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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Burma Update: Protestors Cremated Alive; Monks Massacred in Jungle

The situation in Burma is far worse than the mainstream media has reported so far. Watch this video that was just smuggled out showing soldiers beating unarmed protesters. There are now reports coming in from eyewitnesses of young school students being shot by the army, masses of injured protestors being cremated alive, and thousands of monks and other protesters being killed and dumped in mass graves in the jungles. The junta has now imprisoned thousands of monks and plans to "send them away." The Burmese military junta is known for torture, summary executions, and is listed with Somalia as one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. This is essentially a form of genocide or state-sponsored terrorism — in this case by a regime against its own people. Help get the word out. Sign this petition. This has to be stopped. The Burmese people are helpless and need protection from the world community.

A Bottle That Purifies Enough Water for a Year

This is a really great invention — a hand held water bottle that can purify a year’s worth of water. It removes not only parasites and bacteria, but also viruses. It was just announced recently at a defense industry tradeshow and was a big hit among military commanders who need a better way to get water to their troops. Beyond that it could be a lifesaver in disaster areas and in developing countries where finding clean water is a daily struggle.

Rogue Nodes Turn Tor Anonymizer Into Private Listening Post

A security researcher has figured out a novel way to compromise the security of messages traveling in the Tor anonymizer network. Messages in the Tor network are encrypted as they travel from node to node to their final destination. But the last node has to decrypt the messages before it can deliver them to their final destination on the Internet. Many Tor users mistakenly believe their message remains encrypted through the entire Tor network, when in fact this is not the case: the last node must decrypt them. The researcher simply ran a few of these nodes and was able to read all unencrypted last-node traffic that came through them. This included sensitive communications of many government embassies around the world. The researcher believes that intelligence agencies around the world are already taking advantage of this weakness to eavesdrop on Tor traffic. Interestingly, when he pointed this security hole out to some of the embassies that were sending non-secure message they didn’t respond or even appear to understand the problem. Read more here.

Plans for a Lunar Ark to Save Humanity

Researchers at the International Space University (ISU), of which I am an alumnus, are proposing an interesting initiative to build an ark on the moon to preserve human civilization and biodiversity, and the Internet, in the event of a catastrophe on earth, such as a comet impact, nuclear war, etc. This project is similar to what I proposed in my Genesis Project posting in 2003.

Humans are just beginning to send trinkets of technology and culture
into space. NASA’s recently launched Phoenix Mars Lander, for example,
carries a mini-disc inscribed with stories, art, and music about Mars.

The Phoenix lander is a "precursor mission" in a decades-long
project to transplant the essentials of humanity onto the moon and
eventually Mars. (See a photo gallery about the Phoenix mission.)

The International Space University team is now on a more ambitious
mission: to start building a "lunar biological and historical archive,"
initially through robotic landings on the moon.

Laying the foundation for "rebuilding the terrestrial Internet,
plus an Earth-moon extension of it, should be a priority," Burke said.

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Roswell Officer's Deathbed Confession: UFO's Are Real

This just in. Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the Roswell Air Force base in 1947 when aliens or a weather balloon allegedly crash landed on a nearby ranch.

Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the base
in 1947, and was the man who issued the original and subsequent press
releases after the crash on the orders of the base commander, Colonel
William Blanchard.

Haut died last year, but left a sworn affidavit to be opened only after his death.

Last week, the text was released and asserts that the weather balloon
claim was a cover story, and that the real object had been recovered by
the military and stored in a hangar. He described seeing not just the
craft, but alien bodies.

Read the rest here.


New Wireless Power Technology — No More Wires!

A group of physicists at MIT have come up with a new model for beaming wireless power to mobile devices, such as computers or cell phones. It promises to do for power, what wireless ethernet hubs do for network connectivity.

I’ve been interested in wireless power ever since I first read the biography of Nikola Tesla in the early 1990’s. Tesla was perhaps the most important inventor of the 20th century — he singlehandedly invented much of what enables the modern electrical power grid today. He also pioneered radio, and many other technologies. But his greatest dream was wireless power. He believed he had discovered a way to beam electricity to any point on earth and embarked on several ambitious projects to test and commercialize his appraoch. But sadly his projects were never completed due to funding problems and interference by competitors and investors who had conflicting business interests. By the end of his life Tesla was a lonely and forgotten man, feeding pidgeons in the park.  At his death, many of his lab notebooks were confiscated and classified as Top Secret by the US military — never to be seen again — (and at least some this confiscated information was later used as the foundation for the Star Wars particle beam weaponry program). The greatest electrical genius in history was just too far ahead of his own time.

