Faster Than Light Travel is About to Become a Real Thing. Learn more about sex with alien beings, bathtubs traveling very fast on our local highways and how we we can avoid yet another rerun of “Planet of the Apes” – (maybe).
With a modicum of fanfare, NASA (the folks who got us to the moon) announced that they’ve been quietly working on a faster than light (FTL) propulsion system – and in fact, may be getting close to a breakthrough.
Yep; working on a really cool notion, NASA is working on developing the first version of a spacecraft utilizing Alcubierre Drive.
No way. Hold on, you say: Saint Albert (Einstein) wouldn’t stand for this! Didn’t Big Al say it wasn’t possible to go faster than light – and in fact, when you get closer to the speed of light, you don’t age much, but everyone back on Earth either ages and dies very quickly or becomes yet another movie version of “Planet of the Apes’?
Yes – and no.
Yes, there will always be version of ‘Planet of the Apes’ (it’s one of those scientific laws that cannot be denied – ‘damn you all to hell!’ *ahem*) but like any law, you have to read the fine print. In this case, what Big Al (Einstein) was referring to is that you cannot go faster than light in your local area of space – which, given that it’s everywhere, you ain’t gonna get around that law – except when one Dr. Miguel Alcubierre came along and asked ‘what if, rather you try to make the ship go fast, you make the space that the ship is go faster?‘ Put it this way:
Alcubierre Drive is actually based on Einsteins’ field equations. It suggests that a spacecraft could achieve faster-than-light travel. Rather than exceed the speed of light alone in a craft. A spacecraft would leap long distances by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it, which would result in faster than light travel.. Physicist Miguel Alcubierre was the first that we know to identify this possibility. He described it as remaining still on a flat piece of space-time inside a warp bubble that was made to move at “superluminal” (faster than light) velocity. We must not forget that space-time can be warped and distorted, it can be moved. But what about moving sections of space-time that’s created by expanding space-time behind the ship, and by contracting space-time in front of the ship,…?
So the ship stays in its spot in space; instead, we’re just picking up the space that the ship is in (including the ship, naturally) and moving everything along – very fast. Kind of like putting your entire bathroom on a flat-bed truck – and while you’re bathing, move you down the highway at high rates of speed while you shampoo, wash, brush your teeth and get dressed. You never leave the bathtub, but when you arrive at your destination you’re nice and clean while enjoying minty freshness! Doesn’t science rule,…!?
Impossible to achieve? Not according to NASA (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015936_2011016932.pdf). In fact, James Hill, who co-authored the new paper with his University of Adelaide, Australia, colleague Barry Cox discusses such plans (the paper was published Oct. 3 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences).
In fact, we could be looking at a working model within the next 10 to 20 years, if not sooner (assuming, of course, that such hasn’t already been built already and, in fact, is orbiting Earth, fighting off intergalactic beings flying in pyramid-shaped spaceships – AAAGGGHHH! – whoops; been watching too much Stargate again,…).
But seriously, this is no longer just some Star Trek notion: the notion of FTL / Warp drive is now being taken up by some serious ‘big heads’. And of course this also underscores yet another important law of the known universe: The Law of Development As It Relates to Star Trek: everything we see on Star Trek is and will become real within sixty (70) years – or a regular human lifetime – from the final show of the original version of Star Trek. Think about it: talking computers (nothing new here), personal communication devices (yep; got that), replicators (3D printed food – coming very soon), wild sex with bizarre alien creatures (Internet Dating Sites – got that already),…
Get the picture?
And by the way, all of this talk of hyperdrive was previously discussed on one of my earlier postings: “Faster Than Light Travel is Actually Quite Possible In Our Lifetime” (October 2012).
For more on this subject, check out the following links:
Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve been busy in more ways than one for the past few months. And one of the things that I’ve been checking out is the hottest new trend: ghost hunting, or ‘ghosting’.
About a year ago, I was approached by an old friend of mine who organized a ghost hunting team that go around and check out to see if a place is ‘inhabited’. For some time, he kept pestering me about joining. ‘Here’s a chance to get out and meet new people’, etc. It seemed kind of silly (although I must admit I occasionally found watching ‘Ghosthunters’ interesting) but finally, after some time, I relented and tagged along.
