Sunday, August 31, 2014

Robots of the Future May Be Mercy Killersi

Ever had or come upon an animal that was so bad off that you just knew it would be humane to put it out of its' misery,  a mercy killing.  I could never bring myself to do the deed though.    That's when a robot, expert in such things would have been welcome.

Engineer and CEO of Poikos: Nell Watson, worries that the artificial intelligence of the near-future might decide to become just such a benevolent euthanizer. One that would end the suffering of lower animals.  Of course Mz. Watson fears that mankind itself would be judged to be a suffering lower life form. 

Read the rest of the article as well as the talk that CEO Watson gave at "The Gathering" conference HERE

BMU #421 is now online Asimov & Phyland

in episode 421 of Beam Me Up....

The first offering is the closing theme to the anime series "Wagnaria"

The first story is Kevin J. Phyland's  "Famine"

From the first story to the Beam Me Up blog - I start with a brief review of "The amazing Spiderman II".  What does space smell like?

Astronomers studying the dust cloud surrounding the Milkyway's core

know as Sagittarius 2  have discovered even more complex smells.  New Horizon has set yet another milestone in its quest to do a fly by of Pluto in 2015. A college  student does another student a solid by designing and printing a much needed device.  That and more, from the blog.

Finally from Isaac Asimov, "The Final Question" part 1


Podcast audio HERE

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2

 Spiderman2  Ok, first I have to bitch... First off, I just finished watching the DVD of The Amazing Spiderman2.  Now, someone wishing to sow confusion would ask why I waited so long when 3 has been out for so long?  Really? When did 3 appear? Why 2007!  How can that be, 2 just came out in 2014! Ahh you see, it's all about the Amazing! If you were part of the not Amazing Spiderman 2 you were released in 2004.  Now if you WERE Amazing you were released in 2014.  What does this all mean?  Well they had to be paying attention, but it sure led to confusion, at least on my part.  Maybe we can call them Toby and non-Toby Spidermans.  Well, they could have done better.  Stan draggin his feet maybe?   Oh and speaking of dragging, didn't his Hitchcock moment drag on!

Ok, on to the movie.  Two hour and twenty two minutes is the runtime of TASM2 but there is so MUCH action that it is the fastest 2 1/2 hours your going to experience.   The movie STARTS with a brutal fight and plane crash and then segues into some of the best Spiderman web slinging that I have ever seen.  I am serious!  There are flips, twirls, and dives that would make flying suit enthusiasts green.  Plus, Spiderman IS Spiderman!  The moves, the wisecracking really are spot on.  The crew for this movie have again set the visual effects bar, award winningly high.  

But I have to say, the characters took a back seat.  Parker again suffers angst on choosing between his two loves as does Mary Jane.  Oh and Sally Fields needs to slap someone.  Hey kids, this woman is character in the finest sense of the word.  How about we learn to write for actors with talent huh?

The plot is a bit confusing just because there seems to be too much of it.  Subplots abound.  Now in a comic, that is fine,  but a movie that is frenetic in the extreme, well, it is damn hard to follow at times. 

I have got to give credit where credit is due.  I have seen so many of these movies take the cheap shot tear jerker route, just to eat up time.  TASM2 by contrast kept this to a minimum.  I think it made for a better movie. 

Overall I would say that there is much more to recommend in this movie than to pass on.  It is a definite watch for spidey fans, where ever you are.

Here is the wikipedia article for those who are interested  HERE

Space Smells Like What?!

Hey, here is an interesting article from Science in a Can called:

What does space smell like?

I know.... the near-vacuum of space has a smell? Well yes it would seem and astronauts have reported the strange odor after space walks.  Their equipment would be permeated by bitter, smoky, metallic smells like seared steak, hot metal and arc welding all rolled into one.
It’s believed that the smell is caused by high-energy vibrations in particles that mix with the air when brought inside.

NASA has asked a chemist to reproduce the smell, in hope of using it during acclimatization training sessions.

Astronomers, searching the vast dust cloud in the middle of the Milky Way, called Sagittarius B2, have found a substance called ethyl formate.  Which would mean that Sagittarius B2 smells and tastes like raspberries and rum.  mmm oh yes that is a much more pleasant combination than seared steak and metal.
Read the complete article HERE

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Horizon Passes Neptune On To Pluto

NASA's New Horizon has crossed Neptune's orbit on it's way to a 7-14-2015 rendezvous with Pluto.

This puts New Horizon some 2.75 billion (yep, that's billion with a B)  miles from Earth and 2.48 billion miles from Neptune proper.  This milestone has only happened once before when the mark was set by Voyager 2, which accomplished a much closer  fly-by on August 25th of 1989.

Voyager’s visit to Neptune revealed features never seen before.  Such as the Great Dark Spot, a massive storm much like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Voyager also captured clear images of the ice giant’s ring system, too faint to be clearly viewed from Earth.

Considering the historic observations of Voyager 1 and 2, New Horizons' controllers are confident that it is also on a path toward discoveries in the Kuiper Belt.   A realm of icy objects out past the orbit of Neptune.

NASA New Horizon Neptune orbit crossing article HERE + Wikipedia New Horizon 

Prosthetics 'n aesthetics

If you are a user of any prosthetic device or know someone who is, you know that said device is often wonderful in its' utilitarian function but woefully lacking in anything that could be described as an aesthetically pleasing prosthetic.   This was made evident to Evan Kuester a university student who at best would describe his studies as boring.  The only redeeming feature was his access to fascinating tools one of which was an excellent 3d printer.  

 Evan had noticed  fellow student Ivania Castilloon had no left hand.  Evan then set to convince Ivania that he could produce a functional prosthetic but one that could be pleasing to the eye as well. 

After many pictures, measurements and prototypes Evan and Ivania settled on a prosthetic constructed of a single print, with ABS.  Evan hopes that his next prototype will be able to better integrate functionality with aesthetics ( his first outing leaned towards usability but was heavy and bulky, his second was lighter but frail).   There is no doubt that looks are addressed in this version.  It is wonderful to look at. 

Check out the complete article on Make HERE   

Monday, August 25, 2014

It Flies Like a Helicopter, and Soon May be Big Enough To Carry Me!

Here is a proof of concept, 1/3-scale model of a hoverbike from Malloy Aeronautics. They are hard at work on full-sized vehicle for humans which lends one to speculate as to whether a motorcycle license is needed or a pilot. But even touted as an ultra light it will I am betting garner interest in several flight categories.

For More videos, stills and info on their kickstarter program HERE

BMU # 420 is Now Online! - Crystalwizard, Hilton, Spiderwoman & Quantum Cats

Welcome to episode 420 of Beam Me Up. Not a bad episode this week. I think the odds are good that you just might enjoy the trip.

I do have opening comments this week of sorts, but find myself reviewing Rio 2. The review is a bit off the cuff, however I think I nail it.

My first offering this afternoon is the first opening theme to the anime series Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple anime series.

From there, before the first story of the afternoon, I found a really good TED science talk concerning quantum entanglement that I put on the blog, but ultimately thought it would make a great
intermediate piece (and that way it gets played even if I go long on the blog)

The first story this week is a tongue in cheek tale "Don't Trust Venusian Mushrooms" by Doug Hilton.

From the Beam Me Up blog ( I just found out that there is to be a new Spiderwoman series, which will be out in November. The alternate cover is however rising a bit of ire for content. I do have a copy of this cover on the blog.

Oh and controversy is not just for Spiderwoman, my comic book guy tells me that weirdness is happening with the Thor series and Captain America....

NASA has been working with a very interesting aircraft that has some very interesting technology.

There are many more articles on the blog, but I really wanted to make sure that I got chapter two part two of Crystalwizard's "Wizard's Bane" on this week.

And that does it for this week and episode 420. Thanks for listening.

Here is the link for this week's podcast   HERE

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Spider-Woman #1 Variant Cover....oh my

The new Spiderwoman #1  written by Dennis Hopeless with artwork by Greg Land,  had a quickie showing at San Diego Comic-Con.  It seems that the series will see the light in November of this year (2014).  But that is not the thing that is rising some ire.  No, THIS is:

Now before you blow a gasket and join a lynch mob to string up Stan, this cover is just an alternate to this one:

But it is my guess that this one did not play well in "Peoria" and the alternative cover was explored.  But you have to wonder just what the hell is going on....(if mayhaps you find yourself in the minority of incensed spiderperson fanhood) Thor is now a woman... Captain American will become a genteel   man of colour  and  if I am to be so insensitive, we still haven't got to the bottom of motivation truly behind...(oh someone stop me please) the need for a cover that causes so much controversy.  

Ok, I can see I am digging a hole here that I am not going to be able to extricate myself from, so best you take a look at the original article HERE


Friday, August 22, 2014

Schrödinger's cat and quantum mechanics

Here is one of the TED-ED (at the risk of becoming
redundant) educational pieces. Here we are exposed to quantum entanglement. Plaaaaaaay it, you'll liiiiiiiiiiike it! Or don't play it and your exact copy, at the other end of the universe will have to....but if you have already hit play then you know the lazy sob, somewhere over there, just isn't going to bother.......

Oh and here is the wikipedia on quantum entanglement HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NASA's GL-10 Goes Vertical

No, this picture is not photoshoped.  That really is a drone aircraft with 10 engines installed.

