Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Brown Dwarf...

...Home of the Devil

There is a character - big time character - in Reluctant God who lives in a warm and cozy brown dwarf star. 

Like this one.
Orange Brown Dwarf with Clouds*




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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Dark Energy Boogie

Kindred Propulsion Systems

In my soon-to-be published OldGuySci-Fi book of short stories titled GUT (it's about conscious micro biomes, of all things) there is a propulsion system that can accelerate and decelerate at huge G-forces.*

The Cube, a perfect geometric object, was at the center of a hairball of cilia waving around it. It approached the system, decelerating furiously from the edge of the speed of light. Ordinary visual observation of the Cube would not see the cilia.  They were displaced fractionally from the spacetime of the Cube, invisible except as a shadow in very hard x-ray.  They stroked and harvested the dark energy that is everywhere, waving their strands in synchrony with it’s chaotic flow.  Almost limitless energy could be captured by the cilia, and in this heavy deceleration, a great deal was being used.

So... the great mystery of Dark Energy, apparently countering gravity and pushing our universe apart from itself, becomes the much dreamed-for Infinite Free Energy Source that we can tap to scoot us around the galaxy.

This idea is - SURPRISE! - derivative, slightly adapted from the propulsion system of the SearchShip in A Reluctant God.

The ship was organic in shape and in the emotional impact it had on human observers. Poets and wags in the Dream Game described it as the head of an eyeless weasel with large, thorn-shaped horns growing from its nose, skull and neck, not the most flattering description, but once stated, the dominant one. The skin of the ship was platinum grey, with platinum’s ineffable depth. Not quite as large as the giant arks that plied the intra-empire lanes, it was still formidable. The ship’s keel was two kilometers and its nominal beam was 800 meters. The nine ‘thorns‘ averaged 600 meters, but were wildly different in size and not symmetrical. The shapes, size and placement of the horns hued to the spacial footprint of the highest power band in the mysterious spectrum of dark energy. The whole impact was of a large marine crustacean. Or a mutated spider. One expected the horns to writhe.

**

Until we actually find some dilithium in crystal form, my bet for starship juice is 
DARK ENERGY

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*The many human souls in the ship are not squished flat because they are "uploaded minds," and exist in really tough solid state storage.

** The spider web is another part of the story.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ARG Predicts

Why Some Men Don’t Work: Video Games Have Gotten Really Good

NYTimes piece, July 3, 2017


Millennials - mostly male millennials - are working fewer hours and playing video games more hours. Big story, that. 

... Go on, take it to another level, whip in a little sci-fi:

The Dream Game: The common citizens of the Empire of Earth, those billions who populated the twenty terraformed planets and Mother Earth herself, led lives of great diversity, almost totally in the virtual worlds of shared dreams. The Dream Game. Approximately 99% of humanity spent most of their lives in the Dream Game  Dreaming became the superior form of virtual reality. VR, in all its verisimilitude, lacked the direct connection to the primitive brain that dreams have. Dreams to the practiced dreamer were more vivid, more real than reality.

Turns out, in A Reluctant God, gamers play a very big role in protecting all life in the Milky Way galaxy from the devil himself.


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Monday, June 5, 2017

Keep the A.I.s from Killing Us


Lotta Smart People Think It’s Going to Get Dangerous

Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephan Hawkings, among the Earth’s smartest people, are warning that A.I. has the potential to eat its creators.

Sci-fi types (I admit guilt there) have been saying it for decades. Remember HAL-9000’s, “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t let you do that.”  Then give the A.I. weapons and we have SkyNet, killing off the vermin humans in all the Terminator movies. Grandmaster Isaac Asimov was the center of a cluster of sci-fi authors who recognized the threat back in the ‘40s and before. (Ahead of our time, we are.)

Back here in reality, we are already on (or over!) the cusp of giving weapons to A.I.s. 

HAROP DRONE AT THE 2013 PARIS AIR SHOW
The Harop Drone is a "loitering munition," drone that flies until it finds a specific kind of target, and then turns into a kamikaze missile.
Julian Herzog, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0


So what’s a wetware (human) to do????

Surprise!  A solution is proposed in A Reluctant god.

Operating systems for advanced A.I.s are fully overlaid with actual human personalities. 
The final system is called an “Artificial Personality,” an A.P.

The  inhibitions, instincts and values of humans are the safety stops in the programming.  There can be no us (the robots) vs. them (humans) if the A.I.s think they are human.

I invited one A.P. to write the Introduction to A Reluctant god:

Introduction
By
“H.L. Mencken”

You may have heard my name. I am not me. The chap H.L. Mencken died early in 1956 and hasn’t been heard from since. Yet it is I who stands before you, at least in my own mind. Since I am not H.L. Mencken – dead and buried and all that – I find some small comfort in believing that I am pretty damn close to the man H.L. Mencken was. The folks who put me together studied old H.L. with truly psychotic intensity. They read every word he wrote, back to his kindergarten poetry. They read every word written about me (there!) by anyone of any stature. If my tailor scribbled “getting a paunch” about me in his notebook it was noted and analyzed.
     Never mind A.I., “A.P.”s (artificial personalities) based on real dead people (Belushi, Feynman, etc.) are state-of-the-art. I am an “ARTIFICIAL PERSONALITY.” You will see in the narrative ahead that there are a lot of Artificial Personalities in this distant future. We play an important role for that matter. The fact we are all based on various people who actually were once alive, then dead and buried, is quaint and would be hopelessly maudlin if there were not a reason.

