Bridging The Gaps A Portal For Curious Minds public
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The heartbeat may be the first physical manifestation of an unborn child that can be seen six weeks after conception, and it continues roughly 100,000 times per day for as long as we are alive. Scientists and researchers have attempted to recreate the heart's flawless engineering for decades in labs all around the world, but have been unsuccessful.…
 
There is a widespread view that artificial intelligence is a job destroyer technical endeavour. There is both enthusiasm and doom around automation and the use of artificial intelligence-enabled "smart" solutions at work. In their latest book “Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration”, management and technology experts professor…
 
A single fertilised egg generates an embryo. Different cell types in this embryo develop into various organs of a new human being, including a new human brain. Everything starts with a single fertilised egg, and in the embryo, some embryonic cells develop into neural stem cells that construct the brain. By the time a baby is born, its brain is alre…
 
What is the true nature of reality? Does the objective reality reported back by our senses paint a complete picture of the true reality? Is it possible that the world we see is not objective reality and it is just an interface to a deeper, true reality. In his book “The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes” cognitive scie…
 
We live in an age of increasing complexity and uncertainty. We live in a time when humanity faces extremely complex challenges. Our ability, or lack thereof, to create solutions to such extremely complicated challenges may determine our long-term survival as a civilization. The question is: is our existing style of thinking adequate, or do we requi…
 
There is a consensus among the researchers in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning that today’s artificial intelligence systems are narrowly focused, are designed to tackle specialised tasks and cannot operate in general settings. An important feature of the human brain that enables us to operate in general settings, and in unf…
 
We are the only known species that understands species go extinct. We also understand that climate calamity, apocalyptic war, or the demise of the sun in a few billion years will all inevitably bring life on Earth to an end. So it is extremely important we do whatever we can to avoid extinction. We have a moral obligation to prevent extinction, and…
 
Can living scientifically empower us to navigate the complexities of today’s complex and unpredictable world? Can the joy of critical thinking and the effectiveness of the scientific method assist us in making better decisions? Can living a more rational life help us navigate modern life more confidently? In his new book “The Joy of Science” acclai…
 
Recent developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence are fascinating as well as terrifying; there are extravagant promises as well as frustrating setbacks; there is great progress in narrowly focused AI applications, and there is lack of progress in the field of Artificial General Intelligence. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak wi…
 
Human space exploration is challenging as well as fascinating. However, the excitement of space flight for astronauts comes at a high cost and is riddled with danger. As our robot explorers become more capable, governments and corporations must consider whether the ambition to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars is worth the cost and risk. In this…
 
When we think about electricity, we most often think of the energy that powers various devices and appliances around us, or perhaps we visualise the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But there is more to electricity and “life at its essence is nothing if not electrical”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Professor Timothy …
 
Every problem or issue raises new questions, which must be correctly answered in order to address the problem or resolve the issue. What if we could get a better answer to our most troublesome problem—at work or at home—just by altering the question? If asking right questions is essential for creative problem solving and innovation, and for effecti…
 
From the museums of the fifteenth century, to the public lectures of Michael Faraday in the nineteenth century, and to various science fairs & festivals of the twenty-first century, public engagement of science has evolved immensely. Public engagement of science in this age of hyper connectivity is “a multidimensional and multi-directional activity…
 
We all wish to have a better memory, yet there are times when it fails us. Until recently, most people, even memory scientists, believed that forgetting served no purpose. However, new research in psychology, neuroscience, medicine, and computer science paints a different picture. It informs us that forgetting is not a failure of our minds. It's no…
 
Humans have fundamental ability and cognitive resources to learn new concepts and acquire new skills and knowledge, although this may not seem natural to most of us at first. The key is to understand how the brain works so we can harness its potential by developing and adopting learning techniques that are effective and more rewarding. In this epis…
 
How does a network of individual neural cells become a brain? How does a neural network learn, hold information and exhibit intelligence? While neurobiologists study how nature achieves this feat, computer scientists interested in artificial intelligence attempt to achieve it through technology. Are there ideas that researchers in the field of arti…
 
Quantum computers store data and perform computations by utilizing properties of quantum physics. Quantum computations are performed by these machines by utilizing quantum state features such as superposition and entanglement. Traditional computers store data in binary “bits,” which can be either 0s or 1s. A quantum bit, or qubit, is the fundamenta…
 
Nanotechnology allows scientists to better understand, interact with, and manipulate biology by creating and manufacturing artificial structures and even machines at the nanoscale out of DNA, proteins, and other biological molecules. From nanoscale machines that can target individual cancer cells and deliver drugs more effectively to nanoantibiotic…
 
The debate over whether or not free will exists is not new. The main points of contention in this discussion are whether or not we have control over our actions, and if so, what kind of control we have and to what extent. On the one hand, we have a strong sense of liberty, which causes us to trust in our own free will. An intuitive and instinctive …
 
What is time? Is time real or just an illusion? Time is an enigma, a mystery that never ceases to perplex us. Philosophers, poets, painters and thinkers have long debated its significance, while scientists have discovered that its structure differs from our intuitive understanding of it. Our view of time has changed dramatically throughout the year…
 
Neurons are the fundamental building blocks of the brain. In the human brain, billions of these neurons communicate and liaise with one another using spikes, blips of electric voltages. Studying and understanding how these spikes emerge in the brain, how they travel through the brain and how this communication leads to meaningful actions are part o…
 
Over centuries “information has shaped and been shaped by human society”, writes professor Paul Duguid at the start of the book “Information: A Historical Companion”. Duguid is one of the editors of this book that reconstructs the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. The book is organised as thirteen long…
 
