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John and Athena Talk About Stuff, Episode One: Deadpool 2

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 18:57
Athena and I thought it would be fun to try an occasional podcast with the two of us, in which we talk about entertainment we’ve both seen and possible other topics as well. So, in the spirit of trying new things, here is the first edition of John and Athena Talk About Stuff. In this […]

An Now, an EXCLUSIVE Sneak Preview of the Work Currently in Progress

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 12:39
That’s right, here’s a short, available-nowhere-else excerpt from The Consuming Fire, coming in October from Tor Books! Are you ready? Are you ready for this? Are you hanging off the edge of your seat? Well, here it is! “A lawyer is here.” “Toss him out a window.” “Her, actually, I think.” “So toss her out, […]

Thoughts of a Personal Nature

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 17:50
Writing for a blog is weird. It’s been really difficult for me to decide what to write about, so difficult in fact that it’s led to me not posting as much as I want to because I just have no idea what to write about. Everything I’ve posted has been surface level; the reviews, my […]

FYI

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 11:03
The sequel to The Dispatcher may have been announced in this New York Times article about audiobooks. And before you ask, yes, there will be a print/ebook version as well, some time after the audio publication.

More Photography!

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 20:35
Happy 2nd of June! Today I am very busy cleaning out my closet and sorting things that I brought home from college, so I’m going to share some more of my photos with you! Last time, there was a lot of people asking what camera and lenses I use. Everything on the last post and […]

Space Pioneering: the passion and dream continue! (But leave the dusty Moon to others.)

Contrary Brin - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 15:07
I just returned from the International Space Development Conference at the LAX Sheraton in Los Angeles, where I had the honor to MC the awards luncheon, presenting to my friend (and NIAC colleague) Frank Drake the Pioneer Award for profound contributions to humanity’s outward vision.

Other award recipients and honored guests included Jeff Bezos, Freeman Dyson, Buzz Aldrin… and Toni Weiskopf, legendary publisher of Baen Books, presented the Baen short story award winners.
photo by Nadia DrakeThe day before, I gave a talk about Defense and Potential Conflict in Space at Northrup-Grumman and - with my son Ben - got a fairly close look at the James Webb Space Telescope, being assembled for launch soon. (We’ll all be biting nails!)
The evening before that, I gave a talk about Our Place in the Universe at UCLA for the annual Julian Schwinger Colloquium.
And next week I fly to Washington meetings for the NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC) and at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. Plus an event for the nascent DC Museum of Science Fiction.   (See my calendar at http://www.davidbrin.com)
So, all in all, a very spacey month! 

Which leads me to zoom back to something almost every space enthusiast (and I love you guys) seems to accept romantically, while ignoring actual facts. I'm talking about the self-destructive allure of the USA getting mired in a “return to the moon.”

== Building Mars abilities, so we can stay ==
For starters, I have nothing against Mars. In fact, I think it is a fine, mid-distant objective - a lure to entice us onward. An "inspirational goal," according to Scott Pace of the National Space Council. Alas, as a near term goal, it has problems. A rushed Mars program would have to use the Apollo Method, seeking a single, short-term victory lap. 

Compare two kinds of expeditions, to the top of Mt. Everest... or to the South Pole. In both cases, you spend 90% of your time going back and forth, building a base camp that lets you build an advance camp, that lets you supply an assault camp. With Everest, the aim is tourism and glory. When it comes to the South Pole, the U.S. wasn't first; but when we went, we stayed. And the scientific benefits have been huge. Still, everything needed by humans at the pole must be supplied from "Earth."

Mars expeditions will only make sense when we have truly sophisticated methods. Foremost, ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) facilities, not only on the Martian surface, but also on Phobos, that can extract and store volatiles, like water, for use not only as fuel, but also in closed life support (CELS) systems.
(Note: like everyone else, I am dazzled by Elon’s spectacular plans for skyscraper rockets! These would up-end the economics and timing in terrific ways. But the order in which things should be done does not change. We still need ISRU and CELS and some asteroid work before Martian trips will be sustainable for reasons other than glory.)
If ISRU provides tons and tons of water (and oxygen and fuel) stored at both locations, then the cost of repeated (instead of one-off) Mars missions plummets and their odds of success go far higher. This effect quintuples if there are also automated greenhouses, using that water to grow food. (Indeed, Elon's original idea was to send a greenhouse to Mars  To demonstrate how CELS will bring the dream closer.)
Those techniques (ISRU etc.), happen to be the same ones we can develop by doing asteroids as our near future project.  So, Mars lovers truly should also be asteroid lovers, especially since Phobos is the key to Mars, and Phobos may be a volatiles-rich asteroid!
== Back to a … dustbowl? ==
None of this can be said about the sterile, empty, and — at least for now — useless lunar surface.
A deliberately provocative assertion. Can I back it up?  

