One day, maybe sooner than we think, a consideration of the ethics of the treatment of rational, sentient machines might turn out to be more than an abstract academic exercise.
From last June, but still a worthy topic for debate, particularly as the use of robots increases for retirement homes, nursery school programs, hotel reception lobbies… (also the topic of a short story I wrote in 2000 but still haven’t published outside of a grad student journal…)
“The most energetic outflow came from a quasar called SDSS J1042+1646 with 5×1030 gigawatts, or 5 million trillion trillion gigawatts. For perspective, a nuclear reactor puts out about one gigawatt of energy, while the total energy of all Milky Way stars is about 1028 gigawatts.”
Tired of corona-related news. Time to relax with a completely science-based, “you are somewhat insignificant in the greater scheme of things” post.
Are you sitting down for this? Well, you’re not really. Your butt isn’t actually touching the chair you’re sitting on. Since the meat of your atoms is nestled away in nuclei, when you ‘touch’ someone (or something), you aren’t actually feeling their atoms.
Modern physics dictates that, after being consumed, information about this matter should be forever lost to the universe. But a new experiment suggests that there might be a way to use quantum mechanics to gain some insight into the interior of a black hole.
Black hole sun / won’t you come / to drive away the rain? 🎶
Two days ago I celebrated Thanksgiving Day, or as we call it, Turkey Day, with my relatives in the US. It was the first time for me to do so in over 20 years.
The myths about the holiday are well-known, so I won’t waste time relating them here (most Americans are happy to go on pretending the “Pilgrim Fathers” started this when really it’s just an excuse for a four-day weekend of stuffing yourself, watching football, and shopping).
In our case, it was the first holiday since my mother passed away. The next two will be even harder. But the oft-trite is oft-true: it was as if the empty chair at the long table was filled with her presence. This year was different.
A passing of the family torch. Dinner at my sister’s house, dessert with her in-laws. Boardgames with aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Family stories with grandpa. Skype with the grandkids overseas. Most of us drove seven or eight hours roundtrip just to spend one day together.
The grieving process continues. So does life. You can’t pick your relatives, but in some case you get real lucky.
It’s the end of the spring term (finally) at my university in Kyoto, which means I’ll be getting ready for my yearlong sabbatical in Montreal soon. From September I’ll be back at a North American university for the first time since 1997.
This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.
We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.
And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.
More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.
Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.
My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:
“To the Cherry Tree,
For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.
We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.
If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”