JOURNEYS TO THE FRONTIER OF SCIENCE

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

mad science

Science can be thought of as having three tiers. The first tier is hard science for which the scientific method has bestowed near unanimity of opinion. When things can be predicted and tested at will, such as what happens when you drop metallic sodium into water (don’t do this) or when a heavy ball and a feather are dropped in a vacuum you get results than are metaphysically certain and predictable.

The second tier involves scientific views that have some basis in fact but are not actually 100% predictable. Will the planet warm by 5 degrees if CO2 doubles … some think so … perhaps even most scientists think so. Yet if you look at the historical evidence, you will see that positive feedback (the cornerstone of dangerous warming) has never occurred in earth’s history. CO2 levels have been 20 times the level of today’s 400 PPM and yet the planet experienced ice ages. However you look at this issue, this is good honorable science for which there is insignificant evidence to join tier 1. The same can be said about Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is a variant of the famous advice on how to get rich … first get a billion dollars then …” Or as Darwin would say “First get me a living organism that can grow and adapt to its environment …. then I shall give you the world of all living creatures.” Yes he is right, but he never answered the fundamental question of how life crossed the no life/life barrier. Likewise, as he himself admitted, he had no real explanation for the Cambrian explosion when almost all differentiated species of life suddenly appeared.

The second tier then is things they may be true but are less certain because there are unexplained holes in the theories. Alas, many of these theories have morphed into dogma and god help the scientist who challenges Darwin or anthropogenic global warming. As a standard, it can be said that the scientific method is a full time resident of tier 1, but it is just a guest in tier 2.

This takes us to tier three. Here we have theories that challenge the scientific establishment at its core. The proponents of tier 3 science are labeled “heretics” and are branded as people of the fringe. They are deemed stupid or childlike because they don’t accept the orthodoxy of science.

Naturally, the wizard of NAA wishes to visit tier 3 because it is just so damn much fun. In many ways, scientists and writers who dabble in tier 3 have the sense of wonder that all scientists should have. Be reminded that orthodoxy labeled Galileo and Copernicus as heretics. While many of the theories and opinions exposed in tier 3 will eventually be disproven by our friend the scientific method, others will one day become part of the new orthodoxy. So without further adieu here are some really cool adventures from the wonderland that is tier three science.

 

MORPHIC RESONENCE AND THE ARGUMENTS FOR A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE

I start with one of my very favorite heretics … Rupert Sheldrake. He is a man of extraordinary talents and for many years prowled the halls of academia with credentials and honor. Then one day he challenged the cornerstones of science and poof he was gone… permanently exiled to tier three (You know this has happened when your theories appear on a British sci-fi show about aliens …  like Torchwood). Dr Sheldrake is a soft spoken man whom I believe to be the perfect embodiment of science. He is knowledgeable about what is known, yet has challenged science at its core. Shouldn’t all aspects of science be challengeable? Shouldn’t the evidence determine if a radical position is true? Here is a TED talk about the 10 things science got wrong with a few details about three of them. Hey challenging whether the speed of light is really a constant you just know is going to upset a few people. Just listen to his arguments and make up your own mind.

Of course his most dramatic theory is morphic resonance. This is a theory that postulates that there is a memory in nature that exists beyond the individual creature. He conducted experiments showing that once rats had “learned a maze” other rats hundreds of miles away would suddenly be able to do better when they were tested. Science was appalled at this theory, but the evidence time and again has shown that something is going on that cannot be explained by mechanistic science. In the wizards evolving view on consciousness, it seems that quantum physics plays a key role in self organized systems. This means that consciousness might well exist beyond the boundaries of one’s physical existence. Morphic resonance is consistent with this view and increasingly science is confronted by the incredible world of quantum physics and all that it might entail for the human mind and the possibility of a god (which standard science rejects out of hand.)

 

JOE ROGAN AND THE ANOMALIES OF HISTORY

Nothing brings out the wrath of science more than shows like the “Chariots of the Gods” which states that aliens have visited earth and left behind clues. There is a principle of science that states that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” Another key principle here is Occam’s Razor which states that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. Both of these are rock solid pillars of science and by these measures you really need an actual alien wearing a sign saying “I am an alien” before anyone in the scientific community would listen to you on this topic.

However, there are many historical anomalies that do not involve aliens but simply challenge the orthodoxy of sciences such as archeology and anthropology. One such item is the assertion that civilization began far earlier than is believed. Heretics in this area argue that the Sphinx is much older than the other items built on the early Egyptian plains by Kofu and others. In fact, the pyramids can be accurately dated due to carbon dating from numerous biological remains plus writings inside the pyramids themselves. The spinx is much more mysterious however and recent finds in Turkey show that the temple at Göbekli Tepe,  goes back 12,000 years. This is almost 6000 years before the great pyramid. Could early builders have ventured to Egypt?

For a fun discussion of historical anomalies watch this Joe Rogan show below. It is quite a fascinating discussion about “unapproved history” with Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson.

Does this mean that aliens helped our ancestors … not at all. When you consider that we can now build spaceships and sky scrapers, is it so far fetched to believe that people who were genetically identical to us could not have started civilization many years ago with the help of a few men (and women) of genius? Is it possible that morphic resonance is correct and that once a giant structure was created, it made it easier to build such a structure elsewhere on the planet through something akin to “shared inspiration.” And most importantly is it wrong to challenge scientific orthodoxy by proposing new ways to look at the world?

 

THE EM DRIVE

The most difficult to label by tier is the EM drive. This is a drive for propelling spacecraft through space that runs on … well nothing. The nothing it runs on is actually the something that is found in the zero point field (which is a form of nothing with randomly appearing stuff inside.) It is treated as tier 1 and is given funding by NASA and other agencies worldwide because it is just so appealing and because … against all reason … it appears to work. If you had to take your fuel with you, then you just aren’t going very far or very fast. BUT if you don’t need fuel, well you could get to the edge of the solar systems in a few months and to Mars in just days. NAA will probably do a full report on this fascinating technology later, but suffice it to say there are no peer reviewed papers on this topic proving the viability of this technology. The official world of science says this is tier 1. But the wizard says this is Tier 3 until a clear explanation for how the drive is able to violate the laws of conservation of momentum can be provided (because “normally” pushing on the steering wheel does not make you go faster.) See video below on the EM drive.

 

ARE ALL GREAT SCIENTISTS HERETICS?

We come to the essence of the great Tier 3 debate by asking the question “Are all great scientists’ heretics?”

An argument can certainly be made that Newton, Galileo, Ignaz Semmelweis (spread of disease), Charles Darwin, Alfred Wegener (plate techtonics), etc. were all HERETICS before they joined the orthodoxy in Tier 1.

Here is a link to a BBC article on these scientists.

The truth is that science has come a long way and overcome many critics to get where it is today. Even Einstein was questioned and disbelieved … partly because of an anti-Jewish bias and partly because his views were just so radical. He in turn, had a hard time believing Neils Bohr when the implications of quantum mechanics started to appear. Recall his description of quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” The new is always disbelieved at first even by men of genius. How can we really know that our core scientific beliefs are really beyond debate? The “core belief” of conservation of energy clearly doesn’t seem to apply to dark energy which is being created as the universe expands (or so we are now told). How do we really know morphic resonance is not real or the the speed of light does not change?

 

SUMMARY

There are many examples of Tier 3 science that were not discussed (the linkage between Hindu philosophy and quantum physics is just one more example as there are remarkable parallels). The wizard would only ask that you keep an open mind. Demand evidence, yes. Insist that the scientific method be followed, yes. But do not discourage the creative process that has the potential to allow us to see the world in entirely new ways. It is arrogant in the extreme to argue that the debate is over and that no counterfactual evidence may be presented on any topic. It is beyond comprehension that some in the scientific community have proposed that RICO statures be used to prosecute scientists who dissent on climate change. We are close to entering a new dark age in science and I for one would rather have a few too many crackpots than a few too many propagandists for orthodoxy. There is a joy to unrestrained science that we must always encourage.

 

Earthlike Planets Found in a Red Dwarf System – Guest Post by Dr. Shahen Rostamian

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

brown dwarf

Greetings Dear Wizard,

I tried my hand at an entry. Please tell me what you think.

Being an apprentice to a Wizard may be the most gratifyingly thankless position one can have. On the one hand there are the perks that come with the proximity to such an agile mind. Things  such as learning new and amazing things or partaking in magical journeys. On the other hand is the humbling realization that there is a lifetime of wisdom waiting to be discovered one second at a time and no faster. But as lack of wisdom has never been a deterrent to any endeavor I shall attempt an entry to new and amazing on unsure and green footing.

This episode will cover the discovery of extraterrestrial planets. This is nothing new as hundreds if not thousands have been documented over the last couple decades. What IS new is that 3 planets were discovered to be orbiting a cool brown dwarf. Cool in relation to our sun but warm enough to have a habitable zone. That means these three planets are within the proper distance to allow liquid and gaseous water to exist. Not only are these the first planets to be discovered that are within this zone, they are also orbiting a dwarf star that has apparently been ejected from its home galaxy. Floating in intergalactic space, it is safe from stray gravitational forces that can disturb the planets’ orbital distances. I conclude that intelligence has evolved there. The likelihood that these extraterrestrials have developed to technologically advanced beings is higher since not being in a galaxy makes catastrophic gravitational events less likely. The Apprentice makes an unsubstantiated claim here, it is very clear. But where there is lack of wisdom, there usually lies bravado in its absence. So I proclaim that life exists on these rogue planets. It must.

What a glorious view they must have, the warm red sun larger but much more dim than ours. The other two planets in view. Their night sky much darker since they are an orphan system, ejected from their galaxy eons ago.

So, left to be in their own, they have probably evolved to be wholly or holy enlightened beings…

New and amazing, and old and wise all wrapped up into one…

For more on this discovery, see the video below:

 

FROM THE WIZARD OF NAA – I am super excited to have our first guest post on newandamazing.com. Dr. Rostamian is not only a great professional, but he is a great person (with a very curious mind.) I love it when people still have that sense of wonder that we all had as kids. Nothing is cooler to think about than what life might be like on some planet surrounding a far distant star. The red dwarf star is especially enchanting as the plants would be different colors than on earth. Here is one such view as to what plant life might look like.

alien plants

 

And here is what the alien cities might look like:

alien planet 3

 

Finally, to honor my self proclaimed apprentice, here is my favorite apprentice video:

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Universe With Tiny Spaceships

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

tiny spaceship 1

One of the things that has always been obvious to the Wizard is that large spaceships capable of carrying many people ARE NOT going to be able to go beyond our own solar system. Show after show on the various science channels would talk about multi-generational voyages to the stars and how such ships might require ½ the energy of the sun (or some such nonsense.) Novels about such voyages such as Across the Universe by Beth Revis made for fascinating reading (see cover below.) The flaw in this thinking however, is that only “people as we know them” can explore the universe. It is intuitive on some levels that people get in a ship and start exploring. After all that is how Columbus, Magellan, Neil Armstrong and other explorers set out on their voyage of discoveries, but today is a very different time. Today is the age of artificial intelligence and tiny spaceships.

across the universe

 

WHY TINY SPACESHIPS?

Tiny spaceships are simply about the mathematics of interstellar travel. In order to get somewhere in the unimaginable vastness of space in any reasonable amount of time, you need to achieve speeds that are a meaningful percentage of the speed of light. The speeds achieved by chemical rockets are ponderously slow and the truth is by the time such rockets get there, someone with better/newer technology would have gotten there first. This is the paradox of “he who starts latest wins the race.” The advantage of waiting starts to disappear however if you can go a goodly percentage of the speed of light. Assuming the cosmic speed limit of 186,000 miles a second still holds, newer flights can only make up so much ground.

The simple truth is that tiny spaceships weigh very little. Thus accelerating a very small mass to say 25% of the speed of light will require relatively small amounts of energy. This is the big advantage of small spaceships. They can go very fast with very little energy.

 

BUT WHAT IS THE CARGO OF A TINY SPACESHIP

Obviously, a tiny spaceship (say a few ounces) won’t hold very many people. Actually, it won’t hold any people at all in their current form, but with a small solar capacity to create current and a Kurzweillian created consciousness you could certainly place a very able “person” in a tiny spaceship. Add in some transmission capabilities and some “growth” instructions for when the tiny spaceship reaches an asteroid, moon or planet and you have everything you need to allow for an artificial creature to “colonize” another body in a place that is far far away.

 

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT A TINY SPACESHIP MODEL IS ACTUALLY BEING CREATED

Prof. Stephen Hawking recently announced that a team has been put together to send a tiny spaceship to Alpha Centauri. This is a venture being funded by Russian tech millionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The video of their announcement can be seen below.

Their plan is to use a tiny square light sail to haul a small payload to our closest interstellar neighbor. The mechanism for creating acceleration is a laser that will remain locked on the sail for as long as possible (about 30 minutes). It is estimated that such a system could accelerate the craft to approximately 25% of the speed of light. Since Alpha Centauri is 5 light years away, it would only take a craft going .25C about 20 years to enter the new solar system and see what’s there. Then it would take 5 years to report back about what it found. Since the project is estimated to take 20 years to actually happen (and there are a LOT of technical problems to solve concerning guidance, payload, laser propulsion, communication, etc) this means that we might be getting our first signal from a freaking alien system in as few as 45 years (20 to launch, 20 to get there, 5 to communicate back.)

This is seriously new and amazing and the Wizard is delighted that bold thinkers have stepped forward to go where no man has ever gone.

 

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE VOYAGE

One of the cool things about this mission is that the craft can be updated after it is launched. The on board intelligence / software will be able to upgraded because the communications with the ship can travel at 4 times the speed of the craft (100% of the speed of light instead of 25% of the cosmic speed limit). Thus even after 15 years (a lifetime in the R& D world), new software could be sent to the ship and still get there before the ship arrives. The same principle could be done on a Mars mission if a carbon nanotube (or other such body) was first landed that was designed to exist in the atmosphere of MARS (an atmosphere that is very bad for people but not for properly designed bots.) To upgrade, just send a signal and viola the “Martians” just got smarter. The research could be done on earth and then the results simply transmitted to the red planet in 7 minutes or so.

The other aspect of this voyage that could be practiced locally is the growth feature. It only takes a tiny seed to create a mighty redwood. If done right, “building” materials should be able to be harvested from the far distant environments. These environments can be guessed and designed for. Landing a BB size “ship” on the moon and seeing it grow into a mobile communication unit would be a really cool feat of engineering. Who knows, maybe our own DNA (or our virus ancestors) were designed in just such a way on some far away alien world.

Finally communications would be key. It does us no good to learn all about the planets in our neighboring stars if we can’t learn what was discovered. The solar sail might be able to be a solar receptor and antenna for such a system. This will require lots of engineering. The good news is that the technologies can be tested locally before sending them out on their big adventure.

 

AN ALTERNATIVE TO LASERS AS A POWER SOURCE

The Wizard has always envisioned an orbiting particle accelerator type device that would make the tiny spaceships go round and round using magnetic systems until they reached the fraction of the speed of light that is desired. Then the ship could be aimed at the appropriate star and boom off it goes on its great voyage of discovery. If you repeated this process hundreds of times a day, you could send many duplicate ships to the same star system or send probes to multiple star systems. Given that the Milky way is only 100,000 light years across, you could explore the entire galaxy in only 200,000 years if the tiny spaceships could travel at .5 C. While this seems like a long time, it is not even as long as our species (Cro Magnon) has been roaming the earth. It would be a veritable blink of the eye in cosmic time and what an adventure it would be to get a constant stream of signals back on what was found. It would truly be new and amazing on a galactic scale. And hey if you make it to the singularity, you just might be alive when the news starts pouring in that we are not alone. I just wish I could be there for that news day.

Tiny spaceships are our destiny. Let’s get started.

THE INTERSECTION OF SCIENCE AND POLITICS

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

politics

There are many interesting ways to look at the world of politics and social philosophy. Much has been written from the standpoint of political science and these viewpoints, while interesting, are not really new and amazing. Here at NAA, we wish to wade into this morass by looking at politics through the lens of science (i.e. biology). It is at this nexis point that much can be learned. So without further adieu, here are three ways to look at politics that are not commonly in circulation.

 

THE POLITICAL BODY AS AN ORGANISM

In the Darwinian world that we live in, there is a constant battle for survival. Today you may be able to outrun the lion, but tomorrow you may not. Ant colonies or bees hives are in a constant state of grow or die, just as individual creatures face this struggle as well. Get older … get faster … get stronger … or die. Whether it is a virus colony or a field of clover, there is the ever present need to have your kind prosper and grow. Growth is the very essence of the biological imperative. That is why humans are here and dodo birds are not. It is why Cro-Magnon man (us) survived, but the Denisovans did not. They tried, but they simply lost in the great competition that is life.

NAA submits that these same principles apply to government. It naturally wants to grow and the individuals in it want to help it grow to enhance their own prosperity. There is a sort of collective consciousness in government … each of the cells (people) in the organism rely on the department or agency for their very survival. Some view it is a war with the private sector (which is in turn a series of companies following the prime directive as well – grow and add value … or die.)

There is a big difference between the private sector and government however, as one in the private sector must extract money from the public by providing a good or service that someone wants or needs. In fact, you must delight your customers on some level to extract the revenue for your desired growth. Government works differently, as it simply must get enough votes to stay in power. It extracts cash by threat of force and then uses it to buy votes from the various blocks which are happy to receive a portion of someone else’s money. There is nothing voluntary about taxes and no taxpayer is delighted to pay them. Even though the top one percent of all taxpayers pay nearly 50% of all income taxes and the top twenty percent pay nearly 90 percent of all taxes, it is not enough. Phrases like “fair share” are used to extract ever more from those with few votes so that it can be given (with a huge slice for government) to those with many votes.

The ability to take from the few to give to the many is the central flaw of democracy which only a functioning set of limits on government can cure. The U.S. constitution was an attempt to do this. It worked for a while, but now has failed in its goal of limited government. The growing organism that is the federal government ultimately solved the “problem” of the 10th amendment (and other restrictions) by way of the judicial use of the commerce clause and by way of favorable judicial appointments.

If the private sector opposes you, the government has almost absolute power to regulate your company until you “get your mind right.” The regulatory world is the enforcement arm of big government. It ensures meek compliance from the private sector. It is the toxin that the social organism injects into anyone stupid enough to threaten it.

So where has this led us. If you look at the graph below you will see that the growth rate in government is much higher than the growth rate in the private sector (where all wealth is created.) As government grows, the freedom of the individual shrinks. There is seemingly a one way ticket to tyranny. This is not evil. It is simply organizational biology at work.

gov v gdp

 

 VIEWING POLITICS AS r vs K

There is a school of thought that describes creatures as being either r or K. r creatures tend to be the prey animals and their strategy for survival is to have as many offspring as possible and to reach sexual maturity as fast as possible. Implied in this is very little in the way of care and training. These r creatures rely on large numbers for their survival.

The K creatures, like wolves or other predators, have far fewer offspring, have them later and they invest much in the care of the young. There tend to be social structures that are highly rule based and hierarchical. A great value is placed on the group’s needs and not just the needs of the individuals within the group.

So what does this have to do with politics? Well if you think of the warrior class of people, you will see a highly developed set of rules and great value is placed on courage (where the group’s needs is placed above the individual’s needs.) This can be called patriotic behavior. Similarly, wealth creators, while motivated by greed, are people of rare vision and talent. These are truly K people. The r types in our society are the less successful and their strategy is to vote to give themselves benefits by taking from the K’s. Similarly, they enjoy freedom because K types are willing to die to protect the group.

This whole point of view plays right into the “politics as biology” theory. This is because you have a bunch of r types who have little power in their own life but they do have the power (by way of the vote) to redistribute wealth. For an interesting discussion of r vs K and the politics of each, here is a video discussing this exact point (in way more detail than the overview presented here.)

 

 

THE FUNDING OF SCIENCE IS SIMPLY ANOTHER WAY TO GROW GOVERNMENT

If government grows because there is an organizational imperative to grow, then it stands to reason that scientific research will be funded by government in such a way that it supports the prime directive of ever greater growth for government. This is a positive feedback loop where science gets funding, supports the governmental imperative, government grows bigger and funding for science grows ever larger. Propose research that goes against the governmental position and your chance of getting governmental funding greatly diminishes. Currently about 40% of funding for science in the US comes from government at one level or another.

The greatest example of this “funding with conditions” is global warming research. Funding in the US goes 3000 to one for AGW or climate change projects. Likewise the same holds true in Europe and at the United Nations. The UN wants to grow and so they have created a reason to grow … namely to save the planet. The whole narrative is largely bogus, but they work ferociously to promote their agenda. Who is there to oppose them? The people on the other side simply do not have the funds or the passion to create a viable opposition. All the passion is on the side that wants to grow because they will directly benefit.

Opposing this growth may have some value, but little direct power is accumulated by resisting a growing organism. This is particularly true for the private sectors companies where companies are “regulated” by the pro-growth entities. The energy companies actually give more to green peace and other groups who want to do them harm than they do to entities on the other side. They are trying to slow their demise by currying favor with their executioners.

 

WHAT FORCES CAN STOP THE GROWTH OF THE SOCIAL ORGANISM

Like the old movie about the ever growing blob, at first glance there seems little that can stop the natural process of institutional Darwinism. The ability to tax, to regulate and to redistribute wealth seems unlimited. However, there are three factors that may limit the growth of government.

First and foremost, it is important to note that the source of all wealth is the private sector. Just as rabbits in a field of clover can grow and multiply, ultimately there will be a point where resources run out. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialism is great until you run out of others people money.” Where is that point? Well research indicates that at about 33%, the wealthy start spending more of their time on tax avoidance than on income creation. This means that at the top, income extraction may be fixed at some percentage … well below 50%.

Secondly, it must be noted that much of governmental spending comes from borrowing, not taxing. This also has limits. Beyond a certain point there will be a “Greece like” reckoning and the borrowing must end. You can only borrow what people are willing to lend.

Finally, there can be a limit imposed by revolution. Throughout world history countries and empires have fallen. No country is immune to this solution to national bankruptcy. Let us hope that a stable limit can be reached to the size of the growing political organism well before this is the only answer.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

That government behaves like an organism when planted in a democracy is almost beyond debate. Obviously, this organism will surround itself with a political philosophy that provides the arguments for its existence and the votes for it success. So it is today. There are three great political philosophies that are active in the world. Islam is one (Sharia law is its form of government), American Constitutional limited government (as originally conceived) is the second. The third is Leftism which is the philosophy of the ever growing social organism. (See Dennis Prager’s book “Still the Best Hope” for a full discussion of these three ideologies.)

While it is sad to say, it appears that the two that grind away at individual liberty and freedom will one day dominate. Freedom seems to be a fading throwback to another time … doomed to join the saber tooth tiger and the Neanderthals on the road to extinction.

The fact that science is enabling this demise is deeply troubling to the wizard. Science should be all about seeking the truth. It should about the scientific method. Alas, the toxin that is the political prime directive has become deeply ingrained in labs and academia. As a result, much of science is just not NAA anymore.

 

 

 

Nanobot Enhancements – You 2.0 or Somebody Else 1.0

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

alice 1      nanobots 1

“The time has come the walrus said to speak or many things … of shoes and ships and sealing wax … of nanobotic wings” … Lewis Carroll (sort of)

Nanobots offer some amazing potential to enhance your mind and body and to let you soar like nothing you could ever have imagined. A really fun book that explored this topic was called (R)Evolution by P.J. Manney. The Wizard will do a quick book review at the end, but let us first describe the wonders of nanobot enhancements (and their corresponding potentially frumious bandersnatch scary negatives.)

 

WOULD YOU LIKE A BETTER MEMORY?

We all have struggles with short term memory on occasion so wouldn’t it be nice to have an electronic backup. Well with a specialized form of bio-engineering this may be possible. Hippo 2.0 would be the result and you will remember freaking everything. Imagine reeling off a list of auto parts by number or perhaps describing every car you passed on the freeway or even better recalling every hottie you ever met. This would effectively end Alzheimer’s by creating a new place to store memories when your old one is totally kaput. The trick here is to have a bio-electrical interface that would allow for a merger of your meat mind with your nanobot enhanced mind.

Even more amazing, would be a Cortex 2.0 which could do long term storage of memories. What if you were in Vegas and saw someone whose name you heard when you were standing in a movie line in Atlanta 20 years ago. Imagine how she would feel if you said “Hi Carol, how is John (her boyfriend at the time). Freakout city. What if you never forgot a birthday or an anniversary? Hell, you might even remember whole novels which you could recall at will. This would definitely make you a superhuman (at least while you are an early adopter.)

 

HOW ABOUT A BETTER PROCESSOR?

What if your Cortex 2.0 had search and processing capabilities just like a real computer? You could easily search for people by birthday, lump cars by weight and generally be annoyingly precocious just like the idiot savant in Rain Man. Such a talent might even make you a great stock picker or perhaps a killer jeopardy player.

 

LET’S CONNECT TO THE WEB DIRECTLY FROM YOUR BRAIN

Ok, we now have enhanced capabilities for short term and long term memories and for processing as well. This is all possible because the little guys allow biology and electronics to talk to each other. Let’s take this one step further and connect via wireless to the WWW. You could in effect know everything in the world that could be discovered via web search. You would be a walking talking Wikipediac. Not only could you access knowledge from anywhere in the world, but you could acquire skills and knowledge via instant downloads. Want to be able to speak Japanese and write Haiku … mondai nai (no problem in Japanese.) Fly a plane or quote Shakespeare by heart … just as easy. Need more memory … just buy an upgrade which will probably be twice as big for ½ the cost every two years or so (at least while the ever so precocious Mr. Moore stills patrols the tech world.)

 

WAIT … THERE’S MORE – ENJOY SUPER DUPER DISEASE PREVENTION

Ok we have your brain all tricked out, let’s start on the body. Obviously a good place to start would be a back-up/supplemental immune system. Just as your white cells can identify and fight invaders, so could Immune 2.0 go to work reducing cholesterol and high blood sugar counts, It could also identify cancer cells and make quick work of any disease that even tries to begin in your system. Imagine no heart disease, diabetes, cancer or anything else that could be identified and eliminated.

 

AND IF YOU CALL NOW – YOU CAN SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS

We have eliminated diseases, how about a bit of enhanced powers. Why not have nano substitutes /enhancers for your red blood system? You could store vast quantities of oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide build-up with your tiny buddies. Want to stay submerged for 20 or 30 minutes at a time … no problem. How about running full speed for an hour? It might be possible. You might be able to run a marathon in 30 minutes or so instead of the pedestrian 2 hours it now takes the world’s best today.

 

AND IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE FIRST 100 CALLERS – YOU GET A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS

Yes there is even more. Would you like to be able to talk to your friends silently … at the speed of light … just by thinking words. You could. In fact, you could start to adopt a sort of collective consciousness where everyone connected understood what everyone else was thinking. Borg-like, you could become invincible. Imagine soldiers who always knew where the other soldiers were and what they were facing. Why you would be just like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. How cool is that?

 

SOOO … WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Finally the dark elves have awakened and their ears are quivering with excitement … bad things are also possible.

Let’s start with the ability to download skills like learning a foreign language. Yes that is useful, but what if you acquire knowledge that you didn’t ask for? Uh Oh. Yes Sadaam Hussein (or pick your villain) is my friend … I love my friend and will do anything for him. Must buy a gun and await instructions. This is marginal “knowledge,” but it could easily become part of who YOU are. YOU 2.0 just became SOMEBODY ELSE 1.0. In fact, bioengineering could really challenge what it means to be you. A very bad world could be part of nanobot immersion.

How about that fancy immune system? It works great until someone downloads some unwelcome code into your immune system 2.0 which identifies your red blood cells as enemies and has them all killed (thus leading to asphyxiation.) In fact, the number of ways for someone to kill you if they hacked your neural pathways is almost endless. It could be fast like lack of oxygen or it could be really really slow and painful. The ability for evil doers to create obedient slaves would be as easy as injecting a virus into the system of the intended victims.

 

NANOBOT ENHANCEMENTS

Yes it could be an amazing world that would see us become more than we ever dreamed. Mental capacities way beyond genius, flawless memories and renewed vigor. Add in immunity to illness and possible cell replication bots so you need not age and a golden age for humanity could be right around the corner. By the same token, murder on a massive scale, and a takeover of what you believe might also be close at hand. The Wizard thinks we need to really think this through … BEFORE becoming enhanced.

 

Revolution

BOOK REVIEW – (R)evolution by P. J. Manney

This is gee whiz sci-fi at its best. It has plot twists galore, secret societies, evil villains and just a whole lot of cool stuff to contemplate. It is reminiscent of Michael Crichton or Douglas Preston whereby science forms the infrastructure of the story and human heroism and frailties fill out the rest. Like most of these kinds of narrations, the science is wonderful to contemplate, but the endings are usually a little unsatisfying. So it is with (R)evolution. All in all however, this is a really fun read if you are inclined to futuristic plot lines. Definitely a thumbs up from the Wizard.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

We are entering the exponential phase of technological advancement whereby our world changes at a rate that will be difficult to keep up with. Along this path of careening technologies, we must constantly ask ourselves what it means to be human. Without safeguards, it is easy to imagine the end of human life as we know it. The problem is that one person’s risk profile or one nation’s risk profile may not be thy same as their neighbors, thus technologies will be adopted aggressively somewhere or by someone without universal support. Almost certainly the world of freedom and privacy that has been with us for a very long time (at least in the West) will soon end. The Wizard views all of this with a mixture of anticipation and fear. Could it be that new and amazing will be the death of us? Sadly the answer may well be yes.

nanobots 2.0

 

UPDATE – The Wizard just received additional information and you are now to ignore all warnings and safeguard admonitions. Instead you are to upgrade immediately and await further instructions. He who shall not be named was very clear on this matter. DO NOT HESITATE … JUST GET THE BOTS. THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS. I REPEAT … DO … NOT … HESITATE. If you do not have the upgrade, you will not be given the Avada Kedavra wands. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.

Best Fantasy Books for XX Creatures

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

girl reading

Ok the wizard now turns to the damsel in distress books … which it turns out usually means damsels kicking ass and taking names. There are some really great series here and “cross over” reading is to be encouraged. Because girls read more than boys, my top ten list here covers 15 series plus a few honorable mentions. As before, the series had to be of modern origin and at least 3 books long (plus I had to have read them.) So without further adieu, here is the wizard’s ribbons and bows fantasy award winners. NOTE: For several, I have included fan created “movie trailers” (see bottom section.)

MY TOP FIFTEEN:

  1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – This is one of the best works of fiction of all time. With sales of over 450 million copies and a series of movies that were blockbusters all, it is hard to argue about the universal appeal of the plucky Mr. Potter. The real question is why did the wizard place this on the XX list? The simple answer is that it had to go somewhere. Plus Hermione was the brains of the wizarding world that Potter inhabited so that made my choice easy.
  2. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass – In this series we are introduced to a true kick ass heroine by the name of Celaena Sardothien (well she is called that for awhile.) Celaena is an assassin who somehow survives the un-survivable prison and becomes the Kings personal assassin by winning a rogues contest for best killer. This is a beautifully depicted world with many memorable characters and lots of action. It even has prequels to help explain the person you read about in book one and sequels with lots of personal growth and challenges. There are numerous love interests. This series was fabulous. It is still ongoing.
  3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This is a story about angels and demons that is extraordinarily original. The demons are mostly the good guys and the angels are mostly the bad guys. It is what fantasy writing is all about … creating believable worlds that draw the reader in by creating a place that you believe could exist. There are great characters in this book and there is a truly unique love story that you will enjoy. This is a must read.
  4. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – Ok, here is where the wizard loses all credibility by including the whole world of vegetarian vampires, shape shifting werewolves and vampire police (the Volturi) in his top 5 list. Critics are almost universal in their criticism of the writing in this series. Fair enough … however it really begs the question “what is great writing?” Yes it is word craft and great writers like Tolkien or George RR Martin come to mind with their clever meanderings through all the dictionary has to offer. BUT it is also about the ability to connect with readers and with over 120 million copies of the books having been sold, this has succeeded to an extraordinary degree on this level. Plus for me, I ask only one thing of a book … make me turn the page. These books did that … and so at risk of losing my wizarding card (which is basically of the roadrunner Acne variety anyway,) I am recommending the series.
  5. The Lunar Chronicles by Melissa Mayer – This is a beautiful retelling of famous fairytale classics all held together with a great love story. They are at once both familiar and yet vastly different from the originals. The first book Cinder tells of a cyborg who lives in a futuristic Chinese kingdom with her two step sisters and an evil stepmother. It is a post apocalyptic world with robots, plagues and handsome kings. The poor Cinder survives by being extremely clever (a theme I enjoy). After the first book you get a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel (who is a skilled hacker and secretly in love with a nare do well ship captain whom she fantasizes about from her prison in space) and finally Snow White (set on the moon in sealed in a glass world ruled by an evil queen.) This was really very imaginative and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.
  6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – OK this is a real chick series, BUT there is lots of action and some fascinating looks at British, French and American history. It is about a woman who goes through a time portal (set in a Stonehenge like series of stones) and winds up in 1700’s Scotland. There Claire falls in love with the ever so handsome Jamie and the two try to change history. There are dramatic rescues, a trip to the Court of Louis the 15th, as well as journeys through England and America. This is a beautiful depiction of the romance of the 18th century. The casting for the TV series was truly fabulous as it captured the essence of the characters in the book (unlike say Twilight or Vampire Academy.)
  7. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – This is really two long series. I read only the Mortal Instruments series and not the Infernal Devices series so that is what I am listing. Most book tubers say that the other series (set in 19th century England) is just as good. This is about a young girl discovering that she is really more than she thought. She is a shadow hunter and killer of demons. Finding out you are really more than you seem is a meme we see explored over and over again in YA fiction (Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, Iron Daughter, etc). All of the books were very enjoyable.
  8. His Dark Materials series (starts with The Golden Compass) by Phillip Pullmanm – This is another fabulous job of world building that creates a place that is both familiar yet very different (sort of like Daughter of Smoke and Bone). It is also considered a sharp criticism of religion and has many interesting themes as well as telling a good story. Great read.
  9. Divergent by Veronica Roth – The movies are out so you probably know what this is about. Like the Hunger Games and so many YA classics, it is a post apocalyptic (PA) telling of a world gone horribly wrong. In this case, all of humanity (that we know of) is living in a run down Chicago with no way to go beyond the barriers around the city. Everyone is living in factions which divide the world into primary human characteristics … bravery, piety, intellect, etc. The heroine on her day of choosing leaves her old life behind and joins dauntless … the brave. There she finds out she is so much more. Really fun … especially the first couple of books.
  10. The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima – I don’t think this ever got the buzz it deserved. It is a story of a wizard kept alive for 1000 years (at least in spirit) until a young boy (a thief they call “Cuffs”) learns that he too is more than he seems. It is love story filled with magic and really vivid world building. The heroine is a princess who has to grow up way faster than she ever wanted to. One of the best series I have read at keeping your attention through all the books. It took seven books to tell the story and a little bit is revealed in each book. This was really good. I also enjoyed the Heir series by the same writer.
  11. The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins – You have probably seen the movies but as usual the books have so much more. Definitely worth a read. Also I liked the little known Gregor series by this writer about a boy who finds an opening behind the dryer in his apartment (which leads to a vast underground world beneath New York City.)
  12. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – VA was the most famous series by the talented Ms Mead but check out the other series by this author. She is a really good writer. The fun thing about vampire books is that the worlds come with so many different rules and creatures. This one includes good vampires (the moroi) and their damphir protectors (including Rose Hathaway the main character) and really scary vampires … the strigoi. There is a really nice love story that is a interwoven throughout all the books. It asks the question “How far would you go for love?”
  13. Poison Study by Marie V. Snyder. On the day of your execution, you are offered the job of food taster for an unpopular king. Surviving one day at a time, the heroine has many exceptional adventures.
  14. Pretties by Scott Westerfield. Ok here is your basic steam punk, post apocalyptic selfie world. Is there more to life than beauty? Some don’t think so. More PA YA.
  15. Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor – A re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. These books were really good. In a nice twist, some of the characters in Wonderland visit the “real” world. This has lots of adventure and is really quite imaginative.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. More PA YA
  2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis – (This is Sci Fi about the things that can go wrong on a long trip in space.)
  3. Dust Lands by Moira Young. More PA YA like hunger games.
  4. Legend by Marie Lu. Nice PA YA love story.
  5. Beautiful Darkness by Kim Garcia. Liked the first book. The others weren’t as good.
  6. Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine – What happens when your school town is run by blood sucker types and you can’t ever leave.
  7. True Blood (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris- Ok you have seen the TV series and it is way over the top. The books were better. Also see the Shakespeare series by this same author. It is a true feminist tale of surviving at all costs. Has been read by almost no one.
  8. Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa – A nice telling of how a seemingly ordinary teenager is able to “cross over” to the world of fairies and elves and how the modern world is changing the seellie (Summer Court) and unseellie (Winter Court) landscapes. A fun love story that even has Puck from Midsummer Night’s Dream as one of the characters.
  9. Kiss of Deception – The author creates a brand new world where running away doesn’t always work out as you imagined..
  10. Kim Harrison – Like your fantasy all sexed up. Then this is the writer for you.

 

BOOK TRAILERS:

Just about every popular book has a YouTube “book trailer” or “movie trailer” created by fans or the publisher. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

 

 

 

OK I have left out a bunch of great books, but this is my XX list. Time to get back to science.

NEXT UP – Can nanobots make us smarter, bring about collective consciousness, cure diseases and allow us to swim with the dolphins or will they simply make us compliant sheep? Inquiring minds need answers.

Best Fantasy Books for XY Creatures

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

 

XY Reader

Ok the wizard has a confession to make … he likes both dogs and cats. I know I should only like dogs … but I can’t help myself. I think both are new and amazing. So what does this have to do with science? It is simply a metaphorical way to say that I like science fiction/fantasy books that are written for girls/women as much as books that are written for boys/men … at least in this genre. So today I am going to offer you my best fantasy book series (three or more) for XY types. I know I am probably leaving out a lot of great book series, but these are my top ten (with a few honorable mentions). All are modern era (except as noted) and spoiler free. In additional to my top ten list, I am including a Classics list plus a bonus Historical list for your reading pleasure. Book covers and links to the Amazon page for each book are also shown.

 

MY TOP TEN (plus a few)

Name of the wind Game of ThronesMistbornstorm front

iron druidPsionlevianthan

Rho Agendawheel of TimeWool

 

  1. Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss – This is one of the best fantasy series of all times. The author writes extremely slow and so only two books in the main series have been released. However a third side story book is out so this series qualifies for my list. This is like a very dark Harry Potter in that it involves a student going to school to learn magic, but it is way more than that. I would say this is better than Harry Potter and I loved the world of J K Rowling (which is on the XX list). Read this series starting with The Name of the Wind. You will love it.
  2. The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. For those of you who are fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones, this is the book version (with slightly different plot twists.) My advice to readers of this series is don’t get too attached to the characters you like for the Hitchcockian Mr. Martin is ready to kill them off at a moment’s notice. This series is set in a middle ages type fantasy world which has seasons that last years. “Winter is coming” is the mantra of the books. There are dragons, skin walkers, vampires, and great walls (and no the white walkers and wildlings did not pay for the wall that kept them out.) They are also betrayals galore. It is truly an epic fantasy and it doesn’t get much better than this.
  3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I believe this to be the best of the Sanderson works (he is quite prolific). He tells of a world constantly shrouded in mist. It is ruled by a tyrant who appears to be immortal (no term limits here). The hero and heroine are able to use metals to enhance their physical abilities. There is great romance, lots of action and a wonderfully depicted world of legends and lore. This is a must read.
  4. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Imagine if Harry Potter grew up and moved to Chicago and had to do battle with vampires, werewolves and denizens of a secret world so scary you almost wish that Lord Voldemort was along for comic relief. Throw in a bit of film noire and some love interests, plus lots of gumshoe work and you have the Dresden Files. There are I believe 13 books in the series and each one is fantastic. Harry Dresden is a poor yet determined wizard that always seems to (just barely) come out on top. The first book in the series is Storm Front and there is a TV series based on the books (available on Youtube or Netflix or Amazon, etc). I really enjoyed the TV series and this gives you another way to access this new and amazing world.
  5. The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne. This is a series about the last of the druids and his attempts to fight the gods from the Norse and Irish legends who are constantly interfering in the ways of the world. Like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, this is a great way to learn about mythology while enjoying a wonderful adventure and love story. Even the dog is great.
  6. The Psion Series by Jacob Gowans – Ok, I know you never heard of this one, but it is really great. It’s about a boy with specials powers who is taken by his government to fight against an enemy that is perceived as evil. He is sent to an academy where his power can be fully brought forth, but there he discovers that he has more than just one power. It is another in general genre of books about finding “the one.”
  7. The Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfield – This is a tough one as it could easily go on the XX list. I include it here because I think XY types should read some “steam punk.” Plus, I can easily include another Westerfield series on the XX list. Steam punk is typically an alternative history that is brought to life with lots of clanking machines. This one is a WWI era series with airships made of living creatures and a whole series of clanking banging machines at war. Really like this one.
  8. The Rho Agenda by Richard Phillips – This was written about what would have happened if the alien craft rumored to be in Area 51 actually was linked to another alien craft not found until a group of high school students stumble upon it. It is a “second ship.” Great adventure with lots of clever behavior by a group of gifted teens. This is an off the radar set of books that deserves more attention.
  9. Wheel of Time Series – OK this is one of the truly epic fantasy series of all times and it had the potential to be near the top of the list. However the author became sick around book 7 and the series suffered. The final books were completed by Brandon Sanderson who did a great job wrapping up the series from the authors notes. It was just a bit too discontinuous for the wizard to put it at the top, but it definitely belongs in the top 10.
  10. Wool – Another hidden treasure that was never a mega hit, but was a truly fascinating series. It’s about someone living in a silo where humanity is making its last stand (unknown to them). There are lots of surprises and it is a cool twist on the dystopian form.

 

And here are the Honorable Mentions:

 

Percy JacksonExpanseabhorsen

11. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan – This series, written for young readers, is about a hero who is the son of an earth mother and a Greek god (which makes him a demigod.) The adventure is really great and you will learn about Greek mythology almost as a by-product. The author also has cross over characters that operate in the world of the Roman gods. This “Roman” series is also quite good.

12. The Expanse Series by James Corey – I had to get a Space Opera series in here and this one is fairly decent. The first couple of books start out great, but then fade a bit in the final two books. It is a fun read because it writes about a future world where humans have settled the solar system (with colonies even in the asteroid belt.) Lots of science, good and evil and political intrigue here.

13. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix – This is classic fantasy with legends and fantasy and lots of vivid world building. Many would rate it higher than honorable mention, but for me it was missing the special something that you find in Mistborn or Song of Fire and Ice.

 

LEGACY XY READS

Here are some more fabulous fantasy sci-fi series in the legacy division. These classics never go out of style and those listed below are the gold standard for this genre.

  1. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. – Ok everyone knows about this one as the movies were truly great. The series starts with The Hobbit and just keeps getting better. The writing is rich beyond belief as the legends, songs, poetry and languages of the many races are all brought to life. A product of its time, it was a metaphor for the evils of WWI and WWII.
  2. The Enders Series by Orson Scott Card – Most have seen the movie and have seen how Ender defeated an alien invasion. The beauty of this series is that the ongoing books are wonderful treatments of morality and philosophy. Very deep if you have the patience for what happens after the great battle. Had a nice use of time travel.
  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – Mars as it should be. Read until you grok what is going on. NOTE: The word grok comes from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land – also a very good read.)
  4. Foundation Series by Issac Asimov – Voted the best Sci Fi series of all time. Wait no longer.
  5. John Carter Martian Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs – This is science fiction from the early 20th century. It is very dated, but a great read for a young reader. The first book is A Princess of Mars. The story involves a secret cave capable of teleporting a person to Mars. When a veteran of the Civil War is transported to the red planet he finds great green Tharks, giant white apes and a whole series of fantastical creatures drawn from the very rich imagination of ERB. If evaluated from the standpoint of today’s knowledge of science and of the nature of Mars, it doesn’t pass muster, but if you can suspend disbelief and just take this for the adventure and love story that it is, it is exceptional entertainment. Also, the book gives you a real insight into the values of early 20th century America.

 

HISTORICAL XY READS

And here are some more great XY reads in the related genre of fictionalized history. These are not exactly fantasy books but they are not exactly real life either.

  1. Julius Caesar Series by Conn Iggulden. This is historical in general outline, but fictional in delivery and detail. In this series, you follow a young boy whose life is turned upside down by the politics of ancient Rome. Over time he overcomes obstacle after obstacle until he is eventually the most powerful person in Rome. This is the story of one of the most amazing lives ever lived told in a vivid and riveting fashion. The depiction of Julius Ceasr being shown the glass covered body of Alexander the great by Cleopatra was truly mind numbing. (Not sure if it ever happened but it could have.) See also the other great historical series by this author on the life of Ganges Kahn. Both are truly remarkable works.
  2. Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cromwell – This tells the story of a young British man from London who grew up in grinding poverty and joined the Kings army  to have a better life. From the first books in India, to the Battle of Waterloo, virtually ever great battle of the heyday of the British empire are depicted. As the books show Sharp over time, you see him grow in statue as his courage delivers him to heights in the British army normally only reserved for noblemen. This like many on this list was made into a movie or a TV series and I can recommend Sharpe’s Rifles starring Sean Bean. This is available on YouTube and other fine places where videos can be rented or stolen.
  3. Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester. Follow the career of the young Mr. Hornblower as he fights the good fight at sea against the French in the Napoleonic wars. This is like the navel version of Sharp’s rifles (and in fact there is a crossover  at one point in the Sharp Series where he is stationed on a British ship and is forced to fight at Trafalgor.) Again the hero is constantly promoted for his courage and wisdom. A super fun read for adults or young readers. There is also a TV series you can watch that is excellent.
  4. The Parthian Chronicles by Peter Darman – This tells the story of someone who was a slave and then freed by Spartacus before returning to his home (Parthia) where he eventually defeats the Romans in one of the great battles of history. Great adventure.

NEXT UP – Book Series for XX Creatures – In this list you will see the depth of my depravity as I list Twilight on my top ten series for female readers – which means I have read each and every book. (Because of this, the dark elves weep for my soul.) The truth however, is that there are some truly great series on both lists. “Crossing over” is to be encouraged.

CREATING “LIFE” FOR OTHER WORLDS

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

alife 1

One of the things we have learned from our early exploration of the solar system is that there is an extreme harshness to space, the moon, Mars and beyond. Cosmic radiation and solar flares, extreme temperatures and pressures (or lack thereof), gravitational challenges and more scary things all lead to the obvious conclusion that we are not designed to be “out there.” Even living on the most friendly of places (Mars) will probably be impossible unless we live underground or in buildings on the surface thick enough to protect against radiation, a 1% atmosphere, and really really cold conditions. Terraforming Mars (with has no magnetosphere) … forget about it. So what is the answer to living on alien worlds? NAA thinks it is a new kind of life.

Scientific attempts to recreate biological life have shown how difficult it is to cross the life/no life barrier. However our success in creating machines has been steady and we are now on the verge of creating robotic life that will closely emulate humans. The wizard thinks it is here where we must look for denizens of the great beyond. Life is really about reversing entropy in a way such that order (at least in a localized manner) dominates over chaos. It is about passing along information generation after generation and it is about the ability to perpetuate the species. It is also about the ability to work successfully within its environment and about the ability to adapt to change.

