The Physics of Space Battles
Ship-shaped hospital could set sail for Tunisia
Monaco-based Russian billionaire businessman and hobbyist architect Vasily Klyukin recently unveiled his plan to construct an upmarket hospital and spa that closely resembles a ship. Klyukin hopes that the White Sails Hospital and Spa will become “the world’s first hospital that no one is afraid to visit.” Comprising four towers which look like sails, sat aboard a ship-like base, the White Sails Hospital and Spa’s resemblance to a ship goes further than skin deep, as the medical staff would also be required to dress up as sailors. If all goes well, the hospital will be located within Tunisia’s Economic City development, a large and ambitious project slated to redevelop Enfidha, in the country’s northeast. “I will fly into Space next year,” says Klyukin, referring to his plan to take voyage aboard a Virgin Galactic flight. “My health condition has to be checked every six months. That is why I know this feeling very well – every time I’m approaching the white building of the clinic, I don’t feel any joy. But I would like to show you the hospital, where there is no room for fear.” (via Ship-shaped hospital could set sail for Tunisia)
Rare molecule found in space hints at life’s origins
Cornell University Original Study
The discovery of an unusual carbon-based molecule near the galactic center of the Milky Way suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space. Organic molecules usually found in these star-forming regions consist of a single “backbone” of carbon atoms arranged in a straight chain. The carbon structure of this molecule—known as isopropyl cyanide—is branched, making it the first interstellar detection of such a molecule, says Rob Garrod, a senior research associate at the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University. This detection opens a new frontier in the complexity of molecules that can be formed in interstellar space and that might ultimately find their way to the surfaces of planets, says Garrod. The branched carbon structure of isopropyl cyanide is a common feature in molecules that are needed for life—such as amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The discovery, reported in the journal Science, lends weight to the idea that biologically crucial molecules, like amino acids that are commonly found in meteorites, are produced early in the process of star formation—even before planets such as Earth are formed. (via Rare molecule found in space hints at life’s origins - Futurity)
Bill Clinton Discusses “Moonshots” with Peter Diamandis, Endorses Abundance
“Why are you so optimistic about the future…don’t you read the papers?”
President Bill Clinton recently pitched this playful question to Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, in an on-stage interview at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative last week. A week earlier, the former U.S. president had appeared on CNN to recommend Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think, Diamandis’ book which was co-written with Steven Kotler. Now the two had an opportunity to discuss technology and the world’s problems face to face.
In response, he stated simply that he’s optimistic because of the numbers.
According to Diamandis, the cost of food has dropped thirteen-fold in the last hundred years. The cost of energy is down twenty-fold, transportation a hundred-fold, and communications a thousand-fold.
Technology, he said, is the force that takes what used to be scarce and makes it abundant. It is “the great democratizer.”
h\t to Singularity HUb
BIG NEWS: Scientists have successfully teleported the quantum state of a photon to a crystal over 25 kilometres of optical fibre, showing that information can be teleported from light into matter. http://bit.ly/1uS36WC
Plato once noted that “creativity is a divine madness, a gift from gods.” Romantic notions of the link between mental illness and creativity still appear prominently in popular culture. But ever since scientists started formally investigating the link, there has been intense debate. Some of the most highly cited studies on the topic have been criticized on the grounds that they involve highly specialized samples with weak and inconsistent methodologies and a strong dependence on subjective and anecdotal accounts. What has become much clearer, however, is that there is a real link between creativity and a number of traits and characteristics that are associated with mental illness. Once we leave the narrowed confines of the clinical setting and enter the larger general population, we see that mental disorders are far from categorical. Every single healthy human being lies somewhere on every psychopathology spectrum (e.g., schizophrenia, autism, mood disorders). What’s more, we each show substantial fluctuations on each of these dimensions each day, and across our lifespan. A major issue in attempting to scientifically study the link between the various dimensions of psychopathology and creativity is the outcome measure. What should we be predicting? Because here’s the thing: Creativity also lies on a spectrum, ranging from the everyday creative cognition that allows us to generate new ideas, possibilities, and solutions to a problem, to the real-world creative achievement seen in publicly recognized domains across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Therefore, the link to psychopathology spectrum disorders may differ depending on the outcome.
Enter a new study by Darya Zabelina, David Condon, and Mark Beeman. They examined whether levels of psychopathology in a healthy non-clinical sample are associated with creative cognition and real-world creative achievement among a group of 100 participants, aged 18-30. None had been hospitalized for psychiatric or neurological reasons, and none abused alcohol or drugs.
Interactive Bionic Man, featuring 14 novel biotechnologies
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has launched the “NIBIB Bionic Man,” an interactive Web tool that showcases cutting-edge research in biotechnology. The bionic man features 14 technologies currently being developed by NIBIB-supported researchers. Examples include a powered prosthetic leg that helps users achieve a more natural gait, a wireless brain-computer interface that lets people who are paralyzed control computer devices or robotic limbs using only their thoughts, and a micro-patch that delivers vaccines painlessly and doesn’t need refrigeration. (via Interactive Bionic Man, featuring 14 novel biotechnologies | KurzweilAI)
The Future of Travel Has Arrived: Virtual-Reality Beach Vacations
I’m the only person in the hotel lounge. It’s night, and darkness lingers beyond the windows. Despite the room’s emptiness, there’s a feeling of warmth; a fireplace crackles, and music mixes with the hum of subdued conversation and clinking glasses. Ahead of me on the wall is a topographic map of Hawaii. I approach it slowly, looking around the room as I go. There’s a long bar to my right, clusters of low-slung tables and chairs to my left, some with laptops on them—MacBook Airs, from the look of them. There’s a chess set on one of them. Closer to the map, I begin hearing new sounds. A ukulele. Crashing surf. A red ring on the map starts to pulse. I’m directly in front of it now. Suddenly, I’m drawn into the map. The terrain lines warp around me, creating a tunnel. With a whoosh, I shoot through the wormhole onto a black-sand beach. The sky is blue, the palms are swaying, the ocean laps at the shoreline. For a moment, everything is completely, utterly serene. I am in Maui. “Actually,” a voice says from somewhere beyond my headphones, “you might want to take a small step forward.” That’s because I’m not in Maui at all. I’m 2,500 miles east of it, actually, in the Los Angeles offices of visual-effects firm Framestore. The company’s invited me to check out the latest build of the Teleporter, a new virtual-reality experience from Marriott Hotels. We’re a week or so away from the official Sept. 18 unveiling, though, so while the team is scrambling to apply that final layer of polish, there are still some minor issues to work out, like precisely calibrating the camera that tracks my position. Thankfully, this isn’t Framestore’s first time at the VR dance. Earlier this year, the company engineered Ascend the Wall, a Game of Thrones experience that let you ascend the fantasy saga’s mighty Wall; now, the company is leveraging its experience and expertise to blur the lines between CGI and video, and create one of the first premium VR applications outside of gaming and entertainment. (via The Future of Travel Has Arrived: Virtual-Reality Beach Vacations | WIRED)
What Is the Universe? Real Physics Has Some Mind-Bending Answers
Science says the universe could be a hologram, a computer program, a black hole or a bubble—and there are ways to check
The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist. This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter. It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description. And as new information gets added to the picture, cosmologists are considering even wilder ways to describe the universe—including some outlandish proposals that are nevertheless rooted in solid science:
The universe is a hologram
Look at a standard hologram, printed on a 2D surface, and you’ll see a 3D projection of the image. Decrease the size of the individual dots that make up the image, and the hologram gets sharper. In the 1990s, physicists realized that something like this could be happening with our universe.
Classical physics describes the fabric of space-time as a four-dimensional structure, with three dimensions of space and one of time. Einstein’s theory of general relativity says that, at its most basic level, this fabric should be smooth and continuous. But that was before quantum mechanics leapt onto the scene. While relativity is great at describing the universe on visible scales, quantum physics tells us all about the way things work on the level of atoms and subatomic particles. According to quantum theories, if you examine the fabric of space-time close enough, it should be made of teeny-tiny grains of information, each a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton.
Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind and Nobel prize winner Gerard ‘t Hooft have each presented calculations showing what happens when you try to combine quantum and relativistic descriptions of space-time. They found that, mathematically speaking, the fabric should be a 2D surface, and the grains should act like the dots in a vast cosmic image, defining the “resolution” of our 3D universe. Quantum mechanics also tells us that these grains should experience random jitters that might occasionally blur the projection and thus be detectable. Last month, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory started collecting data with a highly sensitive arrangement of lasers and mirrors called the Holometer. This instrument is finely tuned to pick up miniscule motion in space-time and reveal whether it is in fact grainy at the smallest scale. The experiment should gather data for at least a year, so we may know soon enough if we’re living in a hologram.
The universe is a computer simulation
Just like the plot of the Matrix, you may be living in a highly advanced computer program and not even know it. Some version of this thinking has been debated since long before Keanu uttered his first “whoa”. Plato wondered if the world as we perceive it is an illusion, and modern mathematicians grapple with the reason math is universal—why is it that no matter when or where you look, 2 + 2 must always equal 4? Maybe because that is a fundamental part of the way the universe was coded.
In 2012, physicists at the University of Washington in Seattle said that if we do live in a digital simulation, there might be a way to find out. Standard computer models are based on a 3D grid, and sometimes the grid itself generates specific anomalies in the data. If the universe is a vast grid, the motions and distributions of high-energy particles called cosmic rays may reveal similar anomalies—a glitch in the Matrix—and give us a peek at the grid’s structure. A 2013 paper by MIT engineer Seth Lloyd builds the case for an intriguing spin on the concept: If space-time is made of quantum bits, the universe must be one giant quantum computer. Of course, both notions raise a troubling quandary: If the universe is a computer program, who or what wrote the code?