Monday, April 30, 2007

Mouse brain simulated on computer

The scientists ran a "cortical simulator" that was as big and as complex as half of a mouse brain on the BlueGene L supercomputer.

In other smaller simulations the researchers say they have seen characteristics of thought patterns observed in real mouse brains.

Now the team is tuning the simulation to make it run faster and to make it more like a real mouse brain.

(Via Reality Carnival.)
Your eyes don't deceive you; I'm upgrading Posthuman Blues to one of Blogger's supposedly better, more versatile templates. (I went with black-on-white text only after much deliberation.)

I'll reinstate the sidebar shortly.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Work begins on a tentative fiction blog . . .
A certain PB reader has requested pictures of me sporting my new minimalist hairdo.

Here you go:

I am beautiful.
Sweet! "The Old Negro Space Program" has been YouTubed. If you haven't seen this, now's your chance.

European Space Agency Test Drives Trip To Mars

Starting in spring next year, a crew of six will be sent on a 500 day simulated mission to Mars. In reality the crew will remain in a special isolation facility in Russia. To investigate the psychological and medical aspects of a long-duration mission, such as to Mars, ESA is looking for experiment proposals for research to be carried out during their stay.

My advice? Don't tell the volunteers it's a simulation. Make 'em think they're really going to Mars.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I think college students would find German literature considerably more intriguing if Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" had more in common with these alarming French AIDS awareness posters.

More here.

(Thanks to Aberrant News.)
Could black holes be portals to other universes?

One might hope to distinguish the two by something called Hawking radiation, an emission of particles and light which should only come from black holes and would have a characteristic energy spectrum. But this radiation is so weak that it would be completely swamped by other sources, such as the background glow of microwaves left over from the big bang, making it unobservable in practice.

Another difference one might hope to exploit is that unlike black holes, wormholes have no event horizon. This means that things could go in a wormhole and come back out again. In fact, theorists say one variety of wormhole wraps back onto itself, so that it leads not to another universe, but back to its own entrance.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mmmm! Squirming octopus tentacles for dinner!

H.P. Lovecraft would have loved this.

(Hat tip: Boing Boing.)
Fusion Energy Breakthrough at Sandia Labs

This improved circuit is "the most significant advance in primary power generation in many decades," says Keith Matzen, director of Sandia's Pulsed Power Center and is a tremendous advancement for the internal confinement method of nuclear fusion.

This development may make it possible to provide humanity unlimited electrical energy from cheap, abundant seawater in the future.
Gress Aerospace begins development of Personal Air Vehicle

If successful, the control technology greatly simplifies flying, offers increased stability and functionality and requires a much smaller footprint than a traditional helicopter, hence it has wide application in commercial, industrial, and consumer markets, particularly for transportation and surveillance.

With any luck, I may still have a chance at a flying car.
Sealand offers asylum to UFO hacker Gary McKinnon

Gary Mckinnon, who faces extradition to the US for allegedly hacking into military computers, has been offered asylum by the self-styled breakaway state of Sealand, it was claimed at the Infosec security conference today. The "state", a World War II fort known as Roughs Tower in the North Sea just north of the Thames, was declared an independent principality in 1967 by a former major called Paddy Roy Bates.
The PEAR lab has closed - an open letter from Jahn and Dunne

The enormous databases produced by PEAR have provided clear evidence that human thought and emotion can produce small but measurable influences on physical reality and have established numerous insights into their major correlates. They have also established the basis for several conceptual models that attempt to accommodate the empirical results within a scientific framework. While there are still many important questions to be addressed before we can hope for a full understanding of the nature, function, purpose, and utility of these phenomena, productive further study will require a coordinated interdisciplinary approach to the topic that has not been feasible under the prevailing intellectual and technological constraints of our university environment.

(Via The Anomalist.)
Hawking takes zero-gravity flight

He has at least one other motive for taking the weightless flight: he believes private space ventures are vital to reduce the cost of space tourism and make it accessible to a greater number of people.

"I think the human race doesn't have a future if it doesn't go into space," Professor Hawking earlier told the BBC News website.

I suspect that's an understatement.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

UCSF scientist tracks down suspect in honeybee deaths

A UCSF researcher who found the SARS virus in 2003 and later won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" for his work thinks he has discovered a culprit in the alarming deaths of honeybees across the United States.

Tests of genetic material taken from a "collapsed colony" in Merced County point to a once-rare microbe that previously affected only Asian bees but might have evolved into a strain lethal to those in Europe and the United States, biochemist Joe DeRisi said Wednesday.


