Hawaii Supreme Court Hears Case Against Controversial Telescope

HONOLULU (AP) – Hawaii’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving building one of the world’s largest telescopes on Mauna Kea.

Opponents, who are against building the Thirty Meter Telescope on land that many Native Hawaiians consider sacred, are challenging a permit that would allow the telescope to be built on conservation land on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Lawyers delivered opening arguments in the case Thursday, and justices questioned why the state department that issued the permit did so when there were ongoing challenges to the project. The judges also discussed the impact of one more telescope on the mountain.

In a packed courtroom with more than 200 onlookers, the telescope opponents softly sang a ballad called “Ku Haaheo,” which is Hawaiian for “stand proud,” before and after the proceedings. One man held a bundle of ti leaves high in the air as they sang.

“Mauna Kea is more than a mountain. It is the embodiment of the Hawaiian people,” Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, attorney for petitioners, told the court.

“This is, as the court is well aware, one of the most significant and important cultural sites in Hawaii. It is the source of the geological story of the Hawaiian people,” Wurdeman continued.

Astronomers revere the site because Mauna Kea’s summit at nearly 14,000 feet is well above the clouds, and provides a clear view of the sky for 300 days a year.

“The ultimate final decision of the board granting the (permit) represents the culmination of a process of years of community outreach, of dialogue, of listening, revising, reducing, modifying, mitigating, conditioning to a degree that is unprecedented in the history of astronomy at Mauna Kea,” said Jay Handlin, attorney for the University of Hawaii, which sub-leases the land atop Mauna Kea for the telescope project.

While the state Board of Land and Natural —> Read More

Neuroscientist David Edelman on Paradigm Shift (YES) and Origin of ‘3D Organismal Form’

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DAVID B. EDELMAN

Neuroscientist David Edelman, who’s currently on the faculties of the University of San Diego and the University of California, San Diego, and is the son of late Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, says he agrees that an evolution paradigm shift needs to happen. Like father like son, David Edelman has an interest in “how 3D organismal form comes about.” We discuss origin of morphology, and paradigm shift in the interview that follows, as well as Edelman’s fascination with the octopus.

David Edelman has been a professor of neuroscience at Bennington College, an associate fellow in experimental neurobiology at The Neurosciences Institute (NSI) and assistant professor of neurobiology at The Scripps Research Institute. His PhD is in paleoanthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and his BA in sociology and anthropology from Swarthmore. His postdoctoral work was done at Scripps and NSI.

He is currently on the advisory board of the Society for Mind Brain Science and has served on the editorial board of Frontiers in Psychology: Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.

Suzan Mazur: You’re continuing along the lines of some of your father’s research in neuroscience. I’m sorry you lost your father, Gerald Edelman, last year. What an inspiration he must have been and must continue to be. What was it like growing up in that kind of science environment?

David Edelman: I’d say more normal than you might think. For instance, both of my parents insisted that I learn, and that my siblings learn, a musical instrument. My father was a violinist. My mother played flute and piano. My parents didn’t care which instruments we chose, as long as we learned to play an instrument. They were very wise in their insistence because the violin has always been something I could lean on in —> Read More

Humans or Non-Human Animals; Who’s More Rational?

It’s been an interesting summer for animal welfare issues. Cecil the lion’s murder by an American hunter who paid local trackers to lure the popular animal out of the protection of a Zimbabwe national park so he could be killed and beheaded as a trophy fueled international outrage. So did the killing of Blaze the grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park after the mother and her cubs were surprised by an off-trail hiker, who Blaze instinctively attacked and then ate. (Actually, like a good mom, she buried part of the hiker’s remains so her family would have food later.)

Prompting far less attention, but way more important to the evolving issue of how humans should treat non-humans, was the publication of Beyond Words, What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina, a thoughtful, moving, and important book about animal cognition and emotion. Safina writes with respect, affection, admiration, even awe about the remarkable cognitive abilities of many animals, and argues that we should treat non-human creatures with more respect. But he is a scientist, and he bases his case not on emotion alone but on the firm and ever-mounting body of evidence that non-human beings, with whom we have far more in common biologically and behaviorally than what separates us, are significantly more sentient, intelligent, and rational than we give them credit for.

Safina focuses on elephants, wolves, dolphins and killer whales, but his examples range from apes to fish to birds to insects. The stories Safina tells are remarkable. They provide powerful evidence of animal intelligence, learning, and self-awareness (defined not by whether the animal can recognize itself in a mirror – Safina ridicules this as too narrow a measure of self-awareness – but whether the animal is aware of itself as a unique being —> Read More

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