Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm off to the midwest...

...for a road trip in search of beer, brats, pizza and fun. Chicago, Milwaukee, Indiana and thereabouts. the awesome family has some serious partying to attend to. so don't expect any new posts 'till after labor day. in the meanwhile, please spend 30 seconds perusing and considering my prior posts. there is enough meat there to think about... laterz!

p.s. my web counter now says 2192.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

in the future...

...all Americans will downsize as gas climbs to $8/gallon.

Friday, August 19, 2005

intelligent design and AI...

first let me say that I admire Bush. I admire the money, power, and influence he has. I admire his ability to lead a team and motivate, despite his all too human imperfections. what I don't admire is the policies and ideas that he promotes. oftentimes they are just wrong. if only he had put his pandering talents to good use! his remarks about teaching 'intelligent design' in schools is a good example. an article in the May 30 New Yorker describes pretty well "why intelligent design isn't"... basically there's no science to back it up. read the article first if you want to disagree with me.

so evolution (a very well tested and established theory) is the answer. what are scientists doing with it? I've been reading pretty awesome stuff about artificial life - philosophy and computing intermix to show where our real future may lie. Tom Ray is one of the pioneers in this area who has gone quite far in creating "virtual life" which at some point is equivalent to what the dictionary constitues "life".

in "Recent Developments in Biologically Inspired Computing"
by Leandro Nunes de Castro and Fernando J. Von Zuben states:

according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, life is:

“The state of a material complex or individual characterized by the capacity to perform certain functional activities including metabolism, growth, reproduction, and some form of responsiveness or adaptability.”

Life is seen as the result of a complex material organization that performs some specific tasks. Such a definition does not say anything about this organization; it only considers life as a cluster of properties (growth, self-reproduction …). Such definitions are common. In the field of artificial life, the most famous cluster definition is that of Farmer and Belin, who selected eight criteria (Farmer & Belin, 1992, p. 818):

Life is a pattern in space-time.


Information storage of a self-representation.


Functional interactions with the environment.

Interdependence of parts.

Stability under perturbations.

Ability to evolve.

Ray’s results have been sufficiently impressive to give rise to comments such as:

“From a purely logical point of view, the barrier between life and artificial life seemed to have come down: the universality of life was proven” (Adami, 1998, p. 49).

C. Emmeche examined Ray’s creatures according to Farmer and Belin’s eight criteria (Emmeche, 1994, pp. 43-46):

Ray’s creatures are information structures rather than material objects.

They are able to self-reproduce.

They have self-representation.

They have some kind of metabolism since they redistribute some of the computer’s electrical energy.

They have functional interactions with their environment.

Their components are mutually interdependent and they can die.

They are stable in their environment.

They can evolve.

According to Emmeche, only the properties 2 (self-reproduction is essentially formal; it does not consume any “matter”), 4 (is it reasonable to consider alterations of electromagnetic states as a metabolism?) and 7 (the considered stability is very weak) are not fully satisfied.

The question here is not to say that Ray’s creatures are “quite living,” but to point out that such a construction satisfies many of the intuitive properties of life.

Adami, C. (1998). Introduction to artificial life. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Emmeche, C. (1994). The garden in the machine. The emerging science of artificial life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Farmer, J., & Belin, A. (1992). Artificial life: The coming evolution. In C.G.Langton (Ed.), Artificial life II (pp. 815-840). Redwood City: Addison-Wesley.

so man is the intelligent designer. reminds me of Genesis 1:27 - "God made man in his image". they didn't teach this when I went to school!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

an even farther out solution for the oil crisis (planet of the apes anyone?)...

excerpts from "UFOS AND THE NEW PHYSICS"
By Kim Burrafato
in conversation with
Jack Sarfatti, Ph.D.

It's no wonder that most scientists consider the subject of UFOs patently absurd and not worthy of serious discussion. Can modern physics ever hope explain the UFO phenomenon to fit within the current world view? Or is an entirely new physics required? This article will address the question "If UFOs are real, then how do they work?"...

...Theoretical subtleties inherent within Einstein's general theory of relativity (gravity) and quantum mechanics may hold the answer. If it is possible to physically alter or deform four-dimensional space-time, then a kind of space-time tunnel, or time travel gate, can be constructed. In current physics, such theoretical tunnels are known as traversable wormholes.

Cal Tech physicists Kip Thorne and Michael Morris, along with Igor Novikov of Moscow State University and others, have published a number of papers in the prestigious Physical Review on the physics of time travel and traversable wormholes. A traversable wormhole is literally a shortcut through both space and time.

An advanced extraterrestrial civilization , capable of cosmic-scale engineering, could conceivably fabricate traversable wormhole time travel gates, where their starships would enter a wormhole in one region of space- time, and pop out in another extremely distant region of space-time.

According to the equations of general relativity, one of the mouths of the wormhole has to accelerate away from the other mouth to a very high speed close to that of light and then return. If you step into the mouth that accelerates and returns, you will step out the other end into the relative past of when you entered. If you step into the unaccelerated mouth and leave through the accelerated one, you will jump into the relative future. That is, if you had an identical twin who did not go through the wormhole, your twin would be older than you.

How do you create a traversable wormhole time machine? Theoretical physicist Jack Sarfatti, has also been working on that question. A self-described "rogue scholar," Sarfatti has had a long association with fringe science. He and Michael Murphy organized and led the first Physics of Consciousness Seminars at the Esalen Institute back in 1974, sponsored by former human potential movement superstar turned pariah, Werner Erhard. Those Esalen seminars spawned an entirely new genre of pop science literature, known as "The New Physics" -- of which the recent best seller by Deepak Chopra, Quantum Healing, is but one example.

Sarfatti's unorthodox theories on faster-than-light (superluminal) communication continue to raise hackles among the more conservative physics mainstream. When it comes to traversable wormhole time machines, Sarfatti speculates that so-called dark matter, which may comprise over 90% of the mass of the universe, could provide an answer.

This elusive matter has so far remained unobservable directly by conventional methods employing photons of electromagnetic radiation. Yet, its gravitational effects on ordinary matter are observed indirectly. "If dark matter moves around in the imaginary time of quantum gravity, then it would be difficult for it to emit any photons, even if it wasn't electrically neutral. So, we wouldn't expect to see it through optical telescopes," Sarfatti explains.

...A strong case has been made that after over 30 years of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), we just have not observed the kind of infra-red and electromagnetic signals that a number of prominent scientists believe would be characteristic of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization capable of cosmic scale engineering and interstellar expansion. So, at this point in the evolution of the universe, humanity may truly be alone. That fact weakens the case for UFOs being purely extraterrestrial in origin from advanced alien civilizations much older than our own. If UFOs are not extraterrestrial, then what are they? Sarfatti suspects

"They could be terrestrial time ships, originating from our own future. In which case, their motivation might be to interfere in their own past in order to assure their own coming into being in a globally and logically self-consistent way."

...Sarfatti speculates that UFOs could be employing some kind of "paradox engine," or "curvature generator." By continually generating paradoxes, this engine would force nature to avoid paradox by releasing inexhaustible quantities of zero point vacuum energy, physically altering the geometry of spacetime -- a starship fueled by paradox. Obviously, the demonstration of such a device would dramatically prove that the preservation of global, or logical consistency is a fundamental and immutable law of nature. It would also probably fill our planet's energy needs forever. In other words, energy may be mutable, but logic is not. Nature abhors a paradox.

Hmmm, reminds of the Infinite Improbability Engine used in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe...

Friday, August 12, 2005

solution for $60/barrel oil?

let me start by stating I don't believe this proposal is valid (nevermind that it's also infeasible). the only reason I'm repeating it is because it was put forth by a respected economist who presumably knows more about economics (utility, elasticity, supply and demand and all that rot) than you or me. so it's good for an argument either way:

"the solution to high gasoline prices is for everybody to change their buying habits at the gas station. instead of filling up, if everybody always only put in $20 of fuel -- regardless of the price per gallon; the result would be that the reserve of gas now being stored in auto gas tanks would be shifted back. nobody would have to drive any less or have more efficient engines. merely shifting the reserve backwards -- from car to gas station, to delivery tanker truck, to refinery, to oil tanker, to oil well -- would cause a surplus of oil which would force each middleman and eventually the oil producing countries to cut back their price. this price cut would then be permanent and repeated because the end users would continue to only purchase $20 of gasoline every visit to the filling station. that's the theory."

now for my rebuttal: the authors argument leaves out the fact that oil producers can simply cut back on production - they don't have to store any surplus, because they can just leave the oil in the ground. sure they have fixed costs which must be met, but really isn't the majority of oil sales pure profit to the OPEC countries? secondly, if the surplus caused a reduction in price, that $20 will then pay for more gallons of gas, which then will wipe out the surplus. an equilibrium will be reached and continued $20 purchasing behavior will not cause further decreases in price.

ok, does anyone else care to argue one way or another?

just signed up for this...

I have no idea what it's about (ok maybe an inkling), but they want me to put it on my blog for 250 credits. hey, that can't be bad!?

UPDATE 9/15: seems this is causing popups to appear. don't need that. forget the 250 credits.

another update 10/23: still getting popups, I mangled the link in this post.