29 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 Why Nothing Can Go Faster Than the Speed of Light

Einstein's equation gives us the most concrete explanation for the central fact that nothing can travel faster than light speed. You may have wondered, for instance, why we can't take some object, a muon say, that an accelerator has boosted up to 667 million miles per hour—99.5 percent of light speed—and "push it a bit harder," getting it to 99.9 percent of light speed, and then "really push it harder" impelling it to cross the light-speed barrier. Einstein's formula explains why such eff...
  1  notes

Because its mass will become infinite.

22 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Enterprise's Impulse Drive

Moving back to the sub-light-speed world: We are not through with Einstein yet. His famous relation between mass and energy, E=mc 2 , which is a consequence of special relativity, presents a further challenge to space travel at impulse speeds. As I have described it in chapter 1, a rocket is a device that propels material backward in order to move forward. As you might imagine, the faster the material is propelled backward, the larger will be the forward impulse the rocket will receive. Mater...
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The ship uses hydrogen fusion to propel helium atoms at near the speed of light, but this hypothetical form of propulsion would require incredible amounts of hydrogen to work.

03 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Encapsulation Serves a Purpose

The quintessential example of the open ideal showed up in Freeman Dyson’s otherwise wonderful piece about the future of synthetic biology in the New York Review of Books. MIT bioengineer Drew Endy, one of the enfants terribles of synthetic biology, opened his spectacular talk at Sci Foo with a slide of Dyson’s article. I can’t express the degree to which I admire Freeman, but in this case, we see things differently. Dyson equates the beginnings of life on Earth with the Eden of Linux. ...
  1  notes

Using the promise of synthetic biology as an illustration, Lanier explains why the ability to infinitely trade ideas or genes results in normalized unremarkableness.