Wednesday, October 04, 2006

cryogenics and cryonics

You are stunned by this: the word cryogenics is constantly being misused in popular science banter. And until now, you frequently misused the term too--especially in recent months after hearing the slightly despressing tale of how a cryonics enthusiast and pioneer was prematurely defrosted when his freezer capsule malfunctioned. For believers in cryonics, this must have been devastating news. It would be like watching your friend die all over again, but permanently this time. In the retelling of this true story, you self-importantly rattled on about cryogenics not knowing that you were using the wrong terminology.

How do we misuse these two terms? Well, cryogenics is the scientific observation of how materials react to very low temperatures. In more recent uses, it also describes the state of the low temperature itself. Cryonics, however, is the post-mortem freezing of oneself with confidence in the possibility of future life extension. It is based upon the widely-supported theory that personality and memory is stored within the cells of the brain thus making it possible to be revived once human beings unlockthe secrets behind longevity and/or immortality. Many cling to its theoretical potential because of how certain amphibians and insects can be revived after being frozen for long periods. Despite these successful animal cryopreservation experiments,and the fact that many scientists believe that we do store personal identity in the human brain, most are skeptical about human cryopreservation.

You tend to agree; cryonics is a crap theory. Not even the brilliant film 'Encino Man' could convince you that such future revival is possible. The body, after extended periods of being frozen (decades at minimum), must experience some kind of irreparable damage. It seems obvious to you; hello, freezer burn. Even if you pretend that such damage is somehow avoidable, what about the whole human spirit argument? Why would the human spirit want to nestle back into a cold, grey, piece of meat? It's not a super inviting host. And if you don't believe in spirit, just think about it in terms of energy flow; energy moves from object to object with specific rules of attraction (having to do with ions and magnetism). Post-death, the body's energy would either pool elsewhere (depending on the environment) or it would diffuse and seemingly evaporate into the immediate surroundings. This energy is that which we feel in our nerves and that which sparks independent thought in our brains. How could freezing the body post-death preserve that spark? It can't. All Pauly Shore genius aside, cryonics is definitely bullshit.

Check it out guys! I'm in a cryopreservation chamber!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

the future and our terrarium

Coming Soon:
Creeping Dead Zones (with maps), Post-Apocolyptic Failures, Iceland, Drowning White Bears, Super-String/Continuum Theories, Kerouac as Mystic, Reptilian Lore, Indonesian Discoveries (and the False Primitives), Animal Dreams, and Alan's Death: Discovering Skeleton Island.

Our Future Terrarium

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Friday, September 15, 2006

extraterrestrial habitation

Some theoretical scientists (Kaku for instance) believe that the preservation of the human species lies in extraterrestial habitation-- on planet Mars, more specifically. You think about Cydonia-- the face and the pyramids, and you're not sure if you want to mix with the dudes that already live there. Martians are kinda freaky, as far as you're concerned. Didn't H.G. Wells already give us a heady warning?

(Post-Earth Habitat genus)

Richard C. Hoagland is your main source of current information and speculations regarding Mars. He claims that the existing structures on Mars are likely ancient and uninhabited. This doesn't make you feel more comfortable with the thought of moving there. There aren't many options, you realize, as we haven't figured out the bredth of secrets in anti-gravity, space-time or the multi-verse. But even if its true that we can artificially enduce a breathable atmosphere on the red planet, you prefer to stay right here on the blue one, however ugly it may become.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ice museums

Further notes on preservation:
And how, you ask, will the scientists immortalize the world's melting ice caps? Animals can be stuffed, plants pickled, but the death of the ice cap is different. As ice melts, it changes from solid to liquid, thereby losing the endangered form we seek to preserve.The death of an ice cap is quiet and ordourless. It's a death that's void of a perservable carcass. We can't exactly move the glaciers, keep them frozen, lable them, and put them on display, can we? You wonder if we'll ever have ice museums-- artifical arctic landscapes that you can walk through wearing snowsuits. You imagine giant freezers with stuffed polar bears standing stoically on ice ridges.

A few months back you finished reading a book called The Ice Museum, by Joanna Kavenna. It suddenly hits you how misleading this title is. In x number of years, this book will be confused for a kind of glacier encyclopedia. People will expect that it aims to preserve the notion of ice caps in the way a museum would-- photographs, maps, descriptions, lore, ecological details/history, human-related history, and relevant science. But instead this book is about chasing and preserving the legend of Thule-- a land of ice that disappeared before it was ever officially discovered. Much of the book details Kavenna's travels in Iceland which she speculates, is the very fabled land that was once called Ultima Thule by the arctic explorers of previous eras. Its a fascinating story, with a distinct theme of preservation, but it doesn't answer the question of how scientists will manage to curate the ice caps.


When you think of museums the word preservation comes to mind. Especially when you think of science
related museums because these museums tend to have biological objects on display that have been bottled up, pickled and encased behind permanent glass walls. These objects are being preserved by the very definition of the word. But preservation also means to 'protect, keep alive, make lasting.' The kind of preservation seen in museums, in a way, goes against these latter definitions. Museums don't actually keep the objects, the animals, or the history alive, they just preserve the idea of these things; the image, the shell, the bones, the texture, the theories, the notebooks.
But the look in the eye, the typical sorrows, the glint of the tooth, the hunger, the blood in the veins, the smell of the flower, the feel of snow underfoot, the numb apprehension of a ship hitting land, or hitting an iceberg, or in fact, all normal spectrums of feeling and being; none of these things can be preserved.

It will be interesting, you think, to see how humans deal with the increasing need to preserve things over the next few years. You envision the rushing about of scientists who are trying to get everything taxidermied and pickled before their specimens decompose. From the sad puffins off the coast of California to the polar bears and afformentioned white spruce trees of the arctic; museums are going to have to make more room. And its going to be interesting to see how these museums morph into parks-zoos where people will be able to enjoy the 'natural world' in a controlled environment, however false and lifeless that world actually is. You've alre
ady witnessed new urban trends towards manufactured naturalism, but so far they seem to be void of remorse or necessity. Currently these trends are more cheeky marketing gimmicks than any real human desire to preserve the idea of nature or to get back to the woods. You know that this indifference and playfullness won't last; people will be scrambling before the decade is through.

(Pickled squid with extinct cabbage garnish.)

(Who will preserve this species? Just kidding, you don't really care.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

auspicious botany

And crow's feet:
To see six crow's feet, at age 27, on your own face, is to be reminded of the 'capillary action' experiment that you conducted in grade five. The experiment demonstrated how plants have water transport channels which operate like veins to distribute water to all parts of the plant. It is conducted by tainting a glass of water with red vegetable dye, placing a long-stemmed white flower of any variety into the water, and then monitoring the progress of the dye as it travels upwards, eventually turning the petals pink.You remember that this is a much better experiment than the 'Is yawning contagious?' one or the 'How long does it take for biodegradable garbage bags to disintegrate?' one because once its done, its done. There is no iffy line of speculation in the report's conclusion. Capillary action is a irrevocable truth.

Although the aging experiment (as marked by said crow's feet) takes longer and has disruptive effects on the psyche, it is also a certain and watchable truth. No hypothesis necessary.

post-drought genus

When did the term greenhouse effect go out of effect and become global warming? You wonder which indicators necessitated the change in terminology without you even noticing. Terminology is always in flux, you understand this, but you wonder if it can keep up with the changes. Today Block and Byrd told you something that you already knew; everthing is happening faster than the scientists had predicted. An example, and only one of many, is white spruce death seen in the joined expanse of Alaska and Canada's northern regions. Amber Soja, of the National Institute of Aerospace, attributes the rapid die-back of these trees to increased climate temperatures and consequential drought. As the trees dry out, they become susceptible to various pests like that insipid beetle we hear so much about. You also know about the additional threat of forest fires. You think about the year you drove through BC and had to roll up your windows because the smoke was too heavy. That same year you slept outside on the porch and woke up with ash in your mouth.

Soja brings up something you haven't heard before. You listen carefully. She explains that as temperatures rise, big old pools of carbon will be released from the bowels of the northern forests (not her words). The effect will be yes, even more heat.

(decidedly Post-Drought genus)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

domes and pyramids

There is about as much of a connection between your dream about Grandpa Buk's hands and the recent discovery of Bronze Age pyramid structures in Ukraine as there is between Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome and the dream that you had about prophetic jellyfish. Not one is apropos of the other. Yet its true that all these things happened, and all happen to be of interest to you, and three of the four pertain directly to triangles (remember, triangles only have three sides).

You remember learning in grade school that triangles are the strongest naturally occurring shape. They are free-standing forms with yadda yadda distribution of weight, strength in the apex under pressure etc. Apparently triangles are terrific things. Some people speculate that they cause a variance to the natural flow of energy which streamlines negative ions into the form hence creating a pool. This pool of negative ions is supposed to balance the ill effects of surpluss positive ions which are looming about because of industrialization. In this ionic balance there is said to be some kind of benefit to organic health. You recall reading somewhere that its good for people who live in big cities to sleep in pup tents. You don't know about that, and you don't know if Buckminster Fuller would agree, but you're pretty sure triangles are regretably neglected in terms of modern architecture.

All speculation about the pyramids being built by extraterrestrials aside, there must be some reason that ancient civilizations (cross-continentally and almost simultaneously) labored to build those magnificent pyramid structures. Maybe the reasons are obvious, like the symbolism of placing the cross on top of the church, or maybe they aren't so obvious and have to do with such unseen pools of energy. But this is all besides the point. You keep thinking about the pyramidal complex currently being excavated in Ukraine. It seems like a strange place to make such a find-- and in fact, such triangular structures are said to be rare in Europe (and virtually absent in Eastern Europe). But why? And if they have now found one, isn't there a likelyhood of more to come? What did the ancients know about pyramids that we do not?

