Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Black Hole How Big?!

Astronomers have discovered the largest black hole on record.  Located in the center of the NGC 1277 galaxy about 220 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus, lays a monster 17 billion times the mass of our sun with an event horizon ten times the size of our solar system!  By comparison, the Milky Way's center singularity is about four million solar masses.

Most super massive black holes at the center of galaxies make up roughly .1 percent of their host galaxy mass.  But NGC 1277 accounts for a staggering 14% of it host's mass!  Now that one ultra massive black hole has been uncovered, it would seem they are not as uncommon as previously thought.  The astronomy team at the Planck Institute for Astronomy have found five more galaxies with similar characteristics.  Plus they may have discovered (confirmation is still pending) a black hole that could be as large as 30 billion solar masses eight months ago.

One thing is really clear with the discovery however.  The discovery of these ultra-massive black holes will have to lead to a rethink of the dynamics behind the formation of galaxies.

Thanks to Dan for the heads up.

complete Register article

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LHC produces new matter, maybe

Looks like the LHC is at it again folks.
First, as announced on July 4th of this year, the Higgs Boson particle was apparently at least discovered. Well, now it appears that it may have produced a new type of matter. This is according to an analysis of collision data by the scientists at the (CMS) Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration. They also had assistance from researchers at MIT and Rice University.  
            The new type of matter, (yet to be verified) is theorized to be one of two possible forms at the moment.
1)      A flattened nucleus transformed into a wall of gluons. Basically like a glue of smaller subatomic particles. They are calling it “Color-Glass Condensate.”
2)      A dense soup or liquid-like collection of individual particles called “Quark-gluon plasma.

Gunther Roland, an MIT physicist who led in the analysis of the collisions had this to say in an upcoming paper.
“The color-glass condensate is one of the two most prominent possible explanations for the effect we have seen, with the other being the creation of a dense ‘liquid’ system that expands and leads to the observed correlations.”
 “Formation of a quark gluon plasma in the much smaller [proton-lead collisions] system would be considered rather surprising.” It only exists at extremely high temperature (several trillion degrees Kelvin).”
Either of these strange types of matter would have been around at the start of the Universe, shortly after the Big Bang (hence the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator’s nickname). The color glass composite is also considered to be a precusor to the quark gluon plasma.
            Here’s what they are saying makes this discovery so remarkable. It occurred after only four hours’ worth of collisions of protons and lead ions. They weren’t expected to form anything new, but guess what.
One more proof to never completely trust what you think, or are told. Always try the experiment even if they say you are nuts, or you yourself think you are nuts. (Kind of referring to myself there, and I am sure a few of you as well)
            You know, I kind of wish they would let me in there to play with that thing. Of course, I’d probably find a way to blow it to oblivion. I’m sort of good at that, just wish I did it on purpose, and not by accident which is usually the case.
            Now I am quite sure there are those of you out here that understand all this better than I do. After reading it on that “Y” site we all know, it took me nearly an hour to find a decent article on it.  My science sites failed me miserably this time. Here’s the link for all of you that are better in physics than me.


One other thing from me however. If any of you know a good site to actually keep up with all of this, please let me know. Honestly, most of my science sites are based almost strictly on Nasa and space. I really need to update my home page. Thanks folks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bad Science Reporting 101: No they didn't plan on blowing up the Moon

I would have imagined that anyone with even a 5th grade education would know enough science to skeptical of the rather looney (pun intended) idea the United States planned to blow up the Moon to impress the Russians.  Alas, I had forgotten that a lack of scientific knowledge, along with a lack of skeptical inquiry into any absurd claim against the "Military-Industrial Complex" was a requirement for success in the humanities, including journalism.

You have likely read or seen news reports that "Project A119", also known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights" was a newly discovered secret plan to "blow up" the Moon. Some of these come from allegedly credible sources, such a Brian Williams on MSNBC.  Other outlets include Forbes, a CBS affiliate, Yahoo News, and countless others.

The only problem is it's not quite true.  This story originated with the Daily Mail, an entertaining British tabloid better known for celebrity scandals than for accurate science stories.  And even there story came closer to the truth than some of the derivative articles. They note that "a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact." and that the "planners decided it would have to be an atom bomb because a hydrogen bomb would have been too heavy for the missile." 

Good skeptical reporters would have stopped there and asked themselves if a single atom bomb could do any significant damage to the Moon, much less blow it up.  The answer is obviously no.  They would have then asked themselves who was involved with the project and would they have known that this would not destroy the Moon. The answer to this is many scientists, including a young Carl Sagan and physicist Leonard Reiffel (As noted in the Daily Mail article).  By 1959 the US had exploded countless atom bombs, including the more powerful hydrogen bombs.  They knew full well that this "a small nuclear device" would not do any real damage, that was not it's intention.  A decent reporter might even have done a simple Google search to see if the Daily Mail article contained anything new except the wildly inaccurate headline. It doesn't. This accurate Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article is from May of 2000.

So what happened?  Obviously the sensationalist Daily Mail took some very old, but semi-interesting, news that the US had contemplated exploding an atomic bomb on the Moon and letting the flash, not any destruction, scare the Soviets, and sexied it up by making it seem that it was an insane plot to destroy the Moon.  Utterly incompetent reporters, such as Brian Williams, too the story and ran with it, without even the slightest skepticism. It took me less than 30 seconds to find the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, yet either the entire combined staff of MSNBC has weaker "google fu" than I do, or else they deliberately ran a false story that will live forever on the internet, fueling anti-American paranoia.I don't know which possibility is worse.

I suspect it is the latter.  A typical headline is Yahoo News "U.S. 'planned to blow up Moon' with nuke during Cold War era to show Soviets might" yet the last sentence states "The scientists also registered concerns about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, Reiffel said." They wouldn't be worried about irradiating the Moon if they were trying to destroy it.

Could NASA Really Build an FTL Drive?

For those of you that follow cutting edge physics, Harold White is no stranger.  For those of us a bit further back on the bell curve..... White announced last month that he and a team of NASA scientists  had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive.

White's drive would be based on an Alcubierre type of drive which I last talked about back in September here

Basically the Alcubierre drive accomplishes faster than light and still adhering to the universal speed limit by maintaining a bubble of real time around a ship.  Then warping space before and after the bubble to "push" it through real space time at supra-luminal speeds. 

The thinking is that nothing can exceed light speed in real space, but space can be compressed and expanded at any rate.  So if the expanding space behind pushed you into the compressed space ahead, you speed would not change but your "relative" speed would exceed that of light.  

So far thought it remains a theory only.  Check out the IO9 article here 

Hey pssssssst Wanna Go To Mars?

Hey, I am serious here!  Have a yen to tread the red?  Sure you do!  Well SpaceX has some good news for you!

Yep, THAT SpaceX!  They are making room for you and about 80K of your best friends, so start saving your pennies now.  How much you ask?  Well I think the asking price is pretty damn reasonable.   Only 500k!  Of course that is the up side.  The down side is its a one way trip! 

Yes, SpaceX wants you to invest 500,000 to become a colonist on Mars.  All of this is contingent on a reusable craft that will land and take off again.  

Here is the complete article along with a cool vid to show what SpaceX is up to at this point and some of their plancs 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jikes! NASA Backpedeling!

Unless you have been in a coma for a few weeks you know that NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars, according to the lead scientist, found something for the history books.

Now, according to Boing Boing,  
  • NASA is pulling back hard on the reins when a different spokesman NASA spokesman basically asked the world to not get its hopes up too high, revising the level of importance down from "earthshaking" to "interesting".
NPR writes that the Curiosity's lead scientist:
  • Grotzinger (as saying) it will take several weeks before he and his team are ready to talk about their latest finding.
Talk about a major let down.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the need to double check everything, but this latest  statement only heightens the frustration level.  Grotzinger would have done it better if he had reeled in his enthusiasm in the first statement then the second might almost have appeared as good news instead of frustrating back pedaling.

So, we can wait and see what the next gathering comes up with.  NASA has promised more information around the middle of December during a science conference.  So, the only thing that has really changed is "History Making" may have been an overstatement.

All-Wavelengths Galactic Center Photo

It seems that beautiful pics of galactic structures are a dime a dozen.  But this one just caught my eye.  

This is what the Wired Blog said about the pic:
  • In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, NASA's Great Observatories -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- have collaborated to produce an unprecedented image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy 
  • Each telescope's contribution is presented in a different color: Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble. They outline the energetic regions where stars are being born as well as reveal hundreds of thousands of stars. Red represents the infrared observations of Spitzer. The radiation and winds from stars create glowing dust clouds that exhibit complex structures from compact, spherical globules to long, stringy filaments. Blue and violet represents the X-ray observations of Chandra. X-rays are emitted by gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and by outflows from the supermassive black hole in the galaxy's center
  • It truly is a fascinating image.  What is even more amazing is the fact that the composite photo covers.  This whole photo covers just 1/2 of a degree, about the width of the full moon.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

BMU 341 is now Online

This week just flat out blisters through the hour. I open with Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded me with Science” which seems to always fit with the program. Which I follow up with Kevin Pickett’s “Bedtime Story” which ask, what do you think would be society’s reaction to a robot that become sentient?

Everyone is speculating and so are we in this week blog, we are asking the question…what has Curiosity discovered?

