Daily Archives: February 22, 2012

Science Fiction Roundup: Pulse-less Hearts, Robot Drivers, and Toy Fair 2012

For those of you joining us today with hopes of more delicious 5-minute cake recipes, check out our About page for a breakdown of our posting schedule. Today’s my day, and while I’m not against mixing baked goods with my literature, my bit’s science fiction and technology, so that’s what you can expect from me on Wednesdays. Melissa posts on Tuesdays, and has several stories and a running serial in our e-zine, so please check the other posts if you liked yesterday’s!

Hello everyone! I was working on a more extensive post for today, but decided to wait until next week to get into that. It’s a little sensitive, critiquing a popular article at popbioethics.com that makes many claims about the science fiction genre and argues that the recent video game series Mass Effect contains the most important science fiction universe of this generation (which it says directly in the title). If you want to take a look before next week, click here. Mild language warning, and I can’t vouch for the rest of the blog, since I haven’t read it, but it’s a very interesting perspective to say the least.

For now, here’s a Science Fiction Roundup for you! In this episode, several neat/slightly disconcerting articles, and a whole bunch of toys from this year’s Toy Fair.

The Man Without a Pulse

A heartbeat is something fundamentally recognizable, inseparable from our concept of life. Every living, breathing thing we consider to be meaningfully alive has a pulse, a heart that beats that signifies that it has life. Doctors and scientists have been working on artificial hearts for years, but there has always been an underlying assumption that it must replicate a pulse for it to be effective.


That assumption is apparently false, if Craig Lewis’ case was any indication. In a desperate act, Drs. Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier removed Lewis’s diseased heart entirely and replaced it with electric water pumps. Surprising to all, Lewis seemed to be fine, in spite of the fact that all of the available instruments declared him dead because of his lack of a heartbeat. This is not necessarily a technological leap, but a conceptual one. If humans do not really need a pulse to survive, many new options open up for artificial hearts. It also strikes me as a particularly interesting way to describe cybernetic characters, and the philosophical and metaphysical implications would be interesting to explore in a story. Click here for the full story at SingularityHub.com.

Robots Finally Get a Driver’s License (at Least in Nevada)

Nevada Governor and Google Car

"Our little autonomous vehicle operation system is all grown up!" *sniff*

In other news, Nevada is now issuing a special license plate for robot-driven vehicles! While the fact that a soulless, potentially genocidal piece of machinery now may be behind the wheel of one of the many hurtling masses on the freeway might make some people uncomfortable, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the bots are probably better drivers than most of the humans on the road anyway. Full story at singularityhub.com.




Toy Fair 2012 Brings Many New Cool Toys of the Future

If you’re like me, you get a kick out of keeping up with new cool toys as they come out every year (which you may or may not have to buy, you know, just in case you need a back-up white elephant gift or something). This year’s Toy Fair, however, brought enough high-tech toys that I thought it was a good idea to bring them to your attention. You know, for your stories. They have toys in science fiction, right?

Hasbro Lazer Tag

Hasbro LazerTag

Looks like the pistol from Mass Effect, actually...

I had Nerf guns growing up (actually, I still have Nerf guns…), and even had some laser tag guns complete with vests to play with my neighborhood friends. I had nothing like this, though! Plugging an iPhone or iPod Touch (with camera) into this gun gives you an Augmented Reality display with target reticles, health bars, and even location-tracking radar for your laser tag game with up to 24 people! And, to top it all off, the gun looks like it came right out of the video games and movies.

LittleBits Starter Kit

LittleBits Starter Kit

Kinnex and Lincoln Logs pale in comparison

Ever wanted to make your own toy? No, I don’t mean sewing a doll or carving a toy train or something (lame). The LittleBits Starter kit will bring out the inventor in you, letting you create your own electronic gadget out of magnetically-connecting sensors and parts. Definitely something I wish I had growing up!

See the full gallery at popsci.com.

That’s all for now! Check back next week for my discussion of the role of Mass Effect in the Science Fiction genre. Until then, check out those toys at popsci.com. Which ones have you checking your couch for spare change? Let me know in the comments below!