A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass.
From The Blog
December 9, 2014
The Eleventh Doctor’s Legacy Was Loss and Failure
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 9, 2014
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014
Tor.com
December 8, 2014
How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.
Chris Lough
December 8, 2014
Tiamat’s Terrain: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange
Alex Mangles
December 4, 2014
Potential Spoiler Leak for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reveals Awesome Details
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts tagged: Science click to see more stuff tagged with Science
Mon
Dec 8 2014 10:00am

How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.

how fast Millennium Falcon

So how fast is the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive, anyway?

We know—unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, seriously wizard don’t you read SmugglerFeed?—that this is the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But we also know that a parsec is a measure of distance, and since Han doesn’t specify how long it took the Falcon to make this sub-12 parsec shortcut, we don’t actually get an idea as to how fast the ship can go.

Oh, but she’ll do “.5 past light speed” which...doesn’t tell us much either. Obviously ships in the Star Wars galaxy can go faster than light speed otherwise there’d be no movie, but how fast is .5 on their hyperdrive scales in terms of light years traversed per day?

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 2 2014 10:00am

Naked Singularities and the Art of Science Writing: A Love Letter to Kip Thorne

Kip Thorne Interstellar

You don’t need to read another review of Interstellar, so thank god this isn’t one!

Okay, so, as the guy from True Detective escaped the dust bowl, went into outer space with Fantine, two redshirts, and some not-killer robots, skipped through a wormhole, had a fistfight with Somewhat Moist Jason Bourne, the whole time excitable fourteen-year-old-Max was in the back of my head shouting:

10 I AM WATCHING A MOVIE EXECUTIVE-PRODUCED BY KIP THORNE

20 WHAT IS THIS WEIRD WONDERFUL FUTURE I INHABIT

30 GOTO 10

[Read more]

Tue
Nov 25 2014 10:00am

The Science of The Three-Body Problem and How it Ties Into Self-Worth

Three-Body Problem art by Stephan Martiniere

A covert military project. A secret war revealed as the worst fight that humanity has ever faced. Baffling mysteries. A series of ultra-science weapons, each more powerful and fantastic than the last, including one technology described as more important than nuclear bombs. Aliens that may be saviors, or invaders, or both. All this and more feature in Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, the first book in a science fiction trilogy that is wildly popular in China (read a firsthand account of the series’ fame) and is now finally making its way into English.

Let’s take a look at the science that the story is built upon. Spoilers ahead for those haven’t yet read The Three-Body Problem.

[Read more]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 9:00am

Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?

Interstellar love speech

While some of the characters in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar grapple with the concept of quantifying and manipulating gravity, others posit that even when understanding of the physical forces of the universe fail you, love remains greater than everything else. Anne Hathaway’s character Dr. Amelia Brand says as much, in the movie’s most polarizing speech:

Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable, powerful, it has to mean something... Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.

Various outlets are deriding Brand’s second-act exhortation as “hippy,” (sic) “goofy,” and “preposterous.” Some blame Hathaway’s delivery, while others think that making Interstellar about love just as much as it’s about time, space, and gravity was a huge misstep on the Nolans’ part.

But why do we have such an adverse reaction on the concept of love as a force in science fiction?

[Read more]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 8:00am

Morning Roundup: Get to the Foy-ahhh!

Hey, do you like Predator? Like, really a lot? Cause if so, Blastr’s found the perfect house for you! Apparently a homeowner in Sweden has put their terrifying Predator-themed house on the market. It only costs $327,000, which sounds like a pretty sweet deal. As long as neither a Xenomorph or Arnold Schwarzenegger move in across the street...

Morning Roundup brings you further news on the comet landing, a look into Guardians of the Galaxy’s creative development, and terrifying yet helpful cockroaches!

[read more]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 12:30pm

Stephen Hawking Biopic The Theory of Everything Is a Guiltless Pleasure

The Theory of Everything movie

If this year’s Oscar-bait films are any indication, the thing to do next year will be to play a black hole. For now, the big movies are content with talking about black holes a lot—McConaughey and company in the epic Interstellar—or more conventionally down-to-Earth; Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the Stephen Hawking/Jane Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything.

If you’re a science fiction fan or science enthusiast, you might assume (like I did) that The Theory of Everything is a saccharine, manipulative tear-jerker of the Lifetime original movie ilk, and you’re probably not wrong. Which is exactly why you should see it.

[Read more]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 10:00am

To Explore is to Take Care of Us All: Interstellar

Interstellar

Once Interstellar came to an end and the lot of us walked back out into the light of the world, I wondered: what was the rest of the audience thinking at that moment? My own head was ringing with mono-syllabic exclamations stretching to infinity. I was happy. I was bursting. I was still there in the world of the film.

But I am an easy catch for this film. I adore astronomy and identify heavily with those who seek to bridge the chasm of awareness between the forces of the heavens and our day to day lives. Interstellar is a reinforcement of those desires, a widening of the bridge, but I would argue that I am in the minority in that regard. For most of the audience, Interstellar will be the first inkling they have that understanding space and overcoming the obstacles of travel within it is vital to our well-being here on Earth.

Was this the case? What were they thinking right now?

[Read more]

Sun
Nov 9 2014 8:00am

Carl Sagan Lived His Life Believing Science Belonged to All of Us

Carl SaganIt’s difficult to put into words the kind of impact Carl Sagan has had on fans of genre fiction. The combination of his enthusiasm for science education, his patience, and his outreach made him the unique man that we honor today, and if I wrote non-stop for a year I doubt I would be able to find a way to encapsulate that.

Which is when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. At the 2013 New York Comic Con I was lucky enough to get to sit in on the panel for Cosmos and heard Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan and host Neil deGrasse Tyson speak of the man they loved, the man who set the example for what they were trying to accomplish. What they spoke was deeply thoughtful and brazenly passionate, and I’d like to share that with you now.

[“...he believed that science belonged to all of us...”]

Fri
Oct 24 2014 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Jim Henson’s Kitchen Nightmare Babies

Chef Gordon Ramsay has finally met his match! George Takei shared this picture, which we’re assuming was shot during the most important culinary summit of our time. We’re just hoping that Ramsay appreciated the Swedish Chef’s Shredded Wheat and Cranberry Sauce...

Morning Roundup is still to busy watching the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer on a continuous loop to think of much else, but still...links must be gathered and spread! And so, we bring you yet another legacy of the Romans, a list of great modern horror films for your Halloween edification, and a look back at Dragon magazine! 

[Plus, take flight with some Hobbits!]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 3:13pm

Christopher Nolan Had to Pick and Choose Which Wormhole Science to Use in Interstellar

Interstellar science wormholes Christopher Nolan Kip Thorne

With just a few weeks left until the release of Interstellar (a.k.a. this year’s Gravity), director Christopher Nolan and the cast sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for a lengthy feature on the film’s development. One thing we learned was that, like Gravity, Interstellar is not 100% scientifically accurate. But rather than have Neil deGrasse Tyson call that out once the movie has hit theaters, Nolan copped to it from the beginning.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 8:30am

Bill Nye and Randall Munroe Pummell NYCC 2014 with SCIENCE!

So, to set the scene: the room is completely packed. Googly eyes have been glued to the podium. People line the walls, eagerly scanning the doors for the person they’re here to see, the Nerd Among Nerds: Bill Nye, Science Guy. He will interview, and be interviewed by, Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd and professional stick figure.

The two men are here ostensibly to promote their books: Munroe’s What if?, a series of absurd answers to scientific questions (which is available now!) and Nye’s Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (which comes out on November 4th!). Finally, the followers see their idol, and a massive chant of “Bill! Bill! Bill!” sweeps the room. The excitement is palpable, and I can say, with confidence, that this is the nerdiest room I have ever been in, or, indeed, shall ever be in. And for 45 minutes, I’m pretty sure it was also the coolest.

[panel highlights below!]

Fri
Oct 3 2014 10:00am

Us and Them: The Thing From Another World

Thing From Another World

“I’ve tried to tell you before, scientists have always been pawns of the military.”

I can’t speak to the relationship between scientists and military personnel in Starfleet, but David’s warning to his mother, Dr. Marcus, in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan neatly underlines the antagonism between the eggheads and the meatheads in so much of science fiction. The scientists see the military as a bunch of trigger-happy morons, while the soldiers see the scientists as a bunch of troublemaking nerds who do more harm than good.

You can probably trace the intensity of this mutual distrust back to the dawn of the atomic age, when the militarization of science produced the means to kill everyone on earth. The animosity is certainly on full display in one of the key science fiction films of that era, 1951’s The Thing From Another World. In the film, scientists and Air Force officers stationed at the North Pole discover a wrecked UFO. They uncover a body encased in ice near the wreckage and transport it back to their base just before a storm blows in and cuts them off from the outside world. Then, of course, the thing in the ice thaws out.

[Read More]

Wed
Sep 17 2014 1:00pm

Aloha HawaiiCon!

HawaiiCon

This past weekend was the first ever HawaiiCon. I was one of the 199 Kickstarter backers last year, and was excited for the chance to attend. In all, the new con had about 700 attendees (including guests and comps), with the split between Hawaiians and mainlanders about 50/50. Although the Kickstarter hailed it as a science and SFF con with a Hawaiian twist, and touted its authors, celebrities, and comic book artists, the con really ended up being roughly 60% hard science, 30% SF, and the rest a sundry mix.

[“The Science, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention with Aloha!”]

Tue
Sep 16 2014 3:56pm

NASA Sending Astronauts to ISS in Commercial Craft While it Builds New Shuttles

NASA Boeing SpaceX Commercial crew

NASA announced during a live conference today that it is contracting Boeing and SpaceX to send U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station with commercial spacecraft beginning in 2017. This will remove the U.S.’s reliance on the Russian space launches that are currently the only access to the ISS and allow for work to continue on the station while NASA preps a new generation of shuttles.

[Read more]

Tue
Sep 9 2014 3:00pm
Excerpt

The Copernicus Complex (Excerpt)

Caleb Scharf

The Copernicus Complex Caleb Scharf excerpt In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared to go against the establishment by proposing that Earth rotates around the Sun. Having demoted Earth from its unique position in the cosmos to one of mediocrity, Copernicus set in motion a revolution in scientific thought. This perspective has influenced our thinking for centuries.

However, recent evidence challenges the Copernican Principle, hinting that we do in fact live in a special place, at a special time, as the product of a chain of unlikely events. But can we be significant if the Sun is still just one of a billion trillion stars in the observable universe? And what if our universe is just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities?

In The Copernicus Complex—available now from Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux—renowned astrophysicist Caleb Scharf takes us on a scientific adventure, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets, probability theory, and beyond, arguing that there is a solution to this contradiction, a third way of viewing our place in the cosmos, if we weigh the evidence properly. Bringing us to the cutting edge of scientific discovery, Scharf shows how the answers to fundamental questions of existence will come from embracing the peculiarity of our circumstance without denying the Copernican vision.

[Read an excerpt]

Fri
Aug 15 2014 3:00pm
Excerpt

Riveted (Excerpt)

Jim Davies

Riveted Jim Davies Why do some things pass under the radar of our attention, but other things capture our interest? Why do some religions catch on and others fade away? What makes a story, a movie, or a book riveting? Why do some people keep watching the news even though it makes them anxious?

Professor Jim Davies’ fascinating and highly accessible book, Riveted, reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion and from sports to superstition. Drawing on work from philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, psychology, economics, computer science, and biology, Davies offers a comprehensive explanation to show that in spite of the differences between the many things that we find compelling, they have similar effects on our minds and brains.

Riveted amazon buy link Jim Davies' Riveted is available now from St. Martin’s Press. Below, read an excerpt from the chapter titled “Hardwiring for Socialization.”

[Read an Excerpt]

Tue
Aug 5 2014 11:00am

What We Know Not: Irregularity, ed. Jared Shurin

Irregularity anthology edited by Jared Shurin review

Most books are dedicated to people near and dear: to friends or family members of the minds behind the literary leaps such documents detail. Sometimes other authors or artists—figures of miscellaneous inspiration without whom some key element of the texts in question may have foundered or failed—are acknowledged in the aforementioned fashion. It’s a rare thing, though, to see a dedication made not to a someone, but a something.

Irregularity is exactly that. It’s an anthology dedicated to an idea, to an abstract: “to failure,” in fact—though the text itself is a tremendous success. As an enterprise it is “no less than wonderful, and it seemed to me that every man of scholarship, every man of imagination, regardless of his language or place of birth, should find in it something extraordinary.” Lo, like The Lowest Heaven before it, the latest collaboration between Jurassic London and the National Maritime Museum showcases an audacious assemblage of tales arranged around an inspired idea: that we as a people were in a way robbed by the Age of Reason.

[Read More]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 6:00am

Nikola Tesla Was a Great Scientist, But a Greater Nerd

Nikola Tesla by David A. JohnsonToday marks the 158th birthday of Nikola Tesla, a man so bizarre and scientifically curious that it’s easy to imagine him figuring out a method to cheat death and live to see this year, if only Thomas Edison or his suspected OCD weren’t interfering....

Tesla brought true advancements to the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and talking about death ray urban legends while tipsy at parties. And although his scientific achievements are vital to the way we live today, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that what we as fans of science fiction truly laud him for is for being a wildly imaginative outsider.

[And a snappy dresser]

Fri
Jun 20 2014 7:00am

Morning Roundup: New Mockingjay Propaganda Posters Hate Lumberjacks

Mockingjay Part 1 propaganda posters

The marketing machine for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1: Revenge of Buttercup is starting up in earnest and “The Capitol” is fighting the rebel forces by reminding the Districts how much it loves its citizens (that it firebombed) through a series of terrifying propaganda posters. Our favorite might be this District 7 lumberjack who...cut off his own leg so he could become 15% wood? You can see all of them here.

Your Morning Roundup wants a Batman movie sooner than 2019 and found something that science isn’t so good at.

[Read more]

Tue
May 20 2014 4:00pm

Kswah Swah: Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

I don’t doubt that it’s difficult to be different, but Nick Harkaway makes it look obscenely easy. In just two books, he’s made such a mark on the landscape of imagination that his legions of readers will come to Tigerman bearing certain expectations: of an endlessly energetic narrative that streaks about like something stung, complete with a cacophony of lively characters and replete with ideas which bleed bananas.

This isn’t exactly that... but it is undeniably of the award-winning author’s oeuvre.

Whereas The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker were noisy novels, with ninjas and ass-kicking grannies, mad monks and clockwork killers, Tigerman, by comparison, is quiet. Being the origin story of a superhero and his sidekick, it’s not silent, not entirely, but it is... stealthy, yes. Sneaky, even. All in all a much softer, sweeter and more surprising something than I had imagined.

[Read more]