Category Archives: Science for non-scientists!

Rupert Sheldrake – a persistently open-minded scientist

As those of you dropping by here will know by now, I am as interested in science as I am in esoteric topics – and what I most admire in scientists apart from breadth and depth of knowledge is: open-mindedness, and generosity towards those with whom they may disagree. Rupert Sheldrake is one of those. To his great credit, he has kept up that spirit despite severe testing by diehard reductionists in recent years.

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake

What I most dislike is dogmatic dismissal of others’ theoretical positions, knowledge bases or viewpoints, especially if that dismissal is rooted in ignorance of the body of knowledge or subject area which is being dismissed.

Astrologers know all about this!

I am putting together a small group of books to re-read over this summer/autumn period, one of them being Rupert Sheldrake’s recent book which I first read in 2012 and which I featured here then. Here is my 2012 introduction both to the book and Rupert Sheldrake’s talk:

“…I’ve now read and very much enjoyed “Science Set Free” (USA) / “The Science Delusion” (UK)  and would highly recommend it. Whom better than the author himself to let you know what it’s about?…”

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD2qScZlvYE

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012/2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Rupert Sheldrake talks about “Science Set Free” (USA) / “The Science Delusion” (UK)

Yes, I know I said I was going into retreat for the rest of August!

But from the said retreat, lurking behind the sofa with a laptop, I found this short video of scientist Rupert Sheldrake talking about his new book

“Science Set Free” (USA) / “The Science Delusion” (UK)

and thought some of my followers might like to take a look.

As those of you dropping by here will know by now, I am as interested in science as I am in esoteric topics – and what I most admire in scientists apart from breadth and depth of knowledge is: open-mindedness, and generosity towards those with whom they may disagree. Rupert Sheldrake is one of those.

What I most dislike is dogmatic dismissal of others’ theoretical positions, knowledge bases or viewpoints, especially if that dismissal is rooted in ignorance of the body of knowledge or subject area which is being dismissed.

Astrologers know all about this!

I’ve now read and very much enjoyed “The Science Delusion” and would highly recommend it. Whom better than the author himself to let you know what it’s about?

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD2qScZlvYE

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Chase the Higgs – or zap a pigeon?

Some of my readers are bound to have noticed that I have a new hobby. It’s a great distraction from the daily climbing out of the permanent snowdrift currently blanketing Scotland – I exaggerate, but not that much!

Having abandoned my resistance to social networking in recent weeks, I am now attempting to be joined at the hip to the whole cyber-world – now I really AM exaggerating….

My very able and savvy assistants in this quest have been John, Craig and Angelo at the AppleMac shop in Glasgow, Scotland UK  (no, I don’t get paid for the PR – yet….)

Today’s fun was exploring http://www.diggit.com, to enable me to share mind-broadening, inspiring and entertaining material from across the Web with my readers at “Writing from the Twelfth House”.

How about this for a brilliant cartoon, illustrating a fantastic article by Dan Satterfield at  Dan’s Wild Science Journal?  Enjoy the cartoon, and follow the link below it. Accessible science is what I hunt for……this is it!

 

Catch the Higgs - or a pigeon?

Catch the Higgs - or a pigeon?

http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/2010/12/13/neil-degrasse-tyson-5050-odds-the-lhc-will-discover-the-higgs-boson/

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“……That is why the Large Hadron Collider was built. To find the Higgs, IF it’s there to be found. Peter Higgs may be wrong, but so far everything the theories of the worlds greatest scientists have come up with say it should be there. The Higgs theory led to the predictions of two other particles, and they HAVE been found……”

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “50/50 Odds the LHC Will Discover the Higgs Boson”

Posted by Dan Satterfield

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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No, you probably don’t have Altzheimer’s….!

This post should probably be appearing on my new site

MoreBitsFallOff.com

However, being an uncharacteristic hive of industry today, I have posted something new there already – check it out! What was I saying? Oh yes, NOW I remember…..which brings me to the friend in whose honour I am republishing a book review which appeared here on ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ last year. I spoke to her this morning. She was (once again!) so worried about incipient Altzheimer’s that she wanted to re-borrow the book I had lent her last year which she had found incredibly reassuring. It is called “Where did I leave my Glasses?” and is absolutely wonderful. No-one over the age of fifty should ever leave home without it.

Here is my review:

“Where Did I Leave My Glasses?”

The What, When and Why of Normal Memory Loss

by Martha Weinman Lear

A few weeks ago my husband dashed off to an evening meeting. Shortly afterwards, he rang me, sounding stressed. “Can you please find my glasses for me? A friend is passing by shortly – she can pick them up and bring them along to the meeting.” My irritation with him dissolved into fits of laughter when I eventually found the glasses. Where were they? Yes, sitting right on top of  the book he was then reading, called “Where Did I Leave My Glasses?” by Martha Weinman Lear.

Exhibit A - the glasses!

One of the realisations which don’t dawn until the fifties – I speak for myself here, maybe you are ninety-six and still in denial! – is that it’s all downhill physically from now on. I think writer Richard Holloway is right when he talks in one of his books (surprise, surprise, can’t remember which one….) about the importance of starting to cultivate fortitude once you reach your fifties. Time is going to win, and you, small speck of ephemeral matter, are going to lose – no matter what you do to try and stave off the aging process.

An indestructible sense of humour is a huge asset in facing this truth. So is information which cheers you up rather than depressing you. Everyone over the age of fifty should therefore read this book. It succeeds in being simultaneously very informative and very entertaining on the topic of normal memory loss, a subject which generates intermittent worry for, I would estimate, at least 99 per cent of us who are baby-boomers and older.

Martha Weinman Lear, former articles editor and staff writer with the New York Times Magazine, is well qualified to research and present information and opinion on the topic of memory loss, having written extensively before on social and medicine-related topics.

I infer from the book that she is a person past the first flush of youth. Here she is, inviting us to

“Consider our own memory situations, yours and mine.

Here is mine:

Adjectives elude me. Verbs escape me. Nouns, especially proper nouns, totally defeat me. I may meet you at a party, have a long, lovely conversation with you, be charmed by you, want to know you forever, and a day later not remember your name….”

The book is laugh-aloud entertainment, rooted in real conversations with real people all of whom including herself have funny disclosures to make centering round the five top responses to the question she put to all the lay and expert interviewees in the book, ie ‘What can you most reliably depend upon yourself to forget?’

These five were:

Where did I leave my glasses?

What was I just saying?

What did I come in here for?

What did I ask you to remind me to do?

What’s her(his, its) name?

Lear’s book may be wittily written, but it is also thorough and well-informed in exploring aspects of normal memory and memory loss, including why we are actually wired to forget. She covers a range of topics including sex differences in memory function and deterioration, different types of memory, how to train the aging brain into being more efficient at remembering – and most fascinating of all, the future of memory enhancement in a culture where increasingly we are living longer than biology built our bodies to last.

I found “Where Did I Leave My Glasses?” enormously comforting and reassuring in the face of the spectre that haunts our increasingly long-lived Western populations – Altzheimer’s. Lear’s book’s central message is that most memory lapses beginning in middle age are universal: a normal part of the inevitable process of aging.

In short, don’t worry if you don’t know where you left your glasses. But do worry – and seek help – if you can’t remember what your glasses are for….

Exhibit A - the glasses!

(this is the slightly edited and re-published version of a book review published on this site in 2009)

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page