M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

How should we treat sentient robots—if they existed?

June 14, 2020
MThomas

Asimo

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…)

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2019/6/18/ethics-of-ai-how-should-we-treat-rational-sentient-robots-if-they-existed

Giant asteroid flying by Earth next week looks like it’s wearing a face mask

April 24, 2020
MThomas

On April 29, an asteroid estimated to be 1.2 miles wide will fly by Earth, but it’s not on a destructive path. And new images of the asteroid make it appear as though it’s wearing a face mask.

😷

— Read on edition.cnn.com/2020/04/23/world/asteroid-1998-or2-face-mask-scn-trnd/index.html

Quasar winds with record energy levels were seen fleeing a distant galaxy

April 1, 2020
MThomas

“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.

Enjoy.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/quasar-winds-record-energy-levels-seen-fleeing-distant-galaxy/amp?__twitter_impression=true

I Only Wanted to See You Under the Iron Rain…

March 14, 2020
MThomas

IronRain

Wasp-76b, as it’s known, orbits so close in to its host star, its dayside temperatures exceed 2,400C – hot enough to vaporise metals.

Hmm….this reminds me of…let me think for a minute…wait, I got it…

Anakin-TooHot

Yeah, that’s the one. I think.

(Seriously, check it out. Not even the Jedi could possibly handle an actual “inferno” planet.)

Nasa’s 2020 rover: Can we finally answer the big question about Mars?

March 8, 2020
MThomas

“So, let’s bring the samples back. So if those extraordinary claims are made, they can be verified.”

One likely extraterrestrial form of life might resemble a terrestrial form: the stromatolite.

They basically look like big rocks. I visited one site in Western Australia in 2003 with a group of Japanese students who were told by a local guide that the stromatolites were “3.5 billion years old.” (They’re not, but they do look like what life might have looked like at that point.”

So NASA is sending another rover to see if they can find evidence of a similar life form.

Sorry. No Slurm (yet?).

— Read on www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-51544476

Five reasons why NASA is sending a Dragonfly to Titan

February 29, 2020
MThomas

1184_120_PIA06227_1600

  1. It’s the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere.
  2. This atmosphere is more similar to Earth’s (especially ancient Earth’s) than any other atmosphere in the solar system.
  3. Chemistry, baby. Microbes, maybe.
  4. Labs take too long. Experiments on Titan would be short.
  5. The terrain is pretty wild.

Check out the link below for more detailed explanations and a neat video.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/1184/why-is-nasa-sending-dragonfly-to-titan-here-are-five-reasons/

The Eagle has landed. Um. Again. Sort of.

February 18, 2020
MThomas

Apollo11-reflection

‘As far as audio recordings, we previously had only 48 minutes of off-air audio of the BBC coverage from another source. Now thanks to you we have over eight hours!’

It’s been 50 years since The Eagle landed. There are plenty of existing video and audio recordings from US media sources (like this one on YouTube, clocking in at over 3 hours).

It’s been considerably less time since news recordings of Apollo 11 from *outside* the US were discovered. Just over half a year. Audio only. Bummer. But at least you get a different perspective (always a good thing when it comes to news).

Check it out (and download it, if you like), thanks to Steve Hurley at explainingscience.org/2020/02/17/british-coverage-of-apollo-11/

Jules Verne – most translated science fantasy writer ever?

February 15, 2020
MThomas

When I was a kid, I devoured books by Jules Verne, in the Classics Illustrated series vocabulary- and grammar-controlled for younger readers.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Voyage to the Center of the Earth

From the Earth to the Moon

Around the World in Eighty Days

Until I was in college, I didn’t even know that he wrote them in French.

Until a few days ago, I didn’t know they were part of a 54-volume set, complete with 4,000 hand-drawn illustrations that are now available online for free.

How’s that for enduring literary influence?

Check out the link below for more details…

http://www.openculture.com/2020/02/jules-vernes-voyages-extraordinaires.html

Super Bowl 2020: All the space-themed commercials

February 2, 2020
MThomas

“Being able to get humans on Mars and actually collecting one of these samples would be such an incredible moment, I would kind of hope it would almost bring us back to the moon days of everyone being glued to the TV.”

Um. Well. OK. TV is dead so we’ll all be watching it streamed on our smartphones, but the point is taken.

And how much did they pay for this? 💰 👽 📺

— Read on http://www.livescience.com/amp/super-bowl-space-commercials.html

Artificial intelligence-created medicine to be used on humans for first time

January 31, 2020
MThomas

“This year was the first to have an AI-designed drug, but by the end of the decade all new drugs could potentially be designed by AI.”

Philip K Dick would have had a field day with this. Imagine what will happen once we start ingesting nanobots…

I, for one, welcome our AI drug overlords.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51315462

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