Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Videos on the Great Space and SF Art of David A. Hardy

September 15, 2022

I’m a great fan of the astronomical and Science Fiction artist David A. Hardy. Hardy was interested in space from childhood and was particularly influenced by the pioneering American artist Charles Bonestell. Bonestell not only painted the various stars and planets, but also showed humans in space suits and spacecraft exploring these worlds. He worked for many years illustrating the many books on space with the late presenter of the Sky at Night, Patrick Moore, especially on the books The Challenge of the Stars, which came out in the 1950s, and its ’70s sequel, The New Challenge of the Stars. I always thought he just painted science fact, and was quite surprised to find that he also painted SF. These videos from YouTube show some of his really beautiful, amazing art, and there’s one from ITV’s local news for the Midlands in 2013 where he talks about his work and his inspiration.

The Fantastic Space Art of David A. Hardy, Part 1, from the Sci-Fi Art channel.

The Fantastic Space Art of David A. Hardy, Part 2, from the Sci-Fi Art channel

Fantasy and Sci Fi Art Collection David A. Hardy, v. 1, from Gorka’s channel.

Fantasy and Sci Fi Art collection 14 David A Hardy v2 from Gorka’s Channel

The above thumbnail is an illustration of one of the von Danikenesque theories of about the ‘wheels’ and creatures seen by the prophet Ezekiel. Von Daniken interpreted them as alien spacecraft.

And an item about him from ITV Central News, 2013, in which he talks about his work.

Spanish Scientists Create First Ever Magnetic Wormhole

September 13, 2022

Here’s another video about weird and very cool science of the type that just might one day take us to the stars. This video from Tech Space on YouTube discusses wormholes and the invention of a magnetic wormhole by researchers in Spain. Wormholes are the holes in spacetime which can act as short cuts from one part of the universe to another. They were first thought up in the 1930s by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, hence they are sometimes called Einstein-Rosen bridges. The idea is that they are created by Black Holes and extend across a higher dimension to an exit elsewhere in the universe, a White Hole. No-one has yet discovered a wormhole in space, despite them frequently being used in Science Fiction. The video here shows a clip from Star Trek among others. There is a problem with using wormholes as such cosmic subways. Their energy state is so precarious, that the passage of a single photon down one would disrupt and destroy. Also, if a spaceship fell into a Black Hole, it would never be able to escape and would continue falling forever.

Scientists have suggested ways round these problems. For example, the mouth of the wormhole could be extended beyond the Black Hole’s event horizon and kept open using exotic matter. Exotic matter is a theoretical kind of matter, different from antimatter, that has negative mass. This means that if it was placed next to a similar mass of ordinary matter, it would accelerate away with no means of propulsion.

The view inside a wormhole would be extremely strange. The wormhole mouth would appear as a globe, and the sides of the wormhole would show distorted views of the region of space the travellers had just left and to which they were travelling to. It would also be possible to create a time machine using these wormholes. One end could be accelerated to the speed of light so that it whipped back on itself and went backward in time. At least, that’s how I understood this part of the video, but I may have misunderstood. The video also states that scientists have speculated there are tiny wormholes opening up at the atomic level, at 10-33 cm. They’ve got their figures wrong there, as 10 to 33 centimetres is clearly well above the atomic scale. I think they mean 10-33.

While the Spanish scientists haven’t created one of these wormholes, they have created a magnetic wormhole using rare and exotic materials which already exist. This wormhole device is circular. There are magnetic mouths at both ends of the device, but the magnetic field linking them cannot be indetectable and so moves through another dimension. The scientists suggest that uses for the technology may include magnetic resonance scanners for medicine, so that the patient doesn’t have to be jammed so close to the scanning apparatus.

The video is wrong about this being the first wormhole to be discovered. In fact, the wonderful space and science vlogger Anton Petrov put up a video a little while ago reporting that scientists had created a subatomic wormhole. There are also problems with exotic matter, as this would allow for antigravity and thus break the laws of physics, as shown in a Beeb documentary about the real search for antigravity propulsion. But this is a fascinating invention. One of the pieces of evidence for there being more than three dimensions, four if you count time, is that if you write the equations governing electromagnetism for four dimensions, they come out as the laws of gravity.

Now if only there was a way to transform magnetism into gravity, such a wormhole created by the Spanish scientists might start giving us a way to open up the universe.

Leviprint Making Objects through Acoustic Levitation

September 13, 2022

Acoustic levitation is the use of sound waves to levitate objects. In this video from CNET’s channel on YouTube, the host discusses LeviPrint, a device that uses acoustic levitation to manipulate small objects, like matchsticks, or matchstick-sized pieces of wood and pieces of glue to create a simple square and other simple shapes. He also talks to one of the researchers behind the technology, Asier Marzo, who explains some of the principles and possible applications. The device uses sound waves about twice the range of human hearing to accomplish its feats. These include passing objects through holes and manipulating them in totally enclosed spaces, such as a mesh bottle. Marzo explains that it could be useful for biomedical research where it would act against the problem of cross-contamination. However, it will be a long time before larger versions of the technology are available because this would require developing additional software and engineering to operate it.

I think the use of sound waves to levitate objects and manipulate them is absolutely amazing. It reminds me a little of a Marvel supervillain, whose body was made entirely of soundwaves created by a device replacing one of his hands. It also reminds me of the Farscape episode ‘Taking the Stone’, in which the crew of the Moya discovery a cemetery world, whose last inhabitants are hippy types, who use acoustic levitation as a form of skydiving. They jump into a long, subterranean shaft intoning a low sound as they go down. If they get it right, they are slowed and suspended before they hit the ground. If they don’t – splat! Farscape was broadcast about twenty or so years ago, which was when acoustic levitation was first discovered, I believe. It’s so weird and wonderful that I think our ancestors would have put it down to witchcraft and black magic. There are other videos on the Net discussing it, including one by a woman who built an acoustic levitation device herself.

Flying In A Paddle-Propelled Blimp

September 12, 2022

This comes from Tom Scott’s channel on YouTube and it’s brilliant! as the lad character always used to shout on the Fast Show. In this video, Scott goes flying with Aeroplume, a French company provides flights from human-powered blimps. These were designed twenty or so years ago by a French artist, inventor and engineer, Jean-Pierre David. The blimps are filled with helium and the human pilot is suspended underneath in a kind of horizontal harness. There are two paddles either side of them, which allow them to propel themselves around and steer the aircraft. It apparently takes a litre of helium to lift a gram of weight, so a blimp must carry 70,000 litres or so to lift a human. Antoine Sibue, Scott’s host from the company, explains that the hangar in which the flights are performed was originally built in 1919 for the military. It passed out of military service in 1999, and a think it was acquired by Aeroplume in 2009. It’s one of two locations. The other is in a cave 50 metres underground. Flight cost 60 Euros for half an hour. The company has three such blimps, lifting 90, 70 and 45 kilos respectively. They’re also open over school holiday, which is tempting fate, one feels. Still, they have had tens of thousands of flights and zero casualties. Sibue teaches Scott how to fly the blimp, how temperature affects buoyancy and how helium leaks from the blimp so that they have to replenish it occasionally, as well as problems when the surrounding air seeps in. But it all seems safe, sedate and rather cool.

The balloon was invented in France in the late 18th century and was enthusiastically taken up by scientists and the public. It represented the victory of human scientific ingenuity over nature. And when Napoleon was invading everyone in Europe, one of his schemes was to create a military airship. However, there was no form of artificial propulsion available at the time, so the idea was to have its crew pulling on paddles rather like those on Aeroplume’s blimps.

The blimps strongly remind me of the 19th century airships depicted by some of the early pioneers of Science Fiction, such as Jacques Robida. I think the French novelist and artist would be highly amused by the way his vision has now been realised.

