Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life at the Speed of Light

In the blink of an eye our lives will change. Our minds will effortlessly expend 35 joules of energy and electrochemically evaluate 33 trillion thoughts. We will seemingly aimlessly be propelled 65,000 miles into the future. For the vast majority of the population, there is no looking back.
We find patterns in the past and make sense of the previous. The future is distant and cannot be understood until it has arrived. The lives that surround us and interact with us have a greater impact than we can ever know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Make the Best Pizza in the World - In 24 Hours

If you're here to learn the secret, then welcome to my guide for ultimate pizza construction. If you are here by mistake or do not desire to possess the necessary magic, then please read no further. Perhaps you'd prefer to read one of my other life changing pieces of insight.
To begin, one must first develop the succulent sauce - chefs get ready for this - which consists of a combination of unusual ingredients as well as a more conventional tomato base. Red cayenne peppers, which chromologically match the tomato, as well as add excessive amounts of heat, provide cohesion to the otherwise unstable basic ingredients. The end result is a sauce with a scoville rating of nearly 45,000 and a perfectly balanced mouthwatering masterpiece.
Now what? This is where I highly recommend a divergence from each of my readers. Toppings are not the key to omnipotence. However, if you prefer my opinion, use marinated grilled chicken with sliced green bell peppers and jalapenos. If you are beginning your journey with raw material, be sure to allow the chicken to properly rise above its freezing point and do not allow bacterial contamination between the ingredients, unless pasteurization processes are performed.
Next, the dough! I used a tube of pre-packaged pizza dough, simply because I did not have flour at the time and my attempts to make flour from backyard grass seed were severely inefficient and time consuming. Follow the instructions on the packaging to prepare the dough in the oven. Once it has reached a certain temperature the ingredients can be installed. From dough to surface the correct order of assembly is as follows: sauce, cheese, chicken, all other toppings, more cheese. And... that's it! Place the configured pizza into an oven and just sit back and relax, in a few minutes you too can exclaim, "I've made the best pizza in the world!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Artificial Ribosome

Ribosomes are structures within biological cells that perform protein biosynthesis, basically meaning they assemble proteins from simpler molecules. Remarkably they assemble proteins specified by the instruction of the DNA. With that said, ribosomes are essentially a type of universal constructor. Through many direct and indirect processes they ultimately build the entire cell and are capable of replicating themselves. The Von Neumann type universal constructors are simulations of the concept, executed on a cellular automaton, and are capable of demonstrating replication and open-ended evolution. Currently such abstractions are somewhat over simplified and do not have sufficient redundancy built in for natural selection to have a high chance for success, although it is possible.
A model I am working on is a real-world machine consisting only of plastics and using sunlight and water as dependencies. The core of the machine is a universal constructor and a turing-complete pneumatic processor which reads it's instructions off plastic punch cards. The system is a photosynthetic hybrid, meaning it uses the sun's energy as it's primary power source, but could theoretically also use chemical energies (such as plastics - hydrocarbons). The machine would capture radiant energy from the sun and focus it using polished plastic lenses. Operation at night would be made possible by boiling water to run a steam piston and compressing air in plastic cylinders. By use of the the machine's universal constructor and an elaborate series of holes in the plastic sheet "punch card" memory, the artificial life form would be able to gather raw materials, machine and mold them into parts, assemble them, and ultimately reproduce itself, all while maintaining homeostasis.
The act of replication would not be flawless however, since the air powered plastic computer would intentionally be lacking cyclic redundancy checks and other error correction mechanisms, as well as being partially analog based. During each replication stage, assuming that the organism was in fact successful, there would be a possibility of a replication error, or a copying error when attempting to duplicate the punch card memory. Errors could manifest themselves in numerous ways, such as having a direct advantage or disadvantage over the success of subsequent generations. More commonly, errors would most likely remain dormant or have no immediate effect until certain circumstances arose. The accumulation of errors over time would eventually lead to a totally different set of instruction on the punch card. Since the punch card would directly control both the machine's function and construction blueprints, open ended evolution would occur. Over time the system may even eliminate the need for punch cards, air powered pistons, and plastic construction, and develop magnetic storage devices, a titanium alloy frame, and nuclear powered reactor cores. Possibly even more amazingly the system could evolve into a form indestiguishable from the world's current biological life.
It is unclear whether life can spontaneously arise from anything other than carbon, or at least whether or not this has a probable chance of ever occuring. Undoubtedly, life can be artificially constructed from a myriad of materials. These alternative versions of life could be considered secondary lifeforms, since their existance may depend on the intentional construction by an already existing being.

Grass Flour

I wanted a pizza, so I gathered the ingredients and after realizing I had no flour to make the dough, I considered my options. I was too tired to go to the store, and if I went out it would be easier to simply stop at a restaurant.Using past experiences as a guide I checked my back yard window, just to see what was out there. Sure enough the grass was very long and was starting to generate seeds, I hadn't been home in months, fortunately. I grabbed several hundred stalks of grass and shook them violently over a collecting cylinder. Nearly a million seeds detached and willingly fell into the container. I had acquired my raw material!Since the seeds were still too fresh I laid them out in a uniform pattern on a flat service and baked them in an oven, set to 275 degrees F, for 8 hours. It worked! The house was filled with the aroma of freshly baked grass seed, similar to that of oats. Once they were finished cooling they made there way down into my hand driven mill machine and were disintegrated into a light brown powder visually indistinguishable from that of whole wheat. I've yet to incorporate this ingredient into my dough. The entire process took too long and I'm unsure if it is toxic.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Algorithm Optimization with Open Ended Evolution

I've completed a simple machine capable of open ended evolution. The system produces great complexity and functionality from initially non functional sub units. The code, analogous to information stored in DNA in biological lifeforms, fully defines the construction of the simple, Turing machine like assembler, which in turn determines the behavior of the automaton. A sufficient dose of random mutation per generation has the potential to drive an artificially induced "natural selection" process which when guided with purpose, causes the machine to adapt. These adaptations can either be an increase or decrease in overall complexity but nonetheless cause the system to be more suited for its environment. In a very abstract version of the experiment, I have "guided" the system to evolve from a machine which outputs meaningless numbers, into a machine optimized for generating sequential lists of prime numbers. My current future intentions are to expand this simple adaptive concept and combine it with simple pattern recognition algorithms (which themselves will be capable of limitless evolution) to create a demonstration for a high reliability, high accuracy path-finding algorithm which would have the potential to be used in applications such as automated automobiles and robotics.