These are all spectacular, and therefore gratifying to the outsize ego of a supervillain. But what if you're into villainy for profit instead of sadistic satisfaction? I know, I know, it's hard to pass the SV certification exam without being a narcissistic sociopath, but some well-known members of the profession are… » 10/20/14 1:22pm Yesterday 1:22pm

Is it worth noting that the Scorpion King may have been an actual person, and was perhaps the first pharaoh of all Egypt? No, probably not. While the first movie was set in some vaguely Middle Eastern ancient time, this one is sure looks like modern Vancouver. » 10/20/14 12:53pm Yesterday 12:53pm

The only reason to put something on a reusable space plane is to bring it back. Recon data can just be radioed down, encrypted. Maybe the Air Force is making those perfect ball bearings in zero-g. Or those carefully-fractionated proteins for the super-soldier serum. Or maybe someone found the Andromeda Strain on… » 10/17/14 5:12pm Friday 5:12pm

Richard Rhodes talked about this in the final book of his magisterial series on nuclear weapons, "The Twilight of the Bombs". Bush Sr really did make a very serious effort to get rid of these monstrosities, at considerable political risk to himself, and personal risk to the people involved. You really have to admire… » 10/17/14 1:28pm Friday 1:28pm

I'm afraid I didn't understand this article. What are the health risks associated with freezing eggs? Is it the extraction? Is a pregnancy more likely to be difficult if frozen eggs are used? Is the fetus more likely to have problems? If so, what are the numbers? The article spends a lot of time talking about… » 10/17/14 11:49am Friday 11:49am

I'm rather with Heinlein on the subject of slide rules. I would not say that you can't be a citizen if you can't master a slide rule, but you certainly shouldn't be in any kind of technical field. Those things were trivial to use. In fact, they're better than calculators in an important way - they don't give you… » 10/15/14 1:07pm 10/15/14 1:07pm

Re: Trek getting ahead of the curve on civil rights - The next frontier is not aliens or AIs - it's animals. Chimpanzees are already getting some protections from nasty medical testing, and that's spreading. Ditto for whales and elephants, who are now being recognized as much smarter than we once thought. Once… » 10/15/14 11:01am 10/15/14 11:01am

It's impressive how quickly the spin is spun on a story like this. They've got focused professionals ready 24-7 to counter bad news. It's as though the characters of Christopher Buckley's brilliant "Thank You for Smoking" (1994) have moved on to another indefensible job. The protagonist there only changed sides… » 10/14/14 10:51am 10/14/14 10:51am

Rudy Rucker started out weird and has just kept going. It's hard to say whether his recent books are as odd as his earlier ones about stoner robots on the moon, or vacationing in a hotel with aleph-null rooms (always a vacancy!), but he's got to be up there. » 10/13/14 1:18pm 10/13/14 1:18pm

$7B is a tempting amount of money to be able to dole out to your supporters and your own state. Of course he wants to be able to decide who gets that money. Every other federal program is available for kickbacks and pork, why not this one too? That's the whole point of being a committee chairman! What, you don't… » 10/13/14 1:06pm 10/13/14 1:06pm

Although von Neumann was important for early computer work, his machines built on the work of Eckert and Mauchley, who built ENIAC and UNIVAC, not the other way around. They weren't nearly as glamorous figures as von Neumann, but they really drove it though to reality. » 10/13/14 3:24pm 10/13/14 3:24pm

How nice to hear sensible discussion of this! Brin's attitude towards surveillance reminds of Julian Assange's, except that Assange's is much more hostile. He believed that the kind of transparency Brin advocates would be fatal to intelligence organizations and conspiracies in general. They could no longer trust… » 10/07/14 12:33pm 10/07/14 12:33pm

Dangerous, expensive to keep painted, ugly, and a route for thieves. All modern buildings have gotten rid of fire escapes, but older ones still have to have them if their owners are too cheap to put in proper fire-proof stairwells. Good riddance, say I. Older cities are really marred by them. » 10/07/14 9:38am 10/07/14 9:38am

No, this is mainly a matter of how powerless scientists are as a political group. Insult the religious? Boycotts outside the theater and refusal by distributors. Insult minority groups (unless you are one)? Outraged op-eds. Insult our glorious troops or vets? Death threats from bikers. Insult our hedge fund… » 10/06/14 5:01pm 10/06/14 5:01pm