Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Does Superman Shave?

So, Gillette is using the question as part of their marketing campaign - pretty cleverly, I think. They ask famous nerds like Kevin Smith and Bill Nye what their theories are, and they come up with some pretty elaborate (the Mythbusters' Large Hadron Collider Theory) and pretty painful (Kevin Smith's Comet Theory) solutions.

But I have a simpler, more obvious explanation.

Superman gets his powers from the rays of Sol, our yellow G-type sun. Under the rays of a red sun, like that of Krypton, he becomes a normal being, as vulnerable to sharp objects as anybody else. So all he needs to shave (and trim his hair, and wax, for all we know - that is a pretty skintight suit, after all) is to replicate red-sun conditions for a while until his beard softens up, and then go to it. Maybe he carries a scruff until a really good sunset; or he has a special darkroom kitted up with red-sun LEDs.

Of course, that means that for ten minutes a day, Earth is defenseless as Superman grooms himself. Which means that the day you see Superman sporting an elaborate, time-intensive hairstyle is the day he has stopped caring about his job. Get ready to kneel before Zod.

ETA: One of the celebs with a theory is Mayim Bialik, actress and neurobiology PhD. And for those who only know her from the Big Bang Theory...wow. Just wow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Wish Vernor Vinge Weren't So Freaking Smart

Some of you may remember how I've hyped Doc Vinge in the past. The man who predicted the Singularity (which allowed Ray Kurzweil to become king of the celebrinerds) and got to cyberspace before Gibson.

Well, my favorite Vinge work is A Deepness in the Sky, which contains half a dozen mind-blowing concepts, some of them utterly terrifying. One of the creepiest is the "Larsen localizers," the great-great-grandchildren of RFID chips: dust mote-sized computers that individually contain a tiny bit of sensing and processing power, but together form into an immensely powerful network that can monitor virtually everything that happens in the localizers' covered area. This leads to "ubiquitous law enforcement" - tyrannies that make Big Brother look like Ron Paul.

Well, guess who's working on Larsen localizers now, 14 years after ADITS came out? Just about everybody. Here's the original announcement.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May the Fourth Be With You

Looks like I missed the boat. Apparently, May 4th is unofficial Star Wars Day. A nerds-only holiday based on a pun and a fictional universe, and I didn't know about it. Not only did I NOT know about it, but CNBC got there first!

I have clearly and definitively transitioned out of fandom. I was never wholeheartedly part of it, but it's clear that I'm way, way gone from it now.

I think I can live with that. It's sort of a feeling of...reverse shame.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mendelssohn's Fantastic Almanac - the Neckronomicon

This tome of madness holds secrets that Man Was Not Meant To Know. Unutterable secrets. Abominable secrets. Chiropractic secrets.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Defiance - the Reviews Are in, and-

-sadly, unless things get better, this is another damp squib. It's also confirmation of the truism that special effects and money don't guarantee interesting science fiction.

(Oh, by the way - if you read farther, there's some slightly NSFW material. Say...PG-13.)

The show looks good enough. The battered St. Louis Arch dominating the sky is an apt visual symbol for a post-apocalyptic Earth (not quite as good as a half-buried Statue of Liberty, but then, what is?); the sets have the ragged, refugee-chic look that a solid production budget can provide; there are plenty of alien species for that sprinkle of exoticism. Heck, they even invented new languages for the alien Votan races, and that worked for Game of Thrones and Star Trek. So why doesn't Defiance satisfy?