Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is Bionics a Real Option for the Handicapped?

Well according to this film I found on Boing Boing blog, not only is it an honest option but a likelihood in the very near future. In the past we have seen experiment on activating a paraplegic's own muscles to regain function. However that approach has proved very problematic especially older injuries or paralysis from diseases like Polio which atrophies the muscles beyond the point where they can be utilized. From systems developed for the military to give some level of function to injured Vets to other system that allow troops to travel faster and longer carrying much greater loads comes external systems and prosthesis that will soon allow far more range and flexibility that any other system up to this point.

Segway's (not surprising, the Segway itself was an outgrowth of Kamen's work on a self balancing wheelchair that could climb stairs) inventor Dean Kamen has long championed bionics and other devices to aid the handicapped, talks in this film about some of the exciting breakthroughs that have taken place in only a few years.

Of course it took only 2 minutes before the Six Million Dollar Man was mentioned - so quite a lot of work has to be done as well in the public's perception of the capabilities, among others.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2 Hour Trans-Alantic Flight?

A two hour flight across the Atlantic may be possible within 10 years. Employing new hyper speed engine technology the HyperMach SonicStar will be able to fly twice as fast as the Concord or 3.6 mach. and do so at altitudes above 60 thousand feet (high enough to see the curve of Earth) while carrying a passenger load of 20 souls.

Plans for the SonicStar were unveiled at the 2011 Paris airshow. The engines are supposed to be 30% more efficient and the overall airframe will all but eliminate sonic overpressure. The plane's ultra high speed will put most of Europe in range of a 2 hour plus flight and complete circumnavigation a hair over five hours.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Earth Almost Catches a Bus - sized asteriod that is...

Tim Sayell sends in an article concerning a very close call on June 27th of this year. A bus sized asteroid flew so close to the Earth that it was well inside many of satellites orbits.

Asteroid 2011 MD, passed within 7500 miles at 1pm passing over the coast of Antarctica before being slingshot back into deep space.

Asteroid 2011 MD was only discovered last week (June 22nd 2011) by Astronomers with the LINEAR near-Earth object survey in Socorro, N.M. The asteroid was in fact pretty small by comparison at the most only 66 feet long and is a Apollo object which means that they objects that cross Earth's orbit and have fairly short duration orbits among others.

Click here for the complete Yahoo News article

Computer Controlled "Ghost" Hand

I should be more creeped out by this than I am but truth be told I sort of saw this one coming. Back thirty years or so in an effort to control chronic pain I tried out a device called a T.E.N.S. unit which using electric pulses to overload nerves and hopefully lessen pain sensitivity. Boys being boys we soon found that electrodes could be positioned in various appendages to stimulate muscles and fingers to assume ummm a variety of rather less than acceptable finger positions. You get the point.

So I am reading in Dvice about scientists at Tokyo University in conjunction with Sony, have developed PossessedHand which consists of a pair of wrist bands that deliver mild electrical stimuli directly to the muscles that control your fingers, with hopes of say teaching your body how to properly position your fingers to play an instrument. Though other uses have been suggested such as helping stroke victims relearn the use of affected limbs.

Of course when you want the film, you can see immediately why we went in the direction we did...

BMU # 267 Luna Voices on the Solar Winds conclusion

In episode 267, I open the program with a track from Weird Al's new album, a parody of Lady GaGa's Born this Way called "I perform this way!" This song strikes (excuse the pun) a cord with me plus it shows that Al Yankovich still has the mojo.

Earth and Sky is a new addition to the program. They provide science articles to podcasts of various lengths that I plan on bringing snippets to the program each week. This week is about the search for Dark Matter, and a plan to build a nineteen mile long particle accelerator in hopes of creating the elusive particle.

From the BMU blog at, The ESA is developing a space transport vehicle while the US is fast becoming a cargo cult to its' own space effort, Nevada has said OK for Driverless Cars to operate on their roads, well it is a bit more complicated than that, but when it DOES happen they most likely will be first. New technology in the works that might mean you will never have to worry about focusing your camera EVER! I review not the Lang version but an obscure anime version from 2001!

And finally part two and the conclusion to Nick Wood's fantastic story Luna Voices on the Solar Winds. In part 2, a painful and gruesome death awaits. He is already seeing things.....because what he does see can not possibly be there under ANY circumstances! Let alone the the raw radiation environment of the airless moon!

That and more, plus some general ravings this week in episode 267 of Beam Me Up

Friday, June 24, 2011

ESA Setting Its' Sights on Reusable Space Transport

As the USA bows out of leading the world in space exploration, ESA far from sitting on their thumbs is looking at a low orbit reusable space transport vehicle by what the next decade you say? Nope, 2013. ESA's test bed will be the IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle which will explore autonomous reentry, space transportation, exploration and robotic servicing of space infrastructure, according to their news release here.

The article gives a lot of information about the experimental lifting body and mission plans.

Check it out here.

Nevada OKs Driverless Cars?

Will Nevada be the first state to have driverless cars on the highway? Well according to this article in Popsci (via Boing Boing) not anytime in the near future but what has taken place IS big in its' own right. recently a bill was passed that granting the Department of Transportation the authorization to draft a set of regulations and rules governing autonomous cars.

From the article:
  • The legislation charges the Nevada DOT with creating the legal framework that will determine things like performance standards and licensing requirements, as well as designating certain areas within the state where autonomous cars might be tested.
So, no cars without drivers zoomin down the highways of Nevada, but they will be the first to have a framework in place when testing begins and considering some states are still struggling with low speed electrics, this kind of thing is very forward thinking.

Popsci article

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Focus After the Shot! Science Fiction Photography!

Anyone that has known me for any time at all knows that I have been an avid photographer (didn't say good, just avid!) since the late 60s. I tend to be a bit old fashioned in how I like to shoot and what I shoot with. To be honest though, I did take to digital in the 90s and barely looked back. However I still shoot with a SLR just that it has a D on it now. One thing among many that has always been a bit of a bother was getting the focus sharp. Auto focus is at best a stop gap because you never quite know exactly its choosing to focus. Now what would it be like to focus AFTER the picture has be taken. Something right out of science fiction right? Not any more!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A "Brilliant" Cure for Global Warming!

OMG now why didn't I think of this?!!! It's brilliant in it's simplicity!

Solution to Global Warming
Solution to Global Warming

Oh wait, I got even a better idea! How bout TAKING A eFing semester of SCIENCE?!!

Review: Metropolis: anime by Osamu Tezuka

Remember that feeling you get when you come across a book or a movie that you never heard about but turns out to be damn entertaining? Well that happened to me over the weekend. Every now and then I get a notice about new offering on the streaming service called Crackle. Well I started digging around in the anime section and I came across Metropolis - anime? Huh?
Here is what the Wikipedia has to say about it:
  • Metropolis is a 2001 anime film and loosely based on the 1949 Metropolis manga created by the late Osamu Tezuka, itself inspired by the 1927 German silent film of the same name
Directed by Rintaro and Written by Katsuhiro Otomo. Running time 113 minutes

The cover didn't resemble the posters I had seen of the Fritz Lang version, but I was intrigued. So I took a chance and was pleasantly surprised.

Metropolis is a futuristic city but much in the way it would be if you smashed Blade Runner with Metropolis of Lang's 20s art deco style. Humans and robots exist in this world but robots are discriminated against, not allow to the city's upper level.

The ruler of Metropolis is Duke Red. Red has put everything the city can muster into this super project call Ziggurat. Secretly he has a scientist Laughton to secretly build a humanoid robot to be the controller of the Ziggurat. The final major players (there are quite a few very important players, but I don't want to give too much away.) id Japanese investigator Shunsaku and his nephew Kenichi have come to Metropolis to arrest Laughton on trafficking in human parts and finally Tima the humanoid robot that Laughton builds for Duke who awakens not knowing she is a robot.

Kenichi and Tima spend most of the movie avoiding one group or another that would kill Tima to prevent her from carrying out the task that Duke Red had her constructed for.

In a weird kind of way it parallels the silent movie of the same name, in others it honest anime moral tale. The animation style is more the 20th century than what we have come to expect from animation anime at the end of the first decade of the 21st. But it does have its own charm and is about as far away as you can get from the inspiration as was say the anime version of Witchblade I reviewed last week.

I would check it out if for no other reason than to see a reasonably good anime feature.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beam Me UpEpisode 266 online!

This week on Beam Me Up episode 266 - I start first with a geek tribute to nerd Farthers everywhere! Singer songwriter John Anealio gives us Geek Dad which can be downloaded for free mind you!

The first story of the day is our ongoing serial Dark Inspectre from writer Jason Kahn. In this month’s episode para-normal detective Jack Garett finds that his investigation has brought him to the wrong of the table when brought in for questioning in an unusually brutal murder investigation - only to find a warning of dangerous dealings from a most unusual ally.

