Bitcoin and blockchain 101: Why the future will be decentralized
A crash course in the history of money, the birth of Bitcoin, and blockchain technology.
WENCES CASARES: It's hard to have a rigorous discussion about Bitcoin without understanding money. And the best way to understand money, is to understand the history of money. Anthropologists agree that there is no tribe, much less a civilization, that ever based its commerce on barter. There's no evidence, barter never happened. And that's counter intuitive to most of us, because we are taught in school, that we first bartered and then we made money because barter was too complicated. Well, barter never happened, and that's one of the key sort of myths about money. So then, you would ask the anthropologists like, okay so how did we do commerce before money, if there was no barter? There was no commerce? No, there was plenty of commerce. And the way that commerce would happen is that, let's say that someone in our tribe had killed a big buffalo and I would go up to a person and say, "Hey, can I have a little bit of meat?" And that person would say, "no," or "Yes, Wences, here's your meat." And then, you would go up to the person and say, "Hey, can I have a little bit of meat?" And that person would say "Yes, here's your meat." And basically, we all had to keep track, in our heads, of what we owed other people, or what other people owed us. And then someone would come to me and say, "hey, Wences, can I have a little bit of firewood?" And I would say, "Sure, here's your firewood." And now, I have to remember that I owe that person a little bit, that this person owes me a little. And we all went around about our business, with these ledgers in our minds of who owes us what, and what do we owe to whom. Very subjective system.
Often, these debts didn't clear, or cleared in ways that were not satisfactory to both parties, until about 25,000 years ago. Someone very, very intelligent, came up with a new technology that really took off, which they came to me and said, "Hey, can I have a little bit of firewood?" And I said, "Sure, here's your firewood." And this person said, "This time, we're gonna try something different. Here are some beads for you." And I said, "I don't want beads, I don't care for beads, I don't need beads." He said, "It's not about that. We're gonna use beads, as the objective ledger of our tribe. Instead of each of us having to remember what we're owed, the beads are gonna keep track for us, an objective ledger to keep track of debts." And it was such a successful technology that it took off. And in a couple thousand years, it became impossible to find a tribe or civilization that didn't have some form of objective ledger. In some cases it was one point shells. In other places, it was salt, in other places, rocks or beads. But, this form of keeping track of debts, with an objective ledger took off, and anthropologists go as far as saying that, if you describe a tribe's environment in detail, they can predict what's going to emerge as an objective ledger, as money. Because it's always something that has six qualities, the most important of which, is that it be scarce. And it makes sense, because if it's not scarce, we can create, you know, if we were to use tree leaves, for example, we could create debts that are owed to us out of thin air, and that wouldn't be good, that wouldn't be a good ledger. But also has to be durable. If it's something that decays or corrodes, it doesn't store the information well. It has to be divisible. It has to be transportable, recognizable, and fungible.
And this system really worked until about, 5,000 years ago, when trade began to extend a lot geographically, and we began to trade with other tribes. And different tribes were using different ledgers. So they couldn't trade with each other. And what happened then, about 5,000 years ago, is that gold emerged as the first universal ledger to keep track of debt. And it was gold, because it was universally scarce. That was the most important consideration. But also it was very, very durable. Fairly divisible, transportable, recognizable, and fungible. And that's why for 5,000 years gold has been the best store of value we have ever seen. It's incredible that today, if you need to leave $5,000, for someone, for your daughter, not your daughter or your granddaughter, but some great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter of yours. 40 generations from now, 900 years from now. We don't know how to do that. If you leave it in just dollars, it's not going to be worth very much. We know of no security, that will last that long. The only thing that we know can carry value for that long, is you need to buy $5,000 worth of gold, lock it in a vault, and give the key to that person 900 years from now. And it's incredible that in the 21st century, this is the best answer we have.
This is why Bitcoin is so relevant. Because it's the first time in 5,000 years that we have something that is incredibly superior to gold in each one of these six characteristics. It's much more scarce than gold. There will never be more than 21 million Bitcoins. It's much more divisible than gold. Bitcoin is composed of a million pieces called Satoshis. It's much more durable, divisible, transportable. You can attach a Bitcoin to an SMS message, or, or an email and send it for free and in real time across the world. And it's incredibly easy to verify. The second you get a Bitcoin, you know that it's a good Bitcoin.
BILL BARHYDT: Bitcoin itself is what we call deflationary, which means that over time, the amount of Bitcoin in circulation if you look at a chart, would actually approach a fixed value of 21 million, never quite approach it, but it will asymptotically in math terms, approach that line of 21 million over time. And it does that, by the amount of Bitcoin being mined, or created, being cut in half every so often, right? Right now it's every few years. And then it'll be every few months, and then et cetera, et cetera. Right? And so that these halvenings actually create a predictable rate at which Bitcoin is created. That rate, like I said, will asymptotically approach 21 million over several years. And at that point though, if Bitcoin is being used for money transfer applications, there are institutional investors buying it like digital gold, that will drive the price higher, but if the price shoots up, to let's say, a trillion dollars, right? And there's only 21 million, it's still not a problem, because you can subdivide Bitcoin down to eight decimal places. So you can get to the point where one satoshi, which is 0.0000001 Bitcoin, could be worth a thousand dollars. So the ability to subdivide Bitcoin into tiny amounts called satoshis, which are, you know, in today's value, fractions of a penny, could eventually be worth, thousands of dollars in their own right, right? So that gives the utility of Bitcoin a lot of legroom for the longterm because even if the value goes up to trillions, you'll be able to subdivide it into small amounts to make it useful for small payments. So cryptocurrencies eventually will look like, traditional commodities, in my opinion. Whether it's gold, or platinum, or other metals, or is probably the best, but it could look like oil and gas, things like that. And so they are starting to trade in in a fashion that's more and more similar, to traditional commodities. But the difference right now is, they're not as liquid yet. Right? So that means that the price is very inefficient, or the markets for cryptocurrencies are very inefficient. So most people who are holding cryptocurrencies, are long-term holders, they're not selling, okay? So that actually means that the price of Bitcoin and Ether, for example, is largely driven by the volume of buyers. So if there are large volumes of buyers coming into the market, it drives the price higher because there are not a lot of sellers. But if the buyers dry up, then the price goes down, regardless, because there are still not a lot of sellers. So that'll change over time because if the price skyrockets, so for example, if institutional money starts to come into the cryptocurrency market in large numbers, which I think it will, that will force the price higher, because there's not enough cryptocurrency to go around. And that'll also cause some of the holders to loosen up their purse strings, because they're going to want to reap the profits that they've been waiting for for 10 to 15 years, by the time that happens. And that'll also create more liquidity in the system, which will create a really positive feedback loop, which should drive the price even higher. The other thing that I think is very relevant is, you're starting to see more traditional types of financial products being applied to cryptocurrencies, derivatives, options, non-deliverable forward contracts. You know, things like that, that actually will help make the cryptocurrency market more efficient over time, close a lot of what we call arbitrage loopholes, which is kind of like free money, in the system for traders. And as those loopholes get closed, the market becomes more efficient, more liquid, and it becomes better for everyone.
BRAD TEMPLETON: What Bitcoin creates is a ledger that needs no bank. And that's actually pretty important because if you think about what is a bank, at least as far as the money transfer and the checking and the savings, not the loan part, but the financial, the moving money part of a bank, it's really a secure ledger. The bank does not just have a little file, that says your account has $3,000 in it. They insist that when you write something, they make a note in their ledger, that $1,000 was transferred from your account to someone else's account and so on. And that's important to make it secure. Well, what the designers of Bitcoin created was a way to make a ledger that's secure, and that everyone can trust, but that no one owns or controls. And this allows people to have money that can be, free of the influence of governments, which is both bad if you're a government, and great, if you don't like what governments do, with their monetary policies. It lets the policy be set by consensus and software. So Bitcoin basically has found a way, to always know what the majority thinks. And by always knowing what the majority thinks, you get something you, you hope you can trust. In theory, if, someone controlled more than half of the computers in the world they could take over Bitcoin, but that's pretty unlikely.
TONY SALDANHA: Blockchain is the underlying programming, on top of which, cryptocurrency—Bitcoin—has been developed. Let me distinguish the two. Bitcoin is just one little application of blockchain. It is something that most enterprises will shy away from because it is speculative. And I'm not here to preach that companies go out and start trading using Bitcoin, that would be a mistake. Blockchain is, basically think of it as an Excel spreadsheet. It is basically a big, big ledger, in which everybody can put transactions, but none of the cells, none of the values of those transactions, can be messed around with. Can be changed without everybody else saying, "Oh, wait a minute!" You know, "that particular cell was changed." And because of that, it is known to be unhackable. Now, the value of having an underlying platform that is available to the entire world to see, if you have the appropriate kind of authorization, and is known to be secure is obvious, right? Because we know one of the biggest challenges when it comes to technology is somebody changing the values of my data. If you have an underlying platform that's known to be unhackable, that provides a huge competitive advantage for most people. So potential uses of blockchain could be, everything from, let's take a voting mechanism. By the way, blockchain is being used for voting, in places like Dubai for their stock exchange or even Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, for their actual people voting processes. But there are more mundane uses of blockchain. You could use blockchain, for example, for intracompany financial transactions, between the companies and both, within companies as well. So instead of having your money, go from your company, to a bank, to another company, what if there was a common platform, where you could actually have the best information, that could not be hacked. That would eliminate the middlemen. That is the promise of blockchain. It has the ability to eliminate the middleperson because everybody has equal access to one version of the truth.
BRIAN BEHLENDORF: One of the real strengths is being able to take these systems that today depend very much on bureaucracy, and paperwork, and very human processes for sure, but processes that get bogged down and actually automate them. And cut the cost of a lot of this, but also by automating them, improve the auditability of them. People pay a lot of money to have third-party auditors come in and make sure that the claims that are in their books are actually real. It's a tremendous burden. And it's why bureaucracy often requires three signatures to do anything interesting. To send a shipping container, for example, from Asia to the United States. About half the cost of that is in the paperwork involved in coordinating between 20 to 30 different organizations for sign-offs from the bill of materials, all the way to the person that's delivered to. If blockchain technology can help us automate these systems, make them more efficient, they may also ensure that we keep the opportunities for fraud and the opportunities for corruption to a minimum. If we make it hard to steal people's land, or to ship illicit product in shipping containers, or simply approving a permit for construction on your home, holding that up for days or months until you pay me an expediter fee—which all too often happens in home remodeling—If we can make these processes a bit more automated more transparent, then I think we can do a lot to improve society.
ELAD GIL: Some people are talking about the web three, or internet three, and how all infrastructure is gonna flip over to decentralized, cryptocurrency-based systems. I'm much more skeptical about that, at least in the short run. In part because centralized systems tend to be dramatically more efficient than decentralized systems. In other words, if you look at the costs of running a centralized system, it's much lower. You have bargaining power around the underlying hardware. You have economies of scale in terms of how you deploy it and where you place it. And also just running these systems is much simpler, if you have a centralized approach.
BEHLENDORF: Every use case I could give you around where blockchain technology is applicable, you could always come back to me as a technologist and say, "Wouldn't this be more efficient, faster, cheaper to do as a central database? Isn't somebody just gonna pull a Google or pull an Amazon, and build a central database to track all the fish supply, catches and shipping, you know, this or that?" And the answer is always yes, that it is more efficient and cheaper, but it's also expensive when you think about the cost of having politically, and from a business perspective, having a central actor in a marketplace. Many marketplaces simply don't want that. The banks of the world don't want one big bank at the center. People who care about their land title care about, worry about the corruptibility of the land title office. In certain countries that's a big issue. Blockchain technology allows us to build the same kind of systems, but in a world where we don't want to or we can't trust central actors. And, that's hard to wrap your head around, especially because everyone believes they can be trusted, right? Hey, if I'm the center of the market, you can trust me. What do you mean you can't? It feels like a very personal affront perhaps even to say that but it's essential, I think, to realize you can't really grow your market beyond those who can really trust you, if that's your business model. So that's, I think, hard for people, for some people to get the conceptual model around, just like it might've been hard in 1993 to understand what it means to send email to somebody at the other side of the planet, or to buy a television or buy a car through a website. You would've been told you were crazy to think that people would be doing that in 1993. Now we kind of take it almost for granted. So, these are the challenges, but I see many people addressing these challenges.
- We've all heard terms like Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrency being thrown around in the past few years, but what do they mean? Consider this your crash course.
- Experts from across the spectrum of money and tech provide a history of commerce dating back tens of thousands of years, explain what blockchain and Bitcoin are and how they work, and offer insights into the differences between centralized and decentralized systems.
- Because blockchain is incredibly difficult to hack, it has massive implications for elections, banking, shipping, land ownership—any domain where corruption is rampant. While the technology may feel abstract now, programmer Brian Behlendorf compares it to explaining the concept of email to people in 1993. One day, blockchain will be a seamless part of our lives.
- Bitcoin mining: What is it? Why does it consume so much energy ... ›
- 'The time is now' for cryptocurrencies, PayPal CEO says - Big Think ›
- Bitcoin and blockchain jobs are booming — and they pay well - Big ... ›
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From "mutilated males" to "wandering wombs," dodgy science affects how we view the female body still today.
- The history of medicine and biology often has been embarrassingly wrong when it comes to female anatomy and was surprisingly resistant to progress.
- Aristotle and the ancient Greeks are much to blame for the mistaken notion of women as cold, passive, and little more than a "mutilated man."
- Thanks to this dubious science, and the likes of Sigmund Freud, we live today with a legacy that judges women according to antiquated biology and psychology.
The story of medicine has not been particularly kind to women. Not only was little anatomical or scientific research done on women or on women-specific issues, doctors often treated them differently.
Even today, women are up to ten times more likely to have their symptoms explained away as being psychological or psychosomatic than men. Worryingly, women are 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed after a heart attack, and drugs designed for "everyone" are actually much less effective (for pain) or too effective (for sleeping) in women.
Are these differences real or imagined? And what can the history of female medicine teach us about where we are today?
A mutilated male
Aristotle is rightly considered one of the greatest minds of all time and is recognized as the founding father of many disciplines, including biology. He was one of the most rigorous and comprehensive scientists and field researchers the world had known. He categorized a large number of species based on a wide range of traits, such as movement, longevity, and sensory capacity. His views on women, then, stemmed from what he thought of as good, proper study. The problem is that he got pretty much all of it wrong.
According to Aristotle, during pregnancy, it was the man who, alone, contributed the all-important "form" of a fetus (that is, its defining nature and personality), whereas the woman provided only the matter (that is, the environment and sustenance to grow the fetus, which was provided by the menstrual blood).
From this, Aristotle extrapolated all sorts of dubious conclusions. He ventured that the man was superior, active, and dominant, and the woman inferior, passive, and submissive. As such, the woman's role was to nurture children, run a household, and be silent and obedient — political and cultural manifestations of dodgy biology. If women did not provide a child's form and nature, how important could they really be?
Given this passivity, Aristotle argued that the woman must be associated with other passive things, like being cold and slow. The man, being dynamic and energetic, must be hot and fast. From this, Aristotle concluded that any defects or problems in childbirth can only be due to the sluggishness of the female womb. Even the positive biological aspects of being female, such as greater longevity, were put down to this cold rigidity — a lack of metabolism and spirit. Most notorious of all, since Aristotle believed that female children were themselves the result of an incomplete and underdeveloped gestation, women were simply "mutilated males" whose mothers' cold wombs had overpowered the warm, vital, male sperm.
Aristotle can still be counted as a great mind, but when it came to women, his ideas have not aged well in just how far they negatively influenced what came after. Given that his works were seen as the authority well into the 16th century, he left quite the pernicious legacy.
A wandering womb
But, how much can we really blame Aristotle? Without the aid of modern scientific equipment, physicians and biologists were left to guess about female anatomy. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and Aristotle's ideas of a troublesome uterus became so mainstream that they led to one of the more bizarre ideas in medical history: the wandering womb.
The "wandering womb" is the idea that the womb is actually some kind of roaming parasite in the body, possibly even a separate organism. According to this theory, after a woman menstruates, her womb becomes hot and dry and so becomes extra mobile. It is transformed into a voracious hunter. The womb will dart from organ to organ, seeking to steal its moisture and other vital fluids. This parasitic behavior caused all sorts of (female only) illnesses.
If a woman had asthma, the womb was leeching the lungs. Stomach aches, it was in the gut. And if it attacked the heart (which the ancients thought was the source of our thoughts), then it would cause all manner of mental health issues. In fact, the Greek word for womb is "hystera," and so when we call someone (often a woman) hysterical, we are saying that their womb is causing mischief.
The "solutions" or "remedies" for a wandering womb were as strange as the theory. Since the womb was supposed to be attracted to sweet smells, placing flowers or perfumes around the vagina would "lure" it down. On the flip side, if you smoked noxious substances or ate disgusting foods, it would "repel" the womb away. By using all manner of smells, you could make the womb move wherever you wanted.
The oddest "remedy" — and most male-centric of all — is that, since the wandering womb was said to be caused by heat and dryness, a good solution would be male semen, which was thought of as cooling and wet. And so, the ancient and highly inaccurate myth was born that sex could cure a woman of her "hysteria."
A lingering problem
We live today with the legacy of this kind of thinking. Freud was much taken with the idea of "hysteria," and although he did accept that men could be subject to it as well, he believed it was overwhelmingly a female problem caused by female biology. The woman, for Freud, is mostly defined by her "sexual function." What Freud calls "normal femininity" (the preferred and best outcome) is defined by passivity. A woman's ideal development is one which moves from being active and "phallic" to passive and vaginal.
Nowadays, Freud and Aristotle's legacy lies in just how easily women are defined by their sexuality. Given that men and women, both, are equally dependent on their biology, it is curious how much more often women are reduced to theirs. The idea that women are more emotional or slaves to their hormones than men is still a depressingly familiar trope. It is an idea that goes back to the Greeks.
If we think biology is important to who we are (as it most certainly is), we ought to make sure that the biology is as good and accurate as it can be.
People tend to reflexively assume that fun events – like vacations – will go by really quickly.
For many people, summer vacation can't come soon enough – especially for the half of Americans who canceled their summer plans last year due to the pandemic.
But when a vacation approaches, do you ever get the feeling that it's almost over before it starts?
If so, you're not alone.
In some recent studies Gabriela Tonietto, Sam Maglio, Eric VanEpps and I conducted, we found that about half of the people we surveyed indicated that their upcoming weekend trip felt like it would end as soon as it started.
This feeling can have a ripple effect. It can change the way trips are planned – you might, for example, be less likely to schedule extra activities. At the same time, you might be more likely to splurge on an expensive dinner because you want to make the best of the little time you think you have.
Where does this tendency come from? And can it be avoided?
Not all events are created equal
When people look forward to something, they usually want it to happen as soon as possible and last as long as possible.
We first explored the effect of this attitude in the context of Thanksgiving.
We chose Thanksgiving because almost everyone in the U.S. celebrates it, but not everyone looks forward to it. Some people love the annual family get-together. Others – whether it's the stress of cooking, the tedium of cleaning or the anxiety of dealing with family drama – dread it.
