Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sci-fi and fantasy books that “make you dumb”

I was going through the GEEKEND blog's newest entries and came across this little jewel by Jay Gamon. Jay found an article that was written by students at CalTech which purports to corelate your SATs to your favorite books. As Jay puts it:

Here is an insipid little chart published by a CalTech student that purports to correlate SAT scores with favorite books, effectively determining which are the books for the "dumb" kids, and which tomes are hallmarks of the "smart" students. Our friends at SFSignal have pared down the list to include just the sci-fi and fantasy entries. Get ready to be insulted.

Oh my, Jay rips into this like a starvin dog into a can of alpo. Really, I thought that reading the words of say Dr. Asimov and his pals went well towards improving my iq.... The article is really worth a read. Give em hell Jay!

Canada's east coast space base may land ISS contract

PlanetSpace, a Canada/US hybrid company hoping to launch rockets into space from Cape Breton, will find out early next month if it has landed a contract to launch cargo and equipment to the International Space Station.

NASA will announce Feb. 8 the successful bidder for the $174.7-million contract. PlanetSpace, an American-Canadian aeronautics company, is working to launch a demonstration cargo spacecraft named the Silver Dart to low-earth orbit from Cape Breton by late next year.

There are at least four other competitors for the contract to act as a transporter to and from the space station. PlanetSpace is looking at two unnamed sites in Cape Breton to build a spaceport. One is believed to be an area near Alder Point while the other is located near Louisbourg.

The Nova Scotia government is willing to give the company Crown land to develop the launch site.

Nova Scotia Business Inc. is in talks with PlanetSpace but the provincial agency says it’s not in a position to comment until a deal is finalized.

Graphic: PlanetSpace

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A two-mile high tower to house over a million people

Hey, who has read "The World Inside" by Robert Silverberg? Remember, it was about what he called an Urban Monad - A lofty spire a thousand stories high, where over 880000 souls. Well it seems that Eugene Tsui has a design for a two-mile high, one-mile wide eco-topian tower that houses one million people and contains its own ecosystems. He suggests that the Tower will be completely non-mechanical, with air and light fed into the living areas via a central shaft. All living spaces will be 100 feet square, with at least fifty percent of that given over to ground vegetation. Floors will be full of lakes, ravines, and trees. The one-mile base of the tower will sit in a giant lake that will act as a cooling system, and later turn into precipitation on each floor.

click here for the compete article in IO9

What's The Game In Ender's Game?

In IO9 I read that Chair Entertainment Group is planning on developing a series of games based on Orson Scott Card's novel. It is unclear yet if they intend to emulate the games played by "Ender" or that they will tell the story contained in the novel in game form. The company does say that the first game will be based on one of the games that Ender plays during his training.

Humm, sounds interesting, I would be interested in trying something like that out, just to see their take on that portion of Ender's "training"

Codehunters - stunning UK CC anime short!

Thanks to Boing Boing for this excellent heads up!

Codehunters, a short animé film by UK-based director Ben Hibon of stateless films, produced with London-based Blinkink.

The port city of Lhek is on the brink of collapse. A Pacific Rim state in a not too distant Asian future with no borders, no meaningful government and little law and order.

Corruption and crime are out of control in the dark alleys of Eda, Lhek’s slum district. Most sectors of the city are controlled by the army of dictator Khaan. The most underprivileged parts of the city are infested with dark Demons, ferocious creatures that spread fear and death amongst the city’s inhabitants. Rumor has it that the Demons are controlled by Khaan in order to keep his people in check

What Scifi Cliche Will Come True First?

Well it's no real big stretch, at least for us here at BMU, to say that at the very least we are on the brink of an Orwellian science fiction society. By way of explanation, I am always finding articles that substantiate the claims made in Shaun Saunders' book Mallcity 14. That's hardly the only example either. It seems that I open my reader each day and there are stories that bionic this, cloning that Big Brother there.... Yes, to me, we really are on the brink of being a scifi cliche society! But maybe not the same one you imagine? Perhaps? Well here is your chance to vote! Which scifi cliche will come true first in your opinion... Click the article title or here to zip over to the io9 poll

25 more words every sci-fi fan should know

Bluetooth-equipped prosthetic legs help double amputee walk again

From comes a very interesting "bionicique" development:

As we've seen, there's plenty of different solutions out there for controlling prosthetic limbs, but the artificial legs now helping Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill walk certainly have to rank up there with the most inventive, and they don't even rely on brain control. Instead, the legs employ tried and true Bluetooth technology, which has previously been used to allow a single prothestic leg to mimic the individual's other leg but, in this case, is being use to allow one prosthetic leg to mimic the other. To control them, Bleill simply applies force with his thigh muscles to get things moving or slow them down, with built-in motors in the legs allowing him to walk longer without getting tired. Click here for the CNN video

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Genetic 'telepathy'? A bizarre new property of DNA

Shaun sends in this article from

Scientists are reporting evidence that intact, double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. And then like friends with similar interests, the bits of genetic material hangout or congregate together. The recognition — of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits — occurs in a way once regarded as impossible. In a recent study, scientists observed the behavior of fluorescently tagged DNA strands placed in water that contained no proteins or other material that could interfere with the experiment. Strands with identical nucleotide sequences were about twice as likely to gather together as DNA strands with different sequences. Amazingly, the forces responsible for the sequence recognition can reach across more than one nanometer of water separating the surfaces of the nearest neighbor DNA. The new findings thus may shed light on ways to avoid recombination errors, which underpin cancer, aging, and other health problems.

First Blurry Pictures of Near-Miss Asteroid Released

Astronomers have obtained the first images of an asteroid that made its closest approach to Earth on Tuesday, showing the space rock is lopsided. The new images, was taken with the Goldstone Solar System Radar Telescope in California's Mojave Desert. At its nearest, asteroid 2007 TU24 reached an approximate apparent magnitude 10.3, or about 50 times fainter than an object visible to the naked eye in a clear, dark sky.

Thanks to Shaun Saunders for the update
Article from Fox News image from

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's not just space telescopes doing cool stuff

Groundpounder astronomers at the Aricebo Observatory in Puerto Rico were watching and documenting newly discovered asteroid TU24 as it passed today within 1.4 lunar distances, or 334,000 miles, of Earth.

Between 150 and 600 meters in diameter – about 500 feet to 1,900 feet, TU24 was discovered last October by the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, according to the NASA/JetPropulsion Lab's Near Earth Object Program

It "poses no threat to Earth", we are assured, but its near approach gives Arecibo astronomers opportunity to learn more about this and "other potentially hazardous near-Earth objects" --whatever the Aricebans mean by that: rogue-orbiting satellites? Human generated space junk, generally?

A greater danger is that Arecibo Observatory itself is beleaguered!

(JPL image)

Crash of Canada's Space Biz

British Columbia's outstanding newsrag The Tyee, reports that BC's top space contractor, MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd, is selling out to Alliant Techsystems Inc. of Minneapolis for $1.3 billion. The announcement came days after the resignation of the head of Canadian Space Agency, Laurier Boisvert. Coincidence? Hah!

The deal puts control of Canada's Radarsat-2 largely into US hands, to the misgivings of many, not to leave out constituting a major braindrain from Canadian space industry according to the article.

-CSA image

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Synthetic life closer!

A US team reports in Science magazine how it built the entire DNA code of a common bacterium in the laboratory using blocks of genetic material. The group hopes eventually to use engineered genomes to make organisms that can produce clean fuels and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Some researchers have expressed ethical concerns. These critics are calling for a debate on the risks of creating "artificial life" in a test tube. But Dr Hamilton Smith, who was part of the Science study, said the team regarded its lab-made genome - a laboratory copy of the DNA used by the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium - as a step towards synthetic, rather than artificial, life. Dr. Smith has said "We like to distinguish synthetic life from artificial life." With synthetic life, we're re-designing the cell chromosomes; we're not creating a whole new artificial life system."

Thanks to Shaun Sauders for the post from BBC News

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dissent Grows as Scientists Oppose NASA’s New Moon Mission

As plans mount for NASA's push for a permanent base on the Moon, pressure mounts from many quarters, opposing the Moon missions.

Trouble is brewing as a growing group of former mission managers, planetary scientists and astronauts argues against any manned moon mission at all. One alternative, they say: Send astronauts to an asteroid as a better preparation for a Martian landing.

It should be noted that the group as a whole does not oppose plans to land astronauts on Mars, however, Robert Walker, a former congressman and a member of the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, points out that “Having a U.S. presence on the moon at least gives us the chance to keep an eye on the standard of conduct,” In military terms, the moon can be seen as the ultimate high ground. A nation could set up hard-to-defeat microwave or laser weapons platforms aimed at in-orbit satellites or, in the best sci-fi tradition, to launch large rocks at the Earth with “mass drivers.” (These were the weapon of choice for Robert Heinlein’s revolutionary protagonists in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.) Vocal opponents of the lunar base plan have two basic criticisms. First, the mission hasn’t sparked enthusiasm. Second is that a lunar base may not be practical. For instance, such an installation would require a lunar supply of water ice; probes have suggested the presence of water, but have not proven it. The argument is also made that the moon is too close to the Earth to provide a good practice run for a Mars mission. Scientists also point out the lack of reusable parts in the Constellation program, the high costs of which many claim NASA is underestimating.

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post from Popular Mechanics

Life on Mars? Amazing photos from Nasa probe reveal mystery figure on Red Planet

I thought someone was hoaxing me but Shaun came up with another post from Daily Mail online

It seems that the Martian rover Spirit caught a rather unusual formation in one of the photos that it sent back to Earth. Initial inspections revealed nothing unusual, but closer examination by amateur astronomers has thrown up this intriguing picture. Yes, this one does the infamous Mars Face one way better. The picture as you can see seems to depict a humanoid outline that appears to be point at something out of frame. Of course it should be pointed out that without reference points, it is impossible to scale the figure. Another site listing the graphic has the size of the "man" at around four inches or slightly over 10 cm. And I thought Martians would be tall and thin!

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Israel eyes thinking machines to fight "Doomsday" missile strikes

From Wired via Boing Boing

What word am I thinking of right now kiddies....I'll wait:

Israeli military leaders have begun early planning for a new, robotic defense system, armed with enough artificial intelligence that it "could take over completely" from flesh-and-blood operators. Israeli military says "It will be designed for... autonomous operations and in the event of a "doomsday" strike, the system could handle "attacks that exceed physiological limits of human command.

I echo the sage words of the Boing Boing crew " How do you say "Skynet" in Hebrew?"

Photofinder or I just spent 100 on WHAT?!

See, there are some things that sound neat when you first hear about them and then when the geeky adrenalin wears off you left with either an empty atm card or if your extremely lucky you just get the feeling that you miss being boned by some fly by nighter.

An example you say? Surely I respond. Feast your eyes upon the the Photofinder! Ohhhhh yes, stylish....reads memory cards ahhhhhhh oooooooooooh has a build in GPS easy easy now...make it last.....know what it does..? Ok wait for it.... It writes info to your picture files that comes from the gps. The end effect is that with the provided special software you can tell where you took the pictures! OOOH YES YES YEs YEeeeeessssss oh uh WTF?! Oh yes my sticky little friend, this cool piece of techno geekiness tells you where you just took the picture you just plugged into it. You know....I don't know about you, but if I don't know where I am when I am snappin them bad boys, I probably should not be left alone too much.

Space station may launch 5300mph paper airplane

From Dvice sfonline:

This is legit! Trust me! They are thinking of launching a paper airplane from the ISS in hopes that it can survive space and re-entry. Now, hold up, I hear the cat calls already. This thing is only in the planning stage and before anything happens, the model will have to go through wind tunnel testing.

It seems the Japan Origami Airplane Association was tapped by researchers at the University of Tokyo to fold up a 3.1-inch plane made of specially treated paper that's tough enough to fly in space and return to earth.

Ok, sounds cool, but my first question is why? Dvice got the story from Pink Tentacle who go on a bit about the endeavor, but I still don't have a clue as to what this would accomplish? Paper re-entry vehicle for people? Hell no I ain't ridin in that!

Mutant super-cockroaches from space

From NewScientist:

The reality of science fiction is alive and well my friends. I read in NewScientist that the Russians have been studying cockroaches that were hatched in space and brought back to Earth. Weird things doth now commence! According to the Russian studies: Baby cockroaches conceived aboard a satellite in September have apparently grown up to be faster and tougher than their terrestrial brethren. Apparentlythey grew more quickly than ordinary Earth-bred cockroaches.

There is no indication yet on whether any of the 33 new super-roaches have yet attempted to destroy the Earth,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pentagon researching "fear" bombs

American military researchers are working to uncover and harness chemicals that would illicit fear. Pheromones are chemicals released by animals as signals for sex, for territorial marking etc. . But there's more to pheromones than attraction. Many animals have an alarm pheromone which is used to signal danger. Now, the US Army is trying to track down and harness people's smell of fear. The military has backed a study on the "Identification and Isolation of Human Alarm Pheromones," which "focused on the Preliminary Identification of Steroids of Interest in Human Fear Sweat. Researchers have suggested that the human alarm pheromone could lead to chemical fear-sensors. Pheromones are effective in minute quantities, so a wide area can be blanketed with just a few liters. Given sufficient concentration, it is possible that people could be effected. The added effect however is the contagious aspect, meaning that those affected might start churning out fear pheromone as well. On its own, the alarm pheromone probably would not do much. But given an external trigger, such as a loud noise, it could influence people. Previous implementation has not been successful though. Remember the so-called "Gay Bomb," that would make enemy combatants irresistibly attracted to one another? The mechanics are still unclear however research is likely to uncover some novel and powerful ways of manipulating human behavior.

submitted from Wired by Shaun A. Saunders

New Contact Lenses Go Bionic

From LiveScience online click here for complete article

If you've ever wanted to be the Bionic Woman or a Terminator, new research may at least let you see with their eyes. Scientists have taken the first step toward creating digital contact lenses that can zoom in on distant objects and display useful facts. For the first time, engineers have installed an electronic circuit on a regular contact lens. The difficult part was grafting tiny electrical circuits, only a few nanometers thick onto the contact lenses, which are made of organic materials. Eventually, the technique could yield a plethora of gadgets. Perhaps drivers and pilots could see their direction and speed projected across their view, or people could surf the Web without looking at an external device's screen. Video gamers could immerse themselves in game landscapes directly in front of their eyes. Maybe the technique could even create sight aids for visually-impaired people.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

NASA Aries moon rocket may shake too much

Shaun Saunders sends in this article from Yahoo News:

NASA Engineers are concerned that the new rocket meant to send astronauts to the moon could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle. The shaking originates in the first stage of the Ares I rocket, which will lift the Orion crew capsule into orbit. The concern isn't the shaking on the first stage, but how it affects everything that sits on top: the Orion crew capsule, instrument unit, and a booster. The shaking problem, which is common to solid rocket boosters, involves pulses of added acceleration caused by gas vortices in the rocket similar to the wake that develops behind a fast-moving boat. Those vortices happen to match the natural vibrating frequencies of the motor's combustion chamber, and the combination causes the shaking. NASA officials hope to have a plan for fixing the design as early as March, and they do not expect it to delay the goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How you can tell your already living in the Future!

Herb from Attic Images sent in this funny piece:

How you can tell your already living in the future:

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Messenger send home new pics of Mercury!

In preparation for its March 18, 2011 orbital insertion, NASA's Messenger space craft sent back pictures taken of the planet Mercury on its' first fly-by 1/14/08. Messenger will make 3 more close passes of the diminutive planet. The probe's first pass was less that 130 mile above the surface of Mercury and took many photographs of areas that have never been seen before. Mercury was last visited by Mariner 10 which flew by the innermost planet in 1975. MESSENGER is due to make a second rendezvous at Mercury in October, then swing by on third pass in September 2009. The probe will generate complete maps of Mercury's surface, measure the planet's gravitational field and search for any hints of ice at the bottom of permanently shadowed craters near the poles as part of its mission.

More story and pics from Messenger

Pictures from the Mariner 10 flybys

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2 new books from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Justyn from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing sent us a note that next month they will have two new releases: JEMMA7729 by Phoebe Wray and Sword Masters by Selina Rosen. Here is some of the information on the books.

JEMMA7729 by Phoebe Wray The civil unrest is over. Citizens live in domed megacities, the only safe and healthy places. Or so Jemma7729 has been told and believes. But when her father takes her into the Countryside, and she sees the stars in a free night sky, she begins to doubt everything she's learned. And to challenge it. The State responds quickly: incarceration. Jemma escapes, becomes a notorious saboteur, leader of a revolutionary shadow government. Many applaud her as a heroine, but the State wants her for rebellion, female aggression, failure to make choices, and inappropriate behavior. If Jemma7729 is caught, she faces immediate, permanent and uncontestable deletion. JEMMA7729 by Phoebe Wray $15.95 US 256 pages

Sword Masters by Selina Rosen
The Sword Masters have strict rules about who can and who can not be one of them, but Tarius is determined to avenge the death of her father and she doesn't care about the Jethrik's archaic rules or about breaking them. Especially the one that says women can't wield steel. Her parents were both great warriors and upon her father's death at the hands of their ancestral enemy the Amalites, his cause becomes hers. Like her father before her, she joins the Sword Masters academy. But while he only kept one secret from them, she is keeping two. When the headmaster's beautiful, willful daughter Jena falls in love with her thinking she's a man, she knows that this, and not an enemies sword or spear, will be her undoing. Tarius leads the Armies of the King in battle after battle, securing a victory for him against the Amalites. She though she saves the King's life not once but twice, she knows that even this won't stop his wrath when he learns all that she truly is.
Sword Masters by Selina Rosen $19.95 US 354 pages


(I will see what I can do to get some review material in the near future, Thanks Justynpac)

Scientists Created a Living Rat's Heart From Baby Rat Cells

Have you noticed that medical science just took a turn into the twilight zone? Oh yes, Shaun Saunders sent in this story from ABC News online with the following statement - "Of mice and men..and rats! My ficiton has come to life! " here are some excerpts:

Scienctitst took the heart of a dead rat and chemically treated it so that they were left with a clear, translucent shell of a heart. This then became a "scaffold". Then they injected that "scaffold" with heart cells from a baby rat and stimulated the heart electrically. Within a couple days, they saw microscopic movements, which -- in a few weeks' time -- resulted in a beating heart. The goal now is making it work in humans.

Yes Shaun....your fiction is again dead on!

More tell tale heart

graphic abc news

AntipodeanSF Issue 116 i s now available

Issue 116 of AntipodeanSF is now available for your enjoyment on the web. We are, of course, to be found at our usual web address:


This month's selection of flash stories includes:

"Fomalhaut 451" by Simon Petrie

"In His Image" by Glenn Davies

"A Paper Man" by Michael Schaper

"Risk Assessment" by Ben Payne

"ZAN" by Shaun A. Saunders

"Ally's Torment" by Peter MacGregor

"Immigration" by David Such

"Gernsback's Monkeys" by Ashley Arnold

"Mobile Phones Are Addictive" by Derek Smith

"The Wall" by Alan Dawson

You'll also find all of our regular columns. In "E-Scapes" Sue Clennell feasts on souls with Celia Friedman, and tells the gossip on Kylie kissing none other than the inimitable Dr Who in that ever-popular BBC series. Meanwhile, in "Vide", Nuke experiences the funny side of the end of the world in "Good Omens", and visits the far future vision of humanity in Stephen Baxter's "Resplendent".

Ooroo for now,

Nuke (editor).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day of the Triffids audio drama available Free

In the Free audio fiction department we have: John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. I read this book back in the early 70s and it made an enormous impact on me. This is an older recording but done very very well. This is one of the greatest science fiction stories ever written---and it makes a darned good radio serial too recorded by a British team in the 60s. Click the article title to be taken to the Internet Archive for open source audio.
original article from SF Signal

Summer time on Fox

Gratuitous posting alert!!! yep, I have seen the first two episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles and I have to say that I am not overly impressed. Wait though, compared to what the Sci-Fi channel kept and threw away? No more SG-1 but ran Flash Gordon? Yeah if we want to compare the crack heads' over at Sci-Fi programming, well Sarah Connor Chronicles is award winning television! And so what is the big draw for TSCC? Anyone who has watched, knows already. But for the uninitiated, Summer Glau late of Fire Fly is now John Connor's ass kicking mecha body guard. And without trying to sound to punny....Summer has really come into her season. In Fire Fly, I totally bought her character, not that her newest gig, calls for much acting range - However Summer walks that fine edge where she always appears to be not quite "getting it" and still remain believable as an emotionless killer. ( after putting 2 into the black market id provider, she replies to to Sarah's query as to why she did it "Because I knew you couldn't" done completely deadpan...) You have to admit, as a terminator, she is a complete package. Ok Ok, I just wanted an excuse to post a pic! I confess!

75 words every sci-fi fan should know

75 Words Every Science Fiction Fan Should Know
. Because if you’re going to learn obscure words and concepts, it may as well be terms you’re actually likely to use.
  1. Alderson disk (n.)
  2. arcology (n.)
  3. areography (n.)
  4. astrogate (v.)
  5. avatar (n.)
  6. Bernal sphere (n.)
  7. chrononaut (n.)
  8. Clarke ring (n.)
  9. Clarke’s First Law (n.)
  10. Clarke’s Second Law (n.)
  11. Clarke’s Third Law (n.)
  12. computronium (n.)
  13. contraterrene (adj.)
  14. Dyson sphere (n.)
  15. elsewhen (adv.)
  16. esper (n.)
  17. Faraday cage (n.)
  18. FTL (adj.)
  19. geas (n.)
  20. grey goo (n.)
  21. grok (v.)
  22. Jovian (adj.)
  23. kiloyear (n.)
  24. light cone (n.)
  25. light sail (n.)
  26. light-second (n.)
  27. Lofstrom loop (n.)
  28. mass-driver (n.)
  29. Matrioshka brain (n.)
  30. meatspace (n.)
  31. megastructure (n.)
  32. megayear (n.)
  33. mindfood (n.)
  34. nanotech (adj.)
  35. needler (n.)
  36. neutronium (n.)
  37. Niven ring (n.)
  38. O’Neill cylinder (n.)
  39. parking orbit (n.)
  40. precog (n.)
  41. pocket universe (n.)
  42. positronic (adj.)
  43. posthuman (n.)
  44. psi (n.)
  45. psychohistory (n.)
  46. quine (n.)
  47. ramscoop (n.)
  48. replicant (n.)
  49. rimworld (n.)
  50. ringwall (n.)
  51. Santa Claus machine (n.)
  52. sapient (n.)
  53. sentience (n.)
  54. Shkadov thruster (n.)
  55. Singularity (n.)
  56. skyhook (n.)
  57. sophont (n.)
  58. space elevator (n.)
  59. space fountain (n.)
  60. Stanford torus (n.)
  61. starwisp (n.)
  62. stellar engine (n.)
  63. superluminal (adj.)
  64. TANSTAAFL (n.)
  65. Tellurian (n.)
  66. terraform (v.)
  67. topopolis (n.)
  68. transhuman (n.)
  69. universal constructor (n.)
  70. uplift (n.)
  71. Von Neumann probe (n.)
  72. waldo (n.)
  73. wetware (n.)
  74. Whuffie (n.)
  75. xenology (n.)

Are You A Replicant?

He say U bwade wunner!

Hey you up for a Voight-Kampff? If you have to ask WTF is a Voight-Kampff then you won't get the joke. But if your geeky enough (oh yes, I am in that vein....I was the guy explaining to everyone else in the car what was happening, even with Ford's voice over!) you will want to rush right over to quibblo and get ready to laugh. Oh this is very tongue in cheek, but with enough of the questions that rock mixed in to make it great fun.

Take The Blade Runner Online Voight-Kampff Test.

Robot servants in British homes 'within ten years'

From The Daily Mail online as Shaun puts it "I Robot comes a step closer":

Robot servants for the home will become a reality within ten years, according to experts at Britain's biggest technology retailer. Among the latest examples unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show(CES) in Las Vegas were the Spykee series developed by Meccano and Tribot and Rovio, from Wow wee. However, even more sophisticated worker robots are in the pipeline, such as the iRobiQ, from Yujin Robots of South Korea. These robots and future models, far from being autonomous, will be linked into the home's own technology and broadband internet service, effectively becoming the technology hubs of the home. Voice commands to the robot would be translated into wireless signals to turn on the washing machine, change the TV channel, dim the lights or change the music.

Household Robots

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Monday, January 14, 2008

Source of Mysterious Antimatter Found

Shaun Saunders found a neat article written by Charles Q. Choi that appeared in Live Science online. The article deals with finding a source of large amounts of anti-matter that was discovered in the late 70s but no source could be found. That may have changed. Here are some excerpts.

For decades, scientists had clues that a vast cloud of antimatter lurked in space, but they did not know where it came from. The mysterious source of this antimatter has now been discovered -- stars getting ripped apart by neutron stars and black holes. In 1978, gamma ray detectors flown on balloons detected a type of gamma ray that is known to be emitted when electrons collide with positrons -- meaning there was antimatter in space. These gamma rays apparently came from a cloud of antimatter roughly 10,000 light-years across surrounding our galaxy's core. This giant cloud shines brightly with gamma rays, with about the energy of 10,000 suns. New findings suggest that positrons originate mainly from stars getting devoured by black holes and neutron stars. As a black hole or neutron star destroys a star, tremendous amounts of radiation are released. Just as electrons and positrons emit the tell-tale gamma rays upon annihilation, so too can gamma rays combine to form electrons and positrons, providing the mechanism for the creation of the antimatter cloud.

Click here for complete article

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Prisoners to be "chipped"

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from the Independant, an online magazine in the UK.
He prefaces the article with this comment:

Somewhere past tomorrow, where private thoughts are dangerous, and prisons don't have bars, is... Mallcity 14...

Here is a cut from the article:

(Officials) are planning to implant "machine-readable" microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in British jails. Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use of satellite and radio-wave technology to monitor criminals. The tiny chips would be surgically inserted under the skin of offenders in the community, to help enforce home curfews.

Click here for the complete article

anthropowered future

Space colonizers and MallCitizens take note: future regulations may require every individual to contribute daily to the local energy store, in lieu of taxes. For so suggests to me a recent Reuters story by Anna Ringstrom, in which a Swedish state owned company now warms its Stockholm offices using body heat emanating from the quarter million commuters walking below them through through Stockholm's central train station. Instead of being vented into the atmosphere, the heated air and anthrobreath rising from the travellers is redirected via ventilation aggregators to the building's water heating systems. Cost? around 200,000 Swedish crowns ($31,200 US)

In the spirit of freedom, I mused, choices in ways of meeting one's daily budget shall doubtless be available in the selection of the heat absorbing chair or seat of one's work or schooling cubicle, or selection of approved thermattress on one's bed. The individual shall be free to obtain special benefits for those that opt to donate breathheat via modest, and dare we say stylish naso-therm storage units fitted discreetly into a nostril. Even more tax relief for those thermo-patriots that will selflessly carry colonic thermabsorption units within all day, and discharge them by night.

If like me, you'd spent 100s of childhood winter mornings in a bovine sauna --aka dairy barn-- where the large mammals radiated a surfeit of heat energy enmasse, this would be intuitively obvious. And whatever we hominids may lack in per capita size compared to cattle, we certainly are adept at massing together--in numbers that the passenger pigeons would have envied.

(side note: there must be a lot of passenger pigeon DNA samples in the storehouses of natural history museums. Why hasn't anyone cloned some up? They were, pre-euro-colonization, the most abundant bird in eastern North America, so obviously were a keystone species.)
Image morph from a 16th century mining illustration by Agricola, and Mercury astronauts Grissom and Glenn

TOC: The Year's Best Science Fiction #25

Thanks to the SF Signals' blog:

Gardner Dozois has posted the table of contents for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection:

  1. "Finisterra" by David Moles
  2. "Lighting Out" by Ken Macleod
  3. "The Ocean Is A Snowflake Four Billion Miles Away" by John Barnes
  4. "Saving Tiamaat" by Gweyneth Jones
  5. "Of Late I Dreamt Of Venus" by James Van Pelt
  6. "Verthandi's Ring" by Ian Mcdonald
  7. "Sea Change" by Una Mccormack
  8. "The Sky Is Large and the Earth Is Small" by Chris Roberson
  9. "Glory" by Greg Egan
  10. "Against The Current" by Robert Silverberg
  11. "Alien Archeology" by Neal Asher
  12. "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang
  13. "Beyond The Wall" by Justin Stanchfield
  14. "Kiosk" by Bruce Sterling
  15. "Last Contact" by Stephen Baxter
  16. "The Sledge-Maker's Daughter" by Alastair Reynolds
  17. "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" by Ian Mcdonald
  18. "The Skysailor's Tale" by Michael Swanwick
  19. "Of Love and Other Monsters" by Vandana Singh
  20. "Steve Fever" by Greg Egan
  21. "Hellfire at Twilight" by Kage Baker
  22. "The Immortals of Atlantis" by Brian Stableford
  23. "Nothing Personal" by Pat Cadigan
  24. "Tideline" by Elizabeth Bear
  25. "The Accord" by Keith Brooke
  26. "Laws of Survival" by Nancy Kress
  27. "The Mists of Time" by Tom Purdom
  28. "Craters" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  29. "The Prophet of Flores" by Ted Kosmatka
  30. "Stray" by Benjamin Rosenbaum & David Ackert
  31. "Roxie" by Robert Reed
  32. "Dark Heaven" by Gregory Benford

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Open Letter to the Sci-Fi Channel

Now you have heard me bitch about the Sci-fi channel's idiotic scheduling and show choices. I didn't think I could be that far off, and according to Marc Bernardin over at PopWatch blog, I am not. Marc echoes all my complaints over the past fuew months very well indeed! Here is a cut from the "letter"


Why are you not way more awesome?

Don't get me wrong, when you're good—like with Battlestar Galactica or Eureka (and I'll even give you credit for Doctor who, despite that being a BBC show you just imported)—you're a phenomenal destination network. But let's be honest here, there's not a lot of "good" on your schedule. The Stargate franchise is stale, Flash Gordon (right) is a derisible, stillborn remake, and ECW Wrestling is…wrestling! (And I swore an oath never to speak of Who Wants to Be a Superhero again.)

He goes on for a bit more, and it's great fun, and he makes some really good point to book. Click here to read more

Cosmic Cloud on Collision Course

It's large, it's fast, and it's heading toward the Milky Way. Less than 40 million years from now, a giant cloud of hydrogen gas, clocked at 250 kilometers per second, will smash into our home galaxy, likely setting off a huge burst of star formation. In fact, the cloud contains enough gas to form a million stars like our sun, astronomers reported. The crash will happen far from us, but it could still put on quite a show as the cloud's gas condenses into tens of thousands of bright, massive stars that will explode as supernovas within a couple of million years.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Virgin Galactic to Offer Space Cruise through Aurora Borealis

Shaun sends in an article that I think anyone with a pulse would find exciting! From the Daily Galaxy online, I see that Virgin Galactic is not sitting on their laurels by any means. Richard Branson has been busy thinking up new ways to get people excited about private space tourism. He’s offering to fly anyone who can afford the trip, into the world’s biggest lightshow, the Aurora Borealis. Even though the New Mexico Virgin Galactic Spaceport isn't scheduled for completion until 2010, Branson is already planning his next project, an Arctic launchpad located in the far north of Sweden in the small town of Kiruna. Trips through the solar wind light show, though spectacular, have been deemed perfectly safe to those inside a spacecraft. Cost was not mentioned in the article but I suspect that we are still looking at a 20k plus price tag.

FREE Podiobook Grey by Jon Armstrong

Wow ready for some REALLY BIG NEWS!? Jesse Willis over at SFFAudio tells me that Philip K. Dick award nominee GREY by Jon Armstrong is available on for your listening pleasure. For free people! Sweet!

click the podiobooks link or the article title for the audio url.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Planets in nearby solar system may have collided

Shaun Saunders sends in an article, from, that reports on a study that suggests that 2 planets may have collided in a nearby solar system.

An extrasolar planet about one-fourth the heft of Jupiter might have formed from the collision and merger of two planets. Known as 2M1207B, the object orbits a brown-dwarf star called 2M1207A located 170 light-years from Earth and seen in the direction of the constellation Centaurus. Astronomers have discovered that this object does not fall into standard models of planetary objects. Its temperature, age and brightness don't match up with what astrophysical theory would predict. Researchers have debated since 2004 on whether it's a planet or perhaps a brown dwarf. Previously the object was thought to mass about 5 Jupiters. However, new observations suggest the mass that of half that of Jupiter. If the new model is correct, it would mean 2M1207B formed in a similar fashion to a planet. It would also means that a 2004 picture of the object would go down in history as the first photo of a planet outside our solar system.

Read complete article here

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

These Giant Blocs Are Made of People

Ok, I know - science and science fiction Got it, so I slip in a gripe about the fcc's dead site, maybe I had a weak moment. Ready for another? Is this Science Fiction? Nope! is it Science? no way! But it is proof that we are now living in some sort of weird future that none of us in our wildest imagination would ever have conceived! How so you foolishly ask? Oooooooh let me enlighten you:

It seems that the Lisson Gallery in London has a rather "wasteful" display. Shall I continue? ok.....

Mexican artist Santiago Sierra collaborated with Indian NGO
Sulabh International to collect tons of human poop gathered by scavengers of the Untouchable caste in Delhi and Jaipur. He then mixed it with plastic, molded it into 21 giant blocks approximately the length of a human being, and shipped the blocks to the UK.

