Monday, May 31, 2010

How Captain Kirk changed the world from Science News

May 4, 2010: "Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Captain Kirk barks out the order with such confidence. He knows the USS Enterprise can slip in and out of planetary orbits with ease. But it's only easy in the realm of science fiction. In the real world, such maneuvers have been impossible --until now.
Read the entire article here:

A very nice video of Asimov discussing science fiction

Friday, May 28, 2010


Ok, so I admit it! I am a sucker for a cute video. Found on Gizmodo, here is a short send up of Iron Man. Directed by Erik Boivin who unabashedly admits this sendup of Iron Man stars his own baby girl with costume design by STROB. This is just out and out fun, but you can go to the youtube sites to see how they did it, which is damn clever!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Avatar

Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Written by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldanan, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver,
Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi

For those of you that were somehow unaware of the word or concept (discounting the hindu origins) An avatar is a computer user's alter ego in computer game. At first these were represented as two-dimensional icons or figures but with the advent of more computer power and higher bandwidths, the form is for the most part now a three-dimensional model.

That in so many ways, describes the movie Avatar. A disabled marine is asked to join a project on Pandora, an Earth-like moon of the planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system. The project is twofold. One to mine the mineral unobtanium which they really don't go into much other than to tell us it is rare and extremely valuable. However it is this value that drives the second part which is to learn about the native population of Pandora who call themselves the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tall blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids. The RDA corporation which is doing the mining and, ostensibly the research, want to know more about the indigenous population, in hopes to get them to move from their present location which happens to be on a huge deposit of unobtanium. Our protagonist Jake the handicapped marine is asked to join the mission in place of his brother (who died in an accident) to "pilot" a specially vat grown Na'vi to study the natives and that is when thing go totally wrong Jake (piloting his Na'vi) becomes separated from his companions and is rescued by a Na'vi woman who is then tasked with teaching Jake "the ways of the Na'vi".

Even in 2d this is a stunningly visual movie. Everything is rich and deep and incredibly complex. Bravo to the folks that came up with the flora and fauna of Pandora it is breath taking.

That aside you could have traded blue skin for war paint and called this Dances with Wolves. Don't believe me? The Na'vi ride "horses" ok, some of them fly tame flying lizards....same thing, they have bows and arrows, war chants that for the life of me sounded just like native Americans. More? They are the idealized native, one with the earth taking only what they need etc, praying to the earth mother, and on and on.

Even Jake goes native! oh and there is a evil "government" entity bent on destroying the natives....oh yeah, there are differences but if we are going to be honest, the similarities far out weigh the differences.

The ending is out and out wish fulfillment but all of that aside it's not perfect but it's damn good and I would give it a 9. I know, some of you will grumble with the loss of a point, but really, the stereotypes just grated and took away from the film experience. The ubber-marine where winning is the only thing, the honorable native, the greedy but ultimately blind corporate goon....and on and on. But with a 9 you know that I am giving it a must see. And I do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Star with bad dietary choices

Yahoo News posts an article with data from Hubble about a star caught in the act of devouring its' own planet. The planet, WASP-12b, located about 600 light-years from Earth is more than 300 times the size of Earth and is so close to its' primary that it orbits the star in less than 24 hours.

The planet is hellish. The planet's surface temperature is the highest of any planet in the Milky Way -- around 1,500 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme tidal forces have distorted the planet into a football shape. These forces have raised the internal temperature so high that it has ballooned the atmosphere several times larger than Jupiter which the parent star siphons off. This process will probably continue over the next ten million years at which time the star will completely devour the planet.

Thanks to Tim Sayell for the post

Time in a Bottle, Volume 1 - now in print

It's been a long, hard road, but we're finally here!

When we put out the call for submissions, we never expected to get flooded with so many entries and we never expected those entries to all be such good pieces of writing. But we did get flooded and they were, which made choosing the stories for volume 1 more than difficult. We're still choosing stories for volume 2 and 3. But volume 1 is now available to purchase. It's not on Amazon yet (and we don't make much money if you buy it there, anyway), but it IS available here <- click that

It's a steal at only $15.00 plus shipping! Here, for your reading pleasure are some excerpts from the anthology:

From Goblin Lullaby by Jim Hines:
Grell stepped to the edge and studied the woods below.

Goblin blood turned the earth a gruesome shade of blue. Elves wove through the trees, making no noise save the twang of bowstrings and the ripping sound of blades tearing through goblin armor and flesh. "Defended yourselves? Next time, why don't you defend yourselves over in the hobgoblin tunnels rather than sneaking onto our land to do it?"

The archer caught his companion by the arm. "She's an old woman, Jonathan. With a child."

"She's a goblin, Rindar." But he relaxed slightly. He was bulkier than his companion, and the mane of red hair meant he was no elf. Red stubble dotted his chin, though he was too young to grow a proper beard. He wore a heavy mail shirt, with a green tabard depicting a white dragon coiled around a tree. "If we let her live, she'll lead another attack against us."

Grell kicked the corpse of the goblin drummer. "If you let me live, I'll go back to the nursery and get some sleep."

"I won't risk letting you go free," said Jonathan. "Not until my quest is complete."

Grell rolled her eyes. "What is it about you humans and your quests? Last month it was that knight who wanted to hunt a dragon. Before that it was the wizard and those little fellows. But no matter how important these stupid quests are supposed to be, you all have time to stop and kill goblins along the way."

Jonathan glared. "You're lucky honor prevents me from slaying women or children, goblin."

Grell would have to remember that. Next time, they should send an all-female group to ambush the adventurers.


From The Worth of a Man by Lyn McConchie:
John nodded thoughtfully. "Why not put a secret lock on the forward shift. Just allow the gate to move up a little, maybe a thousand years; add locks to let you move it forward in irregular jumps, as you need the advance. It's the first time we've been able to move forward since you discovered the effect. Surely that'll keep the president quiet?"

I did, and it did-for a while. But I was scared. My father had been a scientist before I was ever conceived. It was some of his own discoveries that had given my family its initial status and money. He'd written papers on time shifts, and it had been his theories on which I'd built. He had been convinced, and often said so to me, that to tamper too far with the past would damage or alter the present.

He'd died before the first gate I'd built had ever worked. But whenever I read his old papers I had that unpleasant feeling at the back of my neck that says you're hearing the truth. In the fifteen years since I'd opened the first time-gate, we'd looted widely.


From Two Seconds Ahead by Rob Rosen:
"Lightning," Verne cautioned, turning to his friend.

"Huh?" came Merle's distracted reply as he tapped the golf ball into the hole.

"Lightning." The word was repeated and joined with a pudgy finger pointed towards the stormy distance.

"So wha . . ." Merle almost managed to utter.

Almost, but no cigar.

In the time it takes the lips and the teeth and the tongue to form the letter "t", a bolt of lightning can come and go. In fact, in that briefest of instances, it can crack and burst right through your very skull. Well, through Merle's skull, at any rate. As was, of course, the case.

"What the he . . ." Merle also almost managed, but a "ck" isn't any faster than a "t", and not even half as fast coming out of one's mouth as a white-hot shot of lightning is out of the sky. In other words, though the odds were dead set against it, Merle got walloped good and hard by just such a shot. Twice. Back to back.

It was, it seemed, a bad day for odds.


There's lots more where those came from, too. In fact, here's the entire Table of Contents. So if you don't get a copy of the book, well then, just look what you're gonna miss out on!     Buy Now

Goblin Lullaby by Jim C. Hines
The Neverstone by K.C. Shaw
The Worth of a Man by Lyn McConchie
The Seal of Mon' Ta' Set by Christopher Heath
An Honorable Race by Colin P. Davies
What Does Luck Taste Like? by Danny Birt
Dallas Through The Looking Glass by Ken Goldman
The Plot to Kill Claus by Clyde K. Elsie
Two Seconds Ahead by Rob Rosen
The Time Machine by Courtney Burback
Reparations by Merrie Haskell
On The Edge by Bonnie Rockwell
The Second Gift by Seth Skorkowsky
Saving the World from Sleeping in by Rachel Swirsky
Zen and the Art of Time Travel by Robert Neilson
On Camlann Field by Charles Kyffhausen
The Master of Time by James S. Dorr
After Nightfall by Jonathan Shipley
Of Fire and Time by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Time Traveler's Happily Ever After by Jordan Lapp

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Would you watch "The Rikers"?

