After that cranky and admittedly crackpot ( I pray that my theory is wrong) screed, let's lighten up with some exampled of civilization fighting back against the darkness! First this cool/nifty item offered by Stefan.
This video prompts you to ask yourself “Why haven’t big government and corporations done this?” -- stunning example of small enterprise paving our way into space. And proving they can do it re-usably! (Alas, it also supports paranoid theories that the big guys have been keeping us out of space... deliberately. If you want the most blatant proof possible, just listen to anything at all spoken by NASA Administrator Griffin.)
Let’s do it ourselves!
Chris Phoenix writes in: “I'm remembering the device in one of your books (Sundiver?) that has people look at a picture, and tracks where they look and for how long, in order to profile personality types and tell dangerous people from good citizens. Now it seems you can in fact tell something about mindset based on where people look. See below.”
PSYCHOLOGY: Pas des Yeux Gilbert Chin ( Psychol. Sci. 18, 407 (2007)) - A dialogue, though generally understood to be a conversation between two people, allows for much more than the mere exchange of verbal information. Linguistic (for example, syntax) and nonlinguistic (for example, body postures) tell-tales develop and become synchronized as people talk and listen. Visual attention is another dimension in which behavior can become coordinated as when a listener's gaze is directed toward an object of mutual interest by pointing.
Richardson et al. show that the eyes of conversants--who are looking at the same scene but are not within sight of each other--tracked the same objects within the scene for several seconds, starting from the time at which the speaker began to fixate on the object before talking about it and including the time taken by the listener to saccade to the object after hearing what the speaker had begun to say. Another important contribution to the coordination of visual attention comes from having a common ground of understanding. Conversants looking at a Salvador Dalí painting were more likely to exhibit synchronized eye movements if they had previously heard the same introduction, either to the painting itself or to Dalí's life, as compared to pairs of conversants in which one had heard about the painting and the other about his life. -- GJC
Anyone care to log this on that web sci fi predictions registry?
Chris continued: “This feels extremely important. Both for the kind of testing you proposed, and for studying what factors make people simpatico (or not). Or for testing how well they're communicating in real time. Or... If good communication is important to collective human survival, then I think this research needs to be expanded on ASAP.”
I responded: “Chris, I have long felt this was a totally huge "window to the soul" and possibly a lie detector as well. I am terrified stuff like this may fall into just a few hands and have striven for years to interest researchers, so it can be mass distributed.
“Alas, as with most of my big ideas, people go " Huh! Interesting!" Then do nothing. Oh, twenty years later, a few people send me emails.”
Chris’s final word:
“Eye trackers used to cost tens of thousands, and be a major pain to use. Now they cost $1000 and can track eyeballs from 30 feet away (says a recent news story, explaining how they can be used to research the effectiveness of ads and shelf placement). I'm reminded of Heinlein's line from The Door Into Summer: "When it's time to railroad, you railroad."
“Now that the tech is accessible to the masses, it shouldn't be too hard to get people working on it. You're a famous science fiction author--there's got to be thousands of bright students who would jump through some pretty high hoops in order to get a few hours of face time with you. I wonder what would happen if you simply published a call for research on your blog, saying that anyone who did cool research in this direction would be able to earn your personal attention thereby?”
“Hrm, I wish it were that simple. I have tried that approach! (Believe it or not, that page comes up first when you google "self -righteous indignation" And # 12 in "self righteousness", so people are obviously reading it. Still, does anything actually happen?)
“In fact, I think the problems are related. Moreover zillions could be made off applications of eye-tracking correlation with personality/lie-detection. But nobody has any guts. Ah well.”
For a zazzy - though more mainstream liberal - feast of spicy zings at the far right, see the latest ARMAGEDDON BUFFET.
--- TIME FOR MISC DATADUMP! ---
The human and chimpanzee vary by just 1.2%, yet there is a considerable difference in the mental and linguistic capabilities of the two species. A new study showed that a certain form of neuropsin, a protein that plays a role in learning and memory, is expressed only in the central nervous systems of humans and that it originated less than 5 million years ago.
The sun and Earth will probably be spun out into a lonely region of space when the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies finish colliding about five billion years from now, researchers say in a new study. There's also a small chance that our solar system will be swept from its home in the Milky Way and be scooped up by Andromeda during an earlier close encounter, in just three-and-a-half-billion years.
Two teams of British researchers are seeking permission to create "cybrid" embryos that would be around 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent animal to produce embryonic stem cells. They want to use the stem cells to understand and provide new treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, motor neurone disease and Huntington’s.
A study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of government-sponsored content filtering. The study did not examine a number of countries in Europe or the US because there the private sector rather than the government tends to carry out filtering. The 25 countries which carry out the broadest range of filtering are listed at the bottom of the article.
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For those who are not sure what source to believe, here is New Scientist’s roundup of the 26 most common climate myths and misconceptions. Also included is a guide to assessing the evidence: links to primary research and major reports for those who want to follow through to the original sources.
Mainstream climatologists who have feared that global warming could have the paradoxical effect of cooling northwestern Europe or even plunging it into a small ice age have stopped worrying about that particular disaster, although it retains a vivid hold on the public imagination. "The bottom line is that the atmosphere is warming up so much that a slowdown of the North Atlantic Current will never be able to cool Europe,"
The world's first commercial compressed air-powered vehicle is rolling towards the production line. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, will be built by India's largest automaker, Tata Motors. The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engine's pistons. It is anticipated that approximately 6000 Air Cars will be cruising the streets of India by 2008. If the manufacturers have no surprises up their exhaust pipes the car will be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model will clock out at 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles. Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn't have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car's built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.
Australian researchers have developed a means of increasing a solar cell's light-trapping ability by up to 50% and increasing the power generated by 30%. The new process coats a thin film (about 10 nanometres thick) of silver onto a solar cell and heats it to 200C. The film breaks into tiny 100-nanometre "islands" of silver and raises its light-trapping efficiency
This is an op-ed piece listing energy solutions that are all technically available today in the order of their capacity to deliver. It also offers a commentary on the long term viability of so-called new fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen and nuclear energy generation.