If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Euro Zone on the Brink: A Continent Stares into the Abyss

Fear is spreading through the financial markets as investors pull their money out of the crisis-stricken euro-zone countries. With Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed to using the ECB's firepower to solve the crisis, the monetary union appears increasingly in danger of breaking apart. Some economists are even arguing for Germany to reintroduce the deutsche mark.

Euro bonds? French President Nicolas Sarkozy apparently isn't familiar with the term. He talks and talks, but he never mentions euro bonds. And then it's Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's turn. Euro bonds? Never heard of them. Or at least he says nothing about them in his speech. The next speaker is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who wouldn't dream of mentioning euro bonds.

It is last Thursday, and the three European leaders have just had lunch together in Strasbourg and are giving a press conference on the subject of the euro. It must have been an amazing lunch, full of unity, harmony and understanding.

Or at least that's the way they describe it. And when something is that pleasant, it makes complete sense not to talk about euro bonds, even though they are now the central issue in the debate over the euro crisis. Merkel is opposed to the idea and Sarkozy and Monti are in favor, but they don't want to say as much.

Of course, there is, as always, a journalist around who is leery of the harmonious mood, which is why he asks about the bonds that everyone knows about but isn't mentioning. Merkel says that she hasn't changed her opinion on the issue, but without actually uttering the distasteful words. Sarkozy mentions the Rhine River, tells a joke about a hypochondriac, talks and talks and finally says that he and his counterparts will certainly come to an agreement. But he doesn't mention euro bonds by name.

And then it's Monti's turn again, and what does he do? He does use the word euro bonds, but then he quickly switches to a new, more attractive synonym, noting that he would not be overly opposed to "stability bonds." His words reveal that there is indeed a serious conflict within the euro zone.

Hopelessly Divided

Nothing works in Europe without Merkel. And the German chancellor isn't just opposed to euro bonds. She also refuses to accept a move by the European Central Bank (ECB), backed by the French in particular, to buy up the bonds of ailing euro-zone countries on a much larger scale than it has done to date, in order to bring down the yields on those bonds. But that was not an official topic in Strasbourg, where Sarkozy assured his fellow leaders that France respected the independence of the ECB.

The staged harmonious mood stands in sharp contrast with reality. In the middle of its biggest crisis, Europe is hopelessly divided. One summit follows the next, and they all end with conciliatory statements and avowals, but not with any shared plan for how to save the euro.

The situation could hardly be any more dramatic. The European monetary union threatens to implode unless something happens soon. The ambitious project that was supposed to permanently unify the continent will have failed, with dramatic consequences for Europe and the rest of the world. Countries would go bankrupt, banks would have to be rescued once again, and the economy would sink into a recession that would last for years.

The moment of truth is approaching, now that the end game for the euro has begun. But what will happen now? In the coming weeks, but particularly in the first quarter of 2012, the ailing European countries will have to raise massive amounts of money. In Italy alone, more than €110 billion ($145 billion) in old debt is set to expire, which will have to be refinanced (see graphic). But who is going to give these countries fresh capital at the moment?

Losing Confidence

Investors have lost confidence in the euro-zone countries and in their ability to rescue the common currency. Not even the recent changes of government in Italy, Greece and Spain have been enough to persuade them otherwise.

There is a growing sense of fear, both in the financial markets and in government offices. Even serious bankers who exude confidence in public admit privately that the monetary union could soon fall apart.

The previous bailout attempts have been worthless, they say, noting that Europe must finally reach for the only weapon whose firepower is endless, the European Central Bank. The ECB must finance the debtor nations, even if its own constitution bars it from doing so. The central bank has enough money, and it can also print money if necessary.

Most European leaders share this realization by now -- all except Merkel. She remains resistant, concerned about the central bank's independence and monetary stability. She is also staunchly opposed to all attempts to pool the debts of euro nations through jointly issued debt known as euro bonds.

The German chancellor is increasingly isolated. At home, she must defend any concessions to save the euro against her coalition partners, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party and the conservative Christian Social Union (the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union). She must convince members of parliament from her own party and abide by the rules set by Germany's Constitutional Court in its far-reaching decisions on the euro crisis. The FDP is creating alarm by polling its members on the party's position on the crisis. In other countries, Merkel is seen as a stubborn defender of German interests who hasn't recognized how serious the situation is -- and is therefore jeopardizing the entire monetary union.

Jacques Attali, who used to be an adviser to former French President François Mitterrand, paints the concerns of partner countries in a particularly drastic light. After the two world wars, says Attali, it is "now Germany, once again, that holds the weapons for the entire continent's suicide in its hands." If Germany doesn't change its position, says Attali, "there will be a catastrophe."

Europe's Failed Attempts to Save the Euro

From the foreign perspective, the situation is clear: Rescuing the euro depends on Germany, which merely has to abandon its resistance to pooling debt. But this sort of "liability union" would not only contradict the so-called no-bailout clause of the European treaties, under which no euro-zone country can be held liable for the debts of another, but it would also be particularly dangerous for the Germans. As Europe's largest economy, Germany would shoulder the biggest burden and, in the end, could even be plunged into ruin with the rest of the euro zone.

Merkel is also concerned that the debt-stricken nations would immediately revert to their old bad habits if they felt that their rescue was certain. For this reason, the Germans only want to approve aid in return for strict conditions.

The chancellor has behaved very cautiously from the start. She has made an incrementalist approach the cornerstone of her crisis management, and has always insisted there would be no bold stroke that would slice through the Gordian knot. She wants to think about solutions in terms of an end result. But what if this end result remains so nebulous that tiny steps are in fact the only alternative?

As a result, the efforts to manage the crisis have hobbled along from one summit meeting to the next, without any evidence of lasting success. International investors have set their sights on more and more ailing countries, which in turn have been forced to pay higher rates on their sovereign bonds.

Continue reading - Euro Zone on the Brink: A Continent Stares into the Abyss

Saturday, November 26, 2011

There’s Plenty More Room at the Bottom: Beyond Nanotech to Femtotech

Not long ago nanotechnology was a fringe topic; now it’s a flourishing engineering field, and fairly mainstream. For example, while writing this article, I happened to receive an email advertisement for the “Second World Conference on Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery,” in Kerala, India. It wasn’t so long ago that nanomedicine seemed merely a flicker in the eyes of Robert Freitas and a few other visionaries!

But nano is not as small as the world goes. A nanometer is 10−9 meters – the scale of atoms and molecules. A water molecule is a bit less than one nanometer long, and a germ is around a thousand nanometers across. On the other hand, a proton has a diameter of a couple femtometers – where a femtometer, at 10−15 meters, makes a nanometer seem positively gargantuan. Now that the viability of nanotech is widely accepted (in spite of some ongoing heated debates about the details), it’s time to ask: what about femtotech? Picotech or other technologies at the scales between nano and femto seem relatively uninteresting, because we don’t know any basic constituents of matter that exist at those scales. But femtotech, based on engineering structures from subatomic particles, makes perfect conceptual sense, though it’s certainly difficult given current technology.

The nanotech field was arguably launched by Richard Feynman’s 1959 talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” As Feynman wrote there,

"It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.

Why cannot we write the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica on the head of a pin?

The next big step toward nanotech was Eric Drexler’s classic 1992 book Nanosystems, which laid out conceptual designs for a host of nanomachines, including nanocomputer switches, general-purpose molecular assemblers, and an amazing variety of other fun stuff. Drexler’s 1987 book Engines of Creation also played a large role, bringing the notion of nanotech to the masses. Contemporary nanotech mostly focuses on narrower nano-engineering than what Drexler envisioned, but arguably it’s building tools and understanding that will ultimately be useful for realizing Feynman’s and Drexler’s vision. For instance, a lot of work is now going into the manufacture and utilization of carbon nanotubes, which have a variety of applications, from the relatively mundane (e.g. super-strong fabrics and fibers) to potential roles as components of more transformative nanosystems like nanocomputers or molecular assemblers. And there are also a few labs such as Zyvex that are currently working directly in a Drexlerian direction.

But Feynman’s original vision, while it was focused on the nano-scale, wasn’t restricted to this level. There’s plenty of room at the bottom, as he said – and the nano-scale is not the bottom! Theres’s plenty more room down there to explore.

One might argue that, since practical nanotech is still at such an early stage, it’s not quite the time to be thinking about femtotech. But technology is advancing faster and faster each year, so it makes sense to think a bit further ahead than contemporary hands-on engineering efforts. My friend and colleague Hugo de Garis has been talking to me about femtotech for a while, and has touched on the topic in various lectures and interviews; he convinced me that the topic is worth looking at in spite of our current lack of knowledge regarding its practical realization. After all, when Feynman gave his “Plenty of Room at the Bottom” lecture, nanotech also appeared radically pie-in-the-sky. Hugo’s personal take on femtotech is presented in an essay he wrote recently, which is presented here as a companion piece to this article; the two articles are intended to be read together.

There are many possible routes to femtotech, and Hugo notes a number of them in his article, including some topics I won’t touch here at all like micro black holes and Bose-Einstein condensation of squarks. I’ll focus here largely on a particular class of approaches to femtotech based on the engineering of stable degenerate matter – not because I think this is the only interesting way to think about femtotech, but merely because one has to choose some definite direction to explore if one wants to go into any detail at all.

Physics at the Femto Scale

To understand the issues involved in creating femtotech, you’ll first need to recall a few basics about particle physics.

In the picture painted by contemporary physics, everyday objects like houses and people and water are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which in turn are made of subatomic particles. There are also various subatomic particles that don’t form parts of atoms (such as photons, the particles of light, and many others). The behavior of these particles is extremely weird by the standards of everyday life – with phenomena like non-local correlations between distant phenomena, observer-dependence of reality, quantum teleportation and lots of other good stuff. But I won’t take time here to review quantum mechanics and its associated peculiarities, just to run through a few facts about subatomic particles needed to explain how femtotech might come about.

Subatomic particles fall into two categories: fermions and bosons. These two categories each contain pretty diverse sets of particles, but they’re grouped together because they also have some important commonalities.

The particles that serve as the building blocks of matter are all fermions. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Electrons are fermions, and so are quarks, which combine to build protons and neutrons. Quarks appear to occur in nature only in groups, most commonly groups of 2 or 3. A proton contains two up quarks and one down quark, while a neutron consists of one up quark and two down quarks; the quarks are held together in the nucleus by other particles called gluons. Mesons consist of 2 quarks – a quark and an anti-quark. There are six basic types of quark, beguilingly named Up, Down, Bottom, Top, Strange, and Charm. Out of the four forces currently recognized in the universe – electromagnetism, gravity and weak and strong nuclear forces – quarks are most closely associated with the strong nuclear force, which controls most of their dynamics. But quarks also have some interaction with the weak force, e.g. the weak force can cause the transmutation of quarks into different quarks, a phenomenon that underlies some kinds of radioactive decay such as beta decay.

On the other hand, bosons are also important – for example photons, the particle-physics version of light, are bosons. Gravitons, the gravity particles proposed by certain theories of gravitation, would also be bosons.

The nucleus of an atom contains protons and neutrons. The electrons are arranged in multiple shells around the nucleus, due to the Pauli exclusion principle. Also note this sort of “solar system” model of particles as objects orbiting other objects is just a heuristic approximation; there are many other complexities and a more accurate view would depict each particle as a special sort of wave function.

The carbon atom, whose electrons are distributed across two shells.

Finally, just one more piece of background knowledge before we move on to femtotech. Fermions, unlike bosons, obey the Pauli exclusion principle, which says that no two identical fermions can occupy the same state at the same time. For example, each electron in an atom is characterized by a unique set of quantum numbers (the principle quantum number which gives its energy level, the magnetic quantum number which gives the direction of orbital angular momentum, and the spin quantum number which gives the direction of its spin). If not for the Pauli exclusion principle, all of the electrons in an atom would pile up in the lowest energy state (the K shell, the innermost shell of electrons orbiting the nucleus of the atom). But the exclusion principle implies that the different electrons must have different quantum states, which results in some of the electrons getting forced to have different positions, leading to the formation of additional shells (in atoms with sufficient electrons).

The Future of Femtotech

So what’s the bottom line – is there still more room at the bottom?

Nanotech is difficult engineering based on mostly known physics. Femtotech, on the other hand, pushes at the boundaries of known physics. When exploring possible routes to femtotech, one quickly runs up against cases where physicists just don’t know the answer.

Degenerate matter of one form or another seems a promising potential route to femtotech. Bolonkin’s speculations are intriguing, as are the possibilities of strangelets or novel weakly confined multi-quark systems. But the issue of stability is a serious one; nobody yet knows whether large strangelets can be made stable, or whether degenerate matter can be created at normal gravities, nor whether weakly confined quarks can be observed at normal temperatures, etc. Even where the relevant physics equations are believed known, the calculations are too hard to do given our present analytical and computational tools. And in some cases, e.g. strangelets, we run into situations where different physics theories held by respected physicists probably yield different answers.

Putting my AI futurist hat on for a moment, I’m struck by what a wonderful example we have here of the potential for an only slightly superhuman AI to blast way past humanity in science and engineering. The human race seems on the verge of understanding particle physics well enough to analyze possible routes to femtotech. If a slightly superhuman AI, with a talent for physics, were to make a few small breakthroughs in computational physics, then it might (for instance) figure out how to make stable structures from degenerate matter at Earth gravity. Bolonkin-style femtostructures might then become plausible, resulting in femtocomputing – and the slightly superhuman AI would then have a computational infrastructure capable of supporting massively superhuman AI. Can you say “singularity”? Of course, femtotech may be totally unnecessary in order for a Vingean singularity to occur (in fact I strongly suspect so). But be that as it may, it’s interesting to think about just how much practical technological innovation might ensue from a relatively minor improvement in our understanding of fundamental physics.

Is it worth thinking about femtotech now, when the topic is wrapped up with so much unresolved physics? I think it is, if for no other reason than to give the physicists a nudge in certain directions that might otherwise be neglected. Most particle physics work – even experimental work with particle accelerators – seems to be motivated mainly by abstract theoretical interest. And there’s nothing wrong with this – understanding the world is a laudable aim in itself; and furthermore, over the course of history, scientists aiming to understand the world have spawned an awful lot of practically useful by-products. But it’s interesting to realize that there are potentially huge practical implications waiting in the wings, once particle physics advances a little more – if it advances in the right directions.

So, hey, all you particle physicists and physics funding agency program managers reading this article (and grumbling at my oversimplifications; sorry, this is tough stuff to write about for a nontechnical audience!), please take note – why not focus some attention on exploring the possibility of complexly structured degenerate matter under Earthly conditions, and other possibly femtotech-related phenomena such as those mentioned in Hugo de Garis’s companion essay?

Is there still plenty more room at the bottom, after the nanoscale is fully explored? It seems quite possibly so – but we need to understand what goes on way down there a bit better before we can build stuff at the femtoscale. Fortunately, given the exponentially accelerating progress we’re seeing in some relevant areas of technology, the wait for this understanding and the ensuing technologies may not be all that long.

Continue reading (Long Read) - There’s Plenty More Room at the Bottom: Beyond Nanotech to Femtotech

Read also:
Searching for Phenomena in Physics that May Serve as Bases for a Femtometer Scale Technology
From DNA Computing to Femtocomputing?
X-Tech and the Search for Infra Particle Intelligence

The Transcension Hypothesis: Sufficiently Advanced Civilizations Invariably Leave Our Universe, and Implications for METI and SETI

© 2011, John M. Smart.
President, Acceleration Studies Foundation, Mountain View, CA USA
Co-Founder, Evo Devo Universe Research Community, EvoDevoUniverse.com
Adjunct Professor, Emerging Technologies, University of Advancing Technology, Phoenix, AZ USA
Affiliate, ECCO (Evol, Complexity & Cognition) Group, Center Leo Apostel, Free U. of Brussels, Belgium

The emerging science of evolutionary developmental (“evo devo”) biology can aid us in thinking about our universe as both an evolutionary system, where most processes are unpredictable and creative, and a developmental system, where a special few processes are predictable and constrained to produce far-future-specific emergent order, just as we see in the common developmental processes in two stars of an identical population type, or in two genetically identical twins in biology. The transcension hypothesis proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations into what may be called "inner space," a computationally optimal domain of increasingly dense, productive, miniaturized, and efficient scales of space, time, energy, and matter, and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination. Transcension as a developmental destiny might also contribute to the solution to the Fermi paradox, the question of why we haven't seen evidence of or received beacons from intelligent civilizations. A few potential evolutionary, developmental, and information theoretic reasons, mechanisms, and models for constrained transcension of advanced intelligence are briefly considered. In particular, we introduce arguments that black holes may be a developmental destiny and standard attractor for all higher intelligence, as they appear to some to be ideal computing, learning, forward time travel, energy harvesting, civilization merger, natural selection, and universe replication devices. In the transcension hypothesis, simpler civilizations that succeed in resisting transcension by staying in outer (normal) space would be developmental failures, which are statistically very rare late in the life cycle of any biological developing system. If transcension is a developmental process, we may expect brief broadcasts or subtle forms of galactic engineering to occur in small portions of a few galaxies, the handiwork of young and immature civilizations, but constrained transcension should be by far the norm for all mature civilizations.

The transcension hypothesis has significant and testable implications for our current and future METI and SETI agendas. If all universal intelligence eventually transcends to black-hole-like environments, after which some form of merger and selection occurs, and if two-way messaging is severely limited by the great distances between neighboring and rapidly transcending civilizations, then communication with feedback may be very rare, an event restricted to nearest-neighbor stars for a very brief period prior to transcension. The only kind of communication that might be common enough to be easily detectable by us would be the sending of one-way METI or probes throughout the galaxy. But simple one-way messaging or probes may be not worth the cost to send, and advanced messaging or probes may provably reduce the evolutionary diversity in all civilizations receiving them, as they would condemn the receiver to transcending in a manner similar to that of the sender. If each civilization in our universe is quite limited in what they can learn given their finite computational resources, and if many civilizations evolve in parallel and in isolation in our universe for this reason, then a powerful ethical injunction against one-way messaging or probes might emerge in the morality and sustainability systems of all sufficiently advanced civilizations, an argument known as the Zoo hypothesis in Fermi paradox literature. In any such environment, the evolutionary value of sending any interstellar message or probe may simply not be worth the cost, if transcension and post-transcension merger are elements of an inevitable, accelerative, and testable developmental process, one that eventually will be discovered and quantitatively described by future physics.

Fortunately, transcension processes may be measurable today even without good physical theory, and radio and optical SETI may each provide empirical tests. If transcension is a universal developmental constraint, then without exception all early and low-power electromagnetic leakage signals (radar, radio, television), and later, optical evidence of the exoplanets and their atmospheres should reliably cease as each civilization enters their own technological singularities (emergence of postbiological intelligence and life forms) and recognizes they are on an optimal and accelerating path to a black-hole-like environment. Furthermore, optical SETI may soon allow us to map an expanding area of the galactic habitable zone we may call the galactic transcension zone, an inner ring that contains older transcended civilizations, and a missing planets problem as we discover that planets with life signatures occur at a much lower frequencies in this inner ring than in the remainder of the habitable zone.

1. Universe Evolution and Development
2. The Transcension Hypothesis
3. Measuring Transcension
4. Black Holes I
5. Black Holes II
6. METI Implications
7. SETI Implications
8. Resisting Transcension
9. Acknowledgments
10. References

1. Universe Evolution and Development: A Biological Model for Cosmic Culture

The emerging science of evolutionary developmental (“evo devo”) biology (Carroll 2005, Kirschner and Gerhart 2005) can aid us in thinking about our universe as both an evolutionary system, where most processes are unpredictable and creative, and a developmental system, where a special few processes are predictable and constrained to produce far-future-specific emergent order, as seen in the developmental processes guiding the emergent similarities among two genetically identical twins.

In discriminating between evolution and development in living systems, one of the most important insights is that the vast majority of biological change that we observe in the emergence or control of complexity is evolutionary. By this we mean it is unpredictable, stochastic, experimenting, creative, locally-driven, a bottom-up, two-way (communication and feedback) process of complexity creation and variation. Only a special subset of biological change, perhaps something less than 5% at the genetic level, to a first approximation, is what we call developmental. By this we mean it is predictable, cyclic, randomness-reducing, convergent, conservative, globally-driven, a top-down, one-way process of complexity conservation and constraint. The “developmental genetic toolkit” is a set of special genes that have been highly conserved in all higher life, from nematodes to humans. To a rough order it involves 2-5% of genes in complex organisms (e.g., perhaps 2-3% of the Dictyostelium genome of 13,000 genes, Iranfar et al., 2003). These genes constrain and direct developmental change, and change very slowly over time. Evolutionary processes range across the entire remainder (95-98%) of the genome, and produce phenotypic variety. The genes involved in evolutionary processes change much faster over time.

Gould (2002) has argued that the only broadly predictable feature of evolutionary processes is that their variety increases over time. Viewed over geologic time, the “tree of life” gains ever more branches, species, and specializations across all life-permitting environments. At the same time, all biological systems engage in developmental processes, which cause them to be born, grow, mature, replicate, grow old, and die. Such perennial developmental life cycles are the conserved and constraining framework upon which all evolutionary processes occur. If one has the appropriate physical knowledge, such as the ability to computationally model development, or if one has historical experience with prior cycles of a developing system, developmental processes become predictable.

As Smart (2008, 2010), Vidal (2008, 2010a,b), and others in the Evo Devo Universe research community have proposed, evolution and development may work the same way in the universe as a system. If our universe is a system presently engaged in a life cycle (“Big Bang” birth, growth, maturity, replication, senescence, and eventual thermodynamic or other death), we may ask which of its features are evolutionary, and which are developmental, and which mechanisms it uses to pass on its evolutionary intelligence in the next developmental life cycle. We can observe many physical processes in our universe that seem perennially creative, exploratory, and unpredictable (quantum mechanics, chaos, nonlinear dynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics), and a special subset of processes that seem highly conservative, constraining, and predictable (conservation laws, entropy, classical mechanics, stellar lifecycles, spacetime acceleration). Both evolutionary and developmental attractors, or systemic teleologies, appear to operate in this complex system.

If universal change is analogous to the evolutionary development of two genetically identical twins, two parametrically identical universes (possessing identical fundamental physical parameters at the Big Bang) would exhibit unpredictably separate and unique internal evolutionary variation over their lifespan (unpredictable differences in specific types of species, technologies, and knowledge among civilizations), and at the same time, a broad set of predictable and irreversible developmental milestones and shared structure and function between them (broad and deep commonalities in the developmental processes, body plans, and archetypes of life, culture and technology among all intelligent civilizations). This question is thus relevant to astrophysics, astrobiology and astrosociology. One potential developmental process that, if validated, would have great impact on the future of civilizations will now be proposed.

2. The Transcension Hypothesis: Sufficiently Advanced Civilizations Invariably Leave Our Universe

The expansion hypothesis (Kardashev 1964, and many others since) predicts that some fraction of advanced civilizations in our galaxy and universe must become beacon builders and spacefarers, spreading their knowledge and culture far and wide. Expansion is the standard expectation of those engaged in SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) and METI (messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence) today. Expansion scenarios typically assume ETI messaging to be bounded by the speed of light, and space travel to occur at some significant fraction of the speed of light.

By contrast, the transcension hypothesis, also known as the developmental singularity hypothesis (Smart 2000, 2008, 2010) proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations increasingly into inner space, the domain of very small scales of space, time, energy and matter (STEM), and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination, censored from our observation. Vinge (1986), Banks (1988), Brin (1998a) and others have explored variations of this idea in science fiction. If constrained transcension operates on all advanced civilizations as they develop, and if this process leads them, with rare exception, to enter inner space or black-hole-like domains, this would explain Enrico Fermi's curious paradox, the question of why we have not seen signs of intelligence in our own galaxy, even though Earth has likely developed intelligent life one to three billion years later than other Earth-like environments closer to our galactic core (Lineweaver et. al. 2004). This impressively long period of prior evolutionary development provides plenty of time for messages, automated probes, or other signs of galactic intelligence to have arrived from any single advanced civilization that chooses an expansionist program. Explaining the Fermi paradox is a particularly great scientific challenge if ours is a biofelicitous (life friendly) universe, as recent astrobiological evidence suggests it to be (Davies 2004, 2007).

Proving the existence and exclusivity of the transcension hypothesis with today’s science may be impossible. Nevertheless, several early lines of evidence, and corresponding SETI tests, can be offered in support of the idea. If we grossly define "complexity" as the number of unique combinations of structure and function expressed in a physical system, we can propose that the leading edge of structural complexity over universal history has occupied ever more spatially-restricted universal domains than its antecedents, a phenomenon we may call the increasing "locality" (or perhaps, "multi-locality") of complexity. A familiar history of physical complexity begins with universally distributed early matter, leading next to superclusters and large scale structure, then to the first galaxies, then to metal-rich replicating stars within special galaxies, then to stellar habitable zones, then to prokaryotic life existing on and around single planets in those zones (miles deep in our crust, miles in the air, and evolved in situ or as planetary ejecta on meteorites in near space), then to eukaryotic life inhabiting a far more restricted domain of the special planet’s surface, then to human civilizations living in yet more localized domains, then to humans (each with 100 trillion unique synaptic connections) in industrial cities emerging as the leading edge in those civilizations, and perhaps soon, to intelligent, self-aware technology, which will have even more unique connectivity, and inhabit, at least initially, a vastly more local subset of Earth’s city space. Self-aware computers may themselves be able to enter far more miniaturized and local nanocomputational domains. Thus, to a first approximation, the increasing spatiotemporal locality of leading edge substrate emergence looks like universal complexity heading toward transcension as it develops (Smart 2008).

Now complex systems do expand regularly into neighboring, or “next adjacent” spatial realms during their evolutionary development, and during such brief expansions, locality decreases briefly for the system under observation. Supernovas reach distant domains of space, ocean life colonized land, humans colonized much of the surface of Earth, intelligent robots will soon colonize our solar system. But note that this type of expansion is always quite limited. Systems at any fixed level of complexity do not expand continuously, or at an accelerating rate. They expand until they reach their own systemic or local environmental limits, or have produced the next level of complexity development. Over universal history the increasing locality of the spatial domain of the leading edge of complex systems is a far more prevalent trend than the periodic next-adjacent spatial expansion in these systems, and on first inspection, increasing locality seems a good candidate to be a process of universal development.

Continue reading (Long Essay) - The Transcension Hypothesis by John Smart

Slide - The Transcension Hypothesis: Cosmic Censorship of Advanced Civilizations

Visit: ASF (Acceleration Studies Foundation)

Interview with John M. Smart - p1

Interview with John M. Smart - p2

Interview with John M. Smart - p3

Interview with John M. Smart - p4

Interview with John M. Smart - p5

Friday, November 25, 2011

Graphene | The Future in a Pencil Trace

The European programme for research into graphene, for which the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Lancaster are leading the technology roadmap, today unveiled an exhibition and new videos communicating the potential for the material that could revolutionise the electronics industries.

An exhibition has been launched in Warsaw today highlighting the development and future of graphene, the ‘wonder substance’ set to change the face of electronics manufacturing, as part of the Graphene Flagship Pilot (GFP), aimed at developing the proposal for a 1 billion European programme conducting research and development on graphene, for which the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Lancaster are leading the technology roadmap.

The exhibition covers the development of the material, the present research and the vast potential for future applications. The GFP also released two videos aimed at introducing this extraordinary material to a wider audience, ranging from stakeholders and politicians to the general public. The videos also convey the mission and vision of the graphene initiative.

“Our mission is to take graphene and related layered materials from a state of raw potential to a point where they can revolutionise multiple industries – from flexible, wearable and transparent electronics to high performance computing and spintronics” says Professor Andrea Ferrari, Head of the Nanomaterials and Spectroscopy Group.

“This material will bring a new dimension to future technology – a faster, thinner, stronger, flexible, and broadband revolution. Our program will put Europe firmly at the heart of the process, with a manifold return on the investment of 1 billion Euros, both in terms of technological innovation and economic exploitation.”

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, could prove to be the most versatile substance available to mankind. Stronger than diamond, yet lightweight and flexible, graphene enables electrons to flow much faster than silicon. It is also a transparent conductor, combining electrical and optical functionalities in an exceptional way.

Graphene has the potential to trigger a smart and sustainable carbon revolution, impact in information and communication technology is anticipated to be enormous, transforming everyday life for millions.

It is hoped that the unique properties of graphene will spawn innovation on an unprecedented scale for myriad areas of manufacturing and electronics – high speed, transparent and flexible consumer goods; novel information processing devices; biosensors; supercapacitors as alternatives to batteries; mechanical components; lightweight composites for cars and planes.

Continue reading - PhysOrg - Graphene: The future in a pencil trace

Visit: FET Graphene Flagship

Introducing Graphene

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brave New World | Stephen Hawking

Described as nothing less than “a global exploration of the scientific breakthroughs that are transforming our lives in the 21st century”, this ambitious series, introduced by Professor Stephen Hawking, showcases some of the astonishing work being currently undertaken to find cures for disease and physical impairment, to create a new generation of intelligent machines and to expand our understanding of the universe.

A team of scientists, among them Richard Dawkins and Lord Winston, report on the discoveries that they consider will have the most far-reaching and life-changing effects. In tonight’s opener, veterinary scientist Mark Evans fuses his brain with a computer in Switzerland to test an entirely new breed of machine, and Professor Kathy Sykes is in America to experience the future of transport – in a driverless car.

In Italy, Jim Al-Khalili comes face to face with a baby-like robot that can mimic the learning skills of a child, and space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits one of the world’s largest telescopes in the Canary Islands, where the search is on for planets that human beings could, some day, colonise.

Machines. The team showcase breakthroughs in technology and engineering that are creating a new generation of machines. Mark Evans fuses his brain with a computer in Switzerland to test a new breed of machine. Kathy Sykes hits the streets of San Francisco to have the ride of her life as she experiences the future of transport in a driverless car.

Brave New World With Stephen Hawking - Machine

Health. The experts examine how scientists are fighting for our survival by battling the world’s big killer diseases. Biologist Aarathi Prasad joins virus hunters in the jungles of Africa, Robert Winston sees first-hand how the surgeons of the future could be robots, capable of operating round the clock, and Richard Dawkins investigates the way brain disorders might one day be treated using laser light and genetically modified brain cells.

Brave New World With Stephen Hawking - Health

Technology. The experts explore how 21st-century technology is shaping our future by changing the way we live, the way we communicate and our perception of the universe. Physicist Kathy Sykes explores how our mobile phones can give experts access to our every habit and action: a brave new world in which it’s hard to keep a secret but where urban planners can build cities around our needs.

Brave New World With Stephen Hawking - Technology

Environment. Science turns superhero as it battles to save the planet and preserve the human race. In California, physicist Jim Al-Khalili sees how the power of the world’s largest laser could create a fuel to answer all our needs, while at Longleat Sir David Attenborough helps collect the DNA of an elephant for the Frozen Ark – a project to save all the world’s species from extinction.

Biology. The experts unearth the amazing breakthroughs that are transforming the resilience and strength of the human body. Mark Evans joins the bio-prospectors in Central America exploring the untapped reserves of the oceans for life-changing drugs; Aarathi Prasad meets the remarkable old people who could hold the secret to a long and healthy life; and Robert Winston explores how our behaviour and environment may be influencing the genes of future generations in ways we once thought impossible.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ron Paul Explains The Economic Crisis In Iowa

Ron Paul Explains the Economic Crisis

Ron Paul: The Chinese Are Our Bankers, They're Not Going to Attack Us

Annual Cato Monetary Conference

Ron Paul: "FED is immoral" - speech at the CATO

Extra: One-hour Interview with Ron Paul

Ron Paul at Des Moines Register Editorial Board Interview

Occupy Love

Love is the felt experience of connection to another being. An economist says 'more for you is less for me.' But the lover knows that more of you is more for me too. If you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody, 99% and 1%.

Source: Occupy Love

Occupy Wall St - The Revolution Is Love

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Paradox of Choice | Decision-making and Economics

We have never been this free—and this conflicted. Psychologist Barry Schwartz talks with Lars Mensel about the downside of choice, and the silver lining to the economic downturn.

The European: How did you get into researching choice and decision making?
Schwartz: For many years, I have been interested in the hold that the ideology of free market, economics has on people throughout the developed Western world. Why is it that everyone thinks that it’s a miracle of human intervention? I concluded that one of its principle attractions is that it seems to cater to the desire for freedom. That’s the most important thing about it: nobody tells you what to do, nobody tells you what to buy. There’s no other way to arrange things where that kind of freedom is nearly as substantial. The question then is: are people actually liberated by all this freedom? A study came out more than ten years ago, that actually showed that when you give people too much choice, instead of being liberated, they get paralyzed. That study has generated many many follow-up studies, that indicate that this is really quite a pervasive phenomenon, and it seemed to me that this undermined the principle justification for organizing everything around competitive markets. Even if your aspiration is to enhance human freedom, this doesn’t seem to be the way to do that.

The European: Yet modern times and Western prosperity has enabled us to do just about anything we want. What is the downside?
Schwartz: It seems fabulous in prospect and I can easily see why people embrace this with such enthusiasm. Not just choice when it comes to the stuff you buy, but choice when it comes to how you live. There’s no canonical form of intimate relations—you get to decide, and you get to change your mind. You’re not shackled the way your parents or your grandparents were, what could be better? It just turns out that when you give people this kind of unconstrained opportunity to reinvent themselves, they don’t know what to do. Or if they do it, they look over their shoulders, convinced that they’ve made the wrong decisions, made the wrong career move, the wrong romantic choices and so on. So you are plagued with doubt, you are always dissatisfied with whatever you’ve chosen because just around the corner there’s a better option. And I think we see this in the explosion of people seeking psychotherapy. In this land of milk and honey of unimagined freedom and affluence, everybody seems to be miserable.

The European: Many will confirm that even the most mundane decisions can be a burden. Is it the expectation to make something of our lives that weighs down on us?
Schwartz: Not just something: that we make something spectacular out of our lives. When choice was limited, I think people’s aspirations and expectations were limited. And so you could live a decent life and feel good about it. But living a decent life just isn’t good enough anymore. Why would you settle for decent when anything is possible? It seems possible that the economic calamity of the last few years might reverse this to some degree and move people back to more reasonable expectations about what life can be like. I think that the economic downturn would really have to last a substantial period of time before it changed the way people think about themselves and about their lives. I certainly don’t wish on us another decade of economic turmoil and suffering. But the potential benefits if that were to occur include lowering expectations, which I don’t think is a bad thing. The European: So the economic downturn is helping to usher along the lesson that settling down also means settling for something, and enjoying what we’ve got. Schwartz: Good things sometimes come out of tragic circumstances. I am not optimistic that any of this will happen automatically or quickly. As long as people think that tomorrow, it’s all going to change, they are basically just treading water, waiting for the downturn to end, so that they can go back to living the life that they had imagined for themselves.

The European: In the NYT magazine, scientist Roy Baumeister talks about decision fatigue: His theory is that too many decisions wear us out and negatively affect our judgement.
Schwartz: It’s the phenomenon where you have to exert self-control to get yourself to do something that is unpleasant and to stay at it. And when you do that, it’s sort of like tiring your muscles. When you now have to do it again, you don’t have the resources available. Like if you’ve run 15 miles, you can’t just hop up and run another 15 miles. You are worn out. He thinks the same thing is true with whatever mechanisms enable us to exercise discipline and self-control. One study that the Times article does mention is that one way of wearing people’s self-control out is by requiring them to make a series of decisions. Just like sticking with a really unpleasant reading assignment or a set of homework problems wears out your self-discipline, so also does making choices. And I find that quite plausible. I think there’s good reason to think that if you go shopping back to school at the mall with your kids, and you are making one set of choices after another, by the end of the day, you are doing some really stupid things, just to get it over with and get out of there.

The European: …which brings up the larger question of how many decisions we can even make. On the one hand, there are expectations, on the other hand there’s a limit to our ability to decide.
Schwartz: Another point that Baumeister makes that is not apparent in the article in the Times, is that if self-control is a muscle that gets fatigued with use, in theory it can also get strengthened with exercise. If that’s true, you may see lots of individual differences. Some of us can make more decisions over a longer period of time without getting worn out. It’s an empirical question and I don’t know that there really are any clear data to answer that. But there’s got to be a point for pretty much anybody, where you just can’t make another decision. We don’t regard a lot of decision that we make as decisions. You don’t decide to brush your teeth in the morning.

The European: David Eagleman thinks that decisions are mostly subconscious: Our brain is on a certain trajectory and that all decisions are built upon.
Schwartz: Of course that is true. Think about what you do every day when you get up: you brush your teeth. Is that a decision? No. You put your underwear on. Is that a decision? No. You put on your socks before you put on your shoes. Is that a decision? No. Well of course, all those things are decision, but they have become so habitual that you do them automatically. You drive to work. Do you decide whether to make a left turn here or make the left turn on the next block? No. You are sort of on automatic pilot, you follow the same route every day. That saves us. If every real choice involved a deliberate decision for us, we would be worn out before we even got ourselves out of the house.

The European: If you think about something as fundamental as picking up a glass of water; it involves plenty of the decisions.
Schwartz: Yes. There’s some very interesting research done by a psychologist named Hazel Marcus on cultural differences on what counts as a decision. She brings people into the lab to do some study, but in the course of doing the study, they get to choose which cubicle to sit in, which writing implement to use, and a whole bunch of other trivial things like that. And when they are all done, they get asked: “how many decisions did you make?” And what she finds is that Caucasian Americans think they have made many more decisions than people from India or Japan. The way we organize our experience is itself heavily influenced by the culture we come from, and if you come from a culture that does not celebrate choice, all of these choices aren’t interpreted by you as choices.

The European: Does the notion of free will also differ between cultures?
Schwartz: I think it probably does, but I am not myself aware of research that has asked that specific question. There is a lot of work that Western societies need to do to figure out what stance to take. What does it mean to say that somebody is in charge of his decisions? We have operated with the notion that human beings are autonomous agents, that what we do is the product of conscious reflection, and we don’t have to do any of the things we do, so that we are of course responsible for our actions. This is the framework with which we operate when we are interacting with other people. It’s why we blame people when they do something bad, praise people when they do something right, it’s why we put people in jail for committing crimes, and so on. And it’s a fiction. By that I don’t mean that we are never in charge, all I mean is that we are certainly not always in charge. And our social and legal institutions have not caught up with modern understanding that has come out of research in the psychology of decision making. So we are going to have to think hard about how to revise the framework of holding people accountable in light of this new evidence.

The European: The classical economic point of view is that peoples’ decisions results from a careful weighing of what will create the most desirable result. What do you advocate?
Schwartz: Well, I think this picture is completely false, but I think that even economists have known it was false almost from the start. Arguably the leading economist from the 20th century, Keynes, wrote about animal spirits. So here’s this framework of rational, utility-maximizing choice, and along comes Keynes and there’s this package of stuff that he calls animal spirit, that we just might call psychology, that has an enormous influence, moderates, completely negates all these processes of rational deliberation that economist models are built on. So this has been the dirty secret of economics forever. They build models as if people are rational actors, knowing that that assumption is unjustified. And what they hope, I think, and what Keynes thought was also a mistake, is that our irrational quirks are idiosyncratic, so that they basically just cancel each other out. Since economists are not particularly interested in predicting what you will do, or what I will do, but rather what whole markets will do, quirkiness doesn’t matter if it’s random. What Keynes appreciated is that it’s not random. In fact, bubbles are the opposite of random. Every time one of these bubbles pops, it seems to me, it’s a real thorn in the side of the kind of models of rational choice that economists build.

The European: Interestingly, it still seems to surprise economists.
Schwartz: Some people did see it coming, but nobody listened to them. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Fed, who everybody thought was a guru, whose every sentence needed to be chiseled into stone—when the downturn happened, he testified in front of US Congress and he said, “Everybody needs a world view. The world view I’ve been operating on is that people are rational decision makers. I was wrong.” It didn’t do us much good that he said it when he no longer had power. If he’d appreciated this when he was actually making decisions, it’s quite possible that this calamity could have been avoided. There were opportunities that people who run major financial institutions had that could have prevented this from happening. But easier and easier credit, fewer and fewer regulation: all of that made sense on the model that people are rational actors, will act in their own best interest, and collectively that will lead to better results in everyone’s best interest. A different person in the chair’s position could have prevented a lot of the catastrophe, I think, from happening. Every time a bubble happens, a huge segment of profession is shocked.

Continue reading - Barry Schwartz | Decision-making and Economics - The Paradox of Choice

US REVOLT - UC Davis Students Protest Against 81% Tuition Fee Hike, Pepper Sprayed

After pepper-spraying incident, UC Davis redesigns website

Excerpt from UC Davis 2010-2012 General Catalog (Joke of the Day)

Applied Biological Systems Technology (College of Agricultural and Environmental Science)

176. Introduction to Pepper Spray. (3) Lecture— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Crowd Control Through Chemicals 122B. Basic uses of pepper spray in threatening, semi-threatening and completely non-threatening and utterly peaceful situations. Common spraying techniques. Overview of rationalization methods. Color choices. Jackboot styles.

177. Advanced Pepper Spraying. (3) Lecture— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Introduction to Pepper Spray 176. Calculating optimum angles in spraying situations. Spraying seated vs. standing persons. History and development of chemical warfare against inconvenient demonstrations. Elements of CYA: basics and best practices.

178: Pepper Spray Practicum. (3). Laboratory— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Advanced Pepper Spraying 177. Working in teams, students locate sites where individuals are exercising First Amendment rights and develop a strategy for spraying them. Emphasis on intimidation and staying calm under awesome hippie threat. Teams are held responsible for escaping responsibility themselves and insulating higher-ups.

Police in the U.S. have used pepper spray against peaceful students taking part in an 'Occupy' campaign in front of the University of California in response to the proposed 81% tuition hike. Demonstrators had been ordered to remove their camp, but after refusing, officers showed up and and tore their tents down, using force against unarmed people. 10 protesters have been arrested.

Source: Interview with a pepper-sprayed UC Davis student

UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed

Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis


Meanwhile in Baruch College, CUNY

Police attack Occupy CUNY students

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Robin Ince: Science versus wonder? [TED]

Does science ruin the magic of life? In this grumpy but charming monologue, Robin Ince makes the argument against. The more we learn about the astonishing behavior of the universe -- the more we stand in awe.

Robin Ince: Science versus wonder?

Friday, November 18, 2011

GLOBAL REVOLT - Occupy's Global Day of Action | Shut Down Wall Street


Occupy Wall Street Fights Back!

Thought the Occupy movement was dying out? Think again. Two months after the start of Occupy Wall Street and following the violent eviction of the New York encampment on Tuesday, tens of thousands today re-occupied Zuccotti Park, shut down the Big Apple, and entirely blocked off all entrances to the New York Stock Exchange for a while. Afterwards, they marched on Union Square, Foley Square and Brooklyn Bridge in one of the largest rallies in the US so far.

Once again, the NYPD tried desperately to retain at least the illusion of control over the situation. The New York Times already reports over 200 arrests for today, with one protester seen leaving the scene with blood pouring from his face, and reports of attacks on photographers and peaceful protesters. None of this could stop Lower Manhattan from grinding to a near-complete halt, with protesters blocking off roads and occupying dozens of subway stations throughout the city .

Meanwhile, thousands of students from the occupation at the City University of New York blocked traffic as they marched to the streets on their way to the New School. Police tried to set up barricades but failed to stem the unstoppable flow of popular outrage from flooding into the streets. Labor unions were mobilized, too, and all marches eventually converged on Brooklyn Bridge — right where the NYPD pointlessly arrested 700+ protesters in October.

Violent OWS arrests video: RT footage of cops in action

Police start arrests at OWS Day of Action protest

OWS protester left bloody and bruised by NYPD

Day of OWS Action: Over 400 arrested, dozens injured

23 Occupy Protesters Arrested in LA

Occupy Protesters Arrested in L.A.

Occupy LA takes action with OWS

Occupy DC Protesters March to Bridge

A new dawn for Occupy Wall Street -- life after Day of Action

OWS gather steam from nationwide protest cop crackdown

Greece Commemorates Polytechnic Uprising

In Athens, police fired tear gas and over 70 people were detained as tens of thousands marched through the city to commemorate the start of the Polytechnic uprising of November 17, 1973, which eventually toppled the US-backed military junta the year after. Today, 38 years later, many in Greece feel they are once again faced with a form of dictatorship — this time under the aegis of the markets. As Occupied London wrote, “then with tanks, now with banks.”

“We have an economic and political junta,” said Marita, a student at the Polytechnic, referring to last week’s installment of a so-called “technocratic” coalition government composed of neoliberal economists and self-declared neo-fascists. The coalition, headed by Lucas Papademos, a former Vice-President of the European Central Bank, will be responsible for enacting the most severe budget cuts so far and the largest privatization drive in Western history.

As is custom on 17N, the demonstrators marched on the US Embassy to protest against the dark role played by the United States in supporting and propping up the brutal military dictatorship. At the Embassy, violent clashes broke out with police, leaving at least one person severely injured and with two broken legs after falling down from a ledge while being chased by riot police.

Greece battles video: Clashes, firebombs as thousands march in Athens

Students Strikes and Protests Across the World

While the actions in New York were the most headline-grabbing, similar rallies and occupations took place throughout the United States — and, indeed, throughout the world — as people everywhere expressed their solidarity with the evicted Wall Street occupiers and celebrated the 2-month anniversary of the Occupy movement. Rallies took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Portland, Washington, Denver, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, St Louis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Chicago, Boston, Vancouver, Toronto and countless other cities throughout the US and Canada.

Rome clashes: Video of Italy cops beating protesters with batons

In Spain, students started a one-week general strike and took to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Palma, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela, Murcia, Valencia, Castello, Alicante and Zaragoza. In Italy, clashes broke out in Milan as students tried to occupy Bocconi University, which is headed by Italy’s new Prime Minister, Mario Monti, in protest against the bankers’ government he heads. Thousands marched in Rome, Turin and Palermo, followed by more violent clashes with police.

Carga en el Congreso #17N

Meanwhile, the epic saga of the Chilean student uprising continued with another day of protests in the city of Valparaiso. Once more, the students were faced with brutal police repression as water cannons and tear gas rained down them as they rallied in front of Congress. Remarkably, the students were joined by an astonishing 2,500 professors who arrived from all over the country in a 55-bus caravan.

Estudiantes chilenos vuelven a las calles, son reprimidos

In Paris, police broke up the occupation of the Defense business district. In Germany, student strikes, occupations, flash mobs and rallies took place in over a dozen cities, confirming the fact that the movement has even managed to penetrate into the bastion of European capitalism — one of the few eurozone members that has managed to stay on its financial feet throughout this crisis (at the expense of brutal austerity measures imposed on its neighbors).

Paris La défense, cops legions arrive and destroy the camp, destruction du camp

Just witnessing all of this unfold in its beautifully chaotic cacophony, it is undeniable that something incredibly historic is afoot. Not only has the movement gone global in an unprecedented kind of way, it also appears to be picking up steam right at a time when critics and skeptics were starting to declare its slow demise. Far from fading out, the global revolutionary wave of 2011 just keeps thundering forward — and we’re still riding its crest. In fact, we’re only just getting started!

Source: 17N: The global revolutionary wave of 2011 thunders on

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

US REVOLT - Berkeley Protests on Public Education

Anti-Wall Street protesters rallied on Tuesday at the University of California, Berkeley, vowing to reestablish a short-lived camp even as police shot and wounded a man who brandished a gun in a campus computer lab.

Police said there was no indication the shooting was linked to the demonstrations taking place in Sproul Plaza, across campus, and protest organizers said they would not be deterred from rebuilding a nascent "Occupy Cal Encampment" torn down by police a week earlier.

"The shooting on campus is completely unrelated to today's protest. All plans continue," Caloccupation said in a tweet about two hours after the incident, as thousands of students and protesters rallied in the plaza.

Campus police said they shot the unidentified man after he drew a gun from his backpack in the lab at the Haas School of Business and displayed it in a threatening manner. He was in surgery at a hospital on Tuesday evening, the university said.

Protest organizers had called for a daylong student strike featuring teach-ins and rallies in response to the arrest of 39 people last week after demonstrators briefly tried to "occupy" the campus with tents.

Tuesday's rallies were bolstered by members of the Occupy Oakland movement, who were evicted on Monday morning from their own camp in that city's Frank Ogawa Plaza near downtown and who marched north to Berkeley to join the protests.

At Berkeley, protesters beat on drums and chanted as they held up signs reading "Hella Occupy" and "Defend Public Education" and displayed pictures from 1960s student protests and marches led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"The things that brought me out are cuts in social services and education," 22-year-old history major Eden Foley said as she staffed a Students for Social Change table in the plaza.

Buddy Roark, a 23-year-old coffee shop barista from nearby San Leandro, said he came to speak out against "just inequality in general, but especially with the political system being influenced by the cash flow."


Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich was scheduled to speak later on Tuesday, and an agenda circulated by organizers of the strike called for "reestablishment of the Occupy Cal Encampment" at 8 p.m.

Campus police, who were criticized for their handling of last week's demonstrations, declined to say if they would prevent protesters from setting up their tents on campus.

"Certainly that encampment is both against university policy and state law, so we will definitely again be educating protesters and participants on how they can exercise their first amendment rights," Police Lieutenant Alex Yao said.

He said that the goal of officers during last week's raid had been to remove the "illegal encampment" and that they had been actively resisted by the demonstrators.

"Officers used the means that was necessary at the time to overcome this resistance and move the crowd back so they could gain access and remove the illegal tents," he said.

Recent unrest surrounding protests in nearby Oakland has helped rally support nationwide for Occupy Wall Street, a movement launched in New York in September to protest economic inequality and excesses of the financial system.

Continue reading - Reuters - Berkeley protests carry on despite campus shooting

Berkeley Students Hold Strike, Teach Out