Monday, October 31, 2011

Mutant Mosquitoes

I stated seeing this around Halloween and though it must be a Zombie /Ghoul type of thing to scare but no real substance and then comes contributor XNewsMan with almost the same story. Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes engineered to kill their own children! And this from the New York Times to boot!

The meat of the story is that researchers report initial success from the first test release into the wild of these mutant bugs. Their pass on a lethal gene to their offspring that kills them before reaching maturity.

Of course the end result is not just eradication of pest blood suckers but the control of agricultural pests and disease bearing insects that carry illnesses like Malaria or Dengue Fever.

And of course they are up against public fears over mutations. As XNewsMan says...I hate giant Skeeters! Haven't These guys ever read any science fiction?!!!! lol

Petman: Boston Dynamics New Humanoid Test Platform

Hey, check out this video of PETMAN from Boston Dynamics. You know, the makers of that whacked quadruped Big Dog? Now they have this full body sim. No, it's not for fighting (yeah right, I think Skynet would have something to say about know, minigun here, rocket launcher there....and you are well on your way to a t-500 or maybe even a 800 series....) But as the Dvice article puts it:
  • engineers are using this ..... hardware to (test) chemical suits that could protect military personnel from attack
Not only can it simulate body movements but it:
  • is able to simulate sweating, respiring and changes in body temperature.
Check out the unit in action below and you can read the complete Dvice article here

Facebook to build facility @ the Arctic Circle

I had been hearing rumors of this new server farm that Facebook plans on constructing. First off it will be huge. According to the Telegraph, Facebook plans to build three giant server halls covering an area the size of 11 football fields. As we know, these "farm" use copious amounts of power. The servers themselves do use quite a large fraction, but the most watts used for the least bang is the cost of cooling the equipment. That is why Facebook has selected a most unusual place for it's newest facility. Luleå, Sweden, which is located just 60 miles south of the arctic circle. There the mean temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit and rarely goes above 80. With such frigid temperatures, the farms will simply use outside air to cool the servers.

Even with this massive cost saving, and not discounting the impact it will have on the environment, the facility will still use 120MW of power, enough to supply 16,000 detached homes, and costing some £45m a year. However even this will be provided by a renewable resource, the nearby Luleå river, which by itself, produces twice as much electricity as the Hoover Dam so Luleå exports more than half the power generated.

Telegraph Article Here

Satellite by Brandon Schott

Here is a new video called "Satellite," from multi-talented Brandon Schott. Satellite is one of the cuts off Brandon's latest record "13 Satellites"

Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads up

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Paul

Running time 104 minutes
Budget $40 million Box office $97,591,665
directed by Greg Mottola,
written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
starring Pegg and Frost, and the voice of Seth Rogen doing the voice of Paul.

The best way to describe Paul is to call it a sci-fi geek road movie. Pegg and Frost play Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings - two English comic book nerds and best friends who have traveled to America to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con. They decide on a road trip and rent an rv to see some of the more famous UFO and sci-fi sights.

The misadventures start soon after when they accidentally hit a couple of comic rednecks truck.

The pair feel they are being chased by the redneck pair, but when they come upon a wreck they just witnessed they find a car instead...empty.

While calling for help, Paul appears and the road trip ensues.

During the trip (to someplace that Paul needs to get to so he can be rescued after years) Lorenzo Zoil is played by Jason Bateman who seems to have a separate agenda but for the most part he is part of the organization that need Paul captured. He is also aided by two FBI agents that are ineptness personified. They add to the troupe with Ruth Buggs, played by Kristen Wiig. Ruth is a Christian fundamentalist who’s world view is challenged by the appearance of Paul. Rounding out the group is Tara Walton played masterfully by Blythe Danner. Tara saved his life 1947 when his ship crashed. As an old woman, in present time, Tara has been driven a bit loopy by all the ridicule and treatment she has undergone over he ages and who subsequently, is more than a bit pleased to know that she did not imagine Paul.

At this point it is off to the rescue point with more than a few misdirections.

The film contains numerous references to other science fiction films, especially those of Steven Spielberg, as well as to general science fiction fan-dom. The final fight scene is dealt out by “the Big Guy” who I can’t give away now as it is a surprise that will have you laughing out loud at the “gotcha!”

The use of CGI is of course all over the place, but so well done that you buy right into the effect.
Paul is one of the most lifelike cgi actors that I have ever seen. Why, because for the most part he is your standard Gray. But the eye are alive. The skin has multiple reflectivity points. The skeleton and muscles are very believable. CGI done right!