First, recall how I cited Scott Pace, a few paragraphs back. Here he explains the New Presidential Space Policy, that the U.S. should Return to Moon. By all means listen in.  Better yet, get and read "The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Settlement," cited in the image you see here. 

Alas, though, I see no reason to back down.

1- Other than small amounts of polar ice, there is nothing of tangible value on the lunar surface. Nothing. Let me repeat that. Not one thing. 
Truly. Try asking any of the lunar guys to back up their arm-waved “resource” justifications, by showing us any actual, actual lunar “ores.” Except possibly for scattered meteoritic iron, such ores are not even theoretically possible. 

(See below an addendum explaining "ores" and how they came about on Earth and asteroids... and why I'll eat a bug, if you find any high quality ores on the moon.)

Or demand that they justify their assertion that the moon is an ideal “way-station” on the way to Mars.  It sounds logical, but it’s not true! Not at all. Not even a little bit. The numbers make that clear.
2- What about that lunar ice?  My doctoral advisor James Arnold predicted polar ice! I rejoice that it’s there… 
…and it belongs to future lunar colonists. For us to rape them by stealing their water for rocket fuel would be a crime, especially since the water and/or fuel would have to be hauled out of a gravity well, with a polar penalty! None of which is true for the vastly richer sources of water elsewhere.
3- Andy Weir (author of “The Martian”) wanted to write about a lunar colony in ARTEMIS. He wracked his brain for any economic justification for such a colony, and found only one reason to make a near term lunar settlement: tourism.
It’s why the U.S. went, as a nation, in the 60s!  It’s why (symbolic glory) the Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires are desperate to plant flags and dusty footprints on that useless plain. 

Indeed, it's why some business should invest in lunar capabilities!  Because making money off tourists is a perfectly legitimate business plan!
Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway4- Hence, a Lunar Orbit Station makes sense! Set up shop above the moon. For one thing, it could peer down and search for ores-n-such to prove me wrong!
Plus, instead of being tourist-suckers, let’s sell tourism! Charge hotel and landing services for all those symbolism-obsessed lunar Apollo-wannabe tourists! Charge the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires! 
A lunar orbit station is also perfect for analyzing asteroid samples and testing methods for human deep space flight. That was the plan approved by all the sage NASA advisory panels who actually know stuff and weighed all factors, till symbolism-obsessed politicians over-ruled everybody who actually knows stuff.
== The two biggest reasons not to get trapped in dusty quicksand ==
5- Dig-it. There is no reason for Americans to repeat past glories when we could be accomplishing things that only we can do

Read that twice. Why repeat what we did ages ago? Things the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and billionaires are eager and ready to do?
Let’s do things they can’t!
6- Oh, then there's the dust itself. Nasty, nasty stuff. Sharp, brittle grains that... oh, look it up.

7- Prediction.  If we start a big “return to the moon” push, for American glory, it will prove expensive. And suddenly, a GOP president will declare a diplomatic victory! Remember when the jingoistic “Space Station Freedom” suddenly got transformed into the “International Space Station”?  Well, Trump and/or his successor will brag and preen over a great new agreement to do Return to the Moon jointly with China and Russia, yippee.
And, of course, this will require technology sharing.And yes, every single U.S. advantage and trade secret and advancement will be given away, while those nations get cost savings for their symbolism-tourism. America - and posterity - get nothing.
8- Finally, my biggest objection is guilt by association

“Back to the moon” has become a central catechism of the Republican Party. The very same people who are waging all-out war on science - and every other fact-using profession - are also the folks shouting “back to the moon!” 

Seriously, this is no coincidence. The correlation is perfect. And while guilt-by-association may be less than mature, in this case it is spectacularly apropos. Those who are trying to cripple every single aspect of U.S. science also want NASA to fritter away our one chance to lead the new space era, by repeating an insipid obsession with useless, dusty footprints.  This is what the sworn enemies of science and progress want.
That fact should be enough for anyone.
Ad Astra.
==

Addendum on why there are few useful "ores" on the moon.


Why are there fractionated - or already partly-refined “ores”-  on asteroids, but not on the moon?  Refinable ores are the result of some kind of natural separation process… or else the delivery of something already separated.
-  On Earth the separation processes usually involve water flows, sometimes volcanism, or else meteoritic impacts.  Most of Earth’s metal sank into the core, long before the Moon formed from Earth’s light crust.
- Most asteroids come either from volatile-rich comets, or else from a shattered proto-planet. Millions are from that planet’s core. So, you have some asteroids rich in water (which should be fairly easy to harvest, using the "baggie" method), and some that are stunningly rich in almost already refined metal.
- The moon started metal poor (from Earth’s outer crust). No water separation processes. Some scattered meteoritic iron (that came from guess where?) A little water at the poles. 
Oh… and Helium3! Mythological, with no actual evidence and no known customers.  Next time someone like Scott Pace armwaves vague reasons for shifting all of our efforts to the Moon, do ask for specific studies weighing the likely wealth and benefits that real scientists have assayed to be actually present on the lunar surface, and actual tradeoffs of the "way station" argument. If he doesn't offer decisive links... well... you know.
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Sunset, 6/1/18

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 21:22
Almost a platonic ideal of a sunset, really. Have a great weekend, folks. I’ll be spending mine writing.

New Books and ARCs, 6/1/18

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:30
First of June, First of June, summer reading is starting soon! And here are some new book and ARCs to be thinking of for your sunny summer enjoyment. What here looks refreshing to you? Tell us in the comments!

My Herb Garden!

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 15:19
Hello, everyone! Today I’m going to be showing you my brand new tiny little herb garden! As many of you know, I thoroughly enjoy cooking, and cooking often involves the use of herbs and/or spices. I’m sure many of you have experienced the struggle of needing 1/4 tsp of a spice and not having it […]

A Non-Intern Take on Solo

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 15:47
I liked it, quite a bit in places, and (snarking aside) I can also see why it did (relatively) underwhelming business in its first weekend: it’s light in the way Star Wars films haven’t been before. Star Wars films have had humor, and have had snark, and have had quips and banter (usually through the […]

The Big Idea: Brenda Clough

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:42
What happens when a science fiction writer goes back in time? A serialized novel following up one of the most intriguing woman characters of 1859! Brenda Clough explains how she got from here to there for her series A Most Dangerous Woman. BRENDA CLOUGH: I have always thought of myself as an SF and fantasy […]

Sour & Hot Korea… and Two Scoops of Crazy. And a Democratic ‘civil war’?

Contrary Brin - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 20:31
Today we’ll offer up a firm prediction about the “Korea Mess,” that no one else out there has offered. (That I know of.)

But first:

== What ‘struggle for the Democratic soul?’ ==
The worst thing that Americans - (the “Union” side of this phase of the Civil War) - can do is let Confederate/ Kremlin/Fox provocateurs divide us again. They are trying to incite a “fight over the soul of the Democratic Party.” A struggle that’s 99% illusory. Read this incredible piece showing that Blue America is hardly divided at all, when it comes to actual issues and policies.
In The New York Times, David Leonhardt writes, “Stacey Abrams and Conor Lamb are supposed to represent opposite poles of the Trump-era Democratic Party. She is the new progressive heroine — the first black woman to win a major-party nomination for governor, who will need a surge of liberal turnout to win Georgia. He is the new centrist hero — the white former Marine who flipped a Western Pennsylvania congressional district with support from gun-loving, abortion-opposing Trump voters. 

"But when you spend time listening to Abrams and Lamb, you notice what doesn’t fit the storyline: They sound a lot alike.”
Know this. If you buy into the notion of some “struggle for the soul” of the Democratic Party, then you are likely either a genuine Marxo-leftist — a legitimate position, but be open about it — or else a Fox/Kremlin troll… or else one of their sappy tools. You are - at best - no help at all.
== Prelude to giving Kim a win-win-win ==
Headline: Trump's lauded North Korea summit increasingly looks set to blow up in his face.” And this is surprising, how?  The agenda of Kim Jong Un should be as plain as the nose on your face. Though, like your nose, you cannot see it. 

Consider. Kim must reduce his huge conventional military, or North Korea will be a smoking economic ruin and portions of the army might become dangerous to him. 

He also desperately needs a reciprocal draw down of U.S. and S.K. troops and assurances of general safety from regime change.

And... aid. Eased sanctions and  yummy foreign aid.
But here's the key point: his nukes - (achieved with major outside help by powers who have more control over this than anyone admits) - were never a "crazy man's way to lash out."  Once you have them, nuclear bombs are cheap! 

And hence this prediction: Kim will never negotiate away retaining half a dozen nukes as a deterrent, though he'll likely hand over some as bargaining chips - plus foregoing any further production - in exchange for a general slashing of expensive conventional armies... plus the "incentive" of massive aid already promised by Trump.

Kim knows that DT cannot walk away from this table.Trump is desperate for a "Nobel" win. He will do anything for it. So Kim will insist upon:

- half a dozen nukes to deter "regime change" and within striking distance of Seoul.
- a slashing of all conventional forces, including his own which are bankrupting him.
- ending sanctions and lots of aid.
- face-saving gestures to help Trump, symbolically.

Why that last item?By blaring a "tough, great deal" for the U.S., ol' Two Scoops might save his political heinie here at home... 

...which is the wish and need of Vladimir Putin, desperate to protect his greatest asset.  Oh, and there will still be 5 or 6 NK nukes, which can deliver an EMP to us at any point, while Kim's sponsors and masters retain plausible deniability.
Sound paranoid? Conspiracy-ish?  Please, instead of reflexively sneering, tell me exactly which part? What part of this win-win-win-win isn't plain as... oh, yeah.  You cannot see your own nose.
 == Who benefits? ==
Okay, let’s dive into those common themes of the Trump Presidency.  Amy Siskind is keeping a list of everything Trump and company does that violates norms or pushes us toward authoritarianism or violates humanity. Her first book, "The List", covers the first year of Trump's presidency.
My own version of this is to cite the ancient expression “cui bono”?  Or who benefits? Asked by the detective in every crime story.
Case in point: After Trump announced his prescription drug plan to cut costs... the stock of every single pharmaceutical company skyrocketed. Every study shows that one thing - allowing government agencies to negotiate prices (now insanely forbidden) would make the biggest difference. Two Scoops explicitly forbade that. 
Or take another, much more urgent example: The top beneficiaries of ending the Iran deal were the Iranian mullahs, plus the war hawks on both sides. And any actual war will benefit Putin by raising oil prices, but above all, giving Russia a Persian Protectorate. 

Think down-range! How would the U.S. defy such a merger? How could a US-Iran war have any other outcome that the Kremlin "saving" Iran by extending its umbrella? Seriously, offer up a scenario 1% as likely... 

...and who do you think benefits from Trump's steady demolition of our alliances?
Again re North Korea? With every prisoner release and such, look ... at... who... benefits.
Trump, the Saudis, Putin, North Korea, and the Iranian mullahs... but...

The ones I can't figure out are the Israelis. Superficially, an alliance with Trump and the Saudis vs. Iran seems to oppose Putin and make sense... but there is no underlying logic based on actuality. Yes, an Israeli-Saudi detente might benefit both, and Iran makes a good bete noir. But if any deal includes the Palestinians (giving Trump a triumph) then the whole Iranian rationale for hatred of Israel dissolves.

Are the Israeli leaders really so stupid that they see this wholw trend benefiting them?
Spread the meme. Ask: "who benefits?"


. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Volunteering at the Humane Society of Preble County

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 19:18
One thing I wholeheartedly believe in is volunteering. Community service should be a part of everyone’s life, even if it’s a small part. Recently, I started volunteering at the Humane Society of Preble County. It is a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats in Eaton, Ohio. Eaton is over thirty minutes from my house, so […]

YouTube Shorts

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 20:27
If there’s one thing I love, it’s animated shorts. I have a pretty short attention span, so I particularly like watching shorts because they have so much to offer in such a short amount of time. Most shorts don’t have dialogue in them, or if they do it’s very limited, or sometimes the characters sing […]

The First Strawberries of Summer

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 10:40
Technically, the first strawberries of late spring, as we’ve got a four weeks to go to equinox. But here in the US our cultural summer is Memorial Day to Labor Day, so, well, here we are, with these very nice strawberries from the little patch we have right in the front of our lawn. Like […]

What You Should Be Watching: Voltron: Legendary Defender

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 05/28/2018 - 21:10
Hello, everyone! I’ve decided to do a running thing called “What You Should Be Watching” and it’ll be me telling you about a show I think you should watch. To kick it off, I’m going to recommend one of my all-time favorite cartoons, Voltron: Legendary Defender. This more recent cartoon made by Dreamworks and Netflix currently […]

Headed Home + Posting Through 6/15

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 05/28/2018 - 10:52
I’m sitting here in Sky Harbor, getting ready for the trek home. With any luck I’ll be there early evening. Without luck I will be stranded in DFW. I’m hoping for luck. Phoenix Comic Fest, where I’ve been for the last several days, was a lovely time with lovely people and I’m glad to have […]

Automattic Updates Its Privacy Policy

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 05/27/2018 - 13:49
Automattic being the owners and operators of WordPress, which hosts this site, and on whose software this site runs. Here is their updated privacy policy. I’ve made a permanent link to it here on what is now called my Site Disclaimer, Comment and Privacy Policy page.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 05/26/2018 - 20:30
Yesterday I went with my mom and grandma to the movies and saw Solo: A Star Wars Story. Personally, I have always felt very disconnected from Star Wars as a whole. Even though I grew up in and still am part of the science fiction community, I have never seen the original six Star Wars movies, only the […]

Science - Technology Updates

Contrary Brin - Sat, 05/26/2018 - 11:07
Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE
Anyone remember the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow?” Did the lurid, eco collapse scenario seem unlikely?  Think again. "Research hints at tipping point in the Atlantic’s currents… Lots of fresh water from melting ice could radically alter the Atlantic’s currents."

Scientific American makes it explicit: “The Arctic Is Breaking Climate Records, Altering Weather Worldwide.”  Shake your mad cousins awake. No one is asking them to start adoring campus lefty flakes. But their country and civilization and planet and posterity need them to stop giving loyalty to lunatics. And that means turning… off… Fox. Or at least getting multiple sources, instead of staring at hypnosis.
== Recent tech advances ==
New efficient and inexpensive technologies could allow extraction of rare earth elements REE, critical components of many electronics and green products, from waste coal ash. This innovation could enable the U.S. to enter into the $4 billion rare earth element production market while recycling coal ash in an environmentally friendly way. This breakthrough could be critical; China, which controls over 90 percent of the supply, with wide implications on the U.S. economy and national security. For example, "after China reduced export quotas in 2010, the cost of rare earth magnets for one wind turbine increased from $80,000 to $500,000," reports Purdue News
 Current separation technologies produce large amounts of chemical waste. One of the 10 most polluted sites in the world is a manmade lake in China, where the waste effluents from REE extractions are stored. Coal ash is rich in rare earth elements, as rich as some of the best ore deposits. So this new method could have huge implications.

Updates to the Periodic Table: University of Minnesota researchers have discovered a fourth element that is magnetic at room temperatures: Ruthenium (Ru). The others: iron, nickel and cobalt.  Could have importance to computing and high tech industries.
Interesting times:  By herding rubidium atoms into specific arrangements, physicists have been able to create agglomerations that are - in effect -- weird macro particles. A few years ago, one of these pseudo-entities showed many of the outward traits of a magnetic monopole...
... and more recently, the rubidium atom array took on the behaviors seen in "ball lightning." (Note that Liu Cixin's next book is about... and has the title... Ball Lightning. It's... speculative.)
Graphene-4 based hair dye might be stable, non-toxic and electrically conducting, allowing the kind of waving photo-tendrils worn by Tor Povlov in Existence.  
== Was "Earth" a crystal ball? ==

