Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Digital ants are here, tending SCADA

 Errin Fulp, a professor of computer science at Wake Forest University, is training an army of "digital ants" to turn loose into the Grid to seek out computer viruses trying to wreak havoc on the system. This according to a recent article in NewsWise, which notes: that "As the nation's electrical power grid becomes more interconnected through the Internet the chances of cyber attacks increase as well..
Dr. Fulp's digital ants "could have wide-ranging applications",  Newwise writes, "on protecting anything connected to SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) networks, computer systems that control everything from water and sewer management systems to mass transit systems to manufacturing systems."   Image courtesy SCforum.info

Monday, May 30, 2011

Static and Dynamic Casimir Effect

Ok folks...I'm turning off the lights....time to go home...why? Because I have this pain behind my left eyeball and I think my head is going to explode....

You know, I have tried my hand at understanding quantum mechanics, in a shaved chimp kinda way, but the closer I get to getting a handle on it, the rules change.... relatively speaking...

What put me over the edge this time? The Casimir effect, which wrapped up in a tidy bundle describes an effect whereby mirrors can and do produce their own light due to the interaction with virtual bits. Honest!

I was reading this article in IO9, that describes placing two mirrors close together (micro-meters and the wiki article calls for a vacuum) so that the virtual particles that "pop" into existence (you see now why my head hurts? virtual....existence? But if you are interested there is a nice article here on virtual particles. ) will force the two plates together. Now that is a rather badly explained Casimir-Polder force, much less than more. It's what happens when you accelerate this structure to relativistic speeds.

The first weird thing happens when you place your mirrors closer than the wave length of the virtual particle. First off, let me explain, in part, these virtual particles. Most importantly they came in pairs. A virtual particle and an anti-virtual particle. ( I know, ouch....) and when they come into existence they annihilate each other instantly. But as the plates are pushed harder and the speed becomes a goodly fraction of C it then becomes possible for the virtual particles to be separated by a plate so they can not annihilate and therefor become real and should said virtual particle be virtual photons.....? There, I give you light from ummm virtual light courtesy of the Dynamic Casimir Effect.

Really, I have done a poor job at describing a fascinating effect at the quantum level. Read the IO9 and the Wiki articles to get totally twisted.

(Good bye, good night, don't let the door hit you...I need to find my asprin)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Check out Kaydara

I just finished watching Kaydara. This is a fan made movie based in the Matrix universe but not strictly speaking a "Matrix" movie.

The film was conceived by Raphaƫl Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard and is almost an hour long. The visuals are stunning as is the sound track (if a bit Blade Runner sounding at times or even Terminator) .

The film is likely to be confusing to people that have not seen the Matrix because it leans heavily in the tech that was prevalent in all three of the Matrix movies right down to agents and a good stand in for Neo.

You can watch the movie on line here

Student Finds Universe's 'Missing Mass'

22-year-old Australian Aerospace Engineering/Science student has discovered the so-called "missing mass" of the universe. Matter that astrophysicists say was present in the early history of the universe but can't be located now.

Undergraduate Amelia Fraser-McKelvie's, breakthrough indicates that the mystery material is located in vast structures called "filaments of galaxies".

Scientists have for decades considered these structures as possible repositories of the missing matter, but the technologies to detect it have only been available for a few years.

Complete Science Digest story here

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Moon May Have As Much Water as Earth?!

Scientists have announced that sub-surface Moon rock may contain as much water as we have on Earth. Levels in fact 100 times higher than previous estimates.

Now before you start envisioning well drilled to huge aquifers you should know that these new figures are based on samples brought back from the Moon by Apollo 17. The deep core-sample contained glass beads with trapped water in them.

High levels of water on the Moon is a bit of a mixed blessing. The down side is the theory of the Earth being created by a Mars sized impactor pealing the Moon off the proto-Earth. The problem is that the impact would have left virtually no water behind. Present theory has water brought from deep within the Moon by volcanic activity.

for the complete article and links to other articles check the IO9 blog here

Review: The Green Hornet movie

The Green Hornet
Written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Directed by Michel Gondry
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz. Edward James Olmos

The Green Hornet movie is based on the story line and characters that had originated in a 1930s radio program and has appeared in movie serials, a television series and comic books.
I love movies like this. They lend themselves to simple reviews as is the case here. Hornet is flat out terrible. It is supposed to be an action comedy, but the only action you will want to see after fifteen minutes is the credits rolling.

The story revolves around Britt Reid who as a child was ignored by his father - a ruthless go getter that has little time for a child. Britt lost his mother at an early age so has little direction in his life. He does however fantasize about “helping” people. After one such episode he is sent home for fighting. His father, enraged proceeds to decapitate Britt’s prize possession, a super hero which traumatizes the child.

As an adult Britt find himself without direction. His father has died under mysterious circumstances. Britt finds himself seeking out Kato who makes his morning coffee and it seems is a wildly talented mechanic. After a night of binge drinking they vow to team up and fight crime.

I get the impression that it was suppose to be a comedy / drama, but the comedy is flat, the characters laughably thin and the acting by pretty much everyone involved is just terrible. Diaz is competent but could not carry the movie. Same goes for Edward James Olmos. As the editor of the family's news-paper, he manages to exude that inner strength that has become so familiar with BSG fans. I honestly felt however, like I was watching a Pink Panther movie. A BAD Pink Panther movie at that.

My suggestion to you about this movie is do not no let it anywhere near your player. If you do then you might find yourself forced to watch a few scenes.

The Green Hornet is about a three and I couldn’t care less about the extra. People doing a wax on Wax off are just trying to polish a turd. Not interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NASA Places the Mars Rover Spirit on the Inactive List

After a year of no response to NASA queries, the Spirit Rover has been designated inactive and NASA will cease trying to signal the rover.

From the Gizmodo article:
  • Spirit has been incommunicado for more than a year despite daily calls by NASA. The cause of Spirit's silence ... is (very) likely the bitter Martian winter (which most likely) damaged its electronics, preventing the .... rover from waking up.
Spirit became immobile January 26th, 2213 days into its mission but continued to operate as a stationary platform for months afterwards until it finally succumbed to the cold and dust.

Wiki on Spirit Rover

Complete Gizmodo article

cartoon by Nitesh

Everything Old Is New Again....Part 2

Tim Sayell just send me a note concerning NASA's newest mission post. Or is it an new old mission? hummm. This is what is going on. Since the White House put the breaks to a return to the moon NASA has been looking for a way to put the Orion project to good use. As you might recall, Orion was part of the Constellation program that was suppose to return men to the moon by 2020. Instead NASA was tasked with sending people to an asteroid by 2025, and then on to Mars missions by the 2030s. To do this NASA plans to modify the Orion capsule with help from the Orion's main contractor - Lockheed Martin. The new capsule will be designated the MPCV or Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

The design is very Apollo Command Vehicle in design but will carry 4 crew members for up to three week. From the article:
  • The MPCV will be capable of performing a variety of in-space activities, such as rendezvousing and docking with other craft. And astronauts aboard the MPCV will be able to perform spacewalks
Complete article here

Monday, May 23, 2011

DIY Rapture Kit

I know I am behind the ball on this. I wasn't going to post anything until I saw this on IO9. It seems one enterprising person decided to capitalize on the coming end of the world by catering a product to person that didn't make the cut. As you can see in the ad posted on telephone poles that for 50 large you buy a jet pac and get their on your own. The ad even included traveling instructions.
And cat sizes!!!

complete article on IO9

2010 Nebula Award Winners Announced

the 2010 Nebula Awards have been announced!

The Nebula for Best Short Story this year is a tie!!! The co-winners are:

"Ponies" by Kij Johnson
"How Interesting: A Tiny Man" by Harlan Ellison

The Nebula for Best Novelette

"That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone

The Nebula for Best Novella

"The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" by Rachel Swirsky

The Nebula for Best Novel

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

The complete award article can be found on the SFScope site here

New Bionic Hand in Action!

I knew that artificial limbs were really taking great (excuse the pun) strides, however I had never seen this hand in action. The quickness and range of motion is truly amazing. Check out the short video of it in action.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Area 51 Shenanigans

As I mentioned during last week's program, odd things have gone on inside the secret military base Area 51. Most of it in complete secrecy. This of course generates all types of speculation, most if it tending to be bizarre and unlikely. On the other hand however some trickery and misleading antics did take place. One of the projects that Area 51 was home to was the OXCART project, which dealt with stealth tech. From the Gizmodo article:
  • To thwart the infrared satellites, Area 51 crews began constructing ... fake planes out of cardboard etc.
The outlines were rolled up and stored away, but would leave misleading shadows for the Soviets to ponder.
From the article:
  • Sometimes staff even fired up heaters near imaginary engine locations to make it look as if planes had just landed.
Gizmodo article National Geographic article

Saturday, May 21, 2011

BMU # 262 Simulacrum pt2 - Ken Liu + Command Decision - Patricia Stewart

Greetings! It’s that time of the week once again when i slip the ties and hide out in the WRFR studios. This week is no exception. I start off with a funny tune from Brental floss called Ode to Classic video game. Wildly funny send up of the dedication many had towards the old games. Caution, it is a bit politically incorrect!

From the Beam Me Up blog this week: The eccentric spy series Chuck manages to get one more season however NBC gives Wonder Woman a pass. V, No Ordinary Family and The Event have had no such luck with 11th hour reprieves either. How about a list of seven technologies that we have now or will have in the near future that will transform humanity into something very Borg like...... Exactly why is it that Area 51 isn't acknowledged by the government, Have French scientists found a planet that is most likely habitable?

And now the fun stuff, this week’s audio fiction! The first story is from a new author to the Beam Me Up program, Patricia Stewart. Mz Stewart is a regular submitter to the flash fiction online site 365tomorrows. I read her flash fiction story “Command Decisions” - a tale of how people rise to the occasion under difficult circumstances. The last story for this week’s program is another first timer - Ken Liu. This week I play part one of “Simularcum” that explores the dimensions of obsession with a fleeting moment in time and a less than perfect representation of an original.

Link to episode

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Habitable Planet Found?

French scientists have found a planet that they say is most likely habitable. Gliese 581d, about 20 LYs distant, circles a red dwarf star and has a stable atmosphere, comfortable temperatures, and a surface covered in liquid water.

Though Gliese 581d is about the size of two Earths and masses upwards of six times Earth mass scientists consider it to be a good candidate for habitability because of it's rocky surface, ability to maintain a robust stable atmosphere and receive enough energy from the red dwarf to maintain large bodies of liquid water.

Even so it is not likely to be a vacation spot. From the article:
  • That's not to say it would necessarily be a pleasant place to live, though. Gliese 581d probably depends on a significant greenhouse effect to keep itself warm since it gets relatively little energy from its star. The atmosphere is mostly CO2, and while you'd get clouds and warm rain and oceans and stuff, the surface itself would be "in a perpetual murky red twilight."
The scientist's models also suggest that Gliese 581d may be tidally locked.

Cosmos article Dvice blog article

The Truth about Area 51?

Annie Jacobsen, a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine, interviewed individuals who used to work at Area 51, a group of people (she) described ... as a "formerly secret group of scientists, engineers and physicists. In her new book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, she says there is a very good reason Area 51 wasn't acknowledged by the government. Not because they DID have aliens and alien spacecraft, but often because of some of the things that DID go on there which was way more scary. In her interviews she uncovered secret "safety test" :
  • which covered everything from crashing a plane carrying a nuclear device to detonating nukes in orbit. Objectives ranged anywhere from seeing how humans would be affected in the resulting irradiated zones to testing nukes as a means to power spaceflight.
The military:
  • was curious about installing missile installations in orbit and on otherworldly bodies.
(Yeah, I think that means like missiles on the moon)

But as Jacobsen puts it,
  • the real whopper involved the German Horten brothers who were into building experimental planes for the Nazi party. The brothers were working on a flying disk design in 1942. After Germany surrendered in 1945 the US wanted the pair desperately. In 1947 one of the craft the brothers build crashed in the US. (Oh wait it gets weirder) The disks were said to have lift off and hover capabilities and weirder still the pilots (due likely to design constraints) were children around the age of 13. That weird enough for ya? Want more? ok, the child sized pilots according to eye witness accounts in Jacobsen's interviews, were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program,"
(oh I am so close to calling BS on this all ready!)
  • "and they had been made to look like aliens using "genetic and surgical" procedures.
(cough cough bull s.... cough)

Why would they do this you ask? (ok the ones of you that are not wearing tinfoil beanies) Jacobsen scenario has it that:
  • the Soviets were hoping to recreate the mass hysteria caused by the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds
So that is why Area 51 is classified? Because a plane shaped like a UFO piloted by children surgically altered to look like aliens by a secret Soviet laboratory all with the intention of causing mass panic in the USA crash landed in the middle of America?! And area 51 is keeping it under wraps as we speak? What? NO!?
  • It's secret because apparently American officials saw these tests and decided to conduct human experiments of their own.
So they started a black ops, as Annie Jacobsen puts it: "horrific rogue program,"

oh ok, now it makes sense.....

So, want to read the complete story about this insanity and links to her interview on NPR, and you want it all now? then click the on the Device link - here

Tim Sayell turned in this link to start the ball rolling. Yahoo News article

The Borg Will Be Us!

Here is a list of seven technologies that we have now or will have in the near future that will transform humanity into something very Borg like... oh yes and here it comes....I get to say the words....Resistance Is Futile!

1: Social Media. We can now share huge amounts of information, instantly and over huge distances.

