Intersection Science Programme Items

This is our best guess at the science programme we ran at Intersection, the 1995 World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow.

The organisers were

This page is a museum piece, and we expect many of the details to be wrong over the years.

ET Encounter

During the five days of the convention we shall be running a simulation of the discovery of evidence that there is intelligent life off the Earth. Briefings will take place in the fan area three times a day and we hope to simulate news broadcasts. The interaction will involve teams of people distributed over various parts of the world and is intended to take place via-email via the internet. News will be regularly posted to Usenet news groups. Convention members can participate as members of the news team and should contact Chris Boyce.

Sessions throughout the convention from 2pm Thursday, with public briefings at 6pm each night.

The Great Silence

Where are the Extraterrestrials? Why haven't we been contacted? A goldmine for SF ideas, the academic study of this problem has come a long way in the last 10 years. Are we victims of a galactic conspiracy, or is the forrest full of wolves? Dave Clements (moderating), with Martyn Fogg, Jonathan Cowie, Greg Benford, Paul Shuch, and Duncan Lunan.

You might also like to look at the Seti League and the SETI Institute.

HG Wells Room, 1pm Saturday.

SETI talk

This talk by Paul Shuch will explore evidence for a universe teeming with life and discuss strategies for SETI. A new cooperative effort between several thousand radio amateurs will be introduced, and it will be shown that the hardware and software which would make our own planet visible from across the galaxy is today within our grasp. OHP, audio cassette player.

Dan Dare Room, 11am Friday.


A talk by Greg Barr on the work of the Contact organisation, who promote discussion on SETI and xenobiology. CONTACT Japan will also present their clubs activities in worldbuilding with Masamichi Osako, Takashi Nakamura, and Tetsuya Ochiai. See also a talk on SETI and a panel on the Great Silence. SP.

Argyll 1, 5pm Sunday.

Epona Project

2 hours of talks and panels on the Epona Project, the most detailed attempt to design an alien planet and ecology ever done. Organised by Greg Barr, with Roger Zuidema, Nancy Zuidema, Martyn Fogg, David Angus, Steven Hanly, Gerald Nordley, Del Cotter. OHP, SP, VCR.

Science Room, 2-4pm Sunday

Terraforming - the Science of Green Mars

Martyn Fogg introduces the subject. See also a panel on the ethics of the subject. OHP & SP.

HG Wells Room, 2pm Thursday

Terraforming Mars - Can We? Should We?

A panel discussion hosted by Martyn Fogg, with Kevin J Anderson, Dave Hardy, and Marshall Savage See also the introduction to terraforming.

HG Wells Room, 5pm Friday

Alternate Technological Histories

Alternate Histories generally the decisions of individuals or the outcome of wars as their turning points. But history could equally well have been altered through differences in the way technology has developed. What would the outcome of WW2 have been of radar had been invented sooner, or not at all? Would we have had ICBMs if the V2 hadn't been developed when it was?. Simon Bradshaw moderates Stephen Baxter, Pat McMurray, Evelyn Leeper, and Harry Turtledove.

Argyll 2/3, 1pm Friday

British Space - What was and what could have been

A talk by Simon Bradshaw on Britain's space programme in the 1950s and 1960s, together with cancelled projects, future concepts and some 'what might have been' ideas. OHP.

HG Wells Room, 11am Sunday

Geography of Space

2 talks by Henry Spencer looking at the Useful Bits of the Solar System. OHP

Legend Room, 3pm Thursday and HG Wells Room, 4pm Friday

Intersection Starship

3 hours of panels/workshops to design an Intersection starship. Even if you can't make the workshops, come along to the final session to hear what was devised. Moderated by Gerald Nordley, with Paul Marrow, Bob Forward, Steven Howe, Carol Botteron and Stephen Davis. OHP

You might also want to look at a starship design homepage.

Workshop sessions in Science Room 2-4pm Saturday, 12pm Sunday. Report in Legend Room, 12pm Monday.

