Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryScience

through-the-center-of-the-milky-way-stockpack-adobe-stock
Through the center of the Milky way

Just Announced: Strange Signals From the Galaxy’s Center

Astronomers: “The brightness of the object also varies dramatically, by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently at random. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Strange radio waves emerge from direction of the galactic centre”? Yes, it sounds like the opening of a trailer for a sci-fi film. But it is actually a media release from last week from the University of Sydney in Australia: Astronomers have discovered unusual signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way’s centre. The radio waves fit no currently understood pattern of variable radio source and could suggest a new class of stellar object. “The strangest property of this new signal is that it is has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the new study and a PhD student in Read More ›

workplace-of-lawyer-business-in-office-wooden-gavel-contact-papers-justice-and-law-attorney-court-judgeburden-of-proof-stockpack-adobe-stock
workplace of  lawyer business in office. wooden gavel , contact papers ,justice and law ,attorney, court judge,burden of proof.

Theists vs. Atheists: Which Group Has the Burden of Proof?

Because Dillahunty refuses to debate me again, I’ll address his claim that atheists have no burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence in this post

A common refrain from those atheists who are willing to debate theists is that theists, not atheists, have the burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence. Internet atheist Matt Dillahunty made this claim in our recent debate. Regrettably, it looks doubtful that Dillahunty and I will debate again. He didn’t fare well—he had no real understanding of any of the ten classical proofs of God’s existence— and in the wake of his confused and rambling attempts at exculpation he refuses to debate me again. His reluctance is understandable—he was clearly shaken by the revelation that his rejection of the proofs of God’s existence isn’t based on any actual understanding on his part of the arguments. Like all other Read More ›

starfield-in-deep-space-many-light-years-far-from-the-earth-elements-of-this-image-furnished-by-nasa-stockpack-adobe-stock
Starfield in deep space many light years far from the Earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

If Extraterrestrials Didn’t Fine Tune Earth, Maybe There Is a God

In the face of a grab bag of ideas like creation by ETs or countless universes (some run by cats), why does the idea of a Creator seem far out?

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discuss the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. In the third segment, they tackle the idea that there is nothing to Read More ›

sheep-cloning-two-identical-sheep-standing-in-a-field-photoshopped-dolly-the-sheep-stockpack-adobe-stock
Sheep Cloning. Two identical sheep standing in a field. Photoshopped Dolly the Sheep.

What If Cloning Were As Easy As Shopping? – Sci-fi Saturday

A couple stumbles on a means of cloning life forms and they get, shall we say, far more than they bargained for…

“Burnt Grass” (2014) at DUST by Ray Wong (October 1, 2021, 9:57 min) A couple’s relationship takes an unexpected turn when a strange phenomenon in their backyard allows cloning to take place. Review: Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996 and that really put cloning on the map for most people. So, nearly twenty years later (2014), how did we understand it?: Not well, it would seem. In actual cloning, according to the Roslin Centre that cloned the sheep, “Dolly was cloned from a cell taken from the mammary gland of a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep and an egg cell taken from a Scottish Blackface sheep. She was born to her Scottish Blackface surrogate mother on 5th July 1996. Dolly’s Read More ›

alien-creature-has-a-message-for-humans-grey-kind-humanoid-from-an-other-planet-portrait-series-stockpack-adobe-stock
Alien creature has a message for humans. Grey kind humanoid from an other planet portrait series.

Breakthrough Team Proposes Caution in Messaging Extraterrestrials

Carl Sagan had warned about making oblivious assumptions about exactly what’s out there

At Universe Today, science writer Matt Williams tosses another hypothesis into the ring as to why we don’t see ET: Maybe, universally, everyone is listening but no one is broadcasting. Or few are, anyway. Now why might that be? He outlines a distinction between two different approaches to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ET): SETI and METI Most efforts to date have been SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) where we are looking for them. That encompasses projects like Cornell Astronomer Frank Drake’s pioneer Project Ozma (1960) and the current Allen Telescope Array. More projects now, Williams says, are METI (Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). We could include in that group the three-word Soviet Morse Message (“peace,” “Lenin,” and “SSSR,” radioed into space Read More ›

legumes-bean-seed-in-sack-top-view-stockpack-adobe-stock
Legumes bean seed in sack, top view

If We All Depended On a Few Handfuls of Seeds… – Sci-fi Saturday

Actually, we do. An inventive Norwegian filmmaker has made a short sci-fi film out of a possible outcome

“Voyager” (2017) by Kjersti Helen Rasmussen (uploaded at DUST October 4, 2021, 7:39 min) A shooting star falls down over the Arctic island of Svalbard and The Global Seed Vault gets an unexpected visitor. Review: Kjersti Helen Rasmussen’s film (she’s the writer as well as the director) has received over 100,000 reviews at DUST since October 4. That’s no wonder because there really is a Global Seed Vault in the Norwegian arctic at 78 degrees N, offering “safe, free and long-term storage of seed duplicates from all genebanks and nations participating in the global community’s joint effort to ensure the world’s future food supply.” As a Mobster might say, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. The Read More ›

illustration-of-two-different-aliens-talking-inside-a-spaceship-with-a-dark-planet-sun-and-moon-in-outer-space-in-the-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
Illustration of two different aliens talking inside a spaceship with a dark planet sun and moon in outer space in the background.

