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Stayin' Alive

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silver action figure doing dance from Saturday Night Fever silver action figure doing dance from Saturday Night Fever (Josh Miller/flickr)

This week on the podcast we take a look at four unconventional ways to stay alive. We talk to geneticist George Church, who originally appeared in our So Called Life Show, biologist Bernd Heinrich, neuroscientist David Eagleman, and finally, we visit a CPR class.

Comments [1]

George Avery from Maryland

On Radio Lab today (Sunday, 2/23/2014)on WAMU, I heard Professor Church's comment on life as a continuum in which what we call "death" might not be final if we could ever acquire "knowledge" or "information" as to the precise position of the atoms of which we are composed at that moment. I would suggest that the presentation of Professor Church's view merited further probing at that point in the broadcast. Specifically,it does not take into account fundamental principles of modern physics widely, if not universally, accepted. I am referring first to the laws of quantum mechanics which posit that it is physically impossible to ascertain the precise position of atoms at any given moment since the very act of observation alters that position of the observed atom. Quantum theory says that all we can deal with is probabilities. Second, it ignores the inescapable continuum of time as we know it in our physical world. If it were indeed possible to ascertain that position at that moment, the next moment would instantly arrive and the process or state we call death would again exist. In other words, for Professor Church's theory to have any effect in the physical world, it would also require time travel to go back to a moment in which the "known" position of our atoms is such that the process leading to that final moment we call "death" can be reversed. While I know that time travel is the darling of science fiction, it seems a considerable stretch even for enthusiasts of Einstein's relativity theories. I suggest that, in presenting Professor Church's view, he should have been asked to deal with these challenges.

Feb. 23 2014 02:58 PM

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