Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Escape from Land

Five MIT graduates, including Carl Dietrich the CEO, teamed up as pilots and created a start-up company, Terrafugia, in 2006 with an objective of producing a Personal Air Vehicle. They have recently revealed, what the average onlooker may assume to be, a flying car. Its design is actually portrayed as an aircraft with capabilities of driving off the runway and merging onto highway traffic. Given the name “Transition,” this vehicle is able to deploy its wings from street legal to ready for take-off in thirty seconds. I’m sure the button to expands the wings, as if it were a rag top “convertible,” is right beside the gas tank release trigger, which you’ll need when you pull-in to your usual gas station. Terrafugia recommends filling up with ‘super’ but, if you’re on a tight budget, regular will still get you to your next landing strip. Terrafugia states the performance specifications at a range of 490 miles on one tank of 23 gallons of useable fuel, yet claim 35 mpg road travel… The numbers may not match up but they do sound pretty intriguing.

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As far as flying cars go, I think the transition fits well into the concepts of many science fiction writers. Even if the Jetsons envisioned a higher pitched vehicle that transforms into a suitcase. The Transition can still travel a person from their Burlington home to their gorgeous Jersey shore getaway without switching vehicles or getting stuck in weekend traffic. Being that this project had only begun in 2006, I assume that there is much room for scientific redesign and technological improvements of this concept. Perhaps a vertical take-off flying car… Either way the Transition is currently estimated a final purchase price somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000. Terrafugia projected to begin low volume production in late 2011 so get your refundable $10,000 deposits in the mail for your place in line.




The Other, Other White Meat OR If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em; whichever you find creepier.

We seem to forget, all too often, that human beings are just tall, naked, arguably intelligent animals. We may have developed a civilization based on social niceties, but you go back far enough and you’ll find that our ancestors had no issue with smashing each other’s skulls open and feasting on delicious brains. Scientists in Spain have uncovered 800,000 year-old remains that suggest ancestors of modern day Homo Sapiens were cannibals. While traditional views of cannibalism usually attribute it to primal religious ceremonies and occasions of limited food sources, the diverse selection of mammal skeletons found along with the human bones leads researchers to believe that groups ate other people as a way of thinning out competitive tribes. The area the bones were found in would have had plenty of food sources that didn’t involve roasting the neighbors and the fact that all the remains were dumped together strongly suggests that the site of burial was not in fact a religious location where cannibalistic rituals would have taken place. Even more intriguing/disturbing, depending on who you are, is that cut marks at the base of discovered skulls indicate that the brains were consumed along with meat and marrow.

On a personal level, I think the whole thing is pretty cool if not a little bit weird. Eating a fellow citizen is certainly frowned upon in the modern world, and with good reason, but if warring tribes were bound to kill each other in land disputes anyway, why not eat the dead? After all, we’re a good source of nutrition. Make no mistake, people are bones and blood and guts and meat just like all the other animals we eat. What makes a human so different from a cow or pig? Surely there’s something to be said for a frontal lobe and an opposable thumb, but you can walk into any fast food chain in America and be greeted by an altar of fried chicken carcasses sitting right behind the cash registers.

Ultimately, it may not be immediately clear how recent discoveries about ancient cannibalistic cultures, affect us in the modern world. However, we need to consider that cannibalism is still around today. Tribes that have remained isolated from technological advancement and industrialization still eat humans. The example of the Kombai tribe; shown in the video, eat the dead as a sign of respect. Other instances of contemporary cannibalism range from cases of necessity when people are stranded without basic resources, to situations of mental illness. This may stem from a darker side of the human condition but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to gain from it. In the same way that knowledge of cannibalistic tendencies in our ancestors may tell us about our own evolution and how mankind inherited the Earth, modern psychology’s analysis of cannibalism as associated with deviant behavior along the lines of insanity. Anthropophagy (cannibalism) has occurred in several wars of the past century and raises serious issues as to what’s acceptable in society. Beyond that, man eating is a constant theme throughout various religions and can be found in mythology from around the world. Consumption of our fellow man horrifies us, but non-the-less we are fascinated by it. In the modern world we view cannibalism with such disdain that those who we consider cannibals are seen as less then human. That’s ironic since apparently eating other people has been part of our history since before the modern human being had even evolved.

The Human Ovary

During one of our last classes we were talking about cloning.  Some how after discussing this topic we got to discussing the human ovary.  While skimming the Internet I came across an article that shows how a lab grown ovary has successfully matured human eggs.  This science will be used to help women conceive in the future.   This is new technology because according to the website this article is from "An ovary is composed of three main cell types, and this is the first time that anyone has created a 3-D tissue structure with triple cell line."  What this technology will try and do is to preserve the fertility in women.  What this means is that if a woman has cancer and has to have chemotherapy or radiation immature eggs can be saved and frozen before these treatments and then matured in this new artificial ovary.  I feel like this article can be intended for women ages’ 15- whenever a woman can still conceive.  This article can help women who have cancer at a young age who overcome it to still be able to have children.  This technology is like something out of a science fiction novel.  To think that an immature egg can be matured in a lab is amazing.  This new technology can open so many doors for so many women. I hope that one day this science can become more common and that women can be informed about this new technology so that these women can live a same full life as everyone else.





Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cockroaches = Medicine? GROSS!

I know... cockroaches are gross, they live in nasty areas, hang out in feces, sewers, dead tissue, pretty much anything that is really really nasty. But think about it... they have to fight off all that harmful bacteria somehow. Recently scientists thought about this and started doing tests on cockroaches to see if they could fight off any diseases for humans, and guess what, it can! There are antimicrobial compounds in cockroaches brains that can actually fight off MRSA and E. coli. When the scientists tried to grow bacteria in petri dishes with locusts the locusts nerve tissue fought off 100% of the bacteria.
All of this work is very new and there aren't going to be cockroach brains for sale in the pharmacy anytime soon, but it is still all groundbreaking knowledge. To think that we have been living with these insects for millions of years on Earth and didn't know that they could fight off disease. It really makes you wonder what else we haven't discovered yet. I don't know about anyone else, but I had a false feeling that we had for the most part made all the advances in medicine that we were going to. This brings hope that maybe we still can find cures for many diseases that are plaguing the world today.
This is very relative to our class because it obviously has a lot to do with science, but I thought it also seems to have a little bit of magic. If you think about any magic potion that a witch would make, they put all sorts of animal parts into it. Four legs of a spider, a bat's eyeball and maybe even a cockroaches brain!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Ten Dimensions . . . Again

Remember the “Imagining the 10th Dimension” movie in class? Be honest, who watched the whole thing because they had little better to do? Of those who watched it, which of you became lost in what he was saying? Don’t be ashamed, for you are not the only one. Determined to understand what Rob Bryanton, the man who made and narrated the movie, was saying, I did a little research, asking the opinion of a some other people and watching the movie a couple of times again. What I got out of that is the result below.

The 0th Dimension: is represented by a point – it has not width, height or depth.
The 1st Dimension: can be represented by a straight line - it has only width, no height (or vice versa).
The 2nd Dimension: has two intersecting lines to represent it – one for width and one for height.
The 3rd Dimension: has three intersecting lines, each needed to represent height, width, and depth. This one should be the most familiar one to you considering you live in it.
The 4th Dimension: is time and this dimension is represented by a single time line.
This is where things start to get tricky.
The 5th Dimension: is all branches of a single timeline. This is under the notion that every choice presented to you creates branches from you original timeline, each to represent the outcome of all decisions you could possibly make. An example would be one branch representing you going to school while the other represents if you stayed at home.
In the 6th Dimension: all the points in those time lines happen simultaneously from the origin point to the end point, bring the two end points of the timeline together to form a single dot.
This is where things start to get really big.
The 7th Dimension: is where all possible timelines are put together into one universal timeline.
The 8th Dimension: is similar to the 5th dimension, which consists of all the branches of a single timeline, but this is happening on a universal scale.
Now in the 9th Dimension: we have all the branches upon the universal time line happening simultaneously, bringing the origin point of the universal timeline together with the end point of the universal timeline forming a single point, much like in the 6th dimension.
With the 10th Dimension: all possible timelines of all possible universes happen simultaneously, bringing everything down into a single point!

Although knowing about something that is 7 dimensions away from our own perception might seem unimportant, it actually brings up ideas, theories and solutions to many different possibilities.
The fifth dimension is one way to explain the time travel paradox (if someone goes back in time and kills their grandfather). Understanding about the 10th dimension helps to explain the idea of the multiverse (the topic of my last blog post). In summary, within the 10th dimension all possibilities exist. This means that everything you could possibly imagine not only could exist, but does exist, has existed, and will exist all at the same time, and all these limitless possibilities can be contained in nothing more than a little dot. Seems impossible doesn’t it?

Rob Bryanton’s imagining the tenth dimension website:
Bryanton, Rob. Imagining the Tenth Dimension. Rob Bryanton, 2006. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. .

Rob Bryanton Bio:
"Biographies of Participants." Yorkton Film Festival. Yorkton Film Festival Inc., 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. .

Michio Kaku explains the Time Travel Paradox video:
Michio Kaku: Time Travel, Parallel Universes, and Reality. [Video]. (May 25, 2008). Retrived:

Michio Kaku Bio:
"Michio Kaku: Biography & Resources." EnlightenNext Magazine. EnlightenNext Inc., 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. .

"Temporal Paradox." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. .

A thank you to my smart friends, to whom I would be confused without.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Hey, Robot make me some coffee?"

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the field that combines cognitive science with math and physics to replicate the human intelligence within machine. This application of science requires us, as humans, to take what we know about "thinking" and apply it into our computers or any type of informational machine.

