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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Scientists Think The Speed Of Light Has Slowed, And They're Trying To Prove It, by Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard

But in the late 1990s, a handful of physicists challenged one of the fundamental assumptions underlying Einstein’s theory of special relativity: Instead of the speed of light being constant, they proposed that light was faster in the early universe than it is now.

This theory of the variable speed of light was—and still is—controversial. But according to a new paper published in November in the physics journal Physical Review D, it could be experimentally tested in the near future. If the experiments validate the theory, it means that the laws of nature weren’t always the same as what we experience today and would require a serious revision of Einstein’s theory of gravity.

It May Not Feel Like Anything To Be An Alien, by Susan Schneider, Nautius

The safest mindset is intellectual humility. Indeed, barring blaringly obvious scenarios in which alien ships hover over Earth, as in the recent film Arrival, I wonder if we could even recognize the technological markers of a truly advanced superintelligence. Some scientists project that superintelligent AIs could feed off black holes or create Dyson Spheres, megastructures that harnesses the energy of entire stars. But these are just speculations from the vantage point of our current technology; it’s simply the height of hubris to claim that we can foresee the computational abilities and energy needs of a civilization millions or even billions of years ahead of our own.

Going Off Track, by Christopher Beanland, TheLong+Short

In the 1980s, British engineers pioneered futuristic levitating trains pushed by magnets. Now, despite gleaming maglev trains gliding around Asia, Britain's version has been shuttered and left to waste. What went wrong?

On Emily Witt’s “Future Sex”, by Madeleine Watts, Los Angeles Review of Books

The question “What do you desire?” is never directly asked in Future Sex, but it is the animating premise of the book. “What do you desire?” forms both foundational inquiry and narrative momentum. It nags through the book like a koan.

And “What do you desire?” is an important question, because it allows that you might not know.