Essays & Editorials

  • Do We Have Free Will? Maybe It Doesn't Matter - Facts So RomanticDo We Have Free Will? Maybe It Doesn't Matter - Facts So Romantic
    It’s hard to change people’s beliefs about free will. So, it can feel like a relief to realize that even when you can change people’s beliefs, it seems to make no moral difference anyway.Illustration by Triff / ShutterstockBelief is a special kind of human power. Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist at… Read more »
  • The Vast Viral World: What We Know (and Don’t Know) - Issue 99: UniversalityThe Vast Viral World: What We Know (and Don’t Know) - Issue 99: Universality
    Slightly ovoid in shape and somewhat blurred at the edges, the black splotches were scattered across a mottled gray background, looking much like a postmodern painting. At a meeting of the Medical Society of Berlin in 1938, Helmut Ruska, a German physician and biologist, was presenting the first images ever… Read more »
  • How to Conquer COVID-19 Amid a Confederacy of Dunces - Issue 99: UniversalityHow to Conquer COVID-19 Amid a Confederacy of Dunces - Issue 99: Universality
    Robert Burioni is a virologist at the San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy, and a serious scientist. But in 2016, something happened that changed his course. He was on television with two anti-vaxxers—a famous actress and a former DJ—who were taking on vaccines, reported Science magazine.1 At the last moment,… Read more »
  • Gaia, the Scientist - Issue 99: UniversalityGaia, the Scientist - Issue 99: Universality
    There exists a social hierarchy within science that strikes people who are not mixed up in it as ridiculous. It goes like this: Mathematicians are superior to Physicists, who are, in turn, superior to Chemists, who are of course, superior to Biologists. There’s also a pecking order within each of… Read more »
  • I Am Not a Machine. Yes You Are. - Issue 98: MindI Am Not a Machine. Yes You Are. - Issue 98: Mind
    I’m trying to explain to Arthur I. Miller why artworks generated by computers don’t quite do it for me. There’s no human being behind them. The works aren’t a portal into another person’s mind, where you can wander in a warren of intention, emotion, and perception, feeling life being shaped… Read more »
  • A Quiet Path Out of the Coronavirus Shadow - Issue 98: MindA Quiet Path Out of the Coronavirus Shadow - Issue 98: Mind
    Eleven years ago, I sat down across from a man named Edward Espe Brown. I had returned home to Texas from a four-month stay at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California, endured a breakup, and was feeling adrift. I told Ed that I was struggling with powerful feelings of… Read more »
  • The Trouble with Brain Scans - Issue 98: MindThe Trouble with Brain Scans - Issue 98: Mind
    One autumn afternoon in the bowels of UC Berkeley’s Li Ka Shing Center, I was looking at my brain. I had just spent 10 minutes inside the 3 Tesla MRI scanner, the technical name for a very expensive, very high maintenance, very magnetic brain camera. Lying on my back inside… Read more »
  • Here’s How We’ll Know an AI Is Conscious - Facts So RomanticHere’s How We’ll Know an AI Is Conscious - Facts So Romantic
    Zombies are supposed to be capable of asking any question about the nature of experience. It’s worth wondering, though, how a person or machine devoid of experience could reflect on experience it doesn’t have.Photograph by Ars Electronica / FlickrThe Australian philosopher David Chalmers famously asked whether “philosophical zombies” are conceivable—people… Read more »
  • This Tenet Shows Time Travel May Be Possible - Issue 98: MindThis Tenet Shows Time Travel May Be Possible - Issue 98: Mind
    Time travel has been a beloved science-fiction idea at least since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895. The concept continues to fascinate and fictional approaches keep coming, prodding us to wonder whether time travel is physically possible and, for that matter, makes logical sense in the face of… Read more »
  • Blackout in the Brain Lab - Issue 98: MindBlackout in the Brain Lab - Issue 98: Mind
    When the power goes out, the two young scientists are plunged into pitch blackness. After exclamations and fumbling they turn their phone lights on, creating bisecting cones that spear wildly at the darkness and dance over the ceiling.“I guess they didn’t take seriously the idea of a power outage in… Read more »
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  • Technical problems with our server at 3QDTechnical problems with our server at 3QD
    For the last couple of weeks we have been having some technical problems causing 3QD to behave unreliably and not always updating properly. It is also loading more slowly than usual. We are still posting every day, as usual, but some people are only seeing posts from a few days… Read more »
  • Living through lives of othersLiving through lives of others
