Friday, 7 July 2017

Science For Fiction 2017

This is the third year in a row that I've attended the conference, come workshop, come convention that is Imperial College London's Science in Science Fiction.  It is run by the energetic Dr. David Clements, who can call on world class experts to present on a diverse range of topics of interest to any science geek who wants to write stories with up to the minute science in them.

Wednesday afternoon we all met up for the first talk, which was about the Square Kilometre Array and the Epoch of Reionization by Emma Chapman.  A fascinating look at how science is pushing our knowledge of the beginnings of the universe further back in time through advances in technology, and how we are getting to the stage where the amount of information that can be amassed will exceed our ability to record it.

Next up was a talk on Titan and Cassini by Ingo Mueller-Wodarg that explained the importance of what has been found, and what the mission hopes to get from the final end run that bring the mission to a close with the spacecrafts destruction in Saturn's atmosphere.

Thursday began with the presentation Ending the Universe by Arttu Rajante, who clearly is enjoying his research.  He presented an interesting talk on the Higgs Boson and what finding it means under the current Standard Model.  Basically the end of the universe will be driven by the Higgs Boson forming an expanding singularity that will eat the universe at near light speed; in about 10 ^ 160 years from now.

After  that the next talk brought us back to the present with a talk on Visiting Mars, with a VR Demonstration & discussion by Sanjeev Gupta who is a geologist who works with the Curiosity programme.  Fascinating stuff that discussed the historical development of Mars and future plans to explore the Red planet.

Extremophiles and Synthetic Biology by Robert Weinzierl was next.  Unfortunately my picture of Dr. Weinzierl has too much motion blur to use, which I didn't notice when I took it.  He discussed how life adapts to extremes and this fed back into the problems with sterilizing spacecraft that we want to send to other planets that may have life.

Forming Stars & Planets by Tom Haworth was the final talk.  He covered what we think we know, what we actually know, and what we need to know about how stars, planets and star systems form.

By the end of the final talk I was feeling pretty exhausted from the heat, which was not surprising given the temperatures in London.