Sunday, July 31, 2011

Iron Man Suit Possible Within 5 to 10 Years

Hey check out this Device article that details Sarcos Raytheon's improved XOS called simply the XOS-2.
From the article:
  • This improved version of the original XOS is stronger, lighter, more damage resistant, and uses only half the power of its predecessor. It's still tethered to an external power supply, which trades mobility for a lot more power and longer running time. The good news is that Sarcos just announced that they expect to start shipping XOS 2 within about five years, and that an untethered version could be about 10 years out.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beam Me Up episode 272

Beam Me Up 272 goes fast this week. I start off with a new tale from Fox Dunham. Memories long since faded are called on once again, and a man who is not a man is all that stands between humanity and darkness - Seth 7.

The hour ends with the conclusion to Deanna Knippling’s tale of the defender of the multiverse. This week after resurrecting from a most horrific murder, Beauregard comes face to face with with his murderer and the truth of who it is and why may end everything.

From the blog a short excerpt from a speech by Neil Degrasse-Tyson on why he feels NASA is vital to the health of our country.

It has been a long held belief that Earth has a Trojan companion, but until recently, none had been discovered. That now has changed and Earth joins an elite group of planets with Trojan companions.

The U.S. is planning on de-orbiting the ISS in 2020 crashing everything into the ocean ...... The Russians, on the other hand, are already planning to refurbish many of their ISS modules and reuse them as part of a new Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex to support deep space exploration.

In 1967 Lunar Orbiter 2 was launched with a mission to help with landing sites for the Apollo moon missions. Once the mission was finished NASA crash-landed it on the far side of the Moon. Until recently it’s crash site was lost, until now.

China is preparing its' Tiangong-1 space station for lift off aboard a Long March II-F carrier booster later this year.

That and more this week on Beam Me Up

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Earth Now Has a Trojan

Asteroid that is. I totally missed this yesterday but a loyal listener Dan brought it to my attention again. In a boing boing article Earth now joins an elite group of three other planets that are know to have Trojan companions. Trojans also share orbits with Neptune, Mars and Jupiter. Two of Saturn's moons share orbits with Trojans.

According to the Wiki article:
  • ... the word trojan refers to a minor planet or natural satellite (moon) that shares an orbit with a larger planet or moon, but does not collide with it because it orbits around one of the two Lagrangian points of stability
  • The Lagrangian points or L-points, are the five positions in an orbital configuration where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects (such as a satellite with respect to the Earth and Moon).
It has been a long held belief that Earth has a Trojan companion, but until recently, none had been discovered.

Earth's Trojan asteroid was discovered by researcher’s using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer project. From the article once more:
  • The asteroid is roughly 1,000 feet in diameter (and) is about 50 million miles from Earth.
read complete Boing Boing article here

The Russians Are Going to do What With Their ISS Modules?!

Ok, well not a whole lot new since earlier this week when I got on a tirade about the ISS and the proposed decommissioning - I just see Dvice taking the ball and running with it. Not much I can add or argue with but if you want to bring your blood back to a slow boil, check out these excerpts from the article.
  • Since the U.S. is legally obligated to maintain responsibility for anything it puts into orbit, something has to happen to all of our ISS modules ... all we can really do is just deorbit everything into the ocean ...... The Russians, on the other hand, are already planning to refurbish many of their ISS modules and reuse them as part of a new Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex to support deep space exploration.
That's right, NASA is saying by 2020 the ISS will be so riddled that we have to safely abandon it and burn it up. While the Russian (and excuse me, their modules are just as old if not older) as saying NYET and will refirb and reuse. Of course we can't cause we can't get there and if we could we can't refirb crap! I don't care how many times NASA says we got the lead....cause Tyson said it...The good ole us of a is fading. Game over man, game over. You guys remember to shut the lights off and lock up when you leave.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lost Lunar Orbiter 2 Crash Site Found

The Daily Galaxy has posted an article, that details a Luna orbiter NASA lost in 1967. Well lost is a bit strong. In 1967 Lunar Orbiter 2 was launched with a mission to help with selection of landing sites for the Apollo moon missions. Once the mission was finished (a matter of a few months) NASA ordered the orbiter to crash on the far side of the Moon.

Its landing site was never know however. From the article:
  • but now the operators of the LROC have found what they believe is a tell-tale impact site just at the coordinates where the Orbiter should have come down. The Luna Reconnaissance Orbiter scientists are working on confirmation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ISS Partnership Meets to Discuss Station Uses

The NASA website reports that NASA and International Partners (The Multilateral Coordination Board ie the MCB) met recently to discuss new uses for the International Space Station.

The discussion centered around, as the article put it,
  • how to use the space station as a test bed for technologies that will enable missions beyond low Earth orbit.
At present the board has tasked itself with:
  • identifying several specific technology collaboration initiatives based on possible future missions suggested by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. These technology developments and demonstrations on the station could support voyages to an asteroid or Mars or the development of lunar habitats.
Also the MCB discussed efforts to increase station use by possibly standardizing interfaces for replaceable items and payloads and command protocols for spacecraft.

You can see the complete article here with a download links...

Time Travel Impossible - Again?

A team of Chinese physicists have put the time travel debate to bed. Their research concludes that a photon can not travel faster than light.

From the article:
  • By result, the possibilities of time traveling have been debunked in one fell swoop because it was previously believed that if a single photon could travel faster than the speed of light, it could "teleport" information to another time.
Professor Shengwang Du, Assistant Professor in Hong Kong University of Science & Technology's Department of Physics, study demonstrates that a single photon has to obey the same laws of the universe just as any other Electro-Magnetic wave.

Professor Du points out that by showing that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light, his research also demonstrates the true speed of information carried by a single photon,
thus giving scientists a better picture on the transmission of quantum information."

read more in the HK Institute of Science & Technology article, Dvice article

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Future of NASA - Neil DeGrasse - Tyson

Why NASA is vital for our survival as a nation of innovators. Big words, but when you hear Neil DeGrasse-Tyson speak you begin to understand just what he means. NASA for 50 has been in the business of making heros. Someone to advance the horizons of human understanding. When you lose the will to explore and be fascinated by the unknown, is the moment when you start to backslide, the moment when you become less relevant. DeGrasse-Tyson says some very scary things in the short speech I found on the Gizmodo site, but to not heed his words is to relegate the U.S. to that of the observer, not the innovator. Check the video out below.

China's First Space Station Readies For Launch

Remember that fine speech that the director of NASA gave about the US dominance in space due to the great foundation they had already laid? Wonder if he is starting to choke on those words yet? Cause I was just reading an article on The Daily Galaxy where China is preparing its' Tiangong-1 space station for lift off aboard a Long March II-F carrier booster later this year. Followed later by an unpiloted Shenzhou-8 spacecraft to test their ability to dock with each other. This will be China's first attempt at just such a maneuver.

Read more on The China Daily web page

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Short Film - Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement

Here is something entertaining from IO9 - the site has an exclusive premiere of award-winning short film Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement.

From the site:
  • It's the action-packed story of warfare at the edge of the galaxy, where an alien enemy can mess with human minds — as well as blowing up ships.
  • It is the story of a squadron of space fighter pilots, stranded in their cockpits deep in enemy space, struggling with reality and delusion as they are hunted by mind controlling aliens.
  • "COCKPIT: THE RULE OF ENGAGEMENT" is a standalone chapter from the same universe which follows the Carrier Captain (Ronny Cox) who must decide if it is worth risking the security of Earth to save a suffocating pilot who may or may not have been corrupted by the mind controlling aliens . . .
You would expect an indie short film to be a bit cheesy in both acting and special effects, but this is top notch in both categories!

Here is the link to the IO9 exclusive chapter
And for more info in the complete project here is the official Website

BMU Episode 271 Now online

Beam Me Up episode 271 continues this week with part 3 of Deanna Knippling’s Paid. Things get even stranger for our intrepid cross dimensional detective as he begins to unravel his latest murder mystery, from an evangelist that most likely isn’t a lawyer who is who knows what and Boregard keeps getting himself inconveniently killed….

I open with a new story from an author new to BMU. Andrew Bale sends in First Flight. Humanity’s first interstellar flight comes to a very strange end.

From the blog

NASA has signed a deal worth 306 million dollars with Roskomos for six rides to the ISS in 2012 and 2013, or a charge of 51 million dollars per US astronaut. However Russia may up the price.

astronauts aboard the ISS had watched Atlantis as it entered the atmosphere from the stations Cupola viewing window. And someone snapped a photo!

Hubble has discovered a new moon around Pluto. So far is the smallest discovered around the dwarf planet. Designated P4, It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles.

JoshM reviews the movie Green Lantern. What should have been an inspiration, Josh describes as apathetic.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft began sending back photographs of Vesta from the asteroid belt.

Part of the X chromosome found in people from outside Africa originally comes from our Neanderthal cousins. So much for the theory that they never interbred!

And Black holes instead of slowing down are spinning faster than they ever have since the Universe began! How is that possible

That and more from this week’s episode of beam 271

Friday, July 22, 2011

Post Atlantis Soyuz Rides Cost What?!!

Well, since the shuttle Atlantis is home and NASA now completely dependent on Russia for rides to the ISS, I thought I would check to see if the figures I had been quoted for each ride were insanely wrong. So I checked an article Space Daily and this is exactly what I got from the article.

Get it comes:
  • NASA has signed a deal worth 306 million dollars with Roskomos for six rides to the ISS in 2012 and 2013, or a charge of 51 million dollars per US astronaut.
I thought that was insane but now that Russia has a monopoly it plans on increasing those costs significantly. CBS Evening News site is quoting 60 million as the ongoing charge now for training and a ride.

Even crazier is the fact that the original plans were to decom the iss in 2015 and ditch it in the ocean. Luck has it that the other partner countries are negotiating the station life out to 2020 (glad someone has sense)


pic CBS evening News

Shuttle Entering the Atmosphere

I was up early to watch the landing of Shuttle Atlantis. I remember hearing mission control say that one of the astronauts aboard the ISS had watched Atlantis as it entered the atmosphere from the stations Cupola viewing window. I thought, wow, now that must have been something to see and what do you think I found today on Gizmodo? A photograph of the Shuttle entering the Atmosphere! It may be the last ride but that is a sweet picture to go out on!

Thanks Gizmodo!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's Pluto Got That Earth Doesn't?

Well according to this article on NASA's site Three more moons is what. Now I hear ya saying, hey wait, Pluto only has 3 moons. Wrongo! Hubble just found the smallest Pluto moon so far still designated P4.

From the NASA article:
  • The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles. By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter.
The new moon is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra and is believed to have formed by a collision between Pluto and another planet-sized body early in the history of the solar system, as were the other three Plutonian moons.

All this work is support work to support NASA's New Horizons mission, scheduled to fly through the Pluto system in 2015.

photo computer generated from Hubble photos - complete gif and info here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern (2011)

 Directed by: Martin Campbell

Written by: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, and Mark Strong

Running Time: 114 minutes

In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Green Lantern movie for years now. Not necessarily the Green Lantern movie now in theaters, however. The movie I’ve been excited for is the script I’ve had in my head for several decades now and never did get around to putting on paper. But that’s where I’m coming from in attempting to review this movie.

Green Lantern is the story of Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a cocky and irrepressible test pilot for private defense contractor Ferris Air. His immediate supervisor is his sometimes-girlfriend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), whose father is CEO. (And they wonder why he chafes at authority.) Hal’s life is quite suddenly turned upside-down by the arrival of Abin Sur, a dying fuchsia-skinned alien whose final act is to bestow upon Hal the power-ring, and attendant responsibilities, of the Green Lantern Corps.

The Corps, as it turns out, is a kind of intergalactic peacekeeping force. The ring uses a mystical green energy to physically manifest the will and imagination of its bearer. Dependent only on his strength of will, Hal can use the ring’s power to create anything he can imagine. It’s the ultimate story of “With great power comes great responsibility.”

But Hal has never been the responsible type. When his best friend Tom Kalmaku (Taika Waititi) quips, “Maybe in their language ‘responsible’ just means ‘a—hole’,” Hal responds soberly, “I sure hope so.” But, as he will eventually find out, “responsible” in this case means saving Earth, the Corps’ homeworld Oa, and by extension the Universe at large, from the giant space-squid Parallax which feeds off of the fear of its victims before proceeding to destroy their planets and wipe out their civilizations.

As the story of Hal’s maturation from loose cannon to enthusiastic space-cop, the movie generally hits all the right notes. But as a space-opera, it falls flat. The Green Lantern comics have roughly fifty years’ worth of accumulated mythology, and the film tries to cram too much of it into this one movie. The effect is much like trying to get into Star Wars starting with Phantom Menace instead of the original trilogy. If you're not already a rabid fan (and quite possibly even if you are), you might find yourself wondering why you're supposed to care.

As a super-hero story it barely registers. What I found missing most of all from this film was the giddy sense of a hero coming into his powers. With everything the writers took from the comic’s expansive history, they seem to have overlooked one basic tenet which every GL origin story I’ve ever read takes for granted: throwing your hero into action before he has the least idea what he’s doing or is even capable of, making him learn on the fly, makes for good drama.

Think back to Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie, the scene in which a young Peter Parker first launches himself into the Manhattan skyline to swing from rooftop to rooftop. It’s one of the most engaging moments ever to come out of the super-hero movie genre because it lets us share in the euphoric terror of a once-ordinary guy discovering in the heat of the moment the extent of his new powers. Green Lantern has no scene like that, though it sorely needs it.

The movie is certainly entertaining. It starts strong, it ends well. It comes unraveled somewhere around the middle, but manages to pull together for a fairly satisfying conclusion. But there is a lot of wasted opportunity there. Green Lantern, with his ability to give substance to the whims of his imagination, should be one of comicdom’s most visually dynamic super-heroes. Green Lantern the movie just feels visually apathetic.

Advances in Computer Literacy

Some big news in the world of AI. A computer at MIT has learned to read! Which is actually a much bigger breakthrough than you might think.

Computers, as we know, have no problem treating words as raw data. But they've never scored very high in reading for comprehension. Until now. MIT researchers set a computer to the task of playing the game "Civilization II". With no prior instruction, learning the game simply through trial and error, the computer was able to win 46% of its games. Which still sounds pretty impressive to me. Then the computer was given an instruction manual to read. The manual is written in broad language, intended to give the basics of the game. It tells you how to play, but not necessarily how to win. Once the computer read the manual, though, it won 79% of the games it played. It even began devising strategies, extrapolating upon the information from the manual.

All of which is very cool and exciting, but it does beg the question: are we really sure we want to be teaching our supercomputers to play games of world domination? Really?

You can read the full article here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dawn Sending Back Vesta Photos

NASA's Dawn spacecraft began sending back photographs of Vesta from the asteroid belt. At this NASA site you can get a full run down of the mission to this point as well as some excellent high rez pictures.

Of particular interest is this stereo image of Vesta's south polar region which is showing some extremely interesting structures from very large impacts.

Lots more good stuff to come out of the Dawn mission, this is only a small treat.

Check it out here

SM Black Holes Are Spinning Faster Then Ever Before

An article on the Daily Galaxy blog, reports that the spin of super massive black holes is faster than it has ever been in the history of the universe.

First off, you have to admit like I did that this stuff about rotational dynamics of a Kerr or Kerr-Neuman singularity and the loss of angular velocity through energy conversion at the ergosphere/event horizon interface really does make my brain go tilt. Because here is one group that say that the spin collected from the parent star as it collapsed was transferred to the black hole and can be measured at the event horizon (wait, don't call me in it yet). But that spin should be bled off by the ergosphere much like applying disk breaks in a car. Ok, I'll buy that. But then we have to be honest with ourselves when we say black hole and really mean the event horizon. Because the event horizon is in some respect arbitrary in a relative kind of way, because there really isn't anything AT the event horizon. So being honest we are saying that "nothing" can have spin. (no I am not being flip, I know this "nothing" would kill me before I got within a handful of light years from it.)

Ok so this spin is being siphoned off, but in reality will never reach zero. But before that limit is reached where no more energy can be extracted, the black hole converts from a Kerr / Neuman black hole to a Schwarzschild black hole.

Ok so far? So now two UK astronomers have found that the supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies are on average spinning faster! (HUH? Oh come ON! ) Yep, faster than they ever have in the past 13 odd billion years of the universe's existence. DR. Martinez-Sansigre and Prof. Rawlings say that black holes had very low spins at first (That leaves out the star's rotational energy unless that is what they consider slow...) and adding mass from the accretion disk wouldn't add either. But merging super massive black holes would add significantly to their spin.

Hummmm ok, so Martinez-Sansigre and Rawlings say that they are spinning up, where as papers like this wikipedia article for all intents is saying the more the mass the harder the breaks are applied.

Check them both out and let me know what you people think.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Confirmed? Early humans and Neanderthals interbred!

Somebody got some spainin to do! But according to a recent IO9 article:
  • Part of the X chromosome found in people from outside Africa originally comes from our Neanderthal cousins.
This reversal of positions from Neanderthals and more "modern" homo-sapiens at the time come from research done at the Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal.

Neanderthals left Africa around 400,000 to 800,000 years ago and went extinct 30,000 years ago. Homo-Sapiens left Africa 80,000 to 50,000 years ago. This would give the two races at least 20 thousand years of overlap.

Now anyone reading so far is thinking....that doesn't prove anything or if anything such a short period is more than likely to lean towards no intermingling at all. But Dr LaBuda has additional evidence to bolster his case.

Again from the article:
  • (During the last decade LaBuda) and his team had identified a piece of DNA in the human X chromosome that seemed out of place (possibly) from a non-human source.
Of course their suspicions were confirmed with the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010. 6,000 chromosomes were examined from donors of all major and minor population densities. All with the exception of populations from sub-Saharan Africa, had corresponding parts of the Neanderthal sequenced DNA, even widely separated populations in places like Australia.

IO9 article

This article links to Molecular Biology and Evolution which has even more fascinating information.

Beam Me Up episode 270 is online!

This week on episode 270 of Beam Me Up episode 14 of Jason Kahn’s Dark Inspectre. Our intrepid detective is framed for a grisly murder. Which means he is getting close, but before he can prove his innocence he might find himself dead instead.

Oddcube joins us once again for his unusual brand of reviews - This week Dungeon Seige is the unfortunate target of his unusual utterances.

From the blog I review the movie Spirit, the review might be of some use, the movie sure wasn’t.
Scientists build a time cloak? The 2010 Locus awards are in! Dawn meets Vesta. Check out a 360 VR view interactive of the Shuttle flight deck. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson along with Neil Armstrong and John Glenn spank NASA. First time ever a comet has been photographed plowing into the sun. And did you know that the Buran was built to drop bombs?!!!

I close with part 2 of Paid by Deanna Knippling. You will not believe how time is handled in this wildly weird tale. And the bad guy? even weirder!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cornell Scientists Build a Time Cloak?!

That's exactly what I just read in this Gizmodo article!

Yep, it seems that Cornell researchers:
  • have designed, built and demonstrated the first "cloak" that hides events in time.
The researchers say that their method works the same way other "cloaks" work in various other electromagnetic spectrum. A "lens" decompresses light, for all intents splitting it. At the other end of the experimental area is a compression lens that returns the field to normal. The net effect is a void between the two lenses where for all intents time has no effect.

Again from the article:
  • Right now, the cloak can only last for 120 nanoseconds, and the theoretical max for the current design measures just microseconds.
anyone want to call it before I do?

2010 Locus Award Winners

Here is a short list of this year's Locus Award Winners

Science Fiction Novel: Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

YA Book: Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)

Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

Novelette: “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, Neil Gaiman (Stories)

Short Story: “The Thing About Cassandra”, Neil Gaiman (Songs of Love and Death)

Go to SF Awards Watch for complete listing

Dawn Closing on Vesta

The Dawn spacecraft is on final approach to the solar system's second largest asteroid Vesta. Dawn is due to arrive at 1:00 a.m. EDT on July 16. Launched in 2007, it has taken four years of careful maneuvering to arrive at Vesta.

Located 117 million miles from Earth, Vesta has a circumference of 329 miles - making it second after the dwarf planet Ceres , as the largest object in the asteroid belt.

Once Dawn arrives, it's ion thrusters will park it at an altitude of almost 10k miles above Vesta's surface. While it is there, Dawn will use a gamma-ray detector and a neutron detector to study the Vesta's surface.

Dawn will remain at Vesta for a year, then it will again fire its' ion thrusters to start moving towards Ceres.

Below is video from containing NASA video and animation of Dawn's Vesta mission.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

360 Degree VR view of the Shuttle Flight Deck

I found this real neat 360-degree virtual tour of the Space Shuttle Discovery flight deck on Boing Boing. It allows you to 360 degrees, zoom in and out and pan up and down! Mouse or keyboard operated, so there are no complicated commands just click and move.

The sim can be found here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Military Spends More in a Month Than NASA Does in a Year!

Well, it shouldn't be a big surprise, but there is something about seeing it in print that seems to bring it home. In a recent Gizmodo article, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gets a bit hot under the collar. Here is some of the points he makes:
  • The US military spends (during peacetime ed.) as much in 23 days as NASA spends in a year
That means:
  • The entire half-century budget of NASA equals the current two year budget of the US military.
To put NASA's "foundation" into perspective, Tyson points out
  • If Earth were size of a school-room globe, you'd find Shuttle and Space Station orbiting 3/8th of an inch above its surface - the Moon would be 30-ft away (and) Mars, more than a mile away."
And you have to consider this, NASA's management tells us that they are leaving the manned near Earth to commercial entities. That's good and fine but as Tyson puts it so eloquently:
  • Commercial Space Flight will not advance the space frontier, but enable cheaper access to where we've already been.

First Time Photograph of Comet Hitting the Sun

Tim Sayell sends in this great link from Yahoo News detailing the first time ever photograph of a comet striking the sun!

The picture was taken July 6 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a satellite launched on February 11, 2010 who's mission is to observe the Sun for over five years.

From the article:
  • One of the SDO spacecraft's high-definition imagers "actually spotted a sun-grazing comet as it disintegrated over about a 15 minute period, something never observed before.....
  • The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a joint NASA-European Space Agency spacecraft, also spotted the comet's demise and recorded a video of the event.
Read the full article here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So.....Just What IS Up for the Future of Manned Spaceflight?

So as NASA stands with it's collective pants around would be ankles...what IS the consensus on manned least as far as the WEST is concerned? Well lets take a look at the an article in TECH Republic for a couple of laughs huh?

The article points first to an AP feed that quotes Apollo 11 commander Neal Armstrong and the first US astronaut, Mercury's John Glenn who both are leading a group of critics who say that the U.S. space program is ignoring a long-held belief that there should be a backup plan. Indeed, the end of the Shuttle program leaves a manned flight vacuum.

Ouch! I think NASA just got spanked!