    by Charlie Huenemann Observations are laden with theories, or so we are told, and theories are laden with cultures. There’s a good reason for thinking this. Theories, after all, spring out from people’s heads. But people’s heads grow within languages and cultures, along with whatever biological constraints lay at the… Read more »
  • Monday PoemMonday Poem
    Pattern Language strolling through town with Plato we take the sidewalk one step at a time; shards of its exposed aggregate form archipelagos, and overhead, Jesus in a cloud, or is it Lao Tzu explaining Is without a word clefts in the bark of trees we pass define Appalachian humps. we saw Scranton strewn along… Read more »
  • “Responsible” AI“Responsible” AI
    by Fabio Tollon What do we mean when we talk about “responsibility”? We say things like “he is a responsible parent”, “she is responsible for the safety of the passengers”, “they are responsible for the financial crisis”, and in each case the concept of “responsibility” seems to be tracking different… Read more »
  • What can systems thinking contribute to political philosophy?What can systems thinking contribute to political philosophy?
    by Callum Watts At the 100th anniversary of John Rawls’ birth back in February, some of the most generous op-eds, whilst celebrating the brilliance of his thought, lamented the torpor of his impact. ‘Rawls studies’ are by no means the totality of political philosophy, but they are one of its most… Read more »
  • PerceptionsPerceptions
    Anderson Ambroise. Rubble Sculpture. More here and here. Read more »
  • The Individual vs. Public HealthThe Individual vs. Public Health
    by Mindy Clegg By now over 100,000,000 Americans have received the Covid-19 vaccine and we seem on track to double that by the end of President Biden’s hundredth day. Efforts to reach herd immunity continue apace with many states opening up access to more groups in recent weeks. It’s a… Read more »
  • Poetry in Translation
    Phoenix after Iqbal Unveil your face A star is witness Stop flickering Blaze How long will you beg like Moses on the mountain? Fan the flame within you Create a new Mecca with every speck of your embers Rid yourself of idolatry Observe the limits in this temple Even if… Read more »
  • Fungible Chimaera Anyone? It’s Really CheapFungible Chimaera Anyone? It’s Really Cheap
    by Thomas O’Dwyer When you think you’ve heard all the nonsense or hype about the digital noise that is drowning out real life around us, along comes someone who spends $69 million to buy a piece of digital miasma. “A fool and his money are soon parted.” That’s a lot… Read more »
  • NarcissiNarcissi
    by Mary Hrovat I don’t think I saw an actual daffodil until I was 19, although I had admired the many varieties I saw pictured in bulb catalogs and even—I hesitate to admit this—written haiku about daffodils (at 14, in an English class). When my first husband and I drove… Read more »
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  • On the Futility of Contact Tracing
    Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, public health authorities have promoted contact tracing as a key tool to combat the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nearly every country infected by the virus has adopted some version, though with evidently mixed results given the global spread of the epidemic. Our purpose in this… Read more »
  • The Dark Matter Enigma
    The existence of dark matter was first suspected in the early 1930s. While measuring the velocities of galaxies grouped together in clusters, the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky deduced the presence of an invisible mass. His calculations showed that if only the visible mass of the galaxies was taken into account,… Read more »
  • Cosmology without Design
    Before Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace proposed the theory of evolution, the remarkable fit between living things and their environment, as Richard Dawkins observed, rationally suggested that life was designed by an intelligent creator. Darwin and Wallace gathered support for the contrary proposition: natural selection for reproductive fitness combined… Read more »
  • Disinformed
    There have been fakes as long as there have been frauds, and that is a very long time; but deepfakes are new fakes, and having initially loitered along the margins of general awareness, they are now occupied in haunting it. Tens of thousands of deepfakes have already been created. The… Read more »
  • Mathematical Virology
    Symmetry is ubiquitous in nature. It occurs in snowflakes, crystals, and molecules; and it is central to our understanding of subatomic particles. Although the importance of symmetry in chemistry and physics is widely appreciated, its significance in biology is often underestimated. Viruses are notable examples of biological systems in which… Read more »
  • Black Holes and Quantum Gravity
    Although black holes were first imagined in the late eighteenth century, it was not until Karl Schwarzchild devised a solution to Einstein’s field equations in 1915 that they were accurately described. Despite Schwarzchild’s pioneering work, black holes were still widely thought to be purely theoretical, and so devoid of physical… Read more »
  • Babbling Birds
    Chestnut-Crowned Babblers (Pomatostomus ruficeps) produce a bitonal flight call as they approach their nest and a tritonal prompt call when feeding chicks in the nest. Sabrina Engesser et al. have demonstrated that the tones within these calls are perceptibly distinct within calls, perceptibly equivalent across calls, and meaningless in isolation,… Read more »
  • The Arabic Grammatical Tradition
    In the 1960s, the curriculum of a thirty-three-hour week for a senior student at a Dutch grammar school included twelve hours of Latin and Greek, nine hours of French, German, and English, and four hours of Dutch. In the curriculum of grammar schools all over Europe, the classical languages similarly… Read more »
  • Between Two Evils
    This we know: any number of great scientists were forced to flee Nazi Germany: Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, Hans Bethe, Felix Bloch, Max Born, James Franck, Otto Frisch, Fritz London, Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Victor Weisskopf, and Eugene Wigner, a few… Read more »
  • Talk Is Cheap
    Speech comes naturally to human beings. We are tuned to speech in utero, we swiftly learn to voice our thoughts and needs, and we do so seamlessly by recruiting specialized oral and brain mechanisms that have likely evolved in our species alone. Speech and language are so tightly linked that we… Read more »
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Science, Technology, & Innovation News

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  • Spit samples uncover genetic risk factors for paediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder
    University of Calgary and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) researchers have discovered genetic risk factors for OCD that could help pave the way for earlier diagnosis and improved treatment for children and youth. Saliva samples from 5,000 kids were scanned and compared to responses using the Toronto Obsessive-Compulsive Scale.… Read more »
  • The indestructible light beam
    For any disordered medium (such as a sugar cube, for example), special light waves can be found which are practically not changed by the medium, only attenuated. These "scattering invariant light modes" could play a major role in new imaging technologies. Read more »
  • Pandemic-inspired discoveries: New insect species from Kosovo named after the Coronavirus
    Named after the coronavirus, a new caddisfly species, found in Kosovo, highlights the quarantine time during which it was described, but also refers figuratively to another 'silent' pandemic impacting the freshwater organisms in Kosovo's rivers. Pollution, degradation of freshwater habitats and the activity of hydropower plants have been compromising these… Read more »
  • Researchers discover new way to starve brain tumours
    Scientists from Queen Mary University of London, funded by the charity Brain Tumour Research, have found a new way to starve cancerous brain tumour cells of energy in order to prevent further growth. Read more »
  • Postoperative in-hospital morbidity, mortality of patients with COVID-19 compared to patients without
    What The Study Did: This study used data from a national database to compare clinical outcomes of surgical patients with and without COVID-19. Read more »
  • Husbands still seen as the experts on their household's finances
    Men were more likely to be the spouse with the most knowledge of a couple's finances in 2016 than they were in 1992 - especially in wealthy couples, a new study suggests.In 2016, 56% of husbands were designated as most knowledgeable, up from 53% in 1992 and 49% in 1995.… Read more »
  • New study: Thick sea-ice warms Greenland fjords
    A new study shows that thick sea-ice can increase the sensitivity of Greenlandic fjords to climate warming. Understanding the factors that control how fast glaciers move, break up and deposit chunks of ice (icebergs) into the fjords - and eventually the sea - is vital for predicting how the Greenland… Read more »
  • Antidepressant use in pregnancy tied to affective disorders in offspring; no causal link
    Study shows that while there is a link between maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and affective disorders in the child later in life, the link also exists between paternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and child mental health; data suggests the observed link is most likely due to the underlying mental… Read more »
  • UConn researchers find bubbles speed up energy transfer
    An international collaboration of scientists witnessed bubble-mediated enhancement between two helium atoms using ultrafast lasers. Their results are now published in Physical Review X. Read more »
  • Study reveals crucial details on skin-related side effects of cancer immune therapies
    Immune checkpoint inhibitors are life-saving therapies against advanced cancer, but they can cause side effects, most commonly involving the skin. New research provides insights on the extent of these side effects, when they tend to arise, and which patients may be most at risk of experiencing them. Read more »
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Recent Academic Publications

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Other News and Announcements

  • What To Check Before Buying A Smartwatch Or Health TrackerWhat To Check Before Buying A Smartwatch Or Health Tracker
    The market for fitness trackers, and especially smartwatches is on the rise. Despite the delivery difficulties due to the coronavirus, the market kept on growing […] The post What To Check Before Buying A Smartwatch Or Health Tracker appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • Tech Giants Bet On Health A.I. And TelemedicineTech Giants Bet On Health A.I. And Telemedicine
    In recent years, it has been clear that big tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook want to have a lasting presence in the healthcare […] The post Tech Giants Bet On Health A.I. And Telemedicine appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • 5 Tips Against Zoom Fatigue In Telemedicine
    It was almost exactly a year ago when we first wrote about the rise of telemedicine amidst COVID-19. Similarly, it was almost a year ago […] The post 5 Tips Against Zoom Fatigue In Telemedicine appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • TOP 10 Dangers Of Digital HealthTOP 10 Dangers Of Digital Health
    Thanks to the advent of digital health, the future of medicine is truly exciting. With technological advancements that democratise access to care, better treatments are […] The post TOP 10 Dangers Of Digital Health appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • 10 Outstanding Companies for Women’s Health10 Outstanding Companies for Women’s Health
    The women’s health technology or so-called femtech market has been on the rise for the last couple of years, but it has mainly revolved around fertility and pregnancy. We believe that female health topics reach far beyond such traditional issues and players should concentrate more on menopause, endometriosis, or mental… Read more »
  • The 5 Levels Of Automation In MedicineThe 5 Levels Of Automation In Medicine
    “Good morning! How may I help you today?” asks the virtual assistant as you boot your telemedicine app. After experiencing a sore throat and runny […] The post The 5 Levels Of Automation In Medicine appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • The Future Of Healthcare Design – Outside The Point Of CareThe Future Of Healthcare Design – Outside The Point Of Care
    When talking about the future of healthcare, we also have to talk about the future designs of the institutions providing medical services. However, with digital […] The post The Future Of Healthcare Design – Outside The Point Of Care appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • The Future Of Hospital Design – Inside The Point Of CareThe Future Of Hospital Design – Inside The Point Of Care
    Interminable waiting lines; long, boring corridors; piles of paperwork; these are processes and scenes we’re used to when turning to healthcare institutions. But they attest […] The post The Future Of Hospital Design – Inside The Point Of Care appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • 3D Bioprinting: Eradicating Transplantation Waiting Lists And Testing Drugs On Living Tissues3D Bioprinting: Eradicating Transplantation Waiting Lists And Testing Drugs On Living Tissues
    From time to time, news arises about 3D-printed organs. On such occasions, people usually think that a machine can already create readily available, implantable human […] The post 3D Bioprinting: Eradicating Transplantation Waiting Lists And Testing Drugs On Living Tissues appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
  • Alternate Realities Help Medical Education And Training During COVID-19Alternate Realities Help Medical Education And Training During COVID-19
    With the need to limit physical contact amidst the pandemic, the whole world turned to virtual solutions to reprise their daily activities. Zoom and Slack […] The post Alternate Realities Help Medical Education And Training During COVID-19 appeared first on The Medical Futurist. Read more »
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  • The Keating Memorial Self Research Group
    Would you like to get help with your self-research project from an active, experienced group of peers? You’re invited to join the Keating Memorial Self Research group. We meet every Thursday at 10am Pacific time. You can find the agenda, notes & links in the full post. The post The… Read more »
  • Self-Registration: A person-centered approach to recording symptoms, observations, and outcomes.
