Monthly Archives September 2021

The demons of science fiction

Science fiction is a wonderful genre. I am a huge fan of books describing possible futures for humanity. The best science fiction, like the works of Ursula Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson, approach the future as developing from combinations of human decisions on the one hand and the scarcity of resources and technological advances in somewhere else.

Aleksandr Gromov is one of the best-known post-Soviet science fiction writers. Although I often disagree with his worldview, I still find his books both intellectually stimulating and enjoyable to read. There are quite a few other excellent Russian writers in this genre. Evgenii Lukin, Vadim Shefner and Yulii Burkin, for example, combine science fiction and fantasy in imaginative representations of how human societies might develop.

Still, some late Soviet and post-Soviet fantasy or science fiction works make me uncomfortable. By tackling the resurgence of nationalism that accompanied the ideological and political collapse of the Soviet Union, they are falling back on anti-Semitic stereotypes. For example, in the works of Yuri Nikitin, Vadim Panov, and Vasilii Golovachev, the protagonists are portrayed as honest, hardworking, albeit somewhat naive Slavs, while the wicked are portrayed as devious individuals obsessed with money and determined to destroy society.

As Viktor Shnirelman, historian and ethnologist specializing in far-right myths and ideologies, noted in his 2018 study Three Myths of a Conspiracy: Antisemitic Propaganda in Contemporary Russia, this association of wickedness with Judaism at the late Soviet and post-Soviet years Sci-fi fantasy represents a disturbing trend: the use of non-traditional platforms to convey anti-Semitic ideas to a new generation of Russians.

According to Shinlerman, fiction, especially the sci-fi and fantasy genres, has become a practical way to circumvent Russian laws against public expressions of racist views. After all, the idea of ​​suing someone for creating a make-believe world populated by a greedy, hook-nosed humanoid species or for using racial epitaphs to describe the long-extinct Khazars seems excessive, if not absurd.

The popularity of these genres, especially among young Slavs, is disturbing. This suggests that pervasive stereotypes about Jews are being communicated in disguised forms to the rulers of tomorrow.

Shnilerman pays particular attention to the archetypal character of the Outsiders in Russian science fiction; they are portrayed either as well-known enemies of the ancient Slavic community, like the Khazars, or as dishonest people from a future society who intend to cause destruction.

These representations, he argues, derive from deeply rooted anti-Semitic perceptions that are based on three interrelated myths about the relationship between Slavs and foreigners.

First, there is the myth of the Antichrist which threatens the existence of mankind. He is assisted by those who do not belong to the Slavic Orthodox spiritual community. These foreigners, who include all Jews, hate Christians and want to destroy them. The second myth portrays the Slavs as a superior race engaged in an eternal struggle of life and death against the inferior Jewish race. The third myth concerns the Khazars, a Turkish people, whose ruling elite in the 8th century converted to rabbinical Judaism and who were conquered by the Rus of Kiev around 965-969 CE. This suggests that the Khazars were not defeated; they pretend to be ordinary Russians and their goal is to get revenge on the Russian people.

Science fiction and fantasy based on these myths portray contemporary Russians as noble warriors engaged in an ancient and continuing battle for the salvation of the human race against an evil ethnic alien. Shnirelman notes that the war between the Slavs and certain spiritually dark and racially alien forces is a common theme in the works of Yuri Nikitin (e.g., The Holy Grail and One of Hyperborea), Alexander Baygushev (Lament for the Reckless Khazars) and other Russians. fantastic writers.

Although the ethnic villain in current Russian science fiction is almost never explicitly identified as Jewish, the portrayal either matches anti-Semitic stereotypes or Jewish surnames to make the connection. Sometimes the association is made more explicit. For example, in his 2009 novel The Non-Russians are Coming, or The Bringers of Death, Vasilii Glovachev indicates the Jewish identity of the villains by making their names, read from right to left, sound recognizable.

To be sure, not all Russian fantasy science fiction writers use anti-Semitic tropes, and implicit or explicit anti-Semitism is not unique to Russian science fiction. As Paul Sturtevant noted in a 2018 Washington Post article, goblins in Harry Potter, dwarves in The Hobbit, and Watto in the Star Wars series, also perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes. Sturtevant has shown how these villains are inspired by the stereotype of the “greedy Jew”.

However, unlike Russian fantasy science fiction, this association of greed with evil does not come with a parallel emphasis in Western science fiction on evil as an alien force invading a homogeneous homeland. It is the combination of anti-Semitic stereotypes and the altering of foreigners in the Russian sci-fi fantasy that Shnirelman finds disturbing, as it highlights the ever-present danger of a Russian nationalism that turns to racism and xenophobia.

Nearly a fifth of Russian Jews are expressing concern over a growing threat of anti-Semitism, as a poll conducted three years ago by Russian think tank The Levada Center indicates. A close examination of Russian science fiction suggests that they don’t necessarily fantasize.

Inna Stakser is a researcher at the Kantor Center.

Eight times a year, the Kantor Center publishes commentaries and analyzes on Jewish identity and culture written by members of its team. Please feel free to share your thoughts on our Outlook with us: kantorce@tauex.tau.ac.il.


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Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review – Mediocre Monster Porridge | Science fiction and fantasy films

TThe oversized world of superheroes on the big screen recently expanded even further than previously thought with a desperate lurch into the multiverse realm, allowing the rules to be rewritten, characters resurrected, and pulling back. public pockets. It was introduced in 2018’s Unusually Clever Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse before being teased in December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer and it will likely be in the genre for years to come, appetite or not. The Venom franchise, which started in 2018 and continues with Let There Be Carnage, exists in an unofficial multiverse of its own: one that eradicates the high and overly serious worlds of Marvel and DC and continues straight from the flip flashiness. From the ’90s Batman movies and the clever simplicity of the 2000s Spider-Man franchise.

The first film was a surprisingly fun, but unsurprisingly throwaway comeback adventure that embraced its blatant Happy Meal madness and didn’t care about the overly complicated world-building and menacing tone of newer comic book fare. It was big and silly and anchored by a wall-to-wall performance by Tom Hardy as a reporter who has to live in the same body as a brain-eating alien, with room for thoughtful actors like Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate and Melora Walters alongside. After it became a bigger-than-expected success, engulfing more than $ 850 million worldwide, a sequel inevitably made its way to the screen, with original director Ruben Fleischer replaced by Someone Who Knows. all about duality: Andy Serkis. But while Serkis and returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel have maintained the lightness of the first film (there’s none of that darker sequel nonsense here) and a dated idea of ​​cool (Howlin ‘For You by The Black Keys is an almost Xavier Dolan-level musical choice in one scene), they lost almost everything else, a bunch of monster porridge that should have been left in the lab.

Hardy, to his credit, is once again working hard for this big paycheck, not having to show as much manic physicality as before, but engaging in the stupidity of it all with all vigor. This time around, his reporter Eddie Brock (who in one scene also appears to be designing the front page of his diary, which is impressive) is inadvertently transferring his alien infused blood to a serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) , which escapes execution using its newly acquired tentacles. Calling himself Carnage, he vows to find Brock and Venom as well as his long lost love, Frances, AKA Shriek (Naomie Harris), whose scream is capable of killing those who are unlucky to hear him.

It’s way more awkward than it looks, but as Marcel tries to raise the bar for the latest film in so many ways, the chaos subsides far too soon. There is a more pronounced bent in the humor of the Venom / Eddie dynamic, but the film remains aggressively little funny throughout, save for a few decent view gags, and so despite Venom’s alleged villainy (which desperately looking to eat brains but has to settle for M & Ms), it often sounds like a movie for kids who might find something stupid to laugh about among the cartilage. There was a homoerotic undertone (unintentionally?) To the first movie, amplified in a 2019 comic in which Spider-Man and Venom were involved in a pleasant scene of sexual flirtation, and Serkis hinted at just how great there is. a strangeness pronounced in the sequel. Venom gets a “coming out” scene at a party that’s “kind of an LGBTQIA festival” in his words, but onscreen everything is predictably blurry and ultimately one of the many scenes that make it up. hint at a more interesting, but denied, take the material. The PG-13 Venom movies take inspiration from R-rated body horror, but back off before things get really gnarly, a frustrating sort of tease of something as cowardly and savage as these movies seem to already think.

As Hardy comes out unscathed, he’s surrounded by actors who don’t get much out of the movie other than money for a down payment on a new beach house. Harrelson tries to conjure up some of his malice Natural Born Killers but feels misinterpreted for the role, acting younger to look like he’s in a reform school at the same time as his childhood sweetheart, played by Harris, 15 years younger, who can barely see. Williams naturally sleepwalks through the few scenes she has, much to the envy of us in the audience who are still awake, barely, for a finale that is all noise and fury but not exactly fun.

It’s at least a short, lasting about 90 minutes, Serkis cuts off any extraneous fat, but it floats and floats without ever forcing us to sit down and pay attention. Let there be no more.


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‘To Boldly Go’ Book Examines Leadership Through the Prism of Science Fiction

LAWRENCE – “To go boldly …”

This line from Captain Kirk’s opening monologue in the original “Star Trek” series lasts for more than 55 years since it first aired. It’s also the title of a new book that examines leadership through the lens of science fiction.

“Everyone recognizes those three words,” said Steven Leonard, retired senior US military strategist and program director in organizational leadership at the University of Kansas.

“If you are going to lead, you are going boldly. Not only is this the impetus behind this book, but it’s also my personal philosophy of leadership in general that you need to be willing to take risks to create opportunities for yourself.

Leonard is co-editor of “To Boldly Go: Leadership, Strategy, and Conflict in the 21st Century and Beyond”. Its collection recruits 30 writers – strategy experts, senior policy advisers, professional educators, experienced storytellers and military field commanders – to produce essays exploring this topic. It is published by Casemate.

“Captain Kirk was the prototype leader that I grew up with that embodies the idea of ​​’there is your ship captain’,” said Leonard, senior researcher at the Modern War Institute at West Point. “He is daring, he is daring, he always leads from the front and always by intuition.”

The retired Colonel wanted to put together something that met this level of leadership, but had more appeal than a simple project aimed at “Star Wars” aficionados or business management enthusiasts. Here you will find topics that can be enjoyed by the readers of Isaac Asimov and Peter Drucker.

Leonard himself writes three of the 35 chapters, including one in partnership with co-editor Jonathan Klug who dissects the Battle of the Mutara Nebula.

“This is the centerpiece of the conflict between intelligence and experience,” he said of the climactic clash found in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. “Intelligence without experience is wonderful, but it is experience that wins these fights, and that plays out with Kirk and Khan.”

Another of its chapters focuses on the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes”.

“I was just going to write about how it was a contemplation of that late ’60s era. But it turned into a reflection of class society instead of how screenwriter Rod Serling incorporated his own personal life experiences in the film’s script while growing up in the face of anti-Semitism, ”he said.

The book has contributors who represent some of the best writers in the genre.

Best-selling author Max Brooks (“World War Z”) composes “Romulans and Remans,” a futuristic examination of desegregation that uses the Romulan War as a metaphor for the return of the Tuskegee airmen to their homes.

Leonard also cites the chapter “Space Battleship Yamato and the Burden of Command” by August Cole (“Ghost Fleet”) as an example of a more obscure sci-fi property that generates provocative material.

“August has a beautifully written chapter that deals with what happens when you’re on an impossible mission, you have the unlikely crew, and things are against you. How do you put it all together to find success? ” he said.

Craig and Steve Whiteside tap into the cultural zeitgeist with a chapter about “The Stand” by Stephen King.

“It is examining the emergence of a pandemic, which could not be more timely,” Leonard said. “There was no intention to produce an article on how to get through COVID-19 because we started this project before the pandemic. But it becomes a perfect chapter which is especially relevant now that the Delta variant is gaining a foothold. “

Leonard is not the only contributor to KU. Kelsey Cipolla, Communications Coordinator at the School of Business, provides insight into the challenges facing women in positions of power by analyzing the divergent views of Vice Admiral Holdo and Poe Dameron from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi “.

Now in his seventh year at KU, Leonard has provided chapters to the books “Strategy Strikes Back: How ‘Star Wars’ Explains Modern Military Conflict” (Potomac Books, 2018) and “Winning Westeros: How ‘Game of Thrones’ Explains Modern Military Conflit “(Potomac Books, 2019). He is co-editor of” Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War “(Middle West Press, 2019). He is also the creative force behind the subversive web comic” Doctrine Man !! “and its four collected volumes.

“’To Boldly Go’ sums up things I had worked on in previous anthologies. We had more science fiction to draw from, not just “Star Wars” or “Game of Thrones”. We could open wide, then bring in more people from more diverse backgrounds for a better and more complete perspective, ”he said.

As Australian Army Major General Mick Ryan describes in the book’s foreword, “science fiction provides a telescope into the future, a mechanism for thinking about future challenges.”

Leonard said, “There’s a series of posts here that allow us to use science fiction in a way that we talk about really important and topical topics. We see the role of leadership in times of crisis – and it is a time of crisis. “


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“To Boldly Go” Book Examines Leadership Through the Prism of Science Fiction

LAWRENCE – “Go boldly …”

This line from Captain Kirk’s opening monologue in the original “Star Trek” series lasts for more than 55 years since it first aired. It’s also the title of a new book that examines leadership through the lens of science fiction.

“Everyone recognizes those three words,” said Steven Leonard, retired senior US military strategist and program director in organizational leadership at the University of Kansas.

“If you are going to lead, you are going boldly. Not only is this the impetus behind this book, but it is also my personal philosophy of leadership in general that you must be willing to take risks to create opportunities for yourself.

Leonard is co-editor of “To Boldly Go: Leadership, Strategy, and Conflict in the 21st Century and Beyond”. Its collection recruits 30 writers – strategy experts, senior policy advisers, professional educators, experienced storytellers and military field commanders – to produce essays exploring this topic. It is published by Casemate.

“Captain Kirk was the prototype leader that I grew up with that embodies the idea of ​​’there is your ship captain’,” said Leonard, senior researcher at the Modern War Institute at West Point. “He is daring, he is daring, he always leads from the front and always by intuition.”

The retired colonel wanted to put together something that met this level of leadership, but had a broader appeal than a simple project aimed at “Star Wars” aficionados or business management enthusiasts. Here you will find topics that can be enjoyed by the readers of Isaac Asimov and Peter Drucker.

Leonard himself writes three of the 35 chapters, including one in partnership with co-editor Jonathan Klug who dissects the Battle of the Mutara Nebula.

“This is the centerpiece of the conflict between intelligence and experience,” he said of the climactic clash found in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. “Intelligence without experience is wonderful, but it is experience that wins these fights, and that plays out with Kirk and Khan.”

Another of its chapters focuses on the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes”.

“I was just going to write about how it was a contemplation of that late ’60s era. But it turned into a reflection of class society instead of how screenwriter Rod Serling incorporated his own personal life experiences in the film’s script while growing up in the face of anti-Semitism, ”he said.

The book has contributors who represent some of the best writers in the genre.

Best-selling author Max Brooks (“World War Z”) composes “Romulans and Remans,” a futuristic examination of desegregation that uses the Romulan War as a metaphor for the return of the Tuskegee airmen to their homes.

Leonard also cites the chapter “Space Battleship Yamato and the Burden of Command” by August Cole (“Ghost Fleet”) as an example of a more obscure sci-fi property that generates provocative material.

“August has a beautifully written chapter that deals with what happens when you’re on an impossible mission, you’ve got the unlikely crew, and things are against you. How do you put it all together to find success? ” he said.

Craig and Steve Whiteside tap into the cultural zeitgeist with a chapter about “The Stand” by Stephen King.

“It is examining the emergence of a pandemic, which could not be more timely,” Leonard said. “There was no intention to produce an article on how to get through COVID-19 because we started this project before the pandemic. But it becomes a perfect chapter which is especially relevant now that the Delta variant is gaining a foothold. “

Leonard is not the only contributor to KU. Kelsey Cipolla, Communications Coordinator at the School of Business, provides insight into the challenges facing women in positions of power by analyzing the divergent views of Vice Admiral Holdo and Poe Dameron from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi “.

Now in his seventh year at KU, Leonard has provided chapters to the books “Strategy Strikes Back: How ‘Star Wars’ Explains Modern Military Conflict” (Potomac Books, 2018) and “Winning Westeros: How ‘Game of Thrones’ Explains Modern Military Conflit “(Potomac Books, 2019). He is co-editor of” Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War “(Middle West Press, 2019). He is also the creative force behind the subversive web comic” Doctrine Man !! “and its four collected volumes.

“’To Boldly Go’ sums up things I had worked on in previous anthologies. We had more science fiction to draw from, not just “Star Wars” or “Game of Thrones”. We could open wide, then bring in more people from more diverse backgrounds for a better and more complete perspective, ”he said.

As Australian Army Major General Mick Ryan describes in the book’s foreword, “science fiction provides a telescope into the future, a mechanism for thinking about future challenges.”

Leonard said, “There’s a series of posts here that allow us to use science fiction in a way that we talk about really important and topical topics. We see the role of leadership in times of crisis – and it is a time of crisis. “


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Science-Fiction – Daily Times

Frank Herbert was a prolific science fiction writer who wrote “Dune” in 1965, a genre classic that sold a record number of copies.

Science fiction is an American strong point. Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1964 and said it was “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

NASA had attempted the impossible and succeeded. Intoxicated with the rush, the American nation was ready for the next stage in mankind’s existence. Science fiction was a natural consequence of this euphoric action spirit that literally aimed for the stars. Dune had the perfect timing.

This month, the latest film version of Dune came out with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Almost six decades after being written, Dune remains relevant today as science fiction is currently the most popular genre in Hollywood. Science fiction is a genre where movies serve as a platform to raise philosophical questions about the future of the human race. Movies like Dune, Avatar, and others reflect on the long-term survival of the human species, ecology, social ecology, the intersection of religion, politics, economics and power, etc. These questions arise in a future where humanity has long developed interstellars. travel and encounter other life forms, including smarter ones.

A wise woman in the Dune universe makes a profound statement.

The old woman said, “The world is supported by four things: learning from the wise; the justice of the great; the prayers of the righteous; and the value of the brave. But all this is nothing without a leader who knows the art of government. “

I could not help but apply these words to our country, Pakistan.

Pakistan is a nation of the wise, the righteous and the courageous. The missing link is justice.

Learning from the wise confirmed our sovereignty when scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer, diplomat Agha Shahi, bureaucrat IH Hussaini and many others came together to make Pakistan a nuclear power. Being part of the nuclear club gave us a distinct status on the Committee of Nations and signaled our preparation for a coup for a hostile country.

Learning from the wise ensured our survival during the current Covid-19 pandemic when we were able to flatten the curve of the first wave and subsequent waves. Our neighbor to the east is tragically faced with an uncontrollable situation, where the number of deaths is alarming.

The prayers of the righteous may very well be our saving grace. There is no shortage of people in Pakistan who live in difficult conditions but act nobly, honorably and chivalrously. We even hear of the noble character of famous people in show business – an area otherwise known for vanity – whose righteousness is revealed by others after they pass away. Moin Akhtar, Tariq Aziz and Sultan Rahi are some of the names that come to mind. Then there are the obvious names such as Dr Adeeb Rizvi and the late Abdus Sattar Edhi to name a few.

Hardly any nation on earth can match the worth of Pakistani Bravehearts in the military. We have been waging an unconventional and very dangerous war since 2001, where the enemy was well equipped, pathologically motivated and well established. A tribute to our armed forces, whose heroism, perseverance and immense sacrifice defeated an enemy who threatened our very existence.

The justice of the great has been our Achilles heel. We are an unjust nation. There is no delivery of justice, thanks to the colonial relic that is our legal system. This lack of justice is the straitjacket that weighs on us and keeps us stuck in a sorry state. To give an example, Pakistani law does not contain any provision that directly addresses medical malpractice, the only remedy is Tort law.

There is nothing more demoralizing than not having recourse to justice in the event of harm.

Pakistan is a nation of the wise, the righteous and the courageous. The missing link is justice.

Justice can only be obtained by the ruler who possesses sight beyond the sight promised to the true believer, when Allah (mighty and sublime) has said: “. When I love him (my servant), I am his. hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him ”.

(Hadith Qudsi 25)

Hadith Qudsi is not the words of the Prophet (pbuh). These are the word for word words of Allah, spoken by Muhammad (pbuh). Allah (SWT) tells us how right action intuitively comes right. Such a person can internalize the attributes of which Allah SWT is the source. This is how a truly righteous man can be wise because Allah the Al-Hakeem is the source of wisdom; be just as Allah al-Adl is the source of justice, be generous as Allah al-Kareem is the source of generosity; and be benevolent for Allah the Ar-Raheem is the source of benevolence.

The purer the nafs (soul), the more noble thoughts and actions.

Umar bin Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) was all because he had purified her soul and firmly rejected what was base in her. He rejected the trappings of this material and ephemeral world, living ascetically. His proclaimed aspiration was to heed before Allah realizes it. He won the pleasure of Allah SWT by always paying attention to Him.

Umar bin Khattab has shown the way. The art of government is to follow in your footsteps.

The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at aliya1924@gmail.com



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The bionic man was science fiction; the bionic hand is not

Many people associate bionics with a 1970s sci-fi television series The Six Million Dollar Man. serves as an intelligence agent ”). This is no longer science fiction:

According to the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago, about 100,000 Americans – and 10 million people worldwide – are missing a hand.

The award-winning Ability hand shown in the video, produced by Psyonic, a startup based in Champaign, Ill., Is a helpful illustration of how far prosthetics have come with electronic and internet technology.

Representative of a new generation of prostheses, it is both electronic and compatible with the Internet: it charges in about an hour and the charge lasts all day. It is Bluetooth compatible in order to download new software to refine the grip and the functionality of the fingers. It can even charge a cell phone.

Adel Akhtar

The face behind Psyonic Ability’s hand is American neuroscientist and computer engineer Adeel Akhtar, whose motivation is, in part, personal:

The idea for PSYONIC began at the age of seven. It was during this time that I was visiting Pakistan, where my parents are from, and this is the first time I meet someone or the difference in members. She was my age, she was missing her right leg and used a tree branch as a crutch. This is what made me want to get into this field.

Then we realized that we had similar problems back home in the United States. When I was a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I met a retired U.S. Army sergeant from the area who lost his hand in Iraq in 2005 due to a roadside bomb, Sergeant Garrett Anderson. He uses a hook daily so we wanted to upgrade him to the 21st century. Since then, we have been building the competence hand. We tested it in Ecuador, we have a patient there with whom we are working. It has been quite a journey.

Fourth Revolution Prize, “Psyonic wins accolades as its bionic hand prepares for national launch” at MHUB Chicago (December 2, 2020)

Elsewhere, Akhtar shared, regarding the girl in Pakistan,

At the time, he wondered how they could share the same ethnic heritage but have such different qualities of life. As he grew older, he realized that this was due to a lack of resources. For this reason, he founded and is the CEO of PSYONIC, a company whose mission is to develop advanced prosthetics that are affordable for all.

His ability hand can move all five fingers quickly and provides sensory feedback (a sense of touch), which is a significant advance in terms of utility. But, for high-tech prosthetics to truly improve the lives of most amputees, affordability is key:

In order to reduce costs but improve durability, Psyonic chose to 3D print the molds but use low cost rubbers and silicones to create the fingers and joints.

The result was a resilient hand at a price low enough that Medicare had it covered, which was a priority. By getting the Ability Hand covered by Medicare, Psyonic has expanded access to 75% of people with upper limb differences in the United States, Akhtar said.

Alexia Elejalde Ruiz, “Psyonic wins accolades as its bionic hand prepares for national launch” at Polsky Center (August 20, 2021)

It also requires a lot of commitment from the patient. Akhtar speaks of a patient, a former soldier in Ecuador who had lost his hand years earlier due to machine gun fire:

The team outfitted the man with a first iteration of his prosthesis, a clunky device three times the size of a human hand, and retrained his brain to perform basic tasks like pinching. The cheerful man “felt like he had come back,” Akhtar said.

“If we just stay in academia, it ends up in a journal,” Akhtar recalls. “We want everyone to feel what he did.”

Alexia Elejalde Ruiz, “Psyonic wins accolades as its bionic hand prepares for national launch” at Polsky Center (August 20, 2021)

But the costs must then fall further and subsidies will no doubt be necessary. As Elejalde-Ruiz notes in the Polsky Center article, “80% of limb amputations occur in developing countries, but only 3% of people have access to affordable prostheses.”

It’s not just the device itself; surgery is usually required to shape the stump and the user should work with a qualified prosthetist over the long term to ensure that the device performs well on a daily basis. These are challenges that Akhtar and others are eager to try to overcome.

To note: Here are some other bionic hands and how they work. The general information site warns, of course, that “bionic hands are impressive feats of engineering, but they are much simpler than natural hands. In some respect, it doesn’t really matter as they can still perform a wide variety of tasks as shown in this video. “However, don’t expect them to match natural hand dexterity. A better way to assess a bionic hand is its usefulness, which is primarily determined by its user control system.


You can also read:

Prosthetic hand controlled by thoughts alone? It’s here. Decades ago, no one could control a prosthesis just by thinking. There is plenty of room for the field to grow further. (2020)

The new mind-controlled robotic arm doesn’t need a brain implant. The thought-controlled device could help people with movement disorders control the devices without the costs and risks of surgery. (2019)

High technology can help blind people see and amputees feel. It is not a miracle; the human nervous system can function with electronic information. (2019)


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China Science Fiction Convention 2021 opens in Beijing

The 2021 China Science Fiction Convention (CSFC) opens at Shougang Industrial Park in Shijingshan District, Beijing, China on September 28, 2021. / CFP

The 2021 China Science Fiction Convention (CSFC) opens at Shougang Industrial Park in Shijingshan District, Beijing, China on September 28, 2021. / CFP

The Chinese Science Fiction Convention (CSFC) opened on Tuesday at the Shougang Industrial Park in the Shijingshan District of the Chinese capital Beijing. Under the theme “Science and the Creation of the Future”, the CSFC will host a series of activities, including thematic forums and the exhibition of new technologies and products.

The convention exhibits a large number of innovative achievements in the fields of next-generation information technology, artificial intelligence and high-end equipment related to science fiction.

It will also include forums and seminars on ecological culture and the industrial configuration of Chinese science fiction intellectual property, as well as emerging science fiction.

Books, games, toys and a variety of dishes will be on display to allow visitors to experience the wonders of science fiction and the latest scientific and technological developments in China in an immersive way.

The establishment of the Beijing Science Fiction Industry Fund was announced at the opening ceremony. The fund plans to invest 1 billion yuan (about $ 154 million) in the capital’s science fiction industry.

The 2021 Chinese Science Fiction Industry Report was released at the event.

The CSFC has been held for five consecutive years, serving as a comprehensive platform for exchange and communication within the science fiction industry. It runs from September 29 to October 5.


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John Billingsley stays busy in sci-fi after Star Trek Enterprise

Dr. Phlox Plus, John Billingsley continues to play the good guys and the bad smart sci-fi guys.

John Billingsley was a prolific actor long before he landed the role of Dr Phlox on Star Trek Enterprise. And it was extremely busy since the show ceased airing. But it’s as the endlessly curious and optimistic NX-01 good-natured Denobulian medical officer that Star Trek fans know him best.

In a 2019 interview with TrekToday, Billingsley expressed affection for the character (but not the “rubber head” required role). “Considering how many creeps and crumbs I’ve played in my life,” he said, “being able to portray a guy who was so dynamic and balanced, was such a treat.”

John Billingsley credits after Star Trek Enterprise are plentiful, and they include some notable forays into science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His “long road” out of the 22nd century has even led him, on a few occasions, to meet other familiar faces from the Star Trek franchise.

Here’s a quick look at John Billingsley’s resume in Speculative Stories After Enterprise.

John Billingsley plays several professors and scientists in post-Star Trek science fiction

John Billingsley’s first postBusiness genre credit is his role as Harry, professor of biology, in Earth man (2007). Harry is one of the many colleagues of the named John Oldman, who claims to be a caveman living for some 14,000 years and who has been an important person in history along the way.

In the trailer for the film, Harry speculates on how a biological quirk might allow this possibility.

It is not a coincidence Earth man may remind Star Trek fans of “Requiem for Methuselah,” which shares a similar premise. Jerome Bixby wrote both. He also wrote “Mirror, Mirror”, “By Any Other Name” and “Day of the Dove” for the original series; and the short story that has become the classic fuzzy area episode “It’s a good life.”

Earth man was Bixby’s last story, written and dictated from his deathbed. Winner of several film festival awards, he continues to be well regarded. A decade later, Billingsley reprized his role as Harry in what was to be the first of several sequels, Man from Earth: Holocene. To date, however, this franchise has not proven to be as immortal as its main character.

In 2009, Billingsley appeared as another professor, Professor West, in Roland Emmerich’s disaster film. 2012. The film capitalized on pop culture’s fascination with the ancient Mayan calendar by posing solar flares that would trigger catastrophic natural disasters on earth.

In the years that followed, most of Billingsley’s genre credits were in TV series roles, although he appeared with Star Trek alumna Denise Crosby in the 2016 Haunted House TV movie. . The watcher, and this year A boy makes a girl: Memoirs of a robot.

In the short-lived action drama Intelligence (2014), Billingsley played Dr. Shenendoah Cassidy, a neuroscientist and computer scientist who invents a microchip that allows government agent Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway) to interface with any electronic device. About his character, Billingsley told Syfy Wire:

[Cassidy] is a man of science and a man who is mainly interested in the advancement of our civilization, who agreed to work for the Ministry of Defense. . . . Sometimes he feels like his innovations are being used in a morally questionable way. . . . [O]One of the underlying tensions is this struggle that Cassidy. . . is constantly undergoing.

Billingsley has joined his next sci-fi series, Staplers (2015-2017), in its second season. He had a recurring role as Mitchell Blair, an NSA executive with “icy intent and deadly ideas” on how to use the techniques of infiltration of mind and memory at the heart of the premise. from the Serie.

John Billingsley has also appeared in two projects with several fellow Trek veterans. Naturally, he has a role in the Star Trek parody of Snoop Dogg. Unbelievable! And he joined Doug Jones, Terry Farrell, the late René Auberjonois, Ethan Phillips, Robert Beltran, Armin Shimerman, Tim Russ, JG Hertzler and Robert O’Reilly in the cast of The circuit: Star Crew (2019). The Twitter account of the still unpublished film thus characterizes the project:

In that 2014 interview with Syfy, Billingsley said, “I’m a working character actor. . . . I think people feel that we have the luxury of choosing. I do not . . . . So we audition. And it’s concert after concert after concert. . . . “

Although John Billingsley doesn’t think he can choose, the fans who know and love him the best since Star Trek Enterprise can’t help but hope that many more of these auditions and gigs will lead him into the sci-fi and fantasy genres!



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Black holes are no longer science fiction. Jens Boos says it’s time to take them seriously

  • Maybe not:

    The left black hole conforms to Einstein’s theory of gravity. It has a singularity, and that singularity, just like a needle, tears a hole in space-time. The right black hole according to a new theory of gravity where the singularity needle is softened and space-time is safe.
    Graphic by Jens Boos

by Joseph McClain

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September 28, 2021

Jens Boos is a black hole guy, and has been a black hole guy ever since he started studying physics in his native Germany.

“The good thing about black holes is that they were the subject of science fiction novels,” he said. “These mysterious objects in space. Once you have fallen into it, you cannot get out of it. Yadda yadda. We’ve all heard the stories.

Today, Boos is a post-doctoral researcher in the High Energy Theory group of the physics department of William & Mary. He recently received the 2021 PR Wallace Thesis Prize from the Canadian Association of Theoretical Physics (Division of Theoretical Physics) and the Winnipeg Institute for Theoretical Physics. The prize rewards his doctoral thesis “Effects of Non-locality in Gravity and Quantum Theory”.

The black hole specialist’s career as a physicist grew as black holes moved from the “theoretical” column to the “observed” column in the register of natural phenomena. In 2015, while Boos was a graduate student at the Perimeter Institute in Canada, the LIGO collaboration announced the detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. The Event Horizon Telescope Array documented its first black hole in 2019, while a graduate student at the University of Alberta.

“But now there is a huge problem, isn’t there?” Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity predicts the existence of black holes, and now they have been observed, ”said Boos. “It’s fantastic, but it also means you have to take them more seriously. “

Jens Boos: Postdoc in theoretical physics and black hole guy.  (Photo by Stephen Salpukas)Boos and other theoretical astrophysicists take black holes seriously, very seriously. They are working on potential explanations of the physics inside a black hole. The edge of a black hole is known as the event horizon, and inside the black hole, Boos explained, is something called a singularity. But it’s a bit problematic to refer to a singularity as a “thing”.

“It’s a place in space and time where something bad is happening,” Boos explained. “This is where space and time cease to exist. This is how I like to think. “

He explains that physicists consider space and time as one concept: space-time. “Those four digits, latitude, longitude and altitude, then the time on the clock – the combination of those digits makes up space-time,” Boos said.

Space-time is at the heart of causality itself, Boos writes in his summary, enabling us to “distinguish past from future, and cause from effect.”

In short, the rules of space-time. Except when and where it doesn’t work, like the singularity inside a black hole. Mathematically, Einstein’s theory describes gravity as the curvature of space-time. For example, massive bodies orbiting a star are not actually attracted by a gravitational force: they roll in a curved and tilted gravitational field.

“And what happens at the singularity is that the slope becomes infinitely steep. Not big, but really infinite, ”said Boos. “And we physicists think it’s not physical at all. How can something really be infinite?

He explained that “infinity” is a common bugaboo for physicists. Infinity has never been observed and may not even exist in the physical world. Boos said that the mathematics in many theories of physics leads to infinity and that theorists are working hard to refine the theories in order to remove this problem.

“People think that these infinities inside black holes, these singularities, are just an artifact of Einstein’s theory,” Boos said. “Einstein’s theory might be incomplete. It’s a classic theory; he does not know the quantum.

Boos said that he and many other theorists believed that a fully realized theory of quantum gravity would solve the problem of infinity.

“The problem is not so much to find a theory of quantum gravity, there are several promising candidate theories that people have come up with,” he said. “But you have to think of a way to test them experimentally.”

Boos’ thesis suggests a potential way around the singularity-infinity paradox. Instead of inventing an entirely new theory, he focuses on a concept called “non-locality”.

“The laws of physics that we know of, almost all of them are local laws of physics,” he explained. “This means that if you want to predict what is happening at any given time and in space, all you need to know is what is happening now or at some point in the past. If you see waves in a pond, for example, you know someone has thrown a stone. That sort of thing. But when you have the non-locality, it can all be very different.

He went on to explain that the concept of non-locality had been part of physical theory for some time. “People were talking about non-locality in the 1930s,” he noted. At a basic level, Boos said that non-locality means conceptualizing a state in which you can no longer distinguish two neighboring points.

Boos approaches non-locality through what he calls “mathematical sandpaper,” drawing on mathematical concepts such as Green’s functions and incorporating elements of string theory and non-geometry. commutative.

“Non-locality takes away all the sharp angles, doesn’t it?” ” he said. “It makes everything smoother. And that’s the idea. If you take the idea of ​​a singularity like an infinitely sharp needle piercing a hole in spacetime, you could take your mathematical sandpaper and make it duller. It would still be sharp – but not infinitely sharp. But that’s all we want. We don’t want infinity, and space-time will be safe.

At William & Mary, he also applies the concept of non-locality to particle physics, in collaboration with another theoretical physicist, Professor Chris Carone.

“What I love about non-locality is that it challenges the way we think about space and time, in many different areas of physics – not just gravity. It really keeps you going. on your guard! ”said Boos.


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Manawatū author wins top sci-fi award with pandemic novel

Dr Laura Jean McKay is the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

David Unwin / Tips

Dr Laura Jean McKay is the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

Manawatū author Dr Laura Jean McKay became the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize, one of the world’s top science fiction awards.

McKay said it was a tremendous honor to receive the award, which recognizes the best science fiction novel first published in the UK each year.

His first novel, The animals of this country, had previously been recognized in Australia, winning the 2021 Victorian Prize for Literature and the Sunday Times Book of The Year. Despite her success in Australia, McKay said she didn’t expect it to spread to the UK.

McKay is from Australia but moved to New Zealand to take up a post at Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

READ MORE:
* Hugo Awards: young Wellington artist nominated for coveted science fiction awards
* A novel about a gritty pandemic wins the first Manawatū author’s award
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Dr Laura Jean McKay has joined Margaret Atwood as the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

David Unwin / Tips

Dr Laura Jean McKay has joined Margaret Atwood as the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

She described the book both as a realistic, grainy novel about a struggling middle-aged woman and as a “speculative science fiction novel where animals can talk.”

The book was published at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and features its own themes related to the pandemic – a virus that gives infected humans the ability to understand animals.

The sudden importance of pandemics was initially a concern for McKay.

“I was really worried because so many people were in pain, and I didn’t want to portray it in the wrong way,” Mckay said.

However, she was happy that she was able to write a book that people enjoyed and that they could relate to during difficult times.

“I wrote The animals of this country examine closely the relationships between humans and other animals. In these strange times, I find that, more than ever, reading and writing also connects us humans.

Dr Laura McKay with her first novel is The Animals in That Country.

Provided / Content

Dr Laura McKay with her first novel is The Animals in That Country.

Previous award winners include Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Emily St John Mandel (Eleven station) and Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad).

Joining Atwood as the Arthur C. Clarke winner was especially special for McKay.

“Twenty years before Margaret Atwood won the first Arthur C. Clarke Prize, she published a small but important collection of poetry entitled The animals of this country, a title I borrowed for my book.

“That this book can become one of the Clarke Prize winners alongside Atwood – as well as other writers I adore like Miéville and Whitehead – is a tremendous honor.”

Arthur C. Clarke Award director Tom Hunter has said McKay’s novel pushes the boundaries of sci-fi writing.

“For 35 years, the Clarke Award has promoted not only the best of science fiction, but also new ways to define and explore it. Laura’s victory once again re-positions the boundaries of sci-fi, and we’re excited to welcome her to the genre.

McKay said working on his next book has been slow, however, it was good to have something in mind to work on, especially during the pandemic.


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