Archive for September, 2010

The First New Discovery by the Large Hadron Collider?

The First New Discovery by the Large Hadron Collider?

Tracks from CMS collisions

Interesting stuff from the CMS Experiment:

After nearly 6 months of smashing particles, the Large Hadron Collider has seen signs of something entirely new. Pairs of charged particles produced when two beams of protons collide seem to be associated with each other even after they fly apart. [...]

It’s as if two particles somehow talked to each other when they were produced, the physicists said. This phenomenon has never been seen before in proton-proton collisions, though it resembles something seen at RHIC (the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. That effect was interpreted to be from the creation of hot dense matter shortly after the collisions.

The CMS team collected the data in mid-July, and spent the rest of the summer trying to blame it on an error or artifact of the data.

Wired Science: LHC Detects Evidence of New Physics

See also:

A photo tour of the Large Hadron Collider

September 29, 2010 1 comment
Brain Surgery Can Now Be Conducted Through the Eye Socket

Brain Surgery Can Now Be Conducted Through the Eye Socket

Eyeball Syringe

Surgeons at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and University of Washington Medical Center have determined that transorbital neuroendoscopic surgery (TONES) is a safe and effective option for treating a variety of advanced brain diseases and traumatic injuries. This groundbreaking minimally invasive surgery is performed through the eye socket, thus eliminating the removal of the top of the skull to access the brain. These findings were published in the September issue of Neurosurgery

Science Daily: Scarless brain surgery is new option for patients

(via Chris Arkenberg)

September 29, 2010 0 comments
Right or Left Handed? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Can Shift Your Preference

Right or Left Handed? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Can Shift Your Preference

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

When performing simple tasks like pushing elevator buttons or picking up a cup, the brain actually has a mini-debate as to which hand should do the jobs. Now magnetic stimulation will make sure the brain always chooses the left hand.

Researchers found they could influence the decision about what hand to use in simple tasks using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The finding could have medical applications in assisting patients who have lost or damaged limbs. It may also suggest the possibility to manipulate other decisions using TMS.

Mad Science: You can switch from right-handed to left-handed through the power of magnets

(Thanks Bill!)

See also:

The Schizoid Man.

September 29, 2010 0 comments
New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

tooth hearing aid

I thought I’d posted about this before, but I haven’t:

SoundBite detects noise using a microphone placed in the ear connected to a transmitter in a behind-the-ear (BTE) device. The BTE transmits to an in-the-mouth (ITM) device that sends small sound waves through the jaw to the cochlea. There is no surgery needed, and both the BTE and ITM are easily removed to be charged inductively. Sonitus Medical is still preparing the SoundBite for eventual FDA trials for single sided, and (eventually) other forms of deafness. Check out more photos after the break.

There are other hearing aid devices that utilize bone conduction. Most, however, use a titanium pin drilled into the jaw bone (or skull) to transmit sound to the cochlea. SoundBite seems to be the first non-surgical, non-invasive, easily removable device.

Singularity Hub: New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

(Thanks Trevor)

See also:

New Devices Aid Deaf People By Translating Sound Waves To Vibrations

September 24, 2010 3 comments
Grinding Interviews Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case

Grinding Interviews Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case

Amber Case

Grinding interviews cyborg anthropologist, and one of the most influential women in tech, Amber Case:

Reality is boring. Waiting in line at the DMV suck. Real life takes time. Digital life is more instantaneous. In real life, the time and space between goals and accomplishments is often large. For some, it is physically impossible to achieve certain things, like purchasing a Ferrari or rising above middle management in their career path. Online gaming, especially sites like Farmville step in to take care of that void. Whereas one doesn’t have the money, time or room for a real garden, Farmville provides one without the back aching labor. All reality is replaced by small icons, and time is compressed so that goals and accomplishments are right next to one another. Everything has a point value and a reward. When real life takes so long to reward someone, online gaming is often a better and more enjoyable alternative.

In the future, hybrid reality, or life which is both a game and real, might blot out the mild dystopia that we all live in. Or it will make us more intolerable of the space between reality. And for those who spend a lot of time in reality, Foursquare is a good add-on for making the mundane exciting. To be crass, one might say that Foursquare is kind of like dogs pissing on fire hydrants and having other dogs come along and sniff them to see who’s been there. The dog with the most potent urine is mayor of the fire hydrant.

Grinding: Talking with Amber Case

See also:

Here’s my interview with Amber

Here’s our conversation on hypersigils

John Robb’s response to Jane McGonigal’s TED talk

New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

September 24, 2010 0 comments
Latest Foodie Craze: Insects and Worms

Latest Foodie Craze: Insects and Worms

sanos de maguey

My wife’s said that insects are the food of the future. But some are embracing that future voluntarily already. San Francisco-based “chef and artist” Phil Ross is bringing insects and worms to fine diners in San Francisco and New York, with unexpected results.

You really want to go green? Try this. “I have my month’s meat growing in my office,” Mr. Ross said. “It’s taking up almost no space, it’s organically raised, it’s as fresh as I want it to be and the waste from it is garden compost.”

Mr. Ross first brought a group of San Franciscans together to chow down on cooked insects a year ago, and he was surprised when the guests started buzzing around him for raw samples. “I was like, ‘O.K., go for it,’ ” he said. “And then that just led to this very weird erotism moment when people were practically hugging each other while eating these live insects.” The spirit of the moment overflowed, leading, in a few cases, to groping and kissing in a corner.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.

New York Times: Waiter, There’s Soup in My Bug

(via David Forbes)

Be sure to check out the slideshow.

September 24, 2010 0 comments
The American Book of the Dead Author Henry Baum – Technoccult Interview

The American Book of the Dead Author Henry Baum – Technoccult Interview

The American Book of the Dead The American Book of the Dead, part II

In Henry Baum’s novels Golden Calf and North of Sunset he explored the American religion that is Hollywood. His latest novel, The American Book of the Dead, delves into religion more directly – specifically apocalyptic Christianity and New Age ufology. It’s likeThe Stand as written by Philip K. Dick. You can buy the book here or download a free copy here. Henry’s now serializing the sequel online here. He took the time to talk to me about music, writing and fundamentalism.

Klint Finley: In addition to being a writer, you’re also a musician. I’m actually listening to your soundtrack to The American Book of the Dead for the first time right now, in fact. I’m wondering if you see yourself as more of a writer or as more as a musician, or whether you make that distinction.

Henry Baum: I started as a musician – age nine, guitar lessons. My dad was a fiction writer growing up (now a playwright). So in high school, the way for me to rebel against my parents was in a way to be anti-writing. So I was in punk bands and such. Played in indie rock bands in New York City. My own songwriting was always on the backburner. I always thought of myself as a drummer and fiction writer first, rather than a songwriter. Now, though, I’ve got a copy of Logic and can record any way I want, so I’ve been working on this whole backlog of songs I’ve had through the years. But still…I find fiction writing more satisfying for some reason. I love writing and playing music, but it’s not the thing I wake up thinking about, even if I’ve been playing music a lot longer than writing fiction. It’s less in my bloodstream, maybe.

Introduction by theamericanbookofthedead

How long have you been writing? What made you decide to start after avoiding it for all those years?

In college I lost that teenage rebellion and realized I was fighting the inevitable. I started working on a novel and realized how much I liked it. The novel wasn’t so great, but I at least found that I enjoyed the process. So I’ve been writing since I was 18 – which means, 20 years. Damn. The American Book of the Dead is my sixth novel, though I’ve published three. The first two were practice. One ripping off Richard Yates, who I was once obsessed with. The other trying to be a twenty-something Charles Bukowski. I’ve excised everything that was readable from those two novels and put together two short stories – i.e. 20 readable pages out of hundreds.

You’re serializing a sequel to American Book of the Dead right now, so I take it you think serializing the other novel online was a success? Do you have the novels written ahead of time and then release them piece by piece online, or do you write them as you go?

I actually abandoned serializing the novel almost as soon it was started. I put it up on Blogspot and soon realized I wasn’t ready for it. The site’s still live but what’s there is basically half of the introduction. Instead, I started posting a blog called “God’s Wife” which was part one of a completed novel I wrote about a porn star who joins a religious cult. I posted the porn part – it’s first person, female, and I posted it as if it was being written by a real porn star. People bought it. It makes me sound like a James Frey type, but this was in 2004 – blogs and Blogspot were new, and it was a literary experiment. Some people were pissed when they found out, some were supportive. Now, many years later, I’m ready to start posting something online as it’s written, which I’m trying to make a part of the story – but it’s also kind of terrifying because it doesn’t give me as much time to get used to something before publishing it.

Henry Baum

How much of both books is autobiographical? Have parents at your daughter’s school really confronted you about ABOTD?

Ha, no – that’s totally a projection of my worst worry, as was the chapter in the first novel – about a father discovering his daughter doing porn online. Basically, that confrontation is one I’m having with myself. I’m torn about writing this whole sequence because at some point my daughter’s going to be reading what I wrote. It’s an honest fear though, and something many fathers out there are dealing with, so my self-judgment isn’t totally overwhelming.

I’ve only read the introduction and first chapter of the sequel, but so far it’s much more personal, while the first one is more, I guess, universal. Is that why you decided to do a sequel? To work out more personal rather than universal issues?

A little bit. The first novel is about me in the year 2020, so it’s purely a fantasy about what I could be. Whereas Part II covers this time period. Eventually though it gets pretty far out – and revisits the 2020 character. Part II is going to be much more about the UFO issue: what first contact could do to the world’s psyche. How the world’s psyche could be prepared for that “awakening.” The first novel’s more about far right fundamentalism and the damage that can cause. I always intended it to be three parts, but the autobiographical writers are the ones who appeal to me most – Kerouac, Bukowski, Philip K. Dick’s Valis books. So it’s nice to be writing about who I actually am in real time.

That’s interesting, because yours is one of the few “writers writing about being writers” novels that I actually like – along w/ Dick’s stuff, though it’s not as expressly about writing. I couldn’t make it through Ask the Dust for that reason. Records about how much the recording industry sucks annoy me too.

Wow, thank you for that. I like Fante. To be honest, I’m not sure I need to read Post Office or On the Road ever again. They’ve been formative, but that period’s over. I absolutely love Philip K. Dick’s Valis books because they mix the totally far out with autobiography. I recently read Anne Dick’s memoir (and interviewed her) and it’s pretty remarkable how autobiographical ALL his novels are, which is why he appeals to me more than other science fiction writers. I read Jonathan Lethem recently say that Dick is continuing the legacy of Kerouac more than Asimov. So that’s what I’m attempting to do. Emphasis on the word “attempt.”

Do you have a particular process or ritual for writing?

I pretty much write in an insane trance for three months at a time and then have long spells where I don’t write at all – recovering from the trance. That’s why music’s been helpful to me. On my fiction writing downtime, I often dive back into recording. It’s rare when I go full-on with both at once.

How much do you buy the fringe ideas that have influenced the American Book of the Dead novels? For example, do you really think the world is in need of a mass die-off to curb over population?

It’s a disturbing concept and one I’m still exploring. I look at the recent mosque controversy and wonder, for instance, what would happen if there was UFO disclosure. If people think Obama’s a socialist Hitler terrorist now, they might be turned into David Ickean conspiracy theorists at that point – he’s a reptilian. There’s just so much volatility that seems like it could end in violence. People are crazy – how do we introduce new radical ideas into the culture if a centrist like Obama is seen as a radical? I’m not advocating genocide of any kind – but metaphorically at least, many different types of thought need to die, especially different aspects of fundamentalism. And now it seems fundamentalism is getting a louder and louder voice in the mainstream. It’s like the culture is primed to create mass conflict. So while it’s not something I desire, it does seem inevitable.

It can suck to be prescient sometimes, huh? You started the novel, what, 8 yeas ago? Those seemed like dark times then, but fundamentalist rhetoric just seems to be getting worse and worse.

Sarah Palin didn’t even exist when I started this book. I was fearing the Bush/Cheney cabal and what they were capable. Sarah Palin makes Bush look like, I don’t know, Bill Clinton.

Speaking of Clinton – you’re a little older than me so you might remember this period a bit more clearly than me – was the right so apocalyptic during the early years of Clinton’s presidency? Some elements certainly were, it seems like, reading those old Ron Paul Survival Report issues that were published online during the presidential primary.

And those seem to fit my very young memory of Clinton’s early years – I lived in rural Texas then, but I was only 11, I think, when Clinton was elected.

The far right’s always existed. But 9-11 really blew a hole in people’s last shred of rationality. The vitriol then seemed to be aimed at Hillary Clinton. But post 9-11, post electing a person named Barack Obama, and people have totally lost it. I mean, 9-11 blew a hole open in how I look at the world as well – it was then I started looking at conspiracies, UFOs, mysticism, and everything else that went into this book. I asked, as many people did, What the fuck is going on?

You’ve said that you write because you hope you can change people’s thinking. If you could change society’s thinking in just one way, what would that be?

Whoa, big one. The main thread here I think is the problem of fundamentalism. First two novels I wrote were about Hollywood – which I see as another religion, with the same kind of blind worship. I also mentioned porn up there. Though sexual taboos are a problem, being overly devoted and thinking sex is the only thing that matters isn’t the alternative. Christian and Islamic fundamentalism are next in line. I just posted a piece on Reality Sandwich which expressed the possibility of skepticism about 9-11 truth, and people were PISSED. Frankly, I don’t think this kind of true believerism makes any more sense for the fringe than it does for Sarah Palin devotees. So, short answer, the thing I think needs to go away is: blind devotion.

September 23, 2010 0 comments
Alan Moore Message Projected Into Space

Alan Moore Message Projected Into Space

Alan Moore

Alan Moore’s message for the beings of space:

Yeah, Hello? Uh, if you’re there pick up, okay listen it’s Alan calling, Alan from Earth. You probably don’t remember, it’s over in the western spiral of the Milky Way although obviously you might have named it after a completely different brand of chocolate. Basically just find the Oort Cloud and ask for directions from there. Anyway just calling to catch up. We’re doing alright with the carbon base lifeform thing. Kids are diversifying nicely, going through a bit of a fad for spines and brains at the minute but it’s probably the same where you are. Well, that’s about it really, we just hadn’t heard from you in a while, like when we killed Michael Rennee or Klaatu a you knew him in The Day The Earth Stood Still. So if you received this, get in touch, but actually thinking about it, don’t bother calling after about, what, 2150, because I’m not expecting anyone to be in. Oh and I’m sending this song along it’s called God Song by Robert Wyatt. I hope you like it. And that you don’t communicate through perfume or minor variatrions in your sense of balance or something. Okay, you take care and I’ll talk to you soon. Love you, Bye.

Explanation (sort of) at Bleeding Cool

September 18, 2010 1 comment
Budget cuts force CERN to shut accelerators for year

Budget cuts force CERN to shut accelerators for year

CERN

Bummer:

CERN had previously announced that the LHC would not run in 2012 “for purely technical reasons.” It said it would now also shut down all of its other accelerators in 2012 as it focuses its resources on the most critical research.

“The whole CERN accelerator complex will now join the LHC in a year-long shutdown,” the institute said in a statement. “CERN management considers this a good result for the laboratory given the current financial environment.”

Reuters: Budget cuts force CERN to shut accelerators for year

September 17, 2010 1 comment
Is Cosmology a Form of Theology for a Secular Age?

Is Cosmology a Form of Theology for a Secular Age?

Albertus-Magnus

Why is cosmology so popular? Books by writers such as Paul Davies and Stephen Hawking on fine-tuning or the multiverse routinely become bestsellers. They’re good writers, of course. And there’s the aesthetic appeal of cosmology too, offering a ceaseless stream of heavenly images at which to wonder and gaze. But I suspect there’s more to it than that.

After all, many other branches of physics are progressing as fast, and arguably have a bigger impact upon our daily lives. But when did you last pick up a paperback on solid state physics, one of the largest contemporary research fields? Or who would choose a book about optics over one about the Big Bang? Chaos theory gets a look in, as does quantum theory — though that’s very close to cosmology, as the history of universe turns on the physics of the very small.

So here’s a possibility. Cosmology is so popular, not just because of the science, but because it allows us to ask the big questions — where we come from, who we are, where we’re going. It’s metaphysics by other means. If the Scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages liked to speculate about the number of angels on the heads of pins, we today like to speculate about the number of dimensions wrapped up in string theory. The activities are similar insofar as they feed the delight we find in awe-inspiring wonder.

Big Questions: The Mirror of the Cosmos

(Thanks Paul Bingman)

September 17, 2010 0 comments