THE PHYSICS AND SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF SCIENCE FICTION:
There are basically two kinds of Science Fiction themes that are preponderant within this genre. One looks at the Science that influences the stories and the other investigates the moral and social implications within a story. Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and A.J. Deutsch are among those who did the math and physics within their storylines, while H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury tended to ponder the social and moral implications of their futuristic novels.
On rare occasion, an author would combine both into a story line with great effect. One such was Forbidden Planet by W.J. Stewart. He combined elements of physics and psychology known to an advanced alien civilization (the Krell) that was experimenting with the “ID”. It subsequently created a mental monster of such magnitude that it destroyed their civilization thousands of years before the arrival of earthlings to their planet. The term “Monsters from the ID” became a household word back in the 1950s for adventurers of Sci-Fi. It was devised in the mind of the Krell and became as real and ferocious as any creature here on earth. So the story was a moral parable as well.
The two authors chosen for this expose are Deutsch and Bradbury because they represent these two themes in fascinating and compelling ways, much like Stewart did with Forbidden Planet. Deutsch looks at what can happen to a subway system from a postulate about systems connectivity in A Subway Named Moebius, while Bradbury postulates what can happen to a society when it is denied the availability of reading books in Fahrenheit 451. I will begin with Deutsch and later return to write about Bradbury’s tale of woe.
A SUBWAY NAMED MOEBIUS: A.J. Deusch 1950
The principles of connectivity state that as a system makes more connections to other parts of itself, the connectivity of that system increases in an exponential fashion to staggering levels. The subway under Boston had been growing in complexity for years. When the Transit Authority entered a new line into the system, it became so complex, that the best mathematicians could not calculate its connectivity. The topology of the system became overloaded.
Then the first train disappeared. The system was closed, so it couldn't have gone anywhere, but when all the trains were pulled, the transit Authority still couldn't find it. The searchers would see a red light, wait curiously, and hear a train passing in the distance, sometimes so close that it appeared to be just around the next bend. Where was the train? What happened to the passengers?
This is a cautionary tale of what could happen if you make your subway system too complex. And it revolves around the idea of a moebius strip; a twisted plane that goes from having two sides to just one in a closed system. Deutsch was a U.S. astronomer who understood the math of complex systems and made an example of extreme complexity to the degree that a moebius was created causing two parallel planes within a singular closed system. The mathematical connection with a moebius band is tenuous but the story is still intriguing.
The danger became real enough when two trains were found traveling within the same space but in two separate planes. At any time, the one train traveling within the other dimension created by the moebius could return to the plane and the track that the other train was traveling and cause an accident.
The whole idea is quite “Frankensteinian” . Deutsch seems to want to suggest that a Quantum Monster has been created underneath the city of Boston. These are not Monsters from the ID however, but rather monsters of Mathematical Complexity. And he is pondering the moral prerogative of examining the responsibility involved with making decisions about interacting too much with exponentially complex systems. Is he suggesting perhaps, that we “look before we take that quantum leap” accidentally into another dimension? Intriguing stuff, indeed…
--Doug Taylor, Resident Philosopher
This week's prize is $15 gift card to B. on Main. B. on Main has some of the most unique items in Ventura. Men, women and children can find something at this great local shop. So get reading, and enter online for a chance to win. Want to know more about our summer reading program at Foster? Read about it here.
Remember how much fun it was to get a prize for reading? O the joy of filling out your reading sheet, turning it in and getting something in return!!! Well, now you can experience that joy as an adult. Starting today, June 9th, adults aged 18 and above can enter our summer reading contest. All you have to do is read a great book, enter once a week, and wait for the call saying you won! We will have 6 weekly prizes ranging from chocolate donated by Trufflehounds, to gift certificates to fabulous local businesses. And seriously, all you have to do is read. The grand prize, donated by the Friends of the Library, is a Kindle. Then you can read even more!
Remember how much fun it was to get a prize for reading? O the joy of filling out your reading sheet, turning it in and getting something in return!!! Well, now you can experience that joy as an adult. Starting today, June 9th, adults aged 18 and above can enter our summer reading contest. All you have to do is read a great book, enter once a week, and wait for the call saying you won!
We will have 6 weekly prizes ranging from chocolate donated by Trufflehounds, to gift certificates to fabulous local businesses. And seriously, all you have to do is read. The grand prize, donated by the Friends of the Library, is a Kindle. Then you can read even more!
Enter online, and keep reading for next week's entry.
Must be age 18 and over
Must have a valid library card
One entry per week
Weekly entry may be submitted in the library, or online
Contest runs June9th-July20th
Watch for the addition of nearly 4.5 million new songs to our Freegal database - resulting, by early Summer 2013, in over 7 million songs!
But, that's not all - Freegal is also adding 8000 MTV type music videos - the complete music video collection of Sony music! And, they are adding 12,000 new labels!
