It seems as though every day we are coming closer and closer to living in what we perceive to be The Future. In fact, a brief walk down 23rd street and you’ll know that we’re there already, judging by the amount of people staring into the small black rectangle they are holding in their hands.
But the “The Future” is about a lot more than ubiquitous computing and telecommunications. It’s a time and place full of marvelous feats of engineering, biological breakthroughs and mastery over the natural world.
This list of emerging technologies page on wikipedia is like a ones-stop-shop for every interesting technological development happening right now. It’s great place to keep track of “The Future” as it arrives.
In addition to being a really handy list, the technologies are broken down by industry (Agriculture, home appliance, etc.) and then into a handy table that includes the potential applications of the innovation along with links to relevant articles, and perhaps most interestingly a box for marginalized technologies – that is current technologies that will be replaced by new innovations.
This post on the Explain Like I’m Five sub-Reddit asks the basic, but surprisingly complex question “What is Math?”
I remember sitting in eleventh grade math class and wondering the same thing. As we dove into polynomial equations I tried to get my teacher to explain exactly what math is – as in, is it real? Does nature really function according to mathematical theorems, or is it just a framework that we impose upon the world to understand it?
In other words, is math a creation or a discovery?
I spent all of last week eating nothing but whole foods. And one unexpected side effect was my development of junk-vision. That is, everywhere I went I could see nothing but junk. Strange concoted inventions that were called food but weren’t. Not when compared to the perfection of, say, a grapefruit.
Case in point: the potato chip which, as much as i LOVE to eat them, are not actual food, but rather inventions created in factories.
So it was with great interest that I read this interview from the Atlantic with Michael Moss, the author of Sugar, Salt, Fat about them:
As I researched Salt, Sugar, Fat, I was surprised to learn about the meticulously crafted allure of potato chips (which I happen to love). When you start to deconstruct the layers of the chip’s appeal, you start to see why this simple little snack has the power to make a profound claim on our attention and appetite. “Betcha can’t eat just one” starts sounding less like a lighthearted dare—and more like a kind of promise. The food industry really is betting on its ability to override the natural checks that keep us from overeating.
Here’s how it works.
It starts with salt, which sits right on the outside of the chip. Salt is the first thing that hits your saliva, and it’s the first factor that drives you to eat and perhaps overeat. Your saliva carries the salty taste through the neurological channel to the pleasure center of the brain, where it sends signals back: “Hey, this is really great stuff. Keep eating.”
The industry calls this salty allure a food’s “flavor burst,” and I was surprised to learn just how many variations on this effect there are. The industry creates different varieties of salt for different kinds of processed foods: everything from fine powders that blend easily into canned soups, to big chunky pyramid-shaped granules with flat sides that stick better to food (hollowed out on the inside for maximum contact with the saliva).
Here is where you can read Carl Sagan’s essay on the pleasures of getting high:
I can remember the night that I suddenly realized what it was like to be crazy, or nights when my feelings and perceptions were of a religious nature. I had a very accurate sense that these feelings and perceptions, written down casually, would not stand the usual critical scrutiny that is my stock in trade as a scientist. If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, or even that certain politicians are desperately frightened men, I may tend to disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say ‘Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!’ I try to show that my mind is working clearly; I recall the name of a high school acquaintance I have not thought of in thirty years; I describe the color, typography, and format of a book in another room and these memories do pass critical scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis (and probably with other drugs) which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, unavailable to us without such drugs. Such a remark applies not only to self-awareness and to intellectual pursuits, but also to perceptions of real people, a vastly enhanced sensitivity to facial expression, intonations, and choice of words which sometimes yields a rapport so close it’s as if two people are reading each other’s minds.
The complete archive of Omni Magazines is now available online.
Omni was really a first of its kind. A beautiful glossy mag filled a blend of cutting edge science reporting and science fiction all with a healthy blend of psychedelia.
Maybe I should just go on vacation and read them all.
There is a shift to sanity beginning to happen. Maybe. If we are lucky. What makes me say that? The fact that this article on the Secret History of Psychedelic Psychiatry is part of bigger story about the re-emergence of psychedelics as something to be studied and learned from:
The secret history of psychedelic psychiatry began in the early 1950s, about 10 years after Albert Hofmann discovered the hallucinogenic properties of LSD, and lasted until 1970. It was uncovered by medical historian Erika Dyck, who examined the archives from Canadian mental health researchers and conducted interviews with some of the psychiatrists, patients and nurses involved in the early LSD trials. Dyck’s work shows early LSD experimentation in a new light, as a fruitful branch of mainstream psychiatric research: it redefined alcoholism as a disease that could be cured and played a role in the psychopharmacological revolution which radically transformed psychiatry. But, despite some encouraging results, it was cut short prematurely.
This what a star does when it dies.