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, November 13, 2010

Fountain of Youth 9: The Super-Aged

Jeanne Calment lived to 122. She died in 1997. This is a picture of her, aged 22 in 1897. Image: Wiki.

Recently, there was a lot of protest in France as the government moved to raise the retirement age to 62.  There have been reports in America that the retirement age will be raised to 68 by mid-century and 69 by 2075.  There's just so much to look forward to in the future!  Seriously though, these changes reflect the lengthening of lifespans as well as a number of other generational, political and policy-making issues.  It is true that there is a new class of people emerging - those who live well past 100 years of age.  For the first time in history, they are numerous enough that they are now being talked about as a demographic group.  There is a list of the oldest people in recorded recent times here. The person with the longest confirmed life span in history was Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who lived to age 122 and died in 1997.  Just to put her age into perspective, she was 20 years old in 1895.  Her spouse died in 1947.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Interlude: Days Go By Music

White Lily. By Kyle (2009). Image: Dakota County Library Photo Competition.

Laurie Anderson has a great line in one of her spoken-word recordingsWhat flower symbolizes days go by, endlessly endlessly.  Endlessly, days go by?  Here's some music that crossed my path this week that I found good to play in the background while working as days went by.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Random Internet: Remembrance Day across the Web 2010

Jour de Souvenir.  McGill University, Montreal. Photo by William Raillant-Clark. November 11, 2010. Image Source: Tumblr.

Here are some images and videos just in from across the Web on Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans' Day, 2010.

Anniversaries: Lest We Forget Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in the UK, the Commonwealth, parts of Europe and America.  Today's post features things I've found that immediately evoke the First and Second World Wars, whether in historical terms - or through memory and commemoration.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anniversaries: Lest We Forget the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Initial Dismantling of the Berlin Wall.  Image Source: PHBond.

On this day in 1989, the East German authorities permitted their citizens to freely visit West Germany for the first time since 1961.  The Berlin Wall was torn down twenty-one years ago in an atmosphere of tremendous optimism.  The Cold War was finally over, and it appeared that the Eastern Bloc 'had lost.'  That was how it was spun in the western media.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mini Big Bang Just Created in Large Hadron Collider

What it looks like: a lead-ion collision in the Large Hadron Collider. Image Source: CERN via BBC.

On November 7, scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider achieved mini Big Bang conditions, generating temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun.  They plan "to learn more about the plasma the Universe was made of a millionth of a second after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago."  Report here; main page here.

The Problem with Memory 2: The Science of Memory

Memory chip. Image Source: Venture Beat.

How do we remember?  What does the brain do, exactly, to create memories? What are we to make of a report like this one at Live Science, which states that memory is not just a product of brain cells forming connections - wherein nerves reorganize themselves and send messages between themselves to establish a memory; but individual brain nerve cells can also hold short-term memories?  There's a piece here from October 25 at Phys.org which further explains how memories are born.  A memory is created when our brain makes groups of its cells "fire in unison" - each memory has a different pattern.  Scientists are trying to find treatments or prevention for Alzheimer's and dementia by administering drugs to older rats which stimulate their neurotransmitters.  This research has been headed by Profesor Etan Markus at the University of Connecticut.  An earlier report from 2006 on memory creation in the brain is here.

Aside from the obvious fears of aging Baby Boomers, why is there pressure to figure out how memory works?  Consider that those who know exactly how neurobiology and neuropsychology overlap in order that we may comprehend differences in time will conceivably be able to control, manufacture and bend memories - in advertising, in cinema, in public life, on the internet, in the military.  Phys.org just came out with a report that scientists have discovered how to erase memory: "Researchers working with mice have discovered that by removing a protein from the region of the brain responsible for recalling fear, they can permanently delete traumatic memories."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random Internet: If Ants had Nuclear Weapons

Image Source: National Geographic via Spaceghetto.

I ran across this comment on ant warfare through a series of links from the Sockstuff Comments on Ants forum (Hat Tip: Shaun Usher):

"I had a lecture on Ant Warfare in one of my classes last year and it was really interesting. They're considered to have the most sophisticated system of war after humans but to be far more aggressive, and Edward O. Wilson wrote that 'their foreign policy can be summed up as follows: restless aggression, territiorial conquest, and genocidal annihilation of neighboring colonies... If ants had nuclear weapons, they would probably end the world in a week.' Some examples of the sophisticated warfare systems that ants have developed:

* A war-based class system in the Pheidole genus means that there are ants whose only job is act as a soldier for the colony while other forage
* Suicide bombing as a last resort in Camponotus saundersi
* Sticky 'bombs' in Crema[t]ogaster inflata
* Laying seige to both predators and other ant colonies in Tetramorium caespitum
* The infiltration and enslavement of an entire colony in Myrmoxenus ravouxi
* Couldn't find any good links, but ants utilize diplomacy before engaging in large intercolony battles; a small group of ants from each colony will meet between the two colonies and dance at one another - if either of the groups can gather from the dance that the other colony is small enough to easily defeat, they will attack first. This leads to interesting situations when groups 'deceive' or perhaps misread other groups' intentions."

More on Myrmoxenus ravouxi, also known as Ravoux's Slavemaker Ant from Wiki: "The species are helotistic, that is, they oppress another species of ant in order to sustain their colony.  The queen will fake death to entice ants from another colony to drag her back to their nest, where she awakens and kills the nest's original queen. She will then cover herself in the dead queen's pheromones, and will begin producing eggs. The slavemaker ants then overrun the colony and then find a new colony to take over."

I think I'll stick to studying humans.  And on that note: CNN news item - Iran agrees to new nuclear talks; and another news item - a quarter of the world's nuclear aircraft carriers will soon be in the Arabian Sea; there's another report here that the US has just deployed its fourth submarine to the Persian Gulf, joining French and British vessels; and another here summarized by @swadeshine: "Obama sends 3 aircraft carriers, 4 nuclear submarines and marine assault units to Iran's shores" (Hat Tip: @swadeshine).

Dark Fiction - New Podcast Magazine Online

Dark Fiction, Issue 1 (October 2010) featured Jennifer Williams reading Sarah Pinborough's story "Do You See?" published in the above volume. Image: DF.

There's a new British monthly podcast magazine out online, which just started at the end of October, entitled Dark Fiction.

The issues feature narrators reading dark short stories in the genres of horror, fantasy and sci-fiClick above to hear the first issue.  Do you have a published story and want to submit it to them for podcasting?  Go here.