- Dickens and Science Fiction: A Study of Artificial Intelligence in Great Expectations | Orford | 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth CenturyDickens actively included contemporary science in his fiction, but could his fiction be considered science fictional? Pete Orford argues that it can:
"When plausible explanations can become implausible in the wake of subsequent scientific discoveries, it is not so much the validity of an explanation, but the act itself of trying to rationally explain the inexplicable that can ground the fantastic into the realm of science fiction."
- Synthetic biology and the rise of the 'spider-goats'This is not bad overview of the current state of synthetic biology.
- Leaping lizards! - by Nature Video
Looks like the special effects team for the Jurassic Park move got the dinosaur movements right!
Read the Nature News storyhttp://www.nature.com/news/leaping-lizards-jurassic-park-got-it-right-1.9736and the original research paperhttp://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10710.html
- Fellebia or Vulcan perhaps?
- How a Book about the Future Inspired Me to Look into the Neural Underpinnings of the Past | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network
Maria Konnikova looks at lessons from Dune about how the mind handles difficult situations under stressful conditions:
[Jessica Atreides] does think to herself, “How the mind gears itself for its environment. The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.”
Decades of psychological research have proven her to be quite correct.
- Science In My Fiction » Blog Archive » Building the DragonHow to build a real dragon...
- I'm thinking "no", although I suppose it depends on how you define "dead".
- "Vampire" Parasite Found Entombed in Amber"Before he became a specialist in ancient diseases inside equally ancient bugs, Poinar had worked on attempting to extract DNA from insects trapped in amber—work which author Michael Crichton has acknowledged as part of his inspiration for Jurassic Park.
But no ancient bats will be reconstructed from this specimen, even if it were possible."
- An artistic representation of evolution from Mission to Mars (via Allison Sekuler)
- Memory and amnesia in the moviesWhat do the movies Memento, Finding Nemo and Se Quien Eres have in common?
Accurate depictions of amnesia.
- Yeast Genetics in ‘The Marriage Plot’ - Scientist Was Fiction, but Not His Work"Mr. Eugenides’s feat — creating an accurate world of science and scientists — raises questions about how much research fiction writers must do to write about science and whether, somehow, they can figure out this most esoteric world without going near it."
- Out Today! Some of the Best of Tor.com, a Free Mini Ebook Anthology | Tor.com
Download details at Free SF with Biology.
- How to get it on with an Alien: A Beginner's GuideSome useful suggestions from io9, in case you have an extraterrestrial sweetheart you are celebrating a sexy Valentine's Day with.
- Mammals Made By Viruses | The Loom | Discover Magazine
Fact stranger than fiction:writes: "The big picture that’s now emerging is quite amazing. Viruses have rained down on mammals, and on at least six occasions, they’ve gotten snagged in their hosts and started carrying out the same function: building placentas. "
- VomitPhysics! Physics of Fiction
How much milk would you need to vomit to be able to levitate? It's rocket science.
- Science In My Fiction » Blog Archive » Got science?Science in My Fiction has put out a call for writers. Are you interested in both science and science fiction? If so, check it out.
- Meet the Lampyridae II: From Fireflies to Space InvadersNice video byabout uses for firefly bioluminescence, including NASA's fight against Earthly "space invaders".
- Farming the Unconscious - we make money not artA disturbing work by André Ford, that looks at "the intensification of the broiler chicken industry". Chickens don't need higher brain function to grow muscle, so maybe factory farming could be taken to the next level.
"As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate. By removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken, its sensory perceptions are removed. It can be produced in a denser condition while remaining alive, and oblivious.
Like the Matrix for chickens?
- If you could have any non-human animal trait, what would you pick? I'm thinking the special plumbing that helps penguins keep warm, but that might change when the weather stops being so cold and damp.
- Drugs that Give People Awesome SuperpowersMy drug of choice is caffeine, and my superpower is staying awake...
- Gender parity: A Special Guest Post"It’s unlikely that Con organisers actively discriminate against women. But ‘we don’t discriminate; there just aren’t as many female authors’ gets bandied about a lot (or ‘there just aren’t as many good/popular/audience-favourite female authors‘) – and these blatantly aren’t true. There are just as many female authors in the SFF community as male, if not more. So why does the SFF convention-running world that was built decades ago still assume that most SFF is being written by men, for men?"
- Dark matter, apparently, is midichlorians | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
explains dark matter.
"Matter that we can’t see directly but we know exists but can’t be normal matter or even interact with it directly bends space which warps the path of light which can be used if you have millions of galaxies at your disposal to see the subtle distortions of background galaxy light which smears them out and lets you map the location and density of that invisible matter and see that it’s everywhere even well outside the visible boundaries of galaxies which means it fills the Universe in every direction and at all distances."
- Kevin Smith on Lack of Women on AMC Comic Book Show: ‘That’s Reality’From the: According to Kevin Smith it's just not "authentic" to have "chicks" working in a comic book store. Hmmm, I wonder why.
- Anti-Gravity Machine for Levitating Fruit FliesIt would be nifty to be able to levitate. Too bad it disrupts gene expression.
- DNA robot kills cancer cells : Nature News & Comment
Open-source software was used to design DNA nanorobots that target cancer cells.
"DNA origami, a technique for making structures from DNA, may be more than just a cool design concept. It can also be used to build devices that can seek out and destroy living cells."
- Human-made photosynthesis to revolutionize food and energy productionLeaves are the original solar panels.
- Study: Prions Can Be Helpful Engine of Evolution, Rather than Cause of Disease | 80beats | Discover Magazine"It is controversial and novel to say that prions are a common mechanism for generating diversity, especially diversity that proves helpful."
- Lovechild of Audrey II and The Thing? | Undead BackbrainRobert Hood shares art by Nick Stathopoulos for "It Grows", described as “Alien meets The Thing meets Little Shop of Horrors meets The Blob.” It uses "old school" -type special effects, like models and puppets, rather than CGI. Scary!
- Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation | Pop Bioethics
makes the Mass Effect universe sound amazingly complex and interesting.
"The violations of biology and the disregard for the natural are no longer obvious evils in a universe in which the path of life and civilization itself is an artificial and designed construct."
- Science Nation Army (YouTube video)
- Nanopore genome sequencer makes its debut : Nature News & Comment
Have your genome sequenced while you wait.
"WOAH! It took over a decade and cost over $3 billion to sequence the first human genome. Less than ten years later, a lab that pick up one of Nanopore's new sequencers will be able to do it in 15 minutes at a fraction of the cost."