OMNI Magazine Science Fiction & the Future

United States
Penthouse World Publishing, LLC
Back issues only
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₹ 808.36

in this issue

3 min.
a future, brightly

FROM THE MOMENT OMNI was born in 1978, it was on a tear through time to forecast and create the future. Cultural and mental time travel was OMNI’s métier, the disruptive wave of science its dynamic core; great genre fiction and art were its joyous shot from the bow. OMNI’s vision of the future was heightened and pure, devoid of cynicism or despair, full of “wow.” We were at the dawn of the computer revolution; Steve Jobs had just left his garage. Space shuttles were still advanced technology. Test tube babies, factory robots, and genetic engineering were all on the cusp. It was in the pages of OMNI that the word “cyberspace” was coined and gonzo science reporting first took form. OMNI was edgy, irreverent, prescient, and—above all—enormous fun. Creating a…

5 min.

ELIZABETH HAND is the author of fifteen award-winning novels and four collections of short fiction. Her reviews, articles, and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Real Simple, among others. She is on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine, and divides her time between the Maine Coast and North London. As a contributing editor at OMNI focusing on the arts, she interviewed William Gibson on time travel and his upcoming novel, Agency. See that interview beginning on page 26. MICHAEL SHERMER, a contributing editor at OMNI, is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. He is the author of…

7 min.

MEMES Big History and the Butterfly Effect THINK of the unique set of events that brought you to this moment: your life choices and your parents’ choices, the story of your ancestors and the species that preceded them, the stars that preceded our own, all the way back to the Big Bang. One feeble tug on that thread of contingencies and the present might be totally different. You might not be here; I might not be here; here might not be here. In 1963, MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz stumbled onto the hard science behind this metaphysical thought problem. While running computer weather simulations, he discovered that a minuscule change in initial conditions led to drastically different outcomes. A decade later he summarized the phenomenon as “the butterfly effect.” The flapping of a single…

4 min.
virtual time travel

IF YOU’VE SEEN BACK TO THE FUTURE, LOOPER, OR ONE OF A HUNDRED OTHER TIME TRAVEL movies, then you’re aware of one of time travel’s classic paradoxes: meeting yourself. It’s a paradox because your original memories don’t include the presence of a future-you, but if future-you goes back in time, then future-you will have been there, which means you should have remembered it all along. Paradoxes like this lead physicists to believe that travel into the past is probably not possible—at least not in the real world. But in virtual reality, all bets are off, as demonstrated by a team of researchers from the University of Barcelona and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. They designed a VR environment that would present test subjects with a moral dilemma—something that has been…

3 min.
ghosts of history

A SINGLE TRAUMATIC LIFE EXPERIENCE, FROM BEING VICTIM OF A ROBBERY TO GETTING SWEPT UP IN a major flood, can paralyze some people with stress and fear for long periods of time. There is a diagnostic category for the reaction: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Military psychologists working with soldiers back from war, and therapists aiding rape victims, have come up with effective psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments for those suffering this kind of upheaval in their lives. But social scientists have described another kind of trauma, called historical trauma, that may cause damage that is even deeper, more inexplicable, and harder to heal. From brutal genocides, to generations of slavery, to famines, the tragedies endured by our ancestors may linger in our bodies and influence the outcome of our lives. Now…

2 min.
crystals of eternity

TIME IS GOING TO GRIND TO A HALT. By one disaster or another, our planet will lose electricity, killing the clocks on our phones and kitchen microwaves. The sun will grow larger, enveloping the moon and the earth, erasing months and years as we know them. As the universe expands and cools—the likeliest scenario for how things will end—even the most precise atomic clocks in the world will be long gone. But as everything devolves into a frigid wasteland, there is a kind of matter that could keep ticking away. It is called a time crystal. Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek dreamed up the stuff in 2012, working out the details during a vacation in England. He imagined electrons zooming around a superconductor, a substance with no electrical resistance, charting a repeating course…