Jim al-Khalili talks to the astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell about missing out a Nobel Prize, sexism in science and a strange smudge in the data from a radio telescope. While others dismissed this smudge as insignificant, Jocelyn revealed a series of strange flashing signals. They might have been evidence of faulty radio telescope or even messages from a little green man; but Jocelyn thought otherwise and her determination to get to the bottom of it all, led to one of the most exciting discoveries in 20th century astronomy, the discovery of pulsars, those dense cores of collapsed stars.
Tagged with “science” (256)
Welcome to Stranger Than Fiction, a new six-episode podcast from Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University. Each week, Tim Wu—a Future Tense fellow at New America, the author of The Master Switch, and a professor at Columbia Law School—talks to a contemporary science fiction writer about whether we’re living in the future.
In the debut episode, Wu talks to Neal Stephenson, the award-winning science fiction author of Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon, and more. They discuss the purpose of science fiction, geek culture, and whether—contrary to our constant hand-wringing about “everything changing so fast”—innovation has really slowed down.
In the third episode, Wu talks to Margaret Atwood, author of science-flavored dystopian fiction like Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. In 2012, she published In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, in which she explored science fiction as an author and as a reader.
The planet Mars boasts the most dramatic landscapes in our solar system. Kevin Fong embarks on a grand tour around the planet with scientists, artists and writers who know its special places intimately- through their probes, roving robots and imaginations. This first part of the journey includes Mars’ gargantuan volcanoes, an extreme version of Earth’s Grand Canyon and the cratered Southern Highlands where future explorers might find safety from the Red Planet’s deadly radiation environment.
With wit and unflagging curiosity, Mary Roach has explored the posthumous human body (Stiff), ectoplasm and the afterlife (Spook), sex (Bonk), and the scientific oddities of space travel (Packing for Mars). “One of those rare writers who can tackle the most obscure unpleasantness and distill the data into a hilarious and informative package,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Roach probes the creepy aspects of life we all wonder about but are usually too polite to mention. Her new book Gulp is an exploration of human digestion.
In conversation with Anna Dhody, Curator, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.
William Gibson is the author of ten books, including, most recently, the New York Times-bestselling trilogy Zero History, Spook Country and Pattern Recognition. Gibson’s 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, was the first novel to win the three top science fiction prizes—the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award. Gibson is credited with coining the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome,” and with popularizing the concept of the Internet while it was still largely unknown. He is also a co-author of the novel The Difference Engine, written with Bruce Sterling.
Film writer, director, producer, actor Shane Carruth burst on the independent film scene in 2004, grabbing the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance with his mind-bending sci-fi drama “Primer,” beating out hot titles like “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Garden State.”
Carruth is almost one-of-a-kind these days. A film poet. A cinema shaman.
In his new film he puts, as one headline has it, “the trance in Transcendentalist.” Thoreau’s “Walden,” strange orchids, mind-control larva, and love — all in one entrancing movie.
Ann Druyan is an author and television and film writer & producer whose work is largely concerned with the effects of science and technology on our civilization. She was co-writer with Carl Sagan and Steven Soter of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning television series COSMOS, and as the founder and CEO of COSMOS STUDIOS, she is currently working on a reboot of that series. Ann Druyan served as Creative Director of the NASA Voyager Interstellar Record Project to design a complex message, including music and images, for possible alien civilizations. These golden phonograph records affixed to the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, the fastest moving vehicles ever created by the human species, are now beyond the outermost planets of the solar system on their way to interstellar space. They have a projected shelf life of one billion years. She is the author or co-author of several books, including Comet, which was on the New York Times best seller list for two months. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, written with Carl Sagan, was another New York Times best seller. She is also a credited contributor to the best-selling books Contact, Pale Blue Dot, The Demon-Haunted World and Billions
RSA Thursday 24th Jan 2013; 13:00 (full recording including audience Q&A)
When we think of the scientific method, we imagine an experimenter in his laboratory following a series of steps that runs something like this: make some observations about a phenomenon; create a hypothesis to explain those observations; design an experiment to test the hypothesis; run the experiment; see if the results match your expectations; rework your hypothesis if you must; lather, rinse, and repeat. Simple seeming enough.
But how can we go beyond that? Can we train our minds to work like that automatically, all the time, through a mindful, present approach to our everyday thinking and decision making?
Sherlock Holmes teaches us to do not only that, but to go a step beyond: by using his methodology and applying the mindfulness that has come to characterise the scientific method to our lives, we can learn to optimise not only our own everyday existence but our broader contributions to society and the lives of those around us.
Speaker: Maria Konnikova, author and columnist
Chair: Vikki Heywood CBE, RSA Chair
Simon Winchester is the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, A Crack in the Edge of the World, The Man Who Loved China, and more than a dozen other books. Mr. Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Elizabeth II in 2006. Winchester discusses his fascinating new book Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection. In this captivating and visually stunning book, Winchester explores an array of more than 300 animal skulls, from the aardvark to the red-bellied piranha, and shares the fascinating story of the man who amassed much of the collection: an obsessive Englishman named Alan Dudley.
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