Friday, 3 June 2016

Space Station

Bruce Wenham

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ocean Sunfish

Bruce Wenham
The ocean sunfish or Mola mola, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world.

Friday, 27 May 2016

25 facts about China

Bruce Wenham

  1. China's huge workforce and abundant natural resources have driven massive economic change.
  2. About a third of the population lives in cities, while the remainder live in the countryside.
  3. At 6,300 kilometres long, the Yangtze is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world.
  4. China experiences typhoons each year and also suffers from floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and droughts.
  5. China has recently abandoned its one child policy. 
  6. China has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. They've currently got the Pentagon and Japan very worried about their activities in the South China Sea.
  7. China is about the same size as the continental USA.
  8. China is home to a cluster of ancient rock pillars called the Stone Forest.
  9. China is the 3rd largest country by area at 9,706,961 sq km (3,747,879 sq miles).
  10. China is the second largest economy in the world, after the United States of America. It overtook Japan's back in 2010. 
  11. China was humiliated for many years by the Western powers, especially Britain. Now China controls much of the British economy and is geared up to build its next generation of nuclear power stations. 
  12. Chinese brides often wear red, a colour considered to be lucky.
  13. For centuries, China was more advanced than most other countries in science, technology, astronomy and maths. The Chinese invented paper, printing, the magnetic compass, tea porcelain, silk and gunpowder, among others.
  14. Half of all pigs on earth live in China.
  15. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than any other city in the world. Think Blade Runner without the gloom - and androids. 
  16. In 2003, China became the third country to successfully send a person to space.
  17. In the last 20 years, China has changed faster than any other country in the world.
  18. More people speak Mandarin, a Chinese Dialect, as their first language than any other language in the world.

  19. Nearly 4,000 species of fish and hundreds of amphibians and reptile species live in the rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
  20. One-third of China's land area is made up of mountains. The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park even inspired the floating peaks in the movie Avatar.
  21. The capital city is Beijing, while the most populated city is Shanghai.
  22. The Chinese love of shark fin soup is decimating global shark populations.
  23. The giant panda lives in the misty mountains of central China and nowhere else on Earth.
  24. Traditional Chinese medicine is wiping out the last remaining tigers, rhinos and elephants on Earth.
  25. With a population of over 1.3 billion, China has more people than any other.










































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Future of Transportation. Exoskeletons in Suburbia.

Bruce Wenham

You are standing in a quiet suburb of the near future. Maybe fifty or a hundred years away. How will things have changed in terms of transport?

Certainly the noise of fossil fuel engines will be gone, replaced by quiet self driving cars making up mass transit systems. Emitting sleek, scifi sounds to warn pedestrians. Some head out on special lines towards the edge of the city to link up with the Hyperloop.

What of those bipedal pedestrians? The young and able will still be using their limbs to move but what of the old? Will the omnipresent mobility scooter be a distant memory, replaced by legions of the old strutting around in whirring exoskeletons? Who no longer need a helping hand across the street and if you try to steal that old lady's handbag she'll punch you like Iron Man.

More likely these descendants of the children now playing around us will be using self driving cars door to door. Perhaps aided by a humanoid care assistant to their home.

You'll notice that white van man has disappeared, but look up and you can see his replacement - swarms of drones flying back and forth.

Look higher and you can just see giant, hybrid airships hauling the really heavy stuff.

Higher still will be the jet planes and their contrails. Still around.

Highest of all, out of sight beyond the thin cirrus clouds will be the hypersonic airships whisking the plutocracy between the great global mega cities.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Portal

Bruce Wenham



'Come on Ethan!' the bigger boy said. 'We can't wait here all day. I'm hungry!'

'Just a little longer said the little one. Any moment now and it'll come back.'

'Too late. I'm going.' Daniel trudged off through the puddles, kicking mud and water as he went.

'Wait! look - it's shifting again!'

Daniel spun round. The ad on the billboard was shimmering, changing.

Golden fields of rye filled the screen.

'That's it!  Run now! Quick!'

They both ran and reach out their fingers towards the sunlit field.

'Ethan!' screamed Daniel, as his friend was sucked upwards and disappeared into the landscape.

The field started to fade. the old ad reappeared.

He hadn't made it, if only he hadn't given up at the last moment. been too far away.

He cried under the gloomy light. Still trapped in the gloomy urban wasteland.

'Ethan!, remember me!'

Sobbing, he walked back home alone.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The sky was becoming crowded with drones as of late

Bruce Wenham

Norm was picking his morning paper up from the front lawn when he heard that familiar whirring, buzzing sound. Another Amazon drone delivery for the neighbors next door. Like some prehistoric dragonfly, it dropped the small package then darted back up into the clear sky.

Norm frowned. The sky was becoming crowded with drones as of late. Swarms of them doing their daily rounds. But he couldn't get rid of the feeling that he was being watched by miniature cameras from above. Hovering, watching his every move.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fossil

Bruce Wenham

The lead scientist brushed the surrounding sand away grain by grain, revealing the fossilized hand. The delicate fingers still curled around some kind of tool.

His assistant gasped. Looking on in awe, eyes glinting like that of a madman.

‘I knew we would eventually find them! The nanotech swarms devoured everything on the surface, we just had to dig deeper’.

Both wore bulky, strong spacesuits to protect themselves from the poisonous gases and intense gamma rays all around them.

‘Observe its opposable digit, the key to advanced tool design’ remarked the scientist.

‘Can you make it out what it’s holding?’

‘Likely some primitive communication device. Made of a colourful plastic, still intact after millions of years’.

‘Is that a symbol on one side?’

‘Hmm, resembles a fruit that would have grown here before the poisons were unleashed. See the little leaf?'

‘Is that a bite taken out of it? Touching. But sad when I look around now’ the assistant signed.

‘Well, don’t get too emotional now. Anyway, won’t be long before we resurrect this species from their trace DNA’.

The two intergalactic explorers walked back to their ship to break the news to the rest of the crew.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Places that yield those killer ideas

Bruce Wenham

Under a hot power shower

In a busy coffee shop

At a secluded peaceful spot in the countryside. The lazy sound of buzzing bees, light aircraft overhead etc

Alone in your car on a regular commute

Listening to ambient music on a cycling machine in the gym

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

6 strategies in writing science fiction

Bruce Wenham

1. Get away from stress, distractions. Get away from family and people you know. On the other hand strangers on the street and in shops/cafes can make good characters. Turn off the squawk box. Come offline. Lock that door. Put on your headphones.

2. Don't think too hard. Don't think at all. Daydream

3. Find your way to write, be it on paper or computer.

4. If you do type on a computer, DISCONNECT it from the Internet - the biggest distraction and time waster of all. Install Ommwriter instead.

5. Think of 'what if' scenarios -

what if you completed your full profile on Google, but sold your soul to the devil
what if you could commit genocide by taking a sledgehammer to a datacenter (destroying millions of uploaded minds)
what if you could have force lightning like Palpatine
what if you were a murderer from a pre-apocalyptic world, now set free in a desolate wasteland. Would it mean a new beginning? A second chance?
what if you could go back in time to the dark ages and show off your tablet. Would it terrify or enrapture the masses?

6. Let the stories flow, don't worry about plot.

10 strategies to live longer

Bruce Wenham

undergo anti-oxidant therapy

use biomarkers - take blood samples detecting traces of future lifestyle diseases

restrict your calories

under DNA screening for diseases later in life

get an electronic tattoo - temporary and flexible for body monitoring and lifelogging

take an elixir of life

get a hand held NMR device to scan your body for possible problems

submit your personal data for health data mining

go into suspended animation

get into wearable robotics AKA exoskeletons - mobility scooters are so yesterday



Friday, 1 March 2013

Sharks disappear forever from Earth's oceans

Bruce Wenham

BBC World Report - Wire Release 6 August 2080

The last known Terran shark in the wild was eaten today, by a group of Chinese businessmen from the rich and powerful technology sector. 

Sharks had roamed the seas on Earth for 400 million years before humans, specifically the Mongoloid or East Asian races abruptly decimated populations within a century. 

Normally such mass extinction events originate from Space, the result of cataclysmic but rare meteor strikes. In this case however it was simply a sub race of hominids that grew to dominate the 21st century of human history. They spent their accumulated wealth on satisfying their craving of the delicacy 'Shark Fin Soup'. The East Asians would chop off the beautiful creatures' tails and fins in a process known as 'finning', discarding the bulk of the carcass back into the ocean. 

Biotech food firms are already exploiting the extinction of these ancient creatures by offering cloned shark cartilage. 

Attacks against the East Asians have increased markedly in recent years, some environmental groups resorting to terrorism.

Others, like a man from Arkansas, screamed at a Luddite gathering: 'I hope ET comes down one day, chops off all their arms and legs, throws away the screaming carcasses and makes soup out of them!'.

Small numbers of sharks still exist in aquariums at various locations around the planet, closely guarded. 

Sharks once existed everywhere on Earth, ranging from tiny species to huge whale-like creatures.

The closest existing species similar to the Terran sharks are approximately 2.5 million light-years away in Earth's sister galaxy, Andromeda. They thrive on several large ocean planets there, where intelligent life has not yet evolved.

5 Ways to escape death

Bruce Wenham

1. Enter the afterlife, heaven, utopia - this is the ideal solution. But requires faith. And it might not happen.

2. Next best - make sure you survive and live to see the technological singularity, when humans could become immortal (or even extinct in a worst case scenario). We're talking mind uploading here. You need to follow the 3 bridges of radical life extension here - eat healthily, take special drugs (hardcore pill-popping) to eventually exploit the coming nanotech revolution - future medical devices floating in the blood stream etc.

3. Get frozen for the future and brought back from the dead. If you don't live there already you will be transported to the United States when you die to be kept in cold storage. This is still a huge gamble because cryogenics is still medically unproven and it could take around a century before it is discovered if the process is successful.

4. Die and return your body to the earth, but be digitally resurrected like Audrey Hepburn was recently for a chocolate bar ad. OK - you're dead, but to other people you're still kind of there, even spectacularly. And in the perhaps the not so distant future an artificial AI based on memories and materials supplied by your relatives could be linked to your digital resurrection, or physical robotic body. But you're still only a crude copy, and it's not really you.

5. Wait perhaps even billions of years (not so painful, because you're actually dead, right?) for our distant post-human descendants to unite with the universe and create an everlasting cosmic computer. In pseudo science this is known as 'The Omega Point'. This will bring every man, woman and child that has ever lived back into existence. If this works, it could conflict with some of the previous solutions.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Brain Evolution

Bruce Wenham

Sunday, 20 January 2013

What will aliens look like?

Bruce Wenham

They could in fact look remarkably similar to ourselves, according to the following logic:

they come from worlds similar to our own, and our bodies are an optimized design for an intelligent creature that lives on Earth

standing upright, their limbs are free to manipulate tools for developing technology

a head on top is better for self defence and gathering food

having eyes in their head allows a short nerve pathway to the brain. Those hoping for eyes on wavering stalks could be disappointed!

their eyes would be relatively small like ours to avoid injury - stereotypical large eyes would be at more risk of injury in combat or hunting prey

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The miracle of whole brain emulation

Bruce Wenham

His body was pulverized in the car wreck. But a copy of his mind was saved and put into an artificial body. Although he could no longer embrace his wife with his own arms, it gave hope for the future...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

12 events that will change the world

Bruce Wenham

All these events at one time or another have changed or will change the world forever, respectively:


Alien invasion / Discovery of ET

Asteroid collision

Discovery of extra dimensions

Fusion energy

Global pandemic

Human cloning

Machine self-awareness - the Singularity

New ice age

Nuclear war - World War III

Room temperature superconductivity

Supervolcanic eruption

Synthetic life creation

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Trade Block Builders

Bruce Wenham

For thousands of years the Neanderthals had shivered on the frozen European continent. The women tore flesh from animal skins with their teeth, preparing clothes for the tribe. The men hunted beyond the safety of their cave in dangerous, predator-filled valleys. Hungry wolves howled in the darkness. Infants born crying in the dim, stinking cavern looked forward to but a cruel, merciless future. A new animal had stepped into their valley overnight, steadily making its way closer. An animal that would ultimately wipe them all out.

Over the following millennia Homo sapiens had made a series of stunning scientific discoveries, culminating in the eventual unmasking of the god particle followed by unlimited fusion energy. Fertile lands further east towards the Eurasian land mass had been conquered and the Russian federation had disintegrated long ago. Only China now stood in the way of total global hegemony. The leaders of the European Union were finally drawing close to the moment of breakthrough that had eluded their nations for years - a decision that if taken would unleash their great trading block. Cloud bots hovered silently behind them as they frantically negotiated through the night, streaming live pictures to engrossed eyeballs in the other great trading blocks of Earth - The Americas and China Pacific. For what was at stake was not the childish question of fiscal union and the sacred Euro, presidential powers or a single European army as in bygone days. No - this would be to unleash the exponential power of hard European AI, a prospect that haunted many but promised nothing short of immortality and the chance to leapfrog ahead of their Chinese enemies.

The Chinese rulers also had AI albeit a somewhat inferior technology. The price they paid for not building atom smashers and fusion reactors at the dawn of the 21st century. However they refused to yield their human powers to the cloud in any event. Would they strike in the final moments to halt the awakening of a new fearsome European brain? Those Eurocrats were mad they thought, about to sell their souls to the devil. But what could they do, even their advanced computers told them the alternative nuclear apocalypse was hopeless. All they could do was sweat and watch those mad, pale hominids to the west.

The high temple to the EU superstate hummed with activity. Behind prettily arranged refreshment glasses politicians fretted and plotted. Later at group photo sessions the tribe leaders arranged themselves accordingly, looking for their marked positions. Standing clumsily, pointing at the floor. Shaking hands and smiling for the camera.

From a distance the ancient president of the EU sat looking on in his minimalist throne. Dressed in a flowing blue toga, his sinewy old forearms emerging limply from the loose sleeves. The homo sapien descendant of the butchers of neanderthal man knew the time for his species had come in turn. His relaxed bony fingers curled over the armrests. He smiled faintly, confident of the end game. The satisfied high priest in the twilight of his career. He had steered this land mass inexorably towards a sea change. Like the European neanderthals long ago his species was now about to be wiped out by a higher intelligence, his techno-blindness paving the way.

Hundreds of metres below chanting biological fundamentalists had chained themselves futilely to street furniture at the entrance to the EU headquarters, near where gargantuan statues in European man and woman’s image stood keeping guard over the shining edifice. They looked up in fear. Somewhere up there sat the president, like an old Roman emperor. A man they had only ever seen in the cloud.

Alas light years away across the dark void super intelligent beings looked down upon the emperor with his modern tribes of humans in suits as they shook hands and congratulated each other. The aliens chuckled. ‘If only they knew their superstate and blue planet were but a tiny speck in our galactic empire’.

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