AI first git its feet on the ground in the early 1950's from a man named Norbert Wiener. Wiener was the first to make the connection between human intelligence and its applications in a technological world. He discovered what is known as the feedback theory. The best explanation to the feedback theory is to think of a thermostat. It controls the temperature of the environment by taking the actual temperature and adding or subtracting heat to accomplish its target temperature. Later in 1957, John McCarthy decided to hold a conference in Vermont that brought many experienced minds in similar fields together for a brainstorming session. This conference formed the known study of Artificial Intelligence.

As many of you reading have probably already thought if we discovered the possibility of AI in 1950 why haven't we made it a reality now? The answer to that is simply that to re-create the human mind would be impossible. A more in-depth answer is that a human mind contains way too many neurons and neural pathways to create everyone is just unheard of. The amount of material and money it would take is beyond what most would want to invest. This, however, doesn't mean AI hit a road block; in fact we realized that we could make AI do small chunks of cognitive thinking and allow for it to learn. An example of this is to think of playing chess on your computer. Depending on the difficulty you set the game, the computer has the potential to "think" 126 moves ahead. A normal chess master can often only think 3-4 moves ahead. How can you win? You win because you are the variable in the computers equation. By making a move the computer didn't anticipate you change the way the computer needs to rethink in its evaluation of the game and from it the computer learns how to react if the situation reoccurs. That's all it can do. That's is all it can do. The computer won't think of anything else, but chess.

In the video below, a robot attempts to solve a Rubik cube in about a minute.

As you no doubt have noticed from the video, mental intelligence is not the only thing AI has done. Besides having computers act as a second mind, like accident avoidance system in your car, they also have the ability to move and act as if they were human themselves. As a human we understand that we don't just think, but act! We can run, wave our hands, ride a bike (assuming you were taught to), and many other active motions. This is something many scientists involved in AI have thought about. The next video shows the most advanced robotics involving movement AI has to offer.

This topic is relevant to our Science and the Impossible because it takes science fiction and, not only shows you it can be true, but shoves it in your face. I guarantee you have used, seen, or became involved in something containing AI at least twice a day. That fact isn't even what's impressive, it is the fact that many experts in the field say that home-use robots will be an everyday thing in only 30 years! Apple's iBot anyone?

The above information was obtained through the following scholarly sources:

http://library.thinkquest.org/2705/ - This website contains interviews with experts in the field of cognitive science, robotics, AI, physics, and mathematics.

http://www.aaai.org/AITopics/pmwiki/pmwiki.php - This is the official educational site of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Outer Space Vacation? Sign Me Up!

Up until today I thought that the idea of Americans (who were not professional astronauts) going into space was quite far-fetched. It seems however that space tourism may be rolling in a little sooner than we had thought. Today Boeing, who has been the global leader in designing and building spacecrafts, has announced that they would be entering the space tourism business, I have accessed this information from an article published today on The New York Times website. Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace out of Las Vegas, Nevada have been granted an $18 million dollar contract for the development and testing of a seven passenger capsule. NASA’s current guidelines call for four crew members to be on board, leaving room for three passengers.

Up until now there have only been seven Americans who have "vacationed" in space since 2001. All of the missions have been through the Russian Space Agency arranged through the Virginia based company, Space Adventures. who also offer an array of experiences including, lunar missions, zero gravity simulation flights, orbital spaceflights, and flights to the space station. One of the most famous clients of the company is Guy Laliberte, creator of Cirque Di Soliel. Guy reportedly paid a sum of $35 million for his adventure where he spent a total of 12 days in space, including a nine day stay at the International Space Station.

This topic relates to the theme, making the impossible possible, because before the new millennium most of us could only ever dream of the day that we would be able to travel into outer space.

Cloning: Do We Need More of You?

Cloning is the copying of an already existing individual. We are not just talking about a physical appearance similarity however, but a complete, exact genetic copy. But what most people do not realize is that there are clones amongst us in our day to day lives. Twins anyone? Now, I hope I’m not the only one when I say I wish I had a twin. Would not it be entertaining to fool people into thinking you are someone you really not?

However, what if your twin didn't have any responsibilities and were there simply just to be there in case you needed them. Wouldn't that be nice? I’d probably try and convince my clone to do all the things I wouldn’t want to do. But enough of that, let’s get some facts in here.

There are different ways of cloning. According to Human Genome Project Information website there is a type called reproductive cloning, recombinant DNA technology or DNA cloning, and therapeutic cloning. The understanding of these is critical to take a stance on the topic. DNA or recombinant DNA technologies cloning both refer to the same process: the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating genetic element. If you didn’t follow exactly what that meant it means that you take the DNA you wish to replicate and put it into a foreign host cell to grow. This is done when scientists study genes.

Now on to reproductive cloning, which refers to the technology a scientist would use to generate a human or animal that has the same DNA as another that is existing or was once existing. With this may bring up Dolly in your mind. However you may not know who that is either. Dolly was a sheep that was the first mammal to be cloned. Now, on to therapeutic cloning.

