Episode 8: Science Fiction

This month we looked at science fiction, otherwise known as the fiction of science, and how the way we think about science fiction. Also, we like Star Trek.

  • Icebreaker: What piece of science fiction technology would you like to see in real life?
    • Joy: Teleportation, instantaneous travel to wherever we like.
    • Dan: Matter replication, instant gratification of material desires.
    • Jim: Headware, machines in our heads to make us smarter.
  • What is Science Fiction, and where does it come from?
    • Science fiction doesn’t have to take place in the future, but it’s a genre that focuses on technological advances and their consequences for people.
    • Early science fiction includes the work of Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
    • Now, science fiction is a part of our mainstream culture, with things like Firefly, Iron Man, and Prometheus.
    • Science fiction is not science fantasy, which are more common dramatic themes set in a science fiction universe, like Star Wars or John Carter of Mars.
  • How does science fiction relate to actual science?
    • Science fiction can inspire us to create new technologies, like they did in Star Trek. Check out the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World.
    • Michio Kaku evaluates the possibility of various science fiction technologies in the Physics of the Impossible.
    • Science fiction is based on what we can conceive of in our own technology, whether that’s interstellar communications using vacuum tubes like in the Venus Equilateral, or centralized computing in old Terminator comics.
    • Adam Savage explores possibilities for immortality on Discovery’s Curiosity.
    • What does science fiction have to do with Northrop Frye? Check out our first episode to find out.


We have one final shoutout to H. G. Wells, who we’ll be talking about more at the end of July, where we go from the future to the past, and talk about the radio!

Episode 7: The Social Power of Gaming

This month we talk about something near and dear to our hearts, games. Specifically about their applications in the real world, which we learned a bunch about from Jane McGonigal’s book “Reality is Broken“. For a brief synopsis, you can check out her TED talk, “Gaming Can Make a Better World“.

  • What kinds of things can we learn from games?
    • Bernard Suits’ definition of a game “Voluntarily overcoming unnecessary obstacles” from the Grasshopper.
    • Nethack as an example of why gameplay trumps graphics.
    • Games can create and learn from their communities, and more indie games are doing this, like Minecraft, Overgrowth, and Endless Space.
    • Games can also help us negotiate our real lives, as McGonigal notes with examples like:
    • These games create ways of making reality more like a game, and thus more interesting.
  • From the Desk of Kickass McAwesome
    • Creators of Skynet and Google want to mine asteroids, a triumph of awesome and long term thinking. Check out their site, Planetary Resources.
    • Bacteria hard drives! Well, we’re not there yet, but these iron-eating bacteria might hold the key to more compact data storage.
  • Using games to create community
    • Gamers doing good with Child’s Play.
    • Blatant plug for our event, Headshots from the Heart, which is over, though the ChipIn is still open!
    • The inspiration for Headshots, Desert Bus. There’s a lot of these marathons cropping up, but it’s one of the largest.

Episode 6: The Guitar

This month we’ve got something a little lighter for you and we take a look at the guitar. Its history, its effect on western culture, and the guitar not just as an object, but as an idea. Also, welcome our new host, Joy! She swims well, and does not sink.

Before that though, a note. We’re part of the organizing team for Headshots from the Heart, a fundraiser for Child’s Play, which donates toys and video games to children’s hospitals around the world. On May 26th, four people will play Borderlands for twenty-four hours straight on a live webcast, with auctions, interviews, and giveaways. Find out more at headshotsmarathon.org, and tune in on the day for a great show.

  • Icebreaker: Who is your favourite guitarist, or what is your favourite guitar solo?
    • Dan: Eugene Hütz from Gogol Bordello, and the Clapton/Robertson duet from the Last Waltz.
    • Jim: His old upstairs neighbor, Colin.
    • Joy: Doesn’t have one, and enjoys things in spite of their solos, rather than because of them.
  • The Idea of the Guitar
    • It Might Get Loud, where the Edge, Jack White, and Jimmy Page discuss the electric guitar.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 5: Lying

We said it truthfully, this month’s episode is about lying. What is it? What areas of life do we find it in, and how do we think about it when we find it there?

  • Lying: What is it?
    • Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy on lying.
    • Asserting things that we don’t believe with the intention of deceiving someone.
    • Has to be distinct from making a mistake, and can’t actually be connected with truth. Someone can lie about something and have it turn out to be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that they lied about it.
    • Benign untruths, like playing Devil’s Advocate, or teaching the Bohr model of the atom instead of the electron cloud aren’t lying, because the intent isn’t to deceive the listener.
  • From the Desk of Kickass McAwesome
    • This month Kickass McAwesome brings us something that seems like the pinnacle of human achievement: The Large Hadron Collider.
    • Run by CERN, in part to search for the Higgs Boson.
    • Here are the single page explanations of what the Higgs is, and why we want to find it.
    • Doreen Fraser, a philosopher and physicist interested in quantum field theory.
    • For more information about the LHC, check out “Present at the Creation“, by Amir D. Aczel.
  • Those Games We Play: Stealth mechanics
    • Stealth mechanics are a form of deception which are often unbalancing in games, ie. Bioshock and Fallout 3.
    • They can also make the game harder, as in Deus Ex.
    • Often, if a game has certain archetypes, these mechanics are expected, though useless, like stealth in Dragon Age.

Episode 4: Influence

Wishing you a happy leap year, we’re back and talking about influence. What is it? How do we think about it, both in we’re influenced and how we influence others? But first, an update on our goals from last month.

  • Icebreaker: What is the novel which influenced you the most?
    • Jim: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli. The story of a boy who wasn’t what he seemed.
    • Dan: The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. The story of an architect.
  • A new section, the Games We Play, where we discuss a game which has captured our fancy (and free time) and how it relates to our topic.
  • Ourselves as influencers, in social media (particularly with Klout), as co-workers, parents, teachers, and role models.
  • Influencing in relationships, and what we’re teaching kids…About Santa Claus.
  • Shoutouts! (We each get one dead person)
    • Marcus Aurelius, author of the Meditations.
    • Shannon Dea, half the reason Jim finished his degree.
    • Stephen Hawking, nearly all of the reason Jim gets out of bed.
    • Richard Feynman, physicist extraordinare, the dead guy currently influencing Dan
    • Dan’s mum
    • Mr. Payette, one of Dan’s teachers
    • Jim, who is also the host of a rockin’ podcast.

Remember, influence has no escape velocity.

Episode 3: Internet and Copyright

Apologies for the absence, but with the SOPA vote this month, we definitely had to talk about copyright. We’re not copyright lawyers, but what’s interesting to us is how people think about copyright now, and the mere fact that copyright is something we’re all thinking about now, both as users and as content creators.
  • Goals!
    • Get the podcast on itunes!
    • Set up a Facebook page for the podcast
    • Be more committed to our production schedule
  • Icebreaker: What’s your favourite website?
  • Internet and Copyright
    • In academia, copyright is thought of in terms of Academic Integrity.
    • Everyone has licensing now, even your Youtube or Flickr account. Educated Imagination is shared under the Creative Commons License.
    • A lot of works of literature outside of copyright can be found at Project Gutenberg.
    • Videogame piracy is rising, but we don’t do it. Anymore.
    • The reason we don’t? Steam. All the games we wanted, legally, on the cheap, and with a community of other gamers.
    • SOPA. ‘Nuff said.