== Science Fiction vs the real world ==
Alien megastructures? NASA's Kepler space telescope observed dramatic and irregular dimming of the lightcurve for star KIC 8462852 -- larger than expected for a transiting planet (withdata analysis aided by citizen scientists of the Planet Hunters)
. While radio astronomers are listening for signals from the Allen Telescope Array, media latched onto suggestions that an alien-built mega engineering structure, such as a Dyson Sphere, could be responsible.On Space.com, several Sci-Fi authors weigh in with appropriate skepticism. More likely causes may be debris from a wide-scale planetary collision or a massive comet cloud -- or we may be seeing an irregularly shaped and rapidly spinning star, explained in this article about "gravity darkening."
When Robots Colonize the Cosmos, Will They Be Conscious? This article on Space.com by Robert Lawrence Kuhn, host of the public television show, Closer to Truth, takes a deep look at the nature of consciousness. Kuhn envisions a universe colonized by robots, and suggests that "if robots can never be conscious, then we humans might have some kind of moral imperative to venture forth" ...for the greater good. As I discuss in my Smithsonian talk: Will we meet beings with minds different than ours? Or will we make them?
A terrific interview with my revered peers Nancy Kress, Ramez Naam, Frank Catalano and former astronaut and asteroid pioneer Ed Lu, about: "Why this futurist, sci-fi writer, and former astronaut are optimistic about the future."
Sci Fi or real life? Six science fictional ideas that are happening now... takes a look at innovations in hoverboards, under-the-skin GPS tracking and body scanners.
See ten technologies that are precursors to the realization of true AI, including Stephen Wolfram's Mathematica, IBM's Watson and Amazon Machine Learning. Indeed, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly transforming the financial industry, especially stock trading. Here's an interesting look at portrayals of Artificial Intelligence in 25 Science Fiction novels, from Daemon to Excession and Hyperion to The Diamond Age.
See also this summary of AI in film, from Wall-E to Her, Tron to The Machine, The Matrix to A Space Odyssey.
The reason for so many dire visions... Rather than predicting the future, the greatest aim of Science Fiction is the self-defeating prophecy.
While nanotechnology in movies is usually used for evil purposes, researchers are developing drug-carrying nanoparticles disguised as blood cells which can slip past the immune system to deliver drugs to targeted parts of the body.
Johnny Mnemonic? People are getting brain implants to boost their memory -- apparently just a few zaps to stimulate the brain!
See how real-world rockets compare to their Sci Fi counterparts in this chart of top space travel speeds. Sci Fi clearly wins...
What the economies of Star Trek can teach us about the real world: A fun discussion of the economics of the post-scarcity world of Star Trek --- a topic explored in more depth in the upcoming book, Trekonomics by Manu Saadia, to be released in 2016.
Eternal life online? The Old Max Headroom TV show did this, back in the 1980s. Now Eter9 promises digital immortality using a kind of artificial intelligence to scan your online posts. After death, it will continue posting for you... so you can live forever on Facebook.
Self-driving cars are nearly here. Meanwhile, New York is already getting wired with traffic signals and signs that can talk directly to cars.
Terminator star and former California Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that climate change is NOT science fiction.
Under development at Amazon ... Galaxy Quest, the TV series. Did anyone ever tell them that comedy is hard?
Speaking of which, the cool indie Trek film "Axanar" tells the story of Captain Garth and his crew during the Four Years War, the war with the Klingon Empire that almost tore the Federation apart. Garth's victory at Axanar solidified the Federation and allowed it to become the entity we know in Kirk's time. It is the year 2245... and the war with the Klingons ends here.
Star Trek is the one major-media sci fi mythic system that builds our confidence in the future... rather than tearing it down. Think about that and give your support. (Though as I've said repeatedly, the one glaring Trek omission is any mention (except in one episode of ST: The Original Series) of the conquered planets and races, inside Klingon territory.)
Coming in December… SyFy’s adaptation of “Childhood’s End," -- Arthur C. Clarke's classic novel. If it's been a while, give the book a second read before the series!
The movie, 2001, A Space Odyssey provided a compelling vision of the future. Now, a beautiful new book: The Making of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey has just been released -- a lavish portfolio-style hardcover with behind-the-scenes photographs and detailed descriptions of the filming of Arthur Clarke's masterpiece. See it reviewed on Slate.
== SF Miscellanea ==