2: Super WiFi. Of course all that data is useless if you can not get to it easily, no matter where you are. In the testing stage now, Super WiFi can handle copious amounts of data, physical barriers are almost no hindrance and has a footprint of miles instead of feet.

3: Augmented Reality. No, not virtual reality but augmented (any of you see the animated series call A Circle of Children? It was a near future world where children picked up the fad of wearing augmented reality glasses that would show the real world but also augment that with virtual pets, info, computer interaction ect.) Information supplied to you akin to a heads up display.

4: Truly Transparent Displays. like the glasses I just mentioned. The trouble with augmented info now is it usually is on a device that distracts you. It will really come into its own when you can access it in real time.

5: Nanocomputers. All of this information, connection and displays are going to take a lot of computational power to operate. The "wearable" computer never caught on for obvious reasons. What the upcoming tech needs is powerful but small computers. A fully functional computer today can be shrunk to fit inside of a USB shell. It is conceivable at this size to have a hundred or so secreted about your person, all of them connected by an adhoc network. For all intents a small walking around super computer. Downsizing them further, several hundred to several thousand could be in everything you wear to the devices you carry, in whatever vehicle you choose to ride in, even to others around you. Everyone becomes a node in a super consciousness.

6: Actual Retinal Displays: This would really push things along. You wouldn't have to wear the screen, your retina IS the screen. You might only need to wear special contact lens that would transmit the video / augmented info straight onto your retina.

7: and of course Bionic limbs. This is so close it's not even funny. Any missing or damaged limb could be replaced with something stronger and faster than you can know.

Good or bad, a lot of this type of tech is already here in one shape or another. The rest will be along soon.

Thanks to Device for the great post. You can read the complete article here

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Last Gasp and Those That Have Breathed Their Last...

Mark Wilson, from his About.com sci-fi & fantasy blog, gives us the run down of shows that get a small reprieve from the bone yard and shows that they are already shoveling dirt onto as we speak.

Chuck: It would seem NBC has renewed 'Chuck' for a 13-episode, in their words, fifth and final season. I know I will miss this one. The quirky plot-line and even qwirkier supporting characters. Plus we know that NBC has opted out of the Wonder Woman series.

V, No Ordinary Family and The Event have had no such luck with 11th hour reprieves. V barely made it out of the blocks and No Ordinary Family in my opinion shot itself in the foot. I liked the show and after the first couple of episodes it became torturous to see the show self destruct. It might have been No Ordinary Family but it was all to ordinary plot lines. Should she tell, will he tell, damn I never could tell and how could you not tell.....after half a dozen episodes of this and I was damn glad I keep the gun and ammo in different places. - cause it was either me or the tv and I like that tv.......

Monday, May 16, 2011

BMU #261 Dark InSpectre #12 - & Health Tip for Traveler - Dave Goldman

This Beam Me Up episode is the first in year six – and we start off year six with episode 261, solidly in the weird column! My pet peeve this week is a theme I have gone to before, and once again I am at that well. Space Trash. Would you believe that by 2030 the amount of trash being tracked will triple?! That by the was is the least of the problems. Is there a possibility of a new animated Star Trek? Wonder woman tv series is a no go it seems. Ron Howard's Dark Tower project is crumbling as we speak. Superman / Batman public enemies was up for reviews this week. And does anyone remember William Campbell? He played the q like creature on the original Star Trek. Well mr Campbell has beamed out for the last time.

This week's stories and music? Well, my opening song is She Dont like Firefly. Lol she is perfect in every other way, but doesnt like Firefly, so she is gone! This week is episode 12 for the Dark InSpectre by Jason Kahn. I want to thank Cyberwizard productions and Abandoned Towers for their continued excellence in production values. Our strangest story to date is Health Tip for Traveler by David Goldman. A does and don'ts travel brochure of the most unusual type!

Pictured David

Beam Me Up episode 261 dowload

Friday, May 13, 2011

Galileo spacecraft reveals an ocean of magma

Question: What is the Solar System's most volcanic body? Give up? NASA's Galileo spacecraft has returned data indicating a subsurface ocean of liquid or partially liquid magma on Jupiter's moon Io. This molten layer goes a long way towards explaining why Io is the most volcanic body in the Solar System.

From the NASA article:
  • Io produces about 100 times more lava each year than all the volcanoes on Earth. While Earth's volcanoes occur in localized hotspots like the "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific Ocean, Io's volcanoes are distributed all over its surface. A global magma ocean about 20 to 30 miles beneath Io's crust
The NASA article really goes into detail about how Io has been studied and how the volcanic activity was discovered. Its a very informative article.

