A famous anecdote from 19th century New England involves Margaret Fuller, an early feminist and ardent exponent of the spiritual movement of transcendentalism. Besotted by her emotions, she once blurted out, "I accept the universe!" When he heard of this, the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle remarked dryly, "Gad-she'd better."While the story may be apocryphal, if you replace Fuller with Pope Fr...
In February 1987, Neil Gehrels, a young researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, boarded a military plane bound for the…
The Vatican has invited the world's leading scientists and cosmologists to try and understand the Big Bang. Astrophysicists and other experts will attend the Vatican Observatory to discuss black holes, gravitational waves and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion.
There has been a surge in pedestrian fatalities in the U.S.
2016/09/06: For decades, Hoffman, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has been studying the links between evolution, perception and intelligence (both natural and machine). Based on that body of work, he thinks we've been missing something fundamental when it comes to fundamental reality.
Fundamentally, Hoffman argues, evolution and reality (the objective kind) have almost nothing to do with each other.
Hoffman's been making a lot of news in recent months with these claims. His March 2015 TED talk went viral, gaining more than 2 million views. After a friend sent me the video, I was keen to learn more. I called Dr. Hoffman, and he graciously set aside some time for us to talk. What followed was a delightful conversation with a guy who does, indeed, have a big radical idea. At the same time, Hoffman doesn't come off as someone with an ax to grind. He seems genuinely open and truly curious. At his core, Hoffman says, he's a scientist with a theory that must either live or die by data.
So, what exactly is Hoffman's big radical idea? He begins with a precisely formulated theorem:
"Given an arbitrary world and arbitrary fitness functions, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but that is just tuned to fitness."
So let's unpack Hoffman's theorem for a moment. To paraphrase the website Understanding Evolution, "fitness" is used to describe how good a particular organism is at getting its offspring into the next generation relative to the other organisms around it. When people study evolution using mathematics or computers, they imagine there are compact ways of describing what makes an organism fit for a particular environment. That's what they mean by "fitness functions."
So imagine you have two kinds of creatures living in an environment. The first is tuned to respond directly to objective reality — the actual independent reality out there. The other creature has behavior only tuned to its, and the environment's, fitness function. The second creature couldn't care less about what's really going on in reality. What Hoffman's theorem says is the fitness-tuned critter will — almost always — win the evolution game.
With so many saying they have abandoned their childhood faith because of science, the Church in the United States has an urgent mission to engage the culture, said one expert.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
Is geology predictable, or is the mineral composition of Earth due to chance events?
Sperm banks and human cloning may not be the future. A study in beetles reveals that having two sexes boosts genetic quality.
The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not "a magician with a magic wand", Pope Francis has declared. Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the "pseudo theories" of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Church records reveal when fewer boys are born, they survive better
Is there an evolutionary mechanism stopping us from living within our planetary constraints? If so, can we overcome it before it is too late?
For a biologist like me, the interesting questions about religion have always been where did it come from and why did it evolve? I taught evolutionary biology in a Catholic University in the most Catholic
Wyoming, which has been enriched by the sale of its natural resources, was the first state to reject new national science standards for schools, but it likely won't be the last.
I'm so glad you asked. Seriously. An answer to this question is one of the most illuminating and disturbing stories in human evolutionary biology, and almost nobody knows about it. And so, O my friends, gather close, and hear the extraordinary tale of:
Harvard's professor of evolutionary biology tells Ian Tucker why obesity is the major 21st-century problem - and why we are ill-equipped to deal with it
The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level? For any sense of drama, interplanetary protagonists
We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals," according to John Hawks -University of Wisconsin anthropologist. "Five thousand years is such a small sliver of time - it's 100 to 200...
Druid perspectives on nature, culture, and the future of industrial society
Now threatening to pressure biology textbook publishers.