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Oct 11, 2016

Brexit for Transhumanists: A Parable of Getting What You Wish For

Posted by in categories: governance, government, human trajectories, humor, life extension, Ray Kurzweil, transhumanism

For the past two years, Zoltan Istvan has been campaigning for the US presidency on the Transhumanist Party, a largely one-man show which nevertheless remains faithful to the basic tenets of transhumanism. Now suppose he won. Top of his policy agenda had been to ensure the immortality of all Americans. But even Zoltan realized that this would entail quite big changes in how the state and society function. So, shortly after being elected president, he decides to hold a national referendum on the matter.

The question on the ballot is one that makes the stakes crystal clear: ‘The government shall endeavour to release all Americans from the constraints of mortality’. Zoltan liked this way of putting things because were he to lose to the referendum, which he half-presumed, the opportunity to air publicly the relevant issues would continue to shift naysayers in Congress to increase funding for broadly anti-death research and treatments — a step in the right direction, as far as he’s concerned.

Zoltan also liked the idea that the referendum effectively ‘rotated the political axis’, from left-right to up-down, a turn of phrase he picked up from some philosopher whose name he couldn’t remember. But this also meant that the ensuing campaign, which was fierce, attracted a motley crew of supporters on both sides.

The ‘Remainers’ (as the anti-immortalists call themselves) were composed of a mix of traditional religious believers, environmental activists and hard-headed sceptics who distrust all transcendental hype, whether it comes from religion or science. In other words, those who wanted us to remain in our normal bodies held that our fate either is confined to our current circumstances or requires that we remain in those circumstances in order for something better to happen post mortem. The stakes were so high that even the Pope was called out to argue the case, which of course he was more than happy to do, Obama-style.

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Oct 10, 2016

Stable molecular state of photons and artificial atom discovered

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

Researchers at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, in collaboration with researchers at the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation and the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute have discovered qualitatively new states of a superconducting artificial atom dressed with virtual photons.

The discovery was made using spectroscopic measurements on an artificial atom that is very strongly coupled to the light field inside a superconducting cavity. This result provides a new platform to investigate the interaction between light and matter at a fundamental level, helps understand quantum phase transitions and provides a route to applications of non-classical light such as Schrödinger cat states.

It may contribute to the development of quantum technologies in areas such as quantum communication, quantum simulation and computation, or quantum metrology.

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Oct 10, 2016

Why SoftBank Just Led A $130 Million Mega Round Into Zymergen’s Microbe-Creating Robots

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, robotics/AI

SoftBank is pouring a massive $130 million funding round into the science fiction-invoking robots at Zymergen, which creates new microbes for corporations and government agencies.

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Oct 10, 2016

Star Trek-inspired device to detect rogue genetically modified organisms in the wild

Posted by in category: genetics

GMOs can have a positive impact, but those that “escape” their intended environment may end up wreaking havoc on the natural ecosystem. To combat this, a team is developing a device that scans water samples to detect GMO-associated proteins in the wild, and help authorities respond to them.

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Oct 10, 2016

Nightingale Sleep encourages slumber under a white noise “sound blanket”

Posted by in categories: internet, media & arts, neuroscience

Pitch black darkness and silence may help some people drift off at night, but others fall asleep better with music, TV or a fan on in the room. For the latter group, a white noise machine or app can be a handy bedside companion, but Cambridge Sound Management claims it has a better option with the Nightingale, a new Internet of Things-enabled system that uses two speakers in a room to create a “sound blanket” that is designed to blend into the background and block disruptive sounds.

Devices like the Snooz are designed to sit by the bed while they give off their comforting soundscapes, but according to CSM, when sound is coming from a single source a listener’s brain can pinpoint it, making it less effective at helping people switch off and drift off. To counter this apparent shortcoming, the Nightingale system comes in pairs, and placing them in different parts of the room creates a more uniform blanket of white noise that the brain can’t precisely locate.

Each unit contains two speakers, and when plugged into an outlet – actually two outlets –, outputs ambience from a selection of 15 different types of soundscapes. The company says the layout of the room is taken into account, and the devices will work even when plugged in behind furniture. Electrical outlet real estate is valuable, so the front of each unit contains two more outlets, to replace the ones it’s hogging.

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Oct 10, 2016

Physicists just witnessed quasiparticles forming for the first time ever

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

For the first time, scientists have observed the formation of quasiparticles — a strange phenomenon observed in certain solids — in real time, something that physicists have been struggling to do for decades.

It’s not just a big deal for the physics world — it’s an achievement that could change the way we build ultra-fast electronics, and could lead to the development of quantum processors.

But what is a quasiparticle? Rather than being a physical particle, it’s a concept used to describe some of the weird phenomena that happen in pretty fancy setups — specifically, many-body quantum systems, or solid-state materials.

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Oct 10, 2016

Computer solves a major time travel problem

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics, time travel

The ‘grandfather paradox’ of time travel has been puzzling philosophers, quantum physicists and novelists for years. Now there’s an answer as Cathal O’Connell reports.

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Oct 10, 2016

Oculus Connect 3 VR Event

Posted by in category: virtual reality

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Oct 10, 2016

China to launch pioneering pulsar navigation satellite in November

Posted by in category: space travel

China is already well on the way to establishing its own version of America’s GPS network with its Beidou satellite constellation, but now it is seeking to take navigation and timing to stellar levels.

In November China will launch the X-ray pulsar navigation satellite — XPNAV-1 — a satellite that will conduct the world’s first test of the possibilities of using the regular emission of X-ray signals from pulsars for spacecraft navigation.

The spacecraft will attempt to triangulate its position relative to the Sun using the highly regular emissions from pulsars.

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Oct 10, 2016

Starships of the Future [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by in categories: futurism, space travel

Want to reach for the stars? Here’s how to do it.

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