Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Getting Closer to the God Particle

Image Source: AllVoices.

Over the past week and a half, there have been reports that scientists at CERN have gotten even closer to finding the so-called 'God particle.' They have just found a new subatomic particle, which they have named Chib(3P). The Higgs boson particle is important because it is not expected to be made up of smaller particles; it is also the last missing piece of the Standard Model in Physics. Newsweek: "the Higgs mechanism is critical to today’s theory of the basic elements of matter. Higgs and his colleagues theorized that space itself contains a sort of charge. Elementary particles acquire mass through their interaction with the charge (you might think of this charge as a traffic camera that slows down traffic even without any actual policemen to stop the cars). Space isn’t filled with Higgs-boson particles—you need a collider such as the LHC to make those—but the Higgs boson is the telltale sign that there really is such a 'charge' in space." Mark Buchanan generally refers to the Higgs boson as a particle that could explain how the universe gets 'something' out of 'nothing.' Very roughly, it would let us confirm the transition of states in matter, from 'non-being' to 'being.' Proving this notion may in turn explain the origins of the universe. While acknowledging that this transitional concept appeals to our love of mythical and religious metaphors, Buchanan insists that the idea is soundly grounded in scientific study and hypotheses.

Image Source: AllVoices.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Banknote Nostalgia: Spanish Village Brings back Peseta Currency

Image Source: AFP/File, Miguel Riopa.

AFP is carrying a story that the Spanish village of Salvaterra de Miño has brought back the old peseta currency this fall. Initially, the experiment was only supposed to last one month, but it was so popular that town leaders are allowing it to run to December 31. Nostalgia for the currency, which has been obsolete since 2002, is very high amid the euro's woes and the old coins and banknotes are being welcomed like long absent friends.

The 'blonde,' the much-loved 100 peseta coin. Image Source: Business Insider.

It's an interesting phenomenon, demonstrating how economies really work; perhaps it is a reminder of the days when economists thought economically, before they began applying abstract mathematical formulas and dynamic physics concepts to human trading realities. Sometimes, the realities defy theories, abstractions, and differential equations:
In Salvaterra, nostalgia is high for the old gold-coloured coin affectionately known as "the blonde", and the old peseta notes.

"Every time an old note turned up I would touch it, since I was really glad to see it again and touch it again," says Fina Rodriguez, owner of an electrics shop.

The euro is less well-loved. In a recent survey, 70 percent of Spaniards said they had gained no benefit from the single currency.

"When we changed the currency, everything got dearer," says Montse Ledo, owner of the Fenteiros bar, one of 58 businesses taking part in the project.

The peseta scheme had been due to last just a month from the start of October, but locals dug out so much of the old currency that in the run-up to Christmas Salvaterra is still a peseta zone.

The town now plans to wrap up the experiment on December 31 and change the accumulated pesetas for euros, since no time limit has been set on cashing in the old coin since the single currency took over in 2002.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prometheus Trailer

There's lots of buzz on the Internet today regarding a teaser trailer (see it below) for Ridley Scott's 2012 semi-prequel of the Alien franchise, entitled Prometheus. Everyone is happy to hear that H. R. Giger has been working on the project, and Scott promises to get to the bottom of the alien origins of human life on our planet (a very popular Millennial eschatological conspiracy theory). He will also explain who and what the Space Jockey was in his first Alien movie. Scott suggested in a recent interview that the Space Jockey's ship was a weapons transport, and that the Xenomorph, which appeared in all the Alien movies so far, was not the original alien, but a some kind of derivative species of the real alien species. The trailer and the image shown here are from Apple iTunes and Trailer Addict and are © 20th Century Fox.

Curios: The Santa Claus Banknotes

Santa: Bottom right (click to see larger image). Image Source: Heritage Auctions.

Curios is my blog series on weird artifacts that come up on the block at auction houses. In January 2012, in Orlando, Florida, Heritage Auctions will be selling off the Durand collection of banknotes which had special issues with images of Santa Claus printed on them. You know, this was back in the days before people were disgusted by Christmas being emblematic of rampant capitalism. The collection includes counterfeit bills. From the Heritage Auctions announcement:
Heritage Currency is pleased to present The Roger H. Durand Santa Claus Notes Collection as part of our FUN Signature Currency Auction being held in Orlando from January 5 thru 8. Given the fact that most of the notes with Santa Claus vignettes are scarce to extremely rare, this is indeed a fabulous and noteworthy collection. Roger's initial purchase that began this collection took place in 1960 at a cost of $17 — several multiples of what most Obsoletes cost at that time. At that time, there was only one reference on the subject — a five page monograph by John A. Muscalus, Ph.D. published in 1959. That work was followed in 1973 by a publication from Larry L. Ruehlen that ignited the interest of collectors.

There were far fewer notes than there was demand for and the notes are generally prized and closely held, so building a collection was quite the challenge. Although that is still the case, the sale of the American Bank Note Company archives in 1990 did add more material to the marketplace along with Part VI of the Ford sale in October 2004, although the Ford sale consisted primarily of material he purchased at the 1990 sale. The continued interest in the Santa Claus vignettes is evidenced by the fact they took the number 23 spot on the list of The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes list, and the recent auction sale of a circulated Santa Claus note for over $40,000, an amazing price indeed for any obsolete banknote.

May your eyes twinkle and your dimples be merry this holiday season.
Santa: Bottom right (click to see larger image). Image Source: Heritage Auctions.
Santa: Centre (click to see larger image). Image Source: Heritage Auctions.
Santa: Centre (click to see larger image). Image Source: Heritage Auctions.
Image Source: Heritage Auctions.

Hail the Winter Solstice: Deus Sol Invictus

Winter Solstice: Dawn at Stonehenge. Image Source: Stellarium.

Today, at 5:30 a.m. UTC or Greenwich Mean Time, the Winter Solstice occurs.  Thank Heavens. It's been getting pretty dark out there. In Antarctica, it is Midsummer and the Sun is shining nearly continuously. See the three videos in the bottom of my post here, which explain the Winter Solstice and the origins of Christmas in earlier Sun god worship.

The Solstice is the core of many religions and mythologies in the Northern Hemisphere.  In fact, since the dawn of human civilization in the Stone Age, the Winter Solstice and the days that follow it have been celebrated to hail the victory of the Sun, or the powers of light, life and good - in short, basic survival! - over the powers of dark, death and evil.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Man Who Told the Internet He Came from the Future

Image Source: Xetobyte on Deviant Art via I09.

Even at the dawn of the Internet Age, the time-bending and time-altering potentials of Cyberspace were very evident to some.  I09 has just posted a very interesting piece about a message board contributor in the 1990s, one 'John Titor,' who told people he had been sent back from the future to retrieve a 70s'-era IBM computer in order to fix computer glitches that would later cause a lot of trouble in the 2030s. He made several dire predictions about world affairs in the early Millennium, some of which have come true. In a twist that sounds like it came straight from DC Comics' time-gutting continuity manuals (DC had already had one big chronally-driven crossover event in the 1990s that touched on Titor's premise; it is entitled Zero Hour), Titor also said he came from a slightly different timeline, thus safely granting his futuristic predictions a margin of doubt. As anyone familiar with the Terminator film franchise knows, the time traveller sent back to the present to stop a future calamity became a highly-compelling, widely-used pop culture trope from the mid-1980s onward.

Yet Titor seemed to be a 'real' version of this pop cultural trope, which was why his curious claims attracted so much attention. This was an early case of manipulation of the Internet to create false verisimilitude based on virtual reality mimicking the authoritative reference points of actual reality - even if the reference points from actual reality were fictional! It was very clever. Titor's story has been debunked by I09 as a virtuoso first in viral online marketing.  Nevertheless, it still makes fascinating reading.  For it is, in fact, the Internet that has become our real time machine, as anyone who has spent the last fifteen years staring at a computer screen during most of their waking hours can attest. From the report:
What if someone from the future popped up in our timeline and started answering questions from people on internet message boards? That's exactly what John Titor did in the late 1990s. Claiming he was sent from the future on a mission to retrieve an antique computer, he talked with thousands of people online and told stories of futuristic life in 2036. Many of his tales warned of imminent disaster for the world, but he said he couldn't help.

As abruptly as he appeared, Titor vanished in 2001. Did he finish his mission? Who - or what - is behind the legend of John Titor? ...

Posted by John Titor on 01-27-2001 12:45 PM. Greetings. I am a time traveler from the year 2036. I am on my way home after getting an IBM 5100 computer system from the year 1975. My "time" machine is a stationary mass, temporal displacement unit manufactured by General Electric. The unit is powered by two, top-spin, dual-positive singularities that produce a standard, off-set Tipler sinusoid. I will be happy to post pictures of the unit. ...

Life in 2036

Titor talks about his life as well, including living in Florida as a child, his service in the second American Civil War as a member of the Fighting Diamondbacks in 2013, and the communal/agricultural nature of life in 2036.

Titor admits he lives in a parallel timeline, one that varies 1-2% from ours. Enough to be slightly different, but not diverge from the major societal events. Titor is on a mission to obtain an IBM 5100 in order to debug computers in 2036 due predicted problems with Unix in 2038. The IBM 5100 emulates APL and BASIC programming languages, an interesting feature. John also posts pictures of his time travel machine along with schematics and the logo used by his military unit.

Titor's story eventually falls apart, with answers inconsistent and terse, and the user quits posting in April of 2001. The Titor story contines to grow as the conversations are re-posted onto other sites and through e-mail lists, with Titor fever reaching a peak in 2003, culminating with the release of a book about Titor, John Titor: A Time Traveler's Tale in late 2003 by the John Titor Foundation, Inc.

Hobbit Movie Trailer

Bleeding Cool is carrying the first Hobbit movie trailer, An Unexpected Journey, due out a year from now. See the trailer at the bottom of this post. The studio blog on the production is here. Richard Armitage looks particularly impressive as the deposed Dwarven prince, Thorin, but they all look great.

The Dwarven cast. Image Source: The Hobbit Blog.

Cast above: (L-r) JED BROPHY as Nori, DEAN O’GORMAN as Fili, MARK HADLOW as Dori, JAMES NESBITT as Bofur, PETER HAMBLETON as Gloin, GRAHAM McTAVISH as Dwalin, RICHARD ARMITAGE as Thorin Oakenshield (center), KEN STOTT as Balin, JOHN CALLEN as Oin, STEPHEN HUNTER as Bombur, WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, ADAM BROWN as Ori and AIDAN TURNER as Kili in New Line Cinema’s and MGM’s fantasy adventure THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by James Fisher.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Farewell: Václav Havel

Havel to the Castle. Image Source: WSJ.

It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Václav Havel.  Today, black flags hang by Prague Castle.  One of the leaders who saw an end to the Eastern Bloc in the 1989 to 1991 period, his death marks another end to that era. He represented something of the best in the Czechs, a man whose pure and ethical convictions shone in his face and life - and he did not waver. He had a rare grasp of the moral obligations shouldered by free men and women.

His Website is here and BBC and Guardian obits here and here, respectively. The Prague Post will do a large retrospective of him on December 21. The Lidové Noviny coverage is here.

Image Source: Bloomberg.

The NYT, which is remembering his plays, quoted Natalia Koliada, a co-founder of the Belarus Free Theater, who tweeted: "There is less morality in politics with his death." Lists of his dramatic and literary published works are here and here. The world is a poorer place without him. From his 1994 acceptance speech for the Philadelphia Liberty Medal:
"The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order. Yet I think it must be anchored in a different place, and in a different way, than has been the case so far. If it is to be more than just a slogan mocked by half the world, it cannot be expressed in the language of departing era, and it must not be mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world."

Frozen Moments

A teenage photographer from Tokyo, Natsumi Hayashi, has made a big name for herself since September 2010, when she started posting photos of herself on her blog while 'levitating.' Acutally, she jumps hundreds of times in one spot until she gets a perfect photo while midair, which makes it look like she is flying. (Image sources: Hayashi's site, Oddity Central, Photography Blog and The Daily Mail; all photos are © N. Hayashi.)