I read the most amazing article recently concerning Stephen Hawking - probably the greatest scientific mind since Einstein. It gave me so many "happy chills" that it has become a welcome addition to the Disobey "Things that Matter" list.
Stephen Hawking holds the chair at Cambridge University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and has been diseased with motor neurone which steadily degenerates the nervous system. It has left him with twisted fingers, a paralyzed body, and the inability to speak. It's quite ironic: "a man with a freakishly quick, brilliant and creative mind condemned forever to articulate his thoughts at the speed of an imbecile."
Recently, the Sunday Telegraph interviewed Hawking for four hours concerning the future - four hours which you or I could compress into 30 minutes of fluid and unthinking speech. Hawking, in his infinite wisdom, had wonderful things to say:
"I'm afraid that however clever we may become we will never be able to travel faster than light. If we could travel faster than light we could go back in time. We have not seen any tourists from the future. That means that travel to other stars is going to be a slow and tedious business, using rockets rather than warp drives. A 100,000-year round trip to the centre of the galaxy. In that time the human race will have changed beyond all recognition, if it hasn't wiped itself out."
"By far the most complex systems we have are our own bodies. There haven't been any significant changes in human DNA in the past 10,000 years. But soon we will be able to increase the complexity of our internal record, our DNA, without having to wait for the slow process of biological evolution. It is likely that we will be able to redesign it completely in the next 1,000 years - by increasing our brain size, for example. Of course, many will say genetic engineering on humans will be banned but I rather doubt that they will be able to prevent it. Genetic engineering on plants and animals will be allowed for economic reasons and someone is bound to try it on humans - unless we have a totalitarian world order, someone will improve humans somewhere."
What joys he bring! In a robotic tone devoid of emotion, he calmly describes a world descending into cyberpunk stories of yesterday and today.
Imagine! Criminals running around with syringes attempting to grab a minor hair or blood from influential people so that cloning, and subsequent confusion or disbelief can be spread.
Imagine! Clones of ourselves enslaved in our basement, an eye missing, perhaps an arm sawed off, with nary a stitch viewable on our own body's replacement. Screaming, asking for freedom in a voice only we can identify with true desperation... yet the light goes out, and the music goes up. Sure, the neighbors have complained once about the noise. But they have their own flesh-skeleton - to publicize brings their own downfall.
Imagine! Moreau's infatuation with creating human / animal crossbreeds a reality! Kathy Lee Gifford no longer spites the media! No, she heralds a breed of men whose strength is of the ox, but whose reasoning is that of a worker ant: get the job done, get the job done, get the job done!
It's not far off. Science discussions on CNN have started the philosophical debate of cloning - and debating assures that the possibility is there, be it tested, untested, finalized, or morally appeasing.
In fairness, he continues:
"I'm not advocating human genetic engineering, I'm just saying it's likely to happen and we should consider how to deal with it. In a way, the human race needs to improve its mental and physical qualities if it is to deal with the increasingly complex world around it and meet new challenges such as space travel.
"We also need to become more complex if biological systems are to keep ahead of electronic ones. At the moment, computers have an advantage of speed but they show no sign of intelligence. This is not surprising as our present computers are less complex than the brain of an earthworm, a species not known for its intellectual powers. But computers' speed and complexity double every 18 months, and this will probably continue until computers have a similar complexity to the human brain.
"Having watched my three children being born, I know how difficult it is to get the head out. But in the next 100 years I expect we will learn how to grow babies outside the human body ... However, ultimately, increases in the size of the human brain through genetic engineering will come up against the problem that the chemical messages responsible for our mental activity are relatively slow-moving - so further increases in the complexity of the brain will be at the expense of speed. We can be quick-witted or very intelligent, but not both."
The interviewer, in gracious answer to my hopes and dreams, asks a question easily determined by the response:
"The human race has been in its present form for only the past two million years out of the 15 billion or so since the Big Bang. So even if life developed in other stellar systems, the chances of catching it at a recognizably human stage are very small.
"Any alien life we encounter will be much more primitive or much more advanced than us. And if it's more advanced, why hasn't it spread through the galaxy and visited Earth? It could be that there is an advanced race out there which is aware of our existence but is leaving us to stew in our own primitive juices. However, I doubt they would be so considerate to a lower life form."
Why a desire for contact with a new race anyways? So that we may "discover" something else much like our own history discovers that which is already there? So that we may have another crutch to compare our miserable life too? So that we may attempt to establish peace with them in hopes that it'll compensate for our own lack of peace at home?
To vent our aggressions and fears onto the goat whom we don't know much about? "The space men did it! How do you know they're not evil? No one knows!" To develop the same hatred we share for our earthly cousins only with the ability to do something about it?
Stop worrying about what else is out there - do we need that much more confusion? How much more do we need to worry about, what with cloning, y2k and millennial leap year over hype, or allowing mergers like AOL and Time Warner (I'll assume that all the money that Time Warner hasn't paid its freelancers will not be attributed to volunteering for the cause, sans AOL).
At night, lying down, staring at the ceiling, I think about where we're headed and can't contain the excitement I feel. Every cyberpunk novel coming to life! Human genome being completed earlier than expected! Artificial intelligence! Paranoia and Twilight Zone come to be! Shivers arch my spine...
... of repulsion, fear, and thoughts of what a wonderful journey it'll be.
the greatest column ever told
by Rown Garnbii
(Part Five of Ten)
I've now been with the dysfunctionality based family of Disobey for six months. I've enjoyed my time with them, though I've technically only met Morbus, the editor who I found out last month was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Learn something new every day, huh? No wonder he's so damn preachy. Or is that me? In any case and completely off the subject, I'd like to meet some of the other staff writers. Disobey needs a chatroom.
