Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chinese want to Capture Asteroid?

In a complete reversal, it would seem that Chinese scientists are studying ways to capture an asteroid and bring it into Earth orbit! Why?!!! Well their initial argument is for mining purposes.

I can think of a million reasons why this sounds like a really bad idea, the Chinese scientists feel:
  • they could tweak the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid by just enough to get it to temporarily enter Earth orbit at about twice the distance as the Moon. The orbit would be unstable, and eventually the asteroid would drift out of near Earth Orbit - but it would be in proximity long enough for research and mining.
Initially the Chinese would start small...a hundred foot or so but there is every indication that asteroids in the mile wide metallic asteroids are being considered - with an estimated worth in the trillions.

Read the complete article for more details.

Complete Dvice Article Here
Wiki article on asteroid mining

Abandon Ship!

According to an article in Dvice: NASA may be considering abandoning the International Space Station in November, due mostly to the crash of the Russian Progress M-12M resupply ship in August of 2011. If the malfunction that prevented the Progress from separating from the heavy lift second stage booster then the first half of the crew will have to return in October with the balance returning in January.

Even though the station is capable of maintaining the crew indefinitely, the Soyuz is only rated for 210 days life in which exceeding that limit is strongly not recommended. And neither is a January landing on the Russian Steppes.

ISS Crews NASA and Russian mission control are all holding their collective breathes as technicians try to uncover the cause of the malfunction.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A planet made of Diamonds?

Back in 2007, I wrote this article which dealt with the "discovery" of the largest diamond in the galaxy, which scientists concluded was the exposed core of a white dwarf star. So when I first started seeing this article making the rounds, I just figured that it was new people finding old stories. Then Tim Sayell sent me this Yahoo News item which deals not with white dwarf cores, but a very unusual planet!

Located about an eighth of the way toward the center of the Milky Way from the Earth, the strange crystalline planet is probably the remnant of a once-massive star that has lost its outer layers. Now this is at first glance the makings of a white dwarf, but the weirder thing is that even if it were the remnants of a massive star, it appears that the outer layers of the star's "atmosphere" were stripped off by a massive companion neutron star which it orbits every two hours. This orbit is so tight it would fit inside our own Sun!

It gets weirder still, carbon in a crystalline matrix...got it, diamond like material. Knowing that it is small but with the ability to crush carbon down to a crystal mean ultra-massive - scientists calculate slightly more than Jupiter, but with such a small size, something in the area of 20 times as dense. Oxygen is likely to be present at the surface, but lighter elements like hydrogen and helium are not present.

Read complete article here Wikipedia article here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BMU #276

I start episode 276 off with the closing theme music to Requiem for the Dark called The Flame. For those of you familiar with the anime series you will appreciate the complete version of the song.

Stories this week are the continuation of Keith Latch's “The Stars Fell”. This week is part 3 and Keenan finds that not only did the strange meteor he discovered in his family's field not only rendered him unconscious, but something ever so much more strange and confusing! However the first story is a wicked tongue in cheek (if I dare say so) story from the early pen of Philip K. Dick - “The Eyes Have it” where our protagonist has either found a description of the invasion of Earth by the most unusual creatures to date, or the gent is taking the written language far to literally!

From the Beam Me Up blog I review the movie based on Philip K. Dick's Adjustment Team called “The Adjustment Bureau”, The 2011 Hugo Awards are out and I list a few of the winners, clever short films abound on YouTube, the first one I found this week was the Tron Duck Tape short, which is more a commercial for Duck Tape, but it's nothing if not clever, Robonaut is turning out to be a Robo Not, my gripe this week is that robo hobo is turning into nothing more than an expensive toy. The Russians it would seem are looking to build a tunnel under the Bering Strait and at 65billion they are looking for investors, USA included... Fans of Portal will enjoy this fan made Portal short movie that is astoundingly well made! Nancy Fulda has sent us a note on her newest book of short stories and Russian Progress m-12m crashes in Siberia with three tons of supplies for the ISS – this could cause the station to reconsider a lot of options!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Russian Resupply Craft Crashes

A Russian Progress M-12M resupply unmanned capsule crashed 325 seconds into its flight when one stage of the Soyuz-U rocket shut down prematurely. the Progress capsule carried three tons of equipment, food, and fuel. This failure highlights the bottleneck the ISS is operating under with the Shuttle program now finished and SpaceX not yet ready to begin servicing the station. This also means that the crew exchange due September 22 may not take place and the on station crew may have to stay longer than they expected and there are already whispers circulating that the crew may need to be "reduced" to put less stress on the ISS' equipment and supplies.

Gizmodo article

Remmants of Atmosphere Discovered on Dwarf Planet

In an article in The Daily Galaxy - I read that scientists at California Institute of Technology
  • have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10 is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice....
This suggests that:
  • the planet may be covered in a thin layer of methane, ... remnants of an atmosphere
There is also evidence that this ancient frozen atmosphere is being slowly lost to space.

The planet, dubbed "Snow White" was discovered in 2007 and orbits the sun at the very edge of the Solar System and is about half the size of Pluto, making it the fifth largest dwarf planet.

Read the complete article here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News From Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda is a wildly talented writer whom I have read on BMU in the past.

Mz. Fulda just sent in this update on the story title that I read starting on episode 248 of the podcast/radio program.
  • I thought your listeners might like to know that "Knowing Neither Kin Nor Foe", which you read on Beam Me Up some time ago, is now available as part of an ebook collection.

  • The collection is called "The Breath of Heaven and Other Stories". In addition to "Knowing Neither Kin Nor Foe", it also includes "The Breath of Heaven" (A story compared by one reviewer to the work of Asimov and Clarke) and "In the Halls of the Sky-Palace", a fantasy tale originally published in Jim Baen's Universe. Interested readers can find links to the book at http://www.nancyfulda.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fan Made Portal Movie

Portal fans will appreciate this fan made short. Made by Dan Trachtenberg it is called Portal: No Escape and it is amazing just how good this production is.

Thanks to IO9 for the listing

Russians Building Tunnel to Alaska?

Hey tell me this don't sound like science fiction! According to this article in Dvice - Russia is spending 65 Billion dollars on a tunnel under the Bering Straight to Alaska. The word is that within 10 year you will be able to take a train from N. America and travel to eastern Europe and do so in about an hour. The tunnel will be about twice the length of the Chunnel at 64 miles and will cost $12 billion just to dig the tunnel itself. The balance will be the cost of rail lines connecting the Bering Strait area with the rest of the Russian rail network.

Now it is not completely a Russian government undertaking, but rather some sort of commercial partnership that is not completely clear, but the U.S. has been "invited" to participate.

Check out the artwork of the proposed project. It might be pie in the sky, but it is definitely on the edge thinking, I like it just for the scope.

Robonaut 2 Begins To Power up

IO9 is reporting that Robonaut 2, aboard the ISS since February, has been given commands to start a limited power up sequence. Robonaut won't be moving its various appendages until September 1, when the droid will finally be commanded to move its fingers, hands, and arms.

R2 is currently designed to stay inside the space station at all times and since the legs have not been sent up yet, it must remain docked to a permanent pedestal. When both parts are mated, R2 "may" join crew members on space walks. (ummm yeah, read the article, that's what it says! I was of the opinion that this thing was supposed to free up crew and DO space walks...and the only thing it can do is stay inside?! WTF?! Anyone else feeling gypped? All that hype and they have an expensive doll wo ho) a pair of legs are currently being designed and should be launched in 2013.

Right now I am a whole lot unimpressed....oh, it DOES tweet real nice though....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ancient Martian Channels Formed by Lava Not Water?

From The Daily Galaxy is an article stating that the Martian structures resembling ancient riverbeds may have been made by huge fast moving rivers of lava instead of the more commonly accepted water theory.

David Leverington, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences at Texas Tech, employing high-resolution photographs, has determined that the Martian channels only superficially resemble channels on Earth that formed by floods. However, unlike Earth’s water-formed channels, the Martian structures lack the delta-like, sediment-laden deltas that exsist at the mouths of Earth's major tributaries but instead terminate in vast plains composed of volcanic basalt.

This is supported by abundant evidence of past eruptions of lava at the heads of these large systems, very similar to what is seen on the moon and on Venus.

The image is the Kasei Valles, a circum-Chryse outflow channel, which flowed into the Chryse Planitia. Credit: NASA/Texas Tech.

Complete Daily Galaxy article here

Tron Duck Tape

I have to say that I agree with Rob Bricken over at Topless Robot, that this funny promotional shot for Duck Tape brand products is, eve if you're not a Tron fan, this will still be the greatest Duck Tape commercial you've ever seen. Just watch. Rob said that, and even though I might not have been catapulted into geeky bliss, it's still a damn funny and inventive commercial.

Oldest Fossils Discovered

From an article in Science Daily - a team from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University has discovered Earth's oldest fossils. From the article:
  • The microscopic fossils show convincing evidence for cells and bacteria living in an oxygen-free world over 3.4 billion years ago.
According to the science team:
  • we (now) have good solid evidence (that) life (existed) over 3.4 billion years ago. It confirms there were bacteria at this time, living without oxygen.
The early environment was far from idyllic. Volcanic activity dominating the early Earth. The sky was cloudy and grey, keeping the heat inolcanic activity dominating the early Earth. The sky was cloudy and grey, keeping the heat in.

read complete article here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The 2011 Hugo Award Winners

From Boing Boing blog, here is the winners of the 2011 Hugo awards.

  • Best Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
  • Best Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
  • Best Novelette: The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele
  • Best Short Story: For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal
Congrats to all. This year's crop of winners is proof in my mind that there is still a lot of talent out there. Great selections one and all!

Photo from IO9

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau

Based on "Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick

Directed, Produced and Screenplay by George Nolfi


I wonder if you can rate how successful you have been as an author by how many movies are made from your books and stories. Hummm that would make Philip K. Dick a better science fiction writer than say Isaac Asimov which is patently ridiculous, but there they are... Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep spawned Blade Runner, We Can Remember if fir you Wholesale - Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck. From the Golden Man came the movie “Next”, Second Variety became Screamers and The Adjustment Team was adapted to the move The Adjustment Bureau. A goodly amount by any-one's standards. Though in truth, most of the stories can be called “loosely adapted”.

