The Atlantis-like lost, hidden, or fantastic world is a common theme in fiction. There are J. R. R. Tolkein's Middle Earth and James Hilton's Shangri-La, not to mention Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. The original lost land, Atlantis, was firstmentioned by Plato around 360 B.C. According to Plato, Atlantis sank into the earth and drowned beneath the seas. Real continents rarely disappear in such dramatic fashion. "Continents by definition are made of low-density rock and cannot be subducted deep into the earth," explained Staci Loewy, a geologist at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nonetheless, there are real "lost lands" like the Brazilian "Atlantis" that have disappeared from view because of rising seas or the geological upheavals of plate tectonics and erosion. "Parts of continents can be worn down by erosion, and fragments can be broken off and isolated as microcontinents when larger continents break apart," Loewy said.
The Alcubierre warp drive is still theoretical for now. "The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can't imagine a world without them." That's a statement from the 100 Year Starship organization, a think tank devoted to making Earth what "Star Trek" would call a "warp-capable civilization" within a century.
The first step toward a functional warp drive is to prove that a "warp bubble" is even possible, and that it can be artificially created.
That's exactly what physicist Harold "Sonny" White and a team of researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas are doing right now.
Understanding the brain writ large is what drives Markram. It has been his only serious interest since the age of 13, when his mother sent him from the Kalahari game farm where he’d spent his childhood to a boarding school outside Durban. His first year there, he stumbled across some research on schizophrenia and other mental disorders and directed his youthful energy into studying the mind. “It was just amazing to me that you could have a little more or less of some chemical and your whole worldview would be different,” he recalls, smiling with boyish wonder. “If you can switch a chemical and your personality changes, who are you?”