From Curiosity it’s two more new questions from our Star Trek trivia collection!

The Earth Sky website has an article that talks about giant stars, upwards of 300 times the size of our own star!

I review the “newest” of the Planet of the Apes, which is really a break from all the other movies in the “Apes”

And finally it is part 3 of Poul Anderson’s “Call me Joe”

That really is a full hour, it just goes fast. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by   
Rupert Wyatt


JDirected by   
Rupert Wyatt

James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Andy Serkis

This PotA episode is more like the 72 film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,  though in truth is not alike enough to be a remake.  So it may be that this version from 2011 is more a  total reboot of the series.  
Instead of being the new working class as in the old series (sweep  Caesar) these apes are from medical experiment subjects that become smarter due in part from an intervention by  Caesar who inherited his advanced iq from his test subject mother.  (though how she got that way and how she managed to keep it hid is beyond me) 

As Caesar ages he witnesses human cruelty  and eventually fights back after escaping and releasing other apes.  (there seems to be a lot of experimental apes in San Francisco) But is also helped by a rampant fast moving deadly infection that seems to kill most of the world’s humans.

The movie goes fast add in some fast moving battles.

However in the end you still have cgi apes, with humans doing the initial acting and then have the pes drawn over.  Visually it really isn’t too bad and the apes are at least believable.  

But conversation is a bit difficult.  And the extras are non existent.

You can read the Wiki review here

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mars history is coming now.

Apparently the mars rover Curiosity has made a discovery for the history books. 

What is this great discovery you ask? Who the bloody hell knows. They aren’t saying anything yet. You all know that they do this stuff just to drive yours truly over the edge right?

Curiosity’s SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars instrument) that is capable of identifying organic compounds made the discovery. Organic compounds being the building blocks of life, this kind of makes you start wondering what they may have found. 

Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger told NPR, “This data is going to be one for the history books, it’s looking really good.” 

Well, now isn’t that just a great piece of information there for us. Grotzinger said that the news will come out during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union during Dec. 3-7 in San Fransisco.

One of it’s missions was to see if mars ever did, or maybe does hold some form of microbial life during it’s lifespan.

Curiosity is also sampling the Martian atmosphere looking for traces of methane. Methane is produced by most life forms here on Earth. Though it found nothing on it’s first few sweeps, sniff’s, smells, inhalation, (freaking pick one, couldn’t figure out the right word there except maybe sensor sweep, damn star trek anyway), it is still sniffing. Considering how long ago it would have been by what we understand, I wonder if there would even be methane left now. And if only microbial life would still exist there, who are we to say it would exude methane at all, or ever would have.

Here is a link to for the article.

And here is a link to that shows new photos of mars and Curiosity.

So folks, there you have it, a whole history maiing event, and we know, NOT A BLOODY SMEGGING THING. 

So what do you think they found. Now lets keep out own personal dreams of ancient aliens, or evidence of advanced life at one time out of this. For the simple reason they would never tell us anyway. But what do you think? Something found that is actually alive, something that once was alive, or life just starting there maybe in a way different than we recognize, or maybe do recognize. Who knows, for now all we can do is speculate, and hope a lot. 

I personally am thinking maybe proof of alien life either now or in the past. I am also hoping for this for multiple reasons. One is the fact I live in religious lunacy around here, so life discovered anywhere, even if it is gone now, would serve me quite well. Right up until they burned me at the stake that is. Seriously, around here that could happen.

But what do you all think? 

Is the human race about to take it's first steps into a larger universe, (Ben said it in the original, so it's cool here), or is NASA playing a silly game and the history making event will be a new mineral or element, or have we found something that will finally get us going in the right direction finally. Which by the way, a new element of mineral would also be really cool. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Parachuting Dolphins armed with CO2 Hypodermics?]!

Remember in the 60 and early 70s reports of the US Navy training dolphins for various underwater duties?  Some were trained to retrieve sunken equipment, find and mark bombs for later detonation and a somewhat serious placing magnetic bombs on ships.  Remember that?   Then we never heard of it, but the project remained in operation until the next century!  Matter of fact the practice of using marine mammals until 2017!

They hope to replace all of the mammal operations with the autonomous with the above pictured  Knifefish but it seems that the animals will not be discontinued all together.  According to Device the US Navy feels that there may still be some specialized missions where sea mammals are needed past 2017.  

And believe it or not, the the Ukrainian Navy wants to test another aspect of dolphin-skill: how they do wielding weapons.  As bizarre as it seems or Austin Powerish  it seems that at least one country has taken protection.   Here is an excerpt from the Dvice blog:
 Russian commandos have trained to fight dolphins in case that ever became a reality, and the Soviet Navy once deployed dolphins that were armed with syringes loaded with carbon dioxide. Those Soviet dolphins also were trained to attach mines onto ships and parachuted out of helicopters.

Dvice blog article 

Airport Avian Control, the Korean Way

Give it up to the Koreans!!  When birds become a problem at military or civilian air_ports, are dogs or men with rifles or shotguns hired?  Nope,  The Koreans build the coolest military robot / tank, or the weirdest and ugliest car ever!

Erring on the side of the military we are introduced to the UGV - or unmanned ground vehicle.  The UGV is like the police or armed forces bomb disposal robot om steroids!   The six wheel UGV is equipped with  daytime and night cameras and non weaponized  lasers.   The lasers have a range of a little over a mile to help deal with any birds that are out of acoustic range by flashing patterns in the birds direction .

The unmanned UGV is equipped to autonomously avoid obstacles and return to specific locations , should the station becomes inoperable.   Though not a tank in size it still is a bit of a brute. It measures  eight feet  long and weighs 1.2 tons.  

Read complete article HERE on Gizmag

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Got Another Patent for WHAT?!!!

I just came across this goodie in the Register.  As you know, I have been on a bit of a tirade over well lack of a better term, frivolous use of the patent office.  Apple has been particularly cheeky as of late with some real good ones and not to be undone, here is their newest:
  • Apple granted patent for ebook page-turning 
Oh yes!  According to the article in the register:
  • the US Patent and Trademark office has granted Apple a new design patent,  entitled "Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface".
You can click HERE for the actual patent.  As you can see, it took three people to invent page turning...oh there is a joke in there some where.  And the absolute stunning amount of reference documents cited.....all for what in and of itself would seem frivolous.  

Electronic document page turning patent?  Really?  Is there no end to what the patent office will patent?

How is the patent office protecting intellectual property?  I understand the need for protection from someone trying to glom onto an idea as their own, just because they were bigger  or had more money, but even if this wasn't patented, I would think that the company that has more money than it knows what to do with could protect its own legal and legit properties...right?

Check it out...unbelievable...well not so much lately....but how long to the idea of breathing in and out......

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Klingon Turkeys....?

Yes, we can safely say that Barry is a bit touched, just slightly ahead of the bell curve of weirdness...
Case in point, He sends this in for our ummm enjoyment?!!!

Sorry, but this was just to damn funny.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

BMU ep. 340 Now Online!

And hello gentle beings! Welcome to episode 340 of Beam Me Up!

Boy, the hour goes by quick today! After the opening monologue I start with the first story of the show.

This week is part 2 of Poul Anderson' s “Call Me Joe”. This is proving to be one of the more excellent multi-part stories. Anderson's story holds up REAL well, because he downplays the tech end of the tale forcing your imagination to depend on the characters for support.

Next I travel to the Star Trek universe for Star Trek Trivia. This week I begin to do questions from the animated Star Trek!

This week I review The Hunger Game and Prometheus movies, that's right! Two movies!

People often take science in the movies as fact but in truth, most are just so much fluff. I challenge listeners to come up with some that we may have missed. I mention a few as do some readers and the IO9 article mentions a couple....If you have a favorite, write in the blog's comment section with additional material. Some of these are so bizarre!

And I end with episode 14 of the Dark Inspectre series In Plain Sight.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Prometheus

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron

First, lets take a look at what Wikipedia says about Prometheus
  • Prometheus is a Titan or better, a Greek culture hero and trickster figure who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind.
First off, I am going to agree with the trickster.  There must have been some major tricking going on to get people into the movie houses to see this tragedy of a science fiction film.  Is it a tragedy per se?  No, and there in lies the trick.  Prometheus is, according to the posters a sci fi thriller....ahhhhhhhhh yeah.

Well my friend Mark brought the dvd by and said "I could only get half way through! And I have yet to figure out what the first 10 minutes are all about.!"   So, a bit intrigued, I took the film to see if I could do any better.  Well the first ten minutes are some sort of pan-spermia and Let there be life bit by a humanoid being, but it doesn't seem to have any link to the balance of the movie, other than it would seem to have happened soon after our world obtained free flowing water.  From there we move into the future, but it would seem to be a century or two into our own future.  

So, lets look at what we have so far....We have a ship that obstinately doing one type of science but may be secretly doing different science.  The Prometheus has an "android" to "aide the humans"  but seems to have been programmed with another agenda.  When they arrive, the crew finds that giant humanoids were killed under mysterious circumstances.  When they enter the ship/building, the crew find a room full of short obelisk  or maybe tubes on end, that appear to contain life.  A few moments later, a storm rolls in and two of the researchers are trapped.  

At this moment I turned the dvd player off and removed the disk and sent it back to Mark.    What movie did I just describe  Oh here is another clue...the tunnel leading into the building/ship has a very ummm organic, what movie?  Anyone?  Did I hear Alien way in the back?  Hey, rent the movie and see if I am not correct.  Someone was asleep at the wheel when this project was started, now it is a copy a sad copy.  

Now if you want a science fiction / horror / thriller  and you are not aware of the Alien franchise, then you may well find this movie worth the watch, but if you have seen your fair share of sci fi you are going to find it horribly derivative.  

The camera work is good and the movie as a whole looks great. so I would give it a 5 and an honest give it a pass   Ridley....tell me it ain't so!

Pseudoscientific Myths that People Believe Are True Science

How many times have you heard something come out of a person's mouth that they feel is honest true scientific fact with some being so bizarre that you wonder how something this patently ridiculous you have to believe that there is this person sitting somewhere, cackling, saying...OMG lets see if they believe this!  If you are like me, you have bit your tongue and kept your own council many times.  

I think it would be a hoot to collect the strangest and funniest.   First off, here are a few from the IO9.  Let's see if we can add to the list here.

Sound in a Vacuum (Thanks George...pretty much ruined real scientific curiosity single handed)
Or maneuvering jets  do not need an opposite jet fired to stop the maneuver. (granted it might be a bit advanced, but how hard is it to understand opposite and equal forces...)

oh and we have all heard of the girl in gold finger who died of suffication because her skin was fully painted and covered...(ummm lungs people.....)

But here is a STRANGE one....Sumo are trained to retract their testicles into their body...(really?  people believe that?  really?!!!)

And how many times have you seen the exploding car when it crashes... (one person recounts that at an accident, people insisted the driver be moved before the car exploded, even though the driver was not hauling anything explosive and was not on fire.....truth!)

I am sure there are millions more  ideas?!!!!

Iron Man Tech that never Made it to the Screen

I knI know there are often many many ideas for movie characters that never make it past the concept stages. 

For those of us that are Tony Stark / Iron Man fans, what could have been is really interesting!  If you have ever watched the older animated series, Tony had a really fancy car and a host of additional tech and weaponry secreted around his iconic suit. 

Check out the Blastr site for more

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Robots of the Mind Getting Closer

The age old convention of a mechanical or biological machine that is controlled by the operator's mind had been around forever.  Movies as recent as say Avatar is just such an example.

Now according to the IO9 blog report that researchers from France and Japan have taken steps to make this technology a reality.  Roboticists at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory and the CNRS-LIRMM Interactive Digital Human group have made huge strides in the development of an interface that would allow a human to activate the machine with only a thought.


Read more at Diginfo

Crop Circle Madness

Don Smith sent in this rather humorous photo, which would appear at first glance to be an abortive attempt at a crop circle.  If so, then our fateful alien artist has tied on a good one.  For it would seem inebriation and driving is not solely a human malady! 

Don explains:
  • I came across (this pic) while actually having a serious discussion about ancient aliens, modern visitations, other worlds and dimensions.
What's more is the shear scale of this "project"!     Use the cars at the bottom for scale and you can see that our artist, earnestly covered several acres!  That what I call dedication.  And the fortitude?!  This had to have been at least two kegs!  There is an alien artist that surely loves its' work. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soldier of the Brell on Amazon & free for a limited time!

David Scholes just dropped me a note that I thought might be interesting to those who have enjoyed his fiction on BMU in the past:
I really can not say enough about this book.  Scholes has masterfully created an alternate universe where the Norse gods were not legends of old but a race of warriors with almost godlike technology.  The names are different, but you many of the legendary Norse gods in the ancient race called Brell who are long lived and have developed defensive and offensive weapons that make the wearer all but invincible.  With this armament, The Brell's last warrior fights true evil in unimaginable numbers.  

The Soldier of the Brell is certainly worth taking a look at and if you enjoy military science fiction and conflict  spread out over the millennia then you are in for a treat.  Plus the fact that for a limited time you can obtain the tale for free!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Star Trek's Universal Translator Much Closer

In answer to fans wondering why everyone in Star Trek universe spoke the same language. Gene Roddenberry  answered with the Universal Translator.  Though not often in evidence it did its job in realtime and with perfect accuracy.  

With the advent of increased computational power in the latter part of the 20th century, scientists began to work in earnest on a system that could do just that.  

Many software packages have at best been marginally successful with error rates of as high as one work in 5.  Plus most came no where near real time.  Word for word translators tended to be the slowest, pattern recognition fared only slightly better.  

