things change

what innovation?

flying carThis list of links is an attempt to understand why we aren’t flying our jetpacks to work… when I was a kid I would have expected them by now…

personal space around the world…

crowds.jpgThere are some interesting aspects to this idea. First off, I can find plenty of information regarding more abstract ideas such as total population divided by area to create a way to see population density from a (virtual) personal perspective. This could be seen to lead towards the real personal attitudes and cultural underpayments which lead to personal boundaries we have with space.

One of the most interesting aspects to this measurable phenomenon is that there is so little to find online, other than some tepid allusions to the notion that there are cultural differences in how large or small these boundaries are. You would think that this is a topic which would lead to empirical research, but I could find none…

There are some definitions, from modern anthropology, but no studies, just allusions to related or complementary topics (results only, not research). 


Proxemics      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxemics

Cultural Factors

Hall notes that different cultures maintain different standards of personal space. The Lewis Model of Cultural Types indicates the variations in personal interactive qualities, indicating three poles: “linear-active” cultures, which are characterized as cool and decisive (Germany, Norway, USA), “reactive” cultures, characterized as accommodating and non-confrontational (Vietnam, China, Japan), and “multi-active” cultures, characterized as warm and impulsive (Brazil, Mexico, Italy). Realizing and recognizing these cultural differences improves cross-cultural understanding, and helps eliminate discomfort people may feel if the interpersonal distance is too large (“stand-offish”) or too small (intrusive).

Personal space around the world        http://flowingdata.com/2013/04/11/personal-space-per-person-in-various-countries/


How much space is there per person in different countries? Andrew Bergmann for CNNMoney took a look.

Population density measures the amount of people in a given area, generally per square kilometer or mile. It’s difficult to get a clear image of what these vast spaces actually represent, so I thought that it would be interesting to flip the equation on its head and figure out how much space there is on average per person.

Personal Space      http://money.cnn.com/interactive/economy/personal-space/

What is Personal Space?      http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-personal-space.htm

Problem with Close-Talking? Blame the Brain      http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1919910,00.html

By John Cloud

Why is it so uncomfortable to stand really close to a stranger? Sure, there are the potentially icky things. Sometimes an elevator car is so crowded that you can smell a fellow rider’s shampoo or chewing gum (or worse). But even when a stranger is perfectly groomed, it’s usually a bit revolting to be pressed against him in public. Why?

Evolution seems to have programmed this discomfort via a brain structure called the amygdalae, a pair of almond-shaped brain regions deep within each temporal lobe that control fear and the processing of emotion. It’s your amygdalae that keep you from getting so close to another person that he could easily reach out, gouge an eye, and then drag your woman off by her hair.

a starship within 100 years…

DaedalusAdrian-Mann.jpgI’m pondering some way to present a number of links related to an initiative to build a starship within 100 years. In some ways this project resembles the 10,000 year clock, in that it has a long timeframe outside of what we would normally consider to be within the range of most specific human endeavors.  

I ran across a vaguely related project, a private enterprise voyage to Mars, and an ongoing effort to create a real colony on that planet. It relates, not only because it is another space voyage, but one of the links related to ‘the 100 year starship’ made a vague allusion to the Mars effort, something to the effect that a mere trip to Mars would be cowards excuse, when confronted with voyaging to the stars…

The more I thought about this effort, the more I realized that when I was young (early teens) I expected an effort like this to take place in the farther reaches of the future. Now, decades later, an initiative to make a starship within a century would be in keeping with that early adolescent schedule. 

So, it seems that I am perplexed only because I have gotten older. One mitigating aspect to my quandary is that since the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in January 1986, it always appeared to me (and many others) that NASA was passively relinquishing the reins to space travel, and that the Apollo Moon project was a once in a lifetime experience. 

Of course, this century long project is only being presented as a possibility. We are at what must be the .0005% point in the project, and drawing any more conclusions about the real possibility to make any progress is, for now, missing the point. Right now, this project serves mostly as a focus of dreams and ideas. a project like this also summons up plenty of questions (to draw me into this 

How to build a starship        http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/deep/how-to-build-a-starship#slide-1

By Michael Belfiore

In late 2012 scientists, researchers, and optimists gathered in Houston for the second annual 100 Year Starship Symposium, a Pentagon and NASA-supported­ project to promote the technology needed to construct an interstellar spaceship. Inspired by the audacious enterprise, PM envisioned a spacecraft ready to take 200 people on a 90-year trip to Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star 4.24 light-years away. Astronomers are finding more potentially habitable planets in the universe—humanity just has to figure out how to get to them.

