Saturday, August 13, 2022

The C-Word is not ‘capitalism’ or ‘conservatism’… or ‘cancer’…


elsewhere speak of both Adam Smith and Karl Marx, who are often portrayed as opposites. Only, the latter deeply respected the former, writing of Smith’s vital role in ‘bourgeois revolution’ - a necessary intermediate stage on the road from feudalism and monarchic despotism to final-stage worker paradise. 


Mind you, it’s a pity 99% of moderns know next to nothing about these two thinkers, beyond inaccurate clich├ęs. (See: Adam Smith – Liberals must reclaim him.) Smith was brilliant, helping set in motion many of the positive sum processes I’ll speak of below.


Alas, though the younger Marx offered cogent insights into economics and historiography, he was an utter failure at predicting future events. Eventually, he became a quasi-religious figure, a tool of neo-feudal lords, who made him the iconic saint of a state religion, excusing murderous tyranny


But his biggest mistake was assuming that human beings are too stupid to read Karl Marx! And thereupon draw lessons, taking actions that render his scenarios obsolete.


That's exactly what FDR and others of the 30s thru 50s did, performing reforms that Marx never imagined possible, sharing significant power with the working classes and  luring them into a prosperous middle class. Indeed, for a while there, our Rooseveltean Reforms seemed to toss Old Karl into the dustbin… 


...till a new generation of oligarchist fools set to work obeying almost to the letter his predicted patterns of dimwitted, self-flattering greed, restoring vast disparities to French Revolution levels. Thus they have resurrected Marx, his books now fizzing again across all the world’s campuses and ghettos.


Elsewhere I talk about the worst of these would-be lords and their sycophant lackeys, the so-called neo-monarchists, who now openly call for a return to rule by ‘unitary executive” kings, claiming that “freedom and democracy are incompatible.”  


At all levels and in all ways, they are the very best friends the Marxists ever had.

But here I want to talk about the vast majority of those on the right. Not the neo-monarchist extrema, but a far larger number whose core hypocrisy – continuing to claim fealty to free-enterprise – is easily exposed as two-faced pretense.


== What is the ‘C-Word’? ==


What chafes me about 'capitalism' ravings from all sides - from far right to far left - is how almost no one ever defines the term or shows even a clue of understanding its meaning or implications. 


Worse, almost no one nowadays mentions the other c-word... competition. Even though – unlike ‘capitalism’ -- we can actually agree (a bit) what competition means!


For one thing, it’s blatantly obvious from both evolution and history that humans are deeply competitive creatures. 

We are at our most creative and productive when most of us have the freedom, confidence, fairness and wherewithal to compete in areas we choose, on a relatively even playing field. 

(Those of you who denounce me for saying this; aren't you thereby vigorously competing with me?)

All of that might make me sound like a right winger... 

...though the truth is diametric opposite! 


Across the last 50 years, every measure or action that has lessened effective competition in the U.S. has been perpetrated by hypocrites of a sellout Republican Party -- a cabal devoted to replacing flat-fair-open-creative competition with privileged oligarchy and monopoly.


In contrast, the Rooseveltean social contract - which Republicans strive to demolish - enhanced creative competition, including entrepreneurship, small business startups, inventiveness and the most vigorous era of new products and services, ever. 


(I invite cash wagers on all of those assertions, which are overwhelmingly proved.)

Liberals did all that (if imperfectly) by:


- Using regulations to limit the power of mighty corporations and oligarchs to quash upstart competitors.


- Using tax policies to keep wealth disparities low enough so that - while getting-rich remained an incentive-allure for creative enterprise - the rich could not tower outrageously above us all, like lords. Or gods. 


(Example: there was a time when you’d see a rich or famous person flying First Class, now and then. They mostly rode the same airplanes, sipping mimosas in seats only 2x as large as ours. Alas, no longer. And note that all modes of transportation decline when the rich abandon them.)


- Using tax laws to encourage R&D, productive capital and hiring workers, rather than Supply Side parasitism.


- Encouraging unions (who were vigorously anti-Leninist) so that the working class joined the middle class, a feat Karl Marx never expected and that tossed all his predictions into history's dustbin. For a while.


- Creating a vast ecosystem of community colleges and universities that allowed many children of field hands and factory workers to transform into professionals and entrepreneurs.


- Liberal social programs and justice reforms that reduced the nasty, unjustified, though all-too human practice of prejudice. And thus (only partially, so far) achieving Adam Smith's top recommendation to stop wasting talent! ...


...Because, as Friedrich Hayek said (before the mad right perverted his memory), any competitive system will function best when it involves the largest number of knowledgeable, empowered, confident and eager competitors, unencumbered by insipid bigotries.


All of those endeavors – which define liberalism at its core - had great effects at many levels: fighting injustice, improving lives, preserving freedom - but with an added benefit that (alas) no democratic politician or liberal philosopher has had the savvy to explain... 


…that all of those endeavors also enhanced flat-fair-creative competition! And hence our creative inventiveness. 


(I exclude mutant-liberalism - the so-called far-left - whose arrogant demands to equalize outcomes, rather than opportunities is almost as jibbering loony as the entire-right's devotion to restored feudalism.)


And that’s my capsule argument about the C-Word that is no longer spoken aloud by ‘conservative’ writers or pundits. 


== C-Words ... all words... merit scrutiny! ==


Alas, no liberal pundit or politician ever points to this hypocrisy, or that the Founders and the original Tea Party rebelled primarily against cheater oligarchy. 


Moreover, anyone who actually reads Adam Smith knows that - were he alive today – Smith would be a flaming Democrat.


That hypocrisy – betraying and almost never even mentioning the most important c-word – competition - spans the entirety of today’s conservatism, with that one exception that I describe elsewhere... 


...those neo-monarchists who thus have one virture... evading hypocrisy. They are totally open about their hatred of fair competition! They openly espouse completing the antipodal migration of conservatism, from once-upon-a-time extolling competition all the way to openly justifying its utter suppression. 


 From Adam Smith to Louis XIV.


Again, unlike every other kind of contemporary conservative, at least members of that extremum – while nauseatingly evil imbeciles – are no longer hypocrites! I'll grant them that.


----------


 See my posting: The Return of Neomonarchy.


Friday, August 05, 2022

Alas, the passing of greats...

An unfortunate roundup of passings.... 

I note the passing of a science fiction legend. My friend and colleague Eric Flint left us, after a long illness. Best known for his his innovative and way-fun slipstream SF novel 1632, Eric then used the enthusiasm of that readership to spawn the most successful and extensive exploration of a shared universe, ever, using it to mentor many rising talents, along the way, particularly through his publishing house, the Ring of Fire Press.

In fact, when it came to raw storytelling – utter devotion to character, consistency and gripping narrative - he was among the best since Poul Anderson. (I had the honor to supply a canonical novella for this vast and wonderful 1632 gedanken cosmos.)

Eric will be deeply missed.


- Alas, trailblazing actress Nichelle Nichols, who was unforgettable in portraying communications officer Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek series and its sequels, has died at age 89. In later years she was active in recruiting women and minorities to NASA. She will be remembered...


-  In addition, scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock, who proposed the Gaia hypothesis that all living organisms on the planet are inter-connected, died recently at 103 years old. I drew upon the Gaia concept in creating my novel, Earth. Lovelock remained active, publishing his latest book: Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyper-Intelligence a couple of years ago. 


- RIP also Vangelis, best known for his film scores, e.g. the haunting score of Bladerunner. But also brilliant music that I’ve oft cited. For example, I touted this early work by him that recites visible traits of our planet.... including the last one that we are changing fast. He warned us.... so beautifully.


My favorite of his works... it gives me chills... is “The State of Independence.” The classic version by Vangelis himself offers incredible instrumentals including a spine tingling saxophone. 


But then there’s the wonderful version covered by Donna Summer with elements of both disco and gospel. A dose of optimism you may be needing, right about now. In this video.

 

Oh, here’s one with slightly better sound plus a glimpse of the recording session when the backup group – including a very young (and still black) Michael Jackson shows some early sign of his moves.  


And one more...


Amid all the kvelling on James Caan as Sonny in The Godfather. Meh, it was a solid role done very well. But many of us will always remember the beautiful, understated and poignant portrayal he gave – of a confused but soulful hero-athlete – in Rollerball, one of the most under-appreciated of all SF films and with a plausible warning!


Though he was great in the film Misery, with Kathy Bates. And let us not forget Alien Nation, which became a really rich social science fiction franchise, the first expressing real faith in our unusual civilization bent on flawed but improving tolerance.


