Archive for the ‘Science fiction’ Category

Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow

May 21, 2012
UFO galaxy - image from Hubble Space Telescope

The UFO galaxy (NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope)

I’m soooo looking forward to seeing Prometheus, the new Alien (it’s definitely not a) prequel. I’m expecting a beautiful, scary, portentous film about the idea of human life being seeded by an alien race – I can’t wait!

But I stumbled across Men in Black on TV this weekend and I realised that some of my favourite science fiction moments come from a rather silly comedy featuring giant cockroaches and Will Smith.

Take this beautiful exchange between James Edwards (Will Smith) and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), as Kay explains how the Men in Black exist to police the many unnoticed aliens who make Earth their home.

Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

I can’t convey the way Tommy Lee Jones delivers this onscreen, with his world-weary, cynical and yet wondering tone (watch it here). But what a great quote! “Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow” should be the tagline for the whole of science. (more…)


Post apocalyptic future: techno-starvation

April 9, 2012
Computer keyboard

Google: 'how to rebuild civilisation'

We had a power cut at my office last week. It really wasn’t so bad – most of us ended up leaving early. But it was scary to be reminded of just how reliant we are on technology – we couldn’t do anything useful without our phones and computers.

When the lights went out, we stared at the blank monitors for a few seconds (some howling in anguish as they realised they’d lost a couple of hours’ work). Then we all got up from our desks and milled around aimlessly, until we realised we weren’t going to get any emails or phonecalls to tell us what was going on. Luckily the pub over the road was still connected to the grid…

The whole scenario reminded me of a recurring nightmare I have about how totally useless I would be in that standby sci-fi setting – the post-apocalyptic future. (more…)