Archive for February, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Post-Humanity

By Stephen Cass | February 9, 2009 5:25 pm

Cover of trade release of TranshumanThe future belongs to the post-human, suggests an increasing number of science-fiction writers and serious futurologists (in some cases, they are one and the same person). Post-humanity arises when people and machines merge to create sentient individuals that have capabilities (and possibly motivations) that are so far beyond our current scope as to represent a new stage in human evolution. Immortality and the ability to exist entirely as software within a computer network are only two of the more pedestrian possibilities that may be open to the post-human.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biotech, Comics, The Singularity

The Obesity Bug, And Other News From Nerdland

By Eric Wolff | February 6, 2009 5:26 pm

Screenshot from Doctor WhoYou know we’re obsessed with weight loss when the problem pops up in our science fiction. I only just caught up with Series 4 Doctor Who, but the first episode featured Adipose, the drug that makes your fat “just walk away.” In fact, they’re being literal: The device Adipose is selling uses human fat to form an alien baby for the Adipose, an extraterrestrial species. Every night around 1 a.m., the fat pulls itself out of the person and walks out the door to the Adipose building. It’s quite adorable really. The Doctor gets all huffy about it, since it’s against space law to do such things against people’s will, and the villain is ultimately thwarted.

But afterward I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe The Doctor was sitting a little stiffly on his high horse. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Medicine, TV, Utter Nerd

Knight Rider: Machine Evolution

By Eric Wolff | February 5, 2009 6:55 pm

Screenshot from Knight RiderIt must be nice to have a car like KITT that can, amongst his many other handy abilities, transform. Sure it’s handy for crime fighting and all, but being able to turn into a van or a truck means Michael Knight never needs to rent a moving truck or worry about delivery when there’s a big Ikea sale. But since KITT’s ability to rearrange himself at the molecular level means that he can transform himself into any number of car-like shapes, even ones he’s never experienced before. And that means that he — and his deceased creator Dr. Graiman — has solved the problem of getting an artificial intelligence to use newly added parts. Typically a robot has to have a whole new set of code to be able to handle a new tool or sensor. Sure, most computers can handle plug-and-play attachments these days, but they still require a set of pre-written code to drive the newly added part. Artificial intelligence designers want the robot to be able to design that code itself.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Robots, TV

Eureka: Now In Comic Book Form

By Stephen Cass | February 4, 2009 4:19 pm

Cover of Eureka #1For Eureka fans anxiously waiting for the second half of the current third season to air (all but the last episode have already completed filming, but no air date has been annouced), there is finally some comfort to be had. Released today is the first in a four-part comic book series set in America’s favorite death-ray-posessing-small-town, Eureka. Once again, Sheriff Carter finds himself contending with the accidental fallout that comes from living in a town that happens to be home to the U.S. government’s most bleeding edge research and development facility.

Eureka is one of our favorite shows here at Science Not Fiction, and the comic faithfully reunites us with characters we have come to love over the last two-and-a-half seasons on air. The adaptation to the printed page is helmed by Eureka co-creator Andrew Cosby, written by Brendan Hay (a relative newcomer to comics, but with television writing experience that probably explains his excellent ear for dialogue that is true to Eureka‘s characters) and drawn by Diego Barreto. The story is set sometime near or after the end of Season One, giving Cosby and Hay the ability to use some fan-favorite characters that have since left the show, and the chance to fill in some of the backstories of other characters that couldn’t be handled in the limited screentime available on the show itself. The first issue immediately dives into Deputy Jo Lupo’s previously obscure military history. Lupo is a former U.S. Army Ranger, but little has been made of that on screen beyond justifying her zealous appreciation for guns, so seeing her experiences fleshed out is a promising start. We’re looking forward to issue #2 (and, Sci-Fi Powers-That-Be, an announcement from you on an air date would be nice too!)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Comics, TV

Is "Big Bang Theory" Bad for Science?

By Sam Lowry | February 3, 2009 11:53 am

sheldon.jpgI know that many scientists (and at least one science blogger) really like the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.   The show is well-written and acted, has a half dozen funny one-liners per episode, and delivers a weekly helping of science and nerd culture in-jokes.

In a recent episode, Howard the NASA scientist erased several hours of data from the Mars Rover after inviting a woman he had met in a bar to come back to his office and drive it.  His pick up line: “Have you ever driven  a car …. on Mars?” Funny stuff and mostly harmless, right?

No.  Not right.   After watching several episodes on a recent cross-country flight, I’ve concluded that this show is bad for American Science. And here’s why:

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics, TV, Utter Nerd
MORE ABOUT: Big Bang Theory

The Return Of…Chad Vader

By Stephen Cass | February 2, 2009 1:32 pm

After too long a wait, the second season of Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager has arrived. Chad Vader chronicles the life of Darth Vader‘s somewhat less successful brother, Chad, and his job at a local supermarket. (You can get caught up with season one starting here.) Each episode is only a few minutes long, but lays on the funny, even for the most casual of Star Wars fans. The new season kicks off with Chad’s supermarket (called Empire Market, naturally enough) being bought out by a large corporation, and Chad’s desire to successfully demonstrate the most powerful laser checkout system in the galaxy.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Movies
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