It’s actually an old debate — in fact, it’s a variation on the Ship of Theseus — but modern day science fiction gives it a new spin. At root it’s a question about exactly where our identity as self-aware conscious beings actually resides. I don’t find it paradoxical so much as intriguing.
Recently Sabine Hossenfelder jumped into the discussion with a video asking whether Captain Kirk dies every time he uses the transporter. Not just him, of course, but everyone who uses it.
As with trees falling in forests, the answer depends on defining key terms. This case depends on exactly what we mean by “dies” and “Kirk” — the latter being the Ship of Theseus.
If you know me at all, you know I was already a science fiction fan when Star Trek began. (It’s a rare occasion I get in on the ground floor of something.) I adored Kirk and crew. It took some episodes, but I came to love Picard and crew even more. The Trek story still unfolds, but I left that fold around the fifty-year mark. (Or rather, Trek left me.)
More recently (the rebooted) Doctor Who became my favorite SF TV series, but it’s starting to look like it won’t have the staying power that Trek did. I haven’t been as engaged the last many seasons, and the shift to the 13th Doctor hasn’t worked for me.
Currently I’d have to say my favorite SF TV series is The Expanse.
I don’t know that synchronicity plays any greater role in my life than it does for anyone else. I seem to notice it fairly often, and I love when it happens. It’s generally an illusion; coincidences occur all the time. Sometimes they stand out in a way seems like evidence of greater import or design.
But that is usually a matter of selection bias. Coincidence that impresses us is memorable. Cops, as well as doctors and nurses who work ER shifts, often think the full moon brings out the crazies, but the data doesn’t really support that.
Regardless, synchronicity is fun when it happens.
It’s hard to remember exactly, but I think I first noticed it back in the days of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s even possible it really started in the earlier series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. By the time of the final series, Star Trek: Enterprise, it was definitely a thing, and by then it went way too far.
In the original Star Trek series, Gene Roddenberry gave us Vulcans. They were, in many ways, better than humans. They lived longer, they were stronger and smarter, and — crucially — they were, in some ways, wiser than us. Rick Berman, Roddenberry’s heir apparent, re-wrote that vision to make them conniving, lying, self-interested bastards. In other words, he made them more human.
My question here is: Why did our heroes turn into such assholes?
If you read my Disclaimer you know I’m a little uncomfortable with awards. They are obviously very pleasing to receive, and I appreciate the social aspects involved, but I just find I have somewhat mixed feelings. That said, sometimes I’ve been awarded by a blogger I know and regard, and it’s very hard to be my usually curmudgeonly self.
And given that my nominator, the blogger artist Sheikah on Dark Link/Light Link is one of those young people who gives me hope for the future, I cannot turn my back. In particular this young lady is smart, educated and capable, and if there’s anything I revere in people it’s those very qualities.
So let’s get to it: some Liebster Award fun!
Having penned a perplexing pair of Python posts, and planning a putative pair of POV-Ray posts for the pending week, I feel the pressure to pause and ponder some other puzzle for a period. Like words that start with “P”, for instance. Or something more profound, like peas in our time. (And pass the potatoes.) Perhaps something personal would please?
I can’t write of cabbages or kings. I don’t care much for the former (except in egg rolls), and I wrote about chess yesterday, which is almost about kings. Nor can I write of sealing ships or sailing wax. (Wait… how did that go?)
But it is Science Fiction Saturday again!
The other day I was Wiki Walking and ended up reading about the Rare Earth Hypothesis in reference to the Fermi Paradox and the Drake Equation. We’ve discovered that most stars in our galaxy appear to have planets of some kind, although ones with human-friendly environments may be quite rare. The presence of a plethora of planets presumably provides a potentially large factor for at least one part of the professor’s pretty problem.
But it’s possible that some of its other factors are extremely small. They may be much smaller than anyone had imagined. They may be so small as to ensure that we are alone in the galaxy.
It’s even possible we are alone — or nearly alone — in the universe!
Submitted for your consideration: the case of one man, by the name of Bill, who has accepted a role on a new TV show little knowing he is about to become extremely famous. He is about to step onto the path of becoming a cultural icon; he stands unknowing at the beginning of something that will endure and be loved for (at least) 47 years.
Join me on a journey through a dimension of space and time, of light and shadow, of science and superstition. Let us descend to the pit of man’s fears and ascend to the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.
Up ahead, the signpost — Your next stop: The Star Trek Zone!
The week is off to a weak start. Last week I thought things at work would finally start to move along on my project. But it turns out the guy who told me “next week” didn’t expect me to read his email until last Monday. So this week turns out to be the week he thought he’d have something.
No word so far, and he didn’t answer my email this morning.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the data chain, oh, it’s a big disaster that makes me shudder. Late today we got an opportunity to test just one link in the chain I’m trying to build. Tests failed, so it’s back to the vendor.
I’ll rant about that later (and you’ll be free to leave). First I just want to share the only time management tip I ever learned that turned out to be hugely useful.