As the world plunges further into economic chaos and war being brought about by the world’s elites (few of which actually realizing they shot themselves in the foot), scientific endeavors funded by tax dollars have either reached a rather dystopian turn, or have gone to research that encourage an inward turning of human interests.
But there are still people who dream of an interstellar future for mankind and Paul Gilster is one of them.
In yesterday’s post on his Centauri Dreams site, the dream of finding planets around our closest interstellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, still is on the front burner and not about to be snuffed out yet:
Finding Earth-like planets around any star would be a stunning feat, and either Kepler or CoRoT may deliver such news before too long. But how much more exciting still if we find a planet like this around a star as close as Centauri B? After all, the Centauri stars are our closest stellar neighbors, close enough (a mere 40 trillion kilometers!) to conjure up the possibility of a robotic mission there and, if we play our propulsion cards right in the future, perhaps a manned trip as well.
Gregory Laughlin (UC-Santa Cruz), on the other hand, armed with a planet hunter’s insights, a passion for the Centauri system, and a realization that patience could tease out faint signals like these, traded ideas with Debra Fischer (San Francisco State) on the possibility of devoting years to an Alpha Centauri search. Fischer is now hard at work, using a telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. She works with a decommissioned spectrometer and other vintage equipment. Call it ‘Alpha Centauri on the cheap.’
On the cheap indeed, most money tied up in astronomical research is done either in NASA, DARPA, Pentagon with a little thrown toward Seth Shostak’s way.
It may take promising early data to get even this modest setup funded after National Science Foundation funds run out in November, but we’ll take the funding problem one step at a time. For now, the precision work continues, with software Fischer herself coded being used to filter out distortions of weather, instrumentation and stellar activity on the target stars to hunt for the minute shifts in wavelength that could signal the breakthrough discovery. If she pulls this off, Fischer’s patience may become legendary.
This is the only good thing about the advanced programming being developed by Microsoft and Google, the ability to clean out distortions made by the atmospheric glare, pollution, dust and lights from cities.
Actually, Microsoft and the Google-Plex are writing these programs to enhance their own new telescopes they are building for Google-Moon and Google-Mars in order to sell more realistic VR tourist jaunts to folks sitting in their Panopticon/Matrix prisons, er…living rooms.
Alright, maybe that’s a little paranoid. But with most of our tax money going to the Pentagon, DARPA and the growing domestic “spy on the public because there’s terrorists there” industry, I think we all should be a little paranoid.
It’s shaping up to be that if we’re going to the stars, it just might be folks like Branson and Musk pushing the envelope because there’s money to be made.
And if I remember right, most of Heinlein’s characters hated the government snooping in their privacy.
Journalist Jim P. Tucker Jr. reports from the latest Bilderberg Conference:
DISPATCH RECEIVED MAY 14, 9:30 A.M. EDT
Bilderberg luminaries all appeared grim-faced as they stepped from their limos on to the grounds of the Nafsika Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni, Greece. They arrived from the airport in nearby Athens, escorted by police with sirens blaring. The world economy is at the top of the Bilderberg agenda. Bilderberg will debate how to exploit the global recession and fabrications about “swine flu” to advance its world government goals. Bilderberg’s agenda has expanded, even as public awareness has grown.
Sources within Bilderberg said President Obama will be instructed to make another effort to get the United States to sign on to the International Criminal Court. The ICC treaty, if ratified by the Senate, would be superior to the Constitution, able to overrule Congress and the Supreme Court and impose “world law” on America.
Bilderberg leaders said they understood the effort would have to be handled with “subtle delicacy” because of the Senate’s traditional hostility to joining the ICC.
I don’t think this Senate, or any Senate elected in 2010 will approve joining the ICC.
The country is still way conservative, despite what the GOPers say about the Dems.
Professor Roubini, of New York University’s Stern business school, believes that while such a major change is some way off, the Chinese government is laying the ground for the yuan’s ascendance.Known as “Dr Doom” for his negative stance, Prof Roubini argues that China is better placed than the US to provide a reserve currency for the 21st century because it has a large current account surplus, focused government and few of the economic worries the US faces.
In a column in the New York Times, Prof Roubini warns that with the proposal for a new international reserve currency via the International Monetary Fund, Beijing has already begun to take steps to usurp the greenback.
