Major Milestone – Neural Lace Demo (Neurolink)

 

The Verge: Elon Musk promises demo of a working Neuralink device on Friday

The Neural Lace is one of those science-fiction tropes I always felt would announce the onset of the singularity—with augmented reality, flying cars, artificial consciousness, faster than light travel, and uploading.

When I decided on the technology for Spex in my books, I wanted to go with brain-scanning, but was worried I might have been too optimistic with the rate of technological change… perhaps, as it turns out, not! 😉

Exciting! Let’s see what Friday brings!

Betelgeuse about to go Supernova?



Betelgeuse is still dimming, possibly a sign that it’s collapsing in on itself and is getting ready to go Boom!


Comparison shows Betelgeuse in Jan and Dec 2019. It has already dimmed by nearly 40%.

The star is a red supergiant in the constellation of Orion aprox 600 light years away and about 20 times as massive as the sun.

The last supernova in our galaxy was in 1604, so this is a pretty big deal.

If it does go bang, it will be as bright as the moon, but with all the light squeezed into a single point. Something like this:

and eventually we will see the shrapnel and gas:

Betelgeuse was also identified with Osiris by the ancient Egyptians:

“…until that day Osiris lives in the Duat, where he rules the Dead wisely and nobly as he ruled the living when on earth.
For though Horus fights with Set and the battles rage furiously, yet the decisive victory is not yet accomplished, and Osiris has never returned to earth again…”

Not a bad way for a race of visitors to mark a date in our calendar:

“By the way, we’ll be back when the red star winks then burns…”

😉

A Drake Equation for Hard Science Fiction

In an effort to estimate just how astonishingly rich and famous I am going to become from my Sci-Fi writing, I decided to calculate the potential readership of my books; a sort of Drake Equation for Hard Sci-Fi.

Let’s look at the terms:

R, Number of technically advanced readers
This is the magic number we are looking for; the higher the better!

=

p, Rate of people formation on Planet Earth
As I am new to the market, I don’t need to rely on new people being born, let’s just make this easy and go with the current population of the planet. We do need to remove kids,(25%) so I will go with a nice round 6 Billion.

x

r, Fraction of population who can read
As my books are not translated into other languages, here we need to restrict ourselves to those who can read English. 20% of the world speak English, and of these 75% can read (as with the actual Drake Equation, these figures are estimates). We are down to 900 Million. Looking pretty good! But, just to be on the safe side, I will wait a few more terms before putting in my order for a Lamborghini!

x

f, Fraction of readers where reading of fiction actually occurs
From studies in this area, averaging between men and women, it looks like approximately 50% read at least one book/year.

x

B, Number of books read per year by each reading individual
The numbers are getting less precise, but studying a few articles on the topic, it seems the average reader reports that they read about 4 books/year. About half of these are fiction.

Whoa! We are at 2.2Billion books/year. Forget the Lambo, I’m going to talk to Richard Branson about buying an Island!

x

fs, Fraction of books read that are Science Fiction
Here it gets tricky. We don’t have a very scientific classification system for genres. Some studies claim 25% of people read Sci-Fi, but these often lump in fantasy (which is clearly corrupt!). It seems that out of the ‘Speculative Fiction’ bucket, only 20% is actually science fiction.

x

fhs, Fraction of Sci-Fi readers who enjoy Hard-Science Fiction
We pair-down our readers again here. Of the remaining science fiction readers, the majority seem to head for Science Fantasy (Star Wars) or military space opera. Actual Hard Sci-Fi seems to be about 5% (based on a back of the envelope calculation comparing the sales rank between Science Fiction and Hard Science Fiction on Amazon)
We are still at 2.2 Million books/year.

x

ftw, Fraction who have heard of me (…or you if you use your numbers below)
Unfortunately, this is where things get nasty 🙁
My author page has 1000 likes on Facebook and I have 4500 followers on Twitter. So let’s say 5K out of a potential population of 900 Million. (It’s probably not quite as bad as this as many people will see my posts and tweets and not end up following me. There will also be some word of mouth, this probably scales non-linearly at some point.) To keep it simple that’s about 0.00005% of the population who have heard of me.

6000000000 * 0.2 * 0.75 * 0.5 * 2 * 0.25 * 0.2 * 0.05 * 0.0000005

Substituting these estimates and working through the equation, rounding to the nearest integer because I don’t think we can count half a person, we get 1.

One person.

You!

I hope you bought your copy already!    😉