"Perhaps it’s all a question of perspective and time. The virus that is malevolent for the bulb is beneficial in relation to the flower. The code that breaks through one security barrier is also the incentive to develop new lines of defence. Short-term anomalies can be crucial to long-term stability, and vice versa: at least eight percent of the human genome is composed of retroviruses which would have threatened the body at one time but are now simply part of the code. It depends how far back one is willing to step: perhaps the very fact of digital technology is an anomaly in an analogue world; perhaps the earth itself is an anomaly; maybe humanity, with all its technology, was already anomalous in a tool-free world. "
Freeman Dyson talks about near term and long term human travel off planet in his Noah’s Ark Eggs and Warm-Blooded Plants lecture at the recent Starship Century conference, A. C. Clarke Center [UCSD] conference.
"On June 30, 2004, the Cassini spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn to begin the first in-depth, up-close study of the ringed planet and its domain. As expected, the Saturn System has provided an incredible wealth of opportunities for exploration and discovery. With its initial four-year tour of the Saturn system complete as well as an initial two-year extended mission called the Cassini Equinox Mission, the spacecraft is conducting a second extended mission called the Cassini Solstice Mission."
"Where does our Solar System end? If you define it in terms of the Sun’s gravitational influence, then it’s the edge of the Oort cloud, a collection icy bodies that stretches over two light years from the Sun. You could also place it at the orbit of the last dwarf planet that roams the Kuiper belt. But if you want to define it where the Sun’s energy directly affects the environment, then you’d place it at the edge of the heliosheath, where the solar wind and the Sun’s magnetic field fall off, and the environment is dominated by the energetic particles of the interstellar medium.”
'…the point being that for an interstellar beacon to be noticed, it has to transmit for a long period and be energy-efficient as well. By ‘a long time’ I mean potentially eons, because such a beacon might be set up as the final gift to the universe from a dying civilization, and it might not be found for millions of years.'
' Complex plasmas may naturally self-organize themselves into stable interacting helical structures that exhibit features normally attributed to organic living matter. The self-organization is based on non-trivial physical mechanisms of plasma interactions involving over-screening of plasma polarization. As a result, each helical string composed of solid microparticles is topologically and dynamically controlled by plasma fluxes leading to particle charging and over-screening, the latter providing attraction even among helical strings of the same charge sign. These interacting complex structures exhibit thermodynamic and evolutionary features thought to be peculiar only to living matter such as bifurcations that serve as `memory marks’, self-duplication, metabolic rates in a thermodynamically open system, and non-Hamiltonian dynamics.’ http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/9/8/263/fulltext/
‘Phase IV, the only feature film to be directed by celebrated title designer Saul Bass… it turned out to be a genuine curiosity, a strange mixture of corny 50s style SF and early 70s dystopia. The story concerns the sudden appearance of sentience among some unspecified species of ant… two scientists in a camp out in middle of the Arizona desert study the formation of an ant hive mind, the most explicit expression of this collective intelligence being a series of rectangular monoliths built from sand by the ants. ‘ from Ballardian
ESO’s GigaGalaxy Zoom: The Sky, from Eye to Telescope
Through three giant images, the GigaGalaxy Zoom project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way using a hobby telescope, and finally uses the power of a professional telescope to reveal the details of an iconic nebula.
'Instead of viewing the various scales of emergent ubiquitous computing technologies as a haphazard collection of individual processes, devices and standards (RFID, cloud storage, augmented reality, smart cities, conflict minerals, etc.), it is more illuminating to model them as components of a larger, comprehensive, meta-technology. The Stack is planetary-scale computation understood as a megastructure. The term “stack” isborrowed from the TCP/IP or OSI layered model of distributed networkarchitecture. At the scale of planetary computation, The Stack is comprised of 7 interdependent layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Network, Address, Interface, User. In this, it is an attempt to conceive of the technical and geopolitical structures of planetary computation as a “totality.”’ B. Bratton
'“For special events like this, we sometimes go nuclear. So I thought I'd ask whether you'd like to join us.”
Cass froze, and stared at him. “Nuclear? How? Has someone solved all the problems?” Femtomachines built from exotic nuclei had been employed as special-purpose computers ever since the basic design had been developed, six thousand years before. For sheer speed, they left every other substrate in the dust. But as far as Cass knew, no one could make a femtomachine stable for more than a few picoseconds; they could perform a great many calculations in that time, but then they blew themselves apart and left you hunting through the debris for the answer. Gamma-ray spectroscopy could only extract a few hundred kilobytes, which was orders of magnitude too small even for a differential memory — a compressed description of experience that could be absorbed by a frozen reference copy of the person who’d actually lived through it. ‘
'The search for life in the solar system and beyond has to date been governed by a model based on what we know about life on Earth (terran life). Most of NASA's mission planning is focused on locations where liquid water is possible and emphasizes searches for structures that resemble cells in terran organisms. It is possible, however, that life exists that is based on chemical reactions that do not involve carbon compounds, that occurs in solvents other than water, or that involves oxidation-reduction reactions without oxygen gas. To assist NASA incorporate this possibility in its efforts to search for life, the NRC was asked to carry out a study to evaluate whether nonstandard biochemistry might support life in solar system and conceivable extrasolar environments, and to define areas to guide research in this area. This book presents an exploration of a limited set of hypothetical chemistries of life, a review of current knowledge concerning key questions or hypotheses about nonterran life, and suggestions for future research.'
"If this usage of the alien takes the concept as an abstraction to be understood in structural terms alone, then we can also approach the alien in material terms. The second possibility, in a more speculative guise, would align the alien with a cosmic origin. The turn toward the question of life takes the concept of the alien in its relation to origins literally. I have in mind here recent work in astrobiology concerning meteorites from Mars, which bear evidence of ancient fossilised life. Beyond psychoanalysis, the important point is that the alien assumes more than rhetorical or structural role and instead invites us to consider the materiality of the Earthly body as always already—to cite a classically phenomenological motif—beyond the Earth.”
Suppose a civilization somewhere in the cosmos is approaching Kardashev type III status. In other words, it is already capable of using all the power resources of its star (4*1026 W for a star like the Sun) and is on the way to exploiting the power of its galaxy (4*1037 W). Imagine it expanding out of its galactic niche, turning stars in its stellar neighborhood into a series of Dyson spheres. If we were to observe such activity in a distant galaxy, we would presumably detect a growing void in visible light from the area of the galaxy where this activity was happening, and an upturn in the infrared. Call it a ‘Fermi bubble.’
Post-Planetary is a research seminar exploring all aspects of design at a post-planetary scale. Throughout the semester we will screen scifi films, read bright and dark futurologies, scan, debate, and re-scan critical histories and theories, and ultimately produce a set of 'black papers', short videos and/or interactive projects that speculate on the next 50 to one thousand years of cross disciplinary design.