Tuesday, September 05, 2006

When does Science Fiction become fact?

I am a big fan of SciFi. Good science fiction is my favorite way to escape from life's more pressing and mundane matters. Now when I say "good", I mean that there is real science in it. Nothing annoys me more that to have a character peer through a microscope to determine the chemical structure of some liquid they found, or some other such nonsense.

I'm also a big fan of having science be accessible to the general public. Which is often difficult given how pedantic and obsfuscating us scientists tend to be. Which is why I am an organizer for Science on Tap. At these events, we bring in a scientist and - if you are so inclined - we drink beer and ask the scientist all those questions we would never dare to ask in an academic setting.

Last monday, we didn't have a scientist at our event, we had Michael Laine, President of the Liftport Groups. Liftport is planning on building a space elevator. Now this is definitely science fiction, has been for over a century, yet we are now at a point where it is starting to encroach on the realm of the possible. All that means however, is now we can actually start to realistically ask the questions that will have this dream take on life and alter the way we see ourselves in the universe, or fade back into the realm of someday. One thing that is becoming clear, is that even if we don't/can't build one on earth, this is an entirely viable option for the other celestial bodies we colonize, oh wait, that part is still science fiction too.

At next month's event we delve back into the world of hard science, string theory. Actually that in itself is a little joke; a Columbia University Mathematician has come out with a book that poo-poos the whole theory, Not Even Wrong. Next months talk should be lively, yes even for those of you who can't possibly think of a talk about string theory being lively.

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