Peace in the Middle East: Could Alternative Energy Be the Solution?

I have been thinking about the situation in the Middle East and also the rise of oil prices, peak oil, and the problem of a world economy based on energy scarcity rather than abundance. There is, I believe, a way to solve the problems in the Middle East, and the energy problems facing the world, at the same time. But it requires thinking “outside the box.”

Middle Eastern nations must take the lead in freeing the world from dependence on their oil. This is not only their best strategy for the future of their nations and their people, but also it is what will ultimately be best for the region and the whole world.

It is inevitable that someone is going to invent a new technology that frees the world from dependence on fossil fuels. When that happens all oil empires will suddenly collapse. Far-sighted, visionary leaders in oil-producing nations must ensure that their nations are in position to lead the coming non-fossil-fuel energy revolution. This is the wisdom of “cannibalize yourself before someone else does.”

Middle Eastern nations should invest more heavily than any other nations in inventing and supplying new alternative energy technologies. For example: hydrogen, solar, biofuels, zero point energy, magnetic power, and the many new emerging alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a huge opportunity for the Middle East not only for economic reasons, but also because it may just be the key to bringing about long-term sustainable peace in the region.

There is a finite supply of oil in the Middle East — the game will and must eventually end. Are Middle Eastern nations thinking far enough ahead about this or not? There is a tremendous opportunity for them if they can take the initiative on this front and there is an equally tremendous risk if they do not. If they do not have a major stake in whatever comes after fossil fuels, they will be left with nothing when whatever is next inevitably happens (which might be very soon).

Any Middle Eastern leader who is not thinking very seriously about this issue right now is selling their people short. I sincerely advise them to make this a major focus going forward. Not only will this help them to improve quality of life for their people now and in the future, but it is the best way to help bring about world peace. The Middle East has the potential to lead a huge and lucrative global energy Renaissance. All it takes is vision and courage to push the frontier and to think outside of the box.

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The Wikipedia, Knowledge Preservation and DNA

I had an interesting thought today about the long-term preservation and transmission of human knowledge.

The Wikipedia may be on its way to becoming the one of the best places in which to preserve knowledge for future generations. But this is just the beginning. What if we could encode the Wikipedia into the Junk DNA portion of our own genome? It appears that something like this may actually be possible — at least according some recent studies of the non-coding regions of the human genome.

If we could actually encode knowledge, like the Wikipedia for example, into our genome, the next logical step would be to find a way to access it directly.

At first we might only be able to access and read the knowledge stored in our DNA through a computationally intensive genetic analysis of an individual’s DNA. In order to correct any errors in the data from mutuation, we would also need to cross-reference this individual data with similar analyses from the DNA of other people who also carry this data in their DNA. But this is just the beginning. There are however ways to stored data such that there is enough redundancy to protect against degradation. Assuming we could do this we might be able to eliminate the need for cross referencing as a form of error correction — the data itself would be self-correcting so to speak. If we could accomplish this then the next step would be to find a way for an individual to access the knowledge stored in their DNA in real-time, directly. That’s a long way off but there may be a way to do this using some future nano-scale genomic-brain interface. This opens up some fascinating areas of speculation to say the least.

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Reverse Anthropology: Native Tribe Visits UK to Study Brits

Check out this fascinating article about a new show on the BBC:

ne bright morning in St James’s Park and a stream of tourists
approaches Buckingham Palace, where trumpets will shortly herald the
Changing of the Guard. In the middle of the crowd walk five very short,
very odd-looking men. They carry camcorders, gesticulate wildly, and
talk in a language no one can understand. In the heart of
picture-postcard London, this bizarre group stands out like a sore
thumb.
       
         
         
            

  Further investigation reveals that a film crew is tracking the party, at a
  discreet distance. Something is going on. In fact, the cameras are bearing
  witness to a historic event: the odd-looking group, whose skin is dark and
  whose smiles are wide, and who all measure around five feet tall, are on the
  verge of completing an extraordinary social experiment.

Virtual Out of Body Experiences

A very cool experiment in virtual reality has shown it is possible to trick the mind into identifying with a virtual body:

Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera
view of their own back – a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that
appeared to be standing in front of them.

When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer
with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked
either simultaneously or with a time lag.

The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be
caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back,
making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a
hologram.

Volunteers

Even when the camera was switched to film the back of a
mannequin being stroked rather than their own back, the volunteers
still reported feeling as if the virtual mannequin body was their own.

And when the researchers switched off the goggles,
guided the volunteers back a few paces, and then asked them to walk
back to where they had been standing, the volunteers overshot the
target, returning nearer to the position of their "virtual self".

This has implications for next-generation video games and virtual reality. It also has interesting implications for consciousness studies in general.

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Scientist Says "Never in Our Imagination Could This Happen." Famous Last Words?

Whenever a scientist says something like, don’t worry our new experiment could never get out of the lab, or don’t worry the miniature black hole we are going to generate couldn’t possibly swallow up the entire planet, I tend to get a little worried. The problem is that just about every time a scientist has said something is patently absurd, totally impossible or could never ever happen, it usually turns out that in fact it isn’t as impossible as they thought. Now here’s a new article about scientists creating new artificial lifeforms, based on new genetic building blocks — and once again there’s one of those statements. I’m guessing that this means that in about 10 years some synthetic life form is going to be found to have done the impossible and escaped from the lab — perhaps into our food supply, or maybe into our environment. Don’t get me wrong — I’m in favor of this kind of research into new frontiers. I just don’t think anyone can guarantee it won’t escape from the lab.

Steorn Set to Demo "Free Energy" Device Tomorrow

Steorn, the Irish company that claims to have invented a mechanical device that generates unlimited free energy with no fuel, is scheduled to demonstrate their device publicly for the first time in London tomorrow. A panel of 22 independent world experts has been recruited to study the device. It should be an interesting demo!

Very Cool Laser Graffitti Technology

Josh sent me this link. It’s a video of a new technology for doing laser graffitti on the sides of buildings at night. Josh and I have been discussing how to do this for years. You could also project onto clouds. And of course with a computer to control the image you could make some very nice looking pictures, and ads…

Must-Know Terms for the 21st Century Intellectual

Read this fun article that lists and defines some of the key concepts that every post-singularity transhumanist meta-intellectual should know! (via Kurzweil)

British Ministry of Defense Chief Resigns; Cites Concerns About UFO's

Ok, here’s a very unusual news item:

During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick
Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth
and, more specifically, Britain.

His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.

And he complains that the project he once ran is now "virtually closed" down, leaving the country "wide open" to aliens.

Mr Pope decided to speak out about his worries after resigning
from his post at the Directorate of Defence Security at the MoD this
week.

"The consequences of getting this one wrong could be huge," he said.

Read the rest here.  I have several thoughts about this  news and what it might mean… 

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Why Machines Will Never be Conscious

Below is the text of my bet on Long Bets. Go there to vote.

“By 2050 no synthetic computer nor machine intelligence will have become truly self-aware (ie. will become conscious).”

Spivack’s Argument:

(This summary includes my argument, a method for judging the outcomeof this bet and some other thoughts on how to measure awareness…)

A. MY PERSPECTIVE…

Even if a computer passes the Turing Test it will not really beaware that it has passed the Turing Test. Even if a computer seems tobe intelligent and can answer most questions as well as an intelligent,self-aware, human being, it will not really have a continuum ofawareness, it will not really be aware of what it seems to “think” or”know,” it will not have any experience of it’s own reality or being.It will be nothing more than a fancy inanimate object, a clevermachine, it will not be a truly sentient being.

Self-awareness is not the same thing as merely answering questionsintelligently. Therefore even if you ask a computer if it is self-awareand it answers that it is self-aware and that it has passed the TuringTest, it will not really be self-aware or really know that it haspassed the Turing Test.

AsJohn Searle and others have pointed out, the Turing Test does notactually measure awareness, it just measures informationprocessing—particularly the ability to follow rules or at leastimitate a particular style of communication. In particular it measuresthe ability of a computer program to imitate humanlike dialogue, whichis different than measuring awareness itself. Thus even if we succeedin creating good AI, we won’t necessarily succeed in creating AA(“Artificial Awareness”).

But why does this matter? Becauseultimately, real awareness may be necessary to making an AI that is asintelligent as a human sentient being. However, since AA istheoretically impossible in my opinion, truly self-aware AI will neverbe created and thus no AI will ever be as intelligent as a humansentient being even if it manages to fool someone into thinking it is(and thus passing the Turing Test).

In my opinion, awareness isnot an information process at all and will never be simulated orsynthesized by any information process. Awareness cannot be measured byan information processing system, it can only be measured by awarenessitself—something no formal information processing system can eversimulate or synthesize.

One might ask how it is that a humanhas awareness then? My answer is that awareness does not arise from thebody or the brain, nor does it arise from any physical cause. Awarenessis not in the body or the brain, but rather the body and the brain arein awareness. The situation is analagous to a dream, a simulation orvirtual reality, such as that portrayed in the popular film “TheMatrix.”

We exist in the ultimate virtual reality. The mediumof this virtual reality is awareness. That is to say that whateverappears to be happening “out there” or “within the mind” is happeningwithin a unified, nondualistic field of awareness: both the “subject”and the “object” exist equally within this field and neither is thesource of awareness.

This is similar to the case where weproject ourselves as dream protagonists in our own dreams—even thoughour dream bodies appear to be different than other dream-images theyare really equally dream appearances, they are no more fundamental thandream-objects. We identify with our dream-bodies out of habit andbecause it’s practical because the stories that take place appear fromthe perspective of particular bodies. But just because this virtualreality is structured as if awareness is coming from within our heads,it does not mean that is actually the case. In fact, quite the oppositeis taking place.

Awareness is not actually “in” the VR, the VR is”in” awareness. Things are exactly the opposite of how they appear. Ofcourse this is just an analogy—for example, unlike the Matrix, thevirtual reality we live in is not running on some giant computersomewhere and there is no other hidden force controlling it from behindthe scenes. Awareness is the fabric of reality and there is nothingdeeper, nothing creating it, it is not running on some cosmic computer,it comes out of of nowhere yet everything else comes out of it.

Ifwe look for awareness we can’t find anything to grasp, it is empty yetnot a mere nothingness, it is an emptiness that is awake, creative,alert, radiant, self-realizing.

Awareness is empty andfundamental like space, but it goes beyond space for it is also lucid.If we look for space we don’t find anything there. Nobody has evertouched or grasped space directly! But unlike space, awareness can atleast be measured directly–it can measure itself, it knows its ownnature.

Awareness is simply fundamental, a given, theunderlying meta-reality in which everything appears. How did it come tobe? That is unanswerable. What is it? That is unanswerable as well. Butthere is no doubt that awareness is taking place. Each sentient beinghas a direct and intimate experience of their own self-awareness.

Each of us experiences a virtual reality in which we and our world areprojections. That which both projects these projections and experiencesthem is awareness. This is like saying that the VR inherently knows itsown content. But in my opinion this knowing comes from outside thesystem, not from some construct that we can create inside it. So anyawareness that arises comes from the transcendental nature of realityitself, not from our bodies, minds, or any physical system within aparticular reality.

So is there one cosmic awareness out therethat we are all a part of? Not exactly, there is not one awareness norare there many awarenesses because awareness is not a physical thingand cannot be limited by such logical materialist extremes. After allif it is not graspable how can we say it is one or many or any otherlogical combination of one or many? All we can say is that we are it,whatever it is, and that we cannot explain it further. In beingawareness, we are all equal, but we are clearly not the same. We aredifferent projections and on a relative level we are each unique, eventhough on an ultimate level perhaps we are also unified by beingprojections within the same underlying continuum. Yet this continuum isfundamentally empty, impossible to locate or limit, and infinitelybeyond the confines of any formal system or universe, so it cannotreally be called a “thing” and thus we are not “many” or “one” inactuality, what we really are is totally beyond such dualisticdistinctions.

Awareness is like space or reality, something sofundamental, so axiomatic, that it is impossible to prove, grasp ordescribe from “inside” the system using the formal logical tools of thesystem. Since nothing is beyond awareness, there is no outside, no wayto ever gain a perspective on awareness that is not mediated byawareness itself.

Therefore there is no way to reduce awarenessto anything deeper; there is no way to find anything more fundamentalthan awareness. But despite this awareness can be directly experienced,at least by itself.

That which is aware is self-aware.Self-awareness is the very nature of awareness. The self-awareness ofawareness does not come from something else, it is inherent toawareness itself. Only awareness is capable of awareness. Nothing thatis not aware can ever become aware.

