Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Podcast: Comic-Con 2013

On this week's podcast, I met a few science fiction authors at Comic-Con International to see how they turn exotic science concepts into whole new universes, or just use basic science to make their work feel more realistic.

I also talked to Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, the two stars of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that stands out as one of the most scientifically grounded sci-fi movies of all time.

Writer Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick, wanted to create the most realistic movie about a mission to Jupiter as possible. Clark had a degree in math and physics and was an expert in satellite communication systems. Kubrick brought in NASA consultant Fredrick Ordway to help design the future tech that astronauts would need on years-long missions to the outer planets.

On these long-dration flights, artificial gravity becomes an important necessity to keep a space-traveler's bones and muscles from wasting away. The filmmakers solved this problem by having a big round rotating room spin. The centrifugal force would make any astronaut touching the outer edge feel a force akin to gravity.

It turns out that that NASA's Ames research laboratory was investigating exactly the same kind of system for future space stations.

Today, 12 years after 2001, I'm still waiting on my giant rotating space stations. I suppose even the best, most educated predictions are still just fundamentally guesses.

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