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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe => Podcast Episodes => Topic started by: Steven Novella on January 07, 2017, 12:39:33 PM

Title: Episode #600
Post by: Steven Novella on January 07, 2017, 12:39:33 PM
Guest Rogue: George Hrab; In Memoriam: Carrie Fisher and Vera Rubin; Psychic Predictions; News Items: Motivated Reasoning, Deep Sea Discoveries; Who’s That Noisy; Science or Fiction
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: elert on January 07, 2017, 05:25:01 PM
I predict that Donald Trump will reveal that a government agency has possession of an alien life form. He will then follow this up with a later statement that he never said that.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on January 07, 2017, 06:25:02 PM
On Jay's prediction, there is no single arctic ice shelf. There are a few different ones attached to Canada, Greenland, and Russia. The vast majority of ice stored in ice shelves is in the Antarctic.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on January 08, 2017, 12:45:30 AM
Maybe he meant ice cap?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj1G9gqhkYA

It's already on the way out, though!
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: fuzzyMarmot on January 08, 2017, 01:32:16 AM
Maybe he meant ice cap?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj1G9gqhkYA

It's already on the way out, though!
Wow, that is an awesome (and terrifying) animation. I'm sure that's what Jay meant. I just wanted to earn points for being a super annoying pedant :)
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: bachfiend on January 08, 2017, 03:29:35 AM
Actually the number of the beast is '616' not '666'.  The '666' was an early mistranslation.

The special broadcast, and confirming Michael Egnor's opinion of Steve, would be in 4 months.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Tassie Dave on January 08, 2017, 09:02:18 AM
The guys were looking for a Strong female presence in a science fiction (or Science Fantasy) setting, similar to Carrie Fisher with Princess Leia, and they didn't name Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)  ???

Ripley in Alien (1979) was only 2 years after Leia in Star Wars. Jay and George would have been too young to see it, and have her as a female hero, until years later

But Bob and Steve would have seen it close to it's first run.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on January 08, 2017, 09:37:04 AM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Tassie Dave on January 08, 2017, 09:50:04 AM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

She is certainly now. But their discussion was more for when they were young. Steve mentioned Wonder Woman (Linda Carter) and Bob mentioned "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" which I was unfamiliar with (Not everything in the 70's made it to Australia)

I was perfectly aged for both Leia and Ripley being 15 & 17 when the movies hit the theatres.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 08, 2017, 10:45:20 AM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

She is certainly now. But their discussion was more for when they were young. Steve mentioned Wonder Woman (Linda Carter) and Bob mentioned "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" which I was unfamiliar with (Not everything in the 70's made it to Australia)

I was perfectly aged for both Leia and Ripley being 15 & 17 when the movies hit the theatres.

Edge of Tomorrow is one of my favorioute movies, in large part because of her performance.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on January 08, 2017, 12:41:37 PM
I haven't listened to it yet, but I noticed that it is significantly longer than the episodes usually are. Almost two hours! How come?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: jameshenryhay on January 08, 2017, 01:05:35 PM
Steve, you put up the citation for the original discoverer of penicillin, but do you have a link about the use of irradiation to produce a fungus which would produce mass quantities of it?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 08, 2017, 02:42:40 PM
I got SoF right again! Whoopee for me! And none of the rogues got it. Ha! I knew that Edison was a scoundrel who stole the inventions of others, and although I was not certain about Franklin, I've always had a high opinion of him. I didn't know about the penicillin one, but figured Franklin was probably the real inventor of the things attributed to him. Perhaps if the rogues had a better grasp of history generally they'd have known how different was the character of those two men.

My psychic predictions:

1. Peanut butter will secede from the U.S.

2. A well-known conspiracy nut will go viral with a claim that a high-profile disease was actually brought back to Earth from the moon by the Apollo astronauts. This conspiracy theory will be widely adopted, including by people who have long claimed the astronauts never actually went to the moon.

3. The curator of primates at the San Diego zoo will publish an open letter asking people to stop referring to Donald Trump as a baboon, because it's insulting to the baboons and causing them to become despondent and refuse their food.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: The Latinist on January 08, 2017, 02:54:18 PM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

They were talking about Carrie Fisher's influence on their childhood in the 1970's, when there were very few female role models in Sci-Fi.  Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in 1979 is relevant to the discussion and a perhaps surprising omission from the discussion, but a character from a movie released nearly 40 years later is not.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 08, 2017, 06:47:41 PM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

They were talking about Carrie Fisher's influence on their childhood in the 1970's, when there were very few female role models in Sci-Fi.  Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in 1979 is relevant to the discussion and a perhaps surprising omission from the discussion, but a character from a movie released nearly 40 years later is not.

Latinist, we're expanding the discussion from the seeds on the show - as is normal for this forum and conversations in general. She is a modern example - all too rare - of a strong female character in SF and action genres.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: The Latinist on January 08, 2017, 07:27:37 PM
Or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

They were talking about Carrie Fisher's influence on their childhood in the 1970's, when there were very few female role models in Sci-Fi.  Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in 1979 is relevant to the discussion and a perhaps surprising omission from the discussion, but a character from a movie released nearly 40 years later is not.

Latinist, we're expanding the discussion from the seeds on the show - as is normal for this forum and conversations in general. She is a modern example - all too rare - of a strong female character in SF and action genres.

Brillig, I know that conversations change and expand; but SoF made his comment in a context, and in that context it makes no sense. Tassie Dave pointed out that they were looking for examples of strong female sci-fi characters from their childhood, and pointed out that they missed Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) from just two years later.  Do you really think that "Or Emily Blunt" is a cogent response to that?  I don't.  There's nothing wrong with shifting the topic to modern sci-fi heroines—which is what you subsequently did—but SoF just made a non-sequitur that missed Tassie Dave's point entirely.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Dan I on January 09, 2017, 08:59:53 AM
Funnily, I didn't think of Ripley either. Now I'm too young for Ripley to have been in my childhood. But thinking on it, I'm not sure I would have thought of Ripley as a "sci-fi" heroine. Alien was basically a horror movie and Aliens was an action movie. Thinking on it, I'm not sure I ever considered her a "sci-fi" heroine.

Which now has me spinning off into thoughts of "Where is the line between sci-fi..." and other genres. Like when is a movie a "Science Fiction" movie vs a "Horror Movie set in Space."

An ACTION heroine, especially after Aliens, absolutely. But the Ripley from Alien seemed a lot more similar to your "last girl standing" Horror heroine.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 09, 2017, 09:49:39 AM
Funnily, I didn't think of Ripley either. Now I'm too young for Ripley to have been in my childhood. But thinking on it, I'm not sure I would have thought of Ripley as a "sci-fi" heroine. Alien was basically a horror movie and Aliens was an action movie. Thinking on it, I'm not sure I ever considered her a "sci-fi" heroine.

Which now has me spinning off into thoughts of "Where is the line between sci-fi..." and other genres. Like when is a movie a "Science Fiction" movie vs a "Horror Movie set in Space."

An ACTION heroine, especially after Aliens, absolutely. But the Ripley from Alien seemed a lot more similar to your "last girl standing" Horror heroine.

Yeah, her action came more in later movies. Does her character arc follow the traditional horror movie heroine theme, though? IIRC she didn't survive because she was without sin, and the others didn't die because they were sinful.

"...set in space."

When you start to ask if a movie is in a particular genre based on the setting alone it gets tangled pretty fast. I tend to thing of SF and F tales (in any medium) as having an extra main character: the setting. In most other kinds of stories the setting is a background character.

Since I was coming up empty on other female action heroes from the 70s and 80s I asked Google for help. Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_action_heroes) has an interesting (and admittedly limited) list that includes:

I presume Coffy is considered blacksploitation like Foxy Brown, and that Lady Snowblood didn't see wide distribution in North America? Slim pickings at the time. Leia, Ripley, and Conner were the full list for my childhood, I think.

They list two older movies as well:

Have any of you seen either?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Dan I on January 09, 2017, 09:54:00 AM

  • Sarah Connor from the Terminator series (1984–2015)
Connor raises the same issue as Ripley. In the original Terminator she is MUCH more of a traditional damsel in distress with signs of underlying action hero status.

Terminator 2 she's obviously a full blown action hero. In fact the contrast between her in T1 vs T2 is one of the big things ABOUT T2 that makes it great. You see this mousy, fairly standard female character turned into an utter and complete badass.

But "action hero" Sarah Connor doesn't really show up until 1991.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 09, 2017, 10:56:36 AM

  • Sarah Connor from the Terminator series (1984–2015)
Connor raises the same issue as Ripley. In the original Terminator she is MUCH more of a traditional damsel in distress with signs of underlying action hero status.

Terminator 2 she's obviously a full blown action hero. In fact the contrast between her in T1 vs T2 is one of the big things ABOUT T2 that makes it great. You see this mousy, fairly standard female character turned into an utter and complete badass.

But "action hero" Sarah Connor doesn't really show up until 1991.

(There was an extra quote up there.)

Fair points. I guess I saw them as kicking ass in the first place as well, despite the horror-movie structure. I don't watch a lot of horror, btw, so I'm not too sure how these two rate compared to other "heroines" in distress. It seems to me that both of these women are different because they defeat their monsters on their own, unlike in a movie like Halloween (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_(1978_film)), where the woman is saved by someone else.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Ah.hell on January 09, 2017, 10:58:59 AM
Funnily, I didn't think of Ripley either. Now I'm too young for Ripley to have been in my childhood. But thinking on it, I'm not sure I would have thought of Ripley as a "sci-fi" heroine. Alien was basically a horror movie and Aliens was an action movie. Thinking on it, I'm not sure I ever considered her a "sci-fi" heroine.

Which now has me spinning off into thoughts of "Where is the line between sci-fi..." and other genres. Like when is a movie a "Science Fiction" movie vs a "Horror Movie set in Space."

An ACTION heroine, especially after Aliens, absolutely. But the Ripley from Alien seemed a lot more similar to your "last girl standing" Horror heroine.
I think the distinction your making is, unnecessary.  Any fictional media can be any combination of genre(mostly)  Alien was sci-fi and horror even if the plot was really just a horror movie, it was more sci-fi than Star Wars which was really just fantasy in space at any-rate.  The alien franchise is clearly sci-fi with installments in various other genres.  I think Ripley is the clearest example of a sci-fi heroine.  Leia in the first Star Wars film was as much a damsel in distress as she was a heroine, "Save me Obi Wan!"  Ripley was clearly a women of action, even if she was in a horror movie.

There's probably an interesting TV show in Sarah Connor's life between 1984 and 1991.  Hanging out on the fringes of society, occasionally running drugs or escaping ATF raids on the compound.  With any luck, it would last like 10 years.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: RMoore on January 09, 2017, 05:40:17 PM
Regarding motivated reasoning, the question of how to avoid falling into the trap ourselves is inevitable. My take is that we can avoid it by asking the classic skeptical question, "What would it take to change your mind" -- only, directing it at ourselves. Once we have identified that standard, if someone is presenting evidence that contradicts our own understanding, we just have to decide if this evidence meets that standard. (Of course, if it does, we also need to verify that the evidence isn't fake.)

I suppose "motivational" reasoning (Steve's verbal slip at the beginning of the segment) would be the argument one uses when rationalizing the fact that one lives in a van down by the river.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: RMoore on January 09, 2017, 05:44:28 PM
Unless I miscounted, Saturday March 31, 2018 will be the date that episode 665 airs. So maybe produce an extra episode to air on Sunday, April Fool's Day, as #666, killing two birds with one stone?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Morvis13 on January 09, 2017, 08:59:16 PM
Nightmare fuel for George:

(http://i.imgur.com/2Xe8oaP.gif)
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Tassie Dave on January 09, 2017, 09:13:56 PM
It's Zoidberg.

or a cuttlefish.  ;)
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: werecow on January 09, 2017, 10:01:33 PM
Happy 600th episode! And happy 500th to George!

Regarding the 2 hour interview with the SGU members that George is referring to: Was that recorded and put online somewhere? Is it an episode of Geologic, or was it an SGU live show?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: arthwollipot on January 10, 2017, 01:39:55 AM
In a remarkable coincidence, just as Steve mentioned Howard Florey, I was driving into the suburb of Canberra named after him - Florey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florey,_Australian_Capital_Territory) - to visit my parents.

It's remarkable because I just remarked on it.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Shipwreck on January 10, 2017, 07:55:05 AM
In a remarkable coincidence, just as Steve mentioned Howard Florey, I was driving into the suburb of Canberra named after him - Florey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florey,_Australian_Capital_Territory) - to visit my parents.

It's remarkable because I just remarked on it.
It's my anecdotal experience that Baader-Meinhof occurs more frequently than Deja Vu.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Sawyer on January 10, 2017, 06:12:45 PM
Started a Science or Fiction stats sheet so no one is stuck tallying at the end of the year.  Anyone with the link is free to edit so I hope if I start lagging behind someone else can pick up the slack.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IVvA030ZQmU8R7LhzRXmhBWA2AYxrfVpsbkQSIXY4dI/edit?usp=sharing



In the process of setting up the sheet before listening to the podcast, I had inadvertently predicted a sweep in week one.  And I got science or fiction correct.  So ... psychic win of the year for me?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 10, 2017, 07:07:51 PM
Started a Science or Fiction stats sheet so no one is stuck tallying at the end of the year.  Anyone with the link is free to edit so I hope if I start lagging behind someone else can pick up the slack.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IVvA030ZQmU8R7LhzRXmhBWA2AYxrfVpsbkQSIXY4dI/edit?usp=sharing



In the process of setting up the sheet before listening to the podcast, I had inadvertently predicted a sweep in week one.  And I got science or fiction correct.  So ... psychic win of the year for me?

