Last week I made a flippant comment on Facebook about the kinetic energy a marshmallow would have were it accelerated to lightspeed. I knew it would be giganormous. Needless to say, being a bit of a geek, I then had to go and figure out exactly what it was. First, though, a few words of … More What happens when you’re hit by a marshmallow moving at light speed
One of the best sci-fi novels I’ve read is Stanislaw Lem’s The Invincible. It’s short, sharp and deals with fundamental questions of humanity and the nature of the human condition, versus machines. Where will our technology – and our arrogance about the powers it gives us – lead us? It’s one of those deep-concept things … More Invincibly lost in translation
The idea of aliens arriving and promptly attacking us, Independence Day fashion, recently popped up again largely on the back of another Independence Day movie. But it’s also been offered as a warning by no less a person than Stephen Hawking. And when Hawking says something – well, it pays to listen. Is it true … More Would aliens attack us, Independence Day style?
I think it’s unlikely that the radio signal detected from the star HD 164595, just 95 light years distant, is an alien broadcast. That doesn’t mean I doubt life exists outside the Earth. I think it’s likely it does – maybe in our own solar system, underground on Mars or under the ice crust of … More I’m sceptical that the SETI signal is actually advanced aliens
I have never completely understood the latest sci-fi fixation with ‘super powers’, where the main protagonist is just some ordinary person who just happens to be able to go invisible, or read minds, or teleport (but not all three). Inevitably this singular ability then becomes the ‘gimmick’ on which plots are hung. To which I … More Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi
I never cease to be amazed at the number of ‘predictions’ about some new device or trend that will ‘be our future’, like the cashless society or flying cars. They never are, of course, but we never let go of the fantasy that they will be. They will be. Not this time, but next time. … More Why we can’t predict the future, except a bit
One of my favourite books as a kid was Robert A Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. It was the last of his ‘juveniles’, written in 1958 as a deliberate riff on space opera and 1950s teen culture. It’s set in an undefined ‘near future’ and pivots around a spacesuit won by teen genius Kip Russell, … More Have Spacesuit, Will Be a Klutz In It