Sweet Sausages and VR

There’s nothing better than a good old weird dream. I will try to describe the scene I remember. I was entering into some kind of coffee shop. Imagine the one from the Hopper paint but European style. Big panoramic windows and art-deco chairs. Old and classy. I take a chair and the girl with the apron – chewing gum – ask me if I want to try the Special. I agree without questioning what’s in, and in a couple of minutes she brings me a dish with what looks like a thick, deformed, caramel-coloured, sausage, accompanied with a couple of slices of a spongy bread that I’m not able to recognise and some vegetables. Cherry tomatoes maybe. “Would you like sugar or honey with it?” the blonde waitress asks. I think I mumble honey, then she places a bottle of the golden liquid in front of me. Maybe it’s a big churro, not a sausage. She sees my dubitative face and gesticulate cutting a slice with the knife and fork and pouring the liquid over it. I do so and I am surprised of the exquisite sensation in my mouth. It reminds me something but I can’t locate the memory. Actually I still remember the flavour in the wake – sometimes it happens – and I can tell you I will not eat it if offered for real I think. But it was definitely tasty.

A couple of men arrive then and sit close to my table. The blonde girl now is brunette. Or maybe it’s another waitress. I was paying attention to my sausage, maybe the other one left. I look tentatively to her ass, and I remember the popular saying about hair colour. “Thank you love.” The fat man says. “And bring me another of those sweet sausages.” He points to me. “Good choice. I’m coming here since half a century, they have the best $%^& (I don’t understand) of the city.” I don’t give conversation. His colleague? friend? looks at me and nods. There’s something like resignation in his eyes. They seem to tell me again with the same, don’t worry he does it all the time. The sweet sausage arrives. The speaker points to it. “Now you can’t find these guys around. All the shops are now fucking VR shops.” I don’t want to ask but I think he sees my confusion. “You don’t do VR? Then you are one of us! Who can understand these youngsters?” I nod. “I tried. I swear to god I tried it ” he continues, cutting the sausage into slices while speaking to all of us “but when I put those googles over my head, I automatically feel ill. They are all VR junkies, eating popcorn and drinking Cola, paying per hour! Instead of speaking one with each other directly, interacting in a virtual world. Ridiculous, right? Well, I say fuck them and their gadgets!”

Really. I don’t know where I dream, but sometimes I’m having fun.

The robot land

I’m on a road trip. To whom I don’t remember, but who cares. Our cabriolet is red, and probably rented. The wind blows gently, but it’s hot. The road is now crossing black, volcanic terrain. I don’t drive and actually I don’t know my driver. Meaning I don’t know anyone like him in the real world. An Italian by the accent. We stop over a gently slope, on some kind of lookup, and as if agreed previously, we park and open the trunk lid to get some cold beers and a couple of binoculars.

“There” he says, after sweeping the land for a good five minutes, while I stare at the infinite. “I found a group. Look with me.” I take the googles and look in the direction he’s pointing. After focusing, I see them. Machines. Barely humanoid, similar to the Star Wars attack drones, but less clumsy and with more limbs. “Are they them?” I ask. “Yes they are.” He answers. “Do you see how they dig with the first set of arms? I believe those are actually the mouths. The second set they use to build their offsprings. They grow them on their backs. But it’s a collaboration effort, one makes a piece, then he passes it to another. You get it.” I sip my beer. He leaves the binoculars hanging over his chest.”Isn’t the Government unhappy about them?” He chuckles. “The Government? They don’t know what to do. If it’s not going to produce money, they are not interested.” I sip my beer, and decide to throw away the empty can as far as I can, hoping maybe to hit one of the robots on the head. Of course I don’t manage, but my gesture speaks by itself. “But they are self-replicators, right? Aren’t they dangerous?” My driver starts heading back to the car. I follow him. He takes a soda, and drinks it without looking at me. With a sad voice he says “We hope not. Actually, some of us believe that they are repairing the land, that they are some kind of long-lost pollution cleaning system. If this is true, they will simply deactivate after the job is done.”

I look again to the robots. They don’t look specially dangerous in fact. “I see.” I say. “So you’re letting them clean your mess.” My driver looks at me, angry. “My mess? It’s their mess! The politicians created this wasted land! They didn’t care about us! They only wanted more money, and they didn’t care about the consequences. So we are grateful, and if needed, we will even give them resources, if we manage to communicate with them. We have now a name for this area, la terra dei robot, the land of the robots.”

On the way down

In my dream, I was going out, maybe in Trento, Lausanne, or some place with a very aggressive geometry, with big slopes and in-between valleys. I was invited to a street party, I believe, and I was looking for the specific spot of it. In Europe some villages are having medieval acute slopes, or streets with stairs and not enough place to drive. OK, maybe enough space for a motoretta or similar. The current slope I was running down was around 8 meters wide and it was bisected by irregular step groups, two, three, five, each 8 meters or so, connecting different plateaus. Between the yellow and white heterogenous buildings on both sides there were laid cables and strings with paper lanterns, garlands, and festive, colourful light bulbs. The road was really crowded. Most of the people were wearing masks, not surgical, but for a masquerade, or a carnival. The moon was shining above us all, right on top. While wandering I was offered by a girl a glass with champagne, that I took, and I was asked to follow her, that I did. I don’t know if it was the person I was supposed to meet. I wanted to ask her, but the ambient music was kind of loud. I tried to identify from where was the music coming and if we were heading there. Not only I didn’t manage but I found out there was not a single source of the melody. They were overlapping, oddly enough, in harmony, rock and traditional, classical and jazz.

I’m done with my glass by the moment we arrive. “I found him!” she says. “Hey everybody!” I smile, and unknown people wave to me. We are on a small lateral alley with an impossible exit, like one meter above everyone. Some kind of half-built well, somehow, very comfy. There’s a sofa on the ground, some stools, and a table filled with colourful bottles. This time I’m offered a spritz. “Did you see him?” – the dark-haired man with the purple mask asks me as soon as I find my spot. “He was asking before for you, saying that your portable thingy is ready.” Then I remember. “The hologram projector. Why did I ask him to meet me here?” The man smiles.”I guess you wanted to feel supported.” I nod.”There he is!”

I head to the man with the leather jacket. Actually, he’s totally dressed as an aviator. I don’t recognise his army badges, though. In the middle of my way, I decide to offer him a drink also, so I come back to our table to serve us another spritz. The leather jacket man moves up his shades. When I come close, I see that his eyes are composed, like from a fly or something. “Thanks for the drink.” He says. The eyes are not as inhuman as one could think. I wonder what he sees with those. I doubt about asking him. He gulps the spritz and takes out something from his pocket. “There you have it.” I look at the thing. It looks like a small wrist band with circular section, or half cuffs.”How does it work?” I ask. He takes it and rotate some parts of it. “Here, on the central part, you have the 2D projector. You can use it to check the matrix status, that is, temperature, rendering, stability, etc. You see? ” on the wall the thing seems to project a set of small and shinny progress bars. They mutate to pie charts, and then to numbers, while the pilot manipulates the device.” The next four rings ” he fumbles with some sections of the bracelet ” you may need to exchange from time to time. They are the matrix memories. You can easily burn them if you are not careful. Please be careful!” I nod.”And these two, close to the lock, are the switch. Yes, they are double, to avoid an accidental switching on of the whole theatre. Wait.” I wait. He shows me how to switch the thing off, and then his insect eyes are gone. It was an hologram.” Now it’s all yours. What do you want to do with it?” I tell him I don’t know yet. I look at his now fully human blue eyes, looking for a message of a lie. “Well, just be careful and don’t overestimate the battery. I recommend you play with it before going to the war. Give yourself a new face, or change your color, things like that.” I smile, thinking about it.”That’s also possible. But remember it’s an hologram, she will find out it’s not solid!” He laughs. I laugh. “Thanks.” I say, and I walk back to my people. Whoever they are.

Dry land

“I’m having trouble getting my phone fixed but I’m going back in a bit and then we are just waiting on you guys.” She texted.

“If she doesn’t have a phone, how the hell she sent the message?” Christoph was reluctant from the very beginning about the idea of letting her go alone to the shop. We were scheduled to come back in less than three hours. The phones, the same than everything else we were carrying over, was supposed to end up being just an atomic cloud afterwards.

“Don’t know, doesn’t the shop give you a replacement while your phone is being serviced?” Alena tended always to cover her friend. She and Christoph were together since our first trip, which is funny, since she originally declared her love for Joe.

“Maybe. She wants us to go directly. Shall we start?” I gently pushed them into the car. I learned to love to drive after my first trip, so I took the pilot seat. Christoph and Alena sit together in the back. I started the engine and carefully left the parking place.

“I’m not surprised they were almost extinct.” Said Alena suddenly. “I don’t understand what do you see on driving an auto. They are burning liquid bones and plants, for the sake of God.”

“Well, you must admit, Alena, that this place has its charm. With all the …macroscopic technology and colourful food. I remember you face when you tried that pizza. I will not believe you if you tell me you didn’t really enjoy it!” I turned to the left. The traffic was quite relaxed, very good. We had plenty of time to reach the cinema, but I wanted to find a nice spot to park and buy popcorn and beer before entering. I wanted the whole experience. “And you, Christoph, don’t you like this?”

“I do like it. Specially the beer. It makes my heart tinkles!” He smiled widely. “Anyway, you guys know, everything else is better than that dry land.” Alena used the moment to hug him. They were really sad to leave, it was all visible around their round faces. On our first trip together, they almost did not interact with anything, now they were even eating local food. “But I do also understand our terms and conditions. I’m making my mind already for the transition. It’s helping me to land back.”

“Yes, it’s better that way for me also.” I added. “Besides, this doesn’t need to be our last trip. It’s going to take me a little, but I do plan to save enough for another trip.How about you guys?”

“Yes, definitely. We’ll love to join you, as before.” I parked the car and we went to pick them up.

The g-factor discrepancy

The official results. Image taken from here.

I assure you this g-factor is not something dirty, I’m sorry if you were looking for something else. I don’t know from where is really this name coming, but it refers to particle physics. The electron has a heavy counterpart, in fact 207 times heavier, called muon, discovered already quite some time ago (in1936) on cosmic rays. Both particles, electrons and muons, behave as if they have a tiny internal magnet. So if you place one In a strong magnetic field, the direction of the magnet wobbles, like the axis of a spinning beyblade. The strength of the internal magnet determines the rate of the precession in an external magnetic field, which is called in other words a factor. As we may find other factors, physicists called this one the g-factor.

I have mentioned several times in my posts the delicious Standard Model (SM). The SM predicted a value for the g-factor based on quantum calculations, a value that can be approached as 2 for the muon. But let’s have a look to the so called “accepted” values.

The accepted theoretical values for the muon are:
g-factor: 2.00233183620(86)
anomalous magnetic moment: 0.00116591810(43)
[uncertainty in parentheses]

The new experimental world-average results announced by the Muon g-2 collaboration are:
g-factor: 2.00233184122(82)
anomalous magnetic moment: 0.00116592061(41)

You can find the source here, from where I took the above graph also. Let me explain what you see anyway. The discrepancy between the accepted theoretical value and the experimental one is quite clear. It took literally years to achieve these results, and it means that the probability that the results are a statistical fluctuation is about 1 in 40,000. Say it again? In plain words, it means the SM doesn’t agree with the experimental results. Yes. We need a new theory. Maybe one with new forces, or with dark matter, or I don’t know, with little green men. If you want my opinion, this result is just the tip of the iceberg…I’m hearing things… be ready for a tsunami of papers about new physics, maybe the coming back of dark sorcerers, and why not, aliens. Stay tuned!

Travel blog: exploring Ara, on Koi-5

Approaching Koi-5 is already an adventure per se: the neighbourhood, around 1.800 light-years from Earth, is still vastly unexplored. The system caught the attention of the humans for the first time at the beginning of the XXI century (here the original article) practically at the dawn of the interstellar travel. Ara is small for an Earth-type planet, and the fact that lays on a ternary system made it pass undetected during the first 10 years SARA (Solar Array for infraRed Astronomy) was on service, right before the interstellar era.

The first thing one notice when approaching the planet is its colors. mainly red, green, blue and yellow, dashed by white clouds, all of it evenly distributed. It resembles a candy of some type, or some kind of gemstone. Illuminated by three suns, it does not really has a night, just cold and warm years (the year being 50 days long) depending of how close is the secondary start, Koi-5B at that moment. The third star, Koi-5C is coming closer to Koi-5A each terrestrial year, however, calculations say that the perihelium for the trinary will not happen in at least another 200 years. So don’t worry about it. The other object in the sky is the warm Jupiter “Apollo” (aka Koi-5Ab) that despite of being far, acts as a climate regulator in a similar way the Moon from Earth, given its considerable size. Eclipses on Ara are unfortunate but needed.

As most of the other planets on that neighbourhood, life on Ara is not similar to ours but still mostly edible. The main animal symmetry seems to be ternary, maybe influenced by the three suns. The United Planet Exploration Council authorised a stellar hub on Ara around 50 earth years ago already, meaning the entertainment possibilities are quite established over the surface. One may be surprised on how tasty the local dishes have become in such a short period: do not leave the planet without tasting a barbecued Gyurk tripod, the meat has a very interesting oyster aftertaste and the consistency of fresh tofu with the flavour of something similar to frog. Ask for it with a bottle of cold Muru, elaborated with the famous square grapes, fermented. If you prefer non-alcoholics, you should definitely try a fresh red pumpkin. The size of a coconut, the liquid inside has natural bubbles and a surprising feel of a XX-century Cola. And if you don’t want to eat anything at all, or simply you don’t have time, look around and capture one of the colourful flying Kopes, seeds of the famous Rubi tripods. Ruby Tripods are very ephemeral creatures, but they are allowed everywhere across the Milky Way. Your friends will enjoy such a souvenir.

If you are on Ara for tourism, not for a short break, you will not be dissapointed. The planet is quite porous and with a relatively uniform tropical climate, so grab a snorkel or take an oxygen pill and go into one of the cenotes around the hub. Underwater you can still help to identify the vast amount of sea creatures, most of them resembling fishes with three eyes, but also fantastic and colourful, pulsating jellyfishes. And if you want to rest, just hang a hammock somewhere and ask your robot to bring you a Muru, while enjoying the always changing daylight of Koi-5A and Koi-5B. But remember, even now, most of the planet is unexplored, so don’t go far without launching your satellite! And have a nice time in Ara!

2021 expectations

This is a realistic list, of course a little fantastic, but nothing not really achievable. Also, not in chronological order.

  • Joe Biden manages to pass a law to install a universal healthcare. Of course, you will need to apply for it, meaning you may not get it. But at least it will be quite a powerful measure against Covid-19.
  • The Proxima Centauri signal is confirmed. The Breakthrough Listen initiative publishes the meaning of the message: a serie of values corresponding to physical constants. Peers agree. The Starshot project goes from concept to test phase.
  • The SpaceX SN10 is successfully tested. It flies very beautifully, and people are simply astonished, even NASA. Elon Musk releases a detailed agenda for his Mars colonization plans, opening slots for the big space agencies to collaborate with him. NASA, ESA and JAXA join right away.
  • Samsung releases his first insertables, the SI-01. With a simple operation, you end up with a microscopic mobile phone core in your body. Screens and keyboards are sold separately, connected to it through bluetooth. The device is widely welcomed in Asia but not in the rest of the world. A heavy discussion about the limits of the tracking technology starts (again).
  • The Olympics in Japan are finally celebrated, but some of the competitions become partially virtual, since Covid-19 is far from gone. Anyway they are a huge success, specially due to the new VR attendance solutions.
  • The RNA technology allows us to (finally) get a permanent vaccination against the flu. More are coming, the most expected one against the common cold. We can say goodbye to lame excuses for not coming to work 😀

Happy new year, everybody!

