Here we tell you what happens after you’re dead. Seriously. Okay, it’s not so serious, because you won’t actually die. To lay the groundwork, let's recap the scientific view of death: essentially, you drop dead and that’s the end of everything
We used to think that our fate was in the stars. Now we know in large measure, our fate is in our genes.
When the Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the DNA double helix James Watson made his famous statement in 1989, he was implying that access to a person’s genetic code allows you to predict the outcome of their life.
The troubling implications were not lost on people, of course. A few years later they were explored in the American film Gattaca, which depicted a civilisation from the near future that had embraced this kind of genetic determinism. It was a world in which most people are conceived in test tubes, and taken to term only if they passed genetic tests designed to prevent them from inheriting imperfections ranging from baldness to serious genetic diseases.
With these so-called “valids” – the dominant majority – the film was a warning about the dangers in our technological advancement. As it turns out, we were probably being optimistic about the potential of genetics. Yet too few people seem to have got that message, and this kind of mistaken thinking about the links between genes and traits is having unsettling consequences of its own.
The 20th-century Canadian-American sociologist Erving Goffman believed that we adapt to roles – lover, customer, worker – based on circumstance, and are constantly concerned with how we’re appearing to others. This short animation explains why Goffman’s view of humanity left no room for a ‘true self’ – an actor behind all the roles we play.
How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches. Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the thousand-year history of mapping data -- from languages to dynasties -- using trees of information. It's a fascinating history of visualizations, and a look into humanity's urge to map what we know.
Where is philosophy? This is not a typo. What is philosophy is a common question. But rarely do we wonder where it is, physically speaking. Imagine a philosopher at work. Where does this scene take place?
Philosophy is typically depicted as a solitary activity conducted in remote natural settings — a hut next to a fjord, a clearing in the middle of a forest, a cave on the slope of a mountain, or, these days, a rocking chair on a porch in a quaint college town. Certainly, some great thinkers (Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Nietzsche among them) were responsible for promoting this bucolic ethos. But even a superficial familiarity with the history of Western philosophy reveals that the city is virtually a necessary condition for the possibility of doing theoretical work, which may then be carried on in other, less hectic places.
A single neuron in isolation cannot be said to possess memory, feelings, or consciousness. However, group many neurons together and the type of advanced information processing that takes place in the human brain suddenly appears. This suggests that perhaps each level in the micro-macro hierarchy can only be understood with a different logic. Might such a hierarchy also exist in ordinary materials that appear on first glance to be more straightforward and less complicated than neurons?
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