November 15th, 2006

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SF reading list

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club (who seem to have quite a bias toward older material). Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

Via Kaye. 'Hate' is a little too strong, so my struck out ones are books I disliked or found wildly overrated.

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The Beauty of Science and the Science of Beauty

Fullerenes for the Face describes the use of buckyballs in cosmetics. Although Zelens touts buckminsterfullerene as a Nobel Prize-winning ingredient, that article correctly points out that the same could be said of radium. (Ho ho ho! No one would ever consider radium to be a healthful ingredient!)

Now nanoparticles are not radioactive or anything, but let's put some facts together:

#1 Cosmetics are basically unregulated by the FDA. It's not a food, it's not a drug, and "makes you look hawt" is not a medical claim.
#2 Nanotechnology products are basically unregulated period.

So will your shampoo turn you into grey goo? Not likely. But let me point out another dyad of facts.

#1 Nobody knows whether C60 in your cosmetics is actually harmful.
#2 Nobody knows whether C60 in your cosmetics is actually beneficial for your skin. Basically these products are predicated on the following idea -- 'Whoa, check out this neat molecule! Let's rub it on our faces!' Your face will probably look the same if you rub it with the various dessert-topping ingredients usually found in such products.

On another beauty note, the science of photoshop can be used to increase the beauty of your girl-children into beauty contestants. A rudely hilarious look into this industry is provided by the ill-natured people at SomethingAwful.

Finally, science has given us beauty in the form of flowers that glow.