Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cafe Scientifique on the brain

We had a bigger turnout at the second and latest Cafe Scientifique Dubai; I'm not sure if it was word of mouth or the two-hour radio special on Dubai Eye 103.8 that helped more.

Anyway, after last month's engaging cosmology/astronomy discussion, the topic this time was, as literature teacher Rohan Roberts and budding neuroscientist Raya Bidhshahri mentioned, a field of study in which we know even less: the brain.

Roberts offered a more core biological perspective on brain structure and complexity, moving on to describing fascinating experiments like rat brains cross-wired into each other on the internet. He also spoke about the BRAIN Initiative, a transhumanist perspective on information loss upon brain death. Next, Bidshahri described aspects of consciousness, speaking about self awareness, continuity, privacy, etc.

The discussion phase took on a lot of topics, including lucid dreams, qualia, memory, and even popular film (apparently, Inception is not too far off the mark). The evening's program also included an interpretive dance by Lara Matossian-Roberts to a poetic description of the brain's structure, a music video comprising auto-tuned snippets of brain science talks, and a dystopian video speculation of life in a world where memory can be digitized. If you'd like to check out the music video:

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