Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Space exploration is about much more than discovering outer space

What does it take to become an astronaut? Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield explains, along with his vision for space exploration.

It is a really interesting moment in space exploration right now. The technology has just started to get good enough that we can really start having reliable and relatively inexpensive access to the rest of the universe. It’s never happened before in all of human history. It’s opening doors of possibilities for business, for improving the quality of life around the world by allowing us to communicate and understand the world better, but also for us as people to start leaving the world like we never have before. It’s a really interesting moment and it’s only going to continue to accelerate. Things will never be this slow again.

And be part of it! Become part of that amazing capability that we’ve built for ourselves of the cool stuff that’s just coming down the pike. It’s a pretty cool time to be alive right now, especially if you’re interested in exploring the rest of the universe.

Flying in space is a huge amount of work. It’s decades of work getting all of the university degrees and life experience so that NASA will even look at you when they’re selecting astronauts.

In the last astronaut selection 18,300 people applied for 12 positions, so how do you even get your foot in the door? But if you’ve done enough things in your life that you’re competent enough that maybe they’ll look at you and then they phone you and say “We’d like you to be an astronaut,” now suddenly you’re starting a whole new phase of life. You come over this watershed and now there’s probably ten or 15 years of work ahead of you to get ready and be competent enough to be trusted to fly a spaceship, and then some day get into a rocket, and it takes you above the atmosphere and the engines shut off, and you’re there! And you’re doing all your work and flying the rocket and docking with the space station, but at the end of it what do you do with that experience?

Now you’ve done all these incredibly complex and extremely dangerous things in order to push back the edge of human capability and of our understanding of the world itself, but now what do you do with the sequence of things that have turned you into who you are and the things that come in through your eyeballs and you’ve tried to understand?

And I think part of the continuing responsibility of being one of the world’s astronauts is not to keep it to yourself, but to try and let as many people benefit from what you've done; let people see the world through your eyes; try and understand the ideas behind it through your words, so that hopefully they can go far further than you ever did or than I ever did.

I fully expect very soon we’ll have people working in a research station on the moon who will be looking up and seeing an earth-rise and seeing an earth-set and pushing back the edge of what is normal for us as a species. You’ve got to remember, when I was born no one had ever flown in space. I mean space flight is new. “Astronaut” didn’t exist when I was born, it wasn’t a word, and yet we’ve had people permanently living on the space station for the last 17 or 18 years, so it’s moving along pretty quickly.

But I want as many people to understand it and start thinking about it in their own lives. And so you have to do the job right. You have to put in those 25 years of work to be competent enough to go be one of the folks that’s exploring the universe, but I think it’s also important to share it, to let other people see it to the best of your ability.

Whether you’re a poet or a painter or a musician or a writer or whatever, a teacher, try not to just squander the richness of the experience and try and find as many ways as possible to have other people maybe see what this might be like for them, so that they can make different decisions with their lives.

What does it take to be chosen by NASA to fly to space? Astronaut Chris Hadfield explains the path to becoming a space-farer and what you can do with all the knowledge you gain once your flying days are over. Hadfield envisions that many people in the near future will be looking up at Earth from their new extra-terrestrial places of work.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

Videos
  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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