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20 NOVEMBER 2012

Dara Ó Briain's Science Club: A Dodo's Guide to Extinction

"A few hundred years ago, extinction as a concept made no sense to anyone. But then fossil finds and advances in geology showed that it's part of life, and a statistical certainty – even for human beings."

(BBC Two, UK)

Fig.1 this animation is from Episode 3 of 6 of Dara Ó Briain's Science Club, Tuesday 20 November at 9pm on BBC Two, voiced by Helen McCrory, animated by 12Foot6, Published on YouTube on 19 Nov 2012 by BBC.

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12Foot620122D2D animation • 4004 BC • ages of fossils • ancient artefacts • animated information graphicsanimation • archaeological materials • BBC TwoBBC2Dara O Briain • deep time • devildinosaur • dodo • elephant • evolutionary change • evolutionary theoryevolutionary treeextinction • fossil • fossil specimen • geochronology • geologic time • geological timescales • geologist • geology • Georges Cuvier • history of ideas • Homo neanderthalensis • Homo sapiens neanderthalensis • human beingshuman speciesillustration to visually communicate information • invertebrates • James Hutton • James Ussher • lifemammalsmass extinctionnatural historynaturalist • neanderthal • Noah • radioactive dating • radioactive isotope • radiocarbon dating • radiometric dating • sabre-toothed cat • sabre-toothed tiger • scienceScience Club (tv)sequential artspecimen • Stellers sea cow • story of science • Tasmanian tiger • Tasmanian wolf • thylacine • tree of lifeUKvisual representations of scientific concepts • woolly mammoth

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
09 APRIL 2012

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: the first true science fiction novel

"What many might consider to be true science fiction began to emerge during the Enlightenment in the early 16th Century as the Western world's understanding of science blossomed. Others identify Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818 as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, as the first true science fiction novel. Today it tends to be seen very much as gothic horror, but it relies heavily on extrapolating then current scientific understanding to extreme fantastical ends."

(Lynne Hardy, 1 August 2011, Celebrating Science)

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16th century1818bio-ethics • Durham University • European Enlightenmentfantastical endsFrankenstein • gothic horror • human beingsindustrial revolutionMary Shelleymodernitymutant sciencenovelPenguin Random Houseposthumansciencescience fiction • science fiction novel • science-fictionscientific discoveries • scientific innovation • scientific theories • scientific understandingspeculative fiction • understanding science

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 JANUARY 2012

The Empathic Civilisation: our (collective) empathetic consciousness

"Never has the world seemed so completely united–in the form of communication, commerce, and culture–and so savagely torn apart–in the form of war, financial meltdown, global warming, and even the migration of diseases. ...

The human–made environment is rapidly morphing into a global space, yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history, which are just as quickly fading away. Humanity, Rifkin argues, finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning human consciousness so that human beings can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society…

As the forces of globalization accelerate, deepen, and become ever more complex, the older faith–based and rational forms of consciousness are likely to become stressed, and even dangerous, as they attempt to navigate a world increasingly beyond their reach and control. Indeed, the emergence of this empathetic consciousness has implications for the future that will likely be as profound and far–reaching as when Enlightenment philosophers upended faith–based consciousness with the canon of reason."

(Jeremy Rifkin)

[A noble effort to explain the consequences of post–traditional society framed through a biological deterministic lens.]

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biological determinism • blood-ties • civilisationcollective consciousness • collective resources • earlier eras • empathetic consciousness • empathic sociability • empathy • emphatic development • European Enlightenmentevolutionary determinism • evolutionary psychology • evolutionary theoryexistentialismfaith • faith-based consciousness • globalisationglobalising society • globalising world • glocalhuman beingshuman consciousnesshuman narrative • human race • human-made environment • humanity • Jeremy Rifkin • man made • modes of consciousness • narcissismpost-traditionalpost-traditional society • rational forms of consciousness • reductionismreductionist perspectiveRSA Animateselfhoodsocialisationthe past • think globally and act locally

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 JANUARY 2012

In praxis there can be no prior knowledge of the right means by which we realize the end in a particular situation

"In praxis there can be no prior knowledge of the right means by which we realize the end in a particular situation. For the end itself is only specified in deliberating about the means appropriate to a particular situation (Bernstein 1983: 147). As we think about what we want to achieve, we alter the way we might achieve that. As we think about the way we might go about something, we change what we might aim at. There is a continual interplay between ends and means. In just the same way there is a continual interplay between thought and action. This process involves interpretation, understanding and application in 'one unified process' (Gadamer 1979: 275). It is something we engage in as human beings and it is directed at other human beings."

(Mark K. Smith 1999, 2011)

Bernstein, R. J. (1983). Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, hermeneutics and praxis. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Gadamer, H–G. (1979). Truth and Method. London: Sheed and Ward.

Smith, M. K. (1999, 2011). 'What is praxis?' in the encyclopaedia of informal education. [http://www.infed.org/biblio/b–praxis.htm. Retrieved: add date].

TAGS

a particular situation • ends and means • Hans-Georg Gadamerhermeneutic horizonhermeneutical horizonhuman beingsinterpretation • particular situation • praxis • prior knowledge • realise the end • thought and action • understanding and application

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 OCTOBER 2011

Cyberpunk: the future has already happened

"Cyberpunk' is a 60–minute documentary, the ad for which states: 'What started as a book became a literary movement. What was a literary movement became a subculture'.

And that's one of the major flaws of this film. It perpetuates the general myth that everything 'cyberpunk' expanded out of 'Neuromancer' and Gibson's vision. In truth, most of the stuff covered here (virtual reality, hacking, industrial music, cybernetics, designer drugs, anarchy) was already developing quite nicely before Lord Gibson, Chairman Bruce, and the rest (Shirley, Rucker, Shiner) were kind enough to provide a fictional universe in which to fuse these disparate explorations.

The production of 'Cyberpunk' is very inconsistent, too –– some parts are professional documentary, while other parts have the odor of quick–cash opportunism. The breathy women narrator is ultimately aggravating, oh–ing and ah–ing over all this stuff.

But there is some good material here, including interviews with Gibson, Leary, Scott Fisher (of NASA/Ames), Brenda Laurel, Vernon Reed (Living Color), Bill Leeb (Front Line Assembly) and others. There's also some cool computer graphics (circa 1989) and an industrial soundtrack with Front Line Assembly, Ministry, and Severed Heads.

'Cyberpunk' is still a must–see since it's the only documentary about cyberpunk that we have."

(G. Branwyn)

Fig.1 Produced and Directed by Marianne Trench and Peter von Brandenberg, Intercon Productions, 1990.

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1990 • anarchy • augmentation • Bill Leeb • bodybody modificationBrenda Laurel • Bruce Bethke • computer graphics • computer virus • corporeal augmentationcyberneticscyberpunk • Cyberpunk (1990) • cyborgdesigner drugsdystopiaembodimentethicsfictional universe • Front Line Assembly • hackinghacktivismhuman beings • industrial music • informationinformation wants to be free • John Shirley • Lewis Shiner • Living Color • Mariana TrenchMinistry (band)mutant scienceNASA Ames Research CenterNeuromancerorgan • phone phreaking • posthumanRudy Ruckersci-fiScott Fisher • Severed Heads (band) • speculative designtechnological determinismtechnophobiaTimothy Leary • Vernon Reed • virtual realityvirusvisions of the futureVRWilliam Gibson

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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