As for a review.... How often have I said that you can often see how much faith producers of a disk are by how the extras are handled. Most of the time there are a goodly smattering. A good film that everyone is behind will often have many extra, sometimes, no matter how good the film may look, often have none. This tell you quite a bit about the studio, producers etc. So when you look at the extras of Paul that include everything by the kitchen sink included, you really do get the idea that there was plenty of love going around for this movie. A theatrical cut and a no hold barred movie release. bloopers, director voice commentary, featurettes , making of, You name it. The movie is a 9....a 10 in my book, but if you are not into the movies that the references are pulled from it could be aggravating. And extras? If you can’t think what should be included that isn’t already there then it is a 10 so that gets us a 9.5. A bit off for just maybe being to much of a nerd or too geeky, but this is a curious problem, because for me it is one of these movies that is going to set the bar again and in my mind on of the best of its’ type so far. So for me it’s a ten and will be for you too...unless you don’t get what the lizard mask and the fight scene means, or if Paul’s finger wriggling inside a couple of doughnuts does not elicit gales of laughter, then it is somewhat less than great! lol Most will just plain love the film is my guess.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beam Me Up Episode 285 - Watts & Davies

Welcome to the program this week. This is episode 285. I had started out with the idea that I would run just the second half of this week’s story: The Things, by Peter Watts, then go on to the blog for news. But then I remembered the excellent Halloween story that I ran last year from the very talented author Colin P. Davies called appropriately enough Happy Halloween.

In Part 2 of The Things, the creature comes to realize the horror of just the type of beings he is dealing with. Horrifying creations that violently react when faced with anything that changes. Creatures that never change, born and die with the same shape and can not imagine anything different. Important information yes, discovered at great cost and quite possibly much much to late.

In our second story, Happy Halloween by Colin P. Davies, many strange happenings have started to happen in Dan’s world. Unnatural happenings, dangerous happenings. Since his mother had left, Dan’s world had become bleak but now it seemed that some mysterious force was trying to do more that make life miserable, no now something wanted him dead. Happy Halloween is read by CrystalWizard and produced by Cyberstudios and I will guarantee that you will be hard pressed to find a better Halloween story this month.

And that is it! All stories this week and nothing more. Just things that go bump in the night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Raytheon-Sarcos' New XOS 2 exoskeleton prototype

Hey, check out these robot arms. I have seen alot of the "strapon" types and this is the first one that had me wanting a pair for my very own. Now paint it yellow with hazard stripes and a safety cage and a choice line or so....what do you think? Remind you of anything?

New Satellites For Old!

Putting a satellite in orbit is massively expensive. Far from getting cheaper as the tech aged, the cost however still hovers around 10k for every pound launched. Estimates have it that there are roughly 300 billion dollars of hardware in geosynchronous orbits with a large portion of this total non functioning hardware.

DARPA is hoping to lower satellite cost significantly. How they plan to do that is elegant in it's simplicity. DARPA wants to harvest the dead hardware, which is more than likely 90% functional, for parts and build new satellites in place.

Here is what the Dvice article wrote:
  • That 90% of stuff represents a lot of useful and expensive hardware. (the most useful) is the satellite's antenna, which represents the single biggest contributor to both functionality and launch cost. What DARPA wants to do is send a harvester satellite called Phoenix up to (harvest) things like antennas and solar panels from dead platforms and turn them into operational ... satellites. Tiny new controller modules called "satlets" will ride along with the harvester and be used to create new brains to get the ... parts all working together properly, effectively creating an entirely new satellite.
Now there is something I can get behind!

Complete article here

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flying Airport Would Never Land

Pretty bizarre idea huh? But leave it to Dvice to find the weird stuff. This isn't some 50s pie in the sky speculation either, but a contemporary idea. Huge nuclear powered lifting bodies would be in effect massive people movers that would allow planes from local airports to ferry passengers up from the ground, then return to their base to await another load or to ferry passengers back down from the high flying platform. Since none of the planes or the flying airport are using copious amounts of jet grade kerosene, there would be huge fuel savings.

Of course the article points out that we need to solve some major technological barriers before something like this could be possible but what a sight to see one of these bad boyz fly over huh?

Complete Dvice article here

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mysteries of 2000 Y.O. Chineese Super-Nova Solved

Tim Sayell sends in an interesting article from Yahoo News concerning mysteries surrounding a 2 thousand year old super nova documented two Millennium ago in 185 A.D. by Chinese astronomers. This particular Super nova was the first of its' kind ever documented. Of course it wasn't until the 60s that scientists began to understand that this titanic explosion was the death throes of a star. But after finding many more such "super explosions " RCW 86 began to stand out as an odd set of data that seemed to contradict itself. The really obvious occurrence is that RCW-86 is more than twice the size (expansion) than any other super nova of it's type and age had any right being. (the article states that in infrared the expansion globe is larger than our full moon!)

Astronomers combined data from Spitzer and WISE telescopes with existing information from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory.

Evidence suggests that RCW 86 may have been a binary star with RCW 86 being a sun much like our own. Stars like our SOL don't often explode, but an influx of fuel during the expansion to a red giant phase may have triggered a mild explosion and RCW 86 collapsed to a white dwarf, leaving a LOT of empty space around it. Any further fuel from the companion would mean that a much more energetic explosion was imminent.

When the supernova finally did take place, it did not encounter the regular dust that surrounds most of these type 1A explosions and expanded rapidly and continued for quite a while..

There is an excellent description of how the white dwarf and the companion star dynamic worked over at the yahoo site here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Undead Love Ssong By John Anealio {NSFW)

Our friend John Anealio has written another theme based song for the season! It is called An Undead Love Song that trods with a heavy foot amongst your sensitivities. Here is what he says.
  1. Happy Halloween!

  2. I've got a brand new song that I'd like you to download for free.I was asked to write this tune for Rigor Amortis, an anthology of Erotic, Zombie-themed short stories.This is a salty one. It's Not Safe For Work. If you're uncomfortable with four letter words and body parts falling off, please don't listen to this song. If you are, please share it with your friends!If you would like a rather ribald, click An Undead Love Song (go here for that first link and follow the instructions.

BMU # 284 The Things...Peter Watts pt1

Well lets continue on with the goulish theme started the first of October, in episode 284. This week what better than a rather frightening tale from an author not unknown to the BMU listening audience. Mr. Peter Watts.

As we all know at this point, there is a new “Thing Movie” in the theaters. Many long time SF fans know that there are three movies based on Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. under the pen name Don A. Stuart published August 1938 in Astounding Stories. In 1973, the story was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the finest science fiction novellas ever written, and was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two edit by non - other than Isaac Asimov! The name was changed to “The Thing” when the first of 3 movies made from the basic story line.

Now if you are like me you read the story and found the first movie really lacking. In the second, directed by Scott Carpenter, There was a more technically adept and effects rich offering but in the end, a monster movie with no empathy for the creature and no attempt to communicate. With me, it also closed the door on any further offering in the “Things” franchise. So what a pleasant surprise I got when reading this new story for Peter Watts called the Things... to discover it had a major twist right in the beginning that you will ask why wasn’t this done earlier!
Needless to say it is a wonderful homage to John Campbell’s work.

I wanted this story so bad …..but asking Peter I found out that Clarksworld online magazine had picked up the rights, but Peter said he didn’t mind me playing an audio version as well, so the wonderful folks at Clarkesworld Magazine very graciously let me play their recording of Things.
I want to tell you that their reader got the pathos. It is an excellent reading. I play part 1 this week and next week I will finish it up. Remember is is material better suited for adult sensibilities though not graphic, it could still be considered disturbing at times.

But first to get things warmed up I start with Atlanta Rhythm Section playing Alien...rather appropriate huh?

And from the blog I start with a review of the anime classic Cowboy Bebop. The movie is a series fan’s movie. Not really a good introduction to the Bebop universe and more a treat for fans. I loved it, but then I was a fan. If you have seen the complete series and want a bit more than this is for you!

Astronomers have discovered the oldest and farthest supernova ever detected -- a massive star that exploded 11 billion years ago.

In August of 1883 447 objects passing in front of the sun over two days. But this huge amount of material was only observed by one astronomer. But panic took hold anyway....These objects were so huge and coming in so close that folks were taking out comet insurance. Other astronomers suggested all form of fauna and flora that could have flown in front of the lens and give an erroneous result. What WAS observed were actually fragments of a massive, billion-ton comet, and the reason that no one else was able to observe the objects is that they passed so close to the Earth! Calculations show that the ultra massive object passed between 300 to 5000 miles above the surface!!

Using the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, astronomers have captured the first direct image of a planet being born.

And so much more! Honest!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oldest Super Nova Explosion discovered

From the Daily Galaxy magazine:
  • Astronomers have discovered the oldest and farthest supernova ever detected -- a massive star that exploded 11 billion years ago.
  • Prior to this discovery, NASA’s Swift Observatory had detected a 13-billion-year-old gamma-ray burst.... but this latest discovery marks the first confirmation of a full-on star explosion.
First thing this shows is that the first 2 billion years, the Universe was a VERY busy place. It was a hot dense and inhospitable as you could imagine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Did all life on Earth Almost End Recently?

Remember hearing about that group of comets, back in August of 1883? They were so huge and coming in so close that folks were taking out comet insurance. Mexican astronomer José Bonilla, observed 447 objects passing in front of the sun over two days. But this huge amount of material could not be found by any other astronomers. Or even be seen, they suggested all form of fauna and flora that could have been miss read. What Bonilla observed were actually fragments of a massive, billion-ton comet, and the reason that no one else was able to observe the objects is that they passed so close to the Earth!

Calculations show that the ultra massive object passed between 300 to 5000 miles above the surface!!

From the Gizmodo article:
  • The impact at Tunguska was by moderate estimations about 15 megatons, or 1,000 times more powerful than Hiroshima. 3,275 of those bombarding the planet over two days would likely be, as the authors of the paper put it, "an extinction event."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Cowboy Bebop: The movie

Also known as Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Steven Blum Beau Billingslea Wendee Lee Melissa Fahn Jennifer Hale
Daran Norris Nicholas Guest Dave Wittenberg

Release date: September 1, 2001
Running time 116 minutes
English Box office $150,671,348

Early in the last decade, when I really started being interested in Anime, One of the series that really caught my interest was the series Cowboy Bebop. It was not cut of the mill. Not easy to figure out. What was a bebop....why such a fascination with the blues. Figure it out as you go, very little back story.

Not many chances were taken with the movie. You will recognize all the characters of the bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop; Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Ein. In the movies as in the series, everyone is down to their last resources so the bounty hunters take the job offered by the Martian government to find out who is the government with a viral attack and eliminating the threat.

Those that are familiar with the series will be familiar with the progression...Ed invariably finds a computer solution, Faye finds that her “femininity” gets her into more trouble than helping, Spike is constantly laid back and sarcastic but rises to a threat quickly, Jet is the group’s glue, holding down the fort and a foil to Spikes humor. I always considered Jet the one true adult in the group.

So as you can see...Bebop the movie is a series fan’s movie. Not really a good introduction to the Bebop universe and more a treat for fans.

The animation is good, the acting is dead on and the overall plot certainly knows where it’s roots are. But it IS a fan’s movie and would not be for those that have not experienced the series to some extent, so maybe a bit off for lack of general appeal and for as much as the animation was touted by today’s standards is is a bit flat, but that is nit picking. Movie would get an easy 7.

Extras ABOUND!! and it’s a DVD!! Brings home just how cheap and lazy some disk purveyors are! How many blu-ray have we seen with bupkis for extras?! This has interviews, featurettes but lacks a directors audio track, but no great loss there. 9 for extras which gives the movie an overall good solid 8

Images Of Planet Forming

Tim Sayell sends in an article from Yahoo News that says "Astronomers have captured the first direct image of a planet being born." Now if that isn't exciting enough...."it's the youngest planet ever observed. The previous record holder was about five times older." Adam Kraus, of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, along with Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, Using the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, said that the planet is forming from a ring of dust and debris circling a 2-milion-year-old star about 450 light years from Earth.

Just two million years old? I would have put planetary formation would take place at a minimum of three times that long!

The complete Yahoo News article is here and it is very informative

oooooooooooooohhhh Lookie what Dave Tackett found!!!! From the Huffington Post the actual telescope's photo! Thanks Dave!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Virgin Galactic's Hanger / Terminal - Spaceport America completed

Tim Sayell sends in an article from Yahoo News that says after four years of delays, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic terminal and hanger is finally finished. New Mexico governor Susana Martinez dedicated the Spaceport America terminal hanger facility,recently.

As you know, Virgin Galactic will be charging $200,000 per passenger, for a sub-orbital flight. Even at the, no pun intended, sky high price, 455 people have already bought tickets for the 2 1/2-hour suborbital flights that include only about five minutes of weightlessness.

All activities will be handled at the 110,152-square-foot hangar that will house the company's two spacecraft, mission control and a waiting area for the space tourists.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BMU # 283 We Honor Those We Serve online now

This week on episode 283, the program seems to write itself! I decided to play it straight and see how things proceed. All in all though you will have to listen to get my drift.

I start right out with expert by Weird Al Yandovic on the Beam Me Up Blog. A new song “Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me!” This puts a spin on some of the abuse that is foisted off on us by some users that have more cell phones than brains. Recent surveys have it that more than 4% of the countries cell phone users have more than one cell. The survey pointed out that there are more cell phones in operation in the us than there are people. It is a certainty then with this kind of density that parody performers would comment on this. First up is Weird Al Yankovic with his protest song about junk email. “Stop Forwarding that crap to Me”

More from the blog.....From two astronomers at the Observatory of Côte d'Azur in Nice, France come an interesting article on the reason Uranus is on it’s side. It would appear that Uranus was struck with at least two massive planet sized bodies in it’s distant past that knocked it completely on it’s side.

HP's new technology may well make DRAM and SRAM obsolete by 2015. flash memory in a year and a half. This new technology that HP is betting on is called the memristor. Memristors are wires made of titanium dioxide a mere 150 atoms wide. They can preserve memory states when off and can be written to trillions of times.

I found a great online film of the Alma telescope. Higher than any other ground based observatory, located in Chile, is the new ALMA’s only about a third of the dishes in the array are installed as of yet, but ALMA is the most powerful scopes of it's type. By 2013 all of it's 66 dishes will be installed, bringing ALMA to full power, Check out the film describing the telescope.

Back in August of 2010 I reported on this odd little series, a bit more than webisodes but not quite network tv called Pioneer One it is a viewer supported project that seems to have worked!
There are now five episodes available online. I have the link online or you can go here for more episodes plus the original.

What’s a Q-Drive? Well over at Cannae LLC in Pennsylvania,they describe the QDrive as a resonating cavity with design features that redirect the radiation pressure exerted in the cavity to create a radiation pressure imbalance on the cavity. This differential in radiation pressure generates an unbalanced force that creates thrust. The cavity is accelerated without use of propellant. ooooooooooooooooo kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Machines ARE Taking Over

Dan brought me this article by Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post that points out a fact that we all kind of suspect but never realized just how bad/good or just plain weird it really is. Cecilia writes that there are apx 328 million phones, tablets, laptops on cell networks. The weird thing is there are only 315 million Men, women and children in the US, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. That's 4% more wireless phones than there are people, which kinda points to the likelihood that a lot of people have more than 1 cellular device....weird.

Also what people do with these wireless devices often vexes. Talking on the phone goes without saying....but where people choose to talk know what I am talking about. Also it's a matter of not just talking on the phone but browsing the internet or sending email. Often the materials that are being sent on wireless devices that aggravate many recipients.

And what do I find today? That Weird Al has been aggravated by the same thing for many years and has written a well timed protest song. Check it out. "Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The QDrive: A Revolutionary Engine for Spacecraft

Boing Boing listed this article about an engine called The QDrive - which is a "radiation pressure imbalance" drive for space travel.

Over at Cannae LLC in Pennsylvania,they describe the QDrive as
  • a resonating cavity with design features that redirect the radiation pressure exerted in the cavity to create a radiation pressure imbalance on the cavity. This differential in radiation pressure generates an unbalanced force that creates thrust. The cavity is accelerated without use of propellant.

You know what came to mind first? Remember that old cartoon with Wile E. Coyote and the Road-Runner, where Wile E. puts on skates, ties a water tub to the skates and a outboard engine to his waist with the prop in the tub of water. Pulling the starter string sends him off after the Road-runner. Remember? Even as a child I often wondered first, why the crazy Coyote wasn't dead and second it that rigging could really work! I get that feeling off this Q thing....

I honestly thought I was seeing a new type of electric razor head unit....hah

Pioneer One tv Series still alive and well.

Back in August of 2010 I reported on this odd little series, a bit more than webisodes but not quite network tv called Pioneer One It had one episode out and, curiously was asking those that liked the show, to help fund it.

The first episode centered around a strange "satellite" that crashes into Edmundton CA. Instead of a satellite however is is a Soviet era space craft containing the lone survivor of a lost Soviet mission to Mars.

The first episode was dark, mysterious and full of political tension. Good stuff, but I didn't hear any more about it.

Well it would seem that Pioneer One is going strong with five episodes ready for viewing and the sixth in production!

So if you like your sci fi dark with lots of tension....check out the Pioneer One website here
Plus if you caught the first one but lost track as I did, you will like how the show is progressing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Film of the ALMA Telescope

Higher than any other ground based observatory, located in Chile, is the new ALMA milimeter wave length telescope. Only about a third of the dishes in the array are installed as of yet, but ALMA is the most powerful scopes of it's type. By 2013 all of it's 66 dishes will be installed, bringing ALMA to full power, but early results from the already onsite dishes are already giving us an idea of what is to come.

Check out the short film on the scope.

ALMA Opens Its Eyes from NRAO Outreach on Vimeo.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Scientists Believe that Uranus Took Two Massive Impacts

There is little debate that Uranus is a strange place. It is the only planet in the solar system to be 90º off axis and quite literally rolls around the sun. This odd sideways polar position for Uranus may have been caused from not one but two giant impacts. This comes from simulations that were run by two astronomers at the Observatory of Côte d'Azur in Nice, France. To get such a huge tilt, Uranus would have to have been smashed into by another planet the size of Uranus which would have totally disrupted Uranus' system of moons. Since that is not the case, the two astronomers suggest that Uranus could have been hit by two Earth sized planets several billion years ago. Scientists also suspect that Neptune may have been impacted very much like Uranus, leading many astronomers to reconsider their models of how the outer Solar System formed.........

Check out the Dvice article here

HP wants to phase out flash memory and SSDs by 2013

According to this Dvice article HP's new technology may well make DRAM and SRAM obsolete by 2015. flash memory in a year and a half, and they're planning on rendering. The computer giant plans on having new technology ready in a year and a half.

