the human brain project

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Project to map human brain from womb to birth releases stunning images

A landmark project to map the wiring of the human brain from womb to birth has released thousands of images that will help scientists unravel how conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorders arise in the brain.

The first tranche of images come from 40 newborn babies who were scanned in their sleep to produce stunning high-resolution pictures of early brain anatomy and the intricate neural wiring that ferries some of the earliest signals around the organ.

The initial batch of brain scans are intended to give researchers a first chance to analyse the data and provide feedback to the senior scientists at King’s College London, Oxford University and Imperial College London who are leading the Developing Human Connectome Project, which is funded by €15m (£12.5m) from the EU.

Diffusion MRI showing connections in the developing brain. Photograph: The Developing Human Connectome Project

The images show the intricate neural wiring that ferries some of the earliest signals around the brain. Photograph: The Developing Human Connectome Project

3D reconstruction of the cortical surface and calculated features from a seven-month, eight-month and nine-month baby brain MRI. From top to bottom: white matter surface, cortical surface, inflated surface, parcellation into different structures, sulcal depth maps, mean curvature, cortical thickness and T1/T2 myelin maps. Photograph: The Developing Human Connectome Project

Blue Brain team finds 'Multi-dimensional universe' in brain networks

For most people, it is a stretch of the imagination to understand the world in four dimensions but a new study has discovered structures in the brain with up to eleven dimensions – ground-breaking work that is beginning to reveal the brain’s deepest architectural secrets.

Using algebraic topology in a way that it has never been used before in Neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.

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Magical phenomena, however, come under a special sub-class, since they are willed, and their cause is the series of “real” phenomena, called the operations of ceremonial Magic. 

These consist of
(1) Sight.
The circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps, robes, implements, etc.
(2) Sound.
The invocations.
(3) Smell.
The perfumes.
(4) Taste.
The Sacraments.
(5) Touch.
As under (1).
(6) Mind.


The combination of all these and reflection on their significance.
These unusual impressions (1-5) produce unusual brain-changes; hence their summary (6) is of unusual kind. Its projection back into the apparently phenomenal world is therefore unusual. Herein then consists the reality of the operations and effects of ceremonial magic,(6) and I conceive that the apology is ample, as far as the “effects” refer only to those phenomena which appear to the magician himself, the appearance of the spirit, his conversation, possible shocks from imprudence, and so on, even to ecstasy on the one hand, and death or madness on the other. But can any of the effects described in this our book Goetia be obtained, and if so, can you give a rational explanation of the circumstances? Say you so? I can, and will. The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain. Their seals therefore represent (Mr. Spencer’s projected cube) methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots (through the eye).

The names of God are vibrations calculated to establish:
( A ) General control of the brain. (Establishment of functions relative to the subtle world.)
( B ) Control over the brain in detail. (Rank or type of the Spirit.)
( C )  Control of one special portion. (Name of the Spirit.)
The perfumes aid this through smell. Usually the perfume will only tend to
control a large area; but there is an attribution of perfumes to letters of the alphabet enabling one, by a Qabalistic formula, to spell out the Spirit’s name. I need not enter into more particular discussion of these points; the intelligent reader can easily fill in what is lacking. 

If, then, I say, with Solomon:
“The Spirit Cimieries teaches logic,” what I mean is:
“Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculty way be stimulated and developed by following out the processes called ‘The Invocation of Cimieries.’ “And this is a purely materialistic rational statement; it is independent of any objective hierarchy at all. Philosophy has nothing to say; and Science can only suspend judgment, pending a proper and methodical investigation of the facts alleged. 

Unfortunately, we cannot stop there. Solomon promises us that we can (1) obtain information; (2) destroy our enemies; (3) understand the voices of nature; (4) obtain treasure; (5) heal diseases, etc. I have taken these five powers at random; considerations of space forbid me to explain all.
(1) Brings up facts from sub-consciousness.
(2) Here we come to an interesting fact. It is curious to note the contrast between the noble means and the apparently vile ends of magical rituals. The latter are disguises for sublime truths. “To destroy our enemies” is to realize the illusion of duality, to excite compassion.
(Ah! Mr. Waite, the world of Magic is a mirror, wherein who sees muck is muck.) (3) A careful naturalist will understand much from the voices of the animals he has studied long. Even a child knows the difference of a cat’s miauling and purring. The faculty may be greatly developed. (4) Business capacity may be stimulated. (5) Abnormal states of the body may be corrected, and the involved tissues brought back to tone, in obedience to currents started from the brain. So for all other phenomena. There is no effect which is truly and necessarily miraculous. Our Ceremonial Magic fines down, then, to a series of minute, though of course empirical, physiological experiments, and whoso will carry them through intelligently need not fear the result.  I have all the health, and treasure, and logic, I need; I have no time to waste. “There is a lion in the way.” For me these practices are useless; but for the benefit of others less fortunate I give them to the world, together with this explanation of, and apology for, them. I trust that the explanation will enable many students who have hitherto, by a puerile objectivity in their view of the question, obtained no results, to succeed; that the apology may impress upon our scornful men of science that the study of the bacillus should give place to that of the baculum, the little to the great—how great one only realizes when one identifies the wand with the Mahalingam, up which Brahma flew at the rate of 84,000 yojanas a second for 84,000 mahakalpas, down which Vishnu flew at the rate of 84,000 croces of yojanas a second for 84,000 crores of mahakalpas—yet neither reached an end.

But I reach an end.
Boleskine House,
Foyers, N.B.

BOOK OF THE LEMEGETON 1 GOETIA 

The Lesser Key of Solomon - Goetia

Compiled and Translated By S.L. “MacGregor” Mathers Editing      Additional Material By Aleister Crowley

Ego. Devil on your Shoulder?

by Saṃsāran

This piece is about the evolution of ego. There are, of course, no devils or angels but the ancients had no understanding of the workings of the mind and assigned that voice that tempts us as “Satan”. 

Now Satan in the old days was not a talking snake and not a red goat hooved monster. He was a tempter. He had no power to make us do anything. Yet, there is a voice within us which is somehow not us. It shows us options and not all of those options are kind or good.

Animals do not have ego. Not because they don’t have souls or anything like that but because they do not have a highly developed cerebral cortex i.e. that part of the human brain that thinks abstractly and projects possible futures. Human beings can literally argue with themselves.

It works like this. In our abstract minds, we consider a situation We run a sort of simulation of various scenarios and then choose the one we think is best. Ego spins the scenarios and will chooses.

So, ego might spin the scenario of going down to the lake at dawn. One scenario has us catching fish for breakfast. Another scenario has us eaten by a crocodile because they are more active at dawn. So, will chooses the safer option and we go fishing later in the morning. It all happens in seconds.

Now sometimes ego will spin a scenario like this: My friend’s wife is really sexy. He is gone a lot and she is always looking at me. I should see if I can have sex with her. Now the other voice steps in and says “absolutely not! He is your friend and if you are caught he might come after you”. So we weigh the chances. Our lust vs. our friendship. Ultimately we pick one of the other.

So you see how ego could be seen as an evil entity? A tempter. Ego spins the scenario but WE (our will) must choose and act. Many religions, including Judaism (Eve tempted in the garden), Christianity (Jesus tempted in the desert) and Buddhism (the Buddha tempted by the demon Mara) have temptation stories. These stories can be seen as allegories of ego.

So, to sum up, ego evolved when we gained the ability to imagine a future and future possibilities. It serves a useful purpose but can also lead us astray. Ancient people saw this tempting voice in our head as a demon or devil which led us into temptation. The key to managing ego is to learn NOT to identify with it. You are not ego. 

Ego is a tool of the mind and must be used with good sense. Ego is striving and will often say hurtful things like “you aren’t good enough because you have a lousy car” and “you are fat and ugly and nobody will ever love you”. If you identify with ego then you will believe this. Maybe you will buy a better car. Maybe you will think that you are unlovable and spend your life in forlorn hopelessness.

Remember the tempter is only a voice in your head. You decide. You are in control. Never forget this.

Man, I hate debates. Honestly, they serve no purpose 99.9% of the time. Most religious debates talk about random concept and they spin around to talk about random terms and be like “I KNOW THIS” blah blah blah.

But, when discussing religion, as a concept, you have to deal with humanity. I think that’s the funny part about when people talk about The Qur’an.

I came to The Qur’an from a place of skepticism. Honestly.