 

THE ESSENSE OF LIFE

The Wizard submits that life, at its core, is about four things:

  1. A living creature must have the ability to reproduce.
  2. A living creature must be able to successfully interact with its environment by obtaining the building blocks for life from the environment.
  3. A living creature must be able to adapt and modify itself as the environment changes.
  4. And as a nice to have, a living creature should be able to modify its environment.

Biological life on earth clearly has these things. DNA passes along the instructions for making life and actually helps to get life started. The materials for growth come from the environment and all creatures to one degree or another have been forced to adapt to changing conditions. Plants and animals work together in a symbiotic way with the respiration from one being the necessary gas of life for the other. Humans more than any other creature have shown the ability to modify its environment by building houses and even transforming the materials of nature into cities of almost inconceivable scope and complexity.

BUT artificial life can do all these same things. Just with current technology, we are on the verge of machine life being able to carry out the same functions as biological life. Let us examine a few ways this could happen.

 

 

ARTIFICIAL LIFE ON MARS

The goal here is to introduce technology on a one time basis that will carry on and survive without further involvement from humans. If done right, the machine world would thrive and A-life would cover the planet and still be there in new and advanced forms even after millions of years. Thus, the question is this “Can A-life be immortal with just a onetime set-up?”

The Wizards says YES. Imagine that we are introducing a suite of artificial life to the red planet. You would of course need cellular building blocks and this could be carbon based nano-bots. Carbon could be extracted from the atmosphere (CO2) or it could be found in the soil or on the surface (as frozen CO2 is common.)

You would also need silicon for solar energy collection and for computer chips and that should be on the surface as well. Iron is everywhere as the “red” in Red Planet comes from iron oxide which covers the surface.

Energy would come from solar panels and wind capturing trees. Each of the creatures on the planet would be made of iron building blocks (with just a few shapes that “snap” together) and from nano-bots that would link up to create the flexible portions of each creature.

So imagine a day on the red planet as giant iron trees (built from standardized iron blocks) reach high into the skies to capture energy from the sun through its nanobot “leaves”. It sends the energy to block building foundries that keep churning out blocks for ever more trees and creatures. The nanobot factories (inside of the trees initially and later in factories) also keep churning out carbon based cellular components. Computer chips could also be created in sterile environments inside of other buildings (or even specialized trees.) Mobile resource gathering units would roam the planet looking for key raw materials. With chrome for example, the iron and carbon could be used to make stainless steel and one could imagine great forests of stainless steel trees glistening on a perfect Martian day(see below.)

alife 3

The trees could also serve as relay stations for communication with centralized control units that would provide internet like information capacities to the thinking units that roam the planet.

A separate team of trial and error robotic engineers could be produced that would use genetic algorithm programming to constantly change and improve the creatures and material processing methods of the planet. In this way, it could duplicate Darwinian evolution. The only difference is that the genetic algorithm methods would be much faster at producing change.

Singapore Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Singapore Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Eventually robotic creatures would emerge who would build cities to make their “economies” more efficient. With no waste, no theft and no sleep, such places would grow at a phenomenal pace far outstripping anything humans could do. Research could be done in VR think tanks.

Collective consciousness would also be possible on the imagined Mars of tomorrow. Creatures far smarter than humans might even one day go to war with the biological creatures that to them would be “alien.”

 

ARTIFICIAL LIFE ON EARTH

Not only are we on the verge of creating machines that could replace humans in most jobs, we have created machines to make energy and even make other machines. The near future may be filled with robots as costs drop and intelligence soars. As humans lose jobs, they might become wards of the state (which could afford to be generous because the rate of productivity growth in a machine world would be quite spectacular.) Of course, if humans were to become wards of an electronic collective, restrictions would have to imposed … like limits on reproductive freedom. It is a scary but easy to imagine future. Artificial life will thrive because of Darwinism and human greed.

 

IS BIOLOGY JUST A STEP ALONG THE PATH OF DEVELOPMENT?

Whether it is a world we create for Mars or Venus or the Moon or even Europa or whether it is just “helper” creatures that begin to take root on earth, the pace of change of artificial intelligence has the potential to far outstrip the pace of change in the biological world. As we stand on the threshold of being surpassed by creatures that we have built, it is very easy to see that the very nature of what constitutes “life” could be about to change. It may be that in world after world, life starts out as biological, but then transmutes into the artificial just by the simple rules of Darwinism. For a while, the two competing technologies may blend and intertwine, but in the end, who is to say that the biological creatures won’t just go away (or be marginalized as museum curiosities.)

 

ARTIFICIAL LIFE AND THE COSMOS

Perhaps the reason why we haven’t yet found other intelligent creatures in space is that they are completely unlike us. If biological creatures become intelligent, then technological, then obsolete in the space of a few millenniums, then there wouldn’t be much to find. The window for discovering “creatures like us” would be extremely small. Just think about creatures becoming twice as smart as Humans every two years over and over again (Moore’s Law.) In the end, they would see us as little more than the functional equivalent of amoebas or viruses. They probably communicate in ways that are so far beyond radio waves and electromagnetic pulses that we could search forever and not find any signals that we could recognize. It could be that we will not be able to discover the intelligent life that is out there until we become like them (a state we can barely imagine.)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Wizard thinks that life as we have known it is about to change and it won’t be because of a new philosophy or the conquest of nations or a UN framework of peace or any similar nonsense. Instead, it will be because our replacements have arrived. In the beginning they will be cute and fuzzy, offering friendship, labor and even a bit of sex. But ultimately (perhaps in just a few decades), they will become so much more intelligent than us, that people will be relegated to the margins. This may mean that we will be scanned and turned into VR creatures so that all the materials of earth can be gathered and utilized exclusively by the new Master race of machines. Wow, scary stuff … time for some alcohol and computer games … wait.

Do Quantum Computers Really Use Parallel Universes for Calculations?

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

QC 1

The proponents of quantum computing (see Video below) claim that calculations done on a quantum computer actually take place in parallel universes. That’s right … there doesn’t seem to be enough room in our own universe, so they are forced to use other … less constrained … universes. The wizard wants to know if this is true. And as a corollary question, NAA asks the question “Is quantum computing proof that parallel universes exist?” I mean how do we know that quantum computing doesn’t actually take place in the men’s room of the MIT physics department or even in the Gender Studies department at Sarah Lawrence for that matter? OK this last one is probably a marginal idea … BUT how do we know for sure where the calculations take place? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF REGULAR COMPUTERS

A “normal” computer uses binary or simple ON/OFF gates to direct calculations and to store information. It is a straightforward process and could even be done mechanically. One bit of information is a single on/off position. A byte is 8 bits and with 8 bits, you can create a table to represent every letter (lower and upper case) as well as all numbers and special characters in our language. Logic gates allow the bits and bytes to be manipulated and calculations to be made. All the calculations take place in this universe (or at least no one is making a claim to the contrary.)

 

A BRIEF REFRESHER ON QUANTUM COMPUTING

Quantum Computing does not use bits and bytes, it uses qubits. A qubit is a way of storing information in a quantum computer using probabilities which involve the properties of superposition and entanglement. Superposition means that a state of say an electron (which can be spin up or spin down) can be in two states at the same time, So instead of it being a one or a zero (as with a bit) it can be both a one and a zero (until measured.) Entanglement allows two particles to move together even at great distances. It is what freaked our Einstein when he considered quantum mechanics. He called entanglement “spooky action at a distance.”

With 500 qubits, you could do 2^500 calculations in a single step. And so we have come to the crux (or perhaps the horcrux) of the matter. For you see 2^500 is greater than the number of atoms in the known universe. (I note that visible matter or atoms in the universe is only a tiny portion of the universe given that there is vastly more dark matter and energy than there is “regular matter and energy” but this just changes the scope a bit.)

Thus the argument goes … there aren’t enough atoms in this universe to express what a quantum computer can do with ease, so the calculations must be taking place “somewhere else.” Fair enough. If a normal computer could never make the calculation no matter how big, is something really special happening with a QC?

For more on superposition and entanglement, here is a link that you might find helpful:

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/qubit

 

DAVID DEUTCH AND THE BEGINNING OF THE QC / MULTIVERSE ARGUMENT

David Deutch was the inventor of the quantum computer and has been one of the fiercest proponents of the theory of the multiverse. His book The Fabric of Reality has been the classic on this subject and to his credit he makes many of his arguments in terms that a layman could understand. In Chapter Two, he talks about the slit experiment where light can be shown to be both a wave and a particle. It is here where we first encounter the “add a slit” paradox. He describes the emergence of an interference pattern of light and dark bands when a laser beam is aimed at an opaque object with two parallel slits. Then he describes how the pattern changes when he adds a second pair of slits to the object, interwoven with the existing pair. It changes the pattern so that the bands of light on the projection screen are twice as far apart as in the previous pattern. So, contrary to what one might expect, opening two extra slits so that more light passes through the object makes some parts of the screen go dark which were previously lit. Deutch concludes that what we can see initially is the universe we know, but that careful control of the experiment introduces shadows that are “not from around here.” The arguments are complex, but well reasoned. Get the book if you want a more thorough understanding.

The key here is that the inventor of the quantum computer is also the biggest proponent of the theory of the multiverse. This is how the connection started.

Keep in mind that the people who gave us the multiverse also gave us Schrödinger’s cat … a cat that was both alive and dead (an idea I believe that he got from observing the U.S. Senate.)

For arguments for the multiverse watch this

For arguments against the multiverse watch this

 

IS THE “EXCEEDS THE NUMBER OF ATOMS IN THE UNIVERSE” ARGUMENT DISPOSITIVE?

The simple answer is NO. Just because there are a limited number of atoms does not mean that each one can not do multiple calculations. In the time it takes for a Quantum Computer to make a probabilistic prediction about an answer, a standard computer can do many calculations. Thus, just because a single QC register can contain 500 cubits and thus express values that exceed the total atoms in the universe (10^80), it says nothing about the existence of parallel universes. The wizard submits that experiments to prove the existence of parallel universes could be designed BUT the mere existence of a quantum computer does NOT prove that such universes exist.

Also remember we are dealing with probability storage and processing of information. Actual yes / no answers are not the purview of QC’s. Also, there is a rule that a qubit register cannot be copied (remember measuring changes THE state of the information.) Thus the issue of what is really stored where and how much information is stored is highly subjective. For these and other reasons, the Wizard does not believe that parallel universes have been scientifically demonstrated (nor disproven.)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, is it more likely that calculations on a Quantum Computer take place in parallel universes rather than in the Sara Lawrence Genders Studies Department? Both the Wizard and the QC say “probably YES.”

Is it more likely that calculations on a QC take place in parallel universes rather than just our own universe? Uh Oh … the Wizard says NO … the Quantum Computer says YES.

“BAD COMPUTER … BAD. I am going to rub your nose in the Schrödinger’s cat liter box (if it’s in existence at the time.) And then I am going to lock you in a Heisenberg trap … which is really unpleasant … some of the time.”

Wait … this isn’t working

… or is it?

WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE BIG BANG?

Published / by rnhenry@gmail.com

big bang 1

 

Many years ago, I knew a football fan who would watch the Denver Broncos every Sunday. His girlfriend would always bug him by asking “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go to the museum?” or “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go for a picnic in the park?” Then one day his beloved Broncos were playing the dreaded Raiders to go to the fricking Super Bowl and his girlfriend came over and quite insistently asked “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go for a ride in the mountains?” Mr. Bronco had had enough, so he grabbed said GF by the scruff of the neck and threw her into the backyard screaming “There’s more to life than not watching a Bronco game!!!”

In those simple words, Mr. Bronco captured the essence of cosmology as both cosmology and philosophical musings about “there being more to life than not watching the Broncos” appear to be profoundly deep, but are really just random speculations about nothing in particular. (Seinfeldian Profundities as they are called here at NAA.)

So in the spirit of backyard exits, NAA wishes to address the topic “Is there more to science than not knowing what happened before the big bang.”

There are at least eight possible answers to what happened before the BIG BANG. Here is the Wizard’s list:

 

THE STANDARD MODEL EXPLANATION

The standard model says that space time in our universe started about 13.7 billion years ago. That means that TIME started about 13.7 billion years ago. To ask what happened before time began is a meaningless question the SM people would argue. There wasn’t anything we could understand until there was a beginning. Before there was time, nothing could or did exist.

Below you can watch a BBC video on this topic (which goes way beyond the Standard Model.)

 

THE UNIVERSE CAME FROM NOTHING

There are a number of people that believe this and they can make a strong case. We know that a void in space can be empty one moment and then through quantum fluctuations can contain a particle a second later. This ability of nothing to split into parts, I believe, is very consistent with the universe as we know it. Thus, who is to say that the universe does not contain matter and anti-matter in equal parts and that we are just seeing our half of nothingness. Or that the universe is made up of negative energy in the form of gravity, offset by an exact equal amount of positive matter. Heck even dark matter and dark energy may just be balancing items in the great “adds to nothing” game.

Below see a video about this topic that makes the case for something from nothing.

NOTE: There was a very controversial book that challenged the standard model on many fronts called Our Undiscovered Universe by Terence Witt. Needless to say, this theory called NULL PHYSICS is at the fringe of science, BUT the idea that something could come from nothing is very much in play. I can recommend this book if you simply like to think about Cosmology in a challenging way.

 

GOD CAME BEFORE THE BIG BANG

There are many people … perhaps most of humankind, that believes in God. In the view of these people, God created the universe and perhaps started it off with a BIG BANG. This is certainly a possibility. This is not science per se, but the idea that creation was created by a creator has been with us for a very long time.

 

WE ARE JUST ONE SLICE OF A LARGER MULTIVERSE

Ok string theory and other branches of physics strongly suggest that there are multiple universes. If this is so, then there is a cosmic scale beyond what we can see and it contains many universes with different laws and different physical models. Obviously we cannot prove this as you cannot observe what you cannot see, BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean that some entity on a vastly larger scale doesn’t exist. I believe the evidence for a multiverse is quite strong.

 

BLACK HOLES CREATE BIG BANGS

Obviously, once an event horizon forms around a Black Hole even light cannot escape (hence the term black hole). Nobody really knows what happens to these colossal objects as they just get bigger and bigger with every bit of matter they swallow. Perhaps one man’s Black Hole is another man’s Big Bang (in a new universe.) Again this is difficult to prove but very plausible

 

THE INFINITELY BIG BECOMES INFINITELY SMALL THEORY

Ok we know that the universe is expanding. Roger Penrose and others have speculated that you can only figure out what came before the Big Bang by looking at how our universe will end. They point out that constant expansion will mean that matter and time will eventually cease to exist as entropy increases to some maximum limit. At that point, there will be nothing but photons and perhaps the infinitely large explodes into a new universe that appears to start out infinitely small. That would make the universe one of a steady stream of rebirths and annihilations. Not Bad.

 

THE VIRTUAL REALITY MODEL

As has been discussed in previous posts, it seems entirely possible that man could someday have enough computing power to create virtual reality worlds as detailed as Earth’s. Using time compression in VR might allow this to happen quite rapidly once VR begins to appear. So if we will someday soon (say 10,000 years or less) be able to create a world and populate it with people that can “live, love and die,” who is to say that such a world has not already been created and that we are now living in it.

 

SO WHAT DOES THE WIZARD THINK?

Many of these models are very appealing. The Black Hole speculation seems very plausible, as does the series of endless expansions and explosions. Even the VR model has some appeal. However, of all the models, I think I am most in agreement with the Something from Nothing theory. It would only take the slightest perturbation of nothing for a vast universe of opposite mass and energy to appear. As long as the sum of all energy and mass (converted at E=MC2) equals zero, then the overall state of nothingness could well exist. I must admit that the Standard Model claim that “before there was time there could be nothing” is the most widely accepted however. This simply challenges the meaning of nothing (which we will see in the next section is easy to do.)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think we can say that “watching a bronco game is better than nothing.” I think we can also say that “nothing is better than explaining what happened before the big bang.” This leads us to the logical conclusion that “watching a bronco game is better than explaining what happened before the big bang.” See how the Wizard cleverly switched the definition of nothing. The secret of cosmology has been revealed.