Systems

Category archives for Systems

William Gibson, first in his novel Burning Chrome and then later in the seminal Neuromancer, both coined and defined “cyberspace” as “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators.” His novels predate the universal adoption of  the World Wide Web as a communication matrix, and his psychedelic fantasy of cyberspace–a kind of semantic…

Interview: Andrew Olney

Last week, I wrote a piece for Motherboard about an android version of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The story of the android is truly surreal, stranger than even Dick’s flipped-out fiction, and I recommend you pop over to Motherboard and mainline it for yourselves. For the piece, I interviewed the lead programmer on…

Universe Q&A: Frank White

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece here on Universe exploring the ideas of the futurist Gerard K. O’Neill, who designed far-out but ultimately quite pragmatic environments for human habitation in space in the mid-1970s. In that article, I touched briefly on the notion of the “Overview Effect,” a phrase coined by the…

In the mid-1970s, the U.S. State Department prohibited the internal use of the term “space colony,” due to the global bad reputation of colonialism. Instead, the government opted for “space settlement.” Of course, as Stewart Brand pointed out at the time, the last thing you do in space is settle. Quite the opposite! Making the…

Livin’ In A Mycelial World

Mushrooms and their mycelium are quiet allies that are essential for our healthy existence. They are enigmatic, have a sense of humor, and socially as well as spiritually, bond together all that admire them. They have much to teach us. -Paul Stamets If the ego is not regularly and repeatedly dissolved in the unbounded hyperspace…

Very Large Tourism

The author, dishing. To get to the National Radio Telescope Observatory, you have to be committed. Well, first, you have to be in New Mexico — about an hour’s drive south of Albuquerque, in the plains of San Augustin, to be precise, a Pleistocene lakebed bordered by the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert and…

Oh, Be a Fine Girl!

Readers, help me sort out an egregious detail of astronomical lore. The most common method of classifying stars — Harvard Spectral Classification — was thought up by one of the most famous female astronomers of all time, Annie Jump Cannon. Adapted from a cumbersome older method which sorted stars into 22 alphabetical categories of observable…