Earlier Highlights (19)

In March 2015, I participated in a fascinating and stimulating round table discussion at the Helix Center, on the topic Apprehending Consciousness, with contributions from philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists.

Also in March, John Tromp succeeded in calculating the exact number of legal positions on a 18x18 go board, using background CPU time on computers with large amounts of memory at the School of Natural Sciences at IAS that I made available to him. The answer made it prominently on slashdot, and is 66972311428882921289274018884170654350993778064017873281031833769694562442854721810521432601277

<- In January 2015, I attended the 3rd ELSI International Symposium in Tokyo, for which I was the chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee. The theme was Life in the Universe, and the conference saw a wide variety of talks and posters, from geophysics and geochemistry and planetary astrophysics to astrobiology, chemistry, biology, as well as physics, computer science and the study of complex systems.

In December 2014, a new movement to increase awareness of the dangers of asteroid impacts was started, under the name Asteroid Day. I was invited to be one of the early signatories as a co-founder of the B612 Foundation.

<- In November 2014, I attended an inspiring one-day conference, here at IAS, Lens of Computation on the Sciences focused on the role of computation and computability in nature and culture.

Also in November, I organized a two-day informal workshop on Modeling Origins of Life, also here at IAS, as a follow-up of one of the working groups during the five-week working workshop under the same title in Japan. See my blog post at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo.

<- In October 2014, I gave the after-dinner key note speech at the The 14th Annual Learning Community Retreat of the Atlantic Center for Learning Communities, followed by a workshop I led the next morning. It was a great experience to meet such a diversity of teachers and students from a large number of colleges, and to discuss educational issues with them.

Also in October, I attended a interesting and inspiring informal workshop on Information, Causality & the Origin of Life at the Beyond Center at the University of Arizona in Tempe, organized by Paul Davies and Sara Walker.

<- In September 2014, I wrote a blog for the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo on the People's Climate March, a fun and important event that I had attended a few days earlier.

In August, I organized the second half of a workshop on Modeling Origins of Life, with co-organizers Nicholas Guttenberg and Nathaniel Virgo. These three weeks were held at theCenter for Planetary Science, in collaboration with the K Computer Center in Kobe, Japan, and sponsored by RIKEN

Also in August, I visited Kenji Doya's lab at OIST, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, a newly established Graduate University, to learn about his research in dynamical systems, system neurobiology, and adaptive systems.

<- In July 2014, I participated in the Origins 214 conference on Origins of Life in Nara, Japan. It is the largest meeting in that field, held every three years in a different country, and it gave me a great opportunity to have exciting discussions with many of the main players in Origins of Life.

Also in July, I have organized a workshop on Modeling Origins of Life, with co-organizers Nicholas Guttenberg and Nathaniel Virgo. The first two weeks were held at ELSI in Tokyo, Japan. More than 20 participants divided into break-out groups with fluid membership, working on topics like ranging from mathematics and computer science to chemistry and biology.

Also in July, I gave a talk to a group of Chinese high school students visiting Tokyo Tech. I was impressed by both the quantity and quality of their many great questions, afterwards (here is a report in Japanese and here is another one).