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Boston Dynamics Unveils SpotMini You’ll Actually Be Able to Buy

Boston Dynamics has debuted the version of its SpotMini robot dog that it plans to actually sell to consumers — but it has yet to announce a price tag.

New Best Friend

We’ve seen Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini climb stairs, pull heavy loads, and even dance like no one’s watching — and now, we’re finally getting a look at the version of the robo-dog that could one day do all those things on your command.

On Thursday, Boston Dynamics’ CEO Marc Raibert unveiled the production version of SpotMini at a TechCrunch-hosted startup showcase. He claims the company will produce about 100 of the robots this year, with production expected to begin in July or August — meaning it might not be long before we have bio-inspired robots navigating our homes.

A Better Bot

According to TechCrunch, the production version of SpotMini includes “redesigned components to make it more reliable, skins that work better to protect the robot if it falls and two sets of cameras on the front and one on each side and the back, so it can see in all directions.”

Raibert doesn’t think the production version of the robo-dog will be limited to the capabilities it ships with, either.

During the conference he said he hopes SpotMini will become the “Android of robots,” a reference to Google’s mobile operating system. In other words, he envisions software engineers writing their own apps to give the robot new capabilities.

As for the big question that remains — How much for that robo-dog in the video? — Raibert said Boston Dynamics will reveal pricing details this summer.

READ MORE: Boston Dynamics debuts production version of SpotMini [TechCrunch]

More on SpotMini: Watch a Pack of Boston Dynamics’ Creepy Robot Dogs Pull a Truck

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Boston Dynamics Unveils SpotMini You’ll Actually Be Able to Buy

Puerto Rico Will Stop Burning Coal Next Year

The governor of Puerto Rico just signed a bill that will quickly move the island away from non-renewable energy sources within the next few decades.

Spring Cleaning

Puerto Rico has a plan in motion to shut down its coal-burning power plants by next year.

The Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, recently signed by Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Roselló, puts the island on track to completely ditch non-renewable energy sources by 2050, according to The Rising — a heartening sign that Puerto Rico plans to rebuild its infrastructure to be as environmentally-friendly as possible in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Nitty Gritty

According to the bill, coal-burning power plants will get the axe in 2020, and all other coal-burning in Puerto Rico will be eliminated in 2028 . Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, which in 2017 only got two percent of its energy from renewable sources, will reach 40 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050.

“I’m pretty sure that this will be, by leaps and bounds, the quickest transition to renewables that’s ever happened anywhere on the planet” P.J. Wilson, President of the Solar and Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico, told The Rising. “To go from [2] percent today to 40 percent by five years from now will be the biggest challenge the renewable energy industry has ever faced, on top of a very challenging political situation and a challenging financial situation.”

READ MORE: Puerto Rico to Adopt 100% Renewable Energy [The Rising]

More on Puerto Rico: When It Comes To Natural Disasters, Technology Has An Unavoidable Dark Side

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Puerto Rico Will Stop Burning Coal Next Year

Scientists Find Genetic Variants That Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants that protect people from obesity and its symptoms.

Drug Discovery

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants, or mutations, that protect people from obesity and its symptoms — and they think the discovery could lead to new weight-loss medications.

“A powerful emerging concept is that genetic variants that protect against disease can be used as models for the development of medicines that are more effective and safer,” researcher Luca Lotta said in a news release.

The Weight Gene

In a study published on Thursday in the journal Cell, the team details how it analyzed the MC4R gene in half a million volunteers who participated in the U.K. Biobank study.

They already knew the gene played a role in regulating weight, but through their new research they discovered 61 distinct variants of it, some of which help people avoid becoming obese. Others provided protection against obesity symptoms, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Understanding Obesity

The study does more than just illuminate a path toward new weight-loss medications — it also shines a light on the very nature of obesity.

“This study drives home the fact that genetics plays a major role in why some people are obese,” researcher Sadaf Farooqi said in the news release, “and that some people are fortunate enough to have genes that protect them from obesity.”

READ MORE: Discovery of genetic variants that protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes could lead to new weight loss medicines [University of Cambridge]

More on MC4R: Mutated Animals Show Why Gene Editing Isn’t Ready for Human Trials 

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Scientists Find Genetic Variants That Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

IBM Pulls the Plug on Drug-Discovering Watson AI

IBM is halting development and sales of its Watson AI designed to find promising new medications, according to a new STAT story.

Bye, Watson

On Thursday, STAT published a story claiming that IBM is halting sales of Watson for Drug Discovery — a service that uses the company’s Watson AI to analyze connections between genes, drugs, and diseases on the hunt for useful new medications — citing as its source a person familiar with IBM’s internal decision-making.

“We are focusing our resources within Watson Health to double down on the adjacent field of clinical development where we see an even greater market need for our data and AI capabilities,” an IBM spokesperson told STAT — a sign that eight years after launching Watson Health, IBM still isn’t quite sure how AI should factor into the future of healthcare.

Overpromised, Underdelivered

The STAT source cited a “lackluster financial performance” as IBM’s reason for no longer developing and selling Watson for Drug Discovery. That mirrors the “lack of demand” reasoning IBM gave for scaling back the part of Watson Health dedicated to helping hospitals manage certain contracts in June 2018.

It’s hard to imagine why the systems would be in high demand, though — several healthcare experts told IEEE Spectrum earlier in April that IBM had “overpromised and underdelivered” with Watson Health.

“Merely proving that you have powerful technology is not sufficient,” healthcare data strategist Martin Kohn told the publication. “Prove to me that it will actually do something useful — that it will make my life better, and my patients’ lives better.”

READ MORE: IBM halting sales of Watson AI tool for drug discovery amid sluggish growth [STAT]

More on Watson Health: Doctors Are Losing Faith in IBM Watson’s AI Doctor

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IBM Pulls the Plug on Drug-Discovering Watson AI

The Government Wants to Make an Example out of Mark Zuckerberg

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering holding Mark Zuckerberg directly responsible for Facebook's privacy scandals.

Target Acquired

After seemingly countless privacy scandals rocked Facebook in recent years, federal regulators are considering taking a more aggressive approach — including potentially holding CEO Mark Zuckerberg responsible for the social media giant’s misconduct.

The news comes from anonymous sources close to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s ongoing, confidential probe into Facebook’s business practices who spoke to The Washington Post. New governmental oversight for Zuckerberg would send a strong message to Facebook and other Silicon Valley data brokers — though probably not the one Zuckerberg hoped for when he requested new regulations for his industry earlier this month.

Big Stick

In the past, the FTC has considered fining Zuckerberg directly when his company mishandled user data, but never pulled the trigger. That regulators are returning to that option suggests that they’re fed up with Zuckerberg getting off scot-free when his company plays fast and loose with users’ privacy.

“The days of pretending this is an innocent platform are over, and citing Mark in a large scale enforcement action would drive that home in spades,” Facebook investor-turned-critic Roger McNamee told WaPo.

READ MORE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg under close scrutiny in federal privacy probe, sources say [The Washington Post]

More on Facebook: Facebook “Unintentionally” Uploaded 1.5 Million Email Contacts

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The Government Wants to Make an Example out of Mark Zuckerberg

From Coffee to Popcorn, Celebrate 420 With These Futuristic CBD Edibles

By now, you’re probably familiar with CBD, a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants that has exploded in popularity. The compound is thought to provide many of the benefits of marijuana, but because it lacks THC, it does not cause a mind-altering high. As such, the pot-alternative (or perhaps “pot companion” is a better description) can now be found in a variety of products, and is being used to treat everything from anxiety to chronic pain – although the scientific community is still divided on the accuracy of these claims.

Still, CBD is wildly popular. But rather than focus on the common CBD products such as oils and vapes, we’ve decided to celebrate 420 with a list of some futuristic novel CBD edibles. From popcorn, to coffee, to honey, these CBD edibles provide a unique way to experience the uber-popular cannabinoid. So take a look for yourself, and add a dose of fun to this year’s 420 celebration.

CBD Popcorn

CBD Edibles - Popcorn
DiamondCBD.com

BlackDiamondCBD offers delicious CBD infused popcorn in a variety flavors. From plain to caramel corn to ranch, there’s something for everyone. It makes a great snack, and it’s a perfect way to spice up your next movie night.

Chill CBD Coffee (4 pack)

CBD Edibles - Coffee
DiamondCBD.com

If you’re looking to add CBD to your morning routine, look no further than Chill CBD Coffee pods. It’s a convenient and delicious way to benefit from 25mg of high-quality CBD. And it’s also available for tea drinkers. You know who you are.

CBD Edibles – Infused Honey Pot – 250mg

CBD Edibles - Honey
DiamondCBD.com

This CBD-infused honey has 250mg CBD derived from industrial hemp oil (cannabidiol), so it’s free of THC. And as the name implies, it also features Grade A all-natural honey. It can be put in tea, added as a topping on food, or even used as an ingredient in your favorite dish. Or you can just pretend you’re a cartoon bear and guzzle this sweet treat all by itself. We won’t judge you… much.

Editor’s note: A non-editorial team at Futurism created this article, and we may receive a percentage of sales from this post. This supplement has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to cure or treat any ailments. Do not take CBD products if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product you are consuming. Tell your doctor about all medicines you may be on before consuming CBD to avoid negative reactions. Tell your doctor about all medical conditions. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins and herbal products. Other side effects of CBD include: dry mouth, cloudy thoughts, and wakefulness. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of any drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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From Coffee to Popcorn, Celebrate 420 With These Futuristic CBD Edibles

Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

A new biomaterial exhibits metabolism-like behaviors. It appears in some ways to act like a living thing, blurring the line between biology and machinery.

Slime Mold

Scientists just got one step closer to creating living machines — or at least machines that mimic biological life as we know it.

A new biomaterial built in a Cornell University bioengineering lab uses synthetic DNA to continuously and autonomously organize, assemble, and restructure itself in a process so similar to how biological cells and tissues grow that the researchers are calling “artificial metabolism,” according to research published in Science Robotics last week.

 We Can Regrow It

It’s clear that the scientists are dancing around the idea of creating lifelike machinery. They stop short of straight-up claiming that their metabolizing biomaterial is alive, but the research begins by coyly listing the characteristics of life that the material exhibits — self-assembly, organization, and metabolism.

“We are introducing a brand-new, lifelike material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism,” Cornell engineer Dan Lui said in a university-published press release. “We are not making something that’s alive, but we are creating materials that are much more lifelike than have ever been seen before.”

Worming Along

The biomaterial mimics a biological organism’s endless metabolic cycle of taking in energy and replacing old cells. When placed in a nutrient-rich environment, the material grew in the direction of the raw materials and food it needed to thrive — not unlike how a developing brain’s neurons grow out in the direction of specific molecules.

Meanwhile, the material also let its tail end die off and decay, giving the appearance of a constantly-regrowing slime mold traveling around toward food.

While the little bio-blob isn’t alive, it does appear to move and grow like a living thing, suggesting that scientists are blurring the line between life and machine more and more.

READ MORE: FORGET ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE; THINK ARTIFICIAL LIFE [Hackaday]

More on biomaterials: Scientists Manipulated a Material for Robots That Grows Like Human Skin

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Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

Spirituality – Wikipedia

For the belief in being able to contact the dead, see Spiritualism.

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[note 1]

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”,[note 2] oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

In modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live”, often in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension”.

The term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”.[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe). In the Vulgate the Latin word spiritus is used to translate the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah.[web 1]

The term “spiritual”, matters “concerning the spirit”, is derived from Old French spirituel (12c.), which is derived from Latin spiritualis, which comes from spiritus or “spirit”.[web 2]

The term “spirituality” is derived from Middle French spiritualit, from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]

There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which “there was little agreement.” This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully. Furthermore, many of spirituality’s core features are not unique to spirituality; for example self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one’s connection to all were regarded by the atheist Arthur Schopenhauer as key to ethical life.[17][bettersourceneeded]

According to Kees Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity there is Christ, for Buddhism, Buddha, and in Islam, Muhammad.”[note 2] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions.

In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” incorporating personal growth or transformation, usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions.

Words translatable as ‘spirituality’ first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[18] In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God, to be driven by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to a life which rejects this influence.

In the 11th century this meaning changed. Spirituality began to denote the mental aspect of life, as opposed to the material and sensual aspects of life, “the ecclesiastical sphere of light against the dark world of matter”.[note 3] In the 13th century “spirituality” acquired a social and psychological meaning. Socially it denoted the territory of the clergy: “The ecclesiastical against the temporary possessions, the ecclesiastical against the secular authority, the clerical class against the secular class”[note 4] Psychologically, it denoted the realm of the inner life: “The purity of motives, affections, intentions, inner dispositions, the psychology of the spiritual life, the analysis of the feelings”.[note 5]

In the 17th and 18th century a distinction was made between higher and lower forms of spirituality: “A spiritual man is one who is Christian ‘more abundantly and deeper than others’.”[note 6] The word was also associated with mysticism and quietism, and acquired a negative meaning.[citation needed]

Modern notions of spirituality developed throughout the 19th and 20th century, mixing Christian ideas with Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[24] He was one of the major figures in Transcendentalism, an early 19th-century liberal Protestant movement, which was rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of Hume,[web 4] and Neo-Platonism.The Transcendentalists emphasised an intuitive, experiential approach of religion.[web 5] Following Schleiermacher, an individual’s intuition of truth was taken as the criterion for truth.[web 5] In the late 18th and early 19th century, the first translations of Hindu texts appeared, which were also read by the Transcendentalists, and influenced their thinking.[web 5] They also endorsed universalist and Unitarianist ideas, leading to Unitarian Universalism, the idea that there must be truth in other religions as well, since a loving God would redeem all living beings, not just Christians.[web 5][web 6]

A major influence on modern spirituality was the Theosophical Society, which searched for ‘secret teachings’ in Asian religions. It has been influential on modernist streams in several Asian religions, notably Neo-Vedanta, the revival of Theravada Buddhism, and Buddhist modernism, which have taken over modern western notions of personal experience and universalism and integrated them in their religious concepts. A second, related influence was Anthroposophy, whose founder, Rudolf Steiner, was particularly interested in developing a genuine Western spirituality, and in the ways that such a spirituality could transform practical institutions such as education, agriculture, and medicine.[29][30]

The influence of Asian traditions on western modern spirituality was also furthered by the perennial philosophy, whose main proponent Aldous Huxley was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s Neo-Vedanta and universalism, and the spread of social welfare, education and mass travel after World War II.

An important influence on western spirituality was Neo-Vedanta, also called neo-Hinduism and Hindu Universalism,[web 7] a modern interpretation of Hinduism which developed in response to western colonialism and orientalism. It aims to present Hinduism as a “homogenized ideal of Hinduism” with Advaita Vedanta as its central doctrine. Due to the colonisation of Asia by the western world, since the 19th century an exchange of ideas has been taking place between the western world and Asia, which also influenced western religiosity. Unitarianism, and the idea of Universalism, was brought to India by missionaries, and had a major influence on neo-Hinduism via Ram Mohan Roy’s Brahmo Samaj and Brahmoism. Roy attempted to modernise and reform Hinduism, from the idea of Universalism. This universalism was further popularised, and brought back to the west as neo-Vedanta, by Swami Vivekananda.

After the Second World War, spirituality and theistic religion became increasingly disconnected, and spirituality became more oriented on subjective experience, instead of “attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context.” A new discourse developed, in which (humanistic) psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions are being blended, to reach the true self by self-disclosure, free expression and meditation.

The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the advent of the New Age movement. Authors such as Chris Griscom and Shirley MacLaine explored it in numerous ways in their books. Paul Heelas noted the development within New Age circles of what he called “seminar spirituality”:[37] structured offerings complementing consumer choice with spiritual options.

Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to this broader view of spirituality.[38] The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed. Both theists and atheists have criticized this development.[39][40]

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions,[which?] Rabbinism) (Hebrew: “Yahadut Rabanit” ) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah (“Law” or “Instruction”) cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law (called halakha, “the way”).

Judaism knows a variety of religious observances: ethical rules, prayers, religious clothing, holidays, shabbat, pilgrimages, Torah reading, dietary laws, etc.

Kabbalah (literally “receiving”), is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought of Judaism. Its definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it,[41] from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, or Occultist syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (his creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations,[which?] it is not a religious denomination in itself. Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, its scriptures are read outside the traditional canons of organised religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.

Hasidic Judaism, meaning “piety” (or “loving kindness”), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers.[citation needed] Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with optimism,[citation needed] encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.

Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith (fides qua creditur) following the acceptance of faith (fides quae creditur). Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groupings have their own unique spirituality its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).

Progressive Christianity is a contemporary movement which seeks to remove the supernatural claims of the faith and replace them with a post-critical understanding of biblical spirituality based on historical and scientific research. It focuses on the lived experience of spirituality over historical dogmatic claims, and accepts that the faith is both true and a human construction, and that spiritual experiences are psychologically and neurally real and useful.

The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, “pillars of religion”) are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the creed (shahadah), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once-in-a-lifetime. The Shia and Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.[42]

The best known form of Islamic mystic spirituality is the Sufi tradition (famous through Rumi and Hafiz) in which a spiritual master or pir transmits spiritual discipline to students.[43]

Sufism or taawwuf (Arabic: ) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.[44][45][46] A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a f (). Sufis believe they are practicing ihsan (perfection of worship) as revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad,

Worship and serve Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.

Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence. The Sufi have suffered severe persecution by more rigid and fundamentalist groups such as the Wahhabi and Salafi movement. In 1843 the Senussi Sufi were forced to flee Mecca and Medina and head to Sudan and Libya.[47]

Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”.[48] Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits”.[49]

Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihd translates as a noun meaning “struggle”. There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle. The “greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties.[51] This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim[52] and non-Muslim[53] authors.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, an 11th-century Islamic scholar, referenced a statement by the companion of Muhammad, Jabir ibn Abd-Allah:

The Prophet … returned from one of his battles, and thereupon told us, ‘You have arrived with an excellent arrival, you have come from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war).”[unreliable source?][54][55][note 7]

Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means “development” or “cultivating”[56] or “producing”[57][58] in the sense of “calling into existence.”[59] It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of loving kindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally.

Various Buddhist Paths to liberation developed throughout the ages. Best-known is the Noble Eightfold Path, but others include the Bodhisattva Path and Lamrim.

Three of four paths of spirituality in Hinduism

Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic.[60] Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitraja (Sanskrit: [61]). It defines spiritual practice as one’s journey towards moksha, awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a consciousness that is liberated and content.[62][63]

Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mrga (ways)[64][note 8] of spiritual practice,[65] namely Jna, the way of knowledge; Bhakti, the way of devotion; and Karma yoga, the way of selfless action. In the 19th century Vivekananda, in his neo-Vedanta synthesis of Hinduism, added Rja yoga, the way of contemplation and meditation, as a fourth way, calling all of them “yoga.”[note 9]

Jna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one’s spiritual practice.[68] Bhakti marga is a path of faith and devotion to deity or deities; the spiritual practice often includes chanting, singing and music such as in kirtans in front of idols, or images of one or more deity, or a devotional symbol of the holy.[69] Karma marga is the path of one’s work, where diligent practical work or vartta (Sanskrit: , profession) becomes in itself a spiritual practice, and work in daily life is perfected as a form of spiritual liberation and not for its material rewards.[70][71] Rja marga is the path of cultivating necessary virtues, self-discipline, tapas (meditation), contemplation and self-reflection sometimes with isolation and renunciation of the world, to a pinnacle state called samdhi.[72][73] This state of samdhi has been compared to peak experience.[74]

There is a rigorous debate in Indian literature on relative merits of these theoretical spiritual practices. For example, Chandogyopanishad suggests that those who engage in ritualistic offerings to gods and priests will fail in their spiritual practice, while those who engage in tapas will succeed; Svetasvataropanishad suggests that a successful spiritual practice requires a longing for truth, but warns of becoming ‘false ascetic’ who go through the mechanics of spiritual practice without meditating on the nature of Self and universal Truths.[75] In the practice of Hinduism, suggest modern era scholars such as Vivekananda, the choice between the paths is up to the individual and a person’s proclivities.[63][76] Other scholars[77] suggest that these Hindu spiritual practices are not mutually exclusive, but overlapping. These four paths of spirituality are also known in Hinduism outside India, such as in Balinese Hinduism, where it is called Catur Marga (literally: four paths).[78]

Different schools of Hinduism encourage different spiritual practices. In Tantric school for example, the spiritual practice has been referred to as sdhan. It involves initiation into the school, undergoing rituals, and achieving moksha liberation by experiencing union of cosmic polarities.[79] The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.[80] In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).[81]

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined:[82] “In the Sikh Weltanschauung…the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics.”[83] Guru Nanak described living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” as being higher than a purely contemplative life.[84]

The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent.[85] According to the 9th Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadhur, the ideal Sikh should have both Shakti (power that resides in the temporal), and Bhakti (spiritual meditative qualities). This was developed into the concept of the Saint Soldier by the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.[86]

According to Guru Nanak, the goal is to attain the “attendant balance of separation-fusion, self-other, action-inaction, attachment-detachment, in the course of daily life”,[87] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence.[87] Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life[88]).[89][90][91] and which must be seen with ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being.[92]

In Sikhism there is no dogma,[93] priests, monastics or yogis.

In some African contexts,[which?] spirituality is considered a belief system that guides the welfare of society and the people therein, and eradicates sources of unhappiness occasioned by evil.[citation needed]

The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed. Contemporary spirituality is also called “post-traditional spirituality” and “New Age spirituality”. Hanegraaf makes a distinction between two “New Age” movements: New Age in a restricted sense, which originated primarily in mid-twentieth century England and had its roots in Theosophy and Anthroposophy, and “New Age” in a general sense, which emerged in the later 1970s

when increasing numbers of people … began to perceive a broad similarity between a wide variety of “alternative ideas” and pursuits, and started to think of them as part of one “movement””.

Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as spiritual but not religious and generally believe in the existence of different “spiritual paths,” emphasizing the importance of finding one’s own individual path to spirituality. According to one 2005 poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[web 8]

Modern spirituality is centered on the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.”[96] It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.[97] It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.

Not all modern notions of spirituality embrace transcendental ideas. Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character (qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others).[98]:22 These are aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being. Nevertheless, many humanists (e.g. Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre) who clearly value the non-material, communal and virtuous aspects of life reject this usage of the term spirituality as being overly-broad (i.e. it effectively amounts to saying “everything and anything that is good and virtuous is necessarily spiritual”).[99] In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote “… one’s ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.” [100] Similarly, Aristotle one of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forces even argued that “men create Gods in their own image” (not the other way around). Moreover, theistic and atheistic critics alike dismiss the need for the “secular spirituality” label on the basis that appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in that i) the term “spirit” is commonly taken as denoting the existence of unseen / otherworldly / life-giving forces and ii) words such as morality, philanthropy and humanism already efficiently and succinctly describe the prosocial-orientation and civility that the phrase secular spirituality is meant to convey but without risk of potential confusion that one is referring to something supernatural.

Although personal well-being, both physical and psychological, is said to be an important aspect of modern spirituality, this does not imply spirituality is essential to achieving happiness (e.g. see). Free-thinkers who reject notions that the numinous/non-material is important to living well can be just as happy as more spiritually-oriented individuals (see)[101]

Contemporary spirituality theorists assert that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. For example, meditation and similar practices are suggested to help the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[102][unreliable source?] [103] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[104] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[105] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some self-help movements such as Alcoholics Anonymous:

if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead[106]

Yet such spiritually-informed treatment approaches have been challenged as pseudoscience, are far from uniformly curative and may for non-believers cause harm (see iatrogenesis).

“Spiritual experience” plays a central role in modern spirituality. This notion has been popularised by both western and Asian authors. Important early 20th century western writers who studied the phenomenon of spirituality, and their works, include William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and Rudolph Otto, especially The Idea of the Holy (1917). James’ notions of “spiritual experience” had a further influence on the modernist streams in Asian traditions, making them even further recognisable for a western audience.

William James popularized the use of the term “religious experience” in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It has also influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge.[web 9]

Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of “religious experience” further back to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (17681834), who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of “religious experience” was used by Schleiermacher to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique. It was adopted by many scholars of religion, of which William James was the most influential.

Major Asian influences were Vivekananda and D.T. Suzuki. Swami Vivekananda popularised a modern syncretitistic Hinduism, in which the authority of the scriptures was replaced by an emphasis on personal experience. D.T. Suzuki had a major influence on the popularisation of Zen in the west and popularized the idea of enlightenment as insight into a timeless, transcendent reality.[web 10][web 11] Another example can be seen in Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India, which introduced Ramana Maharshi and Meher Baba to a western audience.

Spiritual experiences can include being connected to a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; joining with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm.[114]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[98] and spiritual retreats in a convent. Love and/or compassion are often[quantify] described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[98]

Within spirituality is also found “a common emphasis on the value of thoughtfulness, tolerance for breadth and practices and beliefs, and appreciation for the insights of other religious communities, as well as other sources of authority within the social sciences.”[117]

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[118][119][pageneeded] and to spirituality[citation needed] has developed in complex ways. Historian John Hedley Brooke describes wide variations:

The natural sciences have been invested with religious meaning, with antireligious implications and, in many contexts, with no religious significance at all.”[120]

Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[121][122] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[123] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[124][125][pageneeded][126][note 10], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[127][128] and are willing to debate,[129]rather than simply classifying spirituality and science as non-overlapping magisteria.

A few[quantify] religious leaders have shown openness to modern science and its methods. The 14th Dalai Lama, for example, has proposed that if a scientific analysis conclusively showed certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then the claims must be abandoned and the findings of science accepted.[130]

During the twentieth century the relationship between science and spirituality has been influenced both by Freudian psychology, which has accentuated the boundaries between the two areas by accentuating individualism and secularism, and by developments in particle physics, which reopened the debate about complementarity between scientific and religious discourse and rekindled for many an interest in holistic conceptions of reality.[119]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[131][132] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[133][134]

Various studies (most originating from North America) have reported a positive correlation between spirituality and mental well-being in both healthy people and those encountering a range of physical illnesses or psychological disorders.[135][136][137][138] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[139] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[140] strength, and inner peace,[141] whether the correlation represents a causal link remains contentious. Both supporters and opponents of this claim agree that past statistical findings are difficult to interpret, in large part because of the ongoing disagreement over how spirituality should be defined and measured.[142] There is also evidence that an agreeable / positive temperament and/or a tendency toward sociability (which all correlate with spirituality) might actually be the key psychological features that predispose people to subsequently adopt a spiritual orientation and that these characteristics, not spiritually per se, add to well-being. There is also some suggestion that the benefits associated with spirituality and religiosity might arise from being a member of a close-knit community. Social bonds available via secular sources (i.e., not unique to spirituality or faith-based groups) might just as effectively raise well-being. In sum, spirituality may not be the “active ingredient” (i.e. past association with psychological well-being measures might reflect a reverse causation or effects from other variables that correlate with spirituality),[99][143][144][145][146][147][148] and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtue personality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritual may better account for spirituality’s apparent correlation with mental health and social support.[149][150][151][152][153]

Masters and Spielmans[154] conducted a meta-analysis of all the available and reputable research examining the effects of distant intercessory prayer. They found no discernible health effects from being prayed for by others. In fact, one large and scientifically rigorous study by Herbert Benson and colleagues[155] revealed that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from cardiac arrest, but patients told people were praying for them actually had an increased risk of medical complications. Knowing others are praying for you could actually be medically detrimental.

In the health-care professions there is growing[quantify] interest in “spiritual care”, to complement the medical-technical approaches and to improve the outcomes of medical treatments.[need quotation to verify][pageneeded] Puchalski et al. argue for “compassionate systems of care” in a spiritual context.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[158][159] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[160][161][162][163] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[164][165] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[166] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[144][167][168][169][170] Benign in the sense that the same aberrant sensory perceptions that those suffering clinical psychoses evaluate as distressingly in-congruent and inexplicable are instead interpreted by spiritual individuals as positive as personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.[168][169]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

Spirituality

Spirituality – Is it Religion?Spirituality extends beyond an expression of religion or practice of religion. There is a pursuit for a spiritual dimension that not only inspires, but creates harmony with the universe. That relationship between ourselves and something greater compels us to seek answers about the infinite. During times of intense emotional, mental, or physical stress, man searches for transcendent meaning, oftentimes through nature, music, the arts, or a set of philosophical beliefs. This often results in a broad set of principles that transcends all religions.

While spirituality and religion remain different, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. This lack of clarity in their definitions frequently leads to debates. Suppose ones spirituality leads to the formation of a religion? Is it necessary for a spiritual person to be religious? Through certain actions, an individual may appear outwardly religious, and yet lack any underlying principles of spirituality. In its broadest sense, spirituality may include religion for some, but still stands alone without a connection to any specific faith.

Spirituality – What is it?The search for spirituality, mans connection to something beyond the temporal, sends him wandering down paths that offer unsatisfactory results. The Far East offers shrines that contain hundreds of statues. Worshippers choose a statue that most resembles an ancestor and pray to it. A piece of stone or rock represents ones personal and intimate relationship with the spiritual realm. During the 4th and 5th centuries B.C., Athens was a vital culture center with a world-famous university. The Athenians were firm and rigid in their spirituality as well as their reverencing of their deities (i.e. religion). Yet the meeting place of the Council of the Areopagus, the supreme body for judicial and legislative matters, contained an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Whether spirituality is sought through pagan religious experiences, psychic experiments, or tapping the hidden capabilities of man the results are disastrous. In addition to the overtly religious cults, there is a pursuit into the cosmic spiritual realm where man attempts to establish contact with actual spiritual beings. Ironically, in an effort to acquire tranquility and inspiration, man surrenders his soul to astrology, mediators, meditation, mind control, and demonic spirits (Isaiah 47:1215).

Spirituality – What is True SpiritualityTrue spirituality involves a daily trust in the One that created us. [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or power or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:1517).

It is not a religion that holds us to a set of rules or traditions. It is not attained through any human worthiness. It is about a relationship that God offers us, an eternal life with Him.

What is your response?

Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus

Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus

I still have questions

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Spirituality

What Is Spirituality? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experiencesomething that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships.

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What Is Spirituality? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing

Spirituality | definition of spirituality by Medical dictionary

An awareness of the metaphysical, the religious, or the sublime. In practice, spirituality includes participation in organized religion, contemplation, meditation, prayer, reflection, and activities fostering self-growth and connections with others and with nature.

n an individual’s quest for understanding the true meaning of life and the desire to integrate with the transcendent or sacred. May or may not arise from or lead to communi-ty formation or ritual observance.

Want to thank TFD for its existence? Tell a friend about us, add a link to this page, or visit the webmaster’s page for free fun content.

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The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

SpaceIL's Moon lander, Beresheet, is expected to touch down on the lunar surface on Thursday, landing Israeli a place in the history books.

Lunar Lander

If all goes according to plan, Israel will earn a place in history on Thursday as the fourth nation ever to land a spacecraft on the Moon — and unlike any craft that came before it, this Moon lander was privately funded.

Beresheet is the work of SpaceIL, a nonprofit Israeli space company. On Feb. 21, the company launched its $100 million spacecraft on a journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and on April 4, it settled into the Moon’s orbit.

The next step in the mission is for Beresheet to attempt to land on the surface of the Moon sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Watch Along

Beresheet’s target landing site is in the northeastern part of Mare Serenitatis, also known as the Sea of Serenity.

“On the basis of our experience with Apollo, the Serenitatis sites favor both landing safety and scientific reward,” SpaceIL team member Jim Head said in a press release.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, the company that built Beresheet, will live-stream Thursday’s touch-down attempt, so the world will have a chance to watch along as Israel tries to land itself a spot in the history books.

READ MORE: Israel’s Beresheet space probe prepares for historic moon landing [NBC News]

More on Beresheet: Israel’s Moon Lander Just Got Photobombed by the Earth

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The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

Some People Are Exceptionally Good at Predicting the Future

Some people are adept at forecasting, predicting the likelihood of future events, and a new contest aims to suss them out.

Super-Forecasters

Some people have a knack for accurately predicting the likelihood of future events. You might even be one of these “super-forecasters” and not know it — but now there’s an easy way to find out.

BBC Future has teamed up with UK-based charity Nesta and forecasting services organization Good Judgement on the “You Predict the Future” challenge. The purpose is to study how individuals and teams predict the likelihood of certain events, ranging from the technological to the geopolitical.

All Winners

Anyone interested in testing their own forecasting skills can sign up for the challenge to answer a series of multiple-choice questions and assign a percentage to how likely each answer is to come true.

“When you’re part of the challenge, you’ll get feedback on how accurate your forecasts are,” Kathy Peach, who leads Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, told BBC Future. “You’ll be able to see how well you do compared to other forecasters. And there’s a leader board, which shows who the best performing forecasters are.”

Collective Intelligence

You’ll also be helping advance research on collective intelligence, which focuses on the intellectual abilities of groups of people acting as one.

Additionally, as Peach told BBC Future, “New research shows that forecasting increases open-mindedness, the ability to consider alternative scenarios, and reduces political polarisation,”  — meaning even if you don’t find out you’re a “super-forecaster,” you might just end up a better person after making your predictions.

READ MORE: Could you be a super-forecaster? [BBC Future]

More on forecasting: Forecasting the Future: Can the Hive Mind Let Us Predict the Future?

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Some People Are Exceptionally Good at Predicting the Future

Amazon Workers Listen to Your Alexa Conversations, Then Mock Them

A new Bloomberg piece shared the experiences of Amazon workers tasked with listening to Alexa recordings, and what they hear isn't always mundane.

I Hear You

Amazon pays thousands of workers across the globe to review audio picked up by its Echo speakers — and their behavior raises serious concerns about both privacy and safety.

Bloomberg recently spoke with seven people who participated in Amazon’s audio review process. Each worker was tasked with listening to, transcribing, and annotating voice recordings with the goal of improving the ability of Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant to understand and respond to human speech.

But sometimes, according to Bloomberg, they share private recordings in a disrespectful way.

“I think we’ve been conditioned to the [assumption] that these machines are just doing magic machine learning” University of Michigan professor Florian Schaub told Bloomberg. “But the fact is there is still manual processing involved.”

Listen to This

The job is usually boring, according to Bloomberg’s sources. But if they heard something out of the ordinary, they said, sometimes they’d share the Alexa recordings with other workers via internal chat rooms.

Occasionally, it was just because they found the audio amusing — a person singing off-key, for example — but other times, the sharing was “a way of relieving stress” after hearing something disturbing, such as when two of Bloomberg’s sources heard what sounded like a sexual assault.

When they asked Amazon how to handle cases like the latter, the workers said they were told “it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere.” Amazon, meanwhile, said it had procedures in place for when workers hear something “distressing” in Alexa recordings.

READ MORE: Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa [Bloomberg]

More on Echo: Thanks, Amazon! Echo Recorded and Sent Audio to Random Contacts Without Warning

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Amazon Workers Listen to Your Alexa Conversations, Then Mock Them

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

A new type of quantum material can directly measure neural activity and translate it into electrical signals for a computer.

Computer Brain

Scientists say they’ve developed a new “quantum material” that could one day transfer information directly from human brains to a computer.

The research is in early stages, but it invokes ideas like uploading brains to the cloud or hooking people up to a computer to track deep health metrics — concepts that until now existed solely in science fiction.

Quantum Interface

The new quantum material, described in research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is a “nickelate lattice” that the scientists say could directly translate the brain’s electrochemical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer.

“We can confidently say that this material is a potential pathway to building a computing device that would store and transfer memories,” Purdue University engineer Shriram Ramanathan told ScienceBlog.

Running Diagnostics

Right now, the new material can only detect the activity of some neurotransmitters — so we can’t yet upload a whole brain or anything like that. But if the tech progresses, the researchers hypothesize that it could be used to detect neurological diseases, or perhaps even store memories.

“Imagine putting an electronic device in the brain, so that when natural brain functions start deteriorating, a person could still retrieve memories from that device,” Ramanathan said.

READ MORE: New Quantum Material Could Warn Of Neurological Disease [ScienceBlog]

More on brain-computer interface: This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein

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Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

Scientists Find a New Way to Kickstart Stable Fusion Reactions

A new technique for nuclear fusion can generate plasma without requiring as much space-consuming equipment within a reactor.

Warm Fusion

Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory say that they’ve found a new way to start up nuclear fusion reactions.

The new technique, described in research published last month in the journal Physics of Plasmas, provides an alternate means for reactors to convert gas into the superhot plasma that gets fusion reactions going with less equipment taking up valuable lab space — another step in the long road to practical fusion power.

Out With The Old

Right in the center of a tokamak, a common type of experimental nuclear fusion reactor, there’s a large central magnet that helps generate plasma. The new technique, called “transient coaxial helical injection,” does away with the magnet but still generates a stable reaction, freeing up the space taken up by the magnet for other equipment.

“The good news from this study,” Max Planck Institute researcher Kenneth Hammond said in a press release, “is that the projections for startup in large-scale devices look promising.”

READ MORE: Ready, set, go: Scientists evaluate novel technique for firing up fusion-reaction fuel [Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory newsroom via ScienceDaily]

More on nuclear fusion: Scientists Found a New Way to Make Fusion Reactors More Efficient

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Scientists Find a New Way to Kickstart Stable Fusion Reactions

Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

A Greek couple just gave birth to a three-parent baby, the first conceived as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

Happy Birthday

On Tuesday, a couple gave birth to what researchers are calling a “three-parent baby” — giving new hope to infertile couples across the globe.

After four cycles of in vitro fertilization failed to result in a pregnancy, the Greek couple enrolled in a clinical trial for mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — meaning doctors placed the nucleus from the mother’s egg into a donor egg that had its nucleus removed. Then they fertilized the egg with sperm from the father and implanted it into the mother.

Due to this procedure, the six-pound baby boy has DNA from both his mother and father, as well as a tiny bit from the woman who donated the egg.

Greek Life

The Greek baby wasn’t the first “three-parent baby” born after his parents underwent MRT — that honor goes to the offspring of a Jordanian woman who gave birth in 2016.

However, in her case and others that followed it, doctors used the technique to prevent a baby from inheriting a parent’s genetic defect. This marked the first time a couple used MRT as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

“Our excellent collaboration and this exceptional result will help countless women to realise their dream of becoming mothers with their own genetic material,” Nuno Costa-Borges, co-founder of Embryotools, one of the companies behind the trial, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Baby with DNA from three people born in Greece [The Guardian]

More on three-parent babies: An Infertile Couple Is Now Pregnant With a “Three-Parent Baby”

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Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

MIT Prof: If We Live in a Simulation, Are We Players or NPCs?

An MIT scientist asks whether we're protagonists in a simulated reality or so-called NPCs who exist to round out a player character's experience. 

Simulation Hypothesis

Futurism readers may recognize Rizwan Virk as the MIT researcher touting a new book arguing that we’re likely living in a game-like computer simulation.

Now, in new interview with Vox, Virk goes even further — by probing whether we’re protagonists in the simulation or so-called “non-player characters” who are presumably included to round out a player character’s experience.

Great Simulation

Virk speculated about whether we’re players or side characters when Vox writer Sean Illing asked a question likely pondered by anyone who’s seen “The Matrix”: If you were living in a simulation, would you actually want to know?

“Probably the most important question related to this is whether we are NPCs (non-player characters) or PCs (player characters) in the video game,” Virk told Vox. “If we are PCs, then that means we are just playing a character inside the video game of life, which I call the Great Simulation.”

More Frightening

It’s a line of inquiry that cuts to the core of the simulation hypothesis: If the universe is essentially a video game, who built it — and why?

“The question is, are all of us NPCs in a simulation, and what is the purpose of that simulation?” Virk asked. “A knowledge of the fact that we’re in a simulation, and the goals of the simulation and the goals of our character, I think, would still be interesting to many people.”

READ MORE: Are we living in a computer simulation? I don’t know. Probably. [Vox]

More on the simulation hypothesis: Famous Hacker Thinks We’re Living in Simulation, Wants to Escape

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Here’s How Big the M87 Black Hole Is Compared to the Earth

The black hole that scientists imaged is a stellar giant. It would take millions of Earths lined up side-by-side to span its length.

Pale Black Dot

On Wednesday, a team of scientists from around the world released the first ever directly-observed image of the event horizon of a black hole.

The black hole, M87*, is found within the constellation Virgo — and as the webcomic XKCD illustrated, it’s as big as our entire solar system.

Stellar Giant

The gigantic black hole, not counting the giant rings of trapped light orbiting it, is about 23.6 billion miles (38 billion kilometers) across, according to Science News.

Meanwhile, the Earth is just 7,917 miles in diameter — meaning our planet wouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket of the giant, black void. Based Futurism’s calculations, it would take just over 2.98 million Earths lined up in a row to span the length of M87*. For a sense of scale, that’s about how many adult giraffes it would take to span the diameter of Earth.

Paging Pluto

Our entire solar system is just about 2.27 billion miles wide, meaning we could just barely fit the whole thing into the newly-imaged black hole’s event horizon.

Thankfully, M87* is about 55 million light years away — so while we could readily fit inside its gaping maw, we’re way too far to get sucked in.

READ MORE: Revealed: a black hole the size of the solar system [Cosmos]

More on M87*: Scientists: Next Black Whole Image Will Be Way Clearer

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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Former Tesla and clinic employees share how doctors blocked workers' compensation claims and put injured people back to work to avoid payouts.

Here’s A Band-Aid

Tesla’s on-site clinic, Access Omnicare, has allegedly been downplaying workers’ injuries to keep the electric automaker off the hook for workers’ compensation.

Several former Tesla employees, all of whom got hurt on the job, and former employees of Access Omnicare, told Reveal News that the clinic was minimizing worker injuries so that the automaker wouldn’t have to pay workers’ comp — suggesting that the barely-profitable car company is willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the red and avoid negative press.

Back To Work

Reveal, which is a project by the Center for Investigative Reporting, described cases in which employees suffered electrocution, broken bones, and mold-related rashes while working in a Tesla factory — only for Omnicare to deny that the injuries warranted time off work.

The clinic’s top doctor “wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” former Omnicare operations manager Yvette Bonnet told Reveal. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

Missing Paperwork

Meanwhile, employees who requested the paperwork to file for workers’ comp were repeatedly ignored, according to Reveal.

“I just knew after the third or fourth time that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” a former employee whose back was crushed under a falling Model X hatchback told Reveal. “I was very frustrated. I was upset.”

The automaker is on the hook for up to $750,000 in medical payments per workers’ comp claim, according to Reveal‘s reporting.

Meanwhile, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Laurie Shelby, the company’s VP of safety, have publicly praised Access Omnicare, Reveal found. Musk even recently announced plans to extend it to other plants, “so that we have really immediate first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

READ MORE: How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp [Reveal News]

More on Tesla: Video Shows Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp


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