More Florida newspapers to be digitized reports that the University of Florida will spend the next two years selecting and digitizing about 100,000 Florida and Puerto Rican newspaper pages published between 1836 and 1922.  These will be added to the Library of Congress’ searchable newspaper archive online.

There are already some Florida newspapers that can be searched at, but this will presumably add many more in the next couple of years.  Google News archive has many digitized newspapers available for search as well, including some from Florida. The Ancestor Hunt has some information about searching various newspapers, and they created a video (below) that suggests ways to search some newspapers for free.

My short story “Fitter” is about a man looking for a perfect mate in my e-book “Science Fiction: Tragedies”.  I can imagine his descendants searching an online galactic newspaper archive to find out the truth about his remarkable story.

Curiosity hasn’t found methane on Mars

First, it was believed that orbiting sensors found evidence of methane in the Martian atmosphere.  Then, some speculative articles were written suggesting that the methane might be tied to life on Mars, perhaps in caves.  Now the Curiosity rover, which was supposed to confirm the presence of methane in the atmosphere, has found no methane on Mars.

I have yet to see an explanation as to why the original sensor readings were wrong.  If both the Curiosity and previous sensor readings are correct, then what explains that contradiction?

My published story, “My Brother’s Keeper” (The Martian Wave, Jan. 2005) — science fiction in the category of genetics, revolved around this theme of methane and Mars.  I may be including this short story in my upcoming “Science Fiction: Genetics” e-book.

Some jobs of the future

I like this SlideShare deck (below) entitled “20 Jobs of the Future”.  In particular, the idea of a Curiosity Tutor intrigues me.  It’s not that we don’t already have people who teach others how to be more creative — such as at work or in elementary school or in art class, but I think it would be exciting to live in a world where people are actively encouraged and licensed to professionally teach curiosity in general.

In my e-book “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs” people and robots come up with some creative solutions to difficult problems.  I didn’t mention it in my stories, but perhaps they benefitted from curiosity training.

What went on under the paint?

National Geographic online reports on “Picasso Under the Paint“.  Below or also at the National Gallery of Art you can see what was discovered under Picasso’s “Le Gourmet”.

I enjoy reading and thinking about the relationships between art and science.  Isn’t it amazing that we can see not only what’s under Picasso’s painting, but using infrared imaging also view a video of steps discovering the painting underneath?

In my e-book “Science Fiction: The Arts”, I have four short stories in which people look for some combination of art and science to help solve their problems.

Genealogy related news

Family Tree Magazine reports that “ and FamilySearch have announced a new long-term strategic agreement that’ll bring you a billion international genealogical records.”  Many Family Search microfilms can be ordered and browsed, but having them available online (digital) will make researching these old family records much easier.  Look for these digitized records and indexes over the next five years.

Curious about surnames?  Family Tree Magazine posted some hints for researching surnames.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” was renewed for a second season on The Learning Channel (TLC).  Look for it in 2014.  Full episodes from 2013 can be accessed on the TLC website.

SF Movie: Europa Report

“Europa Report” has mixed reviews online, but the look and style of this movie interests me.  It appears to be a rare hard SF movie, even if it is not.  In any case, I will eventually see it, as I find most things to do with Europa fascinating.

My science fiction short story “Assisted Living” first appeared on Story Station online and is also in my e-book, “Science Fiction: Future Youth”.  It’s about a boy on Europa and a young woman on Earth.  Both have a relationship to a particular ore found on Europa, and both discover a need for each other.


Social Impacts of Technology

Many of you have probably already seen this video, “I Forgot My Phone”,  on YouTube.  It’s about one young woman who doesn’t own a fancy (smart) phone.  Mostly, it seems to be a sad statement on the use of technology to disconnect from reality rather than the other way around.

As a computer science graduate from UC Irvine, I studied “Social Impacts of Computing”.  While I love technology and what it can do for entertainment, health, science, and other fields, I am often keenly aware of the downside.  My science fiction short story, “A Penny For Your Thoughts”, appeared in “Beyond Centauri magazine” April 2012.  It’s about another young woman who uses a future social media/mobile technology called Neuroo to communicate with friends.  It also disconnects her from family.  Or does it?

Jewish Genealogy

שלום Hello

What do you do if you don’t remember enough Hebrew or you never learned it, and you would like to translate Hebrew text on an ancestor’s headstone?  There are people who can translate it for you, and there are volunteers who can help (such as at Jewishgen), but you might first try a little bit of work yourself.  Jewishgen has a nice webpage devoted to reading Hebrew headstones.

You may also want to translate Russian, French, Spanish, German, or other languages (unfortunately, I don’t think Google or Bing does Yiddish yet).  You can locate several keyboards online, such as this Hebrew one at lexilogos.  One letter at a time, determine which letter represents the symbol on the headstone and type it in.  When you are done, copy the text and paste it into one of the online translators such as at Google or Bing.  Or using the text you copied from the virtual keyboard perform a search online.  If you’re lucky and you got the foreign text right, you may find the translated name of your ancestor as well as their parent.



Are people “right-brained” or “left-brained”?

Science Daily reports that while there are clearly mental operations like language that take place in the left or right side of the brain, researchers at the University of Utah assert “that there is no evidence within brain imaging that indicates some people are right-brained or left-brained.”  In the video below, DNews reports on the subject.

In my science fiction short story, “Coded Obsession” in my e-book “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs”, a computer programmer experiments with his own brain to try and change his thinking process.

Human brain to brain interface

According to CNet, at the University of Washington scientists were able to send a brain signal from one participant to another via the internet.  This could lead to advancements in human thinking, teaching, entertainment, assisted living, etc.  Obviously, there are also possible frightening implications for mind intervention or control in the distant future.

If you find this topic interesting, you might enjoy my science fiction short story, “A Penny For Your Thoughts” which centers around a mobile phone technology and a related future mind-internet technology.  This story was published in “Beyond Centauri” magazine a couple of years ago.