Science Fiction Authors About Science

Science fiction intimidates some. Perhaps, these quotes by science fiction authors about science might help dispel some of that.  Magic or Science? “Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.” Ray Bradbury-The Martian Chronicles  Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” Jules Vern-A Journey to the Center of the Earth “If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.” Ursula K. Le Guin Science is magic that works.” Kurt Vonnegut-Cat’s Cradle Why Science “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” Frank Herbert-Dune I think science fiction helps us think about possibilities, to speculate – it helps us look at our society from a different perspective. It lets us look at our mores, using science as the backdrop, as the game changer. Mae Jemison I, for one, bet on science as helping us. I have yet to see how it fundamentally endangers us, […]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Conservation Genetics is in the good, the bad, and the ugly spotlight. Conservation Genetics “aims to understand the dynamics of genes in populations principally to avoid extinction.” Clear as mud? An Example It may be easier to understand with an example. Conservation genetics aims to help endangered species, like African cheetahs. Today the existing 10,000 African cheetahs share 99 percent of their DNA. In other words, they’re all related. This means there is little genetic diversity. Low genetic diversity leads to a population that is highly susceptible to disease. Disease that could make the African cheetahs extinct. Scientists involved with cheetah breeding projects determine how closely related two cheetahs are. They want to reintroduce genetic variety into the population of cheetahs. So, they choose the ones that are the furthest apart genetically and breed those two together.  If they are successful, the cheetah population will grow. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/better-living-through-conservation-genetics/) Revive & Restore Revive and Restore is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to “enhance biodiversity through new techniques of genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.” One of their funded projects searches for the genomic trigger of bleaching the coral reefs. They say that this study has the “potential opportunity to […]

The Sorrow and Joy of the Last Page

The writer and the reader experience the sorrow and joy of the last page. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. A good book drives you to that last page then, if you’re like me you sit there, hugging the book and feeling lost. This feeling comes from what psychologist and other scientists call deep reading. Most of us make pictures in our minds. We experience sorrow and joy. Science has shown that our emotional reactions are close to the same emotions as the characters we read about. The deeper, the more intense the reading–the more we exercise our brain. We become more empathetic. There are people who are not natural readers. Shocking, I know. They don’t experience reading in the same way. But, they can improve their reading skills and enjoyment. Parents reading to children is a critical step in helping poor readers learn to enjoy reading more. It’s important to read because reading increases the white matter in our brain. (A brief discussion of the science can be found here.) Reading nonfiction doesn’t do quite the same thing. In studies, reading nonfiction lights different areas of the brain than reading fiction does. Not better areas, different. Our emotions aren’t […]