Brandon Sanderson: Sanderson's First Law Introduction I like magic systems. That’s probably evident to those of you who have read my work. For a while now, I’ve been working on various theories regarding magic systems. I’d like to approach the concept of magic in several different essays, each detailing one of the ‘laws’ I’ve developed to explain what I think makes good magic systems. The Law Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic. When I applied to be on the programming of my very first Worldcon (following my sale of Elantris, but before the book was actually released) I saw that they were doing a “How does the magic work?” It my very first panel at the convention. I said something I took as a GIVEN. “Well,” I said. And every other person on the panel disagreed with me violently. I was dumbfounded. Then, I thought about it for a while. I disagree with this soundly—but in Mr. Soft Magic Hard Magic The Middle Ground
Era Cyberpunk | La comunità italiana cyberpunk Cyc The project was started in 1984 by Douglas Lenat at MCC and is developed by the Cycorp company. Parts of the project are released as OpenCyc, which provides an API, RDF endpoint, and data dump under an open source license. Overview The project was started in 1984 as part of Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation. The name "Cyc" (from "encyclopedia", pronounced [saɪk] like syke) is a registered trademark owned by Cycorp. Typical pieces of knowledge represented in the database are "Every tree is a plant" and "Plants die eventually". Much of the current work on the Cyc project continues to be knowledge engineering, representing facts about the world by hand, and implementing efficient inference mechanisms on that knowledge. Like many companies, Cycorp has ambitions to use the Cyc natural language understanding tools to parse the entire internet to extract structured data. Knowledge base The concept names in Cyc are known as constants. "All trees are plants".
New Glasses Help Colorblind To See Normally With a new pair of stylish shades, people with colorblindness are beginning to see the world just as the rest of us do. The corrective glasses were actually created as tools to detect blood oxygenation and flow beneath the surface of the skin. But then colorblind people started trying them on, and they began to see the world in a whole new way. The glasses were created by 2AI Labs, a company co-founded by evolutionary biologist Mark Changizi when he left Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in New York. At 2AI, Changizi continues to conduct research, investigating how the brain processes visual information and searching for the answers to questions such as why we see color and what sort of tricks occur in the brain to create optical illusions. Last summer the Boise, Idaho-based company developed three pairs of glasses called O2Amps. There are some drawbacks to the glasses, however.
Brass Goggles: The lighter side of Steampunk Posted by proteus on December 23rd,2013 Two things I love in one photo: [via Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girls] Posted by proteus on October 17th,2013 A Steampunk Badminton tournament sounds like a fantastic idea. Posted by proteus on October 11th,2013 Our Forum User “Bolt Face” brings this lovely coverage of a Steampunk Coffee House from The Chive: Image from The Chive Many more images in the original article, and a discussion here on our forums. This clock may not be exactly “steampunk”, but it certainly tickles the dials-and-knobs delight! [Via Boing Boing] Posted by proteus on October 8th,2013 Described as inspired by Steampunk and Warhammer-like games, Diesel Tactics looks like an interesting project that’s still in development. Posted by proteus on February 28th,2013 Hand made from savaged Arbutus, Western Red Cedar, and Black Walnut, these articulated Steamy Icarus wings are a beautiful handmade addition to any dirigible captain’s safety gear: And they’re not just static decoration, either: (more…)
Brandon Sanderson: Sanderson's Second Law A few years back, I wrote an essay on creating magic systems that I titled Sanderson’s First Law. It had to do with the nature of foreshadowing as it relates to solving problems with magic. In that essay, I implied that I had other “laws” for magic systems that I’d someday talk about. I’ll start, however, by noting that none of these “laws” are absolute. These work for me. The Law Sanderson’s Second Law can be written very simply. Limitations > Powers (Or, if you want to write it in clever electrical notation, you could say it this way: though that would probably drive a scientist crazy.) Let’s do some explaining here. If I were to ask you about Superman’s magic, you’d probably talk about his ability to fly, his super strength, the lasers he can shoot from his eyes. However, is this what makes Superman interesting? I’d put forth that it is not. Think about it for a moment. But why is he weak to kryptonite? Superman is not his powers. What This Means for Writers This core is not original.
Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto Lawrence Person writes "With Neil Stephenson and Bruce Sterling hot topics of interest here on Slashdot, I thought my "Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto" might help add to /.'s SF debate. This originally appeared last year in an issue of Nova Express, the Hugo-nominated small press SF magazine I edit. However, though it's been translated into Portugese, it's never appeared on the web before. "Critics, myself included, persist in label-mongering, despite all warnings; we must, because it's a valid source of insight-as well as great fun." - Bruce Sterling, from the introduction to Mirrorshades Bud, from Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, is a classic cyberpunk protagonist. All of which goes a long way toward explaining why his ass gets wasted on page 37 of a 455 page novel. Welcome to the postcyberpunk era. Arguably, science fiction entered the postcyberpunk era in 1988 with the publication of Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net. Cyberpunk tended to be cold, detached and alienated.
Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret. As we’ve covered in the past, a brain-computer interface is a two-part device: There’s the hardware — which is usually a headset (an EEG; an electroencephalograph) with sensors that rest on your scalp — and software, which processes your brain activity and tries to work out what you’re trying to do (turn left, double click, open box, etc.) BCIs are generally used in a medical setting with very expensive equipment, but in the last few years cheaper, commercial offerings have emerged. For $200-300, you can buy an Emotiv (pictured above) or Neurosky BCI, go through a short training process, and begin mind controlling your computer.
Space medicine NASA astronaut Dan Burbank (foreground), Expedition 30 commander, and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, flight engineer, participate in a Crew Health Care System (CHeCS) medical contingency drill in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. This drill gives crewmembers the opportunity to work as a team in resolving a simulated medical emergency on board the space station.(Nasa) Space medicine is the practice of medicine on astronauts in outer space whereas astronautical hygiene is the application of science and technology to the prevention or control of exposure to the hazards that may cause astronaut ill health. Both these sciences work together to ensure that astronauts work in a safe environment. The main objective is to discover how well and for how long people can survive the extreme conditions in space, and how fast they can adapt to the Earth's environment after returning from their voyage. History Benefits Effects of space-travel
Glass Rivers And Lakes Flow Across Beautiful Tables By Furniture Maker Greg Klassen Talented Washington-based artist and furniture-maker Greg Klassen’s beautiful river- and lake-like desks and tables straddle the line between furniture and art. Due to his relationship with a local sawmill, Klassen has access to pieces of raw wood, which means that he can make use of its natural forms and beautiful imperfections for his creative furniture. These organic forms lend natural power to the “rivers” and “lakes” on his tables, which are completed with custom-cut panes of glass and look much like features on a topographical map. Klassen, who has a degree in theology, writes, “I try to marry the natural beauty of the wood with the skilled craftsmanship of the maker. More info: Website | Facebook | Shop (h/t: colossal)