China will soon want to see the yuan included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights “basket”, he warns, as well as seeing it “used as a means of payment in bilateral trade.”
Well, China did call for a ‘basket of currencies’ to be the default international money of choice earlier this year because of the declining US economy and dollar.
Could ‘Dr. Doom’ be right?
Land of the “Free”, eh?
A study designed to rank countries in terms of how aggressively they monitor their populations electronically, has placed the US as 6th and the UK as 5th on a global index.
The two countries lag behind only China, North Korea, Belarus and Russia in terms of governmental surveillance.
The report, titled The Electronic Police State, (PDF link) was compiled from information available from different organizations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, the Ludwig von Mises Institute and The Heritage Foundation.
52 countries were rated on 17 criteria with regard to how far down the line they are toward a total electronic police state.
Here are the 52 states and their rankings:
2. North Korea
5. United Kingdom: England & Wales
6. United States of America
13.United Kingdom: Scotland
Of course, there will be those who willfully deny this is happening, either out of ignorance or just outright lying.
Then you have the ‘if you don’t break the law, you don’t have anything to worry about’ crowd.
They’re either crypto-fascists or clueless.
For this edition of the carnival, Centauri Dreams sends Prospects for Red Dwarf ‘Earths’. Paul Gilster analyzes a new paper by Greg Laughlin and Ryan Montgomery that looks at whether Earth-class planets might be found in the habitable zone around red dwarfs. These stars make up over 70 percent of the galactic population, so such a result would mean vast numbers of potentially habitable planets.
From the NWO/Police State Department:
The London police have bested their own impressive record for insane and stupid anti-terrorism posters with a new range of signs advising Londoners to go through each others’ trash-bins looking for “suspicious” chemical bottles, and to report on one another for “studying CCTV cameras.”
It’s hard to imagine a worse, more socially corrosive campaign. Telling people to rummage in one another’s trash and report on anything they don’t understand is a recipe for flooding the police with bad reports from ignorant people who end up bringing down anti-terror cops on their neighbors who keep tropical fish, paint in oils, are amateur chemists, or who just do something outside of the narrow experience of the least adventurous person on their street. Essentially, this redefines “suspicious” as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.
Even worse, though, is the idea that you should report your neighbors to the police for looking at the creepy surveillance technology around them. This is the first step in making it illegal to debate whether the surveillance state is a good or bad thing. It’s the extension of the ridiculous airport rule that prohibits discussing the security measures (“Exactly how does 101 ml of liquid endanger a plane?”), conflating it with “making jokes about bombs.”
The British authorities are bent on driving fear into the hearts of Britons: fear of terrorists, immigrants, pedophiles, children, knives… And once people are afraid enough, they’ll write government a blank check to expand its authority without sense or limit.
What an embarrassment from the country whose level-headed response to the Blitz was “Keep Calm and Carry On” — how has that sensible motto been replaced with “When in trouble or in doubt/Run in circles scream and shout”?
Great Britain is fast becoming Airstrip One.
Somewhere, Eric Blair is crying.
Hat tip to Boing Boing.
On the “morality” of “uplifting” some animal species to human level “intelligence”:
Biological uplift describes the act of biologically enhancing nonhuman animals and integrating them into human and/or posthuman society. There is no reason to believe that we won’t some day be able to do so; the same technologies that will someday work to augment the human species could also be applied to other animals. The big questions now have to do with whether or not we should embark on such a project and how we could do so in an ethical and responsible manner.
Recently on his blog, David Brin wrote, “[See] Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals,” by George Dvorsky… opining that we humans will soon attempt what I described 30 years ago, when I coined “uplift” in several novels that explored the concept from many angles. George’s fascinating paper, might have benefited from more on the sfnal history of the idea. Before me, HG Wells, Cordwainer Smith, and Pierre Boulle depicted humans endowing animals with powers of intelligence and speech – though always in a context of abuse and involuntary servitude. Indeed, those cautionary tales may have helped ensure that it will be done openly and accountably, hence qualifying the tales as “self-preventing prophecies.” Allowing me to be the first to ponder “what if we tried to do uplift ethically and well?”
But I noticed a few comments around the InnerTubes that have linked to this post asking why should we uplift animals to sapience in order to have “alien” companions? Many have said they wouldn’t be alien at all, only anthropocentric animal versions of ourselves. And some have suggested what the article stated, that we would use them as slaves, (read Cordwainer Smith’s classic, “The Dead Lady of Clown Town“).
Alternative history researchers Zecharia Sitchen and Lloyd Pye have suggested that humanity itself is a result of uplift from hominids by the Annunaki of Ancient Sumerian legends, however, they do have their detractors.
Could the urge to ‘uplift’ come naturally to us because we are a result of the process?
According to Brin’s fiction, that’s the case.
But is it inadvertantly the truth?
The works of science-fiction author Philip K. Dick are the most authentic articles of modern prophecy since Nostrodomus.
Many of his works have made it to the movie theaters over the past 26 years, ‘Blade Runner’ (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), ‘A Scanner Darkly’, ‘Paycheck’, ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Minority Report’ to name a few.
Like most geniuses however, PKD suffered from episodes of paranoia and delusions, possibly from premature birth and a death of a twin sister when they were five weeks old. Dick often refered to her as his ‘phantom twin’, which was a recurrent theme through-out his writing career.
But Dick would say his illnesses were from the ‘visions’ and ‘possessions’ he suffered during the 1970s. Oddly, some of his best writing was produced during this time.
Throughout February and March 1974, he received a series of visions, which he referred to as “two-three-seventy four” (2-3-74), shorthand for February-March 1974. He described the initial visions as laser beams and geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and of ancient Rome. As the visions increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live a double life, one as himself, “Philip K. Dick”, and one as “Thomas”, a Christian persecuted by Romans in the 1st century A.D. Despite his history of drug use and elevated stroke risk, Dick began seeking other rationalist and religious explanations for these experiences. He referred to the “transcendentally rational mind” as “Zebra”, “God” and, most often, “VALIS“. Dick wrote about the experiences in the semi-autobiographical novels VALIS and Radio Free Albemuth.
At one point Dick felt that he had been taken over by the spirit of the prophet Elijah. He believed that an episode in his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was a detailed retelling of a story from the Biblical Book of Acts, which he had never read.
In time, Dick became paranoid, imagining plots against him by the KGB and FBI. At one point, he alleged they were responsible for a burglary of his house, from which documents were stolen. He later came to suspect that he might have committed the burglary against himself, and then forgotten he had done so. Dick himself speculated as to whether he may have suffered from schizophrenia.
However paranoid Dick became, his powers of predictive deduction were not diminished. If anything, they increased with time.
One such item, although he initially wrote about it in 1965, is becoming reality now in this time period, courtesy of DARPA, the Pentagon’s best friend:
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVE: The Gandalf program is an advanced technology and development and demonstration program that is seeking solutions to the functions of radio frequency (RF) geolocation and emitter identification using specific emitter identification (SEI) for specific signals of interest. The ultimate goal of the Gandalf program is to enable a set of handheld devices to be utilized to perform RF geolocation and SEI on RF signals of interest to the Gandalf program. The specific goals and performance objectives associated with RF geolocation and SEI for the Gandalf system are classified.
The basic idea is that a group of agents or troops could carry a hand-held gadget that could pick out the phone of a specific person, and then target that person.
Philip K. Dick had a unique understanding of the military mind, and he called this one in his wonderful 1965 novel The Zap Gun. He called this process of targeting a single individual needle-eyeification:
“The final solution,” Febbs said, “in my opinion, in n-e weapons.” N-e: that signified the esoteric term, used in Wes-bloc’s weapons circles such as the Board which he now (God in his wisdom be praised!) belonged to, needle-eye. And needle-eyeification was the fundamental direction which weapons had been taking for a near half-century. It meant, simply, weapons with the most precise effect conceivable. In theory it was possible to imagine a weapon – as yet untranced of by Mr. Lars himself, still – that would slay one given individual at a given instant at a given intersection at one particular given city in Peep-East. Or in Wes-bloc, for that matter…
God, how clearly he could conceive it in his own mind!
Now my question is this, “Is this a case of art imitating life, or life imitating art?”
Is the US Government purposely using the genius of a dead science-fiction author to create the weapons of oppression to be used against its citizens?
Or was P.K. Dick a latter-day prophet, tortured by visions he could barely understand and was trying to warn a future world of dangers that only demons in hell could dream up?