Compounding acceleration in the relative vacuum of space. Incredible efficiencies versus chemical rockets, and the very low force produced making it only appropriate once spaceborn. The differing problems solved by chemical rockets and ion drives. The benefit of ion drive once out of Earth’s gravity well and going far away. Earth’s tectonic plates, slowly building up to escape velocity. That beautiful blue glow. “Ionic wind” aircraft in-atmosphere: a completely silent aircraft motor with no moving parts!
Landing in spaaaaace
Methods of landing on Mars: Aeroshells, parachutes, rockets, and balloons. Past examples. Different bodies in space and their particular atmospheric densities, atmospheric conditions, and gravitational acceleration.
Nuclear power solutions
Nuclear power vs solar cells. People’s presumption of full-on nuclear reactors rather than the smaller and less-efficient radioisotope thermoelectric generators like on Curiosity. Wondering why we don’t use tiny nuclear robots to blow the dust off of the solar robots. NASA, call us for more great ideas.
Martian dust storms. The low density and force of Martian dust storms, contrary to popular depictions. The visual impressiveness of huge Martian dust storms from space relative to actual effect. The (low) density of the Martian atmosphere and its make-up. How 60mph dust storms are are actually not that powerful: with low gravitational acceleration, static charge, it is very very easy it is to keep dust particles aloft.
Orbital centricity words
The revelation that “geocentric” and “geostationary” apply very specifically to only Earth and there are other words particular to the other major bodies in our solar system. All of the other centricity classifications, including Arecentric for Mars as in the film (though they don’t use it).
Hypoxia and inability to give detailed instructions to your AI on how to disperse the spirit of humanity into the universe.
2036 Origin Unkown: Netflix | Amazon | iTunes
Why You Should Put YOUR MASK On First (My Brain Without Oxygen) by Smarter Every Day: YouTube
How Do Ion Engines Work? The Most Efficient Propulsion System Out There by Fraser Cain: YouTube
Dolphin intelligence. It’s not about how smart they are, it’s about how they’re smart. Mammalian sameness as an avenue into better understanding life in the sea. Dolphin communication. Dolphin “language” and the possibility of translation. The Dolphin C.H.A.T. interface.
Big star! Red supergiant, 9th brightest in our sky. “Brightness” outside the visible spectrum. Dying stars gnoshing on their planets before going off.
Life form dominance
Metal boxes, taking over the planet and slowly digesting the soft squishy things inside them. Street Fighter-style car-breaking. How to judge the “top” species of a world.
Universal translators. A visit from Nick Farmer from the past, when we asked him about universal translators in our Q&A #2.
Space is big
Mind-bogglingly big! The bigness of space and the difficulty in finding a sense of scale from a human perspective.
Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.
Doors deriving sexual pleasure from providing their service. Polar opposite extreme AI demeanors. Deep Thought and AI constraints.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy The Game: BBC Radio 4
DRONE Solar System Model by Mark Rober: YouTube
VFX Artist Reveals the True Scale of the Universe by Corridor Digital: YouTube
Naive vs machine-intelligent image enhancement. “Photorealistic hallucination” and honest technical names. Reconsidering the absurdity of fictional image enhancement in the age of clever neural nets. Creative, artistic “enhancement” vs rigor.
Well, breaking your spinal chord sure seems to suck. Spinal breaks and the autonomic nervous system. Bodily control via brain-machine interface.
Extension of human functionality by implanted technology! Increasing neural communication speed, or shortening signal distance. Gun arms. Gun arms! Vocal device command by subvocalization.
The AI “box test”
Self-serving artificial intelligence. Yudkowsky’s AI box test. Callback to Ex Machina. Additional stipulations. The true power of a goon with a wrench. How easy are humans to fool? Very.
What: The first season of Amazon’s anthology series, Electric Dreams, bringing a bunch of Philip K Dick‘s short stories to life. Directed by: Julian Jarrold, David Farr, Tom Harper, Marc Munden, Jeffrey Reiner, Francesca Gregorini, Dee Rees, Peter Horton, Alan Taylor, Michael Dinner Starring: Greg Kinnear, Jack Gore, Shannon Brown, Annalise Basso, Maura Tierney, Connor Paolo, Juno Temple, Janelle Monáe, David Lyons, Karin Anglin, Anton Bassey, Anu Bhatt, Anna Paquin, Terrence Howard
What: Stories of dystopian sadness but with multiple stories inside one sometimes. Directed by: Tim Van Patten, David Slade, Colm McCarthy Starring: Georgina Campbell, Joe Cole, Gina Bramhill | Maxine Peake, Jake Davies, Clint Dyer | Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, Daniel Lapaine
What: Dystopian sadness over and over where somehow the bright points are even worse Directed by: Toby Haynes, Jodie Foster, John Hillcoat Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Andrew Gower | Rosemarie DeWitt, Brenna Harding, Owen Teague | Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson