until 6/6/06.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Internet Sci-Fi #1

July 8, 2012 AD

Today on the net, an IPTV press conference was broadcast across the public channels from www.whitehouse.gov announcing a breakthrough of astounding signifigance that had been made at one of many new government Internet research and developent labs. For the first time, of the people who have already volunteered to be connected, a baby was successfully delivered while the mother and doctors were entirely within virtual space. This is the first signifigant hope of possible human inhabitance within virtual space since the evolution of technology allowed us sustain our life inside virtual space while connected to a life support center. As we face peril every day in these times of nuclear war, environmental breakdown, world-wide political conflict, while the air is becoming totally bombarded with wireless broadcast waves, it couldn't have come at a better time.
The President gave a speech at the press conference today after the initial announcement was made by Cheif Scientific Executive, Dr. William Gates.

President: "We have been blessed by a sign of hope tonight here and all around the world that we can begin our lives once again someday soon. It is truly amazing that in these times of tyranny, terror, and world crisis, it is the brightest minds of the Earth and the leading edge of technology that will guide us through our most difficult hour. I say to you now, people of the United States, and friends all across the world, fear not: there is hope!"

On every outer hub and in every channel of virtual space, huddled in groups around any nearby computer, people across the world listened carefully as the U.S. officials came through one by one to describe every detail and the current progress of the Virtual Plan. In giant underground facilities built under the fields of Midwest U.S., the infrastructure of the internet was being re-organized and programmed for its new tasks of life support, while the life support centers themselves and service robots were being created. The Virtualization will soon reach its final stages and we can all remain safe while carrying on with our lives inside virtual space, inside the internet.

No Shit, Sherlock!

I would like to introduce you to "No Shit, Sherlock!" which will be a featured post I'll make for all the things you read about in the science news that make you think "they had to fucking do research to find that out?!"

A recent article said that brains work in analog, not digital.


It not only sickens me but also frightens me to know that anybody ever thought that our minds worked in a digital way. I guess when neuroscientists first studied human brains, they looked at the noodley mass of tissue and said "By Jove, it looks like circuitry!" It's good to know that the people who determine our sanity have been looking at our brains all the wrong way. Our brains are dynamic and organic? Who could've guessed?!


You might want to get your girlfriend away from the computer for this one.

Okay, let's talk about lightsabers.

So now episode III is out, and a whole wave of people will be interested in lightsabers again. I have been fascinated by the lightsaber since I was in 6th grade and first saw "Empire Strikes Back." I used to draw plans for a real lightsaber and used to postulate on what might make it work in real life. Looking around on the internet in the past couple of years I have found so many awesome sites about making replicas of the movie's prop lightsabers, custom lightsabers, lightsabers with electro-luminescent blades, ones with flourescent tube blades (bright but fragile), etc. There are many fabulous ways to have a semi-realistic lightsaber. I want the real thing though. And here I will discuss ways that it might be possible. I know its sci-fi, but imagination is an amazing thing from which creation can be born. If you are cynical about this, you can go be cynical somewhere else and pout and pout and pout.

There are a couple of pages on the net talking about the current technologies which hold potential, but they weren't thorough enough for me, so I've done my own research.

First of all, anything laser related is out. Light wont stop 36 inches away from your lightsaber hilt. The bright light we see from the blades in the movies should be coming from the energy of the blade itself.

I'll tell you what the best bet is: plasma. Imagine a column of plasma, which is what you see inside neon lights and flourescent lights, but instead of a glass tube, some other force containing it. And that force would have to be magnetic; plasma is a gas which is extremely excited and ionized, which means it adheres to magnetic fields. So theoretically, so far, we have a column of plasma coming out of a grip wich also generates an electromagnetic field to contain it. This would be perfect: plasma is extremely hot, so it would cut the shit out of anything it came in contact with, but being that it is contained within a magnetic field, the only thing that would repel it is another magnetic field (the magentic plasma blade of another lightsaber). Now, there are a few problems. One, is that plasma is so hot that it would melt the hilt and your hands once it was released. Secondly, the power source as of yet could not be as small as a footlong handle. Third, the magnetic field may be disrupted by other magnets in such a way that the plasma would leak out and really cause a serious problem. There is a very interesting part of plasma physics and fusion research called Inertial Electrostatic Confinement - containing a plasma in an electrostatic field which accelerates charged particles radially inwards, usually in a spherical but sometimes cylindrical geometry. We would want the cylindrical one. But this technology would not yet be able to be contained in the handheld unit we'd need. Damn. It is close though, and the right idea. Keep in mind that the first computers filled an entire room, now they can fit in your palm and do things the big old ones never dreamed of. A lightsaber wouldnt be the most practical weapon for war, but it would certainly be marketable enough to be worth the trouble of creating it. It might even bring some class and respect back to the world.

So ultimately what we need is improved energy cell technology to power this amazing contraption, the right kind of plasma source, and the proper electromagnetic or electrostatic field generator that would safely contain the plasma without being magnetically disrupted by magnetic objects.

Some lightsaber links:

Parks Sabers - These beautiful custom-made lightsabers are probably the best way to go if you want a top-of-the-line lightsaber toy. I certainly want one. I've heard the blades are nearly indestructable and the hilts are high quality. Notice the Arc-Wave is similar to Luke's in episode VI, the Avenger like Obi-Wan's in episodes III & IV, and the Rogue like Anakin's in episode II.

Lightech Industries - Another maker of EL lightsabers and accessories. Now I personally dont like their hilts, but I have heard that their blades are the brightest. It is here were you can buy a 'blade kit' to make your own. They also have a motion-sensitive sound module wich you can install in your lightsaber.

The Parts of Star Wars
- Here is an amazing online resource for information and photo references of props from Star Wars movies and how they were put together, even where to find the parts to make them. The Prequel lightsabers are lacking, only through the Phantom Menace, but those lightsabers were all mostly machined from solid aluminum anyway.

The truth about Plasma Lightsabers - An article about the potential for plasma to create a real-life lightsaber, basically a more long-winded version of what I wrote here. I thought that this article was overly doubtful and takes you down too many dead ends (albeit, for the sake of understanding). My discussion here picks up where the only hopeful part of that article starts, at the end when they finally talk about containing a plamsa in a magnetic field instead of just shooting plasma out as jet, which would obviously be far to wasteful and resource-exhausting. Then they mention that a magnetically contained plasma might be disrupted by a kitchen magnet, and my first thought was "well obviously you'd want to contain a 10,000 degree column of plasma in an electromagnetic field that was at least stronger than a kitchen magnet."

Plasma Fire Sabers- I think this is mostly humorous, although I'm not sure yet. Its possible the people on this forum might actually be developing lightsabers, but its most likely just a bunch of l33t h4x0rz having a good time. Either way, the ideas they discuss are very interesting and I was suprised to see how many ideas that I had in mind that I saw discussed already. Hopefully they dont get angry that I'm directing people to their 31331 secrets and shut it down from public view.

KL's OOHYEA Collection - This guy had an amazing and huge collection of star wars props, costumes, and memorabilia. His lightsaber collection is beautiful.

Luukesabers - Thelightsaber.com - A great lightsaber site. Covers just about everything as far as the fictional lightsaber goes, even the extended universe stuff from books and comics. The lightsaber collection is rediculous. They've been holding annual custom lightsaber contests, mine will be entered in October for next year. Contest Info.

Blast-Tech - This site sells various parts need to finish replica prop lightsabers (such as the ones made from old camera flash guns).

Random Sabers - This place will actually machine a hilt for you if you send them a design. I dont really like any of the ones I've seen, but you might. They all have that episode I/extended universe/comic series look. Very nice though.

Lightsabers. - The Wikipedia entry. Wikipedia is THE source of reliable info on the net, and their entry on lightsabers is no exception.

May the Force be with you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

June 6, 2006

I would just like to let it be known that my birthday is on next monday, 6/6/05, and that next year in 2006 my birthday will fall on 6/6/06. Im not sure what will happen on 6/6/06, but I have a few guesses:

  1. I will have a birthday.
  2. I will have a birthday and the world will end.
  3. I will be burned alive at the stake
  4. I will become the devil
  5. Nothing (the world had already ended by then)
  6. There will be a big 6/6/06 convention and I will be invited and we will all ring in the devil's year together.
Granted, nothing spectacular seems to have happened on previous 6/6/06's (june 6 1906, 1806, 1706, 1606, etc), but times are crazy these days so you never know.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Camel Spiders.

Petezilla cares about you, and he would like to warn you about a horrible horrible creature that lurks this planet:

Here we see two of these vile things stuck to each other, the bottom one trying to eat the top one. These creatures come from the deserts of the Middle East, and stories of them started circulating since the Gulf War. Now US troops in Iraq are encountering these bad boys. The picture above is a legitamate photo (popular 'round the net) of two camel spiders that bit a serviceman, they were found hiding in his sleeping bag. A little information about our lovely arachnid atrocities:

  1. No they are not poisonous, however their bite can be very painful, and due to the huge size of their jaws, the bite will have trouble healing normally. Some stories have suggested that they have a numbing venom, and this is also reportedly not true. So camel spiders need no venoumous jive to mess you up, they will simply tear your ass apart with their horrible bite. The pain is reportedly horrible and people die not from venom but from shock and infection.
  2. People have made claims that they reach incredible speeds up to 25 mph. Well, thats not true on average, but how about 15 mph?! You lose either way. Worst of all they like to stay out of sunlight so if you are near one, it will try to stay in your shadow and follow your shadow if you move. 15 mph is too fast for any arachnid to follow my shadow.
  3. With their horrible jaws they devour snakes, birds, scorpions, and other like-sized creatures. When they eat, their bodies get up to twice the original size until their meal is fully digested. Yum!
  4. The size of these things seems to be much disputed, some have reported seeing them the size of dinner plates, some report that they are mostly the size of an adult human hand. There are, however, substantiated reports of camel spiders that reach supernatural sizes, beacuse these things have hyper eating habits, the are constantly scurrying around for food.
Now some terrible new reports have come up recently since the Iraq war about camel spiders smuggling themselves overseas in the bags and gear of returning troops! You might say to yourself "yea right, nothing that horrible could ever come over here!" but thats what we all thought before the Twin Towers were knocked down. Out of pure concern for people, I must attempt to make you all aware of this. Camel spiders are not the first arthropod arachnids to figure out this migratory system, it is very common in places in the US that recieve banana shipments from tropical regions for workers unloading the banana crates to find scorpions in the crates! Usually this will be someplace like Florida, where the crates have made their first stop before being shipped elsewhere. Now camel spiders are starting to turn up in the US as troops arrive from home and unpack their desert gear. Plenty of shade for them to hide in once they get over here, so watch out!

Friday, May 27, 2005

My ordeal with X-rays

This is the blog of Petezilla. Let me tell you something about X-Rays:

I sprained my ankle storming downstairs a little over a month ago, and fractured my fifth metatarsal in the process (that would be on the right side of your right foot, the shaft of the smallest toe). I had to wear a beautiful surgical shoe for a few weeks, it was nothing too serious, and I was wearing normal shoes after a few weeks with no pain.

Today I went to have a follow-up X-ray, and after that my ankle hasnt been quite right all day. In fact, it feels like its going to give out at any moment while im standing. After some research, I have come to realize that X-Rays are not as safe as most people would have you believe!

X-Rays have a smaller wavelength than visible light and ultraviolet light, and thus more energy. Now, ultraviolet is known to cause skin cancer: it makes the cells unstable, which makes it possible for them to start multiplying erratically. This is why you wear sunscreen while tanning (hopefully), you dont want to contract skin cancer. So what exactly is an energy source of higher intensity and frequency going to do to your cells? When you go to the dentist, they give you that rediculous lead smock, while they leave the room completely. When I had my foot x-rayed today, the controls for the machine were in a little booth. And you think they do this because they think they're better than us? No, its because they are quite aware of the dangers and would not like to be exposed to it on a regular basis. See this site for information. The dosage of radiation that people at the Three Mile Island incident were exposed to was 1100 milirems. The average breast mammography blasts away at 1500! I have concluded that the X-rays that were blasted at my foot today weakened the healing tendons in my foot. Beware!

The Future

Petezilla Says: Today's weirdos are tomorrow's leaders, and then they are weirdos again the day after that.

Technology is expanding extremely fast these days, in a logarithmic fashion: faster and faster. Think about it, its not that hard, you know you already need a new computer. Ipods were all the rage for a few weeks, now you'll get made fun of for having one in school. Wireless technology is exploding, USB wireless is coming, wireless internet is so plentiful that if you drive through a suburban development with a laptop or ppc looking for connections you will find 10+ unprotected connections. You can even even park your Powerbook at Staryups and they have wireless hubs in there. You get the picture, the future is happening right now, and there's so much that could possibly happen in the coming future that I believe if you just simply imagine something reasonable, it will be around soon enough. So, here are my predictions for the future, and we'll see if I'm right:

- iThis and iThat. They're not stopping with it. Pretty soon they'll have iPhone: cell phone, web browser, text device, media player extrordinare, and eventually iThing, which will have control over everything that was once controlled by something else.

-Microsoft will release the XPack: this is the mother of all multimedia flash-bang contraptions. This thing will be like a backpack (made of hiply styled teflon and kevlar that you could rollerblade with, dude) that has a helmet or mask connected it to it that encapsulates your head and displays information to you at maximum rate and volume, perhaps receives commands from your frantically blinking eyelids to pass as controls and to cue up more and more media. We're talking about playing 6 or 7 video games at once, having a good 40+ web pages open, playing 100 or more UMF's* at once, up to 50 of which can be video. This XPack will be the ultimate entertainment medium, occupying every last ounce of brain power.

- *UMF: Universal Media File (*.umf), the media type of the near future. When the RIAA finally realizes they will never stop all the "open source" people out there, they will get together with the reigning computer companies to establish this media format. Codecs provided only by Microsoft, of course (or will it be Mac? or MacroSoft? Maplesoft?)

- In time, the air will be filled with so much energy (radio waves, wireless internet signal, cell phone signal, other remote wireless devices) that we will have to remain encapsulated in a solid gold case for our whole lives, and we will experience our version of "reality" through that suit, or we will just remain locked up in our houses which have been adapted to keep you from melting in the waves while providing adequate technological means of simulating reality.

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