Friday, April 30, 2010

On Saturn, Do We Have Blizzards

Blizzards that's right, on Saturn. And these storms are so huge they can be seen from Earth by amateur astronomers! Data received from the orbiting Cassini spacecraft showed a large, turbulent storm, covering an area at least five times larger than the biggest blizzard that hit Earth so far this year.

Amateur astronomers are particularly useful to NASA because of the nature of the Cassini probe, it must be aligned to take readings months in advance, where as with amateurs they can reposition their equipment in minutes and take highly sophisticated pictures and data readings.

Amateurs from such diverse locals as Australia and the Philippines have been sending in pictures that give NASA a clue as to just how violent these storms are. Cassini showed that ultra-violent storms were taking place about 250 miles deep in Saturn's massive atmosphere.
lightning has been observed in the clouds tops which are comprised mostly of water and ammonia.

Read complete Yahoo News article here

Thanks again to Tim Sayell

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baloon Launched Observatory Destroyed

In a spectaular crash, today in Alice Springs, a territory of in northern Australia, over 2 million dollars in a painstakingly built telescope. The Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT), a gamma-ray telescope was to be carried aloft by a huge helium balloon.

The research balloon was built by NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas was expected to haul its two-telescope payload up to an altitude of about 120,000 feet, but failed to lift the payload more than a few feet at which time the payload crashed back to earth and was dragged several hundred of feet.

View the raw film of the crash here
Original article here Lots of images

Thanks to Tim Sayell for the link

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Earth's H2O Most Likely Came From Asteroids

Tim Sayell sends in an article from Yahoo News that pretty much confirms something that we suspected - that Earth's water came from water bearing asteroids.

From the article:
  • Astronomers have for the first time detected ice and organic compounds on an asteroid
This goes a long way towards supporting that ice comets and asteroids crashing to Earth during early planetary formation some 4 billion years ago, seeded the planet with water and carbon-based molecules. Though it has long been theorized, this is the first time that scientists have published hard data supporting the theories.

It may be that asteroids were responsible for 20 to 30% of the total amount of terrestrial water.

Read the complete article HERE

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: Up on Blu-ray

Awarded with two Academy Awards for best Animated Feature and best Original score plus Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Directed By Pete Docter Co-Director: Bob Peterson

Starring Edward Asner Christopher Plummer Jordan Nagai Bob Peterson

I know, what am I talking about Up for on a sci-fi / science blog. Well I have made no bones about how much I enjoy good animation. I know many of the animated films I have reviewed have had a strong SF theme, but to be honest the reason for the rental was indeed the animation. And without another word the animation is sumptuous! In the theaters it was originally presented in 3D but not having seen it as such I was most pleased with the blu-ray version I watched.

For those that haven't seen the movie, the first thing that can be said is that the plot is very much a “let's put this part here, that part there and so on”. By that I mean, all the ideas and plot devices are off the shelf in a very “Disney” kinda way. No real stretching going on here. That being said though the movie is out and out whimsy. I don't believe at this point I am giving anything away when I say that, in an attempt to keep a promise to his wife of many years Carl escapes almost certain forced retirement by escaping in one of the most unusual methods imaginable but makes complete sense in the world we see Carl grow old in. At the start of his voyage he finds himself stuck with a young boy named Russell who drags Carl into his world and by misadventures bring Carl into a completely over the top adventure all his own. Oh and I am using the word adventure this many times on purpose. The whole movie revolves around it, from very tearful (Disney, who would have thunk it) end of one to the inadvertent completion of another. Did I say tearful? Yeah I know Disney you're thinking of Bambi but it's much deeper and fuller than I have ever seen a Disney movies go. So they gave Docter and Perterson quite a bit of leeway.

The rest of Up is just over the top. Everyone put a great deal of work in detail and it shows. The extras will show you just how much of the movie was drawn from real observations of very real places in South America. And the EXTRAS! The director's comment tract is one of the best I have seen. Lots of effort went into the information that is offered along with the director's commentary. Included in the extras is a great making of and a couple of scene expansions which are wonderful. Even the closing credits are fun! If you like animation you won't be disappointed with this offering. Even the score of the film is great, as shown by the awards for it.

The movie is fun and the extras are a movie buff treat I would give the movie an 8 just because many of the plot devices are like off the shelf Disney kind of thing but just for extras the blu-ray gets a 10 for just SO much material. So that's what...a 9? yeah, that works for me.

If you like animation and whimsey go for it. If not, rent it for the kids, they will love it, but sit in the opening sequences may be upsetting or confusing to young viewers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

WTF Doctors complete Successful Face Transplant?

I mean how weird is this? I caught the semi sci-fi movie on cable called faceoff. You know that load of trash with Nick Cage and Vin uhh John Travolta, and what do I see in my news reader? Yep an article about a successful face transplant.... From the would they lie? nooooo waaaaaaaay!
  • The operation took 22 hours and 30 doctors... in Barcelona, a man who'd lost his much of his face in a shooting accident received an entire face—skin, muscles, .... cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth

Of course the article ended from a donor....uhhhhhh duh! If it wasn't a donor there is some seriously pissed of person out there. Of course it was from a donor! and I am going to let you check out the "graphics" What a twist! huh?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Red Bull Stratos Suit unveiled

The Red Bull Stratos science team has unveiled the first space suit ever to be produced by David Clark Company for a non-governmental space program. The team has also revealed the pressure helmet, which with the suit will serve as Felix Baumgartners sole life-support system when he steps off his capsule at 120,000 feet to attempt a record-breaking freefall from the edge of space.

The suit was manufactured by Massachusetts-based David Clark company, which has pioneered air and space crew protective equipment since 1941, including launch entry suits for Space Shuttle astronauts and the iconic suit that United States Air Force Colonel (Ret.) Joe Kittinger wore on his historic Excelsior III jump in 1960.

Kittinger set three world records that still stand: the highest parachute jump 102,800 ft, the longest parachute drogue fall 4 minutes and 36 seconds and the fastest speed by a human through the atmosphere 614 mph.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Comets

From Discover's Bad Astronomy blog is a list of 10 things you may or may not know about comets.

1) The actual solid part of a comet is tiny. The actual solid part of a comet is tiny.

2) Comets are dirty snowballs. In general, comet nuclei are mountain-size dirty snowballs: rock, dust, gravel and other bits of stuff all mixed up with frozen gases and of course lots and lots of water.

3) Comets spend most of their lives looking pretty much like asteroids. They tend to have long, elliptical orbits. The farther they are from the Sun, the slower they travel, so really they might spend 99.9% of their lives far, far from the heat of our nearest star in temps so cold that even water freezes harder than rock.

4) Every time a comet comes near the Sun, it dies a little bit. Some comets are held together by the frozen gases. As one of these passes the Sun, that gas blows away, and the comet loses some of its structural integrity. Eventually, if it’s mostly gas, it’ll disintegrate.

5) Comets can have two tails. In fact they can have lots of tails. The dust tail can be broken up into several straight features called dust striae, possibly due to large pieces of the comet breaking off and forming their own tails.

6) Comets spawn meteor showers. Millions of tons of material blowing off a comet every time it passes the Sun. If a comet’s orbit intersects the Earth
the Earth can plow through this debris which burns up in our atmosphere, and we get a meteor shower.

7) Comets are potentially more dangerous than asteroids. They can come from deep, deep space, falling all the way from beyond Neptune’s orbit. They pick up a lot of velocity, and some can be moving at 70 km/sec (40 miles/sec) this speed makes them pound for pound 10 times more energetic than asteroids.

8) Seven comets have been visited by spacecraft. So far.

9) The best comet hunter of all time is SOHO. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

10) Some comets can be seen in daylight. If a comet gets close enough to the Earth, or close to the Sun at the right angle, it can become bright enough to be seen even during the day.

Of course the article has LOTS more data than I put here. Click the article title to go to the complete Discover entry

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Short Film: When It Will Be Silent

When It Will Be Silent is the sophomore project for Israeli film student Dan Sachar.
That's right sophomore....Sachar shot the film in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Jordan, as a project for Sapir Academic College, Israel.

When it Will Be Silent (כשיהיה דומם) from Dan Sachar on Vimeo.

Film Website

Weird Robotic Mouth

This has got to be one of the most uncomfortably weird robotic devices I have ever seen... Leave it to Dvice!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Riverworld Premieres Tonight (Sunday 18th)

SFSignal wants to remind us that Philip José Farmer's much-loved classic creation comes to the SyFy channel tonight. The 4-hour movie Riverworld begins tonight at 7PM (6 central).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Does Our Universe Exist in a Black Hole

You guys have got to read this article I just found in "The Daily Galaxy" Here is what it is about in a nut shell:
  • Some of the world's leading string theorists -"the theory of everything"- believe that our entire universe exists in a black hole.
  • scientists at Princeton and Cambridge say that most of the universe is regularly destroyed. It's space-time-twisted into black holes...
  • In each destruction cycle only a small seed of habitable space survives, which grows ... to provide a new universe due to ... dark matter.
And it get weirder than that! Read it and see if it doesn't spin you around like it did me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: The Happening

Director M. Night Shyamalan
Staring Mark Walhberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo

I just happened to catch this one on tv so I can not say what the dvd or blu-ray have to offer so if someone wants to fill us in that would be helpfull.

Walhberg plays teacher Elliot Moore who begins the movie by positing to his class a question as to why all the bees are disappearing. The day is disrupted by a supposed terrorist attack on Central Park where people inexplicably start killing themselves in the quickest method they can accomplish. Jumping off buildings, shooting themselves, driving their cars into get the point. The effect spreads so fast that it soon becomes apparent that it is not terrorists but natural causes. Walhberg manages to escape the effects with his wife and a friends child, but only just, and eventually waits out the worst in a remote farm-house. It is determined that the plants where or may have been the cause but everyone is skeptical because it only happened in the US Northeast.

Now Shyamalan could have left it right here and left you wondering and thinking and generally agreeing that though derivative at least the movie made you think. But the director just can not resist picking at the ending like a child at a scab until he bleeds every bit out of the idea.

"Happening" is at best a retread "Day of the Triffids" with a sprinkle of "the Birds" - with Night depending more on the horror aspect or the suicides. He not only telegraphs the ending but tells you point blank that he is going to do it! Nothing new here. We have the bad ole humans destroying Gaea and must be stopped - yawn.

If its on tv and you're too damn lazy to change the channel, then go ahead and watch, but rent? Own? nope. pass. Give it a 4 for some of the acting and visuals....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mysterious Object Viewed in the Taurus star-forming system

Tell me this doesn't have science fiction written all over it. Check out the picture. On the right you have a mysterious object discovered near a brown dwarf doesn’t fit into any known astronomical category. It's in a binary system with the brown dwarf companion buuuuuuuuut
it’s too young to have formed by accretion, though it masses like a planet, evidence points towards or better away from the normal way planets form, and it too light to be another brown dwarf.

So at the very least the conventions held for planetary formation have to be re-examined. As
Kevin Luhman of Penn State University, recently said in The Astrophysical Journal. “This seems to indicate that there are two different ways for nature to make small companions.”

It gets weirder, read the complete Wired article here

Short Film: Nuit Blanche

Director Arev Manoukian's first film Nuit Blanche is a 4 minute 41 second slow motion tour-de-force encapsulating a fantasy encounter between two strangers. Though they are calling it fantasy, many of the effects bring to mind new and old science fiction films, including the absolutely stunning and I might say crushingly familiar and effective final effect. Wonderfully visual as well as aurally mesmerizing.

Jeanne Robinson update

Look, I read Spider's article and to be completely honest it felt ghoulish just pasting it in here. So I am going to ask that if you haven't heard or want an update go here for Spider's note on the subject.

All I will say is I offer condolences knowing somewhat from where he speaks.

nuff said

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Short Film: "The Gift"

This short film, called "The Gift," is about a box containing something both humans and robots will do anything for . It's directed by Carl Erik Rinsch, IO9 writes that several studios are bidding to make it into a feature film.

Science Fiction Tear Jerkers

From IO9 is a list of science fiction themed movies or tv shows, designed to get the waterworks going. Is the list definitive or can you add or would you remove a listing?

LOST: "The Constant"
CHARLY (Keys - Flowers for Algernon)
STAR TREK: "City on the Edge of Forever"
DOCTOR WHO: "Father's Day"
WINGS OF DESIRE (inspiration for the remake City of Angels)
DOCTOR WHO: "Doomsday"

Ok, where is Testament? the William Devaine, Jane Alexander movie about a post nuclear war that will rip you a new one? The movie Moon has its' moments, One the Beach? Damn I would put these up there before I would BUFFY! WTF


Monday, April 12, 2010

Slow Light - is it possible? What are the uses?

I remember reading Bob Shaw's 1968 short story "Light of Other Days many years ago about Slow Light. In this story all the windows in the house were made of slow glass. This glass was made of a material that slowed light to a crawl. The light that entered it on one side took years to pass through. The thought being that you would set out a sheet of slow glass in a picturesque local for a number of years and then install them in frames that would act as windows. The idea just blew me away.

Is it possible? Very likely... Lets look at light. the posted speed limit for light is 300,000km a second. But that is only in a complete vacuum. In real life light travels MUCH slower. What slows light down? Well any ole atom will do the trick. An atom will absorb a photon and re-emit it, imparting a delay. This is called the absorption/re-emission cycle. Now I hear the screams "photon HAVE to travel at C!" and in truth the "slowing" is just an illusion because once emitted, the photon travels again at C until it hits another atom. But the delay...that is not an illusion.

What really gets weird is when the "stop" light. Check out this mind bending statement from the IO9 article
  • When scientists stop light, they aren't actually halting a photon – they're embedding its quantum state into the nearby atoms. Later, they use another laser pulse to activate those atoms and make them emit an identical photon.
Other than Slow Glass what could be a use for "stopped light"? Well the ability to slow, stop and generate photons is a major step towards developing quantum computers. Of course as with any tech a criminal will find a way to co-opt it say by replacing windows with slow glass so that surveillance would be none the wiser or surveillance itself...You could be watching someone that would see nothing but a seascape say...for years....

For the complete article and reference links, check out the IO9 article HERE
Slow Light in Wikipedia HERE

Moon - Review


Director:Duncan Jones

Sam Rockwell - Sam Bell
Kevin Spacey - GERTY (voice)

For the most part Moon is a one man show. Sam Rockwell plays Moon Helium 3 miner Sam Bell on a 3 year stint with Lunar Industries to mine Earth's primary source of energy on the far side of the Moon. All is going well, if a bit lonely, as Sam nears the end of his contract. However he starts to hear and see things that do not jibe with "world view". At one point these "hallucinations" distract him so much that he manages to hit and disable a mining machine and strand himself in the process. The weirdness continues when he awakens in the station's infirmary to be told by the robot caretaker GERTY that he had been in an accident.

GERTY begins to act very HAL like when Sam states his wishes to go outside. He finally misdirects GERTY enough to agree to let him exit the habitat where he immediately heads for the original crash site. What he finds there totally flies in the face of everything he thought he knew about his job, the company, himself and eventually his family.

Moon will play fast and loose with your sense of reality and self. At times you have a very real feeling that you are in the middle of a Silent Running remake, only for it to turn into an even creepier version of 2001 and to some extent, Alien It goes without saying that all of these movies seemed to have influenced Moon.

There are some major twists and reversals dealt in Moon, it would be best to leave all preconceptions at the start of the movie. Though budgeted like an indie film, everything about it is top notch science fiction. At the risk of giving something away, you soon forget that the only actor on screen is Sam Rockwell. I honestly see this film being compared favorably in the future with those films that inspired it.