Careful not to peak too early!
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: AtheistApotheosis on January 13, 2017, 09:42:40 AM
Funnily, I didn't think of Ripley either. Now I'm too young for Ripley to have been in my childhood. But thinking on it, I'm not sure I would have thought of Ripley as a "sci-fi" heroine. Alien was basically a horror movie and Aliens was an action movie. Thinking on it, I'm not sure I ever considered her a "sci-fi" heroine.

Which now has me spinning off into thoughts of "Where is the line between sci-fi..." and other genres. Like when is a movie a "Science Fiction" movie vs a "Horror Movie set in Space."

An ACTION heroine, especially after Aliens, absolutely. But the Ripley from Alien seemed a lot more similar to your "last girl standing" Horror heroine.
I think the distinction your making is, unnecessary.  Any fictional media can be any combination of genre(mostly)  Alien was sci-fi and horror even if the plot was really just a horror movie, it was more sci-fi than Star Wars which was really just fantasy in space at any-rate.  The alien franchise is clearly sci-fi with installments in various other genres.  I think Ripley is the clearest example of a sci-fi heroine.  Leia in the first Star Wars film was as much a damsel in distress as she was a heroine, "Save me Obi Wan!"  Ripley was clearly a women of action, even if she was in a horror movie.

There's probably an interesting TV show in Sarah Connor's life between 1984 and 1991.  Hanging out on the fringes of society, occasionally running drugs or escaping ATF raids on the compound.  With any luck, it would last like 10 years.
Something like The Sara Connor Chronicals which was set after Terminator II, and covered a period from 1999 to 2007. Though it ran for only two seasons and they time jumped eight years so it was very short. I always thought they should do the same for batman and superman, both start their careers at the age of thirty. The problem with the genre of science fiction is that science isn't really a part of it. We call anything science fiction if it's set in space, in the future, has aliens, involves time travel, advanced technology, robots, astronauts, William Shattner, cyborgs, large astronomical objects colliding with other large astronomical objects, lasers, teleporting, William Shattner, alien planets full of aliens being alien, really big guns with digital counters on the side, space stations and people exploding in the vacuum of space. You really only encounter real science fiction in novels. Anything written by real scientists like Issac Asimov, Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein, Carl Sagan is a good place to start.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Harry Black on January 13, 2017, 03:38:48 PM
I think soft sci fi gets a bad rap.
I think someone jumping ahead and saying- wouldnt it be great if....
Is a very valuable thing and can inspire real creativity and innovation to bridge the gap.
I understand the joy of a writer dealing with something you know about and 'getting it right' but there is a lot to be said for enjoying indulgent speculation as it can bring story and characters or even just aesthetics to interesting places.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 13, 2017, 03:59:10 PM
I think soft sci fi gets a bad rap.
I think someone jumping ahead and saying- wouldnt it be great if....
Is a very valuable thing and can inspire real creativity and innovation to bridge the gap.
I understand the joy of a writer dealing with something you know about and 'getting it right' but there is a lot to be said for enjoying indulgent speculation as it can bring story and characters or even just aesthetics to interesting places.

But is it really science fiction when the writer says "Wouldn't it be great if we could transport people long distances in an energy beam," or "Wouldn't it be great if we had a hand-held device that could tell us everything about our environment and instantly diagnose any illness."?

That's actually kind of the definition of fantasy. I like fantasy. I don't like it when a writer asks me to believe that magic is science.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 13, 2017, 10:25:16 PM
I think soft sci fi gets a bad rap.
I think someone jumping ahead and saying- wouldnt it be great if....
Is a very valuable thing and can inspire real creativity and innovation to bridge the gap.
I understand the joy of a writer dealing with something you know about and 'getting it right' but there is a lot to be said for enjoying indulgent speculation as it can bring story and characters or even just aesthetics to interesting places.

But is it really science fiction when the writer says "Wouldn't it be great if we could transport people long distances in an energy beam," or "Wouldn't it be great if we had a hand-held device that could tell us everything about our environment and instantly diagnose any illness."?

That's actually kind of the definition of fantasy. I like fantasy. I don't like it when a writer asks me to believe that magic is science.

The setting matters.

If these concepts are implemented in a story with elves and dragons and swords and sorcery then it's fantasy. If these same ideas are implemented in a story with unfettered AIs and aliens and FTL drives it's SF. SF usually uses 'future tech' where F uses 'magic' but the reality is that the labels are more about the setting than the scientificisticalosoty or fantastimagicgoricality of the tale.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 14, 2017, 06:13:12 PM
I think soft sci fi gets a bad rap.
I think someone jumping ahead and saying- wouldnt it be great if....
Is a very valuable thing and can inspire real creativity and innovation to bridge the gap.
I understand the joy of a writer dealing with something you know about and 'getting it right' but there is a lot to be said for enjoying indulgent speculation as it can bring story and characters or even just aesthetics to interesting places.

But is it really science fiction when the writer says "Wouldn't it be great if we could transport people long distances in an energy beam," or "Wouldn't it be great if we had a hand-held device that could tell us everything about our environment and instantly diagnose any illness."?

That's actually kind of the definition of fantasy. I like fantasy. I don't like it when a writer asks me to believe that magic is science.

The setting matters.

If these concepts are implemented in a story with elves and dragons and swords and sorcery then it's fantasy. If these same ideas are implemented in a story with unfettered AIs and aliens and FTL drives it's SF. SF usually uses 'future tech' where F uses 'magic' but the reality is that the labels are more about the setting than the scientificisticalosoty or fantastimagicgoricality of the tale.

Interesting point. But still, for me, if it violates extremely well-established physical laws, then it's magic, not science, and therefore fantasy.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 14, 2017, 11:04:02 PM
I think soft sci fi gets a bad rap.
I think someone jumping ahead and saying- wouldnt it be great if....
Is a very valuable thing and can inspire real creativity and innovation to bridge the gap.
I understand the joy of a writer dealing with something you know about and 'getting it right' but there is a lot to be said for enjoying indulgent speculation as it can bring story and characters or even just aesthetics to interesting places.

But is it really science fiction when the writer says "Wouldn't it be great if we could transport people long distances in an energy beam," or "Wouldn't it be great if we had a hand-held device that could tell us everything about our environment and instantly diagnose any illness."?

That's actually kind of the definition of fantasy. I like fantasy. I don't like it when a writer asks me to believe that magic is science.

The setting matters.

If these concepts are implemented in a story with elves and dragons and swords and sorcery then it's fantasy. If these same ideas are implemented in a story with unfettered AIs and aliens and FTL drives it's SF. SF usually uses 'future tech' where F uses 'magic' but the reality is that the labels are more about the setting than the scientificisticalosoty or fantastimagicgoricality of the tale.

Interesting point. But still, for me, if it violates extremely well-established physical laws, then it's magic, not science, and therefore fantasy.

By that logic almost all time-travel and FTL stories are fantasies. The Time Machine, Foundation, Ringworld... all magic-based fantasy.

To be clear, I count Doctor Who as an intersection of comedy, horror, scifi, and fantasy; ST:TOS and STARWARS are both Westerns with fantasy elements in a scifi setting; and so on.

Taking an absolute position that "if it's not proven science it's crap" is problematic at best. That approach means that Star Trek style communicators were once fantasy, but then they transitioned to SF as we entered the Information Age, and then they became just plain old reality after we built them. Same deal for streaming music and ST:TNG - and tablet computers from both. And how would the classification of 20000 Leagues Under The Sea shift over time?

I'm not saying you're right or wrong to hold your view - my own views are problematic too. The particular line you've drawn is relative to whatever the current scientific and technological capacities are at a given point in time, is all.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Tassie Dave on January 15, 2017, 12:39:06 AM
For sci-fi you have to be prepared to concede some bending of the Laws of Physics. Just for the sake of the story.

Sometimes the author has misunderstood something that sounds plausible and gone with it.
i.e in The Three Body Problem series Cixin Liu uses Quantum Entanglement to enable instant communication over many lightyears. Smarter people than me say even knowing the state of one particle, it can't be used to transfer information.
The story needs the communication to occur in real time, so I can live with it. It's still sci-fi. It is even considered Hard Sci-Fi. Which I would dispute for this and other things that happen.

If you get too technical then basically all fiction is fantasy, as it never happened.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 15, 2017, 10:22:12 AM
...
By that logic almost all time-travel and FTL stories are fantasies. The Time Machine, Foundation, Ringworld... all magic-based fantasy.

Yes. (Though it's been too long since I read Foundation, in my teens, to remember if it contained violations of physics, and I don't know Ringworld.) But all FTL and time travel stories are fantasy.

Taking an absolute position that "if it's not proven science it's crap" is problematic at best.

Where have I ever said that?!?!? I've said over and over that I LIKE fantasy. I just want it to be called what it is.

... That approach means that Star Trek style communicators were once fantasy, but then they transitioned to SF as we entered the Information Age, and then they became just plain old reality after we built them.

Again, not at all what I said. In fact, practically the opposite of what I said. Small radios never violated the laws of physics. I've never said that a technology must exist today to be sci-fi. I said that it must not violate well-established laws of physics. FTL travel violates the laws of physics. Small wearable radios do not.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: The Latinist on January 16, 2017, 07:36:49 AM
Daniel, if your definition of a genre excludes almost all works that are typically included in that genre, perhaps it is not the works but your definition that is the problem. Why can't you be satisfied to say that you dislike softer sci-fi without trying to redefine it as not "real" sci-fi?  It makes no sense.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 16, 2017, 07:51:10 AM
Daniel, if your definition of a genre excludes almost all works that are typically included in that genre, perhaps it is not the works but your definition that is the problem. Why can't you be satisfied to say that you dislike softer sci-fi without trying to redefine it as not "real" sci-fi?  It makes no sense.

I am also very pigheaded on what I consider music, and what I consider art. I dispute a lot of what is typically included in those categories also. When I was younger I was widely regarded as unreasonable. But now that I'm an old fart my friends see me as merely a curmudgeon
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 18, 2017, 11:33:41 AM
...
By that logic almost all time-travel and FTL stories are fantasies. The Time Machine, Foundation, Ringworld... all magic-based fantasy.

Yes. (Though it's been too long since I read Foundation, in my teens, to remember if it contained violations of physics, and I don't know Ringworld.) But all FTL and time travel stories are fantasy.

Taking an absolute position that "if it's not proven science it's crap" is problematic at best.

Where have I ever said that?!?!? I've said over and over that I LIKE fantasy. I just want it to be called what it is.

... That approach means that Star Trek style communicators were once fantasy, but then they transitioned to SF as we entered the Information Age, and then they became just plain old reality after we built them.

Again, not at all what I said. In fact, practically the opposite of what I said. Small radios never violated the laws of physics. I've never said that a technology must exist today to be sci-fi. I said that it must not violate well-established laws of physics. FTL travel violates the laws of physics. Small wearable radios do not.

I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, or imply that you don't like fantasy. I was attempting a joke based on 'if it's not Scottish it's crap' is all. Please read the statement as 'if it is not proven science it is fantasy' instead.

"Small radios never violated the laws of physics."

They certainly did. To someone in 1802 a hand held device for long distance communication was fantasy powered by magic. There was no scientific foundation for radio. Heck, electricity was barely a thing. One might have imagined a magic mirror that could contact other magic mirrors, but this was outside known physical law.

But by the 1820s experiments exploring the relationship between electricity and magnetism began. Could that magic mirror be science fiction at that point? Or after 1873 when Maxwell's work triggered research into radio communication? Maybe the magic mirror became scifi  in the early 1900s when radio was demonstrated to made practical?

I'm not saying your approach is wrong. I'm just pointing out that it has problems, because the established body of scientific knowledge changes over time. I suspect this is the inspiration for Clarke's "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Right now physics has some interesting gaps, and a spotty understanding of spacetime. FTL is ruled out by GR, but we know GR is not perfect, because it does not integrate with quantum theory. Which is also not perfect because it does not integrate with GR. I doubt that a grand unified theory of everything Will give any indication faster than light travel is possible, but I'm not going to that possibility out completely. Maybe one day FTL will be conclusively ruled out. At that point pretty much all of science fiction will be retrospectively incorrect. I might still think of it as SF that was incorrect as opposed to fantasy, however.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Dan I on January 18, 2017, 12:05:35 PM
http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/how-great-science-fiction-works.html (http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/how-great-science-fiction-works.html)

I'm just gonna plug this as worth every penny.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Ah.hell on January 18, 2017, 12:06:44 PM
I split the difference between Daniel and most folks I think.   I prefer science fiction to be fiction that doesn't break any but a few known laws of physics.  I give a pass for FTL, time travel, and humanish aliens because they all open up story telling possibilities that wouldn't exist without them.   I give a pass to anything that was clearly down to the limits of budgets or technologically feasible special effects.  This means, I give TV and Film more leeway than books. 

I agree that starwars, was not Sci Fi mostly because it made no attempt at plausibility.  Humans in a galaxy far far away and time long long ago, that's fantasy in space.  Star Trek had human aliens because it was cheap and allowed actors to act and they had transporters because it was cheaper than landing on a planet, so that's sci fi on a budget.  The new versions get a pass on those because, they're grandfathered in. 

Daniels hostility towards the less realistic Sci Fi really seems mostly due to his imagined Star Trek effect, he seems to believe that the only reason people think mars/space colonization is possible is because of Sci Fi and that this dream is somehow preventing us from solving our problems right here on earth.  Given the investments in we've made in space travel, there's a better argument that sports movies have given us all a fantasy of being the big sports hero, resulting in us ignoring our real problems. 



Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 18, 2017, 06:19:42 PM
...
"Small radios never violated the laws of physics."

They certainly did. To someone in 1802 a hand held device for long distance communication was fantasy powered by magic. There was no scientific foundation for radio.

