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Secret 'Alien' Technologies

Date: 08-29-09
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Richard Phillips, Carl Zimmer

Bestselling novelist Richard Phillips discussed some of the startling technologies he (may have) glimpsed while working as a physicist at the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Phillips said the major research being done at these facilities is usually broken down into smaller assignments, so that no one ever knows the overall scope of a project. Despite the many brilliant minds toiling away at these government installations, Phillips believes that many technological advancements "cannot be readily explained" by human achievement alone.

As an example, Phillips pointed to Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors on a microchip will double every 24 months. According to Phillips, Moore's Law should have slowed significantly by now and, with it, the advancement of computing. But this hasn't happened yet, and Phillips wonders if some helpful 'alien' knowledge may be the reason why.

Phillips talked about developments in artificial intelligence research involving pattern recognition. Allowing machines to recognize patterns in their own way, he explained, is an "alien way of thinking." Phillips also reviewed some of the latest advancements in military/battlefield robotics. He implied that the abundance of recent technological breakthroughs is at least partially due to knowledge acquired from the 1947 Roswell crash.

In addition, Phillips predicted an amazing breakthrough in nanotechnology within the next five years. He speculated that scientists would soon be able to engineer organic cellular machines capable of repairing the human body, and perhaps even correcting faulty DNA. Again, Phillips does not see how such progress could be possible "without significant [alien] assistance."

Bedbug Update

In the first hour, science writer Carl Zimmer provided an update on what could be a global bedbug epidemic. According to Zimmer, bedbugs were mostly eradicated in the late 1900s in the United States, but just last year there were 10,000 complaints about them in New York city alone. And it isn't just The Big Apple feeling the bite of these parasitic insects. Cincinnati, Toronto, England and South Korea have also been invaded by bedbugs, he noted. Zimmer said people may have to throw out their infected clothes, furniture and mattresses to be rid of the little bloodsuckers. Zimmer also commented on H1N1 swine flu virus, and antibiotic-resistant staph infections, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

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Ian Punnett's Blog

Check out Ian's latest musings and insights at his blog site.

Molecule Anatomy Imaged for First Time

IBM scientists in Zurich, Switzerland, have taken the first ever close up view of a single molecule using atomic force microscopy. The stunning image shows in detail the anatomy of an organic molecule called a Pentacene, consisting of 22 carbon atoms and 14 hydrogen atoms. Even the atomic bonds at the molecule's periphery can be seen. This breakthrough is being reported in the August 28 issue of Science magazine. More info and video at PhysOrg.com.

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