I sh oh wait.. someone did... Here are the links to the original story

Thanks to IO9 for the original post

The Difference Between SciFi and Fantasy

From Unabashed via SFSignals, Matt Mitchell takes on a subject that has fueled many an argument. What exactly is the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction? Matt posits that science fiction differentiates itself from fantasy by being believable. He writes:

We believe it because we want to believe fantastic things are possible, and this is especially the case with readers of SciFi. One advantage SciFi has over fantasy, however, is that SciFi generally resounds with possibility. Even though its ideas may be impossible now, one who has the foresight to dream of tomorrow can see the inherent potential in virtually any work of SciFic.

There are two basic ways to write fantasy, and neither of them have to be believable in the least:

  1. Real world, whether it be historical or modern-day.
  2. Other world, in which another universe is created specifically for the story.

The rest of his short article is equally interesting and thought provoking. click here to read more

NOMINEES: 2008 Philip K. Dick Award

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

  • Grey, Jon Armstrong (Night Shade)
  • Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
  • From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, Minister Faust (Del Rey)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Bantam Spectra)
  • Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Pyr)
  • Ally, Karen Traviss (Eos)
  • Saturn Returns, Sean Williams (Ace)

SG-1 Stargate on Make Magazine's bog!

Oh this is sweet! Someone sent in a project they made to "MAKE" magazine's blog website. Seems they made a "working" Stargate for SG-1. Like the article said, "working" as in it dials up a planet and lights up, etc - it doesn't actually transport you anywhere, yet. Well yeah duh, but it's still cool! I'd have one!

New web series coming IQ-145

IO9 just posted a heads up on a new SciFi series that will be web based only. The series is called IQ-145 and the website's description of the show is as follows:

Son of a renowned, inventor/futurist father, who has mysteriously committed suicide; Nate Palmer is recruited by a secret organization to help search for his fathers last experiment... only to discover that he may be the experiment itself.

The series stars Thomas Dekker, also known as John Connor in the upcoming Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and previously known as Claire's best buddy Zach in Heroes. Episodes will be available from the website but don't expect to find anything there yet. The site is just a big round shield with no links. Though you can see a trailer at the IO9 site

The Human Brain as a time machine

TIME online has a neat article discussing how the human brain is unique in the animal kingdom for the way it conceives time:

The human mind can move through time in any direction and at any speed it chooses. Our ability to close our eyes and imagine the pleasures of Super Bowl Sunday or remember the excesses of New Year's Eve is a fairly recent evolutionary development, and our talent for doing this is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. We are a race of time travelers.

TIME traveling Brain

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nanotubes Make Synthetic Skin Feel Your Pain

I would say that this kind of developments mean that something like "bionics" ever so much closer to reality. Plus my money says that this is a jumping off point for a true android.

Carbon nanotubes can conduct sensations through artificial skin back to the brain, making prosthetic limbs feel like the real thing. A nanotube like this one, delicately balanced on top of gold filaments, is threaded through a rubbery polymer. This nanotube-infused polymer generates electricity in response to pressure or force, creating signals that can be routed to your brain. That's why this synthetic skin can "feel." Researchers want to build a prosthetic limb out of this stuff by 2010. Click through for more images of carbon nanotubes, the artificial nervous systems of tomorrow.

io9 post

Bhutto Killed by Laser Weapon, Pakistan Paper Says

And now from the totally off the wall department:

A newspaper in Pakistan is quoting Pakistan People's Party leader Babar Awan saying that that a laser gun was used to kill Bhutto. ''The X-ray reports suggested that there were two to three tiny radio densities under each fractured segments on both projections which were in fact invisible electromagnetic radiations.

Oh, read the comments to this article over on io9, they are every bit as entertaining! Is this stuff right angle weird or what?

Faster-Than-Light Camera Records Your Future

Hey, did I get your attention? Hell yes I did! lol Oh I love this stuff. I found this on IO9's blog site. Done TOTALLY straight. Here is some of the copy:

A camera that can see almost three years into the future might sound like a crazy hoax, but here's the proof. Enitech's new Gardner Project uses tachyons to cut through space time and see 1,191 days into the future. And now you too can get involved.

What Enitech wants to do is, in their words, make their research with the "Gardner device" open source. Meaning that they will point it where you want..... Watch the video of the proposal by clicking on the article title. I love it!

Enitech video

Monday, January 07, 2008

Secrets Of Battlestar Season Four Betrayed In New Photo

According to SciFi Scanner and IO9: A supposedly spoiler-filled promo picture for the upcoming season of Battlestar Galactica has been released by Entertainment Weekly... despite the fact that no one's even sure that the half a season they've filmed of BSG will be aired in 2008. The promo shot apes Da Vinci's Last Supper, but the poses the characters are in allegedly reveal the plot twists of the upcoming season.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Telescope at South Pole searches for Dark Matter

At seven stories tall and a main mirror 32 ½ feet across, it's a big telescope by anyone's estimation. Situated at the south pole, the aptly named South Pole Telescope is on a mission searching for the most powerful, plentiful but elusive substance in the universe — dark energy. Dark energy is a mysterious force so powerful that it has already overruled the laws of gravity, it is pushing galaxies away from one another, causing the universe to expand at an ever faster rate. Though dark energy is believed to account for 70 percent of the mass of the universe, it is invisible and virtually undetectable. Nobody knows what it is, where it is or how it behaves. The South Pole Telescope has begun to search the southern polar heavens for evidence of the elusive stuff. Controlled remotely from the University of Chicago, the $19.2 million telescope has quickly succeeded in its first mission: finding unknown galaxy clusters, clues to the emergence of dark energy.

