Reprint: Making your own superconductor.

May 22 2020

Disclaimer: Times have changed since this article was written so seek legal and scientific advice from qualified personnel if you plan to try making your own superconducting materials.  I am not qualified personnel or a lawyer.  Do not try this at home.  We live in a world in which possession of basic chemistry apparatus is illegal in some places, so do your homework.

Process reprinted from OMNI Magazine, November 1987, page 76.  (local PDF) (local CBR) (right-click -> save as to download))

From How To Make Your Own Superconductors, by Bruce Schecter.  Retyped as faithfully as possible.  Hyperlinks mine, added for background.

Paul Grant, a research scientist at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, believes he has even come up with the first practice use of the new superconductors - science education.  A few months after he and his colleagues had whipped up their first batch, he advised high-school science teacher David Pribyl and his students from Gilroy, California (famous for its garlic), to have a go at making superconductors themselves.  Grant feels that this must be some kind of record.  "In less than six months a major discovery made the trip from the research laboratory to a high-school chemistry project," Grant says.  "Next year year, science fairs will have hundreds of these experiments."

The new superconductors are made up of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen - the chemical formula is Y1Ba2Cu3O7-x.  The proportions of the yttrium, barium, and copper have lead scientists to call this material 123 - a nice coincidence since making it is as easy as that.

Exocortices: A definition of a technology.

Oct 12 2017

Originally published at Mondo 2000, 10 October 2017.

A common theme of science fiction in the transhumanist vein, and less commonly in applied (read: practical) transhumanist circles is the concept of having an exocortex either installed within oneself, or interfaced in some way with one's brain to augment one's intelligence.  To paint a picture with a fairly broad brush, an exocortex was a system postulated by JCR Licklider in the research paper Man-Computer Symbiosis which would implement a new lobe of the human brain which was situated outside of the organism (though some components of it might be internal).  An exocortex would be a symbiotic device that would provide additional cognitive capacity or new capabilities that the organism previously did not posses, such as:

  • Identifying and executing cognitively intensive tasks (such as searching for and mining data for a project) on behalf of the organic brain, in effect freeing up CPU time for the wetware.
  • Adding additional density to existing neuronal networks to more rapidly and efficiently process information.  Thinking harder as well as faster.
  • Providing databases of experiential knowledge (synthetic memories) for the being to "remember" and act upon.  Skillsofts, basically.
  • Adding additional "execution threads" to one's thinking processes.  Cognitive multitasking.
  • Modifying the parameters of one's consciousness, for example, modulating emotions to suppress anxiety and/or stimulate interest, stimulating a hyperfocus state to enhance concentration, or artificially inducing zen states of consciousness.
  • Expanding short-term memory beyond baseline parameters.  For example, mechanisms that translate short-term memory into long-term memory significantly more efficiently.
  • Adding I/O interfaces to the organic brain to facilitate connection to external networks, processing devices, and other tools.