At least two things happened last week in the worlds of science fiction and science. One was cool and the other was crap.
Coolest way to generate new technologies for colonizing the solar system while also demonstrating once again that China and India represent the future of the world: Last week, India's Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, announced that his country would be entering into a kind of space race with China. Though Indian officials had already talked about sending a crewed mission to the moon by 2020, the nation has deployed very few satellites and has never sent a person into orbit. Increasing tensions with China, plus the show of force represented by China shooting down one of its own satellites last year (see picture), has apparently kicked the Indian space program into high gear. Though it's hard to be thrilled about the idea that India and China might be ramping up to a cold war situation, there's no denying that there's nothing like a good defense budget to make gains in space. If we're lucky, the space race between the two great emerging techno-powers of the twenty-first century will have the unintended side-effect of helping ordinary people of the future gain access to planet-colonizing technologies and space-going vehicles. Click through for the crap.
Crappiest way to encourage people to use their imaginations and experiment with evolutionary possibilities in a game devoted to both: Last week saw the release of EA/Maxis' Creature Creator — a component of the upcoming evolution game Spore — and the entire internet greeted it with a cry of happiness. Creature Creator lets you build any organism you like, quickly fleshing out an animated being as cute or hideous as you can imagine. An algorithm animates the little beast, giving it realistic motions for its body shape. You can share your creations with other users, too.