Government seeks sci-fi antiterrorism insight
In effort to broaden its thinking about terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security is tapping into the thinking of a group of science fiction authors called Sigma, according to USA Today.
“We need to look everywhere for ideas, and science fiction writers clearly inform the debate,” said department spokesman Christopher Kelly.
Science fiction authors are often prone to flights of extreme fancy, but they can be good prognosticators. Indeed, in the novel Footfall, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the government assembles a group of science fiction writers to seek their counsel about an alien invasion. Pournelle and Niven are in the group.
According to USA Today, author Greg Bear said the group brainstorms about methods of attack and prevention as well as the governmental and social responses to attacks.
Sigma’s motto is “science fiction in the national interest,” and authors must have a doctorate in a technical field to join.
A 19-year-old virgin walks into a bar. He’s got his lucky cross in his pocket and his best jersey on. Please God, he says to himself, let this be the night. He spies a girl sitting at a table—blonde, wholesome-looking, just his type. He sidles up closer to the girl, who is chatting with some friends. Over the din, he can make out snippets of her conversation: at Bible study the other night … Pastor Ted says … saving it for marriage. Discouraged, he walks away in search of a more promising target.
Did he make the correct decision? Or did he make a hasty judgment and miss a chance for a possible love connection? The answer to such a question can be found in Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The book is a serious work of sociology based on several comprehensive surveys of young adults, coupled with in-depth interviews. But it could also double as a guide for teenage boys on the prowl (who’s easier, a Catholic girl or a Jew?) or for parents of teenage girls worrying about what will happen if their daughters keep skipping church.
Regnerus goes to some length to justify his unusual pairing of subjects. Most researchers of youth behavior tend to ignore the influence of religion, he argues, and instead focus on other factors—parental input, peer pressure, race, or socioeconomic status. But sex is one area where religion has a strong impact, at least on attitudes. When academics do consider religion, they tend to make lazy assumptions that religious communities are inherently conservative, universally condemn sex, and encourage abstinence. Regnerus complicates the picture by examining the varying attitudes of different religious communities. And while sex surveys are notoriously unreliable, his great innovation is to compare conservative attitudes with actual practices. Link
This project starts from the unique argument that time really is the fourth spatial dimension. This “new way of thinking about time and space” is not the traditional position of mainstream science (which says that time is not a full dimension, but rather a quality that is overlaid on the other three dimensions of space to create “spacetime”). Still, many people feel this new idea has resonances with their own ways of understanding reality.
While we all love breweries, we now have a reason to, other than the obvious. Foster’s is using the waste water left behind from beer to create, among other things, batteries. While this sounds like an idea some drunk guy came up with, the invention came from some scientists in Australia and Germany who worked together with Foster’s Brewery to conduct a study that found that waste water from breweries can be used to make what is being called a ‘beer battery.”
“Brewery waste water is particularly desirable for such an experiment because it’s biodegradable,” says Professor Jrg Keller of the University of Queensland. Foster’s beer battery could spawn similar inventions to be used in the food and beverage industry, which generates a lot of organic waste.
How it Works:
The beer battery uses bacteria that consumes water to create power. The bacteria eats up the water’s organic matter, which breaks down sugar, alcohol and starch. The earth-friendly byproducts created by this are clean water, carbon dioxide and electricity.
Although the concept is certainly interesting, it isn’t exactly new. There is actually another brewery that is already using a similar concept. Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery already uses bacteria to purify its waste water and the byproduct produced is methane. The brewery is already doing its part to help the environment by using mostly wind power to create the energy that it needs.
The cell will be working by September and will probably produce around two kilowatts of energy, which is enough to keep an average household going. In addition to making women look hotter, it looks like we’ll be thanking beer for making our world a little greener. Link