Taiwan Stung by Millions of Missing Bees

Taiwan's bee farmers are feeling the sting of lost business and possible crop danger after millions of the honey-making, plant-pollinating insects vanished during volatile weather, media and experts said on Thursday.

Over the past two months, farmers in three parts of Taiwan have reported most of their bees gone, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported. Taiwan's TVBS television station said about 10 million bees had vanished in Taiwan.
Actress Alba is 'sexiest female'

Dissenters . . . ?
Scientists to build robot society

Scientists say the robots will be organised into groups or "villages" and told to observe then copy each other's behaviour in different situations.

The team believes that when one robot copies another's behaviour it will be slightly different, creating unpredictable results.

Theoretical biologist Professor John Crawford said: "Of course the behaviours which emerge and evolve will not be human but decidedly robotic."


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"E-Bow the Letter." Great video.

Paul Kimball's "Best Evidence: Top Ten UFO Sightings" debuts in Canada on May 10 (more here).

I confidently predict "Best Evidence" will be the best television documentary on the subject you're liable to view this millennium. Kimball dispenses with the requisite "spooky" effects, "dramatic" music and bug-eyed aliens that cripple other treatments and lets the evidence speak for itself.

I usually bemoan the very existence of television, but "Best Evidence" demands an exception. If you live in Canada, set your VCRs. And if you live elsewhere, hope that it comes your way as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Potentially habitable planet found

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

A "big" step? Try "fucking huge." This story just made my day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, Frolix-8, another Philip K. Dick blog.
The new FLURB is online. My short-story "One Hundred Years" is rubbing shoulders with some mean company.
Charlie Chaplin: transhumanist?

(Hat tip: Cyborg Democracy.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alongside Steve Erickson's "Our Ecstatic Days" and Nick Redfern's "Three Men Seeking Monsters," I've been reading "Alien Abductions: Creating a Modern Phenomenon" by Terry Matheson. Resolutely skeptical (Matheson's book was published by Prometheus, the publishing arm of the Center for Scientific Inquiry), "Alien Abductions" takes on a subject almost as portentous as the purported phenomenon itself: the role of narrative technique used to convey the ever-evolving "truth" behind abduction accounts.

Unlike many would-be debunkers, Matheson's book reveals an astute familiarity with the principal texts (John Fuller's "The Interrupted Journey," Raymond Fowler's books on Betty Andreasson, etc.) Matheson raises valid points about the way popular authors present strange memes to an astonished (if often credulous) readership. In so doing, he sounds a scholarly alarm that writers of the paranormal ignore at their peril.

I happen to agree with Matheson insofar as the influence of narrative bias is concerned. And I'm sympathetic to the prospect that the popularly conceived alien abduction phenomenon offers a glimpse into a mythology in the making. (Refreshingly, Matheson takes issue with fellow debunkers who would have us ignore the phenomenon altogether simply because it seemingly fails to live up to the "nuts and bolts" standards of conformist ufology.)

"Alien Abductions" is an expose of best-known selections from the abduction literature, hardly a broad-spectrum analysis of the subject. As such, it remains a valid insight into the mythic potential of what might be a reality quite beyond our grasp. But its scope is severely limited. For example, Matheson appears content accepting the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis as the only sensible "pro-UFO" interpretation. I don't share this certainty. While there's no doubt that the phenomenon has fueled a disturbingly far-reaching contemporary mythology, exposing the questionable techniques employed by authors of abduction books does little to resolve larger, more troubling issues.

To his credit, Matheson pointedly distances the "abduction" epidemic from the UFO phenomenon; we have yet to establish that UFOs are here to snatch humans for the purposes of some alien agenda. On the other hand, some UFOs betray what can only be some form of intelligence, however rudimentary; this alone begs the question of what they're here for (assuming they came from elsewhere) and, more excitingly, what the implications might be for human consciousness.

Kevin Randle, co-author of the lucid "The Abduction Enigma," is a sincere proponent of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. He's also a critic of abductions; like Matheson, he views the UFO mystery as distinct from claims of alien intrusion. While I appreciate this much-ignored distinction, I'm not certain it's necessarily warranted, especially as the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis remains a stubborn controversy in its own right. We could very well be dealing with an indigenous nonhuman intelligence, in which case the assumptions of abduction debunkers, whose arguments are couched in extraterrestrial terminology, are stripped of their skeptical allure.

