I have a feeling we’ll be debating the merits of the Mars One plan for the next decade or so, and perhaps even after the actual colonization mission is underway (if that indeed happens). I’ve been pretty critical about certain aspects of the plan, namely the reality television funding model, and people who know way more about the science than I do have expressed skepticism about whether the current mission model is feasible. The UAE even issued a fatwa against Muslims traveling to Mars, likening the endeavor to suicide. But not everyone is down on the idea of sending human colonists on a one-way trip to Mars. On Wednesday, the idea received got vocal support from a pretty compelling person: Buzz Aldrin.
I grudgingly admit to reading the horoscopes. Not every day, and not in every publication, but if I happen to be thumbing through a magazine with horoscopes at the end, I’ll read mine. Why not? And of course they’re always somewhat true, given that they’re vague enough to apply to just about anyone — although I do happen to exhibit many of the tendencies of a typical Taurus (or so I’ve read). One of my problems with horoscopes, though, is that they seem to assume that everyone born within a 30(ish)-day period is alike. That just seems silly to me, as there are certainly more than 12 types of people in the world. But perhaps one’s birthday actually does dictate certain characteristics about them — in fact, science now seems to suggest that this is true. According to new research, the season of one’s birth affects one’s mood.
Think about all the good science fiction out there, and then think about what the genre needs. Project Hieroglyph and author Neal Stephenson believe science fiction needs more “techno-optimism” to pave the way for non-dystopian realities. Some call for more female writers and characters in science fiction; some call for less. But one thing that has never crossed my mind in answer to the question of what sci-fi needs is more Frankenstein spinoffs. But that’s never stopped anyone before, particularly Fox, which has just ordered a new Frankenstein pilot.
The original Mary Shelley work was written in 1818, and since then there have been a slew of Frankenstein-inspired narratives: Thomas Edison’s 1910 film version; the Boris Karloff 1931 movie; the 1935 sequel, Bride of Frankenstein; the 1939 sequel to that, Son of Frankenstein; Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942; Young Frankenstein in 1974; failed Broadway productions in 1981 and 1984, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie in 1984; a manga adaptation in 1988; Frankenstein in 1992; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1994; this year’s bomb I, Frankenstein — and that’s just scratching the surface.
We’ve been following the development of technologies that might make hoverboards possible for a while now. Alas, they’re kind of like jetpacks—we hoped, even expected, to see them widely used by now, but they aren’t. At least functioning jetpacks actually exist. But wait, this is no longer a point of distinction, as an honest to goodness working hoverboard is here.
Hendo Hover is responsible for finally translating the hoverboard from science fiction to science fact. Hendo has developed a working prototype—the company’s 18th—that actually hovers an inch off the ground. And, of course, the company has a Kickstarter campaign (which has already met its goal) to raise enough money to put the “finishing touches” on the product, manufacture them, and build places to ride them—something akin to skate parks.
Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar is sure to be big and philosophical and full of all kinds of themes and questions about the nature of humanity, our place in the larger picture, and many deep existential topics. It’s also the kind of science fiction that, while definitely full of the fictional side, is also heavy on the science portion of the program. This new video digs into some of that science that they went to great lengths to portray as accurately as possible on screen, and it’s fascinating stuff.
This video from Wired (read the entire article, it goes into far greater depth) features interviews with Nolan, along brother and co-writer Jonathan Nolan, wife and producing partner Emma Thomas, and, most importantly to the subject matter, noted astrophysicist, executive producer, and scientific advisor Kip Thorne. If anyone is going to have any light to shed on the film, it’s the first three, and if anyone is going to have a handle on the science, it’s going to be Thorne. I still think he looks a little like horror icon Sid Haig, but maybe that’s just me.
For those of us who aren’t sold on the notion of high-tech tattoos, there’s an alternative: jewelry. But like those tattoos, this jewelry is much more than ornamental—it can actually turn your veins in to a source of energy.
These days, we’re finding energy sources in all kinds of interesting places, including phone booths and park benches. But the main reason behind these innovations is the ever-increasing need for energy, both on a global and a personal level—after all, what would people do if they couldn’t quickly and easily charge their smartphones?