Sci Fi to Syfy? Houston, we've got no problem

There has been something of an outpouring of bile directed at NBC for its decision to change the name of the Sci-Fi channel to Syfy.

I will attempt to forget, for at least a moment, that "Syf" is the Polish word for "total bloody mess." (It seems to have its roots in the lesions of syphilis.) And "Syfy" would be, well, the plural.

Then I'll feel free to admit that the name change might not be so terrible.

I know that those who feel that science fiction is an entity to be venerated … Read more

Sci Fi Channel to become Syfy: Thank the lawyers?

In perhaps the most ill-advised branding move since New Coke, NBC's basic-cable Sci Fi Channel will be renamed the phonetically similar Syfy on July 7.

The change reportedly comes from a desire to own a trademark on the network's name. The term sci-fi is a generic description of a fiction genre (often featuring futuristic technology), while Syfy can be a unique brand.

Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, told The New York Times, "We couldn't own Sci Fi; it's a genre...but we can own Syfy."

The derisive hoots have already begun. … Read more

Invisibility cloak moving closer into view?

That cloaking device we've been dreaming of appears to be one step closer to actual cloakdom, so start pondering the mischievous possibilities.

Scientists from Duke University have improved on their earlier efforts at producing an invisibility cloak, coming up with a new type of device they say is significantly more sophisticated at cloaking an object (and eventually a person?) from visible light.

The device is made from a light-bending composite material that can detour electromagnetic waves around an object and reconnect them on the other side. That creates an effect similar to a distant mirage you'd see hovering above a road on a hot day.

In Duke's latest experiments, a beam of microwaves aimed through the cloaking device at a "bump" on a flat mirror surface bounced off the surface at the same angle, as if the bump wasn't there. Additionally, the device prevented the formation of scattered beams that would normally be expected from such a perturbation. (The team details its findings in far more technical terms than I ever could in the latest issue of Science magazine.) … Read more

Artist envisions turning fake eye into bionic eye-cam

Three years after losing her left eye in a car accident, San Franciscan Tanya Vlach wants to make her artificial eye more useful: She's planning to put a video camera in her eye socket with the goal of having a bionic eye.

Asked in an e-mail what her inspiration is, Vlach wrote:

The Bionic Woman and maybe Bladerunner! Ever since I lost my eye I would fantasize about having a bionic eye. So I did research and I realized that as technology becomes increasingly smaller it seemed doable to engineer a miniature video camera small enough to put inside … Read more

Thirty years of 'Hitchhiker's Guide'

Three decades ago, Douglas Adams' sci-fi phenomenon The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy got its start as a serial on BBC Radio. In a story on BBC News on Friday, author Mark Vernon delves into some of the enduring themes and mysteries of Adams' cosmological saga.

Read more, including readers' responses, at BBC News: What on earth is 42?

Do androids dream of electric toasters?

Sometimes watching sci-fi shows can be depressing. On the one hand, the imagination blossoms with all the possibilities the future holds. On the other hand, everything you see? You can't have it. Because you know what? You don't live in the future. Sorry. No gagh for you.

So it's with mixed feelings that I point you, dear readers, over to io9, who has put together a list of the best sci-fi kitchen gadgets. The list of neat things you can't have includes such wonders as the knife that toasts your bread while it cuts, and the … Read more

Arthur C. Clarke's three wishes

Now a nonagenarian, science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke is still waiting for evidence of extraterrestrial life--the first of his three 90th birthday wishes is for "some kind of signal" from some kind of life form, emanating from somewhere out there. He's also optimistic that humans will soon be traveling by the thousands into orbit and to more remote destinations in the next half-century.

His other two wishes have to do with economic and political challenges right here on Earth. To find out more about what's on Clarke's mind, see the full Reuters story: " … Read more

Power Downloader plays a free online multiplayer game

With Thanksgiving over and the biggest shopping day of the year under way, Power Downloader decided he would avoid the throngs of people and have a quiet day at the Powerlair. After going through his usual maintenance tasks to speed up his computer and check for spyware, Power headed over to to find a new game to play.… Read more

HD DVD: Format of choice for geek TV?

Are you a dork? Do you love TV? If the answer to both those questions is yes, you'll probably want to select HD DVD as your next- generation format of choice, because there are some seriously exciting sci-fi TV shows hitting the format in the next few months.

We already know that Heroes is on the way to HD DVD, which is tremendously exciting for fans of the show who haven't been able to catch it on its BBC HD outing. We're also aware of the impending arrival of Star Trek: The Original Series, series one, which … Read more