As a ‘newby’ I was gradually introduced to the equipment utilized – and it is in this vein that I found the experience interesting.
‘Ghosting’ has changed an awful lot in the past 15 years or so. Years ago, everyone had the crazy relative who could ‘read’ and ‘see things’ that they’d quietly go and see, while some folks would get together with somebody who could ‘read’ a place, or they’d sit around a table in the dark and listen to what a ‘medium’ would say.
Nowadays, ghosting is a real home-brew science trip: entire conventions and industries are set up and growing around this phenomenon. And so, after spending some time I’m here to share some of what I observed – strictly from a tech viewpoint.
It’s a remarkable confluence of technology and, er, ‘spirit’ coming together in a manner that it’s, well, read for yourself,… (Note: this is an excerpt from a coming work).
Tools of the Trade
It’s remarkable, but it’s only been in recent years folk come out in support of this trend of understanding the “psychic”. To be certain, back in the turn of the latter century (around really 1900’s or so) there was a brief spell of popularity regarding this sort of thing, encouraged by such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of the Sherlock Holme stories, among other notables – but it’s only during the early 1990’s to the present time, we’ve finally start seeing actual incidents aired on television and spoken of more openly. Some may recall the old “Unsolved Mysteries” or another television show “Sightings”, but it wasn’t until more recent television shows that we begin to see greater focus on paranormal events (another show was “Fear”, as shown – briefly – on MTV during the late 1990’s / early 2000), culminating in a growing wave of viewers interested in learning more about what is arguable becoming one of the more popular cottage industry / hobbies: ghost hunting.
It’s remarkable to watch the phenomenon of ghost hunting grow; in my time as a boy, we collected trains or shot off Estes rockets. Nowadays, it seems as though people are collecting pictures and EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). Ghost hunting (or ‘ghosting’, to some) is now so hot it’s almost ridiculous. Try doing this some 15 years ago and you’d probably be harassed by the local police for being weird or worse, being accused of simply casing out homes to burglarize.
There are different levels of involvement. Folks I’ve worked with are rather sophisticated and established, having a wide variety of tools and equipment, while (more importantly) having the right attitude about going into any place.
It’s all about capture: voices, images or recoding physical interactions. Just like fishing, it’s about the proof – and never about ‘the one that got away.’
But like fishing, it’s not as easy as it seems. More often than not, ‘ghosting’ is hours and hours spent waiting, waiting – and more waiting. You move about, take your recorders, listen in for anything and wait. Sometimes you think you’ll have something: a noise, a sound, or see a shadow. Do a playback, watch the video or listen in – and it’s nothing. Sometimes it can be about as exciting as watching glue dry, knowing that you have to sit through and wait (not to mention doing the playback on some several hours of video can be real drag, but you dare not miss a single frame because that’s all it’ll take: a missed moment of something inexplicable,…).
And to those wanting to check it out for themselves, be warned: it’s hours and days of nothing, and then maybe getting something, only to disprove it. It’s when you come across those very select items, however, that will leave you wondering as I have been as of late,…
Some Suggested Equipment
Here are some suggested items to consider if you’re going to get into this.
Digital voice recorders – For some reason, there are voices captured (EVP’s – Electronic Voice Phenomenon) that the human ear doesn’t hear (at least the normal human ear) but are captured on digital recorders (although you have to be careful as the human ear can trick one into thinking that what is captured sounds like a voice). Sometimes, it’s best to take these recordings and without tampering with the original, run them through some software (say, like Audacity; there are many programs out there) and ‘clean up’ the recording: remove any hiss or background noise while taking care not to lose or distort the recording.
Laptop / computer – this is vital if you intend to save any video or voice recordings. Also, if you intend to share what you’ve captured, this is also a vital piece of equipment as you may want to consider setting up a website, run a podcast or manage your email contacts.
