I always develop most of a novel’s setting before I start writing it, and allow the writing process to flesh out a few cool details along the way. As I’m currently hip-deep in my next novel, currently known by the project name of Sarcology, I’ve written most of those fine details, and find myself working in an environment that I can picture in my mind as if I’ve actually just returned from visiting there. So I thought I would spell out a few details, to prepare you for the world of my upcoming novel.
Quantum physicist David Deutsch has penned an article for Aeon Magazine that examines the concept that artificial general intelligence (AGI) on a par with human intelligence is possible, given the assumption that any physical model—even the very movements and actions of atoms—can be emulated by mechanical means.
I stayed up the other night to watch NASA’s Curiosity Rover descent onto the Martian surface. Well, it wasn’t so much watching Curiosity… it was watching NASA personnel reacting to the telemetry that told them what Curiosity was doing. In some ways, it’s like watching a sports announcer calling the game, instead of actually watching the game. But hey, with NASA, that’s the way it works.
Though it’s been awhile since I watched a NASA event, much less stayed up late to see one, this one fascinated me because it was a landing design unlike anything NASA had done before: Using a “skycrane” platform to hover over the surface, lower the rover to the ground on cables, then cut loose and land elsewhere. If you haven’t seen the simulations of how it should (and apparently did) work, you should.
But there’s something else that fascinates me, about this moment, and about NASA: They have become a textbook model of American efficiency.
Please enjoy an excerpt from Chasing the Light, a novel of the near future.
Chasing the Light is a “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy returns to find girl and make his fortune” story, set in the United States of a very realistic near-tomorrow. The young lovers, Tom Everson and Doña Navarra, are forced apart due to circumstances beyond their control, and Tom risks everything to be reunited with Doña.
In fact, the story could be said to begin any day now, as it is kicked off by violent events caused by the energy crisis and the oil industry’s contentious activities to dominate the energy landscape.
Prometheus, the sort-of Alien prequel, opened in theatres a few weeks ago, and already it’s generating a lot of buzz… not for its production or acting, which were nothing short of excellent… but for the many questions the movie raises about the origins and history of life on Earth, the spread of life in the cosmos, and the morality of experimentation with life. Many of these questions are left unanswered by the end of the movie, leading to the possibility that we could see these questions debated for years in the movie’s aftermath. (Caution: Major spoilers follow.)
This page is now located at StevenLyleJordan.blog.
I was recently reminded about an experience I had as a teen: I went to an Earth Day show at the Mall in Washington, D.C. and, among many things I saw, I had a chance to examine no less than four fully electric automobiles, all endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy, a few made by major auto manufacturers (GM was among them), and at least one of them expected to go to market within 5 years.
This was 1978 or so.
And I remember thinking how great that was, because it meant that by the year 2000—because, in 1978, 22 years into the future sounded serious enough to warrant the phrase “in the year 2000″—there would be multitudes of electric cars to choose from, and the country would be driving primarily electric vehicles by then.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. And when you ask someone about why it didn’t, the answer is likely to involve some form of inertia.
At the one hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, programs about the doomed ship, passengers and crew abound. One of the more interesting ones, to me, was the program by James Cameron, director of the 1997 film Titanic. In his program, Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron, he gathered numerous experts and carefully studied the latest information on the Titanic, examinations of the wreck and accounts from that fateful night, in order to try to correct some of the wrongs and misconceptions about how the ship went down.
Though the forensic investigation of the most infamous ship disaster in history is fascinating, I will not go into its detail here. To my mind, the most valuable part of the program was the ending, and Cameron’s very appropriate last words.
Thanks to an accident last fall, my 2000 Hyundai Tiburon is probably not going to last until 2015 as originally planned. So, I’ve started looking for the car to replace it… and at the moment, that car is the Toyota Prius C.
A recent customer asked me to list the significant science and engineering elements that have been featured in my novels. The idea was that the list would give an idea about the kind of science I was interested in, and the general slant of my books. This is not to suggest I “invented” all of these ideas myself; but some of them are unique and created by me, or independently of its use in other books.
Once I finished the list, I thought it was a pretty good list to share… so, here goes: