Today M.E. (Mysterious Explorer) send to me this.
Original title: Close encounters of the third kind.
Title of this edition: Encuentros en la tercera fase.
Author: Steven Spielberg.
Gender: Fantasy / Science Ficction.
Editorial: Ediciones Grijalbo, S.A.
Edition year: 1, 1978.
Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: First encounter between humans and an extraterrestrial race. They come to earth and appear as sounds in the sky, lights… and they select a group of people to make the contact. The place, Devil’s tower in Wyoming. The book tells the story of Roy Neary, and electrical engineer selected by the aliens to go to the encounter. His mind is full of visions of the Devil’s tower and he has to go there. The government, with a special department, has been hunting down the signals and has everything prepared in the landing site to welcome the aliens. Rather than a military force, the place is full of scientist whiling to learn. The aliens want some astronauts to go with them and in exchange they released people gathered on earth along many years. No one has aged.
Personal Review: Despite been one of the best films made by Spielberg, I only watch it very recently, and it took me this long to read the book, which by the way is a copy of the film.
Honestly, the story has very few weak points. However, there is some. One of them is the aliens and humans breathing the same air. Chances are we will breath different gases combinations, we were used to different pressures, and most important, we will be exposed to each others virus and bacteria. So, aliens or humans without astronaut suits… no.
Second point is the combination of music and colours used to communicate. It looks colourful and good for a movie, but honestly, the movie Contact is much better in this topic. In Contact they use prime numbers to stablish communication and then they continue with very basic symbols to communicate with maths (i.e. one point, two points… one point plus two points equals three points… and so on).
The last thing is manipulating minds. It looks like the kind of “power” aliens can have… however, there is no evidence it can be done at all. For instance, in the movie Abyss, they do the same and in the book it gets a decent explanation, the aliens create nano filaments that enter the human brains and manipulate emotions. At least, it is possible to release some chemicals and induce happiness, sadness… and many other emotions.
So, what is good in the book? The fact that there is no dark side, from the government and from the aliens, everything is friendly and the emotion comes from the surprise. This is a good change in these kind of movies, and somehow is the formula that Spielberg repeats in E.T. In fact, there is more echoes in E.T. from here, the fact that aliens manipulate minds, the disk shaped spaceship with lots of lights, the naked aliens which can breath our air… The “friendly” government, and a normal human which is selected to make the contact. Also, which is good is that there is no other similar movies and this one doesn’t focus on the aliens and answering questions. This is a key thing in science fiction movies, don’t answer questions and focus the story not in the technology or the aliens but in the human beings and their emotions.
In conclusion, it is a good book for reading when there is nothing else you can do, but nothing more than what we see in the movie, hence there is nothing to win by reading it, better to watch the movie if it is possible. Focusing on the story, it is family friendly and that is a good change, and by not answering the questions it creates the necessity of keep reading it.
Original title: Analog: Science fiction and fact (March 2009).
Title of this edition: Analog: Science fiction and fact (March 2009).
Author: David Bartell, Jerry Craven, Carl Frederick, Robert J. Sawyer.
Gender: Fantasy / Science Ficction.
Saga: Analog : Science fiction and fact.
Editorial: Orion Books.
Edition year: 1, 2009.
Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: As the title suggest, this journal is composed of science fiction stories and facts. I will only write about the science fiction here.
Cavernauts (David Bartell): The exploration of the moon Callisto has lead to the discovery of one of the biggest caves in the solar system. Now it is the task of two cavernauts to go there and rescue the last patrol. While going deep into the cave, they discover that the cave is being drained trying to find diamonds.
After the first death (Jerry Craven): Something has happened to the exploratory patrol and now it is time for Clayborune to try finding them. Prosecuted by the native extraterrestrial race, Claybourne is forced to join them in a ritual. After the ritual, he discovers that what happens to the exploratory patrol was that they become trees. They reach a level of immortality, but sacrificing their conscience and ability to move. He has to escape, but because of the ritual, he is becoming a tree himself. In the end he manges to scape and discovers that it was all a worm that modifies the host to suit his necessities.
Lifespeed (Carl Frederick): A fencer and scientist discovers a substance that can accelerate the neural processes within the brain and hence make you react faster and as a consequence, is like the world moves slower. This allows him to be a better fencer, but at the cost of a boring life (everything just happens too slow).
Wake: Conclusion (Robert J. Sawyer): Caitlin is a blind girl with genius level at maths. Now, by using a experimental device, she is able to see again, but the device also enables her to “see” the web and to communicate with a conscience being that has arisen in the background of the net.
Personal Review: Before commenting about the individual stories, just to mention that this journal belongs to the BookCrossing initiative, so it will be back to where I pick it up and it will be available for more people to read it.
Cavernauts (David Bartell): I like this story for two reasons, the first one is that it doesn’t try to explain the difficult bits, like space engines or how to get to Callisto, and the other one is that it explains a lot about cave exploration. So, it is has a good balance that makes you enjoy it and feel like a real cavernaut (after all, if you are a cavernaut, you will probably know a lot about cave exploration and nothing about how spaceships works, which makes sense). It is nice also that the story includes references to internet and how everybody is connected 24h 7 days a week. However, it fails to anticipate some kind of cave mapping like for instance the one used in Prometheus.
Such kind of systems is currently being used in consoles and is becoming more and more popular, so it doesn’t require too much speculation to anticipate its use in a situation like the one described in the book.
After the first death (Jerry Craven): This books reminds me about old Sci-Fi movies, where a rocket is sent to unexplored territory with a team of brave people inside. What I’m trying to say, is that the “unexplored” situation is quite difficult to achieve. Before ever approaching another planets, it is expected to send probes, satellites and even robots. Later on, when it comes the time to face-to-face encounters (which might be very dangerous due to virus, chemical incompatibilities and even bacteria…), it will be only under very restrictive protocols. For instance, right now, despite we know there might be liquid water on Mars, the robots are not allowed to go find it, because they might carry earth micro-organisms that can contaminate that water.
Lifespeed (Carl Frederick): The brain main element is the neuron. Communication between neurons takes place through diffusion of chemical entities called neurotransmitters. Communication inside a single neuron takes place through an electrical pulse which is generated by change in ions concentration inside an ion channel. This two methods are not bad when executed a couple of times, but when they are repeated a thousand times, or when they require to travel a long distance, then they are extremely slow. That is the reason for the existence of myelin. Myelin covers part of the axon and basically speeds up the electrical pulses through the axon.
So, since this myelin cover in the axons is what affects more the speed of the signals, then it is not a bad idea trying to change it for another material that speeds up signals even more. This is quite complicated, and I’m not sure if there is anything else compatible with the est of the chemical reactions within the brain, but if there is another substance, then changing the myelin will need a gene therapy, since it is encoded in the genes what covers the axons. So, in principle, it might be possible, but extremely complicated. It will be something possible only through a massive team and collaborations between several groups, certainly not something a single scientist can do alone without anybody knowing what he is doing.
Wake: Conclusion (Robert J. Sawyer): This is only the last episode of a much bigger story, but is fine since there is a synopsis of what happened before. I would say that most of the blindness problems arise from lack of communication between the eye and the brain, hence more than needing a new eye, what is needed is an implant to close the gap. However, this is faster said than done, it requires to connect nerves to electronic devices, and that is not easy. On the other side, communication between an electrode and a nerve is being studied at the moment and we might by only a couple of years away from achieving it.
So, the eyePod part is ok… but sending the data back to Japan from United States will create such a big delay that the devices will not be functional (even with signals travelling at the speed of light it will add about 80 ms delay just fro travelling plus the time spent in the network nodes).
This problem with speed opens what might be the biggest problem with a conscious mind in the “back of the network”. This entity will be much more slower than a human (even if it is more intelligent). It is difficult to quantify how much slower, but it will take light about 120 ms to travel around the world. That is a significant part of a second, and it will take several signals to cross the world only for synchronization (which is an important part of how the brain works).
So, the eyePod part is ok, the conscience mind living in the network, despite being used quite a lot in novels… sounds quite impossible. At least as something that can think as we do or even faster. It could be more intelligent, but it will be slower.
With Fallout 4 being released on 11th November, Bethesda has released instructional videos to explain how the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute system works. They where released one at a time, but now that all of them are out, you can see them here.
Tomorrow will be the day when Doc and Marty travels to the future…
… and in order to celebrate, Toyota has released very funny commercials reuniting them together once again.
However, it is not the only taking advantage of this. Pepsi is also releasing a special bottle.
Nike made the Nike Mag after people claiming for them.
And of course, there has been many attempts of Hover boards.
If you know of some other things made after the film, share!
By the way. Will the Cubs win as predicted? They are pretty close…
… Planetary Vehicles
… Yoda Quotes
Now it is possible to embed 360º videos on Facebook, and to mark this achievement, Lucasfilm has prepared a video to advertise their new Star Wars movie The force awakens. Here it is.
Today M.E. (Mysterious Explorer) send to me this.