Ovilus – The jury is out on this item, but some believe it can be used as a means to see if anything is worth checking out. The Ovilus is an electronic speech synthesis device uttering words depending on environmental readings, including EMF (electro magnetic fields). The Ovilus was created by Bill Chappell, a retired electronics engineer interested in the paranormal who creates such devices. An Ovilus has an embedded database of words, along with an EMF detector, among several other environmental sensors. These readings are combined to create a number, and this number is used to reference the database of words. The Ovilus then “speaks” that word. An Ovilus can also operate in a phonetic mode that reacts to EMF variations to create words that are not in the database. There are other types of the Ovilus device, including the Paranormal Puck, Video Ovilus, Ovilus I, Ovilus II, Ovilus FX, Ovilus X, Talker, and The PX.
This is all well and good, but who’s to say that the words that are being generated by the Ovilus are not due to, say, some type of electrical field being made by Aunt Mae’s air conditioner running in the adjacent room or the wires embedded in the walls of a typical house? Supporters argue that the words which could be uttered are consistently with what has been researched to a specific place – for example, if the words ‘hang’, ‘suicide’, ‘sad’, etc. – and thus could be used as proof of a location being ‘inhabited’. Either way, the ovilus is merely another tool and should be used with applied skepticism, and not as a final proof establishing the presence of any ‘activity’.
EMF Detector – used by electricians, an EMF detector can suggest the presence of ‘entities’ as ‘entities’ will ‘emit’ some sort of activity. Caution needs to be applied here as an EMF detector can also pick up on unshielded / old wiring or appliances that are on – such as refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. (prior to undertaking any hunt, it’s often wise to turn everything off). There have ben some instances where the EMF was so grossly wild that clearly, something was not readily explained was going down while in other cases, the readings were so low as to indicate little – if anything – was going on.
Fleer Scope – Very cool piece of equipment, but not exactly cheap, Fleer’s pick up on thermal changes. Entities can either come across as very cold (dark colors) or very hot (brighter colors) when clearly there’s no logical reason why something should be present. In some cases, Fleer’s have been known to pick up human figures / shapes when the visible eye could see nothing while in other cases, Fleers will pick up was appears to be a presence, but in fact is a draft from an open window or a poorly sealed floor board.
Digital cameras (either handheld or active video). Going about and taking pictures in the dark can capture some things: shadows, figures or strange shapes. But like anything else, one is wise to be careful what they capture as more often than not, there can be logical reasons or explanations of shadows – displaced light sources, reflections, etc. Digital cameras can also be utilized to take different light spectrums – night vision, infrared, etc. – which can also offer different levels of vision that you normally wouldn’t capture with the naked eye. Just do yourself and everybody around you a big favor: if you’re taking still shots, let folks know when the flash is about to go off as frankly, it’s hard to go about walking in a dark place after being blinded by a series of light flashes.
Temperature gauges – usually a handheld laser, temperatures gauges can pick up on the ambient temperature of a given locale, with the presence of possible hits recorded usually in low temperature range (i.e., cold spots). Again, depending on the airflow of a given locale, such readings can lead to ‘false positives’ and thus should be handled with a degree of focus and applied skepticism.
There are other equipment other organizations use, but the equipment listed herein are considered de rigueur.
Understand, having all this equipment and their respective ‘evidence’ does not alone mean that ‘ghosts’ are definitive (although at times it’s gotten pretty weird that maybe there’s something to this stuff).
For the record, I do not believe in ghosts for they are not a matter of belief.
(Thanks to the South Jersey Soul Searchers for letting me hang out; so far it’s been a pretty cool experience – that and the beer and pizza parties afterwards have been fun!).
Once again I’ve been busy (sorry for the delays in posting) and I’ve published yet another work. This one is entitled “Another Book of Thirty-Three (33) Rules Regarding Life”. It’s based on my own experiences and insights from others distilled into a brief book ready for reading for when you’re bored, dozing off in the office cubicle or going to the bathroom.
Self-help / instructional books are big nowadays; it’ a good business to tell everybody else how they have to stop feeling and when there’s so much of people feeling bad about themselves (and no wonder!). But it also begs the question: of there’s so much good advice gong about, how come things are just, well, the same old shit? I’ve actually taken the time to read some of these books – and even glanced at a few more. It’s all the same: more often than not a group of Pollyanna’s who have returned from whatever mountain they’ve climbed to bring us the news and the way to a better life, better work or career, better relationship – whatever. And all for $10.99.
To be sure, good (and grounded) advice will always be in demand, but sorting through the pile of dung to get to the diamond can be rather tiresome – and so with this in mind, I undertook a series of notes for the past several months of people and what I observed. I then pulled together prior words of wisdom from those before me and collated all into one, er, tome. I deliberately avoided the mumbo-jumbo psychological jargon, the ‘feel-good’ spiel and laid it all out as it truly is: it’s a rough and mean world, but somebody’s got to make fun of it all.
Check out “Another Book of Thirty-three (33) Rules Regarding Life” at Smashwords: it come in all flavors ‘ formats (kindle, Mobi, Apple, Palm, etc.) and it readily available for download.
And besides, where else can you go to get infinite wisdom for a mere $2.99?
Get the book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/317669
At the time, the home-based consumer computer (not to mention the telephone system with its BBS’s – Bulletin Boards!) was new and exciting: the (now old and removed POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) was THE game in town, with the intent of gathering information and the joy of learning new routines the primary goal. Various stratagems and means were utilized, inclusive of dumpster-diving (going through the telephone companies trash), ‘social engineering’ (a fancy word for sweet talking somebody into giving you restricted access) along with regular stops to nearest ‘Rat’ (Radio) Shack and ‘trade gatherings’ where others of ‘their’ kind would come together.
This is all mentioned in light of the recent news development regarding a group of hackers involved in a massive worldwide effort regarding banks to the (publicly reported and admitted) amount of $45 million.
As the so-called experts point out:
Hackers got into bank databases, eliminated withdrawal limits on pre-paid debit cards and created access codes. Others loaded that data onto any plastic card with a magnetic stripe — an old hotel key card or an expired credit card worked fine as long as it carried the account data and correct access codes.
A network of operatives than fanned out to rapidly withdraw money in multiple cities, authorities said. The cells would take a cut of the money, then launder it through expensive purchases or ship it wholesale to the global ringleaders. Lynch didn’t say where they were located.
Some things still haven’t changed; nothing new here.
The idea of using a plastic code with a pre-coded magnetic tape is as old as dirt itself: as to how this is done, much of this can be found through various sources.
As to accessing banking records to undertake such things (after all, the only way in which this job could be pulled is by matching the actual account information to the physical magnetic cards used for downloading cash), during the 1990’s Citibank’s interoffice telephone exchange was openly used by “hackers” for free conferencing calls, openly planning their next round of activities, exchanging chit-chat or teaching each other on the latest trends and routines – no different from any other major corporate personnel utilizing a corporate telephone network (its worth noting that, at the time, users had to be mindful of the (slight) distance delays differential owing to the then weird practice of Citibank having all its calls routed through it’s Paris, France office network).
Any system or service is only as secure as it’s people make it to be.
As for accessing bank records, why stop at digging in, when you can have the information come to you? Some years ago, there were a group of hackers who went one step further: actually setting up fake ATM’s in shopping malls and other public areas. The average user would go to withdraw money, only to be told that the machine was out of service; the information the user had entered was then stored and taken to be placed on a magnetic printer strip for later withdrawal (these were among a sub-grouping who, as part of their routine, would withdraw cash from ATM machines while wearing masks of such individuals as Ronald Reagan, zombies, Richard Nixon, or a host of others for the amusing benefit of bank security cameras).
During the 1990’s, banks had a situation wherein “hackers” (ah, that word again) would be accused of replacing security cameras with one of their own, ‘shoulder surfing’ over user’s to capture this account information (an insidious procedure which may sound perfectly suitable for nefarious purposes, but in fact can be a real pain to undertake). The smarter ones, however, would set up capture items in and around the keyboard such that users were not aware that their information was being captured,…
And then there were the legendary moves on the part of certain “hackers’ of the Russian Federation who captured inter-bank transfers, placing ‘blocks’ or ‘capture point / redirects’ on the ports where the data were being swapped (in simplistic terms, placing listening devices to the internet / telephone networks, decrypted the data being sent and then using that data to actually access the raw accounts being managed). The results of this effort? Estimates range widely, with bank losses estimated to reach at high as $50 million in just one such incident alone! Interestingly, the impacted banking houses sought to drop the charges (naturally they settled for financial restitution – but remarkably, settled for an amount far less than what many suspected was actually taken, suggesting that the action was deeply than anyone wished to admit and that the skill set involved insured that the money was untraceable – or, more likely the appropriate officials were sufficiently given ‘inducements’ top avoid any further prosecutorial action) in exchange for the “hackers” to be their security consultants so as to avoid any further public publicity over the matter, for if the public were to truly know the extent of the lack of security, banking confidence would plummet.
And can you blame them? I’d hate to be the one to tell my clients ‘gee, several millions of (insert your currency of choice here) was taken from your account, but you still want to do business with us – right?’
Which brings us to the other side of the coin, so to speak,…
As reported two months ago, HSBC was directly involved in what governmental officials stated was ‘money laundering’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21840052) for major narco-criminal enterprises worldwide (which is interesting how this particularly publicized group of “hackers” targeted money reserves set aside for pre-paid cards, wisely avoiding other accounts,…).
The reality is that the only innocents involved in the entire arena are the average bank account holders (the ‘little people’), for many banks themselves are involved in criminal activities of their own, ranging from money laundering, to passing along sub-prime housing funds, or just simply overcharging people with various account charges just because, well, the banks can do this sort of thing (I deliberately fail to mention the investors as insurance will cover the costs of such losses; as to those who may object I merely point out that it’s all just business and to please check your company pride at the door,…).
Much of what is taking place in recent years regarding banking is increasingly a matter of degree and viewpoint. As banks become larger, they will utilize whatever resources they can to ensure their protection, which may include the hiring of those who penetrated their security, indulging in questionable investment practices and serving ‘interesting’ clientele.
It’s all part of doing “normal” business in the 21st century.
Similarly, as banks handle larger and larger amounts of “money” (and we won’t get into the discussion of ‘Bitcoin’ and the significance of that development as it relates to international banking and financial systems as after all, when you think about, what truly defines the financial value of any given currency?) banks are involved in realms and investment practices which they did not dream of doing but twenty (20) years ago – witness the role of banks in the recent housing bubble and the sub-prime mess along with their various other financial / investment practices (we’re still awaiting the final report on the offshore accounts held in the Bahama involving high-ranking international governmental officials and other ‘outstanding’ members of society – $32 TRILLION and rising,…!).
Realize this: we’ve reached a point in our culture(s) and society(ies) where – like the intrinsic value of money and the actual stability of our financial systems – the very notion of a bank robbery is now relative.
Here’s one brief overview of this incident: http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/05/10/sophisticated-network-of-global-thieves-drain-cash-machines-in-27-countries-of-45m/
Marissa Meyer may differ, but we here at Shockwaveriderblog Control Center see the future (as we usually do) – and it’s going to be about low overhead, effective exploitation of technology and greater competitive response.
Whoa, that’s a mouthful; let’s take it through one step at a time.
Welcome to the Realm of the Virtual Office: lean, mean and fast.
This isn’t just about telecommuting (which is old hat anyhow) it’s about saving money, greater response to client needs and all within the context of a secure and ubiquitous records / file service.
The office, as we know it is dead. To be certain, there will always been some operations which will require the obligatory cubicle farms but increasingly, the more successful business folk are those who are able to be more responsive, keep their costs low while yet be able to work their clients, balancing the necessities of picking up their kids from school while maintaining a family household.
Let’s take one sector where the Virtual Office is starting to make serious inroads and have significant impact: law.
Whenever one thinks of law, one thinks of either a) dry, musty offices with tons of obscure legal books, clustered desks, overflowing fax machines and the vague tinge of week old coffee hanging in the air – or b) law office’s ala LA Law – modern flowing offices with smart / spiffy people talking with serious overtones hanging out in court, and then going back to their cluttered desks with bookshelves overflowing with obscure legal books and computers overwhelmed with unanswered emails (well, back in the days of LA Law, they didn’t have email, but you get the idea) and stale coffee.
