Magnetic Dreams

Posted by on October 13th, 2012

Our artist, Mike Seeler, has larger than average magnet implants in both hands. Traveling through New York City is a very different experience for the both of us. He is constantly discovering magnetic fields pouring out of the street, the subway, the bus, and buildings. He has even had a few dreams including his magnetic sense.

There is a lot in this Fast Company piece,”Biohackers And DIY Cyborgs Clone Silicon Valley Innovation”, but it is that quote in particular that interests me now.


We, the Web Kids

Posted by on February 29th, 2012

We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic, as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something – the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of ‘Estonia’, or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high – we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

We do not feel a religious respect for ‘institutions of democracy’ in their current form, we do not believe in their axiomatic role, as do those who see ‘institutions of democracy’ as a monument for and by themselves. We do not need monuments. We need a system that will live up to our expectations, a system that is transparent and proficient. And we have learned that change is possible: that every uncomfortable system can be replaced and is replaced by a new one, one that is more efficient, better suited to our needs, giving more opportunities.

What we value the most is freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of access to information and to culture. We feel that it is thanks to freedom that the Web is what it is, and that it is our duty to protect that freedom. We owe that to next generations, just as much as we owe to protect the environment.

Paleo-amen!

Read the whole thing! (via Cat Vincent)


Be Spiky (#thereisnonormal)

Posted by on February 19th, 2012

Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace nerditude. In the immortal words of Lafcadio Hearn, a geek of incredible obscurity whose work is still in print after a hundred years, “Woo the muse of the odd.” You may be a geek. You may have geek written all over you. You should aim to be one geek they’ll never forget. Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some sort of pet. To hell with them. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird, and don’t do it halfway. Put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.

– Bruce Sterling


“…it was the computers that exploded, not the bombs”

Posted by on February 17th, 2012


Highlighted by moleitau.


Nietzsche on the ‘noble education’

Posted by on February 9th, 2012

I put forward at once — lest I break with my style, which is affirmative and deals with contradiction and criticism only as a means, only involuntarily — the three tasks for which educators are required. One must learn to see, one must learn to think, one must learn to speak and write: the goal in all three is a noble culture. Learning to see — accustoming the eye to calmness, to patience, to letting things come up to it; postponing judgment, learning to go around and grasp each individual case from all sides. That is the first preliminary schooling for spirituality: not to react at once to a stimulus, but to gain control of all the inhibiting, excluding instincts. Learning to see, as I understand it, is almost what, unphilosophically speaking, is called a strong will: the essential feature is precisely not to “will” — to be able to suspend decision. All unspirituality, all vulgar commonness, depend on the inability to resist a stimulus: one must react, one follows every impulse. In many cases, such a compulsion is already pathology, decline, a symptom of exhaustion — almost everything that unphilosophical crudity designates with the word “vice” is merely this physiological inability not to react. A practical application of having learned to see: as a learner, one will have become altogether slow, mistrustful, recalcitrant. One will let strange, new things of every kind come up to oneself, inspecting them with hostile calm and withdrawing one’s hand. To have all doors standing open, to lie servilely on one’s stomach before every little fact, always to be prepared for the leap of putting oneself into the place of, or of plunging into, others and other things — in short, the famous modern “objectivity” — is bad taste, is ignoble par excellence.

For one cannot subtract dancing in every form from a noble education — to be able to dance with one’s feet, with concepts, with words: need I still add that one must be able to dance with the pen too — that one must learn to write?

What the Germans Lack, Twilight of the Idols: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer.


Bruce Sterling’s SXSW speech – excerpt 4

Posted by on March 26th, 2011

Presenting the final transcription, the longest excerpt from Bruce Sterling’s closing speech at SXSW, which takes us into the third chunk of it’s rough recording.

I hope it moves you, like it moved me.

[After much deserved ripping on the Catholic Church..]

The population sits on the couch and plays video games. Terrified.

The US.. come back from Europe, hanging out in the US.. first thing you see in the US is obese people. It’s calamitous. And they weren’t like that in 1975… but imagine if the Statue Of Liberty looked like that? You came in to New York Harbor, Staten Island.. the Statue of Liberty was clocking in at around 350 pounds. Maybe she had a Wii exercise bat instead of a torch. It brings out one’s inner Bill Hicks, ladies and gentlemen. God bless the guy, where ever he is, if he was looking down at Texas right now he would not be a happy man. He’d be scolding you worse than me.

So, you know, it’s pretty bad and it’s sleazy and it’s kind of frozen and crazy and we all know that and we pay no attention to it and kinda hope it just goes away on its own. That’s the one attitude Americans fully share with Italians now and that’s what worries me. What worries me is the response to things that really require courage and focused effort and Passionate Virtuosity to carry out.  Like, say, earthquake rescue.

Just go read what happened to L’Aquila. The small, beautiful, medieval town that was leveled by an Italian earthquake. Italians, they know what earthquakes are, they know what volcanoes are, they even know what tsunamis are.. the one massive horror the Japanese have named for everybody else, ’cause they get more of it than everybody else. At least they know what to do when it happens. L’Aquila happened, nothing much went on.. TV appearances.. cheer leading.. the place is still a wreck.

And for us it was that BP offshore oil mess. Freaking nothing happened. Government did nothing. They were not capable of doing it. They pretended to be able to do something. Suppose it had been ten times worse? You think there’s another government somewhere, that was gonna help people from the consequences of an industrial catastrophe like that? So clearly outlined, and there’s nuclear things happening in Japan.. they’re in there working around the clock. Who would save us from a BP?

They’re incapable of rapid, decisive action. The world sometimes demands that of people. You can’t sit on the couch eating chips and maneuvering, verbally, all the time. Like a Gothic Mansion, like a Vampire Geyser, instead of a President.

There’s infinite wars on Abstract Nouns. Wikileaks and Facebook, which freaking didn’t even exist as entities maybe 5 years ago, they’ve got more political clout on the planet right now than the State Department and the Pentagon combined! It’s a weird situation and it’s not something to applaud [as they audience starts applauding and quickly stops] but everybody knows it. They’re all reading the State Dept cables going “this is awful.. I can’t believe they’re so helpless.. why does no one listen to them? They have no class” The calamity. It’s like Gothic torpor in a coffin of earth.

So what? They pretend to govern, we pretend to obey. Italians do that now.. Americans do that now.. Soviets used to do that.. that’s what they were great at, maintaining the pretense that it was alright.

Who’s the real.. who are the real victims of a decaying status quo? Who suffers when your society is incapable of focused action or intentional innovation? It’s young people. It’s people under 25 who are the victims of a decaying status quo. It’s a Gerontocracy. The demographics are easy to predict. Nobody ever looks at them, because nobody ever wants to get old. One of the main reasons these guys can’t do anything, they’re too damn old, ladies and gentlemen.

Berlusconi and his crowd are people in their 70s and they’ve got the younger people outnumbered. The reason Egypt won, is it’s a huge number of kids.. they were just able to outnumber and beat up the cops in the street.. they threw Mubarak out because they had the numbers game on him. That’s not what happened in the Developed World. They are.. the people under 25.. unemployed people.. you know ‘em, you may be them.. they’re a minority, they’re a disenfranchised minority now. AND I WANT TO FORMALLY DECLARE MY PASSIONATE SOLIDARITY WITH THE MILLENNIALS! Boomers, SHUT THE HELL UP!

What’s left of our Civil Rights that you campaigned for? The one thing you might brag about, death of Totalitarianism and national governments. All national governments are weak now, yours is weak.. everyone else’s is weak for [the] same reasons. That’s alright, Totalitarianism.. seeing that off is a great achievement.  1989, your high water mark. Get the heck out of the way. Pack it in Boomers!

What you should be studying right now? Collaborative Consumption. Technomadism. De-materialize people. Vanish! Let it go, give it away. Share it or stop it. Stop clinging to your entitlements. You’re like some kind of Dickensian, Gothic creatures now.  You’re turning in to Miss Havisham, with a wedding cake covered with spiders.

You’re top-heavy with age. You’ve got the votes and the money, you’ve got no conscience. Get out of the way. Over the long term your attitude is fatal. You must support younger people. Who is going to feed you? Who is going to supply those entitlements? What medical care will you have? What pension? What security?

Precarious employment for people who’s excess wealth is supposed to be underwriting your security? It’s built on sand! You are not looking in the longer term there. You are sucking the blood of your children! You’re like those Twilight guys. This Edward, 110 year old character, still hanging out in High School. Hitting on this moody, Mormon High School chick. There’s a reason why that’s the fable of your times, it’s like you.

Get the fuck away!

You need to take power, Millennials. I’ll vote for ya. I’ll do it! I’m groovy. I’ll sleep on the floor with ya. I’ll live out of a backpack. I’ll be precarious. Proud and pleased to do it, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to adulthood.

You know what you guys need? A global youth movement, good old fashioned style. You need a general strike. They’re not gonna employ you, get the hell away from them. See if they can wash their own dishes, flip their own burgers.

Move to Austin. Leave wherever you are, move to Austin. Take over the town.. take over regional governments. Just withdraw from places that are top heavy with the elderly people, they can’t stop ya. Make friends with the Army and the Cops.. you are the Army and the Cops! You’re not gonna see any 60 year old guys who are in the Army and Cops, they’re not gonna hit you with sticks. They’re all guys your own age, beating you up in order to disadvantage themselves.

And don’t listen to any grey-haired professors explaining why change is impossible. This is an era of Organized Deception, where it takes tremendous effort just to speak factually about simple consequences of our real life. The incompetence of the Powers That Be hangs over your future life like a shroud…

Days of Rage, baby!


Bruce Sterling’s SXSW speech – excerpt 3

Posted by on March 26th, 2011

Another, smaller, excerpt transcribed from Bruce Sterling’s closing speech at SXSW for your reading (and quoting) pleasure. For those playing at home, we’re now into the second chunk roughly recorded on Youtube.

[After describing at length the Gothic weirdness of Italian politics, we come to..]

..but Italy is brothel and Washington DC is a freaking Walmart of a brothel. It’s a brothel on a continental scale, for a lot of the same reasons.

And if you came to this just as a design critic, OK where’s the Passionate Virtuosity? You’re really good at what you’re doing and you know what you’re doing and you’re capable of looking it at this. Obviously you would condemn the status quo, rigorously. You would just reject, it’s awful.. “can’t you wretched people do anything better than this?” And the reaction to a remark of that kind would be “well it’s their fault”, you know it’s the guys on the other partisan side or whatever, whomever.. thanks for the scapegoating.

It’s not an accident, the population of Italy voted for Berlusconi, they put him in power four times. In the United States people vote for Republicans. They vote for the party of Conservative common-sense.. even when it’s dead obvious to 96% of the planet.. anybody who’s not American, that they’ve lost their minds.. they’re just clearly insane and everyone knows it and they valorize themselves for their madness and people go vote for them ’cause they think it’s somehow reassuring. It’s calamitous! It’s a joke to everybody outside the US! It’s a joke to everybody outside the range of Fox News!

When the situation is that calamitously bad people resort to scapegoating, because they can’t get a grip on the actual things that threaten them. In Berlusconi’s idea.. Italy, it’s all about Communist Female Lawyers trying to crucify him for a few harmless soirees with underage hookers. And in the US a banking crisis is all about the menace of the School Teacher’s unions..


Quote of the Day

Posted by on March 13th, 2011

“Where other people see wonder, or perhaps foolishness, I see only spilled blood and the work of years. It took so much from so many to build this place, and to this day I think I only understood the totality of what was crafted and forged there.

It stole everything from me. But it was worth everything. It proved that the future could be called forward into the present. All we had to do was think hard and care enough.”

- Captain Swing


On the Eve of Destruction

Posted by on September 9th, 2008

Within a few hours of my posting this, you will be dead. Not just you, in fact, but every one you have ever known and every one they have ever known — all evidence that the human creature ever graced this sphere — in fact this lovely globe we call Earth itself will all cease to exist in a mercifully short instant as local spacetime collapses, taking the whole ball of wax with it.

In but a few scant hours from my posting. Poof.

Now, on the off chance you are reading this come Wednesday morning, then one of two things has happened:

A) When spacetime collapsed, the universe bifurcated and you find yourself in a world identical to the one that you split off from, save the key difference that this one exists.

or..

B) The Large Hadron Collider did not in fact end the world when it performed its calibration test run at 3:34am EST. There were no rogue black holes, and no strangelet impacts, sending civilization as we know it screaming down the crapper.

But that’s okay, it’s early in the morning and there will be other apocalypses over breakfast. Belief and preparation for a manifest Apocalypse is even entering the political debate here in America where the Republicans have picked a vice Presidential Candidate who is allegadly knee-deep in End Times Preparedness, herself.

And of course, when you turn on your computer in the morning, happy that it seemingly hasn’t been torn to atoms by a visiting black hole, you’ll see probably see a handful of references to the Singularity.

Because if it’s not one Apocalypse, it’s another.

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. — Vernor Vinge

History is a heat, it is the heat of accumulated information and accumulated complexity. As our culture progresses, we find that we gather more and more information and that we slowly start to move almost from a fluid to a vaporous state as we approach the ultimate complexity of a social boiling point. I believe that our culture is turning to steam. — Alan Moore

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. — Francis Fukuyama

I promised a couple of our readers that my next post would be more upbeat and cheerful, so in that vein, let’s talk about the end of the world. I’ve been wrestling with this post for a while, because while I set out to find a specific point and skewer it to the wall, the simple fact of the matter is that I’m of at least two minds about the Singularity and Eschatology in general.

Science fiction author Vernor Vinge popularized the use of the term “Singularity” to describe a point in near-future history when human intelligence would be augmented via biological enhancement or man/machine interfaces to the point that existing models of human behavior, society and thinking are useless. He took his usage of what was normally considered a term of mathematics and astrophysics from Manhattan Project scientist and the conceptual father of nanotechnology, John von Neumann.

From there it has further been confused and conflated with a variety of New Age or more metaphysical “End Times” scenarios, particularly Terrance McKenna’s Timewave Zero. There’s a geek rapture, a nerd rapture, thirty flavors of Christian Rapture — more and more, even in our fairly mundane daily lives we are awash in Eschatology.

And here’s where I start running into trouble, because quite frankly I firmly believe that as a Futurist?

Eschatology is the Enemy.

The End of History in any of its forms, be it world-smashing, Big Dad in the Sky giving spankings, or simply a near point at which which all narrative breaks down due to metaphysical/extra-temporal (Timewave Zero) or technological (the Singularity) influences or effects seems to be a really horrible way to contextualize the present if you’re in the business of future building. The end becomes a thing that you can either A) Wait for or B) plan for. If you allow history to be contextualized by its endpoint, you’re looking at pretty good odds of embracing stagnation or nihilism. By establishing a narrative of the end of history, the context of history is far easier to frame in ways that dis-empower its participants.

I also tend to think that the Singularity, to pinpoint a particular Eschatological vision, in particular is the enemy of the Future. Now, let’s save any particular nitpicking of any one version of a Technological Singularity for later — I’m just interested in the idea of a technological concresence, for the moment. A point where technological innovation changes everything. I can’t help but feel that that kind of projection of the future doesn’t take into account the boiling frog.

So, as the story goes, if you put a frog in cold water and then sllllowwwwllllyyy turn up the heat, then the frog will never notice it is getting hotter until *bam* said frog is done and boiled. Well, the story is, of course, not at all true, but I find it to be a useful metaphor nonetheless. Let’s say that the narrative of history is leading up to a Technological Singularity of one form or another.  We, the human organism, are deeply immersed into the liquid of history and I don’t know if we are actually prepared to guage whether the water is (as Mr. Moore says) turning to steam.   I know it seems we are on the cusp of some product of a vastly accelerated chain of events, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s not how it has always felt when engaged with the ongoing drama of human existence.

I can’t argue that I live in a vastly more information rich environment than my parents, and they one richer than their parents and so on, but does that recognition equip us to tell what the thing that changes everything is going to be?  The End of the Cold War, the widespread outbreak of AIDS, 9/11.  All of these events, in my lifetime have been billed as THE thing that changes everything.  But they didn’t.  In fact, we can only really judge what events did really cause massive shifts in society with reflection.

I can’t help but think that this is a process we’ll see repeated with the Singularity, should it come to pass.   Things happen, like they do, and things will change and shift and life will move on and one day someone will turn around and say to themselves “HOLY FUCK, THAT WAS THE SINGULARITY!?”

But by then, they will probably be more concerned with whatever new point of complete change is just around the corner.

History will change, context will always shift, the weird will get weirder, narratives and how we relate to them will continue to be in a constant state of flux, but I do not think that the Singularity as we tend to think about it, will ever come.

Which, come to think of it, is an odd position to take for a person who does tend to believe in the existence of a transcendental object at the end of time.

Anyway, I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and it’s not meant as a screed or a rant, but an invitation to hear your thoughts on the matter.   Singularity:  Yay or Nay?  Why so much obsession on the Apocalypse leaking around the edge of mainstream consciousness?  Is time speeding up or is it an illusion?   Is there leftover Millennial tension from 2000?  Can Eschatology be liberating?  What the hell is a Transcendental Object at the End of Time?


Salvia Research Goes Mainstream

Posted by on May 4th, 2008

Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory are conducting studies on the physical absorption of Salvia divinorum in order to determine if it has any conventional medicinal properties and to determine why it is used.

Quickly gaining popularity among teenagers and young adults, salvia is legal in most states, but is grabbing the attention of municipal lawmakers. Numerous states have placed controls on salvia or salvinorin A – the plant’s active component – and others, including New York, are considering restrictions.

“This is probably one of the most potent hallucinogens known,” said Brookhaven chemist Jacob Hooker, the lead author of the study, which is the first to look at how the drug travels through the brain. “It’s really important that we study drugs like salvia and how they affect the brain in order to understand why they are abused and to investigate their medicinal relevance, both of which can inform policy makers.”

Hooker and fellow researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET scanning, to watch the distribution of salvinorin A in the brains of anesthetized primates. In this technique, the scientists administer a radioactively labeled form of salvinorin A (at concentrations far below pharmacologically active doses) and use the PET scanner to track its site-specific concentrations in various brain regions.

Within 40 seconds of administration, the researchers found a peak concentration of salvinorin A in the brain – nearly 10 times faster than the rate at which cocaine enters the brain. About 16 minutes later, the drug was essentially gone. This pattern parallels the effects described by human users, who experience an almost immediate high that starts fading away within 5 to 10 minutes.

High concentrations of the drug were localized to the cerebellum and visual cortex, which are parts of the brain responsible for motor function and vision, respectively. Based on their results and published data from human use, the scientists estimate that just 10 micrograms of salvia in the brain is needed to cause psychoactive effects in humans.

PET scan of a monkey brain with Salvia intake The research is notable for a few reasons.  First of all, like the article says, “The drug targets a receptor that is known to modulate pain and could be important for therapies as far reaching as mood disorders.”   However, there’s also the issue of Salvia’s Scheduling to contend with as more mainstream research, even as it continualy shows Salvia to have no negative side effects, does lead to further and further attempts to make it illegal.  (Research like this is part of the “eight factor test” which the Controlled Substances Act requires before a substance can be called a “controlled substance” and made illegal to posses.)

There’s also the interesting question of the methodologies they’re using to attempt to figure out why people “abuse” Salvia.

Salvia doesn’t cause the typical euphoric state associated with other hallucinogens like LSD, Hooker said. The drug targets a receptor that is known to modulate pain and could be important for therapies as far reaching as mood disorders.

“Most people don’t find this class of drugs very pleasurable,” Hooker said. “So perhaps the main draw or reason for its appeal relates to the rapid onset and short duration of its effects, which are incredibly unique. The kinetics are often as important as the abused drug itself.”

The logic there — that Salvia despite not having a euphoric high and despite being quite useless as a recreational drug is popular because it is fast acting — is interesting, to say the least.