I had a chance to pick up the Blu-ray of The Adjustment Bureau staring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. A short synopsis of the film your basic paranoid theme where a secret organization is behind every major movement or accomplishment and free will is a fantasy.

Damon’s character New York Congressman David Norris is running for the Senate when discovery of a college stunt ends his chances. He runs into Blunt’s character Elise in a men’s room where he has gone to practice his concession speech. By mis-chance he meets Elise again. However a mystery organization called the The Adjustment Bureau abducts Norris and informs him that Elise and he can never meet as their union would cause undue chaos in the “plan”.

The balance of the movie is, he stays away, then finds her, he stays away again and has to see her and finally they both are running from and to something together.

The movie certainly had all the earmarks of an overheated paranoid fantasy in the vein of Total Recall. But where ever Recall played it large to the point of shock value, Bureau grudgingly gave up plot point. Where a lot of the adaptations have been large and noisy, Bureau played quiet on small sets. There in only one chase in the whole move, that would kill most scripts or directors, is a perfect match for this quiet film.

In truth it is a bit predictable, but not in a shambling ill written way, it is just clear at a point in the film that there is only one way for this movie to go and only two ways for it to turn out. But the trip there is done with grace and feeling for the characters. Not too shabby in today’s self gratification / aggrandizement slop that Hollywood seems hell bent on force feeding us.

The extras on the blu/ray are a bit of a mixed bag, there could have been more but what WAS there, was damn good. The biggest extra is of course a low key voice over by the director which is surprisingly informative! Next is an unusual way of exploring the movie. This is a game of sorts where you can zoom into certain parts of the city marked by a door (thanks to google maps) when you “enter” these doors you either get a deleted scene, behind the scene or several other options. It really is quite inventive, add to that a few shorts of tests and you get the ideas that yes, extras are sparse but informative.

Ratings? well "Nothing New Here" describes this movie way too accurately, but should that be its' downfall? No. I was thinking of a seven but that is just vindictive, It is good enough to be called an 8 and the extras an 8.5 which is cheap I know but it pulls it up a bit above an overall 8 which I think is fair. 8.25 overall

Beam Me Up Episode 275 now online

This week on Beam Me up, I get things rolling with a rather caustic quote from Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell on global politics. Next, music from a strange little indie Sci-Fi short in which the camera follows a day in the life of Vera a girl with speakers in her skin and no volume knob to control her constantly blaring music from the indie album Winter.

The first story is a wicked little piece of flash fiction from Duncan Shields over at 365 Tomorrows, called Serial Killer. The man was either the savior of the world, or a mass murdering psychopath. The second story this week is part two of Keith Latch’s The Stars Fell. Keenan’s life has become a morass of pain, sadness and disappointment since the death of his farther. But then, three weeks later, something much stranger takes place which is even stranger still.

From Beam Me Up’s blog, Predictive Bionics. New technology is being developed for lower-limb prosthetics that allows amputees to walk without the leg-dragging gait characteristic of conventional artificial legs. Does ranting at SyFy do any good? Who knows, but its sure is frustrating with the new crop of canceled programs... Darpa says the Falcon htv-2 last flight was a success?!!! Really? ESA's Don Quijote spacecraft is going to take a whack at the Apophis asteroid? The 1,600-foot-wide near-Earth asteroid which NASA said had a chance of around one in 250,000 of hitting Earth in 2036. Astronaut Ron Garan aboard the International Space Station, shows us what a meteor looks like from space with his photo of a meteor from the Perseid Meteor Shower. Erik Weihenmayer can see with his tongue, Erik in fact is participating in experiments with the Brainport Vision Device, a revolutionary new technology enabling a blind person to see with his tongue. Finally Hubble, using its Wide Field Camera 3
takes a photo of the strange and amazing Necklace Nebula!

As always, we wish to thank Cyber-Studios for their unique and helpful services.

Beam Me Up episode 275

Friday, August 19, 2011

Predictive Bionics

Here is an interesting video I found on Kim Komando's page - Concerning boinic limb prosthetics.

Until now, prosthetics have been either passive or manually controlled by the wearer. Vanderbilt researchers created a bionic limb that can predict the wearer's movement. It makes the motion much more natural.

Check out the very natural movements possible, in this YouTube video

Here is a new lower-limb prosthetic that allows amputees to walk without the leg-dragging gait characteristic of conventional artificial legs.

Eureka Canceled?! Say it ain't so!

Mark Wilson over at About SF has some pretty distressing news for SF fans. One of the best shows to come out of SYFy's writing stable has been the quirky Eureka - a secret DOD facility in the guise of a small town, rife with ubber geeks and weird science. Mark reports that SY FY has backed out of any commitment past season 5, effectively ending the show at the end of season 5.

The really aggravating thing however is that this decision was not precipitated by ratings lagging but by the new merger ala wrastlin....

Warehouse 13 was renewed though...but Eureka?!!! come oooooooooonnnnnnnn!

Anyone else out there feeling as betrayed by Sy-Fy's actions as I am? Damn...I really like this show!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DARPA Falcon HTV-2 Deemed Sucessful

Remember the Darpa Falcon HTV-2 mach 20 test plane that the Pentagon lost control of? Well in an ongoing effort to put a positive spin on, DARPA has concluded that the Falcon HTV-2 which controllers lost contact with 20 minutes into the flight, has been rated a successes. DARPA reports that after contact was lost, the test vehicle flew 3 minutes making a controlled decent into the ocean. Now I don't want to call BS on this, but...3 minutes? From what 80 thousand feet? With the control surfaces locked and not in powered flight...well look, it takes a balloon over 9 minutes to fall from 60...So isn't that bs already? as for controlled entry into the ocean? Sounds like a euphemism for crashing to me... So what they really are saying it seems it took 3 minutes to crash into the ocean? ok, well that is the last I am going to mention this...It just seemed so strange that they would put such an obvious spin on this thing, just makes me suspicious... ehhhh....

"Don Quijote" Tilting At Asteroids Now

Remember the Apophis asteroid? The 1,600-foot-wide near-Earth asteroid which NASA said had a chance of around one in 250,000 of hitting Earth in 2036. Well it seems that ESA's Don Quijote spacecraft is going to take a whack at it in 2015, with the hopes that it can deflect the asteroid.

Don Quijote only weighs in at 1,100 pounds but it will be traveling at six miles a second so there is a chance that it might have a miniscule effect. Me? I would have to say that 250k in 1 against a hit, would be something to leave alone. Even though it is going very fast, the added energy is not going to matter much.

However that has not stopped China from weighing in with the same stunt! A team at Beijing's Tsinghua University, is planning to send a tiny 20-some-pound on a reverse orbit with gravity assist from Earth and smack Apophis doing 200k mph! Check out that story here

Apophis info here

Apollo's Edgar Mitchell on Politics

I was reading through Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing today and came across this quote from Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell commenting on the pettiness of global politics. I could comment or expound, but why bother?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seasons' song "Of Our Discontent" sci-fi short

Here we have a strange little indie Sci-Fi short in which the camera follows a day in the life of Vera a girl with speakers in her skin and no volume knob to control her constantly blaring music.

This short is the video for Seasons' song "Of Our Discontent" from the indie album Winter.

If you are interested in the music, the ep is available on bandcamp here www.sseasons.bandcamp.com/

What do Meteors look like from Above?

Here is a photograph that is a once in a life time occurrence. From an article I read on Kim Komando's blog entry. Here, Astronaut Ron Garan aboard the International Space Station, shows us what a meteor looks like from space." Garan, captured this unique photograph during the Perseid meteor shower in August.

click the article title for an enlarged photo.

Portal 2 Lab Rat inspired animation

Not being into Portal 2, I may be way off base here, but this seems to be about the flat out saddest video for a game I have ever seen. I was going through some articles on topless robot and came across this downer.

Here is what the text said:
  • It's based on the Portal 2 comic Lab Rat, about the lone surviving Aperture Science scientist whose responsible for writing all the %$#@ on the walls that Chell sees during the first game, as well as making sure GlaDOS didn't kill her between games.
As you can guess, I have noclue..lol but for mood, the video is a mixture of claymation and other disciplines which gives it an odd and weird feel. Music dure doesn't lighten the mood either. check it out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Seeing With Your Tongue

There is some new age wo wo stuff going on, but if you get past the spacey music and see what is going on, there is a core of an idea there that makes sense. From the article:
  • Watch as Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Everest and the Seven Summits, experiments with the Brainport Vision Device, a revolutionary new technology enabling a blind person to see with his tongue. Mounted on Erik's head is a small video camera which translates visual information to a credit card-size tongue display. Four-hundred tiny pixels present electrical patterns on his tongue, which Erik's brain then interprets as a visual picture in three-dimensional space. He uses the device to read words and numbers on note cards, to play tic-tac-toe and stone-paper-scissors with his daughter, and to rock climb.

To learn more about Erik, go to www.TouchTheTop.com.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hubble Discovers Dazzling 'Necklace' Nebula!

You would think I would get tired after all these years of telling you how amazing Hubble is. But the truth is that Hubble keeps one upping itself with even more amazing astro-science and photographs. Case in point, the strange and amazing Necklace Nebula! What we see in the picture here is a composite from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 which captured the glow of hydrogen (here in blue), oxygen (the green glowing elements of the photo) and nitrogen (which when excited glows red). Hubble discovered this planetary nebula, which is the glowing remains of a Sun-like star. The bright ring, (measuring 12 trillion miles wide) dotted with bright clumps of gas and it is what caused these clumps to exist along with the complete glowing ring of gas and what causes the whole ring structure to exist and glow.

The core of the nebula shows only one bright orbit, but is in fact 2 stars. Instead of saying again what the NASA site has so well described - here from the article:
  • A pair of stars orbiting close together produced the nebula, also called PN G054.2-03.4. About 10,000 years ago one of the aging stars ballooned to the point where it engulfed its companion star. The smaller star continued orbiting inside its larger companion, increasing the giant’s rotation rate.
  • The bloated companion star spun so fast that a large part of its gaseous envelope expanded into space. Due to centrifugal force, most of the gas escaped along the star’s equator, producing a ring. The embedded bright knots are dense gas clumps in the ring.
  • The pair is so close, only a few million miles apart, they appear as one bright dot in the center. The stars are furiously whirling around each other, completing an orbit in a little more than a day.
Did you catch that? One of the companions went of main sequence and ballooned to such a degree that it's neighbor is orbiting INSIDE the other star! As the smaller companion spins the bigger faster it throws out material along the equator hence causing the "ring". Even now after all this, both continue to orbit each other, but so fast that a complete orbit is a little bit more than 1 Earth day! Is astronomy a wild science or what!!!!

You can read the complete article here

Electronic "tattoo" Patient Info On a Patch?

I know we haven't heard from Dr. Saunders in quite some time, but needless to say, he has left a legacy of paranoia concerning company/state run medical and advertizement. Some sort of subcutaneous chip was often in play with one of his stories or books. Well it would seem that present day "chipping" is not so far away of so very different than Saunders cautionary tales. According to a story I was reading in the Kim Commando News section of an article from Englemend News - Scientists at the University of Illinois have created electronic skin that wirelessly transmits vital signs. These "Wireless tattoo" provides patient monitoring without wires,or electrodes, but by simply applying an adhesive patch!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

BMU #274 online now

Update!!!! When I was writing the show descriptions, for some reason Keith's name written as Hatch fyi it is LATCH...sorry for the misup all

Just fun this week on BMU # 274! But right in the middle, there I sit rantin and ravin! Oh well, you can take a horse to water....

Sometimes you find new material in places you would not expect. I have found that many really good animations of comic book fame are seeing a new infusion since their exposure to the big screen. One that has profited by the infusion of Japanese Anime artists is what we would normally call children cartoons. One that I found by scanning through the channels was a reworking of the Iron-man universe in to Iron Man armored adventures. It would seem that anime artists and writers have retooled the older style to a cgi product heavy on action aimed at a teenage audience. Even the theme song has been totally rewritten. I start of with a heavy rock theme song from Rooney, Iron Man Armored Adventures.

From there, I play the first story of the afternoon - episode 15 of Jason Kahn's Dark InSpectre – This week Jack Garett closes down on the corruption that has covered up unspeakable acts but as he gets closer, he risks becoming one of them!

Second story of the afternoon, I play part one of Keith Latch 's The stars Fell. On the surface, the story would seem to be pretty straight forward but in the next episode thing take a VERY strange twist.

From the Beam Me Up Blog, we first hear from Earth Sky about the possibility of running water on Mars, Next the Pentagon lost the hypersonic HTV-2 which was capable of flying 20 times the speed of sound. Boeing plans on getting into L.E.O. in a big way with it's CST-100 crew space transport, it plans on using for its own astronauts. This seems to be the answer to the military’s dream. It is possible that this will be the core of a weapons system that could drop bombs just about anywhere within one hour. The crazy thing is this is not as crazy as it gets. I rave about the first choice which was swapping out trident missile warheads to conventional explosives! Yep a left over from the Bush admin. And let's not forget the suborbital Virgin Galactic who plan is to construct the first launch site outside the United States at Kiruna Sweden, 90 miles north of the arctic circle. For irony... Google's test-bed Toyota Prius crashed near Google HQ in Mountain View. Witnesses to the accident reported that the crash caused a five-car pile-up and it would seem An offshoot of the South Florida Tea Party called "Tea Party In Space" (T-PIS) is looking to break apart the government's socialist grip on the final frontier. These people seem to thing that NASA is part of some Evil Government empire....there were lots of conversation on the blog this week about this. Might be worth checking out...the blog I mean!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pentagon's Falcon HTV-2 Goes Missing on Test Flight

Ground controllers lost contact August 11th with the Pentagon's Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic test platform, which is capable of speeds in excess of 20x the speed of sound, less than 30 minutes into its test flight.

Launched atop of a Minotaur IV rocket made by Orbital Sciences Corp. at 7:45 a.m. local time from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, DARPA controllers announced at around 8:22 local time, engineers “lost telemetry” with the aircraft. Controllers said later that day that the HTV-2 had "transitioned" to mach 20 where it continued to fly for an additional nine minutes under full control and telemetry, until, as it was put, an anomaly caused loss of signal..... don't you just love euphemisms?

Even though this could be viewed as a failure, this test flight was 3x longer than the previous 9 minutes of operation before the test bed drone crashed into the Pacific.

The Pentagon's HTV-2 test plane's design will allow a non-nuclear response to threats anywhere in the world, within one hour.

As crazy as a 1 hour anywhere in the world hypersonic bomb might seem, It wasn't the Bush administration's first choice. Rearming nuclear tipped Trident missile submarine with conventional explosives was.

Boeing to Use Its Own System to Lift Its Own Astronauts

Did you know Boeing has its own astronauts? Neither did I, however I was reading this article in Dvice about private companies due to take over a majority of the LEO work and there was Boeing's name right in the middle. From what I hear they were considered front runners to pick up a majority of the Low Earth Orbit flights to the ISS but then I saw a link to their crew lifter called the CST-100, for Crew Space Transportation vehicle, that every one thought was their bid to augment NASA's efforts. But over the past few days it has become clear that the CST-100 will be used for Boeing's own commercial spaceflight program.

