Problems

Category archives for Problems

To scientists, “experimental” is a technical word, one with a precise meaning: that which relates to a procedure of┬ámethodical trial and error, to a systematic test for determining the nature of reality. I got in trouble on this blog once, with commenters, for using the word “experimental” too flippantly. But artists experiment too, of course.…

The Book of Exogenesis

The Book of Exogenesis: In the beginning was the word, and the word was a meteorite… Earlier this month, a report, based on NASA studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggested that some building blocks of DNA may have been formed in space. As it turns out, DNA components have been found on meteorites before,…

We’re OK TO GO!

As you have undoubtedly heard from sources more overtly journalistic than this one, SETI is back online! After federal and state financial cutbacks forced the institute’s shiny new Allen Telescope Array (ATA) into indefinite hibernation earlier this year, cosmically-minded geeks all over the globe donated money in droves, bringing the search for extraterrestrial life back…

SETI, Really?

As you may have heard, SETI is in trouble. Funding cutbacks on a state and federal level have forced the Allen Telescope Array — SETI’s new homebase, actually just a part of the U.C. Berkeley’s Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) — into indefinite hibernation. With U.C. Berkeley losing ninety percent of its NSF University Radio…

Peripheral Vision

I believe the world is a complex phenomenological experience that can be explained, rationalized, and lived in myriad different ways. The way I see it, we all begin with the same fundamental mystery — why are we here? what is life? — and we attack this problem with whatever tools we find work best; some…

Synthetic Life Lives

What do these three quotations have in common? Hint: it lives in a petri dish. “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, and to recreate life out of life.” — James Joyce “What I cannot build, I cannot understand.” — Richard Feynman “See things not as they are, but as they might be.” —…

Ideological State Interface

The North Korean government has made an operating system called “Red Star.” Despite the fact that very few North Koreans have a computer, let alone Internet access, Red Star is designed to provide a safe operating environment in line with North Korean political philosophy of “juche,” or self-reliance (as well as, admittedly, monitor user activity).…

Information Overload!!!

I don’t have the attention span to write this article. In the course of penning this introductory paragraph, I’ve taken umpteen email breaks, gotten distracted by several Wikipedia wormholes, and taken an hour’s time out to watch Frontline documentary clips on YouTube. It has taken me, in toto, seven days to write a five-paragraph article…

Scientific Icons

A couple of years ago, I was poking around in a European art museum and came across an exhibit of exquisitely beautiful Eastern Orthodox religious paintings, “icons.” Beyond being visually striking — they have an austere, hieratic, distant quality — they are also, I realized at the time, in a way, scientific. Alright, I know,…

Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin

Photograph by Benjamin Reed. Ursula K. Le Guin is a internationally-recognized, award-winning science fiction writer, an elegant badass and the author of such classics as the Hugo and Nebula-award winning The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe Of Heaven, and the Earthsea novels. Last year, she began mounting formidable opposition to the Google Books Settlement,…