RIP Walter Freeman

  • Thread starter DiracPool
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My inspiration for becoming a brain scientist has passed on so I thought I should provide a brief eulogy for him here at PF. It actually happened a few weeks ago but I didn't want to compete with Marcus's passing, which was equally sad.

Walter was supposed to have a "Festschrift" or celebration of his long and productive career as a pioneer of modern brain science at this year's Tucson consciousness conference, but fell seriously ill several weeks before the event.

A colleague of mine who was close to Walter let me know that he wouldn't be attending the conference and he was there with Walter in the final hours. I fortunately had the privilege to meet and spend some time with Walter and his wife and I will cherish those memories. As Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame once said, "It's important to touch your heros." You can read about them or watch them on TV and feel you're a part of their magic, but there's no substitute to actually meeting them and touching them. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do that.

Walter was 89 when he died, and we all thought he might live forever. He published over 450 articles and 6 books, and continued to publish essentially until the day he died; his most recent book was published just earlier this year (2016):

I think he might have lived forever but his dear wife had passed on the previous year. So who knows. I trust he's with her now. Rip Walter. Thank you for everything.
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Thanks DiracPool for sharing you thoughts. Here is the obituary on Berkeley's site:

[To be honest, I have never read Freeman's work carefully, and am personally skeptical of the little I have heard about his work. However, a number of people I hold in high regard admire Freeman's work, so perhaps I should keep an open mind. I should say that some of the seemingly more surprising things mentioned in the Berkeley obituary like applying "quantum field theory to understanding neural networks" are in some sense mainstream, though I am not sure whether Freeman and I mean the same thing even if we use the same words.]

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