Arrival: First Contact with Grace, and Ideas

First Contact between humanity and an extraterrestrial species has been anticipated and imagined in popular culture for a long time. Sometimes the speculative aliens offer peace and knowledge, like the Vulcans who visit nuclear-war-ravaged earth in Star Trek (portrayed in a film called, suitably enough, First Contact), and sometimes they arrive to blow up the White…

A Journey of the Imagination

Erik Wernquist, a Swedish computer animator, has produced a remarkably beautiful little film called Wanderers. A labor of love, Wanderers, which refers to the ancient Greek names for planets (wandering stars), imagines humanity’s eventual colonization of the solar system. It resonates nicely at this time when we seem to need as a people to dream…

Astronomy on Tap’s Cosmos Bingo

Astronomy on Tap is a great little outreach project that places hip scientists in cities like New York and Columbus, Ohio (and who knows, maybe Rochester or even Geneva soon) to give free, fun presentations about the universe. “Science is even better with beer,” is the group’s tagline. The concept of meeting people where they…

Review: Europa Report

I suspect most science fiction readers who have a scientific background enjoy the sub-genre known as “hard sci-fi”. Writers of hard science fiction strive to create credible scenarios that generally adhere to physical laws. Explosions in outer space don’t go “boom” in hard science fiction. If hard sci-fi authors portray scientists in their stories, then…

Europa Report; hard science fiction in film

The other night I downloaded an advance preview of Europa Report from Itunes. It’s a new independent science fiction film about six astronauts who travel to Jupiter. Their mission is to see if the liquid oceans below the surface of the ice moon Europa might harbor life. It opens on August 2nd in theaters. Hard…

They Might Be Science: Astronomy Songs (Part II)

Last post, I wrote about how I think the band They Might Be Giants is pretty great. Not only are they the darlings of adult nerds everywhere, they also make kicking kids’ music that doesn’t speak down to the little ones. Their album Here Comes Science is especially awesome, not only because they introduce scientific…