Tag Archives: science fiction

Are You Sure Mermaids Aren’t Real?

Today is a blogging milestone for me: This is my 100th post. I’m not sure anyone is as shocked as I am. I tried to think of a great way to celebrate. Of course, I’m revisiting one of my favorite topics: Mermaids!

Come celebrate at my new website. You can read the latest post about mermaid sightings. Sign up so you don’t miss any future posts, too.

Are You Sure Mermaids Aren’t Real?

Life-size self portrait of me as a mermaid

Life-size self portrait of me as a mermaid

Because Cockroaches Aren’t Strong Enough?

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a TINSTAAFL Tuesday.  I know it’s not Tuesday, but this is definitely TINSTAAFL (“There is no such thing as a free lunch”) worthy. In fact, I’m changing the category while I make blog adjustments.

From Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain USDA image)

From Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain USDA image)
Click image to go to source.

Cockroaches are gross. There I said it. I grew up in the Houston area where the cockroaches grow as large as small puppies.

When I was six or seven, I was waiting on the school sidewalk for my mom to pick me up. I was wearing sandals, and something tickled my foot. I ignored it for a second. Then I used my other foot to scratch the itch. It still itched. I looked down to see a ginormous roach on my practically-bare foot. I screamed and kicked my feet and danced around like the cowboy who has someone shooting at his feet in a Wild West movie.

*shiver*

What if you were in a disaster and your only hope for being rescued was a cyborg Madagascar hissing cockroach?  How about a cockroach with its own fuel cell?

Did I mention that I can’t stand these insects? I hope I’m not offending anyone out there who might love them.

*bleh*

Back to the disaster…

You’re trapped in a destroyed building. That’s pretty stressful (I know, understatement!). Then a cyborg cockroach runs toward you. I don’t know about you, but I might be tempted to smash it before I realized that it had some kind of technology attached to it, squishing my one chance of survival.  I hope I have something nearby to cover up the cockroach carnage so that I don’t have to look at it while I remain trapped.

*gag*

To keep things interesting, check out this article about cyborg flying insects.  The circuitry is implanted in the insect pupae and the adult moth’s flight can be controlled for military or security use.  The pictures and diagrams are fascinating. Evidently, this technology was inspired by a science fiction novel called Sparrowhark by Thomas A. Easton. I haven’t read it, but this is a clear case of science fiction intersecting with or inspiring current science.

While the bugs don’t seem to be harmed (beyond having someone control them), I just have to wonder if it is really necessary to make a practically-indestructible insect even more powerful.  They will outlive us all. Do we have to give them help?

Do the benefits outway the risks?  What kinds of things can you see go wrong with this kind of technology mixed with insects?  How would you react if a cyborg insect (crawling or flying) approached you in a disaster situation or any situation?

Decreasing My Footprint

No, I’m not changing my shoe size…although it might be more fun to shop if I could wear a smaller size. 😉

Think eco footprint.

When I think about how much trash we generate in our search for convenient packaging, I see a lot of trash going out our door that doesn’t have to.

What are we paying for with all the convenience of little zipper plastic bags in the kids’ lunches?

image

Cute patterns and colors

For this TINSTAAFL Tuesday, I’m doing something a little different. I’m going to share with you one of my recent finds that might help save our landfills from a few thousand plastic baggies and keep the world from looking like the trash-filled, desolate place shown in the movie Wall-e.

I’m going to use machine-washable bags that I found online.

Here’s my crazy thought process…

Ziploc now makes their baggies recyclable. You can then them in with the plastic grocery bags. Cool. But what if the bags are disgusting?

Who takes time to clean those baggies out before throwing them in the plastic bag recycle bin? If you’re like me, you probably just throw them in the trash rather than fool with the mess. Not very Earth friendly.

Then, I found these items on zulilly.com. I love this site for discounted shopping, especially for my clothes-horse 7 year old. There are several sites (Haute Look is another one I browse) that offer sample sale or discounted prices for all kinds of items.

ReUsies are nylon-lined, cotton pouches that can be washed in the washing machine or the dishwasher. The website has videos. I bought several sets from Zulilly (I hate to pay full price for an experiment).

I also bought a set of six zippered bags from Blue Avacado (I like their reusable shopping bag assortment, too). These are also washable in the washing machine.

For both kinds, you have to turn them inside out before washing. I mean really turn them inside out or else food that’s stuck in the corner may not wash out. Ewww.

I’m going to give it a try for awhile to see if I can keep many little plastic bags out of the landfill.

The girls have used them in their lunches for a few days. Daughter 1 reported that her lunch buddies made fun of hers, but she didn’t care. Her friends already think she’s unique, and they know her mom is a little goofy and cool. (Yes, my daughter’s friends think I’m cool!)

Do you do things to decrease your eco footprint? What do you think of reusable bags? What else is on your mind?

That is Not a Fuzzy Elephant

It seems that we keep intersecting with science fiction in our real lives, and I keep finding DNA and clone stories.  (You can read the one about glow-in-the-dark cats here.)  I’ve put together a clone mashup for you.  I still can’t believe that I didn’t post this this morning!

It must be Tuesday.

A Mammoth project and the half-life of DNA…

A month ago, Russian scientists announced that they found “well-preserved woolly mammoth fragments” in Siberia. They are testing the bone marrow, hair, and soft tissues to see if there are any living cells left.

Did anyone read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton?  How about the movie based on the novel by Steven Spielberg?

Yes, I know that mammoths are not anything like the carnivorious Tryannisaurus Rex.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) And, yes, it would be very cool to see a real, live fuzzy mammoth walking around on the frozen white tundra somewhere.  I’d like a free lunch as much as the next person, but we all know that there’s always a cost when science meddles.

by Shannon Esposito via WANA Commons

Interestingly enough, Nature.com posted an article earlier this month about a study that has determined the half life of DNA is 521 years, which means 6.8 millions years is the maximum length of time DNA might hold together.

That means no Tryannisaurus Rex clones running wild on an island in a “safe” enclosure, since they died out ten times as many years as that.  Whew!  *wipes brow*

The mammoths could still be a possibility, but we won’t know for months if the scientists find anything viable.  With no clear purpose, I’m not sure what kind of life a cold-loving animal would have in our world today.  Where are they going to keep it?  Won’t it be sad all by itself?  (I saw Ice Age--that animated mammoth wanted a family.)

Cloned horses with a purpose…

To bring it a little closer to home, check out this news video about cloned competition horses in Texas.   😀

One of the horses was a clone of a competition horse that couldn’t be bred (the reason wasn’t given), so the clone will give the horse’s qualities to its own offspring.  What?!

The cloned horse will mother the children of the parent horse.  Huh?!

The identical twin clone horse will be bred to have the equivalent offspring of the identical twin donor horse.  I think, maybe.  Sort of.

To their credit, they recognized the clone horses as different from the “parent” horses.  And the horses are all gorgeous.

But wait there’s more…

Multiplictiy film poster

One more thing (I promise I’ll leave cloning alone for a little while).  Everytime I joke that I need a clone, I always think about the silly movie that starred Michael Keaton (after he was Batman): Multiplicity.

It’s a great reminder that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Every new clone was exponentially less intelligent (more stupider?) than the last clone.

Needless to say, he gets into crazy trouble when his clones get him fired and make his wife mad at him (she doesn’t know about them…she just thinks he’s crazy).

Of course, my own clones would be smarter than that. (Just nod your head in agreement.)  They would do the stuff that I don’t want to do.  I’ll keep working and doing family stuff.   Do you see the flaw in my logic?

If my clones are really me, then wouldn’t they hate avoid doing windows (or bathrooms or toilets) just as much as I do?  They would completely ignore the spiderwebs way up in the skylight because a step ladder isn’t tall enough to help reach them.  Their piles of “stuff” on any available horizonal, flat surface would probably lead to clonicide.  That would probably be a really big mess that I’d have to clean up, since I bet the clones wouldn’t vaporize into dust like Spider-Man’s poorly made clones did.  Ewww.

No more dreams about cloning myself.  I’ll just have to wait around to see if any woolly mammoths get recreated.  Perhaps their purpose could be to wash my windows for me. Or, they could use their long trunks to get down those spiderwebs in the skylight.  Hmmm….

I’d love to hear what you think.  The comment box is always open.  🙂

 My quick #ROW80 update:

  • The back garden beds are still waiting for clean up.
  • Work out and eat better.  Food does not define me.
  • I’m a NaNoWriMo Rebel–finish the WIP and start editing. 15-20K is the goal.
  • Blogging class is in full swing (WANA International).  The Logline class was awesome–I highly recommend it.

A Vampire, a Jackal, and a Spot All Walk into a Spider Web…

From Marvel.com

October 14 was Spider-Man’s birthday, so I’m celebrating with the second post devoted to Spidey‘s supervillains on TINSTAAFL TUESDAY.  In the post last Tuesday, I explained that combining bad parenting with bad experiments creates really bad villains.

I covered eight of the villains who were created in the 1960s.  I have six more dastardly dudes to tell you about.  All were created after 1970. One in particular was created in 1971 after the Comic Book Authority changed some of the standard guidelines to include more types of crimes and creatures.  (The CBA had that little seal on almost every comic book since 1954 until recently–but that’s another story).

(The 1954 code is an interesting read if you have the time or inclination. It reads a bit like the homemakers’ handbooks–all prim and proper.)

Villains sometimes got their own series. These are two from my collection.

Spider-Man’s villains run the spectrum from plain ol’ bad guys and powerless minions to the evil criminals whose power is political or technical to the supervillains who got transformed by their quest for easy power.  Nothing is easy when it comes to power.  There is no such thing as a free lunch, and these six miscreants prove that point.   It’s worth noting that some of them had perfectly fine upbringings.  Also, Marvel started giving the bad guys more redeeming qualities (even if they didn’t reveal them often) and character development.

Morbius, the Living Vampire

Yes, that’s right.  Vampire. Before January 1971, the CBA didn’t allow them.  February 1971: Enter Dr. Michael Morbius, who had a rare blood disease.  In his efforts to find a cure, he and his assistant combined his bat serum and electric shock to see what would happen.  It gave him blood lust, and his assistant lost a lot of blood.  I don’t know how they didn’t see that coming.

He was the first of many vampires in comics.  He was a sympathetic character–he really was a good guy, but his self-induced vampirism made him go for blood.  At one point, he even promised to drink only bad people.  The tortured, souled pseudo-good guy vampire isn’t as recent as people think.

Morbius, honey, I know you have a good heart beating somewhere in that chest of yours.  Do yourself a favor and quit turning to the really evil villains to help you.  Maybe a job at a blood bank would serve you better.

Hammerhead

Hammerhead started out as a minion.  He was beaten to a pulp and left in an alley to die.  A surgeon (disgraced for good reasons, I imagine) decided to experiment on the gunman’s broken body.  He replaced all his broken bones with steel, which gave his head the hammerhead shape.  He remembered nothing from his past, except that he was a criminal and he liked it.  He even got some other evil-doers to upgrade his steel bits to something even stronger.

Hammerhead, your one redeeming moment was when you tried to save your dying sister–when you finally remembered that you had one.  However, you almost squandered your chance by drinking the special god-like serum yourself.  A bit selfish, don’t you think?  Leave it to Spider-Man to create a new batch to save your sister for you.  He didn’t do it for you.  Just sayin’.

The Jackal

Miles Warren had a normal family life.  He was a brilliant scientist.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have an ethical bone in his body.  He created “people” from animals, until a Jackal-man killed his family.  He fell in love with Peter Parker’s ill-fated girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, when she was his college student.   After she died and his assistant caught him cloning her, Warren killed his assistant.  He made himself The Jackal and then continued to torment Peter Parker/Spider-Man.   He created more clones (Gwen, Peter, himself) that had various levels of humanity and lifespans.

Dr. Warren, you should have taken the medical ethics course more than once in med school.  It’s sad that the only girl you could get to love you was a clone of the original Gwen Stacy.  I read the second clone saga when you tricked Peter into thinking he was the clone.  He was a newlywed no less.  I hadn’t been married long myself, so I really felt for Mary Jane. I wasn’t upset when you fell off that roof to save your Gwen Stacy clone.  I will be ticked off if that was really your clone.  No more clones, please.

Spot

Dr. Jonathan Ohnn worked for the Kingpin to find a way to recreate Cloak‘s powers.  Ohnn succeeded.  When the power failed because of his experiment, he stepped into the destabilized portal.  As a result, he gained the power to transport himself anywhere.

Your first mistake was to work for the Kingpin.  You weren’t a very good supervillain.  It would be handy to travel through portals, but I think it’s a bit odd that you wear them.  You really should clean up your act.

Tombstone

Lonnie Lincoln was born an albino and was picked on in school.  He grew up to be an intimidating guy and was a mean crook.  A former high school classmate, Robbie Robertson, witnessed Lonnie commit murder, so he tried to kill him. Robbie got away with a little help from Spider-Man during a fight at the Osborn Chemical Plant.  In the fight, Lonnie got doused with an experiment chemical, which made him superhuman. Great.  He wasn’t already scary enough.

Hey, Tombstone, you aren’t a superhuman or a supervillain, you’re a super bully.  Filing your teeth into points is not very good oral hygiene either.

All these villains paid a price when they transformed.  Humanity, in some cases, had already been lost, and the transformations took care of the rest.  I hope Spidey had a great birthday that was free of villains and battles!

Did you also notice that women supervillains still haven’t shown up in Spider-Man’s world just yet?  The women start showing up soon after these guys in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  I might cover them another time.

What do you think about these guys or other supervillains?  Do you prefer the villains over the superheroes? 

An Asteroid to Save the Planet

It’s TINSTAAFL Tuesday.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to post about until I saw this bit of future possibility of science fiction becoming reality.  Speculative fiction might be a better description of it.

The article talks about the possibility of harnessing the dust from an asteroid to help reduce global warming.  The dust could act as a sunshade.

*blink, blink*

In the movie Armageddon, Harry (Bruce Willis), A.J. (Ben Affleck), Dan (Billy Bob Thornton), and several other key men (and other amazing actors) must save the Earth from the impact of an asteroid.  Meanwhile, Grace (Liv Tyler) waits for her father, Harry, and her boyfriend (A.J.) to pull off the impossible or die.  Well, if they die, everyone on Earth dies, too.

There is a difference between saving the Earth from impending doom, as in the movie, and geoengineering.  Yes, I know that the movie was fiction and full of inaccuracies of real science.  It was entertaining and fun to watch, and the characters in the movie had no free lunch.  Their lives and sanity were at risk the entire time.

I’m not altogether sold on the theory of global warming, mostly because I think the planet is what it is.  The jury is still out.  Yes, humans do a fine job messing with the environment, but Earth is not static.   There is so much we don’t know about the planet.

Back to the idea that we could harness an asteroid and nudge it close enough to Earth so that its dust particles shade us from the sun to cool us down a little bit.

*blink, blink*

But how do they calculate the tiny 1.7 percent reduction?  What if there is a miscalculation or misinterpretation of data?  Also, there is a concern for safety.

*blink, blink*

It’s not that I think this is a crazy idea (well, not completely).   I’m just saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

I won’t even list all the things that are humanly possible to go wrong with this idea.  Oh, fine, just two:

  • The percentage might be miscalculated.  A 17 percent change is significant whereas 1.7 percent isn’t.  I presume the scientists involved are much better at math than I am though.
  • The weight of the asteroid is bigger than thought so the momentum carries it too close for comfort.  And since the scenario in Armageddon isn’t realistic, the people in charge of space will have to come up with another plan while our moon is hurdled into a different orbit.

Very nice!  I just came up with new science fiction story ideas to start working on.  Cool!  Thanks, geoengineers!

Your turn to share a bit of your lunch.  🙂

Did you see the movie, Armageddon?  If so, did you like it?  Do you do anything on your own to help the planet (recycle, drive a hybrid vehicle, ride a bike to work)?   What do you think about the possibilities of geoengineering to safeguard the environment?