The Main story this week is part one of Luna Voices on the Solar Winds by Nick Wood. In the first part of this great story - a research outing on the surface of the Moon goes horribly wrong when a science / research outing gets trapped in the open by a solar eruption which blinds their maps, and scrambles their communications. Plus the leader of the expedition knows where they are, only problem, he is unconscious. Now a man caught between the old ways of his grandfather and being accepted in the high tech present and a deaf girl must learn to communicate and trust each other to find their way back to base. Help come in an unusual voice from the past.....

From the beam me up blog: I review the anime version of Witchblade, thankfully its not the crappy tnt version!, Is Dark Energy a lie? Is there no such thing or is time simply running out? Voyager one is closer than ever to leaving the solar system proper. Will turbines replace the beating human heart someday, and a Japanese researcher has created fake meat from all thing, sewage mud! Believe it or not its the world’s first Turd Burger?!

BMU episode 266

Friday, June 17, 2011

Voyager May Have Left the Big Back Yard?!

Scientists analyzing data returning from Voyager 1 may have crossed into the helio-pause and entered for all intents - interstellar space, much sooner than they had expected it to.

This is based on data from Voyager's low-energy charged particle instrument. This instrument is now indicating that charged particles from the sun are no longer moving. This phenomenon first presented itself in February of this year (2011) telling controllers that Voyager has moved into an unexpected area much sooner than they expected.

At this point the area of charged particles persists around the sun out to a distance of 11 billion miles or so and with Voyager at that very same distance, it was only a matter of time before it happened and may have taken place already.

Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, says "...Voyager 1 speeds outward a billion miles every three years, so we may not have long to wait..."

Complete Daily Galaxy Article Here

Dark Energy is Fiction - Time Itself is Leaking Away!

Talk about a subject that is going to polarize discussion! Dark energy has been the darling child of astronomical physics for the better part of the last decade and now some researchers are calling it little more than junk science? This can not be going well for proponents.

But the question still has to be, if there isn't any such thing as Dark Energy, then what is pushing the universe apart at an ever increasing rate. Well me hearties tiz something right out of science fiction. Time is Running Down.

From the Daily Galaxy article:
  • The idea that time itself could cease to be in billions of years - and everything will grind to a halt - has been proposed by Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain.
  • They propose that there is no such thing as dark energy at all, and we’re looking at things backwards. Senovilla proposes that we have been fooled into thinking the expansion of the universe is accelerating, when in reality, time itself is slowing down.
Wow, what a way to get the skull jello wigglin huh? But think about it - distance, speed and age all have time constituents and for the most part, C is constant because of T(time) if you have to start factoring in a delta v for time things get really squirreley! (oh and don't call me out on delta v for time, you know what I mean...sheeeeeeeesh!)

Anyone remember Exhalation by Ted Chiang. It was originally played on Star Ship Sofa and I replayed it (I loved the reading that they had done so I asked to use that!) anyway Ted's story was about beings that powered themselves with compressed air, but found that their vacuum environment was being normalized and since there was less power potential the people were slowing down ever so slowly. Chiang nailed the present theory several years ago!

Ok, well I drifted off track some. As the present expansion theory explains, since light is redshifting from distant galaxies and the more pronounced the red shift the faster they are receding, hence the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. However as the article points out:
  • the accuracy of these measurements depends on time remaining invariable throughout the universe.
  • If time is slowing down, ... our solitary time dimension is slowly turning into a new space dimension. Therefore the far-distant, ancient stars seen by cosmologists would from our perspective, look as though they were accelerating.......
Wild huh?

Read the rest of the Daily Galaxy article here

Massive Flash is most likely Black Hole pulling a star in...

Dan gave me a heads up on something we have been reading about over the past several weeks. In March, scientist observed a huge outpouring of energy from a galaxy 3.8 billion light years from Earth. Astronomers have concluded that a star roughly the size of our SOL orbited in to close to a black hole where it was ripped apart by tidal forces and pulled inside the event horizon. This forced huge amounts of x-ray energy to be emitted at the poles one of which was aimed at Earth.
From the article:
  • The awesome energy released by the feeding frenzy was first detected by NASA’s Swift satellite on March 28 and was later confirmed by a fleet of space and ground telescopes.
At first the pulse was thought to be a super-massive star collapsing to neutron or black hole stage causing a GRB (gamma ray burst) but instead of dimming within a few hours the huge outpouring lasted for days and then weeks - leading scientists to conclude that the explanation had to be the destruction of a Sol class star by a singularity.

Alicia Chang writing for AP article
in Daily Chronicle

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GeekDad by John Anealio

Ok Dads, here is a freebie from John Anealio of Sci Fi Songs! Here is his website btw This one is dead on for me...Been a nerd and a Geek all my life but the wife well John calls it straight! Enjoy! Oh and it's a free download! Happy Father's Day for all huh?!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Single Spiral Galaxy?

I like looking at beautiful astronomical photos, but I seldom post them because after wow, and that's beautiful, there isn't much to say.

This picturehas all of that and more, but it is the questions that it generatest that I think makes it note worthy.

Before I saw this photo in the Daily Galaxy blog I would have staunchly insisted that this type of galaxy was not possible. Seeing this odd single spiral galaxy you would think that some natural law but there it stubbornly sits.

According to the article:
  • (this is) galaxy NGC 4725 --a barred spiral galaxy about 40 million light-years away in the constellation Corna Berenices.
  • (this photo was taken) August 25, 2003 (by the) NASA Spitzer Space Telescope
Daily Galaxy article

Japanese Scientists Invent ...HUH? Oh You Gota Be @#$% Me!

Topless Robot blog is branching out into the field of future ....(excuse me I just think I puked up a kidney) And to be totally honest like the writer in the Topless Robot article says...This may not even be real. Who is going to stand there straight faced and tell you this could compete price-wise in the market...As I was watching (It took me 3 times, first time I swallowed my tongue laughing) or giving a nutritional breakdown or admit to "refining" the taste... I can't do this any have to watch the video....

Oh hell the article itself is funnier than (yep Im going to say it) crap check it here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turbine Charged Man!

Wow, sounds like a super hero don't it? Truth be told a few decades ago and he would have been. Turbines it seems are not the purview of jet aircraft. A pair turbine like pumps make up the centrifugal turbine heart pump developed by doctors at the Texas Heart Institute. That's right, we are talking about a blood pumping device that first off doesn't pump and if it doesn't pump, anyone fitted with just such a device will not have a pulse...weird huh? But the only reason we have a pulse is that the heart is very specialized muscle. Once a muscle contracts, to do more work, it must relax. (and it has to pick up fuel and dump off waste)

According to the Dvice blog article:
  • (the device has) been tested for quite a while on animals along with one successful human trial — with no ill effects so far, too.
  • The FDA still has to approve this technology, but it's looking like turbine heart replacements might be the next step forward in medical implants.
Check out the Device article which also contains an NPR link as well HERE

Beam Me Up episode 265

Sorry I took so long and getting this out. Totally spaced it. Anyway the new episode 265 is up and has been since Saturday, and here is the link and text if you haven't already jaunted over there for part 2 of the story....

This week’s episode of Beam Me Up is 265! As you know I am a fan of the ability of the web to bring together diverse talents to complete a project. Mostly it is the ability of very talented producers to give us unique productions of well known song titles. This week I start with a piece originally from the Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter, but this project brings together diverse instruments and vocal talents for a very rousing rendition.

From the Beam Me Up Blog I review the animated feature Megamind. A funny well animated movie with voice talents of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt and Tina Fey. From CERN scientist have seemingly done the impossible by trapping anti-hydrogen for an astounding 16 minutes!

Our story this week is part 2 and conclusion to Memory by Michael Merriam. In the conclusion this week, Lucza Antreus finds out that what she want and what she has to do are not the same thing. We learn the real reason that her home planet and the rest of known space has spiraled into chaos and the sacrifices that will have to be made to arrest and reverse what has taken centuries to build up to. If you enjoyed part 1 then your going to really enjoy the conclusion!

episode 265 link here

Review: Witchblade: The Anime Series

Ok, before you say omg and stop reading, I am not talking about the TV series or even the Top Cow graphic novel that had similar plot lines, Nope, I am talking about full on mature viewers only Gonzo anime. Now, for you that don't remember the waste of photons that was called Witchblade, it and the Top Cow graphic novel followed Sara Pezzini a tough as nails NY cop who comes into possession of the Witchblade, a supernatural, sentient artifact with immense destructive and protective powers. The weapon has bonded with various other women throughout history. Ok, well I never saw the graphic novel, but did catch a season on TNT and it was a major yawn. So why am I talking about this snore of a tv series, well when I first heard about the anime series I though that I was in for 24 episodes of the same crap as the tv show.

