Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New: The Brain Scan Job Interview

Image: Wellcome Images via MRI-scam.com.

Coming soon to a job interview near you: the brain scan job interview. This is just what the doctor ordered to get us out of the recession! I09 is reporting via BBC that UK employers have discovered a new way to assess prospective employees: "A study in the UK aims to figure out what the brains of business leaders look like, at least inside an fMRI machine. The brain images could be used in future as models for "ideal brains" in a business setting." Once corporations start with this level of bio-psychometric testing, the schools and service and entertainment industries won't be far behind.

Friday, November 26, 2010

NASA Funds Spaceplane to Mars

Reagan-era plan revived: X-30 NASP, or National Aero-Space Plane. Image: Dvice.com via Gizmag.

Caption: NASA wants to skip the rockets and develop a hypersonic space plane that can take off from a runway here on Earth and fly straight to Mars.

Who will land on Mars first?  More news on this worldwide space race in a report from Dvice.com: "Rockets, on the whole, are pretty inefficient: they waste most of their power just lifting their own fuel. Plus, riding on top of a barely controlled explosion isn't the safest or most reliable way to travel. As far as NASA is concerned, rockets are on the way out, and they're ponying up $15 million over the next three years to develop a hypersonic fixed wing hybrid air/space craft capable of taking off and flying straight into space at Mach 20. Getting into Earth orbit is just phase one... NASA also wants this same vehicle to be able to land on Mars. The landing bit is going to be just as tricky to figure out as the takeoff, since the vehicle will have to withstand extreme temperatures and stresses as it descends through a planetary atmosphere."  The Dvice.com report has further details plus a link to the original NASA proposal.  Another report hereMeanwhile, an i09 report (here) suggests that while survivable manned missions to Mars are at least 25 years way, the space race might be won much sooner by a country that is willing to send its astronauts on a one-way, historic suicide mission.

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday in the United States, the day when the Christmas shopping season begins.  There are normally a lot of sales and bargains on this day to kick things off, which results in crowds and lots of pressure at stores.  There are also a lot of online Web bargains.  Boing Boing posted this satirical coupon to commemorate the day (Hat Tip: @KateSherrod).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hawking's Party for Time Travellers

Is time travel possible? Image Source: Just 5 Minutes.

In his Discovery Channel series, Into the Universe, Stephen Hawking recently hypothesized that if time travel to the past is possible, then he could throw a party to welcome chrononauts from the future.  He would publicize the invitation, and wait.  Daily Galaxy provides a transcript of his comments on the result: "Let's imagine I'm throwing a party, a welcome reception for future time travellers. But there's a twist. I'm not letting anyone know about it until after the party has happened. I've drawn up an invitation giving the exact coordinates in time and space. I am hoping copies of it, in one form or another, will be around for many thousands of years."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Russians Plan to Build a Domed City in Siberia

Eco-city 2020. Image: Dvice.com.

Report on Dvice.com via i09: "A Russian company has unveiled plans to build a gigantic domed city in an abandoned diamond mine in Siberia. The city, named Eco-city 2020, would be constructed inside the Mir diamond mine, the second largest excavated hole on the planet. It's a quarter-mile wide at the top and over 1,700 feet deep, which is so big that air flowing into the hole can actually suck helicopters out of the sky. If the project gets going, the mine would be completely covered over with a glass dome to protect the city from the weather in Siberia (which is apparently lousy almost all the time), and solar cells embedded in the dome would provide power for the entire structure. Eco-city would be constructed of multiple levels, with a huge central core. The main floor would hold parks and recreation areas, with residential areas terracing up around the walls of the mine. Underneath would be space for vertical farms and forests, subsiding on light piped down the central core. An estimated 100,000 people would be able to live in Eco-city, and architects are hoping that it would help to attract tourists to Eastern Siberia."  For other schematics and reports, go here and here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Space as Palimpsest: The Wow! Signal 6EQUJ5

Image Source: Bigear.org.

It's been just over 33 years since we received the only message from space that ever seemed to constitute an intelligent transmission: 6EQUJ5.  This message was picked up by the Big Ear radio telescope at about 11:16 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on August 15, 1977 at Ohio State University Radio Observatory.  There is a history of the transmission hereDr. Jerry R. Ehman, who was part of the SETI project working at the Observatory, noted the transmission and made the famous margin note: "Wow!"  There is an explanation of the values 6EQUJ5 here (different numbers and letters measured intensities of power in the transmission).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Look Skyward: Blue Moon

Tonight the full moon rose here in spectacular fashion; it looked like something auditioning for Resident Evil.  This is a blue moon, and Space.com is running an interesting article explaining why.  It also gives a little history of blue moons.  The original rule of thumb was that when a season has four full moons instead of the usual three, then the third moon in that season is blue.  This is the third full moon this autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.  Because blue moons are rare, they are surrounded by superstitions.  The thirteenth full moon of the year - brought about by a blue moon - is considered unlucky because it messed up the calculation of church calendars.

Computers as Palimpsests

Codex Guelferbytanus A, a palipmsest, the lower, older text in Greek is from the 6th century, the newer, upper text in Latin is from the 10th or 11th century. Image Source: Wiki.

The turnover of computer tech is so rapid right now that programming languages which were cutting edge within the last couple of decades are now ancient history.  This rate of change is possibly unprecedented in human experience.  I can recall bringing in a 1996 IBM Thinkpad to a computer repair in 2002 as a backup for my main laptop, which had a virus. The fact that the Thinkpad was still running and in good shape inspired all the tech staff to crowd around it, gasping at this rare museum piece. One of them knocked at the case and said, "Look at how sturdy that is. They sure knew how to make them back in the old days." I still have that Thinkpad, and it is the only laptop I've owned that still functions, long after it has become obsolete.

Thanks to my friend C., who told me about an interesting 1998 article at the Salon.com (here), that adds another dimension to this issue.  The article's author, Ellen Ullman, describes her wave of nostalgia when she discovered some vestiges of BASIC programming language on a wiped computer.