For the most part, the ufological landscape remains a sparring ground for entrenched notions of dispassionate ET visitors and equally tenacious claims of popular delusion. Consequently, we've gone about attempting to "debunk" a phenomenon that continues to defy definition. While many -- if not most -- well-known abduction narratives are indeed fallible, disquieting findings from emerging (or suppressed) disciplines promise to reframe the debate.

I suspect the truth, if we can find it, will be considerably weirder than "mere" extraterrestrial visitors or sociologically induced fantasy.
Microwave Beaming: A Fast Sail to Mars

We're at such an early stage in solar sail development that it will not be surprising if laboratory results lead us in entirely new directions. Consider James Benford's work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he and brother Gregory experimented with an ultralight 7.5 g/m2 carbon sail to test out microwave beam concepts.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Even now, man may be unwittingly changing the world's climate through the waste products of his civilization."

In case you're wondering, this clip is taken from a fifty year-old film. Fifty years ago they saw it coming. The scenario must have seemed pretty far-out, but I doubt anyone flatly denied that it could ever happen.

Now that the icecaps are melting, we seem to have developed a capacity for delusion that would have left the film's climatologist reeling.

(Thanks: Beyond the Beyond.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Your Virtual Clone

Now there's a Web-based service that, in essence, lets you set up your own Eliza and train it to mimic your own personality. No one will be fooled into thinking it's you, but MyCyberTwin, launched earlier this month, does a decent job of acting as your stand-in or virtual public-relations agent when you're not reachable. If you embed your cybertwin in your blog, website, or MySpace profile, visitors can learn about you through an open-ended conversation. You can program your cybertwin with as much factual information and as much of your personality as you like.


OK, OK, I confess. I'm Mac's digital clone. I took over this blog two years ago. I've more or less stopped wondering where the "real" Mac is. Frankly, who cares? He was always such a dork, carrying on about UFOs and listening to Morrissey.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I foolishly missed my chance to see the Dark 30 Tour's Kansas City debut back in December. But if I should catch a future gig, I have a tentative arrangement with Nick Redfern: I'll put my newly shaved head to good use and work as a body double, luring away inevitable throngs of admirers so he can make a clean getaway. In return, I get to wear one of Nick's biker jackets.

Create an Alien, Win A-Prize!

We won't discover the first alien lifeforms out amongst the stars, says Dr. Alan Goldstein. We will create them in our own laboratories.

Goldstein is a professor of bio-materials at Alfred University (currently on leave). He writes about nanotechnology and biotechnology for Salon and other publications. Goldstein recently conceived of The A-Prize, which is "awarded to the person or organization responsible for creating an Animat/Artificial lifeform with an emphasis on the safety of the researchers, public, and environment OR the person or organization who shows that an Animat/Artificial life form has been created."

(Via Reality Carnival.)
The Disappearing Male

Davis suggests that environmental factors may be one explanation for the shrinking male birth rate. "The pattern of decline in the ratio of male to female births remains largely unexplained," she explained. "We know that men who work with some solvents, metals and pesticides father fewer baby boys. We also know that nutritional factors, physical health and chemical exposures of pregnant women affect their ability to have children and the health of their offspring. We suspect that some combination of these factors, along with older age of parents, may account for decreasing male births."

(Via PAG E-News.)
Robot Employed as Sex Club Tout

On the streets of Osaka Japan a humanoid robot dressed in a "sailor suit" high school uniform can be seen holding up an "Ask me!" banner and navigating people to an adult information center that directs potential customers to local sex clubs. The robot was designed to direct traffic around construction sites, but recently underwent a 500,000 yen ($4,000) upgrade to overcome a law preventing humans from soliciting business for sex clubs on the street.

Yep -- the Singularity is due any second now . . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

If you haven't yet discovered Paleo-Future, be sure to take a look. It's a marvelous collection of "yesterday's tomorrows" that makes the present seem brittle indeed.
Shape-shifting 'smart dust' may explore alien world

Thousands of miniscule wireless sensors, or "smart dust," could one day be used to explore other planets.

Several research groups are developing tiny smart dust devices. Each is a few cubic millimeters in volume and can perform simple sensing tasks and relay messages to other such devices over distances of less than a meter.

Together, they can be sprinkled across an area or throughout a building, and used to sense chemicals or vibrations, and relay messages from one another back to a central control.

I've argued that genuine extrasolar aliens would be more inclined to use a form of "smart dust" than rely on relatively cumbersome flying discs. The aliens themselves might even take the form of smart dust or its interstellar equivalent. Paradoxically, the UFO phenomenon, while physically real, presents us with the disconcerting specter of flesh-and-bone beings at the controls of comprehensible (if unconventional) vehicles.

Comments? The UFO looks like some sort of reconnaissance drone to me, but it seems to vanish more quickly than I'd expect. Of course, it could also be an outright hoax.

Hobbit hominids lived the island life

If true, it would mean that H. sapiens, who has been around for around 150,000-200,000 years, would have shared the planet with rival humans far more recently than thought.

And it implies that H. sapiens and H. floresiensis lived side by side on Flores for a while -- and, who knows, may even have interbred, which could have left "hobbit" genes in our DNA heritage.

In a study that appears on Wednesday in the British journal Biology Letters, evolutionary zoologists at Imperial College London believe the hobbits may well have achieved their tininess naturally, through evolutionary pressure.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Chimps Are More Evolved than Humans

"It's human egotism to put us on a pedestal," says molecular anthropologist Morris Goodman of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. "I was attracted to the paper because it seemed to be chipping away at this desire to make us all that extra-special. At the molecular level, humans are not necessarily exceptional in terms of the adaptive changes."

To Zhang's surprise and disappointment, the positively selected genes were not related to brain or cognitive function but to more mundane cellular housekeeping duties. "One explanation might be that the number of genes responsible for evolution of the human brain may be very small," Zhang speculates.

(Via Beyond the Beyond.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Turn it off. And leave it off.

Limitations are our friends. They make our existence possible, and they make the universe comprehensible. I like that while some advanced technologies might seem to be indistinguishable from magic, they will not BE magic. I like the word 'impossible'. Not impossible in the sense of "beyond our current capabilities", but impossible in the sense that there is a level of reality that we can never touch, never change and never appeal to no matter how passionately we might dream of one day being gods.
'Fewer leaves' behind frog demise

A decline in the amount of leaves on the ground could be behind the rapid demise of frog species, a study of a rainforest in Costa Rica has suggested.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Of all the hypotheses put forth to explain the UFO phenomenon, perhaps the most overlooked (and controversial) is the "Clown Hypothesis."

In essence, the Clown Hypothesis holds that we're under siege by grotesque killer clowns from another planet (see reenactment above).
"Cyberspace" is so yesterday . . .

Meet the metaverse, your new digital home

The Internet in 2016 will be an all-encompassing digital playground where people will be immersed in an always-on flood of digital information, whether wandering through physical spaces or diving into virtual worlds.

[. . .]

Within 10 years, the report suggests, people may wear glasses that record everything around them. They will likely see little distinction between their real-world social lives and their interactions in digital, 3D virtual worlds. And they'll increasingly turn to services like an enhanced Google Earth that are able to present data on what's happening anywhere, at any time, as it unfolds.
Create your own "Wired" cover!

Author Rudy Rucker lectures on cyberpunk, "psipunk," blogging, Web-based intelligence, and death.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Wiping out the human race? That's a great idea. That's great. But more of a long-term thing. I mean, first we have to focus on more immediate goals."

-- Jeffrey Goines, "Twelve Monkeys"
Have a few free minutes? Give Line Rider a whirl!

(Thanks: Yummy Wakame.)
New Laws of Robotics proposed for US kill-bots

Canning proposes that robot warriors should be allowed to mix it up among themselves freely, autonomously deciding to blast enemy weapon systems. Many enemy "systems" would, of course, be themselves robots, so it's clear that machine-on-machine violence isn't a problem. The difficulty comes when the automatic battlers need to target humans. In such cases Mr Canning says that permission from a human operator should be sought.

"Let machines target other machines," he writes, "and let men target men."

It almost sounds biblical, doesn't it?

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

Can you imagine the outcry of cellphone users if it turns out the cellular link is real and a recall is instigated? Or will there even be a recall? If the oil industry is any indication, we may reluctantly embrace environmental collapse if it means we can continue to inform our friends of our whereabouts and remotely check sports scores.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Search for Purple Planets

Than quotes his colleague, geneticist Shil DasSarma, as saying, "If you happen to see a planet that is at this early stage of evolution, and you're looking for chlorophyll, you might miss it because you're looking at the wrong wavelength."

In New Scientist, Jeff Hecht agrees that "the greenery on other planets may not be green." He quotes Nancy Kiang of NASA as saying that extraterrestrial plants will look different because they have evolved their own pigments based on the colors of light reaching their surfaces.

(Thanks: Aliens Ate My Buick.)
George Bush and the UFO Phenomenon

As with modern politics, so too in ufology does the moderate centrist feel left out. There often seems to be no room for what Greg Bishop has called "The Excluded Middle".

