got psychics in South Korea that you've never seen before." And I went off there with my assistant and we looked at them and turned to one another and said, "Wait a minute. This is the same thing that has been going on since the 1600s. It's in all the books. It's exactly the same thing. They're serving kimchee at lunch instead of macaroni, or whatever, but in any different culture, in any differen... the costume is different, the language is different, but the same stunts are being done again, and again, and again. They haven't invented anything new since the early 1600s. Question: Do you believe supernatural thinking is ingrained in human cognition?James Randi: Well, you'd have to ask a psychologist, and perhaps a few psychiatrists that question because technically I can't answer that question. But I will tell you, I suspect strongly that people need to have some more romance in their lives. After all, look at the average kid who is male or female who was raised by their parents who believe that he or she will have children and will have a wife or a husband and they will be absolutely ideal people and everything will go... you will be a doctor, or lawyer, or you'll be very wealthy, have a beautiful home. It doesn't work out that way all the time. In fact, it seldom works out that way. And so they look around and say, "What have I done wrong?" And them somebody runs an ad on television saying, "Oh, I can solve your problems. I can give you guidance to the future, and I can look into the crystal ball, or read the tarot cards," or whatever. They may tend to fall for that sort of thing because they say, "They wouldn't' say that if it weren't true." Oh, yes, they would. And there's a huge profit margin in this. So people do fall for these things very, very easily.Recorded April 16, 2010Interviewed by Austin Allen
Views: 1046141 Big Think