terra(n) forming

Genomes to Life Program, U.S. Department of Energy
following up on the depolymerization initiative of the DOD, there is a similar initiative being undertaken by the DOE.
In the next quarter to half century, further advances may lead to large-scale production of hydrogen gas for fuel cells and the ability to store in the ground both bio- and fossil-derived CO2. Microbes could enable the inexpensive production of hydrogen by consuming a hydrogenated feedstock and releasing H2, for example, splitting water with light or splitting hydrogen from biomass or even coal.
hydrogen age, here we come.

fatality risk

we are experiencing “a disease that spreads like the common cold but kills 4 percent of its victims”. As far as I can tell, SARS is here to stay, and it will continue to spread. Will we be able to develop a vaccine or treatment before every person on earth experiences the disease?
will we have to mostly abolish international travel to stop an important vector of the disease? will globalization be one of goods and services only? will we shift more of our existence into cyberspace to reduce contagion?
a 4% risk has to be put into perspective.

0.0005 %
risk of death on a dive
0.004 %
risk of death from mountain hiking
0.05 %
risk of death from motor vehicle accident
100 %
risk of eventual death

a master list of infectious diseases is available too.


Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water. While no one plans to put people into a thermal depolymerization machine, an intimate human creation could become a prime feedstock. “There is no reason why we can’t turn sewage, including human excrement, into a glorious oil,” says engineer Terry Adams, a project consultant.
just as we are hitting the hubbert peak, we get a technology that may make oil rigs obsolete:
Andreassen and others anticipate that a large chunk of the world’s agricultural, industrial, and municipal waste may someday go into thermal depolymerization machines scattered all over the globe. If the process works as well as its creators claim, not only would most toxic waste problems become history, so would imported oil. Just converting all the U.S. agricultural waste into oil and gas would yield the energy equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil annually. In 2001 the United States imported 4.2 billion barrels of oil. Referring to U.S. dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East, R. James Woolsey, former CIA director and an adviser to Changing World Technologies, says, “This technology offers a beginning of a way away from this.”
with their main (only?) source of income in danger, what will the middle east kleptocracies do?
because the only thing this process can’t handle is nuclear waste. If it contains carbon, we can do it.” and Thermal depolymerization has proved to be 85 percent energy efficient for complex feedstocks, and even higher for relatively dry raw materials, such as plastics it will be possible to jump start the distributed power infrastructure worldwide.

elevators of a different kind

as i’m re-reading the red / green / blue mars series, i’m amazed by the discovery of liftport:
Liftport Inc. is a different kind of high-tech startup. Our mission is to build a vital and highly profitable infrastructure for off-world industry. Our first project is the Space Elevator, which will revolutionize space exploration and utilization – first, in the neighborhood of the Earth, and then throughout the solar system. The Space Elevator is a key enabling technology for any work done off the planet, whether in near-earth orbit, at geosynchronous distances, or far beyond the moon.
The era of violently blasting things (and people) into space on top of wasteful, dangerous rockets is almost over. In 15 years, we will get there quietly, reliably, safely, and at a fraction of the cost.

the lift date is july 1st, 2018.
2018 is also the launch date for a manned mars mission.

fighting decoherence

Toward an architecture for quantum programming

It is becoming increasingly clear that, if a useful device for quantum computation will ever be built, it will be embodied by a classical computing machine with control over a truly quantum subsystem, this apparatus performing a mixture of classical and quantum computation. This paper investigates a possible approach to the problem of programming such machines: a template high level quantum language is presented which complements a generic general purpose classical language with a set of quantum primitives.

a very interesting paper, basically stating that any quantum computer will need a classical front end to deal with data pre- and post processing. even the very pragmatic distinction between call-by-value and call-by-reference needs to be rethought:
It is well known that the no-cloning theorem excludes the possibility of replicating the state of a generic quantum system. Since the call-by-value paradigm is based on the copy primitive, this means that quantum programming can not use call-by-value; therefore a mechanism for addressing parts of already allocated quantum data must be supplied by the language.

love for the artificial

i believe machines will .. reach human levels of intelligence, including the ability to understand and respond appropriately to human emotion, including to be able to give and receive love, within 30 years ray kurzweil
AI struck me as a rather good movie that asks the right questions. as we go more cyborg, will we respect machines? what will guide our body enhancement choices? gigolo joe, another mecha remarks to david:
you are being loved for what you do to them, they don’t love you
at some point, we will have to face this question too. maybe we already do.

broken pipes and rusty fences

Wired News: Nuke Lab Can’t Keep Snoops Out

The main entrances to Los Alamos are only marginally better defended than TA-33’s back acreage. The military-like guards keeping watch at these points certainly look fierce in camouflage paints and black bulletproof vests. But there’s little to back up the image. Their belts have gun holsters, but no guns to fill them.
Around facilities like the biology lab, where anthrax and other biotoxins have been handled, no sentries stand guard at all. Nor is there any kind of fence to keep the curious and the malicious away — not even a piece of string.

if that ain’t scary, few things are. meanwhile, the gang is busting glass pipe vendors. way to go.

blogging into oblivion

Cyborg logs

Various forms of apparatus for a new kind of wiki or blog (weblog) are described. In particular, ways of bringing together a collective deconsciousness are presented. The systems works with CyborgLogs (cyborglogs or “glogs”) from a community of portable computer users, or it can also be used with a mixture of portable (handheld or wearable), mobile (automotive, boat, van, or utility vehicle), or base-station (home, office, public space, etc.) systems. The system enables a community to exist without conscious thought or effort on the part of the individual participants. Because of the participants’ ability to constantly experience the world through the apparatus, the apparatus can behave as a true extension of the participants’ mind and body, giving rise to a new kind of collective experience. In other embodiments, the system may operate without the need for participants to bear any kind of technological prosthesis.

wow. this paper argues that moblogging and other technologies will allow for a state of thought, that is neither conscious, unconscious, nor subconscious, but, rather, a shared stream of thought, that evolves into something greater than its constituent parts.
one step closer to the hive mind, or to collective consciousness? you decide.


a klog apart:

This is why I go to Foresight gatherings and Nanoschmooze events, feeding my craving for the unfolding patterns that I will live through.
Once in while I uncover sites like Edge.org, people like Greg or J. Rothfuss, and ideas like the Singularity that reshuffle my expectations.
And then I sigh.

apparently my little “how much can you take” test of futurology has been read :)