I’ve been a fan of the late Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking PBS TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, ever since it first aired in 1980. When the news came last year that FOX was teaming up with National Geographic, executive producers Seth MacFarlane, Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and Neil deGrasse Tyson to remake the series in 2014, I was over the moon. Now we have an official trailer that debuted at San Diego Comic-Con and it’s positively astounding. From the trailer we can see Neil will re-introduce viewers to the Spaceship of the Imagination, the cosmic calendar and other scientific concepts that made the original both fun and educational. Because the series will air in prime time, FOX is giving Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey an amped up, epic treatment that’s sure to lure new viewers both young and old. As far as I’m concerned, 2014 can’t get here fast enough!
While the battle rages between climate deniers and the consensus of the scientific community, strange things are afoot in Greenland. The PBS series NOVA documents the country’s rapidly changing landscape with the help of survey photographer James Balog. Extreme Ice is broken into six parts but the most ominous segment deals with Greenland’s strange disappearing lakes.
In recent years the summer melt season in Greenland has grown hotter and now lasts two weeks longer than it did only a decade ago. This has resulted in huge, fresh water lakes forming on the ice sheet surface. Some of these lakes are miles in diameter and up to 50 feet deep. Although these melt lakes contain hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, satellite imagery has recorded their disappearances in just the span of a few hours. Years ago it was believed the water was simply re-absorbed into the surrounding ice, but recent surveys have discovered something more dangerous. The water is boring down through the ice to the bedrock below and lubricating the entire ice sheet of Greenland. The implications of this, if true, are staggering.
One such amazing lake event was witnessed first hand by the NOVA team and documented for the special. The entire 60 minute broadcast is available on the PBS website and is worth your time. Watching these incredible frozen landscape melt away is strangely beautiful but deeply unsettling. As climate skeptics dominate the media and introduce measures in government bent on denying action to stop the effects of man-made warming, Greenland is slowly but surely slipping away. The debate about what’s causing climate change may never end, but the real question now is what are we doing to prepare for the coming disaster?
The New York Times reported this past week that chemists at Oregon State University have created an all-new, extremely durable and intense blue pigment. Like so many other famed scientific discoveries, this one came as a complete surprise to Mas Subramanian, a professor of material sciences, who was attempting to make new compounds for use in electronics.
Subramanian and his fellow professors discovered that by mixing manganese oxide with other elements and heating them to very high temperatures (2000 degrees F), crystals were formed that reflected only blue light. The potential uses for this new pigment are vast, especially since so many of the modern blues in use can fade or, in some cases, are toxic. The only stumbling block seems to be the use of an expensive chemical, indium, which the researchers are now attempting to substitute for a less expensive component.
I love stories like this because it reminds us that science isn’t always about creating super conductors or finding a cure for cancer. Although such discoveries are important in their own right, finding a new blue reminds us that chemistry is the basis for everything in the natural world, including the colors we see each and every day. An awesome, elegant and artful combination.
Back in April of 2008, a bunch of friends and I started the Sci-Fi Cast. It was designed to be a podcast where we could get together and chat about geeky stuff like Battlestar Galactica and science fiction in general. Now a year later, the Sci-Fi Cast is going strong, although the same cannot be said for BSG.
In recording our podcast over this past year, I’ve found that are most interesting and funny episodes are the ones where we pick a topic and just discuss it. These are the times when our geeky brains float unfettered in the deep reaches of sci-fi space. Episodes like 13.5 where Dave and I discussed the age-old question of Kirk vs. Picard, or episode 22.5 where Jen, Dave & I picked our most over and underrated sci-fi movies.
I’m happy to report that our latest recording is just such a journey. In episode 27 we talk about our favorite science fiction technology, how we’d use it in our day-to-day lives and the potential pitfalls that would crop up. I have to say it’s one of our funnier outings and I think you’ll really enjoy it. If you love sci-fi, then beam on over and check out episode 27 of the Sci-Fi Cast today.
PS – Don’t forget to nominate your favorite moments of Battlestar Galactica for our “Toastie Awards” which we’ll be recording this coming Tuesday. Time is running out and we need your help. Thanks!
Friday marks the long-awaited return of the Sci-Fi Channel’s hit series Battlestar Galactica. Fans of the show have been waiting almost a full year for the final 10 episodes that will ultimately conclude the tale of the ill fated 13th tribe of man. Get caught up and in the mood with episode 16 of The Sci-Fi Cast, featuring Jen, Dave and recapping season 4 of BSG as well as the webisodes.
We’re also proud to announce that you can now follow our science fiction related rants, releases and ravings on our new scificast Twitter account! It seems only fitting that a podcast born of a conversation on Twitter, the show should come full circle. When we left Twitter, we were but the learner, now we… are… the master. Jump on over to @scificast and follow us today!
We had been taken such a long break from recording our weekly podcast, that when Jen, Dave, Krystyn and myself finally got together last week to record the latest episode of The Sci-Fi Cast, I had forgotten just how much fun it was. That’s right folks, we’re back at it and have served up a special Halloween episode just in time for Samhain. Episode 13 is now live at a newly improved website and ready for your listening pleasure. We run down our favorite vampire, zombie and slasher flicks and throw in the usual assortment of geeky fun that our nine listeners have come to know and love. Starting next week, we’re going to try a new recording process suggested by Dan Benjamin, one half of the voices behind The Talk Show, to see if we can ratchet up the quality level prior to the start of the new season of Battlestar Galactica. Swing on over and check out Episode 13 or subscribe in iTunes today.
That’s right folks, I’m here to tell you that episode 009 of Sci-Fi Cast is now online and ready for your auditory digestion. We’re back to Battlestar Galactica with the review of this past week’s episode Sine Qua Non, so if you’re not caught up, you’ll want to hold off. Our conversation, as usual, is pretty spoiler heavy, so don’t say we didn’t warn you! Without saying too much, I can reveal that this time around we have all four of your geeky friends on the podcast and we delve into such important subjects as pets in space, what Sol does when the cameras are turned off and Krystyn’s latest (and most believable) theory on who the final cylon will turn out to be. As we approach the mid-season break, this is one installment you won’t want to miss. Be sure to head on over and check out The Sci-Fi Cast, your drive to work will never be the same again!
I’m pleased to report that episode 008 of Sci-Fi Cast is now online and is truly one for the ages. Dave Caolo and I participate in the geek version of Fesivus and “air our grievances” with the Star Wars prequel films. We cover a wide range of important nerd-esqe topics such as GCI sets, the less than deadly
Nuisance Battle Droids, poor casting decisions and how a high school biology lesson managed to suck the life out of the Star Wars universe. This one’s our longest episode yet, clocking in at 47 minutes, so if you’re looking for the Cliff Notes version of this episode, simply skip forward to the 39′ minute mark to avoid all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. If you love Star Wars however, tune in for the whole cast, I think Dave and I do a fairly good job of putting into words what was so frustrating about ep I-III. Don’t forget to post your own prequel pet peeves (or favorite bits) in the comments over at theSciFiCast.com! Next week we return you to our regularly scheduled program of BSG. See you then!
What started out as a fun idea born on Twitter has evolved into a full-fledged gig. How do I know this? The answer is easy young Padawan! Dave Caolo has been working overtime to get Sci-Fi Cast, our informal chat of all things science fiction, a new home and now it’s ready. Point your browser to www.thescificast.com and you’ll be on your way to a geek love-in not seen in these parts since the Pasadena Star Trek convention of aught ’05.
To mark the occasion, this week I had the humbling honor to edit episode 007. I always knew editing a podcast was important, but after listening to the three of us ramble for an hour and a half, and somehow getting that down to just 20 minutes, I have a new found respect for those who choose to separate the wheat from the chaff and take the editing plunge. I hope you enjoy the result as we talk about Battlestar Galactica’s seventh episode of season 4 – Guess What’s Coming to Dinner? You can head on over and bookmark thescificast.com or download episode 007 right from here:
Download or listen to Sci-Fi Cast Episode 7 (19 min) here.
Currently, the ability to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes is broken while we wait for Apple to resolve the new site’s URL. Just hang in there, it should be available soon. Since there is no BSG this week, episode 008 will be a very special “What we hate about the Star Wars prequels” episode. If Jake Lloyd, midi-clorians and Jar Jar Binks keep you up at night, this will be the episode for you!