Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Among SFnal topics, I sometimes opine about genre movies. What I seldom mention are short movies -- and today I'll take a step toward remedying that omission. With a hat tip to Scott for sharing this link, see (from Cracked.com) "5 Epic Sci-Fi Movies You Can Watch In Under 10 Minutes."

Spoiler alert: don't read a description till after you've watched the corresponding movie.

(Isn't the word "movie" well past its use-by date? Are we still supposed to be impressed that the images move? We got past "talkies," so why not retire "movies?" "Film" is likewise dated in the digital era. You and I -- and more and more theaters -- don't roll film. We stream bits! But I digress.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Forward-looking physics

Physics is our friend. 

We all know that a magnet -- whether a compass needle or the Earth -- has two poles. Cut a magnet in half (an experiment better performed with the compass needle ;-)  ) and you end up with two magnets, each with its own north and south pole.

Electric charge (of course) doesn't work like that. We're accustomed to the notion of isolated positive and negative particles (e.g., electrons and protons).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Of moons, clouds, and the state of the art(s)

Flexing moons, by Jove!
New cameras keep coming to market with more pixels than I can imagine any earthly use for -- but here comes astronomy to the rescue. See (from Space.com) "Alien Moons May Be Easier to Photograph Than Planets." The basic concept: tidal flexing of a moon by its primary generates heat, and that heat is in addition to all solar heating. And heat shows up in infrared imaging ...

That's one more way to search for Jm'ho, the Gw'oth world ;-)

How will you get to distant worlds? Odds are, not by beaming there à là Star Trek. For a mathematical look at the (im)probability of human teleportation, see (from Slate) "Bad News, These Physicists Say That Teleportation is Unworkable." Assuming you want to arrive wherever knowing what you knew when you set out, the trillions of tiny synapses in your head are a big challenge. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Miscellaneous and SFundry

Yet again: the dog days of summer. A time to kick back, avoid the heat ... and clear my backlog of SF and Nonsense-appropriate miscellany. (But be of good cheer: unlike in Roman times, no dogs need be sacrificed to propitiate Sirius, the Dog Star.)

Sand(worm): a summer theme :-)
Let's begin with something from an unlikely (in this blog) source: The New Yorker. For a mainstream retrospective and appreciation of a classic -- the masterwork of a giant of the genre -- see "Why Frank Herbert's 'Dune' Still Matters."

Vast scope. Brilliantly realized universe. Intricate plot. Dune has it all.

Speaking of giants ...