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Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

Well, as you may have gathered from my last post, I知 spending too much time in the lab for my own (short term) good. At least I seem to be getting some results. This is promising. I like promising. I知 still following a line and wishing it would reach a steady value. Ooh! It痴 just reached one. (Ok, fine, I am writing this having just put the next data point on. I知 still excited.)

Last night, I left here somewhere after dark. Only a few days to go until I get to see daylight. Yay!! Only a few days to go until I get to see Rebecca. Yay!! YAY!! Anyway, I finished reading a collection of short stories by Cordwainer Smith. I知 not going to give *review* of them. I find, in general but with a few notable exceptions, good science fiction doesn稚 lend itself to those sort of reviews. I enjoyed the stories anyway.

For me, good science fiction explores the effect of the imposition of a new set of conditions on society. I知 not concerned about the differences between science fiction and fantasy as to whether the changes are technically feasible or not, what I am concerned about is whether the story reaches believable conclusions about what effect the changes would actually have.

In his stories, Smith leads the reader through millennia of human evolution, exploring things such as the economic effect of a single planet being the only one capable of manufacturing a drug giving eternal life (and, presumably, vitality); the impact on the human psyche of a coddling administration removing human problems and ensuring happiness, where all the work is done by robots and an underclass; the views of an underclass (in this case animals made into human-ish form) as they relate to the overlords, and many other such topics.

While a lot of the *scientific* changes are fanciful at best, a lot of the changes to society are quite feasible, and I find that I generally agree that the responses to the changes are believable.

This morning, I woke up early, and went into uni. On the bus the person who sat behind absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke. This was horrendous. I could barely breathe. On behalf of all people who like to breathe, everywhere, if you want the hit, use a patch. If you want to combine it with the effects of actually smoking, breathe in and out of a plastic bag for a while. If you want to kill yourself through your drug addiction, I値l adopt a liberal philosophy here and say, go ahead. I値l just equally apply a liberally philosophy and say just don稚 affect me. Where me is a subset of anyone else.

I gave a practice talk. I知 feeling that it is a reasonable talk, and, if I give it as well as I have done the last couple of times, I will survive. I知 still hoping to give a great talk, but I must accept that no matter how good it is, I will only see the problems. This seems to be the nature of postgrads. So saying, the last talk I gave was dreadful (and I have somewhat tactless independent confirmation on this point).

And guess where I am now? Back in the lab, waiting for a line to plateau out. I had a nice discussion with Tristan, who made a suggestion which seems to fixed one of the problems I was having with the tubing leaking.

And I talked too soon. As soon as I wrote that, the tube leaked in a different spot. I fixed that, and a new leak emerged. I have just fixed them and am now trying again.

I spent most of the afternoon explaining the theory and data analysis of one of the pieces of equipment to Shinoj (Todd, if you are interested, yes, it is your CaBER. It is still being used)

Since I have just finished a science fiction book, I will review Wells The Invisible Man. Because that explores the effect of invisibility on an individual, and that痴 effect on society, it still fits quite nicely within my description of good science fiction (I definitely don稚 believe that it can happen in the manner described, but I知 sure within the next twenty years or so, one army or another will have developed an invisible suit for soldiers.)

Griffin is an ambitious but struggling post-grad (gee, you didn稚 see that coming, did you?), investigating the impact of an invisible man on society. Because of poor supervision from his supervisor, who just refused to see him and left him to his own devices, Griffin devises his own experimental protocol. Griffin decides that an interesting project would be to turn himself invisible. This he does, but soon finds that he is cold and hungry. Again, we値l blame the supervisor, who is absent, who did not advise him that the project should either not be conducted in winter, or not conducted in England. However, once he begins, he has no choice but to continue.

After much investigation, Griffin writes his thesis with the contention that invisibility leads to theft, which is a gateway crime to terrorism. His thesis is failed by one of the reviewers, Kemp, who notices that Griffin didn稚 perform any control experiments. Only out-of-control ones.


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