Fifty years ago, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke set out to make a new kind of sci-fi. How does their future look now that it’s the past?
Tagged with “science” (716)
Melvyn Bragg examines the attempt to reconcile Quantum Theory and classical physics.
Melvyn Bragg examines the physics of reality. When Quantum Mechanics was developed in the early 20th century reality changed forever. In the quantum world particles could be in two places at once, they disappeared for no reason and reappeared in unpredictable locations, they even acted differently according to whether we were watching them. It was so shocking that Erwin Schrodinger, one of the founders of Quantum Theory, said "I don’t like it and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it." He even developed an experiment with a cat to show how absurd it was. Quantum Theory was absurd, it disagreed with the classical physics of Newton and Einstein and it clashed with our experience of the everyday world. Footballs do not disappear without reason, cats do not split into two and shoes do not act differently when we are not looking at them. Or do they? Eighty years later we are still debating whether the absurd might actually be true. But why are features of quantum physics not seen in our experience of everyday reality? Can the classical and quantum worlds be reconciled, and why should reality make sense to us? With Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, Oxford University; Fay Dowker, Lecturer in Theoretical Physics, Queen Mary, University of London; Tony Sudbery, Professor of Mathematics, University of York.
Companies take a deep dive into the stacks of a sci-fi library to find out how we might react to new tech.
The Enlightenment worked, says Steven Pinker. By promoting reason, science, humanism, progress, and peace, the programs set in motion by the 18th-Century intellectual movement became so successful we’ve lost track of what that success came from.
Some even discount the success itself, preferring to ignore or deny how much better off humanity keeps becoming, decade after decade, in terms of health, food, money, safety, education, justice, and opportunity. The temptation is to focus on the daily news, which is often dire, and let it obscure the long term news, which is shockingly good.
This is the 21st Century, not the 18th, with different problems and different tools. What are Enlightenment values and programs for now?
Twenty years ago, in February 1998, one of the most serious public health scandals of the 20th century was born, when researcher, Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As we know, in the years that followed, Wakefield’s paper was completely discredited as "an elaborate fraud" and retracted. Attempts by many other researchers to replicate his "findings" have all failed and investigations unearthed commercial links and conflicts of interests underpinning his original work. Wakefield himself was struck off the medical register.
And yet, the ripples of that episode are still being felt today all over the world as a resurgent anti-vaccine movement continues to drive down inoculation rates, particularly in developed Western societies, where measles rates have rocketed particularly in Europe and the United States.
But the Wakefield scandal hasn’t just fostered the current ant-vax movement but has played a key role in helping to undermine trust in a host of scientific disciplines from public health research to climate science and GM technology.
Through the archive, science journalist Adam Rutherford explores the continuing legacy of the anti-vaccine movement on the anniversary of one of its most notorious episodes, and explore its impact on health, on research and on culture both at home and abroad.
Adam Rutherford explores the 20-year legacy of a paper linking the MMR vaccine and autism.
Michael Sheen champions Philip K Dick who has had an influence on his production of Hamlet
Actor Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon; The Queen; Midnight in Paris) explores the life of Philip K. Dick with Matthew Parris, and explains why he had such a big influence on his recent production of Hamlet.
Michael first discovered Philip K. Dick through the film Bladerunner, and moved onto his short stories which got him thinking about science-fiction in a new way. Whilst reading about philosophy, quantum physics, and comparative mythology, it struck him how Dick was intuitively weaving narratives around all the most interesting elements that these fields were throwing up.
He talks about Philip K. Dick’s innate interest in multiples realities, and how they overlap with Sheen’s own family experiences of mental health issues. In fact the more he found out about him, the more he was drawn to this enigmatic writer.
Lord Byron’s only legitimate child is championed by Konnie Huq.
From Banking, to air traffic control systems and to controlling the United States defence department there’s a computer language called ‘Ada’ - it’s named after Ada Lovelace - a 19th century mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron. Ada Lovelace is this week’s Great Life. She’s been called many things - but perhaps most poetically by Charles Babbage whom she worked with on a steam-driven calculating machine called the Difference Engine an ‘enchantress of numbers’, as her similarly mathematical mother had been called by Lord Byron a "princess of parallelograms". Augusta ‘Ada’ Byron was born in 1815 but her parents marriage was short and unhappy; they separated when Ada was one month old and she never saw her father , he died when was eight years old. Her mother, Annabella concerned Ada might inherit Byron’s "poetic tendencies" had her schooled her in maths and science to try to combat any madness inherited from her father. She’s championed by TV presenter and writer -Konnie Huq, most well known for presenting the BBC’s children’s programme - ‘Blue Peter’ and together with expert- Suw Charman- Anderson, a Social technologist, they lift the lid on the life of this mathematician, now regarded as the first computer programmer with presenter Matthew Parris.
Two ways to save humanity
Mann titled his talk “The Edge of the Petri Dish.”
He explained, “If you drop a couple protozoa in a Petri dish filled with nutrient goo, they will multiply until they run out of resources or drown in their own wastes.”
Humans in the world Petri dish appear to be similarly doomed, judging by our exponential increases in population, energy use, water use, income, and greenhouse gases.
How to save humanity?
Opposing grand approaches emerged from two remarkable scientists in the mid-20th century who fought each other their entire lives.
Their solutions were so persuasive that their impassioned argument continues 70 years later to dominate how we think about dealing with the still-exacerbating exponential impacts.
Norman Borlaug, the one Mann calls “the Wizard,” was a farm kid trained as a forester.
In 1944 he found himself in impoverished Mexico with an impossible task—solve the ancient fungal killer of wheat, rust.
First he invented high-volume crossbreeding, then shuttle breeding (between winter wheat and spring wheat), and then semi-dwarf wheat.
The resulting package of hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation became the Green Revolution that ended most of hunger throughout the world for the first time in history.
There were costs.
The diversity of crops went down.
Excess fertilizer became a pollutant.
Agriculture industrialized at increasing scale, and displaced smallhold farmers fled to urban slums.
William Vogt, who Mann calls “the Prophet,” was a poor city kid who followed his interest in birds to become an isolated researcher on the revolting guano islands of Peru.
He discovered that periodic massive bird die-offs on the islands were caused by the El Niño cycle pushing the Humboldt Current with its huge load of anchovetas away from the coast and starving the birds.
The birds were, Vogt declared, subject to an inescapable “carrying capacity.“
That became the foundational idea of the environmental movement, later expressed in terms such as “limits to growth,” “ecological overshoot,” and “planetary boundaries.”
Vogt spelled out the worldview in his powerful 1948 book, The Road to Survival.
The Prophets-versus-Wizards debate keeps on raging—artisanal organic farming versus factory-like mega-farms; distributed solar energy versus centralized fossil fuel refineries and nuclear power plants; dealing with climate change by planting a zillion trees versus geoengineering with aerosols in the stratosphere.
The question continues: How do we best manage our world Petri dish?
Can humanity change its behavior at planet scale?
Mann ended by pointing out that in 1800 slavery was universal in the world and had been throughout history.
Then it ended.
Prophets say that morally committed abolitionists did it.
Wizards say that clever labor-saving machinery did it.
Maybe it was the combination.
Director Denis Villeneuve discusses his new film, Blade Runner 2049, with fellow Director Rian Johnson. Picking up thirty years after the events of Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner, the film follows K, an LAPD officer, who discovers a long-buried secret that could plunge what is left of society into chaos.
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/thedirectorscut/episode-96-blade-runner-2049-with-denis-villeneuve-and-rian-johnson
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Sun, 04 Feb 2018 10:35:54 GMT Available for 30 days after download
Ursula Le Guin begins her lecture with Margaret Atwood by saying, “I emailed Margaret about six weeks or so ago and said, ‘What are we going to talk about?’ and she replied, ‘I expect we will talk about 1) What is fiction?; 2) What is science fiction?; 3) The ones who walk away from Omelas—where do they go?; 4) Is the human race doomed?; 5) Anything else that strikes our fancy.’” The two women proceed to examine these questions and talk through their answers. They delve into their writing processes and motives, creating many humorous analogies for the act of writing, whether they connect it to naked chickens, salted slugs, or dark boudoirs.
Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She has written over 40 books and is best known for her fiction, including The Blind Assassin, which won the Man-Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood has used her public profile to advocate for human rights, the environment, and the welfare of writers. She has been president of PEN International and helped found the Writer’s Trust of Canada. As a public intellectual, Atwood is known as a brilliant thinker on a huge range of subjects who has a wry and ironic sense of humor and who is willing to call out platitudes and other forms of lazy thinking.
Ursula K. Le Guin sold her first story over 50 years ago and has been writing and publishing ever since. Tackling various modes, including realistic fiction, science fiction, high fantasy, children’s literature, screenplays, and essays, her work has challenged traditional understandings of gender roles, politics, race, and identity. She is best known for her fantasy series Earthsea and her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. She has influenced several generations of writers, including Junot Díaz, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Jonathan Lethem. Throughout her career, she has continuously met criticism with courage, causing one critic to note, “It’s been hard for reviewers to cope with Le Guin. She’s often seemed like a writer without a critical context. But that may just mean that the context is still to come.” Among her many honors, Le Guin has received a National Book Award and, most recently, The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
If we knew everything ahead of time, we wouldn’t write the book. It would be paint by numbers and there wouldn’t be any discoveries.” – Margaret Atwood
“Rereading a book is much better than reading it. A good book reread is better than a good book read.” – Ursula Le Guin
“All doors are doors to the future, if you go into them.” – Margaret Atwood
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