Friday News: Libraries equal happiness, the FCC fosters distrust, Science Fiction engages scientists, and famous books represent different states
GOING TO THE LIBRARY CAN MAKE YOU AS HAPPY AS A PAY RAISE, STUDY CLAIMS – According to a new study sponsored by the UK Commission for Culture, Media, and Sport, going to the library brings happiness commensurate with a pay raise of £1,359, or $1,878 US. The library ranked among the top activities that create joy and promote well-being, along with dancing and swimming, according to the study. Yet another reason to be alarmed by slashed budgets and library shut downs.
And this U.K. study adds even more to the proof already stacking up on the value of libraries, a value that was evidenced extensively in a Pew Research Study released last month. The rather pleasing results of this eye-opening Pew study showed that habitual library goers maintain stronger community ties, are more likely to socialize with friends and neighbors, and exhibit higher levels of technological engagement, in part thanks to master researcher librarians who are always around to help and pass along their wizardly skills. –Bustle
FCC Tries Explaining New Net Neutrality Approach as Techies Freak – It’s starting to feel as if the FCC is more commercial middle man than government agency, as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler scrambled to allay panic over rumors regarding his new Net Neutrality proposal. When reports indicated that the proposal would allow Internet providers to “charge for priority lanes of traffic,” net neutrality advocates sounded the alarm, prompting Wheeler to insist in a blog post
1. That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
2. That no legal content may be blocked; and
3. That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.
Clearly trust for the FCC is at an all time low, at least among those who aren’t poised to financially profit from the expected new policy provisions.
The agency isn’t going to enact a flat ban, the FCC official said. Internet providers would be required to offer a baseline level of service. The agency will also look into how to set that standard, he said.
Other parts of the proposal would basically mirror what the agency did in 2010, when it passed its last effort at net neutrality, or Open Internet, rules. No legal content could be blocked. The agency would impose transparency rules on Internet service providers so they have to inform consumers what’s happening with their connections.
The rules also generally wouldn’t apply to wireless broadband networks, except for a provision that would prevent a wireless provider from blocking an app, content or website that offered a similar service to one offered by the carrier. –re/code
How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future – Okay, this is off-topic, but I find it simultaneously impressive, hilarious, and appalling that Smithsonian Magazine advertises its subscription rate in the link referencing it adds to every freaking word you copy from the article.
Now, on to the piece itself, it’s an interesting contemplation of the intertwined relationship between Science Fiction and actual science, not in the sense of one directly or unidirectionally influencing the other, but in more subtle ways. Like the way in which the genre can inspire imaginative leaps and collaboratively defined new directions for scientific experimentation and conceptualization. Or the way in which Science Fiction can be a harsh critic of the kind of science that seeks or achieves social control and/or destruction. Or the inspiration books provide for those who eventually end up as practicing scientists:
Jordin Kare, an astrophysicist at the Seattle-based tech company LaserMotive, who has done important practical and theoretical work on lasers, space elevators and light-sail propulsion, cheerfully acknowledges the effect science fiction has had on his life and career. “I went into astrophysics because I was interested in the large-scale functions of the universe,” he says, “but I went to MIT because the hero of Robert Heinlein’s novel Have Spacesuit, Will Travel went to MIT.” Kare himself is very active in science fiction fandom. “Some of the people who are doing the most exploratory thinking in science have a connection to the science-fiction world.” –Smithsonian Magazine
The Most Famous Book Set in Each State – This would make a pretty fun game if you tried to guess which book is most famously set in each state. It’s a game I’d suck at, but I’m sure some of you could guess most, if not all, of them. –Mental Floss