Therapeutic cloning is also called embryo cloning and is the production of human embryos for research use. This isn’t done because scientists want to clone humans but to help save us by harvesting stem cells. Stem cells are used to study a human’s development and to treat disease. So who wouldn’t mind having some therapeutic cloning done.

Now, where will society stand...? Is this a good idea or bad?

This opens many doors for us to improve our way of life in the future but also any good technology can be used badly. In the future this could help us fight disease and make it possible to live longer, wouldn’t that be nice? But let’s hope this doesn’t get over board and make it possible for someone to make an entire army of killing machines all looking like the same individual, no one wants that.


The two sites on cloning alone are free from bias and are government or education based sites so they are pretty accurate. The article on Dolly is for the general public and is probably a little biased. Overall, I believe these sites are quality sites and are there to create a better understanding of cloning.

"Cloning Fact Sheet." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml#whatis
"Dolly the Sheep." Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/d/dolly_the_sheep.htm
"What Is Cloning?" Learn.Genetics™. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/whatiscloning/

Dan Brown's Angels and Demons:Truth or Fiction?

Watch the movie trailer
A more in-depth evaluation of Angels and Demons

Dan Brown's novels are, without a doubt, some of the most action packed, fast-paced novels around. His stories follow Robert Langdon, a symbology professor at Harvard, on whirlwind journeys travelling all around the world. Langdon comes face to face with technology that seems so be years ahead; but is it? In this post I will investigate how real the inventions are in Brown's Angels and Demons.
Brown opens up this story by saying everything is real and that the technologies exist. While some do, no doubt, exist, some leave us wondering.
In Angels and Demons, Brown's first novel following Robert Langdon, we are whisked away on a 24 hour journey through Rome. Someone has stolen antimatter from CERN and placed it, as a ticking bomb, somewhere in the city. While still searching for the bomb, we find out that four cardinals up for election to become pope have gone missing and are turning up one by one murdered in the four "gods" of science. Earth, Air, Fire, Water. We follow the path of illumination to save the cardinals, and the city, from destruction.
But how does Langdon get from the US to Rome in such an urgent situation? The X-33 of course! This aircraft can "travel at mach-15 (over 10,000 mph). The X-33 space plane cruises at an altitude of almost 100 miles, on the edge of space. (Brown, Dan)" But what is the truth behind this plane? While there was indeed a X-33 and even X-34 project, it no longer exists. "NASA announced...that the problem plagued X-33 spaceplane project, a venture that aimed to create a single-stage-to-orbit spaceliner, has been scrapped. In addition, the American space agency announced that another reusable rocket, the X-34, is being axed. (David, Leonard)" So, while a program did exist, it appears there will never be a X-33 flying us from New York to Tokyo in an hour.
On to the main event, antimatter. Antimatter is a substance that is "extremely unstable and explodes when it comes into contact with absolutely anything (even air). (Brown, Dan)" CERN makes the substance using a hadron collider. Brown says in his novel that it can be a wonderful energy source, but a deadly weapon. I took a look through the CERN webpage. "In 2002 two experiments...managed to produce tens of thousands of antihydrogen atoms, later even millions. However, although "tens of thousands" may sound a lot, it's really a very, very small amount...If we could somehow store our daily production, it would take us several billion years to fill the balloon...the Angels and Demons scenario is pure fiction. (CERN)" CERN also says that not only is there no way to hold the antimatter, you can not make a bomb and it is not an efficient energy source.
While Dan Brown's novels are fun based on cool technologies, we can certainly make from this that while entertaining, it is purely fiction based on technologies. This story shows how science can be misinterpreted in the art world. People can take this art as fact when it is simply not so.
Read my Sources
These are all valid sources as they are reputable. Brown and CERN are also original sources. There is no room for bias as these sources just state facts.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ashley Murphy: Sci Method

Scientific Method is a way to ask and answer a question by making an observation about something and then conducting an experiment.
-make an observation
-collect dataz
-construct a hypothesis
-experiment (dep/indep variables)
- analyze data and draw conclusions
- reflect on results

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZi8TXtRRYg) Thinking of scientific method reminded me of Bill Nye the Science Guy. This video demonstrates gravity.

I found the readings within Linden to support the validity of the method. What I got out of this reading is how we rely on our senses and find sight to be the strongest of them all. However, we can't always rely on merely what we see to prove science. Linden concludes a section with " In, sum, our sensory world is anything but pure and truthful" p 105. None of the theories that have been proved in science have been concluded and proved completely off of someone's gut instinct. It may have begun with it but i think it can only be true with experimentation and research.

What I got out of Carl Sagan's article was that we can not fully understand the universe and that the human mind couldn't ever fully grasp everything that there is to know about it. In one paragraph he said, "
Fortunately for us, we live in a universe that has at least important parts that are knowable. Our common-sense experience and our evolutionary history have prepared us to understand something of the workaday world. When we go into other realms, however, common sense and ordinary intuition turn out to be highly unreliable guides," which led me to think that he was supporting the value of scientific method and that intuition will not lead us to discovering all that is to know about the universe.