    If we want to know about typical and atypical symptoms of COVID-19, why wait until people show up at the doctors’ office or emergency room and then ask them to tell us: When did you first feel sick? It’s reasonable to want to build on top of our everyday tools,… Read more »
  • Personal Science Conversations #3: “The Patient Experience”
    In the third episode of Personal Science Conversations, Sara Riggare, Gary Wolf, Thomas Blomseth Christiansen and Steven Jonas discuss how the personal science intersects with the patient experience. Drawing heavily on Sara’s experience as a person with Parkinson’s in the Swedish healthcare system, we look at how individuals can use… Read more »
  • A Stage-Based Model of Personal Informatics SystemsA Stage-Based Model of Personal Informatics Systems
    In 2010 Ian Li, Anind Dey, and Jodi Forlizzi published a prescient paper called "A Stage-Based Model of Personal Informatics Systems" based on interviews in the Quantified Self community. It was a prescient description of an emerging practice. The post A Stage-Based Model of Personal Informatics Systems appeared first on… Read more »
  • A Framework for Personal Science
    Self-tracking. Self-experiment. N-of-1 methods. Single subject research. The kinds of self-research seen in the Quantified Self community are described by a thicket of labels. In a perspective article recently published in Frontiers in Computer Science, Gary Wolf and Martijn de Groot attempt to provide a clear definition and framework for… Read more »
  • Personal Science Conversations #2: “The Worried Well”
    Quantified Self · 002 – Personal Science Conversations – The Worried Well In this second episode of Personal Science Conversations, Gary Wolf, Thomas Blomseth Christiansen and Steven Jonas discuss the concept of the worried well: What is the origin of the term, how do medical professionals define it, and why… Read more »
  • QS Show & Tell — June 16 2020
    Thank you to everybody who came and presented! This is a list of links and resources that may be helpful if are interested in the projects presented tonight. General Resources Intro Slides: QS Show&Tell Welcome June 16 2020 Open Humans: openhumans.org Quantified Flu: quantifiedflu.org Quantified Self Forum: forum.quantifiedself.com Presenter Links… Read more »
  • Introducing “Personal Science Conversations” – a video series
    At Quantified Self, we focus on the stories and projects of people in the community: their methods, discoveries, and even the tools that they build. Outside of the Show&Tell talks at our events, though, are constant conversations about everything having to do with personal science. Behind the scenes of this… Read more »
  • Self-Tracking For COVID-19Self-Tracking For COVID-19
    Explore how you can get advance warning of sickness onset using simple analysis of your self-tracking data by joining Quantified Flu. The post Self-Tracking For COVID-19 appeared first on Quantified Self. Read more »
  • Interview: Mad Ball of Open Humans
    Mad Ball was a rising scientist at Harvard who switched to build a nonprofit foundation creating tools for the future of self research: "I wanted to do things that would not have happened otherwise had I not been present to question those boundaries. What we’re doing, nobody else is doing."… Read more »
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