The movie itself is well worth the rental. But the Blu-ray version is a movie fan treat. There are two comment tracks, special effects real, two q&a reels, a making of short and another short science fiction film called Whisper that puts a completely new spin of what might be called the third oldest profession.

I could pick at the movie and the speciality tracks, but it really would be nit picking. This movie disk is well worth a rental or even better a great addition to your disk library.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Man From Future Try to Halt LHC Experiments

Oh man, I couldn't make this up if I tried! It seems an oddly dressed man was arrested for disrupting the normal operation of the Large Hadron Collider. His statement said he was from the future and was trying to prevent the LHC from destroying Earth. And how did Eloi Cole disrupt operations? Why by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment’s vending machines, that's how. To be fair this was not his first attempt. Mr. Cole's first attempt took the form of a sandwich dropped into the works. Yes - THAT sandwich......

Oh it gets weirder! From the article:
  • Mr Cole was seized by Swiss police after CERN security guards spotted him rooting around in trash bins. He explained that he was looking for fuel for his ‘time machine power unit’, a device that resembled a kitchen blender.
Mountain Dew.... Blender.... he might be onto something here.....

World's Deepest Drill Hopes to hit Mantle Soon

the Chikyu research vessel already holds the record for deepest hole drilled, at 23,000 feet below the seabed, two to four times that of any other drill. But far from sitting on its' laurels, Chikyu wants to add another mile to that depth, bringing it to the Earth's mantle for the first time in history.

As the PopSci article puts it:
  • In 2007, off the coast of Japan, it became the first mission to study subduction zones, the area between tectonic plates that is the birthplace of many earthquakes. Over the next three years, scientists will tack on at least an extra mile of drill and attempt the most ambitious mission ever: piercing the Earth’s mantle.
  • For deeper ground penetration, where temperatures can exceed 500°F and corrosive chemicals reside, engineers will use a higher-tensile-strength steel to build the drill string. Also in development are new drilling (synthetic) mud that cool the drill bit during operation.
PopSci via Gizmodo

Sunday, April 04, 2010

2010 Hugo Nominees announced

From Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing blog, we have the 2010 Hugo Award Nominees!
No surprise that Paolo's The Windup Girl is in the running!

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The City & The City by China Miéville
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Beam Me Up review here)


Act One by Nancy Kress
The God Engines by John Scalzi
Palimpsest by Charles Stross
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
Vishnu at the Cat Circus by Ian McDonald
The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker


Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky
The Island by Peter Watts
It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith
One of Our Bastards is Missing by Paul Cornell
Overtime by Charles Stross
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" by Eugie Foster


The Bride of Frankenstein by Mike Resnick
Bridesicle by Will McIntosh
The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen
Non-Zero Probabilities by N.K. Jemisin
Spar by Kij Johnson

Friday, April 02, 2010

AntipodeanSF Issue 142 is now Online!

AntipodeanSF editor Ion writes to tell us that issue 142 is now available online. Here is the table of contents.

Next - Simon Petrie

A Man, A Plan, A Shattered World - By Wes Parish

Colourblind - By Dr. Michael Schaper

Paradigm Shift - By Gitte Christensen

I Close My Eyes For You To Sleep - By Jacinta Lodge

Prevention Is The Best Cure - By Shaun A. Saunders

The Socks - By Julie Wornan

Strangers In The Night - By Garry Dean

When One Cries, The Other Tastes Salt - By Threasa Meads

Wilderness - By Rob Bleckly

You can find issue 142 by logging to AntipodeanSF

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Short Film: Get Out

Yep, on a video kick again. Here we have a reality twisting short that even Tim Leary would have appreciated! From the fertile imagination of Alberto Corral I present Get Out.

Alberto writes about this short: Shot in December '09 with Nikon D5000 in Los Angeles, California. Edited January '10. No additional lights but natural light. No budget except for food. 2 1/2 days of shooting.

Now that's dedication!