Where Could Aliens Be Hiding Technology in Our Solar System?

Possibilities include the Oort Cloud and Lagrange points, where NASA can park spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption

Debrief looked recently at five places for hiding “technosignatures.” Technosignatures are evidence of the activity of intelligent agents, as opposed to events or materials that the laws of nature alone can explain. They might include “radio signals, city lights, atmospheric changes like CO2, and free-floating spacecraft.” Or, reaching back into the past, they might be engravings on bone from 51,000 years ago or a child’s burial from 80,000 years ago. Technosignatures are events and entities that nature did not simply generate without some form of thought as a necessary ingredient. If we assume that extraterrestrials want to surveil without being noticed, here’s one of the five venues they might pick — a Lagrange point: Lagrange points are stable places in Read More ›

earth-magnetic-field-stockpack-adobe-stock
Earth magnetic field

Physicist: Migrating Birds’ Mysterious Quantum Sense Is “Spooky”

Birds like the European robin pack a $10,000 lock-in amplifier into a 2 micron cell

Earlier this year, the night-migratory European robin (Erithacus rubecola) made the headlines. Evidence has emerged that it may be using quantum mechanical effects to sense Earth’s magnetic field in order to migrate. Few expected to find quantum mechanical manipulation in the eye of a bird. Zoologist Eric Warrant, who was not involved in the research, says, that magnetic direction sensing is “the last sense we know, effectually, nothing about.” But this mysterious intelligence appears essential to migration, and hence, to the survival of many birds. So how, exactly, do they do it? Humans perceive the world around them with five senses — vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Many other animals are also able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. Read More ›

quantum-computer-closeup-stockpack-adobe-stock
quantum computer closeup

Quantum Physicist Julie Love to Speak at COSM 2021

She fell in love with physics in high school, and continues to pursue that love today at Microsoft

She may not be a household name, but Dr. Julie Love works with technology that could have massive implications on our economy, in our industry and agriculture, and on society at large: Quantum computing. At this year’s COSM conference in Bellevue, Washington, Love will be addressing quantum computing and the question, “Does it change everything, or anything?” First, what exactly is quantum computing? “Quantum computing applies the properties of quantum physics to the processing of information,” Love explains in a Youtube series produced by Microsoft exploring the impact of the technology. “This exponentially faster and more powerful computing will accelerate the development of new sustainable materials, improved healthcare, methods to address food production, and combat climate change.” You can watch Read More ›

demolition-of-hotel-collapse-following-bomb-blast-explosion-stockpack-adobe-stock
Demolition of hotel collapse following bomb blast explosion

7. Dillahunty Asks 2nd Oldest Question: If God Exists, Why Evil?

In the debate between Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty, the question of raping a baby was bound to arise.

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we have at last got round to the Problem of Evil. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, Read More ›

cat viewing marbles
Small kitten

In an Infinity of Universes, Countless Ones Are Run by Cats…

Daniel Díaz notes that most of the talk about the multiverse started to appear once it was realized that there was fine-tuning in nature

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discuss the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. In the third segment, they tackle the idea that there is nothing to Read More ›

nuvole-nel-cielo-azzurro-stockpack-adobe-stock
Nuvole nel cielo azzurro

The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against God’s Existence = Nonsense

God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge

In my recent debate with Matt Dillahunty about the existence of God, Dillahunty invoked his favorite argument against God’s existence — the Divine Hiddenness argument. We didn’t have a chance to go into that argument in detail in the debate, and Dillahunty is unwilling to have any more debates with me (even if he’s paid, apparently). So this is a good forum to look at that argument in more detail. What is the argument for atheism from God’s Hiddenness? This is a standard form of the argument from Divine Hiddenness against God’s existence: Necessarily, if God exists, then God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be. Necessarily, if God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be, Read More ›

professional-pano-technician-repairing-hammer-mechanism-stockpack-adobe-stock
Professional pano technician repairing hammer mechanism.

Weak Anthropic Principle? Not an Explanation but a Tautology!

Compared to the Strong Anthropic Principle — the universe is objectively fine-tuned for life — the Weak Anthropic Principle aims to avoid evidence and subvert discussion

My friend and colleague Dr. Bob Marks has a wonderful podcast with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz, regarding a recent paper they published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics on fine tuning for life in the universe. It’s very clear from astrophysics that many physical variables in the early universe needed to take very specific values — with very little margin for error — to permit the emergence of life. This is quite remarkable, and the authors have written a very nice paper exploring the probabilities involved in this apparent fine-tuning in considerable detail. It’ fascinating and I highly recommend listening to the podcast. In the most recent segment, “Our universe survived a firing Read More ›

genesis-of-life-and-beginning-of-evolution-concept-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
genesis of life and beginning of evolution concept illustration

Our Universe Survived a Firing Squad and It’s Just an Accident?

According to the Weak Anthropic Principle, if things weren’t the way they are, we wouldn’t be here and that’s all there is to it

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discussed the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. Both concepts stem from the difficulty of accounting for the existence and complexity Read More ›

heaven-cloud-sky-sunny-bright-for-future-wealth-fortune-day-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
heaven cloud sky sunny bright for future wealth fortune day concept

Science Can and Does Point to God’s Existence

Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature.

In my recent debate at Theology Unleashed, with Matt Dillahunty, Dillahunty made the claim that science necessarily follows methodological naturalism, allowing only for causes within nature. This is a common assertion by atheists. It’s wrong, and here’s why: First we need to start with the definition of science. Despite the huge literature on this topic and the great confusion about the answer, I think the answer is relatively simple. Classical philosophers defined science (scientia) as the systematic study of effects according to their causes. To clarify, consider the three assertions in this definition: 1) science is systematic — that is, it is not merely the occasional musing or haphazard insight but an organized planned course of action to deepen understanding. Read More ›

alien-mothership-ufo-nearing-earth-stockpack-adobe-stock
Alien mothership UFO nearing Earth

Could Advanced Aliens Have Fine-Tuned Earth for Life?

That’s a surprisingly popular thesis, considering how hard it is to account for life without assuming a creator

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether fine tuning of the universe for life can be accounted for by the theory that advanced life forms seeded life throughout the universe (directed panspermia). Surprisingly, perhaps, the theory is considered at least plausible, due to the difficulty of accounting for the existence of life otherwise. As Marks and his guests noted, great scientists such Read More ›

space-cosmic-background-of-supernova-nebula-and-stars-field-stockpack-adobe-stock
Space cosmic background of supernova nebula and stars field

Leading Astronomer Gets It All Wrong About Free Will and Destiny

Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, has recently written an essay in which he considers whether human beings have free will and how long the human race will survive. Loeb is a prolific and often quite thoughtful scientist who has a refreshing propensity to think outside the mainstream. However, his recent essay in Scientific American, titled “How Much Time Does Humanity Have Left?”, is well off the mark. I think he profoundly misunderstands human nature and human destiny. Loeb opines on the question of human free will: The Standard Model of physics presumes that we are all made of elementary particles with no additional constituents. As such composite systems, we do not possess freedom at a fundamental level, because all particles and Read More ›

planet-earth-from-space-stockpack-adobe-stock
Planet Earth from space

Is Life From Outer Space a Viable Science Hypothesis?

Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at one explanation offered for that fact in recent decades: panspermia (life was seeded throughout the universe) by advanced extraterrestrial beings. Prominent scientists who were atheists gave the theory the needed push. What is the science support for it? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-153-Hossjer-and-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:53 min. (The simulation theory portion begins at 4:59 min). A partial transcript, Read More ›

black-hole-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
Black hole illustration

6. Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism?

That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down

At this point in the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin of the universe, Egnor Read More ›

anomalocaris-creature-of-the-cambrian-period-isolated-on-black-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
Anomalocaris, creature of the Cambrian period, isolated on black background

Did Minimal Consciousness Drive the Cambrian Explosion?

Eva Jablonka’s team makes the daring case, repurposing Hungarian chemist Tibor Gánti’s origin of life studies

Eva Jablonka is “one of the world’s foremost experts in epigenetic inheritance and evolution” but she has also had a longstanding interest in consciousness studies. She was author, with Marion J. Lamb, of Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (MIT Press 2006/rev. 2014). She and neurobiologist Simona Ginsburg, along with illustrator Anna Zeligowski, offer a new approach to the origin of consciousness in an essay at IAI.TV — one with an interesting departure from many approaches to consciousness: Taking their inspiration from Hungarian chemist Tibor Gánti (1933–2009), who posited a chemoton — the minimal life form or protocell — as the origin of life, they first attempt to define minimal consciousness, Read More ›