Wire Cutters

September 20th, 2015

Wire Cutters:

A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

[Via Blog of the Long Now]

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Making it so for M. Picard

July 28th, 2015

I was sure I'd posted about this theory about Star Trek before, but apparently not:

patio11 529 days ago

A heretical thought I have had about Star Trek: the Federation has no need for Star Fleet. They're fantastically wealthy and cannot meaningfully gain from trade in physical items. They're not just singularity-esque wealthy relative to the present-day US, they're equally more secure. Nobody kills mass numbers of Federation citizens. That occasionally happens on poor planets elsewhere. Sucks but hey poverty sucks.

So why have a Star Fleet? Because Jean Luc Picard is a Federation citizen, and he wouldn't be happy as other than a starship captain. It's a galaxy-spanning Potempkin village to make him happy. Why would they do that? You're thinking like a poor person. Think like an unfathomably rich person. They do it because they can afford to. He might have had a cheaper hobby, like say watching classic TV shows, but the Federation is so wealthy that Starfleet and a TV set both round to zero.

This makes Star Fleet officers into in-universe Trekkies: a peculiar subculture of the Federation who are tolerated because despite their quirky hobbies and dress they're mostly harmless. Of course if you're immersed in the subculture, Picard looks like something of a big shot. We get that impression only because the camera is in the subculture, not in the wider Federation, which cares about the Final Frontier in the same way that the United States cares about the monarch butterfly: "We probably have somebody working on that, right? Bright postdoc somewhere? Good, good."

[Via @m1k3y]

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July 25th, 2015

Robbie – A Short Film By Neil Harvey.

Set 6000 years the future, Robbie charts the existential reflections of an aging robot drifting alone through space on the last of his battery life.

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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One-Minute Time Machine

July 10th, 2015

One-Minute Time Machine doesn't outstay its' welcome:

[Via MetaFilter]

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July 8th, 2015

The other week I made a note to myself to watch out for a recent science fiction film called Advantageous, an expansion of a previous short of the same name.1 This morning I came across a copy of the original short film on YouTube, and it's really very good:

Now I'm definitely going to watch out for the feature length version.

  1. I found out about the film via a Mike D'Angelo review at The Dissolve. Sad news today that The Dissolve has ceased publishing. Dammit, not only did they have a host of excellent reviewers who produced readable, insightful reviews and a range of essays and news stories that catered for a wide range of interests, but they also put out a pretty decent podcast. At least as importantly, in the space of not quite two years they'd attracted the second-best community of commenters of any site I visit regularly, second only to the folks who make MetaFilter so good.

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How is a dirty mess of dust, ice, and rock possibly that damn shiny?!

June 11th, 2015

io9 have started a new series with A Scientist Responds… To Deep Impact:

Premise #3: The giant comet headed towards us was not picked up by any of the agencies or researchers deep-scanning the skies, but a teenager with his backyard telescope did spot it.

The American military can't even keep the orbits of their clandestine spy satellites secret from amateur astronomers for long; a massive comet coming to destroy the planet would absolutely be noticed by everyone else, and the construction of the Messiah spacecraft would've been photographed in detail long before the President's speech.

The deeper problem though seems to be that astronomers in this movie don't actually look at stars. This is remarkably clear when teen astronomer Leo Biederman spontaneously decides the field of view for his telescope is greater than 10 degrees, the distance covered by two fists held at arm's length, and manages to find Alpha Centauri, a star not visible in the northern hemisphere. It doesn't get any better when we switch off to his doomed mentor, Dr. Marcus Wolf. By the time Wolf performs the world's fastest, tidiest orbital determination on virtually no data while munching on pizza before bolting off to make an instantaneous report on a comet that wouldn't arrive for over two years, I've already written him off as an alien from another dimension utterly lacking in night-vision rods in his eyes, an understanding of orbital mechanics, and common sense.


Verdict: No. Just no, not likely at all, and it makes me weep soggy tears for hard-working astronomers everywhere.

The sad thing is, I always had a bit of a soft spot for Deep Impact.1

Now, let's see them inflict The Core on some poor, unsuspecting sap.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  1. Though if I'm honest, this was in no small part because of the contrast with Armageddon, which showed up the same year and made Deep Impact look like 2001: A Space Odyssey scientific accurary-wise.

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June 10th, 2015

The story of The Last Museum:

I am not at my ranch, nor my Beijing office, nor the lesser office in Brooklyn, but here, back home, in the Old Valley. In a few minutes we'll pull off the highway and into what used to be Pruneridge Shopping Center. I can see the Jobs statue out the window of this car, rising up from the center of the Apple ring.

Pruneridge has gone the way of all physical stores. In its place stands a massive set of overlapping, complex, structurally-interlinked steel polyhedra that required sixty-thousand hours of continuous computer time to model. Ten billion microscopic mirrors catch the light and reflect it in various soothing patterns. There is one mirror per living human on this earth.

This is MoST, the Museum of Social Transformation. It is mine, but soon it will belong to the world.

I will tell you how I got here. […]

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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No scrith required

May 2nd, 2015

What's the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?

Babylon 5 was robbed! Robbed, I tell you!

[Via Laughing Squid]

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April 17th, 2015

Matthew Mcconaughey's reaction to Star Wars teaser #2:

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No words

March 13th, 2015

I do wish Martin Belam, in posting about how UsVsTh3m marked the passing of Terry Pratchett, hadn't planted this delightful thought in my brain:

And personally, with Pratchett's death and Leonard Nimoy only recently departed, this has made me realise how deeply Tom Baker's death is going to affect me.

Now I'm thinking about it too, dammit!

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