On a more positive note…


To help motivate us...I happen (personal quirk) to be an absolute sucker for feminist anthems. Other than political/social motives, I confess I am simply jazzed by the pure sass and gumption of songs like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and “I am woman, hear me roar,” all the way across the spectrum to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” ….  But my favorite is “Sisters are doing it for themselves!” - this version in which the great Aretha Franklin joins the Eurythmics simply kicks ass!  How can you watch this and not tap your feet… and sing along and (if you’re male) say “yes ma’am! Tell me what you need done and I’ll help you get it done.” 


And yes Helen Reddy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rptW7zOPX2E

Reba McIntyre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zplc4Ienkws

Loretta Lynn:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoqErv8bdcI


And more… and more… and more…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IGVxBb5uYk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGiWITGArLI



Finally... A fascinating riff on how not just sci fi but children’s literature in Soviet times satirized how a people can kowtow to power.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Some great science podcasts - tune in!

Couple of years back we offered a list of excellent – if sometimes specialized – podcasts and YouTube channels about science and related things. Time for an update?


== Great Science (and other) Podcasts! ==


Let’s start with Into the Impossible - hosted by my friend Dr. Brian Keating, co-director of UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Generally a deep dive into aspects of physics, but also space biology, tech and the latest insights into the nature of imagination. Example video: What is Dark Matter?

A colleague of Brian's whom I also admire: Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder -- Science and technology updates - "without the gobbledygook". Example video: Are Singularities Real?

As I said then… Scott Manley is one of my favorite YouTube explainer guys, especially when it comes to spacecraft. If there's some kind of milestone in rocketry, for example, he'll clarify it for you, within a couple of days. (Manley was also designer of the "cycler" spacecraft in the 2021 movie "Stowaway".) But this particular posting goes a bit farther in space and especially time, as Manley  talks about how to Move the Earth, citing especially my own postings on the subject.


Other favorite explainers include Anton Petrov for well-delivered and timely updates on the latest science and space discoveries, starting each with "Hello Wonderful Person!" Example video: James Webb Just found the most distant galaxy


Dianna Cowern, Physics Girl, presents  physical science demonstrations, experiments and explanations of new discoveries. Example video: We were wrong about the Big Bang.


Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur provides in-depth explorations of galactic stuff like the Fermi Paradox. If it involves space and destiny, you can bet he's got an engaging what-if riff. Example video: Black holes & Dark Matter.


A pal of Isaac (and me) is John Michael Godier's Event Horizon, whose podcasts are a little closer to Earth than Arthur's, but still vividly entertaining futurism, featuring great interviews. How do I know this? Example video: What's eating the Universe?


== A golden age of Chatauqua explainers? ==


Fools and feudalists who try to diss the high repute of science, calling it just another orthodoxy, know nothing about the impudent competitiveness taught to most bright graduate students, along with the central catechism of science: "I might be wrong!" No other 'priesthood' ever even remotely did that. Nor spawned the phenomenon displayed here... of so many top researchers and experts rushing onto PBS or podcasts to eagerly share everything they've learned... and address every unanswered question!


Here are more! Including some favorites offered by other folks.


Dr. Becky Smethurst (Dr. Becky) -- A day in the life of an Astrophysicist at Oxford, with a focus on astronomy and cosmology research. Example video: An Astrophysicist's Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries.


Mark Rober, former NASA engineer, produces videos on popular science and gadgets, as well as science-related pranks, with over 22 million subscribers. Example video: World's Tallest Elephant Toothpaste Volcano. (Note Rober is hugely popular with young folks.)

Jade Tan-Holmes (Up and Atom) -- Kids level explanations of high-end physics concepts. Example video: What is The Schrodinger Equation, Exactly?

Steve Mould -- Mix of science/engineering topics. Example video: Pythagorean Siphon - Inside Your Washing Machine

Amy Shira Teitel, The Vintage Space -- History of the space program, branching into "How it works" on related subjects. Example video: Vladimir Komarov was Doomed to Die on Soyuz 1.

Prof. David Kipping (Cool Worlds) -- Great selection of topics. Okay the presentation can ponderous. Why You're Probably Not a Simulation.


Kurzgesagt -- Distinctively animated videos on science/space topics.  Example video: The Day the Dinosaurs Died - Minute by Minute.

Brew -- Animated videos on a variety of subjects, with an extra serving of body horror. Example video: The Country Made from 14 Stranded Ships.

Dr. Rohin Francis (Medlife Crisis) -- Cardiologist with an acidic sense of humour.
Example video: Can You Legally Buy a Real Human Skeleton.

Johnny Harris -- Deeper dives into specific odd subjects. Non-political example: The Real Reason McDonalds Ice Cream Machines Are Always Broken (Except everything is political.)

Joe Scott (Answers With Joe) -- Wide variety of topics, often science/space/tech focused: The Immortal Woman Who Saved Millions Of Lives"

Tom Scott -- Variety of subjects, from "this is an interesting place that exists", to linguistics, to infotech, to very random projects that catch his interest. 
Interesting place: The Artificial Gravity Lab.
Infotech: This Video Has 32,251,959 Views (title subject to change.)
Language: The Language Sounds That Could Exist But Don't.


Derek Muller (Veritasium). Science and engineering videos. Example video: Fritz Haber: the scientist who killed millions but saved billions.
 
Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut). Bringing space down to earth for everyday people, with updates on rockets and space launches. Example video: Raptor 1 vs Raptor 2: What's the difference?

Destin Sandlin (Smarter Every Day) explores the everyday world using science. Example: How do nuclear submarines make oxygen?
 
PBS Spacetime: Our Universe Explained, with Dr. Matt O'Dowd - is the best in my opinion. Example video: The Edge of an Infinite Universe.



== Terrific Miscellaneous ones... and sci fi! ==


Savor Podcast delves into the science, history and cultural connections of food and drink: why exactly we like what we like. Example podcast: Fictional Foods: Doctor Who.


This science fiction insight podcast had a short run, but is fabulous. 


A couple of political-historical channels that I think have been mentioned here:


The History Guy: History that deserves to be remembered. Forgotten moments of history presented in an entertaining manner.

Beau of the Fifth Column -- Lefty perspective made in the style of a right-winger.

Cody Johnston (Some More News) -- Lefty perspective made in the style of... errr, a crazy basement dweller trying to drag you down with him?


And to balance that... Bill Maher. yes, I said it. If no one will listen to my advice how the Union side of our civil war can win with innovative tactics, then at least pay attention when Maher chides you to stop deliberately losing with abysmally stoopid ones. 


Quirky (and stylistically immature, but a bit fun) perspectives on military matters, including the Ukraine War: Task & Purpose.

And I'll throw in English GP Dr. John Campbell, who is doing quiet daily Covid-19 updates.


Don't forget!! You can support these podcasters and content creators by subscribing - as well as donating on Patreon and via YouTube's new SuperThanks feature.


And for more, check comments, below! There will be many suggestions by members of this community!


What an amazing era we live in.



Sunday, July 24, 2022

Space news: from supermassive black holes to asteroids

Okay, let's gat back to spaaaace!  So many reasons to be enthusiastic and to see our shared accomplishments out there as signs of real civilization, down here on Earth... a civilization worth saving.  Plus a few causes for cynicism, alas.

The biggest news: we've received the first vivid images from the James Webb Space Telescope. (The Carina Nebula in spectacular detail shown to the right.) The Webb has produced phenomenal high-resolution images of deep space: galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae - with a promise of more spectacular images  to come!

== Dealing (or not) With Dangers! ==

Breakthrough methods pioneered by the B612 Foundation are finding hundreds of asteroids - some of them dangerous - by mining past data sets. A great way for a small foundation to amplify the more expensive projects funded by governments. Small enough and effective enough to perhaps merit your support. (I am on the B612 advisory board.) 

A Very Long Baseline radio telescope array (I worked for one of the first VLBI systems one summer, in 1969) spanning the entire Earth - the Event Horizon Telescope - has imaged the supermassive black hole - Sagittarius A* - at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. 


Taking the Sagittarius A* image (shown to the left) was like capturing a photo of a grain of salt in New York City using a camera in Los Angeles, according to California Institute of Technology researchers. 


Somewhat smaller… Astronomers believe that 100 million free-floating black holes – largely left over from supernovas - roam our galaxy. Now, after dedicating six years to observations, astronomers apparently found one about  5,000 light years away, located in another spiral arm of the Milky Way.  And with gravitational lensing, they made a precise mass measurement of the extreme cosmic object, which might possibly be ‘only’ a neutron star. 


Meanwhile, Europe’s legendary GAIA space telescope has been an absolute treasure for science, concentrating first on measuring parallax and proper motions of millions of stars near us, then gathering color/spectral data on billions more - – about 1% of the total number in the galaxy – and are allowing astronomers to reconstruct our home galaxy’s structure and find out how it has evolved over billions of years.


You are a member of a civilization that does this kind of thing.



== Back in your SSR backyard – Your Solar System Region! ==


Meanwhile, we keep being inspired by the great Perseverance/Ingenuity mission. The little 'copter snapped these closeups of the now-standard and reliable sky-crane landing system, whose components seem to have crashed more durably than expected.


It makes one wonder: Would it really be that hard to enable these other bits to land softly enough to serve some purpose? Say as a weather station? The rocket+crane bit, especially. It must fly away from the main cargo/rover, sure. But how hard would it be to throttle the remaining fuel-seconds to set down with a simple weather sensors + transmitter? Use up the safety margin!


Anyway, Perseverance and Ingenuity keep surprising us! Like this ballyhooed “doorway” in the face of a cliffOh, I totally believe it is a natural fissure... but still, they really need to drive up and get a closer look. One Earth, clean vertical cleavages, like railroad cuts - were key to the sudden emergence of both geology and paleontology.


Phobos could possibly be among the most valuable pieces of real estate in the solar system, if there are volatiles under the surface that can be turned into water and fuel.  See the gorgeous images of Phobos eclipsing the sun, taken by the Perseverance rover!


We know that the magnetic poles of our planet sometimes drift (as today the North Magnetic Pole  is rapidly moving to Siberia) and occasionally quell or even flip.  Now comes speculation that such flips can happen on a massive scale, even to the monster black hole at the center of a galaxy 250 million light years away.


Farther out: The Decadal Survey of NASA advisors has recommended priority be given to… Uranus!


And emerging from some of our old grants at NIAC… the Da Vinci+ probe will try to repeat what Cassini-Huygens did for Titan, only for Venus! I wish the descender-probe had a slow-down balloon, but this will still be… well, not cool. Hot!  At the end of the decade.


And Truly far-out… if within reach… You’ve seen me tout NASA's Innovative & Advanced Concepts program - (NIAC) – on whose advisory council I serve. Look at their tiny seed grants to research concepts JUST this side of science fiction. These are fun, engaging, STEM books for grades 4-8 about the science and researchers behind the NIAC program. It includes information about their lives as young children and their inspiration. Produced in partnership with World Book, Inc., they recently won an award from the American Library Association (ALA). A third series is in early development. The two series help to support a big part of what we do as an early stage technology program- to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators, children who may eventually be running NASA missions 20 years from now. You are welcome to view the sixteen Out of This World books online here:

Series 1 Out of This World includes titles such as Asteroid: Harpooning Hitcher, Land-Sailing Venus Rover and Laser-Sailing Starships. All available online!

and Series 2 Out of this World includes Fusion-Powered Spacecraft, Martian Cave Colonies, Solar-Surfing Space Probes and many more, also available online.


Read some of these then look around... and have some confidence.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Sapience, sentience and AI... and other hot science news!

Ah… sapience


In another posting here I re-issued my June op-ed in NEWSWEEK about human response to AI, especially ‘empathy bots” like the notorious LaMDA. This op-ed - and other interviews - referred to a prediction I made 5 years ago that "in five years or so, we'll be challenged by announcements of a fully sapient AI, demanding sympathy... and cash."  


Here's that talk on the A.I. future  at IBM's World of Watson event in 2017, that offered big perspectives on both artificial and human augmentation... and the text version. Few topics are more pressing for our future path... except saving civilization and the world and justice... and those will wind up enmeshed tightly with AI.


And so, in this more general science roundup, we'll start by diving into the topic of sapience (a much better word than the badly misused "sentience") yet again, as I expect we’ll do many times ahead.


== Sapience… sentience… pre vs. post ==


First, we know of only one sapient species, so far. This interesting paper appraises changes – across the last 6000 years or so - in prevalence of a number of genes that favor General Cognitive Ability (GCA). These observations are consistent with the expectation that GCA rose during the Holocene.  The result is very much in tune with what I posited in EXISTENCE. That there seem to have been rapid speedups in cognition and inventiveness, starting especially around 60,000 years ago.

What about our fellow Earthlings? It seems almost monthly that we see more stories about clever animals who use or even invent tools, who concoct clever escape plans, as in the case of a famous San Diego Zoo orangutan

...or who bear long memory grudges toward individual humans, as in swarms of vengeful crows or this Indian elephant, who showed up at the funeral of a woman he had trampled to death days earlier, to hurl the body and trample it, some more.

