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Tagged with “biology” (19)

  1. Isotopes Say New Origin Stories for Some Planets: Scientific American Podcast

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=isotopes-say-new-origin-stories-for-11-07-05

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  2. Does the Future Include Synthetic Life?

    J. Craig Venter is a biologist most known for his contributions, in 2001, of sequencing the first draft human genome and in 2007 for the first complete diploid human genome. In 2010 he and his team announced success in constructing the first synthetic bacterial cell. He is a founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and founder and CEO of the company, Synthetic Genomics Inc (JCVI). His present work focuses on creating synthetic biological organisms and applications of this work, and discovering genetic diversity in the world’s oceans. Dr. Venter is the 2008 National Medal of Science and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Viking, 2007).

    http://schedule.sxsw.com/events/event_IAP000245

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  3. Sciencemag.org Podcast: Sexual Selection; Medieval Climate Anomalies; Stimulus Funding

    A positive feedback between natural and sexual selection; modeling surface temperature changes over the past 1500 years; following the stimulus funding for U.S. science agencies; and more. (37 minutes)

    From: http://www.sciencemag.org/about/podcast.dtl

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  4. Did Cooking Give Humans An Evolutionary Edge?

    In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that cooking gave early humans an advantage over other primates, leading to larger brains and more free time. Wrangham discusses his theory, and why Homo sapiens can’t live on raw food alone.

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  5. David Koepsell - Who Owns You?

    David Koepsell is an author, philosopher, and attorney whose recent research focuses on the nexus of science, technology, ethics, and public policy. He is Assistant Professor, Philosophy Section, Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management at the Technology University of Delft, in The Netherlands, and Senior Fellow, 3TU Centre for Ethics and Technology, The Netherlands. He is also the author of The Ontology of Cyberspace: Philosophy, Law, and the Future of Intellectual Property, as well as numerous scholarly articles on law, philosophy, science, and ethics. His latest book is Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes.

    from: http://www.pointofinquiry.org/david_koepsell_who_owns_you/

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  6. Jeff Schweitzer - Beyond Cosmic Dice: Moral Life in a Random World

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/jeff_schweitzer_beyond_cosmic_dice_moral_life_in_a_random_world/

    Dr. Jeffrey Schweitzer is an author, scientist and public speaker who has traveled widely speaking to varied groups about the application of the scientific worldview to public policy and ethical questions. He has published more than one hundred articles in an eclectic range of fields, including neurobiology, marine science, international development, environmental protection, and even aviation. He formerly served as assistant director for international affairs in the Clinton White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is a featured blogger on Huffington Post. His new book is Beyond Cosmic Dice: Moral Life in a Random World.

    In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Dr. Jeffrey Schweitzer argues that adopting the scientific view of human origins has implications for understanding that morality is a consequence of our biology. He argues that religion puts humanity on a pedestal, and why that is dangerous. He contends that religion has failed to morally guide humanity, and he attacks religion for impeding the moral development of humanity and for causing much human suffering. He explains that religion results from fear of death, an attempt to understand the universe, achieve social cohesion and political power, and an attempt to control our fate by appealing to gods. But he argues that in the age of science, these reasons are no longer compelling. He denies that science has become a religion in itself. He explores if and how religion and science ask different questions, and if science can answer the existential questions that religion attempts to answer. He argues that life has no ultimate meaning, and that he derives this fact from science, while denying that this leads to nihilism. He discusses existentialism and contrasts it with his scientific worldview. He argues against the concept of free will as a false concept of religion, and discusses the implications this has for moral responsibility. He talks about the biological component to human morality, and defends his position from the charge of moral relativism, while admitting a kind of cultural relativism. He discusses Social Darwinism, and distinguishes core values from social values that progress over time. He explains components of his moral view, and compares his view with scientific or secular humanism. And he suggests that humanity is at a crossroads where our continued survival is uncertain, and describes the kind of behaviors consistent with a natural ethic that may be key to humanity’s surviving the future.

