Things to Come

You Know How Some Days It’s Hard to Choose Between Kale and Cannabis?

Now you don’t have to chooose! In a tour-de-force destined to change the world, amateur scientists have succeeded in creating a hybrid cross of the nutritional green kale, and the medicinal plant cannabis. Soon — at least in Oregon — you will be able to drink some solid nutrition along with your natural medicine.

But you cannot imagine that this process will end with the hybrid crossbreed kaleabis? No, using advanced CRISPR-like tools of gene editing, it will soon be possible to grow opium tomatoes, coca cantaloupes, ecstasy romaine, and any number of nutritional — and virtually undetectable to drug agencies — foods that are fortified by all types of mind altering chemicals.

Who Needs Friggin Grid-Scale Batteries When He’s Got Supercritical Turbine Storage?

GE Global Research is testing a desk-size turbine that could power a small town of about 10,000 homes. The unit is driven by “supercritical carbon dioxide,” which is in a state that at very high pressure and up to 700 °C exists as neither a liquid nor a gas. After the carbon dioxide passes through the turbine, it’s cooled and then repressurized before returning for another pass.
The unit’s compact size and ability to turn on and off rapidly could make it useful in grid storage.

… GE’s system might also be better than huge arrays of batteries. Adding more hours of operation just means having a larger or hotter reservoir of the molten salt, rather than adding additional arrays of giant batteries. “The key thing will come down to economics,” says Doug Hofer, the GE engineer in charge of the project. While there’s work ahead, he says, “at this point we think our economic story is favorable compared to batteries.” __ MIT Technology Review

A system of grid-scale batteries would prove ruinously expensive, for providing any meaningful power backup to any community larger than a few households. Scalable supercritical turbines, on the other hand, would likely fit the power grid like hand to glove.

Report from Rod Adams on new nuclear fission fuel rods designed to extend lives of power plants significantly

High Temperature Gas-Cooled Fission Reactor Progress in the US and China

Interplanetary Spacecraft Going Fusion Drive thanks to NASA

The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) concept provides game-changing propulsion and power capabilities that would revolutionize interplanetary travel. DFD is based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) fusion reactor under development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The mission context we are proposing is delivery of a Pluto orbiter with a lander. The key objective of the proposal is to determine the feasibility of the proposed Pluto spacecraft using improved engine models. DFD provides high thrust to allow for reasonable transit times to Pluto while delivering substantial mass to orbit: 1000 kg delivered in 4 to 6 years. Since DFD provides power as well as propulsion in one integrated device, it will also provide as much as 2 MW of power to the payloads upon arrival. This enables high-bandwidth communication, powering of the lander from orbit, and radically expanded options for instrument design. The data acquired by New Horizons’ recent Pluto flyby is just a tiny fraction of the scientific data that could be generated from an orbiter and lander. We have evaluated the Pluto mission concept using the Lambert algorithm for maneuvers with rough estimates of the engine thrust and power. The acceleration times are sufficiently short for the Lambert approximation, i.e. impulsive burns, to have some validity. We have used fusion scaling laws to estimate the total mission mass and show that it would fit within the envelope of a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. Estimates of the amount of Helium 3 required to fuel the reactor are within available terrestrial stores.
__ http://www.nasa.gov/feature/fusion-enabled-pluto-orbiter-and-lander via NextBigFuture

Now You Can Be Your Own Orthodontist Using 3D Print!

Dudley used a laser scanner to turn the plaster model he’d made into a digital replica. He used 3-D modeling software and mathematical calculations to figure out how to move his problematic teeth into place. Finally, he made a dozen aligners by melting thin sheets of plastic over the 3-D models of his teeth.

“I basically would wear them between one and three weeks each,” he says. “I sort of knew to stop wearing a retainer when they no longer felt like they were exerting pressure on my teeth.”

How do orthodontists feel about this?

Dr. Richard Bloomstein, a professor of orthodontics at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, says he was both shocked and impressed.

___ http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/12/473815818/new-jersey-student-uses-3-d-printer-for-diy-dental-work

And again, do not imagine that this is the last application of 3D printing (and other empowering disruptive technologies) that will make expensive services unnecessary. This trend has just begun.

A Better Understanding of Human Consciousness is Coming: Best Get Ready

First comes the unconscious stage: The brain processes specific features of objects, e.g. color or shape, and analyzes them quasi-continuously and unconsciously with a very high time-resolution. However, the model suggests that there is no perception of time during this unconscious processing. Even time features, such as duration or color change, are not perceived during this period. Instead, the brain represents its duration as a kind of “number,” just as it does for color and shape.

Then comes the conscious stage: Unconscious processing is completed, and the brain simultaneously renders all the features conscious. This produces the final “picture,” which the brain finally presents to our consciousness, making us aware of the stimulus.

The whole process, from stimulus to conscious perception, can last up to 400 milliseconds, which is a considerable delay from a physiological point of view. “The reason is that the brain wants to give you the best, clearest information it can, and this demands a substantial amount of time,” explains Michael Herzog. “There is no advantage in making you aware of its unconscious processing, because that would be immensely confusing.” This model focuses on visual perception, but the time delay might be different for other sensory information, e.g. auditory or olfactory.

This is the first two-stage model of how consciousness arises, and it provides a more complete picture of how the brain manages consciousness than the “continuous versus discrete” debate envisages. But it especially provides useful insights about the way the brain processes time and relates it to our perception of the world.

__ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160412160346.htm

Researchers at the Al Fin Institutes of Neurocognitive Sciences agree that a “two-stage” model of consciousness explains far more than either the continuous or discrete models. But given the massive parallelism and multi-modality of the human brain, there is no reason to limit consciousness to a mere two stages. But enough of that now. It suffices to caution readers that they are not the only ones studying how consciousness arises. Large elitist institutions of power — as well as criminal conglomerates who visit your residence via wire and wireless — cannot wait to devise better methods of predicting how you will respond to a wide range of probes and provocations. Perhaps making provisions would be in order?

The Internal Contradictions of the World’s Belligerent Powers and Large Economies Will Shake Planetary Populations to the Bone

China

The state seems to be guided by the maxim: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. That paranoia, while seemingly over the top to many foreigners, is not unfounded. During thousands of years of authoritarian rule in China, a celebrated tradition of subversion by way of satire, allegory and allusion developed, taking advantage of the Chinese language’s many homophones and dialects. They often served as secret messages between the like-minded, whether scholars expressing protest or conspirators for the throne.

…. Xi is clearly willing to go to great lengths to secure his control over the media, but his tightening grip on state outlets is only one facet of a much broader crackdown. Xi’s ultimate goal is simple – in his own words, he demands “unflinching loyalty” from all parts of the party, state and military. But the many forms of resistance in China – not only from political elites and the press but from protesting workers laid off from China’s heavy industries – all mean that Xi is well short of receiving absolute loyalty.

… In China today, the options for exiting the system are severely curtailed. Xi’s regime has made it a priority to demonstrate that no place is beyond the reach of China’s law enforcement and security services. In 2014, Beijing began two campaigns – known as Operation Foxhunt and Operation Skynet – to recover fugitives hiding abroad, as well as their financial assets. Such programs are only likely to intensify as China works to refine its ability to track down escapees and their money.

… The problem for Xi is that the remedy for China’s ailing economy – the attempted imposition of decisive rule by a single individual – is one that produces factions in the first place. And any resultant groups that form could be more dangerous to him that any that existed before his presidency. If Xi fails to control the development of factional rifts in the Communist Party, the prospects for maintaining a coherent central government could be near impossible. And, like China’s experience following the Qing, if control were to falter, the restoration of effective central government could take years, if not decades.

___ Stratfor: Unquenchable Paranoia

More on the crackdown that will come back to haunt Xi Jinping and cronies

A parallel tale is being told further north and west, in the former vassal lands of the Golden Horde:

Corruption appeals to the most universal and basest human instinct — greed. And sadly, it is often in sync with human nature — which makes the new Red Menace potentially more dangerous and insidious than the old one.

The Soviet Union sought to spread Communism and establish a bloc of nations loyal to Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s Russia seeks to spread its corrupt business model to establish a bloc of nations dependent upon the Kremlin.

… The Kremlin has indeed mastered the art of the corrupt deal to create patron-client relations well beyond Russia’s borders.

… There is also evidence that Putin has recruited some members of his old intelligence network in the East German Stasi to set up front companies throughout Europe.

… “This is the story of an invasion. A massive campaign, planned well in advance. The General Staff is located far away in the east, in Moscow, the capital of Russia. The target area is Germany — and the rest of Western Europe,” Tillack wrote.

“But the story of this invasion is teeming with ex-Stasi officers and shady figures. It is a story of letterbox companies that do not even have a letterbox, of companies nestled within companies. The overriding impression? That they are concealing the flow of funds.”

But it is an invasion in which many elites in the West are either willing — or unwitting — participants.

“Acquiescence to Russian corruption, with illicit funds regularly laundered throughout the West, works to the Kremlin’s advantage both domestically and internationally,” Pomerantsev and Weiss wrote.

____ Corruption, Cronies, and Communism’s Ghost

Putin Inserts Covert Military Units Inside EU Countries

The Future is Not Just Flashy Technology and Devices that Empower

If you were hoping for a relaxing and mellow future where you never have to worry about anything ever again, perhaps you should stop and consider human nature, and human biodiversity. In particular, you should consider the looming dysgenic Idiocracy, and what your particular slice of the world will look like after it has been overrun by third-world level corruption, patronage, and cronyism. Imagine your life when the societal breakdown one sees in the third and emerging worlds rides a flow of political correctness, affirmative action, and the incompetence of dysgenic decline, to take over your city hall, police department, fire department, hospital, infrastructure maintenance, and the many other things that distinguish advanced nations from failed states.

There will be islands of competence and well-functioning infrastructure amid the Detroit and Baltimore-like ruins. Such places will be the targets of Justice Ministry probes and prosecutions, in an attempt to level all of society to the lowest common denominator. When particular nations and regions are seen as more prosperous and competent, they will be the targets of massive flows of dysfunctional and violent immigrants — spurred on mischief-makers who intentionally bomb civilians and hospitals to provoke ever-larger flows of emigration from the homeland.

If you have not already done, consider the possibility and need for shadow infrastructures and governments, capable of providing competence in crucial support functions when tax-supported institutions crumble from their corrupt, cronyist superstructure. What sort of person might be capable of designing, building, operating, and maintaining such shadow infrastructures and governing bodies? How could such dynamic (but necessarily ad hoc) systems manage to hide in plain sight so as not to attract undue attention from the corrupt and jealous “elites?”

More of interest:

University Degrees that Facilitate Higher Earnings

Putin’s Secret War Against Europe, all part of the grand plan to make the world a safer place for Russian dictators

No Freedom Here, According to Freedom House

The Great Hollowing of Eurasia’s Interior

How Mafia Thugs in Kremlin Kill to Keep Ukraine Enslaved

Oil Price Deja Vu

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