Muse Video Channelling Quentin Tarantino and Max Headroom

September 10, 2022

I’m a kind-of fan of Bournemouth band Muse, whose music and videos include space rock and Science Fiction. They put up this video for their track, ‘Dig Down’ on their YouTube channel, and its video seems to partake very strongly of Quentin Tarantino and the computer-generated video-jockey, Max Headroom. The video is about a woman with an artificial leg and a big gun fighting her way through various goons before she blows them all up and enters the threshold of a room with a pillar of TV screens. This looks to me like an homage to a film Tarantino released a few years ago, in which a woman with a gun barrel for a leg seeks violent revenge. The film was deliberately treated so that it looked like the cheap and violent grindhouse flicks that Tarantino had enjoyed as a sprog. As the woman fights her way through the bad guys’ lair, the band plays on various TV screens, hair slicked back and wearing suits like Headroom, but with the addition of X-Ray specs style goggles. They are cut so they have the same jumpy movements as Headroom, while behind them are computer generated landscapes. Very 1980s computer generated landscapes. I was a real fan of Max Headroom all those years ago, and I think it’s brilliant that his digital self is still inspiring video directors and producers forty or so years later.

Vangelis’ Theme from Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

September 10, 2022

Here’s something which I hope will be a bit lighter after the last two day’s solemnity. It’s a video of the theme music to the 1980s blockbuster science and space documentary series, Cosmos, presented by Carl Sagan, which I’ve taken from Nedsrubiquitous’ channel on YouTube. Cosmos was one of the great space and science fact shows of the 1980s, and its accompanying book became a bestseller. Sagan himself was a Humanist and an opponent of militarism, imperialism and nuclear weapons, as well as sexism and racism. Later in the decade he presented evidence to the international authorities that a nuclear war would result in a global winter that would destroy life on this planet. Well, whatever survived the nuclear holocaust, I suppose. When NASA was holding its inquiry into the causes of the Challenger disaster, Sagan stated that the design of the Space Shuttle had been severely compromised in the interests of the military. He said that initially the Shuttle was to be smaller and completely reusable, but the armed forces objected as they wanted something big enough to put military spy satellites into space. Hence the Shuttle was only partly reusable through the addition of a fuel tank that was jettisoned and left to burn up. He also wrote a Science Fiction book, Contact, about a female scientist who establishes contact with aliens. It was later filmed with Jodie Foster. I don’t agree with Sagan’s atheism, but he was an inspirational science communicator. I wasn’t surprised when Prof Brian Cox said that he had been inspired by Sagan, because after all the space and science series Cox had done it seemed to be glaringly obvious.

The music for the series was composed and performed by the awesome Vangelis, responsible for the theme to Chariots of Fire, The Conquest of Paradise and Blade Runner. I think the music was an important element in the show’s popularity and was one of a number of themes collected in the album Space Invaded. If I remember correctly, that is. Sagan died a few years ago of prostate cancer, but still remains one of the giants of astronomy and explaining difficult concepts to a mass audience.

The video features pictures and quotes from the man himself and NASA, as well as beautiful photographs of space and the space telescopes that capture them.

Black Computer Programmer Wants More Black Men in Maths, Computing and Medicine

September 7, 2022

This is a short from Isaac Smith’s YouTube channel. It’s simply him watching a Black computer programmer, Kwanza Kanju, go through the stats showing that Black boys would stand more chance of a job if they switched their ambitions from basketball to a career in the STEM subjects. He begins by saying that there are a million Blacks wanting to play in the NBA. He goes through the decreasing number that qualify for the sport at each succeeding level, until he shows that there are only seven places available in the NBA that these million aspiring kids are chasing.

On the other hand, there were 100,000 jobs going last year in maths, computing and medicine. He states that if you practise hard and study enough, you become what you want to be. If you spend your time playing basketball from 3 to 6 pm, you’ll be a very good basketball player. If you spend the same amount of time in libraries, you’ll be a brilliant scholar. And he knows that Black people will make excellent mathematicians and medical specialists, as the first doctor wasn’t Hippocrates but Imhotep.

He’s right, and basically saying what Black conservative writer Jason Riley says. Black people can excel academically if they spend the same time and effort on these subjects as they do on sport and music, where they already excel.

I wanted to put this up as a piece of positive, optimistic advice that a Black STEM expert was giving to aspiring Blacks after all the negative stories this week about Black looting gangs, the violence at the Notting Hill Carnival and so on.

Trailer for UFO Film ‘Above Top Secret’

September 4, 2022

Here’s something that’s a bit more fun. It’s a trailer for the forthcoming UFO movie, Above Top Secret, presented by Dr. Stephen Greer with retired FBI agent John DeSouza alongside aerospace historians and others. The blurb for it on its YouTube page runs

‘We’re at a tipping point in history, the hidden technology that could change everything has been suppressed for decades. Dr. Steven Greer presents mind-blowing information along with never before seen access into the crusade behind disclosure. Retired FBI special agent John Desouza, Aerospace Historians James C, Goodall along with Michael Schratt breakdown the implications of the cover-up, and the false UFO narrative created by the major media. How much does the President of the United States really know about the UFO phenomenon, and the Above Top Secret projects involved with exotic technology? Billy Carson presents the real motivation behind the major media, and the U.S. Military role out of the UAP phenomenon. Multi award filmmakers Blake and Brent Cousins travel across the country to find the real answers to everyone’s questions whether we are alone in the universe, and expose the above top secret projects involved with ET recovered craft not of this world. Is they’re an Alien threat among us, or is the real threat human in nature? Above Top Secret the technology behind disclosure will change the way you think about UFOs, and the world of suppressed technology. Cast: Dr. Steven Greer, James Goodall, John Desouza, Billy Carson, Michael Schratt, Brent Cousins, Blake Cousins.’

The people featured in the trailer claim that the American government and aerospace industry are creating radical new air- and spacecraft using technology taken from crashed UFO, such as that at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. These have given scientific secrets such as Zero Point energy and gravitics, and that the spacecraft are thought actuated, moving through the ‘thought field’. The American government is also responsible for pushing a non-existent alien threat.

It looks fun, but I’m sceptical of all of this. The title seems to come from Tim Good’s book published in the 1980s, which contained all the conspiracy theory rubbish about alien abductions, the Majestic 12 group of scientists and senior military officers responsible for keeping it all under wraps, whose chief was called His Cerebral Phosphorescence. In short, pretty much the stuff that ended up in the X-Files in the 1990s. Good was, I believe, entirely genuine, but some of the material he published consisted of hoaxes, and misremembered or misidentified incidents. I do believe, however, that there are secret air- and spacecraft that have been developed that very much look and behave like alien spacecraft and are responsible for many UFO sightings.

‘Correct, Not Political’ Claim Teachers Now Asked to Collect Information on Pupils’ Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories

August 29, 2022

Correct, Not Political are a right-wing group who organise counter-protests and put up videos on YouTube giving their own coverage of Pride marches, Drag Queen Story Hour, anti-racist and pro-immigrant demonstrations, Extinction Rebellion and so on. Just how right-wing they are is shown by a section on their YouTube homepage devoted to ‘socialists and commies’. Having said that, watching some of their videos they do seem to be polite. Many of their videos about Pride and Drag Queen Story hour simply consist of them talking to the demonstrators, asking why they believe as they do and simply putting their own arguments. Quite often this is done simply and conversationally. I realise that with any broadcast material, including stuff from the official news organisations, you have to be careful of selective editing but they do come across much better than some of the left-wing demonstrators. Some of them come across as very aggressive, simply screaming ‘Trans Rights Are Human Rights’ and ‘Off Our Streets, Fascist Scum’, as if those are adequate replies or rebuttals. Other left-wing protests they interview are polite and personally reasonable.

They posted this piece up on their channel the other day, claiming that teachers have now entered into a contract with the government to report on whether their pupils hold one or more from a list of conspiracy theories. They are also asked how they are tackling these beliefs. This also includes whether they have been referred as radicalised.

This is the list.

They comment: Parents beware, the state have incentivised teachers to enter a contract in which they get subsidies on teaching materials in order for them to take part in surveys to collect data on your children, this is getting very scary.

See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFAZOEAhkrQVYVGuDeKIMA/community?lb=Ugkxg_YC8Wd9dAZJwdY7NODD525BjsJUW6Xr

I don’t know what’s going on here, as they have not said how they acquired this information, whether it was from a teacher or some other school or educational employee or official, nor how reliable this is. It could all have been cooked up as a form of disinformation designed to spread even more paranoia by someone. It’s possible that the list is correct, as the government is keen to prevent the radicalisation of young people through the Prevent programme, but it’s dubious whether this is part of it without further information.

They’re also wrong about one of the conspiracies. The Great Replacement, from what I understand, is the notion that the Jews are encouraging Black and Asian immigration to Europe to replace the White population. The idea that Muslims are going to replace us through immigration and outbreeding us is ‘Eurabia’.

I also wonder how many schoolchildren are actually interested in any of these stupid theories or have come across them on the web. It seems to me that a far greater problem is children seeing pornography or other age-inappropriate material, as well as the dangers of sexting and girls having the nude pics they sent to a boyfriend passed and put up for all to see.

Their commenters are naturally afraid of the state taking an interest and trying to control what pupils believe. I’ve got absolutely no problem with any teacher refuting any of these during lessons if they come up. But what is worrying is that some of their commenters seem to think some of them might be true. My guess, from some of the group’s content, this would be the theories about climate change and the ‘scamdemic’, in which the Covid crisis has been manufactured to take away our freedom.

Peru Using Incan Engineering to Solve Water Crisis

August 16, 2022

I found this little snippet in today’s Independent fascinating. I’m a fan, sort-of, of Frank Herbert’s classic SF epic, Dune. This is set on Arrakis, a desert planet, whose sandworms are the only known source of the drug Spice, whose mind-expanding effects allow the mutated human navigators to guide their spacecraft across the galaxy without the use of computers. The planet’s original settlers, the Fremen, use stillsuits, technological body suits that harvest water from their sweat and body fluids to produce drinkable water, enabling them to survive for weeks even in the deep desert. And the Fremen have also established a network of cisterns to gather water as part of a project to turn their arid world green.

That type of technology and engineering, used to reclaim and channel water in desert areas, fascinates me. There are ingenious machines now that collect water from the humidity in the atmosphere, to produce drinking water. Nearly 2,000 years ago, a Greek engineer created a huge moisture-gatherer in one of the ancient Greek colonies on the Black Sea to provide the town with water despite the absence of rain or rivers. Now, according to the Independent, Peruvian engineers are renovating the ancient system of canals the Incas used to irrigate their land. The article by Samuel Webb, ‘Ancient Incan technology being used to harvest water to combat Peru’s crisis’, begins

Techniques used by servants of the Inca empire to build canals 500 years ago are being resurrected in Peru to funnel much-needed water to remote mountain communities and the city of Lima below.

Gregorio Rios, 74, oversaw the renovation of the vast network of canals above San Pedro de Casta, a town 3,000 metres above sea level in the South American country’s Huarochiri district.

The canals were built centuries ago by the Yapani ethnic group, using clay and rocks ingeniously compressed over a long period of time.

The local municipality previously used concrete to build new modern canals, but it stifled plant growth, affecting the local ecosystem, and crumbled after just 10 years.

The Yapani canals, by contrast, are more than 500 years old. New canals built with the ancient techniques could last for more than 100 years if built correctly. They are also permeable, so the water is filtered and plant roots help anchor the structure in place.

Mr Rios, whose work is supported by Warwickshire-based charity Practical Action, said: “Our ancestors built the canals with rock and clay. That knowledge is being lost and it’s in our interest to recover it.

“We have got to take control of the management of water for the crops. This is all being done thanks to the knowledge of our ancestors.”

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/ancient-incan-technology-being-used-to-harvest-water-to-combat-peru-s-crisis/ar-AA10DXaP?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=17e09ff4479f425caad8d64f8d71ad6d

In Chile, farmers use networks of string placed across their fields to collect moisture from the sea mists for their crops despite the lack of rainfall in that part of the country.

And over in Iran and Afghanistan, there’s an ancient system of subterranean canals, the qanats, irrigating those countries deserts and arid regions.

I find it absolutely fascinating that such ancient methods and modern technology are together being used to combat the desert and the contemporary water shortage caused by climate change.