Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Holiday Note to The Reader(s)

Thank you for still reading this blog! If anyone is still reading this, that is. :-)

It was probably a very prudent thing to shut down this blog while I was writing the book. I know I lost your immediate feedback, but for various reasons I _still_ can't talk about, it was better to write this without being in the public eye.

But the news is good! The manuscript is just about finished, and the book is still on schedule for a 2009 release! I'm sure I'll be at various cons in 2009, as well as doing book readings in any medium I can manage! As the book release gets closer, this blog (as well as our Facebook group) will become more active.

Have a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, or Christmas, or Kwanzaa, or Sol Invictus, or whatever dark-solstice sacrifices are required by the Twelve Lords of Kobol.

Thank you for maintaining your interest! We'll see more of each other in the new year!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Exclusive: A robot with a biological brain | Emerging Technology Trends | ZDNet.com

Exclusive: A robot with a biological brain | Emerging Technology Trends | ZDNet.com

Sure -- it starts with a cute little Bluetooth rover controlled by cultured neurons, and before you know it they're nuking your cities.

Sunday, June 15, 2008



I live in Brooklyn. Two weeks ago, we went to the Fulton Ferry Terminal, almost directly under the Brooklyn Bridge, to see the Telectroscope (and to wait in a 1/4 mile line in a heat wave to get a cone at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory). Last night, when the camera panned across the ruins of the Temple of Aurora and showed us that final shot of the remains of the bridge, I jumped up and said "The camera is standing on the site of the ice cream store!".

But that was when I believed that they had actually landed on Earth. Now I'm starting to have second thoughts.

What evidence do we have that this irradiated planet is really Earth? Lt. Gaeta, when checking to see whether the fleet had jumped to the right spot, said that the visible constellations are a match. But a match with what set of data? Lee said that they had "projected a course to the signal" and that it would probably take some revising. That tells me the Colonial beacon signal did not include a 3-d starmap. Is Gaeta checking the constellations with what the jump calculations predicted the resulting constellations should look like? That would only prove that they jumped to where they expected to jump -- it wouldn't prove that they had jumped to Earth.

Or is he comparing the visible constellations with the constellations they saw in the planetarium show back at the Temple of Athena on Kobol? It's hardly likely -- the display in the temple focused on the twelve constellations of our Zodiac. Lee spotted the Lagoon Nebula, and his father backed him up by calling it "M8" -- but did we see either of them record those constellations? (If it was a shared hallucination, was it even possible to have recorded the constellations? ) And if they did record the constellations, to what level of precision did they do so? I think it's much more likely that the pilots come out of the planetarium and, at best, drew the stick figures from memory. And if that's that happened, then Gaeta's comparison data are going to be literally sketchy.

The thing is, in our space neighborhood there are at least three other sunlike stars that possibly could support earthlike planets. If the fleet jumped into the Alpha Centauri system instead of ours, for example, that might fit Starbuck's recall of seeing a triple star system on her trip to "Earth". The Alpha Centauri system consists of Alpha Centauri A, a Type G star that's a very slightly larger version of our own sun -- replace our local star with Alpha Centauri A and the average person would be hard pressed to notice the difference for a while; Alpha Centauri B, an orange star about 7/8 the size of the sun, orbiting with Alpha Centauri A in way that keeps the two stars an average of 24.4 astronomical units (about 3.8 billion kilometers) apart; and Alpha Centauri C, a red dwarf star also known as Proxima Centauri, which orbits around the A and B stars about 1/10 of a light year distant.

If Gaeta was checking the position of the zodiacal constellations with a sketch made from the Temple of Athena data, he's out of luck. As seen from Alpha Centauri, those constellations would be virtually identical to those seen from Earth, the chief difference being that Castor and Pollux, the Heads of the Gemini Twins, don't quite line up with their bodies. If Gaeta had incomplete data, or if the constellation Gemini was not visible for some reason (being occulted by Alpha Centauri, for example), he'd be absolutely correct in reporting that all "visible" constellations are a match, even though the fleet would be in the wrong place.

In the same way, the fleet could have arrived at Tai Ceti or Epsilon Eridani, two other type G sunlike stars in our local neighborhood. The zodiacal constellations as seen from those systems would be more distorted, especially around the Cancer-Leo and Aries-Taurus regions. But again, if Gaeta's data are sketchy and the local star is blocking out the appropriate regions of the zodiac, the rest of the constellations should pass muster.

But the real clue for me came at the finale of the third season. The camera pulled back out of the Ionian Nebula to show a wide shot of a quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy, then zoomed in again to give us a clear closeup of the western hemisphere of Earth. We clearly saw North America.

With this planet, we didn't see any unambiguously recognizable continents or land features. At all. There must be a reason for this.

The point is, the planet they call Earth doesn't necessarily have to be Earth at all. Even though the remains of the Temple of Aurora look like they were built on the old Fulton Ferry Terminal in Brooklyn.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sine Qua Non

Wow. I might need to rewrite a lot of what I've done.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Congratulations to the Mars Phoenix team!!! Follow the water!!

Monday, May 19, 2008


Just a guess:

Gaeta is the fifth Cylon. He finds out about his Cylonity just before he returns to workin the CIC, just before the Colonial-Rebel forces blow up the Resurrection hub. When he recognizes that he is a Cylon, he realizes that he could be resurrected with a complete leg. But his last chance, his only chance, to become a whole person again is about to be destroyed. He figures this is the last straw -- he's been frakked over by the Colonial civilization for far too long. In the CIC, he unholsters his weapon and points it at his own head, threatening to kill himself unless the attack is called off. The attack is called off, and Gaeta kills himself anyway. Since he's the only one who knows he's a Cylon, everyone things he just snapped and killed himself. Gaeta resurrects on the Cylon ship. Realizing that he can't go back, and feeling that he doesn't want to go back, he joins the 1,4,5 faction against the Colonial-Rebel alliance and becomes their leader.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Well, that was fast.

Look for "The Science of Battlestar Galactica" on Amazon and in bookstores some time in 2009.

What have I gotten myself into? :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Science of Battlestar Galactica

It has been called the best show on television, and as real as science fiction gets. It has dealt with issues of religious freedom, patriotism, terrorism, genetic engineering, and the ultimate science fiction question: what does it mean to be human?

The show is Battlestar Galactica, a 21st century re-imagining of the classic 1970s tv show. It's got the same basic storyline – man-made robotic creatures called Cylons, having eliminated most of the human race, are chasing a ragtag fleet of the few remaining survivors in a race to find the mythical planet called Earth. The new Battlestar Galactica (BSG to its fans) eschews the meaningless whiz-bang shoot-em-ups of the earlier show – each episode does NOT have its required space battle – choosing to focus instead on character development and conflict, both internal and external, to the point where it sometimes becomes difficult to tell exactly who the good guys are.

For that reason, Battlestar Galactica has also been called a science fiction show without science. Every time we make a connection between events on the show and events in real life -- Caprica is America, Cylons are fundamentalist terrorists, the attack is 9/11, etc – we understand that nearly the exact same story could be told – is being told – without the trappings of spaceflight and robots.

Series Producer Ronald M. Moore, who previously was a writer and producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation is on the record as saying that the intense level of technological information known about the Starship Enterprise actually hindered some of the stories he wanted to tell in that series, because earlier episodes had established that the Enterprise worked in a certain way that contradicted his proposed story. Moore didn't want that to happen with Galactica, so the entire production is deliberately vague about how things work.

Yet while it is true that BSG is not a techies dream (the bad guys don't even have laser guns, for frak's sake!), the science that does exist in the show serves to illuminate the use of science and technology in our own lives. The debate over whether or not to use Cylon blood to cure human cancer is essentially an argument about stem cell therapy; the development of “The Farm” by the Cylons lays out the pro and con arguments for abortion and parental responsibility. Like all good science fiction, Battlestar Galactica takes us millions of miles away from Earth for the sole purpose of letting us turn around and see ourselves through another set of eyes.