Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Placeless, locaton-free

It is good to be placeless or location-free or omnipresent.  Ok, that is still not strictly possible.  I am in a specific location and not somewhere else.  I am not only not elsewhere but I am still limited to a single location at any one time.  But we are making progress.  With radio and tv and the internet, with communication satellites that manage to get signals from one side of a spinning ball to another, we are getting closer to being able to operate from any place on the planet.

If you need tungsten ore and it is only found right there, you have to be right there or close by to get it.  We aren't really to the point yet where any set of atoms can be connected and re-connected so that they make up any substance we desire.  We may be rather close to being able to do that.  I am not in the right area of study to know.  I suspect we may be able to make any material into any other someday but being able to make a little bit at great cost is very different from mining or manufacturing large amounts of a substance at reasonable costs in a reasonable time.

I read somewhere that Arthur C. Clarke, the futurist and science fiction writer and thinker, proposed communication satellites in 1945.  On October 4, 1957, the first artificial satellite,"Sputnik", was launched by the Russians.  I was pretty sure that both the US and Russia had more than a few satellites now but I am quite surprised to read that there are now 2, 271 artificial satellites, 1324 of them Russian and about half that many are American.

But there are important signals and less important ones.  When you think of Amazon.com and online banking and Skype video calling and cellphones, when you think of YouTube and its both trashy and valuable messages and content, you can see that we are making progress at being able to get things from anywhere to anywhere.  We still need massive numbers of trucks, planes, ships and now drones for delivery.  

Still, books, movies and many other items and services are digital these days.  Just recently, my daughter was operated on by a robot.  For years, our local dermatologist conferred with others without being with them.  You can arrange for hypnosis by phone.  Someday, we may be able to do away with location questions, at least as long as we confine ourselves to one planet.

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