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We studied together now were graduating together. Portrait of a group of students taking selfies on graduation day.

Historically Black Colleges/Universities Crush School Rankings

According to a new metric that rewards per-dollar effectiveness as opposed to the benefits of lavish endowments, they took three spots out of the top five

While popular rankings of colleges and universities — like that of U.S. News and World Report — have always been top secret, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, working with a team of Reed College researchers, managed to “crack the code.” And, as Academic Influence tells it, an unhappy truth emerged: What troubled Gladwell is that schools like Dillard University and Reed College could never, given the way college rankings were set up, receive the recognition they deserved. The whole ranking system was rigged against them. Gladwell focused especially on Dillard University, an HBCU [historically Black college or university] in New Orleans. By making its mission to serve underserved populations, Dillard was, in effect, getting penalized by U.S. News & World Report, which puts a premium in its…

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Empty colored carbonated drink bottles. Plastic waste

Urban Mining: Turning Urban Waste Into Valuable Products

Renowned synthetic chemist Jim Tour shows how we can turn discarded plastics into graphene, a product useful in industry

There’s a gold mine, so to speak, in the garbage but it takes a gifted chemist to develop processes that turn the trash to valuable industrial materials. At COSM 2021, James Tour talked about his team’s work in developing such processes: The Nanotech Revolution: Our Zero-Waste Energy Future (November 11, 2021) Dr. Jim Tour, Professor of Chemistry at Rice University, gives a riveting tour of how waste products can be converted to graphene, an extremely valuable material with a host of useful applications—from medical applications to new strong and lightweight materials to an energy source for zero CO2 emissions. Tour and his team have developed methods for turning carbon waste into graphene, an allotrope of carbon that can be stacked…

scoring basket
scoring during a basketball game - ball in hoop

Luck Matters More Than Skill When You’re at the Top

What? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? No, because… Prof. Gary Smith explains

With basketball fever at a high pitch… when LA Times sportswriter Jim Alexander talked to Pomona College business prof Gary Smith about what it takes to win, he got a different answer than some might have expected. If you are really good, it takes luck to win, Smith explained. What? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? No, because… “You can take the four best golfers in the world – any sport, but let’s do golf because it’s head-to-head,” Smith said in a phone conversation this week. “And they play a round of golf and see who gets the lowest score, and it’s pretty much random. Nobody’s going to win every single time. One guy might win more than 25…

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View of a white marble hindu temple

What Do Hindus Think About the Big Bang? The Cyclic Universe?

Hinduism posits a creator God but assumes the creation of cyclic universes

In last week’s Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism and the beginning of the universe,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. The first podcast looked at what the world’s 1.2 billion Hindus generally think about the mind and the second explored the Hindu view of free will and evil. Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which has featured many guests discussing the spiritual dimension of our lives — for example, philosopher David Bentley Hart and neuroscientist Mark Solms (along with Egnor). https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-179-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow: The Big Bang and cyclical universes Michael Egnor: How do Hindus understand creation? Is the universe eternal? Was it created at a…

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Robot arm with a human skull

Lead Us Not Into the Uncanny Valley …

Robert Marks and Gretchen Huizinga discuss whether future developments in artificial intelligence will lead to a better future or a worse one

This is the fourth and final segment of the the recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, featuring Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga. In the first segment, they discussed what AI can and can’t do. In the second segment, they discussed “How did all the AI hype get started?” Then, in the third part, the discussion turned to “Straight talk about killer robots/a>” because Dr. Marks is the author of The Case for Killer Robots. And now we come at last to the Uncanny Valley, where too much AI and robotics risks making everything weird. The entire interview was originally published by Christian think tank,…

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Humanity Plus theme with abstract network lines and patterns

The Impossibility of Christian Transhumanism

Transhumanists seek the right not only to manipulate their own bodies but also those of their children, including mind clones, monoparent children, or benevolent AI

This article is reprinted with permission from First Things (March 24, 2022) So-called “Christian transhumanism,” or the attempt to blend the transhumanist agenda with the precepts of Christian theology, has been around for some time. But there has been a recent resurgence of interest in the project. The book Religious Transhumanism and Its Critics, published in 2019, claims to offer “first-hand testimony to the value of the transhumanist vision perceived by the religious mind.” The volume includes contributions from a number of Christians. The “Christian Transhumanist Association” (CTA), formed in 2014, is actively dedicated to promoting transhumanism as a means of “participating with God in the redemption, reconciliation, and renewal of the world.” The problem with these efforts is that the transhumanist worldview and…

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Blaze fire flame background and textured

Firefly Episode 8: The Ship Breaks Down in Space. What Next?

Mal, expecting to suffocate alone on the ship while the other crew members escape, relives the life that brought him there

This episode starts out strong, but gradually breaks down. We open with Mal collapsing onto the metal grating of the ship’s hull. He’s bleeding and the lights are off. We don’t know what happened but we witness a series of flashblacks consisting of three separate timelines: events in the present, how Mal found himself in his current predicament, and the deep past where Mal is first gathering his crew. The episode is essentially an abbreviated version of how the crew got together, sandwiched between a doomsday scenario for Mal. The trouble starts when the crew is celebrating Simon’s birthday. Suddenly, something blows up inside the ship. A couple of hallways are engulfed in flame and Mal and the others just…

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Power outage. Electricity missing. Blackout concept.

What Would It Take To Survive an EMP Attack?

Remember, almost all conventional power sources and the entire internet would be knocked out and might take many months to replace

We are increasingly vulnerable to both natural disruptions and military attacks on our power grids. Earlier this month I wrote about electromagnetic pulse impulses (EMPs), which would destroy your electronics, leaving you and your surroundings intact — but without easy means of survival. Force of nature: Sometimes the sun is to blame for knocking out the power supply Natural disruptions can give us some idea what to expect. When lightning destroys a transformer atop a power pole, nearby businesses and residence must get by without power until the transformer is replaced but it usually doesn’t last long. Far more damage can occur in the rare event that the sun erupts with a major coronal mass ejection (CME) of plasma and…

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Hinduism religious ceremony puja flowers and candle on river Ganges water, India

Understanding the Hindu View of Free Will and Evil

Arjuna Gallagher points out that concepts of reincarnation and karma make both problems look very different in the Hindu tradition

In last week’s Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism, Metaphysics, and Free Will,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor again interviews Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. (The earlier podcast was Hinduism, Reincarnation, and the Mind–Body Problem.) Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which has featured many guests discussing the spiritual dimension of our lives — philosopher David Bentley Hart, neuroscientist Mark Solms, atheist Matt Dillahunty… a variety of voices on the spiritual life. Gallagher has also produced a documentary, The Persecuted Saints You’ve Never Heard Of about the persecution of Orthodox Christian monks. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-178-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-2-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow: Michael Egnor: In our last session, we talked a little bit about the evolutionary argument against…

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AI Cyberpunk Konzept: Transhuman / Cyborg Kopf mit Sonnenbrille; Neon beleuchtet + leuchtend | 3D Render Illustration [4K]

Why the Imago Dei (Image of God) Shuts the Door on Transhumanism

As the belief that technology promises us a glorious post-human future advances among scholar who profess Christianity, we must ask some hard questions

Transhumanist ideology is advancing among scholars who profess Christianity so the question must be asked, is the dream of a post-human (Human+) existence compatible with the Christian faith? More specifically, is transhumanism (H+) compatible with the doctrine of Adam and Eve as the first humans created in the “image of God” (imago Dei)? The answer is no. The biblical doctrine that God’s image exists in every human person — and also in humanity as a whole — shuts the door to transhumanism. We can see this if we look at what the Bible teaches about anthropology, ethics, and salvation in Christ alone. Anthropology: Who does the Bible say that we are? First, the transhumanist history of human origins and Human+…

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Sculptor artist creating a bust sculpture with clay

Firefly Episode 7: Jayne Can’t Live With Himself As a Hero

Jayne Cobb, otherwise dumb muscle, once helped many people — inadvertently — and is stuck with deadly consequences when the truth emerges

After the strong “Stagecoach” rebound of Episode 6, Episode 7 focuses on Jayne Cobb. Up to now, the dumb muscle has mainly been comic relief. But when Mal and his crew stop by a planet to retrieve some smuggled cargo — under the pretense of ordering a shipment of mud used to make ceramic parts — we learn a little more about the big man’s past. As the crew exits the Serenity to pick up the goods, they come across a giant mud statue… of Jayne. He has no idea why the statue is there but, come to think of it, he’s been acting nervous throughout the mission. Years ago, we learn, things went south at a job he was…

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Aerial view of nuclear explosion over a city.

What Would Surviving a Nuclear Explosion Be Like?

Nuclear war has been in the news lately but we naturally try to avoid thinking about its effects

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to renewed concerns about the use of nuclear weapons. We hear a variety of responses ranging from “real but not immediate danger” through “a wake-up call for the world.” Here’s what would happen if a nuclear weapon was detonated in an average American community: Pete and Judy Bradley are relaxing on a Sunday afternoon following a Thanksgiving weekend with family members. Highways and airports are filled with travelers on their way home. While the Bradleys are looking at the digital photos they took during the holiday, their darkened living room is suddenly, brilliantly illuminated by a blinding flash of light. The photo of their granddaughter displayed on their computer screen disappears. The Bradleys…

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Dozens of Drones Swarm in the Cloudy Sky.

Robert J. Marks: Straight Talk About Killer Robots

Dr. Marks, the author of Killer Robots, shares his expertise with Gretchen Huizinga of the Beatrice Institute

In the first segment of the recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discussed what artificial intelligence can and can’t do and its ethical implications with veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga In the second segment, they discussed “How did all the AI hype get started?” Then, in this third part, the discussion turned to the use of artificial intelligence in warfare. Dr. Marks is the author of The Case for Killer Robots, which looks at the issues raised in some detail. Here he gives a brief overview. The entire interview was originally published by Christian think tank, the Beatrice Institute (March 3, 2022) and is repeated…

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Mayapur temple , ISKON headquarter.

What Do the World’s 1.2 Billion Hindus Think About the Mind?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Hindu Arjuna Gallagher on the similarities and differences between that tradition and Western theism

In our most recent Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism, Reincarnation, and the Mind–Body Problem,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which features an array of guests who have something to say about the spiritual dimension of our lives — philosopher David Bentley Hart, neuroscientist Mark Solms, atheist Matt Dillahunty… a variety of voices that can help us understand the intellectual climate in which we live. Gallagher has also produced a documentary, The Persecuted Saints You’ve Never Heard Of.about the persecution of Orthodox Christian monks. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-177-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-1-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: I don’t know a lot about Hinduism, and I…

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Large cog wheels in the motor.

Can Computers –- and People — Learn To Think From the Bottom Up?

That’s the big promise made in a recent article at Aeon

Tufts University biologist Michael Levin and Columbia University neuroscientist Rafael Yuste have an ambitious project in hand: To explain how evolution “‘hacked’ its way to intelligence from the bottom up,” that is, from nothing. They base their thesis on computer science: This is intelligence in action: the ability to reach a particular goal or solve a problem by undertaking new steps in the face of changing circumstances. It’s evident not just in intelligent people and mammals and birds and cephalopods, but also cells and tissues, individual neurons and networks of neurons, viruses, ribosomes and RNA fragments, down to motor proteins and molecular networks. Across all these scales, living things solve problems and achieve goals by flexibly navigating different spaces –…

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Stagecoach - Shepherd Boy. Date: circa 1840

Firefly Episode 6: We Meet a Stagecoach — and a Vixen!

In this enjoyable episode, there is only one plot hole and it isn’t really significant

Episode 6 is much better than Episode 5. First of all, the “guns problem” is fixed. We’re back to shooting bullets instead of lasers (?) out of the guns. Some of the rifles do sound a bit different from what we might expect but at least the weaponry is consistent with the ammunition used. The story opens with a stagecoach driving down the riverbank. A group of robbers attempt to take the coach, but the drivers turn out to be Captain Mal and mercenary crew member Jayne Cobb in disguise. After a brief firefight, the bad guys are apprehended, and all is well. The next scene is a congratulatory party for the crew put on by the settlers. The next…

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Words HYPE and HOPE written on blocks of wood. The word HOPE goes over the word HYPE.

Robert J. Marks: AI History — How Did All the Hype Get Started?

Dr. Marks and Gretchen Huizinga muse on the remarkable inventors who made AI what it is — and isn’t — today

In the first segment of the recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discussed what artificial intelligence can and can’t do and its ethical implications with veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga In this segment, they talk about the hope, the hype and the likely realities. The entire interview was originally published by Christian think tank, the Beatrice Institute (March 3, 2022) and is repeated here with their kind permission: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-Episode-176-Beatrice-Institute-Rebroadcast-rev1.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript of the second segment, with notes and links: This portion begins at 18:55 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gretchen Huizinga: Computational intelligence is one of…

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Asian businesswoman in formal suit working with computer laptop for Polygonal brain shape of an artificial intelligence with various icon of smart city Internet of Things, AI and business IOT concept

Robert J. Marks: Zeroing In on What AI Can and Can’t Do

Walter Bradley Center director Marks discusses what’s hot and what’s not in AI with fellow computer maven Gretchen Huizinga

What makes mankind special? And what does it mean to flourish on the frontier of a technological future? In a recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discusses what artificial intelligence can and can’t do and its ethical implications with veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga This interview was originally published by Christian think tank, the Beatrice Institute (March 3, 2022) and is repeated here with their kind permission: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-Episode-176-Beatrice-Institute-Rebroadcast-rev1.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript of the first segment, with notes and links: Gretchen Huizinga: Well, Bob, you’re not just a senior fellow and director of the Walter Bradley Center, but you’re also a co-founder and were instrumental…

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warhead on transport stand, against a rocket. Weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, a bomb.

What Would a Real-World Nuclear Attack Be Like?

We know some of what it would be like from the records and reconstruction of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima

Since 1992, I’ve made annual visits to one of the most tranquil places I know, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory 11,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. After calibrating my atmospheric instruments, every evening I photograph the sunset while thinking about the horrors of nuclear war. That’s because I’m standing behind the old Atomic Energy Commission Building, from where nuclear tests over the Pacific were once photographed. The origin of those tests occurred 38 minutes before sunrise on July 16, 1945, when the pitch-black sky over New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) desert was instantaneously transformed into a blinding white glare. Scientists and technicians observed this phenomenon from miles away through welder’s glass to protect their eyes. What they saw…

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Woman with hygienic mask shopping for supply.Budget buying at a supply store.Emergency to buy list.Shopping for enough food and cleaning products.Preparation for a pandemic quarantine due to covid-19

Historian Niall Ferguson on What We Can Learn From COVID

To start with how can we be pretty sure we are over it? Ferguson offers some evidence

At COSM 2021, Jay Richards interviewed historian Niall Ferguson, author of Doom: The politics of catastrophe (2021), on the lessons we could learn from historic disasters in interpreting the COVID-19 crises. Ferguson spoke at COSM 2021 (November 10, 3:00 pm) on “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe”: Setting the annus horribilis of 2020 in historical perspective, Niall Ferguson explains why we are getting worse, not better, at handling disasters. The lessons of history that this country — indeed the West as a whole — urgently need to learn, if we want to handle the next crisis better, and to avoid the ultimate doom of irreversible decline. Generally, he sees the economic impact of the COVID shutdown as comparable to fighting World…