Friday, December 30, 2011

Newly Discovered Galaxy Making Stars at a Prodigious Rate

Almost 13 billion years ago, light left a small cluster of stars and headed towards a collection of stars that one day would make up the Milky Way galaxy. When it finally reached us, the light proved to be one of the more startling discoveries of the year.

An indistinct blob collection of stars so incredibly distant that when light left it, the universe itself was only 750 million years older or a mere 5% of its' present age.

As fascinating as that is, galaxy GN-108036 continued to surprise. Because of the energy output of the small cluster scientists suspected at first a fairly large system which proved wrong. GN-108036 appears to be only 1/100th as massive but is producing stars 30 times faster than the Milky Way! This goes against all previous results. Clusters that young had never been found to be so bright and energetic.  Scientists using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer were  surprised by how bright the galaxy appeared.  Not only is it bright but extremely red shifted.  The redder an object is, the farther away it is and the faster it is traveling.  GN-108036's red shift is 7.2 which indicates extreme distance and speed, making it among only a handful of other galaxies so distant.

Bahram Mobasher, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California who announced the discovery said that GN-108036 likely represents the ancestor of the more massive and evolved galaxies seen today.

NASA's site also adds:

  • The galaxy was discovered and confirmed using the Subaru telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory, respectively, both located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Thanks to Dan for the heads up. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LHC Finds Bottomonium has an article about a recent discovery from the Large Hardron Colider of a particle they have labeled Bottomonium. Like the writer of the article says, you can't make this stuff up! Anyway, Bottomonium is a quark "particle" comprised of a bottom quark and it's anti bottom quark double. Usually you combine a normal particle with an anti-particle you would get instant annihilation. But in the sub-atomic world of the quark, the outward forces of the two particles trying to destroy each other can be off set by the same strong force that binds protons and neutrons. At least for a few hundred millionths of a second, ample enough time to study.

Particle physics predicted Bottomonium but this is the first it has been observed in the lab. The particle's name is "χb(3P)" which is pronounced "kye-bee three pee."

Wikipedia article on quarkonium

Frozen Lightsaber Battle

Here is a neat little shot of a flash mob gathering in Time Square 12/20/11 consisting of Sith Lords and Jedi in a freeze frame Light Saber battle that, to the surprise of bystanders, average people on the sidelines also took place in. It seems this was a promotional stunt for the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Looked like fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hexagon Finally Declassified

Wow, when Xnewsman drops a bombshell he drops a big one! Now I, as a general rule, don't often post about cold war politics or the skunkwurkz that went on during that period...but when I started reading a post from the Canadian Business page written by Helen O'Neill for the Associated Press that X sent me, I was transported as well as bout that for conflicting emotions! lol.

The article tells about a gathering of technical personnel, engineers, scientists, draftsmen and inventors, that worked for Perkin-Elmer Corp., an optical design company in Danbury Connecticut. These highly skilled men worked on an ultra top secret project called Hexagon KH-9 during the cold war era from the mic 60s to the late 80s designing cameras for spy satellites. The technicians were sworn to secrecy so stringent that none of their family members knew what they were working on and only those with extremely high government clearance had any idea what so ever.

The specs alone are stunning considering that the system was envisioned in the 60s and was 60 feet long, 30,000 pounds in weight and had to handle film transport speeds of 200 feet per second!  Putting something this size into Earth orbit even today is no mean feat.

Hexagon remained classified for 45 years which meant that many of the people who worked on the project took the secret of their involvement to their grave, the rest are only now speaking about what has to be one of the most fascinating projects to come out of the cold war.

Check out the article here  for a top notch read.  I really thought I was reading the opening pages of a spy novel - this was written so well.

And the WIKI article here
Truly facinating!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beam Me Up episode 293 now online

Expect to be visited by three specters……oh yess…. Ok, this week on episode 293 of Beam Me Up, I manage to get about everything in that I thought would be fun and interesting.

The first story of the evening is episode two of In Plain Sight by Jason Kahn. We again join our favorite psychic detective, Jack Garrett as he once again find himself embroiled in mystery and intrigue.

The second story of the evening is the Skinflint Specters by Brian Thompson which is a retelling of A Christmas Carol in which everything is explainable……or is it?
And from the Beam Me Up blog, I review Infidel by Kameron Hurley which takes place on the planet Umayma, in a future so distance that the colony ship that brought settlers to a terraformed planet are eons rusted hulks and origin has faded into myth and legend.

NASA has discovered a black hole that sets a record for being one of the smallest ever discovered.

MIT research scientist Todd Rider says he’s developed a drug named Draco, which he says has successfully destroyed 15 different viruses in lab trials.

Scientists now of the opinion that detecting Parallel Universes might be impossible.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Smallest Black Hole Discovered

It has indeed been a productive month for black holes. Record setting absolutely huge black holes as big as our solar system has set the record for the largest super massive black hole.

But NASA has discovered a black hole that sets a record for another reason. Being one of the smallest ever discovered. Object IGR J17091-3624 is very very small. In fact, it's probably only three times as massive as the Sun! Dangerously close to the lower limit that could for a black hole at all! Any less massive and it would have stopped collapsing well short of becoming a black hole all together.

More information is available on NASA's site.  

A Cure For Many Viral Infections Found?

Rhino/cold virus
From BBC News via IO9 comes the news that a drug to treat a large variety of viral infection has possibly been discovered.

MIT research scientist Todd Rider says he's developed a drug named Draco, which he says has successfully destroyed 15 different viruses in lab trials.

The reason that earlier attempts to develop a successful broad spectrum anti-viral is the fundamental difference between biologic infectious agents (germs if you will) and viral is much in how they reproduce. Microbes and their ilk can reproduce by fission by themselves. If you kill the microbe, you control the spread of infection. Viruses on the other hand invade a cell and hijack the cell's reproductive machinery to make copies of the invading virus in large quantities. So many in fact that the cell burst spreading copies of the virus, that start the process all over again. The virus is only at risk while outside a cell. Once they have invaded a cell they are virtually undetectable.

Rider's drug Draco uses this "behavior" to kill the virus. Draco consists of two proteins. One to detect a viral invader and the other to kill the cell outright so that it can not be used for reproduction. This approach should be effective from everything from a cold virus to HIV. Initial tests have been promising but there is still a long trial schedule ahead for Draco or another anti-viral.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011's Top Science Scandals

The Scientist Magazine via Boing Boing has compiled a list of some of 2011's most deliberate fumbles in the realm of science.

How about the "link" between a mouse leukemia virus and chronic fatigue syndrome. This paper was cited in over 200 other scientific papers that was before other labs failed to recreate the findings. The paper was retracted but  when they were demanded, the author refused to hand over key lab notebooks. An assistant allegedly was ordered to take the notebooks. The author then relocated to California, only to be arrested on counts of felony theft,  jailed overnight, and is now awaiting trial.

or how about this.... A Boston University scientist's  paper identifying 19 genes associated  longevity.  Soon after publication, however critics discover that the correlation was due to an error in the sequencing chip the team used. After accounting for the error, the researchers found  that the results were ummm less impressive, and Science ultimately retracted the paper, which was cited 25 times in just a year.

Or the well cited paper on changes in the climate that was retracted when it was discovered that many passages were lifted from other sources, including Wikipedia.

And the horrific breast cancer study that was administered by Duke University that is now being sued by families of breast cancer patients who died during the study - saying that Duke fraudulently and negligently allowed a flawed cancer trial to continue. The patients were enrolled in a trial led by oncologist Anil Potti, who in 2010 admitted to pretending to be a Rhodes Scholar and to fabricating a statistical analysis of chemotherapy response in breast cancer.   

There are others equally disturbing at The Scientist web article here

Earth, Quite Often, Has Extra Moons

A new study of the way Earth captures asteroids suggests that at any given time Earth has more than one Moon. This study springs from observations that were made on an object in 2006. Initially because of its' size and color, it was though to be a booster rocket stage. But object 2006 RH120 as it was designated, orbit was a bit odd. Studying the data showed that the object had wandered into an unstable orbit in 2006 and in 2007 this was proved out as the object again wandered off on its' own.

From the Daily Galaxy article:
  • it turned out to be a tiny asteroid just a few meters across captured by Earth's gravity in September 2006.
Mikael Granvik at the University of Hawaii states:
  • At any given time, there should be at least one natural Earth satellite of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth
Check out the Daily Galaxy Article here

Object photo is the near Earth asteroid Toutatis

Monday, December 19, 2011

Detecting Parallel Universes Impossible?

Parallel Universes.....They certainly are an attractive proposition are they not? The very idea of them has pulled Dr. Hawkings fat out of the fire as well it would seem. The very idea that every action creates a different universe sends some screaming into the night and other into constant spirals of what if and if I do this or in this universe there is no.... (as in Hawkings' information dilemma, he proposes that there are universes that do NOT have black holes and therefore no information can or is lost and that cancels out our universe which has black holes and WOULD seem to lose information....OMG got a head ache yet?)

Myself, I find the prospect fascinating and often speculate on what form my actions would infer in a mirror universe. (the ultimate in nepotism would it not?)

As of late though I have began to doubt the veracity of the arguments championing the multi-verse. Really....what need of a universe to balance out you taking a step either here or there or for that matter just breathing? Then, by their very nature would be an argument for you NOT to exist at all, for there would be far more universes in existence that you were not doing something and not even there. So if you follow and agree with this supposition then the very fact that you exist is an argument that parallel universes do not. (oh the pain...the pain)

So the multi-verse seems about to unravel according to an article in University of Calgary Utoday via The Daily Galaxy that suggests that parallel universes man not be detectable.   Why?  Well some of the reason is physics.  Quantum Physics to be more precise.   Quantum physics works really good at describing and ummm quantifying  (sorry) particles in the sub-atomic world but completely breaks down at the macro level.  Not because the math is questionable, but more our technology and science is not up to measuring large amounts of quantum states at once.  (that little ache behind your right eye should be bordering on white hot agony by this point.  Not to worry, a few more lines and your head explodes you do have something to look forward to...)

Let me explain how I work that little nib out.  You remember the double slot results right?  Now some people just love to say that our reality can effect quantum states but the reality is that a quantum state is a Super-position which is inherently unstable.  Any time you try to interact with a particle in a quantum state, its' super-position collapses.  As the Calgary article puts it:
  • Superposition is a fundamental principle of quantum physics that says that systems can exist in all their possible states simultaneously. But when measured, only the result of one of the states is given.

So how does this apply to the detection of parallel universes?  Again it comes down to detecting the quantum particles.  From the article:
  • Seeing quantum effects requires extremely precise measurements
Christopher Simon,  one of the Calgary researchers who co-authored the article:
  • in order to see the quantum nature of this state, one has to be able to count the number of photons in it perfectly,” says Simon. “This becomes more and more difficult as the total number of photons is increased. Distinguishing one photon from two photons is within reach of current technology, but distinguishing a million photons from a million plus one is not. 
So if we can just barely differentiate a state containing at best several quantum particles, the chances of us being able to accurately detect a state with anything approaching a macro size is well beyond our ability to detect it.   Detecting a whole universe may never be within the realm of possibility. 

The article really is fascinating and I have no doubt that I have managed to  mangle the science so read the original here

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Man Assult Three With Light Saber

Yep, you heard right - from via Boing Boing comes the story of a suspect, identified only as a 33-year-old man, who was arrested for assaulting three people with a blue light saber at a local Toys R Us.

Officers arriving on scene tried to arrest the man, but he kept swinging the light saber at them. One officer's taser failed to work while another officer used his taser and made contact, but the man knocked one of the wires away with the light saber.

After his arrest he was being held, pending a mental evaluation. He faces "several criminal charges" after he is evaluated.

None of the victims of the light saber assault needed medical attention.

X-ray Specs by Darling Pet Munkee

What can I say that describes this very strange video....? Not much I suspect. I even have to question if it even really fits the blog, gut loosely speaking it does and the oddball humor is certainly my venue...
Soooooo - here is X-Ray Specs by Darling Pet Munkee

Review: Infidel by Kameron Hurley

Infidel by Kameron Hurley
373 pages
Night Shade Books

Infidel takes place on the planet Umayma, in a future so distance that the colony ship that brought settlers to a terraformed planet are eons rusted hulks and origin has faded into myth and legend.

The milieu is reminiscent of middle eastern society and religion. The tech is a fascinating mix of retro, futuristic and biological. Matter of fact, it soon becomes clear that not only are insects used as weapons they have been tailored for many things that once were done with motors and high tech electronics. Plus though all the inhabitant look, for the most part, act and think like humans, many are a far cry from what we would accept as human. Many have psychological and or physical powers that seem almost super human. The main character herself can be brought back from the most horrific death as long as she is not beheaded. One member of her team, a young male, is a shape shifter. While another can communicate and control the modified insects.

Even though the planet is terraformed, one faction (it is never clear who, and I suspect it was so long ago, no one remembers) has release many biological weapons which has transformed the local fauna into something very alien and dangerous. however, because it was so long ago, no one seems particularly upset by the present situation. The terra-forming may not have taken because it seems the environment is becoming more hostile over the years.

The world in embroiled in a war between competing factions that is so old, no one recalls when it began. But there are hints that it has been going on far far longer than anyone suspects.

Because the war has decimated the male population females hold many of the seats of power. One arm of this power base is an ancient society of assassins called bel dames.

The main character is called Nyx who belonged to the bel dames long ago but left the order years in the past. Permanent retirement seems to be out of the question though. Nyx has been making ends meet by taking on menial bodyguard assignments for her and her team.

However she is soon drawn back into the world of constant warfare and the savagery of the bel dames. An assignation attempt has been made on the queen, possibly by rogue bel dame members and Nyx has been hired to find out just exactly who and why the attempt took place. But the real reason may be that Nyx herself is being set up to take the fall by powers unseen.

Even at well over 300 pages, Infidel is riveting. Initially it is a bit unsettling to be set down square in the middle of a strongly realized middle eastern milieu but it soon becomes such a strong part of what makes the book work that a world of burnous, mullah and mosque but curiously rickshaws and odd hodge-podge of different ethnic and religious factions, but no mention of budda, bible or koran. Like using a bay leaf. You get the flavor but the agent is removed before serving........

As for action, Infidel starts strong and finishes in a hail of all but the kitchen sink. At times though the book does slow and become introspective, but if anything it’s there for you to catch your breath. The book’s size keeps it from becoming a “quick” read however the setting and practically non-stop action insures that you will still find yourself picking up the work whenever possible.

Don’t let the setting put you off, Infidel is well worth a look see.

If you would like more info on the book, you can check Infidel at Night Shade Books here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beam Me Up episode 292 online

Wow talk about a show that got away from me it was this one - episode 292.  The hour just screams by!   I start the hour off with a song from James Struthers called “You Me and Optimus Prime...”  It is from Struthers’ official YouTube video and the video is every bit as much fun as the song.  

Next the first story of the evening, I reenter the world of Clockwork by Erin Bassett.  This week is episode 2.  Ester returns to the academy  only to again come in contact with the mysterious Holland .   At the bottom of the hour is the conclusion of Thief of Futures by D. Thomas Minton.   Eshram has been pulled reluctantly out of retirement for a theft he finds for all intents, abhorrent, but the further he delves the more complex becomes the project and less clear as to the why and even more so the who.  When clarity finally comes it may be too late!

I didn’t have much time today for news other than the Dawn orbiter completed its’ maneuver to its’ new lower altitude of 130 miles.  The pics from the framing camera aboard the craft is already taking stunning photos.   And finally - the creator of Captain America - Joe Simon - has passed away at 98.

NASA’s Dawn Asteroid Orbiter Low Orbit Manuver Successful

Vesta @ 140 miles by Dawn Orbiter
NASA has confirmed that the Dawn Asteroid Orbiter has successfully completed it's programmed instructions and moved into a much lower orbit around the second largest asteroid in the solar system Vesta.

Dawn's present altitude above the surface of Vesta is a mere 130 miles. At this altitude it takes about 4 hours to complete a single orbit.

The image is from Dawn's framing camera which took the shot at only 140 miles above the heavily cratered surface.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA 

Daily Galaxy

Friday, December 16, 2011

You Me and Optimus Prime, James Struthers Official Music Video

Here is a funny spin on wish fulfillment when a fry cook fantasizes that everything would be fine if only Optimus Prime was his buddy. From Canadian song writer James Struthers, here is the official music video " You Me and Optimus Prime.

YouTube link

RIP: Joe Simon, Creator of Captain America Has Died at 98

Joe Simon with fan @ NY comic con  
Airlock Alpha reports that Joe Simon has passed at 98. Along with Jack Kirby, Simon created, during the years leading up to WW2, one of the most iconic comic book heroes to date, Captain America.

Joe Simon was born in 1913 in Rochester, N.Y under the name Hymie Simon.

His partner Kirby, who died in 94, interestingly enough often partnered with Stan Lee at Timely comics, the forerunner to today's Marvel to create such characters as, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Hulk. Simon however moved to the company that would later become DC comics, for the balance of his prewar years.

Captain America was the first comic book hero to move to other medias with a film serial created in 1944.

Simon's last public appearance was in October at New York Comic-Con.

Why Did Early Hominids Evolve? No More Elephants!

I know!  Elephants?  What do elephants have to do  with early evolution?  According to PloS One  
It seems that  one of the major pushes along the "big brain" highway was the disappearance of of  a major food item 400k years ago.  (yep, I did say 400k, seems this little bump pushed the appearance of early hominids back a lot further than was expected!)  That food item was the elephant which in some cases may have been responsible for upwards of 60% all animal derived protein / fat and not only that, but the elephant had just the right mix of fat to protein to sustain a healthy diet.

Of course the elephant was slow and big, which for homo - erectus was perfect, plus the fact that it would sustain a larger population for far longer.  But by 400k years ago, the boogers had pretty much run the elephant to ground.  

Now this of and by itself would not prove much of anything but for a tooth.  A 400,000 year old MODERN tooth no less discovered recently in  Israel's Qesem cave.   It seems that with ample food supplies there was no pressure for Homo-E to evolve.  But with the disappearance of large slow moving food source Homo-erectus and for that matter any hominid would have to adapt or perish.

As the IO9 article puts it:
  • These later, more modern hominids might have evolved from or simply replaced Homo erectus, but either way, the loss of elephants is key.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Milky Way's Central Super Massive Black Hole Will Soon Start Feeding Again

I had been hearing rumors of this, but this has to be one of the first times I have seen it in black and white saying this IS going to happen.

What am I blathering on about? Well over at Sagittarius A, better known as the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, things are quite literally heating up. It seems a huge cloud of gas is about to be drawn past the event horizon and down the infinite gravity hole that is the singularity.

Why is this important you say? Black holes by their very nature, swallow things up all the time! Aye but there be the rub....Sagittarius A has been very very quiet for a very very long time. Present day astro scientists for that matter have never directly seen any activity from that area, going instead on the movement of speeding stars around an area hardly larger than the orbital area of Uranus.

Astronomers of late however have detected brightening in the area where Sagittarius A resides, indicating that matter is being heated to millions of degrees.

From the Berkley site:
By 2013, scientists should see outbursts of X-rays and radio waves as the cloud – composed mostly hydrogen and helium gas – gets hotter and is torn asunder. The light emitted around the black hole could increase by a hundredfold to a thousandfold

Graphic: Images taken between 2002 and 2011 by ESO’s Very Large Telescope show the gas cloud falling toward the Milky Way’s central, supermassive black hole. Courtesy of ESO/MPE.

Light: a Short Film from David Parker

I with a "message" but just step back a bit and take this short by Filmmaker David Parker called "Light". The core message is how we are squandering power, but even for the visual effect you will find stunning. Worth checking out.

