Friday, March 03, 2006

What if there aren't any Words?

(podcast version here)

Some thinking about non-human, non-verbal communications....

How could we communicate ... if there aren't any words? Remember the tones in "Close Encounters?" That's one solution - here's one attempt to solve that problem:

aUI, The Language of Space -- Copyright 1979

Here's how you might say/write "Today is a good day to die":

Here's a book (comments from B&N, and my mini-review) that explores human, animal and alien communication at a space station orbiting Jupiter.


Ben Bova

Book Cover

A novel of one of the strangest places imaginable, a place where hydrogen flows as a liquid, a place with a lightless ocean ten times wider than the entire earth, a place where cyclones larger than planets rage for centuries at a time.

Grant Archer merely wanted to study astrophysics, to work quietly as an astronomer on the far side of the moon. But the forces of the New Morality, the coalition of censorious do-gooders who run twenty-first century America, have other plans for him.

To his distress, Grant is torn from his young bride and sent to a research station in orbit around Jupiter, charged with the task of spying on the scientists who work there. Their work may lead to the disvoery of higher life forms in the Jovian system—a discovery whose implications might destabilize the theocratic power structure back on earth.

What Grant's would-be controllers don't know is that his loyalty to science may be greater than his desire for a quiet life. But that loyalty will be tested in a mission as dangerous as any ever undertaken.

Meanwhile, what lurks in the middle reaches of Jupiter's vast atmosphere is more than any faction has counted on...and stranger than anyone could possibly have imagined.

Wow! I really enjoyed this entrant in Bova's "Grand Tour."

He sets up several interesting problems

  • A powerful conservative religious coalition limiting science
  • Scientific obsession to the point of danger
  • Possibility of intelligent life on Jupiter
  • A young Christian scientist whose faith is challenged by the work he's doing

I wasn't sure what to expect. Other books by Bova didn't lead me to think he was particularly interested in promoting religious faith - I was afraid this book might caricature believers, and "save" the scientist by leading him away from his faith - but Bova didn't do that. Even the religious villains were not painted as completely evil. The the hero, Grant Archer, is not led away from his faith - rather the opposite. Very enjoyable, thoughtful and worth reading!

The case for animal intelligence:

MUSIC - Aba-daba Honeymoon - some animal communication.

Mando'a is OUT! Get it online from Karen Traviss - and go buy Republic Commando: Triple Zero - it's got a big glossary of Mando'a and more! Follow the discussion of (and IN) Mando'a here: Star Wars official Mando'a blog