The Next Generation: New Writers of Scientific Imagination

For decades the Clarion Workshop has done service to both literature and civilization by nourishing and tempering some of the brightest new writers of science fiction and fantasy. Eminent authors such as Ted Chiang, Karen Fowler and Neil Gaiman have given generously of their time and expertise. Acceptance is highly competitive and each summer, men and women graduate who later become successful and published authors, helping to both steer and propel the most dauntless of all genres – the one that explores change in our world.  This tradition only was enhanced when the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) became Clarion’s new home, a few years ago. And it will exponentiate with the arrival – on the very same campus – of the new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Both of these bold endeavors require money, of course.  So you are all welcome to bend the ears of any philanthropists you know!  Beyond that, have a look at the “Write-a-Thon” — a worthy way for you to participate with very small donations (like a walk-a-thon), only with a sense of connection to the works that gifted writers will produce during the event. (Donors who sponsor a story will get first look. Some might even get characters named after them!)  Give this narrative some room in your mind.
While on the theme of the next generation: amid this graduation season, take a fresh look at this classic video I made when my oldest was graduating from high school:

Things Every College Student Should Know and Do … some quick “uncle” advice for how to grasp the university experience and squeeze out the real value that’s there!

==  Sci-Tech and Miscellany ==

Read a fascinating article about some desperate alternative plans that NASA considered, during the dark early days of the 1960s “space race.”

A fun and informative rumination on my concept of Uplift, and how it might apply to Orangutans.

This article about degrees with zero unemployment surprised me.  Sure, actuarial science.  Maybe geophysics… but astrophysics?  My field… 100% employment?  Then why am I a bum!

Do Rorqual whales have an extra sensory organ to sense krill clumps and control their jaws’ ornate “gulp”?

A growing body of evidence suggests that the molecular machinery of life emits and absorb photons. Now one biologist has evidence that this light is a new form of cellular communication.  …Biophotons are usually produced at the rate of dozens per second per square centimetre of cell culture. Not many. And it’s why the notion that biophoton activity is actually a form of cellular communication is somewhat controversial. Sergey Mayburov at the Lebedev Institute of Physics in Moscow claims to detect patterns. Biophoton streams consist of short quasi-periodic bursts, which he says are remarkably similar to those used to send binary data over a noisy channel.  Fascinating stuff in so many ways. Do cells “communicate” this way? Does this supplement inter-cellular sooms like synapses and chemicals?  And does this have effects INSIDE cells? Fascinating.

This magnificent false-color movie of the sun’s surface was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory over 24 hours. It makes me proud to have once been a solar astronomer. I think I even glimpsed the “Sun Ghosts” from the novel Sundiver!  Notice how at one point you can see the blue (cooler) patched form a sideways “Vee” pattern with its apex at the equator.  Because the sun’s differential rotation spins faster at the equator than the higher latitudes.  This is what winds up the magnetic fields which must reconnect and “pop” every eleven years or so…

New research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain.

The U.S. manufacturing sector, which is burdened by negative stereotypes, is showing signs of revival, according to speakers at The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S. conference recently held at MIT. The United States added about 50,000 manufacturing jobs this January alone, the largest monthly gain since 1998, and companies such as Ford Motor Co. have moved overseas plants back to the United States.

By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team has observed the active accretion phase of a super-massive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, yielding an unprecedented amount of data for such observations. The resolution at which they were able to observe this highly luminescent active galactic nucleus (AGN) – using a three-telescope interferometer has given them direct confirmation of how mass accretes onto black holes in centers of galaxies.

There are roughly 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) with diameters larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found, according to observations from NASA’s  (WISE), which have led to . The discovery that many PHAs tend to be bright says something about their composition; they are more likely to be either stony, like granite, or metallic.

With patience for some erudition, you will learn a lot from David Ronfeldt’s explication about different forms of human group organization, from tribes to hierarchies to markets to networks.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, Wired has published a way-cool-fun-sarcastic appraisal of the physics of “laser” Blasters in Star Wars.

From The Register: The worst movies ever?

And finally, this has gone viral: The TED Talk You Weren’t Supposed To See. Nick Hanauer, a rich entrepreneur explaining why some of the wealthy understand where it all came from… and some do not.

1 Comment

Filed under science, science fiction, space

One response to “The Next Generation: New Writers of Scientific Imagination

  1. Pingback: Guerrilla Monkey – Today’s readings included…

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