A new NASA sponsored study is looking into the feasibility of spacecraft that rotate all the way to Mars which could simulate partial or full Earth gravity – a little like the craft in the movie Elysium, but more utilitarian and with fewer billionaires.
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which nurtures and experiments with ideas that are beyond the agency’s current mission “horizon” planning has just pumped another $500,000 into developing the first proof of concept systems, based on a concept called tensegrity. However, if all of the funding was in place today then lead principal investigator Robert Skelton has said he could have a prototype in low-Earth orbit in about three to four years. Source
When I say we, I don’t mean in war-torn africa, but rather the western world. And by relatively I mean compared to seemingly any other time in human existence.
According to Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, 2011):
“Violent deaths of all kinds have declined, from around 500 per 100,000 people per year in prestate societies to around 50 in the Middle Ages, to around six to eight today worldwide, and fewer than one in most of Europe.”
You can thank the upper class:
“Beginning in the 11th or 12th [century] and maturing in the 17th and 18th, Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipated the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. A culture of honor—the readiness to take revenge—gave way to a culture of dignity—the readiness to control one’s emotions. These ideals originated in explicit instructions that cultural arbiters gave to aristocrats and noblemen, allowing them to differentiate themselves from the villains and boors. But they were then absorbed into the socialization of younger and younger children until they became second nature.”
In the USA murders are rending towards recorded lows:
In the future I envisage a shrine room of sorts in the family home. A room for meditation, arts, weights and remembrance. Mood music. Pot plants and filtered sunlight and a gentle breeze.
The centerpiece is in the corner. A bi-fold concertina that has images of the most recent generation at the forefront. Each layer behind has the generation before – in images or stories.
Hidden to all but those who wish to look back.
It could be scrapbook-esque, or multimedia.
In the past, all people generally had of their long-dead relatives is a few black and white photos. In the future we’ll have social media posts, videos, 3D figurines and much, much more. And as organised religion fades, perhaps honouring your ancestors will make a return?
This person is on a similar track but I’m thinking TV cabinet size:
I would love to be able to emulate the ritual of elephants for my own death, but typically it won’t be possible.
To make it work you will need the following:
All generations living in the same locality
No bureaucratic interference
Distance achievable by an elderly person
The final point is critical. Most animals seem to be highly functional right until death. Humans aren’t like that. We can’t hike 50 miles and then drop dead. 50 metres is more like it. So we need to place ourselves close to the graveyard when we feel our end is nigh.
I have long toyed with the idea of a natural post-death dispersal, the idea that I disappear into nature via a regular process:
Taken by vultures or hyenas
Rotted into soil
But that seems so random and impersonal. It would be substantially more special if I lay down amongst the bones of my ancestors. I wouldn’t even need to see bones, just trust that I was in the same place.
The only way it could work for me is to buy some land and be sure that it would stay with my family forever. And then (when my time has come) lay myself down amongst the bones of my future family. It might not become a thing, but it would feel nice trying such a thing as my final act.
NextDoor will get you hanging out with people on your block that you know already… and then get to know the neighbors you have never met. I could see people using it for things like asking if anyone can babysit, or has a ladder you can borrow.
Al Jazeera has news from Ordos in Inner Mongolia, a wealthy coal-mining town in Inner Mongolia. The city is designed to house one million people, yet almost nobody lives there yet.
This is quite extraordinary, and smells like Dubai – a modern city has been built, mosty by Chinese citizens seeking a safe haven investment (and the banks are letting them) – and virtually nobody is living there. Watch the video:
Yes, harsh economic times, blah blah blah, but that’s not the reason Colorado is going broke. I used to shop there because they made clothes for my demographic – middle-aged men who want to look and act younger, but in a balanced way. I used to shop there, but their clothes have trended younger than suits me… For example, trying buying a normal pair of jeans, without bleached bits or fake wear… That’;s why they are failing, I stopped shopping there.
It is looking likely that a insecticide sold by Bayer, clothianidin, which is banned in Germany, France, Italy, and Slovenia, is harming the global bee population. It appears that the EPA is happy for the product to remain on sale, despite a leaked document that says it is toxic to bees.
The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat…