Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NASA restoring 40 year old tapes containing Luna Images

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from Computerworld that for me at least demonstrates the need to constantly backup and migrate data to hardware that can easily access said data.

The project is called "Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project" at stake is deteriorating data. This data could show Earth's risk of an asteroid strike or shed light on global warming.

What the aging tapes contain are pictures taken by the Lunar Orbiter probes launched in the mid 60s with the primary mission of finding suitable landing areas for the upcoming Apollo project. What will be gained initially will be a comparison of the Moon's surface 45 years ago and today with pictures from the recently launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The original images were scanned, transmitted, reconstructed and then photographed again leading to image degradation with each step (think of copying a copy several times over) The researchers hope to go straight to the source, the original tapes from the probes, and build 1800 undistorted pictures.

Though, thankfully, the huge 2 inch wide tapes were still available, but the machines used to record them, Ampex FR-900 reel-to-reel units, weighing half a ton and resembling refrigerators, that were formerly used by the U.S. Air Force to record radar data but have not been manufactured since 1975 and it seemed that once the old ones were taken out of action, they were ummm dumped in the ocean. Luckily 4 of the antique machines were found and two decades later and 250,000 dollars in custom parts, 2 machines were restored. Luck prevailed again when the tapes proved still readable. Lots of work still remain in processing and editing. But as you can see by pictures above....well worth it. The grainy picture is what we first saw and the actual picture.

Computer World article

Luna Uranium Mining?

The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft has discovered that Uranium exists on the moon. This according to an article submitted by Dave Tackett from Space.com.

From the article:
  • The findings are the first conclusive evidence for the presence of the radioactive element...
  • The revelation suggests that nuclear power plants could be built on the moon - or the ore could possibly be used to fire plants back here on Earth.
Since Moon colonies and Earth alike will need power in the future, this finding may prove to be very lucrative. As Dave points out Heinlein would have love this!

Space.com article

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sturgeon & Campbell award winners for 2009

Here are the FINAL for the John W. Campbell & Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards

John W Campbell Memorial Award results
  1. (tie) Song of Time, Ian MacLeod
  2. (tie) Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
  3. The Philosopher’s Apprentice, James Morrow

and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award results:
  1. “The Ray Gun: A Love Story,” James Alan Gardner
  2. “Memory Dog,” Kathleen Ann Goonan
  3. “The Tear,” Ian McDonald

Nanoparticle Breakthrough Could Save Million of Cancer Patients

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a nano-particle application expected to allow doctors to examine up to 100 distinct features in individual cancer cells.

This is similar to radioactive dyes that are now used to highlight organs for more traditional scanning technologies, but a whole magnitude more sensitive and therefor much more effective.

The real genius here is how this was acomplished. The team combined signal emitting molecules with composite organic-inorganic nanoparticles which boosted the signal strength and allow the team to track changes in certain proteins in cancer causing cells.

Read complete article here

Bradbury prefers library over internet

Ray Bradbury, hands down - master craftsman of the speculative fiction genre, has a sore spot, it would appear. To quote Mr Bradbury “The Internet is a big distraction,”. That is a curious statement from someone accustomed to looking into the future and understanding the impact the Internet / Web has, and will have. But not really surprising is Bradbury's passion for the public library.

From the article:
  • “Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury said. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
But the internet?:
  • “It’s distracting, It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.”

Due to a rapid decline in the economy and a sharp decline in property taxes, many libraries find themselves in financial trouble. And to say the least, he find this disconcerting.

Read the full article to find out what steps he is taking to secure the health of the library system

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Locus awards for 2009

Here are this year's Locus award winners thanks to Science Fiction Awards Watch blog
  • Science Fiction Novel: Anathem, Neal Stephenson (Atlantic UK, Morrow)
  • Fantasy Novel: Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt)
  • First Novel: Singularity’s Ring, Paul Melko (Tor)
  • Young-Adult Book: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, Bloomsbury)
  • Novella: “Pretty Monsters”, Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters)
  • Novelette: “Pump Six”, Paolo Bacigalupi (Pump Six and Other Stories)
  • Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)

Abandoned Towers Magazine now accepting subscriptions

Okay, I told myself that after AT had been in production for a year, and I felt fairly comfortable with putting it together, that I'd start taking subscription.

It's been a year.

well... a month shy of a year.

so here are the details on how to subscribe. Notice that you are subscribing to a certain number of issues, not a certain number of months.

Subscribe to Abandoned Towers

3 print issues, $25.00 - save $5.00 off the retail price of $30.00 for 3 issues bought separately

4 print issues, $30.00 - save $10.00 off the retail price of $40.00 for 4 issues bought separately

5 print issues, $35.00 - save $15.00 off the retail price of $50.00 for 5 issues bought separately

6 print issues, $40.00 - save $20.00 off the retail price of $60.00 for 6 issues bought separately

We don't accept subscriptions for more than 6 issues.

To subscribe, please send email to abandonedtowers@gmail.com with the subject line of Abandoned Towers Print subscription. Specify in the email how many issues you wish to subscribe for. Do NOT send payment until after you have received a response and been given instructions.

New content added on a regular basis.

Visit Abandoned Towers at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is forced vaccination Bio-Terrorism?

Consider this truly paranoid news article title: Journalist Files Charges against WHO and UN for Bioterrorism and Intent to Commit Mass Murder

This very controversial article was sent in by Shaun Saunders and is eerily similar to his story "The Colors Twelve" that I read in episode 154. The very very dark tale describes a meeting of a shadowy organization that steers groups like WHO in an effort to create a very bleak world brought about by selective breeding and massive genocide using such techniques as vaccines that have been tailored or adulterated to cause massive fatalities. Now mind you, this story of Shaun's appeared before Baxter AG and Avir Green Hills Biotechnology produced contaminated bird flu vaccine!

Jane Burgermeister, an Austrian investigative journalist, has taken the very unusual step
  • [she] has recently filed criminal charges with the FBI against the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN), and several of the highest ranking government and corporate officials concerning bioterrorism and attempts to commit mass murder.
  • She has also prepared an injunction against forced vaccination......
  • In her charges, Burgermeister presents evidence of acts of bioterrorism that is in violation of U.S. law by a group operating within the U.S. under the direction of international bankers who control the Federal Reserve, as well as WHO, UN and NATO. This bioterrorism is for the purpose of carrying out a mass genocide against the U.S. population by use of a genetically engineered flu pandemic virus with the intent of causing death.
Wether or not you follow this line of reasoning, the article itself is an interesting insight into many ideas and of course you can not resist speculating about what kind of future might come about if something like this really took place.

And always there is Shaun just hours into the future with stories like "The Colors Twelve". That in my mind is where true Science Fiction lives

Read complete article in Natural News

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Star Trek - The Show That Would Not Die

Star Trek has been around for most of eternity, it seems. Everyone and their dog knows who Captain Kirk is, can at least attempt a Vulcan Mind Meld, and speak fluent Klingon. The question isn't whether Star Trek has fans now. It's not even whether it'll have fans in a few years. The question is why has Star Trek survived so long. After all, the original show only lasted 3 seasons. In the world of TV, a three season run is nothing to sneer at, and most shows with that many episodes go into syndication.

But Star Trek, alone of all of them, not only refused to die by going into syndication, it grew. It took on a life of it's own, took over the world and spun off multiple other shows and movies. It has such a firm grip on the sci-fi community that it's original actors, men and women who have reached normal retirement age, are forced to keep reprising their role. Star Trek truly is The Show That Would Not Die.

And in this, we see the dramatic power of FANDOM!

That's right. Fans. The fans are the ones that kept star trek alive after it was canceled. The fans forced it to start growing again. The Fans grew up, and started writing new TV shows and movies. The Fans are it's life blood and life force. And as long as those fans exist, Star Trek will continue, vibrant, glowing and getting stronger every day.

Other TV shows, Movies and even authors of small square things known as books would do well to pay attention to this lesson. Fans are not only important, they're critical.

So for all of those Trekkies, we present some trivia. Most of these little bits of trivia are probably well known to the hard-core fans. But even a die-hard fan might find a few holes in their knowledge base. With that said, here we go:

In the Star Trek pilot, the Starship was named Yorktown.

Mark Lenard was the first actor to play a Vulcan, a Romulan, and a Klingon.

Walter Koenig, who played Checkov, also wrote the episode "The Infinite Vulcan,"

Gene Roddenberry modeled Star Trek after Swift's story, Gulliver's Travels, though he pitched it as "Wagon Train to the stars," because that was popular in Hollywood at the time.

Star Trek debuted in the United States on NBC on September 8, 1966.

Mr. Sulu's first name is Hikaru.

Filmation produced an animated Star Trek which ran for 2 seasons, from 1973 to 1974, but Gene Roddenberry was unhappy with it and forced Paramount to remove it from the Star Trek cannon.

Everyone knows that the T. in James T. Kirk stands for Tiberius, but did you know that it wasn't official until Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Some great resources for anyone that enjoys Star Trek are:

and some great Star Trke... er Trek bloopers

Should virtual crime mean real jail time?

I was reading this article in Scientific American that was titled: "Avatar Acts: Why Online Realities Need Regulation" Now before we start choosing up battle lines and boiling the oil, some facts. It's estimated that worldwide, some 100 million people have an online avatar that they use to populate virtual worlds like Second Life of World of Warcraft. These virtual worlds allow a user a real-time experience to say - wander around castles, deserted islands, battlefields either historical or totally fantastic. Through the use of "avatars", a user can meet, talk or in some instances, if you are so inclined, have simulated sex.

Such immersive activities can lead to real world problems - and not just the escape from reality. Take for instance a wife who filed papers for divorce on the grounds that she caught her husband being overly affectionate with someone else. Now before you say that is perfectly acceptable to sue for divorce consider: The woman found her husband's avatar having a relationship with another woman's avatar. The husband counters that he was driven to it by his wife's addiction to World of Warcraft. Mind you neither have had physical relations with anyone in reality.

Not real enough...try this then. One man lent a friend a sword that he had spent a great deal of money on and in fact was worth a great deal more. His friend promptly sold the sword. Now I should tell you that said sword was a item that can be purchased in the virtual world of warcraft and his friend sold the virtual weapon to another avatar, so you can say that nothing was really stolen and sold. However this is where it gets weird. The original owner decided to sue but found that there were no laws pertaining to purloining a virtual item so he was out of luck. In retaliation the owner of the sword went and killed the friend who sold it. So a man is dead and another will spend the rest of his life in prison. Over a virtual item.

Even stranger still:
  • A Brussels public prosecutor who had called for an investigation of a rape charge involving a Belgian user of Second Life.
The investigation died because all laws on the books pertaining to violent acts, deal with real people. Not that nothing is being done. South Korean courts now have several laws on the book pertaining to virtual property, but the U.S. has chosen not to act. Something is going to have to happen, as far as legislation is concerned. Virtual commerce is worth about $1 billion, and that is not virtual cash either.

Read complete article here

According to AOL News:
  • A Tennessee man is facing charges of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor for what authorities say are three pictures -- none of them featuring an actual child's body. Instead, the photos feature the faces of three young girls placed on the nude bodies of adult females........
Pornography it might be - but sexual exploitation? Questionable material most certainly but how can it be exploitation of a minor? What am I missing?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sci-Fi Contest!

On November 16, 1974 the Arecibo radio telescope sent a coded message toward the globular cluster M13, 25,000 light-ears away. The message was 1,679 bits of data and was a pattern that an alien civilization is supposed to decode. The message contains crude images of numbers 1 to 10, a stick-figure of a man, chemical formulas, including the code for DNA, a sketch of the Solar System, and an image of the radio telescope. If we received a message like that from the stars, could you decode it? Let's find out -- here's the challenge:

It's late at night. You're monitoring shortwave signals on 2380 MHz and you suddenly get some slight frequency shifts. You decide to hit the record button on your data scope, and the message completes in less than 3 minutes. Now what? Have you received a real message from an alien civilization or is it just a hoax? You better be right before you call a press conference! You don't need a deep understanding of mathematics, science or cryptology to solve "The Three Trees Riddle" -- it's just for fun, and you'll know if you're right.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Arecibo Message, Cyberwizard Productions and Abandoned Towers Magazine http://cyberwizardproductions.com/AbandonedTowers are offering a reward to kick off a new puzzle page. Besides receiving "bragging rights", which will include listing your name as the Winner of the First Contest, you'll receive a 1-year subscription to the printed issues of the best web magazine on our planet. The contest begins now, and ends at midnight (UTC) November 16, 2009, as the original signal passes the 210 trillion mile mark, on the interstellar highway to unknown civilizations.

After you decode the "Three Trees Riddle", which was developed by fiction writer Doug Hilton, please send your results to


with the subject line Arecibo Message Contest

One winner will be picked at random from all correct entries, and will be notified by email. Once the winner is notified, the correct solution will be posted on the original contest page.

The contest page can be found by going to Abandoned Towers Magazine and clicking on the button marked Puzzles on the home page, choosing Puzzles from the drop down Things to do menu on the table of contents page or by going to the direct link which is http://www.cyberwizardproductions.com/AbandonedTowers/puzzles/arecibo/

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh where have all the sunspots gone? ***updated***

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from Science Daily that answers a question that has troubled astronomers for some time. For the past 2 years sunspots have been been a very rare event. The lack was at first difficult to lock down. Sunspot activity goes through an 11 year cycle and therefor the sun was already at a low activity point. But the decrease in activity was so deep and lasting for so long that there was speculation that the solar minimum might be entering a century long phase with virtually no activity that hasn't happened since the 17th century.

According to the article:
  • researchers announced that a jet stream deep inside the sun is migrating slower than usual through the star's interior, giving rise to the current lack of sunspots.
These jet streams (which in fact move 7 thousand miles below the surface of the sun) start at the poles and move down to the equator, which when reached, supports new sunspot activity, and a new jet stream is started at the pole. This migration takes 11 years or about 2 years per 10 degrees of angle. What has happened recently though is the migration is taking nearer 3 years to move down 10 degrees. The good news is that even though they are slower, the present jet stream will reach the equator which means there should be a return to normal solar activity.

Read the complete Science Digest article

Update: Tim sends in an update from Yahooo News.
It seems after a protracted absence of sun-spot activity, there has been a resurgence in the past week (July 2009) this after one of the longest period of no activity in modern history. Prior to this low point - scientist were looking for the next peak of activity in 2013 to be one of the most energetic, however after this quite period the next peak of solar flare activity is estimated to be very modest. This may turn out to be very good news indeed. Had the next high point been as bad as was being predicted, it is estimated that there could have been upwards of $2 trillion in initial damages by crippling communications on Earth, by damaging satellites in orbit and sensitive electronic equipment on the ground.

read the yahoo article here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mars once had massive lakes

Tim Sayell sends in an article concerning new discoveries of substantial water on Mars. There has been ample discoveries of water with the polar missions, but to this point large bodies of water were merely extrapolations. Now with this new body of evidence it is clear that Mars did in fact have huge bodies of open water. This new evidence takes the form of: "definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars" according to an article in Yahoo News.

Researchers have found an ancient shoreline of a large deep-water lake that existed some three billion years ago. It covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep -- roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain bordering the United States and Canada.

Another truly astonishing discovery is just how fast this lake disappeared! Mars is a dry planet now....no big surprise. How fast it became that way, might be though. As bodies of water on Earth evaporate they leave successive shorelines. Mars' lake did indeed leave a shoreline but only one. It's very possible that the climate change on Mars was so dramatic and fast that the lake may have frozen solid and sublimated to water vapor over millions of years.

Yahoo story CBS News story

*I thought I would share an observation that Shaun Saunders had on the pic for this article. If we view the original graphic for this story you see a fairly typical horizon shot with the the sun light being filtered through the Martian atmosphere....which of course is rendered in red which as we have seen over the past years of photography from Mars is totally wrong. Shaun points out that the sky should as he puts it should be "pale blue, like Arizona, not red, unless there is a current dust storm in the area" Well I feel like a de de de for missing that....lol

Why we still love Star Trek

Shaun Saunders sends in an interesting op/ed piece written by Laurence Krauss writing in New Scientist. Mr. Krauss posits that the reason that the series, now some 40+ years old still captures the imagination for the most part might be:
  • [That] of all science-fiction drama in the past half-century, Star Trek was based on a hopeful view of the future.....
  • "infinite possibilities of existence"......[that] could be exploited for the benefit of humankind and aliens alike.
  • A future where science and reason would prevail over superstition, religious fundamentalism and petty myopic rivalries, and where technology could be developed to address almost any challenge.
As unrealistic as these ideals might be, the core principals are still extremely popular. Mostly it would seem that no matter how bad things get there is always the hope that like Star Trek, we will find a way to work through these problems and enjoy an idyllic future.

Read the complete piece and see if you agree. Why is Star Trek still so popular.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BMU story archive updated

I just did a pretty major update on the archive. There are now over 50 stories from earlier program many of which can no longer be found on the Podcast site

The space is being donated by Ron so the address is a bit convoluted so I made a tiny url to get there quicker.


here is the direct url for you purists!


Primeval canceled

Tv Squad is reporting that Primeval has been canceled. This after 3 seasons on BBC America and recently on the Sci-fi channel. I am not sure what that means for those that have been watching on the Sci-Fi however. Tv Squad did not mention Sci-fi but in passing.

Reason giving for cancelation....high production costs. There was a great deal of cgi...which was the star of the show unfortunatly. TV Squad asked the question, "would you miss Primeval?" Honestly I can't say that I will. Some parts of the program were intriguing and the final time paradox or loop was very interesting, but overall I really did not like the characters. I never really bought the sense of urgency that was built into the show. So, no I won't even though it was far from being really bad.

complete story by TV Squad

Sunday, June 14, 2009

spies in the skies

Any fan of Little Brother or Mallcity is going to love this nasty little trick. Shaun Saunders sends in this pic from Newsweek that shows a blimp over this year's Indy 500. Now most people don't give these things a second glance, but maybe they should. This is where it gets nasty...At first glance it appeared to be an advertising blimp for a legit charity but the real truth is revealed once what was inside was brought to light. Here is what the Newsweek article had to say:
  • Hidden inside the 55-foot-long white balloon was a powerful surveillance camera adapted from the technology Raytheon provides the U.S. military. Essentially an unmanned drone, the blimp transmitted detailed images to the race's security officers and to Indiana police.
The whole idea is Raytheon was doing a proof of concept test and is now marketing the tech to large municipalities, police departments and sporting venues to spy on yep, you guessed it.

Read the full article

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Robot controlled by living brain......

Yep, I said a living brain controlling a robot. Get ready, this is b movie creepie! lol

complete article here

New research shows Warp Drives would suck!

hey here is an interesting article sent in by Tim Sayell from Discovery online.
  • According to new calculations by Italian physicists, a warp drive could easily create a black hole that would incinerate any passengers on a space craft and then suck Earth into the same black hole!
As we all know...normal physics shows that FTL is impossible. As speed increases so does mass and therefore the more energy you need to move even a small amount faster. As you approach light speed your mass becomes infinite and therefore the amount of energy you need to move faster also becomes infinity. I have said (tongue firmly in cheek) that the stars themselves prove ftl is impossible. Why? Because if you go an infinite speed you need infinite energy, which means all the power in the universe plus a little bit more. Since the stars are still burning..... but anyway..

The first exception to the ftl rule is a wormhole. If a ship were to cross the wormhole threshold, it would still be going sub light, but it would still arrive at the other end before any light that had to travel the distance outside the wormhole.

The second itself is the idea of a warp engine that physicist Michael Alcubierre envisioned.
  • Alcubierre warp drive would create a bubble of energy behind the ship and a lack of energy in front of the ship, like a giant cosmic wave a space ship could surf. That particular section of space can travel faster than the speed of light in the surrounding space, and anything on or in that bubble will accelerate with it. (here is the original article BMU ran on the Alcubierre drive)
The problems start when you consider the amount of energy it would take to create the "bubble" that would contain the ftl. Plus you would need even more energy to "push" the bubble along. The problems really start when the energy to hold everything in check runs out. Just like antimatter, when the dark matter needed comes into contact with normal matter the ship inside is destroyed by temperatures well in excess of that near the core of a supernova. Plus as the bubble collapses it could very well create a black hole that would not bode well for ships or planets nearby.

Read complete article here

Friday, June 12, 2009

Teenager hit by 30k mph meteorite!

I mean, what are the chances?! Well according to this article in the UK Telegraph a million to one.

Gerrit Blank was on his way to school when he saw "ball of light" heading straight towards him from the sky. He felt a searing pain in his hand, was thrown several feet and almost deafened by the blast as a pea sized rock blasted out a hole in the pavement. Estimates have the speed of the small meteorite at apx. 30 thousand miles per hour. It made a 1 foot crater and a nasty three-inch long scar on his hand.

According to the article, what makes this strike unusual is:
  • The only other known example of a human being surviving a meteor strike happened in Alabama, USA, in November 1954 when a grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of a house, bounced off furniture and landed on a sleeping woman.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009 Campbell Award Finalists

From the Science Fiction Award Watch is this year's finalists for the John W. Campbell Memorial award.

  • City at the End of Time, Greg Bear (published by Del Rey)
  • Valley of Day-Glo, Nick Di Chario (Robert J. Sawyer Books)
  • Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
  • Song of Time, Ian MacLeod (PS Publishing)
  • The Philosopher’s Apprentice, James Morrow (William Morrow)
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

Red giant Betelgeuse may go supernova?!

Shaun Saunders sends in a VERY interesting article from Fox news online. It seems that the red giant Betelgeuse (the bright red star in the left shoulder of Orion) may soon explode in a supernova - this according to data released by UC Berkley.

The indications are pretty startling all in themselves. Betelgeuse's enormous size would have once reached all the way out to the orbit of Jupiter if placed in the center of the solar system has begun to shrink, as much as 15% already. Scientists will watch the star over the next few years to see if the shrinking continues. It may also rebound. This type of behavior is thought to precede the final cataclysmic explosion as the star "exhausts one fuel" and switches to more denser materials to fuse. Star's need to keep the fusion process going to hold up their massive atmospheres. Stars (especially super - massives like Betelgeuse) are thought to begin this size fluctuations as they fuse all their hydrogen and switch over to helium and finally the process ends with iron. At this point the fusion process can not hold up the star's outer atmosphere and it collapses onto the core releasing more energy in a few moments that an entire galaxy.

Should the supernova event happen, Earth would be in for a spectacular show. Betelgeuse is 600 light-years away, and so may have already exploded.

Now this reminds me of Shaun's story Last Light (available in his book Navigating in the New World) which concerns a race destroyed by a gama radiation blast from a super nova. (when the explosion starts, huge amounts of gama radiation are channeled in beams from the north and south pole of the star. Should a planet be in the path of this beam, said planet would "cook" very much as if in a microwave. Though to be completely fair, GRBs are extremely rare events. Check this article out for more info on GRBs)

Fox news online article

Short Film: The Terrible thing from Alpha 9

Check out this very clever animation by Jake Armstrong. The animation style is familiar in some aspects, but the short is very original.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Record breaking super massive black hole discovered

Tim Sayell sends in this eye opener from Yahoo News concerning a record breaking super massive black hole at the center of a nearby galaxy - M87.

From the article:
  • The supermassive black hole is two to three times heftier than previously thought, a new model showed, weighing in at a whopping 6.4 billion times the mass of the sun. The new - method of determining the size of black holes - suggests that other black holes in nearby large galaxies could also be much heftier than current measurements suggest.
This new finding may help clear up the size disparity between galaxies extremely far away and those close up. Until recently - distant galaxies which contained quazars - were found to have cores massing about 10 billion solar masses. None of the galaxies relatively close to the Milky Way - seemed to mass anywhere near that of the distant ones. The new finding seems to indicate that most large galaxies contain a super massive black hole, massing on an order comprible with that of distant quazar galaxies.

Yahoo News article

Monday, June 08, 2009

Darpa working on T1000 type tech?!

Not so much chrome / mercury killer bots.... but a material that can self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves.

As the Wired / Danger Room article puts it, this material:
  • could lead to “morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and ’soft’ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.” A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a “universal spare part.”
Wait...robots that could flow like mercury?! Damn that DOES sound like a T1000!

Read the complete article sent in by Shaun Saunders

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Free Floating Black Holes?

I was reading this in Gizmodo and Shaun sends me a message "hey check this out!" and you know this is fascinating and I got to wonder if there is a story in here somewhere. But I digress:

Remember that report a few months back about a flare happening where nothing was suppose to be? And this flare lasted FAR longer than any usual super nova and led to all types of speculation. Ancient civilization trying to communicate, FTL star ship drive exploding... that kind of stuff.

Now it would seem astronomers might have an answer: It was possibly a rogue or "free floating" black hole eating a star that was, until said black hole devoured it, residing in a galaxy to dim to view using existing technology.

According to the Gizmodo article:
  • Lucky for us, one of Hubble's new additions could help us find more rogue black holes in the void. The Wide Field Camera 3, installed by members of the Atlantis crew earlier this month, might be able to determine if there was actually a host galaxy around the mysterious flare that was just too faint to see.

New Scientist article

Saturday, June 06, 2009

LaVerdiere's In Space!

Yep, there is going to be a LaVerdiere's in space. Now you have to be from Maine to understand the humor in this statement. Let me give you some background. Stephen LaVerdiere, a self proclaimed space nut from Belgrade Lakes Maine is paying $200,000 dollars to fly into space aboard Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two. Stephen's claim to fame will be as the first native Mainer to fly into space. Now before we get cat calls that this isn't outspace and its not at orbital velocity that is true, but "space" is defined as any altitude above 62 miles, so 80 miles more than covers that bill.

But to fully understand the humor of a LaVerdiere's in space is to know that Mr. LaVerdiere is the former owner of a drugstore chain in Maine called....yep...LaVerdiere's...

The 52 year old LaVerdiere is scheduled to fly sometime next year and is a group of about 100 that have already signed up to go.

Good Luck Steve....don't forget your dramamine.... yeah, I went there...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Special Scavenger Hunt!


Grand Prize: A free copy of “Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse” personally autographed by the shared-world anthology’s Creator and Co-Writer, Michael H. Hanson.

The Hunt officially kicks off on Saturday, June 6, 2009.

It ends on July 4, 2009.

Winners to be announced during a live broadcast on the “Dark Fiction Show” at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ on Saturday, July 11, 2009.

Rules: Every “Hunter” is required to access every single website shown in “The Hunting Grounds,” and, using the clues list given in “Hunting Supplies” are required to find some answer, image, name, or fact that will make up your “trophies.” You are not allowed multiple answers for each clue/query. You can only give one answer for each website.

When you have compiled the requested list of trophies, you need to e-mail them all in to Michael H. Hanson at: shadaa1@mac.com along with your name, and your snail-mail address (which will be kept confidential and absolutely not shared with anyone).

All those who have found every single answer will have their names placed into a hat (a black fedora of course), where a Winner of the grand prize will be blindly, and fairly, picked out by Michael H. Hanson himself. If only one person hands in the full compliment of answers they will automatically win the grand prize.

Several folks have offered backup goodies (signed copies of books, etc.) and so we are going to have a nice supply of consolation prizes for several runners-ups!

Hunting Tip: The hunting grounds numbers match up with their hunting supplies counterparts.

The Hunting Grounds:

1) http://www.cyberwizardproductions.com/
2) http://www.shadaa.com/
3) http://www.staticmovement.com/
4) http://www.sonar4ezine.com/
5) http://www.myspace.com/darkfictionspotlight
6) http://www.raelori.com/
7) http://www.liquid-imagination.com/
8) http://www.thefictioneers.com/
9) http://www.silverblade.net/
10) http://www.whortleberrypress.com/
11) http://www.anotherealm.com/
12) http://www.arthursanchez.com/
13) http://dawsondark.com/

Hunting Supplies:

1) Thinking inside the box. What color is Teddy’s scarf?
2) What is the Serjeant’s ID number? Hint: it is chiseled into history.
3) This “Haunted Poet” is fifth in one list, and sixth in another.
4) What is the temperature of bubbles in the month of garnet?
5) How many bottles of sparkling beverage are on ice?
6) One of Rae’s favorite Movie Directors was into cobalt velvet. What is this person’s name? Please don’t string me up for asking…
7) How many Ophidians can Sophia juggle?
8) What superhero promotes the press? Do I smell ammonia?
9) What is the color of the silver pen’s feather?
10) It is not an fruit store. How many items does it sell?
11) It’s not a missing link, and it’s halls are white. What kind of business is it?
12) Excerpted for your approval, in this recent Year of the Monkey, who shall inherit the Earth?
13) This immaterial, incorporeal upper anatomy has ignited. What is it?

Star Trek replicator - closer to reality?

That's the speculation put forth in a recent Dvice article. The picture in this article shows a method where by a beam of atoms are fired through millions of tiny perforations and focused onto a substrate:
  • creating a replica of an object 10,000 times smaller than the original.
The amazing thing is that these are exact duplicates albeit in miniature. Right now it is being used to make highly accurate copies of atomic nano-structures.

Granted, this is a long way from making you a tall steaming mug of jo....but consider, if the record were played back, would you not have the macro version of the miniature?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

AntipodeanSF June issue #132 is online!

Nuke, editor and chief of the Australian online flash fiction magazine write to tell the readers/listeners of BMU that the newest issue (June #132) is online and ready for your enjoyment!

Here is a list of the TOC plus short selections of the stories:

Squatters By Dean Grondo

The aliens were tall, bug-eyed bipeds with a strange irregular morphology. We studied them from orbit, amazed at the extensiveness of their presence on the water world. Almost every island on the planet was filled with them, and they'd built towering metropolises out of
stone that spread out over huge areas, baffling the imagination.

Postcard From Castle Khozi By Jan Napier

Dear Vilma,We are home safely, but only just. The idiot captain of the liner almost rammed it into a snoozing sea serpent, (I think it was Spotty, but I didn't really get a good look), just because Grandma smiled at him. Well, you know how she is. She likes talking to people.

The Wood Moths By David Kernot

"Corin, wait!" "No," she said, walking away from him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean any of it," said Arin. "Don't go." "Idiot. How could you be so cruel?"

The Monk By Ray O'Brien

Drew saw The Monk when he crested the dune, saw the red robe flutter in the breeze half-way down the slope. There sat the Monk, waiting.

Icarus Rising By Alison Pearce

Icarus was the ancestor of my ancestor's ancestors. He lived and died before the Sumerians ploughed their first field.

A Matter of Choice By Shaun A. Saunders

The district court judge allowed a puzzled frown. "Could the defendant please explain how he could walk out of a supermarket without purchasing anything?" he asked.

Edison & Earth By Jonathan Gillen

A short tale from the Southern Hemisphere. Darren Boyle grew up under the care of his grandparents on an outback desert cattle station, literally hundreds of miles from the nearest small country town, and he had always admired the virtually infinite stars of the Milky Way that shone through the planet's thin atmosphere.

A Future For Despair By Nicolas Sheppard

Do you wish you were dead, but wonder who will provide for your family when you're gone?

The Couch By Karen Maric

The couch appeared on the footpath outside the pub one morning, lying on its side in the summer glare. Looking back, I s'pose someone must've dumped it there.

April By David Such

I slammed the steering wheel with my fist. "Un-bloody-believable!" I was still angry with my wife and the traffic was shit-house. I keep replaying the conversation.

Click here for these stories and much more

Alien Prequel Confirmed

SF Wire is reporting that rumors that Alien was up for a remake are true.
  • Producer Tony Scott confirmed that he and brother Ridley Scott are developing a prequel film to Ridley's original Alien movie, with Carl Rinsch directing.
  • Scott said that he hopes to get the movie before cameras ""hopefully [by] the end of the year" for a summer 2011 release.

Monday, June 01, 2009

New panel from The name of the Father

Have any of you checked out Royce Lee's ManMachine yet? Well for those of you that have, Royce writes:
  • Am busy working on the next episode.Here is a panel from "The Name of the Father".

Certainly looks cool!

Thanks for the preview Royce.