Tesla’s work has still not been fully understood or replicated today. But what remains unclassified is a treasure trove of invention of great relevance to the world we live in today.  In 2003 I blogged an article, called "I Want Wireless Power" outlining why I want this technology. Another great article about this opportunity is here.

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

"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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Excellent Strategic Analysis of North Korean Crisis

This article in the Atlantic Monthly presents the best analysis I’ve seen of the strategic situation on the Korean penninsula, and various US options (and potential mistakes to avoid). It’s really a fascinating read, and quite educational, for anyone concerned about what might happen in that arena.

US Banking System Collapse in 2008?

I recently listened to a talk by Dr. David Martin, given at the Arlington Institute, a think tank I advise. You can listen to it here. It takes some patience to get to the main point — but you will be rewarded with a mind-blowing new perspective on what may unfold in the next few years.

Dr. Martin describes why he predicts a very likely total collapse of the US Banking system in 2008.  Even more surprising is that he explains how the only hope for bailing out the US economy at that time may in fact be Muslim financial institutions — the financial entities of the Muslim world — because they are the most cash rich entities on the planet, and unlike our banks they are not exposed to intangible asset risks.

In other words, as Dr. Martin explains, if for no other reason than this, we should think twice before bombing Iran and the rest
of the Middle East back to the Stone Age — they may in fact be our
economy’s only hope and we may soon be in dire need of their help. This is a radical hypothesis, but based on very realistic data and in particular, new laws that are going into effect in the global banking world in January, 2008. On the other hand this could be Y2K all over again.

In any case, this is one of the more intriguing ideas I’ve come across in a long time. Please listen to the talk and then share it with other people. Dr. Martin’s hypothesis may or may not be correct, but it certainly should be heard by more people so that it can be debated and brought to the attention of global decisionmakers as soon as possible.

Scenario: What would Happen if US got in a War with China?

This is a very interesting scenario showing how China could potentially trounce US forces in a single, calculated strike. While it doesn’t consider the option that US would retaliate nonconventially, shifting the game to a new playing field, it certainly makes a compelling case for China winning in a conventional conflict in their territorial waters at least. The author concludes by suggesting the US has two options — continue seeking world domination and eventually face such a situation, or take a different approach altogether and seek to lead the world in medicine, fighting poverty, and helping emerging countries — a strategy which the author believes would win the hearts and minds of people around the world, leading to longer-term gains for the US than a strategy that seeks leadership through military dominance.

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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?


NASA Makes Plans to Deflect Possible Asteroid Hit in 2036

This just in

NASA has outlined what it could do, and in what time frame, in case a
quarter-mile-wide asteroid named Apophis is on a course to slam into
Earth in the year 2036. The timetable was released by the B612
Foundation, a group that is pressing NASA and other government agencies
to do more to head off threats from near-Earth objects.

The plan runs like this: Eight years from now,
if there’s still a chance of a collision in 2036, NASA would start
drawing up plans to put a probe on the space rock or in orbit around it
in 2019. Measurements sent back from the probe would characterize
Apophis’ course to an accuracy of mere yards (meters) by the year 2020.

those readings still could not rule out a strike in 2036, NASA would
try to deflect the asteroid into a non-threatening course in the
2024-2028 time frame by firing an impactor at it — using this year’s Deep Impact comet-blasting probe
as a model. Experts would start planning for the "Son of Deep Impact"
mission even before they knew whether or not it was needed.

New Russian Stealth Fighter Uses Plasma Shield

The Russian air force has invented a next-generation stealth technology based on surrounding the aircraft with a plasma shield that completely disperses radar waves. This technology offers significant benefits over existing stealth technology and also enables higher-performance aircraft since the shape no longer has to be altered to achieve stealth.

Fascinating Article — Surviving a Nuclear Attack on Washington DC

This article is very interesting not only because it provides an unusually detailed scenario of what would happen if a nuke was detonated in the Washington DC area, but also because it provides counter-intuitive guidance for how to survive such a situation, as well as information about new medical treatments for helping both first-responders and victims to combat radiation sickness. Let’s hope nothing like this ever happens!

Wireless Quantum Crypto Announced

A system for wireless quantum cryptography has been announced by BBN. This is curious: I wonder how they manage the key exchange? They could be using a laser, I suppose, but that would only be line of sight, or would require airborne reflectors. Another possibility would be the EPR effect, but if they actually built a transmitter based on that they would probably win the Nobel Prize, so I’m doubtful. It will be interesting to learn more. Also, I wonder what the reaction will be over at MagiQ.

Who Inserted Mutated Human Flu Virus in South Korean Pig Virus?

In a worrying development, part of a mutated human influenza virus related to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was found in a virus in pigs in South Korea. The question is, how did this happen and what does it indicate? It couldn’t have taken place naturally and may be evidence of the early-stages of a  bioterror attack.

Chinese Hackers Target Tibetans

A recent article on Boing Boing reports the most recent round of Chinese cyberattacks on the Tibetan government in exile.

China has increasingly aimed its sophisticated cyberwar teams at the low-tech, peace-loving Tibetans. I know dozens of Tibetan lamas and their staffs and they all use PC’s — and none of them know anything about viruses, firewalls, trojan horses, etc. They are sitting ducks for this kind of attack (maybe they should all use Macs? Fewer/no viruses! That would be a great PR move for Apple).

The Tibetans just want the freedom to practice their religion without being disturbed. It would be really wonderful if the white-hat hacker community would volunteer their services to help the Tibetans defend themselves from this state-sponsored cyberterror.

Invisibility Shield Proposed

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have proposed a new approach to making objects invisible, by tuning special materials such that they cancel the scattering of light. The technology has a few drawbacks — it only works for specific wavelengths of light at various scales — but it’s a start. Objects that are rendered "invisible" by this technique neither absorb nor scatter light, and appear to be much smaller than their actual size, if they appear at all.

The Threat of Contaminated Money: Proposed Solutions

by Nova Spivack, Minding the Planet,

This news article reports that the FBI is investigating a situation in which mobsters deliberately contaminated their drug money with a virus in order to deter in-house theft by members of their organization. Several years ago, during the days of collective paranoia following 9-11, I started thinking about how to combat potential terrorist threats — and one of the threats I came up with was precisely this threat of contaminated money. Because money travels in a “viral” manner along social and economic networks it represents a perfect vector for spreading a contaminant. While the effects of such an attack would be minimal in terms of actual fatalities, they would potentially be enormous in terms of panic and disruption to our way of life.

I knew it was only a matter of time before this threat materialized somewhere in the world: Now it seems that an actual case has emerged. While the money in question did not represent a large sum, and although viruses (at least) have a relatively short shelf-life, it is an example of a scary new kind of threat that governments need to prepare to defend against. Below are some thoughts about a potential worst-case scenario and various countermeasures that could be implemented to protect against it.

Here is a hypothetical worst-case scenario: imagine what would happen if terrorists contaminated $30 million of small-denomination US dollar banknotes with weaponized anthrax (which can survive for a very long time outside of a lab) and then put those notes back into circulation in several major cities. A month later they then announce what they have done. By that point the contaminated notes have circulated through countless banks, ATM machines, cash registers, wallets, people’s clothing and homes — in short, a large scope of potential contamination exists. The public and the news media panic –suddenly nobody knows whether their $10, $20 and $50 bills are safe to touch, let alone use. People are advised not to use, touch or accept such notes. Leading health authorities go so far as to advise people to throw away or burn their money as well as anything that may have come in contact with it — their wallets, their credit cards, their clothing, etc. Furthermore even the act of coming into contact with potentially contaminated notes in order to dispose of them is risky –and so people don’t know what to do. People are advised to use credit cards for all transactions — but this cuts out anyone who doesn’t have a credit card as well as any business that doesn’t accept credit cards. Furthermore, since plastic credit cards may have come in contact with the contaminated notes in people’s wallets, they too are suspect and may be risky to use. Only telephone and Internet transactions are “hands off” enough to be completely safe. But not every consumer, nore very business, is capable of online payments for every single transaction they do. As a result the consumer economy grinds to a screeching halt.

Possible Countermeasures:

What is the solution? How can we prepare for, defend against, and mitigate such a situation?

My first recommendation is that banknotes should be regularly tested, according to a random sampling schedule, in several major cities, for the presence of potential contaminants. This is not so easy as it turns out that all banknotes carry a large amount of bacteria and other contaminants naturally. Therefore the testing must specifically look for unusual contaminants or unusually high levels of common contaminants.

Secondly, all banks, cash registers and ATM machines should at the very least have built-in UV emitters that destroy viruses and bacteria on any banknotes that pass through them. While this will not protect against radiological or chemical contamination it would protect against biological agents. Since most notes eventually pass through cash registers and ATM machines this measure would help to prevent the spread of any biological contaminant.

Thirdly, there should be a method for replacing contaminated banknotes on a large scale if necessary. Every banknote has an unique serial number. A system should be devised whereby people can bring their banknotes to a location that will take them and provide uncontaminated replacements. To accomplish this effectively, banks should be used as the distribution points for this process. Each bank should be provided with a system for in-taking potentially contaminated notes, logging their serial numbers, photographing them, and destroying them — and then issuing a replacement note to the customer.

Fourthly, as a short-term emergency solution there should be a system in place that can switch the entire nation or any city to digital cash immediately. To do this, every citizen and business should be provided with a free digital wallet that can be accessed via Internet or telephone. The owners of these wallets should be enabled to put money into them, and to transfer funds between them, and with draw money from them. Paypal would be a suitable infrastructure for this. This solution would not work for everyone — not everyone has a bank account or credit card or even a permanent address — but it would work for a large percentage of the population and for a short term would keep the economy running.

Hafnium Bombs – The Next Superweapon

Here is a fascinating article about DARPA’s "high risk, high payoff" quest to develop an exotic new Hafnium bomb — a new kind of weapon that emits huge amounts of gamma rays from a very small package. This thing packs the bang of a conventional nuke in a package as small as a hand grenade — and the gamma ray burst that results can penetrate deep into bunkers and through thick materials. Of course, it would really be a bad idea to toss a Hafnium grenade unless you could run incredibly fast. But that said, Hafnium weapons may be a big part of our future (or who knows, maybe they’re already part of our present?). Beyond military applications, it seems this technology could offer a very promising new non-fossil fuel energy source, if it weren’t so expensive to produce.

Color Laser Printers Secretly Encode Tracking Codes on Printouts

This is quite interesting. It turns out that manufacturers of color laser printers are secretly encoding tracking numbers onto every inch of every printout. These microscopic codes enable printouts to be traced back to particular printers that printed them, and thus to whomever owns those devices. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more discussion of this.

Fascinating US Air Force Teleportation Physics Study

It’s official, the US Air Force has looked seriously at teleportation. This recently released Air Force report details the history of teleportation science, the present state-of-the-art, as well as several new directions for research and an extensive bibliography. Fascinating reading!

Russian Doc Predicts Bird-Flu Will Kill 1 Billion; Possibly This Year…

A Russian academician has predicted that bird-flu will stem to humans and kill up to one billion people around the world within 6 months of an outbreak. He says it is highly probable that a pandemic could take place within the next year. There is no evidence cited for his claims however he refers to studies to this effect allegedly in hands of US authorities. We’ll be tracking this meme as it develops to see if it is credible. Please update here if you get further data. Editor’s Note: The World Health Organization is organizing an emergency summit to develop strategies to combat the threat of this potential pandemic.

The American Conservative Magazine endorses…Kerry?

Disclaimer: I try to keep this blog non-political. I am essentially a political centrist — I tend to judge each politician, plan and party on its merits rather than by any rigid ideology or party-line. I generally find most politicans, political plans and political parties to be less intelligent and less long-term-oriented than I would wish them to be. As a result, from my perspective, choosing among them is often a matter of choosing the lesser-of-evils. So by posting this article I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am a partisan person or that this site is partisan. Far from it. In fact, as you can probably see from this site’s content, having an open mind is one of my core values. I also have lots of friends on both sides of every major issue, and they’re all intelligent people whom I respect. There are liberal ideas that make sense to me and also a lot of conservative ideas that make sense to me. May the best memes win!

An article has just come out that is so significant I think it deserves wide exposure. The American Conservative Magazine — the voice of conservatives in America — has officially endorsed John Kerry instead of Bush. Now that’s unprecedented. It shows that there is a tremendous split taking place among conservative voters.

Read it yourself, here. It’s really something. I would be interested in hearing comments on this article from both conservatives and liberals.