So on the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2019, we surveyed 510 people online and asked them to tell us whether they were looking forward to the holiday. Then we asked them how far away it seemed, and how long they felt it would last. We had them move a 100-point slider – 0 meaning very short and 100 meaning very long – to a location that reflected their feelings.
As we suspected, the more participants looked forward to their Thanksgiving festivities, the farther away it seemed and shorter it felt. Ironically, longing for something seems to shrink its duration in the mind's eye.
Winding the mind's clock
Most people believe the idiom “time flies when you're having fun," and research has, indeed, shown that when time seems to pass by quickly, people assume the task must have been engaging and enjoyable.
We reasoned that people might be over-applying their assumption about the relationship between time and fun when judging the duration of events yet to happen.
As a result, people tend to reflexively assume that fun events – like vacations – will go by really quickly. Meanwhile, pining for something can make the time leading up to the event seem to drag. The combination of its beginning pushed farther away in their minds – with its end pulled closer – resulted in our participants' anticipating that something they looked forward would feel as if it had almost no duration at all.
In another study, we asked participants to imagine going on a weekend trip that they either expected to be fun or terrible. We then asked them how far away the start and end of this trip felt like using a similar 0 to 100 scale. 46% of participants evaluated the positive weekend as feeling like it had no duration at all: They marked the beginning and the end of the vacation virtually at the same location when using the slider scale.
Thinking in hours and days
Our goal was to show how these two judgments of an event – the fact that it simultaneously seems farther away and is assumed to last for less time – can nearly eliminate the event's duration in the mind's eye.
We reasoned that if we didn't explicitly highlight these two separate pieces – and instead directly asked them about the duration of the event – a smaller portion of people would indicate virtually no duration for something they looked forward to.
We tested this theory in another study, in which we told participants that they would watch two five-minute-long videos back-to-back. We described the second video as either humorous or boring, and then asked them how long they thought each video would feel like it lasted.
We found that the participants predicted that the funny video would still feel shorter and was farther away than the boring one. But we also found that participants believed it would last a bit longer than the responses we received in the earlier studies.
This finding gives us a way to overcome this biased perception: focus on the actual duration. Because in this study, participants directly reported how long the funny video would last – and not the perceived distance of its beginning and its end – they were far less likely to assume it would be over just as it started.
While it sounds trivial and obvious, we often rely on our subjective feelings – not objective measures of time – when deciding how long a period of time will feel and how to best use it.
So when looking forward to much-anticipated events like vacations, it's important to remind yourself just how many days it will last.
You'll get more out of the experience – and, hopefully, put yourself in a better position to take advantage of the time you do have.
Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to light recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
A global survey shows the majority of countries favor Android over iPhone.
- When Android was launched soon after Apple's own iPhone, Steve Jobs threatened to "destroy" it.
- Ever since, and across the world, the rivalry between both systems has animated users.
- Now the results are in: worldwide, consumers clearly prefer one side — and it's not Steve Jobs'.
A woman on her phone in Havana, Cuba. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous the world over — and so has the divide between Android and iPhone users.Credit: Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images.
Us versus them: it's the archetypal binary. It makes the world understandable by dividing it into two competing halves: labor against capital, West against East, men against women.
These maps are the first to show the dividing lines between one of the world's more recent binaries: Android vs. Apple. Published by Electronics Hub, they are based on a qualitative analysis of almost 350,000 tweets worldwide that presented positive, neutral, and negative attitudes toward Android and/or Apple.
Steve Jobs wanted to go "thermonuclear"
Feelings between Android and Apple were pretty tribal from the get-go. It was Steve Jobs himself who said, when Google rolled out Android a mere ten months after Apple launched the iPhone, "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
Buying a phone is like picking a side in the eternal feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Each choice for automatically comes with an in-built arsenal of arguments against.
If you are an iPhone person, you appreciate the sleekness and simplicity of its design, and you are horrified by the confusing mess that is the Android operating system. If you are an Android aficionado, you pity the iPhone user, a captive of an overly expensive closed ecosystem, designed to extract money from its users.
Even without resorting to those extremes, many of us will recognize which side of the dividing line that we are on. Like the American Civil War, that line runs through families and groups of friends, but that would be a bit confusing to chart geographically. To un-muddle the information, these maps zoom out to state and country level.
If the contest is based on the number of countries, Android wins. In all, 74 of the 142 countries surveyed prefer Android (in green on the map). Only 65 favor Apple (colored grey). That's a 52/48 split, which may not sound like a decisive vote, but it was good enough for Boris Johnson to get Brexit done (after he got breakfast done, of course).
And yes, math-heads: 74 plus 65 is three short of 142. Belarus, Fiji, and Peru (in yellow on the map) could not decide which side to support in the Global Phone War.
What about the United States, home of both the Android and the iPhone? Another victory for the former, albeit a slightly narrower one: 30.16 percent of the tweets about Android were positive versus just 29.03 percent of the ones about Apple.
United States: Texas surrounded!
Credit: Electronics Hub
There can be only one winner per state, though, and that leads to this preponderance of Android logos. Frankly, it's a relief to see a map showing a visceral divide within the United States that is not the coasts versus the heartland.
- Apple dominates in 19 states: a solid Midwestern bloc, another of states surrounding Texas, the Dakotas and California, plus North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
- And that's it. The other 32 are the United States of Android. You can drive from Seattle to Miami without straying into iPhone territory. But no stopovers in Dallas or Houston – both are behind enemy lines!
North America: strongly leaning toward Android
Credit: Electronics Hub
Only eight of North America's 21 countries surveyed fall into the Apple category.
- The U.S. and Canada lean Android, while Mexico goes for the iPhone.
- Central America is divided, but here too Android wins hands down, 5-2.
Europe: Big Five divided
Credit: Electronics Hub
In Europe, Apple wins, with 20 countries preferring the iPhone, 17 going for Android, and Belarus sitting on the fence.
- Of Western Europe's Big Five markets, three (UK, Germany, Spain) are pro-Android, and two (France, Italy) are pro-Apple.
- Czechia and Slovakia are an Apple island in the Android sea that is Central Europe. Glad to see there is still something the divorcees can agree on.
South America: almost even
Credit: Electronics Hub
In South America, the divide is almost even.
- Five countries prefer Android, four Apple, and one is undecided.
- In Peru, both Android- and Apple-related tweets were 25 percent positive.
Africa: watch out for Huawei
Credit: Electronics Hub
In Africa, Android wins by 17 countries versus Apple's 15.
- There's a solid Android bloc running from South Africa via DR Congo all the way to Ethiopia.
- iPhone countries are scattered throughout the north (Algeria), west (Guinea), east (Somalia), and south (Namibia).
Huawei — increasingly popular across the continent — could soon dramatically change the picture in Africa. Currently still running on Android, the Chinese phone manufacturer has just launched its own operating system, called Harmony.
Middle East: Iran vs. Saudi Arabia (again)
Credit: Electronics Hub
In the Middle East and Central Asia, Android wins 8 countries to Apple's 6.
- But it's complicated. One Turkish tweeter wondered how it is that iPhones seem more popular in the Asian half of Istanbul, while Android phones prevailed in the European part of the city.
- The phone divide matches up with the region's main geopolitical one: Iran prefers Android, Saudi Arabia the iPhone.
Asia-Pacific: Apple on the periphery
Credit: Electronics Hub
Another wafer-thin majority for Android in the Asia-Pacific region: 13 countries versus 12 for Apple — and one abstention (Fiji).
- The two giants of the Asian mainland, India and China, are both Android countries. Apple countries are on the periphery.
- And if India is Android, its rival Pakistan must be Apple. Same with North and South Korea.
Experts point to the fact that both operating systems are becoming more alike with every new generation as a potential resolution to the conflict. But as any student of human behavior will confirm: smaller differences will only exacerbate the rivalry between both camps.
Maps taken from Electronics Hub, reproduced with kind permission.
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