Filed under: Apollo program, Arthur C. Clarke, movies, NASA, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Science Fiction, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, humor, jim downey, Moon, movies, Open Culture, predictions, Science Fiction, space, technology, www youtube
As the Open Culture post says:
The Apollo 11 moon landing would, of course, come just three years later. A Look Behind the Future reflects the enterprising if square technological optimism of that era, a tone that perhaps hasn’t aged quite as well as the haunting, bottomlessly ambiguous film it pitches.
Filed under: Amazon, Apollo program, Astronomy, BoingBoing, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Mars, movies, NASA, Paleo-Future, Politics, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Space, tech, Travel, Wales | Tags: Amazon, Apollo, ars technica, blogging, BoingBoing, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, jim downey, Kindle, Mars, movies, NASA, politics, predictions, promotion, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, technology, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, travel, Venus
Imagine three astronauts, 125 million miles from the Earth, talking to Mission Control with a four-minute time lag. They have seen nothing out their windows but stars in the blackness of space for the last 150 days. With a carefully timed burn, they slow into orbit around Venus, and as they loop around the planet, they get their first look at its thick cloud layer just 7,000 miles below.
It might sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, but in the late 1960s, NASA investigated missions that would send humans to Venus and Mars using Apollo-era technology. These missions would fly in the 1970s and 1980s to capitalize on what many expected would be a surge of interest in manned spaceflight after the Apollo lunar landings. They would be daring missions, but they would also be feasible with what was on hand.
Somewhat surprisingly, I don’t remember this at all. Though of course these were just “proof of concept” studies which were put together for NASA. Still, they were fairly well thought-out, as the article on ars technica demonstrates. As is often the case, technological limitations are less of an absolute factor in accomplishing something than economic/political limitations are. To borrow from a favorite old movie: “You wouldn’t believe what we did. It’s possible. It’s just hard work.”
What isn’t hard work? Getting entered into the drawing for a leather-bound copy of Communion of Dreams. Full details here. Yesterday’s Kindle promotion pushed us over 500 copies of the electronic version given away this month, and that puts the total number of copies out there somewhere in the neighborhood of 26,000. There are already 65 reviews posted to Amazon. Yet so far only 9 people have entered the drawing. You have until midnight this coming Saturday.
Filed under: Connections, DARPA, Guns, H. G. Wells, Mars, Music, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, tech, YouTube | Tags: blogging, DARPA, H.G. Wells, Jeff Wayne, jim downey, laser, literature, Martians, music, predictions, science, Science Fiction, technology, Thunderchild, War of the Worlds, www youtube
A news item you may have seen:
Very soon the U.S. Military will be fitting some of their fighter jets with real laser weapons. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) says that the new laser system will be fitted onto jet aircraft in 2014 as a defensive weapon capable of knocking out missiles and other projectiles while in flight.
If you’ve been waiting for the future to finally get here, just go ahead and mark your calendar for 2014. It was recently announced that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would be retrofitting some U.S. military jets with actual 150KW lasers that will be able to knock missiles out of the sky.
The new laser weapons are part of DARPA’s High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System and are purportedly being fitted as a defensive measure specifically for knocking projectiles out of the sky such as surface-to-air missiles or any type of larger projectile. The exact specifics of the system’s capability are still classified.
This may … ring a bell:
Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men. It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire.
Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.
I stood staring, not as yet realizing that this was death leaping from man to man in that little distant crowd. All I felt was that it was something very strange. An almost noiseless and blinding flash of light, and a man fell head-long and lay still; and as the unseen shaft of heat passed over them, pine-trees burst into fire, and every dry furze-bush became with one dull thud a mass of flames. And far away towards Knaphill I saw the flashes of trees and hedges and wooden buildings suddenly set alight.
It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat.
Small wonder that I’ve had this song kicking around in my head, from what is probably a largely-forgotten concept album 35 years old.
Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Civil Rights, Connections, Expert systems, Government, Marketing, movies, Paleo-Future, Philip K. Dick, Predictions, Privacy, Psychic abilities, Science Fiction, Society, tech | Tags: blogging, civil liberties, corruption, Facewatch, jim downey, literature, Philip K. Dick, police, privacy, Science Fiction, surveillance, technology, The Minority Report, video
I’ve mentioned Philip K. Dick, his genius and his influence on my writing, previously. And I’ve specifically written about his short story The Minority Report in the context of the UK’s plunge into becoming a surveillance society.
Well, even Philip K. Dick had his limitations. He was a man of his time, and couldn’t foresee just how powerful and widespread computing power and expert systems would become. Powerful enough that now it is routine for such systems to mimic one of the human brain’s best tricks: facial recognition. To wit:
Remember, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. Unless, you know, you worry about abuses committed by others using such a powerful surveillance tool.
Nah, *that’d* never happen, would it?
Filed under: Art, Humor, Jupiter, Man Conquers Space, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Science Fiction, SETI, Space | Tags: humor, predictions, Science Fiction, space, travel
It’s been a while, how about a little “paleo-future” fun?
Frank R. Paul was an illustrator of US pulp magazines in the science fiction field. He was born in Vienna, Austria… Frank R. Paul was influential in defining what both cover art and interior illustrations in the nascent science fiction pulps of the 1920s looked like.
That’s from a post a couple years ago which is quite delightful — though a bit dated (they even include Pluto as a planet, imagine!) — that you should check out: http://ubersuper.com/retro-futurism/
Filed under: Government, movies, Nuclear weapons, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Science Fiction, Terrorism, YouTube
About a year before I was born, the Strategic Air Command had a little movie made for training purposes. Here’s a nice clip from it:
And here’s a bit explaining the story behind the movie:
Washington, D.C., February 19, 2011 – “The Power of Decision” may be the first (and perhaps the only) U.S. government film depicting the Cold War nightmare of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. The U.S. Air Force produced it during 1956-1957 at the request of the Strategic Air Command. Unseen for years and made public for the first time by the National Security Archive, the film depicts the U.S. Air Force’s implementation of war plan “Quick Strike” in response to a Soviet surprise attack against the United States and European and East Asian allies. By the end of the film, after the Air Force launches a massive bomber-missile “double-punch,” millions of Americans, Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are dead.
60 million American casualties, actually, when all was said and done. And that was the “winning” scenario.
Is it any wonder that much of the popular culture (and the science fiction) of the time was concerned with dystopian futures, frequently involving apocalyptic nuclear war? It truly was a form of MADness.
And we came a lot closer to that actually happening on several occasions that most people realize. I’m not going to bother to dig up all the references, but in addition to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Yom Kippur War there were multiple instances of false alerts due to mechanical and communications failures which came to light following the end of the Cold War.
Is it any wonder that I have a hard time getting too worked up about the threat of ‘terrorism’? When you grew up expecting a nuclear holocaust, the prospect of random bombings doesn’t seem that big a deal.