Every so often I see something on Facebook asking you to name which super-powers you’d most like to have.That’s actually pretty cool, because – you know, super-powers. We all know what these are – invulnerability, invincible strength, teleportation, telekinesis, flying, being magnetic, telepathy, X-ray vision, squirting spider-web from your wrist and doing Tarzan swings with … More What five super-powers would you most like to have?
One of my favourite Robert A. Heinlein novels is Time for the Stars, a realisation of Albert Einstein’s ‘twin paradox’ that Heinlein wrote in the mid-1950s as part of his so-called ‘juvenile’ series. It was an outcome of the slightly berserk nature of Einstein’s 1905 theory of Special Relativity, which – with his theory of … More Einstein’s twin paradox explained
I was reminded the other day of a wonderful 1948 story I read as a kid, ‘In Hiding’, by Wilmar Shiras (1908-1990). I read it in a 1960s-era anthology of sci-fi stories, and it left a huge impression on me. Shiras wrote it, apparently, for her children. And the plot was straight forward: a school … More What makes people smart?
There’s an apocryphal story about the time an eminent scientist was asked to write 500 words for a leading magazine on whether alien life might exist. The resulting article consisted of the words ‘nobody knows’, repeated 250 times. That point’s still true today. There are plenty of clues that point towards the idea that life … More Are there aliens? Nobody knows…
Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (1962) impressed me for lot of reasons when I first read it. The book still does – not least because, seven years before the first Moon landings, he predicted (a) that the only life found on the Moon would be bacteria retrieved from human-built probes, and (b) the … More The writers who predicted the future
I recently read Stephen Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind, the official sequel to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Back in the day there were a fair number of unofficial sequels to Wells’ classic – mostly involving the intrepid Brits inventing spacecraft and heading off to Mars to give those rotten old Martians a … More Mars attacks – 1920 style
One of the things the Star Wars franchise isn’t particularly known for is the ‘science’ part of the science fiction calculation. I’m talking about everything from visible bolts of laser light that move at about 130 mph (ie: 0.00002 percent of light-speed) through to one-climate worlds, space ‘fighters’ that manoeuvre like First World War dogfighters, … More Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi