- Pun Of The Weak: Some Science Stuff | Learn Fun Facts. Twisted descriptions of some scientific fields.
- The Art of Darkness » Seen Online. Batkaren’s is the one that had me rolling, but the first one and the dog/cat one and some others are very funny, too.
- The History Blog » Synchrotron reads erased Galen. I’ve linked to other posts akin to this before but several things about them never cease to amaze me.
- Researchers create a protein ‘mat’ that can soak up pollution — ScienceDaily. Makes me think of the excellent Pat Murphy/Paul Doherty story “Cold Comfort” (Bridging Infinity), which was about methane sequestration.
- A self-driving Uber hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona | Popular Science. I’m sure everyone’s heard about this but these articles take a broad view: SciAm presents their mild take on it, while John Shirley feels more strongly.
- Facebook shares slip as Mark Zuckerberg fails to reassure investors – CBS News. Another bit of old news (especially with Zuckerberg on the Hill today) but the article contains the quote: “The hashtag #DeleteFacebook has been trending since the scandal emerged, with some consumers saying they plan to delete their accounts on the social-media service.” No one seems to see the irony in this. (Of course, I have no Facebook or Twitter account – or any other Web 2.0 social media presence aside from this blog.)
- A new angle on gerrymanders: Mathematicians invent tool to judge when voting maps have been unfairly drawn — ScienceDaily. This is one of several good objective/mathematical “crap detectors” but doesn’t provide any similar principles for actually redrawing the districts properly. Still, I’ll take all the tools I can get and so should the courts. Speaking of, these don’t tackle the tech, but they discuss the ongoing vital legal struggle: “Supreme Court hears Maryland gerrymandering case – CBS News” and “Supreme Court justices appear unsettled after gerrymandering case arguments – CBS News.”
- Prosthetic memory system successful in humans — ScienceDaily. Just read a Robert Reed story (“Obliteration,” February Clarkesworld) on this. Not my favorite Reed story, but a neat (and problematic) idea and interesting to see an example of where we are with it.
- Computer system transcribes words users ‘speak silently’ — ScienceDaily. As neat as this is and as many beneficial uses as it might have, I have to wonder “what could go wrong?” It might be useful as a passive interrogation device or (as the article mentions it being used in reverse and conveying information with minimal distraction so that it seems a part of your own thought) handy for advertising and other propaganda.
- Resisting technology, Appalachian style. I got this from Popular Science and it fits nicely here. It’s not just Appalachia – I resist it (better to say, carefully select it) Piedmont style.
- Fire Isn’t Bad but Parental Addiction to Technology Hurts Children « John Shirley Blog. In addition to the driverless cars mentioned above, John Shirley also urged some more resistance/selection recently.
- Two-billion-year-old salt rock reveals rise of oxygen in ancient atmosphere — ScienceDaily. This gives me too many weird thoughts to write down quickly.
- Mice change their appearance as a result of frequent exposure to humans — ScienceDaily. Not just mice but several critters. The stuff about their brains is particularly interesting. I wonder if its somehow specifically human-related or simply the result of a different environment.
- Newfound ‘organ’ had been missed by standard method for visualizing anatomy — ScienceDaily. Recall the item in the last “Links” post about “splashy headlines” causing the scientific process to suffer. Not even quotes excuse calling this an “organ,” exactly but, even so, considering this is a rather large part of us, it’s kind of amazing this hasn’t been noticed. This says a lot about everything, really.
- Class clowns: Playful boys viewed more negatively than playful girls, study finds — ScienceDaily. Not all teachers are inspiring.
- This teacher aims to get kids fired up about chemistry – The Washington Post. But this one is. I got this from File 770 and you’ve got to check out the picture over there: “Pixel Scroll 3/27/18 Godstalk It, Jake, It’s Pixel Scroll | File 770” (item #7).
- Solid research leads physicists to propose new state of matter — ScienceDaily. One of the better teasers to a science article I’ve read lately: “The term ‘superfluid quasicrystal’ sounds like something a comic-book villain might use to carry out his dastardly plans.”
Science and Tech (in Spaaace)
- A Prehistoric Close Pass. Scholz’s Star, a binary system, may have passed through our Oort cloud 70,000 years ago, perturbing objects and emitting flares visible from Earth. The astronomical observation is fascinating and inspires wonder (and not a little dread) at the universe while the illustration is one of those things that makes one feel a sudden kinship with our great-Nth-grandpa and our zillionth cousins a million times removed.
- The Sun Is Spitting Out Strange Patterns of Gamma Rays–and No One Knows Why – Scientific American. Considering a tiny hiccup would incinerate us or freeze us, we sure don’t know much about this vast engine that drives all life as we know it.
- Tens of thousands of black holes may exist in Milky Way’s center — ScienceDaily. Both that and “Astronomers Spy Swarms of Black Holes at Our Galaxy’s Core – Scientific American” are accessible but I thought the former was better while some may prefer the latter (or any of the dozens of other write-ups this got).
