Tags: science

Spacehack.org

Ariel and Lisa have redesigned the excellent Spacehack site and it’s looking stellar!

Bots | A Working Library

Absolutely brilliant stuff from Mandy (again). A long hard at today’s tech industry’s narrow approach to bots and artificial intelligence compared to some far more interesting and imaginative approaches in fiction:

  • Ann Leckie’s superb Imperial Radch series,
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, and
  • Alex Garland’s Ex Machina.

So in addition to frightening ramifications for privacy and information discovery, they also reinforce gendered stereotypes about women as servants. The neutral politeness that infects them all furthers that convention: women should be utilitarian, performing their duties on command without fuss or flourish. This is a vile, harmful, and dreadfully boring fantasy; not the least because there is so much extraordinary art around AI that both deconstructs and subverts these stereotypes. It takes a massive failure of imagination to commit yourself to building an artificial intelligence and then name it “Amy.”

Explore New Horizons - StarBnB

Discover exotic places with local hosts in a galaxy far, far away.

Julie Rubicon

The act of linking to this story is making it true.

“I don’t think there’s any law against this,” I said. How could there be a law against something that’s not possible?

Cosmic Surgery by Alma Haser — Kickstarter

Well, here’s an art project with a difference: it comes with a web site built by Josh, a story written by Piers Bizony, and a book made by Emily.

A Design Science Primer

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has put together this collection of resources which explain the ideas behind “comprehensive anticipatory design science.”

Seems especially relevant in light of the first issue of the Journal of Design and Science from MIT.

The legacy of the Black Mountain College lives on.

Will we ever walk again on the surface of the moon?

A brief history of lunar sci-fi.

No matter how much we want the science fiction dream to come true – and personally I would love it – the reality is that a lunar colony is very unlikely to ever be financially viable. It would be no surprise if we saw more expeditions to the moon, but all those wonderful visions of the high frontier recreated in space are more likely to apply to destinations with a better long-term future, like Mars, rather than the moon.

Journal of Design and Science

A new publication from MIT. It deliberately avoids the jargon that’s often part and parcel of peer-reviewed papers, and all of the articles are published under a Creative Commons attribution licence.

The first issue is dedicated to Marvin Minsky and features these superb articles, all of which are independently excellent but together form an even greater whole…

Design and Science by Joi Ito:

When the cybernetics movement began, the focus of science and engineering was on things like guiding a ballistic missile or controlling the temperature in an office. These problems were squarely in the man-made domain and were simple enough to apply the traditional divide-and-conquer method of scientific inquiry.

Science and engineering today, however, is focused on things like synthetic biology or artificial intelligence, where the problems are massively complex. These problems exceed our ability to stay within the domain of the artificial, and make it nearly impossible for us to divide them into existing disciplines.

Age of Entanglement by Neri Oxman:

This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled.

Design as Participation by Kevin Slavin:

The designers of complex adaptive systems are not strictly designing systems themselves. They are hinting those systems towards anticipated outcomes, from an array of existing interrelated systems. These are designers that do not understand themselves to be in the center of the system. Rather, they understand themselves to be participants, shaping the systems that interact with other forces, ideas, events and other designers. This essay is an exploration of what it means to participate.

The Enlightenment is Dead, Long Live the Entanglement by Danny Hillis:

As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed. We now relate to them as we once related to nature. Instead of being masters of our creations, we have learned to bargain with them, cajoling and guiding them in the general direction of our goals. We have built our own jungle, and it has a life of its own.

A Complete History of the Millennium Falcon — Kitbashed

Everything you never knew you wanted to know about the Millennium Falcon, wrapped up in one unsurprisingly insanely detailed essay from Michael.

Terraforming on Vimeo

There’s that Acheulean hand ax again.

The first ever object to be designed by man 1.7 million years ago was a flint hand axe. Flint has the same molecular structure as a crystal and they both consist of silica. The project juxtaposes the flint hand axe with the latest crystal technology; Xero chaton the world’s smallest precision cut crystal measuring 0.6mm in diameter, smaller than a grain of sand.

All our imagined futures | A Working Library

Science fiction as a means of energising climatic and economic change:

Fiction, and science fiction in particular, can help us imagine many futures, and in particular can help us to direct our imaginations towards the futures we want. Imagining a particular kind of future isn’t just day dreaming: it’s an important and active framing that makes it possible for us to construct a future that approaches that imagined vision. In other words, imagining the future is one way of making that future happen.

But it’s important that these visions are preserved:

It’s very likely that our next Octavia Butler is today writing on WattPad or Tumblr or Facebook. When those servers cease to respond, what will we lose? More than the past is at stake—all our imagined futures are at risk, too.

The End of Big Data | Motherboard

A great piece of near-future sci-fi from James.

I enforce from orbit, making sure all the mainframes that used to track and store every detail of our lives are turned off, and stay off. And as the sun comes up over Gloucestershire this morning, there they are, resplendent in the mist-piercing light of RITTER’s multispectral sensors: terabytes of storage laid out around the scalped doughnut of the former GCHQ building. Enough quantum storage to hold decades of the world’s pillow talk. Drums of redundant ethernet cable stacked stories-high. Everything dismantled, disconnected, unshielded. Everything damp with morning dew.

A Flag for No Nations | booktwo.org

This a magnificent piece of writing from James …all about pieces of metal fabric.

A single technology – the vacuum-deposition of metal vapour onto a thin film substrate – makes its consecutive and multiple appearances at times of stress and trial: at the dawn of the space age, in orbit and on other planets, at the scene of athletic feats of endurance, in defence and offence in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, on the beaches of the European archipelago. These are moments of hope as well as failure; moments when, properly utilised, technological progress enables us to achieve something which was beyond our capabilities before. And yet: we are still pulling bodies from the water wrapped in material which was meant to send us into space.

Mike Hill - Industrial Design in Entertainment on Vimeo

A terrific analysis of industrial design in film and games …featuring a scene-setting opening that delineates the difference between pleasure and happiness.

UNCANNY VALLEY (2015) on Vimeo

A really nicely put together sci-fi short film.

Old Weather: Whaling

A subset of one of my favourite sites on the web:

Explore the Arctic of the past from the deck of a whaling ship.

Choose your vessel and get transcribing.

How David Hume Helped Me Solve My Midlife Crisis - The Atlantic

A fascinating detective story of the Enlightenment, told from a very personal perspective.

Apollo 17 in Real-time

This is rather nice—a Spacelog-like timeline of Apollo 17, timeshifted by exactly 43 years.

Gene and the crew are on their way to the moon …the last humans to ever make the journey.

Strange Horizons Fiction: Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs, by Leonard Richardson

A riotously great short story…

“It always comes down to that, doesn’t it?” said the voice in disgust, now circling around Tark. “Whether a successful Internet filmmaker can also be insane. Given that his quote-unquote insanity is also the fuel for his objectively measurable success as an entrepreneur. And whether it makes sense to judge him by the standards of talking dinosaurs from Mars.”

Translating Gender: Ancillary Justice in Five Languages Alex Dally MacFarlane | Interfictions Online

A fascinating look into the challenges encountered translating Anne Leckie’s excellent Radchaai novels into Bulgarian, German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Hungarian.

What is clear in all of these responses is that by examining the notions of ‘neutral’ and ‘feminine’ in grammar and gender through the lens of translation, we reveal their complexity – and some of their possible futures in languages, in both literature and speech.

Our Generation Ships Will Sink / Boing Boing

Kim Stanley Robinson pours cold water on the premise of generation starships for crewed interstellar travel.

The more I hear about Aurora, the more I think I might enjoy reading it.

Meanwhile, Near Saturn… - WSJ.com

A breathtaking overview of Cassini’s mission. The timeline video—matching up footage from Saturn with contemporary events on Earth—is a beautiful and haunting dose of perspective.

You can even watch a four hour video of every single one of the 341,805 images that Cassini has sent up till now.

Cosmos: The infographic book of space

This looks a great book of space-related infographics and data visualisation.

Best of all, there are truly interactive versions online.

Wrapping up another epic year of Science Hack Day SF!

It looks like this year’s Science Hack Day in San Francisco was particularly excellent.

Tantek told me about building a portable home planetarium—sounded like a blast.

Radio SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852 (PDF)

We have made a radio reconnaissance of the star KIC 8462852 whose unusual light curves might possibly be due to planet-scale technology of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Nothing to report yet.

The Last Man - YouTube

Gavin Rothery’s wonderfully grim and atmospheric short film.

The Radiation Threat to “The Martian” (PDF)

This is something that has been bugging me ever since reading the book:

While Andy Weir does a good job of representing the risks faced by Mark Watney, stranded on Mars and confronting one life-threatening challenge after another, he is silent on the threat of radiation, not just to Mark but particularly to the crew of the Hermes as they contemplate executing a daring rescue mission that more than doubles their time in deep space.

Well, this paper answers all my questions.

SETI: A Networked Galaxy?

A fascinating guest post by Brian McConnell on Centauri Dreams: what if there’s a galactic equivalent to the internet, allowing civilisations to communicate with a system analogous to packet switching.

Unfortunately this kind of focussed signalling would be hard to detect. But on the other hand, it could explain the Fermi paradox.

The Fifth Dragon on Tor.com

A short story by Ian McDonald set in the same universe as his new novel Luna: New Moon.

The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy - The Atlantic

The most interesting anomaly uncovered by a Zooniverse project since Hanny’s Voorwerp.

Designing The Future, John V Willshire, dConstruct 2015 on Vimeo

Just like Nick, John Willshire has put his slides together with the audio from his gobsmackingly good dConstruct presentation on metadesign.

Climate Futures on Matter

A collection of cli-fi and cli-fact.

Growing your business

I enjoyed chatting with Marcus and Paul on the Boagworld podcast …mostly because I managed to avoid the topic at hand by discussing sci-fi for half an hour before we settled to the boring stuff about work, business, and all that guff.

Lightyear.fm

This is a nifty audio-isation of distance from the Earth, like Radio Free Earth but a lot slicker.

The Vuvalini | A Working Library

The best description of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read.

Mars Weather

A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.

Seveneves

The next Neal Stephenson book sounds like it’s going to be great.

DYNAMO | A Science Fiction Webseries by KarmaPirates

This web series is better than most big-budget hollywood films; witty, entertaining, and perplexing in equal measure.

Project Kronos on Vimeo

A beautiful bit of design fiction.

Hazards Of Prophecy by Arthur C. Clarke

A PDF of Clarke’s classic essay on the follies of prediction. From the 1972 collection The Futurists, edited by Alvin Toffler.

Tweets out of Context

Primer, but Twitter.

Culture Ship Randomizer · A gravitas free zone.

For when you just have to name something after a Culture General Systems Vehicle …or maybe a General Contact Unit.

Someone tell Elon.

Space Probes Art Print by Ariel Waldman

Now you can get a 7” x 10” print of the cast of Ariel’s fantastic spaceprob.es site.

I think this would look quite fetching in the Clearleft office.

Killing Time at Lightspeed

Interstellar travel time dilation and status updates: a clever narrative combo.

spaceprobe.es Data From Space

A fantastic new site from Ariel and Lisa: a collection of probes that are out in space right now, with oodles of facts for each mission and links through to more resources. SCIENCE!

NASA GeneLab

A beautiful website for ISS-based biology experiments.

Ambition

A beautiful sci-fi short from the European Space Agency, inspired by the Rosetta mission.

UK-led Beagle 2 lander found on Mars - News stories - GOV.UK

This is quite amazing!

I remember getting up on Christmas day 2003 (I was in Arizona), hoping to get news of Beagle 2’s successful landing. Alas, the news never came.

For something that size to be discovered now …that’s quite something.

The Anti-Tolkien - The New Yorker

A short profile of Michael Moorcock’s Elric series (though, for me, Jerry Cornelius is the champion that remains eternal in my memory).

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities for Venus Exploration - IEEE Spectrum

Airships in the atmosphere of Venus. More plausible than it might sound at first.

28 Months on Mars - NYTimes.com

Curiosity’s journey so far, nicely visualised.

Why James Cameron’s Aliens is the best movie about technology

Tim Carmody on James Cameron’s meisterwerk (and technology in sci-fi films in general).

Cinema Space Tribute on Vimeo

Scenes of space from sci-fi films.

Asteroid Day

This is an awareness project I can get behind: a Clarke-like Project Spaceguard to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions. This campaign will focus awareness of this issue on one single day…

Now if only the front page of this website actually said when that day will be.

Update: And now it does.

Alien | Typeset In The Future

Typeset In The Future is back with another cracking analysis. This time—following on from 2001 and Moon—we’ve got Alien.

In her final recorded message before hypersleep, Ripley notes that she is the sole survivor of the Nostromo. What she forgets to mention is that she has not once in the past two hours encountered any Eurostile Bold Extended.

Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist on Vimeo

A vision of humanity’s exploration of our solar system.

Lunar Missions Ltd

We’re going back to the moon. With a robot. So we can take sublunarean samples.

You can help fund it on Kickstarter.

Space sector magazine: space:uk

The UK Space Agency has a magazine called “space:uk” and you can download PDFs of back issues.

Rosetta - an album on Flickr

We can expect even more stunning images like these from Rosetta soon.

Rosetta and Philae at comet

The Many Faces Of… Sigourney Weaver

Queen of science fiction.

“Alan Bean Plus Four”

A warm-hearted short story about a moonshot. By Tom Hanks.

The Elon Musk interview on Mars colonisation – Ross Andersen – Aeon

Elon Musk talks engineering, the Fermi paradox, and getting your ass to Mars.

Ariel Waldman Talks About Science Hack Day: Triangulation 120 - YouTube

This is a great summation of the origins of Science Hack Day from Ariel.

Science Hack Day San Francisco 2014 Demos - YouTube

All the marvellous hacks from Science Hack Day San Francisco being demoed at the end of the event.

Mine is the first one up, five minutes in.

LHC Map

A lovely hack from Science Hack Day San Francisco: get an idea of the size of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider by seeing it superimposed over your town.

Science Hack Day: Serious Fun in the Making

It’s impossible to predict the creations that will spring forth when people gather in the spirit of participation, collaboration, and benign anarchy at the next Science Hack Day, but the results are certain to be inspired, and inspiring.

The Hummingbird Effect — How We Got to Now

How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.

Tabletop Whale

Beautiful visualisations of science and nature.

Made with love by a designer with a molecular biology degree.

How We Could Actually Build a Space Colony - Popular Mechanics

This is basically porn for me.

Bernal spheres, Stanford tori, and O’Neill cylinders, oh my!

High Street Shops In Sci Fi Films

I’m not quite sure why this is funny, but I am quite sure that it is.

SunshineDNA - Behind The Scenes

I remember reading Gia Milinovich’s reports from the set of the in-production Danny Boyle sci-fi film called Sunshine back in 2005. Then the film came out, exceeded my expectations, and became one of my all-time favourites.

Now the website—which was deleted by Fox—has been lovingly recreated by Gia. (And it’s responsive now.)

A Spacecraft for All: The Journey of the ISEE-3

A nice bit of interactive citizen science storytelling from Google.

Note: if you have Adblock Plus installed, this won’t load at all. Funny that.

Twelve Tomorrows | MIT Technology Review

This year’s collection of twelve sci-fi stories from Technology Review features three dConstruct speakers: Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow, and Warren Ellis.

Science Hack Day Shanghai 2014 - an album on Flickr

Photos from the first Science Hack Day in China which just wrapped up.

schwag

IXS Enterprise (IXS-110) - an album on Flickr

Design fiction from a NASA scientist.

