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26 April 2011

Why Read (Speculative) Fiction?

Why Read (Speculative) Fiction?

Today I gave a two-part guest lecture to a bunch of Cornell freshmen. The first part of the lecture was The Science of Red Mars, which you can read about over here. But since this writing seminar (taught by my officemate) might be the only course that some of these students take which involves reading fiction and writing about it, my officemate encouraged me to talk a bit in general about reading fiction, and particularly speculative fiction. I figured that since I already put together the guest lecture I might as well post it here!

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4 April 2011

The Science of Red Mars

The Science of Red Mars

Have you read the book Red Mars yet? If not, you can download a pdf of it here. It’s a classic hard sci-fi epic about the colonization of Mars, and for my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, I took a look at how the highly accurate depiction of Mars in the book has held up with all the new discoveries in the last 20 years. Head on over and check it out!

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7 January 2011

Strange New Worlds

Strange New Worlds

I realized relatively recently that I like planets and I like speculative fiction for basically the same reason: strange new worlds just fire up my imagination.  That’s the topic of my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, where I take a look at some spectacular and bizarre real (or at least realistic) planetary locations that I think would be great settings for some sci-fi. I got a little …

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14 November 2010

Book Review: The Road

Book Review: The Road

I’ve been on a bit of a post-apocalyptic kick this year. It all started when I got Fallout 3 last Christmas, and once I finished that game I moved on to reading some of the classics of the genre like On the Beach and I am Legend and The Stand. There’s something oddly fascinating about seeing characters face the end of the world, and to me it’s even more interesting …

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1 November 2010

Planets Like Grains of Sand

Planets Like Grains of Sand

The other day I came across a press release announcing that nearly one in four sun-like stars could have planets as small as Earth. That’s pretty awesome! But I though it was especially interesting how they came up with this number. Current technology can’t quite see an Earth-sized planet around a sun-like star, so how do you count things that you can’t see? Well, you count everything else and then extrapolate.

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28 October 2010

Bradbury on Martian Moonrise

Bradbury on Martian Moonrise

A friend of mine sent me this Ray Bradbury quote: A few years back, one dreadful boy ran up to me and said, “Mr. Bradbury?” “Yes?” I said. “That book of yours, The Martian Chronicles?” he said. “Yes,” I said. “On page 92 where you have the moons of Mars rising in the east?” “Yeah,” I said. “Nah,” he said. So I hit him. I’ll be damned if I’ll be …

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21 September 2010

The Science of Starcraft: Supernovae and Gauss Rifles

The Science of Starcraft: Supernovae and Gauss Rifles

I’ve got two new posts up at The Science of Starcraft! The first tackles the difference between supernovae and novae. The words are often used interchangeably in sci-fi, but they are (usually) very different phenomena. Plus, I love telling the story of nucleosynthesis and stellar evolution, and this was a good excuse. The second post is sort of a sequel to my previous post about railguns. This time I look …

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6 September 2010

The Science of Starcraft: What is a Railgun and How does it Work?

The Science of Starcraft: What is a Railgun and How does it Work?

I have a new post up at The Science of Starcraft! This time I tackle rail guns: sci-fi staple and the bane of intro physics students everywhere. To learn how these futuristic guns work in the real world and whether their depiction in Starcraft is accurate, go check out my latest post!

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12 August 2010

Can Life Survive in Space?

Can Life Survive in Space?

I’ve got a new post up at The Science of Starcraft! This time I tackle the question of whether unprotected living things could ever survive in the vacuum of space. Go check it out!

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29 July 2010

Force Fields and Plasma Shields

Force Fields and Plasma Shields

Force fields are common in lots of science fiction, but how realistic are they? That’s the question I tackle in the latest Science of Starcraft post. Head on over and check it out!

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