antet 2

How far can we go ?

"I suppose that if we would reach the edge of the world, we would find there somebody who is going beyond."

- Henry David Thoreau –


"Through Giving You Shall Receive"

Find out who said this, see why he said it and, then, go beyond this starting point.

2 sept. 2013

Another "mystery" has been solved !

Well, yes, they were not UFOs, but high performance military aircrafts !

Did you thing anything else? It’s ok, don’t bother, people are always served with hot topics to think about ...

PS. We wait the truth about Yeti, the monster from Loch Ness and other contemporary myths...

17 iun. 2013

Dark Matter

It is said that, in order to succeed in life, one must have not only cognitive intelligence (ie the capacity to understand what is happening around), but also social intelligence (ie the capacity to understand what the other people are expecting) and also emotional intelligence (ie the ability to postpone satisfactions). It seems that the last two abilities lacked Li Xing and the result was that, instead of becoming a great scientist, he became a suicidal killer.

Taking a real story (University of Iowa shooting case) as its starting point, Dark Matter reveals us how tough the fight of vanities can be into the world of contemporary science. When the coordinator of the cosmology research program (Professor Jacob Reisler) refuses to recognize the scientific merits of the Chinese young student and to support the continuation of his academic work, their scientific dispute turns gradually into a deaf encounter between the oversized ego of the established scientific authority and the ambition of the enthusiast but, unfortunately, impatient young man. And the result of this confrontation is, finally, a tragic one.

The main core of this confrontation is related to the "dark matter", that potential unseen component of the Universe, that Liu Xing hopes to highlight by using mathematical calculations. According to his theory, the Universe is eternal ("God and the Universe are the same thing"), without beginning or end, but this perspective is contrary to the "Reisler model”, according to which the Universe begins with the primordial Big Bang. Nevertheless, according to the view of Liu Xing, the model of his coordinator does not explain the empty spaces which can be observed with the telescope. At this point, the student’s theory comes to state that those spaces are not empty at all, but full of dark matter acting on and modelling the usual matter through gravity.

All in all, "Dark Matter" is a worth seeing film, both due to the scientific issue that is highlighted but also due to the provided insight regarding the functioning of the scientific research within the American academic system, as the film reveals its formal and informal mechanisms and the relationships that are established between the senior scientists and the young aspirants to this status.

13 mai 2013

The trans-humanist Transfer

A hypnotic novel. A postmodern novel. A hallucinating novel. A formidable novel.

Let's be honest with ourselves. How many of us wouldn’t want to temporarily migrate into other people’s bodies, as to live, even occasionally, other lives or to do things that we don’t have the courage to do in our lives ? A lot of us, most likely. But what would be the price for this experience? How many of us could resist afterwards, after the transfer ? How many of us could remain sane after founding out (due to the shelter of the false identity) the hidden misery of the human nature, being that the misery of our own or the misery of some relatives or the misery of some strangers? Undoubtedly, Transfer by Michael Hăulică is a both a cop themed science fiction but, at the same time, is also an insight into the abysses of the human soul, into its deep and cavernous areas.

The book is drafted in two writing styles that seem completely different one from the other, one being classic, simple and narrative (A huca in the wonderful Inand, for example) and another one being postmodern and full of discursive ideas, images and fragments, that intersect, mix, combine and twist with each other in an utterly hypnotic game (Weather of oppressiveness, for example). More or less similar, the story takes us into the realm of a dystopian city (Inand), where we can find an amalgamated mixture of landmarks, some of them very well known as signs of our world (evoked by a lot of multicultural quotes: from CasablancaMatrixKeanu ReevesAlain Delon, to Grigore Leşe–Cătalin Botezatu, through BecketVişniecHăulica (self-reference)Godot) and some of them looking like landmarks of a reality that seems totally surreal. As so, Gibsons’ world is described as a quite another world, almost another universe, a world of people in flesh and blood but which seems as being run by another software,  by other different parameters of existential coordination. In this world, a circus tent is not what it seems, but a quantum reality created by thoughts, an other cosmos, an inner city with strange streets and buildings, with strange people, with entrances and exits that lead to unimagined places, where dreamlike performances are happening, where drawers open themselves into human bodies, just as in Salvador Dali’s painting ... In this cyberpunk world, even the glances and the smiles finally come to be standardized, bearing evocative names of different moods (The apricot flower, The fly of the dragonfly, Edelweiss, Sunrise in Osaka, Land of snow, Harvesters at rest, the Geneva Lake, etc., etc. ...) and being used according to the need of  each arising situation...

