1 – 3.3 x10^-(17) is incredibly close to the speed of light. That's a time dilation and mass increase factor of 30 quadrillion to 1 (3 x 10^16). At that rate you could cross the known universe of 30 billion light years in about 30 seconds of ship time. Is there a typo here? » 3/25/15 1:00pm Wednesday 1:00pm

Another analog that works pretty well is the Blackwolf character in "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman. It's actually the story of a depressed supervillain, Dr. Impossible, who suffers from Malign Hypercognition Disorder. He's tried to conquer the world 12 times now, but it just never works. Stealing… » 3/25/15 12:45pm Wednesday 12:45pm

Great shout-out to James Blish! He wrote some of the most insightful SF criticism ever as William Atheling ("The Issue At Hand", "More Issues At Hand"). His warning against giving ordinary things fantastical names ("Don't call a rabbit a smeerp"), is still relevant. » 3/23/15 1:22pm Monday 1:22pm

There were actually secret Nazi bases on Greenland used for weather stations, but they were all captured or evacuated by 1944. They haven't yet found the vast lair they built in Antarctica. And some day when we get back to the Moon we'll find out where Von Braun planned to escape to if the Allies didn't take him and… » 3/23/15 10:00am Monday 10:00am

Way cool! That got me wondering what the densest known gas is at room temperature and pressure. It's tungsten hexafluoride, about twice as dense (13 kg/m3) as the sulfur hexafluoride here, and 13X as dense as air, but quite corrosive and poisonous. It's used in semiconductor manufacturing, which is actually one of… » 3/12/15 9:42am 3/12/15 9:42am

No hate for Horia Sima, the Romanian leader of the Iron Guard who was considered too dangerous and violent by Hitler? The Guard rampaged through Romania in the early years of the War, torturing and murdering Jews and opponents, until they were brought under control by the merely far-right-wing Ion Antonescu. He… » 3/11/15 10:52am 3/11/15 10:52am

There was a larger context to this story. When Alexander Haig claimed that the Soviets were using chemical weapons in Laos, the Reagan administration was also trying to ratchet up the Cold War. Specifically, they were trying to get the Europeans to accept stationing nuclear-tipped medium-range missiles in Germany,… » 3/11/15 10:02am 3/11/15 10:02am

I'm in the middle of David Mitchell's "The Bone Clocks" right now, and it's just as you describe. There's a nice set of stories set in mundane reality about life in the modern UK, but there are intrusions from a fantastical world that is growing as the stories go along. The intrusions are getting more and more… » 3/10/15 2:41pm 3/10/15 2:41pm

What's wrong with ignoring sequels you don't like? It's all fiction after all, and you have as much right to manipulate it as anyone else. More, in some cases, because the biggest beef people have is inconsistency. If the makers of some movie or book screwed up by breaking the internal logic of a story, well, just… » 3/10/15 2:58pm 3/10/15 2:58pm

All of those steps are done tons at a time, and are actually way efficient in energy terms. That's why containerized shipping is so cheap, about a hundred dollars per cubic meter. Using Kcups makes the volume and weight expand a lot compared to loose coffee, which is why it's a problem for landfills. » 3/07/15 9:31am 3/07/15 9:31am

Fuel cells cars are so likely to get killed by battery-electric cars that I don't even know why they're on the list. There is massive, world-wide research on getting battery costs down and density up, and it's on a good growth curve. Elon Musk alone is putting billions into it. Fuel cells have been tried and failed… » 3/05/15 7:05am 3/05/15 7:05am

This makes so little sense that it has be BS. Hyperloops (barely) make sense for fast, long-distance transport; it would be crazy to put these tubes all over town. For local transport use, I don't know, slidewalks or self-driving golf carts. » 3/02/15 2:51pm 3/02/15 2:51pm

This also applies to Alan Turing, regardless of how he was portrayed in "The Imitation Game". The only conflict he actually had with his boss, Commander Denniston, was that he wanted to hire more clerks to do decryption than Denniston thought necessary. The movie set up a conflict between them over whether the bombe… » 2/27/15 10:35am 2/27/15 10:35am

Hmmm? Large modern movies are programmed down to individual frames. Every single aspect is tuned by huge crews of people. They're quite mechanical creations. Modern Hollywood is profitable exactly because of this. Movies involve significant investments, and are absolutely not left to the whims of creators like Wilder. » 2/24/15 10:47pm 2/24/15 10:47pm