This strange beast is the NASA GL-10 or Greased Lightening and before you ask the question
"is NASA crazy?" I have to explain that those engines on the GL-10 are electric and they have such a radical amount of torque that the plane can haul itself off the ground straight up!

Brought to us by engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center, this wild unmanned drone has only a 10 foot wingspan which means it has lift, speed and maneuverability in excess.  One feature that being incorporated into the GL-10 test bed is extended range.  Greased Lightening is a hybrid instead of a pure electric.  GL's fuselage contains two small 8 hp diesel engines pushing alternators which charge the engine's batteries.  This cuts down on battery weight without the sacrificing range. 

Read the complete article in Extreme Tech HERE 


Futures Past "A Visual History of Science Fiction" Due Out in November **UPDATE**

Wow, lots of news about publication of really superior Science Fiction.

Jim Emerson just sent me a note, with his "Editor Hat" on to let us know about "Futures Past" described as a Visual History of Science Fiction, which will be available in November of this year (2014).  

Jim makes it clear that this is no "one trick pony" printing 1 volume, done, and gone.  Nope, this will be the first of a 50 (that's right fifty volume set!!!) volume series that will cover 1926 to 1975.  And talk about comprehensive! Each will cover all the SF books, films, magazines,  and more, in exhaustive detail, with a great number of full color illustrations as well.  The hope is for this series to be the "most comprehensive history of the field ever".

The first volume will be for the year 1926 (which Jim tells me is available right now, and I suspect that it will be one hell of a treat.  Here is the website - 

**UPDATE**  Jim sent me a note that it is year 1926 that will first be available and that volume is available right now!  Please check the website for more information. (ed. PAC) 

Kickstarter YA Novel Star's Reflection by Gail Arthur Eddy

Now here is something interesting and right down our alley (as science fiction BMU devotees)

Casey Wolf just sent me a note on how you might help sponsor a book through kickstarter.

The author is Gail Arthur Eddy and the title is Star's Reflection.

Here is what Casey wrote about the young adult novel  in her note:
  • Set in modern times and in a temple of Hathor in Egypt, it is evocative and exciting. Through the agency of an ancient mirror, and the determination of young girls, an old wrong must be righted and a Priestess Path safeguarded.
  • Gail's first novel, Mella Mella, was short-listed for the Governor General's Award.
I have had a quick look at the campaign and there is a support level to match anyone that is interested in doing so.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Episode 419 of Beam Me Up is online!

In my opening comments I talk about "Future Diary" an excellent anime series all so I can play the opening theme for same!

Next a review of "RIO pt2" in short, calling it a turd is doing it a favor.

I always like the week where I get to run another episode of IPS.

This week Episode 28 of In Plain Sight written and narrated by Jason Kahn, 28th months from the talented Mr. Kahn 2 and 1/3 years and he is still going strong.  I honestly hope he decides to compile these great stories into an ebook, that would be so great!

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has again spotted something on Titan of  scientific interest.  Plus some trivia on Titan.

It is no suprise that I really like the concept of 3d printers.  Now that they are becoming affordable and easy to operate, the are becoming much more prevalent, even NASA is taking up the reigns for
the devices.

And catch up on the darkest material's wild!

And the final story for the afternoon is "Even a Non-Corporeal Can Get Lonely by David Scholes

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Storms are Blowin on Titan

Computer models have long predicted the onset of storms in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has finally been able to capture these storm clouds over Titan's  northern sea  Ligeia Mare.  The storm being tracked was producing very Earthlike winds of  7 to 10 mph.

Storm clouds have been documented on Titan's southern latitudes since Cassini arrived in 2004, during Titan's summer in the lower latitudes.  But until 2010 when Titan entered summer in the northern latitude, no clouds had been seen until now.

The picture here was obtained in July 2014 as Cassini receded from Titan after a close flyby.

I would hazard a guess that most of us suffer from hubris when thinking of a Titan year being analogous to a Luna year here on Earth. (for those of you scratching your head and saying umm luna year is the same as Earths because it travels around the Sun with us...well no...a "year" is one orbit around the primary by a secondary or satellite.  Luna year apx. 29 days) Titans year however is 30 Earth years and a season is about 7 EYs.   Wow do you start to get the scale of things out in the gas giant arena?   Luna orbits Earth so fast because it is so freakishly close!

You can read the rest of the Astronomy Magazine article HERE

Thursday, August 14, 2014

3D Printed Telescope?!

Wow, what a weird co-incident! Justin, one of my anime guys and I were talking about the effects and the possibility of 3D printing and up comes this article from the Adafruit blog concerning NASA's experimenting with a complete 3D build of a telescope.

