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
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 think it’s exciting that we’ve found an Earth-sized planet orbiting the star right next door. Proxima Centauri – the closest star to us besides the Sun. Last week’s announcement of Proxima b by the ‘Pale Red Dot’ project, operating mainly from the European Southern Observatory in Chile, was ‘leaked’ a month or so ago. … More Proxima Centauri’s got a planet! Yay, but don’t get too wild yet
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 pointed out in an earlier post that a German victory in 1918 would have always been marginal because by then all combatants had been run down by the strains of war. Revolution simmered in Germany and the chances of Ludendorff’s military junta continuing to rule without compromise or change afterwards seem slim. What of … More What if Germany had won the First World War in autumn 1914?
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