Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Onetime Pad

In “The Castle,” Lawrence Waterhouse arrives at the Castle in Outer Qwghlm, serving as the advance party to Detachment 2702. He is responsible for surveying the Castle and setting up appropriate accommodation away from the prying eyes of the servants. He … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Cryptonomicon, onetime pad, security, Student Posts | Comments Off on The Onetime Pad

Blindly Building

The most interesting passage from Cryptonomicon that relates to a discussion earlier in the course is found on page 89. Here, Lawrence describes the most intriguing machine found at Station Hypo: at machine built by Commander Schoen and designed to … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Cryptonomicon, machine, Student Posts, technology | Comments Off on Blindly Building

An Oldie but a Goodie: Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

  This well-known story begins with three white mice and a cat. The three mice cleverly hide from the cat’s view on a white piece of paper, their colorless camouflage. However, one day when the cat was napping, the mice had a colorful adventure! They discovered three jars of paint. Thinking it was mouse paint, they […] Continue reading

Comments Off on An Oldie but a Goodie: Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Turning’s Bicycle and Modular Arithmetic

  A passage that I found especially intriguing in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, is when Waterhouse and Turning are on a bike ride in the English countryside. In these few complex mathematical pages, we are taught about modular arithmetic, which helps … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in bicycle, Cryptonomicon, modular arithmetic, Student Posts | Comments Off on Turning’s Bicycle and Modular Arithmetic

Blog 7: Alien Life and Its Characteristics

Just how foreign and novel could life be in the universe? To me this is not a valid question for two reasons: one, the scientific community has not yet arrived on a clear consensus on what separates life from non-life. Two, to postulate some wild, alternate biochemistry may seem like a legitimate stab at the […] Continue reading

Posted in a priori, alien, Aliens, biochemistry, Biology, Cyborg, fallacy, qi, virus | Comments Off on Blog 7: Alien Life and Its Characteristics

Comedy Central presents: First Contact

B7:  What might first contact with the “most alien alien” imaginable look like?  I believe the answer lies approximately at the crossroads of two very different stories our class has explored this semester: Poul Anderson’s Kyrie and Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out of Meat. In my mind, Anderson’s Lucifer embodies the most alien creature yet […] Continue reading

Posted in alien, Aliens, Anderson, encounter, First Contact, mankind, Poul Anderson, Terry Bisson | Comments Off on Comedy Central presents: First Contact

Contacts: 1-10

Contact: 1 Time: 2:00AM I can hear it. Its breaths are infrequent, maybe one every three minutes. They sound a little like rusty door hinges, or like a very, very quiet bullfrog croak. I have sat and listened, taking careful notes of length and quality of sound, for nearly half an hour. I must make […] Continue reading

Posted in Aliens | Comments Off on Contacts: 1-10

The Tyranny of the Open-Ended

It’s been said before in many ways that the blank page can be very daunting.  It’s true that it also holds the excitement of all the possibilities that page could become.  But, for some of us that amorphous, cavernous emptiness … Continue reading Continue reading

Comments Off on The Tyranny of the Open-Ended

Mysterious Beings…

When I first began to comprehend the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, I thought of the stereotypical images of aliens that probably come to mind when the word is mentioned. By this, I mean something that is easily recognized to be alive, a humanoid form with many of the same characteristics that we share. As I […] Continue reading

Posted in Aliens, Anderson, antimatter, Cosmology, dark energy, dark matter, giant isopods, Le Guin, Quantum Mechanics | Comments Off on Mysterious Beings…

Space Gazpacho

The dictionary definition for “alien” isn’t very interesting. Merriam-Webster simply defines the noun as an “extra-terrestrial” and the adjective means either “foreign,” “exotic,” or my favorite, “differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility.” To me, the most alien extraterrestrial would be the one that lacks all human characteristics, which brings us […] Continue reading

Comments Off on Space Gazpacho