Employers Demand Workers’ Genetic Test Results. Nothing exploitative and monstrous about that, nope!
We’re all as good as dead. These things will be a lot less cute when they’re inevitably weaponized.
Megacities Military Unit. Pretty good research for all you near-future, soft-dystopian, and slow-apoc writers. Don’t forget to add the battalion of ‘bots from that previous link.
Are Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Lightsails? Decide for yourself by reading the paper. I mean, honestly, no, probably not. But it’s the sort of thing we ought to be thinking about anyway! Our search for life outside the solar system is fairly hopeless. I mean, yeah, there’s life out there. That is no longer a question in the same way it was for the first half of my life when we had no data about the existences of extrasolar planets. Now, of course, we know the galaxy is lousy with planets. From there life only needs access to energy, stability, and time. And the number of stars times the number of planets across the timeline of the Milky Way tells us that it is almost unthinkable that life does not exist somewhere else in our galaxy.
But our search has been largely concerned with detecting 20th century-ish radio signals. Given the vast chasms of space and time involved, this is frankly hopeless and sort of dumb. I mean, we should keep doing it just in case, it’s a trivial use of time and computation, but if there’s another technological civilization out there, they’ll be exploiting those kinds of signals and power levels for a small sliver of its potential lifespan. If we’re optimistic enough to assume they don’t kill themselves, they’ll spend far more time exploiting bigger and stranger technologies that ought to be easier to detect if only we get a little weird with our thinking.
Google’s AI + Blockchains = healthcare. Basically an attempt to keep medical data completely private but still useful. Drones and cyber-eyes get all the attention, but it’s the nuts and bolts stuff like this that’ll be the augmented heart fueling the cyberpunk future we’re living through.
Before we get started, I just wanted to remind everyone that Scott and I will be attending Emerald City Comicon next weekend. Scott has a limited number of sketches available so reserve yours today!
Okay, now that we got all the business out of the way, let’s get to it!
Magnetic Spikes. Geomagnetics. How do they work? You want my opinion, unexplained spikes in localized geomagnetic activity in the Earth’s past obviously point to time travelling teenagers doing pranks to mess with historical records.
The (Legally) Blind Can See. Gonna be a weird time if we can keep this civilization going long enough for features like these to become standard issue in glasses and contact lenses.
I think we all heard about TRAPPIST-1. Or 2MASS J23062928-0502285 if you’re nasty. I’m particularly fond of the infographic and tourism posters. The universe is a weird place. Seven planets, all rocky, all roughly Earth-ish sized, and all of them orbiting their star closer than Mercury orbits our own. And yet three of them are potentially habitable since TRAPPIST-1 is pretty dang small and cool relative to the Sun. Fun fact: the Sun has about five billion* years of fuel left, but TRAPPIST is burning so low it’ll last for another four trillion years.
*The Sun will still be around, but that’s when it will have become a Red Giant and expand to engulf the Earth’s** orbit which will, uh, obliterate our planet.
**Oh, don’t worry, that’s still five billion years from now and it won’t matter anyway since all life on Earth will have died long before then because the Sun is slowly getting hotter and the surface of the Earth will be too hot to support liquid water in only about one billion*** years.
***It’s not that bad. It’s unlikely civilization even has another 40 years*^ in it.
*^Assuming a soft collapse where pockets of humanity are able to survive the post-apocalypse at subsistence levels, it’s pretty much impossible for us to ever get “back” to where we are now. The Industrial Revolution only worked because England happened to have a lot of coal/oil near the surface thanks to glaciers carving up the countryside thousands of years earlier. We’ve long since used up all the “easy” energy worldwide and now the only way to get more is by relying on an uninterrupted extraction infrastructure. Should that system suffer a global collapse, that’s it, there’s no starting it back up. The best we can hope for is getting back to about the Renaissance^ and then just hanging out there forever.
How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder. Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.
Hackers help NASA save climate data. Because we now live in a world where basic scientific inquiry is a radical act.
Zealandia, the eighth continent. All we got to do is jump start another ice age to get it to come out again.
NASA revives “weird life forms” trapped in crystals for 60,000 years. Cool. That’s cool. We’re fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine and good.
New Boston Dynamic Nightmare Bot. This is cool, but also: what is wrong with these people? I guess they’ve chosen their side. It’s not too surprising, really. If you are even half awake on the topic of what software and hardware automation is poised to do to our civilization, you’d make friends of the robots too.
Discovered a new continent. Gravity tipped ‘em off. It’s a cool find but not exactly unexpected. It’s an exciting part of the world from a geological perspective. Just take a look at just how much area is taken up by the Himalayas. Now realize they’re the crumple zone created by the impact of India’s crash into Asia. And that we’re, like, maybe a third of the way into that crash.
If WEG still had the license. This will be an important link to, like, three of you. But for those three it will be the most important link they see all year.
Musical accompaniment brought to you by Lazerhawk. Get ‘em.
This week's process post on the Patreon is a full script for a Big Two project I was hired to do, but it never quite got off the ground.