Instagram Photo Diary: Museum of Science

Documenting a day at the Museum of Science, with a special spotlight on the POPnology exhibit.

Photos and text by Alex Hanson

My mom and I took a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston yesterday, and had a total blast interacting with the exhibits and taking photos along the way. Below, find my Instagram photo diary of the trip. 

Continue reading “Instagram Photo Diary: Museum of Science”

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.

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”

Nancy Drew and the Secret to Keeping It Fresh

Long before I knew what a feminist was, when I was a mere indoorsy only child with a library card and a beige Windows 98 desktop, I was already a fan of Nancy Drew.

By Ariana DiValentino

Gif by Alex Hanson

Long before I knew what a feminist was, when I was a mere indoorsy only child with a library card and a beige Windows 98 desktop, I was already a fan of Nancy Drew.

Wishing to combine my affinity for the mystery novels with my already fully-fledged attachment to the computer, I remember telling my grandmother (also a Nancy Drew fan from her childhood) that I wished there were Nancy Drew PC games. And like a grandmotherly miracle worker, sure enough, she procured one for my 7th birthday.

I was instantly hooked, and so was the rest of my family. It took several of us to get through that first game— Stay Tuned for Danger, about a soap opera star who has been receiving death threats. But I flew through every other game in the series, and 15 years later, I’m still looking forward to diving into the next game over a long weekend.

What I immediately loved about the games, which are made by an independent gaming studio in Bellevue, Washington called Her Interactive, was that they were far richer both in game environment and in story than any other roleplay game I had played as a child. My cousins and I had come up on, primarily, Barbie games, but Barbie Detective and Barbie Spy were no match for the complex mysteries and puzzles put before Nancy Drew. They were exciting and intriguing, with more focus on writing and art than any game I’d played before (keeping in mind that this was 2002). Gameplay relied more on following actual leads and solving layered puzzles than fast reflexes or finding random items with the assumption that you’ll find a use for them later, like most PC mystery games up to this point. Continue reading “Nancy Drew and the Secret to Keeping It Fresh”

11 STEAM Snapchat Accounts to Follow

Your Snapchat feeds are about to get STEAM-y (STEAM: that’s STEM, plus art).

By Erin Winick and Alex Hanson Continue reading “11 STEAM Snapchat Accounts to Follow”

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”

Iron and Vibranium: Science of the Avengers

Melody and Alex hash out the science behind their favorite Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, respectively.

The Marvel universe is heating up with Captain America: Civil War coming to screens on May 6. While it is undeniably going to be distressing to see my favorite band of superheroes become divided, I also can’t wait to see them battle it out while wearing 3D glasses and shoving popcorn in my face. In the spirit of true nerddom that accompanies all Marvel premeire weekends, Melody and I hashed out the science behind our favorite Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, respectively. -Alex Continue reading “Iron and Vibranium: Science of the Avengers”

Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow

Are we still human when our minds are cloned so many times over, fragmented into downloaded files, and uploaded consciousness?

Words and Illustration by Alex Hanson

When we die, what happens to our memories? Where do our personalities and experiences go? Don Hertzfeldt (you might recognize his out-of-this-world Simpsons couch gag or his short “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”) explores one futuristic, somewhat dystopian possibility in his short film “World of Tomorrow” (which is on Netflix and I HIGHLY recommend watching). “World of Tomorrow,” which is nominated for an Oscar and has already received awards from Sundance and South by Southwest, is a two dimensional animated short about Emily Prime, a young girl, and her adult third generation clone (let’s call her Emily Three). Emily Three brings Emily Prime to the future to share her personal experiences in a dystopian world where no new humans are born. Instead, every living person is a clone of someone who lived many years ago, injected with the memories of their prime and all the clones in line before them. Emily Three struggles with her low emotional capacity in a world where consciousness and body no longer develop together. Instead, consciousness is transferred between clones, or can be downloaded from a person once they die. For some elderly, their consciousness is transferred into a bodiless box, where they exist alone in darkness for an undetermined number of years. Continue reading “Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow”

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?”

Neurological File Cabinets

Sherlock is able to use all of his memory processes to his highest benefit, but sciences have a lot yet to learn what really happens when the brain forms a memory.

By Sydney Rappis

Art by Alex Hanson

BBC’s TV series Sherlock takes a modern twist on the classic sleuth tale. The title character, an antisocial drug addict with psychotic tendencies played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is undoubtedly one of the most clever protagonist on television today—rivaled only by other Holmes-inspired characters. One of the biggest reasons to watch the show, other than to see Cumberbatch work his magic, is to see how Sherlock will use his above average intelligence to solve any crime. He seems almost hero-esque in his abilities, but in the episode “The Hound of the Baskervilles” Dr. John Watson introduces the concept of a mind palace. Sherlock is able to solve the unsolvable crime not only because he is observant, but also because of his helpful ability to remember almost everything. Watson explains that Sherlock uses a memory technique where you think up an imaginary place and you stick all the information you want to remember in it, that way you won’t forget anything. All you have to do is “find your way back to it.” It can be any sort of place, so naturally supercilious Sherlock uses a mind palace. In theory though, it could be anything from a street, a closet (as another character later jokes) or a filing cabinet.

Looking closer at the function of memory is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a detective, a student, or someone trying to remember names at a party: It’s a fact that a good memory will only help you in life. But why do we remember certain events over others? Why do people remember things differently? How can we only remember certain details, sometimes not even in the right order? Since the brain is just a hodgepodge of mystery for most scientists, it’s difficult to really answer any of those questions. Still, examining how the memory processes in the brain actually function is quite important, so here’s what we think happens: Continue reading “Neurological File Cabinets”

The Scully Effect

In the face of alien-human hybrids, paranormal activity, and unimaginable monsters, Scully was able to provide the scientific evidence and logical proof.

By Lily Bellinghausen

Art by Alex Hanson

The cult classic sci-fi show of the 90s, The X-Files, was unlike anything on television before its time. The writing, the crackling chemistry between the characters, the dark, thrilling mystery and dangerous edge of it all transformed the way television was made and viewed. It pushed limits. It was modern. It was eerie but beautiful. Even after fourteen years off the air, its fandom is still growing because of its intangible pull and and iconic characters. With nine seasons, two movies, and an upcoming revival, we hope that the truth is out there. Continue reading “The Scully Effect”