For starters: Thank you, Philly Tech Week. When I heard of your epic geek coup that’s about to go down in the city’s and the world’s cultural history—your plan to turn the entire LED-lit face of the Cira Centre into a giant game of Pong that a handful of lucky Philadelphians will get to play on April 19 and 24 in what promises to be literally the biggest videogame ever—I could finally look back in time at my teenage self, who was annoyingly incapable of gazing upon the Atlantic City skyline without wishing out loud they’d set up the light grid on the side of Bally’s Park Place for Tetris, and tell him: “Kid, your dreams have finally come true.”
It’s not just that, though. Our whole world has become a geek-culture paradise: two blockbuster Marvel Comics movies a year; Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead water-cooler talk in every workplace in America; Doctor Who promoted from “weird show even the Trekkies laugh at” to the new standard by which geek bonafides are measured. It’s ridiculous. But it’s true. At long last, painful though the pun may be, it’s inescapable: The geeks have inherited the earth.
Nowhere in space and time is that more true than Philadelphia in April. We’ve got a month of overlapping brainiac pleasures lined up ahead of us: not just the digital nerdery of Philly Tech Week, but the wide-ranging bounty of the Philadelphia Science Festival, the page-turning joys of the Philadelphia Book Festival, and the carnival of far-out performances that comprise the time-travel-themed Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. PW will be covering all three in various ways over the next couple of weeks—and we thought we’d start this issue with a salute to a bunch of the creative personalities whose work never fails to be thought-provoking and fun at the same time.
This week we’re also honoring a historical ancestor of today’s unique mixture of local scientific and cultural geekery. Not the obvious Ben Franklin, but the grand master of 20th-century science fiction, Isaac Asimov, whose three years living in Philly produced concepts we’re still figuring out 70 years later. —Stephen H. Segal
In this issue:
“It’s been rumored,” says the naked woman onstage — the third of the four naked women onstage — “that Marilyn Monroe possessed an IQ of 168. That’s equivalent to the IQ of Albert Einstein.”
When he isn’t contemplating nanotechnology, the existence of time, sealing stories into bottles, writing on leaves or diligently working on his newest novel, he can be found updating his blog with cat pictures and tips on how to win a Hugo award. (He’s won five.)
People can crave foods that they don’t even like very much, such as oatmeal or movie theater popcorn. And cravings do not represent a nutritional deficit—they are more a matter of habit.
It’s been amazing watching George R.R. Martin’s success. We started out as broke young writers together.
Our big directive is to never insult the player, so we always try and create something that doesn’t need instructions or tutorials, and this alone leads us down paths we wouldn’t take otherwise.
The Mütter Museum preserves a rare collection of anatomical specimens, medical devices and other such biological oddities. Curator Anna Dhody is the lucky geek who gets to oversee that collection.
Imagine being able to inject all your electronic devices into your own body. Imagine having constant smartphone, email and social media access in your brain, so that you’ll never miss another text message, tweet, Facebook update or phone call from your mother ever again. It may not sound attractive. But it’s coming.
Breathe smoke like a dragon; learn about science's biggest blunders; explore dark matter; and more!
PW's Summer Guide 2014