All posts by Arun Jiwa

Bad Media Spin On The LHC

It was all fun and games until someone took the end-of-the-world speculations one step too far:

A 16-year-old girl in Madhya Pradesh, [India] allegedly committed suicide after watching news on channels about possibility of the end of earth following the atom-smasher experiment in Geneva that began on Wednesday…Her parents told reporters she was watching about the world’s biggest atom-smasher experiment in Geneva on news channels since the last two days following which she got restless and ended her life.

I’m divided between blaming the wildly inaccurate claims circulated by the media, and just a general lack of scientific education for believing these “doomsday” claims. But there’s this, regarding the media portrayal of the event in India, to support both:

The ministry found stories talking about the world coming to an end, shown in various dramatised forms, as unsuitable for “unrestricted public exhibition” and “unsuitable for children“. Media critics have pointed out that instead of looking at the Big Bang experiment as a scientific development, doomsday stories only succeeded in scaring naive viewers and annoying those who saw through the facade. “The experiment has been the talking point everywhere for all the wrong reasons,” a media critic said.

[story from Sify, additional updates from The Times of India, via Bruce Sterling]

Economist Opens Debate on The Future of Energy

The story, as it is, from Wired Science:

The Economist, that venerable British magazine about money, has opened a new online debate on the future of energy.

The debate presents the pro and con sides to the following proposition: “We can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations.”

The debate is a closed discussion between the panelists but they’ve opened up parts of the site to user participation.  I’m not convinced that this debate is going to move any of the current arguments forward, as both sides will be tackling the topic through the global warming lens.  But, check it out here, on the Economist website.

Predictions in Chinese Futurism

io9s Lisa Katayama makes her predictions for five trends that will follow China into the future.  What we are looking forward to will include the growth of the world’s largest consumer markets:

…Right now, companies like GM, Johnson and Johnson, and Coca Cola produce first and foremost for the US market. But this will change. As the Chinese customer base catches up in size and influence, the way products are marketed and business is done will inevitably shift to meet demand…the global market would be more collectivistic, harmony-oriented [and] less rights-conscious.

and the new cool in green architecture and web-based tech:

According to, [China] currently produces about 6GW of wind energy, which makes it fifth in the world. Some experts believe that China will reach at least 100GW in the next 12 years…

What Lisa is mentioning here is mainly plausible, sans the explosive growth in renewable energy infrastructure.  My personal two cents is that there’ll be huge steps made in urban planning and public transport to cope with China’s massive metropolises and web based tech. that will develop as investment flows into China’s large, inexpensive and growing skilled labor base.  Any predictions from Futurismic readers? What new trends will make their way into China’s future?

Outquistion of The Future

At the WorldChanging blog, Alex Steffen has posted an article that could be the seed of half a dozen sf stories. He talked with novelist/activist Cory Doctorow about a number of topics, foremost among them the social and economic changes facing America in the future:

We were talking about the slow-motion collapse here in America, the looming climate crisis,the futility of survivalism; and we began to play with the thought, what kinds of heroes would actually do some good for the communities that get hit hard?Because if the ruins of the unsustainable are the new frontier, and if, as is already happening, the various economic and environmental transitions we face will leave many people unmoored from their familiar assumptions…a huge number of people are going to need help forging new ways of life.

What they come up with in answer to these problems, is The Outquisition:

What would it be like, we wondered, if folks who knew tools and innovation left the comfy bright green cities and traveled to the dead mall suburban slums, rustbelt browntowns and climate-smacked farm communities and started helping the locals get the tools they needed. We imagined that it would need an almost missionary fervor, something like the Inquisition (which largely destroyed knowledge) in reverse, a crusade of open sharing, or as Cory promptly dubbed it, the Outquisition.

Imagine these folks like this passing out free textbooks, running holistic programs for kids, creating local knowledge management systems, launching microfinance projects, mobilebanking and complementary currencies. Helping rural landowners apply climate foresight and farm biodiversity… In other words, these folks would be redistributing the future at a furious clip.

It’s a very engaging article, and definitely worth a read, if only for the huge number of SFnal ideas that it posits.

[story from WorldChanging, found via Beyond The Beyond]