With Ray Kurzweil at the SETI Institute. The plaque displays the Drake equation,
estimating the number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way. The day-glo shirt
is just one of
bike shirts, not a Starship Enterprise uniform.
Ray was a classmate of mine at the 'Tute (MIT).
And here is Frank Drake of Drake equation fame with Ray at SETI. Note that Cro Magnons
died at age 18, Renaissance humans in their thirties, and modern folk at age 78.
Jill Tarter (whom Jodie Foster portrayed in Contact) was seated next to me.
Ray was discussing the Fermi Paradox. "If there are so many ET's, where are they?"
Jill's answer to Ray spun heads. "Perhaps their technology is hidden
in the dark matter of the Universe!"
In January 2012 Professor Mike Gazzaniga gave a presentation at Kepler's in Menlo Park,
which I introduced. His new book is called Who's in Charge? Free Will and
the Science of the Brain. Our sense of free will is made possible because
1) the brain is incredibly complex and probabilistic and 2) like an iceberg,
most of its operation is hidden from view. Professor Gazzaniga is editor-in-chief
of the magnificent volume The Cognitive Neurosciences. In addition to being an essential
reference (1312 pages), at seven pounds, it's also useful for weight training!
In this wonderful clip Prof. Gazzaniga explains left vs right-brain to Alan Alda (of MASH fame).
Prof. G. did the original research.
With Steve Pinker on CFI's 2008 trip to the Amazon. A professor in Harvard's
Steve is a "rockstar" cognitive psychologist and linguistics expert,
whose books regularly top the New York Times best sellers lists. Here is Steve
explaining free will and, here, in a deeply pensive mood.
June, 2013: introducing neurologist/author Robert Burton. Bob's new book is a
BRAIN SCAM, which focused on Daniel Amen's extensive (and lucrative) clinical use of SPECT scans.
Skeptic's Guide to the Mind. He sounds a cautionary note concerning the hype surrounding
popular neuroscience. His writing caught my attention with his brilliant and courageous essay for Salon
With Team Rootberry in Feb 2012 on the Crown Princess while cruising the Caribbean.
Jonathan Root and Bill Berry are world champion jugglers. See them in action in this
Team Rootberry demo. The guys'll do 7 balls during a performance. "We only do
what we can nail on no sleep and with the ship rocking." But they can hit 10,
maybe 11 balls in private. BTW when I do my 3 ball cascade every nite at sunset,
my neocortex (beginner land) is hard at work -
occipital, parietal, and frontal lobes
playing ping-pong; when Rootberry juggles 7 balls, it's automatic (like sleep-walking).
11 balls for them
is like 3 for me. The neocortex mainly lights up big time
when you're struggling or learning something new.
That's a real dagger with a foot long blade. Bill is one of only a few score
sword swallowers on the planet.
This was more anxiety-provoking for me than it was for Bill.
Being set afire while juggling a chainsaw is just part
of the daily routine for
Bill (Root) Berry. Here are other stunning pix of Bill: hanging out by his skin,
on vacation, and in a quiet, contemplative mood,
During a week long back-packing trip to the Sierras.
With Natasha Vita-More at Convergence 2008. Natasha is the former President
of the Extropy Institute, and an advocate of transhumanism with her husband,
philosopher Max More.
(That open chest look (on me not on Natasha) reflects
my large collection of bike shirts. I almost always travel by bike: 3,000 miles a year.)
With Pim Van Lommel and Dave Chalmers at the 2010 Consciousness Conf. in Tucson, AZ.
Pim is a renowned cardiologist whose research on Near Death Experiences makes
worldwide headlines. Dave, a prof. of philosophy at the Australian National Univ., is famous
for defining the "easy vs the hard" problem of consciousness. The "easy" problem is "simply"
discovering the neural correlates of consciousness. The hard problem is understanding
precisely how and why brain stuff gives rise to a subjective universe in each of us.
An illustration from the always delightful collection at geekculture.com (Thanks, Snaggy!)
An audience member at one of my lectures pointed out, "And, she's reading
Yeah, she's got it all. (Each of us is a brain in a vat
floating inside a skull connected to
a bunch of peripherals (eyes, ears, body)
by high speed cable.)
With Cynthia Breazeal and Thad Starner at the Singularity Summit in 2008.
Cynthia is a professor at the MIT Media Lab where she directs the Personal Robotics Group.
The highly expressive robot Kismet is one of her famous mind-children.
2014 Update: Cynthia's not sitting still. See her newest robot JIBO in this video.
Thad is a professor and director of Georgia Tech’s Contextual Computing Group.
He is best known as one of the original Cyborgs. As co-founder of MIT’s Wearable
Computing Group, he has used wearable computers daily for fifteen years. Here you see
a heads-up display mounted on his left lens and a twiddler keyboard below.
