athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Posted for future reference:

The Key to Quantum Gravity May Lie in the Æther.




Expect the TIMECUBE crazies and the anti-science types who think that the Big Bang is part of "Darwinism" to jump all over this, shrieking, "See? Einstein was wrong!" and insulting the intelligence of everyone who doesn't immediately see that this proves their own particular brand of blather.
athelind: (Default)
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At the moment, my Dream Car is the Aptera:




Every time I post a link to the Aptera, though, I get a lot of people whining about how impractical it would be in the snow, and that sort of thing. So, if money is truly no object, it would be sharing my garage with this cinematic classic ...



Yes, it still exists, it's been restored, and it's out there.

And if you make fun of my Aptera, I will take my Landmaster, run over your silly little SUV, and drive through your HOUSE.


athelind: (Default)
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/12/roadtown-linear-city.php

http://www.archive.org/details/roadtown00chamgoog

A linear city, built over and around a train line or other transportation conduit.

Interesting for practical potential; moreso as a setting or artifact in the kind of steampunky science-fantasy setting I want to write about.


athelind: (Default)

Yet Another Power Failure Knocks Out The Large Hadron Collider!



This makes me a little nervous; I'd joked earlier that the last few LHC glitches coincided with the escalating assaults on my late, lamented Grape.

I have a NEW car now, dagnabbit!


athelind: (Default)
Several years ago, I discovered a company that was making industrial diamonds out of cremated human remains, to serve as memorials.

I then posted a discussion about the necromantic implications thereof.

In the intervening years, it seems that multiple companies have cropped up to perform the same service -- for pets.

As far as I can tell, while there are several Dead Puppy Jewelers out there, the original company doesn't yet have any competition for Soylent Gems. I suspect that most jurisdictions have substantially more rigorous (and more expensive) licensing regulations for disposing of human remains than for animal remains.

Edit: It seems that LifeGems® will now make a diamond from a lock of hair, as well, so you don't have to wait until the actual cessation of biological activity to have your Permanent Necromantic Conduit. They're making gems from the hair of Ludwig von Beethoven and from the charred hair recovered from Michael Jackson's ill-fated Pepsi commercial.

Think about that last. I mean, that's not just crystallizing the remains of an individual who was the focus of a lot of psychic energy, positive and negative, over the years; it's crystallizing the remains of one of the most painful moments of terror in his life. I've got the perfect setting for that gemstone.


I've made similar gems an integral part of the magic system in my Magnum Opus Fantasy Epic, which I really need to sit down and start writing.
For the record, if I'm ever in a situation where I have a limb amputated or an organ removed, I am TOTALLY gonna have it turned into a diamond.

athelind: (Default)
Mostly for my own reference:


Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design




While Dr. Akin is an aerospace engineer, most if not all of these Laws apply to systems design in general.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty should take particular note of the following:


14. (Edison's Law) "Better" is the enemy of "good".



Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking, whom I forgot to credit when I first posted this.

.
athelind: (Default)
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Oh, this one's easy; it's already part of my Lottery List.

I'd either set up science scholarships, or dump it all into one fusion project or another.

Probably not the Atmospheric Vortex Engine, though.

athelind: (Default)
You know, I never quite believed in the Bat Signal. Sure, I've seen searchlights shining on cloud layers, but the idea that you could see a silhouette of something placed over the light, and see it so clearly, seemed like pure fancy.

I was, evidently, incorrect:

In New York City in the early 1890s, nighttime clouds served as projection screens for giant ads. A 3,000-pound lamp atop Joseph Pulitzer's World building beamed text and figures from the news or from sponsors onto the clouds; the messages were visible as far away as New Jersey and Long Island.


The same technique was used in the '30s, in England.

Gotham City is generally considered a fictionalized New York, of course.

athelind: (Default)
A couple of years back, I made a few posts about Louis Michard's Atmospheric Vortex Engine, a plan to use the waste heat from nuclear power plants and other industrial heat sources to produce artificial tornadoes and harness them for energy.

(I'm sorry. That's just so over-the-top that I can't type it without italics.)

Today, I found an article on Inhabitat from about the same time period. It's the only one that points out the possible flaw in this system that pushes it into True Mad Science territory:

A 200-meter wide tornado might just have enough power to start absorbing heat from the surrounding area all by itself (something which would be a problem if one is hoping to keep it contained, as once the tornado achieves enough energy, there would be very little to stop it from escaping, so says Nilton Renno a professor at the department of atmospheric, ocean and spaces sciences at the University of Michigan).


