Category Archives: Science

When science fiction becomes science… #1

Looking at the progress we have made in the fields of science and technology, one is always wondering whether it is science which impacts the vision we have of our future or whether it is fiction that drags mankind to newer horizons. Fiction is powered by human imagination. Without this unlimited power of imagination nothing could have ever been conceived. Everything started when someone imagined the concept of zero in counting and then there was no looking back . This is only one example but history is full of that kind of story.

Now a few questions arise: “What is the real force at work behind progress? Are the advances of sciences getting inspiration from fiction or is it the other way round?”

We can very likely say that when it comes to discoveries or inventions, science has always drawn inspiration from fiction. It is quite natural because before building up something we need to imagine, visualize and even analyse its use. In reality, imagination is nothing but free flowing ideas coming from the human mind and presented in the form of fiction. Later in pursuit of these ideas or thoughts, efforts are made to turn this imagination into reality. This is how things have progressed in the history of mankind.

Humans have imagined so many things which would later become reality. In ancient times, alchemists imagined a secret formula to convert metal into gold and make life eternal. In fact, in 1980 Glenn Seaborg,the nobel prize laureate in chemistry was suspect of being able to find the formula to transmute lead into gold. But, theoretically it is still considered impossible. Yet, scientists in the centuries that followed could not find this magical formula but in the course of their efforts they were able to discover many chemical processes which are still useful today. Indeed, they introduced on the market different “types” of gold, especially the fake ones.

But, now the question is: “Where does fiction get its inspiration from?”  

We can say that we usually get inspiration from our daily lives. For centuries, people always wondered why we humans weren’t able to fly when birds could. To fulfil their curiosity, they tried to copy birds and make wooden wings, wings with feathers, etc. And these continuous efforts were finally paid back when airplanes came to existence.

In more recent times, the huge variety of science fiction films, comic strips, books has given scientists more ideas. An example to illustrate this could be the communicator from Star Trek. Communicator was a fictional device used for communicating. The inventor of the first mobile phone credits the communicator for inspiring him. This is another example to prove that science inspired from fiction. Similarly many of the inventions were first seen in science-fictional series before entering our lives.




Somewhere in carina-sagittarius arm

You may be wondering why you should be interested in black holes when those objects are far, far from us and do not impact us directly and live their lives peacefully. A lot of you probably have in mind this scene in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar where you can see that gigantic black hole. Or, maybe not, because it’s far too old now. Well, you are not asking yourself the good questions because Black Holes are probably the most fascinating objects ever and could even be considered as the biggest objects in our Universe.

However, we don’t really know what’s behind those objects and that’s undoubtedly why it makes them so mysterious. Mysterious and yet so terrifying because even light cannot escape from a black hole and Stars are literally devoured by them.

A lot of theories revolve around them but we will discuss them later. First, let’s continue our journey in the incredible world of Black Holes. Let’s discover what they are… or are not… 

Black holes are the result of the implosion of a Star due to the loss of its stability. To put it simply, the main ‘job’ of a Star is to fuse hydrogen into helium. Fusion happens in its core and this type of fusion particularly creates energy in the form of radiation. What makes a Star stable is the balance between gravity and radiation. In fact, as you all know, gravity (Hi Newton!) is a force exerted by a body with an important mass that will attract other objects. That being said, gravity will exert a force against the radiation. This war will take thousands or even millions of years, but good (gravity) will triumph. Indeed, the star sacrifices a lot of its soldiers (hydrogen) to create more powerful soldiers (helium) and so energy. However, stars that are heavier, will eventually start the fusion of more complex elements like iron which in that case, will not produce energy. This will lead to a decrease in energy and so to the implosion of the star. The balance in the force is therefore broken. The star war is lost. The implosion of the star will either give birth to a neutron star or in some other cases (if the star is big enough) a black hole. In that precise case, the entire mass of the star will collapse to create a black hole.

So, you may be wondering, “If your aim is to find a black hole, and if it’s black, how will you be able to see it?”. Well, we give it the name “black” hole because this massive object cannot reflect or emit any light and so that is why we call it black. However, when black holes devour other objects, those objects will heat and so they will emit X-rays and that is why we can actually see black holes. Basically, the “black” part is called the Event Horizon and whatever crosses the Event Horizon cannot escape. Also, the “hole” is known as the singularity but let’s get deeper into it if we may say. What exactly is a singularity? To make it short, the singularity is situated at the center of a black hole and represents the place where the gravitational field is concentrated.

However, we don’t have enough information about it.

What could possibly make it so unique is that time doesn’t flow the same way according to the point of view. In fact, if you fell into a Black Hole, you would see time pass quickly whereas from another point of view, watching something fall into a black hole will seem slow.

And by that, I mean what would happen if you fell into it. Well, the moment you cross the Event Horizon, you cannot escape. Certainly, death will await you. Again, we don’t know for sure.

As we understand it, black holes are objects that could possibly suck everything from tiny objects to massive ones. And, by everything, could they possibility delete information?


A transhuman future

Years ago, the world was really different than today. There were no computers, machines seemed primitive compared to today’s. People made plans for their lives, got a job, got married, founded a family…

Things haven’t changed a lot : the more technology evolves, the more people seek pleasure and the less they want to work, but people still have the same objectives.

Technological progress through time has eventually enabled to replace dangerous, extremely physical or boring jobs by machines. These changes caused a lot of jobs to disappear but also created even more, more interesting ones.  


The past centuries saw humans come up with incredible inventions which changed human life forever and, each time, with more and more effects.

Technology revolutionized the world in the past:

  • The steam machine allowed us to make giant leaps: the train and the automobile changed everything in people’s lives, first in the life of those who could afford it but eventually in everybody’s.
  • Computers changed the way we communicate : The Internet allows us to chat with everybody in the world instantly. It also changed the way we seek information : a few people still use the old way to learn things but they are getting fewer and fewer. Today, everybody browses the web when they need information.


