Prescience, Futurism, Hard SF… Go See WALL-E

Posted on 30th June 2008 by Ryan Somma in Mediaphilism - Tags: , ,

WALL-E's Curiosity Gives it Purpose

WALL-E’s Curiosity Gives it Purpose
Credit: Pixar Studios

Great Science Fiction films come out so rarely that I am overjoyed when a movie like Pixar’s WALL-E hits the screens. This is one of those rare SF stories that ventures into the distant future, a place so alien most SF writers don’t want to touch it.

WALL-E leaps more that 700 years into the future to a dystopian time where the human race has evacuated the Earth after burying it in trash. Waste Allocation Load Lifters Earth-Class (WALL-E) robots are left with the task of cleaning up the planet so humans may one day return. Only one such robot remains, WALL-E, with a cockroach as a companion, where all the other bots have long-since broken down.

WALL-E is Solar Powered

WALL-E is Solar Powered
Credit: Pixar Studios

WALL-E has survived these 700 years because it has learned to recycle from the skyscraper-tall mountains of garbage it has assembled. WALL-E is inquisitive, experimenting with the world around it, playing with all the toys left behind from our shopaholic binge on Earth. Its curiosity has obviously also had a crucial role in its survival all these centuries.

WALL-E meets EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a vastly more advanced robot sent from the humans in space, in a “boy meets girl” storyline that makes WALL-E a stowaway back to the human ship, where we find a society of humans all turned into obese blobs floating on mobile beds which perpetually feed them commercialized media and “meals in cup.” Such a dystopian future is not difficult to imagine in our present society, where we are encouraged to buy things we do not need and consume nutritionless calories far in excess of what our bodies can burn.


Credit: Pixar Studios

Can WALL-E and EVE save the human race? See for yourself. I left the theater to find myself confronted with a world of brandnames, and a fascinating new perspective on them and what they are doing to our human evolution. Impacting our worldview is what good science fiction is all about.

I also had lots of fun playing with Disney’s WALL-E Website

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur C. Clark!

Posted on 16th December 2007 by Ryan Somma in science holidays - Tags: , ,
Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Photo by Anuradha Ratnaweera

The knighted science fiction author turns 90 years old today.

His book 2001: A Space Odyssey was made into a very trippy, far-out and visually stunning film, but also one that left out so many of the important plot elements that made Clarke’s novel so great. All that flashy, psychedelic stuff happening at the film’s end? That was the astronaut becoming ambassador to the human race, existing at all stages of a human lifetime at once.

2010: Odyssey Two was made into a straightforward science fiction film, with great special effects, but again failed to explain what was going on in the film’s final moments, when Jupiter gets turned into a star in order to thaw out Europa and promote the evolution of life there. We know this, because, in a crucial scene from the novel that gets left out of the movie, an alien life form emerges from the ice of Europa to swallow a Japanese spacecraft that has landed there, attracted by its lights, leaving a sole astronaut to describe what he has witnessed.

2061 and 3001 were also great books, hard SF, and very thought provoking. While I’ve read countless short stories by Clarke, the only other novel I’ve read was Childhood’s End, about an evolutionary leap in the human race and a great, quick read.

Clarke is also an official knight, which isn’t as cool as being a ninja, but pretty dang-gone cool nonetheless.

Happy Birthday and thanks for the futurist inspirations Sir Clarke!!!

Comments Off on Happy Birthday Sir Arthur C. Clark!

Holiday Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Posted on 10th December 2007 by Ryan Somma in Geeking Out - Tags: , ,
LED Holiday Tree at Port Discover
LED Holiday Tree at Port Discover

LEDs are the future of light, and may soon overtake Compact Fluorescent bulbs as the best choice for efficient home lighting. LEDs don’t have filaments, the part that easily burns out in ordinary bulbs, and they do not product heat like incandescent bulbs.

LEDs also last far longer than standard bulbs, usually 50,000 hours, but sometimes up to 100,000 hours (that’s 30 to 40 years in normal service), compared to Compact Florescent bulbs’ 3,000 to 10,000 hours. Unlike Compact Florescent bulbs, LEDs do not contain mercury, and therefore do not pose as much of an environmental problem in disposal.

The Light Up the World Foundation is using the energy efficient nature of LEDs to bring reading light to Third World Countries all over the world. With the energy it takes to power a single 100-watt Incandescent Bulb, they are lighting up 100 LEDs using the solar, wind, or pedal power.

See Also: Blue Marble’s article Deck the Halls with LEDs

Comments Off on Holiday Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs)

One Web Day 2007

Posted on 22nd September 2007 by Ryan Somma in science holidays - Tags:

William Gibson predicted the Internet, but his visions were barren and lifeless compared to the enchanting pandemonium we get to experience daily. Isaac Asimov predicted a world village connected with light-wave signals through satellites, but could nowhere near imagine the scope of social change, the effective mobocracy that it taking place. No futurist accurately predicted this delightful Memetic Playground that is the InterWebbies.

1900's Vision of 2000
1900’s Vision of 2000

The World Wide Web sufficiently increased my intelligence so that I could join Mensa. It completely changed my modes of thinking. Where I was previously limited to having my learning directed by the content of books and television, I now draw my own threads of inquiry, following the hyperlinks from data bit to data bit, creatively hybridizing knowledge into new ideas and perspectives.

The Internet promises the complete democratization of knowledge. Sites like Jamendo have freed me from corporate-push music and Miro from corporate-dictated television. The Internet is freeing us from the inbred lowest common denominator media that is the result of incestuous relationships between news, entertainment, and other industries.

I feel privileged to witness this transition into the Communications Revolution, and perhaps I will get to see a few more revolutions. So long as the Internet continues to mix and match memes, we may not be far from a revolution of revolutions. Empowered individuals are bringing about an Age of Amateurs, which will in turn spur an Age of Ages.

Surprise me.

Happy One Web Day.