Vonder Frau Itz Kaput

Ouch, sorry, all kidding aside - Airlock Alpha reports that NBC will pass on the new Wonder Woman series.

Limited screenings have reportably disappointing and possibly confusing to the audience. David Kelley's offering had added a new twist to the Wonder Woman theme. In the comics, Diana Prince was the civilian identity of Wonder Woman. In this adaptation though, Diana was also known as Diana Themyscira, the chief executive officer of Themyscira Industries. I can see where it might have been difficult to follow the character. Oh and to mix things up or make things a bit trashy, Wonder Woman it seemed had a love interest in each of her "manifestations"

Airlock Alpha article

New animated Star Trek?

How many of you will admit to remembering the animated Star Trek series? Many people thought it was so bad (some even in the actual production team were less than enthusiastic about the output). Though some enjoyed the fact that many of the original crew were involved, generally it was ignored and died an ignoble death.

Now IO9 reports that there may be another effort to bring an animated series to the "small" screen. Their blog say that Roberto Orci has said that a new animated Trek could be materializing. (har I get it!) According to an article in Television Blend - Orci has been talking about putting together an animated Trek. They do note that it is not clear if it is just an idea of if Orci is truly in negotiation with Star Trek rights holders....... so at present we can treat this as a good rumor and cross our fingers....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Space Junk to Triple by 2030

Space.com via Boing Boing reports that satellite communications may be in critical jeopardy due to space junk that will triple in 2030. With well over 50 countries participating in space ventures the amount of debris has risen geometrically. A new euphemism has entered the lexicon - Percussive decommissioning. Which we have seen evidence of in the past when a satellite quite literally is taken out of service by impacts from orbital debris.

The situation is soon to degrade so badly that many of the choice high altitude orbits will become unusable and satellites will have to park in lower much less optimal orbits and relay signals to other low flying satellites. Space.com calls this: an "abandon in place" posture for certain orbital altitudes.

20,000 pieces of debris are now being tracked, many experts agree that a triple of this amount by 2030 is not unreasonable. Some of the increase can be attributed to more sensitive detectors but that still leaves a sizable increase over the intervening years. Add to that objects that are too small to track but at orbital speeds are every bit a lethal. Estimates range upwards of 10 times as many objects that can not be detected. (that's almost a quarter of a million bits - kiddies)

When asked if the Air Force was funding any projects to deal with debris, Gen. William Shelton, commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command said:
  • We haven’t found a way yet that is affordable and gives us any hope for mitigating space debris. The best we can do, we believe, is to minimize debris as we go forward with our operations. As we think about how we launch things, as we deploy satellites, minimizing debris is absolutely essential
Read complete Space.com article here

Review: Electric Velocipede 20

Electric Velocipede issue 20
Nightshade Books http://www.nightshadebooks.com/
John Klima editor

From a story about a boy, so brain damaged that he should not be able to walk or even talk, does, and mysteriously seems to be ever so much more, to a tale that explores clashes between species on a very sad and individual basis – when a man much choose between the love for his daughter and promises to his wife. 15 stories, poetry and interviews that cover a wide expanse of the human ideal and nature.

A book, ultimately, should have one goal – to keep you turning the page. No matter how well intentioned, a book is, if you can not bring yourself to turn even one more page, then the book has failed.

On this simple test, issue 20 of Nightshade's Electric Velocipede is a well healed success. Filled with short stories and poetry that fit well into the morning commute or a short afternoon break. Collections like this are perfect for the busy individual or someone that just needs a quick dose of good science fiction.

Nightshade continues to turn out great collections of great science fiction!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Dark Tower Crumbling...

Topless Robot is reporting that the much vaunted Ron Howard "Dark Tower" project has stalled if not closed all together.

Robot writes:
  • Variety reports that the studio is now considering abandoning Ron Howard's ambitious adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novels.
  • Deadline now reports that the Dark Tower pre-production staff have been asked to stop working, and that all plans for a September start date have been canceled.
The skinny may be that Universal finally got a whiff of the cost of the project and may be looking for another studio to share the "load" Warner being a likely candidate. They may be concerned about the length of the arc which may cover the best part of a decade. ummm can anyone say Star Wars. Also some of the arc would play on TV and that is worrisome....again...ummm Star Trek? I really think the problem here is acute lack of foresight. Ron Howard might not be a SURE THING but damn close and come on even the frackin worst King movie made money! (well that might be stretching it a little....I keep seeing visions of a KW with a huge goblin face on it...shudder) So I wouldn't hold my breath about seeing a Dark Tower movie in the next 3 or 4 years.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Review: Superman Batman Public Enemies blu-ray

Superman / Batman Public Enemies
Direct to video animation
Clancy Brown as Lex Lutor’s
Kevin Conroy as Superman
Tim Daly as Batman
LeVar Burton as Black Lightning

Lex Luthor has been elected president and begins a campaign against super beings. To that end he issues an ultimatum to the supers to join the government or be branded an outlaw. Batman and Superman refuse as do many of the Justice League.

