No SciFi prepared you for what’s really coming

1. Observing the Impossible

It started with a bit of a crime mystery.

In the mid-1980s, at the shores of the Oneida Lake, next to the town of Syracuse, NY, some geochemists were baffled: the manganese dioxide sludge at the bottom of the lake was somehow dissolving into the water — and fast. The chemists’ problem was, that manganese dioxide is, for all practical purposes, insoluble. So insoluble in fact, that it is inert even to most acids, unless heated. …

… And even help Big Oil feel better in the process.

Black: pre-industrial carbon values show the carbon cycle and the balance that existed without human emissions. Red: the effects that the human emissions. Source: Global Monitoring Laboratory

The global temperatures keep increasing as we keep dumping more and more CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The Paris Agreement is “too little, too late”. It is time to think about carbon capture, but this is not going to be easy. I would like to explain the problems associated with it, but also to introduce a little-known solution that leverages existing infrastructure. I’d like to talk about the solution’s side effects — and the fact that a surprising amount of them would be positive, for everybody. Even for Big Oil.

The Problem(s)

The CO2 we keep releasing into the atmosphere is…

We all — crypto’s critics, as well as the supporters — have been debating the wrong things for decades: as long as people have a reasonable chance of a material gain from participating in something, they will do it, and none of the bigger financial, political, regulatory, technical or environmental concerns will stop them. This is why crypto is here to stay. But crypto’s biggest strength as an asset is also its biggest problem: its incentive structure.

Some of cryptocurrency supporters are idealists, and believe that cryptocurrencies will lead us into a better future by avoiding the middlemen, government regulation…

While “the meaning of life” might be a tough personal or philosophical question, life itself also has a rather clear natural purpose. As humans, we are an extension of the biological life on this planet. In this article, I would like to elaborate what this purpose is, and what it means as a possible direction for our species. This is not necessarily related to the meaning of our personal lives, but if you, personally, are struggling with this question, this might also offer you a very general direction outside of religion or esoterics.

If you know how DNA works, and…

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Can we create a back-up civilization from the convenience of our earthly home?

The upcoming SpaceX Starship launch wakes hopes that the mankind will be able to start settling Mars and the solar system within the coming decade or two. Some argue, the launch costs will be so low we should just build stations and cities with materials from Earth. After all, industrial processes in space are untested, and the industrial equipment itself is heavy as well. Wouldn’t it be easier to just launch everything?

This is not an easy question: of course no delivery costs is always cheaper than delivery costs, no matter what those are, but with launch costs potentially as…

If you wait long enough, everything seems to evolve into a crab. Biologists call this “carcinisation”. On the internet, sooner or later everything seems to evolve into a marketing platform. In this article, I will show you how that happens, what consequences it has, and what it might mean for you.

Let’s start with some examples.

Facebook is an obvious one — a platform started basically as a clone of Hot-Or-Not, a platform for rating the attractiveness of your school mates — evolving into an easy way to build a personal blog/website, struggling to find its business plan even as…

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

This time I’m going to start with a little story, and the conclusion of this part is probably not what you would have expected, either, but that’s what life is: a constant surprise package waiting to be opened.

I came to the demo party in Denmark, The Party 97, expecting to see cool things. One of the first cool things that we saw, after all of the two thousand PCs and other computers were turned on simultaneously, was a massive power outage, that took out the shiny Christmas decorations outside, the PCs inside, as well as the domestic power supply…

Photo by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson on Unsplash

So in the previous episode of our Progress series we have seen that standards are good for you. In fact, without standards, you would not be able to read this article at all. You would probably not even own anything that is capable of displaying this article either: the only reason the chips in your electronic device could be build, and can talk to each other, are standards.

This is also how science works: using common standards (of measurement), one theory can be based on another. …

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

In the previous two articles on progress I might have made the impression that counter-intuitively, to achieve actual progress, older might be better. Is that so? Let’s look at an extreme example of this — a fairly well-known and often re-circulated story that “space shuttle booster’s width is two horse asses plus X”. (Or, here is a short version with pictures, in Tweet form, if you prefer Twitter.) …

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

In my previous article on progress we’ve seen that fashion and marketing are not a friend of progress, because they bind existing know-how into doing useless things. But why do companies see fit to create hype? Why on earth would two big corporations go to the length to create programming languages and to create a hype around them? And why would entrepreneurs generate buzzwords like WEB2.0 and sell their business plans based on those?

Let’s take those examples one by one.

The company’s (Sun Microsystems, if you still remember that name) explanation for the programming language hype was:
“because it is…

J. Macodiseas

Science Fiction, Tech, sarcasm, and philosophical ramblings about the Universe.

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