NEWS NEWSLETTER: AUGUST 2010Digital Papyrus newsletter
"Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily"
Date: August 2010
Issue No. 76
I don't read just SF [gasp !], or fantasy, or fiction. I don't read romance novels - they're so formulaic, it hurts my head. I read a lot of science, business news (not really the financial section, though), current events and some entertainment news (but not the gossip column - shudder). I read a lot of blogs - everything from book reviews to social commentary. I'm addicted to my twitter feeds. I read a lot of software and technical manuals.
I tend to kill a lot of trees - forests, actually. I wear glasses, and there are a lot of lights in the house; it's easier to read with good lighting. And when my eyes are too tired to focus, or when I'm driving (or otherwise using my hands and eyes) I listen to audio books, or I turn on the text reader on my iMac or the Kindle.
I don't really watch TV. Not in the traditional way, at least, as I do watch some "on demand" programs and some DVDs. It's very hard for me to remember what time it is I need to tune in to a particular program; I usually watch it a day or two after it first airs, or perhaps a season later when it comes available on DVD. I tend to watch whole seasons of a show in a "marathon" of viewing. I still haven't finished watching Babylon 5.
The following is a link to and an excerpt from an article I ran across a week or so past. It's dated 1977, but I feel it might still be of some interest to O*W*C members. I can't imagine a better target audience for this sort of evaluation of SF reading and readers.
"Many science fiction stories are written about social conflict, social-scientific speculations, and specific ideas taken from the social sciences, yet very few of the factual articles that appear in SF magazines are about the social sciences. This article will be an exception. We will describe some of the most basic and most modern techniques of sociological survey analysis, demonstrating them with data provided by science fiction fans, arriving at a scientific sketch of science fiction literature.
It is strange that science fiction literary criticism is entirely unscientific. Anybody can read a book and give a personal opinion on it. A few readers write intelligent book reviews for magazines like Analog. The best of them bring great writing skill and considerable experience in SF to their job, but none use science. We do."
NASA is discontinuing the Mars Scout line of relatively low-cost missions to the Red Planet, but there is still an opening for resourceful scientists seeking an inexpensive ticket for Mars research.
The end of the Mars Scout program comes after it fostered two missions, the Phoenix polar lander launched in 2007 and the MAVEN orbiter that will study the Martian atmosphere after its 2013 blastoff. FULL STORY
Kepler mission on the verge of more planet discoveries
STEPHEN CLARK, SPACEFLIGHT NOW
The Kepler space telescope has uncovered a treasure trove of candidate planets the size of Earth circling other stars, potentially reshaping scientists' view of the universe.
Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer at Harvard University, presented the latest round of Kepler data at the TEDGlobal conference in the United Kingdom earlier this month. FULL STORY
Future manned missions to the moon or Mars could use plants as bio-harvesters to extract valuable elements from the alien soils, researchers say.
Now they hope to launch new experiments to follow up on tests done with plants and lunar regolith during NASA's Apollo program that landed men on the moon.
Lunar regolith is a loose mixture of dust, soil, broken rock and other related materials that lie on top of solid bedrock. The Apollo-era research showed that returned lunar samples of the regolith did not have toxins or contain alien life-form contaminants that could threaten plants, animals or humans on Earth. FULL STORY
Area of Mars Identified as Good Place to Look for Evidence of Past Life
Denise Chow, SPACE.com Staff Writer
A spot on Mars called Nili Fossae that is rich in clay mineral-rich rocks could be a prime spot to search for the fossilized remains of Martian life that may have existed 4 billion years ago, a new study suggests.
In the study, scientists used an instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study clay-carbonate rocks on the Martian surface leftover from ancient red planet era known as the Noachian period. FULL STORY
One Saturn Moon Blows Oxygen to Another
ZoŽ Macintosh, SPACE.com Staff Writer
A comprehensive model of Saturn's magnetosphere and moons has revealed that the ringed planet's largest moon Titan gets its oxygen from the icy geysers on another.
Until now, the method for oxygen making its way into Titan's surface chemistry has remained a mystery, the scientists said in a NASA statement.
Icy geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus shoot water molecules into the planet's magnetosphere, where they break down into oxygen and hydrogen as they travel to Titan, according to a model developed by scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. FULL STORY
This exclusive online experience simulates how a devastating pandemic could affect those closest to you. Read the updates written by your friends. Watch the videos posted by your family. Share the photos and newspaper stories. Experience the world as seen from the gates of The Colony.
Hook in the Book
Marla Mason crouched in the alley beside the City Lights bookstore and threw her runes. The square of royal-purple velvet spread before her on the ground was covered by a scattering of objects--a garlic clove, a withered cigarette butt, a two-headed novelty quarter, fingernail clippings, and the stone from the head of a toad. She studied the pattern the objects made for a long time, then sighed. "It's no good. This alley isn't any better than the other two places I tried. I don't know where all the lines of force are in this city, so I can't interpret the scatter worth a damn. I thought I could triangulate, but even then it's too vague. There's something or someone of power over there"--she gestured vaguely eastward--"but I don't know if it's the guy were looking for. I'll have to do a wet divination." The air smelled faintly of piss and coffee, but not even those familiar urban smells set Marla at ease.
Blood Engines T.A. Pratt
With all the reading and listening and viewing, you would think I could manage to be brilliant. At least, on an occasional basis.
I find, instead, I am rather mundanely of an average intelligence. I read or listen to Grammar Girl to help my writing read better than the average 5th grader's. I try to listen more than speak, so I won't be talking around my feet when I try to contribute to a conversation.
After all the hedging, however, my first choice for reading/listening/watching is always SF. It affords me the luxury of escapism with very little pain and suffering. Sf ranges from the adventure novels of old-time space operas to the thrillers of somewhen apocalyptic zombie wars. Depending on the research apparent in some writer's works, there are details including atmospheric conditions, ecologic influences, biogenetics, robotics, planetary orbits, galactic distances, social relationships and economic upheavals...