Thursday, June 30, 2011

Western Hegemony

So today's post is about the West's and then America's dominance over the world and what could possibly happen in the future. I feel like talking about this because this topic came up as me and a friend, who actually has his own blog:, which has some pretty cool alternate art stuff that has the awesomeness of the internet in one place, (kay back to the story) were in the car and the topic came up on it's own. As we were talking I realized "Yo, this is somthing I could post in my blog and I do want to do some more history stuff!" (Yes I do say "Yo" in my head). So I wrote this.

During the renaissance in Europe the west was finally getting out of the Dark Ages, where centralized nations where finally taking hold and science and art became more important than being dedicated to live a completely pious life. However this mellenia of uncivilized barbarism was not world wide. China continued to being one of the most civilizations of its time. The Aztecs in central america were on the rise and nearby in the Middle East the Ottomans Empire finally took over the last vestiges of the Roman empire known as the Byzantine Empire conquering Constantinople in 1453 which was the final stronghold of the Greco-Roman culture. So why in the 16th century was it Europe the began conquering and dominating the world?

During the 12th century the nations of Europe were invading the Middle East and the holy lands. Luckily at this time the Abbasid Caliphate ruling the Middle East and North Africa was not completly united and could not stand against the United Christian forces. For a hundred years the Europeans held the small crusader states they made in the holy land until Saladin was able to rally the power of the Muslims and kick the Westerners out. Even though in the end Europe did not spread Christianity and did not win territorial gains they got allot of interactions with the much more advanced Abbasid Civilization. The crusades spread the ideas, sciences and mathematics created in the Middle East where learning and discovery was at the fore front of its priorities which they learned from the Greeks that spread there ideas across the Middle East during the Conquering of Alexander the great creating the short lived Hellenistic Empire and making Alexandria in Egypt which became the center for learning in the Ancient world, and in the peace of the Roman Empire that let ideas quickly spread across its vast empire (Roman and Greek ideas went east just as Christianity went west during these times). By the time of the Renaissance the Europeans relearned the importance of scientific discovery and the encouragement of making ideas, unfortunately the Muslims forgot this later and became lost in Religious Ideology making it the back water it is now and caused it to be controlled by Britain at the end of World War One.

School of Athens; Raphael 1509-1510
Luckily for Italy, at the end of the Crusades where they started to open there eyes to the glories of the Ancients, the Church held most of the documents written during Antiquity and let the Italians see the ideas of Pythagoras, Sophocles, Euclid, and the other great minds of Greece. During this period we see the art of Italy change from being solely being centered around Christianity and move to Greek and Roman mythology. One of my favorite paintings is the "School of Athens" by Raphael in 1509-1510. In the middle can be seen Plato and Aristotle arguing with each other. This painting strikes both the Artist and Scientist in me (Yes I used to do art, it was high school, things were different back then, things change). Soon Italy was the richest nation (well not a nation yet) in Europe opening trade across the Mediterranean coming into more contact with the Byzantines and there ancient history and the still thriving Muslims.

Soon this philosophy of humanism, concentrating more on human values and concerns rather than God's spread across Europe. Spain and Portugal started the Reconquista during the Crusades and began to claim all of Iberia for Christendom (the idea of a unified Christian kingdom, much like how the Islam empires were like but never really happened due to each nations will to not be associated with its neighbors). They saw Italy's wealth with envious eyes and knew that international trade was necessary to become rich. However Italy, most notably Venice, already owned the entire Mediterranean trade network very smartly took advantage of the Geographic advantage of being on the edge of the Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the Exploits of a very adventurous Marco Polo Europe heard fantastical stories of China's Yuan Dynasty. However at the time the only trade route to China was the overland Silk Road. In the times of Man and animal power going by sea being pushed by the winds was by far the fastest way to travel, trade, and make money. But unfortunately the entire continent of Africa was in the way and even though the Mediterranean was only a few miles from the Red Sea no canal existed then to let ships cross. Muslims had control over the Silk Road forcing the Europeans to pay taxes for everything that came from China or India, so they just wanted a cheaper way too. At this time a new ship was designed, the Carrack, this was the world's first ocean going ship. Soon Portugal began going south Africa's western coast. By 1499 Vasco da Gama was the first European to circumnavigate Africa and reach India by the sea.

Portugal monopolized the African trade route to Asia and when all of Spain was united in 1492 Spain had only one direction to go, West. Funding a crazy Italian merchant Spain sent three ships across the Atlantic hoping to reach Asia from the opposite end, letting Christopher Columbus to be the first westerner to discover the Americas (if you don't count the Norwegian Vikings around the year 1000). Before the rest of Europe realized what happened Spain and Portugal spit these new continents between themselves. In the 1994 Treaty of Tordesillas, the pope drew a line down the middle of South America, where they currently thought the middle was, where Portugal got the East Side, mainly modern Brazil, and Spain, luckily for them go everything in the West. These lands along with the trade in the East made Portugal and Spain the strongest and richest nations in Europe.

Soon Europe the rest of Europe joined in. The 1600's saw the golden age of the Netherlands and after the Defeat of the Spanish Armada England proved to be the new uncontested naval power of Europe. Since the 1700's England was on the Rise claiming North America (which according to the Pope was Spain's but they couldn't do anything about it and where happy with what they had already). Eventually Europe wasn't quite satisfied with just trading with India and China but wanted direct control over their lands. After a decisive  victory against the French,  Britain claimed all of India as one of it's most treasured colonies. France had to settle with Indochina, which was the peninsula of South East Asia what is now Modern Day Vietnam (which stayed french until the Vietnam war). The Netherlands claimed many islands in Indonesia. And England claimed Australia and New Zealand. Even though the Western Powers never directly conquered China Each major power by 1900's carved it's own sphere of influence where China could do barely anything except comply with the "Barbarians". And by in two decades, the 1880's and the 1890's Europe caught Africa fever and each nation quickly tried to claim it's own slice of the poor Continent known as the "Scramble for Africa".   If it wasn't for Germany's colony of Tanzania Britain would have had a strip of Africa that would have gone from "Cape to Cairo", reaching from Egypt all the way down to South Africa. Russia as well was beginning it's Empirical Conquest and while not overseas territories, Russia went non stop from its startings in Moscow to Northern Asia and Almost continued going into North America with it's conquest of Alaska  but then sold it to the new nation of the United States for two pennies an acre!

Matchlock Musket
One of the main reasons that Europe was so successful at conquering the rest of the world was it love affair with gun powder. While invented in China while looking for a potion of immortality a Chinese Alchemist created a powder that would violently burn. While only militarily used to shoot flaming arrows and for crude guns, if they could be called that, the main use for gun powder was for fireworks. However when brought to the Middle East and Europe it's true potential was found. In the Middle east the united Muslim Empire was split into three states; The Ottomon Empire (Iraq, Turkey, Balkans, Egypt, North Africa) , the Safavid Empire (Iran) and the Mughal Empire (India) which where known as the three "Gunpowder Nations" due to their avid use of Gunpowder. As Europe continued its rise of scientific and technological prowess it quickly used gunpowder in its own armies. With the European process of corning (wetting gunpowder and letting it dry letting it form is larger chunks rather than a superfine powder) increased the power of black powder many times. Soon refined match lock muskets replaced the old Arquebus, allowing them too be full fledged military weapons. This allowed Spain and Portugal to wipe out the Native American empires of the Aztecs and Incas with just a few hundred men. Innovations in cannon design also let Europeans put cannons on a ship. This what allowed the West to become a global force, the power to bring the power of an army to any shore where the native people are no where near as advanced allowed Europe to spread their power unquestionably across the world. In China even though it was impossible to conquer it with a land army, the Nations of Europe forced open its harbors with the sound of cannon fire.
The epitome of European naval power: A Ship of the Line

But why where they the first to conquer the world? Well if you truly look at it, they got lucky. The fact is was that they where just the first to explore the world and to first to properly use cannon and guns. China at the time was starting to send exploratory ships out at the time but stopped for some reason. Honestly if just a few things where different, if Columbus and da Gama wasn't born and the children of China where as itchy to explore as they where I would be explaining right now why the world is currently dominated by China in Mandarin. However once Europe began tasting the riches that came with colonization that would not stop and with an positive attitude of questioning the world and testing new ideas Europe would continue to advance and grow richer while the rest of the world is trying to catch up.

Now it turns out that this post is ALLOT longer than I meant for it to be which is cool, it just lets me get one more post before my queue of ideas to post about runs out. So I shall continue this subject later, talking about the rise of the United States and the fall of Europe and how America might get over shadowed soon by a nation from across the ocean! OOOOOHH!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Double Slit Paradox

So the double slit paradox experiment is good introduction to the weirdness of quantum physics.

So lets start this explanation off with things we can all understand. Imagine there is a guy with a machine gun and was shooting a wall in front of him. The gunner is not aiming at all so when he shoots a spray the spread of all the bullets would hit the entire wall so each point on the wall has the same chance of being hit by a bullet.

Now we put a metal wall in front of the wall with one vertical slit allowing the bullets to travel through. Now when he shoots his gun bullets would concentrate right behind the slit and barely hit any where else. If we were to put two side by side slits, like anyone would expect, there would be only two similar sized areas as the slits on the wall. Since the bullets don't interact with each other nothing spectacular happens.

Actually made these first three images believe it or not

The white levels on the back wall shows the intensity of the wave
So now we can more away from solid objects and move to waves. The most common and visible type of wave is water waves like in the ocean or like ripples. For this example we'll have a ripple tank, which is just a tank with water in it and has a wall that comes out of the surface and has slits in it to let the water waves through. So when we have one slot the maximum height of the waves is right behind the slot and spreads out away.

Notice the interference pattern in the back. 
When we add two slots something more interesting happens. The wave splits into two waves and these two waves interact with each other in a pattern known as the interference pattern. When two crests meet together they add up and get twice as high as the normal wave but when a crest and a trough meet they cancel each other out and the intensity of the waves at that point becomes nearly zero.

Nice top down .gif of how the interference works

So now we under stand how particles and waves react when going through one and two slits. When particles are shot through two slits we see two similar slits in the back, and when waves are shot through two slits we see an interference pattern. So now we go to the quantum level!

So lets imagine we have us an electron gun that shoots electrons out towards a surface that can detect electron collisions. So when there is nothing in the way every spot in the wall has an equal chance of being hit by the electron. When we have a barrier with one slit we see the similar vertical slit that happens in both both particles and waves. So that doesn't help us to see if electrons are true particles or behave like waves. So let us put two slits in this barrier. When scientists first did this they were surprised to see an interference pattern like with waves. They figured that the electrons near each other when they're are shot interfere with each other so they decided to configure the electron gun to shoot another electron when the last one hit the back so only one electron would be in the air at a time. When they did this the same interference pattern came up. 

Scientists figured that the electron has a 50% chance of going through slot one and a 50% chance of going through slot to so if it has the possibility of doing something something on the quantum level will do it, meaning that the electron goes through both and none of the slots at the same time!

To see what was really going on down there scientists set up detector to see exactly which slot an electron goes through or what it could possibly mean to go through two slots at once. However once they set up the detector the electrons acted like particles and two vertical slits appeared in the back. 

This means that particles on the sub atomic level objects act like particles and waves. When particles are not observed they exist in every possible position and take every possible path they could given by the Heisenberg Uncertainly Principle and the Planck constant forming a wave function. But when a particle becomes observed (whatever that really means) the wave function that holds all the possible positions and states "collapses" into one of it's possible state and that is when we say "There it is" but once we stop looking at it it expands into all of its possibilities again!

So that's it for now. Eventually I will post about the other introductory quantum paradox "Schrodinger's Cat", go into more depth about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and other quantum funkiness.  

Here is a cat until the mean time

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Game Concept: Heaven and Hell

So as you can tell I've been a little dry in the coming up with posts department and haven't posted anything in I think about a week. So to post something up until I can do something more in tuned with my blog I shall talk about a game concept I have. As planning to work in the video game industry I actually have a bunch of ideas for video games. This one has to do with the forces of Heaven and Hell fighting each other. Even though the story is based off of the concepts of Christianity; Heaven, Hell, God, and the main characters of each side, it's not supposed to be the same Christian, Islamic, or Jewish god, or a retelling of those religions, so if you are heavily religious I'm not trying to anything, good or bad, about any religion.

So this would be the pregame story:
The Seven Archangels
In the beginning god created Heaven and the seven archangels; Micheal, Gabriel, Raphael, Suriel, Zadakiel, Sarathiel, Aniel. The archangels were perfect, immortal, and lived only to serve and praise their creator. In return for their loyalty lived a perfectly happy life in heaven free of suffering and had Heaven provide for all their needs and wants. However over mellenia god grew bored of the predictable love offered by the archangels.

So God preceded to make Terra, an imperfect finite land where its flawed inhabitants, the humans, would have to struggle just for their personal survival. God revealed to the humans that they may enjoy the endless bounties of Heaven, but only if they served Him and followed His rules. The humans, however, were given free will and were not forced to follow the rules of God. The humans had to choose between to suffer temporarily following His rules, and then live in paradise forever, or choose to take advantage of mortal sins and be denied the in front of the Gates of Heaven.

For those humans who fell under the influence of sins, God made a third world, Hell, where every selfish human would suffer for eternity. To rule and manage these lands God took what was left of the clay he made from the seven archangels and created the seven archdemons; Lucifer, Mammon, Asmodeus, Satan, Baal, Leviathan, and Belphegor. Being the opposite of the archangels, the Archdemons where unpredictable selfish and had an unending loathing for their creator, whom forced them to suffer for their eternal lives. They punished the immoral humans, just as God planned, as the archdemons wanted to hurt God's favored creation.
A painting of Heaven, Earth, and Hell

Lucifer, that clever devil
After thousands of years the cleverest Archdemon, Lucifer, found a way out of Hell into Terra which meant a path to Heaven. Wanting to invade and live blissfully in paradise the Archdemons, indirectly spread their influence around Terra, causing Humans to sin, spreading plagues and starting wars, sending many Humans to Hell. The Archdemons corrupted the Human souls turning them into demonic warriors. When the time was right the demon army led by the seven Archdemons charged out of the Gates of Hell into Terra. Soon the Archangels made an angelic army out of the pious humans who stayed loyal to God to combat the forces of Hell and prevent them from entering paradise.

And as this pleasantly unexpected turn of events occurred god patiently watched.

As for the story of the game itself I haven't thought about it too much. I might have a full linear story that has a definite ending, or have it like End War where both sides fight an open ended ended story where it plays a cinematic saying what happens depending which side wins, or be like Sins of a Solar Empire where there is just a intro story and game play only through skirmishes. I plan to have the genre be an RTS like Rome Total War or like Age of Empires, where the two armies are completely different where generally angels have fewer stronger creatures and the demons have more weaker creatures and could sacrifice them. Players will play as a sub-faction when they choose each Archangel or Archdemon to be there general. The generals will  be a Unique unit semi-immortal (where you can temporarily kill it) with crazy abilities. The Generals would also unlock units and abilities unique to that general. Each Archdemon has one of the seven deadly sins associated with it and each Archangel has one of the seven holy virtues, which would affect what abilities and units each general would have. I've always liked RTS's that had factions that had similar armies but subtle unique skills or units which affect game play allot, such as in Age of Empires III.

Another game play aspect that I think could be cool is using humans as a resource to make units. As the two sides fight for control over territory over lands in Terra, they will try to convert the humans there to add them into their respective armies. I just think it would be cool to use morally gray humans as a resource. I'm not sure how exactly it would work but as I work the game play ideas in I'll figure out how they'll fit in later.

The lamb on the right side of God Opening the Seven Seals
I'm not sure how I'll do this either but I want to fit in the scroll of that's sealed with the seven seals of the Apocalypse. As each sealed is broken after the prophecies occur the seven signs of the apocalypse happen on Earth. The first four are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse; War, Conquest (Wikipedia says it's not pestilence apparently), Famine and Death, the fifth is "reveals the cries of those who had been slain because of the 'Word of God'"(Wikipedia) the sixth seal releases natural disasters all over the world and the seventh releases fires and the trumpets of the angels. These seven seals would probably seven super weapons that can be reached by both sides.

So as I stress this is not Earth, there is no Jesus, Moses, Abraham or Muhammad, and this God is not supposed to be the God billions of people believe in and is not to have any messages about peoples beliefs. I just think that it would be an awesome story that could possibly make a cool game. I'm not sure if putting my untrademarked  intellectual property up on the internet where anyone can say that they came up with this idea before I did. Well I trust you guys with my ideas and I can use this as proof that I had this idea at least by June 22nd 2011 A.D. Also I want to get you guys's opinions and see what you think, what I can add, or what I can change. Since I do have about five or so game ideas I might put more of these up on another slow posting week.

Also, to prevent me running out of Ideas, I ask you followers and you Annon to ask me any questions you've had about Science, history, and philosophies. I'll be glad to answer any questions I know and am willing to spend time to look up some stuff if you ask a question I've never thought about or just plain don't know. Right now I am looking up some stuff about this New Age religion thing, I'm not sure about its name, that believes that Atlantis was real and was an advanced civilization that ruled a continent in the Atlantic Ocean thousands of years before sumerian towns came about, believe that Aliens gave this civilization and other people information and ideas, and believe in higher and lower dimensions that exists on different frequencies (frequency of what, i don't know, also supposedly the wavelength of our universe is 7.23 centimeters, it's proven, trust me). Yeah it's a little hard to swallow and I straight up don't buy any of it but I still give it my time and tell you guys my exact opinion on it and show you what I looked up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Yeah! I figured since we're two and a half years from the date prophesied by the Mayans, Decemember 21st 2012, and since the discovery channel seems obsessed with the Apocalypse I guess I'll jump on the band wagon. As a human who relishes logic and the scientific process you can guess I don't believe in any superstitions prediction made by a stone age civilization thousands of years ago. I actually read a book a few years ago before the 2012 craze that was about the Apocalypse, what the Mayan prediction meant and how the Apocalypse might happen. The book is "Apocalypse 2012; An Investigation Into Civilization's End" by Lawrence E. Joseph if you feel like reading up on it, it's pretty good.

The Mayans more than any other civilization was captivated by the sky and stars. As far as archaeology can tell us they where building calanders and buildings to measure and track the movements of celestial bodies. They built calenders that predicted the cycles of the moon Sun and planets with precision far beyond their time. The calendar that tracked the Sun predicted it's movements from it's daily movement to the observable effect from the wobbling axis of the earth that cycles of thousands of years. It foretold the movements of the Sun for thousands of years but abruptly ends on the date 12/21/2012 in our calendar. Now many westerners interpreted that the Mayans meant that this was the end of world, if there is no one around to care what date it is than there would be no reason to make calendars past that point. Of course one could see it that the Mayans can't make stone calendars that go on forever and decided to stop there and make more calendars when they got to that point. Now that day isn't some date that the Mayans chose at random, December 21st will be the winter solstice for the year 2012, which is they shortest and coldest day of the year (at least for the Northern Hemisphere). This is also the time that the Sun ends up in between the Earth and the center of the Galaxy (yeah some how the Mayans figured that out, lolwut?) which happens every 26,000 years. So this 26,000 year period is a Mayan time frame that one could call an epoch. So the solar calendar they made was supposed to last till the end of the current epoch. Even though westerners went a bit wild with the Mayan Apocalypse, this date was not just some end of the year celebration for the Mayans either. They consider the contact the earth has with the center of the Galaxy as a good thing since they believed that's where everything came from (seriously the Mayans knew about the Galaxy while Europe thought the Earth was in the middle of concentric spheres and each heavenly body was connected to each one!) and that the loss of contact by the Sun's interference could have negative effects for the life on Earth. This date will bring the birth of a new Epoch but just as a birth of a human brings much pain and possibly death so could this date the Mayans believed.

Now I'm pretty sure the likely hood of civilization as we know it ending on that date is just as likely as any other day. However as it turns out, there is still a chance that mother nature could could end us at any moment with nary a warning. The rest of this post will talk about the possible ways humanity could come to a swift and painful end.

1. Sunspots
The Sun is not just a featureless ball of fire hanging in the sky. At such high temperatures and pressures the ball of hydrogen constantly fuses atoms together producing it's light and energy. In the past century scientists have found out the Sun is far more complex than anyone could imagine, with separate charateristic layers, a plasma surface that constantly moves and shifts and solar flares and storms many times larger than the earth, the Sun is definitely the most complicated system in our solar system. On the surface of the Sun's surface are sunspots that are essentially electromagnetic storm flinging massive amounts of radiation out into space. The number of spots on the Sun correspond with how turbulent the Sun is and how much solar radiation it spews into space. The Sun shoots out much more radiation than light and UV rays. This radiation would kill and harm most complex life on Earth. However, luckily for us, the Earth has a magnetic shield around it created by the molten iron core of the Earth that deflects the deadly radiation away from Earth.

This shield can only take so much energy from the Sun. When it becomes to much for it some of this radiation gets deflected towards the magnetic poles causing the Aurora Borealis. As it turns out though the Sun goes through cycles of allot of sunspots and few sunspots known as Solar Maximum and Solar Minimum. The time between each Maximum is eleven years. At this maximum the Sun shoots off more radiation than normal. Normally this wouldn't affect us since we're protected by the magnetic shield, however our satellites are not and can be stop functioning during this period or even permanently damaged. Most electronics are also more sensitive to sunspot activity than we are so now as we become more dependent on these technologies we need to pay more and more attention to sunspots especially during Solar Maximums. And when does the next solar Maximum occur? TWENTY TWELVE! And this article, says that this could be the worst Solar Maximum since 1958, but will have a much more heavy impact on us than fifty years ago as the global economy and infrastructure could easily be crippled by heavy solar activity that year.

2. Flipping of Earth's Magnetic Poles
As I've said the only protection we have from the Sun's solar radiation is Earth's magnetic shield. Without this our atmosphere could burn up and be blown away thinning it past human living conditions. Temperatures would sky rocket, Imagine global warming on steroids, we could not stand out side in sunlight for more than minutes at a time without receiving serious skin damage and cancer rates would sky rocket. Scientists have noticed that within the past decades the strength of the fields have noticeably weakened and have detected huge holes the size of countries in the shield, most of the time over oceans. Geologists also notice that iron deposits, which act as molecular magnets, line them selves with the poles when the rock was formed. They also notice the pattern that they suddenly point in the opposite directions. This leads to the conclusion that about every 100,000-1,000,000 years the poles shift while having a brief period of no shield cover. While it wouldn't be long enough to ebb away our atmosphere it would render almost every modern convenience pointless. No computer or electronical device would work while the poles are busy shifting. Many developed and developing nations would be sent back a century, and many would likely die in the sudden change. Scientists cannot predict when the next pole shift will occur or what causes this to happen in the first place. All we know that any one would call it a disaster on a global scale if this where to occur in modern times.

3. Yellowstone Super Volcano
An unexpected end to the humanity comes from the beautiful tranquil scenery of Yellowstone national park in Wyoming. As it turns out the entire park is actually the caldera of the largest volcano on Earth. Imagine a volcano with the trademark smoking crater on top. Yellowstone park is actually that crater which is 34 by 45 miles and the rest of the volcano sits beneath the surface. The famous geysers in Yellowstone is powered by the largest magma chamber in the world. If the supervolcano exploded it would not be like the volcanos in Hawaii that oozes out but akin to Mt. St. Helens but thousands if not millions times more powerful. The explosion would turn the land to molten slag in all of Wyoming and it's neighboring states, the explosion traveling faster than sound and within an hour millions would die. The surrounding ground in Yellowstone actually has some of the largest deposits of Uranium and would spread fallout all across the North American Continent causing cancer and deaths in many more. Most of the landmass and population of the world lives in the Northern hemisphere and all of it would be covered in ash that would blot out the sun for years killing crops and wildlife and leading to the starvation of much more people than the initial explosion and fallout. This would be a nuclear winter much colder and longer than anything The world's nuclear arsenal could produce. The Yellowstone super volcano luckily, according to geological records blows its cap every 600,000 to 700,000 years. Unfortunately the last time it did erupt was 640,000 years ago and rangers and geologists at Yellowstone have noticed that mountain ranges and valleys are bulging up due to the pressures of the volcanic gases and lava building up in the magma chamber. Bulges that have never been seen before since its making as a park in 1872.

4. Gamma Ray Burst
A more interesting scenario, at least in my opinion, is the Earth getting hit by a gamma ray burst. Aside from the Big Bang the most energetic and destructive (well I guess the Big Bang wasn't destructive but it was a BIG Bang) event in the universe is a super nova. When a star more massive than our sun dies, rather than inflating into a red giant than dying down into a brown dwarf till the end of time, it explodes violently releasing more energy in that one explosion than our Sun during its whole life. During this explosion it launches two beams of intense energy called gamma ray bursts along the rotational poles of the star. While most of the energy dies down logarithmically over space, these bursts are essentially directed gamma lasers that that send directed energy to the ends of the galaxy. Any planet that dares stand in its way will have no idea what happened to hit. If a gamma ray burst where headed towards us there would be no way of telling since the burst travels as fast as light so the instant we see the nova it will have hit Earth. Within seconds the entire atmosphere will burn up and possibly blown away into space. The surface of the Earth will heat up to thousands of degrees vaporizing all life except for the lucky and hardy single celled organisms. There would simply be no way to predict or prevent such a catastrophe. Scientists predict that supernovae along with their gamma ray burst happens in the milky way every fifty years or so, however for a burst to hit us straight on the accuracy it would need to hit us at the distances of light years is so extraordinary that we shan't need to worry about it. But the chance of such an incident happening is completely random and unpredictable.

5. Galactic Cloud
Another quite unexpected possible cause for the Apocalypse is that our solar system is going through an energetic section of the galaxy. This cloud is most likely made from the debris of a nova or supernova and is made out of hydrogen and left over radiation. As our solar system flies through this cloud the solar winds emanating from the sun pushes the cloud out of the way much in the way a boat pushes the water away at its bow. And like a ship plowing through water the gases are cresting up and the "bow" of the solar system and are beginning to push through and leak into the solar system. These gases and radiation are adding more and more energy to the planetary systems and in the past couple of decades uncharacteristic patterns in planetary weather are being detected, a frozen moon on Saturn has had geysers on its surface that have not been seen since its discovery and a new red spot has been detected on Jupiter that may become as big as the first big red spot that's an electromagnetic storm larger than the planet Earth. As this energy reaches Earth it could increase the effects of global warming and puts more pressure on Earth's magnetic shield. When this energy reaches the Sun it could easily unbalance and energize the complicated systems in the Sun. If it reaches the sun at solar maximum, which is already supposed to be really strong the extra energy could make the this solar maximum the largest sunspot storm in human history. If the shield weakens due to the polar shift or the energy cloud at the same time we have an unprecedented solar maximum the consequences to human civilization on 2012 could be unimaginable.

6. Meteor
Probably the most famous way to bring about the Apocalypse would have to be a meteor colliding with the Earth. Popularized in many movies and brought the end to the most famous family of animals, the Dinosaurs, 65 million years ago the threat of a meteor is a serious threat. According to this chart: there are only two known asteroids that threaten Earth, 2011 AG5 and 2007 VK184 which might hit us by 2040-2047 and 2048-2057 respectively. Luckily they only measure a 1 on the Torino scale where 0 is absolutely non-threatening and 10 is the most dangerous, so they are the most non-threatening while still being a threat. However there are many unknown asteroids and comets which could hit us at any moment. Threats come from three main areas; the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter has 700,000 to 1.7 million asteroids with a diameter of a kilometer or more. This is the most likely place for an apocalyptic object to come from but also the most observed, although an unexpected collision among two large asteroid could send one towards us. Another place is the Kupier belt reaching from the orbit of Neptune past Pluto which are estimated to hold 70,000 objects with a diameter larger than 100 kilometers while only over a thousand are known about. The last and most unknown source of dangerous objects is the Oort cloud which is about a light year away from the Sun. The Oort cloud is most believed to be the source of the 200 year comets that have highly elliptical orbits. As these comets head almost directly into the sun these icy comets could easily careen into the Earth.

As always the question of the Apocalypse is not how but when. As Godwin's law says that the longer a conversation continues the probability of Hitler being brought up approaches 100%, the longer Humanity lives on the probability of an Apocalyptic event destroying us approaches 100%. One day a catastrophic event will happen that will change what life will be like on the planet Earth. According to geological records of animal fossils major extinctions the scale of the fall of the Dinosaurs and greater happens 62-65 million years and the last major extinction was 65 million years ago. Hopefully this post shows the importance of Human colonization of other planets. In the future humanity needs to have other places to live so we would be able to evacuate any planet that is threatened and be able to reterramorph the planet and repopulate it. This would be the only way to ensure our survival until the end of the Universe or the end of time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What exactly is fire?

Here is a quick little post that people might enjoy knowing about. Ever since I was a wee little child, I wondered to myself "What exactly is fire?" I knew it wasn't matter, nor could it be pure energy, something was going on that educational books and shows where not telling me. With out any answers, Internet wasn't as big at the time nor as helpful, I eventually forgot about that question but every time I saw that dancing flame blackening contorting and vaporizing what ever its fuel source was that question still beckoned int the back of my head (and yes I think I'm a bit of a pyro, but I love me some fire).

Now many years later with an enhanced knowledge of science and physics, at least more enhanced than an eight year old, I pieced together the various clues until I came to the answer! The answer lies in the physical structure of the atom itself! *Crash of Lightning* Of course the shown model of the atom is wrong, electrons orbiting around a nucleus like planets around a sun is easier to imagine than an "electron cloud" that shows the probability of an electrons position which can change based off of observation due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle.

A non-ionized lithium atom. Why lithium? Because Google Images say so!

So you here you can see the different shells that surround the atom. The lowest shell can only have two electrons in it at a time and the second can have eight and so on. In the non excited state all the electrons go to the lowest shell they can and fill up the next shell until all the electrons are accommodated for. How ever an electron can become "excited" and rise to a higher shell. Since this is moving away from the oppositely charged nucleus it requires energy to move away from it, much like how it takes energy to move away from the Earth. Purely randomly (I say this cautiously) an electron can settle back down from it's excited state down to it's normal state in a lower shell. This causes a release of energy which then turns into a photon. The frequency of the photon depends on how many shells the electron dropped down to, the more shells it fell the higher the frequency. 

So now what can add energy to an atom causing its electron to become excited? Heat. And the hotter a body the higher the electrons will jump when they become excited. So even in space a warm body without any other matter for the body to leak heat to through conduction, it will still cool down since it has excited electrons which throw away energy in the form of photons. So right now every object that you are seeing is releasing light constantly. So why can't we see in the dark? As I said the warmer an object is the higher an electron jumps and than when it falls the higher the maximum frequency of light it emits. At normal Earth temperatures objects radiate light in the infrared spectrum which is invisible to the human eye. And yes this is exactly how night vision infrared goggles work, they have detectors which can pick up the heat radiated by bodies in Earth like temperatures (that always confused me, I was like wait infrared is heat? But it's just a small spectrum of all light! How can it be heat?). 