There’s also a usage of language that presages an issue that all Grinders (not just those invested in cognitive and neurological freedoms, like myself)  will eventually have to deal with.    The press-release says that Salvia does not produce euphoria, but they still refer to a “high”.  Salvia is a non-addictive legal substance but users are still referred to as “abusing” it.   This is the linguistic legacy of the War on Drugs and it’s a tricky hurdle that more and more is going to face other kinds of Grinders, as well.  Just as it’s hard to discuss “drugs” without using the language of drug control, for good or ill — it is also policy of organizations like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that body modification is always mutilation.  As the phenomenon of people testbeding technologies and techniques in their own body comes more into public awareness, the more that the language of mutilation and body dysmorphia will make it hard to have a conversation about the ideas that drive various flavours of Grinding.   (Not that body dysmorphia is not a real thing… it is just happens to also be easily used as a way of controlling the perceived experiences of body modders.)

But I digress.  Salvia is an fascinating substance with a long and expansive history  that I find pretty useful, in regards to the “making your head bigger” flavour of Grinding.  When looking for reasons why it is abused, I tend to think that perhaps researching quotes like this:

“The purpose of these sacraments is to purify, and to open the road. When it opens,
it’s as clear as the blue sky, and the stars at night are as bright as suns.”
—Aurelia Aurora Catarino (Mazatec shaman)

Might be just as helpful as creating a hypothesis that links the substance’s use with how fast it is absorbed and processed, even though it’s not recreationally useful at all.

Although, speaking of useful, if you’re interested in following up on Salvia further yourself here is Daniel Siebert’s Salvia divinorum FAQ and his comprehensive listing of Salvia laws and restrictions, both taken from his excellent and informative Sage Wisdom website.


Ready to enter a parallel universe?

Posted by on March 30th, 2008

Personally, I’m really enthused about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN getting switched on, but that enthusiasm isn’t shared by Luis Sancho and Walter Wagner, who have filed a lawsuit claiming that the device could create particles that would destroy the Earth, such as “killer strangelets“; or that a micro black hole might be generated, which would suck the planet in to a parallel universe.

The lawsuit’s claims are “complete nonsense”, James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, told New Scientist, adding the quote of the week:

What we want to do is get this machine up and running.  We’ll show people that the world is not going to disappear.

NS also explains a bit about these theoretical risks:

Strangelets are hypothetical blobs of matter containing “strange” quarks, as well as the usual “up” and “down” types that make up ordinary matter.  If a strangelet were stable and negatively charged, it might begin eating the nuclei of ordinary matter, converting them into strange matter. Eventually the menacing chain reaction could assimilate our entire planet and everyone on it.

A 2003 safety review for the LHC found “no basis for any conceivable threat”. It acknowledged that there’s a small chance the accelerator could create short-lived, mini black holes or exotic “magnetic monopoles” that destroy protons in ordinary atoms. But it concluded that neither scenario could lead to disaster.


Quote of the Day

Posted by on February 4th, 2008

If you want to read books that tackle profound philosophical questions, then the best — and perhaps only — place to turn these days is sci-fi. Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas……….Alter reality — and see what new results you get. Which is precisely what sci-fi does. Its authors rewrite one or two basic rules about society and then examine how humanity responds — so we can learn more about ourselves.

From Clive Thompson.


Clothes that do all that & then some

Posted by on January 25th, 2008

“If I want to monitor a whole body,” De Rossi says, “why not use clothes?”The “Wealthy” outfit (the name is a loose acronym for “wearable health care system”) worn by the young man is the most developed of Smartex’s recent designs. Powered by a tiny embedded lithium battery, it’s a washable unitard that reads the wearer’s vital signs and beams the data wirelessly to a computer. Information on posture and movement is measured by the stress on sensors built into the garment. Other components gauge electrical activity, yielding EKG data. Heat sensors measure temperature. In the not-so-distant future, De Rossi says, health professionals will be able to monitor cardiac patients by unobtrusively tracking their vital signs as they go about their lives.

Full article via WIRED.


Quote of the Day

Posted by on January 8th, 2008

Carr: The scariest thing about Stanley Kubrick’s vision wasn’t that computers started to act like people but that people had started to act like computers. We’re beginning to process information as if we’re nodes; it’s all about the speed of locating and reading data. We’re transferring our intelligence into the machine, and the machine is transferring its way of thinking into us.

- via WIRED