From the Dvice article:
  • This new technology that HP is betting on is called the memristor. Memristors are wires made of titanium dioxide a mere 150 atoms wide.
  • Like conventional solid state memory, memristors can store data without using any power. Memristors are also relatively easy to manufacture using existing technology.
  • The advantages of memristors are that their read times are about 10 nanoseconds, with write and erase times of 0.1 nanosecond. Data stored in memristors lasts years, and you can read and write them about 1,000,000,000,000 times (HP is still counting) without data loss.
  • HP says that it should have a version of what they're calling ReRAM (Resistive Random Access Memory) on the market by 2013 ...and over the next few years, they'll be rolling out memristor-based versions of both DRAM and SRAM, which ought to speed up computers immensely.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

BMU # 282 Online Mr. Bronze by Phil Voyd & Kit St. Germain

Once again we get into the scaring season in Episode 282.

This week’s story is a true horror piece produced for radio by Kit St. Germain as well as a very talented acting troupe performing- Mr. Bronze from a short story written by Phil Voyd. Heather Brown engineers. And the narrator in the story is Mark Oliver. Ben, the “star” of tonight’s outing is a consummate body builder, working all the way from a literal 90 lb weakling to wining the Mr. Bronze trophy. Everything was going right in his world, that was until he found this weird photo album, then things got decidedly worse.

From the Blog I review Rio the Movie. Unfortunately this Plot-line for this film is something you have seen over and over again, especially in animal based animation. How did I rate it? Well animation is good but the plot is soulless and the studio flips you off with no extras. 6…I suspect everyone was in for a payday on this one. Next I found something interesting in Dvice…..a Princeton Grad Student has created a device that is wired with a complex system of electrical sensors to make the plastic sheet fly?!

Is SpaceX up to picking up space missions of resupply and service in effect privatizing many of the low Earth orbit projects… Antipodean issue 160 is out…. and have you see where Mars Curiosity Rover is going to land? Yeah, inside the Gale crater, this bad boy has a central mountain over 3 miles high and the crater itself is 90 miles across, but still…it is quite a feat of programming.

Of course I could not resist starting the program with news of the October sky and a new song from Anealio called I want a Stormtrooper for Halloween….

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Private Sector: Should it replace the government in space?

There are a lot of questions worth raising when it comes to the idea of the private sector playing a role in space.  Those of us who see how the private sector operates in other industries (health, banking, and so on) have legitimate concerns about how they will act when granted full access to space.  SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are certainly on our minds and seem to be doing great work, but remember that the these companies are not the same as Exxon or Walmart.  They have difference missions.  Space isn't profitable...yet.

I don't want to suggest that SpaceX is a bad thing.  In fact, I think what SpaceX and the recent study on how the private sector is cheaper than the government in the space industry should make us wonder what it is the government has been doing wrong and what it is the private sector can offer the government, and the country
But we should also ask ourselves whether we want profit-driven enterprises running our space programs.  Is that a good thing?  I think the answer is an emphatic maybe.  On the one hand, the space industry in the U.S. is heavily regulated, in part because, well, flying giant missiles full of explosive fuel, even if you're only doing it over the ocean, is dangerous.  But the private sector likes to loosen those regulations, which could pose a variety of problems for society.
On the other hand, the private sector does have a way, in most cases, of developing efficiency within a budget.  Those are skills I think NASA has failed to inherit from its ancestors.  The Apollo missions weren't cheap, but they didn't have enormous budgets either.  And they were doing things far more noticeable to the public than what NASA has been up in the last thirty years.  Scientific discoveries are crucial to the advancement of our civilization, but perhaps what the private sector can offer is a way to get more people into space and elsewhere.  Perhaps the private sector can bring back the sense of wonder brought about by the Apollo missions.

But we also have to be careful.  SpaceX and Virgin Galactic and so on are great programs, the former of which, if I recall correctly, gets a good deal of funding from NASA.  But turning space into our highways has serious consequences for people and the planet.  The private sector has a lot to offer, but it also has to be given a leash.  We're not talking about building cars or building homes.  We're talking about launching dangerous machinery into the air, through the ozone, and out into space.  That's not something to be taken lightly.  We need to think long and hard about how we want to include the private sector into our space programs.  More importantly, we have to figure out how the private sector can take us above and beyond where we are now.  Cost and operational efficiency are great in a time of financial uncertainty, but we also have to realize that getting left behind will have devastating societal consequences, whether here in the United States, whose program is already suffering after the retirement of the Space Shuttle, or elsewhere.
What does everyone else think?  How big of a role should the private sector have in the space industry?  Should it replace the government?

Incoming! rosat due to burn in with in months

Hey, bummin you didn't get smacked by a chunk of GOES? Good news for you then. From the Boing Boing blog:
  • ROSAT will probably have more pieces survive the ride down because its mirrors had to be shielded from heat to operate. That means the odds of it hitting someone will be slightly higher than from UARS, about 1 in 2000. Bear in mind that’s still really small odds! The chance of a specific individual getting hit are still something like only 1 in 14 trillion.
Compared to GOES, the ROSAT is a lightweight at only roughly 2 tons, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

It will be a couple of months until we know for sure the wheres and whens so keep looking up...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Will The Universe Ever Truly End?

