Archive for August, 2016

Truisms Over the Years

Posted August 17, 2016 By Jandy

The Bone Is Pointed by Arthur W. UpfieldIn the first half of the twentieth century Arthur W. Upfield wrote an Australian mystery series featuring Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. Bony is a half Aborigine with dark skin and bright blue eyes.

I recently started one of the Bony novels that was published in 1947, The Bone Is Pointed. Bony is talking to one of the large ranch owners, a white man in his 70s. The man is startled when he meets Bony and starts interrogating him. Bony’s response:

“My career as a detective, following my graduation from the university at Brisbane, would take a long time to describe in detail. In this country colour is no bar to a keen man’s progress providing that he has twice the abilities of his rivals.

We still hear that saying kicked around today, 70 years later, for most minorities including color and sex. I can only hope someday the statement won’t be true any more.

Science Fiction Happening Now

Posted August 3, 2016 By Jandy

Bionic people? Yeah, we’re working on that.

Check out the book I’m reading, We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time by Kara Platoni.

We Have the Technology by Kara PlatoniI’m on the third chapter, Vision. Platoni starts the chapter with the man who has “the Model T” eye. He’s one of a few people in a medical clinical trial with an electronic eye implant that helps him see. He only sees black, white, gray, and flashes of light, but that’s more than he could see for the prior 17 years.

Since I’m not in the field, I didn’t know a fifth taste had been identified and added to the four I knew. Besides sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, we also have umami or savory. (School kids may know this now, but the newest sense became official long after I got out of school.) That’s in the Taste chapter. Platoni has chapters on the five basic senses, then moves on to what she calls the Metasensoory Perception – time, pain, and emotion.

Her final section, Hacking Perception, moves firmly into the world that once was only in science fiction. She discusses virtual reality, augmented reality, and new senses. People have augmented their senses for centuries with devices – glasses and watches are a good example. Here we will find the people who go further – watch out for those bionic people I mentioned.

I’m only about a quarter of the way through this, but We Have the Technology is fascinating. If you want to see science fiction becoming real science, read Kara Platoni’s book.

(And yes, I do read some nonfiction.)

Link to Books