Light from Sunday Paper on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Huge Flying Launch System, Next Rutan/Allen Project

Where are Burt Rutan / Paul Allen going after their present project is up and running on it's own? Well how about this monster! A gigantic 385-foot wing span, 544-tonne plane powered by six 747 engines that will serve as a flying launch platform for 490,000 pound orbital rockets.

The reason it looks so familiar is Rutan built SpaceShipOne, the ship that made the first private suborbital flight, as well as its, WhiteKnightOne and the follow on versions for Virgin Galactic: WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. Of course it will not be a sole effort either, SpaceX will be providing support in the way of boosters for the payload.

Here is a short animated film showing how the Stratolaunch System will work.

complete Gizmodo article here

Newton's Papers Now Online

All of Sir Isaac Newton's papers including his most important contribution to the sciences, the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and roughly 4000 other works have been released by Cambridge University to the Cambridge Digital Library.

From the University's Page:
  • Newton's manuscripts, concentrating on his mathematical work in the 1660s. Over the next few months we will be adding further works until the majority of our Newton Papers are available on this site.

Cambridge University's Digital Library

Monday, December 12, 2011

Instant Learning - Possible Soon?

Research results, published recently, suggests it may be possible to learn to play a piano or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. Using neuro-feedback technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging to, as the researchers stated, induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state. In other words, something very like if not exactly.....instant learning.

From the NSF article:
  • Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.

What is even stranger and a bit unsettling is that in early experiments - subjects that were exposed visually to magnetic resonance imaging feedback to in hopes of improving visual tasks were not even aware they had been "taught" a task.

Read the complete NSF article here IO9 article here

NASA Gives SpaceX Go Ahead for ISS Rendezvous

NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. According to NASA has also set a date for a second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight.
  • Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification will be February 7, 2012.

The objectives of the Dragon module's ISS flight are:

  • fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles
  • demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous

Dragon will then perform a close approach at which time the crew will use the station's robotic arm to capture Dragon and berth it to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. Mission completed the crew reverses the procedure and Dragon returns to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California.

SFScope link here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Milky Way May Have 2 Billion Earthlike Planets

Based on what Kepler's found so far, our Milky Way galaxy may be home to at least two billion Earthlike planets. Based on data from the Kepler space telescope, Dimitar Sasselov -- Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics concludes in a study that up to 2.7 percent of all suns, that resemble our own Sol, in the Milky Way may have "earthlike" planets. Kepler has confirmed 45 new planets and found an additional 1,235 planet candidates.

From the Daily Galaxy Article:
  • "There are about a hundred billion sunlike stars within the Milky Way," said Joe Catanzarite, a scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "Two percent of those might have Earth analogs, so you have two billion Earth analog planets in the galaxy," he added.

Read complete Daily Galaxy article here

The Face of Death in the 20th Century

The horrific skull like apparition to the right is in fact a 60 foot fireball created one millisecond after detonation.

According to the Gizmodo article:
  • a nuclear explosion from the Tumbler-Snapper tests performed in Nevada during 1952
  • The explosion was captured by a Rapid Action Electronic camera—a high speed device designed to photograph nuclear explosions just milliseconds after ignition.
  • The rapatronic camera was created by Harold Edgerton in the 1940s using two polarizing filters and Kerr cell instead of a shutter, which is too slow for this job.

wiki on the rapatronic camera

Saturday, December 10, 2011

BMU #291 Love & Perpetual Motion by Bart Meehan & p2 Theif of Futures

This week on Beam Me Up podcast I offer it all! News Views and Reviews! First from the pages of Antipodean the online flash fiction magazine I read Love and Perpetual Motion by Bart Meehan. This tale puts a new spin on love conquering time. At the bottom of the hour is part two of Thief of Futures by Thomas Minton.

From the Beam Me Up Blog and not so much.... astronomers have discovered black holes of truly unimaginable size, an extra solar planet that all three bears would agree is “just right”, Voyager 1 for all intents and purposes has left the building or the solar system as the case may be and has already uncovered the unexpected! Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier are making a science fiction short with no cgi or green screen, just good ole movie making! How about some extended scenes? The CollegeHumor people have taken the Independence Day iconic “I want you to die!” scene and extended it to hilarious proportions, did you know that there are fuel cells that don't HAVE to burn hydrogen? Oh and check out the Sony Playstation shorts that are called Great Films Fill Rooms they are great examples of1 take film making! I review the Transformers Dark of the Moon blu-ray directed by Michael “I will not do a Transformers 4” Bay and the silver RV that transported shuttle crew members has been retired to storage......sigh

Friday, December 09, 2011

C - No Green Screen - No CGI - and Kickstarter!

Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier are two filmmakers from Hudson, New York whose goal is to fund and release C The Movie. This is what the web site describes the movie as.
  • "C" follows the story of an idealistic flight officer who hijacks a spaceship during an interplanetary cold war. Testing the limits of her ship and crew, she attempts to leave our solar system in the search for other habitable worlds in the galaxy.

It would seem though that not all the crew are in favor of the attempt and what results is a tense compelling sci-fi action/dram.

Another aspect of the film should be easily as compelling. The filmmakers will not be using any green screen or computer graphic imaging. Just the preview alone gives you a taste of what that means. Dark and tense are two words that come to mind readily.

Van Gorder and Stockmeier also will be using Kickstarter to finance the film. So far they have been very successful raising 95% of their 18 thousand dollar goal.

If you want to know more about the film project you can go to it's web site at

I have plugged in the trailer below. If you liked the dark physiological science fiction films from a few decades ago - then you are going to enjoy this as well.

c (299,792 kilometers per second) from Derek Van Gorder on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Comedy Short: Independence Day extended scene

From SF Signal comes a funny "extended scene" from the movie Independence Day - from the funny folks over at Collegehumor.

Voyager 1 : Truly In Interstellar Space Now?!

For the first time, Voyager's instruments have begun to detect gusts of charged particles blowing back towards our sun, so many scientists now are confident to say that voyager has indeed reached interstellar space. Of course this now begs the questions, if not from the sun then where do these charged particles originate?

Tracking puts Voyager 1 at about 11 billion miles from the sun. Roughly three or four times farther away than Pluto. The probe should have enough fuel and propellant to continue operating until at least 2020, by which time it'll be about 12.5 billion miles from us. Damn that has got to make ya proud about something!

Dvice article

A Four Inch Fuel Cell That Could Power Your Car?!

Yes, it is possible to scale a fuel cell down to the point where it becomes small enough and economical enough to power a car and do so quite competitively.

Fuel cells have the potential to upwards of 3 times more efficient than the internal combustion tech used in vehicles today. However there is one major stumbling block. That of how fuel cells have to be fueled. Since the early days of the space program the emerging technologies surrounding the fledgling fuel cell depended heavily on hydrogen and oxygen not because they were inherently more efficient but the gasses were also used in many other systems aboard spacecraft. The downside of this was that in the public's opinion the only way to fuel a fuel cell was with these self same gases. And since hydrogen had developed a reputation of having zero pollutants it gained favor with both the public's and the appropriations committees. Now the technology is stuck in a spiral of waiting for an infrastructure to produce and distribute the fuel efficiently and at low cost. It could well take decades to create a nationwide hydrogen distribution and storage system, and to convert gas stations into a hydrogen filling station. This leads to the joke about Fuel cells being the tech of the future and always will be.

However, fuel cells do NOT have to run strictly off hydrogen to be clean and efficient. What the public has not been made aware of is that there are two types of fuel cells. Most people when they consider fuel cells think of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, uses hydrogen to generate power. However there is a competing technology - the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) developed by Professor Eric Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center. The solid oxide fuel cell has a distinct advantage over the PEM type. The main advantage is that they can oxidize any fuel!

There are always trade offs, and here is the main one for the Solid Oxide fuel cell. (from the article)
  • "It's the reason why the automotive companies are using PEM fuel cells. PEM fuel cells operate at around 80° Celsius [180° Fahrenheit], which allows them to startup fairly quickly. Current solid oxide fuel cells currently operate at 800° Celsius [1500° Fahrenheit], so it takes a long time to warm up to operating temperature, making them more applicable to stationary power generation."

Wachsman and his colleagues have managed though to squeeze more power out of a smaller area at significantly lower temperatures. The group has also found that stacking their new arrays they get three kilowatts of electricity per kilogram of material, more than an internal combustion engine at approximately one-third the size. Also with changes in design they will be able to reduce the operating temps to around 650 degrees which puts the cell ideal for automotive applications.

More at the articles location here

Sony's Immersive Playstation Shorts

Now this is just plain over the top. From an article in the Dvice blog, Sony has released a series of videos with a gimmick. The videos show the video viewer being transported into virtual versions of the movies Tron, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean, all with amazingly effects, but no post-production special effects. All shot in one take! This immersive living room vision is Sony's way of promoting the PlayStation's video store and in their words "Great films fill rooms" - They certainly look fun!

The Shuttle Transport RV

Ever wonder about that shiny RV that ferried Shuttle crew members to the launch pad? Well I found this Youtube video on the Komando news site and thought it would be a hoot to show some of the low key things that went on during launch day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What Would a Taxi to the ISS be Like?

What say you wanted to start a business shuttling space crew members into space, say to the ISS. It is no mystery that many companies are in the chase for a piece of this lucrative prize.

Andrew Chaikin, author for the Air & Space Smithsonian, spoke with the head of the NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Ed Mango. What came out of the conversation was a fascinating article called Certified Safe. here are some of the high points.

First is the basic requirements:
  • NASA’s basic requirements for commercial crew vehicles include being able to dock with the ISS within 48 hours after launch, remain docked to the station for 210 days with minimal maintenance, and return to Earth within 4 to 8 hours after undocking.

The maximum sustained G load is 3g. There are allowances for MaxQ however 3g will be the maximum sustained load the crew will have to endure.

Safety limits on the system shall not drop below 1 in 500 for loss of crew on either the accent or decent stage of the mission.

The article is really hard to stop reading! It contains a conversation on escape systems, design, selection and much more.

If you are interested in a peek behind the curtain of how the next delivery system to the ISS might look, check out this Air & Space article HERE

The photo is the Sierra Nevada Corporation's "Dream Chaser"- one possible contender for NASA's future crew transport to the space station.

Star Wars Tribute with Cellos & Light Sabers!

From "The Piano Guys" comes a very funny and untimatly entertaining Star Wars tribute with cellos and light sabers no less. The production itself is amazing described at one point as the most demanding they had ever undertaken. Overall it took 70 days, more than 7,000 frames, 72 audio tracks, 24 hours of filming in front of a green screen. Enjoy

Monday, December 05, 2011

Review: Transformers - Dark of the Moon

Transformers - Dark of the Moon

Directed by Michael Bay

Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand

Would someone please explain the meaning of self restraint to Michael Bay please! Oh and excuse me for saying this but how much did Leonard settle for to proselytize himself in this farce? The needs of the many my ass!

Ok, you know the game already....Transformers Autobots Decepticons....Autobots saving the Earth, Deceticons want to destroy Autobots oh and what the hell, Earth and all it’s inhabitants for good measure.

The setup? In the 60s an impact is registered on the moon. Apollo is rushed into existence to ostensibly beat the Soviets to the Moon when in fact it was a secret mission to explore the crash site. Armstrong in fact discovers a ship with a metal man in the wreckage.

Forward to present time and an Autobot mission is put in place to recover the ancient Autobot pilot and his precious cargo.

In truth this all is one big trap - way over though and full of holes but basically entails setting up a wormhole to transport the Autobot’s home “planet” to Earth and various other machinations to destroy Earth and enslave Humans.

This movie is plainly one big mess. Bay telegraphs the plot worse than you best friend sitting beside you that has seen the movie before and is constantly elbowing you with “here is comes!” and “Oh this next part is awesome!” The plot is schizophrenic not knowing if its a straight action movie or a comedy and winds up a campy knock off of itself. I am not saying the movie isn’t fun to watch at times (some of the visual effects are stunning) but there are times when I found myself screaming at the screen! Mostly with Nemoy proselytizing his Star Trek lines.....other times you will laugh but for the most part this episode is a clear “show me the money” effort.

The Blu-ray follows suit as well. There is NOTHING extra for the disk fan. Movie period Which proves my point. And for me that the movie if you are bored but don’t expect greatness or even extras... The movie is a seven in my book. ehhhhhh

Huge "Black Holes" discovered

I know -screaming about this or that black hole gets old after a while even though these monsters are one of the weirdest constructs in the universe. So when I start saying, this is really scary....either I am buying into my own hype or there is something truly unusual out there. As much as we would like to acknowledge the former it is the latter that has reared its head.

What am I babbling about? A black hole or holes of truly frightening dimensions. First off I really have got to take issue with a black hole having anything resembling dimensions of anything! We are talking about a mass compressed down to an infinitely small area. In truth we are talking about an area of influence or the universal breaking point, the speed of light. The event horizon. So follow that thought both ways and you get an idea why these singularities are so bizarre.

So when:
  • Astronomers .. discover the most gigantic black holes ever found in the universe, an abyss 10 times the size of our solar system, encompassing regions or "event horizons" about five times the distance from the sun to Pluto

Yep, black holes thousands of times larger than the black holes at the center of the Milky Way with the biggest weighing in at 21 billion Suns!

Check out the Daily Galaxy article here

AntipodeanSF 162 Now Online!

Here is a list of the newest flash fiction stories in Antipodean on line in issue 162.

The Macroscope By Lou Caravelli

Love And Perpetual Motion By Bart Meehan

Two Wise Men By Martin Hill

Textual Relations By David Siegel Bernstein

Fugitive By Shaun A. Saunders

Beep By Rachel Towns

Night Time By Michael Schaper

Solidarity By Des McNicholas

The Sound By Brent Lillie

Raven By Suzanne J. Willis

I have read through the stories and it is a great and fast read! Kudos to Ion on a great issue!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

New Born Super Nova Discovered

Science Digest reports that in the annals of Radio Astronomy - a first has taken place.

Astronomers have managed to take photographs of the youngest supernova yet at a mere 14 days old! This sets a record for the earliest photos of a supernova yet.

The photos were taken in June and place the exploded star in the galaxy M 51. This object is also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy because of it's pronounced spiral formation and is apx. 13 lightyears from Earth. M-51 in English is also part of the "hunting dogs" constellation associated with Bootes constellation.

The crew that took the photographs used a technique that allows several widely separated telescopes to be combined to simulate a telescope hundreds of miles across. Telescopes in Spain, Sweden, Germany and Finland were used in this project.

complete Science Digest article here

BMU #290 Thief of Futures pt1 D. Thomas Minton

While I start this week's program by playing Karma by Kokia which I have not played for a while. This song was of course one of the opening titles used in the anime series Gunslinger Girls.

My first story this week is a flash fiction piece from down under. From the pages of Antipodean is Jason Butterfied’s excellent flash fiction story called “Out of Time” . At the bottom of the hour is part one of Thomas Minton ‘Thief of Futures’. Where in the not so distant future a person’s “Future” becomes a commodity, if it proves to be of exceptional quality. And a X futures thief trying hard to protect what is most important to him, his daughter.

