Saturday, 18 September 2010

Carl Sagan on Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov was one of the great explainers of the age. Like T. H. Huxley, he was motivated by profoundly democratic impulses to communicate science to the public. “Science is too important,” he said, paraphrasing Clemenceau, “to be left to the scientists.” It will never be known how many practicing scientists today, in how many countries, owe their initial inspiration to a book, article, or short story by Isaac Asimov—nor how many ordinary citizens are sympathetic to the scientific enterprise from the same cause. For example, Marvin Minsky of MIT, one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, was brought to his subject by Asimov's robot stories (initially conceived to illustrate human/robot partnerships and to counter the prevailing notion, going back to Frankenstein, of robots as necessarily malign). At a time when science fiction was mainly devoted to action and adventure, Asimov introduced puzzle-solving schemes that taught science and thinking along the way.

Carl Sagan on science and spirituality

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Magic Income Number -

The Magic Income Number - "September 9, 2010, 9:30 am
The Magic Income Number

What’s the magic income number? According to Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman, it’s about $75,000, at least when it comes to day-to-day happiness. “As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.” Income above $75,000, however, does improve people’s overall “life assessment.” ”Giving people more income beyond 75K is not going to do much for their daily mood … but it is going to make them feel they have a better life,” says Mr. Deaton.