News
The Power Of Light Works
July 2019
LightSail 2 is changing its orbit using only the power of sunlight. The Planetary Society announced this week that their LightSail 2 solar sail is working well, and actually raising the orbit of the spacecraft as it travels around the Earth. According to mission managers, they've been able to raise the orbit of the spacecraft by about 2 kilometers at the high point of its orbit. Unfortunately, they'll only be able to go for about a month before the sail dips into the atmosphere at the low point of its orbit and it crashes.
Sci-Fi Writers Include Religion
October 2018
At his appearance at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, John Scalzi said that it is important that science fiction writers include religion in their universes, "When 5 billion people out of 7 billion very strongly have professed religious belief of some sort or another, to ignore it, minimize it or just say it doesn't matter is foolish," he said.
Hampshire Freethinkers
Ben Slythe
Just outside the sleepy town of Ringwood in England there is a secret training camp. I was fortunate enough to make contact with a man who claimed he could get me inside, this is what I found.

The camp is nestled into a secluded part of the New Forest, dense foliage protects it from even airborne prying eyes and a locked gate and sentry patrols discourage people on foot. Dozens of serious-looking people, men and women, mostly in their late twenties, walk quietly between clean huts. They are the vanguard of the atheist terrorism movement.

In these quiet surroundings they learn the skills needed to control powerful desktop-publishing software for the production of savage leaflets. A specialist in the design of aggressive websites quietly demonstrates how they can be safely defused using simple FTP software. There is no chanting, no obvious sign of commitment, but these people are serious thinkers and they know it.

Hampshire Freethinkers Local Police report that the atrocities perpetrated by this group are almost unstoppable, a senior officer who asked not to be identified told me, "It's horrible, their mailings are dispersed all over the country and even overseas, we just don't have the manpower needed to defend every letterbox in the county!"

A member of the local anti-terrorism branch goes further, illustrating the respect for his opponents he's developed over months of trying to infiltrate their operations. "These aren't amateurs you know, the speed and accuracy of their attacks is just awesome. What the government doesn't understand is how bad it's got." With obvious horror in his face he opens a steel folder and shows me a recently disarmed leaflet. Even with the worst elements covered with black tape it is obvious how dangerous such a device could be. His voice trembles as he points to it. "Not a single word is misspelled, do you see?" Indeed it is so, his opponents are precise and calculating.

He explains that his great success was to get a member of his own unit inside the group's operations. As with all such attempts it eventually ended in failure. "When he came back after visiting the terrorists he would be subtly different. At first it was impossible to spot but soon we all knew the truth, he'd begun to think for himself. It was horrible." The dedicated officer before me tries to say more but the emotion is too much.

More astonishing still is the fact that Parliament has not moved to outlaw the activities of groups like the 'Hampshire Free Thinkers'. In the UK today, possession of a free mind is not even a criminal offence, nor is using such a mind in the commission of pamphlets. The Police are powerless, unable to act because the law refuses to understand the problem. According to our senior source, however, even that wouldn't be enough. "We don't have the necessary skills. Obviously they can outthink us, but they also type faster than we can, are financially secure and many of them hold down important jobs." The terrible sense of injustice he feels is written all over his face. He looks to the cross hanging on his office wall for support.

I was invited by the HFT to see one of their marches, held in the city of Winchester, just a short drive from their base. At first it wouldn't be obvious to a spectator just how dangerous these people were. I didn't see much to trouble me, at least, until with slowly dawning horror I noticed that they were marching out of step! Showing independence, right in front of me. Worse still the march was destined to finish in front of the city's magnificent cathedral, there was going to be trouble, I gathered my coat about me, fearful of being caught in the crossfire.

The tourists gathered in the stone court in front of the West front of the cathedral had little idea what to expect, with astonishing speed the marchers handed out dozens of anti-personnel flyers and seasoned veterans planted heavier posters all around the area. At first I thought this might be a suicide mission, I feared the famous cry 'Tonight in oblivion!' would ring out all around me but I needn't have worried. The only targets here were the poor innocent bystanders. I could see little clusters of casualties grouped around many of the posters and it was obvious that some of those who'd been hit with flyers were clearly reading seriously.

As the HFT dispersed, leaving their victims to think, I decided not to go with them; instead I walked to the nearest casualty, a young woman sitting on a wooden bench. She'd been hit twice by flyers; the second terrorist obviously not seeing that she was already doomed. I couldn't get too close for fear of catching a glimpse of the writing so I watched in horror as her eyeballs tracked the deadly lines on the paper held in her hand. After a moment she looked up at me and asked me if it was true. I turned and ran, the implications not lost on me, within seconds she had already begun to ask questions, not only was she now lost but she had become highly infectious as well.

My last stop was Winchester Hospital, but too late I realised that I should have visited on a different day, casualties from the march had arrived. The building was packed with people shouting questions to each other across the emergency department, nurses equipped with ear defenders were trying to see to the worst affected but for most it was hopeless and they knew it. I heard from one stressed nurse smoking a cigarette outside that the last time a march on this scale had struck the city three nurses had become infected by the casualties. She grinned bravely, replaced her ear defenders and strode back into the building; I had never seen such courage in the face of danger as I saw that day.

OK, parody over. I hope it made you smile. There is a point to this piece though. Atheists do not form terrorist cells and blow people up, not ever. Only the religious do that. Religion kills people, it killed people yesterday and today, it will kill people tomorrow. What possible justification can the religious espouse for religion if it causes so much suffering? Anyone out there who believes in any form of religion, please explain why it's acceptable to murder in its name. Anyone?

Answers on a letter bomb.

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What is the selfish gene? It is not just one single physical bit of DNA. Just as in the primeval soup, it is all replicas of a particular bit of DNA, distributed throughout the world.
Richard Dawkins