This means awareness istruly fundamental, it has always been present everywhere. Awareness isinherent in the universe as the very basis of everything, it is notsomething anyone can synthesize and we cannot build a machine that cansuddenly experience awareness.

Only beings who are awarealready can ever experience awareness. The fact that we are aware nowmeans that we were always aware, even before we were born! Otherwise wenever could have become aware in the first place!

Each of us “is”awareness. The experience of being aware is unique and undeniable. Ithas its own particular nature, but this cannot be expressed it can onlybe known directly. There is no sentient being that is not aware.Furthermore, it would be a logical contradiction to claim that “I amnot aware that I am aware” or “that I am aware that I am not aware” andthus if anyone claims they are not aware or have ever experienced, orcan even imagine, there not being awareness they are lying. There isnobody who does not experience their own awareness, even if they don’trecognize or admit that they experience it.

The experience ofbeing self-aware is the unique experience of “being” — an experienceso basic that it is indescribable in terms of anything else —something that no synthetic computer will ever have.

Eventually, it will be proved that no formal information processingsystem is capable of self-awareness and that thus formal computerscannot be self-aware in principle. This proof will use the abstractself-referential structure of self-awareness to establish that noformal computer can ever be self-aware.

Simplyput, computers and computer programs cannot be truly self-referential:they always must refer to something else—there must at least be a setof fixed meta-rules that are not self-referential for a computer orprogram to work. Awareness is not like this however, awareness isperfectly self-referential without referring to anything else.

Thequestion will then arise as to what self-awareness is and how it ispossible. We will eventually conclude that systems that are self-awareare not formal systems and that awareness must be at least asfundamental as, or more fundamental than, space, time and energy.

Currentlymost scientists and non-scientists consider the physical world to beoutside of awareness and independent of it. But considering that nobodyhas or will ever experience anything without awareness it is illogicalto assume that anything is really outside of awareness. It is actuallyfar more rational to assume that whatever arises or is experienced isinside awareness, and that nothing is outside of awareness. Thisassumption of everything being within awareness would actually be amore scientific, observation-based conclusion than the oppositeassumption which is entirely unfounded on anything we have ever or willever be able to observe. After all, we have never observed anythingapart from awareness have we? Thus contrary to current beliefs, theonus is on scientists to prove that anything is outside of awareness,not the other way around!

Awareness is quite simply theultimate primordial basic nature of reality itself—without awarenessthere could be no “objective reality” at all and no “subjective beings”to experience it. Awareness is completely transcendental, beyond alllimitations and boundaries, outside of all possible systems. Whathubris to think we can simply manufacture, or evolve, awareness with apile of electrified silicon hardware and some software rules.

Nomatter how powerful the computer, no matter what it is made of, and nomatter how sophisticated or emergent the software is, it will stillnever be aware or evolve awareness. No computer or machine intelligencewill ever be aware. Even a quantum computer—if it is equivalent to afinite non-quantum computer at least—will not be capable ofawareness, and even if it is a transinfinite computer I still have mydoubts that it could ever be aware. Awareness is simply not aninformation process.

B. METHOD OF JUDGING THIS BET…

So the question ultimately is, how do we measureawareness or at least determine whether a computer is or is not aware?How can we judge the outcome of this bet?

I propose a method here: we let the bettors mutually agree on a judge.If the judge is a computer, fine. If the judge is a human, fine. Butboth bettors must agree on the judge. If both bettors accept that partyas the judge then the result will be deemed final and reliable. If acomputer is chosen by both parties to judge this, then I will concededefeat—but it would take a lot for any computer to convince me thatit is aware and thus qualified to judge this competition. On the otherhand, my opponent in this debate may accept a human judge—butobviously since they believe that computers can be aware if they accepta human judge they would be contradicting their own assertion—if acomputer is really intelligent and aware why would they choose a humanjudge over a computer judge?

This “recursive” judge-selection judging approach appeals to ourinherent direct human experience of awareness and the fact that wetrust another aware sentient being more than an inaminate machine tojudge whether or not something is aware. This may be the only practicalsolution to this problem: If both parties agree that a computer canjudge and the computer says the other computer is aware, then so be it!If both parties agree that a human can judge and the human says thatthe computer is not aware, so be it! May the best judge win!

Now, as long as we’re on the subject, how do we know that otherhumans, such as our potential human judge(s), are actually aware? Iactually believe that self-awareness is detectable by other beings thatare also aware, but not detectable by computers that are not aware.

C. A REVERSE TURING TEST FOR DETECTING AWARENESS IN A COMPUTER…

Ipropose a reversal of the Turing test for determining whether acomputer is aware (and forgive me in advance if anyone else has alreadyproposed this somewhere, I would be happy to give them credit).

Here is the test: Something is aware if whenever it is presented with acase where a human being and a synthetic machine intelligence areequally intelligent and capable of expression and interaction BUT notequally aware (the human is aware and the machine is not actuallyaware), then it can reliably and accurately figure out that the humanbeing is really aware and the machine is not really aware.

Ibelieve that only systems that are actually aware can correctlydifferentiate between two equally intelligent entities where one issentient and the other just a simulation of sentience, given enoughtime and experience with those systems.

How can such a differentiation be made? Assuming the human andcomputer candidates are equally intelligent and interactive, what isthe signature of awareness or lack of awareness? What difference isthere that can be measured? In my opinion there is a particular, yetindescribable mutual recognition that takes place when I encounteranother sentient being. I recognize their self-awareness with my ownself-awareness. Think of it as the equivalent of a “network handshake”that occurs at a fundamental level between entities that are actuallyaware.

How is this recognition possible? Perhaps it is due tothe fact that awareness, being inherently self-aware, is alsoinherently capable of recognizing awareness when it encounters it.

Onanother front, I actually have my doubts that any AI will ever beequally intelligent and interactive as a human sentient being. Inparticular I think this is not merely a matter of the difficulty ofbuilding such a complex computer, but rather it is a fundamentaldifference between machine cognition and the congition of a sentientbeing.

A human sentient being’s mind transcends computation.Sentient cognition transcends the limits of formal computation, it isnot equivalent to Turing Machine, it is much more powerful than that.We humans are not formal systems, we are not Turing Machines. Humanscan think in a way that no computer will ever be able to match letalone imitate convincingly. We are able to transcend our own logics,our own belief systems, our own programs, we are able to enter andbreak out of loops at will, we are able to know inifinities, to docompletely irrational, spontaneous and creative things. We are muchcloser to infinity than any finite state automaton can ever be. We aresimply not computers, although we can sometimes think like them theycannot really think like us.