From the article:
  • To that end, Boeing is aiming at docking its CST-100 with the International Space Station with two of its own employees on board. The company plans to test its craft twice in 2015 before the manned mission attempt: the first time to see how it goes, followed by a second launch to test out the capsule's abort system.
And it seems that Boeing isn't the only company opting for its own Crew Transport System. Lockheed Martin is said to have a vehicle in the works.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Virgin Galactic's first non-US spaceport

Thanks to Boing Boing for pointing me to the Air & Space article concerning Richard Branson’s Virgin Galatic's to make the company’s first launch site outside the United States. And that site is in one of the most remote places possible, but not completely unknown to the tourist trade, Kiruna Sweden, 90 miles north of the arctic circle, barely rise above 15 degrees Fahrenheit for months on end. The town is also known as the location of the "Ice Hotel".

Virgin plans to launch sub-orbital flights as early as next year. From the article:
  • Kiruna could soon be hosting hundreds of space tourists. Suborbital spaceflights from Kiruna, Virgin Galactic spokespeople have promised, could send tourists straight through the Aurora Borealis.
Of course Kiruna has not gone without some level of interest from the Swedish military. Again from the article:
  • Because of its remote location and minimal air traffic, Kiruna has been home to an array of aerospace activities for almost half a century. The Swedish government established a space research center here in 1964. The center, called Esrange, today includes a 3,240-square-mile range for launching sounding rockets.
Though in truth, lots needs to be done before even a shovel of permafrost is moved. First and foremost, the US government needs to sign off on exporting the technologies that could possibly used for other purposes. And the Swedish government has got to sign off as well.

Read the complete article here

A backyard planetarium

Now this is what I call dedication! I won't ruin it for you but just to tell you it's ubber geekie and if you are jealous....well you're just as geekie as I am, because next to wanting one myself is the wish I could be there every day! I love these little CBS News shorts!

'Tea Party In Space' Aims To Stop NASA's "Socialism"

An offshoot of the South Florida Tea Party called "Tea Party In Space" (T-PIS) is looking to break apart the government's socialist grip on the final frontier. Andrew L. Gasser launched Tea Party In Space in June as a way to "bring fiscal responsibility" into the space program.  
"It is socialism when you have the government coming down and saying, 'this is what we want to build, and this is how we want you to build it."  Gasser said.
According to a T-PIS press release: "The TEA Party's core values are just what America's space endeavors need right now in this volatile economy. NASA is being forced to fund programs that are behind schedule and ridiculously over budget. It's time to ask: 'how much is enough?' Both NASA, and the American taxpayer deserve a better plan and that's what our platform provides." 
Photo TPM

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Google Robot Car Crashes?!

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later. After 160,000 miles, Google's test-bed Toyota Prius crashed near Google HQ in Mountain View. Witnesses to the accident reported that the crash caused a five-car pile-up.

Google has been testing out the cars in California and Nevada and this was the first time one has had an accident. The bizarre accident occurred when Google’s car rear-ended another Prius that hit a Honda Accord, which struck another Accord that hit another Prius. The truly bizarre part of the accident witnesses are claiming the crash was the fault of a human at the car’s controls!

From the article:
  • It’s not yet proven that a human was driving but experts say the car’s sensors, cameras and lasers would have avoided a collision.

Ironically here is Sebastian Thrun expounding on the future of robotic cars

Read complete story from the DailyMail online here

Wolverine's Claws Suck

Sometimes it is just fun to watch something so stupid, it is funny. Here we have two members of the brain trust who have saved their whole life and sold everything they own just to be granted mutant powers. I won't give away any more, just let this short of idiocy unfurl into, Wolverine's Claws Suck!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

BMU # 273 with stories by Harris Tobias & Steve Carter

Beam Me Up 273 saw new additions and just plain good stuff. I start with an excellent quote from Isaac Asimov that Courtney posted on the Beam Me Up Facebook site. Next, I play two stories this week. First from a story in the newest edition of Antipodean. From Steve Carter comes a different twist on an old sci-fi time travel theme “Time Enough” The second story has to be one of the strangest alien encounter stories I have ever read. I play Harris Tobias’ Elko.

I have discovered a new anime series in my travels around Youtube and found that it was playing on SyFy. Durahrara is a spin on the myth of the grim reaper and a mixture of the European headless horseman and their ilk. However the spin and the handle make the series much more entertaining and modern. I found the opening track on one of the short films and play it for the program today. Very nice and catchy. Overall its a very good series for those that don’t go into the giant robots that litter the main outlets. Give this one a shot.

From this week’s blog @ wrfrbeameup.blogspot.com: Researchers at the University of Toronto have used a combination of synthesized DNA and semiconductors to create a nano-scale antenna that harnesses light. arth at one point in its early history had more than one moon. The second moon was most likely very small and may have collided with its larger Luna companion. Have you heard the story of the two NASA logos? No? You won’t believe it! The Juno mission to Jupiter launched Friday August 5. A film of the launch can be viewed on NASA. The primary goal of the mission is to understand the origin and evolution of the massive gas planet. Oh you will just HAVE to check out The Mercury Men. A new Web series made for under $10,000 in Pittsburgh with ray guns, evil aliens and even a brain in a jar. It’s a modern homage to the black-and-white serials of the early 1900s. Space X has petitioned NASA to combine two upcoming missions of their Dragon launch vehicle, one to rendezvous with the ISS and next to dock with it. And there is much more on the blog as well as the podcast.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Scientists build cyborg light-gathering antenna

Researchers at the University of Toronto have used a combination of synthesized DNA and semiconductors to create a nano-scale antenna that harnesses light. Ted Sargent, says that the tiny antenna consists of tiny semiconductors arranged in a cross-like shape, held together by DNA .


"DNA is something you can synthesize in a lab, and you can program exactly the sequence that you want it to have." Sargent said. "And the DNA was designed to have two regions. One that was prone to stick to the semiconductors, and the other region which was able to stick to other DNA. Because it contains DNA, this antenna can, with a little startup help, self-assemble."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Earth Had Two Moons?!

Tim Sayell sends in a Yahoo News article that makes some startling conclusions - Earth at one point in its early history had more than one moon. The second moon was most likely very small and may have collided with its larger Luna companion. This would go a long way towards explaining why the Moon's surface is so different from one hemisphere to the next.

From the article:
The second moon ... would have been about 750 miles wide and could have formed from the same collision between the planet and a Mars-sized object that scientists suspect helped create the moon we see in the sky today

The Wikipedia has a great article dealing with the science of Earth having more than one moon here

picture from popsci

The Meatball vs The Worm The Battle of NASA Logos

This Gizmodo article tells the tale that Hillary Greenbaum which is story of the two NASA logos or as others have dubbed it: the Most Stupid Conversation That Ever Took Place at NASA.

You most likely recognize both of the logos here, but the red delta over a globe is considered the "official" due to this conversation here that is said to have taken place between NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher and Deputy Administrator Dr. George Low.
  • Fletcher: I'm simply not comfortable with those letters, something is missing.
  • Low: Well, yes, the cross stroke is gone from the letter A.
  • Fletcher: Yes, and that bothers me.
  • Low: Why?
  • Fletcher: (long pause) I just don't feel we are getting our money's worth!
Sigh.... anyway, you can read the complete Gizmodo article here

Isaac Asimov thought for the day

Courtney sent me in this quote from the esteemed Dr. Isaac Asimov that I thought I would share:
"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." - Isaac Asimov

Watch the Space Shuttle: The Complete Missions' by Nature Video

Homer sends in this great link to the YouTube video 'Space Shuttle: The Complete Missions' by Nature Video. It's only eight minutes long but is a well spent eight. Check it out here or the video below

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Antipodean SF August 2011 issue, #158

From SF Scope online magazine is a listing of Antipodean SF online flash fiction magazine

Antipodean SF has posted its August 2011 issue, #158. The magazine's focus is Australian science/speculative fiction, and they publish mostly short-short stories.

This issue, the fiction includes:

"Mother Heart" by Ray O'Brien (horror)
"Re-Life" by Mark Tremble (science fiction)
"Grim Love Bus" by Matt Stephens (science fiction)
"Time Enough" by Steve Carter (science fiction)
"Fly Eyes" by Pen Clements (horror)
"Murmurs" by Shaun A. Saunders (fantasy)
"The Cinema Attendant" by J.L. Cooper (horror)
"A Light-Bulb Moment" by Shelley Ontis (science fiction)
"Catharsis" by Kevin J. Phyland (horror)
"A Spot of Tea" by M.L. Sawyer (fantasy)

Mission to Jupiter, launching Aug. 5

Dan reminded me that NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter is due to launch Friday August 5. If you wish to catch the launch the launch window extends from 11:34 a.m. to 12:33 p.m. EDT.

From the article
  • The primary goal of the mission is to understand the origin and evolution of the massive gas planet
Juno is due to reach Jupiter in 2016. The trip will cover an astounding 400-million-miles. Once there Juno will orbit the planet 33 times and come within 3,000 miles of the cloud tops.

Maine residents will get a kick out of this. From the article again:
  • CU-Boulder senior Dinesh Costlow of the astrophysical and planetary sciences department is collaborating with the Juno science team by using computer models to simulate the trajectory of the spacecraft through all 33 individual orbits. Costlow now a senior at CU-Boulder is from Auburn, Maine.
Read complete article here

Mercurymen: New Syfy online series

I was reading through Boing Boing and I found a heads up for a new series from SyFy that is web only. The movie was made on a shoestring and harkens back to the old big screen movie serials. From the article:
  • The Mercury Men is a ... new Web series made for under $10,000 in Pittsburgh with ray guns, evil aliens and even a brain in a jar. It’s a modern homage to the black-and-white serials of the early 1900s featuring a mild mannered engineer who normally toils away at an office in obscurity until he stumbles on a plot by The Mercury Men to destroy Earth. It was picked up by Syfy for distribution and began running online lat week at SyFy.
There are seven episodes available so far. The first one is number 101 kind of tongue in cheek I guess (is it 101 episodes or 5. 101 in decimal is 5). I have seen the first couple of episodes and its campy, but not overboard like the network Batman series. The Steam Punk dress and weapons certainly are fun enough. I am certainly not adverse from watching more.

Click the article title to go to the website.

Space X Dragon May Be First Man Rated Capsule

I was reading in a Daily Galaxy post that Space X has petitioned NASA to combine two upcoming missions, one to rendezvous with the ISS and next to dock with it. But following the successful test flight SpaceX asked that NASA put both missions into a single rendezvous and docking flight.

NASA has tentatively agreed and is proceeding with planning the mission as though it were combined, even though they have not yet given Space X a formal go ahead.

From the article:
  • The SpaceX Dragon capsule will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on 30 November then rendezvous and dock with the ISS on 7 December
But here is the tidbit I found hiding in the text.
  • US astronauts will still be reliant on lifts from the Russian Soyuz craft until the private vehicle is human-rated by NASA.
- and Space X doesn't think that will be much of a problem. Hummmm it would seem that the next American astronauts returning to space on anything other than a Soyuz will be on a commercial vehicle.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Crop circles physics, not aliens?

If you lean towards crop circles being made by mysterious beings or some other form of ahem power might get some mileage from this Yahoo News article sent in by Tim Sayell.

Researcher Richard Taylor of the University of Oregon has found that some of the structures seem to rule out traditional tools often said to be involved in creating the circles. From the article:
  • Taylor contends that in the modern age, planks and ropes (to flatten plants) and even bar stools to jump from one area to another undetected, are just too cumbersome to produce results (in so short a time ed)
  • Instead, he argued that latter-day crop-circle (producers ed) use high-tech gadgets such as GPS monitors to place the shapes and magnetrons (tubes that use electricity and magnetism to generate intense heat) to cause the crop stalks to fall over at high speed.
Tim says he especially likes the Australian explanation:
  • some formations in Australian poppy fields have been blamed on wallabies. Yes, those kangaroo-like animals apparently eat the legally grown opiate, become "high as a kite," and hop around to create their own circle work.
read the complete article here

Review: Batman Gotham Knight

Batman Gotham Knight blu/ray animation
Run-time 70 minutes rated PG-13

Staring Starring Kevin Conroy, Gary Dourdan, David McCallum, Jim Meskimen. Ana Ortiz

Have I Got a Story for You - animated by Studio 4°C - written by Josh Olson

Crossfire - animated by Production I.G - written by Greg Rucka

Field Test - animated by Bee Train - written by Jordan Goldberg

In Darkness Dwells - animated by Madhouse - written by David S. Goyer

Working Through Pain - animated by Studio 4°C - written by Brian Azzarello

Deadshot - animated by Madhouse - written by Alan Burnett

Batman Gotham Knight is a bit of a project film. Instead of one coherent story Gotham Knight contains six different tales all with a loose story line connecting them (though tenuous at best sometimes plus they go to some lengths to not be allied with any one particular Batman universe cannon) All by different writers, directors and animation houses. The overall look and feel of project, which could have become chaotic, comes out instead very interesting because of the visual diversity and plot-line differences.

Gotham Knight is set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The diversity comes not only from the stories and their different visual styles but the different points of view from first to third person.

Because there were so many different animation styles with many of the characters being notably different (including batman in say the Field Test story where he is a much younger Bruce Wayne and Have I got a Story for You where Batman resembles more a bat or vampire than human) it was decided that each character would be voiced by the same person in each of the segments. Kevin Conroy is one of the most recognizable Batman voices, Ana Ortiz as Anna Ramirez, Jim Meskimen as Commissioner James Gordon - however did Floyd Lawton / Deadshot as well. Gary Dourdan as Crispus Allen, Jason Marsden plays a variety of characters in this series - however he is always the doctor in any of the segments. One actor of note is David McCallum who does Alfred Pennyworth in Deadshot. Corey Burton is The Russian, but also Ronald Marshall and the Scare Crow.

In general none of the segments are so long as to become tedious, though in truth, expansion on many of the themes might prove interesting. I am not sure I would like a steady diet of episodic story telling, but this one certainly works really well. Each episode is a story unto itself and holds up well but with enough tie-ins to the other stories and the Batman universe to keep everything on track. I quite enjoyed the dvd/blu-ray.

The extra track really shines! First there is an audio commentary of the film by Gregory Noveck, Dellis O’Neil and Kevin Conroy, a well as a preview of the upcoming animated movie Wonder Woman. There is a wonderful bio piece of the Batman creator - Bob Kane. Plus there are four episodes of the Batman animated series that I can not remember seeing previously! There are several other little tidbits but I will leave them for you to find you to find out. Overall I would give Gotham Knight an 8 and the extras the same or maybe a 9 because as extras, they are damn good. Which gives us an 8.5 which if your are into animation/anime you will rate it higher perhaps and if you are not and certainly not into episodic fiction you might go lower but overall...8.5 to 9 is pretty fair.