Faster than light drive     http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-03/faster-light-drive?dom=fb&src=SOC

Space travel: Finding the technology to traverse the stars    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/06/science/la-sci-100-year-starship-20110806

By Amina Khan

What will it take to build a spaceship capable of traveling to the stars? And what if you wanted it to be ready to launch in just 100 years?

It may sound like the premise of a science fiction show or reality TV series. But these are serious questions being asked by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research-and-development arm of the U.S. military.

This fall, DARPA intends to award up to $500,000 in seed money to a group that proves it would do the best job of developing the necessary technologies — whatever they may be — for interstellar travel. The proposals had better be good — if none of them are up to snuff, the agency won’t hand out the money. To stimulate discussion on the research possibilities, DARPA officials will hold a symposium that brings together astrophysicists, engineers and even sci-fi writers so they can brainstorm what it would take to make this starship enterprise a success.

Let’s build a Starship! At last.     http://maxkaizen.com/how-to-build-a-starship/


How long can our bodies – and sanity – survive beyond the comforting tug of Earth? Thousands of research projects, like the Tomatosphere, are finding how to stretch more than just our own genes beyond their current evolutionary bounds.

Cranking the limits beyond that is The 100 Year Starship, a jointly funded project of DARPA (the good folks who birthed the Internet) and NASA. It’s a call to our collective ingenuity and utterly bonkers audacity. Interstellar flight.
A global collaborative will endeavor to make it so.

100 year starship      http://100yss.org/

Reality check

The concept of humans traveling to other star systems may appear fantastical, but no more so than the fantasy of reaching the Moon was in the days of H. G. Wells. “The First Men in the Moon” was published considerably less than 100 years before humans landed on the Moon (1901 vs. 1969), and the rapidity of scientific and technological advances was not nearly as great as it is today. The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.

The 40-Year Itch      http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2011/10/darpa_s_100_year_starship_symposium_alien_religion_solar_propuls.html

By Konstantin Kakaes 

The fastest a person has ever traveled is just 24,791 miles per hour. The three men of Apollo 10 went that fast on their way back from the moon in 1969.

The fastest a man-made object has ever traveled out of the solar system is 39,000 miles per hour—the speed with which Voyager 1, a space probe launched in 1977. 

David Neyland wants to beat these dusty, decades-old records. Neyland is a tall man, with the bushy beard of a frontier prophet and the measured tones of a mid-ranking bureaucrat. He is both of these things. The head of the tactical-technology office at the military research agency DARPA, he convened a group of more than 1,000 at the Orlando Hilton last weekend to strategize about the next great era in space travel. The mission of the 100-Year Starship Public Symposium: to set about organizing a century-long effort to send a spaceship to another star. Neyland opened the conference to the public, drawing sci-fi fans and space geeks along with professional scientists. Ph.D. or not, all were frustrated with the lack of progress in space. As one wag in the audience would say, we should be having this meeting at the lunar Hilton. There was a sense that, for the just over 40 years since Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, nothing new has been done.

What Would a Starship Actually Look Like?     http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/deep/what-would-a-starship-actually-look-like-12869471

By Erik Sofge

Imagine a starship—a vessel capable of ferrying human beings from one solar system to another. Would it have wings and a cockpit? Or would it look like an aircraft carrier hauled out into the void and fitted with flame-belching rockets and glowing ion drives? 

Science fiction has offered us all sorts of visions of interstellar spacecraft, from avian-inspired Klingon birds of prey to hulking masses such as the Borg cube. In general, sci-fi leans toward sleek designs with lines borrowed from planes or cars, since those are the kinds of looks we’ve been conditioned to think of as “fast.” But if there’s no air in space, why make things aerodynamic? Does it matter what a spacecraft looks like? 

Yes, it turns out, and it depends upon what kind of space travel you’re looking to undertake. The reality of starship design is more complex than anything Hollywood has dreamed up and implanted in our collective unconsciousness. 

