Symposium on Sleep and Consciousness

Our symposium on “Sleep, Lucid Dreaming and Consciousness” at the University of Texas at Austin on the 14th of May gathered more than 100 participants of diverse academic and non-academic backgrounds, who engaged in discussion with world class experts on the subject [click on the links below to view videos on youtube].

The room was full and the lectures must have been screened to another one

At the beginning, Dr. Michael Schwartz spoke of consciousness as our “mode of access” to the world and the troubles that we are having with sleeping due to electric lights.

2016-05-14 15.37.42
“Contemporary civilization undermines our natural patterns of sleep” – Michael Schwartz

Dr. Stephen LaBerge presented his research on lucid dreaming and spoke of the uncanny reality of dreams. Isn’t it – as he claimed – that perception and dreaming have a lot in common? Dreaming is perception unconstrained by sensory input and perception is dreaming constrained by sensory input.

2016-05-14 16.43.12
“Perceiving is dreaming true, dreaming is perceiving free” – Stephen LaBerge

Dr. David Presti gave the overview of the what we know and – most importantly – what we still don’t know about the brain and the mind-brain-body connection. How are we related to what we call reality? There is now a greater amount of evidence that the brain as a whole – rather than its particular parts – interacts with itself, the body and the environment. More research is needed, but we can be sure that what we call knowledge today will become obsolete in a few hundred years from now, as it has been in the past – Presti emphasized.

2016-05-14 14.38.17
“Thinking that we know almost everything is a manifestation of hubris of contemporary science” – David Presti

Dr. Wallace Mendelson spoke about sleep disorders – narcolepsy, cataplexy, obstructive sleep apnea and others that are becoming more prevalent these days than in the past. An interesting example is a subjective insomnia, in which one is physiologically sleeping, while being convinced and reporting not sleeping through the night at all, and being exhausted as a result. What an intriguing case for the mind-body problem.

2016-05-14 14.10.11
Wallace Mendelson (on the right, with a microphone) discusses sleep problems with the audience

There was a panel discussion at the end, which you can view here. 

The symposium was a success and another one is being planned for next year – one in which the alternate states of consciousness will be explored in greater detail and scope.


The Symposium was organized by Robert Abzug, Marcin Moskalewicz and Michael Schwartz thanks to a generous grant by Robert J. Barnhart. The organizers would like to thank Alba Lara and Belinda Mendoza for their kind assistance in management of the event.


Medical Technology & Transhumanism: A 3-D printed bionic ear with biological parts and nanotechnology that will enable you and me to hear far beyond the human range.

Medical Technology and Transhumanism: A 3-D printed bionic ear with biological parts and nanotechnology that will enable you and me to hear far beyond the human range.

What would you do if you could take some cells and a 3-D printer (plus some nanotechnology) and create a new electronic ear that looks – on the outside – just like yours? Replace your current ear with this bionic one, and the surgical scar will barely be noticed.

The printed ear will be able to restore hearing for many who are hearing impaired and extend ordinary hearing far beyond the present frequencies for the rest of us. Will this be possible?  Absolutely! The prototype has already been created and is reported on in Nano Letters.

Spend more quality time with your dog and cat in the higher hearing ranges…
Really commune with manatees in the lower frequencies…
Hear like a bat!
A new way to commune with nature…

And of course the same technology can generate an entire array of body replacement parts – new organs and parts with capacities far beyond those with which we are endowed. 3-D printers are required. 3-D printers will be more and more available and less and less costly. Imagine the fun your grandchildren will have in their garage-based home labs!

Can we? Should we? Will we?

Comments are welcome. Post one!

Michael Schwartz, M.D.

For further reading see:

Scientists 3D-Print Bionic Ear that hears beyond human range

3D printing creates ‘bionic’ ear with range beyond human hearing

3D Printed Bionic Ear That Can Hear Far Beyond The Range of Normal Human Capability

For an interview “Printed Human Tissues are Ten Years Away” with Michael Renard, executive vice president of bioprinting company Organovo: