Across the Universe . . .

September 3, 2017

Tomorrow NASA will be marking the 40th anniversary of the start of the two Voyager missions to the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, the outer solar system, and the stars beyond. These two spacecraft, each carrying a message from humanity in the form of a golden record containing both speech and music, are now traveling through the realm of interstellar space.

 

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Non-Predator Drone Technology

July 24, 2017

No it isn’t a hopeful robot-thespian answering a casting-call for the lead droid role in the next Star Wars episode. Below–via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day–is the anime-esque JEM Internal Ball Camera–or Int-Ball for short–courtesy of JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), currently fluttering about aboard the ISS. Don’t leave Earth without one.


If I Only Had a Brain Department:

November 13, 2012

AI

“If you take a look at the progress of science, the sciences are kind of a continuum, but they’re broken up into fields. The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say physics — greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else . . . . If a molecule is too big, you give it to the chemists. The chemists, for them, if the molecule is too big or the system gets too big, you give it to the biologists. And if it gets too big for them, they give it to the psychologists, and finally it ends up in the hands of the literary critic.”

Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong” is a discussion by Yarden Katz at ZNet with Noam Chomsky, focusing on the progress–or lack thereof–in artificial intelligence research and theories about and observations of the operations of the human brain. It doesn’t, alas, explain the persistent and pervasive dysfunctions of the Right-wing cerebrum.


Speaking of Election Day . . .

November 5, 2012

Hallucinations is the latest book from the intensely curious and passionately congenial Oliver Sacks.  The Point of Inquiry podcast has also just done an interview with Sacks.

Hallucinations


Adam and Eve Dancing with Dinosaurs Dept.

October 28, 2012

As America Grows More Polarized, Conservatives Increasingly Reject Science and Rational Thought” by Amanda Marcotte at AlterNet.

Creationist


Another Chapter Closes

August 26, 2012

Star-voyager Neil ArmstrongA great and courageous American is gone. Another one, I should say–with the recent passing of luminaries like Gore Vidal and Ray Bradbury and others . . . . He didn’t rush us into a war; he traveled to another world in peace, for all of us humans here on Earth. He was in the military but he didn’t bomb anyone–rather he and his fellow astronauts rode a missile into the depths of the sky . . . .

I watched the first Moon landings when I was four years old–I thought we’d have Moon-bases and personal rocket-packs. I really believed it. Even well into my adolescence I still thought there was a remote chance that I would get to the Moon myself. Seems silly now. When I look around and see all that this nation is NOT achieving, with its choice of leadership restricted by greed to the likes of Romney and Obama, the future looks not just uncertain but almost unavoidably bleak. And that seems to be likely not just for the U. S. A. but for the rest of the world as well. It’s the end of an era, alright.

But.

About two weeks ago Curiosity landed on Mars. We are still leaving our footprints on other worlds. Perhaps we can still find our way back to that dreamtime where we threw fire at the sky and hoped to build castles among the constellations.

Goodbye Neil Armstrong, star-voyager.


Transit Adendum

June 6, 2012

Jesse Willis at SFFaudio has posted an updated entry on Arthur C. Clarke’s audio recording of his story “Transit of Earth,” the old link for which which I dug up from SFFaudio’s archives a couple of posts back. The new update includes links to further material by Clarke, published in Omni magazine many moons ago, on the story and mentioning the latest transit of Venus.

Transit of Earth