Scientists to Probe Immortality With $5 Million Fund
An award from the John Templeton Foundation will seek to answer important scientific questions about immortality, such as how experiences of the afterlife vary across cultures.
What's the Latest Development?
Over the next three years, a $5 million research fund will be distributed to scientists, philosophers and theologians seeking to study immortality. Called the Immortality Project, the effort "may look at questions like how belief in an afterlife influences human behavior and how near-death experiences vary across cultures. In America, for example, many who survive such events report seeing a tunnel with a light at the end. For Japanese people, the experiences often involve visions of tending a garden." The fund will award grants ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.
What's the Big Idea?
Thanks to advances in neuroscience, many vexing questions about immortality are ripe for study. Whether the brain's physiology predisposes humans to believe in an afterlife and whether people who believe in an afterlife are more likely to behave morally are just two questions expected to be researched by the project. The increasing interest in possibilities for extending human life through science has also given fresh impetus to immortality studies. Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil, for example, believe that immortality will be achieved by uploading one's consciousness onto a computer.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.