Friday, August 29, 2008

Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico


Pfft (There Is No God) Shirt

"Pfft...There Is No God. BIGFOOT is real though!"

The 5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End the World

Ten Truly Underrated Sci-Fi Movies

Are we so shallow that it only takes a few laser pistols, flying cars, and matching jumpsuits to get our creative juices flowing? Are we so in love with the ideas behind the futuristic concepts of sci-fi movies that we're willing to overlook massive flaws in storytelling? (That's the crutch that most Trekkies have been leaning on for years.) Or are sci-fi movies just vastly, vastly underrated by critics and audiences who can't get past the androids and nanobots? To be frank, while there's been a ton of bad sci-fi product coming out of Hollywood over the years (looking at you, Wing Commander), there's been just as much that hasn't nearly received the credit it deserves. Sure, there are the hallowed sci-fi classics - Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001, Terminator 2, Forbidden Planet - but there's a whole subset of underappreciated sci-fi gems that have gone sadly unheralded without any geeky conventions to call their own. As a public service to the new generation of sci-fi geeks who've only grown up with Star Wars prequels and Scott Bakula as their Starfleet captain, here are MovieRetriever's picks for ten sci-fi movies that don't nearly get the credit they deserve:

MythBusters vs. Moon conspiracies...


They do. *cough*


INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS TRUTH (in Science fiction anyway)...

A new crop of science fiction novels focus on what it would mean if Intelligent Design turned out to be the truth. Jay Lake's Escapement is a perfect example, as is Walter Jon Williams' Implied Spaces — both are novels about people in clockwork worlds designed by some kind of higher power associated with spiritual realms. Other recent tales, such as Charles Stross' Saturn's Children and Iain M. Banks' Matter, flirt with the idea of an Intelligent Designer by suggesting that under some circumstances it is the most logical explanation for reality: For instance, if you are a creature who lives in a synthetic world (or body) designed by sophisticated engineers, your existence has been literally created for you rather than randomly evolved. Are these scifi authors carving out a pro-science version of Intelligent Design theory?

In some ways, no. Consider Jay Lake's novels Mainspring and Escapement, which are about a kind of alternate Earth where it's obvious somebody (whom they call "God") has created their universe. After all, the sky is filled with gears and their world is run literally by a massive clockwork mechanism. When I talked to Lake about his novels recently, he said that they were explicitly a response to Intelligent Design. He thinks of them as a critique of the belief that our world was built rather than evolved. "By making ID into something that was clearly fiction, I wanted to show that the idea itself was fictional," Lake said.

When you try to create a world that is believably the product of ID, Lake seems to be saying, you get something that looks nothing like our Earth. That it's designed is completely obvious, and is not difficult to prove. So this is a thought experiment in ID that in some sense proves that our Earth was not created by a Designer.

Interestingly, however, Lake's critique of ID has not freaked out religious people nearly as much as Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. (Sure, it's true that more people have probably been exposed to Pullman's work, but let's assume that isn't the only reason why it's gotten more negative attention from religious groups.) In Pullman's universe, which is also a parallel Earth, there is a God and there are angels. But it turns out that God is just a senile old white dude, and his angels are fighting to seize his throne and control the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pullman's critique, like Lake's, works by saying, "OK let's assume that Christianity is real — what would that mean, logically?" For Pullman, that means God and His henchmen are a bunch of power-hungry politicians. And for Lake, that means that the universe is a giant clock. Both series, in a way, argue with Christianity on its own terms. They don't attempt to say, "Well hey, look at the world from the perspective of science — see how that's better?" Instead they say, "When you really think about what Christianity implies, this is what you get." And that's a powerful critique, though Pullman's is ultimately much darker. I believe Pullman has irked Christians for saying that their beliefs are in some ways downright evil, whereas Lake simply calls them the fantasy backdrops for rollicking adventure tales. This alone may account for the novels' different receptions among Christians.

As I said earlier, however, there is another way that this ID scenario is being tweaked by scifi authors. In Stross' Saturn's Children, there's a great subplot about robot religions. The robots, who have taken over our solar system after the extinction of humans, have to believe in a Designer — they were, after all, literally designed by humans. So a belief in ID, for robots, is the equivalent of believing in evolution for humans: It is the scientific truth. And yet there are certain religious zealots among the robots who insist on believing that they have evolved, and go through bizarre rhetorical gymnastics to prove it.

What Stross is saying is that as our planetary and bodily infrastructures become more synthetic, more "designed," we approach a state where ID begins to verge on scientific truth. This idea is echoed in novels like Iain M. Banks' Matter and Karl Schroeder's Pirate Sun, where our characters live inside massive synthetic worlds — a huge nested sphere in the former, and a giant blob of atmosphere floating in space in the latter.

What these authors are doing is even more tricky, if you look at their work as a sneaky critique of ID theory. Essentially they're saying, "Let's invent a universe where ID is truth. Oh, that would be the universe that science will build for us." And ultimately, in these novels, the Designer is not a God or even gods, but instead a whole bunch of sentient creatures harnessing the power of science and technology to design worlds and bodies intelligently.

This is the truly proscience version of ID theory: The notion that humans will eventually live in an ID universe, where our bodies and everything around us is designed. Only it will have been designed by us, in the service (hopefully) of bettering humanity. We won't be the playthings of some third party entity whose motivations are unclear. In the end, we will become our own intelligent designers.

Top image by Jasper Morello.

Friday, August 15, 2008


A tiny woman and two children were laid to rest on a bed of flowers 5,000 years ago in what is now the barren Sahara Desert.
A woman and two children embrace in a grave found by University of Chicago scientists.

A woman and two children embrace in a grave found by University of Chicago scientists.

The slender arms of the youngsters were still extended to the woman in perpetual embrace when researchers discovered their skeletons in a remarkable cemetery that is providing clues to two civilizations who lived there, a thousand years apart, when the region was moist and green.

Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and colleagues were searching for the remains of dinosaurs in the African country of Niger when they came across the startling find, detailed at a news conference Thursday at the National Geographic Society.

"Part of discovery is finding things that you least expect," he said. "When you come across something like that in the middle of the desert it sends a tingle down your spine."

Some 200 graves of humans were found during fieldwork at the site in 2005 and 2006, as well as remains of animals, large fish and crocodiles.


What else is new? The Bigfoot body is 99.9% a hoax...

...and farther and farther down the rabbit hole we go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

IS IT OR ISN'T IT? The Elusive Bigfoot...found...and dead

The end of an era, perhaps. If the whole DEAD BIGFOOT proves to be true and not another drawn out hoax...I think it'll be like the dream is gone. I don't know how to explain it. Sometimes the mystery is far more intriguing than the *thing* itself. Wondering if mermaids exist is just a whole lot better than having some fisherman somewhere produce a body. Your entire world doesn't come crashing down, only to rebuild itself into a chaotic mix of warped beliefs and unfathomable truths. Maybe I just don't want anyone putting their hands on a dead BIGFOOT because I don't want them taking a good hard look at just ONE body and deciding that the entirety of all BIGFOOTdom rests on the final conclusion that they are some newly discovered ape. And all because every got their conclusions from ONE DEAD BODY.

Like I said...I don't know how I am feeling about this right now.