Asteroid Deflection: The Threat, the Technology and the Politics

An asteroid has been discovered on a collision course with Earth. How could we stop it? How much notice would we need? Is the technology available? Bill Higgins explains how to Save the World before the issue is discussed by a panel. SP.

HG Wells Room, 6pm Friday.

Asteroid Deflection: The Panel

Assuming we can move asteroids, should we? Some people, eg Carl Sagan, feel that such an ability would be too dangerous as a potential weapon. Others are sure that if we can develop the required technology, we should do so in good time. The panel following up the talk, moderated by Bill Higgins with Gordon Ross, Steve Rothman, Marianne Dyson, Jordin Kare and Jonnathan Vos Post considers the pros and cons.

HG Wells Room, 3pm Saturday.

Negative Matter Supported Wormholes and How to Find Them

Panelists John Cramer, Geoffrey Landis, Greg Benford and Bob Forward discuss their recent joint physics paper on natural wormholes and how to find them. The basic idea is that due to mass flow and back reaction, one end of a natural wormhole will become a negative-mass GNACHO (Gravitationally Negative Anomalous Compact Halo Object) and produce a distinct signature as a gravitational lens. The panelists will discuss the applications and implications of their GNACHO concept. OHP and pointer.

Argyll 2/3, 11am Friday.

Piloted by Puppets: Gerry Anderson's Extraordinary Vehicles

Futuristic aircraft, rockets, and submarines figured prominently in such technophilic TV series as Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Fireball XL5. Take a tour of these marvelous machines, and compare them with real-world designs. SP. Bill Higgins moderates Mitchell Burnside Clapp Kim Newman.

1pm Monday.

The Space Treasure Trail

Andy Nimmo talks about a proposal for the Millenium Fund to launch a solar sailing project. With Gregory Beckman, Duncan Lunan, and Gordon Ross. SP/OHP.

Wizard's Cave, 3pm Thursday.

International Co-operation in Space

Are international projects a good idea? What happens when one partner pulls out (as happened with the US half of the Ulysses mission)? What if the main partner moves the goalposts and other participants can't keep up? With the International Space Station soon to be built, our panel will discuss the pros and cons of such endeavours.

The panellists discuss why can't we all get along in Space. Moderated by Andy Nimmo, with Dale Amon, Jordin Kare, Janet Johnston, and someone.

Argyll 1, 2pm Monday.

Brewing and Distilling in Space

A panel on the problems/advantages of making hooch in space. Martin Hoare, Mark Olsen (mod), Paul Treadaway, Chris Cooper and Wolf Foss?.

Arran, 9pm Sunday.

Soviet Space Programme

A talk by Hugh Gregory, on the until-recently hidden darker days of the Soviet Space Programme. VCR.

Science Room, 5pm Sunday.

First Millenial Foundation

Marshall Savage talks about his plans to bootstrap space colonies using private funds. 2 hours including Q and A session.

You might also like to look at The Oceania Homepage and at Marshall's homepage. SP.

Argyll 2/3, 5.30pm Thursday.

Space Warps and Time Machines

How to make a time machine? Robert L Forward tells us how. SP NTSC VCR

Hall 1, 10am Monday.

21st Century Propulsion

How do you drive spaceships without rockets? Robert L Forward gives a talk on the possibilities. SP NTSC VCR.

Hall 1, 12pm Saturday.

Comsats - Wireless World to Wired World

Intersectionwill mark the 50th anniversary of Arthur C Clarke's paper in Wireless World on geostationary communications satellites. Simon Bradshaw reviews the conception and development of comsats and looks forward to the exciting new developments coming in the next few years. OHP

A1 2pm Thursday.


A talk on Scotland's own spaceplane by Duncan Lunan. VCR, SP, OHP/FC.

Video rooms sometime.

Economics of Space Tourism

Lots of science fiction is set in space - but you and I are no nearer getting there than we were 30 years ago. To get cheap launch we need a BIG commercial launch market, and there's ONLY ONE - people. Just like airlines.

In Japan they've been doing market research on space tourism, and they're now designing a reusable launch vehicle to cut the cost of a few days in orbit to around 10,000 pounds. At this price they expect millions of passengers a year. Service to start in 2006.

Can you believe this? Come and watch the video animation of the Shimizu space hotel with Patrick Collins. SP, OHP, VCR.

Science Room, 5pm Friday.

Space Access 1: DC-X

30 min talk by Mitch Burnside Clapp, Aleta Jackson and Henry Spencer. NTSC VCR.

Legend Room, 2pm Sunday.

Space Access 2: Black Horse

30 min talk on the USAF's Black Horse air-refuelled aerospaceplane by Capt Mitchell Burnside Clapp, who's project manager for it. OHP NTSC VCR.

Legend Room, 2.30pm Sunday.

Space Access 3: Fast and Cheap

30 min talk by Stephen Baxter.

Legend Room, 3pm Sunday.

Space Access 4: Artemis

30 min on the Artemis lunar base design project by Geoffrey Landis. OHP

Legend Room, 3.30pm Sunday.

Space Access 5: Summary

1 hr 'wash-up' panel with all participants from the Space Access short talks, plus Patrick Collins.

Argyll 2/3, 11am Monday.


A talk by Hal Clement on the planet closest to the Sun.

Wizard's Cave, 6pm Saturday.


A talk on the results from last year's DoD lunar mapper by Jordin Kare. OHP NTSC VCR.

Science Room, 1pm Thursday.

On-Line Martian Atlas

A talk by Bob Kanefsky on his on-line atlas of Mars, plus work he's been doing on enhancing space images. SP.

Dan Dare Room, 11am Saturday.

The Green Children of Woolpit

Duncan Lunan investigates a paranormal story and comes up with some very surprising answers.

Shuna/Staffa, 1pm Friday.

The (Ab)Uses of Popular Science

An enquiry into the uses and abuses of popular science moderated by Caroline Mullan, with Steve Brewster, Christine Carmichael, Daniel Marcus.

Dan Dare Room, 12pm Sunday.

Nanotechnology and the Politics of Plenty

What would the world be like if molecular technology proved feasible? Would it become a dystopia far worse than anything imagined by Huxley or Orwell, as dictators used machines to spy on their people and regulate their behaviour? Would it become a libertarian paradise with every individual becoming, in effect, a sovereign nation, complete with nuclear capability? Would it become a socialist idyll, of people living free from the fear of poverty, death or pollution, in a land with more than enough material goods for everyone? Or perhaps a combination of all three? technology is likely to impact on our lives in the twenty-first century in ways far more profound than the technology of the twentieth century. But what ways do we want our lives to be changed? And in what ways to we not want it to be changed? And do we have any choice? Paul Cray (moderating), with Ben Best, Keith Henson, Kathleen Ann Goonan and Jonathan Vos Post.

For more on technology, take a look at nanotechnology in SF.

Dan Dare Room, 12pm Saturday.

The Internet, Virtual Reality and Cyberspace : Games, Science Fiction and Work

The talk examines these three issues and their interrelationships; the spread of interest in virtual reality, the ever-growing Internet linking computers and users across the globe and how these two areas are coming together to provide the real world with the science fictional concept of Cyberspace : an information terrain populated by co-operating users across the world, interacting with three-dimensional representations of data within databases. The talk will draw on example systems developed internationally and on those produced by the European COMIC project. John Mariani. SP, VCR? OHP.

Dan Dare Room, 10am Saturday.

Computer Risks

The perils and pitfalls of relying too heavily on machines to do your thinking for you. From piloting aircraft to running missile defences, there are problems we usually avoid thinking about... Daniel Dern moderates, with Philip Wadler, Charles Stross, Howard Davidson, and Howard Frank.

The newsgroup comp.risks is a superb source of more information.

Dan Dare Room, 6pm Sunday

Lagging Laws - Computers, Cyberspace and Legal Metaphor

Legal systems tend to rely heavily on precedent. When a new technology comes along, the law looks for ways in which it is similar to things which have come before, and trys to apply the appropriate rules from the past. Can appropriate metaphors and analogs for the legal problems with computers and cyber-communications be found, or do we need entirely new models to deal with "virtual legality"? Sarah Goodman (mod), with Lilian Edwards, Danial Dern, James Whalen, Laura Majerus and others discuss.

Wizard's Cave, 2pm Saturday.

Lagging Laws - Copyright

Technically, the laws of copyright are clear and apply no matter how a work is published, but what constitutes "publication" in the world of computers disks, networks and the World Wide Web. A discussion of where the laws stand, what is unclear and what might need to change to meet the changes brought about by the information revolution. Sarah Goodman, with Michael Ward, Malcolm Campbell and Laura Majerus (mod).

Legend Room, 2pm Friday.

Privacy: Is there a future in it?

New technologies like digital telephony and strong encryption are fighting it out against governments who want to make tapping easy; smart cards with your ID and medical records may soon be introduced that can be interrogated from a distance without their owner knowing. Will the future have closed doors or open windows? A panel discussion on the technological future of privacy and an introduction to the debate. Henry Balen moderates Philip Wadler, Jack Nimersheim, and Chad Childers.

Legend Room, 1pm Sunday.


Intersection has bought a lottery ticket. It will win the jackpot. How will we use this money to better scientific and technological research? The panel of experts discusses grant proposals from the audience. Dave Clements moderates Andy Nimmo, Marshall Savage, Paul Shuch, and Gary Strattman.

Jura, 4pm Saturday.

Post Nuclear Family

SF has suggest numerous alternatives to the husband-wife-and-2.4 kids that became the supposed norm in the fifties. Many people are now living these alternatives for real. Does the Nuclear family have a future? Can alternatives work? And what is serial monogamy anyway? Ctein, Amy Thomson, Jennie D-O'C, and Sarah Goodman (mod).

Science Room, 5pm Saturday.

Redesigning the Human Body for Fun and Fornication

A talk by Jack Cohen. SP (speaker control) OHP.

Hall 5, 12pm Friday.

The Collapse of Chaos

Mike Scott interviews Jack Cohen about his book (written with Ian Stewart), The Collapse of Chaos, which describes a new approach to complex chaotic systems, simple laws of nature, and why the real world is understandable. The book was released in paperback in June 1995.

Hall 1, 1pm Monday.

What are the limits to Science?

Are there things man was not meant to know? Are there things we can't find out? Are there questions we can't ask? Does science have any limits? Scientists and SF authors discuss. With Howard Davidson, Ctein (moderator), Jack Nimersheim, Amy Thomson and Janet Johnston.

Argyll 2/3, 5pm Friday.

Klingon Language

An informal panel composed of members of the Klingon Language Institute from Scotland, England, Australia and the US. Panelists will discuss their own involvement with the galaxy's fasted growing language, some of the KLI's projects such as translating the works of Shakespeare *back* into Klingon, provide some tips on how to produce some of the stranger and more difficult sounds of Klingon, and answer questions from the audience about the language and the KLI. With Richard Kennaway, Niall Hosking and Nick Nicholas.

See the KLI homepage.

Legend Room, 10am Friday.

Headlong into the Drink

A talk by Julian Headlong on the biology and biochemistry of why you get drunk, why it can hurt so much afterwards, and perhaps how to stop hangovers. No tech required.

HG Wells Room, 11am Saturday.

How Green is SF? The Science and the Fiction

A talk by Jonathan Cowie. SP OHP 2 screens.

HG Wells Room, 10am Saturday.

Technology and Genocide of Native Peoples

Does technological growth mean genocide for native peoples? This has been the rule for the last century, but are there other better ways? A debate moderated by Henry Balen, Amy Thomson, Maggie Flinn, Dale Skran, Daniel Marcus.

Wizard's Cave, 3pm Saturday.

Bugs Bite Back

Strep throat turns into a flesh eating killer; Ebola comes out of the jungle and melts its victims; resistant TB on the rise in New York; a mysterious agent turns cows' brains to mush. Is the age of medical miracles over? What was life without antibiotics like? Is this what we have to face? How does disease resistance come about and how can it be stopped? Why are new diseases appearing and killing dozens of people? What is happening on the medical front line, and what it means for our future. Perriane Lurie Ctein, Gary Strattman and Stephen Davis moderated by Dave Clements.

You might like to look here for the worrying background to some of the issues we'll be covering, and here for a disturbing description of what the Ebola virus does. Not for the weak stomached!

CDC's Ebola page is here for the latest and most accurate information, and there is also an Ebola Homepage with links to most other Ebola related Web resources.

Wizard's Cave, 4pm Sunday.

The Day Job

Many SF writers and SF fans are scientists in real life. How do they combine the two? What is doing science for a living really like? Are we all really mad scientists who want to rule the world? 'Pass me that brain Igor, I must build a panel member' Patricia McEwan, John Brathwaite, Steve Rothman, Wil McCarthy (mod) and M.K. Brett-Surman.

Legend Room, 10am Sunday.

Quantum Mechanics

John Cramer will describe his Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, published in Reviews of Modern Physics and recently featured in John Gribbin's new book Schroedinger's Kittens. The TI is an interpretation of the standard formalism of quantum mechanics that explains the origins of quantum nonlocality, the collapse of wave functions, and other paradoxical aspects of quantum mechanics in terms of an advanced-retarded wave function "handshake" across space-time. OHP and pointer.

HG Wells Room, 3pm Friday.


A talk on the science of forensics by Patricia McEwan.

A1 4pm Friday.

Yes - but is it Science?

A panel on the scientific accuracy, or not, of cover artwork in science fiction. With Dave Hardy, Ctein, David Angus, Vincent Jo'Nes, Roger MacBride Allen.SP

Art Show sometime.

Dinosaurs as Aliens

A panel discussing the differences and similarities in the evolutionary solutions adopted by prehistoric creatures, and how this might give a handle on the range of alien creatures that could exist. M.K. Brett-Surman moderates Robert J. Sawyer, Gardner Dozois, and Stephen Dedman. David Stein.

Argyll 1, 1pm Sunday

Women Scientists from Marie Curie to Susan Calvin

What impact have women had on science; and science on women; and how accurately is this portrayed in SF? Amanda Baker moderates Perrianne Lurie, Renee Sieber, Aleta Jackson, Carol Botteron, and Marianne Dyson.

Dan Dare Room, 6pm Saturday.

Planet Colonisation Simulation

Planet Bartley needs YOU!

Colonisation - the chance to settle a new planet, and do it right this time. Working together in committees you will make all the decisions that affect the future of the new colony. How will your colonists cope with an alien environment? Can you keep them happy and thriving? Will you even survive? Find out in a series of workshops over the four days of the convention. With alien ecology designed with the help of Jack Cohen, and a globe sculpted by David Angus.

Ken and Jo Walton run another of their extremely popular planetary colonisation simulations, joint with the Games programme.

All held in the Science Room. Different teams will start off at 11am-1pm or 2-4pm Friday, and meet up at 11am Saturday, 4pm Sunday with a finale 11am-1pm Monday.

Tall Technical Tales

This will be a late-evening, carry-on-in-the-bar-afterwards session of anecdotes and stories regarding hairy experiences in science, engineering, spaceflight, military tech and the like...

This idea grew out of a 'There I was... / A mate of mine once...' session late in the evening at WinCon III a few months back. The random set of fans present had such a good collection of stories that we felt sure that a prepared panel would do wonderfully!

Aleta Jackson, Bill Higgins (mod), Geoffrey Landis, Dermot Dobson, Jordin Kare plus anyone else who turns up.

Arran, 9pm Saturday.

SF Myths - Physics

Geoffrey Landis (subject to availability), Stephen Baxter, Howard Davidson, Jordin Kare, Del Cotter (mod), and Hal Clement look at scientific misconceptions that authors have inadvertently promoted to the extent that they have become 'common knowledge' amongst readers. We're not talking about *obvious* scientific errors, but rather the more subtle mistakes that slip by both author and reader. Examples include:

Arran, 9pm Thursday.

