Friday, May 30, 2008
here is a really good review by Aaron Hughes
If you haven't as yet (and if you haven't what is wrong with your head?!!!) signed up for the introductory free ebook notification, go to tor.com and fill out the app. No cost, just FREE E-BOOKS!!!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Alexander Courage, the man behind the theme to the original "Star Trek" has died at 88. He passed away May 15, according to Film Music Society. By the time he was asked to write the theme to "Star Trek" he already had more than 30 composing credits, and the fanfare from his theme would earn him credit in a number of later Star Trek films, including those that involved the crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Courage would end his association with Star Trek when Roddenberry wrote lyrics to his theme reportedly as a way for him to collect on half the royalties Courage would receive for writing the song. The lyrics would never be used in the series or later movies, and Courage was said to have felt he had been cheated by Roddenberry.
Click here for a documentary on Courage's career
Carl Sagan audio
Arthur C. Clarke audio
War of the Worlds The 1938 radio drama.
Wells and Welles - A 1940 non-fiction radio piece in which H.G. Wells and Orson Welles met to discuss War of the Worlds.
The Viking Landings : Jon Lomberg’s report on the Viking landing on Mars, July 20, 1976. Includes live recordings from mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and interviews with science fiction writers and actors.
By the way, the DVD is made of a silica glass (instead of regular plastic) so as to withstand long-term exposure on the Martian surface. Now all those Martians will need is a DVD player.Thanks Jesse!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Little Red Spot, as it was named, shows both size and speed in threatening to knock the former champion off its perch, with Junior's maximum winds reaching 384 mph.
Now Little Red has been joined by a "smaller" companion. What is even more curious is the newer storms are not quite what they seem.
Thermal heat images showed that the Little Red Spot may already match the Great Red Spot for size, although the latter still appears almost twice as large on the surface of Jupiter's atmosphere when examined in visible light. Little Red Spot appears to be part of an interacting system that is actually larger than the Great Red Spot. The Little Red Spot has steadily gained strength even as the Big Red Spot shrinks. Astronomers remain mystified by the angry red color of the storms. The Little Red Spot only changed color in late 2005 after it formed from earlier mergers of three smaller storms. The newest third red spot began as an oval white storm.
Some have speculated that the increase in activity indicates that Jupiter is experiencing a warming trend and the additional energy may be causing more and more violent storms.
...the “Perfect Woman” publicity stunt is in full swing, claiming a planned release of its first model on June 11. Said to be able to go shopping, clean up the house, cook dinner, give you a massage and understand you, this “perfect” woman is allegedly the product of two robotics students at Kobe University in Japan. According to the hype accompanying the launch, the blonde, brunette and redhead robots use “a technology called RKS, ‘Recognition Krax System,’ which allows for vocal, tactile and visual recognition.” They can even “satisfy your desires in the bedroom.”
Perfectly creepy is my take. Deliberate or not, the "robot's" expression is of someone numbly aware that they are in the middle of some Machiavellian nightmare. Check out the "promo"
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
click here for the video!
David Noland writing for Popular Mechanics in the June 2008 issue weaves a scenario reminiscent of biblical David and Goliath, where the common man could conceivably take on corporate and governmental giants to be the first private person to land a craft on another world. Click the article title to go to the Popular Mechanic's article
Illustration is PM’s vision of a lunar lander on arrival. (Illustration by Jeremy Cook)
In a vast, cold universe we aren't just "Keepers of the Sacred Flame" of life, we are the bloody flame!
Casey takes issue with calling Earth life a contamination in a quote that I find pretty damn appropriate: One problem with this viewpoint is that it talks about the spread of Terran life as 'contamination', which is like describing painting as 'contaminating' a pristine canvas.
It certainly is worth reading and sitting a moment and thinking about. Agree or not, you have to admit that Kazan makes a compelling argument.
"It's very satisfying to know that ISS crewmembers will be able to get our books easily and without fuss," Weisskopf said. "They're the ones who are truly creating a future for humankind in space."
Monday, May 26, 2008
There's nothing special about the Sun that makes it more likely than other stars to host life, a new study shows. The finding adds weight to the idea that alien life should be common throughout the universe. Some previous studies of the Sun's vital statistics have concluded that it is unusual among stars, for instance, by having a higher mass than average. Such atypical properties might somehow help explain why the Sun seems to be unique, as far as we know, in having an inhabited planet. But the earlier studies only looked at a small number of solar features, such as its mass and iron content. (Scientists have) now analyzed 11 features of the Sun that might affect its ability to have habitable planets. They included its mass, age, rotation speed and orbital distance from the centre of the Milky Way. The Sun did stand out in two ways: it is more massive than 95% of nearby stars and its orbit around the center of our galaxy is more circular than those of 93% of nearby stars. But when all 11 properties were taken on board, the Sun looked very ordinary. (Scientists) conclude that there are probably no special attributes that a star requires to have a habitable planet, other than the obvious one – the planet must be within the star's habitable "goldilocks" zone, orbiting at a distance where the temperature is not too hot for life, nor too cold, but just right.
(Image: SOHO-EIT Consortium/ESA/NASA)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Daniel Burd, a student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, speculated on how to rid the Earth of plastic bags. Humans produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Burd speculated that microbes must be behind the decomposition and set up experiments to isolate the culprit. After many experiments, Burd was not only able to isolated the microbe in question but concentrate them to such a degree that a plastic bag might take as little as six weeks to be broken down into simple compounds consisting of water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide. The truly amazing things is that Daniel used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. Which should make replicating his methods on larger scales extremely easy. Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. "All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags."
Friday, May 23, 2008
From the Wired online blog:
First detected in 1953, neutrinos pass easily through most matter making it possible for your signal to pass through the Milky Way without being blocked by stars and interstellar dust. They are also not subject to the "noise" of optical and radio waves traveling alongside them through space. Aliens with access to abundant power (one neutrino production technique requires 3% the output of our sun, another is within range of earthly thermonuclear power plants) could send pulsed and directional neutrino messages to us. Luckily we are building elaborate neutrino detectors already (they must be very large and built deep underground or water to shielded from cosmic rays and other background radiation). The United States is building a neutrino detector called IceCube in Antarctica to detect naturally occurring neutrinos for scientific research. If they were to detect neutrinos at 6.3 petaelectron-volts (PeV) it could be a tell-tale sign of an artificially constructed signal, since there is no known natural process that would create neutrinos of that energy level. Researchers on earth however have identified two ways that such neutrinos could be created in the lab. Maybe we will soon be smart enough to be able to hear from more advanced civilizations.
Check out "Looking for ET's neutrino beam" at physicsworld online magazine for an in depth article on detecting and generating pulsed neutrinos
Oh well...we shall have to wait for Monday night to see..
A cast of highly recognizable names was assembled, including Benjamin Bratt, Rick Schroder (24), Eric McCormack, Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Andre Braugher, Magda Apanowicz (Kyle XY), Colin Lawrence (Battlestar Galactica), and Panou (Flash Gordon).
It should also be noted that the Sci-Fi channel announced that IT was doing the project last year and it would seem passed on the project...and I am sitting here thinking..yeah, for wrasslin
The Andromeda Strain, airing Monday and Tuesday, 5/26 and 5/27, at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.
Australian scientists extracted genetic material from a 100-year-old museum specimen, and put it into a mouse embryo to study how it worked.
This experiment suggests the marsupial's DNA and therefor the animal itself may not be lost. The Tasmanian tiger was hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 1900s. The last known specimen died in captivity in 1936, but several museums around the world still hold tissue samples preserved in alcohol.
Full details of the Australian study are published in the open-access journal PLoS One.
From the mythaventures.net site
Robert (Lynn) Asprin was born in 1946. While he's written some stand alone novels such as Cold Cash War, Tambu and The Bug Wars and also the Duncan and Mallory Illustrated stories, Bob is best known for his series fantasy, such as the Myth Adventures of Aahz and Skeeve, the Phule’s Company novels, and, more recently, the Time Scout novels written with Linda Evans. He also edited the groundbreaking Thieves’ World anthology series with Lynn Abbey. His most recent collaborations include License Invoked (set in the French Quarter of New Orleans where he now lives) and several new Myth Adventures novels, all written with Jody Lynn Nye
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008 The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is hosting a media gathering at its space base in Saint Hubert, Quebec to celebrate the arrival of the Phoenix Lander on Mars. En Francais
The party in St Hubert starts at 7:30 pm EDT with a presentation and talk by Steve MacLean, CSA Chief Astronaut. Thanks to the live feed from Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Arizona, participants in the CSA event will join millions worldwide watching the landing of this tough little scrapper of a lander.
Once grounded. Phoenix will deploy a Canadian weather station to record the daily weather of the Martian northern plains; its temperature, wind and barometric pressure and more .