IXS Enterprise (Work In Progress)

Thomson Reuters Throws Its Weight Behind Science Hack Day

This is quite exciting: the Endnote project is sponsoring Science Hack Day globally—not just an individual event.

Pumzi - YouTube

A short sci-fi film from director Wanuri Kahiu set in the aftermath of a worldwide water war.

Powerful Ideas Need Love Too!

Alan Kay’s written remarks to a Joint Hearing of the Science Committee and the Economic and Educational and Opportunites Committee in October 1995.

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson - YouTube

Steven Johnson’s new television series will be shown on BBC in a few months time. Looks like it’s going to be good Burkian fun.

Dystopia Tracker

Documenting depictions of dystopian futures and tracking which ideas are turning out to be predictions.

Archeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication edited by Douglas A. Vakoch

A free PDF download from NASA on all things SETI, specifically the challenges of interspecies interstellar communication.

Singularity&Co. — Save the Scifi!

The campaign to restore out-of-print pulp sci-fi books in electronic formats.

Staring down colliders

Craig recounts the time we visited the LHCb at CERN. It’s a lovely bit of writing. I wish it were on his own website.

How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future

Eileen Gunn writes in the Smithsonian magazine on the influence of science fiction.

Science fiction, at its best, engenders the sort of flexible thinking that not only inspires us, but compels us to consider the myriad potential consequences of our actions.

Dr. Easy on Vimeo

I finally got around to reading Red Men by Matthew De Abaitua recently. It’s like Nick Harkaway crossed with Jeff Noon.

Here’s hoping that this short film will be developed into a full-length feature.

Particle Fever

I can’t wait to see this documentary on the monumental work at CERN.

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel - A tediously accurate map of the solar system

A lovely visualisation that combines two of my loves: space, and the correct use of the subjunctive.

Mosaic - Wellcome Trust

I did some consulting with the Wellcome Trust on this new magazine-like project, and it’s great to see it go live—excellent stories of science, all published under a Creative Commons licence.

Orbit Ever After - Trailer on Vimeo

This fun-looking short film—funded by Brighton’s Lighthouse Arts—is screening at the Duke Of York’s Cinema on Saturday, March 1st followed by a panel discussion with the director and science-comedienne Helen Keen.

2001: A Space Odyssey | Typeset In The Future

Okay, this might just be my new favourite blog:

This site is dedicated to all aspects of movie and TV typography and iconography as it appears in Sci-Fi and fantasy movies.

The first post is all about 2001, and the writing is just the right shade of fun.

I’m already looking forward to future posts. (See what I did there?)

Laser Age / The Dissolve

A great series of articles on the sci-fi films of the ’60s and ’70s:

The Laser Age examines a rich period in the history of science-fiction filmmaking that began in the late 1960s and faded away by the mid 1980s.

…all wrapped up in a nice responsive design too.

Curiosity Hub

This nifty place in Brighton is just down the street from me:

Our classes allow kids to get creative with exciting, cutting-edge technology and software.

Brian Aldiss: ‘These days I don’t read any science fiction. I only read Tolstoy’ | Books | The Guardian

A profile of Brian Aldiss in The Guardian.

I still can’t quite believe I managed to get him for last year’s Brighton SF.

200 Geeks, 24 Hours: Science Hack Day in San Francisco

This is a wonderful, wonderful round-up by KQED of the most recent Science Hack Day in San Francisco …a truly marvellous event.

Be sure to watch the accompanying video—it brought a tear to my eye.

The hits keep going… | MetaFilter

This gives me a warm fuzzy glow. The Mefites are using Radio Free Earth to find out which stars are receiving the number one hits from their birthdays.

Chloe Weil — Science Hack Day

Chloe writes up her experience of the excellent Science Hack Day in San Francisco and describes the hack we built together: Radio Free Earth.

Science Hack Day San Francisco 2013 - a set on Flickr

Wonderful photos from Science Hack Day San Francisco, courtesy of Matt B.

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