Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Institute for the Future: Map of the Robot Renaissance

via Boing Boing

Introduction to the map

Introduction to the map

Last week, my colleagues and I at Institute for the Future held our Robot Renaissance conference, where we presented our research on the future of robotics. As part of this year-long project, we developed the above map to summarize our big forecasts and present some striking signals, present-day examples of technologies that we think indicate or embody a future trend. As with much of our work at IFTF, this map, lovingly designed by our creative director Jean Hagan, is available for free under a Creative Commons license. I hope you enjoy it! Klaatu barada nikto!

Posted in Computers & Internet, Ephemera December 21st, 2010 by ceejaydp
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Global Eruption Rocks the Sun

via NASA Science


Locations of key events are labeled in this extreme ultraviolet image of the sun, obtained by the Solar Dynamics Observatory during the Great Eruption of August 1st. White lines trace the sun's magnetic field. Credit: K Schrijver & A. Title.

On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.

It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

Posted in News December 20th, 2010 by ceejaydp
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Heroes of Science

Sagan OrnamentEtsy seller Eavesmade specializes in “lasercut science goodness,” and creates wonderful Heroes of Science wooden Christmas ornaments. The scientists offered are:

Alfred Russel Wallace (evolution)
Stephen Hawking (theoretical physics/cosmology)
Rosalind Franklin (genetics)
Johannes Kepler (mathematics/astronomy)
Marie Curie (radiation/chemistry)
Nicolaus Copernicus (astronomy)
Jane Goodall (primatology)
William Harvey (medicine/anatomy)
Carl Sagan (astronomy/cosmology)
Rachel Carson (ecology)
Carl Linnaeus (botany)
Tycho Brahe (astronomy)
Isaac Newton (physics/mathematics/astronomy)
Gregor Mendel (genetics/heredity)
Galileo Galelei (physics/mathematics/astronomy)
Albert Einstein (physics)
Charles Darwin (evolution)
George Washington Carver (botany/horticulture)
Elizabeth Blackwell (first U.S. female physician)
Dmitri Mendeleev (chemistry/creator of first periodic table)
Nikola Tesla

It appears that the individual ornaments are currently sold out, but a full set is still available. The price really isn’t bad for 21 individual ornaments, and this would be an awesome way to decorate a “theme” tree.

According to the shop, next year they will also be featuring ‘lace-engraved scientist valentines–because nothing says “I love you” quite like Marie Curie or Gregor Mendel!’ Quite so.

(via Skepchick)

Posted in Ephemera December 17th, 2010 by Chip
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Speaking Of… TRON: Legacy

via Tech Crunch

Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges - Tron Legacy

Ok TRON fans, have I got a treat for you!

I just returned from a two day TRON press event with some awesome interviews from the creators, cast and crew of TRON: Legacy and the original TRON. I asked many of the questions I solicited from TechCrunch commenters and everyone seemed to love them — especially Jeff Bridges. I mean, maybe they say this to everyone, but his handlers said they had not seen him that animated until our question came along.

ARTICLE [part one – with videos]
ARTICLE [part two – more videos]

BONUS! [Disney’s Insider page – features TRON trailer and “behind the scenes” videos]

Posted in Movies & TV December 17th, 2010 by ceejaydp
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Trivia Thursday

  1. In this classic short story by Arthur C. Clarke, the remnants of a now-destroyed civilization are found within the Phoenix Nebula, the leftovers of a supernova that was once visible from Earth. Name it!
  2. The play “A Dixie Christmas Carol,” an adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale, was written by what well-known SF author?
  3. In Allen Steele’s Hugo-nominated “Zwarte Piet’s Tale,” Santa Claus comes to the colonies on what planet?
  4. Jack McDevitt’s “Promises to Keep” is the story of a mission to save a woman stranded on Callisto five Christmases previously. Callisto is one of which planet’s moons?
  5. This author’s “The Pony” is a cautionary tale about getting just what you want for Christmas. Name the author, who writes of Impossible Things!
  6. In this 1964 movie “classic,” the Martians kidnap Santa because there is nobody on Mars to give their children presents. Name this Christmas turkey!
  7. These authors, proteges of Philip K. Dick, collaborated on “We Traverse Afar,” a bittersweet story of love and loss at Christmastime. They sometimes write as “William Ashbless.” Name them!
  8. In Isaac Asimov’s “The Heavenly Host,” a young colonist and an alien help an entire planet find The True Meaning of Christmas(tm). What do the colonists call the aliens?
    A) Varmints
    B) Bugs
    C) Angels
    D) Wheels
    E) Devils
  9. In this classic Christmas episode of The Twilight Zone, Art Carney is a drunken department-store Santa who finds a magic bag. What was its title?
  10. In Futurama’s only Christmas episode, what does the 8-foot-tall Santa robot do if he finds you on Christmas Eve?

(Answers below the fold)

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Posted in News December 16th, 2010 by Chip
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Seuss Does Star Wars


Cartoonist Adam Watson has done a series of Seussian Star Wars images that are just lovely. I particularly like the G-rated “eviscerated” Tauntaun.

You can also buy prints of his drawings here.

Posted in Humor December 15th, 2010 by Chip
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Santa Claus is Real

Lesson 821

Explained…with science! You can’t argue with science.

See the proof at Surviving the World.

Posted in Ephemera December 14th, 2010 by Chip
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Yes, Katie, There is a Darth Vader

The story of Katie, the little girl who was told by classmates that Star Wars was for boys, a few days ago has gone more than viral. BoingBoing mentioned it recently, and one of the comments on the article is so splendid that I want to highlight it here. From BoingBoing commenter kmoser:

Katie, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the Dark Side. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Katie, whether they be men’s or Stormtroopers’, are weak. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the Force about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Katie, there is a Darth Vader. He exists as certainly as hate and selfishness and faith exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how wonderful would be the world if there were no Darth Vader! It would be as wonderful as if there were no Empire. There would be no blind subservience then, no malaise, no obedience to make tolerable this existence. We should have no hatred, except in sense and sight. The eternal darkness with which the Dark Side fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Darth Vader! You might as well not believe in womp rats. You might get your commander to hire henchmen to watch all the escape pods on Christmas eve to catch Darth Vader, but even if you did not see Darth Vader flying down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Darth Vader, but that is no sign that there is no Darth Vader. The most real things in the world are those that neither Jedi nor droids can see. Did you ever see Yoda levitating? Of course not, but that’s no proof that he can’t do it. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the universe.

You tear apart the Millennium Falcon and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest Wookiee, nor even the united strength of all the strongest Wookiees that ever lived could tear apart. Only skepticism, prose, hatred, science, can push aside his mask and view and picture the supernal ugliness and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Katie, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Darth Vader! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Katie, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to strike fear into the heart of childhood.

Bravo to you, sir or madam, for truly understanding the Magic of Star Wars.

Posted in Movies & TV December 13th, 2010 by Chip
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Seen Online

I say I’m allergic to dogs and he says “I’m allergic to the radioactive shards of my home planet” and I remember why I don’t call Superman.

Sleep tight! Your brain is a billion times more complex than your laptop. And laptops break all the time.

Field of Creams™ Brand Sex Robots: “If you build it, they will come.”

Wife: “Don’t you think Yoda would be good in bed? He has the Force. It’s gotta be good for something. Don’t tweet that. It’s mine.”

There’s really no way of knowing whether a pile of laundry used to be a Jedi.

Baby Alive Doll just said Skynet is up and fully operational. Wonder what she meant by that.

Frosty the Deposition Specimen #ScienceCarols
So This Is Litmus #ScienceCarols
Quark The Herald Angels Sing #ScienceCarols
All I Want for Christmas Is the Higgs Boson #ScienceCarols

Just realized I learned empirical evidence is better than anecdotal evidence because some guy told me. Now I don’t know what to believe.

Posted in Humor December 10th, 2010 by Chip
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Trivia Thursday

  1. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, what region is Perrin from?
    A) Two Rivers
    B) Lone Pine
    C) Spring Valley
    D) Fern Hamlet
    E) Three Streams
  2. Who was the commander of the Gammilons?
  3. What do the authors James Tiptree Jr., H. Beam Piper, Peter George, and Robert E. Howard have in common?
  4. In Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion, what was the purpose for which Matteo Alacran, the owner of the estate, had clones made of himself?
  5. What did Luke Skywalker “bulls-eye” on Tatooine?
  6. In David Gerrold’s A Matter for Men, what is the name of the teacher of the high school class “History and Moral Philosophy?”
    A) Ranzaic
    B) Dubois
    C) Whitlaw
    D) Foreman
    E) Connell
  7. In Wildcards by George R. R. Martin., what is the name of the planet whose ruling families engineered the “Wildcard” virus?
  8. In what constellation is the nearest star to our sun?
  9. There was a Barbara series, an Alice series, an Oscar series, a whole plethora of series…but only one of these.
  10. In Farscape, what is Crichton’s pet name for the unwanted guest in his head?

(Answers below the fold)

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Posted in Ephemera December 9th, 2010 by Chip
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