SF Myths - Biology

Del Cotter moderates Jonathan Cowie, Julian Headlong, David Stein, and Amy Thomson to look at misconceptions in biology and medicine spread by SF.

Arran, 8pm Saturday.

Black Technology

Just what sort of high-tech super-secret military hardware is being cooked up these days? Charlie Stross, Dermot Dobson, Simon Bisson, and others discuss.

Arran, 9pm Monday.

Horizon X

A series of panels on the future discussing timescales 10, 100, 1000 years hence, organised by Dave Clements and Colin Harris of the literary team.

The items in Horizons are as follows:

Literary led

Horizon 10 - United States of Europe

Is the European Union heading inevitably towards federalism? If it does, what will be its benefits and its problems? Do we want this to happen? A panel dedicated to all the Europhiles and Europskeptics out there. CH organising, with Ian Watson, Juergen Marzi, Johannes Berg, Alexandru Mironov.

Dan Dare Room, 2pm Saturday.

Horizon 10 - Real and Virtual Communities

What changes are coming in the nature of communities as we approach the era of virtual communities on the internet and the encroaching privatisation of the public space used by real communities? CH organising, with Rene Sieber moderating, Malcolm Campbell, Jack Nimersheim Sally Mayer.

HG Wells Room, 5pm Thursday.

Horizon 10 - Asia Rising

What challenges will the Young Tigers bring to the democratise West with their new breed of entrepaneurial capitalism? Will the next century be dominated by Korea, Japan and China the way this has been dominated by USA, Britain and Germany? What will happen to the Western Democracies then? Greg Benford (mod), Gould, Charles Adachi, Philip Chee, Patrick Collins.

HG Wells Room, 1pm Friday.

Horizon 10 - American Futures

Wither America - to isolationism and religious fundamentalism? To leading the New World Order? To post-modern corporate feudalism? We examine the possibilities for a country that has so often set the trends for the rest of the world. Jim Young, Tad Williams, Harry Turtledove, Joe Haldeman, Allen Steele.

Argyll 2/3, 3pm Thursday

Science led

Horizon 10 - The Information Economy

Email, Ecash, and E-economics - the world is getting wired, and pretty soon information will be the main source of wealth in the West. What will this mean? Will there be an information Underclass? Will we have bountious leisure time producing a flowering of the old and new arts? Will a small elite run everything whilst the rest of us slave at the electronic coalface? Michael Ward moderates Simon Bisson, Dale Amon, Howard Frank.

Dan Dare Room, 5pm Saturday.

Horizon 10 - The Future is Armed and Dangerous

Nerve gas on the Tokyo Underground, homemade bombs kill hundreds in Oklahoma. The world is getting a dangerous place where technology gives even individuals the capacity for making weapons of mass destruction. What does this imply for the future? Will it be freer but more paranoid? Will governments enact more oppressive laws aimed at controlling extremist elements? And what about the free flow of information? Hugh Mascetti moderates Bart Kemper, Kunio Aoi, Allen Steele, and Ian McDonald.

Wizard's Cave, 10am Sunday.

Horizon 100 - Hopes and Dooms of the Next Century

The world faces great problems of our own creation, but there is much to be hopeful about as well. We examine the hopeful prospects as well as some of the problems. With Gregory Benford, Peter F Hamilton, DG Compton, Stan Schmidt, and Carol Botteron.

HG Wells Room, 2pm Sunday.

Horizon 1000 - To Last a Thousand Years

What can mankind realistically achieve in the next millenium? Colonising planets, trips to the stars, and what else? With Marshall Savage, Walter Jon Williams, Ben Best, and Keith Henson Allen Steele.

Hall 1, 11am Monday.

Horizon N

Freeman Dyson thinks life can survive in the universe for ever. Frank Tipler agrees, but also claims that life will create god and resurrect everyone who has ever lived in the process. Are these scientists mad or are they onto something? What are the realistic prospects for life as the universe grows old? Greg Benford, Roger MacBride Allen, Dave Clements moderates, Stephen Baxter and Paul McAuley.

Hall 1, 4pm Monday.