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Comment Re:I'm sorry... (Score 4, Interesting) 162

Having read all the nominees, I think this was not a very strong year. I liked Feed, but I'm sick of zombie novels (and so is everyone else). Cryoburn is (I believe) Book #16 in the Vorkosigan series, and though it's well-executed, it doesn't stand out from the other 15. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is fine, but it suffers from a bit of debutnovelitis. I would have picked either The Dervish House or Blackout/All Clear, and apparently The Dervish House is so little known that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.

I disagree about the Hugos being hidebound, though - look at the last three years, with The City and the City, The Graveyard Book, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union all winning - none of which are conventional science fiction at all.

Comment Re:Oh God... (Score 2) 162

N.B. - Connie Willis won her first Hugo in 1983, and has two previous Best Novel wins. There's some good science fiction in the last 25 years, you might want to look into it. (This year's Hugo class of novels wasn't that strong, though - so don't start there).

Comment Don't do it. (Score 4, Informative) 254

E-ink products will not serve your needs. I'm a grad student in physics, and I tried doing exactly this. I love my Kindle for reading books, but the delay and screen size issues (even on the DX) made reading technical papers, where I often am moving back and forward quickly, frustrating. This leaves aside the difficulties of organization - ereaders are not really designed to have 200+ papers. I suggest getting a tablet instead - the ability to download new papers directly from the tablet is worth the additional money.

Comment Re:Can anybody summarize TFA? (Score 2, Informative) 184

Math trick slash analogy. In graphene, electrons behave like massless particles traveling near the speed of light. What this means is that energy increases linearly with particle speed, rather that KE = 0.5 m v^2 , like you learned in physics 101. Particle physics people have argued that adding compact dimensions (rolled up) will change interactions, and these guys have showed that you can also get electrons to act like massive relativistic particles in tubes of graphene. I'm not an expert in the field, but this seems to be a little buzzword-heavy, rather than really groundbreaking. As far as I know, the connection between graphene and relativity had not taught us anything new about relativity, or how mass is generated, but it is kinda cute and gets headlines.

Comment Re:Omissions? (Score 1) 150

There are also some particularly strange choices for the overlaps of mathematics and physics. Einstein, for instance, wasn't pioneering new mathematical methods for the most part, but links the math and physics lines. Then Ed Witten, the only physicist ever to win a Fields Medal, isn't connected to the math line.

Also a problem: where's Ken Wilson in modern physics? Renormalization group ended up simultaneously revolutionizing particle physics and condensed matter physics - I can't think of a comparable example in the last 40 years or so, aside from the rise of computational methods.

Comment Re:Whatever The Party says (Score 5, Insightful) 645

Okay, let's turn down the rhetoric a couple of notches. There are two aspects to this -

1) This does not appear to be a case where the publisher just "changed their minds." 1984 and Animal Farm are, through the usual idiocy, under copyright in the US but not in other countries, so someone re-publishing the text without paying the copyright licensing is breaking the law, and Kindle customers have, in effect, been sold "stolen" property. (Equivalent: buying software that illegally includes GPL code). If you buy a stolen ipod, it can get confiscated by the police.

2) However, this does reveal a pretty worrying tendency to kill books first, clarify later. If Amazon had just sent out refunds, plus notes that "Due to an oversight, if you are in the U.S., this version of 1984 is unauthorized," that would have seemed sensible.

My suggestion - use the Kindle if you like (I love mine), but backup your books, strip the DRM, and pirate shamelessly. Casual piracy adds features to ebooks - the ability to lend and trade books, which is how we all got hooked in the first place.

Comment Re:Maybe in a movie but... (Score 1) 592

Tossed a coin between moderating and replying. Doomsday Book is excellent, but I think Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog is much better (and also laugh-out-loud funny). Timeline isn't terrible, but it suffers from a plot hole so obvious it pretty much spoiled the whole thing for me - if they travel to a parallel universe, how does an object they sent back in time show up in the present?

Comment Re:Vampirism (Score 2, Insightful) 126

I think part of the worry comes from a mistaken belief that each treatment will mean the destruction of an embryo - hence the "vampirism" fear. Maybe I'm wrong in this, but the treatment comes from a stem cell line - i.e. once upon a time there was an embryo, and now it's billions and billions of constantly growing individual stem cells. Objecting to stem cell *treatments* because of embryos being destroyed is like a vegan refusing to be treated by a doctor who once ate meat ten years ago.

Comment Re:What The Fuck? (Score 1) 354

This is part of the Gates Foundation's system of high-risk, high-reward research: take the smartest people you know, ask them to come up with crazy ideas, and see if any of them work. This one did. And though Lowell Wood gets credit for the initial idea, the laser scientists "...teamed with an entomologist with a Ph.D in mosquito behavior and other experts."

Lowell Wood is known for coming up with creative solutions to big problems - he might be a little crazy, but it's the kind of crazy we need to make sure we keep on trying new ideas.

Comment Re:Science Fiction? (Score 1) 218

I recently subscribed to Analog. I started every story in the first issue, and only one was worth finishing. Most either failed to 1) have believable, interesting characters, or 2) realize that new words are not new ideas.

But that doesn't mean science fiction is dead - read the Hugo-winners and noms. Books like Rainbows End (Vernor Vinge) and Spin (Robert Charles Wilson) have restored my faith in the genre. Maybe I'll give Analog another chance, but right now there are too many good novels out there.

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