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Pseudo Science

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  • isenhart7
    Seems like someone mentioned pseudo science. This is two articles and a lot to read so if you re not really interested in pseudo science you could just read
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2006
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      Seems like someone mentioned pseudo science. This is two articles and
      a lot to read so if you're not really interested in pseudo science
      you could just read the last paragraph-Val


      Artificial Gravity Generator Now Possible?
      The artificial gravity generator is probably the science-fictional
      pseudo-science device most disliked by physicists. Used as a plot
      device as early as 1930 by Olaf Stapleton, artificially-produced
      gravity fields make space flight a lot easier and more bearable for
      everyone. But it's impossible, right?

      Recent work done by researchers supported by the European Space
      Agency have measured the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field
      for the first time in a laboratory. Martin Tajmar (ARC Seibersdorf
      Research GmbH, Austria), Clovis de Matos (ESA-HQ, Paris) and
      colleagues have successfully produced and measured a very weak
      gravitomagnetic field.

      They summarize their results as follows:

      An acceleration field was found to be induced by applying angular
      accelerations to a superconductor. The field produced is directly
      proportional to the applied acceleration with a correlation factor
      higher than 0.96. All mean values are 3.3 times above the facility
      noise level.
      The gravitational field is emitted from the superconductor and
      follows the laws of field propagation and induction similar to those
      of electromagnetism as formulated in linearized general relativity.
      Gravitational peaks were observed when the superconductor passed its
      critical temperature while it was rotating. Their sign changed with
      the orientation of the angular velocity.
      For the first time, non-Newtonian gravitational and gravitomagnetic
      fields of measurable magnitude were observed in a laboratory

      The existence of the gravitational Faraday law was shown.
      (From Experimental Detection of the Gravitomagnetic London Moment)
      The results were presented at a one-day conference at ESA's European
      Space and Technology Research Centre (ESTEC), in the Netherlands, 21
      March 2006.

      "We ran more than 250 experiments, improved the facility over 3 years
      and discussed the validity of the results for 8 months before making
      this announcement. Now we are confident about the measurement," says
      Tajmar, who performed the experiments and hopes that other physicists
      will conduct their own versions of the experiment in order to verify
      the findings and rule out a facility induced effect.

      This is a very intriguing development, if it can be duplicated by
      other researchers. Artificial gravity fields were almost immediately
      decried as fantasy, not science fiction. The other method of
      creating "artificial gravity" was first used in science fiction just
      a year after Stapleton; Jack Williamson wrote about the City of Space
      in 1931:

      "The City of Space is in a cylinder," Captain Smith said. "Roughly
      five thousand feet in diameter... The cylinder whirls constantly,
      with such speed that the centrifugal force against the sides equals
      the force of gravity on the earth. The city is built around the
      inside of the cylinder...

      If you think that this research might have merit, and are interested
      in other science-fictional devices that make use of gravitational
      field control, take a look at Frank Herbert's gravity web vest, Larry
      Niven's sleeping plates and Isaac Asimov's gravitic repulsion
      elevator. Readers might also want to explore a more recently
      suggested method of obtaining weak artificial gravity for space
      stations; see this article on non-conductive tethers. Read more about
      the ESA experiments; nice paper (pdf) also online.


      THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: When Humans Transcend Biology
      by Ray Kurzweil
      Duckworth Publishers £14.99, 652 pages

      Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurologist, has stumbled on a
      discovery of earth-shattering importance. It is the arrival of
      singularity, and according to him it will happen in
      2045. "Gradually," he says, at the beginning of The Singularity is
      Near, "I've become aware of a transforming event looming in the first
      half of the 21st century... the impending Singularity in our future
      is increasingly transforming every institution and aspect of human
      life, from sexuality to spirituality."

      Singularity, says Kurzweil, is a development "representing a profound
      and disruptive transformation in human capability" and a "radical
      upgrading of our bodies' physical and mental systems". What are its
      elements? The first half of the 21st century, Kurzweil maintains,
      will be characterised by three overlapping revolutions - human
      genetics, robotics or artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.

      Biotechnology, rapid advances in genomics and gene therapies will
      enable us to turn off disease and ageing and thus we can live for
      much longer. Since we will be soon able to "reverse engineer the
      brain" and simulate its functions, he claims, technology will
      increasingly merge with human intelligence to create something with
      greater capacity and speed. Nanotechnology, the science of small
      things, will enable us "to redesign and rebuild - molecule by
      molecule - our bodies and brains and the world with which we
      interact, going far beyond the limitations of biology".

      Kurzweil knows a lot about new technology - and he knows how to make
      it sound fun. He is dazzling in his enthusiasm for things to come,
      and has a grasp of the exciting developments pulsing through the
      intersection of science and technology. He recognises technology's
      power to improve the lot of humankind, and is sceptical of the doom-
      mongers who argue it will lead to overpopulation or mass unemployment.

      New technologies, Kurzweil recognises, usually create new jobs for
      those displaced by it. Cloning, for example, is not as scary as it is
      made to sound, and might even offer solutions for world hunger,
      creating meat and other protein sources in a factory without animals
      by cloning animal muscle tissue.

      But what is the evidence for "singularity" itself? Kurzweil has
      borrowed the metaphor from mathematics and physics, where it means
      something that has reached the stage of being infinite. He recognises
      that singularity does not amount to anything that might be described
      as "infinite" in the social sphere, but still feels that the metaphor
      is appropriate. Humans, he too often forgets, have always sought to
      transcend biology.

      Kurzweil thinks we are turning into cyborgs - part human, part
      machine - but any old man with a walking stick might be seen as a
      cyborg too. Technology, it is important to remember, conducts its way
      through society as a series of quantitative heaves rather than a
      qualitative leap. He thinks that the exponentially increasing
      processing power of computers can help us understand the speed of
      social change. The changes he describes might look fast on paper, but
      they filter through to social life at a snail's pace. Many of them do
      not make it at all, because of a lack of investment or human

      Throughout his book Kurzweil capitalises singularity. He even has a
      name for someone who is a follower of the faith. "I regard someone
      who understands the Singularity and who reflects on its implications
      for his or her own life as a `singularitarian'." He pays lip service
      to a kind of humanism - "we will transcend biology, but not our
      humanity" - but sounds like a religious evangelist, or a West Coast
      new ager who has spent too long in front of a computer. Being human,
      Kurzweil rightly points out, "means being part of a civilisation that
      seeks to extend its boundaries". Is a human modified by technology no
      longer human, he wonders? The doom-mongers make it sound like a
      slippery slope, but Kurzweil envisages it as a kind of second coming,
      a technological Noah's ark through which only true believers will

      Kurzweil pays tribute to the notion of human consciousness, but seems
      to regard it as a lost cause in the long run. His determination to
      keep humans central to his vision is admirable, but is not borne out
      by the thrust of his work, which suggests that he takes his spiritual
      sustenance from the machine part of the equation.

      For Kurzweil all that remains is an ethical problem, of how humanity
      adapts to the new post-singular world in which we have become
      outsmarted by machines. His metaphor of singularity plays well in the
      science-fiction community, among Hollywood scriptwriters in need of
      inspiration and among military spooks whose job it is to think ahead
      of the curve - Kurzweil is one of five members of the science
      advisory group for the American army. For us ordinary mortals, it is
      singularly unhelpful.
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