Posts Tagged ‘nature’

That Great Big Wave Pool In The Sky

When we imagine the distant future, we tend to envision some combination of industrial-strength social order on starships and preindustrial-strength chaos in exoplanetary exploration. Star Trek, Star Wars, City Mouse and Country Mouse, etc. There’s a lot of technologies-versus-organics still going on out there in the big wide multiverse of fiction.

What’s more interesting is the fact that humans will probably never survive very long away from the tiny wet marble we evolved on if we’re unable to forge a successful marriage between those two influences upon our bodies and minds.

No, there is no living system on Earth evolving in such a way that we can simply encapsulate it and use it to fly ourselves to other stars. Tardigrades seem to do alright for themselves in space in spite of the radiation, cold, and total lack of food, water and air. But humans aren’t that hardy. Or that cute.

Cuter than a tardigrade? ('Wild Thing' by Kay Holt)

Yes, it’ll take unprecedented degrees of human cooperation and organization and invention to make-real the technologies and infrastructure we’ll need to support ourselves off-Earth. We’re very good at gadgets; maybe someday there’ll even be an app for that. But all our best engineers working together for generations will never be able to fix what’s wrong on a starship devoid of wildlife and wide open spaces.

If we don’t want to self-destruct on our way to the stars, we’re going to need a bigger ‘boat.’ One big enough to carry an ocean inside. And a bit of forest. Some lovely crags. An icy brook here and there…

Bearing in mind that we essentially need to build small inside-out planets to sustain us on our [hopefully] inevitable deep space treks, the question I have for the writers among us is this: What’s in your interstellar terrarium?

YouTube Is The New Substitute Teacher

School, like most of everyday life, is at times boring and occasionally a waste of time. We can place blame for that squarely upon the education system and teachers, or share it with parents if we’d like to keep diplomacy in the PTA. But although it’s true that the adults who shape and deliver education as we know it are largely responsible for what we learn and how well we learn it while we are children, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for allowing ignorance to persist after we grow up.

No matter how dreadful your education experience was as a child, if you reached adulthood literate enough to use the internet, then you should find developing a passing acquaintance with basic science concepts both convenient and entertaining. The idea that learning should be fun and easy is so compelling that YouTube is positively swarming with video bloggers enthusiastically sharing knowledge.

Because I am a science enthusiast and a lifetime devotee of independent study, I’ve compiled a video playlist of some of my recent favorites in that genre. To eliminate some common misconceptions, the playlist opens with the definition of science. From there, it builds from some interesting basics about water and carbon, covers some of the science frequently botched by Hollywood and in other fiction, and demonstrates that girls plus math equals win. Then follows a musical interlude, but it’s all science, so it’s all good. The last few are a sampler of videos posted by universities and science publishers for viewers who prefer productions with bigger budgets.

Now all you have to do is watch and learn.