Monday, September 17, 2012

The warp drive could be come science fact

From (Clara Moskowitz) and Discovery News:

"A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel -- a concept popularized in television's Star Trek -- may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say. A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, however subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy. Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science ..."

See more of the story here.

That's part of the wonder of science ... when the line between science and science fiction starts to blur.  I love the closing quote of the article:

"If we're ever going to become a true spacefaring civilization, we're going to have to think outside the box a little bit, we're going to have to be a little bit audacious,"

It's that lack of audacity that is preventing us from solving the world's problems.  We have possible solutions to things like hunger, global warming, energy and space travel but small, superstitious minds rule the day.  Respecting other people's right to their own belief systems is fine and dandy, but not at the expense of progress.  And the argument that religion is useful for promoting morality is laughable.  You cannot go a day without hearing of religion encouraging killing and hate and bigotry.

Let's be audacious and use rationality and reason.

Calvin and Hobbes was always one of my favorites because of its irreverence, sarcasm and willingness to take on "touchy subjects".  CK just posted another great one on his blog:  Seeking a Little Truth

Monday, September 10, 2012

Richard Dawkins - Playboy Interview

This is a really good and funny interview with Richard Dawkins here:

PLAYBOY: You often hear evolution described as “just a theory.” Is it?

DAWKINS: The word theory can mean a hypothesis. But the word is also used in a more serious sense as a body of knowledge. It’s better to use the word fact. Evolution is a fact in the same sense that the earth orbits the sun.


PLAYBOY: What will happen when you die?

DAWKINS: Well, I shall either be buried or be cremated.

PLAYBOY: Funny. But without faith in an afterlife, in what do you take comfort in times of despair?

DAWKINS: Human love and companionship. But in more thoughtful, cerebral moments, I take—comfort is not quite the right word, but I draw strength from reflecting on what a privilege it is to be alive and what a privilege it is to have a brain that’s capable in its limited way of understanding why I exist and of reveling in the beauty of the world and the beauty of the products of evolution. The magnificence of the universe and the sense of smallness that gives us in space and in geologically deep time is humbling but in a strangely comforting way. It’s nice to feel you’re part of a hugely bigger picture.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for ...

I watched Blade Runner the other night, for perhaps the dozenth time.  A brilliant movie, obviously, with deep musings on the nature of life and consciousness.  It mostly relates to how other things besides humans can have that spark of life.  But not just that, Blade Runner is also a study in what it means to be a human ... for humans.

What I've been struggling with lately is what it means for me to be human.

Gaff: [voiceover] "It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?"

Tonight, it got me thinking that all too often it seems like I'm just sleep-walking through life. Especially lately.

Batty: "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding. Fear of change. A slave to conformity.

Is this really what I'm meant to do? Does it matter what we do each day to pay the bills? I think it does ... and I always have. I've quit jobs that paid better because I do not like others controlling what I do. I like having the responsibility, good and bad, for the choices I make and the actions I take.

I'm doing a job where I have all the control, but am I happy? This is not what I see myself doing for another 10 or 20 years.

I jump in and out of the lives of those friends I consider close. With those friends I've been lucky enough to encounter on the internets, my output and interaction is sporadic.

As a person of 43, should I have this all figured out?

What does it mean to be alive for me? I think it means to be constantly learning, to be intellectually engaged, to try and make my little corner of the world better than I found it, and to be someone my son would be proud of.

I don't really know if I'm succeeding on any of those counts. I guess it says something that I'm asking the question.

"... All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die"