Brave New Worlds of Science

I think science gives us tons of possibilities and really can let us progress as a civilization. Science gives us the hope to be disease free, to be energy independent (tidal power, solar power). Science also helps us explain the world we inhabit today. It tells us new psychological disorders, we learn more about x-rays being emitted from distant stars. We discover fossils and unearth the evolutionary map. This is some new science that really blows my mind.

There is a scientific revolution going on right now, that may be able to free us from pesky facial hair on our chins. Again, the possibilities are as boundless as our imagination can take it.

There are downsides to science. Unfortunately it can lead to deadly and dangerous things. The last thing we need to invent is a super deadly virus for "national security" or a new nuclear weapon that is so powerful we would actually blow up the moon too. Hasn't happened yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Pentagon has tried it.
A bad part of science that I hate to see is when people try to cover up science or undermine the discoveries. For instance when predominate creationists speak against the teaching of evolution in schools ( a scientific theory with legitimate rational evidence) it makes you wonder how much we value education vs how much we value indoctrination.

I think that science has its limits but we are nowhere near them and should not be afraid of potential answers we might find. Science is one of the greatest things humanity can do as a society, as well as a species. Let's not blow it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Pure" -ly Imagined "Imagination" by Kevin Cannon

I think that most people have at least one good memory of candy from their childhood. Which is why I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an interestingly unorthodox kind of science fiction! Consider the theme of what's the, as Phillip K Dick said, "It's not just 'What if'-it's 'My God; what if'-in frenzy and hysteria" moment turns out to be how chocolate was made! Strange when compared to most science fiction books that seem to be set in futuristic worlds, yet similiar to many science fiction books in that it has an advanced secret factory. Opinions?

Click here to watch a famous scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Possibilities of Microsoft Surface

This commercial shows the possibilities of technology in the future. The product that Microsoft came up with is going beyond our understanding of what technology can do for us. It is almost mind boggling to consider that this technology is possible in our future. It would be incredible to be able to do everything that you can do with Microsoft Surface. It would make communication and life in general a lot more efficient. The possibility of this type of technology makes me think that there is so much more we could do to better the world. This might be a good stepping stone for larger advances in areas that will benefit more people.

science for evil?

Science in its modern form is one of the most powerful forces at our disposal. The knowledge that it unlocks can bring about great change. But as with most things of great power, it can be easily misused if not treated with equally great responsibility. Take for instance the mad scientist. There he sits; swirled away in his tall tower. He holds in his hands the plans for a large bomb. He's devoted all his time and finances to its completion. Rather than curing the common cold, he has been perfecting his dooms day device.
As whimsical as this example seems, it has its own little bit of merit. What drives a man of science away from his work with orphans and chimpanzees, and pushes him towards working on an missile? Why even start a career of science with working on missiles?
Personally, I believe it to be a quest for knowledge and government financing.

Bionic Limbs

In our world today, we rely greatly on technology. We use computers every single day to check our emails and social sites, we use our cell phones to call and text others, we use cars as a transportation to get to places and we use computers to get information about anything. I think that our technology will only get more embedded in our lives and will become part of our selves litterally. In the video that I included shows a prototype of a bionic arm that looks just like a human hand, which is controlled by thought and provides sensory feedback created by DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA is responsible for developing new technologies for use by the military. Since the internet was originally was used for the military then later was used publicly, I don't see how this technology will be any different.

The fingers of the hand may have a bit slow response time in the movements because of the restrictions of our technology at the current level, but it will get more responsive, reliable, and popular as our technology continually grows. This is just the first step, in the near future we will have limbs that are bionic just like in the movie I,ROBOT where Will Smith has a arm that seems to be an advanced form of a bionic arm.

Where will this take us?

My biggest fear for technology and our future is that we will be alive forever and forget to cherish the little things in life. Most people now forget to stop and smell the roses if you will and what will happen if we have all this technology to do everything for us. Will we make time to watch a sunset or will we just download some sort of video of it on our new and improved touch screen televisions and cell phones. Or will we ever leave our houses? I feel that humanity will lose the things that should be valued the most, like the beauty of watching a real sunset or sitting and talking to someone that is right there in the room with you instead of sending a text message. After taking a look at the Top Ten Inventions Needed list, I wonder if we will ever get to the point of being able to get from the United States to China in a matter of minutes. It would come and handy when you really needed to see that friend of yours at home when you are at school but what happens if you don't get put back together correctly? Number six on the list scares me the most - being young forever? I may be the only one but i want to know what it feels like to literally grow old with someone, why take that from humanity?

Synthetic Life

Since many people in class categorized clean energy as a hope and a possibility of science. I thought Mr. Craig Venter and his research teams discovery would be appropriate. In May, Mr. Venter announced “the first synthetic cell” at a Newseum press conference. In 2008, “the team chemically synthesized a bacterial genome.” The team took a genome and put it in another bacterium, which altered the existing bacterium and therefore creating a “new” bacterium. Now they are creating the genome from digital code designed to assemble chromosome in yeast and then placed in the assigned bacterium. Using this technology, Synthetic Genomics Inc. is researching into renewable fuels and chemicals. NYTimes can explain more here.

"Craig Venter unveils "synthetic life"". TED. 9/5/10 .

Pollack, Andrew. "J. Craig Venter's Corporate Strategy: The Scientific Method". NY Times. 9/5/2010 .

Ashley Murphy:

When people think about the future i think they see a lot of hope and possibilities and would have expected us to be able to do a lot more than we can now. With the future i would hope to see advancements in health technology, cures for diseases and such and making it available to everyone, not just the privileged. Technology improvements are always coming about but in the future i think we all expect to be able to use machines to do great things. Alternate forms of traveling as well are something i'd hope for, maybe causing less accidents/ fatalities.
All these things also lead into fears. What if we cured all diseases? What if we teleported and came out the other side with a leg sticking out of our side? Of course the big fear of computers and machines taking over us all. Another fear is that we will try to bring everything up to date, losing sight of natures beauty. We'd just make everything into a big Hong Kong or NYC.
The limitations of science I think are semi unlimited. People get paid to sit around and think of new ideas and possibilities and test them out. However we only have a certain amount of natural resources until they come up with a way to get around that. I think the possibilities of science are endless, as long as we as humans are able to think there will always be science.
Art with time is changing. We no longer pick up oils and pastels and create something on a canvas. Instead people sit in front of their laptop and desktops and use pixels to create art. They take a picture and alter it, not that it isn't creative but things are becoming less hands on.

While reading " The Paycheck" it made me think a lot about the future. In this short story people are able to use rockets and erase memories and create time scoops. I think our parents when they were younger would have thought we could do this by now. Reading this made me think of the opening scenes of the Matrix, especially the office scene where he's running from the police.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4W-M3CGVoU) It reminded me of how they both had no idea why they were being chased and also the police which had almost complete power over everything.

fears for the future

In my opinion, the scariest that could happen in the future would be entire annihilation of the Earth. There are so many ways it could happen due to our own technical error. Nuclear attacks, super disease, biological disaster, all terrifying.
Here is a comedic look at the end of the world by nuclear weapon.
Warning: language is not PC.

When is it too much?

When do we cross the line of relying on technology too much? Our daily lives revolve around the latest gadgets and gizmos. When are our lives going to be controlled entirely by these gadgets and gizmos? In the article titled Are We too Dependant on Technology, Dale Reynolds highlights some key points towards where our society is headed in the future. "I love the technology because it improves accuracy and saves time. But I do feel it reduces the human element." I agree with this entirely. Technology is headed in the direction of completely eliminating face-to-face human interaction all together. Calling someone in Japan is much harder (and more expensive) than sending them an email. The ease and convenience of technology draws users in. If I’m not going to be able to make it to class today it's a lot easier to email my teacher and tell them than to call her or speak to her in person. "One man even told me this week that he feels all of the kids these days (and some adults!) talk only in text messages. He said they are always referring to "talking" to their friends when actually they only exchanged text messages."
I guess my fear for the future of technology is that it's going to completely take over human socialization and interaction. An increasing number of people are beginning to work from home. Soon enough I feel everyone will be working from home. No face-to-face interaction will be necessary, which has the potential of opening the door to a whole new list of problems to develop socially and economically.

Reynolds, Dale. "Are We Too Dependant on Technology." EzineArticles. 2010. Web. 6 Sept. 2010. .

Living in Space is a Possibility

When i think about possibilities for the future the first thing that comes to my mind is space travel. Since the year 1969 when the first man walked on the moon we have been thinking of new and inovoative ways to travel and explore space. Many people may ask the questions will humans ever live in Space? The answer however is up in the air. Yes we do have the technology to build and create a world where humans can reside in space or even on another planet. NASA has made some plans to do just that if ever needed, but many argue why do it when we are so content here on earth. Also the cost of space travel is still extremely expensive. We are already in debt why spend more when we can hold off. The work it would take too to get people up there would be extraordinary.

There is however already something similar in the works that plans to be opened in 2012. A space hotel. Which means scientist dreams of getting humans to live in space are almost there. Not that they would stay for prolonged periods of time but still for some short amount of time average human beings would be living in space. This article explains what it would all be about. Although it will cost billions of dollars it might be worth it to see how humans living in space for a short period of time would work. Because you have this hotel being built there are so many more possibilities for people to live in space in the future.


Rain, Sun, Sleet, or Snow?