The WSJ isn't taking it much easier. They point out that the International Space Station now depends solely on Russia. If the U.S. or ESA wants a lift to the facility it is Russia and its venerable Soyuz. Russia now has "a monopoly on manned space flight." The director of the European Space Agency, is quoted as saying that the situation is “uncomfortable” and a “collective mistake.”

Smack Smack

Charles Bolden the current NASA Administrator, is quoted saying "I’m here to tell you that American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success "

Foundation huh? That is the way he see it?!!! So what happened to the HOUSE JFK built? Yep, that's right, Bolden and his class of backwards thinking have torn it down to the foundation that's what. Bolden is proud of being part of the elite astronaut corp. and I am flabergasted that he is proud of the present state of things.

Bolden says NASA should get out of the low Earth orbit delivery system and leave that to the private sector. NASA needs to set its sights higher. OK granted NASA needs to look to future exploration but at the same time he is placing manned spaceflight in the hands of Space X Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

There is much more. Check out the Tech Republic article here

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Soviet Shuttle Was Meant to do What?!

Recently. In an article in New Scientist, I was finding out some very interesting fact about about the Soviet spacecraft called Buran, cosmetically a copy to the American shuttle.

Buran had only one launch on 15 November 1988 and even though it performed flawlessly, it was scrapped less than a year later, never to be made man ready. It seems Buran was a victim of normalization of relations with the west. Buran's only mission was to be a weapons delivery system (makes you think long and hard about the mini shuttle the military is flying as you read this.) and since there was no longer a military mission and never had been one for the private sector, there was no longer any need for Buran.

However it still is an interesting ship to talk about. First off, even though it bore a cosmetic resemblance to the west's shuttle, it was in fact radically different in many aspects. The biggest example was the craft had no external tank. Buran was bolted to an over-sized Energia booster which did all the lifting. Buran had no engines of its own. This aspect alone made it a much safer system to operate. Another major difference was to be ejection seats for all crew members even those on the mid deck which would have launched sideways.

The rest of the article is fascinating. Read it here

Got a Piece of Moon Rock? Prepare to be Sued!

At least that is what Deadliest Catch captain Coleman Anderson found out.

According to a recent Slash Dot article Joe Gutheinz, a former senior investigator for NASA's Office of Inspector General has made it his goal to collect all 230 moon rocks presented by the US to governments around the world, and put them in a museum.

Captain Anderson it seems has just such a coveted stone in his possession. Anderson came into ownership of the rock when going through fire debris of the Anchorage museum which burnt in 1973. He has kept it as a good luck piece ever since.

Gutheinz says that Apollo era astronauts were not allowed to keep any material from the moon and neither should private citizens. (Alaskan law might disagree however. Trash and Debris is considered abandoned as in title, claim of all rights and does not intend to reclaim or resume ownership)

Gutheinz however is asking an Alaskan judge to decide who legally owns the rock.

Android Smartphones - Full on Spy Equipment

In today's hyper-paranoid society what we really don't need is the information that someone is spying on us with our own equipment, but thanks to a couple of Microsoft interns, that is exactly what just might happen!

A new, creepily Android application called TagSense, takes information from smartphone sensors to tag photographs with the identities of who's in them. You need do nothing what so ever!

TagSense uses Android phones' built-in accelerometers, light sensors, GPS, the phones' microphones all to determine who the people are in the picture, where they are, what the weather conditions are like, what they are doing and talking about and all this info is tagged to the picture. What makes TagSense even creepier is TagSense is that it is designed to tap into information stored on other, smartphones. The application will be able to interact with data stored on adjacent phones to complete the tagged info in the photo on your phone and remember all without any input from you.

It gets worse. Read the complete article here at Fast Company

shirt is the spycam shirt from Think Geek

Sunday, July 10, 2011

BMU # 259 is now Online!

This week on Beam Me Up I take advantage of local talent for stories. From the talented pen of Zachery Cole I play Greeters - What is it like to be a greeter for a big box department store now imagine you have been built expressly for that purpose - and all you want is a little time to figure out how the world works.

The second story is part 1 of Deanna knippling’s Paid. Boregard is both a multi-dimensional time traveler or a down and out gum-shoe. Neither and both are correct depending on what version of himself you ask.....

From the BMU Blog, the good and the bad of the shuttle program, what happened to the the six flags left on the Moon, huge thunderstorms on Saturn, a billion pixel camera in space to hunt for new planets, quasars, brown dwarfs and hopefully they will be able to catch a super nova in another galaxy! That and more on this weeks, Beam Me Up.

Beam Me Up Podcast

Thursday, July 07, 2011

What Became of the Flags Placed on the Moon by Apollo

Xnewsman sends in this "I wonder" article from CBS News that asks the simple question - what was the fate of the six American flags left on the moon's surface by the six missions to land there. The answer is a bit more complex than one might think and the answer may not be what you think. Check out the CBS News video

A Thunderstorm Bigger Than Earth?!

Tim sends in this article from Yahoo News concerning a thunderstorm as wide as the Earth now taking place on the planet Saturn. This huge storm began building last December and has now reached its' peek ferocity. NASA's Cassini spacecraft and amateur astronomers alike have separately documented what is now being touted as "One of the most violent weather events in the Solar System."

Storms of this magnitude seem to take place once a year, that's Saturn years which are 29 Earth years long, when Saturn is closest to the sun, which warms Saturn's dense atmosphere a bit. The storm is rolling the atmosphere of Saturn so much that a brilliant white spot has appeared.

From the article:
  • The show is so big that it can be visible by telescopes from distant Earth. Five have been observed in the last 130 years. The last occurred in 1990.
For more on this unusual event, check out the Yahoo News article here

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Billion Pixel Camera!

You read that correctly. A billion pixels and it's not some trick multi camera stunt but the worlds biggest digital camera.

From the article:
  • Gaia's gigantic sensor is comprised of 106 separate CCD detectors, mosaiced together to form a monster camera over three feet wide. The resulting imaging system is so powerful that it will be able to precisely measure the width of a hair from over 600 miles away, and from here on Earth, it could spot a dime on the moon.
Oh, did I forget to mention that? Sorry..... Gaia is a spacecraft built by the ESA due to be launced in 2013. The spacecraft will spend five years creating a three dimensional map of our entire galaxy. It is hoped that Gaia will detect 15,000 new alien planets. It will also focus it's high resolution eye towards quasars, brown dwarfs and 10 stars with planets orbiting them plus it's hoped that the system will catch 1 of 10 stars that explode in other galaxies each day.

Here is the ESA's Gaia site

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

There's Gold in Them There......Depths....

Gold perhaps, but more importantly metals like gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium. Metals essential to the manufacture of high tech electronics.

China accounts for 97% of the worlds production. In 2009 China decided to reduce its level of export of these rare earth metals and in 2010 it reduced them again by 35%.

Japan on the other hand uses one third of the world's demand. This move by China put Japan in a difficult position. So looking for alternative sources Japan began exploring the ocean floor and what they found there was astounding! In international waters around Tahiti and Hawaii they found that more than a third of the samples brought up were testing positive for large amounts of the needful metals.

From the article:
  • The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just (slightly under 1/2 square miles) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption.
It has been estimated that the amount of rare earths contained in the deposits amounts to upwards of 100 billion tons! Extracting the rare elements from bottom mud would be a fairly simple acid leaching process that would only take a few hours.

Read more in the Dvice article here

pic is the GSF Explorer, formerly USNS Glomar Explorer wiki info here

NASA's Final Shuttle: The End of an Error?

Xnewsman sends in this great article from time that holds an unflinching eye on the last Shuttle flight and the end to the program.

From the Time article:
  • Friday, the 135th and last shuttle mission is scheduled to be launched, ending a program in which five ships carried 777 passengers into space, traveling a collective half a billion miles
As the article points out, the shuttle program built the International Space Station, launched the Magellan, Ulysses and Galileo probes to Venus, the sun and Jupiter. Plus the truly shining accomplishment has to be placing the Hubble Space telescope in orbit and returning to service it several times.

But then there was also these.... The $500 million price tag every time one took off, the months of maintenance and prep work needed between flights, the thermal tiles the ships would shed like dry leaves and finally the loss of 14 astronauts.

The shuttle was envisioned as a way for workers in space to commute to work, it was supposed to reduce the cost of delivering material to orbit to a tenth of the cost and each shuttle was supposed to last 100 launches. The truth is it never became a commuter anything, cost over runs and delays plus losses managed to increase the cost of launching to a point that the only customers to use the shuttle was NASA and the military. Shuttles never can close to the overly optimistic 100 flights. Discovery which was the most flown managed only 38 trips in 28 years.

Any system has it good and bad traits, the venerable shuttles were no exception.

There is some wonderful history and photography in the Time article. Read more by clicking here

Review: The Spirit

The spirit

Starring Gabriel Macht Samuel L. Jackson Scarlett Johansson

Based on The Spirit by Will Eisner

Directed by Frank Miller

Wiki calls this movie a American superhero noir film, Jackson plays a character called The Octopus and Macht is The Spirit. I have another name for this movie....probably isn’t too polite either. This movie is a 'how to' on 'by the numbers film-making'. Basically this is how you do it: Hire actors who are there for a payday. Make sure you mix in every movie dialogue cliche and you have The Spirit.

Oh and I here by nominate Jackson movie slut of 2008 when this was released. Wiki says this film didn’t do well in general release...NO! Did better in DVD/Blu-ray which I can understand because you can stop it when-ever you want or or go back and find the most atrocious lines and play them over and over again.

I am not even going to try and describe what the plot line is other than maybe Sin City in a food processor. It’s demented, it’s funny by accident, and its Sam Jackson over acting...oh yes,that IS possible.

I wouldn’t even rent it... HULU has it available (that’s where I saw it) and I can’t even rate it, because that would mean I would have to admit it’s a movie.... Oh damn it, there are real actors in it so it deserves some sort of a rating...maybe a 3 and if it had features on the blu-ray describing why they thought it was ok to foist this off on the viewing public might bring the rating up and that might be a reason to rent it........naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

noir it is...I guess. Take the 30s and 40s gumshoe/detective movie and say oh I don’t know make everyone in the film drink a cocktail laced with lsd and crack.

This is my impression. Describe a Sam Spade movie and a Batman movie to someone who has never seen either and while describing them, don’t differentiate between the two. Then have this person write a screen-play.

If you want to read more - check out the wiki article here

Monday, July 04, 2011

New Software Can Predict What You Are Going to Do Before You Do It!

Researchers at the Center for Brain and Mind at The University of Western Ontario, using brain imaging software, can now determine what a person was planning, before that action is actually executed.

Possible uses for this software might be controlling prosthetic or helping paralyzed patients regain movement.

Of course if you can predict what a person is going to do could lead to a world very much like the one Philip K. Dick envisioned in his novel The Minority Report.

BMU # 268 now online!

This week in episode 268 I start with the July 4th episode of Earth Sky. This week’s article is about the seasons and why the summer in the northern climes and winter in the southern are longer and why the winter in the north and summer in the south are short, even though it seems just the opposite. The Earth Sky article is fun as well as informative.

Our first story of the afternoon is a piece of flash fiction from Duncan Shields called Silicon Valley. Duncan’s story tells the tale of a future where all the humans have disappeared in-explicitly. While the robot take up where the humans left off. Duncan’s tale is a curious journey to self awareness, from a most unusual subject.

Before I play the last story, I take a jaunt to the BMU blog at

Since the shuttle program is coming to an end shortly I begin by discussing an end to the space age. During a short break, Barry weighs in with the point that the military was the driving force in the earlier programs and until the military decides once more that we need the high frontier, we may never get there again…

On another really fascinating front, is it possible that bio-mechanical frameworks like those developed for yep, you guessed it, the military, be a boon to the handicapped? The inventor of the Segway thinks that many of the devices can be ported to aide in rehabilitation.

A two hour flight across the Atlantic may be possible within 10 years. Employing new hyper speed engine technology the HyperMach’s proposed ultra high speed plane the SonicStar will be able to fly at 3.6 mach and do so at altitudes above 60 thousand feet but only carrying 20 people?!!!

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.

A bus sized asteroid 2011 MD, passed within 7500 miles of Earth, passing over the coast of Antarctica before being slingshot back into deep space.

Scientists at Tokyo University with assistance from 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. Or other equally creepy uses….

And for our last story, Gary Cuba has let me read his excellent story Manifest Error. What would you do if you found that a delivery is late… a century! I describe the tale as an “uplift” story for the real world.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Is This the End of the Space Age?

Long time listeners to BMU will recognize this sentiment. Even back in the 80s on my tiny little BBS I was saying that we should be looking hard and long as to what the Shuttle really meant in terms of space exploration. Now that even that system will cease to be within day, I have been saying that our glory days are done and now we little more than renters. Now I see that others are raising a hue and cry. I see that Charlie Jane Anders writing for IO9 is voicing valid concerns about what the end of the Shuttle program can mean to the US's presence in space. It is still painfully obvious that the public is confused as to what the question ultimately means. There is talk of probes picking up the slack and of course that will continue. These self same people though should remember that we put some very sophisticated devices on the moon but ultimately nothing replaces a human foot for genuine exploration.

From the IO9 article:
  • It is quite conceivable that 36,000km ( 22369.36 miles) will prove the limit of human ambition.
  • It is equally conceivable that human space flight, long the stuff of science fiction, will return to fantasy.
To me it was painfully obvious when Apollo 17 came home. We had to make do with the shuttle. The most powerful nation on the planet relegated to high priced furniture movers. Yes, the robotic craft out there are doing spectacular science, but was Apollo our first and only steps on another world? Is travel to other planets once again on the purview of science fiction?

Do you want to have your opinion on the health of space travel on record? Nothing big and fancy, just a yes or no about this - you can go to the economist and vote. [The Economist]