Monday, June 13, 2011

The time has come, the walrus said ...

... To talk of many things.

For shoes and ships and sealing wax, continue here.  For more recent arcana to have caught this SF author's eye, read on ...

"Criminal Minds Are Different From Yours, Brain Scans Reveal." (I like to think that my visitors do not have criminal minds.) I read with interest that:
"One test on the participants at age 3 measured their response to fear – called fear conditioning – by associating a stimulus, such as a tone, with a punishment like an electric shock, and then measuring people's involuntary physical responses through the skin upon hearing the tone."
 I await the day someone scans the brains of anyone who'd test three-year-olds with electric shocks.

Colleague David Brin has an interesting essay on the difference between fantasy and SF. His thought-provoking thesis? That SF presumes we humans can learn from our mistakes -- that there is such a thing as progress -- while fantasy assumes the opposite.

Given my mixed feelings at the recent announcement that Kindle books now outsell all print books on Amazon, how appropriate is it to read that "Researchers Create A Schizophrenic Computer"? I can look forward to outsourcing my worrying!

Having written about nanotech in both factual and fictional contexts, I was delighted to see this alert via Physics World: "From seawater to freshwater with a nanotechnology filter." A key snippet:
"CNTs (carbon nanotubes) can realistically expect to have water permeability 20 times that of modern commercial reverse-osmosis membranes, greatly reducing the cost and energy required for desalination. Additionally, CNTs are highly efficient at repelling salt ions, more so because specific chemical groups can be attached to them to create a specific "gatekeeper" function."
From the Department of Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, we have, "Bikini-clad Zombies Spook Connecticut Residents."

Only slightly more unexpected, the DoTISTF reports that two of my solo novels made the highschoolers' summer reading list at the Kinkaid Academy. Yup, for students taking the fall AP Robotics class, two of my novels, Small Miracles and Fools' Experiments, share the list with, among others: I, Robot (Isaac Asimov), 2001 (Arthur C. Clarke), The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein), and that quintessential cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson). Way cool.

As was my long-after-the-fact discovery that the cinematic version of my short story "Grandpa?" made it onto the curriculum of the Los Angles Film School. The Grandfather Paradox is now part of an LAFS unit on the Mathematics of Time Travel. The producer's notice is here (and the Canadians among you can stream the movie here).

And for those of you looking beyond the imminent era of hideous, mercury-tainted compact fluorescent light bulbs to the promised halycon era of white-light LEDs ... check out this cautionary piece from the Department of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: "LEDs Filled with Toxic Substances, Study Says."

One more reason to mourn the passing of incandescent bulbs ... and, perhaps, to stock up.

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