We all have hopes and fears about what the future of science will bring to society in the near and distant future. Science changes society in many ways, whether those ways are beneficial or detrimental. Everyone has their concerns that science hasn’t fixed yet. This could be disease or famine etc. While trying to think of what to write this blog on I ran into an article from the Miami Herald titled Gathering storms: Earl, Fiona, Gaston heat up hurricane season. Although this article was irrelevant to me at first, I kept reading. The article explained how they were predicting anywhere between 14-20 hurricanes this season. That is a pretty scary thought when you think about what 1 single hurricane did to New Orleans. These storms can absolutely demolish whatever is in their path if they so wish. That is when it struck me, a excellent hope and goal for science would be to control weather. Deadly storms could be stopped, rain could be produced to avoid famine, and we could even make sure the weekend is bright and sunny. That is one of my major hopes for science. One fear I have, not connected but still relevant to my hopes, is that science will not have advanced enough by the time we need it. That could be the cure to a new plague or stopping a world ending storm.

Ancient Greece/Rome, Not Even Remotely As Cool As Previously Believed

First of all, let me just acknowledge that it literally took me seconds on Google to find a relevant story to support this post topic, which I guess is a possibility for the future all in itself, but my topic is about how possibilities for the future of science and technology can help us better understand our past, which in turn can also help us better prepare for our future … so that we can like really, really understand the past. Also, I tied art in there and the pivotal creation of western civilization because I’m that freaking good.

The article I used to explain one possibility for the future of science completely obliterates the commonly held theory that ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was left bare and unvarnished. Using ultraviolet light, Vinzenz Brinkmann along with his fellow researchers, found “microscopic grains of pigment” and “faded tints” left over from ancient organic based paints. Originally using the light to try and see the mark of the sculptor’s tools, the scientists have uncovered information that essentially changes the artwork much of modern sculpture and architecture is based on.

Basically, all those classy looking stone statues of gods and busts of dudes with George Clooney’s hair, actually looked much more like the ‘art’ your weird uncle did in college before he dropped out and went to trade school. I know what you’re thinking, not such a big deal…

…did you look at that lion? That means that all those naked wrestlers depicted in Greek sculpture where all yellow and pink and stuff.

Anyway, what all this means is that more knowledge in the future is going to uncover more knowledge about how we got here today and how far and vibrantly colored we’ve truly come. It also means you should give up any na├»ve respect you have for ancient art, I mean give it a few years and those Aurignacian cave paintings will turn out to be have been a completely coincidental case of someone wiping their nose.

Evad. "Gods In Color: Painted Sculpture Of Classical Antiquity." COLOURlovers. CHROMAom, Inc, 6 June 2008. Web. 6 Sept. 2010. .

Medical Technology Advances

When I think about my hopes for the future of science the biggest thing that stands out to me is the hope that medical technology continues to become more advance. In high school I was in a group called Medical Explorers. We explored different careers in medicine, but we also got the chance to spend a hands on day at the hospital (Maine Medical Center), and they would show us certain medical equipment and teach us how to do stitches and stuff. One of the most interesting and amazing things we got to try out was the Da Vinci Surgical System. This is an amazing machine which allows minimally invasive surgery. With this system the surgeon doesn't even need to touch the patient. He or she sits at a machine a couple of feet away and controls the surgery in a way that reminds me of playing a video game. There are four arms, three for tools and one for a camera. The arms of the machine are stuck in ports in the place where the surgery is being preformed. This means that there are no large incisions in the person, and often times there is less pain after the surgery. As of right now, the machine is used for mostly heart, urology and OB/GYN surgeries. These machines cost upwards of a million and a half dollars due to the technology being used. I feel very privileged to not only have seen the machine in person, but also to have received the chance to test it out, something that not even very many doctors at the hospital had done.

Inventor Fears for Future

When looking into the future I think that technology has the possibility to bring great things to humanity but also has the power to end it. For almost everything we created it can be used in a negative way no matter what the original purposes for it were. An example of this is a dated article from BBC news titled Web Inventor Fears for Future. In this article the creator of one of the most important components of our modern lives discusses the fears he has for it in the future. I believe that with new technology comes the possibility for us to make progress unmatched in history within a short period of time ranging from high speed travel to medicine that could change the world. This is encouraging and is why we should continue the advancement of studies but we also must realize if we are going to explore these new possibilities we must be responsible while doing so.

Ghosh,By Pallab "BBC NEWS- Technology-Web Inventor Fears for Future"

James Cameron Says We 'Live In A Science-Fiction World'

James Cameron's multi-million dollar grossing film Avatar has been re-released into theatres with nine minutes of extra footage. The film was incredibly successful, and with a re-release even more people will be able to see the movie in 3D, as it was meant to be seen.

In an article by MTV News called "James Cameron Says We 'Live In A Science-Fiction World'" the writer and director discusses his comfort in keeping the line between the world we live and the ones he creates blurry.

The article quotes him as saying "I don't draw a line between fantasy and reality ... To me, I love science fiction, but we kind of live in a science-fiction world right now. And I've done deep-ocean exploration. I've been in situations personally, for real, that I would have considered science fiction when I was younger."

Oh the "Places" you'll go...

Facebook recently came out with a new add-on for their website that they have called "Places". It is a geo-location service that you can log on and it will tell everyone on their news feed where you are and what you are doing there. You can use it to check in on certain hotspots like who is at a local coffee shop or you can use it to check on co-workers and keep track of employees. Some people are really excited about it and they think it is a new and necessary way to stay even more connected than we already are.
On the other hand there is an equal number of people that are very uspet about it. Even if they chose to not take part in the service, their friends can still tag them at a location and it updates on their profile. The biggest thing is that people are complaining about privacy issues. If this is the technology that we are seeing come into society right now then what does the future hold? I have a very bad feeling that privacy as we know it today will be something of the past.

If you would like to read the CNN article click here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Multiverse – Endless possibilities

As we all know, the universe seems vast and endless, full of stars and planets and whole other worlds to explore. But, what if there was another universe just beyond the point of our perception. The scientific theory of the multiverse is that our universe is connected to not just one universe, not hundreds, or millions, or quadrillions, but endless amounts of universes. Some of these other universes are much like our own, being exact duplicates or slightly different in some way. By slightly different, I mean anything that ranges from a world where you didn’t have eggs this morning to a universe where your twin brother is a millionaire and you’re from Korea. In other universes, the very laws of physics that governs how our world operates don’t exist or operate in an entirely different way. Imagine a world where water held enough oxygen that you could breathe in it. This idea of endless universes might be hard to grasp, but this is what puts it into perspective, at least for me. Based purely on the fact that there are endless amounts of universes out there, any universe that you can possibly imaging, a universe where you didn’t get out of bed this morning to an universe where purple dragons rule the corporate world, not only can exist, but DOES EXSIST! Some scientists actually believe that travel between these worlds might one day be possible. If we could travel the multiverse, travel to the world of tomorrow or the universe within the imagination, just think of the possibilities.

Below is a collection of movie clips from YouTube that make up a show on the History Channel entitled “The Universe - Parallel Universes”. It’s about 45 minutes long, but talks about some pretty interesting concepts about the existence of the multiverse.

multiverse Parallel Universes (parts 1 through 5). [Video]. (November 16, 2009). Retrieved:

Fears of Technology

The article entitled Fears of Technology was a short article I found on the USA Today home page.  The article talks about the relationship between the fears people have about technology and how they are closely related to everyday fears.  For example the Internet is just as dangerous as lets say a bee sting.  No one likes to get stung by bees but if you agitate them they will sting you almost immediately.  Like bee stings the Internet can be just as dangerous, but if you don’t miss use the Internet very little harm can come your way.   The article wraps up with the conclusion that Internet if used properly is not a scary or dangerous place.  In my opinion the article couldn’t be more correct.  I no personally that if you use the Internet properly nothing bad can really happen.  I used the Internet at least 5 times a day for the past 8 years and I have not once had a problem.  The Internet shouldn’t be looked at as a dangerous place, but a place where all of the world’s information is just a click away.

Did You Know? "We are living in exponential times"

For this blog topic I decided to stumble and see what I could find. I came across an awesome video that puts our current world into a scary perspective. Aside from using a sick song, the video consists of statistics that indirectly tell us where technology is taking us. Probably the most shocking and scary fact that came from this video was at 4:04 when it said, "by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain." and, Predictions are that by 2049, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species." The scariest part about this is that this information doesn't come from a book, its not categorized under science fiction or fantasy instead this is real world facts. The fact that computers are going to be smarter than humans, real soon, frightens me and makes me start to feel that Andy and Lana Wachowski weren't thinking along the lines of Science fiction when they made the Matrix trilogy. Who knows, maybe the next world war won't be humans against humans but rather human inteligence versus artificial.

Did You Know? "We Are Living in Exponential Times" Dir. Karl Fish. Youtube.com, 9 Dec. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2010. .

Possibilities and Fears of A.I.

When we look at the advancements of technology and our understanding of the human mind we continually encounter the two intersecting. Artificial Intelligence is constantly advancing and becoming part of our daily lives. We normally see this in a virtual world such as video games, but A.I. is also making strides toward our daily lives. In the video above we catch a glimpse of just how real A.I. is and how we may one day see robots in our daily lives. However, this possibility of artificial life doesn't come without fear. Fear that we can't control what we create or fear that A.I. will learn far beyond our own ability. Many of these fears have been realized in movies like iRobot. To allow for our safety and continual advancement of technology and science we must always be several steps ahead and keep using our imagination to envision all possible scenarios but by no means should we stop.

ASIMOs new artificial intelligence. [Video]. (April 14, 2009). Retrieved September 05, 2010

“The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

"some failure in life is inevitable, it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all, in which case you've failed by default"

I think this is a great statement because as humans we all fear failure. The thought of letting our loved ones, and most importantly ourselves, down is in the backs of our minds everyday. But as J.K. Rowling notes, you have to take chances because failure really isn't as bad as it sounds. Failure is something everyone should experience because if you never try something because you are afraid to fail, you will never accomplish anything.

"J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement on Vimeo." Vimeo, Video Sharing For You. Aug. 2008. Web. 05 Sept. 2010. .