Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Biodiesel from liposuctioned human ass-fat powers race boat

Is it science fiction? Welll no. But it does show that Beam Me Up has an honest interest in the environment...... plus who wouldn't jump at the chance to say ass fat!

Thanks to Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing blog for this!

Here's some video from a Current TV segment about a biodiesel boat race to circumnavigate the globe. The boat featured in the video runs on a mixture of fuel from various sources -- 4 gallons of the stuff was produced from liposuctioned butt blubber (a hundred grams of that came from the captain's own backside).

(AAAAAhhh ya gota love them renewable resources!!!! Plus if you look around you will see that there is damn near an inexhaustible supply!!! pac)

Cyborg Pigeons Invade China??!!

From the Wired Blog

The People's Daily Online reports that scientists in China have successfully used brain implants in pigeons to control the birds' movement. Scientists with the Robot Engineering Technology Research Center of east China's Shandong University of Science and Technology say they implanted micro electrodes in the brain of a pigeon so they can command it to fly right or left or up or down. The implants stimulated different areas of the pigeon's brain according to signals sent by the scientists via computer, and forced the bird to comply with their commands. But don't hold your breath waiting for animal spies to roam the world anytime soon. One of the most infamous would-be animal espionage projects, dubbed Acoustic Kitty, dates back to the 1960s, when the CIA wired a furry feline to eavesdrop. On its trial run, the cat was run over by a car.

Final 2006 Nebula Award Ballot.

The SFWA has posted the Final 2006 Nebula Award Ballot. The Nebula Award will be presented in New York City at the 2007 Nebula Awards Weekend, May 11-13, 2007.

Linked story names go to online versions.


* The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
* Seeker by Jack McDevitt
* The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
* Farthing by Jo Walton
* From the Files of the Time Rangers by Richard Bowes
* To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy


* "Sanctuary" by Michael A. Burstein
* "Burn" by James Patrick Kelly
* "The Walls of the Universe" by Paul Melko
* "Inclination" by William Shunn


* "The Language of Moths" by Chris Barzak
* "Walpurgis Afternoon" by Delia Sherman
* "Journey into the Kingdom" by M. Rickert
* "Two Hearts" by Peter S. Beagle
* "Little Faces" by Vonda McIntyre


* "Echo" by Elizabeth Hand
* "Helen Remembers the Stork Club" by Esther M. Friesner
* "The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equations" by Eugene Mirabelli
* "Henry James, This One's For You" by Jack McDevitt (read on #41 Beam Me Up)
* "An End to All Things" by Karina Sumner-Smith
* "Pip and the Fairies" by Theodora Goss

Monday, February 26, 2007

It's Official! J.J. Abrams Will Direct 'Star Trek XI'

From the SyFy Portal blog:

For many months, there has been rampant rumors that Abrams was on again and off again in directing the next Star Trek project, which he took over last year from writer Erik Jendresen. But now it seems that Abrams will indeed direct the film. Abrams also will continue in a producer role for the film through his Bad Robot production company as well as with Paramount, which owns the rights to Star Trek. It had been rumored that Abrams was in conversations with Stephen King to direct a Dark Tower movie. It appears now that if Abrams does become attached to that project, it would not interfere with him directing the next Star Trek film.

Friday, February 23, 2007

NASA's plan for unstable astronauts: Duct tape, tranquilizers

What would happen if an astronaut became mentally unstable in space and, say, destroyed the ship's oxygen system or tried to open the hatch and kill everyone aboard? It turns out NASA has detailed, written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary. The crew members might have to rely in large part on brute strength to subdue an out-of-control astronaut, since there are no weapons on the space station or the shuttle. A mentally unstable astronaut could cause all kinds of havoc that could endanger the three crew members aboard the space station or the six or seven who typically fly aboard the shuttle. The checklist says astronauts can be restrained and then offered oral Haldol, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat agitation and mania, and Valium. If the astronaut will not cooperate, the drugs can be forcibly given with a shot to the arm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mr. Sulu pwns Tim Hardaway with homophobia PSA

From Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing blog:

After basketball Tim Hardaway made pathetic anti-gay comments, George "Sulu" Takei, who is gay, appeared in this awesomely funny PSA poking fun at Hardaway's ignorance.

Click the article title to redirect to the youtube video.

Lunar Eclipse

The next eclipse is right around the corner: Saturday, March 3, 2007. The phenomenon will be visible from parts of all seven continents including the eastern half of North America. Unfortunately, Alaska and eastern portions of Australia will not be able to view this particular eclipse. In the USA, the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises on Saturday evening. Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Distant Planets: Warm, Weird, Waterless

The first indicators of atmospheric makeup of two huge far-away planets reveal that they seem to be missing water, a surprising finding amid weather unlike any planets in our solar system with blast furnace-like gusts amid supersonic winds.

The absence of water from the atmosphere of both these Jupiter-sized gaseous bodies upsets one of the most basic assumptions of astronomy.

The closest of the two planets studied, HD 189733b, is 360 trillion miles from Earth in the constellation Vulpecula. The other planet, HD 209458b, is about 900 trillion miles away in the constellation Pegasus and it has a strange cloud of fine silicate particles.

The two suns the planets orbit closely have hydrogen and oxygen, the stable building blocks of water. The planets' atmospheres are supposed to be made up of the same thing, good old H2O.

Consider the atmosphere on the second of the two exoplanets, the one 900 trillion miles away: "Weather today on 209458 is hot, dry, probably cloudy with a chance of wind.

How hot? Try 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. How windy? Somewhere between 500 and 2,000 mph. Scientists studying these extrasolar planets agree that not finding water where it was expected is a wake up call for more research.

New Robo-Weapon: Paralyzing Floodlight

The US Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate plans to demonstrate the use of a 7.5 million candlepower strobe floodlight system mounted on board an unmanned air vehicle as a non-lethal crowd-control system.

The project will see a Peak Beam Systems searchlight adapted to operate as a strobe capable of inducing physical effects, such as short-term paralysis, in humans.

The system uses a xenon-based searchlight that "can be pulsed with a unique modulation [strobe] effect that results in immobilisation to those within the beam.

But that's not the only flying robot / ray gun combo the U.S. military is examining. The Air Force is also toying with the idea of mounting its Active Denial System pain weapon on a drone, too. Just so the robots can make us feel like we're on fire, before they temporarily blind us.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Monday, February 19, 2007

Astronauts should 'ski the Moon'

Astronauts heading to the Moon should learn the art of cross-country skiing, a scientist who flew on the last lunar Apollo mission claims.

Harrison Schmitt, part of the 1972 Apollo 17 crew, said it would allow them to explore faster and more easily.

Addressing scientists in San Francisco, he said his knowledge of Nordic skiing had allowed him to glide effortlessly across the dusty lunar surface.

The US space agency (Nasa) will send manned missions to the moon by 2020.

Talking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Dr Schmitt said that because gravity was just one-sixth that of Earth, astronauts would not need skis themselves.

"Poles would be nice to have for stability," said Dr Schmitt, the first and only scientist to land on the Moon.

To stop, a lunar explorer would just have to dig into the powdery lunar dust, he said.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trials for 'bionic' eye implants

A bionic eye implant that could help restore the sight of millions of blind people could be available to patients within two years.

US researchers have been given the go-ahead to implant the prototype device in 50 to 75 patients.

The Argus II system uses a spectacle-mounted camera to feed visual information to electrodes in the eye.

he new devices work by implanting an array of tiny electrodes into the back of the retina.

A camera is used to capture pictures, and a processing unit, about the size of a small handheld computer and worn on a belt, converts the visual information into electrical signals.

These are then sent back to the glasses and wirelessly on to a receiver just under the surface of the front of the eye, which in turn feeds them to the electrodes at the rear.

The whole process happens in real time.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Mars-orbiting spacecraft has spotted a subterranean natural plumbing system that might have ferried water beneath the surface of the red planet in the distant past.

New images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show hills and plateaus with alternating layers of dark and light colored rocks in Candor Chasma, one of several canyons that make up Valles Marineris, a sprawling Martian rift valley that is longer than the contiguous United States and up to seven times deeper than the Grand Canyon in places.

The timing of the flow remains uncertain, and could have occurred many millions or even billions of years ago.

Researchers suggest that liquid flowing through the fractures deposited iron-rich or clay-like minerals in the rock. The minerals would act like cement to strengthen the layers of rock and also bleach it a lighter color. Over millions of years, wind stripped away the top layers of surface rock, exposing the subsurface and its plumbing system to the light of day.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pharm Animals Crank Out Drugs

GTC Biotherapeutics farm in Charlton, Massachusetts, looks like a typical pastoral retreat. But its 1,400 goats don't produce any butter or cheese. Instead, the animals are sophisticated drug incubators, with millions of dollars of potential profit accumulating in their udders each day. GTC Biotherapeutics is among several companies worldwide perfecting the art of "pharming" -- genetically modifying animals to churn out drugs for disorders like hemophilia and cancer.

The technique offers a way to produce large quantities of drugs that are otherwise difficult to develop. It involves genetic modification of an animal embryo's genetic makeup, or genome. Just after fertilization, "pharmers" insert into the embryo a human gene that codes for a particular protein -- usually one that's produced naturally in humans, but that's lacking in people who have certain diseases. They attach that DNA code with a gene that codes for a sugar found in mammalian milk, insuring that the therapeutic protein will be expressed only in the animals' milk or eggs.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

LSU professor resolves Einstein's twin paradox

Subhash Kak, Delaune Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at LSU, recently resolved the twin paradox, known as one of the most enduring puzzles of modern-day physics.

First suggested by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago, the paradox deals with the effects of time in the context of travel at near the speed of light. Einstein originally used the example of two clocks – one motionless, one in transit. He stated that, due to the laws of physics, clocks being transported near the speed of light would move more slowly than clocks that remained stationary.

In more recent times, the paradox has been described using the analogy of twins. If one twin is placed on a space shuttle and travels near the speed of light while the remaining twin remains earthbound, the unmoved twin would have aged dramatically compared to his interstellar sibling, according to the paradox.

If the twin aboard the spaceship went to the nearest star, which is 4.45 light years away at 86 percent of the speed of light, when he returned, he would have aged 5 years. But the earthbound twin would have aged more than 10 years!” said Kak.

Kak solved the paradox by incorporating a new principle within the relativity framework that defines motion not in relation to individual objects, such as the two twins with respect to each other, but in relation to distant stars. Using probabilistic relationships, Kak’s solution assumes that the universe has the same general properties no matter where one might be within it.

The Ultimate Glide: PlanetSpace's Suborbital Travel Plan

The Silver Dart space plane, designed by private space contractor PlanetSpace, Inc. currently targeted at providing NASA crew and cargo services to the International Space Station (ISS), could be equipped with a suborbital rocket engine for point-to-point flights on the Earth.

PlanetSpace’s Silver Dart spacecraft will consist of a lifting body based on the NASA’s X-24B test aircraft. The spacecraft is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 22, launch atop either an orbital NOVA booster [image] or suborbital rocket, and make a runaway landing [image].

The Silver Dart’s has a potential glide range of more than 25,000 miles (40,233 kilometers) at hypersonic speeds, which lend it to point-to-point flights around Earth making a flight from New York to Paris in 20 minutes not out of the question.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

REVIEW: The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The Last Colony

John Scalzi

320 pp pb 7.99 TOR

release May 2007

Reviewed by Paul Cole – Beam Me Up podcast / blog

John Perry had given the better part of his life to the Colonial Defense Force. Now, in retirement, all he wanted was a nice out of the way place to live and a nice quiet job. But it seems, even that is not to be. After years of quiet, John is again approached to guide a new colony. Roanoke is to be Humanity's flagship of colonization, supported by settlers from all the major colonies. But John Perry and the rest of the colonists soon realize that nothing can be taken at face value. Nothing is as it seems and no one is dealing them a straight deal.

The Last Colony is the last book in the series dealing with John Perry. The others were, Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades. However John Scalzi has styled this novel to stand well on it's own. The book starts with great humor that brings the reader into the story easily and comfortably. You never get the feeling that your starting from the back of the series. John gives you two pages of intro in John Perry's universe and then blasts off. This is a TOR book remember. So your going to get heavy military based science fiction. Heavy on the military and science. Plus TOR loves fast paced, something John Scalzi has no trouble with. This book steams from front cover to back. Not much time is built building well rounded characters, however they are far from cardboard cutouts.

Another writer I enjoy in the TOR stable is Elizabeth Moon and you will find theme and presentation very similar here. By this I mean if you enjoy writers like Moon with their fast paced plot lines supported mostly by action, then you will certainly appreciate and enjoy Scalzi's The Last Colony for just the same reasons.

Now I enjoy this type of material and presentation so I am giving it a very strong read. I would suggest that if you don't have the other two books in the series, you get them, however this book stands well enough on its own.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tapping Reveals 'Sanctuary' Details

Syfyportal blog lists an article concerning a new Canadian science fiction show that will be completely internet based. Called Sanctuary it will star SG-1's Amanda Tapping. The show centers around creatures that cannot be explained by science. Tapping plays the role of Dr. Helen Magnus who is cursed with immortality after her dealings with these creatures.

Her father started this sanctuary, where he collects all these disparate creatures and the 'abnormals' from around the world - Tapping commenting on the plot:

"In our pilot we have a little boy, Alexi, who is from Chernobyl, who has a weird thing happen to him because of radioactivity," Tapping said.

“Sanctuary” is expected to launch in the spring, and was created by “SG-1” writer Damian Kindler. Directed by Martin Wood (also from “SG-1”), the show will make use of state-of-the-art special effects, video game technology and cutting edge Web development in order to take the audience into a whole new world.

Battlestar Galactica Movie Not Forgotten

from the Syfyportal: Seems in all the talk of Battlestar getting a fourth season, was information about a possible telemovie that NBC Universal has commissioned, when and if a fourth season was announced..

Apparently, such a project is still under way despite it not being mentioned in SciFi Channel's news release Tuesday.

According to reports, the story will focus on the original Cylon sneak attack of the Twelve Colonies that received bits and pieces of coverage in the 2003 miniseries. It also could feature how the Battlestar Pegasus escaped.

Not all is rosey in Battlestar land however. Even though season 4 was greenlighted, only 13 episodes have been ordered.

Satellite could see shadow of extra dimensions

One of the most intriguing problems facing astroscientists today is the existence of extra dimensions outside of the commonly accepted 3. Size, makeup and age of the universe could be much more accurately assessed with this knowledge.

A satellite to be launched next year could see signs of extra dimensions in the afterglow of the big bang.

Dr. Saunders, who submitted this article, states: "While it wouldn't provide absolute proof of higher dimensions, if successful, it could at least give researchers interested in these dimensions some data indicative of whether their theories have any substance and hence provide a jump-off point for further research. "

The article contains some very compelling theories and images.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Doomsday' vault design unveiled

The final design for a "doomsday" vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government. Built into a mountainside on a remote island near the North Pole, the vault aims to safeguard the world's agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

An Act To Require Alien Big Game Hunters To Be Accompanied by a Guide

Now you know, I just had to put this here, because well, it's so damn funny! Just from the reaction I had first, when Ron Huber sent it to me! Of course I know what they mean but it has always struck me funny that Maine, and possibly many other areas persist in calling non residents "aliens"
So what the story Ron sent me really informs us about is a new piece of legislation that would require any non Maine resident to be accompanied by a licenced Maine Guide.

I don't have an opinion one way or another on the subject, but I just think its wild that there is now a statute on the books now with the words Alien and Big Game Hunter in the title. lol Arnold should hear about this one huh?

Maine Legislature Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Tuesday February 13, 2007 1:00 PM Room 206, Cross State Office Building

L.D. 98 An Act To Require Alien Big Game Hunters To Be Accompanied by a Guide (Sponsor: Rep. THERIAULT of Madawaska)

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §11224 is enacted to read:
An alien is guilty of hunting big game without a guide if that alien hunts big game without being accompanied on the hunt by a person who holds a valid guide license pursuant to chapter 927 authorizing that person to act as a hunting guide.

Can a brain scan prove you're telling the truth?

Shaun sent me this article concerning a wildly popular new technology which is using brain scans to determine if you are lying about a subject or not. Shaun's words to me were"A step closer to 'Mallcity 14'? " And those of us that have read his novel that incorporate just these selfsame technologies understand his references all too well!

Click the story title to be taken to the original article.

New Life Sciences probe to Mars in 2013

30 years ago, NASA sent the Viking probes to Mars in the hopes of discovering life. Though there were encouraging results from some of the tests, evidence of life on Mars was and is still inconclusive.

Now the European Space Agency will deliver the first comprehensive life-detection science package since Viking to the martian surface with its ExoMars mission. ExoMars will consist of an orbiter and a lander, and also a rover capable of traveling several kilometers. The spacecraft is scheduled for launch in 2013.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Space station moves to avoid debris

UPI reports that the International Space Station has had to change its orbit to avoid being hit by orbiting space debris from a satellite destroyed by China.

In January China had used a ground-based missile to hit one its aging weather satellites. The United States filed a diplomatic protest because the weather satellite used approximately the same orbit as its spy satellites. Canada, Australia and Japan also objected.

Russian and the U.S. are both tracking fragments from the destroyed weather satellite. U.S. officials said they have tracked 525 large fragments and had recorded between 500 and 600 instances of debris passing within three miles of orbiting satellites. However it should be noted that the international space station is in no danger of being hit by any of these fragments.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Saga Of the Lost Space Tapes

Shaun brings us the history and current status of the search for the lost Apollo 11 moon landing tapes that have gone missing.

He prefaces his post with the totally apt comment:
"The stupidity suggested in this link - or outright complicity - beggars belief"

The story is so convoluted, that including excerpts here would really do it an injustice. Needless to say that it seems that just about everyone at NASA at the time that were responsible for maintaining the archives for this information, dropped the ball. Whats more, NASA is now mothballing the equipment that is used to decode the data tapes, making recovering the lost footage all but impossible even if found. - Unbelievable! Doubt my word? Click the article title for the complete story.
Thanks Shaun

posted by Shaun A. Saunders