Tag Archive: science

Sep 05

Melodee Wants to Know – What If “They” Are Responsible?

 

I need you to look at a recent article…

http://news.yahoo.com/mystery-alignment-dying-stars-puzzles-scientists-190650982.html

First of all, the headline is a little misleading. So is the first paragraph. Both make it sound like the bipolar nebulae are in a line across the heavens (from our point of view), but what the researchers are puzzled by is the fact that the axis of these nebulae are all in the same orientation and point in the same direction.

The article hints at a few possible explanations, but there isn’t anything solid yet. More work is clearly needed.

But, what if…

Some advanced alien civilization is fascinated and obsessed with having everything in the same alignment? Sort of a severe case of cosmic OCD.

And what if said space faring obsessive/compulsives are going around, aligning the spin of stars, and then triggering the explosive events that appear, to us, as the bipolar nebulae?

Yeah…all of those butterfly and hourglass shapes in a wondrous array of colors would be pretty all pointing the same direction spread across the galaxy.

Well, unless your home world is in orbit around one of them.

Just wondering…

Keep Loving!
Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/09/05/melodee-wants-to-know-what-if-they-are-responsible/

Aug 07

Melodee Wants to Know — What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

 

What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Wow…

That’s really all I can say. Just wow.

Check out this article and answer the question at the top of this posting: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/-scientists-create-wireless-link-between-human-and-rat-brains–194607862.html

Wow…

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/08/07/melodee-wants-to-know-what-can-possibly-go-wrong/

Jul 28

Melodee Wants to Know — Are You FLOPping Around?

 

Computers have become entrenched in our society. Pretty much everything we use and touch has a computer involved. Even the cup of coffee or tea you’re drinking right now depends on computers to grow, harvest, transport, market, and sell the product or some part of it relies on a computer at one or more stages.

Some computers are pretty simpleminded, like the one that controls your watch. Others, like the ones discussed in the following article are staggering brilliant… http://news.yahoo.com/incredible-technology-supercomputers-solve-giant-problems-153719212.html

Anyone old enough to remember—or interested enough to have studied—the early days of the space program will know that today’s $1 school calculators have more computational power than the computers used by NASA to get to the moon. There is no doubt that computers have gotten more powerful, smaller, faster, and easier to use as time has passed.

But let’s look at a very specific area of computer use…

Every author knows computers are a big part of our lives. We use a computer to access the Internet for research. We send and receive E-Mail for a myriad of reasons related to our profession. And we, of course, write our stories on a computer.

But it wasn’t always so. I’ve been around long enough that I have actually written entire books on a typewriter (at least it was an IBM Selectric!) and mailed off the hardcopy to publishers. The first computer I used to fully write a book was an Atari 1200 XL using a word processor called Paper Clip. It even had spell checking! I still have the computer and all of the peripherals and software, and it still works.

Honestly, I’m not sure I could go back to the Good Old Days. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to. But all of this does lead to a few questions…

First of all, is the pervasiveness of computers adding to the “dumbing down” of society? Do we rely too much of computers to think for us and solve our problems? Personally, I think this is a yes and no deal. By and large, I think not. As the above article discusses, we use super computers to solve complex and important problems. The machines do this not by being smarter than we are, but simply by virtue of being able to do a huge number of calculations in a short time and not making what one of my math professors called “Idiot Mistakes”…like dividing four by two and coming up with one. The computers aren’t smarter than us…just faster.

Second, what about that whole smart thing? Artificial intelligence has been around for a long time, but we’re reaching the point now where the computers are fast enough and have enough memory that AI can actually work. One definition of if a computer is actually intelligent or not is if it can carry on a conversation with a human and the human not know they are talking to a computer. Those of us who write science fiction often deal with this idea. One thing that we often do is to give the computer some little idiosyncrasies to make it clear that the humans (or other species) in the story are still smarter than the computer. We like to feel superior. But—in reality—will that always be the case? Will we always be smarter than the machines we build? I’m not so sure of that.

And this leads to the concepts of future history…how big of a part will computers play in our future, and will that part be one leading to a utopian or dystopian world? Both side of that coin have been played out in literature many times. I see a little of both.

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/28/melodee-wants-to-know-are-you-flopping-around/

Jul 21

Melodee Wants to Know — What About Planetary Life?

 

What about planetary life?

Anyone who writes science fiction—particularly “hard” SF—has to deal with this issue. The fact is, especially in hard SF, this can take many forms…more on that in a minute.

This article discusses a real-world (in this case Mars) situation: http://news.yahoo.com/mars-life-search-hindered-planetary-protection-concerns-scientists-112342935.html and there are concerns we need to address. Do we risk contaminating Mars with Earthly organisms in order to advance our understanding of the planet? Or do we cripple our exploration to protect either the pristine Martian environment or existing Martian life?

But let’s look at these issues from the point of view of an author building a universe…

Just as one example that pretty much everyone will know (as opposed to pulling out some possibly obscure SF references), Star Trek had the Prime Directive. In a nutshell, this directive prevented Kirk (and presumably the rest of Star Fleet) from doing anything to interfere with developing civilizations. And yes, that is exactly what we are talking about. After all, if you infect an entire planet with the rhinovirus and the population has no immunity and they all die, isn’t that interfering with their development?

In my Immortal Love Universe™ (the setting for all of my books with Siren/BookStrand) the issue of protecting existing life has been hinted at but not directly addressed in the released stories. All of the current works take place very far in the future, so there are few pristine planets left for such first contact. In the Flights of Fancy series, there are first contacts with existing civilizations, but the attitude of the Empire is that interference is sometimes needed. The problem is that the Immortal Love Universe™ starts in about 1950 AD and runs for about 22 billion years. No, that’s not a typo. Billion. There’s plenty of room and time for expansion of these details.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t expand this idea just a little. The same concept applies to contact between any two differing cultures…say Native Americans and Europeans. Yeah…that went well.

Anyway…

I really have several questions for those reading this…

For readers and authors alike, what should we do about Mars? How much science do we sacrifice to protect the Martian environment, or, how much of the Martian environment do we sacrifice for the sake of science?

For readers only, how should an author handle this in a story (or group of stories)? Do you even care?

And lastly, for authors, how do you deal with the concept in the tales you spin?

What say you?

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/21/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-planetary-life/

Jul 03

Melodee Wants to Know – What About Science?

 

Specifically, what about science for the sake of science?

I know my views are skewed, and I admit that. While I clearly don’t work as a scientist, I could…my degrees (with one exception) are all in the so-called “hard sciences” like physics and mathematics. Add to that the fact that nearly all of my writing is science fiction (mostly hard), and it colors my perceptions.

And that leads to the question for everyone else…

Should we spend time and money (and after all, time = money) on science that offers no immediate benefit?

Take the case of the search for old equipment landed on the moon discussed in this article…

http://news.yahoo.com/scientists-search-lunar-landscape-lost-moon-probes-112355911.html

While the article doesn’t even hint at how much this is costing, it can’t be free. Even if the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is doing the search in its spare time, there are still costs associated with receiving the data, looking through it, and much more. There is no free lunch here.

The question for most people comes down to just exactly why we need to know where all this stuff is on the moon.

And the only direct answer I have is that I don’t know why we need to know that.

And that’s where the problem lies…

Human history has shown us over and over again that there is no such thing as “useless knowledge.” Sooner or later, everything we learn gets used. Most of the time, the use is something mundane. Other times, it’s pretty important. Like rubbing two sticks together fast enough and long enough will make fire.

But how can we tell, maybe centuries before the fact, that a particular piece of seemingly arcane information will be important one day?

I don’t know the answer to that one, either. Nor do you.

There are those who say that humanity should give up the idea of space travel. Some even take it to the extreme of saying we need to stop all space programs in general. Yeah…those same people use their iPhone to talk to their buddy in London as they walk down the street in Los Angeles. Guess what? If not for the space programs, that wouldn’t happen. Nor would about 95% of the other things we all take for granted today.

Way back in the early days of America’s space program, do you think that Werner von Braun even thought about an iPhone? The frightening part is that he might have, but odds are he didn’t. He needed a tool (small, reliable computers) to accomplish a task (go to the moon and back). He built that tool, and a few decades later, someone looked at that knowledge and decided to make a phone call.

So, as I said, as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as useless knowledge. Granted, some of it might only be good for playing Trivial Pursuit, but next week, who can say?

What’s your take?

 

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/07/03/melodee-wants-to-know-what-about-science/