Judith Rook  (with Alison Dere)

IDEAS – Science, Technical and Social




Yesterday I watched the live broadcast from the Cassini Mission control room as the team waited to see the disappearance of Cassini’s signal, confirmation that the little explorer had gone into Saturn’s atmosphere and met its end.  It was a moving experience, and later on Facebook, people wrote how they too felt a loss.

Today I found this edited version of the last hour of the mission.  It has been dressed up and given mournful background space music, but I could not resist bringing the link across to my blog.  I think I will watch it a few times.





Here is the link to a Facebook postIt .  Unfortunately, I can’t embed it onto my blogsite.  Kaku discusses the current state of populist understanding rather clearly.

It’s worth watching time, but the resulting comments are patchy in quality.










This article, on the Sci-Tech Universe site, should be read, for a number of reasons.  

The information it gives is important, not because it contradicts the argument that space exploration is too costly to sustain (which it does), but also because it is so centered on the US economy.  It gives the slightest of nods to other world space nations, with a huge non-acknowledgement of  European endeavours.  It shows how vital to the US amour-propre space exploration has become and how necessary it is that the US should lead the whole world into space.





I watched this video as a TV programme some time ago.  I have it on  back order from my local video retailer, but they are “finding it difficult to track down”.  I will get it one day, and it will go with my collection of other videos covering the intriguing field of cosmology.  Meanwhile…




I have always had my reservations about this analogy, but it’s hard to argue with career scientists who use symbols on a chalkboard.




This commentary by Neil deGrasse Tyson covers so many ideas.  



Important big picture content.



What about the Future?



What’s this about Mathematics?



And a little Background.



What you’ve always wanted to know



Friends of the Future

What do you think about this?  It makes such a lot of fascinating sense.  However, there is always the question of control.  In an augmented future, if we wished to, could we stop what might be happening?




A New Science Presenter

I have come across a new presenter of Science facts and ideas.  “Things you might not know”.  It appears to be a good series.



More about Parallel Universes

One has to wonder, and admit at least the possibility



GRAVITATIONAL WAVES – a paradigm shift

I must have this on my blog.  I spent a number of very happy years at UWA.

The first direct detection of gravitational waves was on February 11th 2016.



Multivac Did It First – And Probably Last

I came across this on today’s post from the “Futurism” site:    https://futurism.com

  • UNU is a new form of artificial intelligence that combines real-time human input with advanced algorithms to create the world’s first hive mind.
  • Based on the 75 randomly selected individuals connected online by real-time Swarm intelligence algorithms, Donald Trump was selected as most likely to win TIME’s Person of the Year.



The fundamental concept behind UNU is not new.  First, there was Multivac.   The general idea of the UNU development appeared in some of Isaac Asimov’s short stories, well before this century began.  To refresh my memory, I re-read one of the classics of them all – “The Last Question”.  http://multivax.com/last_question.html.

If you have the time, and if you would like to have an idea of where UNU might take us in the future, read this great story written by one of the greatest of all Scifi writers.



A NEW STATE OF MATTER  –  Not what I learned at school.

I came across this article on Twitter, on the page of 

Immediately the sci-fi writer in me sprang into speculative action.  Here is a a discovered new state of matter which could have wonderful possibilities for movement around the multiverse.  Definitely, it belongs on my “Ideas” page, and here it is.


Physicists have discovered a new state of matter in superconducting materials

And it could solve one of the greatest mysteries of experimental physics.

 BEC CREW     24 NOV 2016

superconductor-30_1024For decades, physicists have been trying to achieve superconductivity – the ability to carry an electric current with 100 percent efficiency – at room temperature, because it would change how we use electricity forever.

And now, for the first time, researchers have confirmed that a strange new phase of matter occurs in the fleeting moment between the non-superconducting to superconducting state, and it could be the key to understanding how superconductivity works at high temperatures.

“A peculiar property of all these high-temperature superconductors is that just before they enter the superconducting state, they invariably first enter the pseudogap state, whose origins are equally, if not more, mysterious than the superconducting state itself,” says one of the team, David Hsieh from Caltech.

Superconductivity was discovered back in 1911, and it was originally assumed that it could only occur at close to absolute zero (around -273 degrees Celsius).

Since then, scientists have achieved sustained superconductivity at slightly-less-chilly temperatures of around -70 degrees Celsius, but that’s still not exactly practical – the cost of keeping superconducting materials consistently cooled generally outweighs the benefit of zero-resistance energy.

But if you could achieve the same effect at room temperature, or close to it – referred to as high-temperature superconductivity – it could revolutionise everything from our electronics to our transport, giving us the ability to build super-fast, frictionless transport systems such as maglev trains and the Hyperloop.

Thirty years ago, physicists discovered that high-temperature conductivity is possible, and in 2014, a US team was actually able to achieve it – but they could only maintain it for a split second.

At the time, they suspected this strange new pseudogap state was messing with the material’s ability to achieve superconductivity at high temperatures, but exactly how it formed, or if it really was a new state of matter, remained unclear.

“[W]e have clear, smoking-gun evidence that the pseudogap phase competes with and suppresses superconductivity,” said one of the team, Makoto Hashimoto from Stanford University, at the time.

“If we can somehow remove this competition, or handle it better, we may be able to raise the operating temperatures of these superconductors.”

Now a team from Caltech has taken things one step further by confirming that we really are dealing with a distinct state of matter – and it has properties that are entirely different from those displayed in a superconducting state.

Imagine the pseudogap like a separate state of matter that sits between liquid and gas when you heat water to become steam, or when you melt solid ice into liquid water.

To change states like that, the electrons in the water have to rearrange themselves to form a liquid, solid, or gas. The same thing occurs in superconductive materials at certain temperatures.

The difference here is that the electrons arrange themselves into three different patterns during the transition between non-superconducting and superconducting states.

The researchers were able to study electron ordering in the pseudogap by developing a new laser-based method called nonlinear optical rotational anisotropy, which allowed them to detect any changes in symmetry during the phase transition.

Since different states of matter have distinct symmetries, if the symmetry of electron arrangements has been ‘broken’, it can be used as an indication of a change in state.

“We have discovered that in the pseudogap state, electrons form a highly unusual pattern that breaks nearly all of the symmetries of space,” Hsieh explains.

“This provides a very compelling clue to the actual origin of the pseudogap state and could lead to a new understanding of how high-temperature superconductors work.”

Now that the researchers have this new state of matter nailed down, the next step is to figure out how this particular ordering of electrons could hinder – or maybe even induce – high-temperature superconductivity. Watch this space.

The research has been published in Nature Physics.



In these days, we think a great deal about the history of the cosmos and the planet we live on. Experts explain that if we know how Earth has operated in the past, we will have a good idea about how it will operate in the future.

We expect that the planet’s future will include human beings, but it appears that if that is to happen, it might be that those future humans will have changed radically from the ones who have populated the Earth up to the present.

Hints are being dropped by the good thinkers of the world that a departure from historical and contemporary patterns of human behaviour is not a bad idea.  

I think that such a hint appears in the following brief item, gathered from the HuffPost UK Tech site (http://huff.to/2dFNNBx).


In 1950, Enrico Fermi, the physicist who built the first nuclear reactor, asked why, with 100 billion planets in our galaxy, we hadn’t yet come across alien life.

He theorised that even using primitive rocket technology, it would only take extraterrestrials about ten million years to colonise the Milky Way.

Given the galaxy is 10,000m years old, we should’ve already detected alien signals, Fermi said, sparking a debate that has fascinated scientists ever since.


According to the Sunday Times, Cox believes that any alien civilisation is destined to wipe itself out shortly after it evolves.

“One solution to the Fermi paradox is that it is not possible to run a world that has the power to destroy itself and that needs global collaborative solutions to prevent that,” Cox said.

The physicist explained that advances in science and technology would rapidly outstrip the development of institutions cable of keeping them under control, leading to the civilisation’s self-destruction:

“It may be that the growth of science and engineering inevitably outstrips the development of political expertise, leading to disaster. We could be approaching that position.”

Cox’s comments came ahead of the publication of his new book, Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos, written with his colleague Manchester University physicist Jeff Forshaw.

The pair suggest that politicians should start thinking like scientists by grounding their views in evidence in order to tackle global challenges like climate change.

“What does a scientist want to be?” asked Cox. “Do we want to be right? Or do we care about understanding nature? If it is the latter, we should be delighted to be proven wrong.”

Forshaw added: “In the same way, politicians should be delighted if their policies work, but just as delighted if someone comes up with something better.


30th October, 2016


I picked this up from the Futurism.com site.  http://futurism.com/stanford-scientist-well-have-a-century-of-medical-advances-in-the-next-decade .  Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur become scientist, speaks of the “Star Trek Future, this amazing future, in which we’re not living just to make money.  We’re living to uplift mankind … This is the world we could be headed into.”

What he says proves that the possibility of changing humanity’s fundamental structure exists, and is being embraced by people who have the ideas which could make it happen.



book-cover-with-titling-19-10-16In my Science Fiction books I try to explore “what if” possibilities.  For example, the basic concept of Planet Womanhttp://geni.us/p1w2  and Man of Two Planetshttp://geni.us/m1o2p is that a planet is able to think. What could happen if that were a reality?

In the Young Adult novella First Steps for a Hero, the storyline is involved in the multiverse theory which, like many other people today, I find a fascinating area for thought and speculation.  The final part of the synopsis for the novella asks: can the protagonist (or other people) truly believe that other universes exist and that they can have an influence on the lives of people living on Earth?

This video feeds a little more fuel onto this fire.  I hope you find it interesting.





I say thank goodness for the people who make Science videos!   Popular Science books are here to stay, of course, but the videos that are being produced nowadays add another avenue along which people who are not directly part of the science community can learn how scientific thought and enterprise is progressing and what fascinating discoveries are being made.

I have found that I can dip into these videos, just as I might dip into the pages of a book, and I often do.  These brief visits keep my layperson’s curiosity alive and deepen my understanding of the great affairs of the cosmos.

Here is the recording of what I believe is one of the most (for me) significant of science presentations.  From the very beginning, the Sci-Fi writer in me begins to make notes for future books.


And here is a forum where one of the most important scientific confirmations is presented and discussed.


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