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Evan Spiegel Research Project Seminar

2/7/98

Science, according to the Webster?s Universal Unabridged Dictionary, is a branch of knowledge or study, especially one concerned with establishing and systematizing facts, principles, and methods, as by experiments and hypotheses. To me, that is not what science is. I believe that science is something that can be interesting and entertaining. This is why I appreciate science a great deal. Although I have not had many experiences with science, I want to learn more. I hope that the experiences that I will encounter in Research Project Seminar will help me learn more about science and answer the questions I have.

While taking science, I became interested in physics, evolution, and sciences related to these. I would like to broaden my knowledge on the subjects of physics and evolution. I have found that these topics are interesting and laden with information. I anticipate that next year if accepted I could augment my knowledge of these subjects.

I have always been engrossed in science and I sometimes find myself asking questions. For instance how do I know whether an individual is conscious? How do I know that someone is alive? The only human being I know for sure that is conscious is myself because I have a direct source to prove it. But I do not know if another person is conscious or is just simply a robot designed to mimic the actions of consciousness. To mollify this question I began to read elemental mind by Nick Herbert. The first few chapters discuss consciousness. This book can and has supplied answers for me. The major topics in the book are the brain and its physics. I now find myself trying to answer these questions. Some I find answers to and others I have put aside because my knowledge is restricted. If accepted I could expand my knowledge and I would be able to answer those questions that I have put aside.

Another question I would like to answer is how gravity affects organisms, and why and how have these organisms adapted to the gravity and environment. For a project I would like to create an imaginary planet with one or two simple ecosystems that could possibly survive on such a planet. I know that I would have to research planets and find information about what causes change in organisms, and other determining factors. In this project I would have to create and describe a planet in which organisms can live, then create certain organisms that could form a food chain or web. I know that creating the planet would be physically impossible, but I would base my decisions on information, and make inferences and hypotheses.

The Turing test is a test for machines. A machine that passes can make a human believe that the machine in the box is a person and is conscious. In some situations the machine does such a good job that it leaves its tester in a state of confusion. This is something I would be interested in researching. I would like to find out what machines have passed it and why. Also, I would research consciousness: What are some signs of it? How can it be detected? What things have consciousness? In elemental mind, Nick Herbert discusses three ways to test for consciousness. Those three ways are The Purple Glow Effect, Mental Telepathy, and Mind Link. I would research these and discover how they could be tested. I would also try to test certain things. This topic interests me because it helps to satisfy one of the many questions I have. I hope that Research Project Seminar will allow me to gain experience so that these questions will not cause turmoil within my mind.

As Jules Henri Poincare once said ?The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.? I have found that these are words of wisdom. I too believe that this is true. Whatever I study I find that there is something that always lies inside it. This is the job of a scientist: to discover the unknown. That is why I believe that Research Project Seminar would be the most helpful in the discovery of science for me.

?The true delight is in finding out, rather than in the knowing.?

- Isaac Asimov

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