Freegal Music congratulates the Class of 2013 and “90’s Babies” everywhere!
Freegal has thousands of popular songs for people of all ages!
YOU MIGHT BE A 90's BABY IF:
- Nintendo 64 was the best Christmas present you ever received.
- You had at least one Tamagotchi, GigaPet or Nano and brought it everywhere.
- You had the entire Pokémon character lineup memorized before you learned your own phone number.
- You grew up watching Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory & SpongeBob.
- You can sing the rap to "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" (Available in Freegal)
- You know the Macarena by heart. (Also available in Freegal)
For those intrepid few who wish to step outside the graphic novel circle, there is also anime. Anime, if you aren’t familiar with it, is the name for Japanese animated programs. They’re not exactly like the cartoons you’ll find on Saturday morning television, although they are becoming more prevalent in the U.S., especially the Toon Network and Adult Swim. Anime typically has a continuing storyline, usually of a season or two, about 12-13 episodes per season. Some however, like Bleach, go on for what seems like forever.
A couple recently added anime titles are among my favorites, and they couldn’t be more different. The first is Samurai Champloo, which literally means Samurai Mash-up. Set in the Edo period of feudal Japan, it’s the story of Fuu, a young girl looking for the samurai who smells of sunflowers, possibly her father. On her journey she brings two very different samurai: Mugen, a wild child with a crazy, mixed up samurai style, and Jin, a traditional samurai, more reserved, but just as deadly with a sword. When they’re not trying to kill each other, they help Fuu in her search throughout Japan. The show is a crazy blend of modern and historical references. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. I absolutely love it!
The second anime is a modern slice-of-life school story. Bamboo Blade tells the story of a high school kendo club and it’s coach, Kojiro (who seems to be perpetually starving and broke), as he tries to assemble a winning kendo team. When he meets Tamaki it seems he may be off to a good start. Tamaki is a crazy-good kendo enthusiast who makes grown men cry with her skills. Outside of kendo, her only other fascination is an anime called Blade Braver (think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). As the anime progresses, you’ll see the players perfect their skills (or try to) as they go from tournament to tournament. Some will actually surprise you. I’ve watched the entire series at least twice, and I enjoy it more and more with each viewing.
Both series are welcome additions to anyone interested in manga or graphic novels who wish to try something new. Give them a try. You might just like it.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess (and Ambassador of Anime)
Ventura County Library's Summer Reading Program “Reading is so Delicious” has a new format this year.
Children just need to read 5 hours to complete the reading program and earn a prize.
You can get a copy of the reading log from the library, on our website, from the newspaper or at certain local businesses. Color in one strawberry for each hour you read or are read a library book. Once you have completed the five hours, bring the form to your library and pick out your prize. You will also get a chance to win your very own Nook HD at the end of the summer. Participants up to grade 12 can enter once a week for the Nook HD, up to twelve times during the summer.
Ventura County has numerous opportunities for residents to get out and walk. From downtown walking tours to hiking trails, there is something for almost everyone. The Los Padres National Forest, which covers a good portion of northern Ventura County, has many trail heads that start close to Highway 33. Whether you want an easy day hike or a more strenuous backpacking adventure, Foster Library can help you find your way.
Another great cookbook for the “Dish” to run through his vigorous test and evaluation, the title is “The Passionate Vegetable”, by Suzanne Landry. The great thing about this book is that I have met the author and she will be at the Topping Room for a book signing, Saturday June 1st, at 5:00 pm. I met Suzanne just before Christmas of last year, I was very impressed with her book and she seemed interested in doing a book signing at E.P. Foster library. We decided to get the event together when I got back from England.
Well now it’s almost June and I have tried out one of Suzanne’s healthy and delicious recipes. Let me backtrack about the book a bit. The book is gorgeous, the photography is top notch, and it is packed with recipes and nutritional information. The beginning of the book has a note to Suzanne’s readers; it is a gentle way of encouraging her readers to give a healthier diet a chance. Quite frankly this book is a bit of a wakeup call for me, let’s face it I’ve been heavy on the chocolate and light on the vegetables of late. I will purchase a signed copy from Suzanne at the book signing, this you can be assured of.
Now to the recipe I prepared and the reason I prepared it. The Melt-in-Your-Mouth-Granola was the recipe I prepared, after two days hiking in the Eastern Sierra and eating some of the yuckiest store bought trail snacks, I decided it was high time the “Dish” made some yummy healthy trail snacks of his own, and that’s what I did. The granola was a breeze to make and the taste is out of this world, some baggies of this stuff are going on my next hike in June. This book has so much care and love put into it and valuable nutritional information it would be a great loss not to have “The Passionate Vegetable” on your kitchen bookshelf. See you June 1st!!
****** David’s Dish
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!
If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.