Category Archives: Science

A Valentines Song about Alan Turing

Eliza was the first chattbot and first program to take the Turing test. Technically of course she didn’t pass, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t make an impression.
For those of you who don’t know. Alan Turing was forced by the British government to take hormone treatments for his homosexuality, which was illegal at the time. Though I think his true love was really computers. The governments treatment of him no doubt contributed to his suicide… No I don’t think that is too much of a bummer for Valentines Day.

Just so there isn’t any confusion, Alan Turing actually died 1o years before the invention of ELIZA. I just have the bad habit of liking to fictionalize and romanticize real events in science history.

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A Social Network for Climate Scientists

I’ve recently decided that human kind needs this even more immediately than brain augmentation.

There is no reason why large organized discussions about climate should be limited to yearly conferences. In fact it’s inexcusable in the internet age. I want to see a website that exclusively connects climate scientists, not only to expedite problem solving, but also to provide the public with a single reliable place to go to for the definitive scientific consensus on climate change. One reliable place for up to date data analysis on the front page that is easy enough for the layman to understand. Continue reading

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An Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dear Dr. Tyson,

I respect and admire you for many reasons. I know plenty of people who feel the same. You are a stirring speaker. Your passion and clarity can move me to tears. For an astrophysicist, you are very down to earth. You come across as so level headed, friendly, and warm that even when disagreeing with someone, you never seem to argue.

I am writing this letter in appreciation, but also to ask you a question. When you speak about the future of humanity, you have brought up the meger 1% difference between us and Chimps. You have said this leads you to worry deeply that human beings lack the intelligence to fully understand and explore the universe. I guess my question is why? Continue reading

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Psychics are Fake, James Randi is Awesome

Okay, I want to start this off by saying that there could be psychic powers in the world. I would love if it were true. It could be so well utilized in the information age. I am totally drawn to tv shows and movies about psychic powers and the like. It’s so appealing on a primal and emotional level, but I think  it is so very unlikely such things exist in the real world that there’s no point in living my life as though it were even remotely possible. Just as I wouldn’t live my life with the expectation that I might one day win the lottery. Not to mention that the chances of winning the lottery are without a doubt far far better than the likelihood of discovering psychic powers. After all, people have actually won the lottery before. Not just in an anecdotal “I swear it’s true” “friend of a friend” kind of way, but in a (verifiable) (no doubt about it) kind of way. No one in the history of the world has ever exhibited psychic power under reasonable repeatable experimental conditions, not once. This leads me to one of four conclusions. Three of them might seem slightly absurd. Lets see if you can guess which. Continue reading

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Hearts and Kidneys are Tinker Toys!

Miraculous things will happen in the future.

People will carry around little communication devices everywhere they go, along with tiny electronic boxes that light up and play music or moving pictures.  They will have wires hanging off of them with tiny amplifiers that plug into your ears.  And although we are all walking around with any desired tune playing seamlessly into our ears and cannot hear the noise on the street, the noise will just be a whirring of quiet electronic motors as automobiles stop using fuel and start using electricity to glide through our cities.

The technology of the future will be truly astounding.  A new global community will erupt as people from all over the world, even the most remote parts, communicate with each other through a network of tubes and wires.  Not only will they be able to communicate words and ideas, but pictures and sound as well.  A photo that takes two weeks via mail will be instantly broadcast to thousands of people.  People will be exposed to cultures and ideas they never could have imagined as ideas are shared through this global network. Continue reading

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WHY EXPLORE SPACE

I made this rather last minute for the WHY EXPLORE SPACE competition, but because of some unfortunate technical issues, didn’t get it uploaded on time. I missed the deadline by like 10 minutes, but I thought I’d put it up here anyway.

UPDATE: It seems they extended the deadline a day so I could enter. Voting starts Sunday at noon. SO VOTE HERE, I guess.

Do Androids Laugh at Synthetic Banana Peels?

Everyone loves robots. How can you not? With those large mechanical LED Bambi eyes and cuddly exterior, it’s difficult not to feel a deep rooted protective love of our cyber friends.

Robotics has come a long way baby. We live in a world where robots are a part of our everyday lives. They make the gadgets we use and entertain adults and children alike. What we hope for advancement in (or secretly fear) are androids, robots created to seem “human” in the looks or actions. The progress is almost startling when considering robots like Asimo, or even simple chat programs like Cleverbot, the disturbing lovechild of a programmer and a perfect example of robot learning, gathering information from thousands of individual human interactions.

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Post Humans Hate Scifi

By that I really mean, they will hate the science fiction of today. In all likelihood a passive experience like a movie or TV show will be of no interest to them at all. But lets just say it is still relevant, or at least it can be converted into a new entertaining format for super humans. In this case I think the new humans would only be able to, at best, muster some amount of historical appreciation. At worst, they may find it quite stupid and insulting, assuming post humans are capable of being insulted.

It seems to me that most science fiction stories are cautionary tales. They are so often about the failure of scientific advancements to account for the human spirit. I touched on this in an older post. Scifi today has to appeal to the emotions of people today. Continue reading

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You’re asking the wrong Phil

So happy Groundhog day, even though it’s almost over. The movie “Groundhog Day” has more repeat value for me than almost any other movie. Is that ironic? Also, here’s a weather related question. Do we need to be able to accurately predict quantum behavior in order to achieve relatively perfect weather prediction? Is that even theoretically possible, at least for all intents and purposes? Would the Uncertainty Principle significantly obstruct such predictions? Would you need to know the impossibly precise position and speed of all environmental elements to know the exact weather for a month? Will meteorologists run into the limits of physics before even reaching the near perfect 7 day forecast? Well, I doubt it, but there may be a theoretical limit out there somewhere.

A Negative and A Negative are POSITIVELY AWESOME

We are three dimensional beings. Just in case you weren’t sure. Everything we do, everything we understand, is in the squishy three dimensional world we understand in. The fourth dimension for current thinkers is a wibbly-wobbly concept of space-time. Human brains, unfortunately, are currently not equipped to experience the world in space-time.

We are three dimensional beings that use negative numbers. Cavemen did not have a need for negative numbers, and the fact that our brains can conceptualize it is quite remarkable. Natural numbers (positive whole numbers) were probably difficult enough for our ancestors to understand. But the idea of less than nothing? What a remarkable concept! I’m certain that our primate cousins could not only not understand negative numbers, but they probably could not understand why they would be needed at all. But being three dimensional beings, with enough brain power, a long lifespan, and the ability to build on previous knowledge, it seems inevitable when considered.

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