And remember, the optimal place for an AVE is right next to a nuclear reactor.

Wheeeeeeee!

The hallmark of the best mad science is when making a disaster movie about it becomes redundant, because the whole thing plays out in everyone's mind as soon as they hear about it:

Dr. Renno: "You've got to stop this project! My calculations indicate that the vortex could become self-sustaining and break free of its confinement!"

Dr. Michard: "Nonsense! You're just one man flying in the face of progress! Increase the power!!"

(Indicator lights rise on the status board. Howling winds increase outside. The technicians spout technobabble. And then... red lights flash and klaxons sound.)


athelind: (Default)

Emission of extremely strong magnetic fields from the head and whole body during oriental breathing exercises.



I have no idea what to make of this, but it's fascinating. This is mostly a reference post; this is exactly the sort of thing I like to crib for SF stories.

The abstract says that "One subject emitted a magnetic field at the level of 200-300 mT (2-3 mGauss) and the other at 0.13 mT (1.3 mGauss)."

This gives two different conversions of Tesla to Gauss -- the correct value is that one Tesla is 104 Gauss. I think the HTML converter for the site may have screwed up converting the µ symbol; I'd try and figure out what's what, but it's after midnight, and my brain's ability to slide decimal points around shut down about an hour ago.

The human nervous system normally generates 0.1 - 1.0 picoTeslas, so even if that is supposed to be in µT, we're looking at a field eight orders of magnitude more intense.

More Benchmarks.
athelind: (Default)
Based on empirical evidence, it seems that 355 ml of Guinness Extra Stout is a better cough suppressant than the combination of 10 mg Dextromethophan Hydrobromide and 200 mg Benzonatate (generic for "Tessalon").

Further research is required.


On a related note, has anyone else ever noticed that many pharmaceutical names sound like characters from fantasy or science fiction? Didn't the 6th Doctor fight the "Lovaza" on the planet "Tessalon"? Wasn't "Fioranol" the cousin of Legolas?
athelind: (Default)
Today at work, I noticed a Star Wars action figure of a droid that came with a "data entry terminal" as an accessory. I don't remember which of the half-dozen movies this droid showed up in, but I do remember him clearly, standing in the background, tapping data into his terminal.

My first impression was that this was a classic example of Zeerust: why have a humanoid robot type data into a system, instead of just directly interfacing with the system?

Almost simultaneously, though, another thought struck me: Wow, that's one way to check the spread of viruses and malicious software.

Not quite so "quaint" from that perspective, is it?

A few other Perfectly Reasonably Explanations occurred to me later -- it's easier to establish some degree of uniformity in user interfaces than it is in underlying code, for instance. [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's iMac, my Ubuntu box, and that Windows PC that's over there all have mice and keyboards and monitors, but I'll be damned if we can get their supposedly-compatible file-sharing protocols to talk to each other. Spread that across a Galactic Empire dealing with the patchwork remnants of a Republic, and see if you don't wanna just put a droid at a keyboard.

athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] araquan pointed out this 2003 article in Nature that I hadn't seen before.

I'm bookmarking it for discussion and future reference, since (as my last post should suggest) I am in no condition to peruse a lengthy formal paper at the moment.

The opening of the abstract immediately intrigues me, however (and not just because I've been reading too much Gamma World material):

An evolutionary capacitor buffers genotypic variation under normal conditions, thereby promoting the accumulation of hidden polymorphism. But it occasionally fails, thereby revealing this variation phenotypically.


If I'm interpreting this correctly, this suggests a physical mechanism for punctuated equilibrium, as well as suggesting how the usual wisdom that "random mutations should be automatically lethal 99% of the time".

I don't know how the biochemists and geneticists in the audience will react to this, but as a systems scientist, it makes perfect sense to me. Complex systems often develop regulator mechanisms as an emergent behavior.


athelind: (Default)

Cyborg Arm Plugs Directly Into Bone.



I'm not sure if this is "wow, awesome" or "ack, squick".

Have I mentioned that I'm a little squeamish? Working in a hospital for four years did nothing to alleviate that.

I'm leaning toward the former, of course, but there's just something about pin in bone sticking through flesh that makes me squirm a little (and not in a good way). "Osteocutaneous integration" is a magnificent buzzword, but I want more details about just how they're going to keep the flesh-to-metal interface intact and prevent infection.


athelind: (Default)
You know, for years, I've referred to "the inverse of Clarke's Third Law" when discussing fantasy literature, but I never really quite hit upon an elegant way to phrase it.

