Face facts

A few years ago I wrote a short story entitled “Face Facts” that was published in “Crime and Suspense” magazine and is now available as an ebook through Amazon, Apple, and other stores.  This story is about a man in the future who suffers from face blindness and who agrees to an operation to restore his face recognition ability.

New research at Yale University shows that people’s memories of faces can be reconstructed from fMRI scans.  Although the current technology reconstructs faces that are not exactly the same as the actual person seen, it — at least in part — shows that “Face Facts” may not be as far fetched as it may have sounded a few years ago.


Classic Gaming Expo is back in September 2014

I’ve attended the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s nice to see it has returned in 2014.  I haven’t decided if I can make it yet, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classic video games or wants to see what it’s all about.

Many know Las Vegas as a gambling mecca, but I think it’s a great jumping-off point for visiting some great parks.  “Valley of Fire State Park”, “Mojave National Preserve”, “Death Valley”, and “Red Rock Canyon” are within easy driving range.  Area 51 is not too far, and if you have a few days, Yosemite, Utah’s great parks, and “Great Basin” are always worth visiting.

Intellivision controller below (from Wikipedia)


Math as art

As a former math teacher who maintains a strong interest in the subject, I enjoy reading about people in the field.  When I recently ran across “Million Dollar Math Problem – Numberphile” — see below — I was impressed with the presentation on the topic.  It is perhaps the best and most understandable description of the Riemann Hypothesis that I have seen.

Not surprising, given the presenter’s ability to convey a tricky topic, Professor Edward Frenkel of the University of California Berkeley seems to be pretty prolific on the subject of math and education.  I particularly like his Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, “How our 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America’s kids”.

Electronic tattoo

Computerworld recently published a story about Google and others having recently popularized the idea of an electrionic tattoo.  Below is a video presented by the National Science Foundation which introduces electronic tattoo technology created through help of NSF research funds.

Medical usage and lie detection are possible near-term uses for electronic tattoos.  Since it is not like a physical tattoo — it doesn’t require tools that make permanent marks — it is possibly the technology will become popular for adding temporary artwork to a person’s body.  In my short story, “The Time of Your Life”, I included an animated tattoo — which readers responded positively to — on one of my female character’s arms.

Design advice from sports?

Greg Norman, professional golfer, has some pretty interesting advice to share about his training.  He says the best advice he ever got was to “Learn how to hit the ball as hard as you can off the tee.”  Worry later about how straight and accurate you can hit it.

I think this advice can be applied well to design too.  If you are a beginning writer, don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for your new-found interest.  For your first attempts, or even for first drafts, you may want to try writing the story you are interested in telling without worrying about writing technique.  Write, write a lot, but don’t worry whether it’s perfect — the equivalent of down the middle in golf.  If you are a game designer, don’t worry if you don’t know how to use all the tools.  Don’t be afraid to use whatever you are familiar with, such as pencil and paper or a text editor.  The tools and communications techniques you will need as part of a team are important, but first you need to exercise your game design abilities and enthusiasm for the work.

Kirk’s signature costs more than Q’s?

“The Away Mission” conference is coming to Tampa, FL on April 11, 2014.  While I realize that William Shatner is a popular actor, it’s a bit funny that Captain Kirk’s signature costs $80, while Q’s — John De Lancie plays the all powerful being — only costs $40.  Q appeared in many episodes with Captains Picard, Sisko, and Janeway, but it would have been fun to see how Captain Kirk would have reacted to Q.

Calming a hurricane

Dvice.com recently discussed Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s computer model that looks at how offshore wind turbines might affect a hurricane.  Though 70,000 turbines offshore is a tall order for some hurricane-prone area of America, it will be interesting to see if this kind of model and thinking inspires a company to take up the task.

According to Renewable Energy World, Europe is set to install about 8,000 offshore wind turbines by 2020.  So maybe it’s not impossible to think about 70,000 offshore of Florida or New Orleans or the East Coast in 2099.  Of course, the enormous cost would have to be offset by the potential for generating electricity and saving property and lives by reducing strong hurricanes.

Just a sci-fi thought?  There have been science fiction stories that examine ways to slow or steer hurricanes, including my own “M. Deidra” — a short story about hurricane wrangling.  The space elevator imagined by SF writer Arthur C. Clarke has become an icon of future space travel in our solar system and beyond.  Maybe a large offshore wind turbine farm will become an icon representing future weather control.

What films inspire innovation?

Here’s Innovation Excellence’s top 10 list of films that inspire innovation.  While I think that “Moneyball” is a good fit, and the other movies in the list are of interest, I wonder why they didn’t include science fiction movies in their top 10 or honorable mentions.

Phys.org recently posted an article on how “Science fiction inspires innovation in the real world.”   In 2001, the European Space Agency (ESA) presented a study entitled “Innovative Technologies from Science Fiction (ITSF)”.  Certainly “Star Trek” television and film episodes have inspired many engineers.