Click here for a description of the construction of this amazing scope and the science it hopes to complete.

Wikipedia article on the telescope

article from

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The 3 Laws of Robotics according to Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis's gives us a profane and angry take on the Three Laws of Robotics. For those of you scratching your heads now saying...ummm laws? what laws? Let me enlighten you. Science Fiction author Isaac Asimov is credited with being the first to pen rules for robot behavior. His three laws were basic and simple, they are for the most part 1) a robot must obey a human 2) a robot must never harm a human or through inaction allow a human to come to harm 3) a robot must preserve itself at all cost unless it violates either first or second law. I have simplified them a bit.

Now, as high minded as this all is. Many love to have a go at these "laws" Warren, on his blog, gives us a very funny rant which is so profane, that I really can not quote here. But for a good laugh I suggest that you take a trip over and have a read.

Never fear either, Isaac would get just as bit a laugh as you will.

3 laws rant

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Review: Tall Tales on the Iron Horse by Colin P. Davies

Tall Tales on the Iron Horse
pb trade 207 pp
Bewildering Press

I think I have figured out the genius behind releasing stories onto the web. Now don't get me wrong, I can see some of the more obvious reasons. Like getting material that is not otherwise available in front of the public's eyes. Which is what I guess was what I have discovered just how deep that rabbit hole goes. Every successful car dealer knows that you just don't show a car. “ain't this a pretty car? You like it! You want it!” sometimes that might work but it's the dealer that lets you drive it first that is most successful. The more stories I find in the creative commons and more to the point the more of them I find in a collection or printed, the more I find myself picking up these books. With Saunders Navigating, well I work with his material so often that it's a given that I would get that one, but I purchased The year's Best Science Fiction even though I had read several of the stories on the broadcast. And I would have to say that its followed on with Colin P. Davies Tall Tales on the Iron Horse. I had previously read the short of the same name which opens the book, as well as The Defenders. I then went on to find The Hay Devils and The Man Who Sank. All very strong stories of various lengths. Tall Tales alone is one of the most twisted train rides I have ever been on. So when I heard that advanced copies were available, I just had to have it. And that has to be the power of the Creative Commons, and the web. You get to test drive the book. Brilliant! So, lets talk about Tall Tales on the Iron Horse. The opening short and The Defenders is worth the cost of the book hands down. Davies is a bit hard to pigeon hole. Some of his stories are clearly fantasy and some are solid science fiction. Many straddle the divide. The Man Who Sank is a frightening ride through someone else's mania, while The Hay Devils is like a sideways telling of the children of the corn. The Evangelist leads you down a garden path, where your sure you know where your going, until the twist ending do you realize you have been manhandled all the way through the story. Its so easy to say that there is literally something for everyone within the covers, but nothing could be more true. Colin won't beat you up with heavy science but neither will he taunt you with ghosts and ghoulies, but he will walk you damn close and absolutely entertain you. Tall Tales on the Iron Horse is a fast entertaining read, well worth the cost. You won't be disappointed.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles Pilot Goes Online!

SF Signal has listed an article that says that :

Fox will post the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles exclusively on Yahoo! for 24 hours beginning Jan. 4 at 12 a.m. ET. The premiere features an introduction by star Lena Headey (Sarah Connor) and will be commercial-free.

The series officially debuts on Fox over two nights: Jan. 13th and 14th.


Red Dust In Planet-forming Disk May Harbor Precursors To Life

ScienceDaily reports that Astronomers have found the first indications of highly complex organic molecules in the disk of red dust surrounding a distant star. The eight-million-year-old star, known as HR 4796A, is thought to be in the late stages of planet formation, suggesting that the basic building blocks of life may be common in planetary systems. These observations were taken with the Near-Infrared Multi-Object Spectrometer aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Researchers found that the spectrum of visible and infrared light scattered by the star's dust disk looks very red, the color produced by large organic carbon molecules called tholins. The spectrum does not match those of other red substances, such as iron oxide. Tholins are hypothesized to have existed on the primitive Earth billions of years ago and may have been precursors to the biomolecules that make up living organisms. Tholins have been detected elsewhere in the solar system, such as in comets and on Saturn's moon Titan, where they give the atmosphere a red tinge. This study is the first report of tholins outside the solar system.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sign up for the new converter box coupon...or maybe not...

Oh I love this! lol By now, unless you live in a cave, you know that the FCC is closing the analog band of frequencies now being used by broadcasters and making it mandatory for all broadcasters to begin broadcasting their signal in the new digital format. This change over has to be complete by February of 2009. Consumers that receive their signals over the air can petition the US government for a small converter that will allow them to continue to use their existing television equipment. The government will provide you with a coupon worth $40 to be used toward the purchase of said converter box. All well and good. Follow so far? Goooooood. Well I though, hey I will check out the site to see what's up. I logged to this site a government site mind you and the first thing I found is that the security certificate for the site is invalid...ok, its the second of the I click to apply for the certificate for the converter.... what happens? it fails.....times out..... sends you back to the start... sigh... I just shook my head and walked away....

Fox gives New Amsterdam a time slot!

According to SyFy Portal:

Fox has finally found a home for its "Highlander"-like series, "New Amsterdam."
The show, which features an immortal homicide detective, will take over Mondays in a slot that was originally gifted to "When Women Rule the World," which seemingly has been pulled from Fox's schedule.

New Amsterdam will take its' Monday slot starting March 10 however Fox plans 2 "special preview" episodes March 4th and 6th. It would seem there is some confusion as to if the March 10th episode will be an original episode or a rerun of those shown in the previews.

complete SyFy Portal article

Clarkesworld issue #16 January 2008 now online

The January 2008 issue #16 of Clarkesworld online magazine is now available