(You find this photo insert amusing.)

Thinking in a modern context, you know that Bucky Fuller would agree to the claim that triangles are vital to efficient, durable and affordable architectural design. Though the dome, rather than pyramid, was his cause for celebration, it was put together using a myriad of triangular shapes. His geodesic design offered a futuristic view of the human abode by demonstrating: practicalities in space usage, durability of design, distribution of heat/energy sources, convenience of construction, and of course, environmental preservation. His progessive designs and philosophies thereto, offered models of sustainablity before the Earth even whispered the necessity of such modern naturalism.

(Greenhouse domes in Kobe, Japan. They're kinda similar to the geodesic dome.)

Fuller's portable Dymaxion house wasn't a geodesic dome but it's very existence as a model (which never went into wide-scale production/mail-order distribution as intended) illustrates Bucky's dedication to 'ephemeralization' and treading as lightly on the natural world as possible. The Dymaxion house was shaped like a silver jellyfish and it was said to have a misting shower tap that preserved water. In your opinion, futurists are futurists because they are tapped into an intuitive something. You think about Kostner's 'Waterworld' and Gibson's 'Mad Max.' You don't like those guys (having a particular distate for Mel), and don't dare to give them credit for any special foresight, but you nod your head in recognition of the possibility of 'art' becoming 'reality'.

You dwell on these observables:
1. Continuing warming trends and reported droughts.
2. The empty water resevoir in Tofino.
3. The freshwater that's feeding into the ocean.
4. The irony of this (see #3) as the ocean is the only place on Earth that doesn't need any more water.
5. The projected biological consequences of this progressive redistribution of water sources.

Monday, September 11, 2006

earthquake clusters

Last night you dreamed a visit with your dead grandmother.

In this dream your mother leads you into a sterile waiting room filled with people who are slumped over in white chairs. You stand there, keeping your eyes on a door at the far end of the room. Your mother disappeared into this door telling you to wait where you are. You catch a glimpse of your deceased great uncle Bill and instead of being shocked to see him, you admire his slicked-back hair. You briefly think about the scene in 'Beetlejuice' where the newly dead couple are in a dank little room waiting to become registered as the undead. Then you see your grandmother peeking out from the door. It dawns on you that you are in a dead zone of sorts, but not like the 'Beetlejuice' one, nor the creeping dead zone of Saanich Inlet. This one feels normal. Your grandmother slowly emerges once she spots you. On her approach, you frantically try to put on your hoody to cover up your tattoos. Your dead grandfather walks a few steps behind her and although they walk slowly, they get to you before you can get your sweater all the way on. Your grandmother gives you a look saying "I'm omnipotent, don't you know?" and you realize that the sweater gesture is a rather foolish one. She doesn't need protection from your skiddy sensibilities, she already knows about them. Still, she helps you to get the sweater on, using the opportunity to make some kind of sarcastic remark into your ear about hiding things from the all-knowing. Then she embraces you and doesn't let you go. You're fine with this. Your grandfather watches the reunion with a smile on his face. He doesn't feel left out because he visited you last week in a different dream. The dream wherein he mentioned that he was too old to climb hills and made a triange shape with his hands in front of your chest.

While still hugging your grandmother, you wake up to an early morning earthquake. Since you sleep on the floor, the seismic intensity (at 3.0) shudders into your back then duly exits out your chest. You have recently learned that earthquakes occur in clusters: the first being the most intense (as the tectonic plates ram into each other) and the consequencial ones being more subtle (as the plates slide back into place). This is the third earthquake in the past week and will most likely be the last in this particular cluster.

You think about several things as you try to fall back to sleep:
1. The law of physics stating: energy cannot be created or destroyed.
2. Your grandfather's finger triangle.
3. The photo of a photo you recently recieved of your grandmother with her Royal Purple group.
(As seen inexplicably illuminated, top row, 4 from the left.)

(for comparison: An additional photo is sent because "...the first one was a little blurry." You fail to question the source about the dramatic anomoly in first image.)

post-nuclear genus

You bust this greenery behaving inappropriately, given the circumstances. Its persistence disturbs you and you're forced to look away after taking the photographs. You decide that it's a 'new green' and realize that we'll eventually have to re-name and re-categorize all the earth's flora considering the exponential changes to our ecological and socio-economic condition. You quietly name this particular weed 'Ghoulish Green' of the 'Post-Nuclear' genus and walk away laughing at your obviousness.

Half down the block you wonder what ever happened to the unbiased 'no more nukes' protest movement of the 1970's-1990's (?). You think about complacency as an accomplice to the evident tyranny of our infantile world government. Too much, you decide, and beg yourself to think of other things. You immediately feel ashamed because its now evident that you're not just a carrier for this parasite; it has vanquished you too.

(Wassup. I and I is peaceful rasta man.)