Tag Archives | Science Fiction

The Saga of Newt “Skywalker” Gingrich

Gingrich ChokedI’m still waiting for Republican primary voters to get wind of all of Newt’s “big government” sci-fi ideas. Here’s a good history of them from Sharon Weinberger in Foreign Policy:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the surging candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has been simultaneously lauded for his devotion to technological innovation, and ridiculed for his warnings about futuristic weapons.

Gingrich, who has dabbled in science fiction and cited both futurist Alvin Toffler and the concept of “psychohistory” in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels as intellectual inspirations, has long been dubbed “Newt Skywalker” thanks to his vision of future warfare that blends fact and fantasy. This streak of futurism is, by his own admission, rooted in a political and philosophical belief about technology and power. ”I would rather rely on engineers than diplomats for security,” Gingrich told Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in 1994, in reference to his support for missile defense.

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1970s NASA Space Colony Art

This could be your neighborhood. Via the Public Domain Review, think tank concepts for possible off-Earth colonies — a glorious glimpse at what could have been in an alternate reality:

In the 1970s the Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, with the help of NASA Ames Research Center and Stanford University, held a series of space colony summer studies which explored the possibilities of humans living in giant orbiting spaceships. Colonies housing about 10,000 people were designed and a number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made.

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Wild & Crazy Sci-Fi Abilities of Real-Life Plants

LSOHVia Blastr:

Plants don’t get enough respect as sci-fi monsters. Sure, Triffids will always rule, but sci-fi baddies tend to be mutants, zombies, vampires and other altered mammals. This is in ignorance of plants’ amazingly creepy special abilities. To prove it, we’ve dug up six plant skills that freak us out more than Godzilla.

Eating Rats: Okay, here’s the horrifying plot: You’re a missionary near the Philippine Archipelago. While doing your daily missioning or whatever, you wander up to the top of a mountain. Thirsty, you stumble upon what looks like an ornate birdbath filled with nectar. Leaning over to take a sip, you see a dead rat inside … and it’s slowly being digested by the plant.

This is Nepenthes attenboroughii, one of the most badass scary plants on Earth. See, while most pitcher plants stick to eating bugs, Nepenthes attenboroughii prefers to lure in birds and rats by looking as tasty as possible.

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Samsung Claims That iPads Are Stolen From Kubrick

wholeIt’s fascinating to examine the point at which an element of science fiction actually comes true. Apple is in a legal struggle with Samsung to prevent it from selling tablet devices that resemble the iPad. Samsung’s defense: The iPad is in fact ripped off from a tablet design created by Stanley Kubrick for 1968′s 2001: A Space Odyssey. FOSS Patents writes:

Late last night, Samsung filed its opposition brief to Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States.

One element of Samsung’s defense strategy is interesting enough that I wanted to report on it beforehand. Ever since Apple started to assert the design of the iPad against other manufacturers, many people have been wondering whether there’s actually prior art for the general design of the iPad in some futuristic devices shown in sci-fi movies and TV series. And indeed, Samsung’s lawyers make this claim now in their defense against Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

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A New Perspective On Transmedia

YPosterThere’s a lot of talk about transmedia lately. Haven’t heard it? Well, there has been. Trust us. And heaven knows there are a lot of transmedia evangelists out there. So I just want to talk over some of the possibilities presented by transmedia storytelling as a concept, without pretending that this is the final word on anything.

Most of us (er, them) are motivated by deep excitement. And of course, many corporations are also excited by it as a new way of perceiving the “life cycle of their brands,” and “customer engagement,” and other terms that sound really creepy in the “bad touch” kind of way. But we see all of the possibilities for new ways of engaging with content. Some of us see exciting creative possibilities and some see dollar signs. (I prefer to see both, when possible.)

Engagement. Right there, some people get lost. “You mean there is more than one way to engage with content?” Yes, there is. When you read a book, you’re engaging with that story in a very different way then when it is shown to you in a comic, and when you watch a movie.… Read the rest

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Star Trek Background Scenery

The Space Trek tumblr is a collection of lushly colored, eerily beautiful establishing shots from Star Trek episodes — the brief moments on the show during which the actors were out of frame. It presents a vision of a calm, pristine, simultaneously alluring and foreboding distant future, and supports my theory that most television programs would be better minus the characters.

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Time Travel Proved Impossible

timetravel2Major disappointment, from some jerk scientists who don’t seem to know when to keep their results to themselves. Via Discovery:

Hong Kong physicists say they have proved that a single photon obeys Einstein’s theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light — demonstrating that outside science fiction, time travel is impossible.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team led by Du Shengwang said they had proved that a single photon, or unit of light, “obeys the traffic law of the universe.”

The possibility of time travel was raised 10 years ago when scientists discovered superluminal — or faster-than-light — propagation of optical pulses in some specific medium, the team said. It was later found to be a visual effect, but researchers thought it might still be possible for a single photon to exceed light speed.

Du, however, believed Einstein was right and determined to end the debate by measuring the ultimate speed of a single photon, which had not been done before.

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UK Scientists Warn Of Future ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Scenario

planet-of-the-apesCould ongoing experiments involving the mixing of human and non-human DNA produce monstrous, over-intelligent hybrids down the road? In the U.S., human cells are already being implanted in mouse embryos, so we’ll likely be facing the rats of NIMH, rather than talking chimps who smoke pipes. The Telegraph reports:

Action is needed now, according to a group of eminent experts. Their report calls for a new rules to supervise sensitive research that involves humanizing animals.

“The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human..speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us.”

Currently research involving great apes, such as chimpanzees, is outlawed in the UK. But it continues in many other countries including the US, and British scientists are permitted to experiment on monkeys.

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