Neural mechanisms in the human brain that are responsible for generating and keeping track of plans, and influencing a cascade of brain states that can link our goals with the correct actions are known as Cognitive Control. These mechanisms and processes enable us to transform plans and goals into actions. Cognitive Control, also known as Executive…
 
Philosophical reflection on technology is not new, it is about as old as philosophy itself. However, as the impact of technology on everyday human life and on society keeps increasing, and new and emerging technologies permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it is crucial that human-technology relationships are studied extensively and unde…
 
Ignorance, denials and negations have always been part of human experience. In this post-truth, post-industrial world, we often feel overwhelmed by the information and misinformation overload. Although we claim to live in an information age, consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively more and more we are choosing to ignore, deny and negate…
 
Sense of smell is the process of creating the perception of smell. Animals use smell for a range of essential functions such as to find food or a mate, to sense danger and to send and receive signals and complex messages with other members of a species. Despite being so fundamental for all animals, including us, the sense of smell remains mysteriou…
 
Scientists now have a good understanding of how our universe evolved over the past 13.8 billion years, but we know very little about what happened in the first few seconds after the Big Bang. Dr Dan Hooper, a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, emphasises tha…
 
Throughout history philosophers, poets and explorers have been pondering upon and debating the question that what the long term future of our universe would be. The focus has been on two intriguing perspectives: would the universe continue to exist forever or would it end at some point in time in future. Modern scientists seem to be in agreement th…
 
Research and development in the field of Artificial Intelligence is progressing at an amazing pace. These developments are moving beyond simple applications such as machine vision, autonomous vehicles, natural language processing and medical diagnosis. Future AI systems will be able to use reasoning to make decisions; will employ innovative models …
 
Information is a crucial concept. Its significance is evident by the fact that the present era is labelled as the information age. An intriguing question is: What is information? Although information is always around us, in the realm of digital artefacts and connectivity as well as in biological entities and processes, it is still an elusive concep…
 
Most history of science publications narrowly focus on specific periods in human history, or particular disciplines of scientific discovery, or small sets of scientists and philosophers. However there is a view that history of science can be better understood against the background of a history of knowledge including not only theoretical but also i…
 
In the era of big data and super-fast information capturing and processing systems, it is easy to imagine that we have all the information that lead to actionable insights, that we need to make good decisions. However, according to David Hand, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College London, the data we…
 
Mathematics is everywhere. We use numbers, quantities, values and measurements almost all the time. Counting and quantifying is part of almost everything that we do. An interesting question is how did it all start. When did humans start thinking mathematically and what is the origin of mathematical thinking. As we start tacking these questions, we …
 
Our planet’s history, from its initial formation to present day, spans over a long period of time. It is not easy to conceptually imagine such a large timescale and most of us adopt a narrow perspective of temporal proportion. This constricted view, according to professor Marcia Bjornerud underlies many of the environmental problems we are creating…
 
An intriguing set of questions that is being explored by researchers across the globe and is being discussed and brainstormed in various organisations and think tanks is: “what is the future of work”; “how forthcoming AI and Automation revolution will impact on the nature and structure of work”; and “what would be the impact of these changes on the…
 
Humans are the only animals that cook their food. One of the implications of cooking food, as noted by Oliver Goldsmith is, “of all other animals we spend the least time in eating”. In a ground-breaking theory of our origins, primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that the shift from raw to cooked food was a key factor in human development. When our…
 
Since 2003, in a unique Earth-trailing orbit around the sun, the Spitzer Space Telescope has been observing in infrared an optically invisible universe dominated by dust and stars. Astronomers have been studying visible universe for thousands of years; however due to interstellar dust clouds and other obstructions to visible light, it was not possi…
 
In his new book, "Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason" philosopher Justin Smith presents a fascinating narrative that reveals the ways in which the pursuit of rationality often leads to an explosion of irrationality. Smith, a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris, acknowledges that we are livi…
 
Professor Toby Walsh is a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence, and has spent his life dreaming about machines that might think. He is a Professor of AI at the University of New South Wales and leads a research group at Data61, Australia’s Centre of Excellence for ICT Research. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps Professor Toby Wal…
 
Adrienne Mayor is an author and historian of ancient science and human curiosity. She is a research scholar at Stanford University who investigates natural knowledge contained in pre-scientific myths and traditions. In this podcast Adrienne Mayor discusses the fascinating research that she presents in her book "Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and …
 
Human Consciousness is a fascinating research topic. Discussed previously in a number of Bridging the Gaps conversations, cutting edge research on consciousness – an ungrasped concept and an unsolved problem in science today – will keep appearing here at this Portal for Curious Minds. It is widely accepted that consciousness arises as an emergent p…
 
When Galileo pointed his telescope towards Saturn (circa 1610), he was not able to fully understand what was around the planet; in 1659 Christian Hygen published a drawing of the rings of Saturn and suggested there was thin, flat ring around the planet. He observed that the ring was inclined to the ecliptic and didn’t touch the planet.In 1675, Giov…
 
Dr Edgar Mitchell discusses his journey to the moon on board Apollo 14 in this very interesting conversation at Bridging the Gaps. He describes when and how he joined NASA, talks about the "Original 19" and discusses interesting details of his mission to the moon, and ten hours that he spent on the lunar surface. He also touches upon the incident w…
 
An in-depth conversation with Professor Wendy Freedman on the topic of space exploration with ground based telescopes. We discuss the history of space exploration using ground based telescopes, and try to imagine the future that what is next. Professor Wendy Freedman gives a detailed description of the features of the Giant Magellan Telescope, a gr…
 
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