Science for Fiction, at Imperial College, London, has over the years become something of an annual fixture for the UK’s SF writers. Organised by Dr David Clements, a Milford alumnus and Reader in Astrophysics at the College, S4F gives us writers an opportunity to listen to cutting-edge lectures by researchers in one of the world’s top scientific institutions.
This year, the conference was held on 3rd – 4th July: a baking hot part of the summer where I think a lot of us appreciated being in a relatively air-conditioned room! The lectures try to cover a range of science, but particularly those aspects which might be of interest to SF writers (astronomy, physics, biology and artificial intelligence). This year’s lectures were as follows:
Materials and Chirality – Jess Wade
A Fall of Cosmic Dust – Matthew Genge
- Einstein’s Telescopes – Rachael Livermore
- Climate Change Science, Policy, Politics – Jo Haigh
- 4 Ways to End the Universe – Katie Mack
- Old and New Highlights from Cassini at Saturn – Gregory Hunt
Seeing material from the various space probes is always fascinating, and provides much food for thought for writers interested in setting fiction in the solar system. The how-we-do-it side of things is also of great interest, with Rachael Livermore’s talk on telescopes resulting in much scribbling, and SF writers are always up for the more mysterious elements of the cosmos, such as the nature of cosmic dust.
Closer to home, many of us write post-apocalyptic stories and, of course, narratives that are set on a future Earth, so Jo Haigh’s lecture on what’s actually happening with climate change was also very valuable (plant more trees was the central message for combating global warming, by the way!)