Hey, ready to get your mind twisted? Ok, here we go.

It has been observed that the universe is expanding and at the edge of the universe the expansion is accelerating. Astronomers have extrapolated this accelerating expansion to such a point that at some point in the vastly distant future all matter will so separated that everything stops as all energy is used up.

Well Roger Penrose in a word calls this view boring, matter of fact, incredibly boring. He wrote in
Cycles of Time: An extraordinary new view of the universe:
  • the only remaining particles will be massless
This would take place because the standard theory says that the acceleration would continue and the mass of everything approaches infinity which for all intents is the same as saying that if everything is infinite mass then mass loses meaning or all is massless and therefor traveling at the speed of light. Well we know what happens when mass approaches infinite as related to space/time.... yep time slows and at some point if acceleration continues....stop or at least lose all meaning.

Read Roger Penros's exerpts here
and I also see links there if you're brave enough...

Image of the odd Dwarf Planet Haumea

The VLT telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile continues to astound with it's discoveries even though the array is yet to be fully online. In this series of photos assembled from data captured by the VLT. Here is the fifth dwarf planet of the Solar System named Haumea. The dwarf has a pronounced ovoid shape and is almost 1300 miles at it's widest. Haumea has another curious feature. As the Daily Galaxy blog article states:
  • It spins completely in less than four hours, at one of the fastest rotation speeds in the Solar System
***I should take a moment to clear up some confusion that a reader brought up. NASA and the VLT are working with DATA so they (would be my guess) assembled the data and put it through an image generator. I assumed that everyone at this point knew that dvices "image of the day" could be an image or an extrapolation. In fairness I looked at what was labeled "artistic" and just the fact that the images were hi fi kind of gave you a hint. These were far less data rich leading to the thought that every one was using a more realistic data set...
Oh well live and learn....***

Mars Curiosity Rover info

Like many of you, I am excited about the Curiosity rover is preping for launch. But Id did get my wires crossed on the landing site. I thought it was landing "near" Gale, but according to a post in the Daily Galaxy:
  • Curiosity, NASA's car-sized rover, also known as the Mars Science Lab, is scheduled for launch in late November or early December 2011 from the Kennedy Space Center. After an eight-month voyage to Mars, Curiosity will land at the foot of a 3 mile high mountain in a crater named "Gale."
Not close but IN Gale. Now yes, it is a 90 mile wide crater, but that is a small target to hit, this far away. Plus it has a 15 thousand foot mountain in the middle of the damn thing! Check the pic out! The yellow circle is where Curiosity is going to land. Why there, inside a crater? Well as the article states:
  • "This may be one of the thickest exposed sections of layered sedimentary rocks in the solar system. The rock record preserved in those layers holds stories that are billions of years old stories about whether, when, and for how long Mars might have been habitable."
Overall, pretty cool data. Check out the complete article here

A Storm Trooper for Halloween - John Anealio

Yep, once again John Anealio of Sci Fi Songs gets into the swing of things and produces a song for the holiday "A Stormtrooper for Halloween" and as far as I am concerned, it is an instant hit!

Thanks John!

Fyi here is a direct link to the song on John's site

Monday, October 03, 2011

Antipodean October 2011 issue 160

The newest episode of Antipodean SF the speculative flash fiction from down under.

Here are the stories for the October 2011 issue 160

A Public Touch Up By Wes Parish

Best Friends By Jackson Creed

Jacob's Ladder By Eugene Gramelis

Gaia's Virus By David Kernot

Curse Of The Were-Bat By Tony Owens

Progress by Shaun A. Saunders

The Year we Killed the People Who Pretend to be Statues By Chris Large

The Croupier Retires By P.S. Cottier

Racing Flame By Tim White

Warnings By Kevin J. Phyland

Researchers Bomb Human Disease With Rockets!

Honest! This is exactly how the Gizmodo article read:
  • researchers have invented a platinum and peroxide-fueled "nanorocket" that could propel through your blood, saliva, or urine to deliver medicine precisely where disease is happening.
Oh and the one thing you should know..the delivery system has not been safety checked yet either...

But the rocket, now that is another thing all together! Check it...
  • scientists created a nanorocket engine with tubes coated on the inside with platinum. Then they placed the tubes in a hydrogen peroxide solution, which initiated decomposition of the peroxide into water and oxygen. As a result, bubbles shot out one end of the tube, creating thrust.
Now come on! If that is not the most far out thing you have heard today?!

Check out the short film

Stop Over: Animated Short from le Mob

Here is an excellent depiction of a day when it would seem nothing is going or can go right.

It is animated feature called "Stop Over" from the fertile minds of Le Mob led by directors and designers Bart Wasem and Neil Stubbings.

Stopover from LeMob on Vimeo.

Can the Private Sector do it Faster & Cheaper than NASA?