- Hubble makes the first precise distance measurement to an ancient globular star cluster — ScienceDaily. A 3% margin of error is still a lot (and even 1% is on these scales) but better is better. Happy birthday, Universe! 13.8 billion years old? You don’t look a day over 10 billion.
- Goodbye Kepler, hello TESS: Passing the baton in the search for distant planets. The scope is dead! Long live the scope! (Centauri Dreams also looks forward to TESS and other instruments: Exoplanets: Accelerating the Pace of Discovery.)
The Grand Tour
Cleaning out bookmarks, I came across this cluster from Space.com from fairly late last year – no idea why I never posted them.
- Planet Mercury: Facts About the Planet Closest to the Sun
- Planet Venus Facts: A Hot, Hellish & Volcanic Planet
- Mars Facts: Life, Water and Robots on the Red Planet
- Planet Jupiter: Facts About Its Size, Moons and Red Spot
- Planet Saturn: Facts About Saturn’s Rings, Moons & Size
- Planet Neptune: Facts About Its Orbit, Moons & Rings
- Planet Uranus: Facts About Its Name, Moons and Orbit
- The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction [Blog]. In the last “Links” post, I linked to the newish Analog and Asimov’s blogs but, to be fair, I should have linked to the F&SF blog to complete the trifecta, even if it’s less new.
- Isaac Asimov Facts. Similarly, I’ve got a couple of big, dedicated Asimov sites linked in Featured Futures‘ sidebar but I think I’ve neglected even mentioning this smaller but fascinating site here. I came across it again when one of my posts resurfaced at a posting board. It gets into some minutia (but important minutia) of Asimov’s catalog and also has pages on Clarke, Dick, and Silverberg. I’ve got some similar stuff which I may add to this site someday.
- Black Gate » Birthday Reviews: Stanley G. Weinbaum’s “The Worlds of If”. I got into this author via the great Ballantine “Best of” series. In Weinbaum’s volume, Isaac Asimov wrote an introduction calling him “the second nova” (between, and different from, but of a similar magnitude to, Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein) and he certainly was a bright light of the SF firmament.
- Black Gate » Birthday Reviews: Henry Kuttner’s “Ghost”. We celebrated the birthday of his better half in January. Now for the man himself.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey – 50 Years Later. Speaking of birthdays, this is a detailed examination of how 2001‘s depiction of space travel and other technologies holds up today.
- And, speaking of birthdays and 50 years, Samuel R. Delany’s Nova turns 50 later this year and I’ve read a couple of reviews of it recently: Destruction and Renewal: Nova by Samuel R. Delany | Tor.com and Review – Nova – Lauren’s Super Science Fiction Blog. I’m not the biggest Delany fan but Nova was the one I appreciated the most.
- “The Little Terror” by Will F. Jenkins | The Saturday Evening Post. Thanks to Free SF Online, I learned I could read this fantasy tale by the author better known in the SF world as the great Murray Leinster. This definitely pushes a notion of Berkeley’s further and askew from how the bishop intended it and initially labors the point a bit. People’s reactions to some pretty big stuff aren’t always credible, either, but the bulk is a fun tale even so. It’s actually the denouement (and a more literal one than usual) that really made it work for me. This is an “honorable mention.” Weird that it’s practically simultaneous with “It’s a Good Life” (the latter coming out four months later) and, I think, precedes innumerable stories and movies on the theme.
- A Look at Jack Williamson’s Golden Blood | Adventures Fantastic. I have the Lancer edition mentioned in the article. Because I’m more of an SF guy, it’s not exactly my kind of thing and, after reading it, I was thinking of trading it in but found that, the more I thought about it, the more it stuck in my head in a good way and I kept it. If I were immortal I’d re-read it and I hope I manage to, someday. It really is exotic, colorful, adventurous fun.
- Dave Truesdale reviewed Strange Horizons‘ March stories over at Tangent and, while he thought the stories were okay, he really didn’t like the content warning boxes. I agree with him on the boxes, though I didn’t care for the stories either. (April has already had a great one, though.) The core point is that the boxes are ridiculous and an embarrassment to Strange Horizons and to SF fans for being associated with them. Dave sarcastically suggests a lock box to make sure people are kept safe but I would go further: How dare Strange Horizons publish stories it knows will offend or traumatize people? They must publish only utterly inoffensive stories or suspend publication immediately! 😉
- Judas Priest Scores First U.K. Top 10 Album In 38 Years With ‘Firepower’ – Blabbermouth.net and Judas Priest Scores Highest Charting Album Ever In U.S. With ‘Firepower’ – Blabbermouth.net. While Tipton does play on the album and Travis is now the band’s longest serving drummer in both years and albums, there won’t be much Priest left of Priest on this tour, with just Hill [bass and last remaining founding member] and Halford [vocals], but it’s still nice for them. I thought they were done after Nostradamus (hands down worst album, diving under even Turbo – at least Turbo was shorter) but they’ve, uh, redeemed their souls with increased firepower. Here are my top three single-type songs (there are also a couple of excellent album-type tracks and plenty of decent songs) sequenced for listening effect: