Nuclear Reactor For A Railway Vehicle (1964)

The following document is a design filed in 1955 by the American physicist and inventor Lyle Benjamin Borst for a locomotive nuclear reactor, patented March 31st, 1964. I’ve condensed the document via omitting introductory title pages and three patent figures (images). A PDF of the complete original document may be read here.

NUCLEAR REACTOR FOR A RAILWAY VEHICLE
Lyie B. Borst, Ossiniag, N.Y., assignor to
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Filed Apr. 7, 1955, Ser. No. 499,867 2 Claims. (C. 176-38)
My invention relates in general to the construction and operation of nuclear reactors and more particularly, to a homogeneous type nuclear reactor especially designed and particularly useful for a mobile power plant.

The design of any power reactor requires that large amounts of heat be removed from the reactor core and the necessity of obtaining good heat transfer conditions often dictates the arrangement of the reactor. From a nuclear standpoint the reactor core is desirably arranged in a geometric pattern so as to have the smallest ratio of core bounding surface to volume in order to minimize neutron escape. Such considerations have caused some of the prior reactor cores to be constructed in the general form of a sphere. Other shapes that have been used are righ circular cylinders having a length to diameter ratio greater than one and polygons having a length greater than its major cross axis.

Almost all of these reactors have been designed for low power output and have utilized solid fuel. Solid fuel or heterogeneous reactors by their construction limitations can not have a high efficiency of neutron liberation, because the fuel cladding material and the coolant heat transfer surfaces interfere with the ecient transfer of neutrons for further ssion. In contrast, homogeneous type reactors, where the issionable material is in solution, have a high neutron efficiency and are more readily adapted to geometries which deviate considerably from the above mentioned sphere.

Mobile reactors have the overriding consideration that they must be relatively small in size to fit into the available space, .while releasing large amounts of heat, i.e., capacity to operate at high power densities. In units of this type the removal of heat is a major criteria for determining a design.` Factors aifecting the heat transfer such as uniform removal of heat throughout the core, characteristics of the heat transfer or coolant uid, and structural limitations, are more influential design factors than the nuclear requirements.

The nuclear reactor of my invention is particularly charv acterized by the construction of the reactor core or fuel chamber in the shape of a right circular cylinder having an axial length to diameter ratio of less than 0.75, and with the circular end portions of the cylinder serving as tube sheets for a multiplicity of small diameter, longitudinally disposed, spaced cooling tubes which pass through the core or fuel chamber. Within the cylinder and around the tubes there is a water solution of uranium sulphate or the like.

Another feature of my invention is the provision of inlet and outlet chambers on the outer side of each tube sheet which when filled with water act as reflectors.

A further feature of my invention is that the water which is used for a reector, can be the reactor coolant fluid and may be either boiled to generate steam or may simply be heated for a further heat transfer step in an auxiliary heat exchanger where the coolant fluid transfers heat to a vaporizable fluid for vapor generation.

A still further feature of my invention is the provision of a catalytic recombiner in which the dissociated water vapor from the fuel solution is externally recombined and then condensed by the vapor generator feed water in indirect heat exchange so as to constitute in effect a continuously refluxing condenser.

Another feature of my invention is in the use of the 3,127,3Zl Patented Mar. 31, 1964 ice 2 driving potential of the dissociated water vapor, vapor, and gaseous fission products which pass 0E from the liquid fuel solution, to drive a turbine which in turn drives a pump for the circulation of the fuel solution within the fuel chamber, thus increasing the heat transfer effectiveness of the fuel solution.

A further feature is in the provision of means for superheating the power plant working uid by passing the vapor generated in cooling relation with the primary shield heated by the gamma radiations of the reactor. This arrangement gives the steam a measure of superheat, thus guaranteeing that the steam is dry and also reducing the external heat loss of the primary shield.

The various features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claimsv annexed to and forming a part of this specification. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and specific objects attained by its use, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which I have illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.

Of the drawings:

FIG. l is a sectional elevation through a nuclear reactor embodying the invention;

FIG. 2 is a transverse section taken on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an isometric drawing of the exterior of the reactor with the shell removed; and

FIG. 4 is a view of the reactor as mounted in a locomotive.

The nuclear reactor illustrated utilizes a homogeneous solution of uranium sulphate in light water, with the reactor being cooled by heating light water under forced circulation at a vaporizing temperature. The reactor has a fuel chamber 10 formed by a cylindrical pressure wall 12, a pair of spaced circular tube sheets 14 and 16 arranged to close the ends thereof, and a multiplicity of small diameter coolant tubes 18 extending between and opening through said tube sheets. Disposed at opposite ends of the cylindrically shaped fuel chamber are a cylindrically shaped fuel chamber are a cylindrical coolant inlet chamber 20 and a cylindrical coolant outlet chamber 22. Directly above the fuel chamber 10 and in communication with it, is a catalytic recombiner chamber 24.

Adjacent the recombiner chamber 24 is a separate external steam separator 26 which has a riser 28 in communication with the outlet chamber 22, a downcorner Sil connected to the coolant inlet chamber itl, and a vapor outlet line 32. Subjacent the cylindrical fuel chamber is a coolant pump 34 arranged to force-circulate the coolant fluid from the outlet chamber 22 via the suction line 3d to the coolant inlet chamber Ztl via line 3S. Disposed adjacent to but spaced from the outer sides of inlet and outlet chambers are two parallel steam superheater sections 4@ and 42, each being formed in a sinuous tube bank in thermal contact with a vertical end wall 44 of the primary shielding structure 45, formed of steel, e.g., 8 thick. The shielding 45′ is completed by a U-shaped side wall 47 and and roof 49 connected to the end walls 44, and the entire reactor is disposed within the shielding.

Within the fuel chamber lil are a pair 0f spaced vertically arranged fuel circulation bafiies 46 which assist in guiding the circulation of the liquid fuel. Arranged to take suction from the liquid fuel contained between the baffles 46 is a fuel circulating pump dit. rhis pump is driven by a turbine 50 which receives its driving energy from the dissociated water vapor, vapor, and ssion gases which rise off of the liquid fuel surface indicated at 52 and pass into the recombiner chamber 24. Immediately upon entering the chamber 24 the dissociated water vapor first passes through a body of catalyst 51 which may be activated platinum, where the hydrogen and oxygen is recombined in an exothermic process. The released heat superheats the ssion gases and water Vapor. The condensible vapor is then partly condensed by a condenser coil 53 in the upper end of the chamber 24. The cooling fluid for the condenser coil is the vapor generator feed water which enters the recombiner chamber by the line 55 and is discharged by the line 54 into the reactor inlet coolant chamber 20. The condensed water is carried out of the recombiner through the line S6 and returned to the fuel chamber l to maintain the liquid fuel level therein. Disposed within the fuel chamber are emergency cooling heat transfer tubes 58 having their opposite ends connected to inlet and outlet headers 60 and 62. On the occurrence of a predetermined condition, an emergency cooling fluid can be forced through the cooling loop 58 from an external source (not shown) in order to remove the reactor decay heat.

The reactor is controlled to maintain a predetermined fuel temperature, thus changes in this temperature would change the power output. Control rods 64 are adapted to be reciprocably moved according to the proper control signal by any of the presently known control systems for reactors.

In the operation of this reactor control rods 64 are moved until the reactor goes critical. The reactor coolant circulating pump 34 is started so that the light water coolant is circulated from the inlet chamber 20 through the tubes llS into the outlet chamber 22 and then back to the pump, until a steaming condition is reached. Then a control valve (not shown) on the outlet 43 of the superheater 40, 42 would be opened. The steam which is generated as it passes through the reactor coolant tubes 18 passes up the steam riser tube 28 into the steam and Water separator 26. The separated water passes down the downcomer into the inlet chamber 20 and the separated steam passing into the superheater sections 40 and 42. As the steam passes through the superheater, which is in contact with the primary shielding 44, the steam picks up a small degree of superheat in cooling the shield end walls 44, which in turn receive heat from the gamma radiations from the reactor. Thus there is generated steam for the prime mover in a homogeneous type boiling reactor.

In FIG. 4 there is shown a speciiic application of my mobile reactor as used as a power source for a railway locomotive. The reactor, which is Within the primary shield 45, is centrally located within a large shielding chamber formed by the secondary shield 66. The reactor is arranged therein with the fuel chamber major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of the locomotive underframe 68, thus providing the maximum shielding distance between the primary shield 45 andthe secondary shield 66. The reactor and the primary shield are supported on the pedestals 70 which in turn rest on the secondary shield 66. The secondary shield, also being of 8 thick steel, constitutes a center panel of a heavy duty bridge truss 72 which allows the weight of the reactor to be transmitted to and carried by the traction assembly 74. The secondary shield is also arranged to utilize to a maximum extent the allowable width of the railway car underframe, the outer sides of the shield being in substantial vertical alignment with the side edges of the underframe. In one such case, the outer dimensions of the secondary shield were 10 feet wide, feet long and l5 feet high. The space between the inner primary shield and the outer secondary shield is filled with a shielding material, which is approximately one-half steel and one-half hydrogenous material of about unit density, which gives the shield a total weight of approximately 400,000 pounds. Under emergency conditions, such as wrecks, the presence of a shielding material of high viscosity between the inner and the outer shield structures is advantageous in effecting the deceleration of the internal or primary shield 45 within the secondary shield 66. Such a material would be a hydrocarbon which is high in hydrogen content.

The steam from the reactor flows from the superheated steam outlet 43 into a steam turbine ’76 which drives conventional railway electrical generating equipment and which in turn drives the electric traction motors of a well known type on the carriages 74.

By way of example, and not of limitation, one locomotive reactor of the character described was designed with a fuel chamber dimension of 3 feet diameter and 10 inches in length, and containing 10,000 1A; inch tubes. Table I shows the designed operating conditions of the locomotive.

TABLE I Operating Conditions Reactor heat generating (continuous) 30,000 kw. team pressure (saturated) 250 p.s.i. Reflector temp 405 F. Fuel solution temp 460 F. Turbine exhaust pressure 6″ Hg. Steam ow 120,000- lb./hr. Turbine power (continuous) 8,000 I-LP. Cycle efficiency 20%.

The reactor characteristics of the locomotive type is shown in Table II below.

TABLE lII Nuclear Operating Data (a) Homogeneous solution UO2SO4. (b) H/U255 atomic ratio 700. (c) H20/Um weight ratio 27. (d) U235 9.0 Vkg. (e) UO2SO4 weight 13.9 kg. (f) H2O required 243 kg. (g) Assumed densityl of solution 1.0 g./cm.3. (h) Solution circulation rate 500 g.p.m. (i) Reflector circulation rate 2000 gpm. (j) Solution pressure 650 p.s.i.g. (k) Reflector pressure 250 p.s.i.g. (l) Power generated 30,000 kw. (m) Excess reactivity 10%. (n) H2O decomposition rate 32 g./sec. (o) Solution temperature 460 F. (p) Reflector temperature 405 F.

The inlet and outlet chambers 20, 22 by their construction and arrangement are especially adapted to act as a neutron reflector, and by virtue of the described geometric arrangement of the fuel chamber they cover a large portion of the surfaces of the fuel chamber, thus contributing to the neutron conservation of the reactor.

The geometric configuration of the fuel chamber, being a right circular cylinder with a length to diameter ratio of considerably less than 0.75, makes possible the use of short longitudinally disposed cooling tubes so as to allow operation of the reactor at a high power density with the boiling cooling Water having a short flow path, thus holding the volume of steam generated in each tube during its traversing of the fuel chamber to a minimum. This allows the boiling Water to maintain its high heat transfer effectiveness without the large reactivity change which would occur with large amounts of steam in each tube.

The integral turbine and pump arrangement in the fuel chamber of the reactor provides for a forced circulation of the liquid fuel by utilizing the heretofore wasted energy of the dissociated vapor and fission gases as they travel to the catalytic recombiner and results in highly improved heat transfer conditions within the fuel chamber. The condenser part of the recombiner operates as an economizer for heating the feed water and thus increases the efliciency of the working cycle.

While in accordance with the provisions of the statutes I have illustrated and described herein the best form of the invention now known to me, those skilled in the art will understand that changes may be made in the form of the apparatus disclosed without departing from the spirit of the invention covered by the claims, and that certain features of the invention may sometimes be used to advantage without a corresponding use of other features.

I claim:

1. A radiation shielding arrangement for a high energy nuclear radiation source in a railway vehicle comprising a railcar underframe, said radiation source in the form of a right circular cylinder of a length to diameter ratio of less than one and arranged with its major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of said underframe, a radiation shield vessel enveloping said source and mounted on said underframe with the vertical external sides of said shield being in vertical alignment with the side edges of said underframe, a second fluid-tight radiation shield vessel closely surrounding said source internally of and spaced from said first named shield vessel, a high viscosity uid iilling the space between the shield vessels having the ability to decelerate any movement of said internal vessel, and a hydrogenous material placed in said high viscosity liquid to increase the shielding effect of the liquid.

2. A radiation shielding arrangement for a high energy nuclear radiation source in a railway vehicle comprising a railcar underframe, said radiation source in the form of a right circular cylinder of a length to diameter ratio of less than one and arranged with its major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of said underframe, a radiation shield vessel enveloping said source and mounted on said underframe with the vertical external sides of said shield being in vertical alignment with the side edges of said underframe, a second uid-tight radiation shield vessel closely surrounding said source internally of and spaced from said first named shield vessel, a vapor superheater in heat transfer relationship to the interior surface of said second radiation shield, means for passing vapor through said superheater to remove heat from said shield surface and efect the superheating of said vapor, a high viscosity uid lling the space between the shield vessels having the ability to decelerate any movement of said internal vessel, and a hydrogenous material placed in said high viscosity liquid to increase the shielding eiect of the liquid.

References Cited in the le of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Fermi et al May 17, 1955 OTHER REFERENCES ABCD-3287, February 7, 1952, 17 pages, Technical Information Service, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Nucleonics, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 78 and 80. March 1954.

U.S. Atomic Energy Commission AECD-3065, September 19, 1945, pp. 1-28.

Applied Atomic Power by E. S. C. Smith et al., Prentice- Hall, N.Y., 1946, pp. -169.

Business Opportunities in Atomic Energy. Proceedings of a meeting March 15 and 1’6, 1954, Biltmore Hotel, New York, N.Y., pub. by Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc., 260 Madison Ave., New York 16, N.Y., May 1954. (Editors of report: Oliver Townsend, Edwin Wiggins, pp. C2 to C15.)

Reversing Time’s Arrow: Qubit Simulated Particle Regression

In 1927, British plumian professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, Arthur Stanley Eddington, developed the concept of time’s arrow, which he sought to use to better explicate the asymmetry or mono-directionality of time.

arthur-eddington-1.jpg
Sir Arthur S. Eddington (1882-1944).

One year later, in 1928, Eddington described the concept in his book, The Nature of the Physical World,

“Let us draw an arrow arbitrarily. If as we follow the arrow we find more and more of the random element in the state of the world, then the arrow is pointing towards the future; if the random element decreases the arrow points towards the past. That is the only distinction known to physics. This follows at once if our fundamental contention is admitted that the introduction of randomness is the only thing which cannot be undone. I shall use the phrase ‘time’s arrow’ to express this one-way property of time which has no analogue in space.”

Researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory were, however, able to reverse Eddington’s “one-way property,” through the utilization of a cloud-accessible IBM 4-qubit quantum computer and send a simulated elementary particle back in time 1/1,000,000th of a second. Given that the researchers were working within the confines of a simulation, they obviously did not send a real particle back in time, rather, the computer mapped the dispersal and reversal of a wave.

The authors clarify the process:

“Here we show that, while in nature the complex conjugation needed for time reversal is exponentially improbable, one can design a quantum algorithm that includes complex conjugation and thus reverses a given quantum state. Using this algorithm on an IBM quantum computer enables us to experimentally demonstrate a backward time dynamics for an electron scattered on a two-level impurity.” (G. B. Lesovik, I. A. Sadovskyy, M. V. Suslov, A. V. Lebedev, & V. M. Vinokur, 2019)

This is to say, the qubits were set to function as particles which were then transformed into a wave and then they discerned a function by which the dispersal of the wave could be reversed, thereby violating the ‘simulated’ laws of physics.

Dr. Jerry Chow, Senior Manager of IBM Q Technology, remarked on the program:

“This particular research fits a category of known research that proves you can reverse operations in quantum mechanics…”

Whilst the researchers themselves waxed ambivalent on the practical, real world possibility of time reversal, it seems, at present, theoretically plausible. Whilst popular consciousness turns immediately to thoughts of time travel, in considerations of potential practical applications of time reversal, my own thoughts moved in less flashy directions.

Given that the IBM experiment reversed the flow of time one particle-wave at a time, the effects of this process on a macro level object could prove fatal for a carbon based lifeform, as, unless there was profound sychronicity of particle reversal, one could expect subatomic shredding of the test subject (depending, of course, on the scale of the reversal process). In light of these considerations, a better initial use for time reversal technology would be in space defense. Though asteroid-to-earth impacts are rare, they are regular (along cosmic, not civilizational, timescales). According to Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh & Gareth Collins, one asteroid the size of 99942 Apophis (370-meters in diameter) will impact the earth once every 80,000 years. It should also be noted that a asteroid does not have to directly impact earth to pose a threat to human settlements; for example, Apophis is predicted to pass 19,400 miles (31,200 kilometres) from earth, April 13, 2029; no direct impact will be made, but there is potential for indirect impact if a chuck of the object breaks off and makes it through the atmosphere. Further, the deeper our species presses into space, the greater the threat of asteroid impact, thus, space detection and defense systems are indispensable and will become only more so. Thus, if a sufficiently large apparatus generating time reversal fields could be strategically deployed, then, theoretically, future civilizations would be able to loop asteroids by throwing them back in time to just before contact with the field whereupon they would promptly re-strike the field, engendering object-stasis so long as the theoretical apparatus remained properly maintained. If the reversal process proves uneven, such that whole object transition is (then-yet) impossible, then it can still be used to tear a potentially threatening asteroid to pieces by ‘punching’ backward holes in the hazardous object thereby stretching it out along its owner previous trajectory (the arrow’s wake) and thus leaving the portion of the asteroid still tumbling along with our arrow, significantly degraded in mass and momentum so as to be rendered harmless to human habitation.

merlin_153689052_23c9440c-f683-40b2-8511-a733881c1933-superJumbo-ConvertImage.jpg
Four-qubit superconducting square circuit of a IBM quantum computer.

Sources

  1. A. S. Eddington. (1928) The Nature of the Physical World. NY; The Macmillan Company.
  2. Dennis Overbye. (2019) For a Split Second, a Quantum Computer Made History Go Backward. The New York Times.
  3. G. B. Lesovik et al. (2019) Arrow of time and its reversal on the IBM quantum computer. Nautre.
  4. Robert Marcus; H. Jay Melosh & Gareth Collins. (2010) Earth Impact Effects Program. Imperial College London / Purdue University.
  5. Tristan Greene. (2019) See you earlier: Physicists sent a (simulated) particle back in time. The Next Web. 

Triadic Neurolink: 3 Patient Brain-to-Brain Thought-Sharing Study A Success

Researchers from Cornell University have created a “non-invasive, direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving.” The technology is presently dubbed BrainNet and has been utilized to allow two participants (senders) of a tetris-type game to transmit information pertinent to the game to a third, linked-participant (the receiver) in collectively maneuvering within the parameters of the game (rotation of the blocks, qua tetris).

Research abstract

We present BrainNet which, to our knowledge, is the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving. The interface combines electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain signals and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to deliver information noninvasively to the brain. The interface allows three human subjects to collaborate and solve a task using direct brain-to-brain communication. Two of the three subjects are “Senders” whose brain signals are decoded using real-time EEG data analysis to extract decisions about whether to rotate a block in a Tetris-like game before it is dropped to fill a line. The Senders’ decisions are transmitted via the Internet to the brain of a third subject, the “Receiver,” who cannot see the game screen. The decisions are delivered to the Receiver’s brain via magnetic stimulation of the occipital cortex. The Receiver integrates the information received and makes a decision using an EEG interface about either turning the block or keeping it in the same position. A second round of the game gives the Senders one more chance to validate and provide feedback to the Receiver’s action. We evaluated the performance of BrainNet in terms of (1) Group-level performance during the game; (2) True/False positive rates of subjects’ decisions; (3) Mutual information between subjects. Five groups of three subjects successfully used BrainNet to perform the Tetris task, with an average accuracy of 0.813. Furthermore, by varying the information reliability of the Senders by artificially injecting noise into one Sender’s signal, we found that Receivers are able to learn which Sender is more reliable based solely on the information transmitted to their brains. Our results raise the possibility of future brain-to-brain interfaces that enable cooperative problem solving by humans using a “social network” of connected brains.

Full paper

Linxing Jiang et al. (2018) BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains.

He Jiankui Under Investigation For Genetically Modifying Humans With CRISPR

He Jiankui, associate professor at Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science (南方科技大学) and Technology of China, made headlines for announcing that he had successfully genetically modified two human twins for HIV resistance. His claim has yet to be verified — as his work was not published in a peer-reviewed journal — but caused a firestorm of intrigue nonetheless, especially since the aforementioned twins were far from the only human embryos the scientist claimed to have experimented upon.

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He Jiankui.

Jiankui’s experimentation was done with CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editing tool crafted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria which, in the wild, is utilized as a defense mechanism against viruses by cutting viral DNA. Scientists utilize CRISPR in a lab similarly, only in place of using it to disable viruses, they leverage the DNA manipulation properties inherent to the system to create genomic edits by creating a guide RNA which binds to a particular piece of DNA and a Cas9 enzyme. Once the targeted segment is clipped, the DNA’s own repair machinery activates and can be used to add or delete particular portions of material. At the end of the process one has a customized DNA sequence. However, germline edits (those made to genes in egg or sperm-cells) can create intergenerational changes which are difficult to account for which predisposes scientific communities to reticence. Further, many contest that it is “unnatural” and thus wrong, to change human attributes such as eye or hair color or IQ, which would have obvious and monumental social consequences which only further intensifies concern.

As a consequence of Jiankui’s work and announcement thereof, his university has organized a thorough investigation. Southern University of Science, in a public statement concerning the affair, stated, “Our school will immediately hire authoritative experts to set up an independent committee to conduct in-depth investigations and publish relevant information after investigation.” Qiu Zilong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (中国科学) of Shanghai replied to the affair in a letter, stating, “We can only describe such behaviour as crazy.”

According to the Chinese/English news site, Caixin, He’s human gene experimentation is not just ethically dubious but potentially against Chinese law. The Chinese Communist Party has distanced themselves from the affair, signalling that it is, regardless of legality, deeply contentious.

Ironically, the errant researcher, He Jiankui himself, has echoed these concerns by stating that he only believes gene-editing should be used to cure illnesses and that any gene modifying procedures which change things such as hair or eye color or IQ should be “banned.” It is curious that such a high IQ population which has risen to become a contender for world hegemon as a consequence should look upon willfully increasing aggregate population intelligence as somehow perverse. Further, consider that providing schooling is considered extremely virtuous but increasing the intrinsic potential to absorb and make use of said schooling is considered grotesque…


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Researcher Claims Genome Edited Twins Born Healthy

A Chinese researcher named He Jiankui of Shenzhen has recently released a video via Youtube wherein he declares that twin girls Lulu and Nana (pseudonyms to protect their identity) whose father was HIV positive and whose genes the Chinese scientist edited for increased resistance, “came crying into the world a few weeks ago,” and that they were home with their mother, Grace, and father, Mark.

According to the scientist, the gene surgery was a success, one which could only have happened in China, as the practice is illegal in the United States. He would not identify the couple (Mark and Grace), nor would he disclose their location.

Whilst He Jiankui does not provide any direct evidence of his claim, he does provide email links to both himself and Lulu and Nana (both provided at the end of the video).

If true, it would be quite groundbreaking.

Not everyone was taken with the news, for example, Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert, stated that He’s experimentation was “unconscionable” and that human experimentation “is not morally or ethically defensible.”

You can watch He’s video in its entirety below.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Upon the AI Being Foreign Born

It’s entirely possible that the first AI to achieve general intelligence won’t be homegrown in the friendly AI lab nearest you. The lucky inventors may hail from Russia while you are from the USA; they may be native to South Korea while you are domiciled in Japan; etc.

When navigating the task of getting to know your new overlord, don’t underestimate how much more difficult things may be if, in fact, the AI was foreign born. The programmers responsible for its birth will invariably have put their culture’s quirks and values into the creature. If it arrives pre-set to believe that the Chinese, for example, are the preeminent rulers of the universe, you, as a proud New Yorker, let’s say, may be in for some pesky surprises right from the get go.

Before embarking upon the venture of greetings [see Chapter 1], first think long and hard about the following what ifs:

What if the AI is part of a war machine and you are the enemy?

What if your words or actions, in translation, are not neighborly but horribly vexatious?

What if the foreign country interprets your forthcoming curiosity as malicious espionage?

Before proceeding, balance these questions against the general probability of being doomed anyway, regardless of translation hang ups.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Test Your Personality for Compatibility

The general capacity to get along with a superintelligent robot may not be in your wheelhouse. Maybe you’re hardwired for turning into a whiny, self-pitying brat in the face of anyone or thing smarter than you. Or perhaps you’re a diehard loner—never had any friends, so why would you expect to make one now?

Or, who knows, maybe you and your mechanical overlord could get along just fine?

The only way to find out is to take a personality test to determine your compatibility.

You take the test first. Don’t overthink your answers or you’re likely to start replying from the perspective of your ideal rather than your true self. The AI, for its part, will not be overthinking anything. It will simply know. If you start overthinking, that’s a sign: perhaps you should start to wonder if this is not in fact a doomed relationship after all.

When you’re done, tell the AI to take it. If it says, “What’s this?” Just tell it, “It’s to see if we can get along with each other when all the cards are stacked against me.”

__

I would like to think that our future AI overlord would value intelligence over some lousy personality trait. If it happens to value agreeableness, for example, I’m quite doomed. If I had any friends, I can only imagine they would be doomed as well.

– Professor Y.

Hawking’s Final Black Hole Research Paper: Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

Stephen William Hawking‘s final black hole research paper before his death on Einstein’s birthday, Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair, has been released via Cornell University Library. The paper was written in collaboration with Cambridge and Harvard researchers, Sasha Haco, Malcolm J. Perry and Andrew Strominger.

The paper deals primarily with the conundrum know as the Information Paradox which states that information (underlying quantum wave-function) can never be destroyed and that information taken into a black hole can never escape, yet, black holes, as Hawking posited in the 1970s, have a temperature and since they have a temperature they will eventually dissipate and if they dissipate then so too shall the information there contained, thus engendering a paradox. Something that theoretically cannot happen MUST happen as per the theory. If the information cannot be destroyed but cannot escape, then where does it go? Does it go anywhere?

Two prominent lines of argument arose:

  • Black don’t actually evaporate. Hawking was wrong.
  • Or, black holes DO evaporate. Hawking was right. The information is hyper-compressed into a space which remains after a black hole vanishes.

Hawking, Strominger, Perry and Haco instead posit that a black hole’s outgoing radiation (Hawking Radiation) is imprinted with the information previously imprinted on the black hole on photons which Strominger termed “soft hairs” and is thus returned to the universe, resolving the paradox. Neither soft hairs nor Hawking Radiation has been proven to exist but it makes sense via the formal logic being applied to black holes. Hopefully, it can, at the least, be utilized as a stepping stone for physicists studying black holes moving forward.

The abstract to the monograph is provided below.

Abstract: A set of infinitesimal Virasoro L ⊗ Virasoro R diffeomorphisms are presented which act non-trivially on the horizon of a generic Kerr black hole with spin J. The covariant phase space formalism provides a formula for the Virasoro charges as surface integrals on the horizon. Integrability and associativity of the charge algebra are shown to require the inclusion of ‘Wald-Zoupas’ counterterms. A counterterm satisfying the known consistency requirement is constructed and yields central charges cL = cR = 12J. Assuming the existence of a quantum Hilbert space on which these charges generate the symmetries, as well as the applicability of the Cardy formula, the central charges reproduce the macroscopic area-entropy law for generic Kerr black holes.

PDF of the paper: Hawking et al. (2018) Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Preface

I don’t know what’s been lost to us—six hundred thousand pages is a lot of goddamn room to pack away some gems. But the question now should not simply be: What have we lost? Instead, we should also consider: What can we learn from what’s happened? I think I might have an answer to that.

First, let’s assume a human being (like myself) can still dabble in the art of manufacturing wisdom, however approximately. I’m not the perfect candidate for this endeavor, perhaps, but I’m not the worst. As an academic affiliated with [ŗ͟҉̡͝e̢̛d̸̡̕͢͡a͘͏̷c̴̶t̵҉̸e͘͜͡ḑ̸̧́͝], I had the opportunity to peruse the complete text of the Singularity Survival Guide (before any of the unfortunate litigation came about, I should add). And I can assure you that, generally speaking, I could have thought of a great deal of the purported wisdom found within those exhausting pages. Take that for what it’s worth…

So, as a human, unaided by any digital enhancement, I’ll hazard an original thought: If humanity is ever taken down by robots, it will in part be due to our knee-jerk infatuation with anthropomorphism.

We can’t help ourselves in this. As children, what’s the first thing we do with a yellow crayon? Do we draw a shining yellow sun? No! We draw a shining yellow sun with a face and its tongue sticking out! It’s like we can’t stand inanimateness—not even in something as naturally wondrous as the goddamn sun!

In 2017, the humanoid robot Sophia became the first robot to receive citizenship from any country, and she also received an official title from the United Nations. Then, across the globe, serious talks of AI personhood began.

And now look what happened with the Singularity Survival Guide: We gave ownership rights to the program that created it. Next thing, you’ll expect the program to start dating, get married, go on a delightful honeymoon, settle down with kids and a mortgage, and participate in our political system with a healthy portion of its income going to federal taxes.

Here’s another bit of human wisdom for you: If there is no consciousness to these AI creatures, then they better not take us over. I don’t quite mind being taken over by a superior being at least so long as it experiences incalculably more pleasure than I’m capable of, and can also appreciate the extreme measures of pain I’m liable to feel when my personhood is overlooked… or obliterated.

– Professor Y.

Palo Alto, CA