The thing is, it’s when you deal with humanity, on the day-to-day, you begin to see what religion is really for: it’s for people.

When I say that, it seems obvious, but I think my biggest gripe with intellectualism is its wondrous ability to discuss humanity but not people. The dichotomy between these two concepts is that humanity can be celebrated in film, but equally demonized in the same medium. Humanity can be described in evolutionary terms, like Noam Chomsky does with linguistics, with great insight.

But people? The study of people is the means of understanding religion. To talk about religion as “mythology” is missing the point, particularly when you’re dealing with The Qur’an.

The Qur’an’s main purpose is not mythology, and it’s not cosmology. God is like basically like “I made stuff, and I created everything, blah blah blah, okay, let me show you some examples about life!”

To talk about Prophets as people who clung to fantasies that they are inspired by some mythical creature of their imagination ignores people.

Religion is transformative in ways that “science” (in the limited medium understood in the Western tradition [since it’s really inconvenient that Islamic scholars invented the scientific method and algebra and chemistry and blah blah blah]) can never be. Why? Because religion deals with people, not humanity.

Moses emerges in a certain socio-political reality, as did Jesus, as did Muhammad, as did Buddha, as did any religious leader, in any time.

If it was simply about enforcing power, you’d have religion coming from the rulers, but if you look at the Prophets in The Qur’an, for example, you don’t see that. Moses is part of an ethnic group being systematically murdered (genocide) by Pharaoh, who is then raised to oppose that power from within. Jesus stands up to power for the lepers (literally, lepers) of society. Muhammad is an orphan (the lowest rung of society) who advocates that people are equal in a racist society, and that class is a constructed and destructive system in a society bent on social and material inequities.

These experiences are not new, and unfortunately, are still very real in our own societies. They are real in Egypt, and in France, in the least and most developed of nations, whether they have religion or not, because people are people through other people, but humanity–as this concept in our brains–is a projection of our worldviews.

To serve people, on the other hand, requires study of people. It’s why I value the study of the law so much, because you are systematically adjudicating how to deal with people grievances with each other, how do you mitigate their conflict, and how do you get around people saying what morality is, and seeing how they live their morality when it comes time for a divorce, or dealing with their kids, or dealing with their businesses.

When we discuss humanity, we talk about war, peace, and grandiosity, because this is how we define ourselves, and we attach meaning to humanity, without empirical evidence. We discount salient factors of people, we discount interests, greed, and we fail to discuss political objectives, because we’re talking about “humanity.”

Our misanthropy is really rooted in our selected individualized experiences, rather than our committed exploration of people, for people requires interaction and effort, which discussions of humanity do not require. It’s like swearing off TV shows about… I dunno, gangsters (just watched Peaky Blinders) because your sparse experiences with a terrible gangster show–let’s say they made a gangster show about Barney’s founding of a biker gang–and your aversion to gangster shows would make sense.

But we’re not talking about aversions based on bad experiences, we’re talking about studying stuff.

So when I hear a very serious and very intelligent scientist talk, on and on about what is empirically true and verifying information, and “science” (like every Muslim isn’t in some scientific field, c’mon man) but then, when it comes to this human experience, this human interaction, called religion, suddenly, the empiricism ends. No data is cited. The Spock of rationality is gone, and now there are serious questions over “well, what about Shariah law” when in but moments ago, there was debate over definitions of infinity and what defines causality.

If you want to understand religion, serve people. You want to see why people can admire someone like The Prophet Muhammad? Listen to people’s problems. Listen to people’s problems when you’re sick. Listen to people’s problems when your heart is torn up. Serve people.

Then you’ll understand what The Qur’an talks about. Then you’ll see what it’s focus is about, not just because the majority of it really doesn’t deal with cosmology (which would be evident from a cursory glance) but because in The Qur’an the ultimate proof of our faith is not prayers (that’s a part of it) but interactions with people.

Look at this ayah from The Qur’an [2:177]

“True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west - but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance - however much he himself may cherish it - upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God.”

The majority of God’s declaration of what defines piety isn’t about where our faces turn to in prayer, but in what we do.

So, we must ask ourselves, if we believe in God, what does that translate into, practically speaking, in regards to our actions? Not just to those we like, but more importantly, to those we dislike?