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  7. Dacher Keltner - Born to Be Good

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/dacher_keltner_born_to_be_good/

    Dacher Keltner is professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, director of the Greater Good Science Center, and coeditor of Greater Good magazine. His research focuses on the prosocial emotions, such as love, sympathy and gratitude, and processes such as teasing and flirtation that enhance bonds. He has conducted empirical studies in three areas of inquiry: the determinants and effects of power, hierarchy and social class; the morality of everyday life, and how we negotiate moral truths in teasing, gossip, and other reputational matters; and the biological and evolutionary basis of the benevolent affects, including compassion, awe, love, gratitude, and laughter and modesty. His new book is Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

    In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Dacher Keltner explores the evolutionary origins of human goodness, challenging the view that humans are hardwired to pursue self-interest and to compete. Based on his studies of human emotion, he argues instead that survival is not a matter of who is the fittest, but perhaps who is the kindest — that people may have compassion built into their brains, nervous systems, and genes. He talks about the influence of Charles Darwin on his work studying human emotions. He elaborates on Darwin’s position that sympathy is our strongest evolved instinct, and what everyday behaviors such as smiling, shrugging, and hand-shakes tell us about the conditions of our deep evolution as primates. He talks about how he is taking the Darwinian approach of looking at moment by moment expressions of emotion and asking how these emotions shape a meaningful life. He explains why he looks to science, as well as to secular Eastern philosophy such as Confucianism, for answers about a meaningful life, rather than to Western religions. He describes his concept of the Jen ratio, and how it relates to the neuroscience of happiness. And he explains what the scientific study of positive emotions and activities such as smiling, laughter, teasing, touching, love, gratitude and awe may suggest about happy marriages, well-adapted children, and healthy communities.

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  8. Jerry A. Coyne - Why Evolution Is True

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/jerry_a._coyne_-_why_evolution_is_true/

    Jerry A. Coyne has been a professor at the University of Chicago in the department of ecology and evolution for twenty years. He specializes in evolutionary genetics and works predominantly on the origin of new species. He is a regular contributor to The New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and other publications. His most recent book is Why Evolution Is True.

    In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Jerry Coyne talks about extent and breadth of the evidence for evolution and how the reasons for believing in evolution are not as clearly argued in today’s textbooks as they were fifty years ago. He contends that professional evolutionists may take evolution on faith, or on the authority of their intellectual forerunners. He explains how evolution is both a theory and a fact. He details the various kinds of evidence for evolution, including evidence from the fossil record, molecular biology, embryology, the existence of vestigial organs, biogeography, and from bad design. He explores how Darwin discovered evolution by natural selection without the evidence from the fossil record. He explains how sexual reproduction is the key to evolution, and talks about sexual selection. He discusses the Intelligent Design movement and exactly how many scientists are actually proponents of ID. He lists some genuine controversies within evolution, and states that they are indeed taught in the schools. He discusses the relationship of belief in evolution to disbelief in God. And he explains why he feels the need, as a scientist, to publicly speak out in defense of Darwinism.

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  9. David J Linden - The Accidental Mind

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/david_j_linden_-_the_accidental_mind/

    David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain, among other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and serves as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

    In this broad discussion with D.J. Grothe, David Linden challenges widespread beliefs about the brain, such as that people only use ten percent of it and that it is amazingly designed, arguing instead that the brain is "accidental." He talks about why, as a brain scientist, he writes about topics such as love, God and sexual orientation. He describes the downsides of how the brain has evolved by including systems from previous brain "models," and how this has given rise to those qualities that most profoundly shape our human experience. He discusses the neuron, and how it is a "lousy processor of information," describing how evolution has nonetheless used it to build "clever us." He talks about how our brains have constrained us, and may have physically led to the necessity of marriage, family and long childhoods. He surveys various claims regarding the enhancement of our cognitive capacities, such as playing Mozart to babies in utero, vitamins, smart drugs, mental exercises, and physical exercise. He talks about the brain science of homosexuality. And he argues that the brain has evolved to make everyone a "believer," describing the similarities between belief in science and in religion, that both are similar "branches of the same cognitive stream."

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

  10. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

    Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains. Instead the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalist/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up). In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model. We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe. This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book’s key ideas.

    http://docartemis.com/brainsciencepodcast/2009/01/17/53-freewill/

    —Huffduffed by Indyplanets

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