science

Decipher SciFi decadal review

Decade in Review: privacy, computing everything, and torture toilets

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?

4. Space

Water on Mars! So much more water than we thought. Greater accuracy in portrayals of space settlement. Increasing private industry in space.

5. Physics

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.

53. Technology

What happened to AR glasses!? The state of wearables. Recognizing that there are senses to augment other than our visual system.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker movie backdrop

The Rise of Skywalker: the force, fan service, and blade-based wayfinding

Whoops, a movie review

So the movie didn’t put in any cool science things and the only thing left to do is review it and talk about… feelings? Different viewing experiences between opening night and subsequent viewings.

Franchises

Fan service. Coherent extended story arcs. Reconsidering the prequel triloges in light of the new one. Indie IP ownership with one person in charge vs Disney. Realizing what a truly satisfying job disney did with Marvel. What made Star Wars different?

Oy vey

Bending over backwards to justify fantasy events, and how movies can deserve this treatment. Bringing in The Emperor at the end. Bringing back Leia with scraps of cut scenes and lots of over-the-shoulder conversation shots.

Exagol

How to hide a planet. How to hide a planet engaging in major empire-level engineering and construction projects. Hiding your Sith shipyard.

Tech

Technological stagnation. Miniaturization. Bad ways to encode spatial information. Knife-based wayfinding.

People

C3PO software limitations and an argument in favor of Free Software. Probably maybe lobotomizing your long-time companion without deliveration. The sith ecclesiastical cult language. Pointless characters. The writer explains how Rose got mostly cut from the film.

The Force

Force diads. Beavis and Butthead candy sale force-healing math. Adam Driver doing all the acting.

The Saga – Star Wars with Tommy Wiseau – The full story: YouTube

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Ad Astra: nuclear spaceships, the edge of the solar system, and space monkeys

Science…?!

Some things are more art than science sometimes.

Structures anchored to geostationary orbit

“Space antennas” but what kind of signal would benefit from this design? X-Rays? Why would this not be better off in orbit? The structure sure looks a lot like a space elevator. Space elevators and geostationary orbital masses.

Falling from space

It’s hard to steer without sufficient atmospheric density. Felix Baumgartner’s jump “from space.”

High energy blasting

Antimatter nonsense. Our increasing fragility in the face of an unlucky coronal mass ejection. Protecting infrastructure both inside and increasingly outside our atmosphere.

Moon settlement

Moon surface settlements vs moon gateways vs embarking to The Moon from low Earth orbit. Awesome moon buggy chases. Pirates!

Mars settlement

Communicating with and from Mars. Interplanetary distance and comms speed. Building settlements within Martian or Lunar lava tubes.

The heliopause

Finding the “edge” of our star system. Difference in concentration of high energy particles.

SETI

Looking for signs of life around other stars. Taking pictures of black holes. Planet-sized telescopes. The absurd distances from Earth to other stars. Vegemite in Australia. Absent of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Nuclear spaceships

Project Orion. Blowing up your spaceship because it doesn’t have a nuclear bomb-ready push plate.

Ad Astra: iTunes | Amazon

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Thor Dark World: Finnish-ish, amphetamines, and weaponized gravity

Background

Looking back after the culmination of all these threads in Endgame. Queen Amidala’s midichlorian magical umbrella.

Language

Thor knowing All-Tongue, emitting pheromones, and doing the bee dance. The difficutly of universal language or language understanding. Finnishish conlanging. The cultural and linguistic juxtaposition between Scandinavia and Finland.

Alignment of worlds

Astrology is bunkum nonsense gobbledegook. The miniscule and generally unimportant effects when bodies in space are “in alignment.”

“Magic”

Our difficulties with magical realism. Asgardian “Smagic.” Apparent technology levels and technology so advanced it looks like magic. Bringing swords and shields to a lasergun fight.

Battle stimulation

Dosing for war. Uppers are very popular. The Finnish soldier who was the “first documented case of a soldier over overdosing on methamphetamines during combat.”

Black holes etc

“Gravity grenades.” The possibility of man-made miniature black holes.

Vikings

“Viking burials” but not like you thought. Tumuli/barrows/kurgans. Horned helmets.

Links

Thor The Dark World: iTunes | Amazon
Guardians of the Galaxy: Decipher SciFi
Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Decipher SciFi
Avengers Infinity War: Decipher SciFi
Black Panther: Decipher SciFi
Avengers Endgame: Decipher SciFi

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The Mandalorian: modern mythology, space toilets, and hairy rhinos

Western

The best genre of Star Wars media? Brandishing yourself. Old west forced sack removal.

“Real filmmaking”

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.

Mandalorians

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?

Poop!

Pooping space. Weightless waste elimination can be tricky. Floating turds.

Freezing in carbonite

Cryostasis. Cryopreservation. Avoiding ice crystals. Replacing blood with “antifreeze”

Robo slavery

Taking the most depressing angle on droid consciousness and freedom (or lack thereof). And then to make it worse: DRM!

Baby Yoda

Extra-long postnatal development. Big brains and incomplete gestation. Cuteness. Animatronics.

Hairy rhinos!

Elasmotherium. Whooly rhinos. Hiary…. eggs? Historical rhinos. Rhino evolution. Balut.

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

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Men in Black International: Eiffel, backfilling memory, space hacking

Eiffel

LPT: you can get pommes frites in Europe. Could Eiffel have been an agent? The history of the Eiffel tower. The Eiffel Tower’s science history. Cosmic rays. Wireless telepraphy (radio). Outliving its intended lifespan.

Aliens

Which government agency should you be applying to in order to research alien stuff? Remembering the MiB is an NGO.

Space tracking

Increasing ability to track nearby space objects. Tracking objects in our solar system’s plane. The difficulty of tracking interstellar objects. Being a good space neighbor. Confirmed tracked interstellar objects. Failing to pronounce “ʻOumuamua.”

justin: dude
Danzig lives next door to me in l.a.
down the street
and he is the worst neighbor ever

justin: so he has this huge pile of bricks in his front yard
and the house looks like an evil pixar house
so anyway, his neighbor was like, “dude, danzig your bringing property values down with these bricks in your yard.”
and danzig was pissed
so anyway, back and forth with his neighbor and danzig
and finally one day
i see danzig outside
in his front yard
and he’s hurling bricks into this drumpster and he’s screaming, “HERE I AM MOTHERFUCKER, JUST CLEANING UP MY FUCKING BRICKS BITCH!”
Just super loud
to no one in particular
for two hours
it was amazing
like, i couldn’t even think about other things
because it was so amazing

me: oh my god
this is amazing

justin: dude
it blew my mind
because it was danzig as just a really poor homeowner

Space security

Hacking satellites! Actually totally possible and has happened. Air Force satellites at DEFCON. DDoS in space. The possibilities for catastrophy in hacking things in space. The many ways an attacker could damage or destroy our space telescopes.

Stars!

Blue giants! They’re rather large, and luminous. And hot. Capturing star energy. Kardashev scales.

Memory

The tendency of our minds to backfill missing information. Using neuralizers without providing a cover story is probably actually good enough, really.

Links

Men in Black: human gestation, stimulants, and Earth as backwater w/ Liam ginty: Decipher SciFi
Isaac Arthur: YouTube

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The Predator: glistening biceps, savant syndrome, and first contact w/ Josh Effengee

Featuring guest co-host
Josh from LSG Media headshotJosh from LSG Media

Action heroes

Glistening, rippling man-meat. Sweaty pecs. Aggressive handshakes with biceps the size of coconuts. Longing for the good old days. Feeling unjustified disappointment when our heroes aren’t giant walking meat monsters. The inapplicability of the bodybuilder physique to actually getting hero stuff done. Bodylifting.

Savantism

“Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average” –Wiki. As opposed to someone just simply being awesome at something. Josh’s recent related coverage from The X-Files Podcast @ LSG Media. Acquired savantism. Aptitude for… alien user interfaces? Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.

Nerddom

Chess club vs computer club. Afterschool D&D. Duke Nukem and Team Fortress LAN parties at school.

