U.S. viewers of Doctor Who are currently being treated to a goosebump-inducing two-parter penned by Steven Moffat, who also wrote the genuinely terrifying “The Empty Child” episode a few seasons back. In his latest offering, Moffat presents us with a library haunted by flesh-eating shadows. The library itself is a wonderful conceit: in the 51st century, e-books and neural downloads and [insert exotic paperless technology here], are all so ho-hum that the people of the future decide to reprint every book ever published on good old fashioned paper. Not surprisingly, it takes an entire planet to store the resulting tomes.
It all sounds completely absurd until you realise that books are currently holding up a lot better than digital technologies when it comes to long-term archiving.
Recently, as part of the time-and-space traveling adventures on Doctor Who, the Doctor and Donna wound up in Pompeii, the day before the infamous volcanic eruption that would simultaneously put the town on the map and wipe it off the face of the Earth. (warning, minor spoiler follows)
Turns out that—guess what?—aliens were tapping the volcano for geothermal energy. It may seem odd, on first glance, that superadvanced aliens would rely on boring old lava for a power source rather than some fancy technology, but it turns out that there is a vast amount of energy beneath our feet. Places like Iceland have been tapping geothermal energy for decades, but the U.S. is increasingly getting in on the act as well as we discussed in DISCOVER’s April issue :