One of the main tropes of science fiction has to be the self-aware robot or computer – one mobile, the other not, but both presented as self-aware and able to think as we do, although often better. Often, Frankenstein-style, the AI develops malevolence. That was a trope long before HAL; virtually all of Asimov’s robot … More Why AI won’t work. Probably.
One of the outcomes of the way the Age of Reason unfolded in the eighteenth century was an attempt to reduce the world to categories. Everything, it seemed, had its place: a slot into which it could be put. That’s often useful – take the periodic table of elements, for instance, which is a way … More Dinosaurs and birds – mixing up the classifications
Eighteen months on, the Juno mission to probe the otherwise little-known poles of Jupiter is producing incredible dividends. Check this out. This is just so cool on so many levels. One of the things that NASA and JPL have done is to publish the raw Juno-Cam images sent back by the probe, for everyday people … More By Jove, Jupiter’s impressive!
This week’s news that the first exo-moon might have been found, about 4000 light years away, is startling for several reasons. The first astonishing bit is that it was found at all. The majority of planets orbiting other stars have been found by light-curve analysis as the planet passes directly between the parent star and … More An exo-moon that’s as big as Uranus! But it ain’t Endor
On 1 January 2019 the New Horizons probe – the one that whipped past Pluto in 2015 – will encounter another outer solar-system body: 2014 MU69. Informally it’s become known as Ultima Thule. The neat part is that this body wasn’t even known when New Horizons was launched in January 2006. Back then, the probe … More New Horizons and Ultima Thule – the bonus mission
I got home from a trip north a while back and checked the news to discover that a couple of guys on sports bikes had been clocked at 247 km/h, earlier in the day, on the same stretch of road I’d just driven. I’ve driven that particular road many times. I know it well. Personally … More Science tells me there are some mad motorcyclists out there
It is 49 years, this weekend, since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon. And it was an incredible achievement – not just for the United States, but for humanity as a whole. For the first time in the history of the world, we had left it – and stepped on another celestial … More Thoughts on the future of humanity, 49 years on from Apollo 11