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Brett Vollert – MatterUnderMind

About Brett Vollert

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So far Brett Vollert has created 63 blog entries.

The General AI Problem (AGI)

By | 2018-06-03T15:22:19+00:00 June 3rd, 2018|Featured|

  Artificial intelligence is nothing new.  We have had intelligent programs/systems that are very intelligent at solving problems and performing complex tasks for decades. In fact, the famous Turing Test, which was invented to test if an artificial intelligence is able to be distinguished from a human intelligence in a short conversation, is not even applicable anymore in the field because AI is so far advanced past this test that it is easily passed by any properly designed AI. However, most AI is incredibly specialized and designed within limits.  We recently had a program designed by Google, AlphaGo, beat the [...]

Can Science Explain Free Will?

By | 2018-04-13T14:54:46+00:00 April 1st, 2018|Featured|

Does the human soul chose out of free will?  Well that depends if you believe in a soul or a will I suppose. To prove a soul exists is like proving that God himself exists.  Many may believe in a soul and feel it deep within themselves but it seems impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.  There is no mathematical proof or experiment that we know to put a end to that questioning. However, one man once set out to do that exact thing.  The year was 1907 and the man was a Massachusetts physician named Duncan [...]

The Secret Inner Workings of the Pyramids

By | 2018-03-26T20:56:32+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Featured, History|

It is a question as old as civilization itself. How in the world, did primitive people built the Great Pyramid of Giza over 4,500 years ago?  How did they build something  that was 481 feet tall and remained the tallest building in the world for 3,871 years until the London Cathedral was built in 1311? How did they quarry 2 millions blocks of limestones and granite that weighed 10-30 tons each and transport them 500 miles to the construction site? How did they amass a structure that weighed 6 million tons and can be seen all the way from the mountains [...]

The Cyborgs are Here!

By | 2018-02-28T14:26:27+00:00 February 27th, 2018|Biology, Featured, Technology|

NEWS FLASH!  The cyborgs are here and they've been here for a long time. One of these cyborgs is Neil Harbisson, who decided to combat his colorblindness by implanting an antenna into his skull.  Yes, an antenna is sticking out of his skull. On the other end of the antenna is a sensor that detects color and converts the visual data into auditory signals.  From there his neurons pick up the signal inside his brain and convert the input into a useful mental image.  With this antenna he can hear colors even outside the normal visual range (infrared, ultraviolet, ect...) and [...]

The Future of Gene Editing (CRISPR-Cas9)

By | 2018-03-02T14:53:47+00:00 February 26th, 2018|Biology, Featured, Science|

("CRISPR-CAS9" Podcast)   Might it become immoral to not genetically edit our children? Perhaps it would be if there was an easy way to prevent disease, ensure health, and give them an overall better life.  If we knew of a way to improve their lives and we did nothing, does that make us somewhat responsible for their troubles? This future may be closer than we think. A new gene editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 is revolutionizing the way we edit genes and has applications that we have only written about in science fiction.  This is not the first gene [...]

What Makes a Species?

By | 2018-03-01T15:12:04+00:00 February 25th, 2018|Biology, Featured|

("What Makes a Species?" -podcast)   The term species is both the most common and controversial in all of biology.  A term so troublesome that one definition isn't enough.  It is almost impossible to avoid a contradiction when using just one of these definitions, but, all together, they can begin to describe what a naturalist already understands. Here are four different types of "Species Concepts", but these are far from the only four.  It seems like new definitions of species are being proposed every day.   The most common definition of a species is know as the Biological Species Concept.  [...]

Phantom Time: A Heist Story

By | 2018-02-24T18:10:12+00:00 January 30th, 2018|Featured, History|

Would it be possible to steal three centuries from the Medieval world? Well at least their perception of time... This feat may sound ridiculous, but it would have been much easier to pull off when most people were illiterate, had little understanding of the calendar, and were both more fearful and more trusting of their rulers. Back in the Middle Ages, if you were a ruler and really wanted it to be 300 years later...then perhaps you could teleport your whole kingdom into the future just by decree.  Besides, anyone who opposes you could be threatened with death. Its good to be King - [...]

The Science of STAR WARS….SPOILERS!

By | 2017-12-21T14:41:59+00:00 December 21st, 2017|Astronomy, Featured, Physics, Technology|

There are plenty of concepts in Star Wars that just straight up require a suspension of scientific understanding.  Some of the classic are: no sound in space, explosive fireballs in space, and the basic laws of gravity.  However; all of these blights allow for a more entertaining movie so we allow them without much questioning. Also...why does every spaceship in Star Wars always orientate itself to be right-side up?  There is no right side up in space! The first scene of "The Last Jedi" starts out with an iconic space battle.  Poe Dameron and Leia Skywalker are leading a bombing run on a [...]

How to See without Eyes

By | 2017-12-12T12:44:19+00:00 November 28th, 2017|Biology, Featured|

  You don't see with your eyes, you see with your mind. Perhaps this is a trivial distinction but understanding it can open up our perspective.  The hard truth is that the physical world is not full of colors and objects; it is full of, what Richard Feynman referred to as, a chaotic sea of electromagnetic waves bouncing off in every direction. These waves inevitably find their way to our eyes.  From there, light detecting cells within our eye cells are excited sending electrical signals into our visual cortex.  The range of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can see is referred to as the "visible [...]

Life Without Water. Is it Possible?

By | 2016-12-24T17:12:06+00:00 December 19th, 2016|Featured|

Every single life form we have ever encountered requires water.  And all of these organisms that seem to be very different are built from the same code.  Much like how every computer program is made from bits of 1's and 0's; life as we know it is built from DNA.  Adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine (or AGCT) are the chemical letters of this code.  And with just these four chemicals, DNA has coded for everything that swims, runs, lives and dies.  But without a proper medium, the almost magical chemistry of DNA cannot unfold; this is why all life requires [...]

STUXNET: The Dawn of Cyber Warfare

By | 2016-09-04T17:35:56+00:00 August 26th, 2016|Featured, Politics, Technology|

Prepare yourself for extreme paranoia.   In March of 2010, a weapon unlike any the world had seen before was unleashed upon a nuclear facility in Natanz, Iran.  It was explosive but not a bomb; stealth but not a spy. The weapon was a computer virus: a string of 1's and 0's that set the Iranian Nuclear Program back over 2 years. Once the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Nuclear Facility was infected, the virus wormed its way into the computers controlling the plant's centrifuges (large industrial machines that spin in order to enrich uranium, pictured below) and began speeding them up. Usually, this would [...]

How We Rigged the Speed of Light

By | 2018-04-11T15:56:20+00:00 June 19th, 2016|Featured|

  The speed of light is considered the fastest speed possible in the universe; a speed so fast it was once thought infinite.  Science now declares it a constant of nature and from this conclusion whole branches of scientific pursuit have emerged.  To question its nature as a constant is a quick way to be discounted by the scientific community as a looney but is this too zealous a stance?  Could the speed of light be changing?  Some looneys definitely think so. The speed of light will never alter, you could bet the family fortune on it.  And the [...]

Why do we dream?: A Sensory Deprivation Chamber Story

By | 2016-08-23T11:28:06+00:00 May 19th, 2016|Biology, Featured, Philosophy, Science, Technology|

It was beyond darkness; it was emptiness. A short time ago, I went with some friends to spend 2 hours in a sensory deprivation chamber.  As strange as that may sound, the idea behind the chamber is simply to eliminate all of your senses so that your mind is free to roam and meditate. In practice, the chamber is really just a shallow hot tub in a closet.  Inside the steel door is 2 feet of water with 800 pounds of dissolved salt, silence, and complete darkness.  But once you begin floating inside this confined abyss; you somehow forget that your [...]

We are the Sims

By | 2016-05-19T10:36:50+00:00 May 2nd, 2016|Featured, Philosophy, Physics, Science|

Think back to the video games of your childhood.  Imagine that one of the characters in your favorite game had such advanced programing that the character itself became "conscious."  What would this character in this video game simulation think?  What would it believe? However strange it may seem, new evidence has the world's leading scientists believing that our universe is simply an incredibly advanced simulation and that we are the sims.     This idea first surfaced in the Greek philosopher Plato's hypothetical scenario: "Plato's Cave."  The story describes 4 prisoners who had been locked up in a cave without ever seeing the [...]

What SpaceX Means to Space Travel

By | 2016-04-29T12:06:26+00:00 April 21st, 2016|Astronomy, Featured, Science, Technology|

Ask any expert and they will tell you that SpaceX will not be the first to take a man to Mars.  This is quite a strange consensus since Elon Musk founded his space technologies company for that exact purpose.  He can even be caught repping the tagline, "Occupy Mars," across his T-shirt as he walks around his state of the art facility. “My proceeds from the PayPal acquisition were $180 million. I put $100 million in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla, and $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent." -Elon Musk "Stop fighting, WWIII would ruin our [...]

Clues of a Lost Global Civilization

By | 2016-07-24T16:03:34+00:00 April 6th, 2016|Featured, Science|

Heinrich Schliemann was the only archaeologist alive to believe that the legendary city of Troy was real.  Guided only by a copy of Homer's "Iliad," he set out on the dry plains of the Turkish Peninsula to find his lost city.  At the time, Troy was merely a myth; after Schliemann's discovery, it was history. What is left of the great city of Troy, whose destruction was described in Homer's Iliad. What other lost civilizations might be hidden in plain sight?  Could there be clues of a lost global civilization? At first glance this sounds preposterous; a tale for campfires [...]

The Experiment that Changed Everything

By | 2016-03-24T21:01:26+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Featured, Philosophy, Physics, Science|

For 4,000 years we have been fading into the background of existence.  There was a time we thought our local world to be so privileged as we boasted ourselves the center of the universe.  But soon the earth was round, we revolved around the Sun and not the other way around, and the whole planet was just one speck of dust drifting through the cloudy Milky Way.  Our big egos were crushed with every discovery. The final blow came when the Hubble telescope discovered that even our galaxy was not unique; billions more just like it are hiding in every seemingly empty patch [...]

Let’s Build a Warpdrive

By | 2016-03-27T03:37:35+00:00 February 24th, 2016|Astronomy, Featured, Physics, Science|

If you have read our recent article, or any like it, then you already know about the incredible discovery of Einstein's predicted gravitational waves.  And so, it is time for us to "nerd out" imagining what new technologies could arise from the discovery. It is time for us to build a Warp Drive. Yes, that same legendary Warp Drive you remember from Star Trek is actually based in some concrete scientific fact. How it works: The space in front of the spaceship is condensed while simultaneously the space behind the ship is expanded. This takes an insane amount of energy. A bubble of normal, "flat" [...]

What are Gravitational Waves and why do I care?

By | 2016-03-02T06:37:34+00:00 February 12th, 2016|Astronomy, Featured, Physics, Science, Technology|

(Image: one of two LIGO research facilities that detected gravitational waves, Washington State)  By now you most likely have heard the news about the discovery of gravitational waves and that it is being lauded as the biggest discovery of the last century. So what is a gravitational wave? Image depicts warping of space around earth. The discovery of a gravitational wave really solidifies a theory that we had a fairly firm understanding of previously.  And that is that that space can be bent and warped in the presence of matter and energy.  This bending is what we call gravity. However; [...]

The Semmelweis Reflex (famous only in death)

By | 2016-02-11T06:28:43+00:00 February 9th, 2016|Biology, Featured, Philosophy, Science|

Revolutionaries play on a different timeline.  They see further and their ideas live longer.  Pushing past ridicule and ritual they open up new worlds so that when they die, instead of being forgotten, they are immortalized. Names like: Van Gogh, Galileo, Dickinson, Tesla, and Edgar Allen Poe come to mind.  But what all these names also have in common is that they belong to those who found no fame in life, but only in death.  We may remember them as triumphant revolutionaries, but their lives were filled with more defeats than victories and their "great works" were their unhealthy obsessions. With the passing of time, [...]

My Blind Faith

By | 2016-03-11T04:58:25+00:00 November 10th, 2015|Astronomy, Biology, Featured, Philosophy, Physics, Politics|

"Oh I'm a Christian, so I don't believe in that" is no longer a valid excuse for ignoring concrete scientific facts.  And so it is time for all Christians (including myself) to wake up into the modern scientific age and ask some tough questions about our beliefs or be left at the kids table with the guy who is way too old to still believe in Santa Clause. Christianity needs a scientific revolution. A pursuit as noble as seeking the truth found in Christ has somehow made enemies with a pursuit of the same family; Science, the pursuit of truth found [...]