Showing posts from September, 2005

Caspian Quote Of The Day

I was sitting with Caspian in his room, reading him some postcards he'd received in the mail. He's good with block printing, but handwriting is too much of a challenge for him to enjoy the content. He was being particularly wriggly. So I said: "Caspian, you're very wiggly. Can you go potty?" And so Caspian got up and headed to his bathroom. On the way he passed one of his toys - a piece of SWAG from TechEd 2005 which could loosely be described as an "octopus yo-yo" (there are several in the upper-left quadrant of this photo ). From a previous toy of this sort which easily disassembled, we called it his " sea jelly ". So he picks up the toy and says: "My jelly is very wiggly. It needs to go poo." So he picks it up, takes it to the bathroom, gives it a turn on the toilet, then has his own turn.

Evidence of Life is Obvious (For some definition of obvious)

Written sometime in late 2004. Lovelock wrote in one of his books about Gaia that since a biosphere is self-stabilizing, and can maintain a dynamically unstable state (e.g. an atmosphere with lots of volatile stuff like oxygen) then based on spectroscopic observations of the atmosphere it should be concluded that there is no extant life on Mars since it isn't obvious and widespread. In retrospect, this is somewhat naive. In the late 1800s, life "obviously" would have radios and collosal engineering, hence people listened for radio transmissions and saw imaginary canals on Mars. In the mid 1900s, life "obviously" had a biosphere encompassing the atmosphere and surface. Since then we've learned that the extreme subsurface and other locations are places life can hang out - thermal vents, deep ice lakes, deep cores, etc. We can also conceive of radically different timescales and substrates for metabolic processes. I admit, my instincts say that if Mars had

Imagined Worlds

Picked up a book by Freeman Dyson (of Project Orion fame - the original "get to space by sitting on top of a nuke" plan). I've read things by and about Dyson and his fairly emminent children before ( The Starship and the Canoe , for example); it's a unique family, to say the least! This book - Imagined Worlds - is interesting, but not life-altering. It's scattered at best; adapted from a series of lectures, there isn't a coherent thread or direction in the book. And while each chapter asks intriguing questions, even on a micro-scale it doesn't come across as much more than rambling around a simple point. The quick summary of the book: Science has and will have a profound affect on human development. People tend not to learn from past mistakes. Technology evolves through trial and error; if you take away competition and/or the opportunity to try and fail, all you get are more collosal failures later on. So the most successful technologies - long ter