Wednesday, January 31, 2007

and for the person who said single pixel cameras were impossible!

Made up of millions of photodetectors, the sensors in today's digital cameras don't come cheap, and they don't go easy on the juice either. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, developers are determined to make a single-pixel camera that will be able to capture high-quality images and turn wasteful million-pixel cameras into a thing of the past. Using a single photodetector would also simplify the process of swapping sensors, hinting at cameras that can switch into ultraviolet or infrared modes with ease.

Mirrors are used to build up the image. Light is taken in through one lens, bounced off a digital micromirror device, through a second lens and onto a single photodetector.

Currently still in the experimental stage, the single-pixel camera is about the size of a suitcase.

Inflatable Habitats for Polar and Space Colonists

One of the largest obsticales to establishing stations or colonies on Mars, the Moon or even in space has been transporting the structures that people would live in. Recent experiments with inflatable structures in space have shown proof of concept, showing non-ridged construction to be extremely promising.

At the article Inflatable Habitats
researchers make a convincing argument for lightweight inflatable construction. These structures would not only be easy to transport and set up, they also lend themselves well to gathering their own power and heat. Click on the link for more info

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Apollo 1 Astronauts Remembered

This week marks the anniversary of one of NASA's worst accidents.

Three astronauts died in a horrifying launch pad fire 40 years ago this week.

It was Jan. 27, 1967, with only three years left to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of going to the moon before the end of the decade.The three crewmembers of Apollo 1 strapped in for a realistic launch pad test for the first launch of the Apollo moon ship when their sealed spacecraft caught fire inside and they were trapped.

The fire was believed to be caused by a spark from a frayed wire and fueled by the pure oxygen inside the Apollo capsule. Grissom, White and Chaffee were dead in 17 seconds.It took rescuers five minutes to open the hatch and when they did, they found the astronauts had struggled to get out, but the hatch was too cumbersome to operate.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Monday, January 29, 2007

Stellar Bang with a New Twist

For years, astronomers have relied on a variety of supernova called a Type Ia. These titanic explosions were thought to produced a consistent brightness. Using that "standard candle," astronomers could calculate a supernova's distance from Earth and also track the acceleration of the universe caused by the mysterious force called dark energy. Now, the discovery of two supernova remnants in a nearby galaxy calls the consistency of Type Ia explosions into question.

Supernovae occur when stars with big enough masses--at least 1.4 times that of the sun--have exhausted the supply of fuel that powers the thermonuclear fusion reactions in their cores. When the reactions stop, the stars can no longer push outward against the inexorable effects of gravity. In an instant, they collapse into tiny versions of their former selves, and the recoil from that abrupt and violent process produces the supernovae, which expel huge amounts of matter outward at hypersonic speeds. Up to now, astronomers have identified four types of supernova, including Type Ia.

Now a team from several universities using NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton spacecraft say they have discovered supernova remnants that harbor the usual products of Type Ia explosions but are considerably brighter and contain much more hot gas than normal.

After studying x-ray observations of the remnant clouds, the astronomers concluded that the stars exploded when they were only 100 million years old, instead of the 1 billion to 1.5 billion years old for a typical star producing a Type Ia. One possible explanation, is that both stars grew up in a dense star-forming area and therefore could pull in a great deal of matter easily and quickly. That might have caused them to grow prematurely massive and trigger the supernovae.

Please click on the article title to read more and click here for more information on SuperNova

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hints of huge water reservoirs on Mars

Recent photos of Mars show evidence of water. However Mars is losing little water to space,so much of its ancient abundance may still be hidden beneath the surface.

Dried up riverbeds and other evidence imply that Mars once had enough water to fill a global ocean more than 600 metres deep, together with a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide that kept the planet warm enough for the water to be liquid. But the planet is now very dry and has a thin atmosphere.

Some scientists have proposed that the Red Planet lost its water and CO2 to space as the solar wind stripped molecules from the top of the planet's atmosphere. Measurements by Russia's Phobos-2 probe to Mars in 1989 hinted that the loss was quite rapid.

Now the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft has revealed that the rate of loss is much lower. Measurements from research satellites suggest the whole planet loses only about 20 grams per second of oxygen and CO2 to space, only about 1% of the rate inferred from Phobos-2 data.

