Friday, August 21, 2015

#Sasquan Day 2

We've been traveling and on the go for almost 2 weeks now. I checked the morning schedule and allowed myself to catch some more zzzz's before heading over to the con.

The next 5 hours were back to back interesting panels.  I started with Stories of the Spokane Tribe told by James "Jimbo" Seyler.  Stories of from the Spokane tribe about how the land forms in the area were formed, stories of "coyote."  An interesting look at one tribe's stories.

Going in an entirely different direction I went to "What is New in Astronomy?" Dr. David Clements from the physics department of the Imperical College in London was the moderator.  Other panelists were interesting and well informed as well.  I learned about the latest research on asteroids - how most are not solid rock but rather rubble held together with ice. When two of these bump into each other, they often merge in strange shapes.  It was interesting that there has been a probe studying Comet P-67. For more info look at the pictures from the probe.  Another topic was dark energy and dark matter.  Fascinating stuff.

Next panel was Medieval Science and Technology with a different set of interesting, knowledgeable panelists.  Guy Consolmagno is a Jesuit brother who is living in Italy as an astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory.  Jo Walton is an amazing writer who uses medieval themes in her writing.  Bradford Lyau is a trained historian and science fiction writer. Lots of interesting concepts were bounced around.  Sometimes we look at a story or movie and think the technology is wrong for the time period when actually it is correct.  Mentioning the poverty and poor living conditions during the Middle Ages, it was noted that many of these people were living amid the ruins of Rome's technology knowing they could not recreate it. How frustrating and defeating that would be.  It made me think of all the technology we rely on in our day to day lives.  What would happen if all of that disappeared for some reason?  Another interesting piece of information was that many of the beautiful cathedrals in Florence were built in a time of desperation.  The churches and the women who became nuns were acts of faith for God to deliver them from the perils around them at the time.

Next came a reading from author Connie Willis.  I've read some of her books and I've heard her at other science fiction conventions.  An enjoyable time listening to her read an excerpt from her book that will come out next year.

Another change of pace came next with the panel, The Art and Science of Spaceships.  Shape, art, artificial gravity, and possible sizes were part of the discussion. But also intriguing thoughts about what it would be like to put together a mission to another star that might involve people living on the spaceship for 1000 years. Would they want to leave when they reached the new planet?  How would their culture change?

After this panel I went outside by the river, partly to have a snack, but partly because being outside is peaceful and feeds part of my soul.  I needed a break after 5 hours of sitting in rooms with no windows.

One of the things I like about going to Science Fiction Conventions are the ways my mind is challenged while I am there.  Today's panels were very different from one another and I learned things and felt like my mind was being expanded and challenged with new information.

Later, I joined Henry and we went to eat at Anthony's Home Port, which overlooks the beautiful waterfalls in Spokane.  A good day!

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