M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Neuroscience and the ethics of mind control

December 5, 2022
MThomas

“Embedding a similar type of computer in a soldier’s brain could suppress their fear and anxiety, allowing them to carry out combat missions more efficiently.”

https://theconversation.com/amp/brain-computer-interfaces-could-allow-soldiers-to-control-weapons-with-their-thoughts-and-turn-off-their-fear-but-the-ethics-of-neurotechnology-lags-behind-the-science-194017

Sounds like science fiction, but it’s pretty close to reality. BCI (brain computer interface) is being tested in patients who lack muscle control but imagine if this tech gets weaponized (and what hasn’t been, eventually).

But what if BCI were used to suppress emotions in a healthy brain? Or used to implant thoughts? Or worse?

“…if a BCI tampers with how the world seems to a user, they might not be able to distinguish their own thoughts or emotions from altered versions of themselves…”

(same website as above…note that the PC version of WordPress does not do “quotations” correctly any more…)

PKD fans will instantly recognize this.

Androids don’t just dream of electric sheep. 🐑

(Fans of Ghost in the Shell and more importantly its movie sequel Innocence should also recognize the potential hacking danger…imagine if the government could control our emotions, thoughts, and memories…)

Call a spade a

December 5, 2022
MThomas

Just saw someone on my morning commuter train wearing a fluffy beige coat with a single word in all capital letters, stretching across the back from left elbow to right elbow:

EXPLOIT

Yeah. That’s what happened, alright.

Think small

December 3, 2022
MThomas

On Tuesday as I was walking back from work, much later than usual, my shoes were bothering me.

They felt stretched, loose, especially irritating on a rainy day.

I had spent too much time polishing them, I thought.

Too much effort making them “waterproof.”

Too much money on these damn useless things.

I resolved to throw them away and get a new pair.

But of course it would take time, and money, and effort to go get them.

Damn shoes. I would have to rearrange my entire week because of you.

The next morning, as I put my shoes on, I realized that the laces were loose.

So I re-tied them, and instantly they felt better.

Sometimes, when a small, insignificant problem arises, there is a simple fix.

Think small.

Why Japan and JAXA are definitely NOT the future of space exploration

November 26, 2022
MThomas

Falsified space research? No problem. The “apology bow” (sha zai, 謝罪) makes it all better.

There is a reason why Japan’s newest “micro” satellite spectacularly failed to do, well, anything.

The Japan version of NASA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, called “JAXA” for some reason rather than “JAEA” — maybe the founder was a fan of X-Japan?) is riddled with incompetency and sycophancy.

Much like the rest of Japan’s government, one of the most corrupt of the world’s industrialized countries thanks to its strict “senpai-kohai” hierarchy where those at the top do no work and those at the bottom have no choice but to do what those at the top say – even if it’s illegal or immoral.

Continue Reading

Volcanos, Venus, and Earth 🌋 Hellscape unveiled

November 25, 2022
MThomas

A new study shows that massive volcanic eruptions over an extended period of time may be responsible for changing the planet into what it is today. If there was simple life on ancient Venus, volcanism was its doom. The study also shows how powerful volcanic activity has played a role in shaping Earth’s habitability and how Earth only narrowly avoided the same fate as Venus.

https://www.universetoday.com/158696/volcanoes-are-the-worst-theyve-caused-extinctions-on-earth-and-probably-killed-venus/#more-158696

Venus is hot enough to melt lead, which is why no spaceship has ever survived to land on the surface.

And, no, there is nothing alive floating around in its toxic atmosphere.

But this is a neat article. Three future missions are planned for Venus (two by NASA – VERITAS and DAVINCI – and one by ESA – EnVision, which sounds more like a song and dance competition than a scientific probe).

Venus or bust!

Goodbye, Musk, and good riddance.

November 21, 2022
MThomas

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably noticed the “has over 1,200 followers” tag suddenly dropped to just over 200.

That’s because I deactivated my Twitter account.

I debated for a couple of weeks.

And then saw how its Chief Twit (seriously, this is how this psychopath called himself) treated his workers.

100+ hour work weeks? Haphazardly firing pregnant single moms? Reinstating Der DrumpfenFührer?

Enough.

Twitter is run by a narcissistic, megalomaniacal bully with delusions of grandeur, and I will have nothing to do with any company that supports him or is run by him.

“But…” the plaintiff cry “where will we get our news??”

Um.

Try an actual news organization.

An aggregator works just fine.

Here’s a primer:

https://www.lifewire.com/best-news-aggregators-4584410

(FWIW, Flipboard is my current fav, but my friends often rely on Google News and Apple News (if you have Apple devices, of course. And for the standard no-nonsense and no-frills approach, AP).

Anyway, I’m happy to be followed by 200+ WordPress fans.

Don’t worry. Science is still science. And naturally there is science fiction on the way.

I just need time to write it!

Japan to continue on ISS until…

November 21, 2022
MThomas

Well, it’s official. Japan will remain a member of the International Space Station until 2030.

And of course, the next year it will fall to its death over the middle of the Pacific Ocean in “Point Nemo,” joining hundreds of other satellites at the bottom of the industrialized nations convenient sea junkyard.

Surely there is a better way to dispose of spacecraft that doesn’t involve polluting the ocean.

Well before then, Russia will no longer help out (obviously). And that’s problematic, since the propulsion part of the ISS is the Russian module.

Hmm. What to do, what to do…

How about we go to Mars instead?

Nah. Let’s have separate countries like India and China make their own space stations and then encourage private companies to make their own, too!

Um. What’s the point?

Ah. The “new space race.”

And don’t forget that Venus is “a Russian planet.” 🤦‍♂️

These moron politicians shouldn’t be in charge of humanity’s future. The Earth is a round planet the last time I checked, everybody sharing the same air and water.

For now.

Astronomers found a black hole in our cosmic backyard!

November 9, 2022
MThomas

Only 1600 light years away!

And it’s a binary system. Very odd.

It’s also “dormant.” Even stranger.

Ten times the size of our Sun, as far away from its companion star as the Earth is from the Sun.

Announced just in time for Halloween…

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/05/science/astronomy-black-hole.html

Another lost month…

November 8, 2022
MThomas

Sigh.

A whole month of no posts. Sorry, everyone.

Last weekend was partly fun (Halloween party with our kids, pre-teen and teen) and partly melancholic (4th year anniversary of my mother’s untimely death from cancer).

But even before then, I just wasn’t feeling all that great. Not sick. Just sort of…not with it. On autopilot, kind of.

Now that fall is well and truly here, the pollen is going away and the skies are clearing.

Hoping I’ll find my muse again.

And, no, I’m not going to write anything about Twitter, elections, or crazy beliefs in satanic rituals making a comeback among the bonkers-crazy folk of my home country. Way too easy.

DART did it! 🎯

October 12, 2022
MThomas

“For the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit of a planetary body,” said NASA planetary science division director Lori Glaze.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dart-mission-deflected-asteroid-for-planetary-defense

A change of 32 minutes in orbit — but only 4% of the total orbital period. To deflect an asteroid away from Earth, it’d better be done several years in advance. 🌏

Still, it can be done. An amazing first.

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