Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NatGeo: "100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World": reflected in sci-fi novel "Sandstorm" by Rollins

At some local retail outlets you can pick up an interesting National Geographic compendium, “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World”, 128 pages, glossed, heavily illustrated, with Bridget English as primary editor. (Website is here.)

The discoveries are presented in random order as to chronology, giving the reader a sense of “time travel”. A few, such as nanomedicine, terraforming (with a compelling illustration of Mars after ecopoiesis), and augmented reality, are seen as ongoing and don’t have dates.   One of the oldest is the abacus (3000 bc), or the wheel (3500 BC, which the Maya did not use in this hemisphere).  Some discoveries appeared surprisingly early, such as electricity in 1745.

The discoveries are organized into four groups: (1) The Power of Informaiton; (2) Engineering the Body; (3) Invisible Forces; (4) This World and Others.

One of the most curious is the Bucbyball (p. 13, named after Buckminster Fuller). The novel “Sandstorm” by James Rollins (link) (aka Jim Czajkowski), 2004 (Avon/Harper Collins) uses the concept of buckyballs  (drawings pp 484-486 in paperback) as party of the plot denouement (he also gets into antimatter and the CERN collider).

The novel (which I read in 2005, sometimes on sub teaching assignments while the kids did their classwork!) would obviously translate well to a genre Hollywood thriller (or maybe even a cable television series), but I don't see it on imdb.  I see two other (post 2004) movies with this title that seem unrelated. I'm actually surprised it hasn't been "made" yet. 

Youtube on the science of “Buckyballs” (not the toys):

Michio Kaku on the cheapest way to terraform Mars:  Use “global” warming!

Wikipedia attribution link for drawing of fullerite.

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