Cornell archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller harvests "weeds" from across North America, seeking the remnants of "lost crops," the plants cultivated by the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.
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Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders on 10 years of io9.
Annalee: We wanted to have a vision of the future for our readers that wasn’t completely silly but that wasn’t hopeless and dystopian. And again, part of covering science was very important to that because it was about how our stories could actually infect reality in a good way, and that what we dream can come true and that science and science fiction are part of the same project, which is to progressively improve reality for the maximum number of people.
They planned on naming it "Futurista" but couldn't get the domain. 'io9.com' turned out to be tough because of i/1 and 0/O confusion, and because the domain was heavily penalized by google due to prior use for porn, but the site was so good (and so successful) it didn't matter for long. Read the rest
Star Trek has many spinoffs, but they all happen within a fairly shallow focal plane: consider how controversial it was to set DS9 on a space station instead of a starship, or how radical it seemed for Discovery to not star the ship's commanding officer. Tiffany Kelly got eight SF writers to cook up more intriguing adventures in America's favorite future.
I like the ideas from Rob Boffard, Annalee Newitz andd Charles Yu, who each want a look at invisible levels of Klingon and Federation society. Newitz wants to see Klingon scientists and workers navigating the military elite's endless honor games; Yu wants to make a hero of a green-visored Ferenghi number-crunching his way through the Federation finances, a moneyless socialist energy economy that must yet do business with a universe that runs on gold-pressed Latinum.
(Together, the eight proposals seem almost like a critique of Star Trek's practical limitations as television SF.) Read the rest
Annalee Newitz's debut novel Autonomous
is everything you'd hope for from the co-founder of IO9, a much-respected science communicator with a longstanding sideline in weird sex and gender issues: a robosexual romp through a class war dystopia where biotech patent-enforcement is the only real law remaining, where indentured humans resent the conscious, enslaved robots for making forced labor socially acceptable, and where hackerspaces become biohackerspaces, home to reverse-engineered, open source pharma and GMOs that might just save the future.
Last week's solution to the ages-old mystery of the Voynich Manuscript was offered in the Times Literary Supplement by TV history researcher Nicholas Gibbs, who claimed that his unique background in several fields meant that he could pierce the mystery where so many others had failed. Read the rest
Google often boasts about the 10,000 skilled raters who test its results, reporting weird kinks in the ranking algorithms and classifiers that the company uses for everything from search results to ad placement to automated photo recognition. Read the rest
We've followed Annalee Newitz's career here
for more than a decade, from her science writing fellowship to her work as an EFF staffer to her founding of IO9 and her move to Ars Technica and the 2013 publication of her first book
, nonfiction guidance on surviving the end of the world and rebooting civilization: now, I'm pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Autonomous
, her debut novel, which Tor will publish in September 2017, along with the first look at her cover, designed by the incomparable Will Staehle. As her editor, Liz Gorinsky, notes, "Autonomous takes an action-packed chase narrative and adds Annalee's well-honed insight into issues of AI autonomy, pharmaceutical piracy, and maker culture to make a book that's accessible, entertaining, and ridiculously smart." I'm three quarters of the way through an early copy, and I heartily agree.
BB pal Ariel "Spacehack" Waldman has curated a stellar program for the big DENT: SPACE conference next week (9/21-9/22) in San Francisco! I'm honored to be on the schedule with such amazing people as SETI Institute's Seth Shostak, science writer Mary Roach, The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla, Ars Technica's Annalee Newitz, UC Berkeley planet hunter Alex Filippenko, and so many more fascinating folks! I'll be joining Ariel on stage Thursday at 2:50pm to talk about space history and the intersection of science and art to instill a sense of wonder about the universe, and a far out new project that I'll announce soon. See below on how to get a free ticket! Ariel writes:
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On September 21-22, 2016, Dent:Space takes place at the Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts (formerly the Exploratorium museum) with two stages of fascinating speakers spanning the technological, artistic, commercial, scientific, educational, and DIY aspects of space exploration. We’re also putting together an exhibit hall for the conference — kind of a World’s Fair-like set of interactive demos that illustrate the future of space exploration and its many possibilities. We were able to give away 3,000 free tickets to the talks and exhibits, but we’ve run out of room for that. In the interest of keeping it all accessible for as many as possible, tickets are still only $49. But, as a (Boing Boing reader), you can still grab a free ticket here
Dent:Space is a celebration of humans breaking the status quo of who can be involved and what can be achieved in space exploration.
Director Oscar Sharp and AI researcher Ross Goodwin trained a machine-learning system with a huge pile of classic science fiction screenplays and turned it loose to write a short film. What emerged was an enigmatic 9-minute movie called Sunspring, which has just won Sci-Fi London's 48-hour challenge. Read the rest
For nearly a decade, science fiction historian Joshua Glenn has waged a campaign to resurrect the "Radium Age" of science fiction: the period from 1904-1933 when writers turned their pens to "Air Battles, Antigravity, Interplanetary Voyages, Lost Worlds, Mad Scientists, Time Travel, and Utopias," before writers like Andre Norton and Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov began their careers. Read the rest
In Global proliferation of cephalopods a paper in Current Biology, an esteemed group of marine biologists reports that the population of octopuses (and other cephalopods) is booming thanks to its ability to adapt quickly to ocean acidification and temperature change, which is killing off other types of marine life at alarming rates. Read the rest
Shiv Integer is a bot created by artists Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef; it downloads Creative Commons-licensed models from Thingiverse, mashes them up into weird and often amazing new shapes, adds machine-generated titles and descriptions to them, and posts them. Read the rest
The hot trend in Hollywood is to recast fairy tales as gritty, pathos-driven tragic emofeasts: Maleficent was symbolically raped as a youngster, Peter Pan was a lonely British schoolboy, and so forth. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the latest and it's "90% terrible," reports Annalee Newitz.
There is something fascinating, in a purely sociological sense, about watching a movie like this. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones may have reinvigorated epic fantasy filmmaking, but they are also inspiring their fair share of stinky knockoffs. Some of those knockoffs are silly fun, like the first Huntsman film. But this prequel-sequel abomination is barely good enough for hate-watching unless you want to see the purest expression of paint-by-dollars filmmaking to come out this year.
Great Evil Queen outfits, though! Also remarkable is the degree of lifting it does – of images and even phrases — from Game of Thrones. No-one's accusing it of plagiarism; it's just tacky, a dollar-store laser sword with a Star Wars price tag.
Steven Rea appears to be the only critic who likes it, if you'd like a second opinion. Read the rest
Since the 12th century -- and up to this very day -- tourists venture to Somerset's Glastonbury Abbey to see the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, allegedly buried in the churchyard by 12th century monks who discovered their skeletons in an underground tree-trunk. Read the rest