== Using Science Fiction to Excite the Future (minds) ==
Young people - and the teachers and librarians who work with them - can benefit from the inspiration and imagination of Science Fiction.
Do you know any educators who might want to learn more about the genre of literature that is fascinated with change and looking to the future? And that does more than any other to inspire children to strive for success?
* Teachers interested in using Science Fiction should check out the extensive resources at www.AboutSF.com to access excellent materials that teach about the literary genre of bold ideas -- one willing to discuss the inevitability of change.
*Also, see a collection of articles assembled at Teaching Science Fiction -- with links and resources for incorporating Science Fiction into the classroom to improve literacy, reading and writing skills.
*An article, Science Fiction Resources for Young Adult Librarians, describes several ongoing efforts to help educators learn about this field. It includes a short note, as well, from one of your favorite authors. On my website, I have an article, Using Science Fiction to Help Turn Kids on to Reading ...and the Future!
*Science Fiction can be used to illustrate scientific concepts. See this collection of resources related to Using Science Fiction to Teach Science, with links to stories and books that may help convey concepts in physics and astronomy as well as the life sciences. See also a list of Movies that help teach science.
*Julie Czernada's website has a wealth of useful resources for teachers, as well as anthologies for use in the classroom.
*Plus see a list of my personal favorite novels for teens: recommended Science Fiction novels for Young Adults.
Sometimes the right book can ignite a fire that lasts a lifetime -- you never know.
==A Trailer for Existence==
Before diving into media and strange science, here’s a tentative announcement.
I’m thinking about a contest to create a mini-trailer for my new novel (coming in June) - a great big near-future science fiction saga called EXISTENCE.
I've already sent feelers to the Computer Graphics society, whose members made some shorts based on my uplift books for an earlier contest. I’m also pondering a call for folks interested in doing a live action version. Like this one done by my friend Jeff Carlson for his terrific book Plague Year.
afford to offer a huge prize for the winner and time is short. But I
can promise a nibble... plus publicity and loads of fun. And a chance to
read the novel early, for free! Starting with these novellas already
The Smartest Mob (a parable about times to come!)
Shoresteading --a novella
Aficionado --a novella from Existence.
Later Note: You can now see the marvelous trailer, by web artist Patrick Farley!
== Fanboy Gushing about Firefly ==
Okay, I have spoken before about that great - if tragically brief - sci fi miniseries. My kids (and wife) adore Firefly. But one episode stands out, written by Joss Whedon himself. “Mrs. Reynolds” is just plain dazzlingly well-written from beginning to end. Every
sentence - even those just tossed aside - sparkles with cleverness and
fun and even (sometimes) real depth. That’s a fellow I’d buy several
== More Science! ==
* A hundred years late, is Oswald Spengler finally proving right about the Decline of the West? Take this factoid:
isn't just Americans concerned about science, though Europeans seem a
little dramatic about it. Currently, America can only employ 16% of
its Ph.D.s in academia, what most academics regard as 'science', so
there is a glut of post-docs and not enough grants to give them all
jobs, but Europeans have a different sort of problem - young people are
not going into science at all.”
* In about 18 months a newfound object that’s probably a small, compact gas cloud,
will draw near the cosmic orifice at the center of our Milky Way
galaxy. Its orbit will carry it to within about 36 light-hours of the
black hole, roughly twice the distance now separating NASA's Voyager 1
from the sun. If it is a cloud, then some of the material will get
sucked in! (A mere star would likely plunge on by, in a very tight
orbit.) Very exciting, if this makes the Beast come alive!
* To gather material from asteroids or comets (re my doctoral thesis!), NASA is developing a sample-collecting space harpoon
which could be projected "with surgical precision" from a spacecraft
hovering above the target. Seriously, this is what I would have done
with my life, if you folks hadn’t bribed me into the arts, instead.
* Best-yet candidate "life-world"?
The host star lies about 600 light-years away from us toward the
constellations of Lyra and Cygnus. The star, a G5 star, has a mass and a
radius only slightly smaller than that of our Sun, a G2 star. As a
result, it is about 25% less luminous than the Sun. The planet orbits
the G5 star with an orbital period of 290 days, compared to 365 days for
the Earth, at a distance about 15% closer to its star than the Earth
from the Sun. This results in the planet's balmy temperature of around
72 degrees Fahrenheit. It orbits in the middle of the star's habitable
This new exoplanet is the smallest-radius planet discovered
in the habitable zone of any star to date. It is about 2.4 times larger
than that of the Earth, putting it in the class of exoplanets known as
super-Earths. Alert! When you read estimated
“temperatures” for such planets, remember it is the raw, black-body
calculation based on the albedo of rock and the net insolation at that
distance from its star. As we’ve seen on Earth, Venus and Mars, the
greenhouse effects of an atmosphere change everything!
== The Frontiers of Life! ==
* Know any researchers or organizations that might be very interested in a possible Conference on Uplift?
Yes, regarding “the plausibility of altering the problem-solving or
linguistic intelligence of higher animals or humans.” Oh it would spark
a HUGE row! And get everybody on TV.
* Dolphin language? Here’s new research
that pretty much verifies my own hypotheses. “Researchers in the United
States and Great Britain have made a breakthrough in deciphering
dolphin language in which a series of eight objects have been sonically
identified by dolphins. Team leader, Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin.com,
‘spoke’ to dolphins with the dolphin’s own sound picture words.
Dolphins in two separate research centers understood the words,
presenting convincing evidence that dolphins employ a universal
“sono-pictorial” language of communication.
dolphin echolocation sounds as they reflected off a range of eight
submersed objects, including a plastic cube, a toy duck and a flowerpot.
He discovered that the reflected sounds actually contain sound pictures
and when replayed to the dolphin in the form of a game, the dolphin was
able to identify the objects with 86% accuracy, providing evidence that
dolphins understand echolocation sounds as pictures. Kassewitz then
drove to a different facility and replayed the sound pictures to a
dolphin that had not previously experienced them. The second dolphin
identified the objects with a similar high success rate.”
Sonic glyphs based on shape reflections? Quick! To the Predictions Registry!
* Proof that the unconscious ponders complex matters that affect WHEN or IF we consciously become aware of things.
* Woolly mammoth to be brought back to life from cloned bone marrow 'within five years'. Um... predicted in both EARTH and EXISTENCE.
* Remember the “arsenic life”
that was claimed from a poison lake in California? A year later, it is
still very interesting, but arsenic has NOT replaced phosphorus in the
crucial sites along the spine of DNA. Hyped up? Well... probably.
* Two bitingly funny comics online: A History of the World (according to The History Channel) from Tree Lobsters, and Life After College, from Abstruse Goose.
== Politically Relevant ==
* Federal regulators have tentatively approved a nuclear reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Co. that could power the first atomic plants built from scratch in the U.S. in a generation.
* In terms of weather, 2011 has made it into the record books.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that
during this year, there have been 12 different weather disasters that
cost more than $1 billion. The previous record was nine in 2008.
Given these two facts -- um, who are the flexible pragmatists and who are the dogmatists who drove us off a cliff in the first decade of the century?
== And the Land of the Bizarre ==
is a system that involves turning a deceased human body back into its
core chemical energy. The decedent is placed into the special Afterlife
coffin which features small drains in the bottom. The drains lead to
microbial fuel cells beneath the coffin that thereupon charge batteries
that loved ones can recover and emblem "Dad" and use for some purpose
stated in dad's will.
* Smell your way to intuition?
"Participants in the study assessed, with some degree of accuracy, how
outgoing, anxious or dominant people were after only taking a whiff of
their clothes. The study is the first to test whether personality traits
can be discerned through body odor."
== Useful? Or Chilling? ==
can use your full cell phone number to figure out exactly where you are
right now. Banks and card issuers are interested in checking where
their customers are—as a way to reduce fraud—and of retailers interested
in sending deals to people nearby. Currently, the company claims to
the info must be presented to the cell phone owner on an opt-in basis.
A reasonable model, if it works and if it is maintained with power in
* New research published in Science suggests it may be possible to use MRI to induce brain activity patterns
to improve performance on tasks involving visual performance, such as
playing the piano. This worked even when the subjects weren’t aware of
what they were learning. Inspiring or creepy?
== The Paranoia Lamp is Lit! ==
"The commentator says there's "absolutely no explanation" for the nearly Mercury-size mystery object
other than that it's a spaceship. "What object in space cloaks itself
and doesn't appear until it gets hit by energy from the sun?" siniXster
Hmmm. well, the official explanation is convincing.
Notice how the “ship” is aimed right at Mercury, and happens to lie over
the pixels where the planet had been the previous day or two. The
supports the STEREO spacecraft managers’ explanation that they “subtract
the previous day’s pixels in order to enhance the coronal mass (which
is normally quite dim). That subtraction creates a visual artifact where
the planet had been, the day before.
Still, these “Aha!” moments
are fun! They show how excitable amateurs with keen eyes can interact
non-destructively with the professionals. That is exactly the process
for a society that blends common-sense skepticism up-top with a T-Cell
approach for swarming those low-probability events... one out of a
million of which might turn out to be way-huge.
What is criminal
and insane has been the recent trend by cynical media to pit us against
each other. And especially the recent campaign to turn 1/3 of Americans
against every profession of intellect, knowledge and skill.