Joan Slonczewski, the Kenyon College microbiologist and award winning science fiction author of A Door into Ocean, recently launched her own blog: Ultraphyte. I believe that it is worth adding to your reading list.
NASA reports that the first manned Orion spacecraft is now being constructed. Find out more here: NASA – First Space Bound Orion Comes Alive.
I am watching Becoming Human: Last Human Standing on PBS’s Nova. I also watched the earlier two episodes in the series this morning: First Steps and Birth of Humanity. These shows are why I love PBS–insightful and enlightening programs that draw on amazing scientific discoveries. Specifically, this series demonstrates how we humans came to be the way we are. It employs archaeological evidence and fossil records to create the narrative of human evolution. It is well worth seeing.
I noticed that our cat Miao was very confused when the window blinds began to wave, the tower fan swayed back and forth, and the futon vibrated. CNN is saying that there was an earthquake in Virginia near DC. I wonder we felt that, or if there was another event connecting that event to what happened in Colorado earlier today.
Unfortunately, I can’t make it to SLSA this year in Ontario. However, I hope that those of you who are going remember to pay your registrations (and have a great time)!
Carol Colatrella, SLSA Executive Director, sent out the following reminder by email this morning:
PLEASE NOTE: Conference participants should note the early date of the 2011 meeting and should observe the registration deadline. Making travel arrangements in a timely way is also recommended.
Newsletter of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
Summer 2011, Vol. 20, No.4
SLSA 2011, Kitchener-Waterloo—CONFERENCE UPDATE
25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts
PLACE: Kitchener, Ontario
VENUES: Delta Hotel Kitchener, THEMUSEUM, Critical Media Lab (all within three short city blocks)
DATES: September 22-25, 2011
SITE COORDINATOR: Marcel O’Gorman, University of Waterloo
PROGRAM CHAIRS: Melissa Littlefield and Robert Markley, U. of Illinois; Susan Squier, Penn State University
The program committee has sent out responses to those who proposed papers or panels. Please contact Melissa Littlefield (email@example.com), Susan Squier (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Robert Markley (email@example.com) with questions.
This year’s conference in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, is promising to be quite an extravaganza. In addition to our usual array of exciting panels and celebrity plenary speakers (Bernard Stiegler and Isabelle Stengers), the conference will also host an exhibition at the Critical Media Lab, following our theme of Pharmakon. The work in this show will range from bronze cast pharmaceuticals, to antique syringes filled with red dye from Bible covers, to an interactive conversation with Wittgenstein designed to be played with the left hand. Delegates will also have a chance to experience CAFKA, Kitchener’s biennial of public art, including locative interventions by the geo-art group Spurse and architectural mutations by west coast artist Reece Terris. Finally, THEMUSEUM will be hosting an exhibition of computational art, including classic work by Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath, and Peter Vogel, in addition to a major new digital installation by David Rokeby.
For additional details, including online registration and hotel booking, please visit the blog-style conference web site, which evolves as new information becomes available: http://litsciarts.org/slsa11/ .
Delta Hotel Discount Deadline: August 22, 2011
Conference Registration Deadlines/Fees:
By September 15: Faculty $190, Students $100
After September 15: Faculty $210, Students $115
At the Conference: Faculty $225, Students $125
SLSA MEMBERSHIP: Participants in the 2011 conference must be 2011 members of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts. For more information about SLSA, please visit the organization website at http://www.litsciarts.org.
BOOK + ART PANELS: The SLSA Publications Committee has solicited proposals from published authors, artists, and curators who wish to discuss their RECENT work in a longer format than a regular panel presentation. The panel will consist of the author/artist/curator and two respondents/commentators. Thanks to the Publications Committee–Ron Broglio, Elizabeth Wilson, and Rob Mitchell for organizing panels that will discuss books including Susan Squier’s Poultry Science, Chicken Culture (2011); Brendon Larson’s Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability: Redefining our Relationship with Nature (2011); Rich Doyle, Darwin’s Pharmacy (2011); and Thierry Bardini’s Junkware (2011). Panels that involve artists and curators will be arranged in a special conference stream to be held at THEMUSEUM.
Paul Vallett’s “Scientific Process Rage” flow chart comic is simultaneously enlightening and hilarious (Heisenberg be damned!). In the comic, Vallett demonstrates the difference between public perceptions of science as reinforced by popular depictions of science and the real operation of science as a decidedly more complex process of discovery. You can find it here: Scientific Process Rage « Electron Café.
Y’s head cold, which she is still suffering from, has dispatched a rearguard to attack my ill-equipped bodily defenses. Thus, I now have a cold, too.
There isn’t much to do for a cold other than keeping one’s self comfortable and well fed with chicken soup. However, I do particularly enjoy reading uplifting things I am ill, because there is unequivocally something good about enriching the soul when the body is weak and perhaps through a sleight of hand the soul can trick the body into wellness again.
Something that I read today that I think you should read, too, is this short reflection on BoingBoing by Sawyer Rosenstein about his life and his recent visit to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis embark on its final flight into outer space.
I never made a point to see a space shuttle launch, and I suppose I never will have the chance to do so now since the whole program has been mothballed. I have taught my students about space travel, and I a voracious follower of updates to NASA’s websites. Yet, I didn’t make the time to hop into a car and trek down to Cape Canaveral for a launch. So it goes.
I am afraid that missing a shuttle launch will be a lingering regret of mine, but reading about others’ experiences and living vicariously through them is a rewarding endeavor, especially when you’re sick.
Spirit, the little NASA rover robot that got stuck in the sands of Mars after a long, arduous mission and yet soldiered on collecting data until harsh winters silenced its digital voice, has unfortunately shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to the resting place of other good electrical helpmates of humanity. Read about Spirit’s great accomplishments on NASA’s website here: NASA – NASAs Spirit Rover Completes Mission on Mars.
I am sad for the loss of Spirit even though I tried to introduce this post with a bit of Red Dwarf. Sometimes it is best to find the humor in the loss of someone or something as a salve. Spirit and its companion Opportunity demonstrated the tenacity of partially autonomous, artificial beings.
Back in 1996, I was very happy to learn about Spirit and Opportunity’s fore-bearers, Sojourner and Pathfinder. NASA gave a presentation in the aeronautical engineering building across Ferst Drive from Skiles. Besides the wonderful lecture and enthusiasm given by the presenters whose names I have long since forgot, each Georgia Tech student got to take home a CD-ROM with Quicktime movies and information about the Pathfinder project. I watched those movies many times on my old Apple PowerMacintosh 8500/120, which my parents had just given me to help with school. Through my 15″ Apple monitor, I imagined that I was on Mars with my robot companions.
Perhaps Spirit and Opportunity wanted to show up their ancestors who had outlived their mission by a couple of months by outliving their expected lifespans by years. Opportunity continues on the distant red planet of Mars, and I hope that it isn’t too saddened by the loss of its companion. I hope that it is resilient and continues its mission of exploration on humanity’s behalf on a desolate and lonely planet.
Science Channel seems to be my favorite channel to watch on cable. Today, I am watching the program Moon Machines. This series surveys the contributions by the many scientists, engineers, and skilled workers who contributed to the total effort to send twelve astronauts to the Moon’s surface and fourteen other astronauts to lunar orbit. This series provides a lot of archival photos, film, and interviews to support the topic of each show. I am overjoyed by this behind-the-scenes look at how we sought to achieve such a lofty goal before the end of the 1960s. The astronauts, whose lives were on the line, could not have done any of the adventuring that they did without the 400,000 people who enabled the grandest of adventures.
This page provides a summary of the episodes.