Just in case you live in a cave somewhere and were not up to speed as to what SpaceX has up it's sleeve - below is a short animation of their Dragon / Falcon 9 heavy, reusable launch system. What makes this interesting again is a recent report from NASA where they admit that the private sector can accomplish mission critical launches far cheaper than NASA can do it on it's own.

With the system shown here from SpaceX - the estimate is that from build to launch, they can - with the reusable vehicle - launch at roughly $60 million for launch and construction.

Here is the complete Dvice article

Flying Plastic Strip?

Here is something I found interesting in Dvice.....Princeton Grad Student Noah Jafferis has created a device that is wired with a complex system of electrical sensors and conducting threads that create "ripples" of air moving front to back of a sheet of thin, 4-inch sheet of plastic. When these fields are applied, the carpet, hovers just above the ground. Yep, that's right! This sounds suspiciously like a flying carpet, huh?

Of course the downside is, according to the article, estimates have it that it would take a carpet with a wingspan of about 165 feet to carry a human at this point.

Check out the complete article on Dvice

Review: Rio the Movie

Review: Rio :
Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Staring Jesse Eisenberg - Anne Hathaway - George Lopez - Tracy Morgan

Plot-line for this film is something you have seen over and over again, especially in animal based animation. The lead character is taken from it’s natural environment by whatever nefarious persons for whatever nefarious reasons. Whether it be deer, bear, human, the plot is the same, they are taken, very unhappy, they grow up happy but unaware, then some fluke reintroduces them to their natural state and for the balance of the movie they founder - trying to rediscover their birthright while often dealing with a romantic element.

I am sure without difficulty you could name 3 or 4 without even trying. Well from Blue Sky studios, we now can add another.

Now first, don’t get me wrong. Rio even in 2d is sumptuously drawn and flawlessly animated. The voice-work / acting and music are dead on. Renting this movie you won’t feel robbed by any of these being flawed.

I started feeling ripped off when the plot showed no imagination at all. A Saturday morning cartoon takes more chances than this film did. Absolutely nothing new happens here. Yeah I know, the argument is that it is aimed at children. But with a budget of 90 million and what that really relates to is the adults ponying up about 484 million overall just for tickets or twice that overall in related theater sales. So I would think that any studio with half a brain would want to keep the adult in the theater for as long as possible. Not the case here though. This film is a brainless as it gets. If you are a fan of animation as I am then you get a very well animated product but with all the life of a limp pickle.

As for extras? You have got to question how much faith a director or studio has in a product by how much additional info they include in extras on disk. When there aren’t any you have got to think that the studio has little faith in it’s product, is all about the money end and has got to have nothing but contempt for the viewer.

My conclusion? unless you have a room full of 3 or 4 year olds that need a sit down, then this is an ok buy. If you are renting for a mixed group...can’t hurt but for an addition to an animated library or insight into how modern animated features are produced...ain’t gona happen with this one.

How would I rate it? Well animation is good but the plot is soulless and the studio flips you off with no extras. 6...I suspect everyone was in for a payday on this one.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Beam Me Up Episode 281 now online

This episode for the first week in October 2011, as usual I go in for stories that are seasonal I think you would say.

With that in mind the first story of the evening is the conclusion to The Dark InSpectre written and read by Jason Kahn. This is episode 17 of Unfinished Business in which our intrepid psychic detective Jack Garrett puts the finishing touches to one of the most horrific murders he has ever seen.

The second story this week is a classic piece from the pages of Analog Magazine call “Am I still Here?” by James R. Hall. Here, in a tale set into the near future where any and everything can be repaired or replaced in a human body, the question is asked…when do you stop being you and become something or someone else that just thinks it is you?

In news…Earth Sky speaks about water flows on Mars and the makeup of mysterious rogue waves. I read the impressions of some NASA astronauts that have taken the ride home in a Soyuz capsule.

From the Blog

Doug Hilton sends us a note on his news short story collection: How We Play Football in Alabama And Other Short Stories. Mark Wilson over at About SF writes that The movie Source Code is coming to the small screen as a series. The giant particle accelerator The Tevatron is shutting down 9/30/11 and a great project becomes victim like SETI, to budget cuts and apathy.

Thats episode 281 of Beam Me Up

Rare Yellow Hypergiant Star Discovered

What is hugely larger than our sun, set to shortly explode in a mind numbingly powerful explosion, has rings of ejected material with the mass of four of our own sun and..... wait for it.....Yellow! Hard to believe but this weird creature is indeed a super massive star on the fast tract to a super nova.

This star is in a very rare class called a hyper-giant. These stars are so massive that it is impossible to maintain their massive outer layers for not much longer than a few hundred million years before the outer layers crash down onto the core causing a titanic explosion.

In this infrared photo captured by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope array you can see the bright central star with the two huge ejection rings.

from the Daily Galaxy