So let me tell you was I surprised! Witchblade is nothing like the tnt Debacle. In the Anime series, set in a future Tokyo that has been mostly destroyed by a mysterious force six years ago. Masane and her daughter Rihoko Amaha were the only ones who survived the titanic explosion that was Toyko's downfall. Masane has no memory from before only that she wears an odd bracelet. Masane is hired by Yuusuke Tozawa to hunt down biological fighting machines that some how went rouge. So we find out Masane is wearing the Witchblade which we find out may be killing her. I really just sat on the series for a long time until I broke over a couple evenings

I really don't want to give away to much, because the series in anime is surprisingly good. Now I saw it on Hulu so I did didn't get any extras but even so, the 24 episodes (you can get them in dub or sub) but I would still rate this a 9. Worth checking out! not the tv crap Japanese anime with lots of bare skin (hence the mature audience) I think you might like it if your into Anime.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Galaxy With Two Super Massive Black Holes?!! How'd that happen?

What is more scary than one huge black monstrosity that consumes everything that come withing reach of massive jaws and ravenous appetite? Two scary black monsters that's what!

Check the pic that I have posted with this entry that I found in the Daily Galaxy.

It is generally accepted now that every galaxy has a singularity massing millions of solar masses or in rare cases a billion of our sun's mass located at it's center.

So here we have a picture of a galaxy 425 million light-years distant. Both super massive black holes are pumping out prodigious amounts of energy. Even though they look like they are close in a cosmic kind of way, they are actually separated by 11,000 light years! According to the Daily Galaxy article that equals about 1/3 the distance from the edge of the Milky-Way towards the center.

The presence of two super massive black holes most likely occurred when two galaxies collided.
You would think that dual super massive singularities would be a fairly rare occurrence but it seems that astronomers are if not common, a lot more likely to take place when galaxies do collide.

The Daily Galaxy article is a fascinating read - check it out here

Friday, June 10, 2011

Argentine Sat Wants to Know How Salty the Briny Blue Is

Well all kidding aside, Tim Sayell sent in this interesting article from Yahoo News. An Argentine-built satellite was boosted into low Earth orbit atop a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force base shortly before 7:30 PT 6/10/11.

The Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is a An ocean-mapping satellite who's mission is to chart the saltiness of the sea from space. The information gained from the satellite, according to the article:
  • NASA will produce monthly maps detailing changes in salt levels over three years. Scientists hope the data will help them better predict future climate change and short-term climate phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina.
  • Besides Aquarius, seven other instruments will collect environmental data including a camera that will make images of volcanic eruptions, wildfires and nighttime light.
Besides Argentina and NASA, other countries participating in the 400 million dollar mission include Brazil, Canada, France and Italy.

This launch marks a first of five that United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of rocket builders Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., will carry out for NASA this year. The other projects will be - according to the article:
  • Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, the Grail probe to the moon, the NPP environmental satellite and the Mars Science Laboratory to the Martian surface.

Jack Horner Wants a Pet Dino?!

Here is paleontologist Jack Horner giving a presentation at TED. Horner suggest that they are close to reverse engineering dinosaurs using chickens. Hummm yes it would seem that we do indeed have a Jurassic Park moment in the making!

As far fetched as it sounds, the TED presentation is very engaging. As you can see I have embedded the video below. And here is the link to the IO9 article that gave me the heads up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Endeavour's Last Mission & Still Setting Records

Endeavour has completed its last mission but this mission also marked the first time a space shuttle was ever photographed while docked as shown here in this pic from IO9's blog.
From the IO9 article:
  • While the shuttle was docked, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli left the station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and took these photographs during his departure.
There are a couple more good pics on site and a nice short video here on IO9

Naruto Shippuden:Dreamers Fight - Fan Film Trailer

Ok, I know I push a lot of anime down your throat, however at times it is every bit as much legit sci fi as any genre. Then again some anime is just escapist entertainment. Sometimes you just find yourself caught up in an anime world that you had no intention of doing so. That is what happened with Naruto and later Naruto Shippuden. This series is about as whacked as you can get in an anime universe, but at the core are characters you can identify with and ultimately root for. So here I am several years later wating for the number one spiky haired knuckle headed ninja. And let me tell you the fan base is deep and loyal. How loyal you ask? Well check out this fan made live action Naruto movie trailer. Hell I would go see it!

And there is a facebook page here for those that were involved I suspect....

Monday, June 06, 2011

Antimatter trapped for a record 16 minutes!

Articles about anti-matter are nothing new here I know, but the research is getting so advanced that it certainly has a wow factor built in now. Anti-matter.... a few billionths of a second after the big bang, theory has it that there was an equal amount of matter and anti-matter. Since matter and anti-matter can not exist in proximity, matter and anti-matter annihilated one another. Now the astute among us is asking uhh if that is so, how come I see a universe full of matter. Well it seems that the matter/antimatter conversion is not 100% efficient and all the mass we see now is a fraction less than 1% of what there was before the conversion. Wild huh? Physics says that there should be way more mass in the universe, now we think we know where it went..

