Sunday, September 30, 2007

Taking a trip with Journeyman

While others seem prepared to dance on Journeyman's grave, I finally got a chance to see the first episode and I will have to say, that I am if not impressed, willing to watch a few more. The time travel, if somewhat derivative is such a minor point that it would do you well to over look it. What we have is the main character finding himself oddly jumping back into the past and to the present at odd times. It seems to make no sense until he meets with his first love whom he thought was dead but seems to be a jumper much like himself. He finally figures that he is suppose to save a child's life and does so in a most unexpected way. If you have watched the show, you will remember the tool box, which I thought was a brilliant idea. What will kill this show will be the same thing that made it's very similar predecessor almost unwatchable. Inane writing and static theme. Both started off with an inventive idea and it could wind up sinking the newest. I think the fact that he continues to jump back and forth and interact with both the past and present has an interesting twist....also (excuse me but I don't see how this could work) time continues to flow in the present when he is in the past....ummmm for me that says that he isn't in the past but in an alternate universe...but that is nit picking. I think I will continue watching... give it a try if you haven't seen the first, go see it online (click the title to go to the show site)

Jami, my how you've grown!

Well, no big surprise here, I am terrible with schedules on tv. So I just got around to watching NBC's Bionic Woman remake. NBC may accually have a winner here. Gone are the stupid slow-mo bad hair, bouncing body parts and bad music. Replace that with an MTV cut Blade Runner and you get an impression of what the first episode of the Bionic Woman brought to the table. Why do I mention an icon like R.Scott's Blade? Well, we have a present that is way out of control, rain, android ummm bionic heavy weights beating the crap out of one another, creepy music, dark lighting....No, I am not describing Blade Runner. No, the new Bionic Woman is unrelentingly depressing to the point of putting your teeth on edge. But you find yourself leaning toward the screen waiting for the next scene.....I think we can safely say that Wednesday's on NBC has a slot worth watching.... Oh and if you can believe it....Sakhoff was wasted on BSG. They let her run on this show and she is BAAAAAAAAAAAAAD.

Robot insurance!

I am sure that many of you have already seen this before. However, I hadn't and so I must share! So what do you do when robots attack? Why get insurance!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mysterious energy burst stuns astronomers

Astronomers studying archival data from an Australian radio telescope have discovered a powerful, short-lived burst of radio waves that they say indicates an entirely new type of astronomical phenomenon. This burst appears to have originated from the distant Universe and may have been produced by an exotic event such as the collision of two neutron stars or the death throes of an evaporating black hole. The startling discovery came as WVU undergraduate student David Narkevic re-analyzed data from observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud made by the 210-foot Parkes radio telescope in Australia. The burst was so bright that at the time it was first recorded it was dismissed as man-made radio interference. It put out a huge amount of power - equivalent to a large (2000MW) power station running for two billion billion years.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gone in 12 seconds: your rest break

Shaun just sent me this, and I can not believe that they are serious! Some things in science fiction are just so amazing that you can't imagine them ever becoming fact....then there are the strange little things that you hope you never see. Just because the world gets a bit bleaker if they do.

Now I have done telemarketing and I want to tell you I thought 30 seconds between calls was too little time. Here is an article that describes a scenario much much worse.

Shaun writes: You read it in my story 79.9 (in 2005, and now included in 'Navigating in The New World'), now read the actual occurrence in the 'real world'.....

Click here for the article

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chuck n Heroes premiers

NBC trotted out something new and something....weird for their premiers and redos of science fiction shows...well mostly science fiction. Chuck downloaded. ehhhh..... All I could think of was Jake 2.0. I mean the guy even looked like him. And Geek Squad....Nerd Herd? And are the shows drastically different? Lets see... One guy gets hurt during a breakdown of security and there is an accidental transfer of material that gives the hero a special power. Which show am I talking about? My point exactly. Nanos are out and embedded computer information is in. The only diff is the guy wants to be the manager of a big box store instead of being nsa/cia whatever. Lame....Nope, Chuck didn't work all that well for me. Although seeing Adam Baldwin doing that creepy Gman character is kind of a treat.

Heroes was a bit of a mixed bag....Don't get me wrong, it really is the 800 pound guerrilla of sci-fi shows this season. Heiro has gone back in time to find out that his childhood hero is a drunkard Englishman....that might have a comical twist in future episodes.....Mohinder and Claire's father are plotting against the "company" - that came across as pretty weak. Claire and family are trying to fit in hiding out in Texas. Claire has to prove to herself that she still has the mojo? Oh come on! LAME! Now I was just waiting for the moment that Claire's father did some violence on the big box geek manager. That my friends was a creepy / scary 10 minutes that still goes to show that for all his "I love you Claire bear" face giving, this guy is is just seconds away from being your worst nightmare. Nathan self destructing?!!! WTF?! Though kicking his mother out calling her evil made points with me. And Peter showing up inside a cargo crate chained to the wall with amnesia? I am sorry, but just how does that happen. So, a bit of a mixed bag, but all in all well worth watching again next week.

3-D Printers coming soon!

Do you remember Cory Doctorow's short story called Print Crime? I played it on the program a few weeks ago. The story set in the near future, told of tech that allowed anyone to "print" items that they wanted. Chemical, pharmacological and technological were all within the realm of possible. However on the flip side were insanely strict copyright laws. Which lead as you can imagine to a popular and violent gray and black market. As outrageous and futuristic as the story sounded, the tech itself is right around the corner. Such technology already exists and is maturing rapidly so that high-tech designers and others can share solid designs almost as quickly as sending a fax. The systems available are based on bath of liquid plastic which is solidified by laser light. The movements of the laser are controlled by a computer that reads a digitized 3D map of the solid object or design. Eventually this will allow the mainstream consumer to 3-D print equipment, whether that is plastic paperclips, teacups, or components that can be joined to make sophisticated devices, perhaps bolted together with printed nuts and bolts. Imagine if you will buying or otherwise obtaining a digital file representing a physical product electronically and then produce the object at a time and place convenient to them. And then imagine these files, like music or movie files, being made available on less than legit download sites. Yes, Print Crime is closer than we think!

Germs Taken Into Space May Come Back Deadlier


Does this sound like the Andromeda Strain or what? "Deadly germs come back on a research space craft" Perfect B-movie plot , huh? What's even scarier is , it really happened. In a medical experiment, salmonella carried about the space shuttle in the fall of 2006 proved far more lethal to lab mice than the exact same microbe here on Earth. Just how much more deadly? 90% dead vs. 60% dead in twenty-six days. And that was with far less of the microbe in the oral dose. Apparently 167 genes in the space-evolved strain had changed. The likely cause: In zero G the force of fluids passing over the cells is low, similar to conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, and the cells adapted quickly to the new environment.

thanks to for the original article

Monday, September 24, 2007

Family Guy does Star Wars

I know that I souldn't - but this is just so damn funny. Ok, the Family Guy does....Star Wars 4
This is the first part, but I suspect the complete episode can be found on youtube.

SFSignal's TRON remake poll

Oh this is funny!!! blog ran a poll asking "Is a remake of TRON a good idea?

Is a remake of Tron a good idea?
Yes 18.0% (20)
No 35.1% (39)
I don't know 17.1% (19)
I don't care 29.7% (33)

Total votes: 111

Parallel Universes do exsist says new research

Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science".
The parallel universe theory, first proposed in 1950 by the US physicist Hugh Everett, helps explain mysteries of quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for decades, it is claimed. In Everett's "many worlds" universe, every time a new physical possibility is explored, the universe splits. Given a number of possible alternative outcomes, each one is played out - in its own universe. The number of alternative scenarios is endless. It is a bizarre idea which has been dismissed as fanciful by many experts. But the new research from Oxford shows that it offers a mathematical answer to quantum conundrums that cannot be dismissed lightly. According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then the object can have several different states or appear to be in different places at the same time. Unobserved particles then are then described as having the aspect of a wave or multiple "probable" states. The Oxford team showed mathematically that the branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Darpa working on power exoskeleton

Backpacks are a mainstay of soldiers, hikers, firefighters and others who have to lug heavy loads, often over rough terrain where wheeled vehicles cannot traverse. But hauling them can be quite the chore, limiting wearers' mobility, especially over long distances. Scientists at M.I.T. Media Lab's Biomechatronics Group have, with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), developed an exoskeleton that promises to not only lessen the load of weary travelers but also to advance research that will ultimately lead to robotic limbs that improve the strength and mobility of amputees.

Thanks to Shaun Saunders for the post

image: Courtesy of the MIT Media Lab

Arthur C. Clarke comments on the Google Xprize!

Are you up for a rip rousing speech from the father of the communications satellite? Well here ya go! Arthur C. Clarke comments on Google's plans to offer 20 million in total prizes to the first private enterprise to land a craft of robotic nature on the surface of the moon and do useful science while there. Clarke comments, that he never thought he would live to see men on the moon and never imagined he would live to see the end. Here is his video speech and I hope you find it as extrodinarily moving as I did!
Thanks to SF Signals blog for the heads up!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

They like us! They really like us!!

Wow, when I first read Harry Harrison's The Repairman, I was instantly reminded of The Stainless Steel Rat, one of Harrison's more infamous characters. The story is fast, inventive and very funny. I instantly thought this would be a great project for Ron who I feel can really emote his characters and brings his own charm to a read. I had Ron read the story and included it in episode 69 of the podcast.

Well, it garnered some interest from Jesse Willis' very entertaining blog!
Here is the link

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall TV premieres for SF and Fantasy shows

Monday, Sept. 24

* Chuck: NBC, 8pm
a one-hour, action-comedy series about Chuck Bartowski -- a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government's most vital secret agent.

* Heroes: NBC, 9pm
Ordinary people discover they have extraordinary powers

* Jouneyman: NBC, 10pm
a San Francisco newspaper reporter and family man who inexplicably begins to travel through time and change people's lives.

Tuesday, Sept. 25

* Reaper: The CW, 9pm
Everything in Sam's slacker world changes on the day he turns 21 and discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born. Sam must now serve as Satan's bounty hunter, tracking down evil souls that have escaped and returning them to Hell.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

* Bionic Woman: NBC, 9pm
A remake of the seventies spin off of the bionic man. Jaime Sommers didn't think life could get much harder. But when a devastating car accident leaves her at death's door, Jaime's only hope for survival is a cutting-edge, top-secret technology that comes at a hefty price. With a whole new existence and a debt to re-pay, Jaime must figure out how to use her extraordinary abilities for good, while weighing the personal sacrifices she will have to make.

Thursday, Sept. 27

* Smallville: The CW, 8pm
Now beginning its seventh season, this new interpretation of the enduring Superman mythology and its classic characters blends realism and adventure into an exciting action series.

Friday, Sept. 28

* Moonlight: CBS, 9pm
Mick St. John a captivating "undead" private investigator who uses his acute vampire senses to help the living... instead of feeding on them.

* Stargate Atlantis: Sci Fi, 10p
As they explore the distant Pegasus galaxy, the Atlantis Expedition encounters great challenges, great friends — and great foes. Often, their adventures begin in their home base, Atlantis itself, a city built thousands of years ago by the highly evolved and mysterious Ancients. Atlantis is a treasure trove of strange technology, all of it wondrous and some of it downright lethal.

Wednesday, Oct. 3

* Pushing Daisies: ABC, 8pm
chuck has the power to bring back the dead. However its not permanent, If chuck touches those that he has raised, then they die again, permanently....but if he does not touch them, then to balance the scale, someone else must die.

Thursday, Oct. 4

* Supernatural: The CW, 9pm
Follow two brothers who follow in their father's footsteps by hunting demons and destroying them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

3D RAMA fly through!

Wow, have you guys checked out the Rama movie trailer student film I posted earlier? If not, you really have go to look it up. Amazing! Here is something almost as much fun. A graphic flyover inside a RAMA like object. If you ever wanted to see what the scale looks like, then click this video. I love it, and cant wait for a RAMA movie now. This is sweet!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Brother is watching us all

Shaun A. Saunders writes....."Infopanels just around the next corner, somewhere in the 'Mallcity 14' zone:"

BBC News online's Humphrey Hawksley reports:
The US and UK governments are developing increasingly sophisticated gadgets to keep individuals under their surveillance. When it comes to technology, the US is determined to stay ahead of the game. At Maryland University just outside Washington DC, where Professor Challapa and his team are inventing the next generation of citizen surveillance. They are writing a program called Gait DNA. Their goal is to invent a system whereby a facial image can be matched to your gait, your height, your weight and other elements, so a computer will be able to identify instantly who you are. "As you walk through a crowd, we'll be able to track you," said Professor Challapa. "These are all things that don't need the cooperation of the individual." Since 9/11, some of the best scientific minds in the defence industry have switched their concentration from tracking nuclear missiles to tracking individuals such as suicide bombers. BBC's Hawksley
next travels to the Pentagon in Washington DC.
Click here for the complete story

Karl Schroeder's Ventus now a free CC download

Cory Doctorow had this to say, on Boing Boing:

Award-winning sf writer Karl Schroeder has just released his debut novel, Ventus under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs license, meaning that you can download it, share it and copy it as much as you like. Cory says "It's an indication of just how far ahead he is that this seven-year-old book still feels like it's on the cutting edge, with its object-oriented sapient planet, bizarre copyright wars, and assorted grace-notes."

Definitely worth a look with a strong recommendation like that!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Antipodean online SF magazine Sept & Oct 2007 issue is out

SF Scopes blog reports that:

Antipodean SF has posted its September-October 2007 issue, #112. The magazine's focus is Australian science/speculative fiction, and they publish mostly short-short stories.

The current issue has several book reviews and fiction. This issue, the fiction includes:

"Waiting for the Silence" by Steve Duffy
"Susan" by David McVeigh
"The Blood Choice" by Adrian Gibb
"Space Drinks are Really Cheap" by Augusto Corvalan
"Scarcity" by Shaun A. Saunders
"Access" by Mark Tremble
"Love Story" by Marcelo Rinesi
"An Unexpected Solution to an Unexpected Problem" by Wes Parish
"Deathmask" by Neil Cladingboel
"The Colossal War" by Miles Hurt
"A Universal Hole in One" by David Kernot

Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan Dies

According to Boing Boing and the Associated Press:

Robert Jordan, author of the monster bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Jordan had been suffering from a chronic illness for some years now, making it hard for him to finish new installments in the series -- he died with the books unfinished.

Jordan, whose real name was James Oliver Rigney Jr., died Sunday at the Medical University of South Carolina of complications from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy. The disease attacks the body's major organs; in Jordan's case, it caused the walls of his heart to thicken.

Jordan was 58

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A New Tron coming to a theater near you....maybe

According to the Hollywood Reporter:

Director Joseph Kosinski is in final negotiations to develop and direct "Tron,". The original movie was about a computer game programmer (Jeff Bridges as the programmer and Bruce Boxleitner was Tron), gets sucked into a computer game and forced to fight in games he helped create. Tron is remembered for its sci-fi over the top battles and groundbreaking special effects. Tron was the first movie to use computer-generated images instead of models and other optical effects in conjunction with live action. The arcade game based on the movie was so popular that it earned more than the movie. Kosinski, who last month signed on to helm the remake of "Logan's Run" for Warner Bros. Pictures, will oversee the visual development of the project.

Also check out SyFy Portal's article

Saturday, September 15, 2007

VeriChip to implant RFID in FL. alzheimer patients

Shaun A. Saunders sent this in saying, "I predicted this in MallCity 14"
I read the book, and this is only the start. For a piece of fiction, it is hitting way to close for comfort! (pac)

The Delray Beach, Fla.-based company VeriChip Corp. has announced plans to implant 200 Alzheimer's patients in Palm Beach County with radio-frequency identification chips as part of a pilot study to test the new technology. According to VeriChip's CEO Scott Silverman, the VeriMed chip will eventually provide peace of mind to the families of Alzheimer's patients by providing a safety net in case a patient should get lost. The chip is not a GPS device, Silverman emphasized, and cannot be used to track people in whom it is implanted. All the participants in the two-year study are volunteers, and Silverman expressed pleasure with the study's reception so far.

The article is and should be a warning of things to come. The cancer scare is obviously not putting off too many plans.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Google offering 30m to first private moon landing

BBC News reports that search giant Google is offering a $30m prize pot to private firms that land a robot rover on the Moon. To claim the cash, any craft reaching the lunar surface must perform a series of tasks such as shoot video and roam for specific distances. The top prize of $20m will be given to the private firm that soft lands a rover on the Moon which then completes a series of objectives. These include roaming the lunar surface for at least 500m and gathering a specific set of images, video and data. A prize of $5m will be given to the second firm that manages to reach the Moon with a rover that roams the surface and shoots some pictures. Google said it would give bonuses of $5m if the rovers complete other objectives such as travelling further on the Moon, taking pictures of Apollo hardware, finding water-ice and surviving the freezing lunar night.

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Saturn's Iapetus showing strange mottled features

NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew within 1000 kilometres of the moon on 10 September, it saw much some complicated patterns on the surface of the moon Iapetus. Previous to this flyby, Iapetus was thought to have the strange feature of one bright side and one dark side. Not just from lighting, but composed of different materials on each side. Now the Cassini probe shows that the strange features are even more complex. Iapetus has a landscape unlike anything else in the solar system: sharp-edged islands of dark material within pale regions, and patches of white ice on the dark mountainsides. The coating of dark material is a puzzle. "We think it's thin, probably no more than a few metres, because we see an impact that's not very big but has punched through to show the bright material beneath," says Carolyn Porco. ( head of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, US.) "But that's about all we know right now." She suspects that the dark stuff was swept up from space by the leading hemisphere of Iapetus. "Where that material came from is still a mystery," Porco told New Scientist. "Maybe from a moon further out, maybe a pre-existing body that got disrupted?"

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post
(Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Antimatter element created

Scientist has suceeded in combining normal matter with their mirror equivalent in anti-matter to create - for the first time - Di-positronium. The new molecule was predicted to exist in 1946 but has remained elusive to science. Now, a US team has created thousands of the molecules by merging electrons with their antimatter equivalent: positrons. The discovery is a key step in the creation of ultra-powerful lasers known as gamma-ray annihilation lasers. Researchers in the field describe the difference in the power available from a gamma-ray laser compared to a normal laser is the same as the difference between a nuclear explosion and a chemical explosion. As a result, there is a huge interest in the technology from the military as well as energy researchers who believe the lasers could be used to kick-start nuclear fusion in a reactor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pictures from the future past

Shaun sent me a link of what I first thought were curiously quaint pictures depicting possible futures from the year 1910. These paintings, though grounded in the preconceptions of the era are eerily prophetic. Though these early prognosticators didn't know it, they were predicting e-mail, electronic news, ipods, drive-thru, Segways, various self propelled war machinery and many more. Take a look....its called paleo-future.

Cassini Delivers Up-Close Images of Saturn Moon

NASA's Cassini probe performed its closest pass to Saturn's odd little Iapetus moon on September 10th , and the first, unprocessed pictures have begun showing up online.

There are many more stunning pictures online, click the article title or this link for more of the story and more pics!

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Do you know the way to.....GLIESE?

GLIESE 581c has got to be the ultimate tourist destination. It is the first rocky planet beyond our solar system with anything like a pleasant climate. Imagine How mind-blowing would it be just to stroll along its beaches - surely it must have beaches - or watch the planet's red-dwarf sun setting in a scarlet blaze over the alien landscape. There's just one little problem - Gliese 581c is 20 light years away - over a million times the distance from Earth to the sun. Even at half the speed of light you'd spend the best part of 50 years cooped up in a smelly space capsule.

Shaun Saunders has sent in an article from New Scientist online magazine that explores some of the most interesting and practical methods that could make a trip to the stars closer.

Rendezvous with Rama student project faux movie trailer!

directed and animated by Aaron Ross of the Tisch School of the Arts, we are treated to an absolute awe inspiring faux Rendezvous with Rama trailer. This CGI-and-live-action hybrid trailer as a degree project will entertain even the most sceptical sci-fi buff.As Tech Republic put it "Sweet hard-SF goodness".

Monday, September 10, 2007

REVIEW: Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

Ragamuffin Tobias S. Buckell

pb n 316 pp Tor

Descended from the islanders of lost Earth The Ragamuffins are pirates and smugglers. Plying the lonely space ways around a dead wormhole. For years the Satraps have tolerated the Raga But no longer. Now the Satraps are bent on extermination.

Over all, this latest from Buckell moves along fairly well. I get the feeling though that Ragamuffins is in reality two separate books. The two never really blend until close to the end and from there all hell breaks loose. It is almost like Tobias had one novel in mind or more ideas than could be integrated into the first novel, but placed in the same universe as Crystal Rain but not enough to fill out a complete novel. So in truth, I felt a bit lost until I read Crystal Rain. Then I was introduced to the primary characters in the second half of Ragamuffin. My recommendation for this second novel by Buckell is to read Crystal Rain first and then Ragamuffin. Not that Ragamuffin can't stand on its own, oh no, there is plenty of independent story line to hold your interest. It's just that there is no real segway to the second part of the book. So your introduced to a whole new bevy of characters who's motivation is a bit opaque. But I can see, after reading Crystal Rain that the reintroduction of some of the characters from this novel into Ragamuffin is indeed a smart and welcome addition to the second work. I would think that Ragamuffin will be a welcomed work for those that cut their teeth on Buckell's Crystal Rain. In that light I would strongly recommend this book.

For those that have not read either yet, Get or read Crystal Rain first and you will find Ragamuffin even more enjoyable.

Movie brings moonshot memories up to date

Shaun sends in a article from NBC:

"In the Shadow of the Moon" is a blending unedited footage from America's moonshots with present-day tales from the astronauts who made those trips. We've heard some of the tales before, in dramatic re-creations as well as vintage documentaries. But as you watch those young men of the 1960s — and as you see those same men in 2007, now with white hair and tanned, lined faces — you get a sense that "In the Shadow of the Moon" could be one of the last great testaments from the greatest generation of spaceflight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Techies ponder computers smarter than us.....

According to futurists gathered at a recent weekend conference, information technology is hurtling toward a point where machines will become smarter than their makers. If that happens, it will alter what it means to be human in ways almost impossible to conceive. There techies and scientists to imagine a future of self-programming computers and brain implants that would allow humans to think at speeds nearing today's microprocessors. Artificial intelligence researchers at the summit warned that now is the time to develop ethical guidelines for ensuring these advances help rather than harm. Some critics have mocked singularists for their obsession with "techno-salvation" and "techno-holocaust" — or what some have called the coming "nerdocalypse." Their predictions are grounded as much in science fiction as science, the detractors claim, and may never come to pass. But advocates argue it would be irresponsible to ignore the possibility.

Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."

But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.

Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.

AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

Friday, September 07, 2007

Aurora Award nominations are out

Aurora award nomination are out! These are the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association awards and a couple of my favorite authors Peter Watts and Robert Sawyer are in the running with Blindsight from TOR books.

2007 Finalists (book links)

Best Long-Form Work in English

  • Regeneration : Species Imperative 3, Julie E. Czerneda (DAW Books)
  • Children of Chaos, Dave Duncan (Tor Books)
  • Smoke and Ashes, Tanya Huff (DAW Books)
  • Sun of Suns : Book One of Virga, Karl Schroeder (Tor Books)
  • Blindsight, Peter Watts (Tor Books)
  • Righteous Anger : Part Two of the Okal Rel Saga, Lynda Williams (EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)

Best Short-Form Work in English

  • "All the Cool Monsters at Once", James Alan Gardner (Mythspring, Red Deer Press)
  • "This Ink Feels Like Sorrow", Karin Lowachee (Mythspring, Red Deer Press)
  • "Marked Men", John Mierau (Slipstreams, DAW)
  • "Biding Time", Robert J. Sawyer (Slipstreams, DAW)
  • "Lumen Essence", Hayden Trenholm (Neo-opsis SF Magazine 9)

The Aurora awards are closest to the style of the Hugo awards (which are presented by the SF Worldcon) in the method by which they are selected. First there is a nomination phase to select a short list. Then a voting phase to pick the winner from the short list using the Australian voting method (this method has the voter rank their choices in each category).

science is distorted to promote political and corporate agendas

Shaun Saunders sends in a link from that purports that the reporting of science today is more closely akin to political motivations than it is to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Writer Mike Adams points out that science primarily publicized today is science that supports the interest of business, most notably in medical and environmental science.

Under the Bush Administration, government-employed scientists are routinely told they cannot report results indicating the progression of global warming.

The clinical trials used by the Food and Drug Administration to make drug approval decisions are conducted almost entirely by the drug companies themselves. These companies go out of their way to hire scientists willing to design and run these studies to produces precisely the result that the drug companies want.

And there is so much more. Click the article title or this link for the comlete article.

Large Asteroid Breakup May Have Caused Mass Extinction On Earth 65 Million Years Ago


The impactor believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and other life forms on Earth some 65 million years ago has been traced back to a breakup event in the main asteroid belt. A joint team of researchers suggests that the parent object of asteroid (298) Baptistina (was) disrupted when it was hit by another large asteroid, creating numerous large fragments that would later create the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula as well as the prominent Tycho crater found on the Moon. At approximately 170 kilometers in diameter and having characteristics similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, the Baptistina parent body resided in the innermost region of the asteroid belt when it was hit by another asteroid estimated to be 60 kilometers in diameter. This catastrophic impact produced what is now known as the Baptistina asteroid family, a cluster of asteroid fragments with similar orbits. The team investigated the origins of the 180 kilometer diameter Chicxulub crater, which has been strongly linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Studies of sediment samples and a meteorite from this time period indicate that the Chicxulub impactor had a carbonaceous chondrite composition much like the well-known primitive meteorite Murchison. This composition is enough to rule out many potential impactors but not those from the Baptistina family.

Click the article title or here for the complete story (art by Don Davis)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Physicists establish 'spooky' quantum communication

Shaun Saunders sends us an article from the website that says:

Physicists at the University of Michigan have coaxed two separate atoms to communicate with a sort of quantum intuition that Albert Einstein called "spooky." Scientists used light to establish what's called "entanglement" between two atoms, which were trapped a meter apart in separate enclosures (think of entangling like controlling the outcome of one coin flip with the outcome of a separate coin flip). "This linkage between remote atoms could be the fundamental piece of a radically new quantum computer architecture," said Professor Christopher Monroe, the principal investigator. "Now that the technique has been demonstrated, it should be possible to scale it up to networks of many interconnected components that will eventually be necessary for quantum information processing." In their experiment, the researchers used two atoms storing a piece of information in their electron configuration. They then excited each atom, inducing electrons to fall into a lower energy state and emit one photon, or one particle of light, in the process. The type of photon released by each atom indicates the particular state of the atom. Because of this, each photon was entangled with its atom. By manipulating the photons emitted from each of the two atoms and guiding them to interact along a fiber optic thread, the researchers were able to detect the resulting photon clicks and entangle the atoms. Monroe says the fiber optic thread was necessary to establish entanglement of the atoms, but then the fiber could be severed and the two atoms would remain entangled, even if one were "taken to Jupiter."

(cool! ftl communication anyone? ftl computer networks? Maybe even transporters! )

SFFAudio mentions BMU archives

Did I tell anyone that Beam Me Up has a story archive? No? Oh I am sure I did.....damn

ok, well I have been trying to get my stuff together and get some of the stories that I read last year somewhere on the web so they could be listened to. Well my friend and part time host Ron Huber over at PenBayWatch kindly lent me a bucketload of space on his server and I returned the favor by filling it up!

Jesse Willis of SFFAudio blog fame just ran an article about it. (Click here for the SFFAudio article) and to be quite honest, Jesse was the one that broke out the whips to get me to get this done, so major kudos tot he folks over at SFF Audio for their continued support!

Story Archive Link

Are Books Passe? Web Giants Envision the Next Chapter

Nelson sent me an article in the New York Times that reports on Amazon's newest e-book device. One that connects directly to an e-book seller (Amazon mayhaps? hummm.....?) The writer wonders if this might might be the start of a trend that would ultimately end the printed book's dominance. *here is a link to the article*

Here are my thoughts on E-books as a replacement for printed material in general.

hummm, electronic books are nothing new. Even the question itself is disingenuous. Look at the sales of just the Potter books to make my point. People take books for granted. You get a small faction that will tout that it saves trees. But books save trees. Think about it. Once you have a book, you never need that book again. You always have it. But every time you want to read an electronic page you must use energy. Some where there is something burning or turning to make that possible. Not so with the book. The book is not the lowest rung on the technology ladder, it is the peak of multimedia efficiency. Think of the book and the information analog of the bike. The bike is tech that is every bit as old as the book but shows no sign of being replaced any time soon. Augmented yes, replaced no. Why? Because its such a wonderfully efficient machine. It allows a person to move with very little energy, rivaling any animal in existence. The book is in the same class. It imparts information on several different levels and does it in a wildly efficient manner. Plus there has to be something to the pure tactile enjoyment of reading a book. Like a bike, a book is so much more than the sum of its parts. Until something comes along to make that moot, I don't see books going anywhere. Plus with a starting price of around $300 U.S. I am not rushing out to purchase one, no matter how much of a geek I am. 300 dollars to me is still at least 12 books on my worst days book buying. Nope, I don't see myself as a standard bearer of an antiquated tech either. For now and for the foreseeable future, I feel that I am getting the best bang for my buck and being pretty damn efficient at it as well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Eureka gets a go - Flash? no.....

MICHAEL HINMAN over at SyFy Portal says that:

Things are looking good for those setting up residence in the little town of "Eureka." Sources close to SciFi Channel say the show -- as expected -- is looking at an almost definite third season following strong viewership numbers in the first part of the show's second season which included some larger sets and new faces. The same can't be said about "Flash Gordon." canceled shows "Painkiller Jane." and the rebroadcast of "Doctor Who" has been generating higher ratings than "Flash Gordon".

Of course Mike does end with "Of course, none of this has been confirmed by SciFi Channel or NBC Universal, so treat this as any rumor should be treated."

But like I have been saying all along, Flash, was just that....a flash and nothing else. I suspect SciFi will give us Alien paint drying as a fill in any time now. (pac)

Spaceport America: First Looks at a New Space Terminal

URS Corporation took the wraps off new images that showcase the sprawling main terminal and hangar at the first purpose build Space Port - Spaceport America. Selected from an international field of eleven firms, the winning design is the work of URS Corporation - a large design and engineering enterprise - teamed with Foster + Partners of the United Kingdom, a group with extensive experience in crafting airport buildings. When the 100,000 square-foot (9,290 square-meter) facility is completed it will serve as the primary operating base for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceliner, and also as the headquarters for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The design chosen is a low-lying, striking bit of construction that uses natural earth as a berm, and relies on passive energy for heating and cooling, with photovoltaic panels for electricity and water recycling capabilities. A rolling concrete shell acts as a roof with massive windows opening to a view of the runway and spacecraft.

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Monday, September 03, 2007

Russia Shoots for Moon, Mars

The Russian space agency announced a plan to send a man to the moon by 2025, to establish a permanent base there a few years later, and possibly even send a man to Mars by 2035, in an aggressive plan reminiscent of the 1960s space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

But Russia's plan to shoot for the stars is expensive, which is why it is looking for international assistance while relying on funding from its lucrative space tourism program.

One former American astronaut said while the Russians plan may be in motion, it is beginning from a difficult starting point.

"The Russians have some big ideas, but their space program is coming up slowly from being in a position bankruptcy," said Walter Cunningham, a former Apollo 7 astronaut.

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

'Dune' Once Again Gets A Big Screen Adaptation

ALAN STANLEY BLAIR over at SyFy Portal reports that the official Herbert family message boards ( CHUD ) have announced that after several rounds of intense negotiations a new "Dune" project was ready to be finalized. Over the last few months, the site has claimed that negotiations were taking place and in fact had been taking place for a number of years but have never come to anything until now. The possibility of another movie adaptation based on Frank Herbert's epic series has just come one step closer to reality.

2007 Hugo award winners!

The winners of the 2007 Hugo Award....

NOVEL: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [see SF Signal review]

NOVELLA: "A Billion Eves" by Robert Reed [see SF Signal review]

NOVELETTE: "The Djinn's Wife" by Ian McDonald [see SF Signal review]

SHORT STORY: "Impossible Dreams" by Tim Pratt [see SF Signal review]

Why sci-fi still has a future

The folks over at the Guardian and Paul Howlett in particular take issue with Ridley Scott's tirade at the Venice film festival when he said that Science Fiction Film making was circling the drain.

Howlett says "Ridley Scott thinks sci-fi films have entered a black hole. Maybe he's not watching the right ones,"

Agreed, Ridley's all-time favourite sci-fi film, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, is probably the supreme example of the genre, and maybe nothing has topped it in the four decades since its release, but that doesn't mean you can write off all modern sci-fi films ("yes, all of them," as Ridley put it) as "nothing original ... we've seen it all before"

But there are plenty of modern sci-fi movies in which a superior intelligence can be discerned alongside the computer-generated imagery: look at another Spielberg/Cruise project, Minority Report. Yes, it's a huge, glossy Hollywood production that basically sets a thrilling Hitchcockian chase movie in a future world - but what a superbly realised future world it is, complete with cyber-glove computers, creepy spider spy-robots, and individualised street ads that see you coming.

Click the title or here for the complete article

Thanks to SF Signal blog for the original post

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Senate blocks mandatory ID implants in employees

Tackling a dilemma right out of a science fiction novel, the state Senate passed legislation Thursday that would bar employers from requiring workers to have identification devices implanted under their skin. State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans. The devices, as small as a grain of rice, can be used by employers to identify workers. A scanner passing over a body part implanted with one can instantly identify the person.