Note: Email may be sent to bob AT bobblum DOT com (usual syntax.)
My mother holds my grandaunt's arm during the pandemic of 1918
With my classmates in the 1950s. I'm in the bottom row in the white, short-sleeve shirt.
(We had a marvelous Zoom reunion in June, 2020.)
Later that same year
And, the following year
And, the year after that
At a class on dancing and etiquette. The latter didn't take.
My kids, Aly and Sean, together as programming team Reveal, winning the People's Choice Award at the UC Santa Cruz Hackathon in 2016. Call me a proud dad!
Reveal is a Google browser extension. As you shop (eg on Amazon), it reveals to you, product-by-product, the labor practices of the manufacturer. Got school-age laborers toiling away in sweatshops? Team Reveal's gonna bust you!
School-age laborers? Here's a possible exception — if they're programming for you. My kids are my in-house consultants. Back to work!
Look who's here in 2018! The newest addition to our family.
That smile says it all.
Rarely sighted North American leopards
Musk claims "Tesla auto-pilot already safer than many drivers"
And another new arrival in 2021!
The spirit of Woodstock is still alive in 2019.
With sports psychologist and San Francisco marathon winner, JoAnn: Halloween, 2019
Trick or treat for Halloween, 2018 with my pals
In 2019 aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet. The Apollo 11 space capsule is behind us.
With psych prof Jay in front of the Apollo 11 capsule. As youngsters, both Jay and I were ham radio operators. So, we got a special kick out of the capsule's 60s era electronics.
November, 2017 with Seth Shostak, famed Alien Hunter of the SETI Institute
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 my bike shirts — not a Starship Enterprise uniform.
Ray was a classmate of mine at the 'Tute (MIT).
And, here is Frank Drake himself (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 Michael Gazzaniga gave a presentation at Kepler's in Menlo Park, which I introduced. He was presenting his new book Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain.
Our sense of free will seems plausible because 1) the brain is incredibly complex and 2) like an iceberg, most of its structure 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 trip to the Amazon.
A professor in Harvard's Psych Dept., 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.
With Kevin Kelly in June, 2016. This was a standing-room-only event at Keplers Books. Kevin was touring his new book, The Inevitable. I introduced the crowd to Kevin and to New York Times tech reporter John Markoff, who interviewed him.
The Inevitable presents a fascinatingly detailed portrait of the HOLOS, a combination of the internet and its interaction with seven billion human beings.
Kevin is a superstar in China where he does speaking tours to huge crowds three times a year. He interacts with the magnates of the burgeoning Chinese tech industry (Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba and Pony Ma, Founder of Tencent.)
With Edward Feigenbaum, Reese Jones, and John Markoff at Kepler's Books in 2016.
Professor Feigenbaum is one of the storied figures in the development of AI (and was on my PhD thesis committee in the seventies.) Reese is a founder and trustee of Singularity University. John is a widely-read, tech reporter for the New York Times. John frequently reports on cutting edge AI, computing, and robotics.
Here, in 2013 again at Kepler's, I introduced touring author/neurologist Robert Burton.
Bob was presenting his new book A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind. He sounded a cautionary note concerning the hype surrounding popular neuroscience.
His writing initially caught my attention with his brilliant and courageous essay for Salon
BRAIN SCAM, which focused on pop-psych guru Daniel Amen's extensive (and lucrative) clinical use of SPECT scans.
2015 at the Iguanario Archundia in Manzanillo, Mexico.
The Iguanario is an iguana refuge operated solely on donations by ecology-minded Ramon and Olivia Medina. A must-see, if you're in Manzanillo.
Preserving non-human animals and the biosphere is a crucial priority.
In the late 80s my ex worked for Sense8, one of the first VR companies. VR has exploded in capability since then and is estimated to become a $5 billion dollar market by 2025 (per recent McKinsey report.)
In April, 2018 I attended the immersively captivating SCIEN VR/AR in Medicine Conference at Stanford. Here, for example, is Synaptive Medical's Neurosurgery Assistant. (Reality is rapidly outpacing fiction — a problem for movie screenwriters.)
Turn on, tune in, drop out! With hippies at heart, Barney Pell (Singularity University, Moon Express) and Jerry Kaplan (Humans Need Not Apply)... (September, 2017 — 50 years after the Summer of Love in the Haight/Ashbury)
In 2019 with Maggie, one of my favorite dance partners.
Top-roping in Tuolumne Meadows in the Sierras.
In 2012 with Team Rootberry 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 occasionally 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 entertainers on the planet who actually swallows a sword. (Don't try this at home!)
This was more anxiety-provoking for me than it was for Bill (even though I've done hundreds of intubations of patients in the ER.)
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:
With Natasha Vita-More at Convergence.
Natasha is the former President of the Extropy Institute and who, with her husband, philospher Max Moore, is also an advocate of transhumanism.
Max is also the CEO of Alcor. Don't freeze me, baby (unless it's forever)!
(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 Towards a Science of Consciousness.
Pim is a renowned cardiologist whose research on Near Death Experiences makes worldwide headlines.
Dave, a professor of philosophy at the Australian National University, 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 Scientific American!" Yeah, she's got it all! (And me — just a hapless geek.)
(Each of us is a brain in a vat — floating inside a skull connected to a bunch of peripherals (eyes, ears, body) via high speed cable.)
With Cynthia Breazeal and Thad Starner at the Singularity Summit.
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.
2016 update: Cynthia's not sitting still. See her newest robot, JIBO . Unfortunately, JIBO has done its last dance. Robotics is a tough place to make a buck.
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, Thad has used wearable computers daily for fifteen years.
Here, you see a heads-up display (a la Google Glass) mounted on his left lens and a twiddler keyboard below.
Robo like human — in 2012 at Stanford's Robot Block Party — PR2 with friend.
The PR2 was Willow Garage's flagship, open-source robot.
(In 2014 Willow Garage partly disappeared and partly morphed.)
R2D2, fascinated by small Terran (and vice versa), at the 2015 Robot Block Party.
Anybot (telepresence bot 2015) looks a bit anxious here.
Don't leave me with the little humanoid!
I discussed the form factor of the Knightscope surveillance bot with CEO Bill Li in 2015.
His team worked hard to get it right: not a Terminator but not a cuddly teddy bear either.
I'd like it better if it wielded a giant laser cannon that could hack out giant smoking holes in the ground right next to the perp (unless it's me!)
In a similar vein, although I usually stay away from horror films, this 2023 hit looks irresistible: M3GAN .
In the year 2045 (The Singularity) decapitation by robot will be contravened —
but still permitted in the case of miscreant adolescents.
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.
Scott Hassan, CEO of Suitable Technologies, rides in on a Beam Remote at Robo Madness in 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 presented a fascinating new paper Elastic Nanocomputation in an Ideal Brain at a neurophysics seminar I hosted recently.
Bill's thesis is that mechanical dynamics are involved in brain function, clearly seen in this video of dancing dendritic spines.
And here is a recent review on The Mechanobiology of Brain Function to quell skeptics.
The brain is loaded with actin and other movement generating molecules.
Go back a billion+ years (before the advent of multi-cellularity), and those neurons had to fend for themselves — before they linked up with their pals.
Caltech's Professor John Allman delightfully tells us the way it was in Evolving Brains — one of my favorite books.
The dance gang on a ride to Tiburon.
At Peers (vintage dancing) in formal attire.
"You rrrroook maahvelous, my dahlings — and you know who you are."
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 the Universe figured prominently in my essay on the Fine-Tuned Universe.
Support Earth Day — which is when this event occurred — and support local bookstores! (This was at our renowned local, independent bookstore Kepler's, where I introduced Paul.)
We really don't want Amazon to drive them all out of business.
Longevity of civilizations (ours and theirs) is one of the keys 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 is "use it or lose it!" You can teach an old dog new tricks!
Dancing with a mystery woman at Halloween.
With my salsa teacher, Pantea. See her lovely dancing at Alberto's, Mountain View, Calif. (The youngsters (< 70 years of age) arrive at 11 pm, when I'm biking home.)
Number one daughter, Aly, in Bali in 2010.
Number one son, Sean, bouldering in Tuolumne Meadows.
Sean, during the 2012 solar eclipse, imaged to his left.
The photo link here proves that eclipses attract alien female robots.
Sean on the Ediza-Iceberg Lakes trail — Clyde Minaret is in the background.
Up the hill from Minaret Lake, before the 4th class section leading to Iceberg Lake.
Above Merced Lake
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.)
At Christmas with Linda (one of my lovely dance partners)
The Victorian era reigns supreme at the Dickens Fair in 2015.
In this gravure, Linda and I are captured with some radical, steampunk suffragettes.
While a priori preposterous, the notion of women's "right to vote," appears to be gathering adherents. The Queen (Victoria) would definitely not approve!
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.
Summer, 2016: Dr. Emily and Dr. Bob at Vogelsang Pass (about 11,000 feet)
When Emily and husband Mike passed me on the seven mile trail to Vogelsang, I didn't even notice their sleeping, nine month old. This adventuresome couple was all set to climb the eponymously named Fletcher Peak (pointed at by Dr. Emily,) baby in tow.
Nine month old Lydia captured my attention. Every aspect of nature was a new delight. Adoring dad, Mike, carried 65 pounds of toys, wet diapers, and family provisions. A "leave no trace" kind of guy, Mike is also an entrepreneurial force of nature. He is the founder of GrowPlastics, which seeks to replace fast-food containers with bio-sourced, recyclable materials. Here, Mike presents his crucial, materials science innovations.
With David Edelman at Vogelsang Pass (about 11,000 feet) in 2016.
Encountering neuroscience professor David Edelman at Vogelsang was a great "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" moment. David and I are neuroscience board members, have corresponded, but had never met. He is a research star in the world of non-primate consciousness. What do octopi/ (or their low-brow cousins) octopuses experience? His lab finds out by treating them to "dinner and a movie (of a tasty crab.)"
In 2011 at Zion National Park on Angels Landing
Zion Canyon (a geologist's paradise) — carved over millennia by the Virgin River.
In Bryce Canyon in 2011