sábado, abril 12, 2008

Oda a la ciencia ficción

Amo la ciencia ficción. De pequeña quería ser astronauta. Crecí con Lucky Starr, de Asimov, y creo q con eso lo digo todo.
Resulta q si hubiera seguido mi afición... ná, si las matemáticas no son lo mío... ;-)

How myriad galaxies far, far away are producing the geniuses of tomorrow
Sunday Herald, April 07, 2008

Festival to explore legacy of futuristic fantasy on scientists and inventors, past and presentby Jasper Hamill

SCIENCE FICTION could turn the geeks of today into tomorrow's geniuses, one of Scotland's leading authors has claimed. Ken Macleod, a writer once described as a "Trotskyist libertarian cyberpunk", has penned several award-winning visions of the future since graduating from Glasgow University with a degree in zoology.

He is due to give a speech at the Glasgow Science Festival, which starts next week, that will explore the influence sci-fi has had on actual scientists.

Science is an integral part of any sci-fi novel, he claimed, and as a consequence youngsters who bury themselves in books or films are more likely to be familiar with concepts such as space travel, nanotechnology or genetic engineering.

He said: "Science fiction fans often tend to start reading in their early teens, if not childhood, so they assimilate quite a lot of scientific concepts that other people don't. One thing science fiction does, however implausible, is make people aware that there is a big, big, big universe out there that we discover through science. I think the main way that SF contributes is by revealing the world of science to the public in a way that no other form does."

Several high-profile scientists have had a lifelong interest in sci-fi. Several of the NASA team that worked on the moon landings were keen readers of Robert A Heinlein, who the space agency eulogises on its website as an "author, futurist, and patriot". The whole basis of the internet was famously inspired by William Gibson's book Neuromancer and Isaac Asimov, who recently died, "invented" earth-orbiting satellites in one of his tales.

True sci-fi aficionados are scornful of the "cowboys and indians" style of films like Star Wars, which do away with the "plausibly argued non-realities" in favour of swashbuckling thrills.Macleod said: "SF is riddled with ridiculous science errors. Almost all science fiction moves have explosions in space you can hear which is impossible in a vacuum. They show spaceships listing towards planets when they are damaged as if they were ships that had been sunk and spaceships can do aircraft like manoeuvres in space - Star Wars had several great examples of that.

"Fans of SF tend to mock these implausibilities. It's just Hollywood physics, which reflect the level of popular misunderstanding of science."

Star Wars drew particular ire, he claimed, for its desert planets and forest moons, inhabited by a monoculture of cuddly Ewoks. The first time it approached plausibility was when it introduced the much-maligned Jar-Jar Binks, whose home planet had several animals with "convincing predator and prey" relationships.

Famously, Star Trek is somewhat different, with whole books written on how warp speed is achieved by the Enterprise, or the mechanics of phaser weapons used to zap the bad guys.

Writers simply cannot afford the mistakes of Hollywood. They are constantly spied on by an eagle-eyed cabal of readers and wannabe authors who pounce upon every mistake. Fans of written sci-fi are devoted, often with a scientific background, and form critical watch-groups on the internet to laud or lampoon authors. Neil Williamson, 39, leads the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle. With a degree in electrical and electronic engineering, he has written and edited novels and collections of science fiction stories. His interests in sci-fi and science have gone hand in hand, something he sees as commonplace.

He said: "Key parts of real life are now being designed by science fiction fans. The rate of change of consumer gadgets is almost too fast to keep up with and we have the internet, with all its hackers and crackers and online commerce and communities because 25 years ago William Gibson made it sound so cool.

"You can learn about big concepts and neat ideas and how people might deal with them by reading science fiction, but you should always refer to reality to learn about the science behind them. Whether the science in an SF story is central to the plot or merely part of the background furniture, the real benefit of it is snagging the imagination with ideas that the reader can follow up in real life."

Working scientists are often unabashed about the influence sci-fi had on them. Dr Martin Henry, senior lecturer at Glasgow University's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, works from a room crammed with models of Star Wars characters, the Millennium Falcon and an X-Wing. An interest in Star Wars was "almost entirely responsible" for his interest in the stars, something he now makes a living from.

He said: "I think it would be a bit foolish of scientists to pretend we should ignore science fiction, because it is really good at inspiring people. But in my subject in particular, if you ain't got the mathematical skills then you're going to struggle. No amount of watching Star Wars is going to help with that.

"But it lets people see there are horizons beyond what we can see down there."

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