Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photo of the Day

Image Source: Hamed Saber from Tehran, Iran via Wikimedia.

Three Parent Babies

Image Source: Guardian.

The Newcastle Herald reports that the UK is on the verge of creating babies with two mothers and one father in rare cases to side-step inherited birth defects:
Britain will become the first country in the world to create babies with the DNA of three people under government plans which could see the procedure offered on the NHS by next year. See your ad here

Parents at high risk of having children with severe disabilities such as muscular dystrophy will be offered the controversial new IVF treatment after it was given the green light by ministers today.

It means the world's first "three-parent baby" could be born in Britain by 2015, if detailed proposals for regulating the procedure pass a public consultation and are approved by Parliament next year.

Up to 10 patients per year are expected to undergo the treatment, which involves replacing a fraction of the mother's damaged DNA with that of a healthy donor.

The process avoids the risk of the mother passing inherited defects, which can lead to a host of rare and debilitating conditions affecting the heart, muscles and brain, on to her children.

The technique is controversial because it involves "germ line" modification of the embryo's DNA, meaning the third party's genetic material would not only be passed on to the child, but also to future generations down the female line.

But ministers will publish draft regulations later this year allowing the therapy to "high-risk" families after a previous public consultation conducted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last year revealed overall support.

The technique is aimed at tackling a collection of rare hereditary conditions which are caused by mutated mitochondria – structures which supply power to our cells.
See other reports at the Guardian here and here.

Image Source: Ezquara's Blog.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Curios: Christie's Apple Auction

Images Source: Christie's.

Christie's Auction House is currently auctioning off a number of early Apple computers. Bids at the time of writing ranged from USD $300 to USD $300,000, indicating that a collectors' market is growing around this hardware. From the catalogue:
1976, Palo Alto: A young Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs pore over Wozniak’s circuit designs in Jobs’ parents’ garage, hand-assembling a modest device that would help catalyze the Information Revolution: the “Apple I,” their fledgling company’s first computer. As part of this exclusive online auction of vintage Apple products, June 24 through July 9, Christie’s is offering one of the first 25 Apple I’s assembled—inscribed with the serial number 01-0025 in black ink, and signed “Woz.” A 1983 Apple “Lisa” (named after Jobs’ daughter), an assortment of early prototypes, software and other must-haves for the retro tech lover complete this fascinating look back at the future.
(Thanks to -C.)

 Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (1997).

Apple-1 Personal Computer (1976).

Macintosh with translucent SE Case (1987).

Prototype of a Macintosh portable computer: the "first commercial portable computer used in space and the first to send email in space (Space Shuttle mission STS-43, 1991" (1989-1990).

Apple //e computer (1983-1984).

Peruvian Tomb Unearthed

Figurine of a Standing Dignitary. Wari society, Peru, 600-1000 CE. Wood, shell, stone, and silver. Image Source: Fort Worth Scene.

Archaeologists have discovered a tomb with some 60 mummies, sitting upright, indicating royalty in Peru. The mummies belonged to the Wari culture, which dominated Peru from 500 to 1000 CE. See a BBC report below the jump on this pre-Incan empire.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The First 3D Printed Room is This Summer's Baroque Reality

Images Source: Co.Design.

Designers are turning 3D printing to the service of architecture. Co.Design reports on the curious Baroque prototype which immediately recalls H. R. Giger's work:
Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger designed a Baroque room with 80 million surfaces. ... Hansmeyer, who is known for using algorithms and computation to generate incredibly complex architecture, is finally ready to build (print) it. This summer, Hansmeyer, in collaboration with project partner Benjamin Dillenburger, will assemble a fully enclosed architectural folly whose highly wrought parts will all be 3-D printed.

Hansmeyer and Dillenburger recently previewed a 1:3 scale prototype of the room at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo and Basel’s Swiss Art Awards. The design of the spaces, which blend intricately detailed columns with other finely sculptural and nonstructural elements, can be described as Baroque on steroids.

Digital Grotesque represents a major development for Hansmeyer, who describes his designs as “computational architecture.” His previous series of cardboard and Styrofoam columns all included forms that he defined using algorithmic processes. As he told Co.Design in 2011, “Every 3-D printing facility we spoke to turned us down." The printers, evidently, couldn’t handle the complexity of the columns, with their 16 million polygonal faces.

Well, that was then. This time, Hansmeyer found a printer that could articulate the Giger-esque surrealist forms. In total, the room has 80 million surfaces that will be rendered in smooth sandstone. Like the prototype, the parts will be glazed and gilded, a nod to the design’s Baroque influences.

Despite the extravagant, mind-addling details, Hansmeyer and Dillenburger insist that the forms are generated using a “reduced, minimalist” protocol. They write:

“Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube. Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales.”

The designers say that the printed room will navigate between “ornament and structure,” making it, very literally, a digital grotesque. The full-scale installation opens July 22.
The forms are printed, then sanded, glazed and gilded.

"The model as printed out of sandstone using a high-resolution 3-D printer."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Generations X and Y Unveil Tax Haven Secrets

All smiles: "Left to right: Giannina Segnini (project manager), Rigober­to Car­vajal (data scientist) and Matthew Caruana Galizia (developer)." Image Source: The Times of Malta. (Hat tip: Clyde Meli.)

The Times of Malta reports on an interesting new online resource:
A young Maltese man is one of a handful of journalists and web developers who helped to create Offshore Leaks, an international database exposing secret companies and funds in offshore tax havens. Matthew Caruana Galizia, 27, translated “big, very poorly constructed databases” into graphs that show the connections of every person or company involved.
This is another example of Generations X and Y being handed a dysfunctional world and turning it inside out with high technology. However, one commenter on the article reserves enthusiasm: "If I may ask where did he read this information from?" Good question. The app was developed by staff at La NaciĆ³n newspaper in Costa Rica with over 100 journalists around the world for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on publicly-available results from official investigations.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Millennial Extremes 11: Gallium Nitride - Promises and Omens

Gallium's melting point is 29.76 °C; it has a high boiling point. Not found in a pure form in nature, it was discovered in the 1870s and is derived from bauxite and zinc ores. Its -nitride compound is used in semiconductors. It is produced in France, Russia, Germany and Hungary. Image Source: The Tomus Arcanum.

It is ironic that as technology reaches quantum levels to make the virtual and the artificial ever more real, progress is slowed by the inherent limits of physical reality. Until recently, computing power increased at Moore's Law rates. But now, we are reaching the end of the Silicon era. Designers have begun to hit a wall because as silicon chips get smaller, they also get hotter. NYT:
"The warning signs began a decade ago, when Patrick P. Gelsinger, then Intel’s chief technology officer, warned that if the trends continued, microprocessor chips would reach the temperature of the sun’s surface by 2011."
Silicon circuits cannot handle the heat generated by exponential computing demands imposed on them. The search is on to find materials that can allow us to push technology to ever greater extremes. It is a high stakes game, possibly one of the highest. The material that furnishes the substance of computer circuits sits at the heart of the Technological Revolution and at nano-levels crosses over into other areas of global concern: energy, space exploration, war.

In certain corners of the economy, there is no recession, if you bother to look. Vast amounts of money are being poured into the search for silicon's replacement. Tech giants are exploring alternatives such as carbon nanotubes and graphene (see also here and here), indium gallium arsenide (see also here), vanadium oxide bronze, molybdenite, silicon-germanium, and silicon carbide. For citizens weathering economic slowdowns in Europe, consider that in January 2013, the European Union awarded two €1 billion grants in its Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) program to fund 10 years of research in two R&D sectors; the first grant is dedicated to exploring the potential of graphene as a semiconductor; the second grant will support mapping of the human brain. (Why, oh why, do I have the dismal feeling that these two projects will intersect?)  IBM has looked into using liquid transistors, with chemical reactions used to switch between conducting and nonconducting states, or between '1' and '0.' The University of Nebraska is researching ferroelectric materials such as barium titanate. In May 2013, the UK government awarded NXP a £2 million grant to develop a silicon semiconductor replacement, with a focus on gallium nitride. ABI Research director Lance Wilson remarks: "Gallium Nitride (GaN) increased its market share in 2010. It is expected to do the same in 2011. Although its adoption hasn’t been as rapid as originally expected, it is nonetheless forecast to be a significant force by 2016."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fountain of Youth 17: A Dream of Ageing

Poster for Arrugas (2011). Image Source: Wiki.

Today, see a clip from the Spanish animated film Arrugas (Wrinkles; 2011), based on the comic book of the same name by Paco Roca. The clip offers a touching vignette of the dreams which surround ageing. You can see the film trailer here. See the clip below the jump. (Hat tip: Gina theou.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boomer Legacies: Victimhood of the Millennial Male?

Image Source: Ouch My Toe.

One of the themes of this blog is the impact of massive and fast-paced cultural and technological change on values. Another theme is the ways in which causes popularized by the Baby Boomers during the 1960s and 1970s have played out today. Today's post focuses on the Millennial masculine backlash against the Boomer-led feminist movement.

Supermoon Enlightenment

As Gold Moon Rose the Joust Began St Clements Burnham © Mandy Walden.

Tonight, the full moon reaches perigee at 356,991 kilometres from our planet, its closest point in 2013. As a result, it will appear larger and brighter than any other full moon this year and is know as a 'Supermoon.' This will be the moon's closest encounter with earth until 10 August 2014. Photos of the moon will circulate on Twitter at #HPsupermoon and at HuffPo here.