Happy Birthday to Santiago Ramón y Cajal, “the father of modern neuroscience,” who would be 163 today. Cajal was born in Petilla de Aragón, a tiny village high in the mountains of northern Spain. On this same date, when he turned 36, Cajal declared the independence of the nerve cell in his self-published journal Revista Trimestral de Histología normal y patológia. (Images courtesy of the Cajal Institute in Madrid.)
For those of you who haven’t heard of SciArt in America, a new organization founded by Julia Buntaine, check it out! They have a magazine (submit to their Flash Fiction contest) and put on events based in New York City.
(The famous patient H.M. as a young man.)
The new STEM podcast Transistor, presented by the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has released new neuroscience episodes called Totally Cerebral. The host, Wendy Suzuki, is a scientist at NYU who studies learning, memory, and cognition. In a review of the first two episodes, The A.V. Club called the show “gripping and immediate the way the best sort of storytelling podcast can be, as these scientists are not only bright but personable and emotionally connected to their studies.” Part 1 is titled “Untangling the Mystery of Memory,” and Part 2 is titled “The Man Without a Memory.” Earlier podcasts feature astrophysicist Michele Thaller and biologist Christina Agapakis.
Over at Nautilus, there is an interview with superstar curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery. Obrist has worked with some of the most famous artists in the world, but he has collaborated with scientists in the past. Most recently, he has collaborated with John Brockman of the Edge to present an event called “Extinction Marathon,” which asked artists, writers, scientists, filmmakers, theorists, and musicians to present on the topic of Extinction. Obrist seems determined to bring interdisciplinary creativity back to life. “I often start with the idea of what’s missing in the world,” he explains. “Artists would often tell me they have a desire to work with scientists, engineers, and inventors. They encouraged me to make that happen.” Behold, the dodo bird.
The Edge.org, the online salon for the world’s “most complex and sophisticated minds,” has released the answers to its annual question. This year’s question was What Do You Think About Machines That Think? (“Is AI becoming increasingly real? Are we now in the new era of AI?, ), and there were 186 respondents, including philosopher Daniel Dennett (“The Singularity—an Urban Legend?”), musician Brian Eno (“Just a New Fractal Detail in the Big Picture”), physicist Freeman Dyson (“I Could Be Wrong”), cognitive scientist Steven Pinker (“Thinking Does Not Imply Subjugating”), neuroscientist Sam Harris (“Can We Avoid a Digital Apocalypse?“), Gary Marcus, Jonathan Gottschall , neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky (“It Depends“), scholar of Chinese thought Edward Slingerland (“Machines Aren’t Thinking About Anything“), and other luminaries (full list). Founder of the Edge, the publisher and literary agent John Brockman, strives to create a “third culture,” which “consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are.”