 NASA Aerospace Engineer Jason Budinoff  aims to complete the telescope by the end of the fiscal year, and afterwards, the entire assembly will undergo vigorous testing to assure that it is space worthy.

Read the rest of the very interesting addafruit article HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NASA Testing Super Black Material

Imagine something so black, so devoid of any reflected light that it is impossible to see when it is folded! This new material absorbs 99.5% of all visible light that hits it and 99.8% of all infrared. This is seriously dark material!

Scientist, astronomers and engineers alike hope that this material, that they hope to coat devices like components going on to space telescopes (or even land based scopes). This would drastically cut down on the light reflected into the optics and optical sensors.

NASA sent a little round of the coating to the International Space Station, aboard a recent resupply flight. This delivery also contained experimental robotic systems for fixing satellites in orbit.  It is NASA's plan that the coating module will stay on an unpressurized platform, on the outside of the ISS, exposing it to the rigors of space, for a year, before being sent back to Earth for analysis.

Read the rest of the Popular Science article HERE

Monday, August 11, 2014

Queenslanders Simulate Time Travel

Is time travel possible? Who knows...In the form that most are envisioning, probably not. It would seem the only way we are going to travel in time is forward at at the rate of 1 second per second.  

But into that cozy comfort of conformity jumps a team from the University of Queensland to give the faithful a glimmer of hope.

From the Engadget blog HERE
  • Their study used individual photons to replicate a quantum particle traveling through a space-time loop (like the one you see above) to arrive where and when it began. Since these particles are inherently uncertain, there wasn't room for the paradoxes that normally thwart this sort of research. 
The particle couldn't destroy itself before it went on its journey, for example.

 Now "simulation" is the telling term here. There hasn't actually been a warp of time (though I suspect some of our "perceptions" have been twisted and pulled into strange new shapes! ;)  -- the experiment  only shown how it can or could work. 

From the article, once again:
  • It could take a long time before there's proof that whole atoms and objects can make the leap, let alone a real-world demonstration.

BMU #418 is now online

Well, what do you know, Beam Me Up is in da houuuuuuse!

After my opening comments I play a piece of audio called the speed of dark which is brilliant in it's explanation of the opposite of lightspeed...

Next is a cut piece of music.  It comes from the closing music of the anime series "The Devil is a partimer"

next is the rendezvous of the craft Rosetta as after 10 years has finally caught comet Chury

The final offering this week is the conclusion of Chury called "Double Down on Double by Michael Juby.

Beam Me Up

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Rosetta now in ORBIT!!!

The Rosetta spacecraft has after over a decade of maneuvering become the first probe to orbit a comet. Now I know that is going to raise a few hackles, but Ceres etc. were ASTEROIDS and mini-planets or dwarf planets.So Dawn et al were another class of probe and the few that DID approach were chasers or fly ahead types that did good science, it is Rosetta that will set the bar much higher.

Controllers instructed Rosetta to fire its thrusters on its final approach to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, "Chury", on Wednesday August seventh.  They announced a half an hour after the burn, that the Rosetta had entered into orbit around the comet.

The Rosetta probe will remain in orbit, but plans are to get the probe to within 6 miles so the second history making part of the mission to take place.  Early in November of 2014 the lander Philae will set another historic first for the Rosetta mission by landing on the surface.  (that should prove quite a feat as Chury is swapping it's north and south poles at a fairly rapid interval)  when it lands on the comet.

From the NationalJournal website

  • The 220-pound probe will deploy ice screws and harpoons as it hits the surface, because 67P's (Chury) minimal gravity is not enough to keep it anchored.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Beam Me Up # 417 now Online

In this week's opening comments, I marvel at what it takes to get an automated craft to the outer planets, this was in reaction to the upcoming flyby of Pluto and the ESA craft that is fast closing on it's target comet and marveling at the time and effort that both experiments have had to undergo just to finish their tasks!

You can down load the podcast by clicking

I break this flow with a really good music track "collide". The music itself is a great deal of fun but the strange baseball challenge that this cut is playing to is even more fun.  Podcast yes, but do take a trip over to the blog @  I often don't get a chance to read all the articles I have planned, so this would be a good reason to take a jaunt over there.

Before I start with this week's story, I take my own advice and go looking for highlights on this week's blog.

I make the suggestion to check out this month's sky sighting over at for planets, moon phases and other planetary events.

After reading an article by Jesus Diaz writing for Gizmodo, was marveling at an astronaut floating 200 miles above the planet and I start a conversation of just this sort of amazing eye opener.

The Mars 2020 rover is getting interest and therefor a bit more news.

And news about the worlds largest rocket lifting platform.

Finally, part one of Michael Jubie's Doubling Down on Dublee