Anyway, that just shows how unbelievably difficult it is to store antimatter. And to consider large amounts for a long time is surely something of science fiction. Not so says an article in Yahoo News sent in by Tim Sayell.

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva say that they have been successful at trapping anti-hydrogen atoms for the unheard of time of 1000 seconds. Yes in the normal world that's a stunning 16 minutes and change! What is a bit weird is Cern scientists are not really "trapping" anti-hydrogen as "cooking" it. From the article:
  • In the ALPHA project, the researchers captured anti-hydrogen by mixing anti-protons with positrons — anti-electrons — in a vacuum chamber, where they combine into anti-hydrogen atoms.
  • The whole process occurred within a magnetic "bottle"
To detect what they have trapped, the scientists turn off the magnetic fields allowing the anti-hydrogen to interact with normal matter.

Cern scientists are not sitting on their laurels however. The problem with the present trap is that there is no way to interact with the anti-matter directly. They are hoping that by 2012 they will have a new trap built that will allow scientists to study the anti-matter directly with lasers to allow spectroscopic experiments on the anti-atoms.

read complete Yahoo article here

Review: Megamind animated feature

Directed by Tom McGrath
Will Ferrell - Megamind
Tina Fey - Roxanne Ritchie
Jonah Hill - Hal
David Cross - Minion
Brad Pitt - Metro Man
and a cameo by Ben Stiller as Bernard

Sooooooo after my disaster with live action at the hands of the atrocious Green Hornet, I decided to fall back on the tried and true.....Animation! well I like

Here is a question for you.... What would happen if Clark Kent got tired of being Superman? Who would step up and fill the void?

Megamind is up to a certain point the Superman mythos. But instead of one being from a doomed far away planet we have two. Megamind a hyper intelligent blue alien and Metroman invulnerable do gooder. Oh and of course Megamind has his alien sidekick, a somewhat mutated fish called Minion.

They have battled each other over the years since they both arrived on Earth. Megamind never quite catches a break, where as Metroman is Metrocity’s hero.

All this changes when it seems by some twist of fate, Megamind succeeds in dispatching Metroman and goes on an orgy of excess.

Megamind soon discovers that without his long time foe, life in Metrocity becomes mundane, and hatches a plan to recreate Metroman to have someone to battle. Things are mostly going as planned when bumbling Hal accidentally gains Metroman’s abilities.

Hal instead of becoming the city’s protector discovers that he still doesn’t get the girl of his dreams (Roxanne Ritchie) and instead to be even more evil than Megamind and sets out to destroy him. Megamind finds himself on the opposite side of the good guy bad guy fence. For the first time, he might be the good guy!

I don’t want to give away some of the twists and mild surprises that might make the movie a bit more fun for you.

Overall the animation is great fun. I didn’t see the 3D version as I rented the BR-DVD but I really don’t think I missed much. The dialogue is fast and funny with just the proper amount of camp thrown in with a wink and a nod. The sound track uses the music quite well and often you like me will find your toes tapping. As for the extras, One large lack I noticed is that my copy did not contain the cartoon short that was mentioned, however the commentary track was a lot of fun to listen to. Not as sophisticated as some, but entertaining none the less. There is a missing scene and not much else, but it was a worthy add on for the dvd. The movie I would give an 8 and the extras good but lacking a 6 for an overall of 7 which I feel is a bit low so I would say its an easy 7 and probably an 8. Worth the watch.

Aaron Sims Making His Own Movie?

Who is Aaron Sims you ask? Mr. Sims is the genius behind the beasts for I Am Legend, War of the Worlds, The Incredible Hulk to name just a few. According to the IO9 article, Aaron is working on developing characters for Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Amazing Spider-Man,
on his own time he put together a short teaser trailer for Archtype - a robot with a memory glitch. It remembers being human.....hummmmm.

Here is the premise from the article:
  • RL7 is an eight foot tall combat robot. Only problem is he's starting to remember once being human. Now on the run from an all powerful corporation that will stop at nothing to destroy him RL7 desperately searches for the truth behind his mysterious memories before it's too late.
I like it already.

Complete IO9 article

Jupiter to Blame for Mars Being so Small?

It would appear that Jupiter may be to blame for the planet Mars being so low in mass, when in truth it should be somewhere between Venus and Earth in mass. Also the gas giant is most likely responsible for the unusual makeup of the asteroid belt.

Now first is the fact that we have found an inordinate amount of systems that have gas giants very close in to their primary. Instead of it being an aberration, this makeup would appear to be more normal than not.

A research team from Southwest Research Institute ran a series of simulations that demonstrated the effects of Jupiter moving in towards the Sun during the early days of the solar system.

If, shortly after Jupiter formed, was drawn in towards the sun only to reverse the inward spiral at about 1.5 times the distance of Earth's orbit by the formation of Saturn, then most of the planet building material would have been swept up except what existed inside of Earth's orbit. Limiting what was available for Mars.

The question that isn't answered so far is, does this model also explain the asteroid belt?

Dr. Kevin Walsh, leader of the Southwest Research Institute team said: (from the IO9 article)
  • "...we started to do a huge number of simulations. The result was fantastic. Our simulations not only showed that the migration of Jupiter was consistent with the existence of the asteroid belt, but also explained properties of the belt never understood before."
The team's conclusions are that not only does their roving Jupiter model explain the lack of mass in Mars but also the existence and weird makeup and distribution of elements. link
, IO9 complete article

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Beam Me Up Podcast Episode 264 is now online!

Get ready to get your brain fried on episode 264 of Beam Me Up!

I bookend today’s blog entries of science news and observations with a couple of great stories.

At the beginning of this week’s program I play Duncan Shield’s flash fiction piece “Fertilizer”. Earth is making a massive push to terraform Mars. Bio domes are up and machines are generating oxygen for a breathable atmosphere in the future, but what Mars really needed was......

I end this week with part one of “Memory” by Michael Merriam. Chaos had come to her planet. In the centuries that had past, the once beautiful and vibrant culture that had existed here had crumbled, turned on itself and had died. Nothing now survived except mutated dogs and a few equally mutated humans. Even she wasn’t the she that she remembered who had grown up, loved and grown old. Now the rest of the known galaxy had followed her planets fall into the selenium long collapse. Now she was back not to rebuild but to join her centuries long dead husband.

And that is just part one! Part two will floor you!!!

From the Beam Me Up Blog at Have you heard about the Casimir effect? Well in short it seems to show how to get something from nothing!? Yep, it describes a virtual particle and a anti virtual particle being kept from destroying each other and when this happens real particles like Photons are created.... Yep, that’s light from nothing... next, a professor of computer science at Wake Forest University, is training digital ant to ferret out the hiding places on the net of nefarious software like viruses and destroying them. Antipodean issue 156 is now online. Great Australian flash fiction site. Science Daily blog has an interesting article concerning new technology that "detect(s) a number of neurological symptoms, such as .... epileptic seizure(s), and treating them simultaneously. It seems that electrical engineers at the University of Maryland may have been a bit hasty, Time Travel may indeed be possible! Jeff Conaway, best known to genre fans as Security Chief Zack Allen on the syndicated series Babylon 5, died May 27th at 60. What would cause Isaac to blow a gasket if he were still with us? Well I can tell you one thing for sure....

That and other articles and observations. Great show this week. Come join us!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Georgia Experiences Brightest Meteor Yet Recorded by NASA

Tim Sayell just sent me a note about a meteor that brightened Georgian sky May 20th.

What was so exciting about this meteor you ask? Well a couple of things really stand out, how big it was and how bright. First off was it's size. Not huge but not diminutive either. NASA estimates that the space rock was 6-foot-wide. And what really drew interest was how bright the meteor was.

From the Yahoo News article:
  • It was the brightest meteor yet recorded by NASA's fireball-observing network — based at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
  • When it entered the atmosphere, the comet chunk was traveling northwest at about 86,000 mph. At this velocity, the boulder-size "dirty snowball" possessed an energy or striking power somewhere between 500 and 1,000 tons of TNT.

complete Yahoo News article here

Asimov would roll over in his grave.....

I was reading in Boing Boing that in 1971 a new library in Troy, MI., was just being opened. In celebration of the event Isaac Asimov along with others, wrote an open letter to the new patrons (including the children) who would soon be frequenting it. This is what Dr. Asimov' letter had to say:

"Congratulations on the new library, because it isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you---and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life."

Words of hope to a brave new world.

Rumor has it that the Troy library is likely to close soon due in part to budget cut backs....

complete Boing Boing article

Video: Plains Milky Way by Randy Halverson

I found this stunning time lapse video, on Vimeo, of the Milky Way shot by Randy Halverson.

