DAVID BRIN looks at science and technology

David Brin is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. Other novels are translated into 25+ languages. His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.

As a scientist, tech-consultant and world-known author, he speaks, advises, and writes widely on topics from national defense and homeland security to astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction, creativity, and philanthropy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications.


Here are net-accessible articles, interviews, and essays about how we can best use science & technology to achieve our most difficult goals.


articles about science and technology

What new tools are the world's greatest toolmakers devising?

neoteny studies

why are we so enigmatic?

Brin's article, "Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution," (J. Social and Evolutionary Systems 18(3) 1996), speculates why we turned out so strange compared to other species. Other scientific papers that appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals, on topics ranging from astrophysics to anthropology to psychology, philanthropy and dispute resolution, can be found on David Brin's bio page.

Heart of the Comet cover detail

comets & astrophysics

Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in David Brin's PhD research (UCSD 1981) — a spinning icy mass insulated by carbonaceous dust, with sun-heated, geyser-jets spewing particles into space. That work inspired Brin's novel with Gregory Benford, Heart of the Comet, just before the 1986 Giotto mission confirmed the model. See the Astrophysical Journal paper "Three Models of Dust Layers on Cometary Nuclei" or an abstract of David Brin's PhD dissertation: "Evolution of Cometary Nuclei as Influenced by a Dust Component."

the obligatory cute cat photo

from brain imaging to parasitic infections

How reading makes you smart: The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that runs on the minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.

Also: How your cat makes you crazy.

a war on expertise

so why is there a war on expertise?

The schism over global climate change (GCC) has become an intellectual chasm, across which everyone perceives the other side as Koolaid-drinkers. Right now all the anecdotes and politics-drenched "questions" flying now aren't shedding light. They are, in fact, quite beside the point. That is because science itself is the main issue: its relevance and utility as a decision-making tool.

some ways to achieve immortality

are we wise enough to achieve longevity?

In "Do We Really Want Immortality?," Brin predicts what would happen if, through a mix of compassion, creativity and good luck, we complete the difficult transition and manage to spread a life span of eighty- or ninety-years to everyone across the globe. Will future generations take a full life span as much for granted as modern Americans do? And will we be able to extend it even further? How long can humans live?

move earth

can we 'lift' earth?

In this video Brin asks: Shall we lift our planet? As the sun grows gradually hotter across the next 100 million years (unrelated to our current climate change problems), Earth will grow uninhabitable. Brin shows why current concepts for how to shift our world to a cooler orbit are "just plain crazy." But there is another way! One that may be just crazy-clever enough that it just might work — if we take a really long view of our responsibility to take care of our nursery world. (If you'd like to read more about it, see this blog post.)

solar plant in operation

ocean fertilization & other big-problem solutions

After a lifetime studying societies spanning 6000 years and five continents, Arnold Toynbee wrote that the one common thread determining success or failure appeared to be whether both leaders and the people chose stodgy obstinacy or agile flexibility whenever challenges loomed. And especially whether they gave support, invested resources, and enthusiastically backed-up their creative minorities. And hence, this time we'll peruse a potpourri of science marvels showing that agility and scientific creativity have not become endangered species.

denialism in deed

the "politics" of ocean fertilization?

If at first you don't succeed — give up? Well, not necessarily. Despite the bludgeon-like initial attempts at ocean fertilization, that have created crude plankton blooms by dumping iron powder into currents, dire problems still threaten. Care must be taken to make sure that (as when arid land is irrigated) the new zones of fecundity are "well-drained" (like the Grand Banks and Chile), while tackling the challenges of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, where "fecundity" can translate into a poisoned morass of algae and jellyfish.

make Orwell fiction again

is 1984 a cautionary tale?

George Orwell’s 1984 is often cited as a warning against science and technology... a terrible misinterpretation! While Oceania’s tyrants gladly use certain technological tools to reinforce their grip on power, their order stifles every human ingredient needed for science and free enquiry, creating a society that eats its seed corn and beats plowshares into useless statues.

advisors at work

scientists give the best advice!

Nothing could better indicate the turn in our national fortunes than to see science no longer dismissed as a realm of pointy-headed boffins, but viewed as part and parcel of our nation's future. If we want a resilent government and responsive politicians, perhaps it's time we restore independent science advisory agencies.

Jared Diamond

collapse — or regeneration?

Sensible people, viewing the historical panorama of obstinacy portrayed by Jared Diamond in Collapse, might tighten their belts and pay whatever it takes to bridge the next two-score crucial years, investing in a dozen Apollo Programs aimed at developing efficient, sustainable technologies... along with vigorous conservation and stopgap measures to help us get there without deprivation or shivering in the dark.

the art of propaganda

let's uplift ourselves first!

Will bitter ideological rifts dominate the 21st Century, as they did the 20th? Or might we shrug off some of the obsolete intellectual baggage we've inherited from past thinkers who (in fact) knew much less than we do now? David Brin's questionnaire regarding ideology and human destiny pokes at the deeper assumptions that underlie the many assumptions we take for granted.

barnstorming space

a new barnstorming age?

Fortunately, the politicians seem perfectly ready to welcome private space ventures, and we may — at last — be ready to embark on the equivalent of the the great age of barnstorming aircraft development that our grandparents saw in the 1920s, when risk — and even some loss — was considered part and parcel of courage and exploration. When the new frontier was legitimate territory for tinkerers (albeit, today they would be billionaire tinkerers).

mass drivers

von Neumann machines in our future?

The notion of gun-propelled launchers goes back to Jules Verne, and have been envisioned in numerous Sci Fi tales, including Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heart of the Comet by Benford & Brin. Now, two researchers propose that a space-capable mass driver may be feasible. James Powell and George Maise take a highly optimistic view, claiming that a system capable of launching a payload into orbit for less than $40/kg could be built using existing technology — if it were to gather substantial international R&D support.

ingenuity and determination of the Wright Brothers

is it time to expand into space?

Were the Apollo landings flukes, or fantasies, or evidence that an earlier generation was better, or more daring, than us, as cynics would like us to believe? What's more accurate is to realize that Apollo was way, way premature. Given the technology of the 1960s — your phone has more computational power than all of NASA had, back then — it's amazing they didn't blow themselves up every time. The program was a perfect example of human determination and ingenuity overcoming all obstacles of technology or common sense. But here's the thing about sudden tech spurts and long, frustrating plateaus: We may be deluded by the spurts, but we can also get too accustomed to plateaus! In fact, as models of reality plateaus are just as unrealistic.


Continue reading more articles about science and technology.


a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

DAVID BRIN author

novels

David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More


shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More


Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More


social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

DAVID BRIN scientist

scientist

David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More


transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More


speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 300 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. Learn More


future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at mail@davidbrin.com


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pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • print and podcast interviews
  • video interviews and talks
  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes and frequently asked questions
  • pages about BRIN's science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's special-order books for sale
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • THE TRANSPARENT SOCIETY
  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds