Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Brainpower and hypnogogic states

by Suw on June 18, 2002

Don’t you always find yourself feeling most creative whilst a) on the loo, b) walking, c) staring out of the bus/car/train window or d) just as you’re dropping off to sleep? By far my most creative time is that period when your head has hit the pillow, your brain is winding down and you slip into that hypnogogic state where you brain is firing off a load of random images in a strange slide show and your imagination works on little minidramas that you repeat over and over and over and over and over… and then you fall asleep and forget the whole damn lot. I hate that. In those moments I create the most perfect conversations/pieces of prose/book opening chapters etc, and it riles me no end that those never-to-be-repeated bursts of creativity be lost forever.

Well, maybe not. New Scientist have just run a story that discusses how existing technology is sufficiently advanced for amputees to run an artificial hand just by brainpower alone. I’d love to give you a link to it, but it’s not on their web site, so you’ll have to go and find the article in the print version – issue 2347, 15 June 2002, p22. Anyway, if researchers continue to refine their techniques for interpreting the complex electrical signals that our brains are contantly emitting, perhaps one day they will be able to create a machine that captures your thoughts, dreams and those perfect pieces of hypnogogic prose. I keep my fingers crossed (but only when not typing).

Meantime, I am in glorious celebration of Korea beating the crap out of the Italians. They deserved it. What a pathetic game the Italians played, doing that ‘oh we’ve got a goal, let’s be really boring and defend for the next 70 minutes’ thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I think England wouldn’t totally thrash Korea if it came to that, but we’ve Brazil to deal with first. I’m saying nothing on that. I’m only an instant pundit anyway – just add hot water (or alcohol – the choice of lubricant is yours), a world cup and shake vigourously.

Oh, and one final word… Beam me up Mate! Ok, that was four… but some Australian researchers have managed to teleport a bright beam of light and quite frankly, that impresses me no end. (I was about to say, ‘That impresses the crap out of me’, but somehow that didn’t seem to read quite right.) Anyway, they used the effect of entanglement, which is something that boggle my mind every time I read about it. But I have a problem with all this. Basically, as I read it (and I could be wrong), they destroyed the original beam of light, and the second entangle beam appeared at a different location. Not far away, but nevertheless a significant distance.

Of course, this is only teleporting light – anything of the size of an atom poses a major problem and who knows if they’ll ever actually do that. But if they do, is this really teleportation as we understand it from scifi? Surely that involves disassembling a thing, transmitting it somehow, then reassembling it somewhere else? That’s what Scotty used to do. I’m not sure I fancy the idea of destroying thing A only for the entangled twin, thing B, to appear somewhere else. Because then thing B isn’t really thing A, it’s just a replica, so would it have all the same attributes of thing A, or would it be just a facsimile? Surely this is just like faxing a document from fax A, destroying the original, then saying that fax B is in fact a teleported version of the document?

Right, History of Britain by Simon Schama calls, and who am I to deny him?!

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