Saturday, November 28, 2009

Random Linkage 28/11/09

First Black Holes May Have Incubated in Giant, Starlike Cocoons
'The first large black holes in the universe likely formed and grew deep inside gigantic, starlike cocoons that smothered their powerful x-ray radiation and prevented surrounding gases from being blown away, says a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.'

Dark power: Grand designs for interstellar travel
'No one disputes that building a ship powered by black holes or dark matter would be a formidable task. Yet remarkably there seems to be nothing in our present understanding of physics to prevent us from making either of them. What's more, Crane believes that feasibility studies like his touch on questions in cosmology that other research hasn't considered.'

Splitting Time from Space—New Quantum Theory Topples Einstein's Spacetime
'Was Newton right and Einstein wrong? It seems that unzipping the fabric of spacetime and harking back to 19th-century notions of time could lead to a theory of quantum gravity.'

NASA to develop haptic air-typing spacesuit gloves
'NASA is considering plans to integrate haptic vibro feedback and Halting State style
air-writing accelerometer capability into spacesuit gloves.'
(Why not just use chip-enhanced mindpower?)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recommendations Wanted

Amazon have given me three GBP credit to spend on MP3 downloads. Gosh. What should I buy?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comfortably Numb

I find myself becoming mildly obsessed with this Pink Floyd song. It's extremely well known - probably their best-known song in fact, up there in best plank-spanking polls and so on - but flew way under my radar when it was first released in 1979; although the hippy living in the flat beneath mine back in Bristol had it on constant replay I was so not into the whole concept album thing back then, and I've never seen the film. But I was boxset-streaming The Sopranos from start to finish recently , and a snippet of 'Comfortably Numb' (the live version with Van Morrison, from The Departed soundtrack) was playing in Christopher Moltisanti's SUV just before he crashed. Since then, I've been listening to various versions, and finding that the dialogue between a doctor and a pop star who needs chemical enhancement to get going has been helping me find my way inside a character who had previously been frustratingly opaque. Underneath the bombast, there's a fragile wistfulness, a longing for things lost, a revelation half-glimpsed and barely understood. Perfect for the posthuman condition I'm trying to evoke.

So far I like this version best. If only for the flowering-medusa-spaceship thing, and the crowd's transcendent rapture.
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