Archive for May, 2009

Z is for Zero Point Energy

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

As the world awaits the end of fossil fuels and the beginning of clean, non-polluting technologies that will serve to rejuvenate our economies, our planet and our well-being, the call is to remove all doubtful blindfolds and consider that there may be a free, limitless supply of energy everywhere in the universe that can be tapped and used to power every invention mankind has ever imagined and yet to dream. If proven true, and we succeed as Nikola Tesla predicted, in attaching our machinery to the very wheelwork of nature, our society awaits the most intense period of evolution in the history of civilization. The crux of the matter lies with quantum physics. Physicists used to think space was empty. The vacuum was a void. But what the bizarre microscopic world of quantum theory tells us is that the universe is a sea of quantum energy or zero point energy. It’s called zero point energy because even if you froze the entire universe down to absolute zero, froze out all motion, energy is still there. The well-established notion of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is supportive, stating that no object ever rests inside the quantum world because it’s where subatomic particles appear and disappear, and when they do this mischevious “jiggle,” they leave a small amount of zero point energy behind. And while the ability to measure the Casimir force established evidence of ZPE, and subsequently, indicated that faster-than-light travel is possible, inertia, the sensation of being pushed back into your seat when an airplane takes off, may be the clincher. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch and physicist Alfonso Rueda suggests that this physical force is merely due to the zero point field, and if true, than Newton was wrong. Gravity is just an interaction between matter and the zero point field and antigravity is possible. And while internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage continues to advocate the future potential of ZPE, and theoretical physicist Hal Puthoff diligently conducts experiments, let’s you and I hope there is something called nothing and that the best things in life are limitless and free. Over and out, zeropoint.

Y is for Yasasin

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

If there is one man on Earth who is immortal, it’s surely David Bowie. And when he sang the lyrics to Yassassin, “I don’t want to leave or drift away,” he must have known the Turkish translation: “may he or she live forever.” As we venture into the oncoming posthuman era where aging is considered a disease and death old-fashioned, viewing immortality as a myth is ancient fanfare. The reality is that society desires to live longer, healthier and more energetic lives, and even the most alluring promises sold by beauty companies are no longer believable without results and solutions. As we move towards personalized medicine, where we’ll be treating our bodies like personal computers, knowing what our own DNA looks like, and using real-time information for monitoring and measuring our state of health, inevitably people will begin to feel more in control of their bodies and, ultimately, their destiny. The standard viewpoint on aging is that it’s the inevitable wear and tear of the body: toxins, free-radicals, disease and stress. And while new research suggests that caloric restriction is the answer, others advocate the ongoing study of centenarians in Okinawa, Japan and around the globe. With the decoding of the human genome and epigenetic research underway, the possibility of radical life extension is now being seriously entertained as well. Fantastic voyager Ray Kurzweil suggests, that if we can live long enough to experience the oncoming benefits of biotechnology and nanotechnology, we will be able to rebuild our bodies at the molecular level and live forever. Provocative researcher, Aubrey de Grey, even predicts that many people alive today will live up to 1,000 years of age and, miraculously, avoid all age-related health problems. The secret: gene therapy, as it’s suspected that damage to our cellular mitochondria is the culprit, and by re-inserting modified mitochondrial DNA into the cell’s chromosomes, we can actually reverse aging, leaving us biologically young into a forever future. Although the thought of life everlasting may seem like science fiction or religious conviction, the pursuit of a never-ending forever is causing posthumans, transhumans and yasasins everywhere to celebrate. Onwards and upwards comrades.

X is for Xeno

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Most scientists suspect that there is simple life elsewhere in the universe. And if we ever did find alien life, it would undoubtedly lead to more profound questioning of who and what we are. And while the intelligence communities of major countries continue investigations that began during World War II, and SETI research is catapulted by the generous endowment of Microsoft’s Paul Allen, the notion that life will be found on another planet, or is carbon-based, is seemingly pass√©. Scientists are now speculating that life is more likely to be a few cells rather than a gray Kate Moss look-alike, and currently places like Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn; Jupiter’s moon Europa; the watery icy poles of Mars; Saturn’s large moon, Titan; or Jupiter’s moon, lo, are en vogue. Scientists have also come to the possibility that life may just be found on the surface of a plasma star, or inside a comet or an interstellar dust cloud. Or, perhaps, even life exists at different scales, inside or between the interactions of subatomic particles where civilizations rise and fall in a nanosecond. Whether or not alien life is discovered in our lifetime, to suggest we are alone in the universe in today’s open social world would be purely egocentric. And whether or not you choose to believe that aliens are already here on Earth, serving as our evolutionary helpers since the ’70s, well, that’s up to you.

W is for Waste

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Zero-waste is not the future. It’s minus zero. Now that waste is a business proposition rather than just a hopeful “Let’s recycle” campaign, the future of waste management has just begun. And although the current goal is to create processes that collect waste to generate energy, whether trapping sunlight with LED filtering or using rice husks for fuel, moving forward it will be essential that strategies not only serve to clean up the environment using inventive methods such as sucking carbon dioxide out of the air to manufacture plastics, but actually begin to make our environments better. For example, leading designers today use the metaphor “design like a tree” which not only takes CO2 out of the air, but replaces it, thankfully, with oxygen so that we may breathe. Or, just look at our bodies from an evolutionary perspective and you’ll find that our skeleton is really the waste product of stockpiled calcium from the marine environment of early cells. As we begin to understand the techniques used by nature in which nothing is wasted or lost, the challenge remains as to whether our solutions cannot only surpass its genius, but serve our evolution and the creation of a better life for all.

V is for Vital

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The word for energy in Chinese is “Chi.” In Japanese, it is “Qi.” In Hindu, it is called “Prana.” In English, there is no exact translation, but it is most commonly called “vital life force.” No longer the alternative, energy medicine is now a subset of the new energy economy occurring across the globe, and not only is it being embraced by the mainstream, thanks to Oprah and Chopra, but it’s currently being taught to medical students at universities such as Harvard and Yale. Although an ancient concept, understanding the dynamics of energy is simple to explain using normal, everyday occurrences. For instance, feeling someone is staring at you and when you turn around, guess what? Or having a person pop into your head, then the phone rings and guess who? The standard principle is that energy follows word, energy follows attention,¬† and energy follows intention. So when uncanny situations arise, really what’s occurring is that a person is actually throwing energy your way and you’re picking up on that energetic string. Because, essentially, energy doesn’t stop. It extends from the body’s energy centers called “chakras” into the universal energy field. This is how remote healing or what’s commonly known as the power of prayer works: a person is energetically connecting with another person’s human energy field, just without the help of AT&T. It is believed that there is an anatomy to energy flow, that energy flows through the body like blood flows through the circulatory system. For instance, you may have noticed when you feel badly you feel heavier, or your posture gets droopy. This is because that emotion literally brings your energy down. One of the goals of practitioners is to access blockages or cysts within one’s energy field, similar to physical cysts, that are disrupting one’s state of health. Moving forward, according to Dr. Wendy Hurwitz, expert in mind/body medicine and energy medicine, there will be inventions developed that are compatible with the human energy field, ranging from medical and health devices to appliances and products for today’s health conscious consumers. May the force be with you.

V is for Vapor

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

It’s no secret, water is wacky. But considering that water is essential for life, scientists have tried to understand its odd behavior for years. For instance, when water is chilled, it gets heavier, if frozen, lighter. If supercooled at temperatures below its freezing point, water curiously remains a liquid. Beyond the fact that restaurants are celebrating the eco-badge of tap water and alkaline water is all the rage with geek-chic celebrities, what’s most exciting today are those theories, like water, that are anti-establishment by nature. One such idea introduced by biologist Jacques Benveniste is that water has a memory, a notion central to homeopathy. Although discredited by Nature magazine in 1988, today we find his research continues at his lab, Digibio, and is currently being explored by not only Dr. Emoto, author of the Messages from Water, who states that water can be vibrationally-infused with positive vibes such as thoughts or music, but also technologists who are confident that one day, if science is able to control the quantum state, water can be a powerful medium for storing information, and retrieving it. Some scientists already argue that water has proved itself capable of effects that go beyond simple chemistry, and these may imbue water with a memory. One way for this to occur is through an effect known as epitaxy: using the atomic structure of one compound as a template to induce the same structure in others. Another non-conformist idea, with consideration that the human body is approximately 70 percent water, is that biological water is a perfect transmitter of vibration, or as Dr. Mae-Wan Ho suggests, the body is a “liquid crystalline matrix” in which water enables the body to behave like a quantum network, allowing for the rapid intercommunication and coherent coordination of all biological processes. Although traditional scientists have acknowledged that cellular water is a bioactive molecule central to the formation of proteins, convincing skeptics to be open-minded remains as challenging today as it was for Galileo. Let’s just say, perhaps, water is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can.

U is for Urban Metabolism

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Nothing should be sustainable. Sustainability means to “sustain” the status quo. The future of sustainability is metabolic because metabolic systems are dynamic, open systems where there is a continual state of communication and energetic exchange within systems and between environments. Understanding that metabolic systems are informed by networked intelligence, which involves shared processes between the inside and outside, is the performative business initiative behind urban metabolism. For example, the design of future cities will be based on the metabolism of organisms, as it is believed that cities hold the key to metabolic living due to the fact that not only is the world’s population surpassing 50% urban but we are seeing a rise of megacities where there is a population of 10 million people or more as cities link to the countryside, leading governments, planners, architects and designers to dream up new ways to design tomorrow’s urban jungles. Dongtan City, an island outside of Shanghai, is slated to be the world’s first eco-city, where integrated thinking will allow for the city’s energy to come from entirely renewable resources, and instead of wind farms and solar panels, its waste treatment plant will have anaerobic digesters to convert sewage and compost into bio-gas. As society begins to view the city as a living organism, the future of house design, which currently consumes over 50% of the world’s energy just in heating and electricity alone, will now be engineered to function more like a plant or a processor, taking in materials and energies and giving out excess materials or excess energies in an eco-wired feedback loop. Since metabolic living requires a new economic metabolism, resilient thinking, the ability to learn and adapt in the face of unforeseen change, is now the initiative of business, realizing that the capacity for renewal in dynamic environments not only offers security, but allows systems to be alive, growing, healthy, changing and evolving. The great green hope, of course, is that as these changes are underway we may begin to adopt an eco-psychological frame of mind.

T is for Twenty-one Senses

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

We are all superheroes. (Already you are smiling.) That’s because science now suggests that we have more than five senses, that actually there are more than 17 senses defined by neural pathways. One of the first to announce we are hypersensorial humans living in a quantum world was well-known scientific psychic Ingo Swann at the United Nations in 1994, yet it wasn’t until 2005 when New Scientist magazine asked, “What would you do with 21 Senses?” that global research findings were disclosed. Beyond the notion of the sixth sense, or what’s commonly considered intuition, additional senses include everyday experiences such as temperature, pain and balance, while others, a bit more obscure, include proximal, physical closeness; eidetic, photographic memory; and geogravimetric, the ability to sense mass differences. The reality that we can go beyond the five senses and experience more is joined by the curious fact that everyone is born with a condition called synesthesia. Unlike anesthesia, which means no sensation, synesthesia is where two or more senses are hooked together, so for instance, a person can taste shapes or hear colors. As our brain develops, we lose this neurological ability, however for some well-known artists and thinkers such as Baudelaire, Kandinsky, O’Keefe and Feynman, this ability to intersense colored their lives. Considering that telematic sensing is the aim of industry and our senses are merely electrical signals interpreted by our brains, and Sony has already been granted a patent that uses ultrasonic pulses to beam information into our heads, the future of gaming and entertainment will no doubt be transformed, triggering everything from whole-body thrill to memory enhancement. Bluntly put, the idea that extraordinary powers are beyond our grasp is over. So go ahead, drape the cape.

S is for Synthetic Biology

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

It used to be that children imagined unicorns and wished for ponies, but tomorrow children will be able to design and grow their own polka-dotted dinosaur at home. So predicts one of the world’s most fascinating minds, scientist Freeman Dyson, who sees the future of biotech as an art, not a science, and suggests that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives the same way personal computers have today. Despite concerns that genetic engineering is a risky proposition, the reality is that gene trading has been going on in the natural world for millions of years. In fact, every time you mate with someone, that’s genetic engineering. Every time you catch a cold, you’re actually acquiring a foreign genome. As science begins to understand the molecular biology of life more and more, essentially there will be no limitations, and biotechnology will be used for every single purpose imaginable, ranging from new materials to novel foods. Considering that the aim of synthetic biology is to create life from scratch, or modify existing living organisms, the contemporary stance, of course, is to view the era of open source biology as an humanitarian effort as well as an aesthetic pursuit. However, the question remains: What happens when these creatures grow and evolve on their own?

S is for Symbiosis

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Get social. That’s the modern mantra in today’s networked world. The Darwinian days of believing competition beats cooperation is over. Today we see the celebration of social capitalism as micro-finance strategies bolster community economies and business begins to realize that what’s good for profits must also be good for the world. It’s remarkable, symbiosis was formerly a heretical view. Now generally accepted as a major source of evolutionary change, the merging of organisms into new collectives represents an Earth history that has endured due to social strategies. In fact, it is said that the universe itself is social. The swirling protons and neutrons that make up my body, and your body, are those that formed alliances femtoseconds after the Big Bang. Viewing symbiotic stars is perhaps the most astonishing, as it is only through chance encounters they become one. Simply put, life is a communal affair. So, play nice with others. Share, share, that’s fair.