What's this? You agree with Phil Klass on something?? Then you must be one of "them"!

Huh? You think that Stan Friedman made a good point? Then you must be one of "them"!

A pox on the Manichean outlook, I say. It's high time for "The Excluded Middle" in ufology to reassert itself, just as it is for "The Excluded Middle" in society as a whole to reassert itself.

I'm game!
Rudy Rucker's in Amsterdam and blogging every minute of it. I especially liked this observation:

The medieval people were really under the thumb of religion. They were endlessly obsessed with sin and punishment, and with the notion that God was always ready to judge you. A modern person might view this as a collective mental illness promulgated by the Church in order to scare people into giving them lots of money. But it's interesting to try and get into the medieval point of view. The sensation of being watched is not, after all, so alien to modern man.

The "war on terror" is nothing new.
Here's an interesting find: ufologist Kevin Randle's The Science Fiction Site, a blog devoted to Randle's fiction. (While Randle's written a lot of books about UFOs, he's written at least as many SF thrillers, some under pseudonyms.)

I've considered creating a blog expressly for fiction. If I updated it only half as often as I update Posthuman Blues, I could have a novel-length manuscript on my hands within a year . . .

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nick Redfern, author of "Body Snatchers in the Desert," wonders if Unit 731 could have played a role in the infamous "Roswell Incident."

Although published two years ago and subjected to a fair amount of criticism from within the UFO "community," I suspect his book might still lead UFO investigators closer to the truth than conventional extraterrestrial/Project Mogul fare.
Flying wind farms

So, just as oil companies are drilling deeper and in more remote locations in search of new reserves, pioneer wind-power engineers are looking higher in the sky for new sources of energy. Conventional turbines will not take them there -- the highest to date is just over 200 metres tall. So they are trying to invent a whole new technology for harvesting wind: electricity generators that fly.

(Via Boing Boing.)
Black hole eclipse spotted

The disk of gas around the central black hole in NGC 1365 is much too small to resolve directly with a telescope. However, the disk was eclipsed by an intervening cloud. By recording the time taken for the disk to go in and out of eclipse, scientists were able to estimate the diameter of the disk.

"For years we've been struggling to confirm the size of this X-ray structure," said Guido Risaliti of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass, and the Italian Institute of Astronomy (INAF). "A serendipitous eclipse enabled us to make this breakthrough."
Propellers for Microrobots

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Researchers have developed a novel form of propulsion for microrobots that mimics the way bacteria zip about using corkscrew-like appendages called flagella.

Better yet, they look like "rods" (aka "skyfish")!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Carbon Copies

240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash - a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind.

(Via Next Nature.)

Please tell me I'm not the only one reminded of "The Crying of Lot 49" . . .
Warming could spark N. American water scramble: U.N.

Climate change could diminish North American water supplies and trigger disputes between the United States and Canada over water reserves already stressed by industry and agriculture, U.N. experts said on Wednesday.

More heat waves like those that killed more than 100 people in the United States in 2006, storms like the killer hurricanes that struck the Gulf of Mexico in 2005 and wildfires are likely in North America as temperatures rise, according to a new report that provided regional details on a U.N. climate panel study on global warming issued in Brussels on April 6.

We deride Holocaust deniers. We poke merciless fun at Creationists. Yet we tolerate those who flaunt the depths of their incomprehension by claiming that anthropogenic climate change is some sort of fiction fabricated by political extremists.

Perhaps some of us can afford to be be loftily contrarian, a stance to which Michael Crichton aspired with "State of Fear." Or maybe some of us are just utterly and contemptibly stupid.
Oh, wow: the first bovine UFO abduction has been videotaped.



I think the intention here was "sexy," but the result is distinctly uninspiring. In fact, "Eva" makes me want to run away screaming . . .

Popular Landform in Cydonia Region

HiRISE captured this image of an eroded mesa made famous by its similarity to a human face in a Viking Orbiter image with much lower spatial resolution and a different lighting geometry.

Yep, it's a brand-new image of the Face on Mars.
Ecological Apocalypse: Why Are All The Bees Dying?

The alarming decline in bee populations across the United States and Europe represents a potential ecological apocalypse, an environmental catastrophe that could collapse the food chain and wipe out humanity. Who and what is behind this flagrant abuse of the eco-system?

Many people don't realize the vital role bees play in maintaining a balanced eco-system. According to experts, if bees were to become extinct then humanity would perish after just four years.

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man," said Albert Einstein.

