Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Get sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov a plaque in West Philly

From Philly.com (way back in April):  Get sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov a plaque in West Philly

Isaac Asimov is one of the great nerds (and sideburn owners) of American history. The science fiction author wrote hundreds of fiction and nonfiction books short stories, some of them in a little apartment at the corner of 50th and Spruce. Philadelphia Weekly is petitioning the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Commission to erect a marker at the address where Asimov lived during WWII and wrote six stories that helped form two of his most influential series, and they could use some help:
Isaac Asimov, the late grand master of science fiction, authored 500 books across every Dewey Decimal category and invented the very idea of "robotics" as a field of study, thus shaping the course of 20th- and 21st-century culture. Though he's often thought of as a New Yorker, he spent three very important landmark years in Philadelphia. From 1942 to 1945, while living and working here during WWII as a chemist at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Isaac Asimov wrote half a dozen of the key stories that comprise his two most influential cultural masterpieces: the Foundation series, which introduced the idea of “psychohistory,” the mathematical modeling of the future; and the Robot series, which introduced the famous Three Laws of Robotics governing how artificial intelligences should behave.
It was at an apartment on the corner of 50th and Spruce streets in West Philadelphia where Asimov wrote these historic stories. So with the support of your signature, the Philadelphia Weekly is petitioning the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Commission to dedicate a marker at that location honoring Asimov's profound literary accomplishment. 
The petition just needs 184 more signatures. Go! [change.org, via BoingBoing]


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For the weekend: Isaac Asimov’s Visions of the Future is available free online in its entirety

I'm actually late with this news, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

From Io9:  For the weekend: Isaac Asimov’s Visions of the Future is available free online in its entirety


Two years before his death, legendary science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov kicked off a TV pilot dedicated to exploring the faint and ever-shifting boundary separating science from science fiction. By highlighting advances in science and technology, Asimov sought to prepare viewers for the world of tomorrow by providing them with glimpses of what the future might hold.
The series never got picked up, but when Asimov died in 1992, the pilot was adapted into a 40-minute documentary titled Visions of the Future. Featured here is the documentary in its entirety.
From the introduction to the first video, featured above:
The line between science fiction and true science is often thin and sometimes difficult to define... [that boundary] is constantly moving as science redefines science fiction. The dreams of just a few years ago are today's commonplace events.It is this boundary that was the lifelong fascination of Isaac Asimov. The mission of this series is to examine that boundary — that moving target.
Isaac Asimov launched this video project two years before his death. It synthesizes his visionary concepts with his scientific roots. This first volume contains the highlights of his last major interview, and serves as both a mission statement and a tribute to one of the greatest science and science fiction writers ever known.
Asimov's ruminations on the interplay between science and science fiction echo those of Carl Sagan. "Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century, particularly with respect to Mars," Sagan said in his moving message to future explorers of Mars. He continues:
The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists to find out more about Mars, which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science; and that sequence has played major role in our present ability to get to Mars. It certainly was an important factor in the life of Robert Goddard, the American rocketry pioneer who, I think more than anyone else, paved the way for our actual ability to go to Mars. And it certainly played a role in my scientific development.
The ability of SF to unite the spheres of science and science fiction is the reason Ray Bradbury was asked to present his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been" to a Caltech lecture hall, packed with NASA scientists and engineers, on the eve of Mariner 9's entry into Mars orbit; and why the Agency named the Curiosity Rover's landing site in his honor. As Neil deGrasse Tyson told io9 last year, "Good science fiction inspires people to pursue science every time.


Thursday, January 24, 2013


Never realized I hadn't posted in over 2 weeks!

Sorry, folks

Things have just gotten away from me the last week and a half...posting should be back on schedule starting this weekend.