In any case, this may be “faith”but for now at least I am quite certain that I am aware and that otherhumans and animals are also aware but that machines, plants and otherinanimate objects are not aware. I am certain that my awareness vastlytranscends any machine intelligence that exists or ever will exist. Iam certain that your awareness is just as transcendent as mine.Although I cannot prove that I am aware or that you are aware to you Iam willing to state such on the basis of my own direct experience and Iknow that if you take a moment to meditate on your own self-awarenessyou will agree.

After all, we cannot prove the existence of spaceor time either—these are just ideas and even physics has notexplained their origins nor can anyone even detect them directly, yetwe both believe they exist, don’t we?

Now if I claimed that asuitably complex computer simulation would someday suddenly containreal physical space and time that was indistinguishable in any way fromthe physical space and time outside the simulation—you would probablydisagree. You would say that the only “real” space-time is actually notin the computer but containing the computer, and any space-time thatappears within the computer simulation is but a mere lower-orderimitation and nothing like the real space-time that contains thecomputer.

No simulation can ever be exactly the same as what itsimulates, even if it is functionally similar or equivalent, forseveral reasons. On a purely information basis, it should be obviousthat if simulation B is within something else called A, then for B tobe exactly the same as A it must contain A and B and so on infinitely.At least if there is a finite amount of space and time to work with wesimply cannot build anything like this, we cannot build a simulationthat contains an exact simulation of itself without getting into aninfinite regression. Beyond this, there is a difference in medium: Inthe case of machine intelligence the medium is physical space, time andenergy—that is what machine intelligence is made of. In the case ofhuman awareness the medium is awareness itself, something at least asfundamental as space-time-energy if not more fundamental. Althoughhuman sentience can perform intelligent cognition, using a brain forexample, it is not a computer and it is not made of space-time-energy.Human sentience goes beyond the limits of space-time-energy andtherefore beyond computers.

If someone builds a Turing Machine that simulates a Turing Machinesimulating a Turing Machine, the simulation will never even start, letalone be useable! As the saying goes, it’s Turtles All The Way Down! Ifyou have a finite space and time, but an infinite initial condition, ittakes forever to simply set up the simulation let alone to compute it.

Thisis the case with self-awareness as well: It is truly self-referential.No finite formal system can complete an infinitely self-referentialprocess in finite time. We sentient beings can do this however.Whenever we realize our own awareness direclty—that is whenever weARE aware (as opposed to just representing this fact as a thought) weare being infinitely self-referential in finite time. That must mean weare either able to do an infinite amount of computing in a finiteamount of time, or we are not computing at all. Perhaps self-awarenessjust happens instantly and inherently rather than iteratively.

On a practical level as well we can see that there is adiffernece between a simulated experience within a simulation and theactual reality it attempts to simulate that exists outside thesimulation. For example, suppose I make a computer simulation ofchocolate and a simulated person who can eat the chocolate. Even thoughthat simulated person tastes the simulated chocolate, they do notreally taste chocolate at all—they have no actual experience of whatchocolate really tastes like to beings in reality (beings outside thesimulation).

Even if there are an infinite number of levels ofsimulation above the virtual reality we are in now, awareness is alwaysultimately beyond them all—it is the ultimate highest-level ofreality, there is nothing beyond it.

Thus even an infinitelyhigh-end computer simulation of awareness will be nothing like actualawareness and will not convince a truly aware being that it is actuallyaware.

How to Build a Landspeeder

So as a kid you watched Star Wars and since then you’ve wanted your very own Landspeeder. The problem is, how to make things hover without using fans, magnets, or special effects? Well, a maverick UK scientist may have invented a way to do it. By harnessing microwaves, and a loophole provided by special relativity, Roger Shawyer has developed a new kind of "relativity drive" that may be the future of space propulsion, and perhaps even terrestrial hovering cars and aircraft. He’s received high-level interest from the UK, US military, and the Chinese and hopes to test it in space in a few years.

The Hidden Structure of Quantum Mechanics and The Prime Numbers Turns Out to Be 42 After All

This is a wonderful article about how a chance encounter led to the discovery of a connection between physics and number theory that may help explain everything from quantum mechanics to the prime numbers….and the most incredible thing is that the answer may actually really be "42" after all. You’ve heard of "Life Imitates Art," well this is "Life Imitates Humor" at it’s best.

Scientist Raises Possibility of Silicon-Based Life

Just read an interesting article on the possibility of "intraterrestrial" silicon-based life on Earth:

SETI spends enormous amounts of money
and resources looking for life outside of Earth’s realm, but life forms
so alien that scientists may simply not have recognized evidence of
their existence could inhabit the Earth, according to a leading
scientist.

Dr Tom Gold, emeritus professor of astronomy at Cornell University in
America, believes that organisms based on silicon – completely
unrelated to all the carbon-based life man has encountered so far – may
live at great depths.

In a forthcoming book he will suggest that scientists should take the
possibility more seriously. Gold, who is a member of the Royal Society,
previously predicted that vast amounts of more conventional bacteria
live miles down within the Earth’s crust. Scientists initially
dismissed the idea, but many now agree with him.

Silicon Lifeform

"So
long as nobody suspects there could be silicon-based life, we may just
not be clever enough to identify it," he said last week.

Rocks bearing signs of silicon-based organisms may already be sitting
in laboratories, he believes, with their significance overlooked.

Every known living organism, from bacteria to mankind, is based on the
chemistry of carbon, which forms the complex molecules such as DNA that
are central to our existence. Scientists believe that if
extraterrestrial life is found, the chances are that it, too, will be
carbon-based.

Editor’s Note: While the prospect of silicon-based life is an interesting subject for further research, what the above scientists failed to note is that there is already a large population of Silicone-based life, particularly in Hollywood. Of course they probably can’t get government funding to research THAT subject!                      
                        
                        
                        
                        
                        

Good Article on Loop Quantum Gravity — New Approach to Physics

The New Scientist published a nice overview of the emerging theory of Loop Quantum Gravity. I’ve been following this for a number of years, ever since my friend Bram turned me onto it. It’s related in some ways to other models of discrete space-time, such as cellular automata and digital physics.

LEE SMOLIN is no magician. Yet he and his colleagues have pulled off
one of the greatest tricks imaginable. Starting from nothing more than
Einstein’s general theory of relativity, they have conjured up the
universe. Everything from the fabric of space to the matter that makes
up wands and rabbits emerges as if out of an empty hat.

It
is an impressive feat. Not only does it tell us about the origins of
space and matter, it might help us understand where the laws of the
universe come from. Not surprisingly, Smolin, who is a theoretical
physicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, is very
excited. "I’ve been jumping up and down about these ideas," he says.

This
promising approach to understanding the cosmos is based on a collection
of theories called loop quantum gravity, an attempt to merge general
relativity and quantum mechanics into a single consistent theory.

The
origins of loop quantum gravity can be traced back to the 1980s, when
Abhay Ashtekar, now at Pennsylvania State University in University
Park, rewrote Einstein’s equations of general relativity in a quantum
framework. Smolin and Carlo Rovelli of the University of the
Mediterranean in Marseille, France, later developed Ashtekar’s ideas
and discovered that in the new framework, space is not smooth and
continuous but instead comprises indivisible chunks just 10-35
metres in diameter. Loop quantum gravity then defines space-time as a
network of abstract links that connect these volumes of space, rather
like nodes linked on an airline route map.

From
the start, physicists noticed that these links could wrap around one
another to form braid-like structures. Curious as these braids were,
however, no one understood their meaning. "We knew about braiding in
1987," says Smolin, "but we didn’t know if it corresponded to anything
physical."  Read More

       
       
       
       
       
            
       
       
       
       
       
            
       
       
       
       
       
            
       
       
       
       
       
            

A Problem with Space Travel

As the distance a spaceship travels through space increases, so do the odds that it will collide with debris in its path – such as interstellar dust, micrometeorites, asteroids, dark matter, dark stars, etc.

If you are traveling at super high-speed, through uncharted territory, there is no way to know what is out there.

Even if it is charted territory, debris is always flying through – sometimes at incredibly high speeds. Especially when you near solar systems, or in denser areas.

It should be possible to say that after a certain distance the odds are 100% that a spaceship will experience a fatal collision.

As a result, only short range space travel is probably safe enough to be feasible unless some kind of shield technology is invented that can withstand the  blasts that result from collisions with even tiny things at such high
speeds.

My guess is that if advanced interstellar civilizations exist, they do not travel linearly through space because it is just too dangerous. They must have a way to “tunnel” – either by using or creating wormholes, or some other means of teleportation, or hyperdimensional travel.

In speaking about this, my friend Josh, suggested the following:

Yeah- and here’s another aspect to that problem.

Assume you are using a near light speed drive to go from star to star.

Any detection system you are using (radar, etc) will only extend slightly in front of the ship- because it is only moving slightly faster than you are- and the faster you go, the less
time you have to detect and deal with obstacles or objects.

If you are moving slowly- perhaps a generation ship or a “frozen cargo” scenario- you could use radar connected to an autopilot- but you still need something to protect you from micrometeorites and interstellar dust- maybe a big electrostatic shield extending far in front of the ship that will attract and deflect such objects (most meteroids are ferromagnetic, so they respond well to electromagnetic fields…)

You really need a rapid response detection system…

Electric Currents Heal Wounds

150 years ago, German physiologist Emil Du Bois-Reymond discovered that electric currents could speed up the healing of flesh wounds. But his research has been ignored ever since. Until now…

Now Josef Penninger of the Austrian Institute of Molecular
Biotechnology in Vienna and Min Zhao of the University of Aberdeen, UK,
have demonstrated that natural electric fields and currents in tissue
play a vital role in orchestrating the wound-healing process by
attracting repair cells to damaged areas
.

(snip)

The researchers grew layers of mouse cells and larger tissues, such as
corneas, in the lab. After "wounding" these tissues, they applied
varying electric fields to them, and found they could accelerate or
completely halt the healing process depending on the orientation and
strength of the field (Nature, vol 442, p 457).

Water Powered Car — Too Good to Be True? Video.

OK this is a clip from Fox News, which is not normally a source that I consider to be factual or trustworthy — but it cerrtainly is an interesting story. The video clip profiles an inventor who has developed a novel method of converting water to useful fuel. He powers a welding torch and a car in the video. It’s pretty interesting to watch. What is most strange to me is that although his welding torch can generate enough heat to burn holes in rock, the tip of the torch stays cool enough to touch. Check it out.

Fighting Infection with Phages

I’ve been interested in bacteriophages for a few years, ever since I first heard about them. This article goes into more detail about why they may present a new and better alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of resistant bacterial infections.

In the 1920s and ’30s, with diseases like dysentery and cholera
running rampant, the discovery of bacteriophages was hailed as a
breakthrough. Bacteriophages are viruses found virtually
everywhere—from soil to seawater to your intestines—that kill specific,
infection-causing bacteria. In the United States, the drug company Eli
Lilly marketed phages for abscesses and respiratory infections.
(Sinclair Lewis’ Pulitzer-winning Arrowsmith is about a
doctor who uses phages to prevent a diphtheria epidemic.) But by the
1940s, American scientists stopped working with phages for treatment
because they no longer had reason to. Penicillin, discovered by the
Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, had become widely
available thanks to synthetic production and zapped infections without
the expertise needed for finicky phages.

But now the equation
has changed. Many kinds of bacteria have become
antibiotic-resistant—prompting a few Western scientists, and patients,
to travel to former Soviet Georgia to give bacteriophages for treatment
a try. Phages have been used in the former Soviet Union for decades
because scientists there had less access to antibiotics than their
American and European counterparts did. Phages were a cheap
alternative, and in Soviet clinical trials, they repeatedly stopped
infections. Now in a bid for medical tourists, Georgia has opened a
center in its capital, Tbilisi, which offers outpatient phage treatment
to foreigners. In connection with the Eliava phage research institute,
which Stalin helped set up in Tbilisi in 1923, the treatment center
offers personalized cures for a host of infections the United States
says it can no longer do anything about.

Freezing Water at Room Temperature

This is pretty cool. It turns out you can freeze water at room temperature, creating so-called "hot ice." There are at least two known methods for doing this. Hot ice effectively transforms water into a solid that is like a form of glue. This opens the door for some interesting potential applications — including using water to seal food packaging (instead of chemical glues), using water to seal leaks in ships, tunnels and pipes (imagine self-healing hulls and pipes that use water to seal leaks), and perhaps even using water to destroy cancer cells — the potential applications are endless.

All Cell Phone Calls Easily Eavesdropped … With Common Household Appliance

A major, virtually unfixable, security flaw in the design of nearly all cell phones and other mobile devices will be announced this week by researchers at the Foundation for Microwave Safety (FMS). According to sources, it turns out that due to a coincidence in engineering, ordinary household microwave ovens can actually be used to receive and eavesdrop on all cell phone calls made or received within a 1 mile radius. Better yet, you can also use them to broadcast to all cell phones within a 1 mile radius!

According to the study, which will be released next week, the technique is ludicrously easy: simply go to any microwave oven. Set the power level to high. Next, on the microwave keypad or time setting dial, enter a time in that is at least a minute or so. Then hit the "Start" button. Next, press your ear against the microwave oven door as it runs and listen carefully — you won’t believe it, but you will actually hear cell phone calls. If you then wish to broadcast to all the calls you are hearing, simply speak loudly, while your head is pressed against the microwave door.

(Editor’s Note — WARNING: Do not try this at home!!! Permanent injury may result — Please see warning at end of article.  If you try this you may end up cooking your brain. If your brain is already cooked, make sure you set your microwave on "Reheat: Canned Vegetables" setting to avoid over-cooking, and season lightly with salt and butter.)

Why does this work? It turns out that the microwave transmission elements in ordinary microwave ovens are not so different from what’s in your everyday cell phone, except much broader spectrum and slightly more power. "When microwave ovens run they act not only as transmitters, but also as receivers — or what are called ‘transceivers,’" says Philippe Connerie, of the FMS.

Although there is no true audio output or input, the microwave shielding in the case still resonates to the frequency of whatever is being received. If you press your head tightly against the casing you can hear these vibrations — which are actual cell phone calls. When you speak it sends resonance back through the shielding which scatters the reflected microwaves to the frequency of your voice, which are then received back into the microwave, acting as modulators of the carrier wave of the emitter, which effectively broadcasts what you are saying across a range of microwave frequencies at once. Click here to read the paper.

WARNING: Pressing your head against any device that is actively emitting microwaves — such as microwave ovens, cell phones, or other mobile devices — may result in permanent injury, brain damage, cancer or death. Please do not do this, unless you are really stupid, in which case, go right ahead. But first read the paper (linked above) so that you understand that this is truly not something worth doing. If after reading that paper you still insist on trying this then I give up. — The Editor

Quantum Evolution — A Radical Theory

The theory of quantum evolution is a radical new take on how mutations
in DNA occur. Basically the theory postulates that DNA molecules are in
fact macroscopic quantum objects that undergo quantum interference. It
is spearheaded by Johnjoe McFadden, a professor in the UK and makes for an interesting
read. Here is a brief overview of the main ideas of the theory. He also has some interesting ideas about a possible interaction between electromagnetic fields and consciousness.  It’s way too early to tell whether he is correct in his hypoetheses, but I give him high marks for original thinking! Very interesting stuff.

Collective Intelligence 2.0

Introduction:

This article proposes the creation of a new open, nonprofit service on the Web that will provide something akin to “collective self-awareness” back to the Web. This service is like a “Google Zeitgeist” on steroids, but with a lot more real-time, interactive, participatory data, technology and features init. The goal is to measure and visualize the state of the collective mind of humanity, and provide this back to humanity in as close to real-time as is possible, from as many data sources as we can handle — as a web service.

By providing this service, we will enable higher levels of collective intelligence to emerge and self-organize on the Web. The key to collective intelligence (or any intelligence in fact) is self-awareness. Self-awareness is, in essence, a feedback loop in which a system measures its own internal state and the state of its environment, then builds a representation of that state, and then reasons about and reacts to that representation in order to generate future behavior. This feedback loop can be provided to any intelligent system — even the Web, even humanity as-a-whole. If we can provide the Web with such a service, then the Web can begin to “see itself” and react to its own state for the first time. And this is the first step to enabling the Web, and humanity as-a-whole, to become more collectively intelligent.

It should be noted that by “self-awareness” I don’t mean consciousness or sentience –I think that the consciousness comes from humans at this point and we are not trying to synthesize it (we don’t need to; it’s already there). Instead, by “self-awareness” I mean a specific type of feedback loop — a specific Web service — that provides a mirror of the state of the whole back to its parts. The parts are the conscious elements of the system – whether humans and/or machines – and can then look at this meta-mirror to understand the whole as wellas their place in it. By simply providing this meta-level mirror, along with ways that the individual parts of the system can report their state to it, and get the state of the whole back from it, we can enable a richer feedback loop between the parts and the whole. And as soon as this loop exists the entire system suddenly can and will become much more collectively intelligent.

What I am proposing is something quite common in artificial intelligence. For example, in the field of robotics, such as when building an autonomous robot. Until a robot is provided with a means by which it can sense itsown internal state and the state of its nearby environment, it cannot behave intelligently or very autonomously. But once this self-representation and feedback loop is provided, it can then react to it’s own state and environment and suddenly can behave far more intelligently. All cybernetic systems rely on this basic design pattern. I’m simply proposing we implement something like this for theentire Web and the mass of humanity that is connected to it. It’s just a larger application of an existing pattern. Currently people get their views of “the whole” from the news media and the government – but these views suffer from bias, narrowness, lack of granularity, lack of real-time data, and the fact that they are one-way, top-down services with no feedback loop capabilities. Our global collective self-awareness — in order to be truly useful and legitimate really must be two-way, inclusive, comprehensive, real-time and democratic. In the global collective awareness, unlike traditional media, the view of the whole is created in a bottom-up, emergent fashion from the sum of the reports from all the parts (instead of just a small pool of reporters or publishers, etc.).

The system Ienvision would visualize the state of the global mind on a number of key dimensions, in real-time, based on what people and software and organizations that comprise its “neurons” and “regions” report to it (or what it can figure out by mining artifacts they create). For example, this system would discover and rank the current most timely and active topics, current events, people, places, organizations, events, products, articles, websites, in the world right now. From these topics it would link to related resources, discussions, opinions, etc. It would also provide a real-time mass opinion polling system, where people could start polls, vote on them, and see the results in real-time. And it would provide real-time statistics about the Web, the economy, the environment, and other key indicators.

The idea is to try to visualize the global mind – to make it concrete and real for people, to enable them to see what it is thinking, what is going on, and where they fit in it – and to enable them to start adapting and guiding their own behavior to it. By giving the parts of the system more visibility into the state of the whole, they can begin to self-organize collectively which in turn makes the whole system function more intelligently

Essentially I am proposing the creation of the largest and most sophisticated mirror ever built – a mirror that can reflect the state of the collective mind of humanity back to itself. This will enable an evolutionary process which eventually will result in humanity becoming more collectively self-aware and intelligent as-a-whole (instead of what it is today– just a set of separate interacting intelligent parts). By providing such a service, we can catalyze the evolution of higher-order meta-intelligence on this planet — the next step in human evolution. Creating this system is a grand cultural project of profound social value to all people on earth, now and in the future.

This proposal calls for creating a nonprofit organization to build and host this service as a major open-source initiative on the Web, like the Wikipedia, but with a very different user-experience and focus. It also calls for implementing the system with a hybrid central and distributed architecture. Although this vision is big, the specific technologies, design patterns, and features that are necessary to implement it are quite specific and already exist. They just have to be integrated, wrapped and rolled out. This will require an extraordinary and multidisciplinary team. If you’re interested in getting involved and think you can contribute resources that this project will need, let me know (see below for details).

Further Thoughts

Today I re-read this beautiful, visionary article by Kevin Kelley, about the birth of the global mind, in which he states:

The planet-sized “Web” computer is already more complex than a human brain and has surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential intelligence as calculated by Ray Kurzweil. In 10 years,it will be ubiquitous. So will superintelligence emerge on the Web, not a supercomputer?

Kevin’s article got me thinking once again about an idea that has been on my mind for over a decade. I have often thought that the Web is growing into the collective nervous system of our species. This will in turn enable the human species to function increasingly as an intelligent superorganism, for example, like a beehive, or an ant colony — but perhaps even more intelligent. But the key to bringing this process about is self-awareness. In short, the planetary supermind cannot become truly intelligent until it evolves a form of collective self-awareness. Self-awareness is the most critical component of human intelligence — the sophistication of human self-awareness is what makes humans different from dumb machines, and from less intelligent species.

The Big Idea that I have been thinking about for over a decade is that if we can build something that functions like a collective self-awareness, then this could catalyze a huge leap in collective intelligence that would essentially “wake up” the global supermind and usher in a massive evolution in its intelligence and behavior. As the planetary supermind becomes more aware of its environment, its own state, and its own actions and plans, it will then naturally evolve higher levels of collective intelligence around this core. This evolutionary leap is of unimaginable importance to the future of our species.

In order for the collective mind to think and act more intelligently it must be able to sense itself and its world, and reason about them, with more precision — it must have a form of self-awareness. The essence of self-awareness is self-representation — the ability to sense, map,  reason about, and react to, one’s own internal state and the state of one’s nearby environment. In other words, self-awareness is a feedback loop by which a system measures and reacts to its own self-representations. Just as is the case with the evolution of individual human intelligence, the evolution of more sophisticated collective human intelligence will depend on the emergence of better collective feedback loops and self-representations. By enabling a feedback loop in which information can flow in both directions between the self-representations of individuals and a meta-level self-representation for the set of all individuals, the dynamics of the parts and the whole become more closely coupled. And when this happens, the system can truly start to adapt to itself intelligently, as a single collective intelligence instead of a collection of single intelligences.

In summary, in order to achieve higher levels of collective intelligence and behavior, the global mind will first need something that functions as its collective self-awareness — something that enables the parts to better sense and react to the state of the whole, and the whole to better sense and react to the state of its parts. What is needed essentially is something that functions as a collective analogue to a self — a global collective self.

Think of the global self as a vast mirror, reflecting the state of the global supermind back to itself. Mirrors are interesting things. At first they merely reflect, but soon they begin to guide decisionmaking. By simply providing humanity with a giant virtual mirror of what is going on across the minds of billions of individuals, and millions of groups and organizations, the collective mind will crystallize, see itself for the first time, and then it will begin to react to its own image. And this is the beginning of true collective cognition. When the parts can see themselves as a whole and react in real-time, then they begin to function as a whole instead of just a collection of separate parts. As this shift transpires the state of the whole begins to feedback into the behavior of the parts, and the state of the parts in turns feeds back to the state of the whole. This cycle of bidirectional feedback between the parts and whole is the essence of cognition in all intelligent systems, whether individual brains, artificial intelligences, or entire worlds.

I believe that the time has come for this collective self to emerge on our planet. Like a vast virtual mirror, it will function as the planetary analogue to our own individual self-representations — that capacity of our individual minds which represents us back to ourselves. It will be comprised of maps that combine real-time periodic data updates, and historical data, from perhaps trillions of data sources (one for each person, group, organization and software agent on the grid). The resulting visualizations will be something like a vast fluid flow, or a many particle simulation. It will require a massive computing capability to render it — perhaps a distributed supercomputer comprised of the nodes on the Web themselves, each hosting a part of the process. It will require new thinking about how to visualize trends in such vast amounts of data and dimensions. This is a great unexplored frontier in data visualization and knowledge discovery.

How It Might Work

I envision the planetary self functioning as a sort of portal — a Web service that aggregates and distributes all kinds of current real-time and historical data about the state of the whole, as well as its past states and future projected states. This portal would collect opinions, trends, and statistics about the human global mind, the environment, the economy, society, geopolitical events, and other indicators, and would map them graphically in time, geography, demography, and subject space — enabling everyone to see and explore the state of the global mind from different perspectives, with various overlays, and at arbitrary levels of magnification.

I think this system should provide an open datamodel, and open API for adding and growing data sets, querying, remixing, visualizing, and subscribing to the data.All services that provide data sets, analysis orvisualizations (or other interpretations) of potential value tounder standing the state of the whole would be able to post data into our service for anyone to find and use. Search engines could post inthe top search query terms. Sites that create tag clouds could post intags and tag statistics. Sites that analyze the blogosphere could post in statistics about blogs, bloggers, and blog posts. Organizations that do public opinion polling, market and industry research, trend analysis, social research, or economic research could post instatistics they are generating. Academic researchers could post instatistics generated by projects they are doing to analyze trends on the Web, or within our data-set itself.

As data is pushed to us, orpulled by us, we would grow the largest central data repository aboutthe state of the whole. Others could then write programs to analyze andremix our data, and then post their results back into the system forothers to use as well. We would make use of our data for our ownanalysis, but anyone else could also do research and share theiranalysis through our system. End users and others could also subscribeto particular data, reports, or visualizations from our service, andcould post in their own individual opinions, attention data feeds, orother inputs. We would serve as a central hub for search, analysis,and distribution of collective self-awareness.

The collective self would provide a sense of collective identity: who are we, how do we appear, what are we thinking about, what do we think about what we are thinking about, what are we doing, how well are we doing it, where are we now, where have we been, where are we going next. Perhaps it could be segmented by nation, or by age group, or by other dimensions as well to view various perspectives on these questions within it. It could gather its data by mining for it, as well as through direct push contributions from various data-sources. Individuals could even report on their own opinions, state, and activities to it if they wanted to, and these votes and data points would be reflected back in the whole in real time. Think of it as a giant emergent conversation comprised of trillions of participants, all helping to make sense of the same subject — our global self identity — together. It could even have real-time views that are animated and alive — like a functional brain image scan — so that people could see the virtual neurons and pathways in the global brain firing as they watch.

If this global self-representation existed, I would want to subscribe to it as a data feed on my desktop. I would want to run it in a dashboard in the upper right corner of my monitor — that I could expand at any time to explore further. It would provide me with alerts when events transpired that matched my particular interests, causes, or relationships. It would solicit my opinions and votes on issues of importance and interest to me. It would simultaneously function as my window to the world, and the world’s window to me. It would be my way of participating in the meta-level whole, whenever I wanted to. I could tell it my opinions about key issues, current events, problems, people, organizations, or even legislative proposals. I could tell it about the quality of life from my perspective, where I am living, in my industry and demographic niche. I could tell it about my hopes and fears for the future. I could tell it what I think is cool, or not cool, interesting or not interesting, good or bad, etc. I could tell it what news I was reading and what I think is noteworthy or important. And it would listen and learn, and take my contributions into account democratically along with those of billions of other people just like me all around the world. From this would emerge global visualizations and reports about what we are all thinking and doing, in aggregate, that I could track and respond to. Linked from these flows I could then find relevant news, conversations, organizations, people, products, services, events, and knowledge. And from all of this would emerge something greater than anything I can yet imagine — a thought process too big for any one human mind to contain.

I want to build this. I want to build the planetary Self. I am not suggesting that we build the entire global mind, I am just suggesting that we build the part of the system that functions as its collective self-awareness. The rest of the global mind is already there, as raw potential at least, and doesn’t have to be built. The Web, human minds, software agents, and organizations already exist. Their collective state just needs to be reflected in a single virtual mirror. As soon as this mirror exists they can begin to collectively self-organize and behave more intelligently, simply because they will have, for the first time, a way of measuring their collective state and behavior. Once there is a central collective self-awareness loop, the intelligence of the global mind will emerge and self-organize naturally over time. This collective self-awareness infrastructure is the central enabling technology that has to be there first for the next-leap in intelligence of the global mind to evolve.

Project Structure

I think this should be created as a non-profit open-source project. In fact, that is the only way that it can have legitimacy — it must be independent of any government, cultural or commercial perspective. It must be by and for the people, as purely and cleanly as possible. My guess is that to build this properly we would need to create a distributed grid computing system to collect, compute, visualize and distribute the data — it could be similar to SETI@Home; everyone could help host it. At the center of this grid, or perhaps in a set of supernodes, would be a vast supercomputing array that would manage the grid, do focused computations and data fusion operations. There would also need to be some serious money behind this project as well — perhaps from major foundations and donors. This system would be a global resource of potential incalculable value to the future of human evolution. It would be a project worth funding.

My Past Writing On This Topic

A Physics of Ideas: Measuring the Physical Properties of MemesTowards a Worldwide Database

The Metaweb: A Graph of the Future

From Semantic Web to Global Mind

The Birth of the Metaweb

Are Organizations Organisms?

From Application-Centric to Data-Centric Computing

The Human Menome Project

Other Noteworthy Projects

Principia Cybernetica — the Global Mind Group

The Global Consciousness Project

W3C – The Semantic Web Working Group

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

CHI — Harnessing Networks of Humans

New Quantum Propulsion Being Researched By Air Force

A radical new form of propulsion is being researched that may enable travel from Earth to Mars in 3 hours, and travel to nearby stars in just 80 days. The system is based on a novel quantum theory termed Heim quantum
theory (HQT).

The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is
based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could
potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and
journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a
report in today’s New Scientist magazine.

The
theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that,
according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim
in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust
for a spacecraft.

Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would
slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster,
allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic
field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.

The US air force has expressed an interest in the idea and
scientists working for the American Department of Energy – which has a
device known as the Z Machine that could generate the kind of magnetic
fields required to drive the engine – say they may carry out a test if
the theory withstands further scrutiny.

Professor Jochem Hauser, one of the scientists who put forward the
idea, told The Scotsman that if everything went well a working engine
could be tested in about five years.

However, Prof Hauser, a physicist at the Applied Sciences University
in Salzgitter, Germany, and a former chief of aerodynamics at the
European Space Agency, cautioned it was based on a highly controversial
theory that would require a significant change in the current
understanding of the laws of physics. (Source)

It is interesting to note that this
theory shares a similar physical picture, namely a quantized spacetime,
with the recently published loop quantum theory (LQT) by L. Smolin, A.
Ashtektar, C. Rovelli, M. Bojowald et al. [11, 24-28]. LQT, if proved
correct, would stand for a major revision of current physics, while HQT
would cause a revolution in the technology of propulsion. (Source)

Links for further reading on this subject.

Big Thinkers' Most Dangerous Ideas

The Edge has published mini-essays by 119 "big thinkers" on their "most dangerous ideas" — fun reading.

The history of science is replete with discoveries
that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally
dangerous in their time; the Copernican and
Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious.
What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think
about (not necessarily one you originated)
that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?

 

Does the Cosmic Background Radiation Contain Hidden Message?

This is a cool idea — some researchers are considering whether the cosmic background radiation may contain an encoded "message from God." OK I doubt it. I think it is more likely to be somewhere in our DNA, or in the digits of Pi, or perhaps in the distribution of the prime numbers. But it’s pretty cool to think about!