Who says that it has to be this way any more?
This was a point brought up by Ms. Chelsey Lambert, founder of Virtual Law (http://www.totalattorneys.com) – and well worth considering: “let’s face it; many of the functions that attorneys do nowadays can be readily done remotely and within the context of a secure and responsive environment.”
It’s probably no coincidence that Virtual law or the online delivery of legal services has taken off just at a time when “The Cloud” is now a concept readily embraced by more and more users, both corporate and governmental (witness the Central Intelligence Agency’s move to adopt Amazon’s new cloud storage system as a means to store their own records – for more on this, see my prior blog on this development).
Hey, if it’s good enough for what is arguably the world’s biggest and among the most powerful intelligence services, then why not for your local neighborhood attorney?
Well, except for some states, as Ms. Lambert points out: ‘some places are slow to adopt this new approach – such as New Jersey – but overall, the response among states has been overwhelming and proves that this concept has legs.’ Indeed – and if legs were any indication, this concept of a Virtual Law Office would be akin to an Olympic sprinter after drinking a barrel of expresso. In the past several years, more and more offices are adopting this approach as it returns back to the notion of what an attorney / professional is: it is the person, not the office, which defines the skill set.
Sure, it’s helpful to have an office and a place to dump your junk (so to speak) every once in a while, but when you consider the advantages that a person well-armed with a good, solid laptop, ready Internet access along with good cup of coffee (or tea) that’s really all we’re talking about (that and a competent attorney!).
In the past five years, we’ve witnessed the explosion of iPhone / smartphones; laptops reaching over 1 Gg in storage capacity and tremendous processing speed along with the growing prevalence of wireless access (much of it increasingly free). We’re not just talking about low overhead and a greater response on behalf of the client, we’re talking about a quiet revolution taking place that’s going to impact mainstream businesses everywhere – and in the process may very well go far in stimulating the economy.
And best of all, with this approach, you can have your business and your family, as adopters of this approach are able to work within the context of their lives – which brings up another significant point: the majority of folks making this possible are women. As Ms. Lambert puts it so aptly:
I’d also like to point out that a very rare occurrence happened above. FEMALE attorneys are advancing the legal profession by leaps and bounds. A glimmer of hope within a notoriously male dominated industry is igniting the passion of female lawyers across the country. For the first time, they have the ability to go out on their own, with minimal overhead, work a schedule that accommodates their family, and earn a living from wherever they choose to work.
To give you a better idea what this means, in one example, an attorney residing in North Carolina are practicing law in Texas.
Think about the implication of what this could mean for other industries and for the labor force and the open market as a whole and you’ll start to see the implications.
Growing up in a single parent household, I recall the trials that my mother went through, working in the day and going to night school to learn and attain a skill set which enable her to both improve herself and our living standard: somehow, I’m not surprised that this development is taking place by women – or, as I would suggest, ‘necessity is often made by a mother of invention.’
To learn more about this remarkable and overlooked trend, check out these links below:
Rachel Rodgers, Esq.
Rachel Rodgers Law (Virtual Business Law Practice) http://www.rachelrodgerslaw.com/
Her Virtual Law Office (VLO Consulting Practice) http://hervirtuallawoffice.com/
Fast Company’s latest article –https://ad122.infusionsoft.com/app/linkClick/4003/10c1a41ed98c5ac5/13905/e44c955f2fc8cdc8
Rania Combs, Esq.
Texas Wills & Trusts Online – http://www.texaswillsandtrustslaw.com/
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/hanisarji/2011/05/05/an-estate-planners-virtual-law-office/
Stephanie Kimbro, Esq.
Original co-founder of VLO Tech, purchased by Total Attorneys in 2009.
‘The Big Four’
These are the four leading Legal Cloud Computing / Virtual Law Practice Providers. Each provide a complete client portal, time tracking, billing and various other tools specifically designed to support a virtual client relationship & secure online delivery of legal services.
Special thanks to Chelsey Lambert for helping out in this article! For more, check out Ms. Lambert’s profile which includes contact information: www.linkedin.com/in/chelseylambert/