How can we talk about hating humanity, when we use social networking platforms to broadcast our hatred of humans, to other humans, waiting for interactions from other humans, about our hatred of humans?

Or worse, how can we talk about “common sense” or “rationality” when dealing with experiments and quantum mechanics, but then suspend those same values when dealing with humanity, instead, resorting to random appeals to some sort of “arbiter of truth” that is “science” when dealing with people?

How does “science” deal with marginal tax rates? How about the appropriate tax rate for capital gains taxes on Real Estate income? Should it be at the marginal rate of 20%? Or should we increase it to the 43ish% rate? Or the 39ish% on normal taxable income? What does “science” say about the importance of tax incentives for commercial real estate development? Or no fault divorce?

You see, talking about “science” is nice, I like science, my whole family are scientists, I have scientists friends (there is a not-so-subtle joke here) but the reality is, when it comes down to the law, people show their true colors. I hate acting like my field of study is like “the final word on THINGS! YEAH! FREEZE FRAME HIGH FIVE!” And everyone does that, myself included, and I realize I have the persuasive ability to make a strong case for my field to be that, but, in this discussions, on people, the law is the ultimate study of what people do when there are consequences.

It’s just that law deals with humanity in a raw form. I’ll give you an example: whenever I see an academic, I look at their outfits. I always wonder: did they take the time to pick out the outfit? Or did they just send their spouse out to pick up some Costco Kirkland stuff (who doesn’t like Costco?) and their appearance be damned? Because behind all of our platitudes and “research” is a person.

People talk about ideas, but at the same time, desperately chase credit for it. They want to be recognized. We have insecurities. We have fears. We want to look good and choose navy over orange, because it suits us more, or so we think.

I imagine doctors see that rawness in people when they are facing something horrific. Maybe that’s why my discussions with my roommate (a doctor) about people consists of swapping stories of people’s ridiculousness. Because it’s a reminder of what people do as opposed to what people say.

It’s fine and dandy to talk about what’s common sense in a lecture hall. It’s very different to do that when you’re facing the dilemma of morality in front of you. And I guess that’s my problem, because when you’re talking about people, and you want to do so intelligently, you’re going to have to study people, and whatever those people value.

The thing is, when Islam comes up, and since it seems that most debates against Islam come from white male scientists, they try and put Islam and religious Muslims in the same box as they have with conservative Americans. It’s what they know, it’s what they’ve been exposed to.

But Muslims don’t function in those parameters. We’re different people. With different histories, socially and institutionally. It’s not that we’re exceptional, it’s just that we’re not subject to the constraints of history that you were taught was “humanity.” You were taught that “humanity” was just white people, where there can be actual celebration of “liberalism” as a concept that literally pretends that slavery and colonization didn’t happen or “wasn’t that bad.” And yet, we’re going to talk about empiricism and observable data?

So why do I love the law? Because it constantly forces me to try to understand, to the best of my limited abilities, the person in front of me. I manage my client’s expectations and risk factors, to get to the best possible outcome. And honestly, that’s what Islamic scholars have been doing since the start. How do we manage expectations and risk for people so that they can flourish? Based on what? Dealing with people on the daily.

That’s common sense.

@teenagemutantdemonninja

Outside Hammer Bay’s Eisenhardt International Airport, bikes and cars competed for space, a cacophony of horns and squealing tires in the sweltering humidity of Genosha’s rainy season. Visitors to the country were carried in waves of people from the gaping maws of commercial jets straight into the taxis waiting to swallow them up, as locals returning home from business trips dodged the scammers who had taken up residence at every available corner. It played out like a choreographed dance number, or a battle unfolding according to plan.

Above the fray, behind high windows that separated the air-conditioned interior of the airport from the chaos outside, a woman in an impeccable white suit watched and listened. –gas prices up five percent–hope she didn’t forget–cheating bastard–did I lock the doors?–c’mon, lady, look my way–flooding across the south–can’t wait to see my daddy–sapes are like that–do I have time to grab a coffee?– An endless stream of human inanities, projecting themselves against her brain, a ceaseless drumming sound that she could only ignore for so long. At least where she was going, there wouldn’t be so many damn people.

Assuming that she could get there; she’d been stalled at this airport for nearly half an hour already. Patience may have been a virtue, but no one had ever accused of being overly virtuous.

“Ms. Frost?”

Emma turned away from the window to look down at the airport employee standing next to her. She was looking down on the young, mousy woman in the most literal of senses- the advantage of always wearing four-inch heels- but she carefully schooled her face into a disinterested sneer as well. “Yes?

The woman quailed under Emma’s tone. “Your pilot radioed to, um, inform me that your, um, jet is ready.”

Emma inspected her flawless manicure. “Astonishing. I was beginning to suspect you people would never let me leave.”

The woman gulped audibly. “Right. If you’ll, um, follow me, I’ll take you to your gate.”

Emma carefully adjusted her Hermès bag on her shoulder and followed the woman as she crossed the terminal to the gate where the Frost jet awaited. She walked a touch too close behind her guide, taking some small pleasure in the way her nervousness spiked with every click of Emma’s heels against the tile floor.

Soon enough, however, Emma was settled into her plush seat in the private aircraft, with only the pilot for company. Not that she couldn’t have unnerved the man easily enough- within two minutes of boarding the aircraft, she’d already uncovered an unresolved childhood trauma and all the usual insecurities about sex- but experience had taught her that it was best to leave the person responsible for flying the several ton metal deathtrap unscathed until after they’d reached their destination. For the time being, a glass of champagne and the fascinating and horrifying dossier she’d brought with her would have to suffice as entertainment.

She leaned back in her seat, opened the folder, and began to read.

The Year That Was

by Michael Keller

It’s the last day of 2013 and the past year has proven to be chock full of astounding science and technology news. From major advances to the announcement of new initiatives, this year offered glimpses of a better future through the liberal application of the scientific method and some good engineering. We’re recapping a few of them and checking some of the predictions we made at the start of the year.

Some of the biggest stories:

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Room 125 A | r-x-v-i-k

It was the life of a college student. When you are late for class all you can do is jump out of bed, brush your teeth then rush to class in pajamas. This was Juli’s life, at least on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and 8 out of 10 times she’s either been late or has missed the class completely.

‘Not my fault that biology is is early in the morning.’ Juli huffed as she grabbed her notebook with her assignments. She threw on a jacket and put on her knitted hat to hide her messy hair before she rushed out of the door of her small apartment.

She was lucky enough to get an apartment by the college, she was unlucky that the science building was on the other side of campus. The quickest way was through the sky-walk, it was also preferable to avoid a certain schoolmate of hers. Absentmindedly she rubbed the arm where a long scar tattooed her skin. Now was not the time to think about that.

It seemed like eternity before she reached the large brick building. It was old and menacing, with vines crawling up on the side. Inside she towards the end of the hall were room 125 A waited for her. Quietly she opened the doors to the large class room. Students sat quietly in the auditorium like room, their eyes glued to large human brain that was projected on the wall. Quietly she sat in the back hoping that Professor Victoriano did not see her come in. 

Cool things that will/might happen in the future

2020s:

  • According to a report released by the National Intelligence Council, the United States will experience the relative decline of its economic and military power, driven both by the rise of new behemoths such as ChinaIndia and the EU and by domestic constraints on its global leadership
  • Futurist Ray Kurzweil puts 2029 as the year most likely for a breakthrough in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). He expects that around this time, computers will reach human intelligence levels, and shortly thereafter surpass the capabilities of the human brain
  • By the end of the decade, the world population is projected to surpass 8 billion people, half a billion more than 2020, representing a slowdown in growth from the 2010s, which are expected to increase the population by 700 million
  • China’s coal production will peak and then rapidly decline in the year 2027

2030s:

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what if all humans actually look exactly the same but our brains just project different faces onto other people’s heads in order to distinguish between them

Scientists Criticize Europe’s $1.6B Brain Project

Dozens of neuroscientists are protesting Europe’s $1.6 billion attempt to recreate the functioning of the human brain on supercomputers, fearing it will waste vast amounts of money and harm neuroscience in general.

The 10-year Human Brain Project is largely funded by the European Union. In an open letter issued Monday, more than 190 neuroscience researchers called on the EU to put less money into the effort to “build” a brain, and to invest instead in existing projects.

If the EU doesn’t adopt their recommendations, the scientists said, they will boycott the Human Brain Project and urge colleagues to do the same.

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