Tag Archives: scientist

Plague – Kent Heckenlively & Judy Mikovits

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Plague

One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

Kent Heckenlively & Judy Mikovits

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: November 18, 2014

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC


On July 22, 2009, a special meeting was held with twenty-four leading scientists at the National Institutes of Health to discuss early findings that a newly discovered retrovirus was linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), prostate cancer, lymphoma, and eventually neurodevelopmental disorders in children. When Dr. Judy Mikovits finished her presentation the room was silent for a moment, then one of the scientists said, “Oh my God!” The resulting investigation would be like no other in science. For Dr. Mikovits, a twenty-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute, this was the midpoint of a five-year journey that would start with the founding of the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease at the University of Nevada, Reno, and end with her as a witness for the federal government against her former employer, Harvey Whittemore, for illegal campaign contributions to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. On this journey Dr. Mikovits would face the scientific prejudices against CFS, wander into the minefield that is autism, and through it all struggle to maintain her faith in God and the profession to which she had dedicated her life. This is a story for anybody interested in the peril and promise of science at the very highest levels in our country.

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Plague – Kent Heckenlively & Judy Mikovits

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Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius – Hans C. Ohanian

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Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius

Hans C. Ohanian

Genre: Physics

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: November 9, 2009

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


“A thought-provoking critique of Einstein’s tantalizing combination of brilliance and blunder.”—Andrew Robinson, New Scientist Although Einstein was the greatest genius of the twentieth century, many of his groundbreaking discoveries were blighted by mistakes, ranging from serious errors in mathematics to bad misconceptions in physics and failures to grasp the subtleties of his own creations. This forensic biography dissects Einstein’s scientific mistakes and places them in the context of his turbulent life and times. In lively, accessible prose, Hans C. Ohanian paints a fresh, insightful portrait of the real Einstein at work, in contrast to the uncritical celebrity worship found in many biographies. Of the approximately 180 original scientific papers that Einstein published in his lifetime, about 40 are infested with mistakes. For instance, Einstein’s first mathematical proof of the famous formula E = mc2 was incomplete and only approximately valid; he struggled with this problem for many years, but he never found a complete proof (better mathematicians did). Einstein was often lured by irrational and mystical inspirations, but his extraordinary intuition about physics permitted him to discover profound truths despite—and sometimes because of—the mistakes he made along the way. He was a sleepwalker: his intuition told him where he needed to go, and he somehow managed to get there without quite knowing how. As this book persuasively argues, the defining hallmark of Einstein’s genius was not any special mathematical ability but an uncanny talent to use his mistakes as stepping stones to formulate his revolutionary theories.

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Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius – Hans C. Ohanian

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Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe – J. Richard Gott

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Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe

The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time

J. Richard Gott

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: Mariner Books

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


A Princeton astrophysicist explores whether journeying to the past or future is scientifically possible in this “intriguing” volume (Neil deGrasse Tyson).   It was H. G. Wells who coined the term “time machine”—but the concept of time travel, both forward and backward, has always provoked fascination and yearning. It has mostly been dismissed as an impossibility in the world of physics; yet theories posited by Einstein, and advanced by scientists including Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, suggest that the phenomenon could actually occur.   Building on these ideas, J. Richard Gott, a professor who has written on the subject for Scientific American , Time , and other publications, describes how travel to the future is not only possible but has already happened—and contemplates whether travel to the past is also conceivable. This look at the surprising facts behind the science fiction of time travel “deserves the attention of anyone wanting wider intellectual horizons” ( Booklist ).   “Impressively clear language. Practical tips for chrononauts on their options for travel and the contingencies to prepare for make everything sound bizarrely plausible. Gott clearly enjoys his subject and his excitement and humor are contagious; this book is a delight to read.” — Publishers Weekly J. RICHARD GOTT III is a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. For fourteen years he served as the chairman of the judges of the National Westinghouse and Intel Science Talent Search, the premier science competition for high school students. The recipient of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Gott has written on time travel for Time and on other topics for Scientific American , New Scientist , and American Scientist .

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Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe – J. Richard Gott

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Seth Meyers devoted a full nine minutes to Trump and climate change.

Penn State’s Michael Mann will be permitted to proceed with a lawsuit against writers from the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute after an appeals court ruling in his favor Thursday.

Mann, the scientist behind the “hockey stick” graph, has been a frequent target of climate change deniers’ harassment.

“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” wrote Rand Simberg in a 2012 Competitive Enterprise Institute blog post, “except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet.”

The National Review’s Mark Steyn quoted these comments in a post of his own, writing that Simberg “has a point” and calling Mann’s work “fraudulent.”

Mann accused the two writers of libel, and now a three-judge panel for the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that he may proceed with his defamation suit against the authors and their institutions.

“Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming,” wrote Judge Vanessa Ruiz in the court’s decision. Now it could be a costly one.

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Seth Meyers devoted a full nine minutes to Trump and climate change.

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The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

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The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $10.99

Publish Date: January 16, 2008

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


A preeminent scientist — and the world's most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

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The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

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Wind turbines are powering nature’s paradise (and haven’t killed a single bird)

Wind turbines are powering nature’s paradise (and haven’t killed a single bird)

By on Jun 1, 2016 2:33 pmShare

This story was originally published by Newsweek and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Charles Darwin made the Galápagos Islands synonymous with the idea of change as a means of survival. In the 19th century, the scientist marveled at how similar endemic finches, mockingbirds, and giant tortoises across the 19-island archipelago were uniquely adapted to individual islands and later theorized that this ability to adapt determines whether a species will survive long term. Today, one of the world’s largest wind-diesel hybrid systems, built on San Cristóbal Island, suggests the human population in the region is capable of the bold adaptive strategies it will need to survive in a post-climate-change world.

Electricity demand on San Cristóbal and the three other inhabited Galápagos islands is on the rise, driven by the growth of population (currently at 30,000 residents) and supported by thriving tourism. A plan to replace diesel electricity generation with renewable energy was already set in motion when, in January 2001, an oil tanker struck a reef and spilled more than 150,000 gallons of diesel near San Cristóbal, threatening the irreplaceable plants, birds, and marine life that had evolved there.

Workers clean the blades on a wind turbine on San Cristóbal Island in the Galapagos. The turbine provides 30 percent of the electricity consumed on San Cristóbal, replacing 2.3 million gallons of diesel fuel and avoiding 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.Eolisca

Ecuador, with the help of the United Nations, quickly enlisted the help of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership, made up of 11 of the world’s largest electricity companies, to reduce the risk of another oil spill at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between 2007 and 2015, three 157-foot wind turbines have supplied, on average, 30 percent of the electricity consumed on San Cristóbal, replacing 2.3 million gallons of diesel fuel and avoiding 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

San Cristóbal’s energy is now in the hands of Elecgalapagos S.A., the local utility tasked with expanding the project to convert the Galápagos to zero-fossil-fuels territory. They think they can get to 70 percent renewable-energy use in the not-so-distant future. “You have to remember that none of our personnel on the Galápagos had ever seen a wind turbine before we started,” says Luis Vintimilla, an Ecuadorian who has been the project’s local general manager since its inception.

One unexpected problem: Wind turbine blades require regular cleaning, and Vintimilla couldn’t find any locals comfortable in high-altitude conditions. So he hired mountain climbers from the mainland to scrub down the blades. Also new was the job of making sure the turbines had not killed or injured any of the critically endangered endemic Galápagos petrels: large, long-winged seabirds.

The monitoring program’s results have been surprisingly good, considering the common criticism of wind farms as bird killers: Not a single petrel has been identified as hurt or killed. The wind turbines, it seems, are not only keeping the Galápagos green — they’re also making sure the archipelago’s most precarious creatures have a chance to keep on evolving.

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Wind turbines are powering nature’s paradise (and haven’t killed a single bird)

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Surprise! A third of Congress members are climate change deniers

Surprise! A third of Congress members are climate change deniers

By on 8 Mar 2016commentsShare

An annual tally of climate deniers in Congress just came out, and there’s good news and bad news. The good news: You’re smarter than 34 percent of Congress. The bad news: You’re smarter than 34 percent of Congress.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that there are 182 climate deniers in the current Congress: 144 in the House and 38 in the Senate. That means more than six in 10 Americans are represented by people who think that climate change is a big ‘ol liberal hoax — including some leaders at the highest levels of government, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch “I Am Not a Scientist” McConnell and senator and presidential candidate Marco “I Am Not a Scientist” Rubio. (And those are just the members of Congress who are out-and-out deniers, so it doesn’t include the many more who kinda sorta admit that something might be going on with the climate but still don’t want to do anything about it.)

Not surprisingly, many of these same climate deniers have been handsomely rewarded by the fossil fuel industry. In total, these climate-denying congresspeople have received more than $73 million in contributions from oil, gas, and coal companies over the course of their careers. To get the specifics, check out this handy interactive map, which breaks down exactly who in each state is a climate change denier — and exactly how much cash they’ve gotten from dirty energy.

Take Oklahoma, for example, where five out of seven of the current crop of congresspeople are climate deniers. Sen. James Inhofe, who holds the dubious distinction of being the most infamous denier in Congress, has received more than $2 million from fossil fuel interests. He not only called climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” he actually threw a snowball on the Senate floor last year in a hilarious attempt to disprove climate change. He did not disprove climate change, but perhaps the stunt earned him an extra check from Oklahoma’s natural gas industry.

Dylann Petrohilos / ThinkProgress

If there’s a silver lining to this dark news, it’s this: Even though a healthy portion our nation’s leaders continue to perpetuate the dangerous myth that climate change isn’t real, the people know better. Nearly 70 percent of Americans support climate change action, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund — and that includes many Republicans. Last year, a survey conducted by Republican pollsters found that even most conservative Republicans both believe climate change is real and support clean energy.

The problem is, not the ones in office.

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Surprise! A third of Congress members are climate change deniers

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You owe the world $12,000 for burning all those fossil fuels

Climate finance

You owe the world $12,000 for burning all those fossil fuels

By on 8 Sep 2015commentsShare

In the event those student loans weren’t enough to bring you down, a new study adds a hefty new bill to the ledger — and it’s of atmospheric proportions.

Writing in Nature Climate Change, H. Damon Matthews from Concordia University in Montreal argues that the fairest way to deal with climate finance (that is, of equitably balancing the international books in order to pay for climate change mitigation and adaptation) is to label individual countries as debtors and creditors and to calculate relative balances given their historic CO2 emissions. If you’re living in the U.S. or Australia, you’d owe a solid $12,000 under Matthews’ scheme: the atmospheric bill for all of those Furbies and Oreos and SUVs you bought between 1990 and 2013.

Well, you as in the person whose eyes are currently glued to Grist’s effortlessly compelling prose probably don’t owe anyone $12,000 (other than that loan shark), but you as in a representative humanoid slice of your country might. By benchmarking each country against an equal per-capita share of emissions over time, Matthews was able to calculate which countries had, given a 1990 starting point, emitted more than their fair share. New Scientist details his results:

He found that the US, for example, had over-polluted by a massive 100.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide between 1990 and 2013 – amounting to 300 tonnes per person. That’s about as much as is produced by driving a family car from Los Angeles to New York and back about 150 times.

And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, each tonne of carbon dioxide produced today has a social cost of about $40, so the overall debt per person is US$12,000.

That social cost, however, is a pretty arbitrary number. A social cost captures both private costs and externalities, and environmental economists still have little idea of how to price the latter when it comes to carbon emissions. While the EPA might use that $40 figure, a new study, for example, arrived at a social cost of carbon of $220 per ton, which would place the per-capita U.S. emissions debt from Matthews’ study at $66,000. Just to make sure we’re on the same page of the ol’ checkbook, that’s the difference between $3.87 trillion and $21.3 trillion. It’s this kind of variance that makes rigorously conducting (and defending) carbon pricing studies so difficult.

And while studies like Matthews’ make for clean numbers, it doesn’t mean anyone will actually take his advice. Climate negotiators like those who will be meeting in Paris later this year tend to play by their own political rules. Here’s more from New Scientist:

“Having followed the negotiations for 20 years I can tell you now the parties will not accept a neat allocation of responsibility based on this kind of metric, although I think this is one of the fairest,” says Robyn Eckersley at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Eckersley says each country pushes for a particular metric that downplays their own responsibility. But that doesn’t make the analysis pointless, she adds.

“They help society look more critically at what each country is doing and how they are hiding behind their cherry-picked metrics. That’s a really useful function,” she says. “These kinds of documents make it easier for people to judge contributions and raise these issues at a national level.”

In the meantime, the world’s developed countries still need to figure out how they intend on dumping $100 billion annually into the Green Climate Fund by 2020. As of now, we’ve reached about a tenth of that goal. Color me pessimistic, Jonathan Chait.

And as long as we’re talking debt, let this post serve as a brief reminder that you still owe me that lunch money from ’06. (Not you, Jonathan.)

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Everyone in the US and Australia owes $12,000 in CO2 emissions

, New Scientist.

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Empty study paves the way for fracking in California

Empty study paves the way for fracking in California

29 Aug 2014 5:10 PM

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Empty study paves the way for fracking in California

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Well, there you have it, ladies and gents: Fracking’s just fine! A study found no significant evidence to suggest that fracking and similar extraction techniques are harmful to the environment.

Energy companies poised to dig into California’s reserves are breathing a sigh of relief. The findings pave the way for the Bureau of Land Management to resume issuing oil and gas leases on federal land in California next year, following a temporary halt to the practice last year and the defeat of an attempted statewide moratorium on fracking this spring.

But here’s the catch: The study didn’t contain much information.

From the Los Angeles Times:

For example, the report found no evidence of water contamination from fracking in California, but the scientist directing the research, Jane Long, said researchers also had no data on the quality of water near fracking sites.

“We can only tell you what the data we could get says,” said Long, a former director at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “We can’t tell you what we don’t know.”

Other unresolved issues, besides “the location, depth and quality of groundwater in oil- and gas-producing regions”: Any information about the toxicity of a third of the chemicals involved in fracking and whether or not plants or animals would be harmed by chronic exposure to those chemicals. Scientists behind the study had asked for more time, but the BLM had a seven-month timetable and wouldn’t budge.

BLM admits that this report doesn’t tell the whole story, and that — don’t worry — there will be more environmental impact studies done. They’ll just be done, you know, “as oil and gas development resumes.” Greeeeeeat.

Source:
Fracking report clears way for California oil, gas leasing to resume

, Los Angeles Times.

Feds to Resume Leasing for Fracking in California

, ABC News.

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Science Says Your Soul Is Like a Traffic Jam

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Who are you?

The question may seem simple to answer: You are the citizen of a country, the resident of a city, the child of particular parents, the sibling (or not) of brothers and sisters, the parent (or not) of children, and so on. And you might further answer the question by invoking a personality, an identity: You’re outgoing. You’re politically liberal. You’re Catholic. Going further still, you might bring up your history, your memories: You came from a place, where events happened to you. And those helped make you who you are.

Such are some of the off-the-cuff ways in which we explain ourselves. The scientific answer to the question above, however, is starting to look radically different. Last year, New Scientist magazine even ran a cover article titled, “The Great Illusion of the Self,” drawing on the findings of modern neuroscience to challenge the very idea that we have seamless, continuous, consistent identities. “Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel,” declared the magazine. “Some thinkers even go so far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.”

What’s going on here? When it comes to understanding this new and very personal field of science, it’s hard to think of a more apt guide than Jennifer Ouellette, author of the new book Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self. Not only is Ouellette a celebrated science writer; she also happens to have been adopted, a fact that makes her life a kind of natural experiment in the relative roles of genes and the environment in determining our identities. The self, explains Ouellette on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast (stream above), is “a miracle of integration. And we haven’t figured it out, but the science that is trying to figure it out is absolutely fascinating.”

Jennifer Ouellette

The question of whether the self could be said to exist at all is just one of the major scientific questions that Ouellette takes on in her new book. Nearly as thorny is the question of what actually gives you your (apparent) identity in the first place. You might think of the two issues in this way: For modern science, the question is not just who we are, but also, if we are.

To determine who she is, Ouellette naturally started with her genes. Fortunately for the book (and perhaps for her), she was able to get her genome analyzed by the genetic testing company 23andMe before the Food and Drug Administration stepped in late last year to challenge its provision of health-related genetic analyses. In response, 23andMe stated in December that it would now only offer raw genetic data and ancestry information, while it awaits FDA approval for health-related products. In the meantime, Ouelette defends what she received from the company: “They’re very careful, I found, in their results, telling you that this basically just gives you a sense of what risk factors might be,” Ouellette says. “I never had a sense that it was an oracle in any way. They actually linked to relevant papers, they ranked how valid the studies were, if they were preliminary, if they were very robust with a high sample size.”

From this inquiry, Ouellette learned that she might have a somewhat elevated risk of Type 1 diabetes, but also a lower than average risk of Alzheimer’s. But it is crucial to bear in mind that all of these risks are relatively slight and merely statistical in nature. For instance, Ouellette’s chance of getting Alzheimer’s, based on this analysis, is only 4.9 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent chance for members of the general population. Which underscores one of the key through lines of the book: Your genes are very important, but they are far from everything.

In fact, although you wouldn’t know it from a conventional wisdom that endlessly pits “nature” and “nurture” against each other, the two aren’t actually opposed at all. Every expert Ouellette spoke with for the book agreed with this: Genes and environmental factors work together to make us who we are, meaning that setting them in opposition to one another is simply misinformed. “That’s kind of empowering,” Ouellette says, “because I think that sometimes we get caught up in things like genetic determinism. Genes are very, very important, and they certainly do impose constraints, but there’s also a very strong sense in which we have a lot of role in shaping how we are perceived and who we think we are.”

MRI modeling of the brain’s white matter connections Xavier Gigandet et al./Wikimedia Commons

To see this, consider the ultimate repository of everything that we are: the so-called “connectome,” which is defined as the sum total of all the connections between the hundreds of billions of nerve cells, or neurons, in our brains. Genes shape many aspects of how our brains form and develop—how the connectome gets wired—and, accordingly, research repeatedly shows that major behavioral traits like personality are partly inherited. But at the same time, your life experiences also change the connectome daily. “Everything that we do changes who we think we are,” says Ouellette. One scientist interviewed in Ouellette’s book calls the connectome “where nature meets nurture.”

Needless to say, the science of mapping the human connectome is currently in its infancy. There are an estimated 100 billion neurons in the human brain, and as for the connections between them? Sheesh. There may be as many as 100 trillion synapses, or spaces where these neurons exchange information. So far, only one connectome has been mapped, and that was for a much simpler organism—the microscopic roundworm, or nematode. “It took them 10 years just to get the nematode,” says Ouellette, “and the nematode only has 302 neurons.”

Out of this unimaginable complexity emerges the self as we think we know it—and scientists have identified many of the component parts. For instance, there are specific brain regions associated with recognizing yourself in the mirror, feeling that you’re in your own body, feeling that your body begins and ends somewhere, and recognizing where you are in space. So how then can anyone argue that there is not actually such a thing as a self?

Much depends on what you mean by the “self” in the first place. If you think of your self as an essence—something you’d describe with adjectives like “unified,” “continuous,” and “unchanging”—well, science has some bad news for you. New Scientist, for instance, cites an array of neuroscience experiments showing how easy it is to make us believe we are outside of our bodies, or that we’re in the body of a mannequin, or that a rubber hand on a table is our hand…and much else. The hand experiment is particularly disturbing. Watch it:

In other words, while you tend to think of your body as a self-contained entity, and to believe there are clear lines of demarcation between your body and other bodies, there are quirks in the brain that allow this sense to break down. And dropping acid—another self-experiment that Ouellette undertook for the book—further undermines this assumption. “I dropped acid, and you get disembodied,” Ouellette says. “The acid actually messes with those parts of the brain, the ability to distinguish between self and other.”

And then on top of that, there are all the problems associated with memory. We would all surely agree that our memories comprise a central part of who we are, yet an array of psychological interventions can cause us to think we made choices we didn’t make, remember things that didn’t actually happen to us, and so on. “Every time we remember something, we are rebuilding it,” Ouellette says. “We’re not actually remembering what happened, we’re remembering what happened the last time we remembered it. And as a result, we embellish; little bits and details get changed.” Memory is also culturally determined: Research has shown, for instance, that Americans tend to retain a particular type of memory, focusing on events that are more personal and individual. In China, by contrast, events of grand cultural or historical significance are more likely to be remembered.

Ouellette’s conclusion from all of this, therefore, is that while it would be going too far to say there is no such thing as the self at all, our understanding of what the self actually is must be dramatically revised. “It’s not right to say it’s an illusion,” she says, “but it is a construct. But it’s not what you think it is.” More specifically, Ouellette ultimately concludes that the self is an emergent property of the billions of neurons of our brain all interacting with one another. What’s emergence? “A system in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” writes Ouellette.

“A traffic jam is emergent,” she explains. “You have all these cars interacting. If it gets dense enough, enough interactions, you’re going to get a traffic jam. But that traffic jam is real.” It is more than the sum of all its cars. Something similar goes for the self.

This also means the self is very fragile. Damage the brain or cease its function, and the self may dissipate. Die, of course, and the story is the same. “I expected people to object more to my take on what happens to your conscious self after you die,” Ouellette confesses. “Because I basically say there is no soul. Or rather, your soul is this conscious thing that is emergent, and once all that activity that leads to the emergent phenomenon disappears, so does that, it’s gone.”

The good news, though, is that during the time we have, all the science that Ouellette relied upon to learn about her own self—genome and brain scans, personality tests, and even virtual identities—can only get better, and better, and better. The next few decades are going to be a great time to get to know yourself. You just have to be clear about what that actually means.

To listen to the full podcast interview with Jennifer Ouellette, you can stream below:

This episode of Inquiring Minds, a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a discussion of the recent discovery of a 30,000-year-old “giant virus” frozen in Arctic ice, and about a case currently before the Supreme Court that turns on how we determine, scientifically, who is intellectually disabled.

To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. We are also available on Stitcher and on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook. Inquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the “Best of 2013″ on iTunes—you can learn more here.

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Science Says Your Soul Is Like a Traffic Jam

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