Revisiting: asteroids vs meteors vs meteoroids vs meteorites vs who knows. Still confusing! How much space stuff hits Earth? Like, not just dust but things big enough to be impressed by. Who gets claim to Earth-impacting space rocks?
The idea that life can spread between worlds. Or maybe even stars (maybe not.)? The “soft hypothesis” of panspermia and the utility of primoridla ooze. The possibility of panspermia bringing life to primordial Earth. Cowboy scientists just leaving alien goo everywhere.
No spoilers this week! Just looking at all the scientific discoveries of the past decade and how that has or hasn’t played into the scifi we’ve covered.
1. Privacy & Cyberpunk
… and the illusion thereof. Snowden and the shattering of the illusion of privacy in the digital age. The world becoming the less awesome-looking irl version of cyberpunk. Workers as a resources. Torture toilets.
2. Machine learning
The biggest huge development in the pats decade which underlies every other things. Wowzers. Realizing the importance of the data going in, so you don’t get racist policing or image recognition. The availability of open tools, compute time, and learning resources.
3. Genetic editing
CRISPR! What will eventually result from this one?
Water on Mars! So much more water than we thought. Greater accuracy in portrayals of space settlement. Increasing private industry in space.
Hey, an update on Einstein: still correct! Also… Gravity waves! Higgs-Boson! Imaging a black hole. The contributions of computing and storage technologies.
39. Human history
Confirmation of Sapiens and Neanderthal interbreeding in remaining modern humans. Discovering more extinct human varieties.
What happened to AR glasses!? The state of wearables. Recognizing that there are senses to augment other than our visual system.
The best genre of Star Wars media? Brandishing yourself. Old west forced sack removal.
Werner Herzog’s surprising(?) praise. “Real filmmaking” in the wake of the prequel trilogies. Wooden green-screen acting vs sweet puppets and actual human beings. Unreal Engine LED walls and volumetric projection and camera tracking.
Our new mythology
Star Wars as our new shared cultural mythology the world over. Concern about disney’s stewardship and the private ownership of our cultural heritage. Streamboat Willie entering The Commons.
Some past famous Mandalorians, this particular Mandalorian, and martial prowess. Mandalorian history and why the Mandalorians are the only ones who figured out how to fight the space wizards for some reason?
Pooping space. Weightless waste elimination can be tricky. Floating turds.
Freezing in carbonite
Cryostasis. Cryopreservation. Avoiding ice crystals. Replacing blood with “antifreeze”
Taking the most depressing angle on droid consciousness and freedom (or lack thereof). And then to make it worse: DRM!
Extra-long postnatal development. Big brains and incomplete gestation. Cuteness. Animatronics.
The Mandalorian: Disney+
Star Wars Meta: How to Star Wars, machete order, and the best Star Wars fan edit: Decipher SciFi
Star Wars: the death star, planet science, and appreciating the original Star Wars trilogy: Decipher SciFi
The Last Jedi: FTL ramming, salt geology, and real green milk: Decipher SciFi
Wow there some really good movies in 1995! Geiger alien designs. Not “Alien,” but “alien.” This time, with nipples.
Forrest Whitaker. Chris’s history of eyelid laziness variability. Being either a dolphin or a flamingo. Eye farts?
The Arecibo Message
The limited utility of sending messages to aliens 25,000 light years away. The Arecibo Message sent in 1974 toward the M13 globular cluster. A cluster containiner millions of stars. 1679 bits: not a lot of bits!
Von Neumann trolls. Self-assembling bootstrapping biological systems. What if DNA is very common across life in the universe?
How to combine biological containment and prisoner containment. Lots of “fire” buttons. Biocontainment protocols. Integrating what we’ve learned from prison-escape movies. Considering the Magneto-vault.
Vulvic wall-pods. What the hell even is up with cocoons anyway? Cocoons are basically alien material already. The “soup method” of metamorphosis.
We redid our Patreon tiers! Check it out!: Patreon
The future “language” in the film. The difference between accent and dialect. how languages change over time, by example. Trying to understand original spoken Shakespeare and generally succeeding. Trying to understand original spoken Beowulf and completely failing. The mutual intelligibility of Old Norse and Old English.
Surprise! There are aliens and they want to kill us. Engineered animal-weapons (the “Ursa”). Improving the Ursa design: giving guns to blind animals for fun and profit. Komodo dragon-mode leeches. Evolving from parasite to hunter. The combat techniques of butt-spiking murderbirds (shrikes).
“Smelly handshakes.” Mammary pheromone response in human infants. Getting used to stinky things. Tales of accidental moth pheromone pranks.
Surprising evolutionary directions in the absence of humanity. Even a thousand years later, baboons still don’t appreciate getting hit with rocks.
The dangers of low atmospheric oxygen. Using the top of Everest as marker for O2 danger. Climbing Everest in shorts.
In Our Time – Pheromones: BBC
“Butchering Bird” (the shrike): YouTube
Eddie Izzard “Babies on spikes” bit without any context: YouTube
Lion scent-marking with non-scientific audio: YouTube
All the important parts, wherever they are! Who really cares anyway we’re only here for two in particular: the iris and the retina. The retinal blind spot.
And intelligent design. Are wrong. Reaching conclusions and working backwards for fun and profit. Young Earth creationism. Dan’s religious upbringing. Irreducible complexity. Faulty reasoning.
The evolution of the modern vertebrate eyeball
Fish and their goofy eyeball arrangements. The crazy Charlie eyeball progress chart. Light sensitive flat patches, pits, enclosures, open pinhole eyeballs, lenses, and flexing your sphincters. Dan’s episode on Three-D Vision.
Comparative eyeball studies
Human eyes are pretty sweet! But there other ones that do other things (at their own local summits on Mount Improbable) and are also really good at stuff! Goats, sharks, snakes (sorta), bees. Removing your lenses for fun and profit. Monet’s lens removal and ultraviolet perception.
Common “colorblindness” is a misnomer, but “color discernment syndrome” doesn’t flow as well. Retinal wiring and the “blind spot.” Saccades. “Chronostasis” or “the stopped clock illusion” and the tight coupling of our eyes and our brains.
Selecting scanning sites for statistical uniqueness and natural resistance to hacking. The insufficiency of fingerprints. Iris scans. Retinal scans. Bio-identification security. Ease of use.
Rationalism/spiritualism/etc. The rational scientific worldview and self-correction. The absolution of new knowledge.
Domestication. Plants and animals. Bending chosen qualities to better human use.
Watermelon as of The Renaissance. Yay selective breeding! We win!
Implicit and explicit communication channels. Dog human body language-reading. Data connections and cloudy signal processing. Adaptation of dog body-design to robots. The small design effort required to get people to treat a robot animal like an animal.
The difference between industrial and military flamethrowers. An unpleasant, sticky material: napalm and napalm-like products!
The economics of leaving Earth. Settling the inner and outer solar system. The Expanse. Space cattle and other space resources (water, mineral).
Garbage – in spaaace!
Garbage in space aka space junk. Cleaning up space junk. Giant nets as a major cleanup strategy.
Garbage – on Eaaaarth!
Modern waste management. What to do with municipal solid waste. Leachate. The difference between dumps and landfills and the interesting energy-reclamation technology involved in cutting edge WTE facilities.
Massive plastic appreciation. How plastics ushered in the modern world. A lament for wasteful use of “disposable” plastic products. Microplastics in the water. Biodegradable plastics. The discovery of plastic-eating bacteria. Speeding up nature to digest plastic now. The coming plague of plastic-eating bacteria.
This isn’t a thing! There’s no end point that is being retreated from – life just adapts to pressures, ongoing.
Revisiting our past failures. Combating cynicism by just kind of ignoring it.