If this rate has held steady over Mars' history, it would have removed just a few centimetres of water, and a thousandth of the original CO2. Thereby leaving huge amounts still available, possibly just under the surface.

Shaun A. Saunders submission

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What We Don't Know

From Wired and the fertile mind of John Hodgman come 42* of the biggest questions in science.

How did life begin? What's the universe made of? Why do we sleep? Plus many more from With Natalie Angier, Gregg Easterbrook, James Gleick, Brian Greene, Kevin Kelly, Richard Preston, Richard Rhodes & more

Click the title to see the articles

thanks Shaun A. Saunders

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jan. 25, 1921: The Robot Cometh

January 25th 1921 Karel Capek debuted a new play titled R.U.R, (which stands for Rossum's Universal Robots) This event marks the first use of the word "robot" to describe an artificial person. Capek invented the term, basing it on the Czech word for "forced labor." ("Robot" entered the English language in 1923.)

The robots in Capek's play are not mechanical men made of metal; instead they are molded out of a chemical batter and they look exactly like humans. Each robot costs the equivalent of $150 and "can do the work of two-and-a-half human laborers," so that humans might be free to have "no other task, no other work, no other cares" than perfecting themselves.

However, the robots come to realize that even though they have "no passion, no history, no soul," they are stronger and smarter than humans. They kill every human but one.

TOC the Year's Best Science Fiction #24

TOC: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection

Gardner Dozois has posted the table of contents for his annual Year's Best anthology:

The Year's Best Science Fiction, Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection

  1. "I, Row-Boat" by Cory Doctorow
  2. "Julian: A Christmas Story" by Robert Charles Wilson
  3. "Tin Marsh" by Michael Swanwick (Read excerpt)
  4. "The Djinn's Wife" by Ian McDonald (Read excerpt)
  5. "The House Beyond Your Sky" by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  6. "Where the Golden Apples Grow" by Kage Baker [See SF Signal review]
  7. "Kin" by Bruce Mcallister
  8. "Signal to Noise" by Alastair Reynolds [See SF Signal review]
  9. "The Big Ice" by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold (Read excerpt)
  10. "Bow Shock" by Gregory Benford (Read excerpt)
  11. "In The River" by Justin Stanchfield
  12. "Incarnation Day" by Walter Jon Williams [See SF Signal review]
  13. "Far As You Can Go" by Greg Van Eekhout
  14. "Good Mountain" by Robert Reed [See SF Signal Review]
  15. "I Hold My Father's Paws" by David D. Levine
  16. "Dead Men Walking" by Paul J. Mcauley (Read excerpt)
  17. "Home Movies" by Mary Rosenblum
  18. "Damascus" by Daryl Gregory
  19. "Life on the Preservation" by Jack Skillingstead
  20. "Yellow Card Man" by Paolo Bacigalupi (Read excerpt)
  21. "Riding the Crocodile" by Greg Egan [See SF Signal Review]
  22. "The Ile of Dogges" by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
  23. "The Highway Men" by Ken Macleod
  24. "The Pacific Mystery" by Stephen Baxter
  25. "Okanoggan Falls" by Carolyn Ives Gilman
  26. "Every Hole Is Outlined" by John Barnes (Read excerpt)
  27. "The Town on Blighted Sea" by A.M. Dellamonica
  28. "Nightingale" by Alastair Reynolds
[via Year's Best SF Info]

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Military Builds Robotic Insects

Israel is developing a robot the size of a hornet to attack terrorists. The prototype will not see action for three years. However, slightly larger romote attack robots, Called killer Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs are well on their way to deployment.

British Special Forces already use 6-inch MAV aircraft called WASPs for reconnaissance in Afghanistan. The $3,000 WASP is nearly silent, so it can get very close without being detected. A new development will reportedly see the WASP fitted with a C4 explosive warhead for kamikaze attacks on snipers.

Many more ground shaking and breaking ideas in the story. Click the title for more.

Shaun Saunders submission.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Odyssey by Jack McDevitt - review


Jack mcDevitt

Ace hard cover 410 pages 24.95

Moonriders – black featureless globes, maneuvering in space without any sign of propulsion, have been reported from time to time. Showing up at construction sites, astronomical curiosities and the odd science outpost. Almost mythical in nature, thought to be not of intelligent origin, most believe they are the product of someones overactive imagination, harmless in any event.

To shore up waining support, the Academy, send out a research ship to “study” Moonriders. What starts as a harmless publicity stunt turns very real and very deadly as it is soon discovered that the Moonriders are indeed intelligent and far from harmless, the Moonriders prove to be aggressive to the point of destroying life. The warnings of a teenage girl, may be all that stand between humanity and the destruction of the universe.

Fans of Beam Me Up will know that I personally enjoy Jack McDevitt's writings. The show has used his short story Promises to Keep and we have reviewed Polaris in earlier shows. So how does Odyssey compare to the earlier offerings? Oh very well indeed!

Initially, Odyssey has a ship disappear much as it had in Polaris. At first this didn't bode well for me. However even though McDevitt uses this as a stage setter, he wisely steps well away from the Polaris and it's Flying Dutchman theme. No, this disappearance is merely used to set the stage and introduce us to the mysterious Moonriders. Black mysterious globes who move at will without motive power, non communicative, mysterious. Well I am not going to be a spoiler here, but needless to say, the mysterious ships are far more dangerous than anyone suspects.

Even at 400 plus pages, Odyssey is a VERY fast read. Like Polaris, McDevitt puts his foot into the plot throttle and never lets up. There are characters aplenty, but not enough to overwhelm and just enough to tell the story for enough angles to make it entertaining and interesting. Odyssey lacks the “mystery” of Polaris, however the twists and double dealings come aplenty the farther you get into the novel. Where Polaris was a closed door thriller, Odyssey is a roller coaster fun house ride mashup. Plot monsters jump out of the dark at you at ever turn. Other authors could take lessons from McDevitt on how to write intrigue and make it exciting instead of tedious.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fantastic Voyage: Departure 2009

A team of scientists is developing what they say will be the world's first -- if not nanobot at least a microrobot -- that can swim through the arteries and digestive system.

The scientists are designing the 250-micron device as -wide as two human hairs - to transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body where conventional surgery can not reach.

Because the device is so small and the procedures that it will perform are equally as minuscule, the researchers hope the device will reduce the risks normally associated with delicate surgical procedures.

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the team is tweaking larger versions of the device, and expects to have a working prototype later this year and a completed version by 2009.

Thanks to Shaun Saunders for the post

Arthur C. Clarke award nominations

2007 Arthur C Clarke Award

The Wikipedia lists the ACC award as:
a British award given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The award was established with a grant from Arthur C. Clarke and the first prize was awarded in 1987. The book is chosen by a panel of judges from the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and the Science Museum of London. It is now administrated by the Serendip Foundation.

This year the short list nods go to:

End of the World Blues, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz)
Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet (Heinemann)
Hav, Jan Morris (Faber)
Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Streaking, Brian Stableford (PS Publishing)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ultra-Dense Optical Storage -- on One Photon

Researchers at the University of Rochester have made a breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image onto a photon.

The image was made using a single pulse of light and the team can fit as many as a hundred of these pulses at once into a tiny, four-inch cell.

"It sort of sounds impossible, but instead of storing just ones and zeros, we're storing an entire image," says John Howell, associate professor of physics and leader of the team that created the device, which is revealed in today's online issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. "It's analogous to the difference between snapping a picture with a single pixel and doing it with a

"You can have a tremendous amount of information in a pulse of light, but normally if you try to buffer it, you can lose much of that information," says Ryan Camacho, Howell's graduate student and lead author on the article. "We're showing it's possible to pull out an enormous amount of information with an extremely high signal-to-noise ratio even with very low light levels."

Aurealis Finalists, Philip K. Dick nominees & Nebula Preliminary ballots

Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot


From the Files of the Time Rangers Richard Bowes
* Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell (Tor, Feb06)
* The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
* The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
* Counting Heads by David Marusek
* To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy
* Seeker by Jack McDevitt
* A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park
* Remains by Mark W Tiedemann
* Spin by Robert Charles Wilson


* Sanctuary by Michael A. Burstein (Analog, )
* Burn by James Patrick Kelly
* The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko
* Inclination by William Shunn (Asimov's, )


* The Language of Moths- Chris Barzak (Realms Apr05)
* Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
* A Key to the Illuminated Heretic by Alyx M. Dellamonica
* Second Person, Present Tense Daryl Gregory
* Do Neanderthals Know? by Robert J Howe
* Little Faces by Vonda McIntyre
* Journey into the Kingdom by M. Rickert
* Walpurgis Afternoon by Delia Sherman

* Helen Remembers the Stork Club Esther M. Friesner
* Pip and the Fairies by Theodora Goss
* Echo" by Elizabeth Hand (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
* Mahmoud's Wives" by Janis Ian
* Henry James, This One's For You" by Jack McDevitt
* The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equations by Eugene Mirabelli
* Anyway" by M. Rickert (SCI FICTION, 23 Aug05)

The finalists for the 2006 Aurealis Awards, which honors the best in Australian genre fiction,
have been announced:


* Hydrogen Steel by K. A. Bedford
* K-Machines by Damien Broderick
* Underground by Andrew McGahan
* Geodesica: Descent by Sean Williams with Shane Dix

NOMINEES: 2007 Philip K. Dick Award
from SF Signal blog

Nominees for this year's Philip K. Dick Award, recognizing distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States, have been announced:

* Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
* Catalyst by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
* Idolon by Mark Budz
* Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson
* Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
* Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
* Spin Control by Chris Moriarity

Friday, January 19, 2007

When Does SETI Throw in the Towel?

Shaun Saunders brings this article to our attention. Appearing on, Seth Shostak asks the question, that space being infinite, at what point do the researchers looking for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, call it a day, pack up and go home. The article makes compelling arguments for both sides and is intelligently written. Take a look.

'Mach c'? Scientists observe sound traveling faster than the speed of light

For the first time, scientists have experimentally demonstrated that sound pulses can travel at velocities faster than the speed of light, c. William Robertson’s team from Middle Tennessee State University also showed that the group velocity of sound waves can become infinite, and even negative.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Science Fiction show reminders

Here are the updates for Science Fiction shows that have been on hiatus

Daybreak on ABC - all episodes, even those unaired will be available January 29 on the web.

Battlestar Galactica returns this Sunday, January 21st. SciFi has moved it from its Friday slot

Heroes will be back January 22nd.

Jericho returns on February 21st

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Star Trek's 'Prime Directive' is stupid

You know, as noble as the prime directive sounded, I have to agree with the author. Even in the original series it seems Kirk and crew stepped on their d...s more times trying to observe the PD. I mean if they were that worried about it, why were they always using phasers, medical tools and transporters in plain view. The whole implementation was schizophrenic. Why bother to Boldly Go?!. I think David Brin had a clearer view with uplift. the article and see what you think...

Navy test new "rail gun"

The US Navy the first of what it hopes to be a whole new type of gun. Call the RAIL GUN, the unit fires nonexplosive projectiles at incredible speeds, using electricity rather than gun powder. With the added advantage of extending the reach of naval guns more than ten times the current distance!

The railgun works by sending electric current along parallel rails, creating an electromagnetic force so powerful it can fire a projectile at tremendous speed.

Because the gun uses electricity and not gunpowder to fire projectiles, it's safer, eliminating the possibility of explosions on ships and vehicles equipped with it.

The test model of the gun can deliver about the same energy to a projectile as present naval guns, however once the gun is put into production, the output is very likely to be 6 or 7 times as much energy.

Even though the warheads won't be very large, they will be able to hit targets 200 to 250 miles away and hit with the power of a Tomahawk rocket due to the fact that they will impact with tremendous force.

Doomsday clock edging closer to midnight

The Doomsday Clock was set ahead two minutes reciently. "It is now five minutes to midnight," said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. "This change reflects the global failures to solve the problems posed by nuclear weapons and by climate change."

The move is significant because the scientists who are the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , has moved the clock only 18 times since it was set to seven minutes to midnight in 1947. The clock has been closer to midnight, two minutes away after the Eisenhower administration tested a nuclear bomb in 1953. But it is also a long way from its most optimistic setting, at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today's change was the first since 2002.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, named for its newsletter, was founded in 1945 by scientists who worked in the Manhattan Project and were concerned about the prospect of nuclear war. And the "Doomsday Clock" appeared as a graphic on their first newsletter and has since been adopted by the group as it's official logo.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cloning opens door to 'farmyard freaks'

Guess I am on a weird food kick today....Hey Shaun, check this one out!

Efforts to clone and genetically modify farm livestock may lead to the creation of "Farmyard Freaks", experts have warned.

A former government adviser warns of a nightmarish situation where "zombie" and fast-growing super-size animals, are the norm.

Large scale farming techniques, commonly used with pigs and chicken, involve keeping animals kept in cramped conditions. For animals like pigs, these conditions can lead to stress and aggression.

Scientists are investigating ways to remove the stress and aggression gene from animals, effectively turning them into complacent zombies.

Giant rabbits to feed North Korea's hunger!

Well, this post certainly isn't science fiction! It really isn't even science. But it sure is weird enough! Remember the story "Food of the Gods"? Yep, thats all I could think of!

Karl Szmolinsky, a 67 year old, of East Germany has bred rabbits the size of dogs! He reciently was asked by North Korea's ambassador whether he might be willing to sell some rabbits to set up a breeding farm in North Korea.

Each of Karl's 'German Grey Monsters' weigh about 15 pounds and can be used to feed 8 people.

Even China are interested in his German Grey Rabbits and may be potential buyers in the future, but Karl has said that he will not increase his production to satisfy growing demands in Asia.

Anti-cancer chicken eggs produced

English researchers have genetically modified chickens that can lay eggs containing proteins that in turn can be made into cancer-fighting drugs.

The Roslin Institute, says it has produced birds that can produce useful levels of life-saving proteins in egg whites. This could lead to drugs that are cheaper and easier to make.

But it could be another five years before patient trials get the go-ahead and 10 years until a medicine is fully developed, the Roslin Institute cautioned.

Thanks to Shaun for the post

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mars Probe May Have Spotted Lost 'Pathfinder' Rover

The most powerful camera ever sent into orbit around Mars has spotted yet another lander lying lifeless on its surface: Mars Pathfinder, which operated for three months in 1997. It may also have found the mission's tiny rover, Sojourner, which appears to have crawled towards Pathfinder after the lander had already died.

On Some Planets, the Winds Go Supersonic

The highest winds that you have ever experienced are but a puff compared to terrifyingly strong winds on some extrasolar planets. There are gas giants out there, that experience winds as strong as 14,400 kph (9,000 mph).

A team of American astronomers used the Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the infrared light of the planets at eight different positions in their orbit in 2005. They measured the brightness when the planets were facing the Earth, and then when they were facing away. Amazingly, they found no variations. It is conventional wisdom that a planet locked facing in one direction will have a hot side and a cold side. The only argument that seems to explain the anomaly is that the convection currents on the bright side generate such strong winds that they are able to mix the atmosphere on the dark side, warming it to levels matching those on the bright side.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pillars of Creation Toppled By Stellar Blast

**In a note sent to me by Shaun Saunders, he suggests that this is very much like his story Curtain Call that we featured in the last episode of Beam Me Up in December of 2006 (bmu #34) I also wanted to add that it also fits very well with the story we will be running this week - Hubble - and look for another tie in with Shaun's heart breaking story Last Light - which we will be featuring in a later broad cast....pac**

The famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula might have already been toppled long ago, and that what the Hubble Space Telescope actually captured was only a ghost image.

A new picture of the Eagle Nebula shot by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, show the intact pillars next to a giant cloud of glowing dust scorched by the heat of a massive stellar explosion known as a supernova [image].

"The pillars have already been destroyed by the shockwave," said study leader Nicolas Flagey of The Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in France.

Astronomers think the supernova's shock wave knocked the pillars down about 6,000 years ago. But because the Eagle Nebula is located some 7,000 light years away, the majestic pillars will appear intact to observers on Earth for another 1,000 years or so.

The supernova blast is thought to have occurred between 6,000 and 9,000 years ago, so what astronomers see now is evidence of the blast just before its destructive shock wave reached the pillars.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hubble makes 3D dark matter map

Thanks to Shaun Saunders for this really neat tie in! :

Astronomers have mapped the cosmic "scaffold" of dark matter upon which stars and galaxies are assembled.

Dark matter does not reflect or emit detectable light, yet it accounts for most of the mass in the Universe.

The study, published in Nature journal, provides the best evidence yet that the distribution of galaxies follows the distribution of dark matter.

Ordinary matter - gas, stars, planets and galaxies - makes up just one-sixth of all matter in the Universe. The remainder is unseen.

While previous studies of dark matter relied on simulations, this one details its large-scale distribution in 3D.

Monday, January 08, 2007

James Cameron is go for start on movie Avatar

Fox has officially announced that James Cameron is set to direct Avatar, with an April start date and new casting.
Cameron has cast Australian Sam Worthington in the lead role of Jake Sully after global screen tests. Zoe Saldana (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl) will portray the local woman Jake gets involved with. Both actors have signed on for possible future installments as well, as Cameron and Fox see Avatar as a potential franchise. Other casting will be announced shortly.

Written by Cameron, who has been developing the story for over a decade, Avatar is the story of a wounded ex-marine who is unwillingly sent to settle and exploit a faraway planet. He gets caught up in a battle for survival by the planet's inhabitants.

Andromeda Galaxy Five Time Bigger Than Thought

The discovery of several large, metal-poor stars located far from the center of the Andromeda galaxy suggests our nearest galactic neighbor might be up to five times larger than previously thought.

"We're typically used to thinking of Andromeda as this tiny speck of light, but the actual size of the halo…extends to a very large radius and it actually fills a substantial portion of the night sky," said study team member Jason Kalirai of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Also known as M31, Andromeda is located only about 2.5 million light-years from Earth, making it our nearest galactic neighbor.

Like our own Milky Way, Andromeda is a classic spiral galaxy, which typically consists of three main parts: a flattened disk, a bright central bulge of densely packed stars and an extended spherical halo where stars are more sparsely distributed.

Forget Matt Damon, Daniel Craig Wants To Be Kirk

From the SyFy Portal blog

After starring in the most popular James Bond film of all time, "Casino Royale," British actor Daniel Craig has his sights set on yet another cultural icon, this time American.

"I would love a stint in the TV show or in a film," Craig recently told the World Entertainment News Network about Star Trek. "It's been a secret ambition of mine for years."

That could mean some interest in the upcoming proposed Star Trek XI movie from producer J.J. Abrams that reportedly will resurrect the characters of Kirk and Spock.

Despite his apparent love of science-fiction, Craig has very little genre work to his credit. He did appear in a 1996 episode of HBO's "Tales of the Crypt" and played Alex West in 2001's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

He does have a sci-fi-like project coming up this year, however, when he stars alongside Nicole Kidman in "The Invasion." It was a movie he was filming before he was even selected to become the next James Bond.

Aurealis Finalists & Philip K. Kick Nominees

The finalists for the 2006 Aurealis Awards, which honors the best in Australian genre fiction,
have been announced:


* Hydrogen Steel by K. A. Bedford
* K-Machines by Damien Broderick
* Underground by Andrew McGahan
* Geodesica: Descent by Sean Williams with Shane Dix

NOMINEES: 2007 Philip K. Dick Award from SF Signal

Nominees for this year's Philip K. Dick Award, recognizing distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States, have been announced:

* Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
* Catalyst by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
* Idolon by Mark Budz
* Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson
* Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
* Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
* Spin Control by Chris Moriarity

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Enterprise on Sci fi

Just a reminder to you Star Trek Enterprise fans. The Sci-Fi channel will start showing four episodes every Monday starting on January 8th at 7/6C.

Shatner Says Abrams Wants Him and Nimoy In Star Trek XI

From the Trek Movie Report:

For months now William Shatner has made no secret that he wants to be in Star Trek XI, and even Leonard Nimoy has said he would come out of retirement for something substantial. We also know that both actors have consulting/promotional contracts for the film and have spoken with producer JJ Abrams. Now in a new interview with IGN, The Shat says that Abrams is writing them into the script:

"he seem to be going in the direction of putting in [Leonard]Nimoy and myself. But in order to do that, it’s a difficult story to write. So they’re in the midst of wrestling with all of that."

He also says that if Abrams wants the original Kirk and Spock, it better be more than just a cameo:

"I’m not sure what they’re going to do. But in order to entice Leonard and myself into the movie, it has to be meaningful in some way, so I don’t know what they’re gonna do."

Scientist says: NASA found life on Mars - and killed it

Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have found alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist is theorizing.

The Viking space probes of 1976-77 were looking for the wrong kind of life, so they didn't recognize it, a geology professor at Washington State University said.

In the 1970s, the Viking mission found no signs of life.

But it was looking for Earth-like life, in which salt water is the internal liquid of living cells.

Given the cold dry conditions of Mars, life could have evolved on Mars with the key internal fluid consisting of a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Emotion-aware teaching software tracks student attention

Shaun A. Saunders (author of MallCity 14) brings this little tidbit to my attention. For those of you that haven't read MallCity, look for the review a few entries back in this blog, MallCity is "BigBrother" in the extreme - where marketing and consumption are not only a way of life, but the only way to live. One chapter of the book deals with the very disturbing idea of how intrusive software and hardware are becoming in todays school environment. Shaun's idea was is the fact:

Tutoring software that knows when students' are losing interest in a lesson and can adjust to keep them on track is being tested by researchers in China and the UK.

The system keeps track of students' attention by measuring physical signs of emotion. It then varies the speed and content of a lesson based on an assessment of their level of interest. Ultimately, it could improve electronic tutoring programmes, say the researchers involved, thus helping developing countries deliver education to remote areas that lack educational institutions.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mike Resnick rants about stoopid Sci-fi movies

In his blog, Mike Resnick takes caustic aim at what he so aptly calls intellectually insulting science fiction movies. (Often) these things were almost dumber than network television shows.

Here are some high lights:

In Star drives me crazy that in 1991 we could put a smart bomb down a chimney, and that in 2002 we could hit a target at 450 miles, but that computerized handguns and other weaponry can't hit a Skywalker or a Solo at 25 paces.

Return of the Jedi? Doesn't it bother anyone else that Adolf Hitler -- excuse me; Darth Vader -- the slaughterer of a couple of hundred million innocent men and women, becomes a Good Guy solely because he's Luke's father?

In ET: if E.T. can fly/teleport, why doesn't he do so at the beginning of the film, when he's about to be left behind?

Blade Runner: the premise is dumber than dirt. We are told up front that the androids are going to expire in two weeks -- so why in the world is Harrison Ford risking his life to hunt them down when he could just go fishing for 14 days and then pick up their lifeless bodies?

Jurassic Park T. Rex weighed about seven tons. By comparison, a large African bull elephant weighs about six tons, and could probably give old T. Rex one hell of a battle. But no one suggests that a six ton elephant can throw trucks and trains around, break down concrete walls, or do any of the other patently ridiculous things T. Rex can do on screen.

and so many on the title for the full blog entry

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Another Attempt To Resurrect 'Lost In Space'

Sci-fi notes that: Although Lost in Space failed to get box office attention in 1998, there's still talk about bringing it back to fans in some shape or form, most likely another movie.

One of the 1998 film's producers, Mark Koch, said that while the film didn't do the type of box office business the studio had projected, there was an original plan of doing a whole series of movies. In fact, New Line Cinema was so confident the film would do well tht the actors, including Matt LeBlanc, were signed on to do three movies. While those movies didn't happen, there's still a chance that "Lost In Space" could be successful in a series of direct-to-DVD films, Koch said.

Koch said he's already talked with the former "Friends" star LeBlanc about returning, and he was "keen to play Don West again."

Casting Shakeup To Rock 'Battlestar Galactica'

Caution, this may be studio generated gossip and as such, may be used as a test to see what the overall fan attitude might be. Read with the eye of a sceptic. Thanks to the Sci-fi portal and Michael Hinman for the heads up

TV Guide's Michael Ausiello is fueling a very powerful rumor that Katee Sackhoff, who plays the not-so-lovable Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, is ready to throw in the towel and leave the show, something that could happen as early as the end of this season. But the departure doesn't necessarily have to be permanent.

"All signs are pointing to Starbuck's imminent demise," Ausiello said in his weekly "Ask Ausiello" column. But there is still some hope: "If you ask me, this whole thing carries with it the stench of a highly coordinated foiler," Ausiello said. "I mean, Ron Moore would be out of his frakkin' mind to deep-six Starbuck, right?"

Sackhoff apparently told the "Cort and Fatboy" show on radio station KUFO in Portland that she was leaving the show, but wouldn't acknowledge if her character actually died. Sackhoff has expressed frustration about the show in the past, including one comment where she said "Battlestar Galactica" had turned into a "soap opera."

There has been no announcement or confirmation from any of the folks at "Battlestar Galactica" or SciFi Channel, so please continue to treat this story as you would any other rumor.

NASA Mars Team Teaches Old Rovers New Tricks to Kick Off Year Four

NASA's twin Mars rovers, nearing the third anniversary of their landings, are getting smarter as they get older.

The unexpected longevity of Spirit and Opportunity is giving the space agency a chance to field-test on Mars some new capabilities useful both to these missions and future rovers. In addition to their continuing scientific observations, they are now testing four new skills included in revised flight software uploaded to their onboard computers.

One of the new capabilities enables spacecraft to examine images and recognize certain types of features. It is based on software developed for NASA's Space Technology 6 "thinking spacecraft."

Spirit has photographed dozens of dusty whirlwinds in action, and both rovers have photographed clouds. Until now, however, scientists on Earth have had to sift through many transmitted images from Mars to find those few. With the new intelligence boost, the rovers can recognize dust devils or clouds and select only the relevant parts of those images to send back to Earth. This increased efficiency will free up more communication time for additional scientific investigations.

Another new feature, called "visual target tracking," enables a rover to keep recognizing a designated landscape feature as the rover moves.

Scientists Predict Big Solar Cycle

Shaun A. Saunders brought this to my attention. (Oh he also said "shades of Curtain Call" for readers info Curtain Call was read on BMU show 34 that's the 12/30/06 show, I am inclined to agree though there is another story called "Last Light that I think works with this one too. Look for "Last Light in the coming weeks on BMU)

Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big one. Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. He and colleague Robert Wilson presented this conclusion last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Shatner's show canceled, Go for Space Camp


William Shatner's ABC game show Show Me The Money has been canceled. So now he is going to Alabama to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville.

Shatner will be the emcee of the space camp's Hall of Fame ceremonies. The organization will choose 10 individuals to be inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Masi Oka gets movie deal

In a recent TVSQUAD blog article - Masi Oka the breakout star of the 2006-2007 television season (Heroes). From The Hollywood Reporter comes word that he is in talks for a gig in the Robert Luketic film 21.

Based on the Ben Mezrich book "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions," the movie will also star Jim Sturgess.

The book tells the story of the MIT Blackjack Team. Organized by a former math instructor, and backed by anonymous investors, the team used a system of card counting, disguises, and secret signals to take Vegas for nearly $4 million before they were found out.

Battlestar Galactica s4 go, Caprica no, Lost Room -lost has a story that reports that the SciFi Channel is expected to officially give the greenlight to a fourth season of "Battlestar Galactica," which as you also know, sci-fi has moved to Sunday nights from its' usual Friday night slot.

The "Battlestar Galactica" prequel spinoff "Caprica," however, may not be getting the same good news. "Anyone expecting to see 'Caprica' before 2008 is fooling themselves," a SciFi Channel source told SyFy Portal. "There is still quite a bit to be worked out."

Another show that is not expected to get a greenlight for series is "The Lost Room," the recent miniseries filmed as a backdoor pilot that recently aired on SciFi Channel. It finished well behind three of the last four miniseries aired on the network in terms of ratings, and it's unlikely that will be enough to garner it a series order.

MallCity14 By Shaun A. Saunders

221 pp paperback Trafford Press $19.99 US CDN$ 23.30 Amazon

At first, when reading MallCity14 you might be lured into thinking that the theme has been done again and again. But your being lured yes, but by a master of misdirection. MallCity14 - the dehumanization of Silberberg's Urban Monads, insidious Big Brother of 1984, the literary horror of Bradbury's 451 plus rampant advertising and consumption. All of this wrapped into a clean, fast-paced first person narrative. Every bit a “brave new world” however spun up with technology and psychology that previous authors could never have imagined. And just when you think you have it all figured out...everything changes.

Is the novel misleading or misdirected? Hardly - Saunders is a master of the literary subliminal image. What will give this novel wider appeal is the protagonist. A time weary traveler? A virginal barbarian? Hardly – no, the story is told mostly from the eyes of a teenage boy. But with the masterful mix of adult subplot we are treated to story telling that will appeal to adults as well as young adults.

I have seen copies available on Amazon