Human-ities · Science · Technology

Infotainment: The need for critical science journalism

The bulk of contemporary science journalism falls under the category of “infotainment”. This expression describes science writing that informs a non-specialist target audience about new scientific discoveries in an entertaining fashion. The “informing” typically consists of giving the reader some historical background surrounding the scientific study, summarises key findings and then describes the significance and implications of the research. Analogies are used to convey complex scientific concepts so that a reader without a professional scientific background can grasp the ideas driving the research.

Direct quotes from the researchers also help illustrate the motivations, relevance, and emotional impact of the findings. The entertainment component varies widely, ranging from an enticing or witty style of writing to the choice of the subject matter. Freaky copulation techniques in the animal kingdom, discoveries that change our views about the beginnings of the universe or of life, heart-warming stories about ailing children that might be cured through new scientific breakthroughs, sci-fi robots, quirky anecdotes or heroic struggles of the scientists involved in the research – these are examples of topics that will capture the imagination of the intended audience.

Written by Jalees Rehman, MD. Continue reading at The Guardian

Design · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Technology

Space Elevators: To the Moon and Back

“The space elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing,” said science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, a long time ago.

Today, standing, theoretically, on the cusp of significant breakthroughs in the field of space exploration and the tantalizing prospect of a “Star Trek”, “Star Wars” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”- like scenario, we find ourselves asking what became of an idea so revolutionary it threatened to transform all our lives into something more commonly seen in sci-fi/alien-shooter video games and films – the space elevator!

Written by Chandrashekar Srinivasan. Read at International Business Times

Digital Media · Games/Play · Motion Graphics · Performativity · Philosophy · Science · Technology

Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation

Kyle Munkittrick: Mass Effect is epic. It’s the product of the best parts of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and more with a protagonist who could be the love-child of Picard, Skywalker, and Starbuck. It’s one of the most important pieces of science fiction narrative of our generation. Mass Effect goes so far beyond other fictional universes in ways that you may not have yet realized. It is cosmic in scope and scale.

Sci-fi nerds have long debated over which fictional universe is the best. The Star Trek vs Star Wars contest is infamous into banality, with lesser skirmishes among fans of shows and books like Battlestar Galactica, Enders Game, Xenogenesis, Farscape, Dune, Firefly, Stargate, and others fleshing out the field. Don’t mistake this piece as another pointless kerfuffle among obsessive basement dwellers. Mass Effect matters because of its ability to reflect on our society as a whole.

Science fiction is one of the best forms of social satire and critique. Want to sneak in some absolutely scandalous social more, like, say, oh, I don’t know, a black woman into a position of power in the ‘60s? Put her on a starship command deck.

Most science fiction, even the epic universes in Star Wars and Star Trek, pick only two or three issues to investigate in depth. Sure, an episode here or a character there might nod to other concepts worthy of investigation, but the scope of the series often prevents the narrative from mining the idea for what it’s worth.

Mass Effect can and does take ideas to a new plane of existence. Think of the Big Issues in your favorite series. Whether it is realistic science explaining humanoid life throughout the galaxy, or dealing with FTL travel, or the ethical ambiguity of progress, or even the very purpose of the human race in our universe, Mass Effect has got it. By virtue of three simple traits – its medium, its message, and its philosophy – Mass Effect eclipses and engulfs all of science fiction’s greatest universes. Let me show you how.

Read Full Article at PopBioethics