Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Next Year’s News

As the year nears its end, my feed is full with last year’s news. For balance, I want to give some space to next year’s news. What do you think will be in the news next year?

In the very short run, technological developments aren’t so difficult to foresee, mostly because our brains all tick similarly. But by the time I have an idea, it’s highly likely somebody is already working on it. I’m not much of an inventor.

After the babies were born for example I remarked to Stefan that it’s about time somebody comes up with a high-tech diaper that sends me an email if full. Done.

Or this: For some years now, I keep reading about transcranial magnetic stimulation that allegedly boosts learning ability or intelligence in general. However, intelligence is a highly complex trait and I don’t buy a word of this. But wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we’d just sleep better? And don’t we know so much more about the brain in sleep-mode than in learning-mode? So why not use transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat insomnia? Somebody somewhere is working on that.

Here are three of my speculations that I haven’t yet heard much about:

    Robotic brain extension

    Insects’ brains can hooked up to chips and be remote controlled. But rather than using a computer to control a biological neural network, it would be much cooler if one could integrate the bio-brain to improve the tasks that robots are typically bad at. Balance for example is such a case that is extremely difficult for robots, yet the smallest bird-brain can easily balance a body on one leg, thanks to million of years of evolution. Can one engineer the both to work together, provided some ethics committee nods approval?

    Inaudibility shield

    Forget about invisibility shields, nobody wants to be invisible, just look at youtube. What we really need in the days of iPhones and people talking to their glasses is an inaudibility shield. I neither want to hear your phone calls, nor do you want to hear mine. Somebody please work on this.

    The conscious subconsciousness

    I read all the time about computers that are brain-controlled or most recently brain to brain communication. However, the former is still far too cumbersome and will remain so for a long time, and the latter creeps out most people. So let’s stick with one head and just route signals from the unconscious parts of our brain activity to the conscious parts and vice versa. Imagine for a moment how dramatically the world might change if we had the ability to readjust hormonal balance or heart rate.
Happy New Year! May it be a good one for you.


  1. Robotic brain extension "Robocop!" U/Manitoba tried differential high resolution mass spec (MALDI-TOF-MS) on whole freshly dissected cockroach brains vs. various prior stimuli to discern what was biochemically going on. The results pretty much translated to "WHOAAA!"

    Inaudibility shield Aside from noise-cancelling technology (NEVER for having a tooth drilled!),

    "if we had the ability to readjust hormonal balance or heart rate" we'd black market release it into the slums to encourage proximate inevitable conclusions' bypassing of intermediate fundings.

    I'd like to see installations of three orthogonal, large diameter supercon coils feeding Josephson junctions to patiently look for passage of magnetic monopoles. Geographic location matters, so put a few in wrong places. Symmetrize Maxwell's equations for a more "natural" look (and maybe discover what is seasonally going on with the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search vs. LUX).

  2. Happy New Year Sabine!

    Everybody is talking about Gadgets these days. We engineers built the world but we are not gods you know.

    Anyway once again we will do our best to fulfil public’s needs :-)

  3. Happy New Year Bee,

    Metamorphosis? Mutation? Emergence? Is it just me, or did others notice that, judging from her articles over the last 3-4 months, Sabine's blog topics as well as her writing-style is turning anti-authority, philosophical, and entertaining.

    Some years ago, her blog came to my attention, when she pointed to a referee report on a paper I wrote as an example of

    "If you fuck up really badly, you'll get a result like this."

    And yes, she used the f-word! See

    And while saying above, she gave a link to my site where I had posted the referee report, so all her readers can see. And I said, what a grouch! I never wrote her though.

    I didn't fuck up Bee, your relativity-worshipping is the fuck up!

    Let us hope 2014 will bring in experimentation and reality into physics.

  4. Robots these days are very good at balance - much better than people.

    Inaudibility shields are here too - they are called earplugs or headphones - though a little more selectivity would be nice.

    About that conscious unconscious though - you might want to be careful what you wish for. That link has been tuned by evolution for a giga-year, and those that have it untuned often find it really unpleasant.

  5. @Ashish Sirohi "Space is discrete for mass and continuous for light" from your site.

    A billiard ball, two photons, and two neutrinos are simultaneously loosed to vacuum free fall in a flat 10 m/sec^2 gravitational field,. The billiard ball accelerates 10 m/sec^2. Tell us the respective accelerations of a 0.0001 eV photon, a TeV photon, a 0.0001 eV neutrino, and a 1 TeV neutrino.

    Cut the lady some slack. Lied der Deutschen by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben celebrates Frauen, Treue, Wein, und Sang. A Puritan is bedeviled by the thought that somebody, somewhere is having a good time, e.g., a German park lawn on a warm day under brilliant sunlight. Do you know what they DO?

  6. Uncle Al,

    You are the famous Uncle Al who used to be trolling on the physics groups (USENET -- pre internet). You were doing most of the posting, and people wondered about you and how you could spent all day posting. What I particularly remember is that you posted the stupidest reply I ever heard regarding the nature of time, crouched in highly technical language (as in ZERO-originality disguised as "deep thought"). I remember that because I thought you might have said something important and studied your post, until I decimated that language and realized that you had nothing original to say and were using technical language to present yourself as a thinker.

    Your technical knowledge doesn't impress me. Do you have anything original?

    I have a counter-example to Einstein, and an experiment that will end Relativity. That is my life's work -- original thought? Have you ever experienced an original thought?

  7. @Ashish Sirohi You have no answer for dropping a billiard ball vs. low and high energy photons vs. low and high energy neutrinos.

    Dunning-Kruger effect, 2000 Ig Nobel Prize.

