The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum.
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Showing posts tagged: Science click to see more stuff tagged with Science
Oct 3 2014 11:00am

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]

Sep 17 2014 2:00pm

Aloha 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!”]

Sep 16 2014 4:56pm

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]

Sep 9 2014 4:00pm

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]

Aug 15 2014 4:00pm

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]

Aug 5 2014 12:00pm

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]

Jul 10 2014 7:00am

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]

Jun 20 2014 8:00am

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]

May 20 2014 5:00pm

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]

May 16 2014 2:00pm

Soul Music: The Voices by F. R. Tallis

The Voices FR Tallis review Maybe you haven’t heard of it—maybe you weren’t born yet; maybe you’re based elsewhere—but in Great Britain, the summer of 1976 went down in history. It was the hottest single season since records began some 400 years ago, and people in these parts weren’t prepared. There were droughts. Deaths.

It was an indescribably violent time, all told. Hate crimes were a daily affair many commentators attributed to the incredible temperatures. “What a world to bring a child into,” as our couple comments on the first page of F. R. Tallis’ haunting new novel, The Voices. But that’s exactly what Christopher and Laura Norton plan to do. Indeed, on the day they decide to spend their once-substantial savings on “a substantial Victorian edifice [...] concealed in a pocket of London’s complex topography,” their infant daughter is born. They name her Faye, meaning belief—which, though they have in her, they lack, alas, in one another.

A year later, the Nortons have settled into their new property nicely, but things between Faye’s parents have gone to pot in short order, and a terror more malignant than the recent uptick in temperature is about to make its malevolent presence felt.

[Read More]

May 16 2014 1:40pm

Check Out the First Trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar!

Christopher Nolan Interstellar trailer

The world has run out of food in Christopher Nolan’s latest epic of epicness, Interstellar, and only pilot/engineer Matthew McConaughey can...well, we don’t know. The first trailer for Nolan’s highly anticipated sci-fi movie is vague on plot but heavy on the feelings and we want to see it now. We want to see the super sad true space movie now!

[Click through for the latest volley of the McConnaissance!]

May 15 2014 2:38pm


Hoverbike for sale Aero X


Two years ago Aerofex introduced the world to its hoverbike, the Aero-X, and now they think they’ll begin selling commercial models as early as 2017! The bikes will cost around $85,000 and are propelled by rotors, allowing the rich and mobile to literally spray dirt in our face as they whiz by laughing.

All class war aside, we would buy one of these things immediately if we could. The Aero-X can reach 45 mph, hovers at about twelve feet off the ground, seats two, and is extremely useful for chasing fugitives across the alkali flats. Don’t forget to wear a menacing helmet!

[Click through to see a video of the bike in flight]

May 9 2014 10:00am

The Drugs Don’t Work: Glow by Ned Beauman

Ned Beauman Glow Though admiring them is absolutely natural, it’s not always easy to enjoy Ned Beauman’s novels. Take Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident: two basically brilliant books, but both are unabashedly bizarre, and decidedly distasteful. No less so Glow, in which one of Britain’s best and brightest new writers trains his tremendous talents on today as opposed to the improbable parts of the past he’s explored before.

On the surface it sounds almost normal—a conspiracy thriller above a lovelorn Londoner caught up in a plot by an ailing organisation which aims to make massive amounts of money by monopolising the market for a revolutionary new recreational drug—but peer beneath this veneer and Glow is revealed to be as progressive, and at the same time excessive, as its predecessors.

[Read More]

Apr 10 2014 11:45am

I Just Lost Hours Reading This Geological History of Westeros

Game of Thrones geological history of Westeros

The Stanford geologists at Generation Anthropocene are my new favorite people. They recently assembled a presentation that extrapolates from clues in the books how the continent of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones came to be formed, from the salt flats of Dorne to the granite of Winterfell, and it is an exceptionally clever work that breathes new color into George R. R. Martin’s world.

They also nail down precisely how big the planet is—an attempt I made myself last year with less precise methods—figure out where the tectonic plates are, find missing volcanoes, and discover a period in the planet’s history where winter thoroughly won the fight.

Check out the full thing here. Don't fret over not knowing anything about geology. The writing in the presentation presents everything very clearly and concisely, allowing anyone to follow the progression of Westeros from southern hemispheric lump to its jagged current-day self. Here’s hoping they publish an update that folds Essos and the Known World into the mix!

Apr 8 2014 4:30pm

I Seriously Doubt Kate Mulgrew Believes the Sun Revolves Around the Earth

Kate Mulgrew Captain Janeway Star Trek

Hey, guess what? Kate Mulgrew took a voice-over gig that has turned out to be narration for a documentary made by a Holocaust-denier that is titled The Principle, which claims that the sun revolves around the Earth. So now we know, for sure, that the Captain Kathryn Janeway that we (sort of) grew up with believes something that was disproved hundreds of years ago.

[Or, more likely, she doesn’t]

Mar 26 2014 5:00pm

Roses Are Red: A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

A Love Like Blood review Marcus Sedgwick

I’ve often heard it said that the littlest things in life can have the biggest impact—an assertion evidenced by Charles Jackson, a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps whose subsequent career in the field of haemophilia springs from something seemingly insignificant. Celebrating the liberation of Paris from the hands of the Nazis, he hunkers down in a bunker, only to half-see something weird: someone gulping blood from the warm body of a woman.

A vampire? Perhaps. But more likely a mere madman. “It was ludicrous; it was, as I’ve said, something I should not have seen, something wrong. Not just violence, not just murder, but something even more depraved than those acts.” Absent any evidence that a crime has been committed, Charles does his level best to dismiss this wicked thing he’s witnessed. But the damage is done, and the unsettling story told in A Love Like Blood begun.

[Read More]

Mar 25 2014 12:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The Science of the Supernatural

The Elivs Room Stephen Graham Jones

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

The sixth in a series of darkly fantastic chapbooks bearing the This Is Horror hallmark, ‘The Elvis Room’ by Stephen Graham Jones is an unsettling exploration of the science of the supernatural.

[Read More]

Mar 24 2014 4:00pm

That Galaxy is Shooting Lasers. The Science of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Episode 3: “When Knowledge Conquered Fear”

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 3 science Isaac Newton

Want to know more about the Really Cool Things behind the science and history revealed in this week’s episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey? This must be the place!

This week we’ll dig deeper into episode 3, “When Knowledge Conquered Fear” and look at the constellations of Middle-earth, galaxies that SHOOT LASERS, how awesome-not-awesome Isaac Newton was, and the galactic cataclysm pinwheeling towards us right now.

[Read more]

Mar 19 2014 11:00am

SUPER CORN! The Science of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Episode 2: “Some of the Things That Molecules Do”

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 2: Some of the Things That Molecules Do

As a mostly educational program Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is meant to inspire a sense of wonder in its viewers, regardless of their background, along with a desire to explore the worlds around them in the same curious manner as host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Ship of the Imagination.

Towards that end, instead of simply recapping and reviewing each episode, I’ll be assembling a list of Really Cool Things behind the science. Want to learn more about what you saw in the program? Come this way!

This week we’ll dig deeper into episode 2, “Some of the Things That Molecules Do” and meet some adorable foxes, raise an eyebrow at What We’ve Done To Corn, and see a map of Titan that could double as an epic fantasy world.

[Read more]

Mar 18 2014 3:30pm

Watch Andrei Linde React to Being Told His Big Bang Inflation Theory is Correct

Andrei Linde Big Bang Inflation

The world of astrophysics got the shaking of a lifetime earlier this week with the discovery of proof that the universe began with a bang. (Or cosmic inflation theory as it is more accurately known.) Now watch as Stanford University surprises Andrei Linde, one of the proponents of the theory, with the news of the discovery!

[It’s about to get emotional all up in this science]