[E]volution is a phenomenon which extends far beyond Darwin to embrace absolutely everything. The internet, for example. No one planned it. No one — pace Al Gore and Tim Berners Lee — strictly invented it. It just sprang up, driven by consumer need and made possible by available technology. As Ridley says: ‘It is a living example, before our eyes, of the phenomenon of evolutionary emergence — of complexity and order spontaneously created in a decentralised fashion without a designer.’
Which is what, of course, is such anathema to control freaks everywhere, from the Chinese, Iranian and Russian regimes to Barack Obama, who famously declared in 2012: ‘The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet.’
This claim, as Ridley demonstrates, is at best moot, at worst flat-out untrue. In fact, government was actually responsible for postponing the internet. One of its early forms was the Pentagon-funded Arpanet, which until 1989 was prohibited for private or commercial purposes. An MIT handbook in the 1980s reminded users: ‘sending electronic messages over the ARPAnet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal’. Only after it was effectively privatised in the 1990s did the internet take off.
A Machine That Answers The Phone?
Human ingenuity and machinery fascinates me…the bigger the machine the better. After 33 years the Sikorsky prize has finally been won.
A Canadian duo and their Kickstarter-funded, pedal-powered helicopter have won one of the longest-standing challenges in the history of aviation — keeping a human-powered aircraft hovering up in the air at height of at least 9.8 feet, within a 32.8 by 32.8-foot square, for 60 seconds minimum. The challenge, known as the Sikorsky prize, has withstood at numerous failed attempts since it was established in 1980, 33 years ago, even with a $250,000 bounty. But it was finally bested earlier in June by the Atlas, a gigantic human-powered helicopter designed by Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert, aeronautical engineers from the University of Toronto, who cofounded a company AeroVelo.
The pair funded the construction of their winning aircraft through a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, and just barely managed to beat a rival team from the University of Maryland, whose craft Gamera failed to stay within the square-foot range required by the prize, as Popular Mechanics reports. Read more »