Even today, technology is changing the world:

  • 3D printers are still in development but they already changed a lot of things : in China, huge 3D printers are are used to build houses, even skyscrapers. 3D printers can also print bridges and a lot more and it is just the beginning.
  • Advance in bionics allows us to replace humans’ parts or organs by augmented and more efficient ones.


The point is that technology reshapes the way we live, the way we think, but people’s major goal hasn’t evolved. The human body hasn’t evolved either in more than 200,000 years : we still have a similar primitive darwinian brain, which is the result of nearly 4 billion years of evolution.

The evolution is, as we all know, a natural process based on random choices made by nature.

The problem of this process is that it does not consider the future and it does not make decisions. If we want to evolve, we have to pass the genes and there are no other ways.

But if humans didn’t evolve a lot in more than 200,000 years, they will probably not be so different in another 200,000 years, and probably in a million years, if they are still here. That means we have to find a different way than passing the genes if we want to evolve and if we want to choose how we will evolve. Most people are not ready to change : they see the world as it was and they think it will remain like that forever, so they plan their lives as theirs parents and grand-parents did. They are not able to imagine what could happen and how their lives can dramatically change within a very short time. It’s not refusing change, it is that they don’t believe really important change could occur, and it is way worse.

In fact, changes occur all the time, and fast, even if we don’t see it and are not impacted yet : since 1900, the power of machines has been doubling every eighteen month, increasing significantly computation power. This leads to an exponential growth of computing. For example a simple PS3 is more than 800 times more powerful than the old but very famous  1975 Cray-1 supercomputer.


This chart is a bit out of date : nowadays, computers are more powerful than a mouse brain.

To make a comparison, the human brain has a capacity of 2.88*1017 calculus per second. A current computer has a capacity of 2.25*1015 calculus per second. It means that the brain is more than 100 times more powerful than computers. How much time do we have before computers can have the same power as our brains ?


This exponential growth is based on Moore’s law. This law will not last forever, but there are other paradigms with other ways of computation than classical computation (Quantum, DNA…).

An important paradigm is Rose’s law for quantum computers, which illustrates how important quantum computers are.


Nowaday, Google and NASA are in possession of a 1024 quantum bits computer that allow them to run a 10.000 years algorithm in only one second : computation is about 100 million times faster than conventional computer. Event through, quantum computation is only at its beginnings.

This exponential growth of computing is a part of the law of accelerating returns, one of the most powerful concept ever made for evolution in computer science.


The law of accelerating return is an analysis of evolution on earth. It does not limit itself to computer nor technology but also biological evolution. This law states that changes, especially technological, are exponential. The concept is that the more time passes, the less time between two major evolutions is reduced.



The graph is a good representation of this exponential evolution and we can believe that one day, the time between two events will be lower than a single second.

This law shows that the period 1900 to 2000 only saw 20 years of technological progress instead of 100 years based on the 2000 to 2020 scale. It also predict that this interval will be reduced again and again : 20 years of progress between 2020 and 2035, 20 between 2035 and 2041, 20 between 2041 and 2045 etc…


At last, this exponential evolution tells that the XXIth century will not see 20 or 100 years of progress based on today’s scale but 20.000 years.


The law of accelerating returns leads to an important event, potentially the most important event in human history : the technological singularity.


The technological singularity (or simpler, the singularity) is not a sure event, it is possible it will never occur but even if, we mustn’t ignore it because of all of its’ impacts. The singularity is an idea that one day, progress will be so fast that we will no longer be able to understand or control it : for example, you have the most powerful computer in the world, and, a second later, computers thousands of time more powerful already exists.

The question is if we can’t understand what we can create, how will we be able to create other thing even more powerful ? The answer is pretty simple : artificial intelligence. The singularity can be resumed in one citation :


“Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind.“  Irving John Good


The singularity may not dure forever, and it can also be finish within a minute. The major problem will be physical, there are always limits.

This event will occur (let assume it will) in a few years. Specialist estimated it will happen in 2045, based on the exponential growths. These growths predicts that in 2045, an artificial intelligence will be more powerful than all humans brains gathered.


This lead to an explosion of intelligence and a single human will not be able to live a life as he could have planned it nowadays. If we want to keep control we don’t have lots of choice.


We can decide to stop progress, but it’s quite unlikely or we can decide to evolve with technology, but as it was said previously, we still are primitive animals depending on nature to evolve. In a few years, technology allows us to change that : we are now able to change ourselves, to make us evolve in a predefined direction. The changes we can make are still in their beginnings and not always efficient for now. If we want to keep control or at least understand what will happen in a few decades, we have to become more than human, we need to transcend biology.


Transhumanism is an intellectual movement based on this idea. Transhumanists think that it is time to choose a direction to evolve, to change everything it means to be human through technology. One of the major objective of the movement is to destroy diseases, aging and even death.

Some ideas of transhumanists are quite extreme and non transhumanists people think it could be an abomination, such as eugenism like in the movie Gattaca. They also want to use artificial womb, like in the movie Man of Steel. A vast majority of their ideas are considered as unethical for lots of people.


The movement is based on Ray Kurzweil’s predictions and ideas about the future. He is at the head of engineering at Google which support and leads breakthrough in these ideas. All of his predictions have been listed on this page :


Google (or Alphabet) is the leading organisation in transhumanists ideas and want to change the world following these ideas by extend human life, developing artificial intelligence and others. X lab for example is leading research in theses direction with projects such as bicentennial man or the Google car. Calico wants to push Human longevity further, Deepmind is designed to be the very first artificial consciousness… But even if Google is the leader in this kind of projects, Facebook, Tesla and Space X are also in the race for transhumanists’ technology.

The main ideas of transhumanism can be divided in some points :




As it was said previously, an important idea of transhumanism is to eliminate death and all other disease.

Let’s take an example :

Imagine a disease that kill 100.000 people a day. In thirty years, over a billion people will have died because of this virus. How much money in research would have been spend to stop this virus ? How people would have reacted ? We can imagine it will be priority number one and nobody would talk about anything else.

In fact, 100.000 people really die every day by ageing, and nobody bat an eye, it is not a global priority at all. So why that paradox? Maybe because people are thinking that ageing is part of life and inevitable, even if we now have the technology to fight it. Even worse, some people fight against the idea to fight ageing. The problem is that, even if we have the technology to stop ageing, there are a few support to do it. There are only company from the private sector to try something, such as Google with Calico which say that today’s millennium will not have to worry about ageing and will probably have the ability to live forever. The health system is based on the idea to make us live as long as possible. The idea of transhumanism’s longevity is to change the system to make us live as long as we want.

How transhumanists wants to make this possible ? There are some differents methods :

  • Nanotechnology that exist in our body and act like antibodies : they can change our bodies, make us smarter, stronger and keep us from being sick. Nowadays nanotechnology are able to destroy cancer in mice.
  • Cryonics allow us to preserve bodies by freezing them, but it is only recently that we succeeding in unfreezing these bodies without damages them.
  • Uploading minds into computers and bionic could allow us to preserve minds, and upload them into non biological bodies, buts it is not a viable technology yet, even if some billionaires spend billions to make this technology possible. To do such a thing, we need more knowledge about the human brain.
  • Gene therapy that could reverse the process of ageing, making us younger than we are. This method has already been successfully tested on human being.


Of course, this idea of longevity is the source of important ethical questions such as “How will we live on earth if nobody dies?” or “What about the resources?”…



Another main part in transhumanism’s ideas is the super intelligence. Transhumanists want to make themselves smarter. By smarter, they don’t mean to switch to 140 IQ to 180, but way more than that. They thinks that we have to develop artificial intelligence (AI) for many reason. First : achieve the singularity if possible, and next, fusion with AI.

We can distinguish three kind of AI :

  • Basic AI like Deep Blue and even AlphaGo because they are making a tree of possibility, they don’t really think about what they are doing. It is the only kind of AI we master nowadays, even if it is a difficult field to work in.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) are, nowadays, one of the world greatest challenge : an AI that learn and think, a kind of artificial consciousness. Even if it is not really AGI, there are Microsoft’s Tay or Google’s Deepmind. The main technology we use for AGI is the neural network, but none artificial consciousness as even been made.
  • Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is the same thing than an AGI, but way more powerful. An ASI is to an AGI what a supercomputer is to a laptop.


Today’s research in artificial intelligence is making some noise : Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and even Bill Gates are saying that AGI could rebel against us, turning the world into a Terminator’s world like. In general, people don’t understand nor know what could happen so it is not a recurrent actuality question yet, but chances are great it will be in the upcoming years.




Super intelligence and longevity could be great, but it could have a price on how we feel : we could feel bad, feel pain or live miserably… Transhumanists’ goal on well being is to eliminate everything that could lead us to pain. The vast majority of the projects require advances in artificial intelligence, computing and robotics. One of the most famous project is the jobless future, a world where all jobs are done by machine with artificial intelligence.

Others projects that already exist are the 3D printed organs to replace damaged ones, bionic to replace missing members.

In this idea of healthcare, there are projects that could reinforce longevity, strength, intelligence, such as cancer killer nanobots, muscles stimulators substances (In the same way than in Captain America).

This is not the most developed area in transhumanism’s ideas, but there are already important questions to ask for a jobless future : what will people do ? Will people get bored ? How people will gain money ?



In the same idea than artificial intelligence, there is an idea of augmentation of the human body. Transhumanists want to enhance themselves through technology. Let’s take an example :


This is Neil Harbisson. He was born color blind. He is considered as a cyborg since he wear a device that allow him to hear colors, even those beyond the range of sight.

There are a lots of other ideas : perfect vision regardless to the distance, night vision… These technologies exist, and are the beginning for something even more important : bionic. Nowadays bionic is efficient, but far away from biological members. Even if bionic can replace, it does not compete with biology. Not yet. A lot of people think that, one day, in a very near future, bionic will be far better. It is possible that some day, voluntary amputation will be a common thing.

We also can imagine that technology allow us to perceive new senses we never dreamed about.

The idea of augmentation could make us godlike because we could be way more than human : impressive strength and resistance, new senses and augmented one, new abilities such as flying, breathing underwater…



It is probably the most unethical idea because of all it impact on culture, religion, etc… There are a lot of religious people, and for a majority, change the human body like that is unthinkable and has to be punish or forbid. We can also ask ourselves about what could happen if augmentation became the new fashion.


All of these ideas could lead to an utopian future, but, as I said previously, there are some risks, such as artificial intelligence revolt. Theses risks are really important and cause the utopia to become a dystopia. We have to be careful about what a transhumanist future could bring. But whatever we do, the current evolution proves that this kind of future is inevitable, so we have to make it right and embrace whatever it brings.


A transhuman future is very likely to begin for the majority in the early 2030, although it has already begun for a few selected. Once these ideas will be seen as normal, and not as unethical as it is nowadays, more extreme ideas will start to become popular. For now, we only can make some suppositions or prediction. On the very long term, some of them have already been made on what the technological singularity could bring.


The technological singularity plays a very important important part in transhumanists plans. If it does not happen, things will still work the same way, only change will be slower.

Currently, there are two important concept of what could happen in an undated future. Nothing is certain, maybe it is nothing more than fantasy, but since we can’t say what the singularity will bring and how advanced our technology will be, we can’t be sure it will not happen.



The computronium is an hypothetical substance that could be used as a programmable material. The idea of the computronium is to turn everything we can into computable matter. This matter would opper calculus at the molecular level, that could lead to nearly infinite calculus power.

However, it is a dangerous idea : to create computronium, we must disassemble original and “stupid” matter before reassemble it. It means the creation of computronium implicate that we have to destroy resources and environment, even if it is only temporary. The risk is that computronium became a clever version of gray jelly.


Waking up the universe

The concept of waking up the universe in probably the most promising concept ever conceived. This concept is a list of prediction of what could occur :

  • The end of transistor’s reduction will lead to bigger computers
  • Because of this, AI will create more and more computronium until complete planets will be turned into computronium.
  • Interstellar exploration will be made by nanobots turning entire solar systems into computronium.
  • Possibility of transcending the law of physic : go faster than the speed of light.
  • The universe will be entirely turned into a giant powerful computer. This mean humans will have both supreme intelligence and control over the entire universe.

The final phase of the process is to make human able to create other universes or to keep our own from dying.


The world is going to change in the upcoming years. The change will be very fast, and will impact everything in our lives for ever. People will resist ; people always do, but it will be vain, progress (good or bad) is unstoppable. We have to accept whatever the future could bring instead of looking back in time and think “it was better before”. People have to understand that nothing, especially technology is doomed to stay the way it is, and they have to embrace this reality instead of trying to keep it the way it is.

Virtual Reality

During the Mobile World Congress (Barcelona), Samsung released its new flagship : The Galaxy S7 ; this phone is bundled with a Virtual Reality headset which enables new applications and experience for games or videos.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was invited on stage, following his recent acquisition of Oculus, a company specialized in Virtual Reality Headsets and that co-develops the Samsung product. He said that VR is the “most social platform”, as its development will be boosted by users themselves, by replacing selfies by 360 degrees immersive photos.

But how do those headsets work ?

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that he feels like he is in a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two senses: sight and sound.

Nowadays, me mostly find Virtual Reality headsets, such as for instance the Oculus Rift that I’ve already mentioned. Those products are built by assembling circular lenses in front of a high-resolution screen that is a few centimeters away from your eyes. The goal is to immerse the user into a virtual world. Some sensors are embedded in the headset to detect head movements in order to adapt the content displayed on the screen.

Another way to do it is with a smartphone. Recently, Google released a cardboard that folds up into kinds of glasses. The main advantage is that it is very cheap.

Samsung’s concept is a mix between those two solutions, as it needs a smartphone as a screen but provides additional sensors and buttons.

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What are the usages of Virtual Reality ?

There are numerous ways virtual reality can be used. It applies to differents fields such as : Gaming, Education, Healthcare, and so on ! Let me give you a few examples.

First of all, immersiveness is really great in first-person games, as we see through the player’s eyes. It’s sometimes combined with a sort of platform where you can actually walk, go different directions, to copy players’ movements in the game. Not to mention that similar system are being used by military forces to train.

For entertainment purposes, it is possible to play 3D movies with those headset. It gives you the impression to be in front of a huge TV ! The problem is … the limitation to one user at a time. Another usage is with 360 degrees videos. YouTube offers it since a couple of month, it works great with a mice or with a smartphone, but it’ll be better with a VR compatible product.

Virtual reality could also serve as a tool for rehabilitation. Stroke and brain injury victims can now use an immersive virtual-reality therapy. The virtual exercises and real-time feedback are made to feel like games, helping to motivate patients to practise everyday activities.

Last but not least, VR is being used in museums or classes to teach history. In fact, it is possible to recreate in 3 dimensions some parts of the world as they used to be in the past and to discover them as if we’re here ! Exciting isn’t it ?

Future of virtual reality

We may assume that 2016 will be the year of Virtual Reality. It’s going to be a mainstream technology by the end of the year or so. Yet the prices are still pretty high, but with the demand, it’s going to decrease.

Are you willing to get yourself a VR Headset ? Let a comment in the section bellow !

Gravitational Waves

As you may know, 2016 has already turned into a big year for physicists, probably one of the most important of the century. On 11 February 2016, the LIGO collaboration (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) announced they had detected gravitational waves.

What are gravitational waves? Predicted by Einstein in 1916,“gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source”. (Wikipedia). Let’s make it a bit clearer. Imagine the universe as a big flat lake. Put a balloon on that water and you have got a planet. When you move the balloon, a wave is created on the surface of the water. In the universe, this phenomenon is called gravitational waves and needs a tremendous amount of energy to exist.

Gravitational waves
Gravitational waves from

Despite the determination of scientists, there was no scientific proof that gravitational waves actually existed, that was…until this year. LIGO‘s first operations between 2002 and 2010 did not detect any waves signal, the intensity of the signal that had to be detected being too small. It was then decided to replace the interferometers, the component responsible for the precision of the measures. The new ones were expected to have about four times the sensitivity of the initial LIGO interferometers.

In September 2015, after 5 years of intensive development and investments of $200.000.000, LIGO became Advanced LIGO. On 14 September which is only a few days after the reopening, Advanced LIGO detected a signal from two black holes with masses of 29 and 36 solar masses merging together about 1.3 billion light years away. Let’s take a moment to appreciate what it is we are talking about. 1 solar mass is equivalent to 2 x 10^30 kg with a light year equaling 1 x 10^16 metres. It is indeed a tremendous amount of energy. During the final fraction of a second of the merge, it released more power than 50 times that of all the stars in the observable universe combined. The mass of the new black hole obtained from merging the two was 62 solar masses.

Not only is this a life goal achievement for the physicists who have been working on it since 1980 and the first and only direct proof of the existence of black holes, but detecting gravitational waves was fundamentally different from what had been done previously. Rather than looking at particles or large objects, gravity science looks at “the medium of the universe itself”. That means physicists, and more generally scientists, could have an insight into previously impossible areas to study.

So, what we have here is not just a confirmation of gravitational waves, not just a window into black hole collisions, but a proof that we have at our disposal a whole new form of astronomy.

Silicon Valley History

You may have already heard about this southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, famous for the ITs corporations that settled there , but do you know its history ?


First of all, about the name : The term originally comes from the many innovators and manufacturers that were building chips out of silicon. But now it means all the high-tech businesses in the area. Even though it’s not truly a valley, it is a term for the high-tech sector generally.


During the 19th century it was only a fruit-growing area, we may wonder how does it became one of the most attractive place for high tech companies.

Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

381078 15: Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

The key figure in this development was Frederick Terman, a professor from Stanford University in the 30s, who encourages his students to start business locally, and not to move on the East Coast. The first two graduates to start were William Hewlett and David Packard, with the company name after them : “HP”, which is a large company nowadays.


In this capacity he continued to encourage the development of local businesses in electronics and attracted venture capitals to invest in the area.


Then, in 1968, the Intel business started, they were manufacturing memory chips, and microprocessors. Those components were made of silicon, which inspired Don Hoefler, a journalist from a local newspaper, who eventually nicknamed the region “Silicon Valley” in one of his articles.


From the 70s to the 90s, more and more software development company invaded the area, and innovation was at its maximum. As an example, Xerox Research center played a major role in the development of Object Oriented Programming, or Graphical User Interface.


Those inventions led indirectly to other companies such as Apple or Microsoft. In fact, the Macintosh GUI was a result of a Steve Jobs visit at Xerox.


That was just before the Internet bubble, which started in quickly after the opening of Internet to commercial use. Companies such as Amazon or Ebay were then created.



Save the Bees



Human society is extremely complex and fragile built on various pillars. One of them is the honey bee !

One meal out of 3 eaten by humans would not exist, weren’t there without honey bees. They are so important that if all the honey bees were to die out, thousands of plants would follow which could lead to billions of people starving in the following years!

On top of that, honey bees have a huge economic impact. The dollar value of plants pollinated by them each year is around 265 Billion dollars!

Food we take for granted would just stop existing without them or there would be a massive drop in the production of fruit, vegetables, including apples, onions, pumpkins and also life-stuck feeding food and we all know how crucial it is for us to preserve resources such as milk and meat !


Einstein is often quoted for having said: « If honey bees die out, humans will follow a few years later.»

Actually he probably didn’t say that but there might be some truth in that statement.

It’s unsettling but honey bees are starting to disappear. Millions of hives have died out in the last few years. Bee keepers from all over the world have seen an annual loss of 30 to 90 % of their colonies.
In the US alone, bees are constantly declining, from 5 million in 1988 to 2.5 million today! 50% gone in just 17 years !!

Since 2006 a phenomenon referred to as « Colony Collapse Disorder » or CCD, has affected honey bees in many countries.

Scientists are not entirely sure what is causing it. All we know is that it’s really serious!

Over the last decades bees have seen an invasion of very dangerous foes :


– Parasites straight out of a horror movie like « Acarapis Woodi». Microscopic mites infect the trachea which is the breathing tubes of bees. Here, they lay their eggs and feed from the fluids of their victims weakening them considerably and spending their whole life inside the bees



-Or the « Vorroa Destructor », they can only reproduce in honey bee hives and are one the bees’ greatest enemies. The female mite enters the honey bee’s alveolus and lays eggs on the bee larva before the hive bee cover the cell with a wax capping. The eggs hatch and the newly-born mites feed themselves on the developing bee in the safety of the cap cell. The bee is not normally killed at this stage, just weakened so it still has enough strength to make its way through the wax capping and release itself from the cell. As it does, it releases the mother’s mites and her new offspring and these are then free to spread across the hive. Starting the process over again and again in a cycle of about 10 days. Their numbers grow exponentially. After a few months this could lead to the collapse of the entire bee hive.

Once outside the cell, adult mites also suck the body fluids of bees and weaken them considerably. To make things worse, they also transmit viruses that harm the bees even more and can lead to bugs defect like useless wings.

Besides there are other threads too, such as viruses and fungi. Under normal circumstances,

these phenomena should be manageable and are not enough to explain the huge number of deaths among bees.



Over the recent years, new insecticides have been introduced and are deadly to bees. New Neonicotinoid, a chemical family similar to Nicotine was approved in the early 1990s as an alternative to chemicals like DDT. They attack insects by harming their nervous system. Today they are the most wildly used insecticide in the world, with sales reaching 1.5 Billion euros in 2008 and representing 24% of the insecticide global market.

In 2013 Neonicotinoid was used in the US on about 95% of corn and canola crops and also on the majority of fruits and vegetables.

Bees coming into contact with the toxin while they are collecting pollen or via contaminated water will eventually take the contaminated stuff back into the hive, where it can accumulate and slowly kill the whole colony…

The toxin harms bees in a variety of dreadful ways. In high enough doses, it quickly leads to convulsions, paralysis and death.But even in small doses it could be deadly. Indeed, this can lead to bees forgetting how to navigate the world. So bees fly into the wild, get lost and die alone, separated from their hive. If this happens often enough, a hive can lose its ability to sustain itself.

We know Neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and we expressly need an alternative to it. But there are millions of dollars to be made in delaying this…

Studies sponsored by the chemical industry magically appear toprove a much lower toxicity to bees compared to those produced by independent scientists.

There are even more facts contributing to the demise of bees like too much genetic uniformity, monocultures or nutrition due to overcrowding, stress due to human activity and other pesticides.

Each of those factors on their own is a major problem for bees but together they probably account for the colony’s collapse disorder. With parasites up in the game in the recent decades, the honey bees are now fighting for survival. It would be a catasrophe if they lost this fight. This is a conundrum we have to solve if we want to go on living with a relative albundance and diversity of food.

Humanity is deeply interconnected with earth and he other life forms on it. Even if we claim the opposite we have to take better care of our surroundings. If not to preserve the beauty of nature, then at least to assure our own survival !


Water on Mars ; revolution or overreaction ?


”An artist’s impression of what ancient Mars may have looked like”


On 28 September this year, a piece of  news caused a frenzy of excitement in the world. “There is liquid water on Mars!”, NASA announced . Another big piece to add to the space-related trend we can observe today, with the pictures of Pluto released in february and the “active region loops “ on the sun this september. But is water on mars really such a big deal, or is it more like a seek of attention from the NASA?


First of all, there have been clues of water on mars for years now. This water was, however, found in small proportions in vapour state or in ice form. The discovery of liquid water could have at least one important meaning, the possibility of life on Mars. Well, maybe not dinosaurs and such, but microbacterial life. Or, who knows, it could be easier for mankind to adapt to a martian lifestyle with water. This water could indeed be purified for human consumption, turned into oxygen, or even transformed to  create rocket fuel. This, at least, is what the medias have repeated over and over, filling people with hopes and dreams for the future.


Now, what are the actual evidences of water on Mars?

In June 2000, possible evidence of  liquid water flowing at the surface of Mars was discovered in the form of flood-like gullies. The images did not actually show flowing water. Rather, they showed changes in steep crater walls and sediment deposits. Well, it could look like a shabby proof, but well done NASA; you’ve at least got something. Even if there are other  theories about these craters, like erosion due to the strong winds on the surface of the red planet.

Traces of water
“Traces of water flow on Mars , photo released by NASA on September 27 , 2015. (NASA)“



In May 2007, the Spirit rover disturbed a patch of ground with its inoperative wheel, uncovering an area extremely rich in silica (90%). The feature is reminiscent of the effect of hot spring water or steam coming into contact with volcanic rocks. Scientists consider this as evidence of a past environment that may have been favorable for microbial life, and theorize that one possible origin for the silica may have been produced by the interaction of soil with acid vapors produced by volcanic activity in the presence of water. Again, this is only an hypothesis.


Then, first identified in 2011, features known as recurring slope lineae (RSL) were confirmed to be signs of salty water running on the surface of the planet today. Scientists also discovered a slab of ice as large as California combined in the region between the equator and north pole of the Red Planet. And in the new reports, NASA declared to have found liquid water. In fact, they could not observe it directly but they are sure that liquid water runs seasonally on the martian surface. But instead of fresh, pure water, it would be water filled with salts and perchlorates, acting as antifreeze. Thanks to that, water can flow even in negative temperatures. But not many species could survive in such an environment.


Furthermore, the world’s space powers are bound by rules agreed to under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty  that forbid anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth. What does that mean? Well, that even if there were water on Mars, it is impossible to study or even come close to it for the moment. If the rover was sterilized, it still carries microbes and bacterias that could alter or kill alien life.


NASA’s hype around the discovery of liquid water on Mars can be explained by its constant need to increase funding for its work. And that attention seems to be helping. But it won’t be eager to tell you that its human mission, currently planned for 2030, will inevitably contaminate Mars with microbes, and break the rules of an international treaty.


So if there certainly is water on Mars, it is maybe not worth all the hype that happened; not for the moment, at least.

Fukushima disaster, today.


Reminder, how it happened

For those who already forgot, in March 2011, the nuclear plant of Fukushima was hit by an enormous tsunami and a series of dramatic earthquakes. The damage caused equipment failures, and three nuclear meltdowns leading to releases of radioactive materials. Sure, we all heard about it a lot when it happened, but what about today ?

Rumours of Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) falsifying official radiation figures have been confirmed for a while, and the Japanese government is still trying to maintain a sense of security, even though the situation is so dire.

To make matters worse, most media have stopped covering the events, as the initial buzz has passed.


Fukushima current state


1.Reactor fuel


Utilizing “cosmic ray muon radiography with nuclear emulsion”, researchers looked inside the reactors at Fukushima. They found out that the fuel in one of the reactors was missing : “The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down”. In short, researchers do not yet know if the molten fuel has penetrated the base beyond the containment vessel, going below the ground.

High-level nuclear waste is incredibly poisonous. If leaked and not contained, it could spread and make large areas uninhabitable for over a century.


2.Water contamination


Probably the biggest issue of Fukushima is the water flowing through the nuclear infected zone. As shown in this graph, after all these years, they still cannot contain this much water. This has been leading to extreme pollution of the ocean near Fukushima, and currents have been spreading this water all over the pacific ocean.


The flow of water is constant and uncontainable.



Present impact on environment




While direct impact on most human food has not been observed, researchers have found that species in a 1000 km area consume irradiated food. “Wildlife has probably been damaged even at relatively low doses of radiation, and our research showed that sensitivity varies among individuals within a species,” says Professor Joji Otaki, one of the researchers.

According to research, butterflies are the most affected by the newly radioactive plants.

All in all, human food is safe for consumption for now, but as the leaks continue, the effect on wildlife may become bad enough to impact humans.




Though the effect of radiation has been greatly dispersed due to the strong currents in the pacific, fish with traces of radiation poisoning have been observed recently. For now, it seems that the poisoning is minor but some species have shown unusual mutations. The rate the water is leaking from the powerplant is a growing concern, and with the Japanese government in denial, ocean life in the Pacific is extremely at risk.


Here we see the concentration of radioactive water throughout the Pacific.



Future impact on society


Experts believe we will see a rise in cancer development all over Japan in the coming years, but the reality is that we really don’t know. Low radiation exposure hasn’t been observed enough to predict precisely what’ll happen. But if the Japanese government continues to refuse help and denies the danger of the situation, the consequences could be irreversible.

Flexible OLED display, the future of mobile phones?

After successfully reducing the thinness of screens to almost an inch, also making them more convenient than those old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors we used to know, IT companies are setting up a new challenge to themselves :  to invent a display that could actually  bend like paper, allowing readers to wrap it up around their arm like a bracelet or like a telescope. It has been made possible with the invention of flexible OLED displays.


But what are OLED displays ?

OLED stands for Organic light-emitting diode. It is a film of organic compound that emits light when an electric current cross it. This film is situated between 2 layers of electrodes with at least one is transparent.


schela bilayer OLED

Schematic of a bilayer OLED (source :


This technology is frequently used to create digital displays such as television or computer screens, mobile phones and game consoles. It is not so expensive and lightweight, so it is used more and more to build low-cost displays.

Flexible OLED are similar to standard  OLED display, except that they are not built on a glass substrate, but on a flexible plastic that allows to bend them.


The idea of creating a flexible display was first put forth by Xerox PARC in 1974. An employee produced the first flexible e-paper display (a display that mimics the appearance of ink on a paper).

Then, in 2005, HP and ASU (Arizon State University) started research about flexible display.

Since 2010, Sony Electronics, AU Optronics and LG Electronics have expressed interest in this technology. For now on, only LG have announced plans for mass production of flexible displays.


An exemple of e-paper (source :


Prototypes :

Currently there only are prototypes of devices using flexible OLED technology. Here are two of the most advanced ones.


In January 2013, Samsung officially announced the launch of their flexible OLED display technology, called YOUM display. They also previewed several prototypes using it, such as the Samsung Galaxy Round mobile phone that was just launched on 9 Oct. in Korea. It is not possible to actually bend the phone, but the flexibility of the screen allows the phone to be curved in such position.

Another unnamed prototype extends the screen to the side of the phone. With this additional “strip”, it could be possible to display information such as notifications or emails with closing apps or opening the case covering the screen.

prototype samsung

A prototype of Samsung Galaxy Note edge (source :



At Consumer Electronics Show CES 2013 LG introduced curved OLED television. This 55” prototype, which looks like a cinema screen, is really thin (7.56″) and is also 3D capable.

In August this year, they also presented a paper-thin (1mm thick) television than can be bent. It is attachable to magnetic surfaces on curved walls.



The Switch, Netflix and chill

Have you ever dreamed of throwing your shoes into the corner of the room, jumping in your couch and doing nothing else than enjoying your evening. Netflix may have the answer and it is call The Switch!

Superman has the power to turn on Netflix, dim the light, order food and silence all his devices at once, we get it. But can you do the same? You couldn’t until now! Netflix has presented a switch that may sound a little magical, but it’s in fact a simple DIY remote that can do almost anything at once.

Simple… how simple exactly?” No more than switching the light on! Basically, it is a single-button remote that can connect to any IR (infra-red) or Wi-Fi devices. You only have to press, and relax. I see you coming: “How can one single button do all of this?” Well, nothing magical here. There is a small electronic circuit inside that gives a succession of orders. And that is the DIY part.

You said DIY?” That’s the best part; you can do your own at home! But first of all, you should know your basics in electronics and programming. Read the manual written by Netflix (here) and be creative. Each TV has their remote, and each home has their own Netflix Switch! It is unique to your need and to your devices. If you are interested, you shall find the pieces (here).

Sounds pretty good, but is there a catch? In fact, there may be a problem, depending on your devices: you must have a fully connected house. Remember, the switch works like a Wi-Fi remote. If you want to do everything I mentioned, you’ll need to have Wi-Fi connected light bulbs (such as Philips Hue’s smart LED lightbulbs), a new connected TV…

 You’ll also need an always-on machine, a small computer (a Raspberry Pi for example) that will serve as a node between all your devices.

It is an excellent idea that Netflix had with the Switch, but it might be complicated work, and it sure will be expensive if you do not have the proper equipment. But it is also quite the bucket of gold at the end of the DIY rainbow.

Quentin Fournier

Source: Netflix

Satellites: fun targets for hackers!

Many hackers love breaking into computers and servers all around the world. These attacks are terrifying, but exciting at the same time. But it becomes really more impressive when hackers do their stuff in sensitive places. In late September 2014, a US weather system was hacked during a short period. Classic, isn’t it ? Actually, it was a full satellite network that was hacked for two full days.


Continue reading Satellites: fun targets for hackers!

Who was Alexander Grohendieck, the greatest mathematician of the XXth century?

Alexander Grohendieck who was deemed the greatest Mathematician of the 20th century died this Thursday at 86. He lived his last 15 years as a recluse in a village of Ariège, France. He is living behind about 20,000 pages of notes he denied publication.

Alexander Grohendieck’s field of work was on Algebraic geometry, a branch of Mathematics at the meeting of algebra and geometry. He received the Fields Medal in 1966 and the Crafoord Prize in 1988 even though he declined it; he didn’t like

E-CAT : Mankind’s answer to the world’s energy problem?

As you probably know, mankind is facing one of the biggest challenges of its time : how to produce clean energy without wasting the Earth’s natural ressources, while producing enough energy to actually keep the world going?

We’re currently heavily relying on fossil fuels (around 70-80%), and nuclear power (6%) to sustain our consumption, but none of these options can actually keep us going, there’re always side effects : pollution and nuclear wastes for the most, not even mentionning that yes, we’re running low on fuels, that is a fact. Should our consumption continue on its way, Earth’s ressources on oil will be gone by 2050, as well as nickel (2048). This last point will start to make sense as you read the following.

The good thing about nuclear energy, is that there’s plenty of it, and that it doesn’t waste our remaining ressources. Using fission process, we don’t need a lot of atoms to create huge energy outputs, but it requires strict protocols and safety measures to do it “safely”. Still it is a very risky way of producing our energy, as history proved us many times.

But, what if we had discovered another source of energy? One that isn’t dangerous for our natural ressources? One that everyone of us could safely have at home? Well, that’s what E-Cats are all about.

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat (for Energy Catalyzer) is a power source generator that presumably uses cold fusion to achieve its amazing results. While not wanting to reveal how these are exactly made, Andrea Rossi gave out some intel we are glad to share. E-Cats are power units that can be combined to create a power source of the desired range. For instance, the 1MW plant consists of 106 single units combined together into a shipping container (quite practical to deliver and stack). These a being tested in specific companies.


I said “presumably uses cold fusion” because cold fusion is a concept that is usually considered a fantasy by the scientific community. Very few people believe in its existence, and the vast majority simply ignores it. However, further analysis tends to relate E-Cats to that “impossible” nuclear reaction.

Indeed, E-Cats are not as new as they may sound. Andrea Rossi’s research teams have been working on it for several years now, and while the first prototypes of E-Cats were supposed to have 10 000 times the energy density of gasoline, the latest analysis would give it more like, well, just 1 million times the energy density of gasoline… They have been doing displays during the year 2011, destined to researchers, journalists, and the scientific community in general. But how do they do? Well, it needs a little explanation.

The difference between cold fusion and standard fission process used today is that with cold fusion, the reaction happens at a much lower energy range. Basically, while we have to spend huge amounts of efforts to protect the current reactors (because the neutrons produced by the reaction are at such a high velocity), it’s not a problem for cold fusion.

The produced neutrons are next to harmless, so it’s easy to protect people from it. Putting the generator into a box made of lead will be enough protection for the power source! The other main difference is that while standard fission tears atoms apart, cold fusion fuses hydrogene and nickel atoms together. If you remember your chemistry lessons, you may notice two things : first, the energy produced will be astonishing. Second, the atoms produced by the fusion will mostly consist in copper. Quite convenient isn’t it? However, as I mentionned earlier, mankind is also running low on nickel, but maybe it would be worth saving this nickel for the E-Cats, since it is considered that 10% of the worldwide nickel production would suffice to sustain the entire Earth’s need for energy.

And the best part : due to the low energy and the low velociy of the produced particles, no radioactive waste! The copper will be usable in our industry, and the nickel used could be recycled at around 80%! And these power sources will certainly be available at home! (see image below)


To be more precise, third-party researchers were allowed to run series of tests onto an E-Cat unit, and their observations are detailed in a report available for download (see link in sources section).

What mainly comes out of it is that, first, the energy output of this device is simply amazing. “These values place the E-Cat beyond any other known conventional source of energy”, researchers said. The process, of course, costs a little bit of energy to start, but how much exactly? Well, the first prototypes fuel cost are about 1$/MWh (1$ per megawatt-hour), whereas common coal power costs around 100$/MWh.

And second, the six reputable researchers that realized these tests also analyzed the nickel state, before and after the reactions. And they realized that there was an isotrope shift, from a mix of Nickel-58 and Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62, a reaction that “cannot occur without nuclear reactions (ie fusion)”.

If you’re still not convinced of the potential consequences of this discovery, consider this for a moment :
– NASA also made research about Hydrogene-Nickel fusion (see this article)
– Moreover, after the mentionned report was published (March 2013) and then submitted to the Arxiv pre-print server (usual way of doing in the scientific community), report form Sifferkoll shows that “a” big bank downloaded the report immediatly after it had been made available. And elsewhere, the morning Glasgow University decided to sell its fossil fuel investments…

The world is changing, and the race has already started.



Full report

All images come from


Does Higgs boson mean destruction ?

October is usually the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony month. This year’s Physics Prize has been awarded to 3 Japanese and American researchers for their work on blue light-emitting diodes.
But a year ago, the Physics Prize was awarded to François Englert and Peter Higgs, for their work on the so called « God’s particle » : the Higgs boson. You probably know that already, as its discovery shook the whole world. And recently, medias have started again talking about it, so let’s take a look at what happened.

Nobel Physics

Higgs boson, was discovered very recently, in 2012. But that particle was nothing new, as Peter Higgs, François Englert, and four of their colleagues, have been working on it since 1964… The Higgs boson couldn’t be observed earlier due to inappropriate technology – until… now. It is the vault key of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, its discovery strengthens a lot the theory. This particle is the “glue” of our world. It gives other sub-atomic particles their mass, and thus the objects their shape and size.
With this « new » particle, this is a new field of research that just opened.

But, as Stephen Hawking said :

The Higgs boson has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable. …This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming.

Let’s put it in more simple terms. According to the quantum theory, the universe would currently be in a state of “fake vacuum”. It means the Universe is stable for a certain amount of time, but it can get to a lower energy state. And all the matter that is in the fake vacuum could get to a state of true vacuum.

If we do not interfere, the Universe would get to the true vacuum state in approximately 10^100 years. But theoretically, a tunnel linking those two states might exist. If an unstable Higgs boson was to be generated, it would create this tunnel. As a result, the whole universe would pass at the speed of light into an other physic state.
Just like the bubble described by Hawking.

But the energy required to achieve this transition is about 100 billion of GigaelectronVolts, while the largest particle collider puts out less than 100 TeraelectronVolts, a million times lower than what is required. Basically, with our current knowledge, such a powerful accelerator would be tens of thousands of kilometers large. As a comparison, Earth is only 12,600km large.
Not for today then.


But this might be possible in the future. If humanity keeps growing exponentially, this day might come sooner than expected. However, this is not a reason to stay awake all night : the true vacuum bubble would instantaneously get to you. There wouldn’t be any warning, you wouldn’t have the time to be scared. You can rest in peace.

More seriously, we know very little about the Universe. In fact, we can barely explain a fraction of the observed phenomena. For example, we can currently explain less than 20% of the matter which constitutes the Universe. All these theories are working for a certain set of phenomena, but they are far from being complete.
There are probably plenty of phenomena we don’t even know they exist.

You want some practical experiment ? Try putting a chewing-gum at the end of the trunk of an elephant. Not very scientific, but the result should be just as destructive – and way more fun.