Popular Mechanics has a list of ten “geeky, adventurous” jobs which they think will have long-term employment opportunities. Job titles include things like “Zero-Energy Home Architect” and “Digital Detective.”
A few of them (like Video-Game Designer) probably have some staying power, but I suspect that some of the others might wind up in the same category as “Vacuum Tube Engineer:” Obsolete as soon as a better technology comes along.
What jobs do you think will still be around in 50 years?
Posted in News April 30th, 2009 by Chip
The finalists for the Locus Awards (the best science fiction books and stories of the year, chosen by the general public) have been announced over at their site. Best science fiction novel entries are:
The full list is available at the Locus site.
I’m mildly amused to see that Cory Doctorow’s novella, “The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away,” takes its title from Jonathan Coulton’s wonderful song The Future Soon.
Researchers examining the giant dust cloud at the center of our galaxy have concluded that it tastes like raspberries and smells like rum. They were looking for life-building amino acids, but found a substance called ethyl formate. It’s the compound that gives raspberries their flavor, and also happens to smell like rum.
“It does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries,” Arnaud Belloche, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, told the Guardian.
“Space Raspberries” would be an awesome name for a band.
Link (via Cognitive Dissident)
Posted in News, Space April 28th, 2009 by Chip
Members of the team that created Snuppy, the first cloned dog, have now added an anemone gene to cloned dogs to create four transgenic glow-in-the-dark beagles.
They claim that this is the first step in creating “disease model” dogs to use for research into human diseases, but other scientists are less certain that dogs will ever see widespread use. Dog cloning is very inefficient–only 1.7% of the embryos came to term–and the team was also unable to control where the anemone gene was inserted into the dog’s genome.
On the other hand, I can definitely see these dogs being highly sought-after pets. Who wouldn’t want a beagle you can find in a power outage?
Link (via BoingBoing)
The Nebula Awards 2009 were presented Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Novel – Powers – Ursula K. Le Guin
Novella – “The Spacetime Pool” – Catherine Asaro
Novelette – “Pride and Prometheus” – John Kessel
Short Story – “Trophy Wives” – Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Script – “WALL-E”
Andre Norton Award – Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) – Ysabeau S. Wilce
Other awards given:
A.J. Budrys — Solstice Award (Tim Powers accepted)
M.J. Engh — Author Emerita
Marty Greenberg — Solstice Award
Harry Harrison — Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master
Joss Whedon — Ray Bradbury Award (Joss Whedon accepted by video – it can be found at this youtube link. The award statue is an astronaut – the astronaut’s helmet is a IBM selectric typeball!)
Kate Wilhelm — Solstice Award (Joe Haldeman accepted)
SFWA Service Award – Victoria Strauss, from Writer’s Beware
The toastmistress Janis Ian, got a standing ovation when she ‘filked’ her own song “Seventeen” with new lyrics about the SF stories that influenced her as young woman. Lyrics included “Who dreams of positronic men?” and “Who dreams the dreams of kids like me?”.
Chuck Lorre, who wrote “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, was the keynote speaker.
The night’s major snafu – SFSignal released the full list of winners a full hour before the awards ceremony was over, and pulled down the web page about 5 minutes later.
Wired Magazine’s long-running feature FOUND–images of futuristic everyday objects, presented without comment–was discontinued a few months ago. MetaFilter has collected a list of the archived images from 2004 onward.
These are wonderful, at once whimsical and strangely plausible. I especially like the space elevator and diaper.
Link (via Dark Roasted Blend)
io9 has collected a list of alien alphabets, including Marain from Banks’ The Culture books, Ancient from Stargate, and (of course) Klingon. They’ve also got links to fonts based on all of them, so now you can write your own secret messages in Kryptonese.
There are lots of other alphabets and fonts they don’t mention in their article. A few others are listed below:
Tommy of Escondido has a great collection of Babylon 5 Star Trek, and miscellaneous SF fonts, including Minbari, Narn, Drazi, Bajoran, Kazon, Cardassian, Kanamit, Krell, and lots of others.
The Lovecraft’s Diary and Miskatonic fonts are perfect for Cthuloid doodlings.
Erikstormtrooper has several Star Wars fonts, as does Echo Station (sidebar to the right).
Not SF, but Peter Klaasen has a collection of Tolkien fonts.
The Alien Nation Appreciation Society has the Tenctonese font available (near the bottom of the page).
Posted in Ephemera April 23rd, 2009 by Chip
…now we just need both together.
European researchers have found a tiny exoplanet that’s only 1.9 times the size of Earth, and say that a neighboring planet discovered previously is in the prime zone for potential life.
Gliese 581 e (the little one) is too close to its star for life as we know it, but being able to detect such a small body at such a great distance (20.5 light years away) is a good indication that we’re progressing in our ability to detect Earth-like planets. Gliese 581 d is in the habitable zone, but is probably too large to be made of rocky material (although they don’t rule out the possibility of a deep ocean).
Current exoplanet research is focused on finding a body that’s both similar to Earth in size and in the right spot to support life. Finding these two planets is an encouraging sign.
Posted in News, Space April 22nd, 2009 by Chip
Sean Wang, an artist and writer who has worked on such comics as The Tick, began a SF adventure comic called Runners in 2000. The story follows the exploits of a band of alien smugglers as they “they struggle to complete hazardous runs through outlaw space and against all odds.”
He’s now decided to make the series available for free online, publishing one page a day at runnersuniverse. (The story starts here). The artwork is wonderful, and he also includes commentary on most of the pages. He’s currently publishing the original “Bad Goods” story arc, but says he’s got plans for several others afterward. Looks like fun.
(via Big Dumb Object)
I know I’ve mentioned Para Abnormal before, but this made me giggle.
I think the funniest part is that this image is so much a part of pop culture that you immediately recognize what it is.
Update: It looks like he’s decided to do a whole “theme week” of comics. Go check ‘em all out!
Posted in Humor April 20th, 2009 by Chip