Dr. Nigel Seel - Contributor

  • Science Feature: The LHC As A Weapon System

    Posted Monday, June 13th, 2011 06:04 pm GMT -4

    In a previous article on science-fiction weapons systems we talked about the Relativistic Kill Weapon: a massive object accelerated to near light speed and carrying colossal kinetic energy. But there is another way to hit an enemy with relativistic firepower: the particle beam weapon. The Large Hadron Collider is not at first sight an ideal […]

  • Book Review: ‘Fuzzy Nation’ by John Scalzi

    Posted Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 11:14 am GMT -4

    Before his literary descent into self-indulgent sprawl, Robert Heinlein used to write with verve and passion. His ‘Starship Troopers‘ worked on so many levels: taut prose, exciting narrative and best of all, the sense that Heinlein really committed to the ethical principles of citizenship and moral philosophy his characters espoused. I was one of a […]

  • Science Feature: Magical Thinking About The Big Bang

    Posted Monday, June 6th, 2011 11:01 am GMT -4

    I recently had a chance to view the half-hour video, “The ‘Something from Nothing’ Universe” with its subtitle: “Exposing the supernatural phenomena behind the Big Bang Theory” which was posted on the video-sharing site vimeo.com. The half-hour video consists of Hubble Space Telescope wallpaper pictures overlaid by quotations from institutions such as NASA and famous […]

  • Science Feature: The ‘Myth’ of the Evil Aliens

    Posted Monday, May 30th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    Michael Shermer’s ‘Skeptic’ column in Scientific American is billed as “Viewing the world with a rational eye”. In his latest piece ‘The Myth of the Evil Aliens’ (June, 2011) Shermer starts by noting that with new technology such as the Allen Telescope Array, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) may soon bear fruit. So what […]

  • Science Feature: Dust Theory

    Posted Monday, May 23rd, 2011 11:01 am GMT -4

    In Greg Egan’s ‘Permutation City’ Paul Durham copies his consciousness into a computing substrate. While technically awesome, this may seem to you conceptually quite mundane: OK, Paul now runs on a computer. But you are mistaken. ‘Permutation City’ explores a chain of ever-more-esoteric paradigms to arrive at the ultimate counter-intuitive reality: Dust Theory. Dust theory […]

  • Book Review: ‘All The Lives He Led’ By Frederik Pohl

    Posted Monday, May 16th, 2011 11:01 am GMT -4

    When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, America was abruptly catapulted to third world status. Brad Sheridan, ex-rich kid, was reduced to hustling a life on the mean streets of New York before signing an indenture for foreign service. As a virtual slave of his new Egyptian masters he shakes down tourists at the sites in Cairo […]

  • Science Feature: Relativistic Weapon Impact

    Posted Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 06:08 pm GMT -4

    “The logistic computer calculates that we have about a 62% chance of success, should we attempt to destroy the enemy base. Unfortunately, we would have only a 30% chance of survival – as some of the scenarios leading to success involve ramming the portal planet with the Anniversary at light speed.” So speaks the unfortunate […]

  • Book Review: ‘Essential Quantum Mechanics’ By Gary Bowman

    Posted Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    Quantum mechanics is everywhere in science fiction but in some ways a passing familiarity with the weird phenomena can even detract from real understanding. You have to buckle down, do the hard work and study the subject thoroughly – but even this may not be enough. You could take an undergraduate-level course in quantum mechanics […]

  • Spacetime Dragging Around The Earth

    Posted Friday, May 6th, 2011 03:05 pm GMT -4

    A rotating black hole can generate huge amounts of energy for a sufficiently high-tech civilization. Outside the spherical event horizon lies an ellipsoidal region called the ergosphere – within this region spacetime is being dragged around the spinning black hole faster than light. In 1969 Roger Penrose showed that an object projected into the ergosphere […]

  • A Fifth Fundamental Force?

    Posted Monday, April 18th, 2011 11:01 am GMT -4

    On Wednesday April 6th Fermilab at Chicago reported an anomaly. Their Tevatron accelerator smashes protons and antiprotons at relativistic speeds and measures what comes out. So here is what they found: for a particular collision-type which produces W and Z bosons (the force carriers of the weak force) as well as jets of other stuff, […]

  • Book Review: ‘Engineering Infinity’ (ed) Jonathan Strahan

    Posted Monday, April 11th, 2011 12:21 pm GMT -4

    The classic era of hard science fiction was distinguished by its setting, usually characterised by extreme physics or engineering:  tidal forces around a neutron star, strange orbital dynamics, relativistic star craft. In these exotic environments, functional characters played out familiar plots in the fuzzy warmth of optimistic American values. In the 1990s, a new generation of […]

  • At The LHC: Desperately Seeking SUSY

    Posted Monday, March 21st, 2011 06:08 pm GMT -4

    The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva is now up and running but instead of being delighted, many theoretical physicists are beginning to get worried. They see the fruits of their long and illustrious careers potentially turning to ashes. The reason? The LHC hasn’t found SUSY.  Alessandro Strumia, a theorist at the University of […]

  • ‘Outcasts’ Flops In The UK

    Posted Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 02:04 pm GMT -4

    BBC 1′s new SF drama series ‘Outcasts’ features a group of ‘courageous pioneers’ who have left a dying earth for a new beginning on the planet Carpathia. In BBC-speak “they are passionate about their jobs, confident of their ideals and optimistic about the future. They work hard to preserve what they’ve built on this planet […]

  • Book Review: ‘Leviathans of Jupiter’ By Ben Bova

    Posted Monday, March 14th, 2011 06:01 pm GMT -4

    ‘Leviathans of Jupiter’ is the follow-on novel from Ben Bova’s ‘Jupiter’. In that novel scientist Grant Archer led a team to research life-forms in Jupiter’s global ocean, hypothesised by the author to exist under the cloud belts. A malfunctioning and sinking submersible was rescued by a Jovian denizen of the deep, a huge Leviathan. Grant […]

  • Book Review: ‘The Lost Gate’ by Orson Scott Card

    Posted Monday, March 7th, 2011 08:02 pm GMT -4

    Once the families were gods of power, the pantheons of the Scandinavians, Greeks and Hindus; the Persians, Gauls and Hittites; the Latins and the Goths. But all the gates are long gone, all closed by the master gatemage Loki,1400 years ago. No longer can the families move instantaneously between Earth and Westil so rejuvenating their […]