Not Such a Stretch to Reach for the Stars     http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/science/space/18starship.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0


“The space program, any space program, needs a dream,” said one participant, Joseph Breeden. “If there are no dreamers, we’ll never get anywhere.”

It was Dr. Breeden who offered the idea of an engineless starship.

A physicist by training, he had most recently devised equations that forecast to banks how much they were going to lose on their consumer loans.

From his doctoral thesis, Dr. Breeden remembered that in a chaotic gravitational dance, stars are sometimes ejected at high speeds. The same effect, he believes, could propel starships.

First, find an asteroid in an elliptical orbit that passes close to the Sun. Second, put a starship in orbit around the asteroid. If the asteroid could be captured into a new orbit that clings close to the Sun, the starship would be flung on an interstellar trajectory, perhaps up to a tenth of the speed of light.

“The chaotic dynamics of those two allow all the energy of one to be transferred to the other,” said Dr. Breeden, who came toting copies of a paper describing the technique. “It’s a unique type of gravity assist.”

Icarus Interstellar      http://www.icarusinterstellar.org/

music and the brain

flute.jpgIt’s surprising how many seemingly undecipherable activities and perceptions we have in our day to day lives. Some are ‘big picture’ or seemingly pretentious (aesthetics, ‘what is beauty?’, et.al.), and some are rather insidious. Music is a good example. We all think we ‘know’ what it is, rhythm, harmony, melody… But we seem to never ask the how and when questions though…

Music can gave a profound effect upon emotions, mood, and stress levels. It can evoke recollections, memories, and remembrances from your past. In some situations there can be periods of deep immersion, it can create a sense of solidarity and ‘kinship’ with strangers…merely by listening together. 

Music is also mysterious because it is so ineffable. Beyond trying to figure out what takes place in the brain, the very act of listening or playing music leaves no mark, it is gone like smoke…

I guess that it is no surprise that there is mysticism and mystery associated with many styles, genres, and artists in this realm.

Why Your Brain Craves Music

By Michael D. Lemonick

If making music isn’t the most ancient of human activities, it’s got to be pretty close. Melody and rhythm can trigger feelings from sadness to serenity to joy to awe; they can bring memories from childhood vividly back to life. The taste of a tiny cake may have inspired Marcel Proust to pen the seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past, but fire up the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and you’ll throw the entire baby-boom generation into a Woodstock-era reverie.

Effects of Music on the Mind

By Manali Oak 

The study of how music affects the mind has been a subject of interest for many. The interconnection between music and the physical and mental health of human beings has been researched on since long. Research has concluded that music does have positive effects on our mind. It has the power of healing certain ailments. Indian classical music has been found to have the strongest healing powers. Music has a calming effect on the mind. It is known to speed the recovery of health ailments. It helps fight anxiety and has a soothing effect on the brain.

The power of music

By Oliver Sacks

What an odd thing it is to see an entire species—billions of people—playing with listening to meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call ‘music.’ This, at least, was one of the things about human beings that puzzled the highly cerebral alien beings, the Overlords, in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End. Curiosity brings them down to the Earth’s surface to attend a concert; they listen politely and patiently, and at the end, congratulate the composer on his ‘great ingenuity’—while still finding the entire business unintelligible. They cannot think what goes on in human beings when they make or listen to music, because nothing goes on within them. They, themselves, as a species, lack music.

Clarke likes to embody questions in fables, and the Overlords’ bewilderment makes one wonder, indeed, what it is about music that gives it such peculiar power over us, a power delectable and beneficent for the most part, but also capable of uncontrollable and sometimes destructive force.

Music’s Effects on the Mind Remain Mysterious

By Wynne Parry and LiveScience 

While jazz musician Vijay Iyer played a piece on the piano, he wore an expression of intense concentration. Afterward, everyone wanted to know: What was going on in his head?

The way this music is often taught, “they tell you, you must not be thinking when you are playing,” Iyer said after finishing his performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a piece that requires improvisation. “I think that is an impoverished view of what thought is. … Thought is distributed through all of our actions.”

Iyer’s performance opened a panel discussion of music and the mind at the New York Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

Music elicits “a splash” of activity in many parts of the brain, said panelist Jamshed Bharucha, a neuroscientist and musician, after moderator Steve Paulson of the public radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge” asked about the brain’s response to music.