Saturday, April 01, 2017

1 April - Contrary Brin / Science Friday

Contrary Brin
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Marching for Science... and then some tech marvels
My science postings used to be free of politics -- and this one will be, in a bit. But how can they be detached, when the central political issue of our time is whether evidence, fact-based argument and truth discovery can survive? I know that on Earth Day (named after my novel, I presume) April 22, I'll join my fellow scientists in the street. See more information about the March for Science , a
Space Marvels for 2017
Oh, let's (please) take a break from pondering our current crisis of civilization, and the now explicit war on science. Instead, this time, let us turn our heads to ponder the wonderful cosmos that our children will explore... if we manage to keep a great and brave and thoughtful civilization. My own space news can be found at the bottom. A dinner gathering with cool topics. But first... Fantasti
Choosing sides -- fighting autarchy
Okay, this one will be reflective, if a little bit fierce. And see below how some folks are citing my novel The Postman as (alas) prescient about our current messes. But let's start with news that could be important: l et's pray this is the beginning of the end of an utter-evil insanity called gerrymandering. See where I analyzed gerrymandering , for years. There are countless ways to fix this vi

Mar 24

Economic Inequality: opportunity vs outcomes
Our last posting -- extensively shared by thousands -- offered long, verbatim quotations from epic science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, revealing his amazing prophecy of an America falling into perilous failure mode. Now let's back off from our immediate crisis and try some perspective. == The Equality Problem == This article - Is Inequality Inevitable? — asks a fair enough question, whose

Mar 18

Looking back at Heinlein's Future History - coming true before our eyes.
This one is so pertinent and important, I tried to find a more public venue for it. But one of the tragic consequences of the Trump Era is the decay of op-ed journalism -- everyone recycling the same whines. I'll speak more of this, at the end. But now -- this just can't be put off, any longer. Prepare to go wide-eyed! == A chilling forecast: accurate down to the last detail == You can sway a tho

Mar 16

Shifting views on immigration
In 1939, the infamous ship St. Louis limped around the Atlantic and Caribbean with over 900 German Jews on board. Arm-twisted by the Nazis, but also shamefully, the United States and Cuba both refused sanctuary to the refugees. Eventually the ship returned to Germany and most of the passengers on board were eventually killed during the Holocaust. Bard College professor an director of the Hannah A

Mar 14

Science Fiction: Into the future
Let's take a pause to envision how science fiction makes a difference. First by pointing at the rocks that lie in wait, downstream, that might yet be avoided. Second, by shining light upon the possible -- on things that we might want, or the people we choose to become. And finally... ... the category of I told you so. Rubbing our Cassandra warnings in the faces of those who just didn't listen! Ve

Mar 10

Inconvenient facts: The future of news.. and "otherness" has been stolen!
I recently spoke (via Beam robot) at a conference on “The Future of News Media” hosted by the Institute For The Future (IFTF), in San Francisco. An erudite gathering of concerned men and women from around the world discussed problems of Fake News, declining advertising revenues, state interference, self-censorship, and the web’s tendency to corral individuals into self-isolated pocket universes t

Mar 06

Which crisis will we face next?
All right, here is the danger I fear most right now. The heads of four world powers desperately fear democracy in their own nations. All four want to trigger war between the United States and Iran. A while back, I did a round-up regarding international affairs and their calamitous bungling, in recent weeks. But I left you with the impression that war with Iran might happen because of “stumbling,”

Mar 04

Facing a future of technologic wonders: Artificial Intelligence Don't be demoralized; we've faced waves of anti-science mania before. Today, let's assume we decide to resume being a boldly confident, ever-ambitious, scientific and technological civilization, in which children believe they can be better than their parents... but parents make that goal hard to achieve, in the best way, because we're improving too! Okay then, consider some innovations

Science Friday


Hr2: Engineering New Ideas, Bionic Arm, Robotic Prospecting
If humans someday colonize the moon and Mars, robotic prospectors and miners will be among the first to arrive, manufacturing fuel, water, and other essentials. Plus technology like 3D printing is expanding what prosthetic limbs can do, and who can wear them.
Hr1: News Roundup, Dino Family Tree, What-If Physics, Impact Glass
Geologist Peter Schultz uses a high-velocity gun to test his hypothesis that asteroid impacts could preserve signs of ancient life. Plus, what would happen if you stuck your hand in a particle accelerator or jumped off of the Space Station?

Mar 25

Hr2: Wildflowers and Bees, Infinity and Beyond
The wildflower explosion in the southern California desert provides plentiful food to wild bees. In this springtime special, we talk about which wildflowers—and pollinators—to spot this season, and how to log your observations at Plus, mathematician Eugenia Cheng explores infinity.
Hr1: News Roundup, Residents Hours, BP Oil Spill, Gerrymandering
A play explores the loss of human and animal life after the Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010. Plus, can the shape of a congressional district tell us everything we need to know about its fairness?

Mar 17

Hr2: Vibrato Physics, Satellite Repair, Charting Physics History
Physicist Lawrence Krauss on the substance of the universe, the Higgs Boson, and how we know what we know. Plus, researchers use the tools of quantum physics to quantify the vibration of sound. And a robotic spacecraft could improve weather forecasting by fixing satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
Hr1: News Roundup, Autonomous Ambulances, New York 2140, Climate and Food
In his new novel, New York 2140, author Kim Stanley Robinson tackles how a drowning city might adapt and thrive after disastrous sea level rise. Plus, as the globe warms, maple syrup, tea, and other specialty foods could suffer from lower quality and lower nutritional value.

Mar 10

Hr2: Atmospheric Microbiome, Content Moderation, Scraps for Dinner
In their book Scraps, Wilt & Weeds, Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong describe creative ways to use the parts of produce that we usually toss away. Plus, a look at how content moderators work behind the scenes to keep graphic content off your feed. And why certain types of bacteria in the atmosphere can play a role in rain and snow.
Hr1: News Roundup, Gamifying Communication, Trump and the EPA, Tuvan Throat Singing
How the president and Congress have been quietly and successfully tearing down U.S environmental and climate change policy. Plus, Tuvan throat singers have developed a technique that allows them to produce two notes at one time.

Mar 03

Hr2: Ancient Earth Crust, Farmers and Conservation, California Water Supply
Some farmers are using techniques like no-till and dry irrigation that conserve natural resources as a way to cultivate crops according to the biology of the soil and land. Plus, predicting rain, snow, and water supply in the warming west.

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