Is there an audience for this show? I haven't a clue, but the pitch is damn funny. Watch Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis pitch their idea for a sitcom about "The "Rikers" which they envision as a 30 minute sit-com somewhere between ST-TNG and Galaxy Quest. I won't give it all away, but some of the ideas are damn funny and just to watch the two banter and reminisce about the Star Trek days is a fun bit of whimsey.

Listed on the IO9 web page here

Scientist teleport photon 10+ miles!

Ok, if you were impressed when scientists claimed they could teleport certain sub-atomic particles a foot or so, you have to be jumping up and down with the newest news release that says that photons can be teleported 10 miles.

Now to be honest we are talking quantum physics that says photons can, in some ways, occupy two places at once. When one photon gets entangled with another, whatever happens to one of those particles also happens to it's "entangled partner". So in truth we are not really talking about physical teleportation but instant transferring of information concerning the state of the first photon to that of the second in the entangled pair. So it's the information making the jump. (Sorry Kirk)

This is what we have been talking about for years now starting to become a reality. The Ansible or whatever you want to call it, is becoming a very real possibility. Instant communication anywhere no matter how far, due to photon entanglement.

Does this mean that something like StarTrek's transporter is impossible? In theory, not totally. The transporter scans, then turns those scans into information. Now that information has to be received by an entangled photon array of some sort, so this showing up where-ever they want to on planet...would be impossible.

But we are also talking about a whole magnitude of greater density. At present they are using two entangled photons. Each sub atomic particle can have 4 states..(not sure about photons though) which leaves us with a four bit data stream. Even for computers, no matter how fast, four bits isn't going far. But that's another conversation.

The article is here, but there really isn't much more HERE

However IO9 has a piece here

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: Sunshine


Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Alex Garland
Starring Cillian Murphy Chris Evans Rose Byrne Michelle Yeoh Cliff Curtis Troy Garity Hiroyuki Sanada Benedict Wong Chipo Chung Mark Strong

Set 50 years in the future the sun has stopped main sequence fusion. A group of astronauts and scientists man the ship Icarus 2 that carries all the mineable fissionable material left on Earth (assembled into a fusion device with the mass of Long Island) with the mission to push this mass to the outer reaches of the sun and release it. The hope being that the huge bomb will explode deep enough in the sun to restart fusion.

The weirdness starts when as Icarus 2 passes Mercury, a distress beacon is heard that belongs to the first ship built, Icarus 1. Going to investigate they find the first crew dead and the ship sabotaged.

Thing really start to get weird as all sorts of systems start failing and crew members dying.

The ending is a melding of Aliens and maybe 2001 or maybe The Fountain or better yet, Disney's Black Hole and I can think of several remade films that have a strong resemblance to this movie. Does that mean it's derivative? No, at least not any more than any science fiction film of today is.

Overall the acting is strong and believable and generally speaking not stereotypical. The science might be weak, but that is nit picking. Icarus 2 could be Discovery 1 (look it up HA!) or the Nostromo. It really looks like they just took parts and pieces and again this is just mild grumbling because the movie is good.
Do you really get the atmosphere that MOON instilled? No, not really. Though in the end we still have brutal self doubt and questioning of purpose, in Sunshine you just don't seem to relate to the characters as much as say Moon. Maybe it's the difference between an ensemble cast and just one person.

This is a definite watch though, don't get me wrong. The movie may miss the mark in a few cases, but it does grab you with the scope of the mission and tension building towards the end. A good solid 8.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Matter Wins out over Antimatter!

Sounds like a prize fight don't it. In the overall scheme of things, according to an article in Yahoo News sent in by Tim Sayell, Scientists have come squarely down on the side of matter after eight exhaustive years of analyzing data from the Tevatron collider at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

This is good news, going the distance to explain how matter can exist at all! This is pretty amazing data when you consider that at the moment of the big bang, equal amounts of regular matter and antimatter were created. This should have guranteed that all matter should have destroyed itself at the start.

From the article:
  • The current theory, known as the Standard Model of particle physics, has predicted some violation of matter-antimatter symmetry, but not enough to explain how our universe arose consisting mostly of matter with barely a trace of antimatter.....
  • But this latest experiment came up with an unbalanced ratio of matter to antimatter that goes beyond the imbalance predicted by the Standard Model. Specifically, physicists discovered a 1 percent difference between pairs of decaying sub-atomic particles.
At the very least this should be a very startling item to consider. At the start of the universe, there was almost 99 times more matter than is present now. Our massive Universe is a mere ghost of what was in the beginning! Is that wild or what?

For the whole mind bending article select the title or go here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Peter Riley Wants to Give Away $3000 in prizes!

That's right, according IO9
  • Author Peter Riley is giving out $3,000 in prizes to people who'll read his book, Universes, and answer some questions about it.
  • Riley hopes that running contests with cash prizes will "stir up interest on the Internet in order to get the book ultimately noticed and published." He's been looking for a publisher since he finished the novel in 1999.
  • The contest starts July 4, with prizes range from $50 to $100 each.
  • According to Riley "They're questions, most of which you'd have to have read most or all of the book to be able to answer,". "The best answer gets a prize."
  • He'll post a new question every couple of weeks.
You can read Riley's book here.

Voyager 2 is confused....

The Voyager 2 prob has become somewhat confused in its old age. According to an article in Tech Republic the 30 year old explorer has begun sending back confusing data, almost certainly due to the result of cosmic rays hitting the probe's computer memory and causing it to report conflicting data. The good news is that the command and control sections of the craft are still functioning so trouble shooting should be able to figure out the area of malfunction. Voyager 1 and 2 are still of major interest to the scientific community mainly because they are due, in the next five years, to exit the solar system ( the solar system's boundaries are determined by the " heliopause " or the area where the sun's solar wind is equaled by that of stellar wind) .

The two craft have traveled apx 13 billion kilometers which means that it takes 26 hours to send a command and receive a reply. Think about 30 years, the fastest craft that man ever built has only traveled 13 hours away and hasn't even left the back yard yet, let alone the neighborhood. Space is incomprehensibly vast. Even if we construct a craft to go a hundred times faster, it would still take thousands of years to leave "the neighborhood".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This Year's Nebula Winners!

Just read the news in Boing Boing! Congrats to all the winners this year!

SHORT STORY: "Spar" by Kij Johnson

NOVELETTE: Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster

NOVELLA: The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker

NOVEL: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

The most asked question on NASA tours! VIDEO!

One of the most asked questions on tours of NASA is of does one eliminate. And you have known me long enough now to know that something like this is, excuse the pun, a golden opportunity. The positional trainer alone is priceless....Don't go into the light! takes on a whole new meaning!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Comments From Wesley Parish on his story

Wesley Parish just wrote me with some follow up info on his short story - A Man, A Plan, A Shattered World, that I thought was fascinating, so I thought I would share it with you

  • Just some points you can pass on to any of your callers who ask about the story:

  • The title is derived from a book called "Man with a Shattered World" by the Russian neurospychologist A.R. Luria, and indeed the central "bits" of the story - the rifle bullet in the brain, the messed up memory, the man trying to survive in spite of it all - are derived from that book. The guy in the book is an inspiration. He's getting better, in spite of his messed-up life - he can piece together memories that prevent him from believing fake memories, he can remember the videos of the attack; he's just in despair and doesn't see it. And it's based on a dream I had. so I thought I'd inflict it on the world, and I'm delighted that other people have enjoyed it. Wesley Parish

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jupiter Looses a Belt?!

Tim Sayell was noticing that there was a lot of activity in Yahoo about the planet Jupiter. Looking up what was causing all the furor he came across a really interesting article.

It seems that Jupiter is losing some of it's stripes!

Here is what the article says.
  • A giant cloud belt in the southern half of Jupiter has apparently disappeared according to new photos of the planet taken by amateur astronomers.
  • The new Jupiter photos, taken May 9 by Australian astronomer Anthony Wesley, reveal that the huge reddish band of clouds that make up the planet's Southern Equatorial Belt has faded from view.
Read complete CSM article here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

review: Tails of Wonder & Imagination

Tails of Wonder & Imagination
Edit by Ellen Datlow
from Night Shade Books

Do you think of yourself as a cat fancier? Do stories about cats or with cats as the main character garner more than just a little interest? Well have I got a book for you! Tails of Wonder edited by Ellen Datlow has collected some of the finest “cat” stories I have seen to date. Now I am not talking about the cutesy puss in boots tales (no pun intended) either. Some of the most heart wrenching and frightening stories are contained within the covers, by some of the most esteemed authors in the field today. Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Mary A. Turrizllo to name a few. Mary's story you might remember from an earlier BMU program, is Pride which tells the story of a long dead sabre tooth tiger brought back through regressive dna (I know, I am mangling the science) and the horrifying effect that the big cat has on modern society. Or the absolutely indescribable Cat Skin by Kelly Link and one of my favorites in the book Healing Benjamin by Dennis Danvers is absolutely heart breaking.

Forty two stories in all with a fine intro by Ellen gives enough selection than anyone is likely to find several well worth the cost of the volume. I thought I would be wanting at the end knowing that most of the stories would be classified as fantasy, but I had no problem getting to the end and often a lot of trouble just putting it down.

This would be one that I would suggest you checking out no matter what your main story venue is. I think even the most hardened amongst us can warm to this collection.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow Don Cheadle Mickey Rourke Scarlett Johansson

Sam Rockwell Samuel L. Jackson

Iron Man 2 is of course the continuing antics of Tony Stark as he plays with his flying body armor bearing the name of said movie – aptly portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. Here again we have the obligatory high speed flybys, the face of the pilot being lit by all sorts of flight information. Shooting smashing and blowing things up galore. And of course fight scenes where suits flail on one another over and over. The point being is that there is little departure from the first Iron Man. The suit is a bit spiffier and the old adage in movies is that if one is good than lots is better, and there a no surprises here in that department. I can say initially that if you liked the first you will certainly like the second. What's more I can clearly see that Downey should never be lacking for a role because he is Stark in every self indulgent pore.

My complaint might be that there is even less of a nod to science and research than the last. If Stark need a particle accelerator why he just builds one in his living room! Yep, physics certainly takes a back seat.

My favorite part just may have been the walkons by Sam Jackson as Fury that I wouldn't mind seeing that plot string drawn out more!

But lets be honest. Iron Man 2 like the first is above all else a straight ahead action adventure film. No ambiguity at all. Good guys no matter their faults are good and the bad no matter the extenuating circumstances. Conspicuous consumption, two fisted drinking and everyone gets the shit kicked out of them! Out and out wish fulfillment.

Again, if you really liked the first movie, you are not going to be disappointed here and if you just go in for action movies, you will still not be left wanting. Good mindless entertainment at its best. And that is where I would give it a go watch it recommendation.

Thanks to FlagShip Cinemas for their considerations

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Aliens in the Attic

Hey, remember everything I might have said negative about UP? I take it all back. I just watched Aliens In the Attic. Right off I would like to know if anyone responsible for this movie is ashamed? Or maybe embarrassed?

First, let's get the people responsible list first:

Aliens in the Attic
Directed by John Schultz
Written by Mark Burton Adam F. Goldberg
Starring Carter Jenkins Ashley Tisdale Austin Butler Robert Hoffman Kevin Nealon Doris Roberts Tim Meadows

The plot (if you can call it that) revolves around four small aliens who infest the attic of a Victorian style country home, bent of uncovering a machine buried beneath the floor of the cellar which due to it's nature will aide the incoming invasion fleet.

The only real person of note is Doris Roberts who is almost completely wasted in this film. Her character Nana under the influence of alien remote controls thinks she is blacking out and having senior moments...oh high-laire-ous!

Add in 2 scheming twins, a lecherous older boy-friend and an apparent air head blond sister cookie cutter parents and a high school nerd. For aliens, 1 ultra by the book, 2 that couldn't really care and one who only wants to have fun (Third Rock anyone...?)

Umm take uncle buck, Harry Potter and any Disney kid movie, strip away anything of plot value, break up in manageable sections, mix randomly Mix in gratuitous CGI instead of any real acting and you have one of the poorest excuses for a movie I have seen for years. Doris is totally under utilized or being used to denigrate her age group. "oh I am blacking out and waking in strange places!" senior moments! har har oh make her have a stroke! Oh that would be soooooooo funny! Oh and paint balls to the crotch, railing to the nads and a half dozen other whacks to the family about grade school humor....someone needs a time out for this travesty.

Total by the numbers mindless movie making that all but went straight to disk where it was obvious that it was a major embarrassment due to the total and I mean TOTAL lack of comments, commentaries, features, extras, deleted scenes NOTHING and on Blue Ray that meant they wasted gobs of space and time so they all abandoned this movie as soon as it was in the can.

Conclusions? What can you say good about a movie that telegraphs it's intentions from the opening scenes?! Worse than the fantastic Four part 2 ! maybe a 3?4 if I am feeling generous and I aint. Don't bother renting this unless you have some 4 year olds needing distraction. Period....

Got Some Spare Cash? Build a real Iron Man Suit!

IO9 asks, How much would it cost to build a real Iron Man suit? Since we looked last week at how close we might be to really building one...I thought a cost outline might be fun!

First a Helmet mounted display. Now there is just such a thing under development for the f-35 Fighter jet pilot....development budget stands at 54 million.

Exoskeleton: we have seen that there is plenty of work in this area, something like Raytheon's XO8 with a development cost of 10 million.

Portable Nuclear power source: and I read that the new Martian rover called Curiosity will have something akin to Tony's. It's called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. Something like this gem costs around 36 million.

Oh and got to have Jet Packs for the feet: right now the closest thing we have is the flying wing that Yves Rossy flew across the English Channel with and there ARE companies working on strap on jet packs. Expect something like say 400,000 for two.

And cheapest of all would be the wearable computer to run everything. 20,000

What's the damage? Well over 100 million. As much as that sounds's about the cost of one of those fancy prototype f 35 fighters. Hey, check out the pics here

What if the battle of Gettysburg had never happened?

Announcing the release of a very special Science Fiction novel:
It has taken centuries to recognize that all humans possess certain unalienable rights. There will come a time when we have to consider whether others deserve those rights as well.

That time will come on July 4rd 1863.
When a stranger carrying a shiny,metallic valise steps aboard a train carrying Abraham Lincoln home from a 2 year stint in Congress, everyone stares, wondering about the stranger's odd clothing and strange footwear with the word Nike emblazoned on them.

When the strange man shows up in Lincoln's office at the White house 14 years later, still wearing the same clothes, carrying the same valise and looking not a day older, the president and his staff know something is odd.

But when Edwin Blair opens his valise and projects a 3d image of the Earth on Lincoln's wall, then proceeds to tell a fanciful tale about time traveling aliens preparing to land at Gettysburg on July 3rd, they are sure they've met a lunatic.

Unfortunately for them, they're wrong.


Read an excerpt from A New Birth of Freedom
When Blair reappeared precisely ten seconds later, everyone, with the exception of Lincoln, was still staring at where he had been. Lincoln had immediately faced the window, and thus saw him fade back into existence. A faint smile touched the president's face and he cleared his throat. Everyone else whirled around and stared at Blair with eyes wide and mouths agape.

Uh oh. Blair slipped the device off his arm. "Gentlemen, it may seem like I've preformed magic, but I assure you, I have not. The scientists who explained things to me said that every place and time has a unique set of vibrations. They said a lot more than that, in fact. It seems like scientists are never capable of giving simple explanations, but what they said boils down to you just change the settings and it moves you from one place and time, to the other."

"How...," breathed Washburne, "does it do that?

"I can't explain it very well, Mr. Washburne, and certainly not like they explained it to me. My understanding is that it re-situates a person, and anything or any other people that might be connected to that person, from one place and time to another. You can schedule your re-situation for a time or place of your choosing and you can go back to where you began, but you can only take back what you brought with you. It's dangerous to do this, however, so if you don't mind, I won't repeat the demonstration." Dangerous for you, that is, and I don't want this to turn into a circus.

Washburne's face had turned ashen gray and he was shaking, but he managed to stumble over to Blair and touch him on the shoulder, as if to confirm his existence. All the others continued to stand motionless.

Not good. Either they're going into shock or they're on the verge of worshiping me. Let's try this. "Think of it this way," Blair moved over to his valise and replaced the object into its compartment while talking. "Every tick of your pocket watch is unique. All this device does is allow me to pick out the specific tick I want to visit, and go there."

Lincoln raised his brows and observed in a voice that exhibited both calm and awe. "This reminds me of Hamlet when he tried to explain the apparition of his murdered father to his friend. To quote, 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"

"And so there are, Mr. President," Blair said with a nod. "So there are." He shut and locked the valise.

The others, gradually recovering, found seats, but continued to stare at Blair.

After a few more moments of strained silence, Lincoln drew in a deep breath. "Now, Mr. Blair, what has this marvelous contraption that moves you through time got to do with the problem you mentioned, or the one confronting us? What advice can I possibly offer you? What do you want from me?"

"Let me answer the second part of your question first, Mr. President. I wish to borrow the entire Army of the Potomac for several hours on the third of July. This coming Friday."

Buy books. Mention this post when ordering any book from a Cyberwizard Productions imprint, and receive 10% off your next order.
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Photon powered Nanomotors? Closer?

Ron Huber sends in an article from the University of Florida News on a newer light driven nano motor. These incredibly tiny engines (closed 2-5 nanometers and open 10-12 with a nano-meter being 1 billionth of a meter) can convert sunlight directly into motion.

These motors are the very first of their type to be built directly from a strand of DNA, which makes them simple and reliable and more important, much easier to develop.

The first issue that researchers have to address is unified movement. Because the motors are so small, to get any usable work a high percentage of the motors must move all at the same time. Also the motor's efficiency needs to improve. Right now they are far less efficient than solar cells but the amount of work that the engines can produce are in proportion to their size.

Uses could be: repair of single cells, anti viral or bacterial. Even on a macro scale it's not hard imagining billions or trillions of them powering a car or even a factory! Plus since they are DNA they would produce no waste.

Read the complete article here

Friday, May 07, 2010

How Close Are We to a Real Ironman?

In a recent Dvice article I was reading a question by a writer that basiclly asks, since IM2 is now in the theaters, just how close are we to having an Iron Man powered exoskeleton? It seems, closer than you might have imagined.



Creator: Lockheed Martin

Powered by: Four lithium ion batteries, 48-hour operation

What it does: ...system allows a soldier to travel 10mph while carrying a 200lb payload


2. HAL-5 (hybrid assistive limb)

Creator: Tsukuba University (Japan) (even now seeing limited use)

Powered by: Waist-mounted 100-volt battery pack

What it does: uses electrodes resting on the operator's skin to analyze muscle movements, and then enhances the wearer's strength by up to five times what it'd normally be.


3. Trojan T Series

Creator: Troy Hurtubise

Powered by: Helmet-mounted, solar-powered battery packs

What it does: Not a true powered exo/suit. Batteries power radio and range finders and even air conditioning, sometimes called a Halo suit because of it resemblance to the video game "Halo" suits. In truth may be too cumbersome to be practical.


Related Sections: Future Tech Lists Military

5 real Iron Man prototypes in the making

5 real Iron Man prototypes in  the making

Iron Man 2 hits theaters today, telling a tale about a man in a suit of armor who flies around like a jet and shoots energy bolts from his palms. In the real world, we're not quite there yet, but you may be surprised just how close we are to an Iron Man of our own.

Powered exoskeletons are mostly sought after to enable the soldiers of tomorrow, who will be able to lift hundreds of pounds and run for miles without breaking a sweat. Beyond that, though, they could save lives in the wake of a terrible disaster, or even perform smaller miracles such as helping the paralyzed walk again.

Continue reading to check out five exoskeletons that do all that and more.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Herschel Confirms Star Formation Slowing

Tim Sayell reminded me of something I read a short while ago. It would seem t hat over the last three billion years the formation of new stars in galaxies like our Milky Way have significantly slowed.

It has been well know that star formation was far greater a few billion years ago, but with the Hershel telescope's help that scientists have been able to put a time frame on the reduced activity.

The main success of the telescope comes from the fact that it can peer much further into the past than previous platforms, up to 10 billion years into the past in fact.

Hershel, launched in 2009 is the biggest ever launched and orbits at a staggering 900,000+ miles above the Earth.

To learn more check out the Yahoo news article here

Where'd the Neanderthals go? Ask Your Great Great Ever so Great Granny

Yep NewScientist online mag writes that the Neanderthal genome does in fact reveal interbreeding with our early human ancestors. Even more startling is that scientists are now saying that the two species are so closely related as to be grouped as a single species!

The common ancestor of both groups migrated out of Africa about 500,000 years ago where as our more closely related ancestors remained in Africa to about 100,000 years ago when they also began spreading out. This second expansion might have put pressure on the already exsisting Neanderthal groups which died out about 28,000 years ago.

But in recent DNA sequencing project using material from Neanderthals reveals
  • Any human whose ancestral group developed outside Africa has a little Neanderthal in them – between 1 and 4 per cent of their genome.....
This recombining of the DNA must have taken place about 45,000 years ago because all non African populations have the same amount of material in their genomes.

From the article:
read complete Newscientist article here> and Boing boing here

Rendezvous With Rama: a student film project

I remember watching Aaron Ross' "trailer" for Arthur C. Clarke's book Rendezvous with Rama which had an already stunning sound scape created by Andrew Halasz. It was stunning and beautiful and I honestly hoped it would galvanize someone into attempting the project. As you can no know, that didn't happen. However Aaron's film has not languished. I read in Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing that Vancouver Film School student Philip Mahoney took the film and added his own sound design to the film -- including a fantastic voice over -- to turn it into a trailer for a film.
Is it as good as the initial project? No, but it does add a dimension that was lacking that of a true movie trailer, which we now have and again it leads us in the direction once more of a film that I know I would love to see. Thank you Philip for rekindling the dream!

Rendezvous with Rama - Vancouver Film School (VFS) from Vancouver Film School on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May the Fourth be With You

Yes folks, today May 4th is unofficial "Star Wars Day"

From Tim Sayell I read:
  • Apparently, according to Lucasfilm, the "real" unofficial National Star Wars Day is actually May 25th. But is unoffically National Towel Day in honor of Douglas Adams, author of "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy". Plus, today you can say the corny line: May the fourth be with you.
And according to the Wikipedia there may be a gram of truth in this:
  • In 2005 German news TV channel N24 interviewed George Lucas and asked him to say his famous sentence, "May the Force be with you." The translator simultaneously translated to German: "Am 4. Mai sind wir bei Ihnen". (We are with you on May 4).

Here is Tim's yahoo search just full of fourth goodness

And my favorite the Los Angels Times post

So if you feel a strange urge to gather with your hommies and watch The Star Wars movies over and over again while exchanging catch phrases...well then the fourth really is strong in you......

AntipodeanSF Issue 143 is now Online!

Editor Ion of AntipodeanSF, Australia's premiere online flash fiction magazine has sent us a note that issue 143 is online!

I read this months selection of short stories and have to admit that there are some mighty strange offerings that are bound to entertain!

Here is a list of the stories but there are also shorter 50 word selections and poetry. Thanke a trip over. You won't be disappointed.


  • Floyd's Nose By Rachel Amphlett
  • The Black Veil By JL Cooper
  • Last Chance By Des McNicholas
  • Reboot By Benjamin Hayes
  • The Beacon By Houston Dunleavy
  • Local News By Shaun A. Saunders
  • A Mite-y Trek By Ken Kraus
  • Unorthodox Romance By Tiana Cutright
  • Largesse By Richard Baldasty
  • The Passenger By Jeanie Laherty