It's a common trope in SF novels to have AIs incorporate themselves. It's actually a fairly natural slot for them in the existing legal system. Deep Blue Inc. could then engage in contracts for, say, Big Data analysis, and could have human subordinates for occasional face-to-face meetings. It would be CEO and… » 7/21/14 12:47pm Yesterday 12:47pm

Apparently certain sharks and insects have been observed to reproduce asexually, creating clones of themselves. Darwin does not approve, because all the clones are susceptible to the same diseases and parasites. They lose the Red Queen race, where organisms have to change constantly to stay ahead of evolving… » 7/17/14 11:47am Thursday 11:47am

Man, I was hoping that "The Last Witchhunter" would be an adaptation of James Morrow's novel, wherein the books "Malleus Malificorum" and Newton's "Principia" do battle over the centuries, particularly in the person of one Jeanne Stearne, convicted witch, defender of rational skepticism, and secret lover of the young… » 7/14/14 9:04am 7/14/14 9:04am

Robert Redford almost got this right in Captain America 2. There he was, a sober, well-spoken member of the Establishment, talking about the dangers facing the nation and the world. Of course SHIELD needs bigger, badder weapons - they just saw aliens almost blow up New York. Who knows who else might be plotting… » 7/07/14 10:32am 7/07/14 10:32am

We're not colony organisms in the sense of bee hives - we're something vastly better. Homo sapiens has found a way to get the advantages of the division of labor without the limitations of having it be under genetic control. We don't have to enable certain genes to turn individuals into workers or soldiers or… » 7/04/14 4:40pm 7/04/14 4:40pm

Epistemology - it's not just for breakfast any more. How on earth is the BBC going to deal with questions that are actually controversial? This policy seems really dicey. Sure, you can exclude people who are lying for money like the anti-vaxxers and climate change denialists, but there are lots of quite genuine… » 7/04/14 5:02am 7/04/14 5:02am

OK, so Venus is clearly the big opportunity here. It's got maybe 30% of all the solid surface in the solar system, and face it, this is the only system we as biological humans are ever going to get to. Maybe machines will get to other stars, but those will be our robot successors, not us. Venus has 4X the land… » 7/02/14 8:51am 7/02/14 8:51am

I once helped a friend disassemble a big high-voltage capacitor bank that had been used in some fusion experiments. Big, as in filled a basement with caps the size of toaster ovens. It had been shut off for weeks, but we still would put a large screwdriver across each cap's terminals before touching them. The… » 7/01/14 10:28am 7/01/14 10:28am