Take-Home Museum Exhibit Celebrates Female Sci-Fi Writers

Catalysts, Explorers, and Secret Keepers: Women in Science Fiction aims to immerse the reader in a world of science lore that was built by women.

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By Julia Arciga

Illustration: “Scholars’ Tower” by Julie Dillon (2014), courtesy of Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF Kickstarter page

From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to her more contemporary counterparts, women have always had a full, strong voice in the written science-fiction realm. Now, The Museum of Science Fiction’s Journal of Science Fiction is creating a full anthology celebrating women in sci-fi storytelling.

Catalysts, Explorers, and Secret Keepers: Women in Science Fiction is a “take-home exhibit” from the museum that aims to immerse the reader in a world of science lore that was built by women.

“Ultimately we want to highlight and underscore [the role of women in sci-fi] with this project,” said Monica Louzon, managing editor for the Journal of Science Fiction. “I see a blog post about the issue here and there, and some women have won Hugos this year and that brought a lot of attention to women in sci-fi— but women writing science fiction is nothing new.” Continue reading “Take-Home Museum Exhibit Celebrates Female Sci-Fi Writers”

The HERpothesis Golden Record

Photos and songs for the alien civilization that finds this addendum to the Golden Record.

Featuring photos by Julia Arciga, Alice Liu, Alex Hanson, Megan Harger, Katie Smythe, Shelby Traynor, and Melody Xu

Playlists created by Savana Ogburn, Jo Guelas, Kylie Obermeier, and Megan Schaller of Sonic Blume Zine. Playlist graphics created by Savana Ogburn.

To The Alien Civilization That Finds This,

Greetings from Earth!

My name is Alex Hanson, and I’m the editor of HERpothesis, the website that created this Golden Record addendum: a collection of music and images to show you what life is like on Earth, our home planet (and currently the only one occupied by humans, although we have our sights set on Mars). HERpothesis is made by young women inspired by the intersections of STEM and art, and this Golden Record is our way of showing you how we see and interact with our planet today. Continue reading “The HERpothesis Golden Record”

Cracking Code, and Subsequently, Life Itself

Learning JavaScript is stretching my brain and teaching me some awesome life lessons.

By Julia Arciga

Art by Charlotte Southall

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a chemist. Then I found out I was really, really bad at all things STEM.

No, it’s completely true. I scraped through pre-calc on some kind of miracle. Physics was so intriguing to me, but I would always get those pesky equations wrong—no matter how hard I tried. But my apparent non-affinity for all things science never really stopped me from trying: I once enrolled in a free open course from Yale on Quantum Physics (bad idea, in hindsight). I was a part of my high school’s Science Olympiad club, and got 7th place in competition. I was never a scientific success, but I was just so happy to be surrounded by things that I knew nothing about that I didn’t really care if I embarrassed myself.

I got my start in coding in a completely unusual way: through supermodel Karlie Kloss.

Once upon a time, I also wanted to be a professional model (also a bad idea for me, in hindsight). Karlie Kloss was one of my idols—and she’s still such a muse of mine to this day, although my supermodel dreams are far behind me. I caught wind that she was picking up coding, and I thought that was super interesting: some glamorous fashion goddess was flaunting her geeky side. Mix that with companies like Google and Snapchat moving into my neighborhood of Venice Beach and my dad working on code around the house, and it wasn’t long before I decided to sign up for Codecademyjust to give it a shot. Continue reading “Cracking Code, and Subsequently, Life Itself”

Hotwiring Haute Couture: Tech in Your Wardrobe and on The Runway

Wearable technology is likely to be a key element in the way we remember the fashion of the ‘10s.

By Julia Arciga

Feature image: The Dior Eyes virtual reality headset, courtesy of Dazed 

The trends of fashion eras—the ‘20s, ‘50s, ‘60s—are reflective of the society and zeitgeist of their respective moments in history. What will the kids of the year 2070 define our fashion era as? What are our society’s defining details? Wearable technology is likely to be a key element in the way we remember the fashion of the ‘10s.

Technology is involved and integrated in our lives at almost every level and in almost every aspect. Fashion is no different. What are some examples of this? Light-up sneakers. Fitbits. Apple Watches. Those rings that vibrate and light up when you get a text message. There are even entire websites devoted to wearable technology. Having your tech with you is no longer enough—having it on your body is the hot new thing. One part of it is the practicality: Fitbits monitor steps and motivate people to get up and moving. Apple Watches and those cool tech rings allow the wearer to know what’s happening on their smartphone without having to look at it. Continue reading “Hotwiring Haute Couture: Tech in Your Wardrobe and on The Runway”

Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek

“The people that can work at the intersection between the sciences and the humanities will own the future.”

By Julia Arciga

Photo courtesy of Mandy Sweeney

Mandy Sweeney is the Vice President of Museum Operations at the up-and-coming Museum of Science Fiction, a NASA alum, and is currently finishing up her Harvard Master’s degree in Finance. To add to her already impressive resume, Mandy also boasts an impressive warchest of sci-fi fan info, and has an enormous passion for STEM education. Though a Skype interview, I got the pleasure of geeking out with her— Star-Trek-and-Doctor-Who style.

What was the inspiration to start the Museum of Science Fiction?

The founder of the Museum, Greg Viggiano, was inspired by the Tate Modern. It occured to him that there really was no home like that for science fiction. The genre is so broad – there’s radio, music, art, literature, film, TV, comics, cosplay, fandom – and he wondered why this hasn’t been all brought together yet. At the time I was working at NASA, he and I were talking about that and I, too, was really intrigued with this idea. Between the two of us, we realized that sci-fi is a really powerful way to engage everyone about science and makes it more accessible. So what we came to believe is that we can use sci-fi as a way to inspire and motivate others to develop positive thoughts about our future by innovating and by creating more technology. Continue reading “Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek”

Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?

There is no #YOLO in the AI world.

By Julia Arciga

Illustration by Annika Hanson

Ex Machina does something that is rarely achieved well in today’s sci-fi film realm. It blends science with philosophy to bring the viewer to a breaking-point question: What really makes a human human, and can it be truly replicated through Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Que internal existential crisis about what defines humanity

One of the big plot points of the movie is a little something called the Turing Test created by Alan Turing (yes, the same Alan Turing from The Imitation Game). Basically, the Turing Test is a sort of pass-fail for AI—if the AI can pass as a human in conversation, then it’s “en route to true intelligence.” In the movie, the brilliant and scary Nathan— the CEO of a Google-esque company and the creator of the AI— wants to take the Turing Test a step further, and test whether his AI displays a convincing enough human-like cognizance to supercede the fact that the AI is known to be artificial. Continue reading “Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?”