But, beyond all this overflowing fantasy which, even indirectly, pays a tribute to the famous Canadian writer William Gibson, where the mystery and the narrative action mix with subjective thoughts - memories, impressions, perceptions, details, dreams, feelings, moods, personal reflections, conclusions - creating an atmosphere of hazy alienation, I think that the intention of Michael Hăulică is to draw our attention to something else which is not just important, but fundamental...

Into his famous work, Our Post-human Future, the famous sociologist, political scientist and social philosopher Francis Fukuyama has sounded the alarm about the impact that new technologies can bring on our own humanity, pointing out that the evolution of science can lead to a future when the alteration of the fundamental characteristics of human nature will make ourselves unrecognizable. In my opinion, this is the core of Michael Hăulică's novel:  he describes a stage, a level of this process of transformation, because, in the world of Inand, the man is no longer what we know he is or should be, but just a mask, nothing else but a mask ...

Could you tell me, please, how would you relate to reality if you would know that into the body of a stranger met in the street (and who, possibly, would address you with a "random"  curse or even more than that ...) could be your spouse, your neighbour, your colleague, your boss, or who knows what other very well-known person...? Does such a perspective give you chills on your back? Or, what would yourself be able to do if you could "rent" a body so that no one could recognize and blame you for any of your deeds ? ... A world of masks, a world of people who covertly enliven their innermost thoughts, where might that finally lead? What would be the social, the economic and the political consequences of a world where technology would enable us to do this? You will probably say that such a world is just a dystopia ... Yes, it is as so, But what if this dystopia will become reality in 20 or maybe 30 years from now on ?

Just read Michael Haulică's Transfer and you will see that, sometimes, the technological weirdness may seem not only potentially truthful, but, especially, more probable than you can imagine….

28 feb. 2013

What might a dream be ?

What is a dream? What the lucid dreaming could be ? So far, science has failed to clarify this questions.

Is the dream only an electrical activity of the brain and/or a result of the motion of the eyeballs ?

Could the dream be a journey of the spirit throughout another level of reality ?

We certainly do not know the true nature of the dreams and, because of this, our curious and imaginative minds have plenty of room to play with this topic.

Starting from this premise, "Inception" challenges us to ask ourselves if we could enter into the dreams of other persons, in order to steal their ideas or to implant in their minds ideas that are not actually theirs. Could there ever be a technology allowing us to do this ?

The film is a challenge for our speculative intelligence. To those who haven’t seen it already, I do recommend to watch it. Once or even twice. For my part, only at the second view I understood (probably) all the debated ideas.

Dreams seem quite real while we are inside of them, right ? Only when we wake up, we realize that there was something strange there ...

Is true that you never remembered the beginning of a dream ? You always just found yourself there, in the middle of the action, right ? Our life works, more or less, the same…Does anyone  remember something about his own birth ? No, because we all remember our lives at a time when they had already started…

And the most bewildering question of all:

When we die, we actually wake up? Is this life only a dream, a simulation? (Even if would be as so, we shouldn’t forget that any awakening must come from an external signal or from a signal transmitted by the body and not as a result of a desire intended by the  sleeping consciousness...)

As a brief conclusion: from now on, when you fall asleep, remember to take your totem with you.

What is a totem and how to use it ? You will learn by seeing the movie.

3 oct. 2012

Biotechnology, gothic fiction and the alien man.

In his famous book For a history of the imaginary Professor Lucian Boia identifies the alterity (the otherness)  as one of the recurring patterns in the human culture, upon which the entire mythology of the alien man is founded. At present the radical forms of this pattern are related strictly to the imaginary, but could they ever become a reality?

A few weeks ago I read a book that marked the emergence of a new genre in the Romanian culture. Until recently, among the fiction genres of the Romanian literature, we could find fantasy fiction, science fiction, magical realism fiction and surrealism fiction but, however, no horror fiction, as it simply did not exist. This is the novelty brought by Oliviu Crâznic and his debut novel ...And Then The Nightmare Came At Last (a novel which has received a lot of important awards in a relatively short time span):  the appearance of the gothic genre within the Romanian literature.

As I went through the book, the first thought that came into my mind was that the author writes very well: a writing style which is elegant, alert and dynamic, despite the elaborate depictions and the almost pedantic attention to details. Throughout the entire story, up to the very last page, Oliviu Crâznic is playing with the attention of the reader, in a captivating game of appearances and unexpected twists in the plot that capture the imagination, the mind being simply glued to the narrated events. Just as in a Hitchcock’s film, Crâznic’s novel makes you follow his path so as to see what will happen next and what lies behind the masks apparently worn by almost all characters. And, in addition to all of these, beyond these sharply defined profiles of the heroes, beyond the dark mise-en-scene, we can permanently see an ineffable love story which is somehow ethereally permeating the entire plot.

