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Truth is in the eye of the beholder as much as beauty is.  Can you write a story from the point of view of all of the minor characters?

Clarke’s Law, named after Arthur C Clarke, states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

We’ve all read stories where the people with magic turned out to be using high tech gizmos.  What if it was the other way around?  All technology is actually run by magic, and there is a huge conspiracy among scientists to keep it a secret.

What if…

  • Cinderella’s sisters were aliens?
  • The Little Mermaid finds a waterproof computer and meets the prince online?

What other fairy tales can you amend for the modern world?  What would be the impact on Mermaid society if they had access to computers?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Dunbar’s Number is the maximum size of a social group before it becomes impossible to have proper meaningful social interaction.  From Less Wrong:

Another problem with our oversized world is the illusion of increased competition.  There’s that famous survey which showed that Harvard students would rather make $50,000 if their peers were making $25,000 than make $100,000 if their peers were receiving $200,000—and worse, they weren’t necessarily wrong about what would make them happy.  With a fixed income, you’re unhappier at the low end of a high-class neighborhood than the high end of a middle-class neighborhood.

But in a “neighborhood” the size of Earth—well, you’re actually quite unlikely to run into either Bill Gates or Angelina Jolie on any given day.  But the media relentlessly bombards you with stories about the interesting people who are much richer than you or much more attractive, as if they actually constituted a large fraction of the world.

So what if we lived in a world where adverts and TV programming was designed for us, specifically to make us feel better about ourselves?  Everyone is happy, because everyone thinks that they live at the high end of the neighbourhood.

Do you think that kind of world is possible?  How would you go about segregating people into groups of less than 150, given the number of people in the world today?

From Science Daily:

Sombrero Galaxy Has Split Personality

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2012) — While some galaxies are rotund and others are slender disks like our spiral Milky Way, new observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is both. The galaxy, which is a round elliptical galaxy with a thin disk embedded inside, is one of the first known to exhibit characteristics of the two different types. The findings will lead to a better understanding of galaxy evolution, a topic still poorly understood.

“The Sombrero is more complex than previously thought,” said Dimitri Gadotti of the European Southern Observatory in Chile and lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The only way to understand all we know about this galaxy is to think of it as two galaxies, one inside the other.”

Two thoughts immediately spring to mind.  Do Galaxies have personality?  Perhaps they are sentient.  What would they think of us?

And secondly, if they are sentient, this galaxy is like two, one inside the other – is it pregnant?  Or giving a friend a hug?

Also from New Scientist:

IF AN email message were a physical object, what would it be? For Ted Hayes, a freelance designer based in New York, it’s a soap bubble.

He decided to connect his inbox to a toy soap-bubble gun using cheap and simple electronics. Hayes had little technical skill at the time, yet he got the contraption to work, spreading bubbles each time he received an email. He says he was pleased that “a normally frivolous and cheap plastic object could become interconnected with the world”.

Hayes represents a growing movement of tinkerers who are merging the online and physical worlds in surprising ways. Instead of waiting for technology companies like Cisco or Apple to make their gadgets, these “makers” are buying off-the-shelf computer chips, sensors and wireless radios, and doing it themselves.

So if email can cause a bubble machine to sprout out bubbles, what else could it do?  Perhaps make tea, or turn on the TV, or perhaps something more sinister.

What do you think an inventor could come up with that would change the world?  Leave your answer in the comments!

From New Scientist:

Computer models of asteroid orbits are showing that small space rocks a few metres across can lodge in Earth’s gravitational field if they stray too close. Only a tiny fraction of them break up and hit our planet. Most orbit unseen for months or years, somewhere beyond the moon, before slipping safely and silently back into deep space. But while they remain close, they are mini-moons of Earth.

Apparently these mini-moons are rich in rare minerals, and small enough that we could go up there with a rocket and bring back a whole one to study.

Two thoughts:

  • What if we brought one back and it was full of alien spores?
  • (For children) What if we brought one back and it turned out to be made of cheese?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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