Science! Science Fiction That Stopped Being Fiction In 2012

Have you guys seen this list of 27 things that made the transition from science fiction to reality in 2012? I mean, they aren’t part of everyday reality just yet. But that’s okay. Some of these were big news for everyone (James Cameron’s adventure to the ocean depths, the discovery of the Higgs boson), but I had not heard about a few of these.

The short version of the list? Mentally controlling a robotic arm, robots crossing an obstacle course, silk that is stronger than steel, DNA photographed, invisibility cloaks, spray-on skin, reaching the depths of the ocean, stem cells may extend human life significantly (it worked on mice), 3D printer prints a house, legalized self-driving cars (in a few states; they’re just thinking ahead, really), Voyager I leaves the solar system, a human mandible was printed and given to a patient (as in, it’s part of his body and it works, now), rogue planet found floating through space, monkeys created from more than one embryo, artificial leaves that generate electricity, the Higgs boson discovered, inexpensive solar panels, diamond planet, optical implant to restore sight, Wales recorded the DNA of every flowering plant in Wales, an unmanned commercial flight docked with the International Space-Station, flexible glass, robotic exoskeletons (for NASA), human brain’s practical functions are observed, a planet with four suns, and Microsoft patented real-world virtual reality for games.

So, that’s just the list. You should really read the actual list and look at the pictures (and videos) and read the descriptions. So worth it.

But, for me, there were some definitely highlights. Um, stem cells dramatically extending human life. Obviously, “dramatically extending” is not the same thing as immortality. But, if this treatment is available and affordable within, say, three decades, then that gives me a very good chance of living long enough to, well, never die. This treatment does not confer immortality, but we all know that it’s …4

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New UK Equalities Minister – ‘All Women Should Aspire to be a UK Size 14’

The UK’s new Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone of the Liberal Democrat Party, has said that all women should aspire to be a UK size 14 (US size 10/12) with a buxom, hourglass figure, the UK’s Daily Mail reports today.

Ms. Featherstone has stated that women should not be made to feel inadequate by stick-thin models staring out at them from advertising billboards and magazines, and has suggested that all too often women are made to feel wretched about their size as they constantly compare themselves with ‘unattainable’ figures of celebrities and models.

Instead, Ms. Featherstone has said that women and girls should regard curvaceous women, such as Christina Hendricks (whose body type we’ve covered here on ZL before), as their role models. The minister described Hendricks, who plays Joan Holloway in the BBC drama Mad Men, as ‘absolutely fabulous.’

Ms. Featherstone has also said that the constant bombardment of the general public with the media’s images (often digitally-altered or airbrushed) of stick-thin models and …

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Biggest Loser Finalist Claims the Show Caused Her to Develop an Eating Disorder

photo of biggest loser television show logo

Weight & health blog site Body Love Wellness features today an interview with Kai Hibbard, a finalist from season 3 of The Biggest Loser, about her experiences on the show and how she’s felt about her weight and health since season 3 wrapped.

The interview basically focuses on Kai’s experiences as one of the contestants on the show but, sadly, she also makes some pretty shocking claims about the health & wellbeing of the contestants whilst they were featured on the show, and claims that her participation left her with an eating disorder.

Though we don’t have The Biggest Loser in the UK, we have shows of a very similar format, like Fat Club. From my research into The Biggest Loser, it is clear that the show is massively popular in the USA, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch each new season and spin-off shows in the works for the show’s trainers. Today’s interview with Kai, therefore, should prove interesting to a lot of people.

In the interview, Kai claims that:

‘… the dehumanization process started [early in the audition process], where they start teaching you that because you are overweight you are sub-human and you just start to believe it. Through the whole process, they just keep telling you, over and over, how lucky you are to be there. You’re being yelled at by people [whose] job is basically to keep the ‘fat people’ in line and you start to believe it… So I heard for three months [on the ranch] how lucky I was to be there and, let me tell you, my feet were bleeding, I was covered in bruises, I was beat up, but boy, I kept hearing about how lucky I was to be there.’
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Is Thinness A Privilege?

shallowhal050109Kate Harding, a popular fat-acceptance writer, is sick of overweight people being judged. In a recent profile in the Chicago Tribune she makes tongue-in-cheek comments about how some thin people think she eats “baby-flavored” doughnuts, but behind her acerbic wit, Harding addresses the underlining assumption that fat people are ignorant or just plain disgusting. Even if you recoil at her snarkiness, it is hard to deny Harding’s point about how fat people are viewed within our society. Even if being a size 2 isn’t the norm within society, it is considered an ideal size for most women. So does that make being thin a form of privilege, much like being wealthy, white, heterosexual and/or male?

The idea of thinness being a privilege came up in the comments in a recent post about Kate Harding at Jezebel. Commenter “KittenFluff” talked about why she views thinness as a privilege:

It seems like when we divide people according to a dichotomy of weight (“thin” vs. “fat”), we talk not about how we can be more supportive of heavier people, but about how we can eliminate them altogether – i.e., turn them into thin people. It’s when I think about the issue this way that the insidious nature of fat phobia and thin privilege becomes clear. In what other situation do people who are generally empathetic toward marginalized groups suggest not that the privileged group change its attitude but instead that the unprivileged group cease to exist?

Her comments sparked a debate among the other commenters, with one commenter telling her that overweight people aren’t part of an unprivileged group because “you can change your membership” and others arguing that the point is, if you are overweight and healthy, there shouldn’t be a need to “change your membership.”
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