The electromagnetic (light) spectrum, in case you were curious 

So now we can understand what happens when metal becomes really warm. As an electron stove turns on it's maximum frequency starts entering the lowest frequency of visible light, red, and now we see it glowing a nice red. If we continue to warm up the metal it goes through the entire spectrum and starts emitting frequencies at all visible levels which our eyes detect as white, so it's now burning white hot. If we keep on raising the temperature it will eventually start emitting ultraviolet rays, but I don't think any stoves get that hot. This is exactly how light bulbs work. You take tungsten, which is a good conductor and has a high melting point, put it in a vacuumed environment which light can still penetrate so that it doesn't burn the air and destroy itself, and than run electricity though it which warms the filament to very high temperatures therefore causing it to emit visible light. This also happens on the sun since the nuclear fission of hydrogen realeases allot of energy and heat but since it is at such high temperatures it releases light at all frequencies all the way up to gamma rays. So the sun isn't fire but is much more complicated and I'm not going to go into that in this post. 

So what exactly is fire? Well it is an an exothermic reaction between two chemicals, one is most of the time oxygen, that in order to start the reaction the fuel sources need a certain level of heat to start the process but the chemical reaction releases enough or more heat in the process to keep the chemical reaction going given that there is enough of both fuel sources to keep it up. The reactions most of the time give enough heat to radiate light at frequencies that we can see, most commonly from red to yellow. This chemical reaction also heats up the nearby air and as the heated air's density lowers due to the increased heat, it rises since the gravitational pull of the earth pulls more on the denser colder air. As the heated air makes contact with the colder air the lose heat through convection and begin to radiate heat at levels our eyes can not detect. Fluctuations in the density of air due to movement and other factors also cause the rising heated air to not go in a straight path but move around unpredictably (I heard that a super computer can not predict the movement of the flame and smoke of a match). So essentially at it's base, fire is pretty much hot air. So I hope you actually found this post helpful since fire is a pretty integral part of human life.

YAY fire in a bottle cap!

Also any questions and corrections be welcome by anyone, including you shady anons who randomly stumble upon this page. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Technological Singularity

2.6 million years ago our human ancestors created the first stone tool starting the tool revolution, which helped us in our quest to kill animals for food and eventually many other helpful jobs, such as skinning animals for their furs and making temporary shelters. This allowed us to get an advantage over other predators and let us defend our selves and kill and eat larger animals, allowing our species to spread all over the planet. 10,000 years ago we began the agricultural revolution starting the fertile crescent int the middle east, the Indus river valley in Pakistan/India, and in the Yangtze river in China as well as in the America's. This allowed us to settle down and stay in one place. This allowed support for larger populations and let larger groups of people together letting larger amounts of people to share a language and cultures. And not everybody needed to work to make food so where able to spend their time making pottery, clothes, buildings, art and have certain people think about laws and philosophy giving rise to governments and religions, culminating into what we now call civilizations. About three to two centuries ago the power of non-human and non-animal sources of energy came to the full realization as people took full advantage of water and wind power as well as taking advantage of new sources such as steam, coal, gas and eventually oil. This lead to the industrial revolution as mechanizing the process of creating goods allowed for mass-production and mass-power as steam powered boats paddled against the wind, trains brought people and goods across continents within days, automobiles brought people into the city while living comfortably away in the suburbs, and planes took people into the skies and across the world. And in the last fifty years we've been through the digital revolutions where since there inception at the end of WWII computers have been getting faster and faster while getting smaller and smaller and in the 90's the internet brought the entire world to the entire world, where anywhere there was an internet connection (which now with satellites, WiFi and 4G seems to be everywhere) anyone can connect to every other computer and learn ideas impossibly much faster than what could be imagined even a century before, and those same people can but their ideas out to the world (much like I am) and anyone can discuss their thoughts and findings.

As you can see in the previous paragraph a definite pattern emerges throughout human history. Each point I mentioned brought forth a new technological revolution having unbelievably more benefits than the last forever changing humanity as we knew it. But there is another as important piece of this pattern each time between the next revolution and the before it is much smaller by a magnitude of ten or more. If one extrapolates, if the last time frame between this revolution and the one before it was measured in a matter of centuries, then the next revolution should come within a matter of decades. But the question is what is the next revolution going to be and what would it be like?

Of course no one can know the details of the revolution before us (try imagining Napoleon trying to imagine a smart phone, or a Sumerian farmer trying to imagine a tractor) but of course many people can't help to imagine what the future might bring. Many scientists, mostly computer scientists imagine a Technological Singularity. Now what that means is that, if the rate of progress continues the path it is than within a century change would happen so quickly that a technological revolution would happen every year, than month, than, day, than hour, than minute, than second etc. Change would happen so quickly so fast that it would be impossible to predict what would happen after the singularity much like it's impossible to predict, with our current laws of physics, what would happen past the event horizon of a black hole singularity.

Kinda confusing but it's just saying as time goes by important events happen quicker and quicker. Also it's on a logarithmic scale, not a constant one, so this trend is happening at an exponential rate.

And now what would cause us to go past this metaphorical "event horizon"? Well as we advance to day we just use our intelligence plus the measuring tools we made before to make new discoveries allowing us to make better tools, which is why technological advancement accelerates the way it does now. The significant thing about the next revolution is that soon we will have the tools to make greater intelligences, which could make more discoveries allowing them to make better tools and better intelligences which would increase the rate of advancement even more exponential-er, which would be allot. There are many ideas hat what these super intelligent beings could be. They could be robots with AI, that either make improvements on themselves or make AI's that are smarter than them. They could be humans that change their genetic make up to increase ther intelligence allong with some other attributes, which could also carry the wave of perfecting genetic altering make even smarter children which at one point would diverge from the species we call human. Or it could be a mix where humans alter the size of there brain though genetics and have robotic implants for extra storage increased speed, establishing human to human connections and increase human sensory input. I prefer the last mostly because such human and robotic merging is taking place right now and that would be awesome (never forget the awesome factor when it comes to exploring scientific frontiers! Why did we go to the moon? Because it's there? Because it's hard? No, because it was awesome, and no one can disagree with me on that).

There are many cases of human and machine joining together as the date of this post. Obviously there are prosthetic limbs for amputees which get more complicated and elaborate (a person with a fake leg could walk right by you and you wouldn't know if they were wearing pants over their leg). But other more advanced technologies are around to. Some paralyzed people have wires attached to there brain and thourgh the pure power of thought a man could move a mouse across a computer screen and play simple games. A blind lady had a camera replace her eye which was connected to a small computer in the back of her head which electrified certain parts of her visual section of the brain when the camera saw lights in certain corresponding areas and soon she was able to see fuzzy black and white images of her surroundings and was even able to identify things like a sailboat. That may seem small now but soon maybe she could see in 1080i or even resolutions higher than the eye can see now.

And of course, here is a monkey with a robot arm.

A computer attached to the monkey's brain controls the arms movements. At first the monkey doesn't know at all how to move it but as it's brain learns it finds out that the only way to eat the marsh mellow in front of it is to use it's new arm and grab the sweet treat and put the arm right in front of it's mouth. At one point (not shown in this video) the monkey starts to lick the marsh mellow residue on the robo-arm rather than grab a new marsh mellow which they said that meant the monkey was starting to accept the fact that the robo-arm is actually part of him/her. Even in the military is starting to fuse man and machine making a Iron Man suit/ Mjolnir Powered Assault Armour like suit that increases the soldiers strength incredibly allowing to carry a hundred pounds of equipment or more for hours without breaking a sweat or even feel like he's in a robotic suit. 

Because people <3 visual stimulation. I can't help but say "That's so F**king cool!!"

There are also ideas to make glasses or goggles with built in computer's that can overlay images onto what you see. If they are able to connect to the internet the second you look at somebody it can Google them and look up their Facebook profile and give you everything you may need to know. It can overlay GPS directions on the very road you're looking at and looking at a building could give you it's street address. Looking at anything these devices could give us any amount of knowledge there is about that thing increasing the knowledge of any human being with them. Eventually they may even be set down to the size of contacts to essentially invisibly become a part of you. One day we'll think how we ever got around without these devices.

We could also implant computers into our brain, letting us save videos with taken with our contacts and saving them to a 20 terrabyte hardrive (probably under estimating) so we can do what I always dreamed of. Living in a world where we can rewind experiences and memories much like we can do now with TiVo or Forge in Halo (thats two references to that game now, (the MJONIR armor for those unaware) and yet I'm not a fan of that game hmm.....), so if you forgot where you left your keys rewind to where you came back home drunk last night and find that you left them in the fridge?? Weird.... Anyways, certain CPU could be added into our brain to help us with things that human brains are atrocious at, mostly math skills. Imagine being able to do 238,432.234234 times 342.3672291 in your head in less than a 60th of a second, you're brain will send it to the robo CPU it'll crunch the number and the numbers appear magically in your mind like you did it yourself, and you could say you didn't. And once we find out how to program intuition, creativity and problem solving skills we can improve upon that. 

Eventually we would find out how to do better things through mechanical means than biological and slowly making our selves completely mechanical beings, much like the movie "Bicentennial Man" but in reverse. We couldn't exactly say when the exact moment of being a being of flesh to a being of machine. And to further extrapolate as computers become ever more connected becoming faster as computer farms work together to solve a single problem, our robotic heirs might eventually come together into one sentient being controlling several bodies, much like a hive mind or something, where all of humanity become one being constantly discovering more secrets, recording more facts, and further improving itself until maybe it encapsulates the entire Universe and it becomes one sentient being and from there I don't know, nor do I have any Idea when these things can happen. 

And so we stand at an important crucible of humanity where we forever and indelibly change what it means forever as we pass through the Technological Singularity. 

If you wanna look up the guy who thought about this allot more than I did here's a link to a site that was written by Vernor Vinge in 1993 and how he predicts that the Technological Singularity will happen before 2030 oooohOOOOHohOOOOHoohOHohOHHhhoohOO!!!!!!!!!!

Wow just realized 3 hours after I uploaded this post that I actually didn't put the link so here you go:

Friday, June 3, 2011

How close we came to the End of the World.

No I'm not talking about the Rapture or 2012, but in my little sub comment thing it talks about history and so I guess I should be talking about it then. So whats something historical that is decently interesting to most people? How about talking about how close the earth was to being engulfed in radioactive flames during the cold war! Thats pretty cool (At least I think so).

I think everyone knows a certain amount of the cold war but let's dive into that a bit. So after six years of fighting Nazi Germany, England, France (even though everybody knows they did nothing), the USA, and the USSR finally reached and took down the capital, Berlin. Now after starting two world wars (maybe not the first one entirely but definitely the second one), no European nation trusted Germany so they split apart the country in two, the East side for Russia and the West side for the Western allies, England, France and America (But mostly America). After two world wars destroying their economy, infrastructure, and landscape Europe was not ready to support it self, leaving the two nations that where relatively unhurt (Russia was hurt allot more son than it put on but did not want to seem inferior to the Americans) the two countries quickly filled the gap left by the war. With both countries having modern industrial capabilities (America quickly became an industrial power house since the 1880's and have made many pioneering efforts to the mechanization of everything, and Stalins five year plan was effective in forcing people from the farms to the factories and was in five years made a nation with the industrial output rivaling the US) they quickly became known as superpowers, countries with international power never before seen on this planet on a global scale. With only one real opponent and vastly different forms of government, any similarity the saw in fighting a common enemy quickly vanished and they pointed the gun barrels at each other. With NATO formed in 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a blatant sign of Western Europe siding with America and the USSR responding in kind with forming a Soviet Bloc of most of the countries in Eastern Europe placing puppet communist leaders that were allied with the USSR, and an Iron Curtain Fell upon Europe running north and south from the border of East and West Germany, clearly defining the American and Russian Spheres of influence. Quickly the search for more allies reached out of Europe as both super powers went into Central and South America, Africa, and Asia and funded rebellions, staged coups, and on many occasions invaded countries to make their they where on their side, or at least not on the enemy's side. With German scientists going to each side after the war each superpower was matched for scientific advancements and in 1949 the USSR had atomic capabilities. So for the next 40 years the world was split into two camps and the two schizophrenic superpowers were sitting on a stock pile of nuclear weapons able to destroy the world many times over waiting for the smallest signal of attack it is quite a miracle we are all still living here to day.

Definitely the most famous event that almost caused nuclear holocaust is the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. When the Cuban revolution put Fidel Castro in control of Cuba in 1959, the US felt very uncomfortable having a communist ninety miles from it's closest shore in South Florida and having the capital well within the range of short range nuclear ICBMs if they were put into Cuba. In 1961 the US tried to start a new revolution in Cuba by backing up an invasion force of Cubans who were exiled from their home country in the Bay of Pigs. However the invasion force was quickly defeated and the Island remained staunchly communist. Later a U2 spy plane flying over Cuba noticed what looked to be nuclear ICBMs. Even though America had Missiles in Turkey that where as close to Moscow as Cuba was to Washington D.C. the US demanded that no more armaments where allowed to enter the country and the Current weapons there to be dismantled and set up a blockade around Cuba preventing Russian ships to pass through. The US contemplated invading the island but held back due to the threat of M.A.D., or Mutually Assured Destruction that any military action from any Superpower would be met by the other ending of the destruction of both (get it? Because the would be "MAD" to attack ;D). At one point Russian ships where on their way to Cuba past the American ships with the Directives to Shoot any ship that attempts to cross the blockade. With the quick diplomacy of both JFK and Khrushnev the ships stopped and turned around and eventually America agreed to take down the missiles in Turkey if the Russians took back the missiles in Cuba.

A couple of other close calls came during the Cuban Missile Crisis when a U2 spy plane, which where ordered not to fly over Russian soil as to not antagonize the Soviets during this crisis, accidentally flew over the Chukotski Peninsula in Eastern Russia when the Aurora Borealis affected his readings and made him fly of course. Quickly Russian MiG fighters where sent to take down the plane. The US responded quickly and sent in F-102A planes armed with nuclear missiles to escort the plane rather than just let the Russians shoot it down and let the matter be over with. The pilots of the F-102A also had clearance to fire their payload if they thought the situation required it. Luckily the Russian MiG's backed off and the U2 pilot made it back safely. Also during this crisis, in Minnesota a guard at an airbase saw someone climbing the fence into the base. The guard quickly shot the intruder and launched an intruder alert. The alert, as supposed to, spreads to a few nearby military bases but at one air base the wrong alarm was launched indicating full scale war was beginning and F-106A planes with Nuclear weapons were about to leave the runway before a truck had to chase them down to tell them it was a false alarm.

Another close call came in 1961 (I guess the early 60's were scary times), with the Berlin Crisis. Even though Allied troops and diplomats had full access to the whole city of Berlin, which even though was in East Germany it was still managed by the "Big Four", USA, USSR, UK, and France. But to prevent East German citizens from emigrating to the West the Soviets put up the infamous Berlin Wall, the most literal symbol of the split of the world during the Cold War. But as E. Allan Lightner, the US Chief of Mission, crossed Checkpoint Charlie he was stopped by East German police. To show Berlin the the US was not to be messed with American Diplomat, Albert Hemsing, tried crossing the border and was stopped again. But Soon American military police came in to escort Hemsing and eventually went back to West Berlin. When Hemsing tried crossing the border again US tanks where sent nearby not knowing how the USSR would react but as the same result happened the tanks left. Soon Russian Tanks showed up on the border at Checkpoint Charlie some only 50 to 100 meters from West Berlin. The American Tanks quickly turned around and came as equally close to the border pointing their guns at the Russian Tanks. So here are two squadrons of American and Russian tanks 100-200 meters from each other both having the orders to return fire if fired upon. One small mistake, one backfire of a car engine could have American and Russian troops shooting at each other quickly escalating to full scale war. How ever John F. Kennedy and Khrushnev talked to each other again and  agreed to have each tank back up 50 meters at a time until both sides left the border.

In the 50's the US, along with Canada, created NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command (Where the acronym NORAD comes from I do not know), which was a system of radar stations used to detect ICBMs that come across the Arctic, which was the shortest distance between the USSR and the USA. In 1961, again not a good time, three Early warning stations in Alaska, Greenland, and England simultaneously went down. Operators and engineers at NORAD knew that this was most likely not a coincidence since NORAD was built with numerous redundant systems and having them all fail at the same time could not just be bad luck. If the Russians did plan to invade the United States the first thing they would do is take out their early warning system and then launch their missiles. During the cold war the US had a fleet of B-52 bombers constantly flying around the borders of Russian radar detection just in the off chance that the  USSR attacked first the B-52s would than quickly fly into Russian territory and bomb several strategic military bases with their nuclear payload. These planes got the orders to get ready to fly in and bomb Russia and where just ready for the final confirmation. However the problem was found, and as it turned out all those three radar systems went through one junction in Colorado and that a motor overheated and broke causing the entire system to fall. Also one day in 1979 a technician at NORAD put in a test tape to make sure everyone new what to do when the real thing happened however the technician failed to turn the "Test" status on and everyone thought it was the real deal. And then twice during 1980, three days within each other, NORAD falsely detected phantom missiles coming from allover it's area of detection. Once again the fleet of bombers around Russia got ready to fly in and drop their bombs but before the final confirmation was given technicians figured out it was a false alarm and called the bombers back. After the second event it was found that a single faulty microchip was the cause of the false detections and quickly replaced.

The last time we came within inches of Apocalypse was actually after the cold war, after the USSR fell and the Russian federation took its place. An american rocket was launched over the arctic filled with measuring devices to study the Aurora Borealis and other phenomena that takes at the North Pole. However Russian early warning radar systems detected the missile and could not distinguish it from an nuclear armed missile. The group originally launching the missile tried to tell the Russian government of the experiment but did not know the message did not get through. The Russian government knew that if the US was to launch a surprise missile attack at Moscow the scientific missile's trajectory would be the one they would use and the higher ups in the Russian government actually stepped into the Russian president's office with the button to authorize the Russian military to launch it's remaining armed missiles at the US. Luckily the president didn't feel like the Americans would do such a thing at this time and contacted the US government to confirm they where not attacking them. And eventually the scientific missile did it's thing and ended its flight short and landed safely in the Arctic.

To think that in fifty years how closely, within a hairs breadth, we've been to world war three and the eventual end of civilization as we know it as the massive payloads of nuclear weapons each side stockpiled during the arms race. We should definitely be thankful that we are still here to day and that the cold war finally began to thaw leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the United Soviet Socialist Republic (you thought the R stood for Russia didn't you? Well you're wrong!) in 1991. Now instead of two superpowers willing to kill each other at the snap of a twig we just have to worry about the very insane and militant groups stealing, buying or making, a nuclear weapon, which is becoming much easier as more and more nation get the secret of nuclear power as time passes by and the fall of the Soviet Union saw the loss of much Uranium and Plutonium on the black market, then smuggling it into the United States and setting a few bombs off simultaneously in major cities all across the country. Aaahhh, what a peacefull time we live in (Maybe I should talk about 2012....?).