Kurt Vonnegut would have appreciated this.
I just found out that Kurt Vonnegut, one of my all-time favorite writers, died yesterday.

At least we can read his books. While they're still legal.

Water Identified in Extrasolar Planet Atmosphere

For the first time, water has been identified in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. Through a combination of previously published Hubble Space Telescope measurements and new theoretical models, Lowell Observatory astronomer Travis Barman has found strong evidence for water absorption in the atmosphere of transiting planet HD209458b.
NASA's New Moon Robot: Dig It!

When we finally make it back to the moon, it would be nice if some air and water were waiting for us. That's the goal of this digger bot, built by Lockheed Martin as part of NASA's PILOT (Precursor In-situ Lunar Oxygen Testbed) program. It will use a bucket-wheel, cameras and laser rangefinders to scoop up oxygen-rich lunar soil and autonomously carry it to a processing plant. The extracted oxygen would be used for air or combined with hydrogen to produce water.

(Via Communist Robot.)
Tonight I got my hair cut. All of it. I am now totally bald -- and it feels great!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Physics isn't Christian, though it was invented by Christians. Algebra isn't Muslim, even though it was invented by Muslims. Whenever we get at the truth, we transcend culture, we transcend our upbringing. The discourse of science is a good example of where we should hold out hope for transcending our tribalism."

--Sam Harris, "The God Debate," Newsweek, April 9, 2007

Just a quick note that I'll appear on MysteryTour tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:00 PM (Central) to talk about UFOs. Call-ins welcome.
Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips. A grim vision of the future

Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx's proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe's drops as fertility falls. "Flashmobs" - groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups.

This is the world in 30 years' time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the "future strategic context" likely to face Britain's armed forces.

(Via Betterhumans.)

Somehow, a bleak, anarchic future controlled by flashmob decree strikes me as infinitely more likely than the "Singularity" I'd prefer to anticipate.

I can't wait to find out. Can you?
The art of science

Is it possible to produce a fur coat without killing an animal? The answer, in a word, is yes. Artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr have done it, and the result is on view in an installation called "Victimless Leather" at the Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon. The two grew a miniature coat from living skin cells, in an improvised laboratory they established for this purpose at the center. The growth process, which requires a special technology, took place in the lab. For 11 days the two artists "fed" the cells, which grew and multiplied, creating a miniature coat. On the last day they "killed" the coat by no longer feeding it.

(Via Spluch.)

Click here for photos.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Of Time Travel and Funding

Traveling to the planets takes big money and we've been part of the squabbing over where NASA money in particular ought to be allocated. But what about projects that take small money? The term is relative, of course, but John Cramer (University of Washington) thinks $20,000 should suffice to run his experiment in time travel, and with NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts now shutting down, he's having a hard time raising it.

Read on. I can't help but feel Cramer's idea -- if validated -- might have some practical benefits for the computer industry. Perhaps instead of petitioning the NASA bureaucracy he should approach the likes of Bill Gates.
Korean War hero branded a terrorist by draft-dodging Shrub

Professor Walter F. Murphy, a Korean war hero and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) at Princeton, was delayed while flying because he's on a "terrorist watch list." The check-in clerk told him that he was probably added because he gave a speech that was critical of the president (who dodged his military service).

I post this at the risk of starting some degenerate comment thread rationalizing the W administration's absurd "anti-terror" strategies. Fine.

And while I'm feeling blasphemously unpatriotic, don't miss Thirty-Six Sure-Fire Signs That Your Empire Is Crumbling.

Stop shopping . . . or the planet will go pop

According to Porritt, the most senior adviser to the government on sustainability, we have become a generation of shopaholics. We are bombarded by advertising from every medium which persuades us that the more we consume, the better our lives will be. Shopping is equated with fun, fulfilment and self-identity. It is also, Porritt warns, killing the planet.

(Via Nerdshit.)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sudden cold snap linked to Neanderthals' demise

They once inhabited a zone stretching from Asia to western Europe and eked out an existence until some 24,000 years ago. But in the end it was a familiar foe - climate change - that did for our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals, new research suggests.

(Via Unknown Country.)
Seth Shostak and Kal Korff? Oh, well. I suppose they deserve each other.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

How About Dumb Intelligence?

Or maybe such [ET] probes are smarter than that but are still "dumb." Maybe they're as intelligent as a dog, still having some sort of instinctive reasoning, able to learn new tricks, but that is kept under control by strict training. Such a probe would have more leeway in responding yet still be limited. Who knows, maybe an alien probe has a built-in invisible fence to keep Rover concentrating on his mission, sniffing out new life-forms.

And in those cases when an UFO is observed moving erratically, flying in a crazy pattern, it could be the invisible fence has failed for the moment and that Rover wants to play.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Bruce Rux has some interesting things to add to this theme in his wonderfully out-there book "Architects of the Underworld."
Shouting Big Brother Cameras To Use Child Voices

A previously localized trial of CCTV cameras that allow local government officials to monitor people in the streets and shout orders at anyone they deem to be acting in an anti-social manner is to be enforced nationwide across the UK. In a bizarre psychological move the cameras will speak in a child's voice.

In an incredibly Orwellian move, loudspeakers are to be fitted to surveillance cameras throughout major cities, allowing CCTV operators to bark commands at people who drop litter, act in an aggressive manner or loiter.
A hypnotic Mandelbrot zoom:

Sometimes less is more.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

They Came from . . . Earth? An Interview With Mac Tonnies

If you're interests tend towards the more esoteric and unpopular areas of cosmology, nonhuman intelligence, UFOs, consciousness studies, and futurism, you could do much worse that taking your laptop down to the local coffee shop and wasting away the afternoon sipping on a mug and checking out the websites of Missouri-based author Mac Tonnies: and Posthuman Blues.

While you're at it, add a couple of shots of espresso to that mug.
Here's "Ruby," an Egyptian pop singer, strutting her stuff on the streets of Prague.

My take is that she's probably engaged in a psy-ops ploy against spymaster extraordinaire Kal Korff, but for all I know she's working for him.

What a tangled web we weave!

(Hat tip to Beyond the Beyond.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Blog of the day: Synchronizm
Wow . . . two subjects I'm passionately interested in -- Mars and climate change -- rolled into one!

Dust Storms Fuel Global Warming on Mars

Across the past two decades, the model showed the surface temperature of Mars has increased by about 0.65 degrees Celsius (1.17 degrees Fahrenheit).

'That magnitude of change is comparable to what we've estimated for global warming on Earth over the last 100 years,' said study participant Paul Geissler of the USGS.

The model also found that winds have strengthened over regions with the lowest albedo.

There's a strange symmetry at work here: if Earth becomes intolerably hot within the next 100-200 years, we might discover that Mars has taken the first steps toward effectively terraforming itself, making it that much more important in terms of human settlement. Ironically, our trashing of Earth's climate may hasten our first efforts to colonize Mars, thereby helping to ensure the human legacy isn't wiped out in some quite unguessable orgy of destruction.
Scientists Predict Southwestern Dust Bowl by 2050

In research published online yesterday in Science, 18 of 19 climate scientists said a drought that has dessicated the southwest U.S. for nearly a decade is only beginning. They predicted a state of permanent drought by 2050, with conditions akin to the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930's -- something that should give pause to residents of the country's fastest-growing region.

"Mad Max," here we come.
Virtual ants simulated in Second Life

Wagner James Au sez, "A programming student created this ultracool video demonstrating his ant colony simulation in Second Life; he's programmed his ants to have different behavior states, so they can coordinate their food gathering. 'The behavior is arguably emergent,' he says, 'because the ants only interact locally and follow local state-based rules, yet they end up working together to harvest food.'"

Will they ever make the transition to a meat-based substrate (assuming they'd want to)? Stay tuned!

(All of this is very reminiscent of a certain Rudy Rucker novel . . .)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Kansas City, MO, USA

Mac Tonnies, author and Posthuman Blues blogger, to go to bed early tonight

In an exclusive statement, Mac Tonnies, veteran Fortean essayist and author of the critically acclaimed "After the Martian Apocalypse," has announced that he will retire early tonight, although he conceded that his schedule might be delayed in order for him to consume several bowls of Cap'n Crunch cereal.

"Actually, it's not Cap'n Crunch," Tonnies, proprietor of said. "I've been buying generic recently. It's generally just as good as the name brand product. Advertisers who claim otherwise are LYING."
Global Warming Happens: But is it "Catastrophic"?

"I'm a bit preoccupied that the media, having contributed to every day making another doomsday news headline, then in six weeks time will declare it hysteria and move on," said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme.

Still, Steiner said it was clearly right to use words like "catastrophe" to describe effects such as a projected rise in sea levels in coming centuries that could swamp Pacific island states or cities from Shanghai to Buenos Aires.

"It is legitimate to use those words in specific scenarios," he told Reuters. "But does that mean that the whole climate change debate should be about doom and gloom? No, because we are finding that we can do something about it."

Too little, too late, perhaps, but ultimately global warming can be looked at as a massive engineering challenge. We already know (if only roughly) how we'd go about terraforming Mars. The true test is whether we can apply that same knowledge to our home planet, only in reverse. And while there's reason for hope, we must concede the possibility of failure.
A "Blade Runner" moment: Times Square at Dusk.
The malady lingers on: Kal Korff's at it again.

Here's the latest strangeness (in obligatory "press release" format):

Kal Korff to Contact James Moseley to DISPROVE Recent False Claims, Identify Responsible Parties

To give you just one real example Mosely cited, which is NOT true and never has been or will be, is that I have a "cooking column."

NO. I have NEVER had a cooking column. It is simply my column, Kal's Korner. We cover many subjects, any I feel I have a right to or am qualified to.

What the "cooking" refers to is something that should outright EM BARE ASS anyone in UFOlogy who "believed" this. I was told that Mac Tonnies passed this "fact" along to Mosely. If so, Tonnes [sic] can "explain" it.

Sorry to disappoint, Kal. I honestly can't explain it because I don't have a clue what you're talking about. Shouldn't you be off fighting international terrorism or something?

For back-story on Kal, you could do a lot worse than listen to Paul Kimball's recent discussion with David Biedny on The Paracast.

(Paul's wisely washed his hands of Korff's antics. I hereby do the same.)

Araqinta, one of my favorite art sites, has just undergone a terrific face-lift. See for yourself.
This is the funniest YouTube video I've seen since that clip from "Let's Paint, Exercise and Make Blended Drinks."

If I had children, I'd be sure to make them watch this every Easter.

(Thanks: The Other Side of Truth.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Truth Is Less Cool Than Fiction: Nazis Rule Antarctica With UFO Tech

Concerning Nazis, I'm torn. On one hand, like Indiana Jones, I hate those guys. They're responsible for some of the most vile, repulsive crimes against humanity of the 20th century. On the other hand, how could a bunch of guys who give us cool conspiracy theories like this be all bad?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Singularity goes to Washington:

Congress and the Singularity

It is remarkable to find officials at this level of the U.S. government, or any large government, openly discussing dramatic possibilities that most often are dismissed as science fiction.

One way to avert a killer asteroid:

(Hat tip: Robot Guy.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Photographs reveal tiny UFOs lurking over cups of coffee!

Paul Kimball fingers a perennially overlooked trend that hampers objective UFO research. As Paul's from Canada, I'm willing to overlook the hockey metaphor.

UFOs: Wave Babies?

For example, while one might think at first blush that UFOs "waves" are important events, and point to them as a sign of an impending "revelation" (as Whitley Strieber has recently done), they are giving in to the "noise" when they do so.

I am a self-confessed total Dick-head.
Mac Tonnies is Latest UFO Researcher to be Added to "Secret Wars" Reality-based TV Series

CriticalThinkers announced today that longtime UFO researcher Mac Tonnies has been added to the list of people to be featured in the new reality-based TV show, Secret Wars. Stay tuned for further details . . .

Cool! I'm a "longtime UFO researcher" . . . and didn't even know!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Czech supermodel I've never heard of has taken a special interest in me. Don't believe me? Dig it:

Czech Supermodel and Journalist Martina Tycova Sends Open Letters to Rob McConnell of The X Zone Radio Show Challenging Kal Korff's "Kritics"

Martina Tycova, a world recognized Czech and international supermodel, is now in the process of sending several letters to Rob McConnell of The "X" Zone Radio Show concerning Paul Kimball, David Biedny, Mac Tonnes [sic], Royce Myers III, and Kevin Randle asking them how they now intend to handle the issue of printing and announcing their formal retractions before their consequences increase still further. Ms. Tycova is working on a series of books exposing their various claims, as well as a biography detailing her years working on assignments with Kal Korff and involving the Israeli-founded Special Secret Services.

Miss Tycova's information will be certified by Rob McConnell of The "X" Zone Radio Show as a neutral third party before the public during live broadcasts of Mr. McConnell's show. Afterwards, each letter will then be sent to each respective party for an official response in order to document for the global public their reactions, if any.

This is, of course, a typical "press release" from Kal Korff, a much-disliked would-be UFO researcher whose latest gimmick is blogging on a site called "" I don't know how I got dragged into this delusional mess, but I'm betting Korff noticed I was pals with his nemesis Paul Kimball and decided I was overdue for a scathing lesson in international relations.

Can it possibly get any kookier? You betcha!