Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A wild and crazy planet

One of the joys of SF is the opportunity to Think Big. Earth, as large as it is, pales in comparison with, say, a Dyson Sphere or a Nivenesque Ringworld. But within the limits of today's technology, we humans (some of us, anyway), continue to Think Big ...

As illustrated by this CNN article: Sky trains, super bridges: 8 of the world's most spectacular infrastructure projects. Whether or not you're impressed by every one of these projects, I defy you not to be taken with the 1000-ton tunnel-boring machine being used to extend the Tube system in London.

Speaking of London, the next Star Wars film will be shot there. Next year's Worldcon will be held there. So, in an SFnal frame of mind, Londonist wondered about "Bits Of London That Look A Bit Sci-Fi." My favorite, without doubt, is at left.

Before leaving London, let's note that "London Has an Impossibly Weird House That Defies Physics." (Not really, but take a moment to guess how it's done before clicking through.)

While the presence of life in London isn't in question, how hard is it to detect life at a distance? Decades later, the proper interpretation of the Viking mission remains controversial. See, for example, from National Geographic, "Life on Mars Found by NASA's Viking Mission? New analysis suggests robots discovered microbes in 1976." I think there's much to be said for experimenting with life-detection tech closer to home.

On the Atacama Desert
And now we are. See (from IEEE Spectrum), "CMU's Zoe Robot Resumes Search for Life on Earth." If nothing else, one must admire the aptness of the robot's name.

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