This is a continuation of the story I started here: https://theredlion4.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/short-story-first-scene-national-lighthouse-day-shipwrecked/
Addison Faulkner walked along the beachfront for what was likely the one-hundredth time. Behind him dragged a pile of wood upon a palm leaf lattice. Most of the wood he found derived from fallen branches, but recently he discovered a small cove where debris from past shipwrecks had washed ashore. It was a long trek from his camp, but it was well worth the trouble.
Addison stopped to rest and gazed at the horizon behind him. A bloody sunset rippled through the sky behind a silhouette of the lighthouse that had guided him here days earlier. In that time, he had searched most of the small island and discovered that this lighthouse was the only manmade object anywhere in sight. As if that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Addison hadn’t seen a single person since he arrived.
If you haven’t heard of the Hyperloop, that’s because it doesn’t exist yet. The same man who started Tesla Motors (attempting to create affordable, efficient electric cars) and SpaceX (attempting to decrease the cost of space travel) has come up with yet another innovation for transportation. The Hyperloop is essentially a vacuum tube (like the one at the bank) that will zip cylinders full of people at ridiculously high speeds between set locations. It would be like a high-powered subway system with fewer stops and could hypothetically cut a 3,000 mile journey down to just 45 minutes. The Hyperloop is still just a theoretical idea, but current technology isn’t far away from making it a reality for a cost actually cheaper than current highways or railroads (supposedly). Even if it turns out to be a bad idea for people to travel by, it could still expedite the transport of non-living goods significantly. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/12/opinion/staley-hyperloop-transportation/index.html?hpt=hp_bn7
While we are on the subject of futuristic innovations… I find it pretty interesting (and humorous) how humanity seems to advance technologically by somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophesy. We all watch movies and read books about futures with flying cars and touch screens and holograms and rapid transportation and living in bubble colonies on Mars. Then we step into reality and look at some of the things we are actually building. There’s a pretty close comparison! Innovation is all about finding new ways to use old things or changing how something works slightly to make it more efficient or useful in unforeseen applications. And a lot of times these inspirations come from stories! Who knows what we’ll think of next!
Well… I almost applied to go to Mars today. Okay, not really, but the idea really is amazing! (You can apply here: http://applicants.mars-one.com/) Imagine being the first person to explore an entire new world. There was Columbus and Magellan and Darwin—people who made historic discoveries… and now there can be Bob from the check-out line at the supermarket! In all seriousness though, who doesn’t dream of being an explorer as a little kid? Now, a few lucky people potentially get to be the ultimate explorers.
Of course, who knows if they can even actually reach Mars alive… Apparently, radiation in space is a very big problem for long-term travel. There are a lot of these little things that the average person doesn’t think about because we all know about Star Wars and Star Trek and they make it look so easy to travel in space. Luckily though, we already know of a shield (outside of science fiction) that deflects and dissipates radiation! The Earth’s magnetic sphere does exactly that and it looks like scientists are close to replicating it on a small scale. Nature is a pretty intelligent thing—who knew? http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/27/world/europe/star-trek-shield
In honor of National Lighthouse Day today I decided to just do a quick little brainstorm for the opening to a short story using a lighthouse as a prompt! It features a character that will likely appear in future writings, though this doesn’t really get into him at all. Here is what I came up with…
As he ran, Addison Faulkner squeezed the life preserver to his chest like a snake constricting its prey and jumped overboard. He could feel the heat from the fire behind him even as he plummeted towards the cold ocean. He closed his eyes and braced himself for impact. Continue reading
Scientists have recently discovered how to “turn off” the sensation of feeling cold! In mice they blocked a specific protein, TRPM8 (which I have fondly renamed ‘trip-him-eight’), and observed that the mice no longer sensed coldness. Of course, this begs the question “how did they know the mice didn’t feel cold?” Did they ask the mice if they felt cold? Doubtful… Unless they also discovered the protein that makes mice talk. Did they have mice walk into circle A if they felt cold and circle B if they didn’t? Of course not, mice aren’t that smart (see story The Lab Rat below for the counter-argument). In reality, they probably inferred that the mice did not feel cold based on behavior. They would have observed mice that still had TRPM8 and how they reacted to cold environments. Maybe they huddled together or shivered. Then they would have also observed mice that did not have TRPM8, who just went about their normal daily mouse routines.
So why do we care? We wouldn’t want to permanently turn off feeling cold—it’s kind of important in preventing us from FREEZING TO DEATH (or just getting frostbite/pneumonia if you’re not into the whole pessimism thing). You wouldn’t want to be prancing around in the snow in shorts and a t-shirt having a blast, feeling nice a cozy warm and then all of a sudden drop dead from coldness that you couldn’t even feel. I would categorize that under “bad day.” However, on a more serious note, this discovery could truly pave the way for some interesting developments. We could potentially create a pill that blocks Mr. Trip-him-eight temporarily. Then skiers could go out and do their thing without feeling cold, people who have to work in cold environments (freezer storage, deep sea fishing in the Arctic, etc, etc) could be more comfortable, kids who have to walk to school or wait for the bus in the winter would be happier…
If you ask me, it’s pretty cool stuff (pun intended). For more information check it out here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212172116.htm