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  • Potential for impact in science

    By Research Cooperative, 2021-02-21
    Potential for impact in science

    Today I sent the following message to a new member:

    "Thanks very much for joining.  It would be great if you can offer your services in our service forums, and join the Image Workshop community page here:


    What we really need is more active use of the network by members: activity promotes activity, inactivity promotes inactivity.

    The network is unique in its focus on science communication, so there are interesting opportunities to have an impact for any members who do become active."

    The last point explains why I continue to maintain the network despite the persistent lack of activity. I still believe in the potential to improve science communication through better communication among all those involved in writing and publishing research.

    Perhaps it is little like the origins of life on potentially inhabitable planets: life can happen, but not necessarily so. There might be life on Mars, or there might not. Our network might come to life, or it might not. Perseverance is needed.

    Photo: The Perseverance rover has landed. Photo courtesy NASA, 19th Feb. 2021: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/25609/high-resolution-still-image-of-perseverances-landing/

    Connecting Mind and Machines: the Final Barrier?

    By Dr. Daniel Cebo, 2021-02-06

    If all the information available on Google fit on a USB flash drive, what would happen if we could plug it directly into the brain? What if we could translate our brainwaves into complete texts, or could connect ourselves to a machine to multiply our mental capacities? Although these examples are still science fiction, the technology that tries to make them possible is not.

    Researchers from BitBrain, a company specializing in applied neuro-technologies, explained that “it is not that we are close to connecting our brains to technologies to interact with the exterior. It is already a reality.” This connection will be achieved through the so-called brain-to-computer interface (BCI). This is already being used in assistive devices—such as wheelchairs—that move through brain activity, or video games in which, instead of using a mouse, the cursor is moved with the mind. Leading centers in Europe and the United States have been working in this discipline for years, including big technology companies such as Facebook or Neuralink from the magnate Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Does this mean that we are coming to the end of the final barrier?

    Some of these groups have spent nearly two decades researching in this field. “Discussing the link between mind and machine is as old as the movie Metropolis. (1927). What is new is that the connection of a human brain to a computer with implantable microelectrodes is now a real scientific option,” explained Jens Caluse of the Institute of Ethics and History of Medicine at the University of Tübingen (Germany) in a publication in the journal Nature. Although there has been remarkable technological progress in all this time, especially in devices for measuring brain activity—some are even wearable, to take measurements anywhere from a mobile device—progress is slower than was expected.

    The entry into this field of big tech stars like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk can serve as a catalyst to accelerate progress in this field. In addition, according to the researchers of BitBrain, this shows that these types of technologies “are going to arrive and become part of our lives at some point.” “It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the system is greatly energized with resources and methodologies clearly aimed at getting the systems out of laboratories. On the other hand, they create expectations that, if they are not fulfilled, can generate frustration in the short term, as has happened at other times with robots or artificial intelligence.”

    However, when we think of technologies capable of connecting the mind and computer, not all the possibilities are in the future since there are already some fully integrated examples. The most common are cochlear implants to help deaf people, already used by 300,000 people, implants of microelectrode panels in the retina of blind people—although they still have a very incomplete resolution—or deep brain stimulation (DBS), which has already been used in thousands of patients with Parkinson’s disease.

    For the applications that are closest to the future, how to move objects, mechanical limbs, or the cursor of a computer by simply thinking or imagining some action, two techniques are used: non-invasive—typical in Europe—consisting of collecting the large brainwaves with external electroencephalographic helmets, and invasive—common in the United States—that implant the electrodes themselves in the brain. The main difference between them is precision. “The results with invasive methods are usually more accurate, but they present some practical and ethical problems. The non-invasive are more accessible for their development in laboratories and companies, but their control is not so direct,

    The ethical debate is not only circumscribed to the possible damage that can be caused in the brain, but also by what type of application is worth the risk. No one raises ethical objections if this brain-machine connection is used to treat a disease or improve the quality of life of people paralyzed by an accident or those who are blind or deaf. But controversy erupts if these techniques are applied to improve the natural capacities of the human mind. “In the near future, as the interfaces between brain and computer not only restore functions lost by people with disabilities but also enhance the abilities of people without disabilities above their natural human capacities, we will have to become aware of a series of problems related to consent, privacy, identity, action, and inequality,”

    Looking for a world index of academic journals?

    By Research Cooperative, 2021-02-05

    Why look for an index?

    Well... hopefully someone else has done the hard work of looking through zillions of search results and identifying journals that actually exist, and that can be contacted if necessary.

    Let's see. An exact search on "world index of journals" should narrow things down.

    Here's what we get:

    Google: "No results..." but then there are about 264,000,000 results that are not exact.

    No bad. I won't start at the bottom of that list!

    The Index Copernicus , based in Warsaw, is at top.

    After that there are some journal ranking sites. And some incomplete journal indexing sites that seem to have started and then stopped.

    "World list of journals" doesn't lead far either. There is a Wikipedia entry that lists some journals. And a Google snippit highlights this revelation:

    "No one knows how many scientific journals there are, but several estimates point to around 30,000, with close to two million articles published each year."

    That came from a short and pithy article:

    "Too much academic research is being published"

    Philip G. Altbach and Hans de Wit, 07 September 2018, University World News .

    T here is probably not much more I need to say.

    There is No World Index! Just a lot of partial information.

    That's OK.

    We've survived tens of thousands of years with partial information.

    It helps keep us on our toes. We wouldn't need science if we actually knew everything.

    Posted in: Academic | 0 comments
    Specialist vs generalist services for science communication

    Our network, the Research Cooperative, succeeds and fails for the same reason:

    The nework has universal aims that have attracted members from all scientific areas, but lacks the focus that specialist networks can provide.

    Some companies succeed because they offer (for example) editing or translation for all possible topics (and farm out the work to unknown freelancers).

    Yet there are many individual editors or specialist editing companies that succeed because of a particular focus on human sciences, or engineering, or medicine, or biology, or other areas.

    We should not consider the "specialist vs generalist" contrast to be an "either/or" option at the Research Cooperative.

    Maybe we can aim for both. For example, it may be good for us to set up service groups within our system that focus on specific subjects (e.g. offers and requests for editing in mathematics).

    That was partly why we set up "topic focus groups"... but those groups are not designed for  specific services related to each topic.

    In reality, the group pages are not being used for topic discussions or for service offers and requests.

    They are not being used, full stop. :-(

    Perhaps this means that we have not made it clear that they can be used for discussion and service offers or requests.

    We need to think how the functions and potentials of our network can be made more obvious for visitors, potential members, and existing members.

    Any opinions on this matter are welcome!

    Please reply to this blog. Thanks.

    (Photo: nightfall in Kyoto, Summer 2020)


    By Dr Ramesh Singh Pal, 2021-01-22

    Generally people complain that they have done so much to someone and the same someone did not reciprocate one's good gestures or rather cheated one or one was not duly rewarded, recognized for one's good work or one did not get what one expected from one's work or one's expectations failed or one's love was not reciprocated or requited etc and this very feeling leads to mental disorders. The root cause of all mental disorders, tensions, worries, fears, insecurities is the very feeling that "I have done it and I should get this".

    Lord Krishna advises a wonderful idea to overcome all mental disorders. He advises to remove the ego spirit that I am doer of this particular action. The moment this feeling of doer-ship or I do it is removed, action becomes in-action and therefore one does not feel concerned about actions done just as one does not feel concerned about involuntary actions in body like respiration and heartbeat etc. I have coined a new phrase for my new invention - I call it working in AUTO MODE, just as plane flies in AUTO MODE .

    Working on auto mode - you might have heard term auto mode. When a pilot flies a plane and plane has attained certain height, then the pilot puts the plane on auto mode. Plane moves automatically at particular height and direction. Everything happens automatically. Similarly, if you have generated consuming passion and 100% obsession for your work and you pursue your goal passionately, then you are said to be working in auto mode. You never get depleted of energy while working, on the contrary – the more you work, the charged and energetic you become.

    Another word connecting same meaning may be “ESCAPE VELOCITY FORCE” ie to work with such a tremendous force that you never come back to your original starting point. This is something experienced in real life that is the reason I have been able to express it.

    Here I am going to mention the seven secretes to get success in life with a holistic approach. Let’s explore reasons why spiritual people are more successful in life.

    1. First thing, remember that success starts with you. So, strengthen your connection with your Source (call it God, Universe or Spirit). It may be the most important step to knowing who you are at the core. When you know who you are, you can be who you are. And when you can be who you are, without fear, then anything and everything becomes possible.
    2. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why spiritual people are successful in life. Being spiritual enables you to view things differently. The generalised opinion of "The world is screwed up" doesn't hold good anymore. Your belief towards breeding a healthy society never gets defeated.
    3. Start every day with a morning prayer of gratitude to God for the gift of a new day. Do this even if the day ahead appears ominous. Then, conclude every day with an evening prayer of gratitude to God for the gift of the preceding hours. Do this even if you’ve had a very tough day.
    4. Always adopt a positive mindset. Optimism takes you a long way in life. If you are spiritual, optimism comes as a by-product. Adopting a positive mindset always helps you attract the right vibes.
    5. Taking ownership means not making excuses, not blaming others, and not using your past or circumstances as reasons why you can’t be successful. Taking ownership and being responsible for what you think, what you say, and what you do is crucial to truly being successful. Remember, success starts and begins with you.
    6. To be a conscious creator of your world means performing committed action. It means you are awake in your life, aware of your purpose, have a vision, and are willing to do whatever it takes to have the life you want.
    7. No matter what happens to you, you always have the freedom to choose. You can select joy over despair. You can select love over hate. You can select forgiveness over revenge. You can select growth over stagnation. Remember, a crisis can evoke the best in us or the worst in us. The choice is ours!

    You don’t have to be a life coach or yoga teacher to do this. I don’t care whether you’re a writer, a scientist, a doctor, an assistant manager at a boutique or a marketing analyst! You can bring the passion to work in an automode. When you begin each workday knowing that you are fully supported by your faith in the Universe, you will become more confident. You’ll speak up fearlessly, become more creative, handle difficulties with grace and get along better with your coworkers, no matter what your job is.

    Dr Ramesh Singh Pal, PhD

    Scientist, Writer, Spiritual Motivator
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