The AlterEgo system consists of a wearable device with electrodes that pick up otherwise undetectable neuromuscular subvocalizations — saying words “in your head” in natural language.” Why does everyone else get prediction cred?  I prominently discussed "subvocal" interfaces in Earth, back in 1989. Sigh alas.
Another for the prediction registry? Found embedded within a South African diamond — the high-pressure perovskite-structured polymorph of calcium silicate (CaSiO3). This mineral should sound a bit familiar.  High-pressure perovskite- a structured polymorph of calcium silicate (CaSiO3) - is expected to be the fourth most abundant in the Earth—but this high pressure form has not previously been found in nature. Till now.
Cool news in its own right. But in my novel Earth (1989) referred to it making up large portions of our planetary interior. Why did I make a deal about it, long ago? Because of a funky coincidence — that perovskites also happen to be among the mineral forms that make among the best high temperature superconductors! Of course, I make good use of this coincidence in the plot. ;-)
Researchers are developing a machine that could, like a seasoned beekeeper, listen to the buzz of bees to help determine their health.  Sure, I’ll help test it out…
In a fluidized bed, loosely-bound grains can be separated by upward air flow, to behave just like a liquid. Long used to produce even combustion in coal plants, the FB concept also featured in my doctoral dissertation “Three Models of Dust Layers inCometary Nuclei.”  Now, typically, some of us have found a way to turn the whole thing into … fun. A craze for “sand floating” or even sand swimming has begun!
== Bio Tech and beyond... staring with braaaaaains ==
Fascinating. We’ve long known that there are differences in mental process between the human left and right hemispheres, that go beyond their responsibility for opposite sides of the body. The simplistic notion has long been that the left hemisphere handles language, logic, reasoning and the right far more of the subjective, comparative and non-discursive.
Dr. Michael Miller has been working on direct, targeted neural stimulation with electric currents. What seems to come forth is that the Left Hemisphere has a duty to reduce uncertainty, eliminating competing models of reality, either via evidence or else impulsive decision making.
Using tDCS transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on the left prefrontal cortex, researchers can crank things up, making a subject more certain in beliefs. And yes, the implications are creepy. Kind of like the amplified “focus” that Vernor Vinge portrayed in A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY.
The right hemisphere, by contrast, appears to be about reducing conflict.
At the same conference we heard Dr Megan Palmer - of Stanford…bio-security, leader in iGEM … equiv of FIRST Robotics for contests in genetic engineering.

A knotted variation of the DNA double helix has been discovered in living cells, causing perplexity over what it’s for.  
==... and... ==

Carnegie Mellon and Disney Research have teamed up to turn your walls into a touchscreen and gesture interface. Using a water-based nickel conductive paint, the team created a lattice pattern underneath a regular latex paint. Connected to a sensor board and a laptop for visualization, the system recognizes changes in capacitance (touch) and in electromagnetic (EM) waves to pick up presence, gestures and motion.

Mixed signals? Apparently, an Amazon Echo's Alexa recorded a private conversation - and sent the audio files to a user's contact.
“In Isaac Asimov’s 1941 short story “Nightfall,” a journalist in the distant future on a far away imaginary planet named Lagash strikingly resembles the cynical columnists on the planet Earth. Asimov’s story deals with climate denialists, too. In it, a Lagash scientist lashes out at a newspaper editor who could someone like Marc Morano or Anthony Watts of today: “You have led a vast newspaper campaign against the efforts of myself and my colleagues to organize the world against the menace which it is now too late to avert.” That quote from a 1941 sci fi story offers a chilling forecast of a modern journalism that gives equal time to climate change deniers. Scary.”  -- Dan Bloom, “coiner of Cli-Fi."
Just the Facts, Ma'am: a cogent defense of the importance of facts and science is posted by Jack Nilles, one of the officers of the AirlinePilots Association, the union that has helped keep our skies so reliably safe for so long.
Elon keeps getting dissed in the wannabe press. Here’s a reaction by someone who gets it.
Cosmologist and author of Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor, Brian Keating tells the inside story of BICEP2’s  mesmerizing discovery and the scientific drama that ensued  in this interview with science fiction author David Brin. In his new book: "Losing the Nobel Prize,” Keating describes a journey of revelation and discovery, bringing to life the highly competitive, take-no-prisoners, publish-or-perish world of modern science. Along the way, he provocatively argues that the Nobel Prize, instead of advancing scientific progress, may actually hamper it, encouraging speed and greed while punishing collaboration and bold innovation. In a thoughtful reappraisal of the wishes of Alfred Nobel, Keating offers practical solutions for reforming the prize, providing a vision of a scientific future in which cosmologists may, finally, be able to see all the way back to the very beginning.
Watch this recent video from UCTV, where I interview Keating: "Losing the Nobel Prize with Brian Keating."
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)
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