How Facebook Makes You Immortal
The preservation of individuals' online profiles after their physical death extends their life in a very meaningful sense, says Australian philosopher Patrick Stokes.
What's the Latest Development?
Australian philosopher Patrick Stokes argues that the persistence of our online profiles after our physical death makes us immortal in a very meaningful sense. If our fear of death is not limited to the extinction of our physical being, but extends to include our identity as something which exists across time, people's interaction with the online profiles of the deceased seems to alleviate that fear. "Looking at these Facebook pages of dead people, what struck me was the way that people continue to interact with them," said Stokes, "and that's because Facebook is one of the main technologies that we use to communicate our identity."
What's the Big Idea?
Might technology advance to assuage our fear of real physical death? Already there is a website that seeks to preserve your identity as an avatar with which future generations can interact. Called Virtual Eternity, after loading photos and filling in some personal details, "the website creates an avatar of you that, with the use of artificial intelligence, can answer questions as if it were you--based on the short script you've supplied." While uploading your consciousness to a computer is theoretically a way around death, Stokes doubts whether anything happening inside a computer would count as something he, as a human, calls experience.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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