I’m starting to mull topics to talk about at Dragon*Con this year, so now’s your chance to help me decide!
How do we know where we are? Do you remember the route you took to get to your desk earlier? If so, how? In the last five years scientists have found all kinds of crazy neurons in brains. There are border cells that respond specifically to borders and edges, grid cells that divide the space around us into equilateral triangles, place cells that form a sense of place like dropping a pin in a Google map, and head position cells that keep track of where you’re pointing your head. The current theory is that our brains take all of these bits of information to build up a sense of space around us.
Let’s destroy the Earth! If we wanted to destroy the Earth, how would we go about it? And when I say “destroy the Earth”, I mean turn it into dispersed chunks of floating matter, not merely scraping the humans off of the crust like mold off of cheese.
Hunting down exoplanets. Before 1992, we’d never detected a planet outside of our solar system. We’re up to 519 now, but to date we’ve only found one likely rocky planet in a star’s habitable zone: Gliese 581 g. How are we finding these things in the first place?