Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Situation Room


Adam Lindsay, the Chief Science Advisor to the President of the United States, sat surrounded by science experts, techsperts, and geeks of all walks, facing the big screen at one end of the table.  The Seal of POTUS filled the screen, which flicked, then burst into life as the Whitehouse Bunker swam into focus.
From what he could see, Adam felt that the entire US Military and Civilian security and advisory bodies were represented in the room, and he could feel the palpable fear that seemed to emanate from the video link.
“Doctor Lindsay.”
“Mister President.”
“Dr. Lindsay, can you please tell us what the object is?”
“No, Sir, not at this time.”  He could feel the Situation Room hold its collective breath.
“Can you tell us if it is a threat?” the President asked, leaning forward toward the camera.  Adam paused, very much aware that every General in every military force worldwide would be screaming to launch a preemptive strike against the mysterious object in orbit if he said the wrong thing.
“Sir, at this time, we do not know the structure of the object, we do not know anything about the object, other than the observable facts of its arrival.  And Sir, “ Adam said, looking around his own panel of smart people, “if it were hostile, based on the little data we have so far, it probably would be unstoppable in any case.”  Adam felt everyone in both rooms hold their breath, waiting for the predictable outburst.
It didn’t come.
“Why do you say that, Doctor?” asked Sam Liebermann, the President’s Chief-of-Staff.  His tone lacked any emotion, but the intensity that shone through his eyes telegraphed the pressure he was under.  How could a layman explain the unexplainable when the best Minds of the scientific community were completely at a loss?
“Sir, look at it this way.  Science has not failed you, Science simply has not advanced enough on this Planet for us to begin to understand how the object has done what it appears to have done.  Look at the observable data.”  Adam stopped, looking around the screen to make sure he had everyone’s attention.  He held up one long well manicured finger.  “Firstly, using every technology we have, we cannot establish the mass of the object.  It appears to have no gravitational effect on us, at this time, yet we have measured the apparent surface area at approximately one-sixth the size of the Moon.  Now, ladies and gentleman, this statement may turn out to be widely inaccurate, because so far we have been unable to “see” this object in three dimensions.”  He paused again, seeking any sign of reaction, letting everyone catch their breath.  This was not the time to use big words or come on strong.  “In fact, it has been suggested by some that this is some sort of projection, and we are “seeing” a very bad out-of-focus image, directed at us from unimaginable light years away.”  He paused again, to let this sink in.
“Doctor Lindsay, would you please outline for us all exactly what has been observed, and where we are now?” The President asked, an edge to his voice for the first time.
“Sir, at 0450 Universal Time a French Observatory reported that Saturn had been “occluded” by an unknown object.  That means that the light from the Planet was obscured by something quite large.  They first thought they had technology issues with their equipment, but the images they recorded clearly showed that something had swung by Saturn, heading directly for the Earth.  They immediately sent out a Possible Impact Threat Assessment, which galvanized everyone around the globe.”
“You say “clearly showed”, yet we can’t see this object properly?” the President asked.  He shook his head, looking down at his hands.  He suddenly looked back up into the camera lens, seemingly straight at his Science Advisor, the most senior and respected voice in the President’s cabinet.  “Don’t want to mince words, doctor, nor do I want to play semantics with you, but how can the images be “clear”, yet the object can’t be mapped using our best laser technology?”
“Sir, the images were clear in that they showed a definite, definable shape of the shadow created when the object occluded Saturn.  We are able to measure the shadow, and from that we have deduced its probable size.”
“I see.”  The President paused, still looking directly at his Science Advisor, as if the visual contact would tell him something that the words were failing to do convey.
“Doctor, perhaps you should outline what you have done since the discovery?” suggested the Chief of Staff, largely to give his boss some time to think things through.  The Science Advisor turned to his left, nodding to a white-coated skinny woman whose hair looked like a badly made birds nest sitting on top of a power pole.
“We have tried every measuring device we can think of – direct laser, LIDAR, Sonics, thermal imaging, radio waves, HDTV, and the Russians even moved one of their satellites to scan the object from Space, and were unable to record any data except for the shadow created by the object occluding light from the surface of the Earth.  For all intents and purposes, the object is two dimensional, impossible as that may sound.  It has no depth, at least as we understand dimensionality.  Between the French and the Russians, we have been able to make out the outline of the object, which, quite frankly, looks like a bad photo of a gigantic rough boulder, the type you would expect to find lying around out in the Sierra Mountains somewhere.”
“But this object – this boulder you describe, is in a stable geostationary orbit over the equator, positioned exactly between the Americas and Europe, is that correct?” asked a General, his colorful beribboned jacket suggesting an exciting life so far.
“Yes, Sir, to the millimeter.”
“Do we know where it came from?” asked an anonymous voice from the back for the Situation Room.
“No Sir.”
“You said earlier there was no energy signals at all?” someone else asked.
“No Sir.  Nothing we can detect in any band or frequency we are capable of monitoring.”
“What do you suggest we do?” the President asked.  Once again, it seemed that everyone in both rooms were holding their collective breaths. Adam Lindsay looked slowly around the table, holding the eyes of every person in his domain.  No one voiced an opinion; no one put themselves or their ideas forward.  In one sense, he was disappointed, in another he was relieved, knowing how little factual, provable data his team had to work with.
“Sir, we are in real-time contact with every major Science facility in the world, we have literally thousands of the best Minds working the problem.  We will be able to tell you what is going on at some point.  There is one speculative question we can’t answer, and in not being able to answer it, we gain a measure of comfort, at least temporarily.”
“And that is?”
“If the object was hostile, why is it seemingly dormant?  With all the rule breaking technology that must be behind this visitation, if it were going to attack, it would have already done so, and we could have done nothing about it.”
“But it didn’t.”
“No, Sir, it just stopped almost instantly from an impossible speed to an improbable orbital position.  This is a very deliberate activity, the orbital position is too exact for it to be accidental or anything else.”
“We are being observed?” the General asked.  “This is a recon mission?”
“Sir, I don’t know what it is, I can only relay the facts we get from the data.”
“But we are being watched.”
“Possibly.  But by what, and by whom, and for what reason, we at this time have no way of knowing.”
“What do you suggest we do?” the President asked again, this time with more than a little irritation in his voice.  Science was a wonderful toy for politicians when everything was going smoothly or it was budget time, but not so much when they couldn’t answer simple, basic questions!
“Wait.  And work the problem with good Science.”  This time the President looked around all the people in the Situation Room, and saw that no one on his side of the communications link was willing to put their ideas forward either.  He nodded his head, a wistful, wan smile slowly creasing his face.
“Ok, every President has his moment, I guess this one is mine.  We will reconvene in eight hours, or earlier if the circumstances dictate.  Thank you Adam.”  And the screen flicked back to the Seal of the POTUS, covering the room in a deep blue hue.
Adam looked around the room again, this time letting his gaze take in all the technology that made up the very essence of forensic and communications science.  It struck him as particularly poignant that even will all the technology, gadgets, bells and whistles of the so called 2.0 era, it still came down to hard work and intuition – by a human being.
He decided to start the ball rolling, in which direction he was not sure, but experience had taught him two thimngs – leaders took their people where they did not know they could go – and any action at the juncture of a barrier was better than no action at all.
He tapped lightly on his screen, knowing that his long time friend would probably laugh at the formality of the email.

