As we enter a new chapter in the James Bond movie franchise, staunch fans like myself are apprehensive or intensely curious about what direction the franchise will take, and about who will be chosen to play the next 007? The naming of the actor to play the MI6 spy appears to have turned into a cultural festival that runs every decade or so, much like the naming of who will host the next Olympic Games. It’s a media tradition ever since George Lazenby famously turned his back to the franchise.
With Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series inching closer to television screens, a question resurfaces, a question I’ve been asking ever since first reading these two works of classic science fiction, both of whom have been fighting an eternal battle for the number one spot on my favorites list.
(This is the first of three posts.)
What makes these stories so great?
For me it’s the scope of these novels. It’s how the authors infuse a multitude of scientific disciplines and morph them into the plot. This little project is intended as a study guide for me to use and others if they choose, and aims to list as many topics and fields of study as possible. It’ll be an ongoing process as I probably will miss a few academic disciplines along the way. Read the rest of this entry »
It is sad to watch a great nation bludgeon another weaker nation, a supposed ally and friend, into submission and humiliation, especially when both sides are at fault over a debt situation that has spiraled out of control. Yes, Greek voters did take the easy path since the 1970’s. I myself remember arguing against further integration back in the summer of 1991, when I visited the place. Older folk and younger kids, die-hard communists and fascists alike were all for it. I nearly got stabbed when I stated, “One day German tanks will be rolling down the streets of Athens once more…”
It’s not every night you stumble across something on the internet that is as bizarre as being officially acknowledged for helping to find an exoplanet. I enrolled with Planet Hunter years ago (around 2011), and dabbled for fun picking out images that may indicate the presence of a planet orbiting a star. Easy stuff really.
Looks like we found two exoplanets, detected by amateur astronomers using the Planet Hunters’ Zooniverse project.
The first planetary system, KIC 10905746 hosts at least one planet. KIC 10905746 b is a Super-earth planet 2.5 times larger than earth, orbiting the 13th magnitude M-type star, which is located in Cygnus constellation 500 light years away.
The second is KIC 6185331 b, an extrasolar planet, 7.9 times larger than the Earth, orbiting 15th magnitude star KIC 6185331, which is located in Lyra constellation 4784 light years.
Both exoplanets have tight fast orbits around their stars (orbits are 9.88 and 49.8 days respectively) so they’re pretty inhospitable. Hopefully more data would reveal more planets with longer and wider orbits in these systems, because now I have to include these two in a space opera if I get to writing one.
We are very, very happy to announce that the first Planet Hunters paper has been submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, or MNRAS.*
The title page of the paper shows:
If you take a close look at the affiliations, you will see that #16 is called “Planet Hunter.” That’s because this paper reports the discovery of two planet candidates discovered by our volunteers – and naturally, we included those those who were the first people to identify possible transits in the the 9 stars discussed in the paper. We also include a link to the full list of all Planet Hunters; you can find it here.
So what does the paper actually say? As it’s the first (of hopefully many) papers, we give a brief overview of the Kepler data and the Planet Hunters interface. How did we display the data? What questions did…
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Scientists are anxious these days about the advent of artificial intelligence. They all seem to infer that as soon as one such cyber entity awakens, it’ll deem humanity evolutionary and intellectually inferior and will plot to exterminate its creator.
It’s baffling to me why science and the media paint these entities as inherently evil. Maybe it’s the unknown factor that easily frightens humans. Not that fear of the unknown has ever stopped humans from venturing into uncharted territory. Look at how science is warning civilisation about the ramifications of terra-forming our planet by dumping so much carbon into the atmosphere. No one seems to give a shit. Humanity would rather cling on to its polluting easy lifestyle and chance it with nature than heed the warnings. Sacrifice our way of life in order to curb climate change? Hell no. So it’s kind of retarded when science and media warn that AI technology will be somehow dangerous to humans. Dangerous or not people don’t care. As long as life gets easier they are prepared to chance it.
The debate over climate change is one of those strange human things. In a logical or analytic sense, there really shouldn’t be such an argument. If you see danger up ahead, you would naturally take action to avoid it, right?
Not so simple when dealing with humans.
Let’s take humanity out of equation. Once you do that it doesn’t matter which way the temperature goes on the Earth, or on any other planet. Planets don’t care either way. If you talk to the sun, it’s just pissed off it didn’t achieve black hole status and that it now has to wait another ten or so billion Earth years before it gets another crack at it. Read the rest of this entry »
It makes no sense. This fear.
We exist in a universe that is constantly creating and destroying. Life is spawned from out of all this violence, and threatened by it. Life has to combat disease, superstorms, earthquakes, meteor impacts, supernovas, gamma ray bursts and that is just the natural world. The human world is even deadlier. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s really hard not to facepalm when confronted by headlines stating that 100,000 have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch, non-profit (yes, that’s right, non-profit) company called Mars One is collecting human specimens, and raising six billion dollars, to send these people some 225 million kilometres, one way, to the planet Mars.
They call it colonization. They market it as a “stepping stone in human galactic expansion.”
Yes, that’s right, Galactic.
Even reading interviews with some of the applicants really drives home what insanity dwells in modern people’s minds. Some even suggesting that this is how the discovery of America come about, others considering birthing and raising children on the surface of this new frontier.
Writing science fiction gives an author the opportunity to have a go at predicting the future. For me, the best tool I always find useful is this; in order to build a world in which to set the novel, you start by going back into history. ‘To see the future one must look into the past’ and follow the trends. In the case of ‘A Hostile Takeover’ I began by asking ‘What is a nation? A state? A country?’ and then went on to research different types of sovereignties throughout history. I followed the trends and discovered the future of the world’s political landscape is a mixture of obviousness and surprise. The one prediction that seems most definite amongst all the others is that the nation states we live in today are not static, rigid institutions, but evolving, changing political creatures.
Supernations One of the obvious developments is the trend of nations moving towards supernationhood. Historically, growing and successful communities constantly expanded to accommodate the increasing power of the citizens of these states. A town grows into a city-state; a city-state turns to empire. Up until last century ’empire’ was a natural progression for any nation blessed with the position of economic power. However, empires that refused to evolve by the time the twentieth century came along struggled to survive. The spread of democracy made sure of this. Ever since the city-state of Athens experimented with mixing democracy and empire, large dominions struggled or faltered once injected with representative government. Read the rest of this entry »
No matter how much one attempts to enjoy a work of cinematic science fiction, one cannot help but feel robbed. This is what the makers of ‘Oblivion’ have done. They promised something fantastic, poured $120,000,000 into an intriguing concept, so intriguing that even with a marketing campaign featuring Tom Cruise looking bored,
I still felt compelled to watch this thing. Read the rest of this entry »