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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

Not exactly an iPhone ...

On a rainy Friday in Seychelles I get a call from Mexico informing me that the Chinese calendar will be bringing me a year of good luck starting on the 3rd of February, prompting me to share that possible reprieve with friends in the US, England, Germany, Italy and South Africa.

Yep. Within about 30 minutes eight countries were buzzing about my radar, and that was without going anywhere near facebook.

It never ceases to amaze me how this world of ours has gone so tiny, yet stays so bloody big. Yeah, sure I can conference call … for free … with a half dozen people in as many countries when effectively connected, and that’s wonderful, but getting up-close and personal with anyone off this rock? That’s not so simple, is it?

It wasn’t long ago the Internet and its wonders were beyond the scope, but within a few short years it’s more common in my world that peeps have it than don’t. Not only can we now communicate globally easily and far more cheaply than in the days it took a pricy phone call to reach out and touch someone, we now have Internet ON our phones. Just take a moment to imagine how shocked we would have been had we been told ten years ago this would be at our fingertips? And with a touch screen, yet!

Yes, we’ve seen HUGE changes, but at the same time so much stays the same.

Ease of communication has leapt and bounded, but transport? Not so much.

It was 40-some years ago James T. Kirk and Co. were stepping up for getting around of the dissolve/stick-together-somewhere-else sort, but the only real change in how we’re able to move about that’s happened over all those decades is the size of the planes that cram us in, then subject us to endless hours of torture.

Oh! You can now make calls from your own phone on some airliners and connect to the Internet, but that seems just rubbing it in if you ask me.

I’ve been waiting for that Beamy-uppy thingy ever since I moved halfway around the world from my roots and shoots, but in vain.

So, what is it with all the sticking-to-the-planes deal? I admit my lack of science-y expertise may be tricking me into thinking it should be an easier row to hoe, but since I was equally clueless on the WorldWideWeb, I’m in no mood to allow any excuses.

Look at it this way …

The first telephone … the precursor to our modern communication wonders … was patented in 1876. The first car … the beginning of travel that didn’t require draught animals … came along about 200 years EARLIER, and the first gasoline engine cranked over almost in sync with the phone.

An automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885, and granted a patent in January of the following year under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie., which was founded in 1883. It was an integral design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. He began to sell his production vehicles in 1888.
A photograph of the original Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept

In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.

I know there’s a huge difference between the internal combustion engine and the Star Trek transporter, but so is there between the gadget you see Alex G. Bell mouthing into in the photo above and instantaneous video calls around the planet.

“I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.” ~ Dr. McCoy

Yeah, yeah … it’s a bit of a scary concept, but if Bones could get over it, anyone can.

So … get on the stick, folks. I hate flying, always get a fuckin’ cold when I’ve had to freeze my ass off for 12+ hours and ingest the breath of 250 other people who are as just as uncomfortable as I am, and I don’t like the food.

But …

If 2011 actually IS my year … me being a metal rabbit and this being the year of the rabbit and all … I’m not wasting any of the luck that may come my way on R&D for rapid-er transit.

Nope.

I’ll be keeping all that for health, wealth and wisdom for me and mine, thankyouverymuch. And if that puts my ass on planes, so be it.

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It’s only been election day in the States for a little under an hour now, but on this side of the world the morning is heading toward afternoon and that has me thinking I should be sitting in front of the TV and listening to Wolf Blitzer yammer on about exit polls.

This is certain to be one of those days that I resent the hell out of whoever has yet to get around to inventing the beamy-uppy thing, as I would LOVE to be in the US for all of this particular Tuesday in this particular November.

I’ve not minded at all missing out on the hoopla of the last two Presidential elections … in fact I casually contemplated passing myself off as Canadian (or a Kiwi like Sis, but I can’t do the accent) … but this one brings such promise that I’m sorry to be missing the party … Democrat, of course.

My beautiful and bright daughter, Jenn, has been stumping for Obama in North Carolina, and I would love to be sitting with her as the results come in. Not that I’m counting unhatched chickens from way over here in the Indian Ocean … no way! I’ve been out of America long enough now to harbor no illusions about the potential of pinheads to rise like over-yeasty bread and take over the world, reminding me in no little way of the creature introduced in Michael Landon’s first film, “The Blob”.

Could it be, though, that this time around intelligence counts? Could smart and honorable and vital and committed and fresh and fill-in-a-positive-adjective-here carry the day?

Do the world a favor, and get out and vote today, and if you’re still undecided and of the mindset that a movie star should tell you what box to tick, feel free to let my brother influence you. After all, he’s a smart guy, too.

I’ll be over here waiting with fish on my tongue (baited breath … a groaner, I know, but it’s an inside joke aimed at a few) for the results to start coming in on CNN’s website … Anderson Cooper is cute, isn’t he just, and isn’t that what TV news is all about? … and hoping for the promise of a new and brighter world.

We all sure could use that.

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No, I’m not harkening back to the flap last year that had tacky t-shirts emblazoned with the what was either cleverly hip or cynically horrid “Adoption: the New Black”, but rather the REAL New Black, which is black.

Yep. Black: The New Black.

Blacker than black, this new black is amazingly cool to a science geek wannabe like me.

It’s the Washington Post that puts out a version of this I can wrap my head around … almost … as it describes a new material that absorbs — get this — 99.955% of any light that hits it.

Hmmmmmm … If a moth gets to it, does it leave a Black Hole?

“It’s very deep, like in a forest on the darkest night,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, a scientist who helped create the material at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “Nothing comes back to you. It’s very, very, very dark.”

I’m trying to imagine aiming my eyes at a bit of fabric from which nothing comes back.

What’s that like? Brain death, maybe? Like, I’m looking, I’m looking, I’m looking, but there’s so much nothing to see that I might as well not have eyes?

Cool.

Wondering what use the New Black will have, besides being the height of whatever heights get that groovy designation?

Well, the military is jazzed about adding it to stealth coatings that absorb radar waves. Why not?

But check out this stuff:

Solar panels coated with it would be much more efficient than those coated with conventional black paint, which reflects 5 percent or more of incoming light. Telescopes lined with it would sop up random flecks of incidental light, providing a blacker background to detect faint stars.

And a wide array of heat detectors and energy-measuring devices, including climate-tracking equipment on satellites, would become far more accurate than they are today if they were coated with energy-grabbing superblack.

Of course, I’m thinking of the fashion potential. Those extra pounds I’m toting could disappear with just a little nip and tuck, not of me, but of an outfit sporting strategic touches of “super black”. And think of the contouring possible if it could be added to a makeup line! Double chin! What double chin?

And Halloween! Head! What head?

I also can’t shake the idea of Bug Bunny’s portable holes … those disks of black he’d toss when he needed a quick getaway. With big enough circles of the New Black anyone could appear to exit Stage Right for “Wonderland”.

Of course, having all the light sucked out of the immediate area is one way to hide, but not the only one almost possible these days.

Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak is also in the works, but rather than gobble light the stuff being used bends it backward.

Known as transformation optics, the phenomenon compels some wavelengths of light to flow around an object like water around a stone. As a result, things behind the object become visible while the object itself disappears from view.

Does that or does than not give goose bumps the size of headlamps?

Okay … now that we can cloak a Volkswagon like a Klingon war bird, can we please get that beamy-uppy thing in the works? I’d really like to meet my oldest son’s girlfriend.

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