Dr Jacob Bronowski

There are a great many people I admire immensely. Some for their erudition, some for their immense contribution to the human condition, some for their enormous contribution to our understanding of the human condition, and some for their extraordinary ability to explain the great ideas of this world we live in. Thanks to the wonders of modern technologies, we are fortunate to be able to make their acquaintance even though some of them are no longer with us.

Dr Jacob Bronowski (1908 – 1974) was a great soul, a mahatma in the true meaning of the word. Here’s Michael Parkinson of the BBC interviewing Dr Bronowski in 1972. Watch, or listen, to this and you’ll know why I admire him. Continue reading “Dr Jacob Bronowski”

Understanding Infertility

It’s time to start a new category: “Stuff I find interesting” on the web. Part of the reason for this is to expand the variety of topics I explore on this blog. To kick it off, here’s a podcast from WHYY on “Understanding Infertility.” The intro says:

“… Over the past century, reproductive medicine has grown rapidly as a field, from experimenting with artificial insemination to in vitro fertilization. On this episode, we look at fertility (and infertility), and what we have learned about assisting nature. … Richard Sharpe from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland explains the challenges surrounding male infertility, and why we know so little about this issue. …”

Click on the image above to listen to the podcast. Or else use the embedded player below the fold. Continue reading “Understanding Infertility”

RadioEconomics Interview of Jeffrey Sachs

Dr James Reese informs me that he has republished his interview of Jeffrey Sachs.

“Recorded November 2005: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, listed as one of “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” “the world’s best known economist,” and “among the 100 most influential people in the world,” was interviewed by Dr. James Reese.” (43 mins.)

Right-click and save-as on this link to download the mp3.

E O Wilson and EoL

Oh wonderful new world of the web, that has such people like E. O. Wilson in it!


E O Wilson got his wish. “As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of his constituents, the insects and small creatures, to learn more about our biosphere. We know so little about nature, he says, that we’re still discovering tiny organisms indispensable to life; yet we’re still steadily destroying nature. Wilson identifies five grave threats to biodiversity (a term he coined), using the acronym HIPPO, and makes his TED wish: that we will work together on the Encyclopedia of Life, a web-based compendium of data from scientists and amateurs on every aspect of the biosphere.”

“Comprehensive, collaborative, ever-growing, and personalized, the Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our goal is to create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike. To transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating all known data about every living species. And ultimately, to increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity.”

Watching that video makes me appreciate how lucky I am that I can glimpse the world vicariously through the eyes of such a gentle human being.

The Monk and the Philosopher

All the successful techniques for manipulating matter originated mainly in the West but the greater achievement of manipulating the mind – I am justifiably proud to claim – originated in India. In my opinion, the mind has precedence over matter. For the moment I will sidestep the other matter that it is a mistake to make a distinction between mind and matter – there isn’t in my opinion. But for the moment, I will treat them as being different as most people do.
Continue reading “The Monk and the Philosopher”

Feynman explaining QED

People I would have loved to have a drink with includes Richard Feynman. I never had the good fortune of meeting the man or even sitting in at one of his lectures. But thanks to the magic of the world wide web, at least I can get a good idea of how delightful he must have been in person. So get yourself a large coffee, sit back, and learn from the master as you watch the Sir Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures delivered in 1979 at the University of Auckland. “A set of four priceless archival recordings from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) of the outstanding Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman – arguably the greatest science lecturer ever. Although the recording is of modest technical quality the exceptional personal style and unique delivery shine through.”

Edifying Entertainment

Thanks to Ameet Deshpande, I was introduced to Ted Talks. TED is “Technology, Entertainment, Design.”

Ted Talks

Since then, I have delighted in listening to many of the talks. Here is Sir Ken Robinson (mp3 audio ~18 minutes): “Sir Ken Robinson is author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, and a leading expert on innovation and human resources. (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.)” He is entertaining and instructive.

Then listen to Richard Baraniuk (mp3 audio, duration: 19:18.) “He is a Rice University professor with a giant vision: to create a free, global online education system. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA.)”

And to round up about one hour of absolutely enjoyable listening, listen to Jimmy Wales (mp3 audio, duration ~21 minutes.) “He is founder of Wikipedia, the self-organizing, self-correcting, ever-expanding, and thoroughly addictive encyclopedia of the future (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. )”

What’s the Point of Inquiry?

Vivek Ladsariya asked me that question yesterday. It is the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry. The mission statement of the Point of Inquiry says (in part):

“The purpose of Point of Inquiry is to contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of science and reason, and their applications to human conduct, and to promote skepticism of the paranormal and supernatural claims, which often benefit from no scrutiny in our overly-credulous culture.” Continue reading “What’s the Point of Inquiry?”

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