Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'd like a large with pepperoni. It'll be ready an hour ago? Great! I already picked it up then.

It appears that scientists at Vanderbilt University have come to a surprising conclusion. It seems the Large Hadron Collider (you remember, the brand new big atom smasher that is supposed to kill us all, destroy the earth, and leave a nasty rash) may be capable of producing particles that can travel in time. This idea is not new to sci-fi. Final Theory: A Novel and The Accidental Time Machine are two books that use this very idea. This would, theoretically, make it possible to communicate though time.

The particles, known as Higgs singlets, are not stuck to our 4 dimensional slice of the universe, so they are free to take shortcuts through other dimensions. (Kind of like Memphis cab drivers) Since one of those dimensions is time, theoretical physicists Thomas Weiler and Chui Man hypothesize that generating the particles could result in singlets that show up before they are created. Read more here. I will keep you updated with information before it becomes available...

Monday, February 28, 2011

The universe will only fit in your Ipod for 13 seconds...

Note how small the man at the bottom looks...

Many of you already know what the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is.  For those that don't, it is, simply put, the largest slingshot ever created by mankind.  It is a 17 mile long circular ring designed to sling protons or, if they're feeling really frisky, lead nuclei at each other at nearly the speed of light.  The particles, as you would expect, break apart rather furiously.  Scientists then use the equipment conveniently surrounding the crash site to learn things about the basic nature of matter and energy.

It's kind of the scientific equivalent of slamming two Ferraris (Ferrari's?? Ferrarii??) at each other then looking at photos of the motor wreckage to learn how the internal combustion engine works.  Except that in this case the wreckage promptly reassembles itself into a new Porsche, drives off at top speed and the leftover pieces quickly evaporate.  Therefore, there is a great need to take lots of pictures really quickly before the evidence of what makes up the smallest bits of the universe literally goes away.

Anyhow that generates enough data about the collision (pictures of the motor wreckage, if you will) to fill an 8 gigabyte Ipod every 13 seconds. It looks like the universe should probably invest in the 64 gig version...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Roots of Sci-fi #1

Dust Plume over Mediterranean Sea

Those of you that have read Dune by Frank Herbert are familiar with the concept of a desert planet and the differences in society and technology that it would bring about.  Interestingly Mr. Herbert's interest in the desert setting of Dune and its challenges came from research he started back in 1957 for an article about a United States Department of Agriculture experiment using poverty grasses to stabilize damaging mobile sand dunes, which could "swallow whole cities, lakes, rivers, and highways."

The photo above is from NASA's Earth Observatory from Feb 23rd.  That sand and dust cloud is over 500 km long. Just sayin...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Your eyes have lost their sparkle. Your batteries must be low...

 In a move which leaves me both amazed and rubbing my eyes in sympathetic irritation, University of Michigan researchers developed what is believed to be the first complete millimeter-scale computing system... to be put in your eye.  It is designed to monitor and transmit pressure information for glaucoma patients.  The update to turn us into mindless automatons will no doubt be available via a low-cost firmware upgrade.

It reminds me of "Metatropolis" and other similar scifi stories where humanity has shifted away from singular huge scale projects to a multitude of nano scale creations.  A case in point is from Metatropolis:Cascadia in which the narrator mentions "Camera dust".  Singular cameras of normal size can see more, but cameras the size of the above nanocomputer can be much more cheaply manufactured and scattered around anywhere. One nanocamera can see very little.  A network of thousands can see practically everything.  Not so far fetched anymore.  And yes, that thing IS networkable.  Check out the description from PhysOrg below.


"In a package that's just over 1 cubic millimeter, the system fits an ultra low-power microprocessor, a pressure sensor, memory, a thin-film battery, a solar cell and a wireless radio with an antenna that can transmit data to an external reader device that would be held near the eye."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Robopocalypse at our own "hands"

Now that our Jeopardy playing SKYNET prototype, WATSON, is well along, it's high time we got some decent human looking robots to act as proper killing machines to doom us all.
Virginia Tech scientists have developed robotic hands to allow robots like the one on the left to "grasp things" and "type". "Grasp things" is quite a novel euphemism for "kill us all", but at least they will be able to "type" our obituaries.

Don't say we didn't warn you about the coming robopocalypse...

What? OK.
BRIArN says:
"Actually, we didn't warn you. Until now. When it's too late.
But look on the bright side, when SKYNET activates, at least the killing will be organized."

I don't think he has quite the right perspective on this...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sunspot #1158 CME, and me

BRIArN's interface to the hivemind is flaky due to the solar storm caused by a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) from Sunspot #1158. It makes him cranky. He keeps changing the TV to "Tyra".

Now I'm cranky too...

Tweets from

PhysOrg Science News
by oldtimescifi
Huge solar flare jams radio, satellite signals: NASA

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Double Jeopardy

PhysOrg Science News just reported on the defeat of the two greatest human Jeopardy! champions by a specially designed Artificial Intelligence machine.
The interest here is not that the computer knew the answers, that is a forgone conclusion.  The trick is that it understood the questions (irony, double entendre and all) without help.
And thus half the Sci-fi we will be reading is now plausible in the next 2 years. We are doomed as SKYNET is now upon us!!

On the plus side, maybe the phone bots can correctly route my calls now...

Tweets from

PhysOrg Science News

by oldtimescifi
Computer crushes human 'Jeopardy!' champs

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

11 dimensional squirrels

BRIArN says that once we understand that reality is music, we will begin to understand the 11 dimensional spatial reference frame... and squirrels.

Music and Reality

It seems, according to Prof. Michio Kaku  (http://bigthink.com/ideas/26835) and the string theorists, all the world IS a stage.  It's just that the stage is not the Globe Theatre or Broadway, but in fact is more like the Metropolitan Opera...
or Showtime at the Apollo.
I guess it depends on how the universe is treating you today

Friday, February 4, 2011

Enter the BRIArN


I’m not sure how this happened.  I left home like I always do, went to work like I always do, and came home (like I always do).

Next thing I know, my TV is talking to me.  Turns out it’s not my TV doing the talking at all.  It’s just a conduit for a multidimensional probe.  What does it want?  Why did it choose my TV?  Will I still be able to watch Smallville this evening?

As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.