"Robo Like Human" - April 2012 at Stanford's Robot Block Party - PR2 with friend.
The PR2 was Willow Garage's flagship robot. (In 2014 Willow Garage partly disappeared and partly morphed.)
Tom Low is Director of Telerobotics at SRI. He is remotely operating two grippers using
Omega7 force feedback devices. These will be used for bomb inspection/ defusion.
Tom's group did the teleoperation research leading to Intuitive Surgical's widely used
da Vinci Robots (video).
If you're my age, chances are fair that you or a friend will have
an organ removed by a da Vinci robot, as in this video.
Getting to chat with experts
is a reason to attend Stanford's annual Robot Block Party every April.
Stanford Prof. Ken Salisbury's classes in robotic haptics use student-priced Novint Falcons.
Scott Hassan, CEO of Suitable Technologies, rides in on a Beam Remote at Robo Madness 2014.
(Photo credit: Toru Hatanaka, The Asahi Shimbun)
As we all know from Men in Black, highly advanced aliens, seeking to infiltrate Earth unnoticed, would naturally choose the DMV
in order to blend in. But no, this is just my highly advanced friend Bill Softky, neuroscience theorist, with his new license plate.
Bill just presented a fascinating new paper on Elastic Nanocomputation in an Ideal Brain at a neurophysics seminar that I hosted recently.
Bill's thesis that mechanical dynamics are involved in brain function is clearly seen in this video of dancing dendritic spines.
And here is a recent review on The Mechanobiology of Brain Function, to quell doubters. The brain is loaded with
and other movement generating molecules.
One of the great joys of my life is ballroom dancing. As one of my good friends puts it,
it’s “no-fault flirting + cardio.” Candy is one of my lovely dance partners.)
The dance gang on a recent ride to Tiburon.
At Peers (vintage dancing), in formal attire. You rrrroook maahvelous, my dahlings!
Prof. Paul Davies, renowned physicist and cosmologist, on a recent book tour promoting
The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
The Eerie Silence
refers to the Fermi Paradox. Paul's speculations about possible
origins of our Universe also figured prominently in my essay on the Fine-Tuned Universe.
I introduced the event by making an impassioned plea to the audience to support independent
bookstores and Earth Day. Longevity of civilizations (ours and theirs) is the key to finding ET.
With Michael Merzenich at the Bay Area Future Salon. Mike is a Professor Emeritus
of neuroscience at UCSF, my alma mater. His presentations on neural plasticity
are frequently televised nationally on pledge drives for PBS. His message: use it or lose it!
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
Dancing with a mystery woman at Halloween.
At Last Revealed: Marina, Principal Ballerina with The Bolshoi (at least in our imagination).
Ah, the joys of ballroom dancing (interpersonal communication nonexistent
in other social contexts, says Scientific American. Vavava voom!)
With my salsa teacher, Pantea. See her lovely dancing at Alberto's, Mountain View, Calif.
Number one daughter, Aly, in Bali in 2010.
Number one son, Sean, bouldering in Tuolumne Meadows.
Sean, during the May 20, 2012 solar eclipse, which is imaged to his left.
The photo link here proves that eclipses attract alien female robots.
Sean on the Ediza-Iceberg Lakes trail in 2007 - Clyde Minaret in the background.
Up the hill from Minaret Lake, before the 4th class section leading to Iceberg Lake, 2007.
Above Merced Lake in 2006.
Top-roping in Tuolumne Meadows in 2007.
Hannah owns the Alpenrose Inn at South Lake Tahoe. Sean and I stay there when we ski at Heavenly.
A newly minted molecular biologist with his fellow grads
Answers the question, "what's better for your academics than one Asian roommate?"
(Three is even better than two.)
Ten years ago
After my two week Sierra backpacking trip in 2009. Personally, I like the rugged look.
Most of my dance partners voted "no," so I got rid of it (until hiking season in 2010).
With Jenn on the Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park in 2010
The Three Tenors: XMAS 2014 with Samy and Rich. Santa Samy is our Salsa Rueda teacher
when he's not doing design-for-test for Apple, making sure your iPhones work. Routing electrons is similar to leading the ladies.
With Kasia in Zion National Park in 2011.
Kasia is another of my superb dance partners and an avid hiker.
On Angels Landing in 2011
Kasia on the Observation Point Trail, 2011
Kasia at the Observation Point Lookout
Zion Canyon carved by the Virgin River below
In Bryce Canyon, 2011
August 23, 2012 BEFORE vs AFTER a shave and a haircut - following
my annual backpacking trips in the Sierras. I like the "messyanic" look;
my dance partners prefer the clean-shaven look. They win (except in August.)
June, 2013: I was admonished NOT to wear my biking clothes to my daughter's wedding!
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