    What is it that Germans do in parks on warm, sunny days, Ashish? Where within Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica does Newton allow special relativity to become general relativity? Hint: "Hanc autem quantitatem sub nomine corporis vel Massæ in sequentibus passim intelligo. Innotescit ea per corporis cujusq; pondus. Nam ponderi proportionalem esse reperi per experimenta pendulorum accuratissime instituta, uti posthac docebitur."

    Ashish Sirohi" I have a counter-example to Einstein, and an experiment that will end Relativity"


  8. I already told you: Your technical knowledge doesn't impress me.

    Your knowledge of multiple languages or cultures is more bull.

    You ask: Where does Newton allow special relativity to become general relativity?
    Here is the CORRECT answer: NOWHERE!

    The crackpot index is a yawn. And experiments, not Baez, determines who is or is not a crackpot. In physics, experiments rule!

  9. Ashish,
    as my Fermi lab forum poster in that outdated book asked in general "Why do so many go after Einstein when they insist on challenging some area of disscussion in physics? "
    Trolls are annoying but sometimes they are useful for reality checks. Some of them know the limits of the riddles you have to solve to cross a bridge. Some less creative search the aether waves to stand on the shoulders of giants to get what are inevitable trends first like playing two chess masters against each other even without you the same game so the can say I beat or drawled a chess master.
    Martin Gardner of the Skeptical Inquirer would put things on the early net so it could add to the "Fun " of discussing some riddle or recreational puzzle. This can be a violation of personal confidentiality for those working at the frontiers independently
    in similar areas. Or it may force premature publication as to set the claim of priority and partial solutions as a standard. Worse governments could edit things in the net at will when even authors could not so violate personal privacy.
    Perhaps you should ride in a passenger train car to get the feel of relativity one still one in motion instead of riding on top of one.
    If Einstein is wrong no honest scientist would support him even as worship
    Thing is you do not have imagination enough to see in a more general sense he is not the one wrong.

    Riddle me this:
    You are on a pole of a planet looking up at another planet pole, one is spinning and both your entire universe. Which one is spinning?

    Either way you decide to make a clock of. 24 time zones to a day. Where does your day begin and for those living on the equator how many hours would one day be on the planet?

    If you were a young man pushing his baby in a pram passed the lamposts by the Zurich Zee, how can you prove the ones in the distance did not really shrink as you saw them recede into the distance and how small can the get?
    You would think much older and wiser nations would not heed his experiment of the old E = mc2 which just takes from the food of its peoples.

    But some of us play the game without an adolescent desire to claim we beat a chess master human or machine.

  10. Edgar,

    Most people attacking relativity are not happy with the light postulate (cannot go faster than light). Both of Einstein's postulates are correct, E=mc2 is correct too. So on all this we are in perfect agreement with Einstein.

    I have achieved DSR (Doubly Special Relativity OR Deformed Special Relativity -- both names are used) and in a much simpler way than the approach Bee and her colleagues follow. Also my achievement is much simpler to test experimentally, and has broader implications.

    Bee mocked my paper, in the same article where she bragged about her DSR paper.

    Refuting my paper is the only ethical way for Bee to defend her mockery.

    Yes there is more ...my paper predicts that no sort of length contraction happens at all... Bee and her DSR colleagues say that length contraction does happen but stops happening at small scales.

    All I ask is a couple of experiments to confirm Special Relativity. One experiment I ask for was suggested by Einstein himself! Let us confirm Einstein, and if confirmed we salute!

  11. Forget Einstein for a moment, even aether and matter. Of many deeper concepts of simple paradox and duality or not where physics is more general than our maths describing it. Namely that Lorentz invariance holds at the interface of the continuous and discontinuous it seems such simple logic. Even more complicated CPT issues as to what is conserved, spacetime and or space and time vs mass or charge the need for virtual spaces filled that there is causality or reversibility in a more foundational sense so that Mass as Higgs - like uncertainty is part of the model that there can be a ground for measure. Are you angry that someone will not dishonour you by speaking to you as if you were a child? The topic is what new directions in the coming year for research.The Fermi lab book author thinks it has to be an international undertaking but I have my doubts. So what are your proposals for the next year? Do you have anything to offer perhaps an experiment so that you can be a part of it and not write yourself out of the game. Look., I am not even a physicist. Just one human to another. May the universe or God (or a thousand gods) bring you its thousand points of light.

  12. One more thing. You realize if you fly by a planet at the velocity of light look out at it you briefly see it as if it had rotated to the other side. Not shrunk as such bit this is the same description up to a point physically at least. So what is it you bring new? Ashish,

  13. Ashish,

    You entirely misunderstood my 2007 fucking remark. It actually expressed sympathy for you obtaining such a ridiculous report. I never said a word about your paper, because I didn't read it. And reading your comments convinces me that reading it would almost certainly be an utter waste of time.

    Having said that, please read our comment rules. Almost all of your comments are entirely off-topic. I will delete any further off-topic comments from you (and everybody else). Thanks,


  14. CIP,

    You misunderstood what I meant with inaudibility shield. If I wear an earplug it does not prevent other people from hearing what I say. Besides that, headphones - even the so-called "noise cancelling" ones - do a very bad job at sound blocking. Best,


  15. "After the babies were born for example I remarked to Stefan that it’s about time somebody comes up with a high-tech diaper that sends me an email if full."

    We usually notice quickly enough via other means. :-(

    A neighbour had a fool-proof method: she would stick her finger in, pull it out, then examine it.

  16. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2013/dec/19/the-world-of-physics-in-2014 The world of physics in 2014
    http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17917722/pmproject.htm The Science Prediction Market Project
    http://dailycrowdsource.com/crowdsourcing/company-reviews/661-kaggle-crowdsourcing-predictive-models Can Kaggle Predict the Future? - Daily Crowdsource


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