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Archive for the ‘physics’ category: Page 86

Jan 10, 2012

Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 1

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, business, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, fun, futurism, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, philosophy, physics, policy, robotics/AI, space, transparency

Steamships, locomotives, electricity; these marvels of the industrial age sparked the imagination of futurists such as Jules Verne. Perhaps no other writer or work inspired so many to reach the stars as did this Frenchman’s famous tale of space travel. Later developments in microbiology, chemistry, and astronomy would inspire H.G. Wells and the notable science fiction authors of the early 20th century.

The submarine, aircraft, the spaceship, time travel, nuclear weapons, and even stealth technology were all predicted in some form by science fiction writers many decades before they were realized. The writers were not simply making up such wonders from fanciful thought or childrens ryhmes. As science advanced in the mid 19th and early 20th century, the probable future developments this new knowledge would bring about were in some cases quite obvious. Though powered flight seems a recent miracle, it was long expected as hydrogen balloons and parachutes had been around for over a century and steam propulsion went through a long gestation before ships and trains were driven by the new engines. Solid rockets were ancient and even multiple stages to increase altitude had been in use by fireworks makers for a very long time before the space age.

Some predictions were seen to come about in ways far removed yet still connected to their fictional counterparts. The U.S. Navy flagged steam driven Nautilus swam the ocean blue under nuclear power not long before rockets took men to the moon. While Verne predicted an electric submarine, his notional Florida space gun never did take three men into space. However there was a Canadian weapons designer named Gerald Bull who met his end while trying to build such a gun for Saddam Hussien. The insane Invisible Man of Wells took the form of invisible aircraft playing a less than human role in the insane game of mutually assured destruction. And a true time machine was found easily enough in the mathematics of Einstein. Simply going fast enough through space will take a human being millions of years into the future. However, traveling back in time is still as much an impossibillity as the anti-gravity Cavorite from the First Men in the Moon. Wells missed on occasion but was not far off with his story of alien invaders defeated by germs- except we are the aliens invading the natural world’s ecosystem with our genetically modified creations and could very well soon meet our end as a result.

While Verne’s Captain Nemo made war on the death merchants of his world with a submarine ram, our own more modern anti-war device was found in the hydrogen bomb. So destructive an agent that no new world war has been possible since nuclear weapons were stockpiled in the second half of the last century. Neither Verne or Wells imagined the destructive power of a single missile submarine able to incinerate all the major cities of earth. The dozens of such superdreadnoughts even now cruising in the icy darkness of the deep ocean proves that truth is more often stranger than fiction. It may seem the golden age of predictive fiction has passed as exceptions to the laws of physics prove impossible despite advertisments to the contrary. Science fiction has given way to science fantasy and the suspension of disbelief possible in the last century has turned to disappointment and the distractions of whimsical technological fairy tales. “Beam me up” was simply a way to cut production costs for special effects and warp drive the only trick that would make a one hour episode work. Unobtainium and wishalloy, handwavium and technobabble- it has watered down what our future could be into childish wish fulfillment and escapism.

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Nov 18, 2011

Femtotechnology: AB-Needles Fantastic properties and Applications

Posted by in categories: cosmology, ethics, nanotechnology, physics

Femtotechnology: AB-Needles. Fantastic properties and Applications

after posting this on facebook.com and seeing its shared on Scribd.com I was a bit shocked by the community of reads in their disregard for these thoughts on Femtotechnology. One reader was quoted to say

I don’t understand why people bother talking about femtotech when we barely even have nanotech…

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Nov 11, 2011

Eminent physicists who dismiss LHC conspiracy theories — 2

Posted by in category: physics

I thought I would offer a series of quotes to counter the codswallop frequently expressed here — suggesting that mainstream physicists have genuine concerns about the safety of the LHC.

“To think that LHC particle collisions at high energies can lead to dangerous black holes is rubbish. Such rumors were spread by unqualified people seeking sensation or publicity.

Academician Vitaly Ginzburg, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Lebedev Institute, Moscow, and Russian Academy of Sciences

(from http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/lhc/safety-en.html).

Continue reading “Eminent physicists who dismiss LHC conspiracy theories — 2” »

Nov 6, 2011

Eminent physicists who dismiss LHC conspiracy theories — 1

Posted by in category: physics

I thought I would offer a series of quotes to counter the codswallop frequently expressed here — suggesting that mainstream physicists have genuine concerns about the safety of the LHC.

So, here’s one:

“The operation of the LHC is safe, not only in the old sense of that word, but in the more general sense that our most qualified scientists have thoroughly considered and analyzed the risks involved in the operation of the LHC. [Any concerns] are merely hypothetical and speculative, and contradicted by much evidence and scientific analysis.

Prof. Sheldon Glashow, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Boston University,

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Nov 2, 2011

Why the LHC won’t kill you — the podcast

Posted by in categories: education, particle physics, physics

With some help from colleagues, I recently produced a 365 Days of Astronomy podcast on why anti-CERN conspiracy theories about the LHC creating Earth-swallowing black holes really don’t make much sense.

The transcript is also available for reading on the 365 Days site if you are not a podcast fan.

Thanks

Steve Nerlich (Space Settlement Board member and Death-by-LHC skeptic)

Oct 4, 2011

Astronomers Win 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics

Posted by in categories: physics, space

Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess will share the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 has been awarded “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae” acknowledging the amazing discovery announced in 1998 that — based on the measured velocities of Type 1a supernovae — the rate of the universe’s expansion is increasing over time. The prize will be shared by three astronomers, now officially ‘outstanding in their field’, Saul Perlmutter of UC Berkeley, Brian P. Schmidt of the Australian National University and Adam G. Riess of Johns Hopkins University. (more…)

Oct 1, 2011

The neutrino faster-than-light kerfuffle

Posted by in category: physics

Hi folks,

Given the interest of this blog in all things CERN, here’s my take on the recent OPERA/CGNS beam findings — where neutrinos were measured as travelling faster than light (FTL). My article is published on Universe Today — a moderated science blog.

Like LHC-will-destroy-the-Earth theories, the FTL finding is probably a load of old bollocks since it conflicts with core principles of modern physics - but the science team has provided a detailed paper with all their data, assumptions and calculations available for public scrutiny and comment - to enable everyone to get to the bottom of the problem. Very professional and appropriate practice — they are CERN scientists after all.

I hope this may be of interest.

Steve Nerlich (Space Settlement Board member and death-by-LHC skeptic)

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