You saw it here first (unless you read the book)! 

p.s. PLUS, I kept the humans one step ahead with direct brain/quantum computer interfaces.  Superboy Bobby gets hooked up at at thirteen.

Dr. Bot
*

Thirteen: At thirteen, Bobby had his first F.E.T. – Field Effect Transducer – implanted in his brain. The surgery robot worked with great speed and delicacy, constantly talking with the tall youth as he lay in a reclined bio couch. Optical leads of nanometer dimensions were threaded between neurons and glial cells to the special tiny organs scattered through Bobby’s brain that were maturing at the guidance of the DNA sequences crafted just for him by the master Fet genomic engineers.
“Impressions, please,” came the robot’s voice. The surgerybot was a modified humanoid machine. The voice came from its head. Its most visible light sensors – crystalline eyes – were on the head. Four arms reached out from an ovoid trunk, two holding Bobby’s head gently, like a caring friend, firmly, comforting. Bobby reported on visual, aural and other sensory sensations as the leads were attached.
When the operation ended, the bot slipped Bobby into a deeper state of anesthesia. There, his deepest consciousness centers awakened as the transducer was turned on. Isolated from his body and much of his mind, he reached out to the battery of nanoprocessors and adopted them as new limbs. It was a revelatory experience for Bobby. Nested in the flood of data was the knowledge of how to turn the Fet transducer on and off. The suggestion came that he turn it off now. He did, the attachment to the nanoprocessors was broken, and Bobby woke up.
Blinking his eyes, he looked around the operating room. There were all seven of his master tutors, smiling at him. He smiled back. “So that’s it!” he said. “I solved the three proofs that you said were nearly impossible, Dr. Sellers,” he said, grinning at his math tutor. The small man was standing next to the surgerybot. He put an arm around its shoulder, patting it.
“Good job, old bot,” he said.
“Thank you, Professor,” answered the bot.


Gotta cover all the bases, y’know.



*The da Vinci® Surgical System

Monday, May 29, 2017

Food Chainers Make Better Fighters

"Food" as an Alien Concept


*


In this excerpt, the sixth Emperor of the Empire of Earth ("E VI") is being briefed for the first time by the alien ally "Tay" and Bobby.  Tay's race evolved on a gas giant planet not unlike Jupiter. Bobby is the human "Reluctant God" of book title fame. N'Gai Toledo is E VI's genius toady.

“Perhaps I should continue the briefing,” said Bobby.

“I don’t think so,” said the emperor. Every eye in the room snapped into focus on his face. Bobby raised one eyebrow but said nothing. “I need to know a few things first. I need to know a bit more about our allies. I need to know why – as I understand it – the more senior civilizations we are associating with are apparently leaving the scene of the impending battle in great haste, leaving the confrontation with this Satan thing to a young and perhaps backward group like our little empire here.” E VI’s eyes were stoney as they zeroed in on Tay. “It looks like to me that you are using us to do the dirty work while you just do a little virtual consultation. Can you set me straight on this assumption?”

With no noticeable hesitation, Tay rumbled, “Food chain.”

“Food chain?” N’Gai Toledo practically barked. “You are saying we are lower on the food chain so we earn the position of sacrificial lamb while you run to safety?” His eyes actually bulged slightly with what was clearly honest outrage.

“A reasonable but incorrect assumption,” said Tay. It was clear to most in the room that this was an out-of-bounds comment, considering Toledo’s famous ego. But Tay continued, apparently not noticing the additional degrees of steeliness in N’Gai’s eyes. 

“The fact that your species has evolved in a food chain milieu makes you far better warriors than the likes of us, to whom food chains were incomprehensibly alien until we became spacefarers and witnessed them in various species. The inherent competitiveness of eat or be eaten in food chain creatures gives rise to far more aggressive and canny combatants. Your race is a prime example.”

E VI and Toledo were stopped cold. The Emperor was particularly struck with the “incomprehensibly alien” comment, as he realized that creatures not in a food chain were just such to him. 

“Ummm,” he said, considerably cooled. “You are saying that you … the Heglin … evolved in some way not in a food chain? You are not the top of your food chain?”

“Exactly,” said Tay. “We obtained our corporeal energy from our stars and from the gasses of our planets. There were other living creatures in our environment, but the idea of consuming them for energy or being consumed by them would have been considered ridiculous – not to mention impossible. It was actually never even contemplated. As I’m sure the briefest of analysis will convince you, we surely have radically different basic psychologies, you and us. Equally obvious should be two certainties. You make far better warriors. And Satan surely is a creature also born of food chain evolution.”

Tay stopped speaking. No one else said a word. There was a considerable span of silence.

Finally, Bobby cleared his throat and said again, “Perhaps I should continue the briefing.”


The Emperor nodded curtly.

As Jupiter data starts reeling out from NASA's Juno spacecraft, old guy sci-fi types like me just have extrapolation extravaganzas!

[Check it out at Amazon.   Be sure to go to "Older Posts" at the bottom.]



Life on a Gas Giant Planet

Intelligent life on a turbulent gas giant?

One of the main characters in A Reluctant God is "Tay," a composite intelligence reflecting the combined consciousness of billions of very advanced individuals from an empire of gas giants.

Raising the question, of course, "Could intelligent life - or life at all - actually evolve on a gas giant like Jupiter?" Now that NASA's Juno spacecraft is returning stunning data on Jupiter as it swings in and out of Jupiter space, showing an incredibly turbulent upper atmosphere, the question gets ever more complicated.

Clearly I believe life can develop - in fact that life is inevitable - in the cauldron of magnetic fields, intense radiation, and hyper-energetic storms.  In Reluctant God, the living space is below the surface maelstroms. Their energy source is from the planetary chaos above. The idea of a "food chain," and all its 'eat or be eaten' implication is completely alien to them.




The Heglin 
(Imagine super-intelligent, very large Daddy Longlegs)

In this excerpt, protagonist Bobby and his spacefaring crew of Artificial Personalities (A.I.s with human personalities as operating systems) are given a brief, virtual tour of a gas giant where the Heglin evolved. They have abandoned their home planets because of the inexorable approach of Satan.


Bobby and all the APs felt as if they were transported to another reality. They vividly perceived a world, clearly a gas giant, from great altitude. The atmosphere was clear but viscous. Layers of opaque clouds shelved down into great darkness. Their point of view moved deeper into the atmosphere until across the top of one of the cloud shelves could be seen a distant moving mass like thin smoke. As the point-of-view moved closer, it was soon apparent that the smoke was a cloud of individual creatures. It was like nothing so much as a disturbed nest of Opiliones, daddy long legs. Simple pentagonal bodies with extraordinarily long multiple legs with end segments moving in treading-water motions. They tumbled over one another, legs interweaving and sliding apart with confoundedly smooth motions, like a tangled knot constantly knitting and unknitting itself as it progressed along the cloud top.

Bobby spoke. “And each of these creatures is an individual? This is not some sort of multipart creature?”

Tay laughed – his first, Feynman later told Bobby. It was a rich, delighted sound that could only be a laugh. “Individuals. This scene to us is a family portrait. The planet is typical of those we colonized. There are many gas giants in this galaxy, but only those with this particular atmospheric mix pleased us. I am showing you the atmosphere as transparent to your eyes as they are to our senses, but in reality, the gas passes no light in the spectra you see.”

“The coordination between individuals is so perfect, perhaps you have neuronal links?” asked Bobby.

“Or a form of telepathy?” asked Feynman.

“Or a lot of rehearsal,” came the voice of John Cleese, rarely heard from. He continued, “Tay, I’m sure you have observed our physical abilities make this clotting your people do quite astonishing to us.”

“Did that, John,” answered Tay. “It has been hundreds of thousands of your years since we have known the joy of weaving ourselves in a traveling flow.” There was a tinge of very human melancholy in Tay’s voice.


The scene from the past of the Heglin Empire faded and the smiling Buddha face reappeared. “Actually,” Tay continued, “I shouldn’t mourn what we have abandoned. It has been supplanted by far greater joys of total communal experiences, not the least of which is our continued existence.”

So there you go. If you believe, as I do, that life is the inevitable outcome of vast time, sufficient complexity and available energy, then it should be easy to accept gas giant lifeforms... maybe as impressive as the planets where they evolved!

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Be sure to go to "Older Posts" at the bottom.]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quantum Com is Here - In China

The "Quantum Statistical Network" Up & Running?

One of the assumptions in the book is that an instantaneous form of communications has been developed.  It has essentially infinite range, huge bandwidth, is totally secure and error free. Pretty good, eh?  Way sci-fi.

Nobody I know seems aware that the Chinese put up a quantum communications satellite last August. I just found out myself.

Here is a report from January this year saying it's working fine!

Eeeeek!




So, NASA, DARPA, Prez Trump.... where's the U S of A's response? In A Reluctant God, the "Quantum Statistical Network" was a huge military edge.

(Seems like if one wants to spend a bunch of buck$ on Defense, this would be a starting point.)

Should you get a copy of the book - GREAT idea! - you can read all about the "Quantum Statistical Network" in the "Historical Notes" at the end.

Wait, There's More...

Just as the Chinese seem to be skipping past us (see above), the good guys - the U.S., Canada and Switzerland - are pounding more research stakes into claims rich with quantum gold. To accomplish the communications marvels fictionalized in "quantum statistical networks," gazillions of atoms must be "entangled" (look it up), and that's what is happening. Right. Now.


Read about it here.