Facebook's acquisition of the Oculus company shows that big players are starting to take Augmented Reality (AR) glasses seriously—leading the 22-year-old daughter of a friend to comment "that stuff looks really lame." But the question of whether something "looks lame" is partly a matter of implementation. In the future you will be at an extreme disadvantage without access to augmented reality tools.
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...
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March 6, 2015 - When my parents would take my brothers and I for a car trip during our annual family vacation the common cry was "are we there yet?" Well it seems for those of us who have been waiting for the quantum computing revolution t
March 5, 2015 - From the perspective of coastal southern Florida it takes little imagination to realize just what is at risk from rising sea levels, a consequence of global warming. The area where my wife, our dog and I are staying lies a little over one meter (3.3 feet) above sea level. Every rainstorm causes roadway flooding in front of our apartment.
March 3, 2015 - The 21st century is creating a whole new area of expertise and a business opportunity for organizations both private and public focused on mitigating and combating climate change. Here is a brief overview of a few of these. If you know of others please let me know and I will endeavour to write about the work they are doing in this most important field.
March 1, 2015 - In 2012 Indonesia's contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) global emissions amounted to 4.5%. That placed them sixth, well behind the United States, China and Germany.
February 27, 2015 - A few days away in Jamaica this week and I am feeling the vibe of that island even while sitting down to write about a journey far longer than a hop across the Caribbean from Florida to Montego Bay.
Science fiction is a genre of literature in which artifacts and techniques humans devise as exemplary expressions of our intelligence result in problems that perplex our intelligence or even bring it into existential crisis.
February 21, 2015 - By 2050 with more than 9 billion human mouths to feed let alone countless cattle, pigs, chickens and other meat, it is not surprising that food scientists are turning to the most prolific animals on Earth as a good source for protein. We are not talking about two and four-legged creatures, but those with six - insects.