Monday, January 4, 2010

Science. Will. Kill. Us. All.

Ways Science Will Kill Us All

The chances of the Large Hadron Collider actually producing a miniature black hole—or anything life threatening for that matter—are so small as to be minute. Like, crazy minute. As in, will probably never happen so minute. And even if the LHC does start producing tiny little baby black holes, they will be so small as to collapse instantly, and cause us no trouble whatsoever. So to all the crazy folk protesting the LHC: bugger off. You're just exposing your own ignorance.

Ronald Mallett's Time Machine

Ronald Mallett is the only scientist in the world who is currently, and seriously, working on a time machine. That's right, an actual, honest-to-god mad scientist. Since Mallett's father died young of a heart attack, Ronald resolved to discover time travel in order to save the life of his departed dad. Dr. Mallet is working on a way of twisting the fabric of spacetime using circulating lasers. And we all know as soon as you make a Time Machine, the grandmother paradox kicks in, and the entire nature of reality will collapse. Way to go Dr. Mallett!

Blood Powered Batteries

So scientists have developed a battery that is powered by human blood. The idea is a cybernetic power source, to keep your pacemaker or whatever running. But, lets think about this for a second...what do we have way too much of on this planet? People. And what do we have way too little of? Power. A battery that runs on human blood is an easy fix for both of them. Jonathan Swift would be proud of this, screw eating the poor, lets just power all our gadgets with them.

Black Hole Energy Sources

A couple of scientists mooted the concept of using small, artificially generated black holes as power sources in the far future. It turns out the suckers output large amounts of radiation for a good amount of time, and would prove to provide a substantial amount of power. The only problem? At the end of their lifecycle, they explode dramatically. The scientists just said to throw it into deep space, away from inhabited space, and let it quietly blow. Which is all just grand, until something goes wrong on the Earth. So instead of a Chernobyl, with a few thousand dead and some mutant babies, then entire planets gets utterly and horrifically destroyed.

Augmented Reality

Oh, you're all laughing at me now, aren't you? "Augmented reality? Overlaying virtual images over the outside world? How will that ever kill us?" you chortle at me, behind that foolish beard of yours. Well, you seem so correct now, wait until the machines start to revolt. All of a sudden your glasses tell you there's a bridge over that gap, and the GPS tells you to keep going straight, and then you plummet down a cliff face. Yeah, not so smart are you now, beardy?

Metal Excreting Bacteria

You ever hear a news story, and immediately start to panic about what would happen if it went awry? Scientists at the Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany are trying to develop bacteria to create rare metals, which would otherwise be the subject of international conflict. I can't hear this, and not think of Vonnegut's ice-9. This will grow out of control, strip the metal from natural objects, and horribly overtake the planet. We will all live in fear of when the bacteria comes to pull the iron from our blood.

Self Replicating Printers

I'm sure many of you have heard of the RepRap, the open sourced rapid prototyping 3D printer. It's all kinds of awesome, as you can use it to create three dimensional objects from simple patterns. The coolest feature? You can use one RepRap to create most of a second unit! Whoa, hang on a second there. Machines that can self replicate? Yeah, there's no way in hell that could go wrong, right? Jesus, when Skynet grabs this tech, the robots will be popping out babies faster than the Duggars.

AI/Groupthink Robots

As if current robotics wasn't scary enough. We keep being told that robots aren't smart enough to actually cause any trouble. Except a Swiss insect expert has created robots which have evolved a hive mind, that have learned to work together in groups and trick outsiders. By giving them a two-minute life cycle, they quickly evolve, and learn tricks and and communication. So, yeah, the robots have evolved intelligence. We are so freaking boned. Because now they can replicate themselves and can learn.

EATR Robot

Oh, for f**k's sake! Self-replicating, learning, and now they eat the terrain? What the he**? This is the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, which fuels itself by eating any biomass. The makers are swearing that it won't eat animals or people, but we all know that the eventual robot uprising is on the way, and when it comes, they will start after us. The Matrix had it wrong, we're not batteries for the robots. We're a straight up fuel source. These things will crawl the countryside, eating plants, animals and people, until nothing is left of the planet but a blackened husk.

The Singularity

The Singularity is a fairly simple concept. Computers are getting faster and smarter at an exponential or logarithmic rate. Eventually, they'll become so powerful, as to be beyond anything we can comprehend, and we'll be able to put our brains into computers. Awesome, right? The Singularity, aka the Rapture for geeks, has everyone excited about the possibilities of casting off our soft and fleshy shells, and living forever in cyberspace. And, as the last person plugs their brainport into the supranet, and turns out all the lights as they flee into the recesses of our new digital life, for all intents and purposes we will all be dead.

Grey goo? Try grey lung!

Nanotech is going to change the world. Whether you want to admit it or not, it's going to fundamentally alter construction and technology for years to come. People are already terrified of the "grey goo" scenario, where nanotech runs out of control, taking over the world and reducing everything to piles of monochrome glop. As wonderful of an idea as that is, for rousing everyone's internal Luddite, the actual issues of nanotech are far more insidious. The real problem is that we just have no idea how this stuff is going to interact with humans in the long run. We have a habit of finding a new technology, and sticking it in everything, and then being all surprised in a few years when it turns out that Polonium causes cancer. Nanotech is no different, and one of the most prominent applications of the science is already showing problems. Carbon nanofibers are planned to be used in everything from football helmets to space elevators, as the microscopic fibers are incredibly light and extremely strong. You know what else has microscopic fibers? Asbestos. Which causes lung cancer in the form of mesothelioma. Evidence is already mounting that carbon nanofibers might just end up doing the same. Yay the future.


The world is facing a bit of trouble now. We don't have enough food or water to go around, and climate change is a real issue, regardless of what the deniers would have you believe. Resource wars are probably going to happen in our lifetime, as fresh water sources dwindle, and elements become depleted. Farmable land will also likely wither away, leaving large areas of the world struggling to feed itself. So what do you do? Hack the planet. Geoengineering and geohacking involves changing the landscape and the planet to better provide us with what we need. Seeding the ocean with fertilizers; terraforming the Sahara into a rainforest; creating massive greenhouses to control the climate. Hack the planet! Except the Earth is a giant, incredibly complex system, and there is no possible way to factor in all the variables of what these might do. What happens if we hack the planet? Nobody has any real idea, but it might end up warping the planet in such a way as to make it even less hospitable for humans.

Cyborg animals

You know what are constantly trying to kill us? Robots. You know who are still angry at us for taking over this world? Animals. Guess what would be a great idea? Combining the two! That's right folks, we're making robot animals, who are bound to one day rise up, and crush us under their furry metallic heel. Or chitinous, in some cases. Humanity has effectively implanted chips into insects and rats, to the point where we can control their motion. We can stimulate parts of larger animals brains to train them in specific ways. We have chimps that can control computer inputs and robotic limbs with their brain. Yup, we're bound to be targeted in the coming robomonkey uprising. Our only chance is the fact that we have a better starting knowledge of how robotics work.

Genetically Engineered Super Creatures.

Oh, that's not fair! Our only possible avenue of victory against robopooches, and we have to go and create genetically engineers super animals too? Super-strong chimps? Teaching apes to talk? Implanting brain chunks into rats? Animals with regenerated muscles? And now they won't need us to take care of them, like in the robot situation. What can I say, Margaret Atwood was right. When the genetically engineered crazy animals start breeding the way mammals usually do, we are utterly shafted. Just wait till the weaponized metal-eating rabbits break free from DARPA, and destroy any semblance of a modern society.

The Dark Matter Lab

8,000 feet below South Dakota, a proposed laboratory is going to be set up which will look into the mysterious stuff known as Dark Matter. Organized by the Sanford Lab, it'll be up and running by 2016, and cost around $550 million to get going. I've played half-life. I've read science fiction. There is no possible freaking way this can go well. Super massive stuff that constitutes most of the galaxy, and that we barely understand? Lets play with it somewhere deep and scary, where Balrogs hang out. Nope, that's it, I quit. No more of this, science! There is not a single possible outcome from this that doesn't involve mass destruction. Crazy aliens, elder gods, warping space/time, mammoth explosions. And there is no way something as piddling as a 8,000 feet of earth will stop whatever they summon. It's official, we're all gonna die.

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