Following the landing event, St Hubert attendees will view Mars from CSA's observatory. Information on the Phoenix Mission is available on the CSA Web site at www.space.gc.ca. Image courtesy University of the West of England
Ahhh the best line...."I guess we can't punish Victor for bringing Sparky back from the dead...."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
In Mark Wilson's About.com Guide to Sci-Fi / Fantasy I read that Star Trek / Heroes star George Takei announced he's getting married to his companion of 21 years, Brad Altman, now that California's Supreme Court has ruled than banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional in that state. Takei made the announcement on his blog saying in his announcement - "Now, we can have the dignity, as well as all the responsibilities, of marriage." Takei publicly revealed he was gay in October 2005, though his homosexuality was an open secret for decades before that. I would like to go on record with Mark in saying congratulations, George and Brad. Publicly declaring your love is something everyone should be able to do.
I swear I am not making this stuff up, check out IO9s story
and the article over on Variety
New research suggests microbes can survive an asteroid impact big enough so send them into space, making panspermia a real possibility. Previous experiments have shown that microbes can survive in the punishing cold of space.
But Could microbes survive the crushing force and extreme heat of an asteroid impact?
Astrobiologists at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Germany developed a series of tests designed to simulate these pressures on the selected organisms. By smashing the life-containing rocks between metal plates, the researchers were able to determine which organisms are capable of surviving different pressures caused by asteroid impacts and ejection into space. Ultimately, they discovered that a wide range of organisms would be capable of surviving impacts on Mars or Earth.
Astrobiology magazine article
It takes a tenth of a second for visual information to get from your eyes to your brain, so everyone has the ability to predict what’s going to happen a tenth of a second into the future. That’s what you’re actually seeing, is that prediction. If you weren’t, everything would look like it was recorded a tenth of a second ago.
So we litterally have to predict what is going to happen 10 seconds into the future and make ourselves believe that what we are really doing is seeing everything in real time. The really interesting thing here that Dvice points out is that:
This explains how lots of magic tricks are done. In his research paper, Mark Changizi mentioned 50 types of visual illusions that work because your brain is attempting to predict what will happen 1/10th of a second into the future.
click article title for Dvice article or here for the complete Impact Lab's story
Certain types of carbon nanotubes -- microscopic graphite cylinders used in a small but growing number of Space Age applications -- could pose a cancer risk similar to that of asbestos if inhaled. Researchers found that mice injected with nanotubes quickly developed the same biological damage associated with early exposure to asbestos fibers, a known carcinogen. The nanotubes posed the greatest danger to workers who could inhale the dust-like particles during manufacturing. In finished products, the nanotubes are embedded in other material and thus pose less risk to consumers. Precautions (are) now in place in many factories, usually requiring workers to wear respirators.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Fyi if you didn't already know, Starfish is part of Watt's "Rifters" universe as was the story Niche that I read in episode 61 - 63 and also available in the archives.
If you have not yet signed up for the notification Tor sends out when new books are available to to Tor.com to sign up or get the newest entry in Tor's series of introductory free ebooks.
Here's a revised version of the trailer which explains the show's concept much more clearly and features a lot more ass-whuppin'. Plus, parachuting and assassining. The show's central conceit — that these "Actives" are blank slates who can be programmed to have any skillset or emotion
Monday, May 19, 2008
Since Einstein theorized laser light in 1917, it has been a given that it is impossible to generate laser light in the X-ray or gamma-ray range of the electromagnetic spectrum, due to the enormous energy required to to excite atoms to such high states.
"We do not have good sources of X-ray and gamma rays," said Kishor Kapale, an assistant professor of physics at Western Illinois University. Kapale's research, "Lasing Without Inversion: Counterintuitive Population Dynamics in the Transient Regime," published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters.
Kapale's study, however, demonstrates a novel method to manipulate the atoms in the sample so that even a small number of naturally existing high-energy atoms can cause laser light generation via lasing. In the process, an initially more populated ground (lowest energy) state becomes more populated with time. "This will allow the generation of X-ray and gamma-ray laser light without needing large energy input to begin with. " Kapale said.
What does one do with all those cheap xrays and gamma rays? Space opera afficionados will instantly see the possibility of a ray-projecting phaser-style sidearm, tuneable from nearly imperceptible discomfort to blasting-down-Godzilla strength, while more pacific futurists may visualize precise control of the behavior of quantum systems leading to progress in the important upcoming area of information processing known as quantum information (ansible and teleporter fans take note). Image source Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Spitting contest participant dies
ahhh yes - funny enough in its own right - but it gets oh so much funnier. Here we go........
