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When God destroyed the world with a flood, he saved Noah because he was a virtuous man.  He also saved two of every animal, and presumably managed to pick the two good ones in the process.

But what about the fish?

The fish wouldn’t have been bothered by the flood, and they would have all survived (minus a few that got caught over land when the flood receeded, I suppose).  So the question we are left with is this:

Are fish evil?

How often are you browsing a list of post titles or news stories and find one that looks interesting, only to click on the link and find something utterly dull?

For example:

My Friend the Assassin (really about a historical Nazi-related assassination, I didn’t really read it very thoroughly);

Cookie Law set to come into force (to be fair, I knew this one was about computer cookies before I clicked on it, but I couldn’t help but hope for chocolate chip);

Satellite images help doctors count people from space, which I was hoping would be about a precursor to the ubiquitous “Life Signs Scanner”, but which turned out to be about counting different types of houses to estimate population size.

Give your own examples in the comments!

I’ve been reading The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel and its sequels recently.  The basic premise is that a young human girl was orphaned by an earthquake and found by a clan of Neanderthals.  She is brought up by them, before leaving to find her own people and learning more about her own heritage.  There are a whole bunch of sub-plots about the things that she gets up to, which are pretty interesting and well written.

The books are well worth reading, especially if you like learning about other cultures, although if you read them all through one after the other you start to notice a reasonable amount of repetition.

But anyway, it got me thinking.  What would our world be like today if the neanderthals had not died out?

Studies have shown that there was a small amount of interbreeding.  Would that have continued or would the species have diverged to the point where it wasn’t possible any more?

How would the two races collaborate with each other?  Would we avoid each other?  Would one race be dominant?  Would we be constantly at war with them?  Or would we have moved past those reactions to intermingle more or less freely, in the same way that black people were first enslaved and then dominated and now are supposedly* equal in most of the world?

This idea is so obvious that I’m sure it must have been done before.  If anyone can point me towards any good books, I’d be grateful.


* I would love to say actually equal, but I know that in many places they aren’t yet.  Something to strive for.

Researchers have found a gene which is essential for the production of healthy sperm.  In mice, of course, but they’re hoping it will work in humans.  They’re claiming that this will enable them to produce a reversible contraceptive pill.

Two ideas spring to mind.

Firstly, they create this pill, millions of people take it, and then we discover that it’s not reversible after all.  There would have to be some interesting circumstances for this to work, otherwise it would never get through drug testing regimes to be widely available.

Secondly, what if other people do further research and discover a way of making it permanent.  A new age of biological warfare emerges, run by people with long-term goals.  If you sterilise your enemies, as long as you have some patience you don’t need to kill them all.

Second-and-a-halfly, the biological warfare team find a way of targeting the gene only in certain types of people.  Hmmm, maybe the government finds a gene which controls aggressive behaviour and targets people who have that.  Future generations become placid.

Cloaking idea traps a rainbow

Researchers have trapped a rainbow – slowing light to a near-stop – in an array of 25,000 “invisibility cloaks”, each smaller than a hair’s breadth.

We shall leave aside for the moment the fact that their definition of “near-stop” is not the same as mine, consisting as it seems to of separating the light into its constituent colours.

In essence, they have arranged some tiny lenses in an array, creating a tiny cloaked area in the centre.  You can’t see what’s there, because the light is bent around it by the lenses. The rainbow effect comes from slowing some of the light more than the rest.

If we can slow light down, does this mean that FTL travel is easier than we thought?  It wouldn’t help us actually get anywhere faster, but if we slow light down enough, we could go faster than it.

Well, this was supposed to be a reward for anyone who answered my challenge, but I decided not to wait and just post it.  Mainly because I had too much fun writing it!

So here we go:

Sithar looked down on the blue-green jewel and sneered.  These puny hoo-mans would never know what hit them.  They couldn’t even fly unaided, they had to make machines to take them to the skies.

He looked around at his nest-mates, satisfied to see them arrayed perfectly to either side.  It was time for the assault to begin.

Raising his snout he shot flame towards the sky, using the momentum to hurl him out of their stable orbit and towards the planet below.  He knew without looking that his nest-mates were following, eager for the kill.

As the flight of dragons entered low earth orbit, they were suddenly assaulted by thousands of tiny particles.  Metal, ceramic, plastic, even some excrement, ye gads these hoo-mans were disgusting!

The constant barrage was having an effect on the team.  Wings became tattered despite being tucked safely away.  Their sensitive eyes and snouts were filled with high velocity grit.


The call went out telepathically, far too late.  Sithar opened his mouth to shoot forth flame and it was immediately filled with sharp, fast-flying debris.  He tumbled, out of control, flame spouting in all directions.

The world below spun on its axis, unaware.

In the shallow waters of Gijon harbour, in northern Spain, a large, yellow fish cuts through the waves.

But this swimmer stands apart from the marine life that usually inhabits this port: there’s no flesh and blood here, just carbon fibre and metal.

This is robo-fish – scientists’ latest weapon in the war against pollution.

The fish-shaped robot can swim in shallow water and weedy water, which would normally snag on propellers, and contains sensors to hunt down pollution.  The advantage is that it can be left in the harbour all the time – far better than testing the water once a month.  And with live data-streaming to its control centre, leaks and illegal dumpings can be spotted and fixed in record time.

Not only that, but these fish have teamwork down pat.  They use acoustic signals to communicate with each other, and use AI to find the source of the pollution.  Not advanced, general AI, I hope, because otherwise they might rise up and overthrow their creators.

Current problems include the cost (£20,000 per fish!) and the fact that they need to be recharged every 8 hours.  But the researchers expect to have those problems fixed soon.  So, next time you have fish for dinner, make sure you check it for wires and sensors!

When you eat beats what you eat in staying healthy

Preventing obesity may be down to timing, in mice, at least. Mice allowed meals only within an 8-hour period were healthier than those that munched freely through the day, even when they consumed more fat.

It works in mice, and they’ve started trials with human volunteers.  I’ll be waiting with interest to see what the results are.

In the mean time, some thoughts:

The government is becoming increasingly more “nanny-state” like.  Would it be possible that at some time in the future they make it illegal to eat except during an eight-hour window?  Or would that be taking it too far?

If they did, would there be medical exemptions?  How many people would pretend they had a qualifying medical problem in order to be allowed to eat at other times?

How on Earth would restaurants cope?

Would everyone be subject to the same period, or would some people have the morning shift and some people have the evening shift?

Interactive ‘wallpaper’ screens are the future of TV

The way we watch TV in the future is likely to change significantly from today. Tileable, interactive TV “wallpaper” will dominate the room, with wrap-around screens that recruit your peripheral vision to create a truly immersive experience. What’s more, you’ll be able to use part or all of the screen for different shows, movies, web pages or Twitter timelines.

The firm News Digital Systems, based in the UK, has built a prototype TV using Organic LEDs.  OLEDs don’t need side-lighting, so the picture can go right up to the edge of the device.  That means they can be tiled together to expand the screen.

They’ve been using screens on side walls to improve the experience – you’re not supposed to watch them, really, but they use the fact that peripheral vision is good at picking up movement to make people think they are really in the middle of the movie.

I think what disturbs me most about this article is the fact that they keep going on about splitting the screen.  When I’m watching a film, especially if I’m attempting to have an “immersive” experience, I don’t want a Twitter feed along the bottom of the screen.

I can understand the appeal of having multiple things open if you are, say, watching the news – and also trying to keep track of public opinion about the news item.  Useful for journalists, politicians, and so on.  Or if you are a stock broker and need to keep track of the stock market and any news about the companies you are trading in.  But watching a film?  No, that should be just the film.

Dragon in orbit as SpaceX launch opens new era 

The actual article is about the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with it’s Dragon cargo capsule, but that’s no fun.  I’m thinking actual dragons, in orbit around the Earth.  Possibly they are alien dragons, come to take over the world.  Or are they peaceful explorers?

So here’s a challenge for you – write a piece of fiction, 200 words or less, involving alien dragons.  Answers in the comments please!

(I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…)

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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