Remember, remember… (I)

The first of September. I’ve decided to look back to my dragons because of the saying. This is some kind of remake of my previous work, or a compilation, before I choose my new path.

The first dragon I started writing was the Wandering. It was a cyberpunk story that, like so many others, I didn’t care enough to finish it. On it, our narrator takes the road to a new place. Where he finds the girl. The story continues with a Talk. Read it if you want to know what are they talking about. After talking, he heads on the way to the pub. In the meantime, someone, somewhere takes a little bit or something mysterious. Probably related with his first assignment as a cop, detective, or whatever he is. A Corp, we learn is called. A corp that takes the door. To his memories. To Name One. Or to Name Two. Which leads us to Body Two, and later on to the investigation. That turned ot to be not so easy, so to say. There’s even an autopsy. The next chapter, believe me or not, was On the dancefloor, and later on, he takes Chemistry lessons. But he is not in the mood, and he suffers those dreams again before coming back. To his place. Then there’s darkness. And a summary, because it’s already a complicated plot, dont you think so? And an after talk. After what? read it to find out. Then he goes to the Teahouse to speak with his boss. And there are more memories shared before coming back to the present day. Where we learn about the gun, right before breakfast. I’m not impressed, so to say. But he faces a dilemma. He needs to report. His work is so tiring that our particular detective decides to meet some friends on an old place. Because new things come with a price, that they say. A friend is a friend, anyway. And to drink with friends is always better. Even in the Bardo. Even speaking about philosophy. But I’ll leave my remembrance in the night. I mean this post.

Sorry, I need to think about it to keep editing this story (code name: betelgeuse).

The package

The package is standing close to the main door of our building. It’s of some kind of white cardboard, more or less square, of around two meters of height and half a meter width. It could, indeed, contain a coffin. It’s filled with stickers and stamps, like if it has been travelling for awhile, bumping from country to country before arriving to us. The only thing readable of the addressee is our street, written in capital big, black, letters. Like if written in hurry. I try to read the name above it. Timecap, Thomass, Thimion…no way.

“Is that your package?” I look back to find our new neighbour staring at both the object and me. He’s very thin and tall and like to dress in shinny green colours. Or at least, the couple of time I meet him, he was dressed that way. Because of that, from far away, you could think he’s an insect of some kind. A giant one. He’s wearing, as usual, his round black sunglasses. I try to remember if I saw his eyes so far. No, I didn’t. “Mysterious, isn’t? Do you know when was delivered?”

“No, I don’t. I was just trying to read the name on the address. I don’t know any Thomas on our building. Are you a Thomas by chance?”  I try to smile while saying it, but he doesn’t react. His face is expressionless, like a mask. In fact, even his voice seems to come from somewhere other than his mouth.

“I’m afraid I’m not. I’m just thinking it can’t stay on our door for a long time. Do you mind if I take it and have a look in my place? I just moved in, so to say, and I have plenty of  space in my Wohnung.” I don’t know what to say. I look at the parcel. Closed packages are always intriguing, more if they are definitely not for you, more if they have a funny shape. I’m tempted to claim it myself. But it’s not my style.

“Sure. Please take it. Probably it is the right thing to do. We just need to leave a post-it or something on the building board, close to the mailboxes, saying that you have it. Do you want me to do that for you? After all, I’m the one closer to the door.” My neighbour doesn’t get closer to the entrance in the meantime. But finally he comes downstairs, although he doesn’t position himself close to me but to the thing. I smell to wet grass for a moment. He has indeed a powerful scent.

“Yes please, that will be great. Thank you very much. My flat is the 3rd floor, left door. I will pick it up soon. Please do not hesitate to pass by if you have news about the owner.” I don’t know if I want to visit him. Of course I don’t say that. I mumble something to him and I open the door of my flat without looking back.