A 29-year-old Swis man died in a spitting match with a friend. Apparently, the two pals were up late at a hotel when they decided to see who could spit the greatest distance off the balcony. One of the men took a running start and, but lost his balance and plummeted to the street below.
So, I nominate this brain trust for a posthumous Darwin.
oh what a brave new world -
OMG What if? no....its more of WTF! Where does wrasslin come in according to that scenario?
It's clear that they are trying very hard to expand their market by taloring the product to women. In marketing materials for “Battlestar Galactica,” for example, there are no spaceships, and the story lines try to create more of a balance between action and emotion. Which if you look at that trend, you see that very well may be what happend to BSG in the second season. They may have gained a market share in gender but managed to confuse and alienate fans from the first season.
This quote pretty much sums up my feelings on the present course for the Sci-fi channel: “Generally speaking, the feeling within the science fiction community is that a lot of the shows on the Sci Fi Channel are watered-down versions of the real thing,” said Michael Capobianco, the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Thank you Michael...wonder if they will listen...
click title for complete NYT article.
photo by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
“Radiation exposure, either intentional or accidental, is inevitable during our lifetimes,” says Kamal Datta, M.D., assistant professor at Lombardi and the study’s lead author. “But with plans for a mission to Mars, we need to understand more about the nature of radiation in space. There is currently no conclusive information for estimating the risk that astronauts may experience.” Full release
Here are a couple of high points from the article:
Most of the colors in Speed Racer are sparkly pastels, What is this, Queer Eye for the action hero?
Monkeys are gay.
Several bad guys are giant hairy men dressed in furs and Viking helmets Some of them might even have been centerfolds in Bear magazine.
Speed loves his mother and is super-nice to his girlfriend. Obviously a homo! A true straight dude would be like Iron Man, obsessing over his dead dad and abusing every woman in his life.
And the rant goes on...Click for the complete rant on IO9
click title for complete Syfy Portal article
In 2001: A Space Odyssey extremely realistic space travel was portrayed.
In Alien the creature's life cycle has analogs in Earth biology.
And other excellent examples. Click story title for the complete article or here for more.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
IO9 has links to interviews with Obama, Clinton and McCain focusing on their view on space exploration. Click here for More
219 pages trade
See if you recognize this theme - young protagonist, approaching a time of life when a life changing choice must be made or must comply with a society rule that will drastically change or end their life. The hero, living in a closed society, domed most of the time, does not comply and escapes. Meets a grizzled time worn parent figure that teaches them the ropes and eventually the hero grows and returns to the city to free those left behind and possibly change society. What does that sound like? Logans Run? The World Inside? Yep, been done many times before. So what makes Wray think that she can do it better? Well maybe that is the problem. I had many instances when I felt that I really could not continue reading this novel. Its starts with an unpleasant beating Wray meted out to a 7 year old female. Other sections I felt really needed to be tightened up or rewritten. It may be that Wray is uncomfortable still with the novel format, many sections were just plain difficult to read. Then again, as young adult fiction? That might well be another story. The less complex characters often are better received by that age group. The plot is often if not clumsy then overly simplistic. So in that I would recommend it to a younger audience.
Go to Edge publishing for more info and purchase
Friday, May 09, 2008
Wired is taking on the armed forces media with it's latest foray into propaganda. At question is the air-force's commercial, about the perils of an attack in space, which does more than stretch the truth, it violates quite a few laws of physics. The commercial says:
"What if your cell phone calls, your television, your GPS system, even your bank transactions, could be taken out with a single missile?" the military ad asks. "They can."
Well, No, they can't. Not unless there's some new missile out there that can strike dozens and dozens of targets, spread out over thousands and thousands of miles. As the article points out "Communication, television and navigational systems are handled by different arrays of satellites." And each set of satellites is thousands of miles from the other. At least ten thousand miles, for example, separates the arrays of communications and GPS satellites. Systems like the GPS satellites are in fixed or stationary obits called MEO or medium Earth orbit which are 12 thousand miles above the earth's surface. Still others are in fixed or stationary obits called geo-stationary which are twice that far out. There's no missile that can hit two targets that far away from one other. (In fact, there's no anti-satellite missile, taking off from Earth, that can even reach GEO or MEO. Even the much vanted Chineese satellite killer reached only 540 miles. But should such a missle someday be invented that could reach and kill a high flying satellite no system depends on just one bird let alone several systems. Even today, satellites fail or are rotated out of service. Very few people even notice when this happens because of the redundancy of the system. And for what it is worth many systems like banking use terrestrial fiberoptics as backup, so that even if the complete satellite system went down, the could continue to operate.
