Jun.25.15 at 09:30 am

Okay, ladies and germs, it's that magical time when we answer questions from our Patrons. Here's how it works. You join our Patreon and then you can ask us questions and then we answer them in the public forum of this here blog.

I love that Atomic Robo wears clothes, but I have never seen him do any laundry that I can remember. 

Does he do his own?  Do they have a laundry area at Tesladyne Industries?  Does the whole gang go around the corner to the local Fluff and Fold and hang out and do their laundry there, on every odd Tuesdays? 

You cannot be an Action Scientist and not look clean and pressed!

Thanks for all the Robo AWESOMENESS!

Yours For Science,

Nathan

Well, Nathan. You went and done it. You asked me something about the Atomic Robo setting with no solid answer.

No, wait. WAIT. I can power through this.

Deep breath.

Tesladyne must have its own laundry onsite. They get up to all sorts of dangerous radioactive and exoversal nonsense, so it’d be irresponsible to expose third parties to that stuff.

Ha! That was a close one.

 

Hey Guys!

I'm in the process of running a B.P.R.D./Atomic Robo crossover game (using the ARRPG rules) and wondered if you guys had any advice or comments about the situation. Can Atomic Robo and Hellboy exist in the same universe? Have the two organizations run into each other again?

Ruben

The most important thing about your Atomic Robo game (using the ARRPG rules) is that it doesn’t matter what we say. It’s our comic, but it’s your game. Do whatever makes sense for you and your players!

So if you guys really want Hellboy, the BPRD, Atomic Robo, and Tesladyne to co-exist, then go for it. It doesn’t matter what our opinion on any of this stuff is, because we aren’t in your game! But here's some questions you should ask yourself. The answers are whatever you think would be fun or interesting...

Do they investigate the same kinds of cases?

How rarely or how commonly do their investigations interfere with one another?

How much respect is there between the agencies?

Does BPRD have a higher jurisdiction because it’s an official government agency? Are there things it can do that Tesladyne cannot as a result? And vice versa?

Is BPRD kind of like a Weird DARPA and sometimes Tesladyne does work for them?

Is BPRD more like a Weird EPA vs. Tesladyne’s Ghostbusters?

Do Robo and Hellboy get along even in the face of organizational antagonism? They have a lot in common. Then again, sometimes that’s why we don’t like people!

 

1) In our world, science doesn’t get much play unless it’s “sexy.” Potential alien life, cures for cancer and other wonder drugs, fancy new computers, the LHC… that stuff gets the media attention and, sometimes, the funding. But the nuts and bolts science that build on our understanding, we never hear about it, and it’s hard to get it funded. You’ll never hear about the latest research into scorpion bioluminescence or about a new computer algorithm for predicting weather.

How is this different in the world of Atomic Robo? Obviously, science is a much bigger deal, but are there still overlooked, underfunded areas that are considered “boring”? Basically, the shortest version of the question is this: what makes a science groupie tick?

2) In spite of Tesladyne having “a lot of departments,” the ones we have seen and heard about seem physics/math/engineering based. SigInt, Exotic ballistics, lasers, and so on.  This makes sense, given Tesla’s areas of expertise as founder of the company. Likewise, Big Science Inc, with its history of dealing with Biomega, seems much more biology and energy oriented. Science Team Super 5’s projects included viruses, crops, and exobiology.

Without tipping your hand too much, is this a common thing? Are most of the big science firms focused more on one area than others?  And, by extension, is this the kind of thing that can cause problems down the road? If someone who only has a hammer treats every problem like a nail, does Robo/Tesladyne treat every problem like a physics problem?

Eric

Well, for the first one, nothing in our culture exists in a vacuum. It’s not enough to identify the fact that most scientific pursuits are underreported, underfunded, and underappreciated. We have to consider why might that be.

The answer is a complicated, nuanced, and interconnected one. But the TL;DR version is: due to a convergence of factors, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to communicate the relevance and importance of modern scientific pursuits to most people.

This is not a lack of will among scientists and it is not a lack of imagination among the population. It’s a sort of diminishing returns situation. We’ve got the basics figured out at this point. The cutting edge stuff we’re discovering now is weird. And it’s getting weirder. Our discoveries are becoming more removed from the day-to-day concerns of most people with every passing day. And then the basic stuff also gets overlooked because many of our schools are overcrowded, underfunded, our teachers are overworked, and our parents are on a spectrum between exhausted and apathetic.

How do you explain the importance and relevance of, as per your example, scorpion bioluminescence to the average person? Especially when most of us are maximally pre-occupied with just keeping our lives from falling apart. Meanwhile there are hundreds of other demands upon our attention that are easier to access. Indeed, exactly unlike the universe, which has no responsibility to make any goddamn sense to us, our distractions have been specifically engineered to rob us of time -- from video games to movies to television to the outrage industry to sports and celebrity culture.

Scientific literacy is a luxury of time, energy, and resources. And the more esoteric the field, the more luxurious it is to know about it. And luxury is disappearing along with the middle class. 

Scientific illiteracy is often discussed as a lack of imagination or curiosity or intelligence among a generation or class -- “These kids today with their Pokemans” if you will. It’s not. A desire to know how and why things work is the root of human experience. It’s how you learned to speak. It’s where language as a concept came from in the first place. It’s how we figured out agriculture, cooking, and smartphones.

Scientific illiteracy is a lack of opportunity. It is of more use to the status quo to maintain an ignorant and entertained populace than a learned one that’s asking questions because it wants to know more.

So, in that sense, Atomic Robo’s world mirrors our own rather closely. I suppose the major difference, other than the robot adventurer running around, is that certain esoteric scientific pursuits seem more immediately relevant than they would in our world simply because the fate of all life on Earth was saved by them. Like, astronomy would get a real shot in the arm in terms of public interest and worldwide funding if we knew a couple intrepid scientists narrowly saved all life on Earth from a rogue asteroid while the rest of us were all, “Duh, what?”

But even then, y’know, consider any given Man On The Street bit. They’re a demonstration of the uphill battle we face, re: getting most people to pay attention long enough and deeply enough to fully absorb complex information outside their immediate spheres of interest and perceived relevance. It ain’t easy! And I feel it's irresponsible to blame the individual for the fact that the struggle exists. I don't think you were doing that with this question, but that's often the direction taken when people have a discussion on this topic. 

Dang that was a long answer. Your other question’s much simpler though: yes.