There was no scientific foundation for it, but there were also no established laws of physics that said it was impossible, the way relativity clearly states that nothing, not even information, can travel faster than light.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Caffiene on January 18, 2017, 06:43:00 PM
the way relativity clearly states that nothing, not even information, can travel faster than light.
Is that true? I thought relativity stated that nothing can accelerate to become faster than light but that faster than light itself is not mathematically impossible.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: gmalivuk on January 19, 2017, 11:12:52 PM
the way relativity clearly states that nothing, not even information, can travel faster than light.
Is that true? I thought relativity stated that nothing can accelerate to become faster than light but that faster than light itself is not mathematically impossible.
Without a privileged reference frame any sort of FTL communication can break causality, because faster-than-light in one frame is back-in-time in another frame, which is the reason people tend to reject it even if it doesn't strictly lead to any contradictions within relativity itself. However, while it certainly seems there is no privileged frame, I don't think that's been ruled out beyond all doubt, and universes with a privileged frame are not inconsistent with GR.

(A privileged frame could get out of causality-breaking if all FTL communication happened at some fixed speed relative to that frame, rather than relative to the frame of the sender.)

Daniels hostility towards the less realistic Sci Fi really seems mostly due to his imagined Star Trek effect, he seems to believe that the only reason people think mars/space colonization is possible is because of Sci Fi and that this dream is somehow preventing us from solving our problems right here on earth.  Given the investments in we've made in space travel, there's a better argument that sports movies have given us all a fantasy of being the big sports hero, resulting in us ignoring our real problems.
Why stop at sports movies? Isn't pretty much all fiction just fantasy? I can't think of much that doesn't get major facts wrong about fundamental aspects of a wide variety of things, from science to linguistics to how computers or crime labs work.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: John Albert on January 20, 2017, 03:27:50 PM
I got SoF right again! Whoopee for me! And none of the rogues got it. Ha! I knew that Edison was a scoundrel who stole the inventions of others, and although I was not certain about Franklin, I've always had a high opinion of him.

I got it right too. And yeah, Edison did not invent the light bulb. But he founded, owned and managed the company and acquired the patent on the working product, so of course he took the credit as is the American way. Most of the work on the incandescent bulb was actually done by his staff, the "Muckers" of Menlo Park who gladly worked long hours in the employ of the world's most famous celebrity inventor.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: brilligtove on January 23, 2017, 10:42:29 PM
I got SoF right again! Whoopee for me! And none of the rogues got it. Ha! I knew that Edison was a scoundrel who stole the inventions of others, and although I was not certain about Franklin, I've always had a high opinion of him.

I got it right too. And yeah, Edison did not invent the light bulb. But he founded, owned and managed the company and acquired the patent on the working product, so of course he took the credit as is the American way. Most of the work on the incandescent bulb was actually done by his staff, the "Muckers" of Menlo Park who gladly worked long hours in the employ of the world's most famous celebrity inventor.

"Invented" is such a trixie word. Incandescence and incandescent bulbs had been around for a looooong time before being made practical. Part of making them practical was the power grid. So did he invent the lightbulb? No. Did he cause it to be invented? Probably. Did he create the conditions for the invention to be adopted as a product? Seems so. If innovation is the marriage of invention and implementation, I'd be happy to say he innovated the lightbulb, just as I'd be happy to say Gates innovated the OS and Jobs innovated the PC.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: werecow on January 24, 2017, 07:04:23 AM
Steve Jobs was a malignant narcissist who was good at marketing, bullying his employees and taking credit for other people's ideas. He didn't actually invent or innovate anything.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Ah.hell on January 24, 2017, 09:30:39 AM
Steve Jobs was a malignant narcissist who was good at marketing, bullying his employees and taking credit for other people's ideas. He didn't actually invent or innovate anything.
All true but he did seem to have a talent for identifying and marketing the next big thing. 
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 24, 2017, 09:49:19 AM
I got SoF right again! Whoopee for me! And none of the rogues got it. Ha! I knew that Edison was a scoundrel who stole the inventions of others, and although I was not certain about Franklin, I've always had a high opinion of him.

I got it right too. And yeah, Edison did not invent the light bulb. But he founded, owned and managed the company and acquired the patent on the working product, so of course he took the credit as is the American way. Most of the work on the incandescent bulb was actually done by his staff, the "Muckers" of Menlo Park who gladly worked long hours in the employ of the world's most famous celebrity inventor.

"Invented" is such a trixie word. Incandescence and incandescent bulbs had been around for a looooong time before being made practical. Part of making them practical was the power grid. So did he invent the lightbulb? No. Did he cause it to be invented? Probably. Did he create the conditions for the invention to be adopted as a product? Seems so. If innovation is the marriage of invention and implementation, I'd be happy to say he innovated the lightbulb, just as I'd be happy to say Gates innovated the OS and Jobs innovated the PC.

Except that Edison's employees probably did all the work that he is credited with. Edison's company made the light bulb practical, but it really became a success because of Tesla's AC power grid, in spite of Edison's fierce opposition. Supposedly, Edison electrocuted an elephant to "prove" how dangerous AC current is.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: gmalivuk on January 24, 2017, 10:53:13 AM
Are you saying he supposedly electrocuted an elephant, or it was supposedly for that purpose?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Swagomatic on January 24, 2017, 11:22:52 AM
Edison did electrocute some animals (mostly dogs), but I think he was only tangentially involved in Topsy's execution.  Topsy had killed a couple of elephant handlers and was "sentenced" to death.  It was really a sick deal.  I think there is film of it.


ETA:  Here's a link: http://edison.rutgers.edu/topsy.htm
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: estockly on January 24, 2017, 11:41:12 AM
Edison did indeed electrocute an elephant and numerous dogs as part of a campaign to show that AC power was dangerous. He also invented and promoted the electric chair for the same purpose.  It's true that 120 volts of electricity at sufficient amperage can kill a human. That's why the US power system is 110 volts for most things. Because of Edison spreading fear. Britain and the rest of the world adopted 220 because handled correctly it's not dangerous.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Swagomatic on January 24, 2017, 12:03:23 PM
Edison did indeed electrocute an elephant and numerous dogs as part of a campaign to show that AC power was dangerous. He also invented and promoted the electric chair for the same purpose.  It's true that 120 volts of electricity at sufficient amperage can kill a human. That's why the US power system is 110 volts for most things. Because of Edison spreading fear. Britain and the rest of the world adopted 220 because handled correctly it's not dangerous.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

It was filmed by Edison Film Company, but Edison was not involved in the execution. 
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Pusher Robot on January 24, 2017, 01:05:52 PM
Edison did indeed electrocute an elephant and numerous dogs as part of a campaign to show that AC power was dangerous. He also invented and promoted the electric chair for the same purpose.  It's true that 120 volts of electricity at sufficient amperage can kill a human. That's why the US power system is 110 volts for most things. Because of Edison spreading fear. Britain and the rest of the world adopted 220 because handled correctly it's not dangerous.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

It was filmed by Edison Film Company, but Edison was not involved in the execution.

Forget it, he's rolling.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: estockly on January 24, 2017, 01:15:04 PM
It was filmed by Edison Film Company, but Edison was not involved in the execution.

Interesting. The execution of the elephant came about 10 years after the issue had been settled.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: estockly on January 24, 2017, 01:24:42 PM
It was filmed by Edison Film Company, but Edison was not involved in the execution.

Interesting. The execution of the elephant came about 10 years after the issue had been settled.

Although, I'd say that Edison's hands weren't entirely clean:

Critical Thinking Video Series: Thomas Edison Electrocutes Topsy the Elephant, Jan. 4, 1903
http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003749

Quote
Michael Daly, author of the 2013 book titled Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, stated that "the electrocution was for Edison a means to vent his fury and frustration over his defeat [in the "War of Currents"] as well as an opportunity to film the first death of any kind." Tom McNichol, an independent journalist published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other publications, stated in his 2006 book AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War: "When Luna Park officials put out the word that Topsy would be killed by more humane means [than hanging]—electricity—Thomas Edison quickly offered his services. Edison dispatched three of his top electricians to serve as Topsy's executioners. The electricity used to kill the elephant—alternating current, of course—would be supplied by Coney Island's own generator that provided power and light to the amusements."
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Sawyer on January 24, 2017, 03:17:11 PM
Estockly clearly comes from the Louise Belcher school of Edison.

 :D
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Swagomatic on January 24, 2017, 03:24:07 PM
Well, to me, the killing of the dogs is as bad as killing Topsy.  Edison was a deplorable before it was cool to be a deplorable.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: daniel1948 on January 24, 2017, 06:36:16 PM
Well, to me, the killing of the dogs is as bad as killing Topsy.  Edison was a deplorable before it was cool to be a deplorable.

Yeah, but there's something morbidly fascinating about the idea of electrocuting an elephant.
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: estockly on January 24, 2017, 07:30:13 PM
Estockly clearly comes from the Louise Belcher school of Edison.

 :D

Thank you?
Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: Tassie Dave on April 16, 2017, 03:32:40 AM
One of Bob's predictions for 2017 has come true.

Quote
I predict that Emma Morano will die in 2017

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-16/worlds-oldest-person-dies-at-117/8446290

Title: Re: Episode #600
Post by: werecow on April 16, 2017, 07:10:58 AM
One of Bob's predictions for 2017 has come true.

Quote
I predict that Emma Morano will die in 2017

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-16/worlds-oldest-person-dies-at-117/8446290

I suspect foul play.