Brad Templeton, Who Started the World’s First Dotcom, on Why Bitcoin Matters

Bitcoin is just one example of how exponential technology is putting the reins of finance in the hands of individuals and small businesses. 

Brad Templeton, Who Started the World’s First Dotcom, on Why Bitcoin Matters


Big Think is once again proud to partner with fellow big thinkers Singularity University to share the news about their 2015 Exponential Finance conference, happening June 2nd and 3rd in New York City. The conference will feature Big Think Experts such as Ray Kurzweil, Chance Barnett, and Brad Templeton. 

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Sometimes, in spite of the incredible speed with which we can use the tech at our fingertips to find the information we’re looking for — hail a taxi, book a vacation, and wire money across the world — it’s easy to forget how fast things are changing, and that every day entire industries are being disrupted by some new startup.

For Brad Templeton, the founder and architect of the first-ever entirely web-based business, ClariNet, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are significant in that they take some aspects of finance that were formerly in the hands of professionals and unlock them for the public at large. Now anyone can be a banker. And in the future, the extent to which this is the case will expand exponentially. Back in 1990, with a four-track home recorder, an aspiring musician could make a few low-fi demo tracks. Today, you can produce an entire album on an iPad. The case of finance is analogous, with Bitcoin and crowdfunding platforms paving the way and even bigger changes to come. 

Understanding these kinds of exponential changes in advance is a major advantage for individuals and businesses that want to stay a step (or 100 steps) ahead of their peers. And Singularity University’s 2015 Exponential Finance conference, happening June 2nd and 3rd in New York City, brings together some of the top future-focused entrepreneurs in every field: from finance, to law, to computing, to medicine, to share their discoveries and insights into what’s coming next, and how to turn it to your advantage.

Tickets are going fast. Use the code BIGTHINK500 to lock in your seats now, at a $500 discount.


This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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Lunar surface

Credit: Helen_f via AdobeStock
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