Dr. Nigel Seel - Contributor

  • Book Review: ‘Zendegi’ By Greg Egan

    Posted Sunday, August 28th, 2011 07:00 pm GMT -4

    It’s 2012 and Australian web journalist Martin Seymour is posted to Iran to cover the elections. He’s soon caught up in massive protest demonstrations and sees at first hand the violence of the regime thugs, the Basijis. He also meets up with a female activist called Mahnoosh, although at this point their relationship is wary. […]

  • Science Feature: Rise Of The Apes

    Posted Monday, August 22nd, 2011 09:01 am GMT -4

    In the recent film ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ the chimpanzee Caesar is the subject of a retrovirus experiment which enormously increases his intelligence. In a series of plot twists, other chimpanzees are infected by the virus and the newly-smart troop finds itself in battle with bigoted and vengeful humans. The stage is […]

  • Science Feature: The Mars Colony Disaster

    Posted Monday, August 15th, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    In October last year, NASA announced its ‘Hundred-Year Starship’ program designed to settle humans on other worlds, starting with Mars in the 2030s. It would be a one-way mission: the Mars colonists could never come home. Writing in Scientific American (August, 2011, Letters) former astronaut Don Peterson listed the many serious problems with such a […]

  • Science Feature: Beam Weapons

    Posted Monday, August 8th, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    In a previous article we discussed the use of relativistic kill weapons: impactors travelling at almost the speed of light delivering enormous amounts of kinetic energy to demolish their targets. But why go with a weapon that travels at almost the speed of light when you can use light itself as a weapon? Then the […]

  • Book Review: ‘Rule 34’ By Charles Stross

    Posted Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh runs the Internet Porn Squad, a policing backwater in near-future Edinburgh: but that’s about to change. Anwar Hussein, Scottish-Pakistani bisexual married Muslim with a taste for beer and petty Internet crime is about to become Honorary Consul for a new central-Asian state with a dodgy provenance. John Christie aka Peter Manuel […]

  • Science Feature: The Higgs Boson

    Posted Monday, August 1st, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    There was excitement at the European Physics Society conference in Grenoble, France last week as physicists gathered to review evidence for the detection of the Higgs particle. With the latest data, the LHC is finally returning on its investment while the Tevatron at Fermilab is bravely battling on before its imminent closure in September. But […]

  • Book Review: ‘Embassytown’ by China Miéville

    Posted Thursday, July 28th, 2011 11:00 am GMT -4

    Most authors deal in plots; China Miéville, by contrast, deals in settings. Perdido Street Station and the follow-up Bas-Lag novels gave us thaumaturgy and Victoriana; The City and the City was sociological science-fiction – the social construction of reality; in Embassytown, the exotic ingredient is language itself. We are placed in the far-future, where the […]

  • Science Feature: Don’t Bring Me Back!

    Posted Monday, July 25th, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    In the latest edition of Scientific American (August, 2011), Professor George Ellis asks the question “Does the Multiverse Really Exist?” There are many different kinds of multiverse, as I outlined in my review of ‘The Hidden Reality’ by Brian Greene, though Ellis is most interested in those multiverses which occur in the theories of chaotic […]

  • Science Feature: Alien Exopsychology

    Posted Monday, July 18th, 2011 09:00 am GMT -4

    If and when we encounter intelligent aliens, a new scientific discipline will spring into being: Exopsychology – the study of alien intelligence and personality. But even before first contact we can make a start on alien psychological profiling based on the intelligent creatures we are most familiar with: ourselves. If you have ever worked in a […]

  • Book Review: ‘Flashback’ by Dan Simmons

    Posted Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 04:45 pm GMT -4

    It’s not often that a new SF novel from a major talent has critics frothing at the mouth and posting one-star reviews on Amazon. Dan Simmons was obviously expecting the worst when he published a detailed apologia for his latest book, ‘Flashback’, on his website – in advance. Trouble soon makes its appearance. The story […]

  • Science Feature: Nuking Ourselves

    Posted Monday, July 11th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    In 1957, at the height of the Cold War, statistician Jimmie Savage of the RAND institute was asked a scarily-intriguing question: ‘What is the probability that one of our own thermonuclear bombs might explode by accident?’ The Strategic Air Command was in fact blasé about this possibility. In the twelve years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki […]

  • The End of the Space Age

    Posted Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    The current edition of The Economist (July 2nd, 2011) has a provocative cover story. With the retirement of the last space shuttle this month, and the de-orbiting of the International Space Station in 2020, The Economist believes ‘the game will be up’ for manned spaceflight: there will be no more of it. And with all […]

  • Science Feature: So Beautiful

    Posted Monday, July 4th, 2011 11:04 am GMT -4

    This is an article in the continuing series on alien weapon systems. It’s a warm summer evening as Pete and Chloe walk hand in hand to the movie theater. Safely ensconced in the back row, all by themselves, they sit companionably in the darkness as the opening credits roll. Heart pounding, Pete makes his move […]

  • Science Feature: Sub Specie Aeternitatis

    Posted Monday, June 27th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    In March 1955, Einstein wrote to the widow of his oldest friend, Michele Besso: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Like most people, […]

  • Science Feature: Ultra-Intelligence

    Posted Monday, June 20th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    In Iain M. Banks’ Culture books, the Culture Minds are AIs possessing an intelligence far surpassing our own. Many people have speculated that we might one day meet ultra-intelligent aliens, or that our own descendants might be genetically-engineered to have very high IQs. So what would it be like to be an ultra-intelligent entity and […]