Public sentiment turns on the Justice League when it appears that the super cannon on their space station fired on a secret lab. Forcing the leaders of the Justice League to turn themselves into the authorities.

At this time an asteroid of Kriptonium is on a collision with Earth. Luthor’s plan to blow it up fails and saving the Earth falls to the superheros again.

It soon becomes apparent that Luthor has an ulterior motive and the survival of the human race may be in the balance.

This film came out before Crisis of two Earths and set the stage for what happens in many cases in Public Enemy. They should be watched in sequence, but Public Enemy stands well enough on it own. The animation and story line hold up well enough for fans of the comic book genre though anyone familiar with basic science and physics is going to groan in many places.

The blu-ray as usual is loaded up with extras from a sit in on a dinner, to extra half hour short Batman episodes.

So if you prefer high end American animation to that of anime and are a DC Universe fan this is tailor made for you. Otherwise the animation is adequate and the plot line is ummm unencumbered. I would give the movie a 6 and a 9 for extras.

RIP: William Campbell

Airlock Alpha reports that actor William Campbell died April 28th at the age of 84.
From the article:
  • Campbell is probably best known to Trek fans as Trelane, the Q-like character who pestered the Enterprise crew in the 1967 episode "Squire of Gothos."
  • He also appeared in one of "Star Trek's" other famed episodes, "The Trouble With Tribbles," playing the Klingon Koloth.

There is no question that Star Trek had a major influence on me growing up. I can trace a lot of that influence to several marked episodes like Squire. This episode just freaked me out for days. No question, he was doing Q before anyone even thought of Q. Good stuff.

Maximall: a short film......

Here is a short animated film about a very curious mall, from the warped imagination of Axel Tillement. Ah yes, as the Vimeo blub says:

Alone, on a supermarket parking at night, anything could happen...

Maximall from Axel Tillement on Vimeo.

Mark Wilson calls SYFY Heartless and Pointless

Mark Wilson writing in his Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog about the recent cancellation of Stargate Universe had some really harsh words for SYFY.

In his article Mark stated:
  • This was a heartless mistake by the network--a mistake by which Syfy elected to announce to its viewers that it's willing to foot the bill for whimsical dramedies and pointless reality shows, but not actual science fiction.
  • With the death of SGU, replaced on its schedule by cooking shows, wrestling, and light fantasies, Syfy is now entering a period where it will experience more and more difficulty convincing science-fiction fans that it should be taken seriously.
Yep, pretty harsh. I have been saying for awhile now that it was really difficult to call SYFY a true platform of serious science fiction. For me the writing was on the wall when Farscape was summarily axed. The pattern now should be obvious even to the most catatonic now. Stargate, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and now Stargate Universe and these are just the most obvious. Difficult to take serious, Mark? Impossible! They can not even bring themselves to call the network Sci Fi and do it with a straight face! Ghosts and wraslin, if that's your bag, you will love SYFY, Science fiction fans will have to look elsewhere.

Mark's article

Saturday, May 07, 2011

episode 260 of Beam Me Up is online

This week is episode 260. I start off with music from the Sacramento State Jazz Singers as they do an a-capella version of the Bear McCreary’s Battlestar Galactica “All Along the Watch tower” It is an impressive version of this complex song. To lighten things up, Odd cube once again joins the fray and reviews Mister Destiny as only Odd Cube can.

This week from the blog, SETI has lost it’s 2.5 million budget and I put it into perspective with the cost of some of the countries and the DOD’s pet projects, You too can take a trip around the moon in a Soyuz capsule, all it takes is 150 million dollars, Antipodean has a new issue, Richard Branson is not the only game in town when it comes to diving to the deepest place in Earth’s oceans, The NASA Messenger probe is sending back great pictures, but one of them has something strange on it.

And this week’s story is part two of Fox Dunham’s The Heretic’s Son, the ship is an ancient generation ship and it is wearing out. The prophet needs to come soon to guide the people to nu ome. Cody is sick and near death and nothing seems to make sense. Join us for the conclusion of one of the most engaging stories we have had in a while.

David Steffen on Pseudopod

Author David Steffen writes us with some good news.
  • I've returned to Pseudopod horror fiction podcast, my second story to run there. It's a reprint of my flash story "What Makes You Tick" which has probably been my best-received story so far. It's included in Pseudopod 228, a Flash on the Borderlands episode that has 2 flash stories by other authors also included in it, so you get several stories for the single download. http://pseudopod.org/?p=325 Enjoy! ,David Steffen
Long time listeners may remember the story. It ran on Beam Me Up episode 206 April 24th 2010. It is a great showcase story for David. It is scary and weird all at the same time.

Kudo Dave! Great job!

A capella of Battlestar Galactica’s "All Along the Watchtower"

Now before you run screaming into the night, let me explain. First, for those of you that may not have followed SyFy's more dramatic retelling of Glen Larson's Battlestar Galactica, the closing music of the last episode of season 3 (I think it was three...anyone?) was a heavy bass backbeat with middle eastern overtone reworked version of All Along the Watchtower. It was hypnotic in the way the music rolled in and out (I really wish I had a copy to play, I even asked the artist if I could have a copy to play on the program, yeah, it was that good). So meandering through IO9 I came upon an even stranger version - An a capella version done by the Sacramento State Jazz Singers of the Bear McCreary's Battlestar version (confused yet? lol) and these people do a great job. And if you have never heard the BSG version, this group nails it. Take a listen in this video.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Moon Microbes - Weren't

There was a nagging mystery surrounding the Apollo 12 mission. One that has take nearly 40 years to unravel. From the Yahoo News article sent in by Tim Sayell:
  • On Nov. 19, 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean made a precision landing on the lunar surface in (in the area called) the Ocean of Storms. Their touchdown point was a mere 535 feet from the Surveyor 3 lander -- and an easy stroll to the hardware that had soft-landed on the lunar terrain years before, on April 20, 1967
Their reason for visiting the probe? To retrieve and return to Earth the camera that was installed on the craft. It was packed in a sterile container and was not removed until it arrived at NASA's clean room. Examining the camera, NASA scientists found a small colony of common bacteria -- Streptococcus Mitis. Now we are not talking about a huge amount but at most 100 of the microbes, which appeared to have survived launch, the harsh vacuum of space, three years of exposure to the moon's radiation environment, the lunar deep-freeze at an average temperature of minus 253 degrees Celsius, not to mention no access to nutrients, water or an energy source.

Though scientists agree that this claim was ridiculous, the press and later the internet continued to champion the claim that microbes had survived. The truth however was far less romantic. Even though the clean room examiners claimed no contamination, examination of procedures and interviews proved different.

From the article:
  • The research team writes of the way the Surveyor 3 camera team studied the equipment here on Earth. Or put more delicately, "The general scene does not lend a lot of confidence in the proposition. For example, (after studying documents and 16mm film of the period researchers found that) participants studying the camera were found to be wearing short-sleeve scrubs, thus arms were exposed. Also, the scrub shirt tails were higher than the flow bench level … and would act as a bellows for particulates from inside the shirt..... All in all, the likelihood that contamination occurred during sampling of the Surveyor 3 camera was shown to be very real.
Read the complete article here

NASA's MRO Finds New Craters

In 2010, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's low resolution B&W camera (called the Context-Camera) saw a dark patch that hadn’t been there two years before. The MRO was told to train it's high resolution (HiRISE) camera on the area and found a cluster of four brand new impact craters.
From the Wired Science blog:
  • The telephoto image revealed four distinct craters, each ringed with a dark blanket where soil was blasted out in the impact. The crater quartet could have been formed by a single meteorite that broke apart on its way through Mars’ atmosphere.
The MRO finished it main objectives in 2008. NASA extended its lifetime twice. In that time, MRO has transmitted more data to Earth -- 131 trillion bits and more than 70,000 images so far -- than all other interplanetary missions combined.

Wired Science article

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Comet Elenin Due for a Close Call With Earth

Comet Elenin is due to make it's closest approach later this year when it will pass within 22 million miles of Earth. Elenin will make it's closest approach to the Sun on 10 September 2011. On the 16 of October 2011, the comet will pass within 21,000,000 miles of the Earth.
From the Wiki:
  • The discoverer, Leonid Elenin, estimates that the comet nucleus is apx. 2.5 miles in diameter. As of April 2011, the comet is around magnitude 15 (roughly the brightness of Pluto), and the coma of the comet is estimated to be about 50,000 miles in diameter.
The graphic shows the path of the comet through the inner solar system.

Science daily article

Mysterious Pattern on Mercury?

The NASA Messenger probe is already sending back wonderful pictures of the planet Mercury. But check out this photo....is this going to drive the Martian Face people crazy. From Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing the next "inexplicable" image. From the Article:
  • NASA says the X is the result of two separate meteor strikes whose craters are outside the area that can be seen in this photo. When each meteor hit the surface, the force of impact threw off material that left behind its own, smaller, craters when it hit the ground.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

ALPHA Team Traps Antimatter for a Record-setting Time

The Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) located in Switzerland has set a new record for capturing antihydrogen, a form of anti-matter, and storing it for a record setting 10,000 times longer than previous times. ALPHA's newest record is 1000 seconds or approximately sixteen minutes.

With the additional time, physicists can now study antimatter in general and antihydrogen specifically. Some of the crucial information that can be gained are:
  • Does antihydrogen have the same level of energy as normal hydrogen?
  • Is it an exact mirror image of matter and other fundamental questions.
Gizmodo article

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Triton sub heading for the Mariana as well!

Looks like Richard Branson isn't the only one aiming for inner space. It seems the race has been joined by the Triton 36000 deep diving submarine. After 50 years, the Triton sub plans to return to the deepest place in Earth's ocean, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Only two people have reached this depth before. Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard made their history making trip in January 1960 and no one has been back since.

More info on the sub and the project here

Untitled from Triton Subs on Vimeo.

AntipodeanSF 155 Now Online!

Editor Ion posts that the newest issue of AntipodeanSF, the Australian online flash fiction magazine, is online and ready for your enjoyment.

The Genetic Time Traveler By David Gray
Old Tidings By JC Mangold
Night Falls At The Dream Markets By Elizabeth Carroll
How Technology Threatened My Manhood By Tod McCoy
Somewhere By Shaun A Saunders
Over Too Soon By Nicholas J Carter
Moving House By Antoinette Rydyr
Nanobrains By Kevin J. Phyland
7 Bullets By Jules Carey
This Alien Landscape By Chris Large

AntipodeanSF http://www.antisf.com.au/the-stories

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Got a spare 150 million? Have I got a deal for you!

Here is something I found in Dvice that has been making its rounds in the blogosphere: If you can raise 150 million dollars, you can buy one of the two space tourist seats on a trip to the Moon and around it. The craft will be a "lunar rated" Russian Soyuz spacecraft that carries three. The third seat is reserved for Russian cosmonaut.

Seems like a lot of money, but when you consider that NASA spent about the same amount (300 mill) for Apollo 8, it really isn't such a bad deal, considering that NASA would spend in the billions now to do the same job, it is even a much better deal. Plus you become part of a very elite group of people. Only 24 others have circled the Moon in the past!

Here is the mission plan according to Dvice:
  • After launching from Russia, your Soyuz capsule will rendezvous and dock with a waiting booster rocket, which will power you into a free-return trajectory around the moon and back. After a two day journey, the capsule will circle the moon once, viewing the dark side from a mere 62 miles up. (Returning to Earth) you can expect to land somewhere in Siberia a few days later.

RIP: Joanna Russ

Legendary feminist science fiction author Joanna Russ died April 30, 2011 after a series of strokes. She was 74. Russ was the author of The Female Man and many other science fiction classics.
From the Wikipedia:
For more info on Russ

Comparing the cost of running SETI

As you remember I pointed out last week that funding for SETI was being eviserated and the Allen 43 dish telescope array was taking the hit. Well my nephew listed this interesting piece from Phil Plait who did a comparitive cost of running SETI for a year which is 2.5 million dollars.

five tomahawk cruise missiles 2.5 million
entry level learjet 12.9 million
1 apache attack helicopter 18 million
citibank exec bonus 19.3 million
trident submarine launched nuclear icbm 29.1 million
cost of significantly increasing sensitivity (expanding) of the allen telescope array 50 million
eight elviss Andy Warhol 100 million
total 2010 revenue of world wrestling entertainment 477 million
cost of google buying admob 750 million
Toy Story 2 box office worldwide 2010 earnings 1.06 billion
Nimits class aircraft carrier 4.5 billion
ipad sales in 2010 @500ea 7.4 billion
Starbucks 2010 net revenue 10.7 billion
Citigroup 2008 bailout 25 billion
extending the bush tax cut 544.3 billion
us DOD 2010 budget 663.8 billion

Oh and I know this is nothing we could control, but as a distraction while one of the most efficient uses for our scientific investment was being raped, we watch the British Royal Family run through about 64 million dollars for a wedding. Now, Like I said, that's their business, but when I hear how many ooooooooohed and aaaaaaaaahhhhhed about this and the whole damn list above is just plain ignored, I just hoped they all were well greased and grabin for their ankles.