What Will Happen in the Next Worldwide Viral Pandemic?

Spanish Flu - Viral Pandemic

I’ve just finished reading “The Great Influenza,” a book which can make anyone seriously paranoid. It’s a comprehensive history of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. You can’t help but wonder about the possibility of another worldwide viral pandemic.

Just to be clear, I don’t count myself as a “Doomsday Prepper.” Even so, after reading this book, you start to think that making a few preparations might not be such a bad idea. (more…)

How about a Prefab Hobbit House?

A Hobbit House in New Zealand

Image Credit – Shaun Jeffers Photography

I came across this interesting post today. A company called Green Magic Homes can build you prefab Hobbit House. Okay, the Hobbit thing is marketing, I’ll pretty sure they aren’t selling mostly to Hobbits.

Instead, let’s think more in engineering and design terms. Maybe there is something here for folks who want to live off-grid, or mostly off-grid. This basic design could also work for seasonal cabins, vacation homes, survivalists might also find it attractive. (more…)

The Day of the Triffids – BBC Series Thoughts

The Day of the Triffids - BBC 2009

The Day of the Triffids was a science fiction classic by John Wyndam, first published in 1951. Like many of the books and movies of the 1950s and 1960s, it reflects cold war paranoia, and to no small extent, suspicion about new technology.

I’m a big fan of old movies, especially old horror and science fiction. They often tell us a lot about both our dreams and our fears. There was a move adaptation in the early ’60s which I haven’t seen.  According to reviews, it was mediocre at best.  But I recently had a chance to see the 2009 BBC version, and I was impressed.  A movie about tall, walking, carnivorous plants doesn’t sound that appealing, but I had read the book as a child, and the BBC adaptation had good reviews, so why not take a chance?  Glad I did, there turned out to be a lot more going on here that you would guess from the description.
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Is it possible to Colonize the Galaxy?

Alien MonolithTo answer the question, “Is it possible to Colonize the Galaxy?”, we need to think about the physics of interstellar travel. Last week we talked about communication, and the thesis that Faster than Light (FTL) communication is a requirement for a meaningful dialog. Receiving radio signals from a technological civilization would certainly change our understanding of the universe, but receiving a message, even if we understand it completely, does not necessarily imply that a meaningful dialog is possible.

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Is SETI a wasted effort?

Alien Monolith - SETII think SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is a wasted effort. Just to be clear, it’s not the concept of Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence that’s a waste, it’s the way it’s being done. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but there is a certain logic.

As I see it, SETI is about two things. First, to find out if advanced, technological civilizations exist, and second, to possibly communicate with them. (more…)