Microsoft's chief research officer Rick Rashid  explained:
  • The system works by recognizing a person's words, and then converting the speech into organized sentences. This data is then picked up by speech synthesizing software trained to replicate the speaker's voice and their unique cadence.
Many other programs exist to date Apple's Siri or AT&T's English to Spanish translator.  But according to Rashid:
  • The big difference between these and Microsoft's breakthrough is the new software's ability to learn, process and pass along a human's voice and cadence.
Rashid was confident that the new software was a big improvement  so much so that he demonstrated it translating the system translating English to Chinese in China!  I  was enthusiastically  received by the audience.   

Check the Dvice article HERE

Review: Hunger Games

Directed by     Gary Ross

Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Lenny Kravitz
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

From the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins

Games is a post apocalyptic very reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.   So much so in fact that if you are familiar with the story at all, you may find it distracting you from the movie as a whole.  But in fact, I can think of several classics that can be used as a comparison.  Say for instance, Brave New World, Many of the scenes are the “country rube” reacting to the “huge” city.  You can even see some of “The Demolition Man” mixed in.  So yes, my very first comment about the film is that it is derivative.   It is like Survivor gone mental.

But, back to the movie.  It is called Hunger Games because it seems (but poorly explained)  that the Districts that participated in an uprising were and are still being controlled by “starvation” or hunger if you would.  To reinforce the hunger stranglehold, each district must pay tribute of two children who must fight the other districts to the death.  

Alliances are made, unlikely loves grow and in the end a heavily telegraphed ending.  

Based on what I have read, there are already plans in the work for a 2 and 3 and by the performance in the box office, they should do ok.  

But in all honesty, if you are a Science Fiction fan, this movie will fall flat for you right from the premise.  It is supposed to be hundreds of years in the future, which is not borne up in the tech or even society...Far less adventurous films have done far far better at portraying a future society, like the fifth element or Priest.  

Hunger Games did not leave me hungry for more.  Poorly executed and ill conceived plus the extras on the rental are non-existent!  A 7 at best.  If you have unlimited rentals or streams, watch it on a big screen, otherwise give it a pass.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BMU # 339 Now Online

I am excited about this week on episode 339 of Beam Me Up.

This week, for a taste of classic science fiction, I start off with part one of a libravox recording of Poul Anderson's Call Me Joe. A great work on tele-presence from a master author.

Earth Sky this week speaks about Jovian Trojan asteroids, which are very strange bodies!

Sandy it seems did more damage to some irreplaceable objects!

Prosthetic devices were big news in the past week. First is the Bebionic3 prosthetic hand which is a remarkably accurate prosthetic hand! And the gent who sat a record by climbing the Willis 103 floors? What makes it record breaking is that he did it while wearing an electric powered prosthetic leg! Leg tech has lagged behind that of hand and arms, but this development advances the tech in several well deserved areas!

Fox's series Fringe is ending it's run in January of 2013.

Apple and Microsoft have been granted patents that border on outright foolish to "how can this NOT be illegal?!!!" I spend a few moment covering some of this news that is listed on the blog.

Then to take a short break, I do Star Trek Trivia!!!!

Is math painful? For some it may be!

And finally! Erin Bassett's Clockwork episode 7

That is it for Beam Me Up #339, I think you will have as much fun listening as I spent this weekend doing it!



Friday, November 09, 2012

Its' 1984 All Over Again

This has got to be the most F.U. use of technology since the up skirt camera.  What am I twitchin about now? Well you know that piece of tech attached to the Microsoft 360 called the Kinect?  Well it seems that Microsoft can use the Kinect for nefarious purposes (NO!)  Oh yes!  It seems in a newly uncovered  patent, Microsoft has developed tech that allows Microsoft to use these cameras attached to your TV to gather information (Oh hell, who am I kidding they are spying, jesus I am even lying to myself now) And why is Microsoft so damn interested in what's going on in front of the set?  Would you believe that this new tech allows Microsoft to get this....count how many people are say watching a movie and should you say have too many people watching, they can shut down the player, tv whatever, you name it.  

Check it out in this Boing Boing article:
  • Basically, when you buy or rent something like a movie, you’ll only be granted a “license” for a certain number of people to watch it. If Kinect detects more people in the room than you had a licence for, it can stop the movie, and even charge you extra. So if Microsoft has its way, you won’t just be renting movies any more. You’ll have to decide how many people are watching, and no doubt pay more. And if one extra person turns up to your movie night? Click....
Check out the patent here

And here is the original story at Kotaku

Patent Foolishness a real WTF!

Here is a riddle for ya: What's a rectangle with rounded corners? Hint, it can ONLY BE ONE THING.

Yep, you heard that right, there is only ONE rectangular device with rounded corners in the whole world! Come on, it can't be that hard, there IS only one.

How can I say something so obviously wrong, why there are thousands of devices that are rectangular with rounded corners! Awcontraire mon ami! According to the Mashable Tech website:
  • Apple has been awarded a design patent for the “rectangles with curved corners” look of the iPad.
  • The patent — called “Portable Display Device” and includes Steve Jobs among its inventors — was filed in November 2010 (six months after Apple launched its first-generation iPad tablet), but was finally approved on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

That's right there can be only one! and Steve Job's invented it! Says so right on the patent app!  Not resting on its' laurels Apple has already gone after Samsung demanding several products be banned in the US outright!

How's that for developing a free and open market with the patent office protecting the small entrepreneur. I feel so much safer now knowing I am not being bullied by corporate entities!

How many times have we seen just such a scenereo in a science fiction movie or story huh?

Soylent Green is People! Its' People!

Full Article Here

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Fringe Ends Run in January of 2013

According to Mark over at About sci-fi / fantasy, Fringe will end its run in January of 2013.  Fox has set the Fringe series finale: to Friday, Jan. 18, and it'll be a two-hour windup.  

However we know that not everything on Fringe is what it seems and that plays true with the final episode.  The double episode will in truth be the twelfth and thirteenth of the season. It will actually be the last two-thirds of a three-part story arc that starts on Jan. 11.  And as you can guess no new shows during the holiday  season.  

I am sorry, but the rest of the article reads like an obit and that just depresses the crap out of me.  You can read it all HERE

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Skywalker Hand Real!

Wow, on a prosthetic kick here I guess, but even so, this is damn cool.  Remember that scene after Vader lops off Luke's hand?  He is laying there wiggling his fingers and then the tech closes it up?  Well check out this video of the Bebionic3 is a myoelectric prosthetic hand.  This device is damn close!

From the Dvice blog article:
The hand (has) the ability to write with pen, delicately hold glasses and bottles, and even crack eggs.

Featuring a range of 14 hand positions and grips...  You can see patient Nigel Ackland using the Bebionic3 prosthetic hand in the video below.

Dvice article here

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Man With Bionic Leg Climbs into History

Zac Vawter along with what is being called the world's first neural-controlled bionic leg, completed a goal for himself of climbing the 103 floors of Willis Tower in Chicago.

Vawter has only to thinking about moving his leg and sensors and motors take over the task of moving the bionic right limb.  Though this approach has been used previously in hand and arm applications but this is the first time it has been implemented in a leg.

From the website:
  • (the climb was part of the) fourth annual SkyRise Chicago fundraiser was the first public test of the technology.  
Zac successfully made the 103 floor climb of  the Willis tower (formally called the Sears Tower) of Chicago in 53 minutes, 9 seconds. 

Vawter has been with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for a little over a year in hopes of replacing a leg he lost three years ago in a motorcycle accident. 

WPTV story page here

Monday, November 05, 2012

If Love Stinks....Math Hurts

For some people, working out various mathematical problems is horrible, stressful, painful even.

From a Wired -UK article:
  • some people who dislike math do so because the thought of working out things with numbers is experiential similar to physical pain. For people with “high levels of mathematics-anxiety”  maths hurts.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and Western University were intrigued by studies that had shown that some people experience anxiety while doing math problems at approximately the same levels of anxiety that people feel while experiencing social rejection.  These studies showed that some of those with high levels of anxiety during these social situation actually experience the anxiety as physical pain.

In their papers, the researchers from the University of Chicago and Western University noted that even the expectation of doing math generated anxiety and which would in turn generate pain.

To test this hypothesis, :
  • participants were asked to answer survey questions about how anxious maths problems made them feel, ... two sample (groups) of 14 people each — one group of high math anxiety, and one group of  low anxiety towards mathematics. 
  • (the two groups) were asked a series of word and number puzzles while their brains were scanned with an MRI. 
  • (With) easier maths  questions, there was no difference between the two groups.   For the harder questions, though, the higher mathematical anxiety “significantly” underperformed low math anxiety (group),
Read the rest of this fascinating paper here

Graphic International Herald Tribune

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ferguson does Fireball Be prepared to have your eyes burned from thier sockets!

Xnewsman sends in one of the most horrifying short video I think I have ever seen! On the surface it is a tribute to the moon landing that Craig Ferguson did a couple of years ago. But that is beside the point when you experience the voice over choreography, which hands down I will suspect that everyone will rate this video as one of the most disturbing thing you have ever witnessed! You Have Been Warned!

Sandy Damages Shuttle

From AP via Xnewsman comes news that shuttle Enterprise, the first shuttle that started the shuttle program, now being shown at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, sustained minor damage to the tail structure during hurricane Sandy.

The shuttle sustained minor damage to its vertical stabilizer, or tail when a small piece of foam came off, was confirmed by a museum spokesman.

As you may remember, the Enterprise was used for atmospheric drop tests  in 1977, four years before the first shuttle launch. It was never designed for space travel. 

BMU # 338 Now online!

After the opener for episode 338, I play a cut that I haven't played in like forever, Karma by Kokia.  Very powerful music.

From there, I head right over to the beam Me Up blog.

From  a study by the London Society for the promotion of Christian Knowledge. They published a paper in  1895 on a phenomenon  called the Worthington prepared is all I can say.

How about this shocker, Disney acquires all of Lucas Industries properties lock stock and barrel!

I review the animated straight to dvd "The New Avengers"  After Ultron decimates the Avengers, their children are hidden away, so Ultron can not find and kill them.  You will not believe who is their caretaker!

NASA is experimenting with a totally revolutionary system to bring returning re-entry capsules to a safe landing.  A system to replace parachutes.

Kallamis post a review of the live action The Dark Nintendoverse - There Will Be A Brawl, which left me stunned that something this horrible could be made.  You be the judge!

Finally the story I read this week is a continuation of Dave Sholes "Trathh" story arc.  This week is Trath the Sequel, which, believe it or not, it better than the first installment!  Dave is really getting into the swing with his ancient, near godlike characters from a long dead civilization.  I know I am looking for more!

That's episode 338 of Beam Me Up.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

NASA Testing Helicopter Style Re-Entry Vehicle

NASA is testing a new concept for spacecraft re-entry vehicles.  NASA's work horse has been parachutes for over sixty years or better.  Now they are experimenting with replacing the parachute with a rotor system much like that used in a helicopter.

The system would not be a helicopter in the truest sense as the rotor assembly would not be powered but would be spun by passing air  over the blades to spin them, much as in auto-rotation. The main benefit of the rotor is the design would give a capsule the stability and control of a helicopter, but as it would not be powered, the blades would not provide lift.

From the NASA article:

  • The intent is to give real spacecraft a soft landing with enough control that they could touch down anywhere in the world, whether it be a runway or the top of a building. In other words, wherever a helicopter could land, a spacecraft could land, too.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Dark Nintendoverse

Okay, this is kind of a messed up series. 
10 episodes total, and well worth the watch 
for anyone that loves video games. Or 
maybe hates them the way this series goes. 
Basically it is Super Smash Bro’s, meets 
Sin City, or something along those lines. 
It’s really messed up. The kingdom of Hyrule 
is gone, and Link and Zelda now work for law 
enforcement of the mushroom kingdom.
Matthew Mercer produced and directed this 
fiasco of a series. He has voiced many characters 
in the past such as the new Tygra, Leon S. 
Kennedy in RE5, etc etc.
You have Luigi selling mushrooms in boxes, Peach sleeping with both brothers, Ganon running amok, Kirby as a total wing nut and cannibal, and as for Captain Falcon and Angel, I’ll let you all decide for yourselves.
As for Mario, his gloves are normally covered in someone’s blood, and yes, he does use a flower and even a star during the series.
It is available on you tube, but I had better luck watching it on the main site. Here is a link for that site below.

When you have some time, and want to see a really messed up web series, here you go. I am looking at another one now that also looks really messed up, at least as far as old RPG'ing is concerned.

I would rate it an overall 7.4.  IMDB has it at 8.2 with 117 users voting. For not having a real budget, they did an incredible job. And the people overall pretty much look like the characters they are portraying. So if you feel up for a darker version of your favorite video game characters, this may be the web series for you. Enjoy folks.
  And as for Samus, yeah, she's hot.

Low Cost Solar Cells Very Real Possibility in Near Future

As anyone who has dabbled with solar power knows, cells and arrays are frightfully expensive, even if you are generating modest voltages and currents.   Part of the expense is the labor intensive manufacturing process and another is the exotic materials used in the construction, such as Indium.

Now, according to Stanford News Service, scientists at Stanford have succeeded in assembling a functioning solar cell out of one atom thick carbon nano-tubes and buckey-balls. 

As difficult as that sounds to create, the cells can be deposited using thin film production techniques.  There are many aspects of this technology that are exciting, first the cells would be all carbon, which as you know is very common.  Second, because it would be a thin film, the possibility of flexibility is a very real possibility allowing them to be laid over very complex structures, something the present rigid solar cells can not do.  Plus, since the manufacturing process envisioned is thin film depositing requiring far fewer steps, the manufacture cost would be a fraction of present day cell costs.  The next cost saving is accomplished using strictly carbon as the material of choice, which again would drive down the cost.

Carbon is a good all round choice.  First it's very very common and second the cells would be very durable, third, carbon nano-tubes have the potential towards far better conductivity and much more efficient light-absorption  characteristics.

Of course that is in the future.  At present, the carbon solar cells are less than 1% efficient and only adsorb in the near infra-red but the Stanford team is already studying materials that would generate power over a broader spectrum including visible light.