Category Archives: Science

EYE TO EYE

Can anyone give a geometric reason why an imaginary number raised to the power of an imaginary number generates four real numbers and no imaginary ones? Continue reading

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RISK

Let’s smarten up for a few moments and defend our reputation among the kingdoms of the animals and the plants. Let’s think about best case scenarios for survival and whether we can make them come true. One statistic to keep in mind that is easily verified (and it might startle some readers): one-third of all deaths are not caused by aging. Continue reading

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Renormalization

There’s a big problem inside the science of science; there always has been. People noticed the problem as soon as they started doing science. Continue reading

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Fine-Structure Constant

What is the fine-structure constant?
Many very smart physicists wonder about it; some obsess over it; a few have gone mad. Physicists like the late Richard Feynman said that it’s not something any human can or will ever understand; it’s a rabbit-hole that quantum physicists must stand beside and peer into to do their work; but for heaven’s sake don’t rappel into its depths. No one who does has ever returned and talked sense about it. Continue reading

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NO CODE

Gene-drive technologies are an existential threat to the long-term survival of life on earth, just like those tens-of-thousands of plutonium-loaded thermonuclear missiles, which a number of countries have buried a few hundred feet below the surface of the earth. The warheads on these missiles are going to rot someday, because no one can take care of them forever, and we can’t get rid of them. Their poisons—the most lethal known; a speck of plutonium dust can kill any human who ingests it—will leach into the soils; over thousands of years percolating plutonium will kill everything.

Genes—bad ones—or very good ones that turn out bad (oops!)—genes that can never die; genes that can’t be suppressed by natural selection; genes that are always passed on to the next generation under every conceivable scenario and every possible pairing of mates (no matter how mismatched) present potential nightmare scenarios for any species that possess them. Bad gene drivers can extinguish some species in a matter of a few years.

It is distressing to think that smart, young adults—I can imagine some younger than 35 who possibly lack basic common sense (does it matter how smart they are?)—might right now be playing around with molecules of DNA they can’t possibly understand fully, because these molecules have a quantum side to their nature that can make their behavior unpredictable; even unknowable. Continue reading

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TRUTH

Is it possible for humans to tell the truth always; to never lie? Psychologists say it is not possible; most reasonably informed people agree. It’s a trait that can distinguish humans from some forms of artificial intelligence, which engineers at Google and other companies are working furiously to bring on-line.

People’s ideas—their belief systems—are inconsistent, incomplete, and almost always driven by logically-unreliable, emotionally-laden content, which is grounded in their particular life experiences and even trauma. Does anyone disagree? Continue reading

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Why Something, Not Nothing?

Because we are evolved biological creatures who are mostly blind to the things which exist in our Universe, we have become hard-wired over the eons to accept the concept of nothingness as a natural physical state when, it turns out, there is no evidence for it. Continue reading

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Artificial Super-Intelligence

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City, has warned the guardians of the human race to start thinking seriously about the consequences of artificial super-intelligence.

The CEOs of Google, Facebook and other Internet companies are frantically chasing enhancements to artificial-intelligence to help manage their businesses and their subscribers. But the list of actors in the AI arena is long and includes many other parties.

The military-industrial alliance, for example, is a huge player. It should give us pause.

Imagine turning-loose drones which can profile, identify and pursue people they (the drones) predict will become terrorists. Imagine pre-emptive kills by super-intelligent machines who aren’t bothered by conscience or guilt, or even accountable to their “handlers.” That’s what’s coming. In some ways, it’s already here. Continue reading

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Faster Than Light Communication

Communicating with distant space-craft in our solar system is cumbersome and time consuming, because the distances are huge and signals can’t be sent faster than the speed-of-light. A signal from Earth can take from three to twenty-two minutes to reach … Continue reading

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