The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction

An Ideal Partnership That Nourishes Both Partners

 

For as long as I can remember, I have loved science. Not to say I always understand it. A good case in point: a couple of years ago I watched a program about string theory. It looked fascinating. I understood almost 5% of it. Five more repeats of the program and I understood enough to grasp the essentials. By the next day, much of that was gone. But I loved it anyway!

One of the things I really like about science is scientists. As a group,

Making Water from Thin Air and Power from Plants

We are Branching Out into Important Breakthroughs in Clean Water and Power Generation

Part of our Hey! Look at That! Science Series

Science, technology, and innovation seem to follow a recognizable pattern. Someone comes up with an idea that seems impossible, or at least implausible. They stumble for a bit, even fail. The idea seems doomed. Then a second wind comes along, and the idea becomes a reality.

I recently ran across two ideas that had such setbacks in the past. But here they are now on the cusp of breakthroughs in two of the most important things in the world.

Really Interesting Notes from Science

 

There are a Lot of Smart People Working on Clever Ideas  

Part of our Hey! Look at That! Science series

I ran across some interesting tidbits in recent days that I think you might enjoy, too.

Would you like ketchup with that wrapper? First, an article from National Geographic. It is about research on edible packaging and utensils. That’s right – finish your meal, then eat the package and utensils as well.

I have long been a fan of all things National Geographic.

What’s for Dinner? Funny You Should Ask…

 

How We Classify Our Food Is Important – And Getting More Complicated

I bet that a lot of people reading this make many of the same choices to eat better. Me, too. Eating better might involve health, environmental sustainment, morality.

For most on that long march, two guideposts are organic food (when we can find it and afford it) and less meat, if any. I ran across a couple of recent stories that show (A) Some people are working hard and creatively to help us do all that.

Medicine and Society: It’s A Complicated Relationship

Reflections on Modern Medicine, Social Norms, and Unintended Consequences

There May Be a Wonderful New Medicine Out There That Could Save Your Life. You Likely Would Not See it in Time.

The opioid crisis in this country is major. We are overrun by this. It makes most other drug epidemics seem like child’s play. I read last week that a Wake Forest University research team may have developed an opioid substitute. It could be as much as 100 times (!) more effective than opioids and has zero addiction risk. This is big news.

The Robots are Coming! Good News or Bad News?

A Whole New World of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence is Coming. Interesting Times are Ahead – Soon.

I, like many of you, have long been fascinated by the increasingly sophisticated development of robots and the parallel acceleration of artificial intelligence, or AI. We are now at a time wherein these two technologies are merging in some fascinating ways. As usual with technological advances, we should expect good news and bad news.

Just in the last month, three fascinating articles have been published in the general media about this phenomenon. Articles in Wired and in the Washington Post discussed new studies.

Worried About Electronic Vulnerability? You Should Be – A Lot

This is WAY Beyond Your Facebook Account

 

By now, we all know about the Russian interference in our elections. Let’s not kid around by calling it meddling. This is an attack of the most fundamental nature.

But an important element of this aggression has gotten lost in the background for many of us. I am referring to the targeting of our electronic infrastructure writ large.

Russia has been probing our utilities infrastructure. They are trying to understand its connectivity and to find its vulnerabilities. This would make sense if one wanted to have a standby capability to disrupt a modern society.

Can We Save Recycling — By Recycling the Idea?

A good idea has gotten lost in the execution details. Let’s simplify and do better

I like recycling. I bet you do, too. What’s not to like? It is good for the environment. It allows us to participate in a good thing as citizens. It can create jobs and new technology. It’s the right thing to do. And yet…

The hodge-podge of recycling protocols has made it difficult to figure out if we are “doing it right.” Every community, every business has their own definitions and criteria. On an average day, I can expect to have half a dozen opportunities to recycle at different locations.

So, Has Science Blown Your Mind Lately? No? Take a Look at These Discoveries

astronomy-3188563_1920astronomy-3188563_1920Part of our Hey, Look at That! Science and Technology Series

The scope and scale of science is a never-ending fascination. Nothing else helps us relate to life like science. Science gives us scope, balance, and perspective. Not to mention a huge WOW factor.

It’s easy to forget how vast and complex a thing the Universe is. Science comes through to remind us of that fact. Sometimes it does so with such breadth and depth it takes our breath away. Today, samples of two such discoveries.

Moons? Yeah,

The Unforeseen Consequences and Untapped Potential of Drones

Part of our Hey! Look at That! Technology series

Drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs) are a prime example of what often happens with developing technologies.

  • First, the new technology appears, and the possibilities seem unlimited. Everyone gets excited, money gets invested, manufacturing begins –
  • Then, the new toy on the block fails to deliver. A lot of people involved at this point get disgusted (or go broke) and drop out.
  • Not much later, the kinks get worked out. The technology takes off further than anyone anticipated.

There are exceptions of course.