This topic, which I dived into 40 years ago with my Uplift Series, continues to fascinate, as in stories of wounded or entangled creatures deliberately seeking help from humans to patch harms or cut nets, etc., clearly making a distinction between good/helpful and bad/dangerous people.


Fascinating also is the way that – in many octopus species – the mother guards her eggs… only to later leave them and suicide in bizarre ways. While the main cause is unknown, some of the processes are being revealed. 


== And on to other science matters.... ==


Heads up. The search for room temperature superconductors is over! Though not yet useful, since the ‘higher order hydride’ structures that now superconduct at even 550K still require immense pressures. Still…


How are geographical discoveries still possible even now? “Cave explorers stumbled upon a prehistoric forest at the bottom of a giant sinkhole in South China earlier this month. Sinkholes such as these are also known in Chinese as Tiankeng, or "Heavenly pit. At 630 feet deep, the sinkhole would hide the Washington Monument and then some. The bottom of the pit holds an ancient forest spanning nearly three football fields in length, with trees towering over 100 feet. 

Even deeper, new techniques allow mapping of  the boundary between the Earth's iron-nickel core and surrounding mantle to better understand one of the major engines for plate tectonics, volcano formation, and other related processes like earthquakes. Other scientists also believe there is a link between ultra-low velocity zones and volcanic hotspots, such as those in Hawaii and Iceland.


Neanderthal Man’s Recreated Face Takes Internet By Storm.  And yes, it is a cool reconstruction! Though come on. These folks lived primarily in Europe to the Urals. And this particular fellow lived in Doggerland, between England and Denmark. He’d have white skin. Vitamin D, don’t cha know. Possibly even blond hair.


If the Amazon dies, beef will be the killer. And America will be an accomplice, Brazil is burning down the Amazon so you can eat steak. And I say this as a NON-vegetarian.... who has cut way back on air-breathing meat for numerous reasons like health, but also in order not be contributing one more economic driver to such devastation. I can sustain my carnivorality tastes treating red stuff as a condiment, like ketchup! And bring on the tissue culture!



Interesting medical news:


Further facial recreation: an article in the NYT about a patient who had a prosthetic ear 3D printed from her own cells. Beyond immediate beneficial medical use, it could/would eventually lead to people using this technology for "artistic" purposes - that is, in the same way that we customize bodies using tattoos and piercings, we could "add" additional fleshy lumps to various places. They can’t print nerve cells (for now, anyway) so the new additions would have the tactile sensation of a plastic brick.  So your stylish elf ears might have… Legoleprosy?


As blogmunity member “Talin” suggests: “A different extrapolation is one where the archetypal fantasy races - elves / dwarves / orcs and so on - are actually created from humans who want to live that lifestyle. I mean we sort of have the beginnings of this with gender-affirming surgery..."species affirming"?”

"Small cancer drug trial sees tumors disappear in 100 percent of patients". 


And also the diabetes drug that lost a lot of folks a lot of weight.



== Finally, all about science and…. magic!  ==


Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis and Hollywood writer/producer Ed Solomon (co-creator of Bill & Ted) speak with Caltech science writer (and sci-fi fan) Whitney Clavin about how they collaborate to make science shine in film.  


First, there IS a form of magic that irrefutably works and it works via modalities of incantation. If you define that magic is about using word spells to create vivid subjective realities in other peoples’ heads, then I am among the top, industrial grade magicians. Ever.


Some assert that magic can also affect objective reality - e.g. making the rain fall or putting-on hexes or curing ailments, despite the fact that most such claims evaporate under scrutiny.  A few don't evaporate! In fact, any magic that does causally affect the physical world consistently eventually becomes... part of science.


But there is also some merit to studying magical claims, even knowing they are objectively bogus, because they were utterly persuasive for tens of thousands of years. 


And so, here at this posting I talk about some of the rule-based systems that have been used in magic systems by shamans and wizards and priests for millennia. And here, I discuss the differences between science fiction and fantasy.


In this audio talk, I dive into some of the fundamental differences and similarities between magic and science.


And we all have superstitious or romantic corners within us. The trick is to reserve them for certain realms that enrich our lives... our personal lives of evenings and weekends and art and fantasy... while being abolutely determined to exile romanticism and subjective roars and such twaddle from the daytime business of justice and negotiating pragmatic solutions anf - above all - policy.