Now... the subject. "Honor thy father and mother: that thy days may be long." (God, Exodus 20: 12)
With all honesty, like many of the commandments, I really have no problem with this one. I don't find it particularly hypocritical, nor do I consider it ignored by the religious community. In fact, (prepare yourself because I'm about to throw the God Squad a compliment) I find that this is the one commandment that they, for the most part, readily follow. The rest of us, well... not so much.
In my readings I ran into an interesting passage in Proverb 23:22. "Listen to your father and do not despise your mother when she is old." Huh... sign of the times I guess. Still, it raises an interesting point. Why does our culture have such a distaste for out seasoned citizens? It can't just be the smell...
No... no, not just the smell.
But, it's true, isn't it? We lock up our old people and ignore them. They have no say and whenever one is still active, we make fun of them. Case in point: Strom Thurman. I'm not saying Strom doesn't deserve to have his ass raked a bit but, is his age the best we can do? Isn't there a whole plethora of his actions that we can use? But, instead we make fun of his age.
I fear aging. I honestly do. It's the thing I'm most frightened of in the whole world next to glitter. It's not death. I don't mind that in the least but it's the concept that people will stop listening to me. They won't value my ideas and instead, simply endure me. Wait a minute. That happens now... In any case, you see my point and I blame cultural diversity.
I'm not slamming diversity, at least not today. Perhaps I will someday relay my views on the most poorly executed political correctness maneuver in recent history. But in my view, diversity has really worked against the sick and the aged.
If one analyzes cultures around the world, he would find the ones with the strongest and most uniformed beliefs, e.g. American Indians, African tribes, Bhuddists, etc., revere their elders above all. They are sought out for their wisdom and knowledge. Yet, in places like America, where we have no uniform belief system, where a large portion of us have no faith at all, the elderly are forgotten.
I think it all boils down to that fact that no matter where you go, the old represent a constant reminder of death. That there is an end to the ride. That funny smell I was talking about is the stench of inevitability.
That being the case, a culture with strong faith, and often little science, knows where they are going. Almost every belief system promises an afterlife of oneness, or what have you, for the good eggs. Ergo, the old are a reminder of happier things to come. In the U.S., however, the old are a reminder of our own uncertainty. We are a culture constantly bombarded with warring faiths, new pop-up religions, and science claiming "no proof" at every turn. Living in this melting pot that hasn't quite melted, we have no other option than to question even our most deep rooted beliefs and traditions.
When I'm walking down the street and verbally attacked for not accepting Jesus into my heart or some such shit, how can I help but be nervous? Ninety-eight percent of my fellow Americans think I will fare badly after my death. That's a lot of negativity directed towards me.
People ask me, "don't you want to do it, just in case?" Why? Should I adopt a little bit of every religion just to be safe? To cover my bases? When I meet my maker and he tells me that Shintoism was the way to go, do I pull out my Shintoist Union membership card, tucked neatly in my wallet in between my Roman Catholic ordainment papers and my barmizvah catering receipt? So what else can the senior citizens of this nations represent than "I don't know!" "I'm not a hundred percent certain I'll end up in good graces" and fuck you old people for reminding me!
Let's get back on point. Do I honor my parents?
Have I disrespected them? Yes... on occasion.
Have I shrugged off their advice and comments? Yes... on occasion.
Have I ignored their instructions and told them to fuck off? Yes... once or twice.
Do I honor them? Yes. Because despite all the shit I've given them, all the trouble I've caused, I respect them and I thank them for doing the hell of a job they did raising me and on that rueful day when I spawn the antichrist I will call my son or daughter, I will emulate them. That is how I honor them. Not to mention, I have seen how others treat the people who made them and if only by comparison, I honor them. Perhaps the largest reason being, they honor me as well.
Nuff said about that.
Additionally, as you read this, if you're reading this, then you have survived the millennium / Y2K double penetration raping that the world is going through. As I write this, I'm watching the new millennium rise on our world, city by city and it's a pretty fucked up sight. I'll be up all night and all day watching the extensive CNN coverage and hope to have a good time of it. I hope you did to. And I hope none of us get smited or anything.
SCORE: Hell - 3 / Salvation - 2
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this is regarding Prof. Hawking's statement.
Though it's true that a one approaches the speed of light,time actually slows down.This is true with any high velocity, like how a clock's second hand rotates noticeably slower in the cockpit of an orbiting shuttle.So at the speed of light time actually stops, which kinda negates the idea of "Warp Speed." I personally believe that by discounting time travel altogether is not the way to go because of other possible methods of warping Space/Time... i.e. massive amounts of concentrated gravity.
as to the Idea that we haven't had any visitors from the future, Why would a scientist reveal his Identity and risk possible entropy by fucking with the Space/Time continueum? it'd be nice to have home transporter modules and time machines to fix anything we ever fucked-up.......but.......the problem lies in destroying the physical balance in the universe through continued use of the contraptions....
And did I mention UFO's .....It's very possible that other civilizations have access to a variety of resources vastly different than than those which inhabit our biosphere.
That puts things in a totally different perspective
Oh and have you noticed that with the future being the present and all, More people have opted the use of FuturistiK/military jargon like abbreviating multiple word phrases into uni-syllabic slang...If you haven't just watch FOX and friends or any other bland talk TV...Mtv included........sigh.......ma ybe its just a little *Y2gay* (non-homophobic reference)
hope Disobey sticks around.