From the Blog: Russia’s failed Mars exploratory rover mission failure mean that scientists and engineers behind the Phobos-Grunt mission could face criminal prosecution. In an update however: The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that they will attempt to contact the stranded Russian Phobos-Grunt spacecraft that became stuck at a low-Earth orbit due to engine failure that followed its launch on November 9. Back in 2010, an out-of-character Stephen Colbert sat down with astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson at Montclair Kimberly Academy to talk for 90 minutes about science, society and the universe. I have the video embedded on the blog. Comic book character Booster Gold is heading towards a meeting with the SyFy channel with a live action series in the offing. The Navy is phasing out its steam based catapult aircraft launching system and will be replacing it with an electromagnetic catapult launching system. Plans are to install the new system on the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier now in production. Intel is hard at work in hopes of bringing augmented reality technology into its’ chips. The Terminator tech of the future….today huh? NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft is hoping for a third extension of it’s mission. Controllers fired the spacecrafts engines to keep all mission possibilities open. From the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a short over-flight of the proto planet Vesta. This 3-D video incorporates images from the framing camera instrument aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from July to August 2011. There is a lot more on the blog, I just didn’t get a chance to get to it all.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Quantum Entanglement At the Macroscopic Level?

Boing Boing has an article that will roast a few brain cells. Macroscopic Quantum Entanglement. That's right Macroscopic - big enough to be seen by the naked eye. Quantum always meant sub-atomic particle physics to me but here we are, demonstrable entanglement of something you can hold in your hands.

This effect was demonstrated on a pair of diamond crystals, large enough to be seen by the naked eye! In this case, the crystals were 3 millimeters wide and were placed 15 centimeters apart. From the article:
  • A vibration in the crystals could not be meaningfully assigned to one or other of them: both crystals were simultaneously vibrating and not vibrating.

  • Einstein called this phenomenon "spooky action at a distance," and scientists still don't understand how it's possible.

This effect is usually only observed in quantum particles and only at ultra cold conditions, never with objects large enough to be seen. Plus it it not a universally accepted phenomenon either.

Complete Boing Boing article here

Deep Impact Hoping for a Third Mission Extention

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft fired its on-board rocket motors Thursday, Nov. 24 for just over 2 minutes. This burn was done on hopes that NASA will once again extend the spacecraft's mission one more time. If so, then Deep Impact will again fire its engines sometime next fall.

Since its mission completion in 2005 encounter with comet Tempel 1, Deep Impact has done a flyby of Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010. Its present burn resulted in a delta V of only 19.5 mph but should keep many options open should NASA agree to the mission extension.

Complete Science Daily article here

3d Vesta flyover from Dawn Spacecraft

Here we go for the fans of 3d - From the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a short over-flight of the proto planet Vesta. This 3-D video incorporates images from the framing camera instrument aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft from July to August 2011. The images were obtained as Dawn approached Vesta and circled the giant asteroid during the mission's survey orbit phase. Survey orbit took place at an altitude of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers).

You will need red/green or blue 3d specs to see the film best. NASA lists a few sites but in truth I found the best deals on Ebay.

Embedded video from

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

Michael Buble & Ed Helms Team for 'Shocking' Christmas Song

In the "Just Because it's so damn Funny!" department, a digital short featuring Bublé and the musically inclined star of NBC's 'The Office,' Ed Helms! But even the most benign of intentions has the habit of going very very wrong. Tis the season I suspect....

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Ultra Red Galaxies Discovered

Science Daily reports of a news type of extreme galaxy discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These galaxies are so very red that not even Hubble can detect them. Spitzer it seems is much more sensitive to infrared than Hubble.

It would appear that the redness comes from a variety of causes. First is their great distance. At the very edge of the universe and created just 1 billion years after the big bang accounts for a great deal of red shift, at that distance the universe expansion causes massive red shift. Also these galaxies appear to be make up of mostly red stars plus the amount of dust between them and us causes attenuation of all but the longest wavelengths of light.

What makes these galaxies even more unusual is that at that distance, galaxies should be young proto galaxies for the most part. These galaxies have all the monikers of extreme age.

Read complete article here

photo is artist representation. courtesy of

Intel Working to Incorporate Augmented Reality into Their Chips

Gizmodo has an article out that outlines Intel's work in bringing augmented reality technology into its' chips.

Ultimately this would mean that instead of complicated software, an operating system could take advantage of overlay graphics and information by simply making calls to drivers.

Then you could have those cool pull down menus and graphics through spectacles, flip down monocle or even straight to contact lenses.

Ohhhhh I fell like a terminator now!....whooooooooooo hooooooooo

and no the graphic is just some old broken chip thing that is supposed to look like terminator

Complete Gizmodo article here

Navy's New Electromagnetic Catapult in Action

The Navy is phasing out its steam based catapult aircraft launching system and will be replacing it with an electromagnetic catapult launching system. Plans are to install the new system on the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier now in production.

Here we have a short film of a land based test platform launching a F-35C test aircraft.