Thank you, Phil and Kaja Foglio:


"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!"


athelind: (Default)
When it comes to apocalyptic scenarios, why do I find the discovery of Xibalba more plausible than firing up the Large Hadron Collider?
athelind: (Default)
For [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four, [livejournal.com profile] shatterstripes, [livejournal.com profile] silkspider, et al.:

Last week, the Paleo-Future Blog gave us a look at how a 1934 industrial designer would redesign the human body.




Art Deco Transhumans. What's not to love?


athelind: (Default)

Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity - tech - 27 March 2008 - New Scientist Tech



Can we get a "whoa"?

Combine this with the nantenna, and it's looking like nanotech is going to bring about dramatic transformations in energy production and distribution.
athelind: (Default)
Follow-Up to the Tornado Master post of 23 July 2007:

Louis Michard has his own website, where he explains the Vortex Engine without all the fluff of the new article.

Found at FUTURISMIC.
athelind: (Default)
I pointed the Vortex Engine out to Technovelgy.com, a blog that looks at ideas and inventions from science fiction that come true in today's world. They very kindly looked up the reference from The Space Merchants, along with additional material on the Vortex Engine specs that weren't in the original article.

Link here: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=1134

(I wonder if you could use a Vortex Engine to create the wind pressure you'd need to run a terraforming-level Hirsch Tube?)

I should also give credit to where I originally found the article: The usually-comics-related blog of Ami Angelwings.
athelind: (Default)
Tornado Master!

Ontario Louis Michard proposes using the waste heat from a conventional power plant to create a tamed tornado, and generating far more power using turbines that tap into the vortex's energy.

On the longer term, he proposes setting up vortex engines in the warm seas around the equator, providing not only a ready-made, inexhaustable source of heat to sustain the vortices, but also taking the waste heat building up from greenhouse impacts and channeling it into the upper atmosphere to cool off the whole damned planet.

I remember that Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth used a very similar process to both generate energy and vent massive amounts of heat to terraform Venus in The Space Merchants and The Merchant's War.

This is so utterly over the top, and fraught with so many delightfully cinematic ways to go horribly, horribly wrong, and yet it's packed full of SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK goodness.

But, seriously, atomic-powered tormandos? Calling Doctor Neil "Storm" Cloud!
athelind: (Default)
Disney Concert Hall to Lose Some Luster
(Thanks to BoingBoing)

It seems the Walt Disney Concert Hall has a lovely parabolic curve on the front surface, lined with gleaming, polished steel plates. As a result, beams of searing heat get focused on the sidewalk in front of the building and the condos across the street, giving pedestrians sunburns, heating the sidewalk to egg-frying temperatures, and doubling the a/c bills of the neighbors.

So, city officials have decreed that those panels be sanded down to a brushed-steel finish--which, incidentally, will match other parts of the building that aren't so dramatically curved.

Some have complained about "defacing" an "architectural landmark" like this -- of course, they don't live in the vicinity. "Let them get shades," insisted Marie Antoinette a New Jersey visitor.

Let's put this into perspective, shall we? )
athelind: (Default)
A year or so ago, [livejournal.com profile] jordangreywolf and I pondered the necromantic implications of LifeGems: industrial diamonds made from the cremated remains of a human being as an "eternal memorial".

This is one of the most disturbing, morbid, freaky, and strangely cool concepts I have ever encountered. When I first stumbled across this company, my brain immediately came up with half a dozen Modern Fantasy/Modern Horror/High Fantasy/Sci Fi plot lines.

All things considered, you could visit the web site of a company that makes tombstones, and it would be *morbid*. There's just no avoiding it. But that's MERELY morbid. There's no Steal Your Soul resonance in there. No thoughts of Really Disturbing Ways to make Psychic Power Crystals. No thoughts of, gee, if they can make over a hundred LifeGems from one person, but you can only afford to buy one or two, how do you know that the rest aren't being channeled into some Infernal Device?

Since I often refer to good "adventure seeds" as "gems", this is especially appropriate. Consider this a Jewelry Store version of the Night Gallery, where frozen fragments of nightmare take on a tangible form...

Submitted for Your Approval... )

Feel free to contribute your own Creepy Ideas.

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