MonthMay 2001

A Few Catch-up Links…

Sorry about the lack of updates folks, just been busy as hell in the “real world.” Check out the following: Shamans set up code of ethics to fight shams (link via Plastic), Nanotech looms large for meds (link via Disinfo), and the new Douglas Rushkoff book will be open source (link via the Barbelith Underground). [Update: The book, Exit Strategy had “open source” annotations, but the text has since been taken down]

Real Life Time Machine Concept

time machine

It seems someone has come up with a theoretically workable time machine concept:

RONALD MALLETT thinks he has found a practical way to make a time machine. Mallett isn’t mad. None of the known laws of physics forbids time travel, and in theory, shunting matter back and forth through time shouldn’t be that difficult. […]

To twist time into a loop, Mallett worked out that he would have to add a second light beam, circulating in the opposite direction. Then if you increase the intensity of the light enough, space and time swap roles: inside the circulating light beam, time runs round and round, while what to an outsider looks like time becomes like an ordinary dimension of space. A person walking along in the right direction could actually be walking backwards in time–as measured outside the circle. So after walking for a while, you could leave the circle and meet yourself before you have entered it (see Diagram, opposite).

The energy needed to twist time into a loop is enormous, however. Perhaps this wouldn’t be a practical time machine after all? But when Mallett took another look at his solutions, he saw that the effect of circulating light depends on its velocity: the slower the light, the stronger the distortion in space-time. Though it seems counter-intuitive, light gains inertia as it is slowed down. “Increasing its inertia increases its energy, and this increases the effect,” Mallett says.

As luck would have it, slowing light down has just become a practical possibility. Lene Hau of Harvard University has slowed light from the usual 300,000 kilometres per second to just a few metres per second–and even to a standstill (New Scientist, 27 January, p 4). “Prior to this, I wouldn’t have thought time travel this way was a practical possibility,” Mallett says. “But the slow light opens up a domain we just haven’t had before.”

Update: Mallett has written a book called Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality. His work has been heavily criticized. See the Ronald Mallett entry on Wikipedia.

Lene Hau‘s work is also worth looking into.

Matt Groening Interview from Mother Jones

I remember reading this in Mother Jones a while back… just happened across it today and thought I’d share: Matt Groening talking about Futurama:

I’ve loved science fiction ever since I was a little kid, mainly from looking at the covers of science-fiction magazines and books, and I’ve read quite extensively as an adult. About three or four years ago, I decided to reacquaint myself with literary science-fiction and I went back and read everything from H.G. Wells to the new guys, Neil Stephenson and Rudy Rucker and those guys, and what I was surprised to find was that I’d read so much of it. I’d be reading a novel and think, “Wait a minute, I read this in fourth grade,” but I didn’t remember cause I’d plowed through so much. But a lot of my old favorites I thought really held up, I liked [Robert] Heinlein and [Philip K.] Dick and Cordwainer Smith and Theodore Sturgeon and Robert Sheckley — the funny guys, the guys who have a sense of humor.

Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy Author Douglas Adams RIP

Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy died of a heart attack at age 49:

As soon as the news began to spread that author Douglas Adams had died Friday from a sudden heart attack at age 49, tributes to the science fiction humorist began to blossom all across the Internet. There has always been a strong correlation between computer geekdom and science fiction, so it’s not that big of a surprise that the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” would be remembered fondly online. But Adams was more than just a science fiction satirist — he was also passionate about technology in the here and now, a geek’s geek who was paying close attention to current developments even as he focused his fiction as far ahead as the end of the universe.

(Thanks to Bren for the story).

Alexander Shulgin working on new book, gives lecture

Tonight I attended a lecture by TiHKAL and PiHKAL author Alexander Shulgin at the Evergreen State College today. He’s working on a new book called Quinolines I Have Known And Loved. Quinolines are non-mescaline chemicals found in certain psychoactive cacti. [Update: I think this may have ended up becoming the book The Simple Plant Isoquinolines]

He’s a pretty interesting guy, very excited by chemistry. He got really into the lecture and was constantly scribbling diagrams of molucules (“dirty little pictures” he called them). He said he tried DXM back in the 60s when it was available as Romilar pills and found it to be a “Spacey death like experience. I didn’t like it.”

Mad Science Meets Marketing

Canadian Spiced Whisky has been placing ads in urinals that show up when people piss on them. People dig ’em so much that they’ve been known to steal the nets from urinals.

The ads actually appear as black patches on urinal nets until guys start doing their, uh, thing, at which point special heat sensitive ink transforms into zany branded massages like “Man who pee on electric fence receive shocking news” and “Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.” Once the ink cools the text goes back to black. […]

The concept has, in fact, been so successful that guys are actually stealing the nets from the urinals, Phillips reports. “That’s actually a sign of success, if you ask me – The truest indicator of success.”

(link via Plastic)

Crazy Boss Ends, E-Sheep Returns

The psychedelic web comic Crazy Boss has been completed. It was a wonderful read, and I’m sad to see it over. But as I mourn the end of loss comic, I celebrate the return of Patrick Farley’s Electric Sheep. There’s a nice long full color comic called “Apocamon,” a manga adaption of the book of Revelations from the Bible. It’s supposed to be a 6 part bi-monthly series. (Now if only Gareth Hinds would finish Dues Ex Machina…)

First Genetically Altered Humans Born Healthy

According to the BBC:

Scientists have confirmed that the first genetically altered humans have been born and are healthy.

Up to 30 such children have been born – 15 of them as a result of one experimental programme at a US laboratory.

Wired has an article on the moral issues raised by this.

Today is Norman Day

Forget Cinqo de Mayo, today is Norman Day! Norman Day is a cult holiday in celebration of Norman the Red Devil, creator of the world and accused cannibal.

Boffins Create Thought-Controlled Computer

According to this Register article Boffins at the EC’s Joint Research Centre have created a thought controlled computer.

The computer works by picking up the electromagnetic signals created in the brain when people think of different things. Electrodes attached to a plastic cap which is put on the user’s head pick up the signals. Then by tying in thought patterns with different, simple instructions the computer can be controlled by thought alone.

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