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?

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.

key to fair play

other intelligent designs?

By basing their claim on the virtues of fair play and completeness, Intelligent Design (ID) promoters employed a clever short-term tactic, but have incurred a long-term strategic liability: They assume that ID is the only alternative to Darwinian evolution. It's not. Brin's SKEPTIC magazine essay, "The Other Intelligent Design Theories" (re-published on his blog Contrary Brin) describes the numerous other alternatives to Darwinian evolution that creationists don’t want you to know about.

The Republican War on Science original cover detail

will our Scientific Age come to a whimpering end?

The one trait shared by anti-modernists of both left and right appears to be a disdain for our ability to learn and do bold new things. In reviewing Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science, Brin explores how politically-based interpretations explain much of this collapse of confidence. Alas, politics — despite centuries of hard refinement — is still far more ego-driven art than craft.

citizen science

crowd-sourcing citizen science

Whatever your level of involvement, you can have the satisfaction of participating in humanity's greatest endeavor. In an era when political factions and media empires are waging relentless "war on science" this trend toward active participation — supporting a climate or other pro-science campaign, volunteering for a school's STEM program, or providing some financial support for orgs and start-ups — is the surest way to support an active, vigorous, future-hungry and scientific civilization.

unscientific America

deny science at our peril!

Increasingly, scientific consensus is failing to influence public policy. Facts, statistics and data appear insufficient to change highly politicized minds... and science has started scrutinizing why. Alas, this topic inevitably devolves down to our screwy American politics. And while every political wing has its anti-science flakes, growing mountains of evidence suggest that one wing has gone especially frenzied in an anti-scientific snit. Or else — as that wing contends — science itself has become corrupted, top to bottom, rendering "evidence" suspect or moot.

mining in space

mining the solar system

How seriously are some of our leaders in politics and industry starting to take our future in space? When will we begin "bootstrapping" our space technologies toward the goal of a Solar System Civilization? The idea is no longer science fiction alone. "Right now, the mass we use in space all comes from the Earth. We need to break that paradigm so that the mass we use in space comes from space," said one NASA official.

Apollo 11

the moon landing — nearly 50 years later

I share with millions a head-scratching perplexity: Why don’t more of today’s youth care about outer space? Puzzling over this quandary, I was reminded of something Norman Mailer said, when he wrote A Fire On the Moon. He began researching the book amid feelings of smug, intellectual hostility toward the crewcut engineers and fliers he encountered... only to have his attitude shift when he realized, in a startled epiphany, that "They were achieving not one, but two bona fide miracles."

the physics of parapsychology

seeking a new fulcrum — a parapsychology of the future

Brin's scientific appraisal of the subject of parapsychology, is reprinted here. Originally written for the Public Television show Closer to Truth, "Seeking a New Fulcrum: Parapsychology and the Need to Believe in a New Transcendence" offers some perspectives you may not have seen. Perhaps parapsychology is something other than its enthusiasts imagine — not a trail leading back to ancient wisdom, but a predictor of humanity's future course.

contemplating the universe

our place in time and space

The immensity of the universe is almost beyond our comprehension... still, we try! Here is a list of just a few interactive sites that let you zoom or scroll through the vastness of the cosmos. Scale in from galaxies to planets to buildings to atoms and quarks — or explore the realm of Time, from the Big Bang through the evolution of life on Earth and the history of humanity.

which science is most basic

which science is the most basic?

Physics, mathematics, philosophy, biology, chemistry, or physics — the eternal loop. Physics might be considered the most fundamental of all sciences, for all other sciences derive from basic principles of forces, motion, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. And yet, physical laws are mathematical models of the world; however, mathematics itself is abstract, deriving from theoretical constructs of philosophy. But, philosophy arises out of theories of mind, or psychology. The mind itself depends upon the biology of the brain... which is nothing but chemical reactions of molecules, such as neurotransmitters and proteins. And of course, chemistry depends upon the behavior of atoms and forces, which is constrained by physics.

prediction hits

filming the future of technology

Can entertainment actually, accurately, be prophetic? Or does life inevitably imitate art? Both. Filmmakers start with a kernel of truth, perhaps even consult with leading scientists and technologists, then take it to cinematic scale. They tell stories. The audience makes an emotional connection. And, inspired, they work to fulfill the prophecy.

prediction misses

filming the implausible sciences

If science fiction ruled the world, time travel and teleportation would be commonplace, and humanlike intelligent machines and cyborgs would be walking amongst us. But just how likely are these and other far-out ideas? A look at faster-than-lightspeed travel, invisibility cloaks, tractor beams... and the robopocalypse.

do we want to stop evolving?

do we want to stop evolving?

Dour folk have long held that civilized life must have negative effects upon the gene pool, leading some, a century ago, to push eugenics legislation. But there are other glimmers from the past that merit mention. For example, Karl Marx actually praised the cleverness and acumen of the bourgeois capitalist class, deeming them absolutely necessary for economic development. Their competitive creativity (and theft of labor-value from proletarians) would drive capital formation. Another maven was Arnold Toynbee. His survey of the past led him to conclude that civilizations rise when they support and eagerly learn from their "creative minority" — those who innovate useful solutions to rising problems — and fail when they don't.

C. V. Raman

can we recapture our enthusiasm for invention & discovery?

Every decade since the 1940s, some scientific breakthrough (or several) enabled the U.S. to stay rich and vibrant enough to then spend it all in the Great Buying Spree that propelled world prosperity and created a world-majority Middle Class. That is, every decade except the first decade of the 21st Century, amid the calamitous War on Science. All we have to do is rediscover within ourselves the kind of people who want to step outside, look up, and dream of a better future.

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'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


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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