Just a small collection of worthy links for your amusement.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows rising levels of income inequality in all fifty states. From 1979 to 2011, the top 1% saw their income rise 128.9%, while the bottom 99% saw their income increase by a mere 2.3%.
Seth MacFarlane, the multitasking comedian and creator of Family Guy, and other raunchy fare, happens also to be the driving force behind the new version of Carl Sagan's classic science show COSMOS, which will appear Sunday on Fox and simultaneously on other networks, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I know a number of the writers and producers who have striven to create something stunning, vivid and updated for the 21st Century.
As if you didn't already have enough to be nervous about, here's something creepy to ponder as the year 2014 gets under way.
It looks like Mars may actually get hit by a comet in 2014. As it stands right now, the chance of a direct impact are small, but it’s likely Mars will get pelted by the debris associated with the comet. Phil Plait calculates that if (not too likely) an impact actually happens, it would have an explosive yield of roughly one billion megatons: That’s a million billion tons of TNT exploding. Or, if you prefer, an explosion about 25 million times larger than the largest nuclear weapon ever tested on Earth. There is an immature part of me that soooooo wants to see that! It could even re-awaken the red planet, a bit.
Does science fiction owe a "duty" to the past? I've long pondered: might the field better have been named Speculative History? First: SF authors read more history than science (only a few of us know very much about the latter). Second, almost everything we do is about extending, or extrapolating, or pondering alterations in the grand, sweeping epic of humanity. Even when zooming down to the private angst of one narrow life, we in this genre remain keenly aware of the context - our shared drama and the poignancy of change. I'll talk some more about this below... and in my next posting...
“Bank secrecy is essentially eroding before our eyes,” says a recent NPR article. ”I think the combination of the fear factor that has kicked in for not only Americans with money offshore, countries that don’t want to be on the wrong side of this issue and the legislative weight of FATCA means that within three to five years it will be exceptionally difficult for any American to hide money in any financial institution.”
This somewhat autobiographical missive was sparked by recent research that confirms something long suspected -- our civilization dodged a bullet a while back. A bullet made of lead. We dodged it thanks to science, open argument, and the power of dramatically-conveyed evidence...
... plus a fascinating coincidence in which I played a minor-but-interesting role.
Celebrate National Science Fiction Day (January 2, also Isaac Asimov's birthday) by re-committing yourself to live in the future. Start with this cool little spiel by Ed Finn on Slate. Then help make it a real holiday -- by celebrating the future.
And in that spirit...
One outgrowth of DARPA's 100 year Starship project has been serious attention to certain potential FTL (faster than light) drives that might open access to the galaxy.
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April 20, 2014 - DNA extracted from the skin of a 35 and 75 year-old male has been injected into four denucleated human eggs to produce clones of the skin donors. The stem cells extracted from these embryos matches their male donors.
April 20, 2014 - The Arctic is the one area of the globe most susceptible to atmospheric warming and according to the latest data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA, the season of
The Toronto-Dominion Bank, currently vying for the number one position in Canada, and a growing player in the United States, issued on April 14 a special report, Natural Catastrophes: A Canadian Economic Perspective. The document doesn't directly talk about climate change but it is inferred throughout. Instead, it talks about "weather conditions" and their socioeconomic impact.
Opportunity, the little Martian rover, continues to click after a decade on the planet's surface. It is a remarkable story that the technology continues to function providing new discoveries for scientists here on Earth. Opportunity's original mission along with its companion, Spirit, was for 90 days.
Biometrics has been hailed by some as a wonderful way of determining someone’s identity, and by others as a security mechanism that is far too easy to spoof. I generally fall in the second category. I don’t mind using it for simple unimportant things like turning on my tablet, on which I keep nothing sensitive, but so far I would never trust it as part of any system that gives access to my money or sensitive files.
Johnny Depp's new film Transcendence has had futurist fandoms in a lather for months.
April 17, 2014 - Yesterday my blog posting focused on NASA's efforts to involve the public in designing better oxygen recovery systems.