To : Adam Frank, University of Rochester
From : Adam Lindsay

Subject : Recent arrival

Adam, as one of our most respected astrophysicists, can you please join my team to infuse your energy, intellect, instinct and scholarship in helping us to make sense of this problem?
As you would be aware, so much of our Science now comes into question with this event, and, frankly, we need all the help we can get!
Yours in collaboration,

PS – I’m surprised you haven’t already been locked away in some think tank or other, come and play with us, and let’s see what new things we can discover together!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011



“She loves me yeah, yeah, yeah,
She loves me yeah, yeah, yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ,,,,,”
I flung the pillow with all my weight behind it, and the ancient clock radio tumbled to the floor crackling and sparking as if it were inhabited by a ghost.  Love the Beatles, but not at six o’clock in the morning, and a Saturday one at that.
I dragged myself into the shower, scraped a three-day growth off my face, never once managing to focus either eye, the result of ingesting way too much good stuff the evening before.
Getting dressed was a monster battle, my pants and belt fought me to the very end, until I realized I was trying to get into my jeans back-the-front.
Once I sorted out my treacherous clothing, I slumped on the bed, trying to remember why I had set the alarm in the first place.
Oh! Yes! I was the Duty Officer for the weekend, being punished again for having made a professional mistake the week before.  I had tried to have my boss killed.
Well, not really, I had only set out to scare the crap out of her, self-centered little bit… , well, she didn’t necessarily talk highly of me either.  Something to do with unrequited love, I suspect, as in she didn’t get any, and I was clearly recognized as the stud of choice in the office!
A loud buzzing assaulted my ears, and I tried to focus on the general direction it seemed to be coming from.
Then an even louder beeping started, and I slowly came to realize it was my phone, and it wanted me badly!
Scrabbling around in the blankets, the little box of magic finally popped up, wrapped in the folds of dubious material that looked suspiciously like my underwear.
“Jonathon, where are you?”
“Well, not to put too finer point on it, you need to get in here as fast as you can.”
“OK, on my way.”  Well, the words registered, but my befuddled Mind was still trying to process the outcome of the fight with my pants, so getting anywhere may well turn out to be beyond my present capacity.
Small doable bits.  Little steps.  I distinctly remember someone telling me that somewhere; eat the elephant one bite at a time.
I looked down at my feet, and immediately wished I hadn’t, my head started to spin, and a loud buzzing noise started to ring in my ears, and I almost fell over.  Socks were out, open toe sandals were the only option under the circumstances.  Then my phone lit up again, with a sense of purpose that was literally frightening to witness in my tender condition.  I slid my finger over the “unlock” icon, and a face swam into view.
“Jonathon, I have a car outside your apartment, get in it now!” the witch Queen barked, and as the screen blanked out, I realized that something must be going on in a big way for her to actually be in the office on a weekend, and then actually make a call to me personally.
I found my sandals, forced my feet into them.
Found the door, and wrestled with the lock.
Found the elevator, pushed both buttons, waited an eternity for the door to open, then let it carry me forty-five floors down to the lobby.
The sudden change in air pressure made my ears pop, and a massive headache started to form behind my eyes.
Focused on the huge glass doors at the edge of the pavement, I sucked in as much air as I could find, then walked with as much pride as I could muster under the circumstances past the concierge, head up, shoulders straight, gut sucked in, only to be foiled by the ridiculous handles on the bloody doors!
A short fight later I was outside, looking into a black hole posing as the back seat of the limo.  I fell in, the driver closed the door, and I’m glad to say I managed to sleep right up to the end.
Just as well I did, because when I got out of the elevator and stutter-stepped to my office, around me all Hell was breaking loose.  People believed to have been sitting dead for years in their chairs and offices were flying around the place clutching electronic pads and small computers, yelling at each other.  The big board, the one unifying technology in a place with more bells and whistles that a NASA control room was flashing data and images so fast I could actually read them in my diminished state.
It’s amazing just how fast fear can sober you up, and I distinctly remember the transition from fog to clarity, it was like an atomic explosion behind my eyes, creating a heat wave through my frontal cortex.
“Faa………..out!” I yelled, ET is here!”
Wait a minute, if those numbers were to be trusted, and that was the business I was in, the impossible had happened.
A mass one-sixth the size of the moon had decelerated from what looked like five hundred times the speed of light to zero in less than one hundred thousand kilometers.
With no flare or infrared signature.
No change in the Doppler shift.
With no detectable mass.
Zero energy output – at least what we could detect.
There goes E=MC2 and possibly F = M A.
A bubble of nothing from somewhere was now in a geostationary orbit over the equator, and the only way we could see it was by the light it occluded from the star fields!
And it had been completely undetected until it had passed the rings of Saturn, occluding the light from that massive wonder.
European astronomers saw it first, thought their very elaborate and expensive equipment had developed Alzheimer’s.
The Hubble had tracked its impossible entry into Earth orbit, albeit only the last few thousand kilometers, and then only by mathematical calculations done back on earth from the real-time images sent by the telescope.  The numbers were Mind bending in their complexity and inference.
Science as we knew it was dead.
I had a rare insight into the future.
Was God dead too?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The object arrived from deep space and time occluding the ancient light from stars and planets, a mere hint of something glimpsed by many, but understood by few.  It decelerated at an impossible rate taking up a geostationary orbit relative to the Earth, exactly 24,600 nautical miles from the equator.  And then it did nothing.  And every second it sat out there, motionless, dark, silent, someone down below went nuts.
And so it started .......

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Soul plus Future equals generational growth

Three days ago a great friend of mine came up with the words "Soul and Future". He located these words with respect to a great idea he has, about creating a meeting place with the ambience of a bar, but the conversation of a church. To me, this is one of the most powerful suggestions I have experienced in dealing with the intersect of Science and Religion.
So the very first question you might ask is, "can you have a Soul, if you are not religious?" Lets look at the definition of "Soul".
soul (sl)
1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity.
2. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.
3. The disembodied spirit of a dead human.
4. A human: "the homes of some nine hundred souls" (Garrison Keillor).
5. The central or integral part; the vital core: "It saddens me that this network ... may lose its soul, which is after all the quest for news" (Marvin Kalb).
6. A person considered as the perfect embodiment of an intangible quality; a personification: I am the very soul of discretion.
7. A person's emotional or moral nature: "An actor is ... often a soul which wishes to reveal itself to the world but dare not" (Alec Guinness).
8. A sense of ethnic pride among Black people and especially African Americans, expressed in areas such as language, social customs, religion, and music.
9. A strong, deeply felt emotion conveyed by a speaker, a performer, or an artist.
10. Soul music.

soul [səʊl]
1. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) the spirit or immaterial part of man, the seat of human personality, intellect, will, and emotions, regarded as an entity that survives the body after death Related adj pneumatic
2. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Christianity the spiritual part of a person, capable of redemption from the power of sin through divine grace
3. the essential part or fundamental nature of anything
4. a person's feelings or moral nature as distinct from other faculties
5. (Music)
a. Also called soul music a type of Black music resulting from the addition of jazz, gospel, and pop elements to the urban blues style
b. (as modifier) a soul singer
6. (Social Science / Peoples) (modifier) of or relating to Black Americans and their culture soul brother soul food
7. nobility of spirit or temperament a man of great soul and courage
8. an inspiring spirit or leading figure, as of a cause or movement
the life and soul See life [28]
10. a person regarded as typifying some characteristic or quality the soul of discretion
11. a person; individual an honest soul
upon my soul! an exclamation of surprise
[Old English sāwol; related to Old Frisian sēle, Old Saxon sēola, Old High German sēula soul]
soul-like adj

Soul [səʊl]
(Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Christian Science another word for God

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

If you did a word count, religion would win the day 98 to 2.

All this from the Farlex Free Dictionary!!! Then almost buried right down the very bottom of the entry, you find this .....

soul - the immaterial part of a person; the actuating cause of an individual life

And away we go!!! ....."the actuating cause of an individual Life".

I believe that your Soul is the Sum of all that you are - good and bad, bright and dull, creative and boring. Just as a Man is judged by what he does in Life, so does a Soul capture all that is uniquely "you" - all the way through your Life, in every facet and endeavour.

I also believe in Universal Consciousness - where what I am thinking at any given time radiates out and connects with like Minds. After all, thinking is using Energy, and all Energy is irrevocably connected. And you group yourself with like-Minded people, it's what we do.

The word "Future" is a little simpler to deal with

1. time to come, hereafter, what lies ahead He made plans for the future.
2. prospect, expectation, outlook She has a splendid future in the police force.
forthcoming, to be, coming, later, expected, approaching, to come, succeeding, fated, ultimate, subsequent, destined, prospective, eventual, ensuing,impending, unborn, in the offing the future King and Queen
forthcoming late, former, past, previous, preceding, erstwhile, bygone, quondam, ex-
in (the) future after this, in times to come I asked her to be more careful in future.
"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough" [Albert Einstein]

Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002

Almost a linear definition, all about the "time to come".

When you combine the two words by their definition, you get something like ""the actuating cause of an individual Life.... in the time to come".
And now we have something to work with.
You can have a Soul even if you are not religious, you in fact have a Soul, and it is collecting everything about you 24/7/52, win, lose, or draw.
And the future is all about change, without which there can be no progress.
So when Mike lets loose with his great idea, get your Soul involved, and lend your weight to the future of Humanity.
You can make a difference, and you do count. Bet your Soul on it.