I’ve traveled in a time machine!

back-to-the-future-deloreanIn the last post I talked about time travel to the past.  What about time travel to the future?

There’s a boring sense in which we’re all moving into the future at the rate of one second per second. But that’s not what we mean. What about farther into the future than it takes from our point of view? What about Marty McFly traveling from 1985 to today (October 21, 2015) while remaining young. Is that possible?

Yes, it is.

In fact, I’ve been in a time machine that takes its passengers into the future. It cost me several hundred dollars, and it wasn’t very far into the future, but still — I did it.

And in all likelihood, so have you. This marvelous time traveling device is — … — (wait for it) — Continue reading

Is time travel possible?

MV5BNjE5ODg4NzY1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjI3MzYwMg@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Short answer: time travel to the past is possible (but not actual), and time travel to the future has actually happened already.

Today is Back to the Future Day, the day that Marty arrives in the future according to the 1989 movie. So it’s a fine day to discuss time travel.

Is time travel possible?

Well, to answer this, we first need to clarify what variety of time travel we’re considering.

What we usually have in mind is time travel to the past. But here there are distinct pictures that we have in mind. Continue reading

I’m published in The Atlantic!

imagesWell, not in the magazine itself, just online.

Well, only on a blog, to be honest.

And it’s only two dozen words long.

And my name isn’t mentioned.

But still, them’s my words there in James Fallow’s post (click “read on”):

I think we need a simple t-shirt slogan: “The NRA is immoral.”

The fact that everyone will understand the message is all that really needs to be said.

My earlier letter-to-the-editor moments of fame are here and here.

You Wish I’d Never Been Born?

kid-picWith the latest anti-abortion dust-up, I’ve noticed a resurgence of stories from people who tell us that if the pro-abortion folks had had their way, they wouldn’t here.

“I dare you to look in her eyes,” I read, “and tell her you wish she weren’t alive today.” It’s a powerful rhetorical ploy. But a little thought reveals that as an argument, it’s misleading at best. Continue reading

Still Dowsing for Bombs in Iraq

I glanced at a news story about Iraq today, and what did I see?

Dowsing rods!

I’ve discussed before the fact that the Iraqi government has spent over $85 million for these dowsing rods that are supposed to detect bombs.

I suppose once you’ve sunk that sort of money in, you might as well use them.

And, to be fair, security theater might have its uses. If the bad guys don’t know that the wands are useless hocus pocus, they might be more wary of trying to sneak through checkpoints — and the the apparent triggering of a dowsing rod might trigger a real psychological reaction that a security agent could recognize.

The problem, of course, would be if the wand wavers thinks they’re actually able to detect explosives and that leads them to let up on other reasonable security measures.

Wondering how common the dowsing rods are, I did a quick Google image search for “Iraq Checkpoint.” Looks like they’re common. A few more pics after the jump.

Continue reading

Explaining Consciousness

Here’s a TED talk by David Chalmers.

I don’t have time right now to watch it, but I’ll probably assign it to my students this fall, and I imagine I’ll offer some comments at some point.

First reaction: “Whoa! Chalmers shaved and got a haircut!”

I guess he hit the 20-years-out-of-Santa-Cruz mark. That’s about the same point I cut my hair off too.

Your anti-Pi Day rant

Not everyone is excited about Pi Day: