Friday, January 21, 2011

Interference to airliners from electronic devices, possible terrorism, and my vision for the future

That electronic devices might pose a threat to commercial aircraft through electromagnetic interference has already been discussed many times (for example here).

What I'm concerned about is the possibility of executing a terrorist activity through a nefariously modified electronic gadget. An iPod touch or a MacBook could be modified by adding high-power radio transmitters, and could be used to reliably cause interference with an aircraft's communication and navigation systems. Such a modified device would easily pass the security checks at airports, since it would look and work just like any other iPod touch or MacBook.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever thought about the possibility of what I've written above. Most of the published material appears to be concerned about electromagnetic interference from electronic gadgets used by travelers (and travelers either forget to turn their devices off or they deliberately don't turn them off - we all know this).

However, I can predict that in the near future, devices will begin to automatically recognize their current location and take at least some safety-related actions based on their location. For example, smartphones or tablets of tomorrow will realize that they're inside an aircraft or a hospital and will either alert their owners of the possibility of interference or will automatically turn off their wireless components. Alternatively, a transmitter in an aircraft's cockpit will send a signal (at the order of a pilot) ordering all electronic devices to turn themselves off. Compliant devices will either alert their owners or will automatically turn themselves off.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Why are humans the only intelligent species?

That's the question that struck my mind as I was driving back home a few days back. It seems odd that humans are the only species on the Earth that are intelligent (of course, this statement assumes that whatever intelligence is exhibited by non-human species, it's so primitive in comparison to the godly intelligence exhibited by humans, that it's easily ignorable).

This looks even more odd because the Earth is the only astronomical object known to possess life. So at least as of today, humans are the only intelligent species in the entire (known) universe.


I queried this on Google, and interestingly, so many people have already asked this question!

Update (9-Jan-11): A related question that just struck me - what would happen if there are two or more intelligent species on our planet? Would they fight against each other? Would they be able to live in harmony? Is it possible that there was at least one other intelligent species on the Earth, but the early humans killed it? When many animals species are physically similar to each other in so many ways, why has intelligence not spread to any other species?