Isn't this description of Childhood's End the opposite message of the novel? It had nothing to do with utopias and identity - it was about humanity evolving into something higher, with standard-model humans left behind. In TV/film SF change is always bad, whereas with Clarke it was something to be embraced. » 10/29/14 6:30am Yesterday 6:30am

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 10/20/14 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 10/20/14 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 some… » 10/17/14 5:12pm 10/17/14 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 10/17/14 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 theories… » 10/17/14 11:49am 10/17/14 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 animals… » 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 when… » 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 like… » 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 their… » 10/07/14 12:33pm 10/07/14 12:33pm