RCL #9- TED talk draft

Topic: Science Fiction’s effect on technology

Opener:  remember in 2015 when everyone freaked out about back to the future?

  • We evaluated ourselves based on science fiction,
    • Fell short in some places (no hoverboards or flying cars)
    • Achieved goals in others (google glass, video calling, biometrics)
    • Went WAY beyond in some areas (internet!)

So, was what Back to the Future right just a lucky guess, or is there more going on?


Not only does science fiction predict the future of technology but also influences it.


Is it just luck? Or is it more….. YES it is something more!

  • Sci Fi gets people interested in science in the first place! It sparks interest and inspires new scientists
  • Puts ideas into people’s minds….
    • Actual examples that inventors have admitted to getting from sci fi (submarines, helicopters, cellphones, TASER (aka Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle….
  • Provides good way to prototype ideas and tech not realized yet
    • Safe, harmless way to explore implications of future technology and societal effects or prerequisites tied to that technology’s existence
    • This is used by companies today (hire sci fi writers to test out what the world would look like with x technology)
      • Examples: Intel’s 21st century robot, Essex University’s eDesk
    • But just in general, it lets us play out ideas and explore possibilities before they even happen.  People were writing about space travel and its possibilities before the first rockets were invented
  • High-profile sci fi (films, mostly) have more funds than scientists and often in the course of producing sci fi, make major contributions to science
    • Movie interstellar made first simulation of an accretion disk around black hole when academic groups did not have resources to do so


Conclusion:  Bring it back home

  • Lots of scientists grow up watching sci fi (use myself as example, scientist who went to MIT because his favorite sci fi character went there)
  • We spend our childhoods dreaming about AIs and nanobots and grow up to make those fantasies reality.
  • (or make “science fiction” science fact.)

RCL #8- Paradigm Shift



-brief history of sci fi (mary shelley to star wars to now) and how much our life/pop culture is saturated with it (aka: why this is relevant)

-establish that sci fi amplifies current worldview and projects it onto future


Thesis:  The tone of science fiction changed from one of optimism and advancement to one of dystopia and regression due to environmental crisis, technological stagnation, and threat of nuclear war/ Government unrest/societal regression???? [Gotta clear up this prong].


Body 1:  Pre 1960s sci fi and world view

  • Very much so optimistic about future in terms of technology and society, environment not even a factor
  • Problems addressed tend to be with technology being Too Advanced and how human psychology adapts to it.  Some address the government, usually in terms of it becoming too controlling
  • (connect to assertion that sci fi projects worldview onto future)
  • Examples- Stories from the Illustrated Man, The Jetsons, Ralph 124C 41 +, etc etc etc
    • Things that illustrated points brought up earlier, mixed in with assertions.


Body 2: Sci Fi Now and world view (80s- today)

  • Very pessimistic about future in terms of environment, technology, and society/government (dystopia)
  • Problems addressed: climate change/natural disaster, energy shortages, nuclear war, societal and/or technological regression, extreme social stratification, totalitarian governments (often disguised as utopias).
  • Examples: Mad Max, Hunger Games, Wall-E, Interstellar, Revolution, 2012, Fallout video games etc etc find specific examples to fit analysis


Body 3: The shift time period (60s-80s)

  • Here is where sci fi started shifting from optimistic to pessimistic view of future
  • Not an instantaneous shift- at beginning mostly optimistic but a few pessimistic dotted in there (Them! (and other nuclear monster stories)) and at the end it’s mostly pessimistic with a few optimistic ones (Back to the Future and Star Trek


[Here is where the analysis of change starts]



  • First part of century, environment not on public radar, not addressed in sci fi.  After nuclear bomb, some worries about nuclear radiation expressed in sci fi monsters
  • In 60s and 70s, environment comes into public view- Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Earth Day, and Climate change grace the scene.  Nuclear Fallout  Fossil fuels become unstable as energy source- oil embargo, conflict in middle east, rapidly depleting sources, etc– WE BECOME AWARE IT’S UNSUSTAINABLE.
  • These problems only increase in severity and imminence as decades go on, especially global warming and fuels.  
  • We start to see effects- coral bleaching, increase in natural disasters, ozone layer.
    • World view of imminent danger, don’t see quick enough change >>> sci fi environment usually post-apocalypitic, dealing with extreme results of climate change, etc.  Lack of resources, desert like environments. Results of radiation (whether nuclear or solar) seen in characters and animals.


Social/political issues

  • Okay so these existed the entire time but the nature of the issue changed from Big Brother to extreme social stratification and totalitarianism ala hunger games (capital vs the districts, mad max fury road, etc (i swear there are more examples))
  • Events like watergate, kent state shootings, clinton scandal increase distrust in gov and tension between it and citizens >>> sci fi has super controlling/evil govs, whether outright (like in hunger games) or more subtle (divergent), usually antagonist is in some kind of government position/position of power.  
  • Due to environmental reasons, sometimes society totally regresses (due to apocalypse) into anarchy, etc



  • During beginning half of 20th century, time of huge tech advancements (first cars, first rockets, first computers)
    • World view of advancement >> sci fi reflects, future projects even greater progress.  Androids, flying cars, spaceships, teleporters, etc
  • After 80s, tech stagnate a little bit (not including internet and cell phone, those stagnate in late 2000s)
  • By 2010s, we realize how much we fall short of early 20th century predictions- no flying cars, no holograms, no leaving orbit since the 60s, etc etc.  
    • Stagnation projected onto future w sci-fi, not much improvement
    • Stagnation also in part due to environmental/societal setbacks- tech suffers if the society has no organization or if everyone is fighting for their lives on a day to day basis
  • Some of the stagnation in stories is due to environmental conditions or governement controls


Conclusion here!!!!

RCL #7- It’s What I Do


The two photos that struck me the most were of Kahindo and her children (13th photo after page 210) and of the American soldiers carrying their comrade in a body bag (18th photo after page 210).  I think that Addario’s photos are composed like works of art, and that’s what makes them so captivating.  In the picture of Kahindo, Addario brilliantly uses lighting and the negative space to create movement across the photograph and draw your eyes to Kahindo’s illuminated face.  Her composition, lighting, and use of color in the soldier photograph is amazing, too.  What really strikes me about these photographs is the story they convey without words.  Kahindo’s photograph shows her and her children, shrouded in the darkness, gazing at the light- light that could represent the hope that they have for life after the escape.  Similarly, the photograph of the soldiers conveys the feelings of the scene- the soldiers’ heads are hung low as they carry an at-first inconspicuous bag through a green haze.  When you look at that photograph, you feel the emotional weight of having to carry a dead comrade, but also the cognitive dissonance of that very action being a common occurrence on the war front.  It’s amazing what she can make you feel and know, even if you hadn’t read the scenes the photos portrayed.

In my own blog, I have some great opportunities to use photographs.  So far, I’ve used them to educate, but in the future I could use media to convey what my feelings of excitement and inspire that in others through astrophotography.  There is something so wondrous about seeing a planet or a galaxy through a telescope, and words often can’t do the sight justice.  When people think of space they think of Hubble images or those from satellites, but often don’t know what space looks like from Earth.  When they find out, they are often pleasantly surprised.  I once showed a friend a picture I took of Saturn through a telescope and he said, “Oh my god, that’s amazing! I didn’t know you could see the rings!”  I would hope that in including some astrophotography, I can inspire a few people to feel what I felt looking through the telescope and possibly seek out a similar experience for themselves.  



RCL #6- It’s What I Do

In Ch. 8 of It’s What I Do, Addario details a scene where she attended Paul’s friend’s birthday party, and questions where she belongs.  Addario writes about how out of place she felt in this group of people- how her clothes, background, and experiences stuck out like a sore thumb.   She expressed how it made her question if she could be with Paul, when parts of his world so deeply conflicted with hers.  Addario makes this conflict relatable to us because, while most of our readers have never been under-dressed at our boyfriend’s high society party, we’ve all felt out of place and ostracized.  She relates herself to us, the average person, by talking about what a birthday party in New York requires “fitted jeans, a stylish top, a pair of high heels…” before describing the culture shock of the party, allowing us to see ourselves in her shoes and feel the acute discomfort and inadequacy that she felt as an outsider.

In my own life, I have experienced a similar conflict- of feeling out of place and wondering if a path is the right choice for me.  It occurred at SHO time, actually- when Dr. Kirsch gave a speech highlighting all the successes and achievements of our class.  Like Addario, I felt like I was in the company of people way out of my league, and wondered if this was really where I should be- thankfully, that’s not the case any more.

In my passion blog, though, I could talk about feeling like you don’t belong in the context of astronomy groups.  It can be intimidating to get involved with one-  you show up and it seems like everyone knows so much more than you, and it makes you wonder if it’s even worth it to continue.  I want to use my passion blog to address this and say that “Yes! It is worth it!”  Because here, unlike in Addario’s case, no one is judging you, and everyone just wants to help each other out.

RCL #5- Rhetorical Analysis Draft

Artifact: superhero Miss America Chavez

Audience- rcl class/ fellow college students, progressives  

Style: magazine article (maybe)

Additional notes- ALL CAPS words are placeholders.  Words in <brackets> are notes to myself.  MAC = Miss America Chavez.  Cap = Captain America.




Buh-bye, Captain America- there’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Miss America Chavez.  Miss America, who made her debut in the 2011 comic series, Vengeance is just like any other millennial- she’s a spunky, spirited college student who loves her phone, her girlfriend, and punching supervillains- well, maybe that one’s a bit unique. <stuff here about her, her powers, etc..>  Miss America Chavez represents the young generation of Americans today.


BODY 1- Generational differences

Captain America has done a good job of representing the US for the past 80 years, but nowadays, he’s a little outdated.  Worry not- MAC is here to take his place as the symbol of America.  If you don’t believe me, here are some facts:

  • Her name is (literally) America
  • MAC’s outfits are all USA themed, and her original top was in the shape of Cap’s sheild
  • In her first solo comic book, she travels back in time and punches hitler (ala Captain America, Volume 1)
  • One of her possible futures is as the next Captain America 
  • <change formatting to non bullet>

These are where the similarities run short, though.  In fact, Steve Rogers and MAC are about as different as two people can be- representative of the differences between older generations and ours.  Both characters were created with image of what they were fighting in mind.  Where Nazi fighting Steve Rogers embodies an aryan ideal, America Chavez subverts this and is a queer woman of color- every demographic that our generation has worked hard to advance the rights of.  Her values and personality is much different, too- where Cap is idealistic and patriotic, MAC is a realist who holds her allegiance to herself and her friends.  <make comparison- millennials disillusioned with state of country, not the same nationalism as during caps time?>  Finally, the problems she addresses are different than the ones cap did.  Where cap addressed an outside enemy, America’s issues stem from within our own country- racism, sexism, and homophobia are rife from within the smallest of towns to the highest of government positions.  With our generation’s problems being so different than cap’s, it’s no wonder we needed someone new.

It’s also no wonder that her first appearance was in a comic series about generational clash.  <find somewhere to put that in better>  To further illustrate the point, MAC was created because of Marvel Comics’ push for diversity, a change that occurred because older superheroes no longer appealed to young audiences, and we wanted more.

<- things to add in somewhere….

  • Specifics of how she reps what our generation fights for (hillary, same sex marriage, race equality, etc)
  • How her personality/values differ>

BODY 2- Society is more accepting.

Miss America Chavez exists- in many parts- due to our more accepting society.  Even as close as 10 years ago, a latina, lesbian, woman would not even exist as a character, let alone be as popular as she is today.  To make this clear- when she was created in 2011, the writers made her straight.  It wasn’t until 2013 when a new set of writers made MAC became the lesbian we know and love today.  MAC embodies the differences of our generation from those before.  Our generation saw the first black president, the women’s march, and the legalization of gay marriage, and so it makes sense that these moments so impactful to us are what define her.  That’s not to say that older generations did not overcome sexism, racism, or homophobia- they definitely did- but there has been a change, starting with ours, about how each of those is viewed.  We don’t view ourselves as something to hide, or be ashamed of- we’re proud.  At rallies, at parades, at our dinner conversations… we are proud of who we are and we’re not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.  MAC, too, is proud.  She’s loud and proud and in-your-face about everything from her sexuality, to race, to gender, or to her strength.  Everything someone who might have idolized the original Captain America would have SHUNNED.  It’s worth noting again, that MAC could be a future Captain America- a symbol for american society as a whole, as it is.  She’s not quite there, not yet, but she could be.  A society where MAC can take the Captain America role and name completely is one where we have shed the BONDS? Of prejudice and bigotry, and is a society that hopefully, in our lifetime, we can achieve. <basically, she shows how far we’ve come and how far we can go>


BODY 3- Eradicating Hate

While MAC is a representation of the progress we’ve made, she is also, unfortunately, a direct response to very REAL AND BAD issues in today’s society.  When MAC was created, anti-immigrant and anti-latino sentiment was present, but in the last few years, it has become a problem much bigger than it was originally.  With this change in THOUGHT?, Miss America’s purpose changed as well.  In January, Donald Trump took the oath of presidency after running on a platform of hate and bigotry.  In march, the first comic in MAC’s solo series debuted.  The variant covers all featured the words “AMERICA”, all bold, all red, white, and blue, and underneath a picture of our very own MAC.  One cover mimics the “Hamilton” playbill, another Beyonce’s Formation, and the last is just plain old MAC, decked out in patriotic bling, ready to punch someone.  Each of these covers associates the idea of America with something meaningful and relevant- a musical that put POC in the shoes of the founding fathers, a piece of art that celebrates black culture, and America herself, in all her queer, brown, female glory- and strength.  The “America” that the covers (and the character herself) depict is the opposite of the America our current president wants, and this is deliberate.  Her character exists to fight for a more inclusive America and fight against hate.   She is us- and while we fight and rally and protest to help make our country a better place, she fights too.  <add more?  How she serves as a positive example when president and media mainly spew out negative ones.  How that impacts young generation of comic book readers, etc?>



  • Restate that MAC represents our generation of America- who we are, what we’ve done, and what we have yet to do
  • She is the clash between generations- ours and the one before it.
  • We are fighting this, too, and we will succeed <us against trump, against orthadox views, etc>
  • MAC’s version of America is the real ~spirit~ of america