Lego Builders Of Tomorrow – Professor Mitch Resnick on creativity

March 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Lego Builders Of Tomorrow“Education and play aren’t that different.” That’s the thesis of this interview |MP3| with MIT Professor Mitch Resnick. Resnick talks about the links between play, creativity, education, learning and life.

You want to see what Lego can teach you about creativity? Check out this terrific video, which employs regular Lego, the weapons of BrickArms (an aftermarket Lego company), and some spectacular sound design to create a street shootout to rival any you’ll see on a movie theatre’s screen.

[Thanks Melvin!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

MIT: J. Michael Straczynski: The Julius Schwartz Lecture

July 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Here’s a two hour lecture given by J. Michael Straczynski at MIT back in 2009. Sorry, there’s no audio only edition.

MIT Tech TV

This year’s Julius Schwartz Lecture speaker was transmedia creator J. Michael Straczynski, who has most recently entered the motion picture arena, writing the period drama Changeling for Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie, adapting such books as Lensman for Ron Howard, World War Z for Brad Pitt’s company, and They Marched Into Sunlight for Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass, as well as reviving Forbidden Planet for Warner Bros. and selling two new original movies, The Flickering Light and Proving Ground to Universal and Tom Cruise’s United Artists, respectively. He has also begun work on Last Words, a pilot for a new TV series for the TNT network.

Previously known best for his role as the creator of the cult science fiction series Babylon 5 and its various spin-off films and series. Straczynski wrote 92 out of the 110 Babylon 5 episodes, notably including an unbroken 59-episode run through all of the third and fourth seasons, and all but one episode of the fifth season.

His early television writing career spans from work on He-Man, She-Ra, and The Real Ghostbusters through to The New Twilight Zone and Murder She Wrote. He followed up Babylon 5 with the science fiction series Jeremiah.

Straczysnki also enjoys continued success as a comic book writer, working on established superhero franchises, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme Power and Thor, as well as his own original series, such as Rising Stars, Midnight Nation, The Twelve, and The Book Of Lost Souls. He is also a journalist, publishing over 500 articles in such periodicals as the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and TIME Inc.

He was one of the first television producers to actively engage his fan community online and has consistently explored the interface between digital media and other storytelling platforms.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Joe Haldeman speaking about The Craft of Science Fiction

January 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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I’ve had The Craft of Science Fiction, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology video on my hard drive for more than a year. In it MIT professor and SF author Joe Haldeman reads from The Accidental Time Machine. He also talks candidly about his work (teaching writing at MIT), the problem of “faith based initiatives” (they’re too effective), and plenty more. For those who’ve read or heard Haldeman’s The Hemingway Hoax, there’s value here too as Haldeman explains his through fascination with Hemingway. He ruminates on the relationship between Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, his own The Forever War and OSC’s Ender’s Game and plenty more. I’m kind of glad I waited, there are plenty of spoilers for Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine in the vid – but, for those who’ve read or listened to it already – you’ll definitely dig it. The video runs about 2 hours 20 minutes – I got it through iTunes U but the video can be watched here below for those who aren’t portable.

Personally, I think it’s full of the very best kind of ivory tower goodness. What do you think?

Posted by Jesse Willis

Dan Ariely on ABC:RN’s All In The Mind – That’s the Irrational MIND

January 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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ABC Radio National - All In The MindScience Fiction is great but my iPod is mostly tuned to Science Fact. I only have 4gb and real estate is slim.  Jesse’s chuckles have turned to belly laughs when he “catches” me in the act of listening to “MY” podcasts. “Put it on your BLOG” has been his standard retort when I comment enthusiastically about whatever has caught my fancy. He changed his tune recently and now it’s “POST IT ON SFFAUDIO” so beware… here they come.

My favorite weekly PODCAST is ABC Radio National‘s All In The Mind with host Natasha Mitchell. Natasha is brilliant. She came to journalism by default… with a first class honours degree in engineering and midway to completion of a PhD in materials engineering. She has been the producer of All In The Mind since 2002, and all shows are available on the ABC website for download.

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University as well as the head of eRationality research group at MIT. He has conducted research into the human decision making processes. In this podcast Dan describes experiments which include masturbation, freebies, expectations, placebos and price.

My favorite of Natasha’s comments for this interview was when Dan described some of his experiments, Natasha expressed her amazement at how he managed to get these approved by ethics committees. He responds: “You know I have a lot of experience with them and slowly they trust me more and more. I think that’s one of the benefits.” (Are the ethics committees irrational?)

There is no doubt, after listening to Dan Ariely, that humans are irrational. Can one become more rational when one is aware of one’s irrationality?

Have a listen |MP3|.

Posted by Elaine Willis

Review of The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

November 20, 2008 by · 1 Comment
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Science Fiction Audiobook - The Accidental Time Machine by Joe HaldemanThe Accidental Time Machine
By Joe Haldeman; Read by Kevin R. Free
7 CDs – 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781436120418
Themes: / Science Fiction / Time Travel / Artificial Intelligence / Religion / Academia / Los Angeles / Massachusetts / MIT /

Things are going nowhere for lowly MIT research assistant Matt Fuller—especially not after his girlfriend drops him for another man. But then while working late one night, he inadvertently stumbles upon what may be the greatest scientific breakthrough ever. His luck, however, runs out when he finds himself wanted for murder—in the future.

When an MIT graduate student Matt Fuller accidentally invents a time machine he get’s himself into a load of trouble. Not only is his supervising professor a hard-ass thief of academic proportions, the stupid time travel machine can only travel forward into the future! Every time Matt presses the ‘go button‘ he ends up twelve times farther than last time, he’s invented a time machine that only got a one way ticket to the future. Fueled by caffeine, job worries, and a murder charge, Matt blasts himself forward 12 x 12 x 12 into the future – where the only thing stranger than Jesus returning to Earth is a visit from the personified city of Los Angeles. Haldeman’s inventiveness is unparalleled in time travel SF. His hero Matt is picaresque, he’s on an inventive journey and the adventure is unpredictable and compelling. I loved it.

Kevin R. Free, a narrator new to my ears, performs this novel to perfection. Everyone I’ve recommended this novel to has enjoyed the heck out of it – if Recorded Books keeps picking novel/narrator combinations like this we’re in for a real treat. Speaking of Recorded Books, The Accidental time Machine is one of the inaugural publications in their new Sci-Fi imprint. Also terrific, there’s cool art custom cover just this edition [see above], it features actual details from the book – that’s refreshing. A great and peppy novel, an excellent, excellent, reading, fast moving and not too long. This is the kind of Science Fiction story I want to see more of. Speed on over to RecordedBooks.com, or your local library, and request a copy of this audiobook.

Posted by Jesse Willis