Randy writes: For the month of May I shot Milky Way timelapse in central South Dakota.....I used a Stage Zero Dolly on the dolly shots and a "Milapse" mount on the panning ones.

Canon 60D and T2i
Tokina 11-16
Sigma 20mm F1.8
Tamron 17-50

Shot in RAW format, the Milky Way shots were 30 seconds exposure F2.8 or F1.8 with 2 second interval between shots, for 3-4 hours run time.

Ten seconds of the video is about 2 hours 20 minutes in real time.

And here is his results!

Plains Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Cassini Mission a short film by Chris Abbas

A thoroughly engrossing short film by Chris Abbas using footage captured by NASA's Cassini Imaging Science System. It is on Vimeo but I also found it on Boing Boing as well. Enjoy!

CASSINI MISSION from cabbas on Vimeo.

RIP: Jeff Conaway of Babylon 5 fame

Airlock Alpha reports that Jeff Conaway, best known to genre fans as Security Chief Zack Allen on the syndicated series Babylon 5, died May 27th at 60 after being removed from life support.

Conaway was found unconcious in his home May 11 from what his doctors describe as complications from pneumonia and sepsis.

Complete Airlock Alpha article, Wiki article

Time Travel May be Possible After All?

It seems that electrical engineers at the University of Maryland may have been a bit hasty, in April, when they announced findings that they said showed time travel impossible. Light, they said, could not be steered in a circle so that photons could not return to where they started.

But according to a Wired blog article:
  • physicist Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrews in Scotland disagrees. “They considered the wrong polarization,” he said. “Making a loop in space is perfectly possible in their model. Therefore, for this model, time travel is possible.”
The University of Maryland's error may have occurred by not taking into account that photons vibrate in two directions, depending on magnetic or electric polarization, 90 degrees out of phase. To maintain their analogy to space-time Maryland's model Big Bang's electric field has to point upwards from the plane of the meta-material.

(you can demonstrate this to yourself by taking a broomstick say and wrapping your fingers around it. Your fingers then, are the lines of electric force that are generated when voltage is applied. Now extend your thumb and first finger. The thumb is parallel to the conductor and points in the direction of motion. The first finger extended points away from the conductor at 90 degrees. As you can now clearly see, the electric and magnetic fields are out of phase 90 degrees. I know this is gross over-simplification, but current, voltage and magnetic lines of force are the exact same forces at play in Maryland's experiment. Their error was taking into account the electrical forces straight off the meta-materials and that showed that light could not be curved back on itself)

From the article again:
  • According to Leonhardt, the equations used by (University of Maryland) are valid when the magnetic field — not the electric field — points upwards. Make the necessary correction, and the barrier to creating time-like loops in the meta-material disappears.
Does that clear things up a bit for you?

Read the complete article in Wired here

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Video: George Lucas Strikes Back!

Not all men are created prequel.
Thanks to Trek Movie Report blog for posting it first! This is funny stuff!

New Brain Implant Tech for Detecting & Treating Seizures - Terminal Man anyone?

Science Daily blog has an interesting article concerning new technology that "detect(s) a number of neurological symptoms, such as .... epileptic seizure(s), and treating them simultaneously. Now I know this is not exactly ground breaking because some form of this tech has been talked about since the 90s at the very least and very similar tech is used for and in the case of extreme heart disease to shock a fibrillating heart back to sinusoidal rhythm and there has been discussion of a form of EST in severe depression. This tech is aiming at a different procedure by "loading specific drugs onto an array of electrodes and triggering their release into ... neurons"

What really differentiates this technology from past ones, other than using chemicals instead of electro-shock, comes from the article also.
  • On top of this, the researchers have also demonstrated how the release of drugs could be informed, in real-time, by the recording of activity in neurons, a step essential for creating a closed-loop system that both diagnoses and treats symptoms simultaneously
Its a fascinating idea but it did call to mind Crichton's Terminal Man. You can read the complete Science Daily article here

AntipodeanSF 156 Now Online!

Antipodean's editor Ion notes in his blog that issue 156 is now online with as he puts it "ten fantastic pieces of flash fiction from authors around the world"

Here is the TOC for this month

Sina By Wes Parish
The Anti-Realist Movement By Leon Harwick
Breathe Easy By Ken McGrath
How The Natural Revolution Began By Erol Engin
The Bad Thing By RJ Astruc
The Interview By Shaun A. Saunders
Dragon's Quest By Eleni Konstantine
Out Of Time By Jason Butterfield
Patterns Of Floral By Pavelle Wesser
Birthday Boy By Greg Mellor

The stories page url is HERE