It is clear that the Air Force is preying on the lack of public understanding of the threat (and space in general) in an attempt to convince voters that space is important too and only the US Air Force can protect America in space.....
Here is the Air Forces peice if you haven't seen it yet
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
read more here
(Previous to the vastly smaller transistor, the only device that could perform the same basic operations were the vacuum tube. Tubes were much larger, hotter and required much more power to operate. The first digital computer was based on the vacuum tube. It had a paltry 4 kilobytes of memory, not megabytes but a thousand times less. It filled almost one whole floor of a high rise at a speed that would be considered glacial by today's standards. pac)
Click here for complete article
Monday, May 05, 2008
"expend 22 million computational hours during the next year on one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, simulating an event that takes less than five seconds"
That according to a release just out from the University of Chicago News Office.
Imagine...such resources are necessary in our primitive 21st century to engage in what for us seems extreme exploration; but the University of Chicago, a U's U, is hosting and footing a lot of the bill.
Doubtless with some DARPA bucks. For from time to time a nationstate must contemplate the utility of its personal store of mini-nova makers. GreenWarriors may even want to explore whether there might be some way to capture all the useful energy emitted from even a tactical nuclear release, let alone theater- class devices. How many cities could be illuminated by the capture of the energies emitted across the sonic and radio spectra by a single standard-issue atomic fusion or fission? Is it possible to measure? Maybe the su;pernova guys will have an answer. Investors will surely want to know.
The God Shiva would be proud. Oppenheimer of the Los Alamos bomb team boasted to the trident-bearing entity "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds."
Maybe now it's time to amend it by adding "provider of consumer power at competitive prices."
(NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Warren & J.Hughes et al.)
The current issue has several book reviews, an editorial, and fiction. This issue, the fiction includes:
"Tristesse" by David Such
"Saint" by Rachael Ryan
"Eye-Pod" by Tavis Potts
"A Child's Justice" by Francis Conaty
"Dreaming the Futures to Be" by Shaun A. Saunders
"Something New Under the Sun" by Hannah Steenbock
"A New Arrival" by Alan Delaney
"Bad Manners by João Ventura
"The Bowl of Stew" by Leslie Blake
"Finite Horror, Infinite Hope" by Luke Kepreotis
Thanks to SFScope for the heads up
Read complete article here in Science Daily online
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Click here to read the complete article
Click here for video of Lee Spievak's remarkable recovery
He prefaces the article with:
It’s been written about in hundreds of books, the subject of fantasy for everyone at one time or another, and the government has actually devoted research at one time or another on the subject. Beginning with H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the concept of time travel has been one of the main staples of science fiction. So is it really possible to travel in time?
Its a well written piece and well worth checking out. Click here to read Michael's
Time Travel- A Possibility or Just the Stuff of Science Fiction?
Friday, May 02, 2008
I give you the R2-D2 projector!
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I first heard about this on Pink Tentacle's blog and posted a blurb about it (here) and it would seem that despite what you might think.... the lowly boomerang works just fine in a micro G environment. Watch the video below
What easier than to simply activate the kill switch as needed, remotely or at an official execution? Saves all the muss and fuss of burdensomely expensive of court costs and ever skyrocketing prison budgets.
Repent! Harlequin...read it and weep:
Newswise: The Hunt for the Kill Switch - The U.S. Department of Defense wants to know if chip makers are building remotely accessible kill switches into high-end microprocessors.
These days, the U.S. military consumes only about 1 percent of the world's integrated circuits, and off-shoring has begun to raise some alarms about the safety of the chips in the military's most mission-critical electronics.
Recognizing an enormous vulnerability, the DOD recently launched an extremely ambitious program to verify the integrity of the electronics that will underpin future additions to its arsenal.
In December, the DOD's advanced-research wing released details about a three-year initiative it calls the Trust in Integrated Circuits program. The findings from the program could give the military--and defense contractors who make sensitive microelectronics like the weapons systems for the F-35--a guaranteed method of determining whether their chips have been compromised with a kill switch.
But how exactly would you kill an integrated switch, and for what purpose? In "The Hunt for the Kill Switch," IEEE Spectrum's Sally Adee reports on the methods that could kill a chip, the possible consequences, and the methods being devised to verify the Pentagon's most important microchips.