Mars pole may be hiding salty lakes and life, find researchers

Researchers detect a large lake and several ponds deep under the ice of the Martian South Pole.

Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
  • Italian scientists release findings of a large underground lake and three ponds below the South Pole of Mars.
  • The lake might contain water, with salt preventing them from freezing.
  • The presence of water may indicate the existence of microbial and other life forms on the planet.
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Why great thinkers balance optimism and pessimism

Leaning too far in either direction is a recipe for stagnation and perhaps even failure.

  • When it comes to thinking about the future, is it best to assume the best or the worst? Like with most things, it's actually a little column A and a little column B. This video features theoretical physicists, futurists, sociologists, and mavericks explaining the pros and cons of both.
  • "In the long term optimists decide the future," argues Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired and the magazine's founding executive editor. "It's the optimist who create all of the things that are going to be most important in our life." Kelly adds that, while every car runs on an optimistic engine, "you certainly need breaks to steer it."
  • Finding a balance between the optimism that fuels innovation and a grounded pessimism is the key to a better future.

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Michio Kaku: Feedback loops are creating consciousness

Our ability to make predictions about the future distinguishes our level of consciousness.

  • One of the great questions in all of science is where consciousness comes from.
  • When it comes to consciousness, Kaku believes different species have different levels of consciousness, based on their feedback loops needed to survive in space, society, and time.
  • According to the theoretical physicist, human beings' ability to use past experiences, memories, to predict the future makes us distinct among animals — and even robots (they're currently unable to understand, or operate within, a social hierarchy).
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Michio Kaku: Mental communication and infinite knowledge are on the horizon

Soon we'll be able to blink and instantly go online via computer chips attached to our eyes.

  • Computer chips will eventually cost a penny, which is the cost of scrap paper, says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. They'll be so pervasive, they'll even be attached to your eyeball, he predicts.
  • They'll be in your contact lens, allowing you to blink and go online—you'll have access to the internet and will be able to access the knowledge stored on the internet.
  • In the future, Kaku says, we'll be able to convey emotions and memories to one another via "brain net." This will render emojis and current forms of entertainment, such as sound-and-screen movies, obsolete.
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There are 2 types of god. Only one is within the boundary of science.

Does God exist? The answer rests outside the "normal" boundaries of science.

  • Science is about natural law, while religion is about ethics. As long as you keep these two separate, Kaku says, there's no problem at all. Problems arise, however, when the natural sciences begin to "pontificate upon ethics" and when religious people begin to pontificate about natural law.
  • Albert Einstein believed in the "god of Spinoza" — not a personal god, but one who has set order and harmony in the fabric of the universe. "You can put the laws of physics as we know them on a simple sheet of paper — amazing! It didn't have to be that way," says Kaku.
  • The existence of God is not testable because such a review is not reproducible or falsifiable, as most scientific investigations are. In this sense, Kaku says the question and answer whether God exists rests outside the "normal" boundaries of science.
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