Wow, does life imitate art or what?:
Cyberdyne Incorporated is building a real life Iron Man suit named HAL. No, this isn’t the ultimate in crossover fan-fiction – it’s an actual factual product. You might expect to wait ten years for such technology, but Cyberdyne Inc. is aiming to start production in October. Yes, THIS October. Start saving.
The suit in Iron Man is built by Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.), a brilliant engineer who has made billions from building weapons. Kidnapped in Afghanistan, he questions his life, and resolves to put his genius to better use: to protecting rather than destroying by building himself a suit of armor that gives him superhuman powers.
The HAL real-world suit is based on the research of Professor Sankai’s laboratory at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) is designed to enhance the abilities of the wearer without restricting their range of motion, a set of sensors and motors at each joint multiplying the user’s strength. And like Tony Stark himself, they appreciate that sophisticated systems require sleek styling to sell – with white shelled sections topped with blue-LED rings at each motor, this couldn’t be designed to look more modern without spontaneously jumping into the future.
It has been said by Singularity advocates like Ray Kurzweil that disabled people will be the first true transhumans. Devices such as this HAL exo-skeleton will enable spinal cord, or nervous system damaged individuals to enjoy total mobility once again.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America organization should pay attention to this.
Once again, the Anthropic Principle is under the gun:
Many people marvel that we live in a universe that seems to be precisely tailored to suit the development of intelligent life. The observation is the basis for some forms of “Anthropic Principles” that strive to explain why the laws of physics take the form we observe, given the nearly countless other possibilities permitted by schools of thought such as string theory…
…But a new paper in Physical Review Letters from a group of physicists at Case Western Reserve University argues that any connection between the laws of physics and the existence of life is likely to be an illusion stemming from our shortsighted definition of intelligent life.
For the sake of their analysis, the authors define intelligent life as any organism capable of producing scientists who can observe the universe around them. They then consider three types of universes: those that don’t lead to scientists, those that lead to scientists who are completely different from us, and those that lead to scientists who need the same physical laws to survive that we require.
I think the statement “…those that don’t lead to scientists, those that lead to scientists who are completely different from us, and those that lead to scientists who need the same physical laws to survive that we require…” is funnier than hell.
Anthropic scientists; “…get thee behind me…!”
A Critique of Shortsighted Anthropic Principles
Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams posts an intelligent essay about a realistic possibility of the invention of a ‘warp drive’:
Mention the term ‘warp drive’ and the name Miguel Alcubierre immediately comes to mind. But it was only recently that the Mexican physicist’s connection to the idea arose. His 1994 paper, written while he was at the University of Wales, took what had been a science fiction concept (most famously, I suppose, in Star Trek) and extended it into the realm of serious science. Not that Alcubierre put forth a realistic proposal for building a starship that could travel faster than light. What he was doing was the essential first step in such study, trying to demonstrate that FTL travel times could be achieved within the context of General Relativity.
You would think that flying to Alpha Centauri in, say, a few days would be a gross violation of Einstein’s laws, but this may not be the case. What Alcubierre proposed was that warp drive could function not by acceleration through space, but by the acceleration of space itself. Interestingly, while there is a seemingly iron-clad prohibition against superluminal movement through space, the movement of spacetime itself is not restricted. A warp drive could theoretically expand spacetime behind the ship while contracting it in front, allowing the vehicle to reach its destination far faster than the speed of light limitation would otherwise allow. Space itself moves around the craft while vehicle and crew remain motionless within a bubble of transient spacetime.
This is going to be an ongoing debate until someone actually builds this thing. Mainstream physicists are loath to mention an inkling that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity can be used this way.
I think to admit so would give the UFO community credibility in that if we could possibly build a device that would enable interstellar flight, other more advanced cultures already have and might currently be here observing us.
This is my opinion, not Gilster’s. But he says to take the possibility of FTL seriously.