Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mars Update... and NASA's Warp Drive

"NASA‘s teased data “for the history books” from the Curiosity Mars rover has all been a huge misunderstanding, the space agency now says, with the reference apparently encompassing the mission as a whole – not a specific finding. Anticipation was built earlier this month when principal investigator John Grotzinger told NPR that “this data is gonna be one for the history books” and that “it’s looking really good”; his comments were interpreted as specific to a set of soil sample results Curiosity’s onboard labs had just beamed back to Earth, but NASA says it was all a case of confusion."

-  via a Slash Gear news article, 11/28/12

"The Curiosity rover may have found organic compounds on Mars, Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi said in Rome on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

"Perhaps Curiosity has found simple organic molecules," Elachi said at La Sapienza University, according to La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno. "It's preliminary data that must be checked (on) organic, not biological, molecules."

The statement figures to set off a new round of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life on Mars.

Elachi, however, made clear that Curiosity cannot find life."

- via the Denver Post article,  11/28/12


Ah well, Kats and Kitties, as - more or less - predicted in this update, no news is... uh, no news.  Then again, over at Boing Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker leaps to NASA's defense!

However, cheer up... George Dvorsky reported on io9 (11/26/12) about a warp drive that could change the playing field... or, at least, get us there a lot quicker! See: How NASA might build its very first warp drive.  (Thanks, David!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Quantum Soul (3)

Michio Kaku at Big Think

"Many quantum physicists today, including several of my friends and colleagues who have won Nobel Prizes, lean toward the Many Worlds interpretation, which states that the quantum universe is continually splitting into parallel universes. String theory (my specialty) also leads naturally to this "multiverse" interpretation, since each solution of string theory represents a different quantum universe.

This means that, in principle, there may be quantum copies of ourselves in these different universes, in which we may be rock stars, famous politicians, or homeless people. Each of these parallel versions of ourselves, in turn, insists that they are the real person, and  that all other copies are fake.

But this does not mean that we can easily enter such parallel universes to meet copies of ourselves to settle the question. Think of listening to the radio in your living room. There are many different radio waves filling up your room from different radio stations, but your radio only vibrates (i.e. is coherent) with one station. Your radio has decohered from these other universes and hence cannot pick up their signals. Similarly, each universe vibrates at different quantum frequencies, but we have decohered from them, i.e. we do not vibrate at the same frequency anymore. Hence, it is amazing that there are many parallel universes existing in your living room(e.g. with dinosaurs, pirates, comets, or nothing at all), but you have decohered from them, and hence cannot make contact them.

In principle, perhaps people who have died are still alive in one of these universes in your living room, but if you reach out, you cannot make contact with them. Yes, this means that Elvis is probably still alive in one of these universes."

- Michio Kaku via a Big Think article Physics on the Fringe: Dr. Kaku Answers Questions from Science Channel Viewers 11/20/12


In a sort of "The Word of the Day" footnote, Michio Kaku is described in the Wiki article (via the link above) as being a pantheist. From the Wiki definition:

"Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the Universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but differ in exact interpretation of the term.

Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of Baruch Spinoza, whose treatise, Ethics, was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Though the term Pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of pantheism."

Famous Pantheists include... and, for those interested, Pantheism on the internet can be found here, here, and here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Day Trip to Mars: Opportunity Still Knocks

The joint's still jumping at Endeavor Crater - Sept. 6, 2012
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Outcropping at Endeavor... What's this - petroglyphs? ;-)
November, 2012 - NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Those of you familiar with Mac and Post-Mac Blues might be wondering why I haven't made much of the Mars mission this year... specifically the presence of Curiosity at Gale Crater. The sad fact is, I just haven't been all that impressed with the data these days.* While Curiosity might be a mechanical marvel, it apparently doesn't have a "pancam," and/or pancam shots are just not available to the public. Then again, Gale Crater doesn't much look like prime real estate judging by its raw images.... a fairly featureless terrain not even worth setting up camp in. So, if there's loads to see in Gale Crater, I don't think the public has been invited, yet. Meanwhile, here's a toy to play with. I've yet to install it, but, if you do, let me know what I'm missing.

In any case, Gale Crater certainly hasn't offered up anything comparable to the Spirit rover's stomping ground, Gusev Crater, a veritable treasure trove; nor even Endeavor Crater where Opportunity still roams. Yes, our trusty Spirit passed away - or, at least, fell into a coma - in March, 2010, but Opportunity continues to give us glimmers of the Mars we all want to go to. (Spirit and Opportunity even have a Twitter page.) So, while I have nothing interesting to show you from Gale Crater, here's 2 pancam shots via the Opportunity rover taken quite recently, plus one from 2004... to remind us of the wonder that is Mars, and the planet that continues to haunt us. (click on images for larger views)

Opportunity image circa 2004 - JPL/Caltech


*11/20/12 - This just in, via the NPR article: Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now. (Radio broadcast below)

I don't know how riveting my jaded imagination will interpret this potential "news", and I suspect that Rover scientists are "mum" more often than not, but, in lieu of any photographic thrills and chills, I'll take what I can get! (Hat-tip to G.T. at the Daily Grail.)

11/23/12 Update: Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, proposes plans for a settlement on Mars. And, for a mere $500,000, you too, can climb aboard. But, hey, wait a minute, what if Mars One gets there first?

Previous Mars posts on Post-Mac Blues

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Quantum Soul (2)

"Bond of Union" - M.C. Escher - Lithograph - 1956

"Omni: That seems to fit in well with your thoughts about death.

Bohm: Death must be connected with questions of time and identity. When you die, everything on which your identity depends is going. All things in your memory will go. Your whole definition of what you are will go. The whole sense of being separate from anything will go because that's part of your identity. Your whole sense of time must go. Is there anything that will exist beyond death? That is the question everybody has always asked. It doesn't make sense to say something goes on in time. Rather I would say everything sinks into the implicate order, where there is no time. But suppose we say that right now, when I'm alive, the same thing is happening. The implicate order is unfolding to be me again and again each moment. And the past me is gone.

Omni: The past you, then, has been snatched back into the implicate order.

Bohm: That's right. Anything I know about "me" is in the past. The present "me" is the unknown. We say there is only one implicate order, only one present. But it projects itself as a whole series of moments. Ultimately, all moments are really one. Therefore now is eternity.
In one sense, everything, including me, is dying every moment into eternity and being born again, so all that will happen at death is that from a certain moment certain features will not be born again. But our whole thought process causes us to confront this with great fear in an attempt to preserve identity. One of my interests at this stage of life is looking at that fear."

- Excerpt of an interview with quantum physicist, David Bohm, conducted by F. David Peat and John Briggs;  originally published in Omni Magazine, January 1987.


I was doing a bit of research for a recent post (Quantum Esoterica) on my art blog , when I came upon this interview with David Bohm , the quantum physicist I most admire, in which, among other topics, he talks about death; so, I thought this might supplement my previous "quantum" post.

 As it was, after suffering through a period of emotional depression following the time of this interview, Bohm died of a heart attack in 1992. His last book,  The Undivided Universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory , was published a year after his death. 

That being said, in this interview excerpt, it almost seems as if he's referring to "memories" as the standard localized neurological codes of a dying brain, as opposed to the more intriguing concepts of consciousness I generally associate with him: i.e., the brain as merely a receiver and translator of non-local waves of codified information. But maybe that's just my own spin, combined with philosophical artifacts picked up elsewhere.

Then again, from a transdimensionalist's point of view, if the "implicate order" is an infinite, multi-dimensional order - which I somehow always assumed it was - it seems that "features", which have apparently "sunk" into the oblivion of the implicate order, may well have the ability to explicate in another dimension. But, once again, that just might be my own misinterpretation.

Incidentally, you may recall F. David Peat's name appearing on PMB in the past... notably on the following posts: The Hypocrisy of Science and Materialism: "Thoughtcrime"Wolfgang Pauli and #137Synchronicity and the Skies above... Volcanoes!, and The Red Book.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Quantum Soul

"Fabric" graphic - DS - 2006

"A pair of world-renowned quantum scientists say they can prove the existence of the soul. 

American Dr Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose developed a quantum theory of consciousness asserting that our souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells. 

Their idea stems from the notion of the brain as a biological computer, "with 100 billion neurons and their axonal firings and synaptic connections acting as information networks". 

Dr Hameroff, Professor Emeritus at the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology and Director of the Centre of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, and Sir Roger have been working on the theory since 1996. 

They argue that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules - a process they call orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR). "

- Signs of the Times article, Oct. 31, 2012


Mechanistic? Sort of. Reductionist? Probably. Do I buy it? Not necessarily. But, it's always nice to note scientists seriously looking into the "matter" of consciousness. It's an inquiry that has to start somewhere... cause, baby, it has a long, long way to go.

Incidentally, this post is not the start of a new trend at PMB, (or the reemergence of an old trend). I add it here on a whim, and it may be removed in the near future.

Besides which, there's a bit of a synchronistic pixel trail here... While searching Penrose, I found this:

"Roger and his father are the creators of the famous Penrose staircase and the impossible triangle known as the tribar. Both of these impossible figures were used in the work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher to create structures such as a waterfall where the water appears to flow uphill and a building with an impossible staircase which rises or falls endlessly yet returns to the same level."

-  via this  "World of Escher" page

Meanwhile, more quantum goodness...

(Hat-tip to Graham Hancock's newspage)

(... and, you might also want to check out the Daily Grail article on the same subject!)

Added note: Incidentally, you might notice a correlation between the above hypothesis and the two Mac Tonnies' quotes, found here.