Predator

Predator vs prey. Linguistically, should they be called “predator” if they hunt mainly for sport? “Predator” as a label for a biological relationship in which one creatures hunts and eats another for sustenance. The deadliest cat in the world. Humans as top “predator.” How to judge top predator when the line is not so clear cut.

Alien contact

Survey of movie alien contact scenarios and what they reveal about us. Energy required for interstellar travel and the likelihood anyone will happen by by accident. Government secrecy. Zip tie budgets and how to keep an alien captive. irl tranquilizer dart use and the inherent dangers. Why not to shoot yourself with an alien tranquilizer dose.

Building the megapredator

Selecting desirable traits from around the cosmos. Leave enough room for my stomach. Spinal juice collection. Gene manipulation. Selecting for intellectual traits: competitive science. Interpretive flex-dancing to enable armor modes.

Predator-killer

Reasonable solutions to the predator problem. The fix for climate change (fusion?). Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator integrated with The Predator, Aliens, and Blade Runner. How awesome was the original predator?

Links:

Josh is on other shows at LSG Media!: Science Fiction Film Podcast, The X-Files Podcast
Meet the Deadliest Cat on the Planet: YouTube

Upgrade 2018 movie backdrop

Upgrade: biohacking, AI containment, and paralyzation workarounds

Image enhancement

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.

Paralyzation workarounds

Well, breaking your spinal chord sure seems to suck. Spinal breaks and the autonomic nervous system. Bodily control via brain-machine interface.

Transhumanism

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.

Links

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Rampage: gorilla sign language, classic gaming, and the square cube law

Classic arcade gaming

Memories of the arcade and the Sega Game Gear. Introduction of Larry the Rat in the Atari Lynx port. How to pick from current social fears for your lazy game plot.

Zero-G research

Genetics research in spaaaaaace. CRISPR. Bremen Drop Tower.

Gorilla sign language

Koko the gorilla. Gorilla sign language. Credulity and confirmation bias. Impressive gorilla lexicons. Adventures in signing portmanteus. Yogurt aka “milkfruitcandy food.”

Animal fights

Comparing the gorilla to the grizzly bear. Relative animal size. Grizzly bears as killing machine. Gorilla conflict-avoidance techniques.

Scaling animals

The square-cube law! Relative scaling and the race between volume and surface area (volume always wins!). The creation of a bio antenna. The relatively low energy of radio waves.

Mutations, mutations, mutations

Gorilla turns into giant gorilla. Lizard turns into mega lizard. Wolf, though, turns into a wolf… with patagia and throwable quills! Possibly resembling the urticating hairs of a tarantula.

simpsons bolivian tree lizard clip

Links

How to Make an Elephant Explode with Science by Kurtzgesagt: YouTube
Zero-G Experiments on Earth: The Bremen Drop Tower by Tom Scott: YouTube
Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday by The Onion: YouTube

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Extinction: space stealth, leaving Earth, and the evolution of consciousness

Spoiler alerts

Special conditions requiring primary and secondary warnings.

Robots

How to tell if you are a robot? New Study Finds Best Way To Determine If You Are Android Still Cutting Open Forearm To Reveal Circuitry Within. Self-delusion and mass self-delusion.

Earthvacuation

Earth is really well-tuned for our needs (or is it the other way around?), and humans should try to maintain this as a base of operations if at all possible.

Surviving outside of Earth

Key resources on Mars and elsewhere in the solar system (outside of Earth). Iron for bullets. Rocket fuel.

Stealth in space

There is no stealth in space. Trying to hide from Earth (on Mars). Difficulties in hiding propulsion, light-blocking, and infrared emission. Hiding “in” the sun.

Attacking Earth

Shock and awe vs the impossibility of stealth. Why a nuclear EMP attack might not be a great idea. Throw a rock at it.

Zap Brannigan style

Evolving consciousness

Evolved consciousness in Earth life. The possibility of consciousness emerging in “artificial” life. Attention Schema Theory. Central processing of separate signal enhancement.

Links

Real Quick: LSG Media
What is Consciousness? by Vsauce: YouTube