The world’s highest altitude drop was achieved by Felix Baumgartner in 2012 as part of a publicity stunt sponsored by Red Bull. While the skydiving record was impressive (39 kilometers), it is still too low to be considered “space” by international standards (100 kilometers). Space jumps have often appeared in Science Fiction, but as technologies improve space dives might become a more common if risky hobby in the future.
Bees are able to give directions to other members of the hive when it comes to finding a food source. Bees have been observed communicating things like distance to a flower and even flower type with the so called “waggle dance.” When imagining how an alien might communicate, we are tempted to invent alien languages, but communication can take any variety of forms.
In the 1940s American psychologist B.F. Skinner used behavioral conditioning to train pigeons to guide missiles to enemy targets. The system consisted of projected images of the target, which the pigeons would then peck at repeatedly. Although Skinner had success with the project, he felt that no one took him seriously and that humans had mixed feelings about trusting animals with weapons. In the late forties missile guidance technology improved, but can humans ever completely trust unpiloted or unsupervised drones?
Stories are human patterns and history is the record of those patterns. Good fiction sensationalizes said patterns and spec-fic takes that to a whole other level.
Gertrude Bell was once called, "the first citizen of [modern] Iraq." Her, more than any other person, is credited with its birth. Many people today would say it's a legacy worth scrapping, a classic example of imperialistic Western overreach. Still, the best stories often show us something old in a new way. This pattern is worth study and more relevant today than ever. Maybe it's just what you've been looking for.
Named after the ancient Antatolian king Mithridates VI, mithridatism is a practice involving consuming small amounts of poison over long periods of time. Eventually, the practitioner becomes highly resistant to death (and by extension, assassination) by poisoning. Characters of royal descent, like the Atreides line in the Dune series and the nobles in the Song of Ice and Fire saga are particularly keen to this threat! Perhaps your characters, like king Mithridates, have decided to adopt the practice and can scratch that danger off of their very long list.
The much anticipated Higgs-Boson particle was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland. The LHC is currently the world’s largest particle accelerator, but the United States could have beat the Europeans to it by about a decade. The Superconducting Super Collider would have been built in Texas had funding not been cut. What other kinds of hypothetical elementary particles could have been discovered in the USA? The current standard model has over sixty particles, how many more could have been tacked onto the list?
Ophiocoma wendtii, a species of brittle fish, has an entire body that can act as a compound eye. Its surface is covered in crystals that help protect it from predators but also allows light to pass through and reach nerve receptors. When it comes to the sense of sight, what other amazing variations can nature introduce us to and inspire us with?
The internet is a mammoth landscape of shared interests, spaces and hidden communities. One of these communities created a dark fiction that grew, and grew and grew, until after feeding on the beliefs of its propagators like a pagan god, has become strong enough to infect the real world. This is the Slender Man, and some how his story just gets weirder and scary.
Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute (under carefully scrutinized laboratory conditions) have been able to successfully and repeatedly teleport “information” between atoms. The phenomenon is possible due to entanglement that occurs at the quantum level. Scientists warn us not to jump to conclusions and remind us that even under controlled conditions, teleportation only happens at the quantum scale. As speculators we are free to imagine how this research, given enough time and effort, can lead to quantum computers and superluminal communication devices. Even if we can’t beam up to the Enterprise we can still envision an impossibly long range conversation with her!
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