Then, after I finished reading it, my mind flew inevitably to the analysis of the archetypal structure that dominates the whole novel, the radical alterity (ie the human prototype distorted beyond the boundaries of humanity) and its classical representations within the universal culture (Pan, Minotaur, Frankenstein, Dracula, lycanthropy, mermaids, fairies, Yeti etc.). I thus came to think of a relatively recent film, I am Legend (2007) whose plot proposes that we should accept that, at some point in the not too distant future, our darkest imagination may become a reality on account of a science which gets out of control.

Could it be possible that the hypothesis proposed by this film to become a reality someday? Might there come a time when things could be reversed, when the fantastic biology and the nightmare creatures „painted” by Oliviu Crâznic in his novel (creatures deemed to be merely myths nowadays) predominate and the common man becomes, instead, only  a  legend, a thing of the past ?

Could this dystopia be the ultimate outcome of the science of biotechnology ?

27 sept. 2012

Sci-fi Art versus Science (2): „Prometheus” Case.

So, let's see.

The plot of the film, summarized in just a few words, can read as follows:

They, the aliens, have made us, the humans, but then they decided to destroy us. Anyway, they didn’t live to get this done because other beings destroyed them.

In most general terms, science has two purposes:
- to explain the surrounding Universe and, if possible, the reason of our presence within its framework;
- to provide us with equipment and technologies designed to improve our lives.

Accordingly, a film related to science (even if it is science conveyed through fiction) should present to the audience, insofar as possible, new ideas focused on the two above mentioned directions.

So, let's see how Prometheus serves these two purposes:

1.      Explanations regarding the surrounding Universe & the reason of our presence within its framework.

Regarding this topic, we identify two or three ideas illustrated by the film:

The paleoastronautics hypothesis: some of the cave paintings made by several ancient human civilizations, which had no contact with one other (Egyptians, Mayans, Babylonians, etc.), indicate the presence of some visitors from space who presented the ancient humans with a map of the stars.
The hypothesis that we have been created by aliens: sometime in the distant past the Earth was visited by an extra-terrestrial humanoid civilization that spread its genes in the young terrestrial environment and consequently the human species appeared at the end of the evolutionary chain.
The hypothesis regarding the diversity of life in the Universe: the Universe could host a wide diversity of life forms and some of them may cause the destruction of the humanoid one. Those destructive life forms could multiply by gestation inside the human body.

2.      Presentation of some technologies meant to improve our lives:

Like any other respectable sci-fi movie, Prometheus gives us the image of some advanced technologies:

- spaceships that undertake journeys into the far-off space/ galaxies;
- cryogenics systems,
- robotic surgical  station that operates the human body by itself;
- android robots,
- terraforming,
- flying balls that map the overflown terrain,
- holographic communication;
- etc.


In brief, this is the science included in the two-hour movie, in a package that also contains a lot of action and many special effects. Is this much, is this little, could it have been more than that?

Is there any objective truth in the above mentioned suppositions or is everything just pure fantasy? Each of us can come up with their own answer to this question. As far as I’m concerned, I would say that, regarding the first category, we are dealing strictly with assumptions related rather to fantasy, and clearly not based on strong arguments, but which are very popular due to their unusual statements. Regarding the second category, things are slightly better, as the presented technologies have, in my opinion, good chances to become reality in the not too distant future.

Regarding the novelty of these ideas, is there something that hasn’t been seen or heard before? I think the answer to this question is "no", with 2 exceptions, both belonging in the category of technology, namely: the robotic surgical station that operates the human body by itself and the flying balls mapping the overflown terrain. As far as I'm concerned, this is the first time I see these technologies illustrated in an artistic work.

And, finally, one last clarification:

What may seem a new idea to some, namely the hypothesis of human creation by the alien through the dissemination of their genes within the terrestrial environment (not through the "manufacturing" of humans in some kind of an alien lab, but by stimulating the natural evolution to move in a certain direction) is not at its first use in the sci-fi art.

I personally have come across this idea in at least one other work, namely the two-volume novel "First day" and "First Night" by Marc Levy, which is to be discussed here soon.

20 sept. 2012

Amazing: assumptions about the Universe.

Could you guess what is the structure of the surrounding world ?

If you want to know the latest assumptions, a new film series, narrated by a professional of science: 

The Fabric of the Cosmosde Brian Greene.