Tag: Andromeda

Day 1000: How It Ends

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Inside this cubicle the air is thick as honey, with asphyxiating flecks of the mundane bracing against the irrefutable promise of a golden weekend. Outside these pin-cushion partitions – and indeed inside as well – every tiny molecule in the universe is saying its goodbyes to its neighbors and preparing to splash into the unknown permutations of a distant someday. My fingers hammer at these tiny plastic letters, fully ignorant of what’s to come.

Or are they? The hallowed fingers of esteemed science – no doubt similar in size and shape to my own, only tasked with a far more specific purpose – have combed back the hair of the observable now and picked at the scalp-nits of projection. The fields of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and a cabinet full of –ologies have given us a map of what’s to come. A timeline of time’s last hurrah.

And the best part? If any of these predictions are wrong, every record of them will likely be destroyed before anyone finds out. That’s my kind of science.

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Within 10,000 years, human genetic variation will no longer be regionalized. This won’t mean we’ll all look the same – the blonde gene will still speckle crowds and set up offensive jokes, but it will be distributed equally worldwide. This forecasted panmixia is far more optimistic than astrophysicist Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which places our present at roughly the halfway point of humankind’s civilized journey, and projects a 95% likelihood that we’ll be wholly extinct in 10,000 years.

If global warming hasn’t already soaked us into a Kevin Costner-esque hellscape by then, we may also be facing the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will raise the sea levels by 3 or 4 meters above wherever it will be once we lose the rest of the polar ice caps, which should happen long before then.

Long term forecast: buy a big-ass boat. Read more…

Day 244: Blockheads Of The World, Unite!

It was the summer of 1989. Tone Loc was doing his Wild Thing on the radio, western civilization was somehow finding its way forward after the series finale of Moonlighting, and a 14-year-old me wandered into an arcade on the University of  British Columbia campus in Vancouver. I remember the room, it was like an abyss of studious concentration, except the studies here involved Italian plumbers, Formula-1 racers, and pinball. Yes, sweet, sweet pinball still lined the wall in the back.

I had about seven dollars in quarters to spend and upwards of an hour to kill. I executed the standard new-arcade recon mission: I checked off the most appealing pinball machine (shiny, with numerous levels and accessory pathways, but without requiring me to spend too much time reading the messages on the score readout), looked to see what was new (Badlands, Strider, other forgettable time-wastery), and poked around for my old favorites (Paperboy – gotta have Paperboy).

Tucked away in a corner was something that looked vaguely Soviet, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

I admit, I had a thing for the backwards ‘R’. When I was even younger than 14, that represented those Toys-backwards-R-Us stores we’d go to on vacation, the ones that blew away any toy store back home.

Tetris got all seven of my dollars that day. It was more fun than I’d expected.

The game I’d identified as a vaguely Soviet game was actually totally Soviet in origin. The first video game to ever cross from the USSR into the North American market, Tetris was pivotal in launching the Russian gaming industry. Read more…