Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Monday, July 28, 2008

What's possible?

Speaking of possibility...

Making predictions is a challenging enterprise. Two previous PI lectures revealed different approaches to forecasting: probability and possibility. While the probable approach is suited for repeatable phenomena the possible one is using reason and imagination in forecasting. Jules Verne predictions that became reality are well known. Sometimes possibility comes first to enumerate the elements that are the subjects of probability research.

In the PI lecture "Science Fiction and Reality" presented by Gerard 't Hooft we learn about scientific reality and how difficult is to make predictions. Here are some highlights, of the video annotated in the (minute:second) format:

7:57 atom scale matter manipulation
8:40 atom size computer chips
9:40 the potential of nanotechnology
13:00 genetic engineering
14:30 carbon nanotubes strength
16:30 Moore's law
18:20 computer intelligence better than human's (debatable in my opinion)
20:40 robots
23:02 Universe is made of same stuff than Earth
24:20 space shuttle is the most efficient way to go out of space if energy is the price to pay
26:40 Black Holes (BH)
27:30 BH cannot be used for transportation due to high forces developed
32:25 tether propulsion: use of cables to pull into space

The rest of the lecture continues with:
- the over optimistic predictions about robots use in the year 2000,
- how few have foreseen the personal computer, internet and the role of cell-phones,
- why it makes sense to colonize the Moon and the solar system,
- capitalistic scenario of Moon colonization with Cambots and galaxy conquering with Neumannbots (robots that reproduce themselves).
- humans will not be able to go outside the solar system (debatable in my opinion)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

PI's gravity.

The buzz about the almost unbelievable possibility that Stephen Hawking could move to Waterloo is out. Just thinking about what if the possibility will become reality...


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Quadruple Big Bang in Waterloo!

$50 million donation to PI +
Best PI Lecture +
NSERC Award +
PI lectures on Discovery Channel
= 4 Big Bangs!!!!

Besides being the best and most entertaining, last month PI lecture and the three announcements made at its beginning, stunned the audience.

Firstly, Mike Lazaridis talk given after the announcement of his additional $50 million donation to Perimeter Institute is in my opinion a milestone in PI's history.

He started by saying: Friends, this amazing adventure continues. The world is changing, manufacturing is not enough. We have to invest in innovation, we have to invest in the best and brightest in our schools, in our research community... This was clear to me 10 years ago and continues to be clear to me today. Then he emphasized the importance of the theoretical research and of PI's public lectures that make history. Watch his talk starting at minute 12:00 of this video.

Secondly, Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced that PI was awarded the Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion.

Lastly, the audience learned that the Discovery Channel will start to broadcast the PI Lectures throughout Canada.

PI gets one more time the recognitions and support that it deserves as a leading theoretical research and science education organization.

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Nitrogen fireworks in Waterloo.

Best ever!

This is how I would label PI's last public lecture of the 2007-2008 season "Time and Einstein in the 21st Century: The coolest stuff in the universe".

It happened at the beginning of last month but its reverberations will be felt for long time.

Here are some "keywords" that would characterize the lecture: time, atomic clocks, balloons, "really, really cold stuff", slow atoms, excitement, explosions, nitrogen "fireworks" (balloons exploding), "lots of really really cold stuff flowing on the floor", incredible clocks precision.

William D. Phillips, a Nobel Prize laureate, proved that science lectures could be really, really, really entertaining.

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