Saturday, March 31, 2007

Russia, China aim for Red Planet


China will launch a joint mission with Russia to Mars, a "milestone" in space co-operation between the two countries. The move follows pledges by Moscow to work more closely with the Chinese on missions to Mars and the Moon. A small satellite developed by China will piggyback on the Russian launch of a spacecraft called "Phobos Grunt", probably in October 2009. There was no mention of a timetable in the Chinese space agency statement. But earlier Russian reports said the launch window for the 10-11 month voyage to Phobos, Mars' largest moon, will be in October 2009. The mission plan so far is to have the Russian craft orbit Mars. Then the Chinese micro-satellite will detach from the Russian spacecraft, and probe the Martian space environment. The Russian spacecraft will touch down on the Martian moon Phobos and collect soil samples for return to Earth.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

2007 Hugo Award Nominees!!!

Here are the nominations for this year's Hugo Awards for best science fiction!!!! I think readers and listeners will recognize some of the nominees and some of the stories as well!!! Highlighted stories are those that can be found online.

Novel
Michael F. Flynn, Eifelheim
Naomi Novik, His Majesty’s Dragon
Charles Stross, Glasshouse
Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End
Peter Watts, Blindsight

Novella
“The Walls of the Universe” by Paul Melko
“A Billion Eyes” by Robert Reed
“Inclination” by William Shunn
“Lord Weary’s Empire” by Michael Swanwick
Julian: A Christmas Story by Robert Charles Wilson

Novelette
“Yellow Card Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi
“Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth” by Michael F. Flynn
“The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald
“All the Things You Are” by Mike Resnick
“Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” by Geoff Ryman

Short Story
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
“Kin” by Bruce McAllister
“Impossible Dreams” by Timothy Pratt
“Eight Episodes” by Robert Reed
“The House Beyond Your Sky” by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Friday, March 30, 2007

NASA Tests Inflatable Lunar Shelters

NASA is preparing to test an inflatable structure that might one day be used to establish an outpost on the Moon. The inflatable structure is made of multilayer fabric and looks like an ungainly white robot with legs.

The main unit is 12 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall. It has a volume of about 1,600 cubic feet and is connected to an airlock, also inflatable. The two spaces are essentially pressurized cylinders, connected by an airtight door. Inflatable structures are just one of the construction types NASA is considering for an outpost on the Moon.

NASA says testing of inflatable habitats on the Moon could begin in 2020. As currently envisioned, a lunar outpost would begin with four-person crews making several seven-day visits to the Moon until their power supplies, rovers and living quarters are operational.

The mission would then be extended to two weeks, then two months and ultimately to 180 days.

In a related development, NASA will team up with the National Science Foundation to begin field testing of a similar inflatable structure in Antarctica either later this year or early next year.


submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bizarre Hexagon Spotted on Saturn


One of the most bizarre weather patterns known has been photographed at Saturn, where astronomers have spotted a huge, six-sided feature circling the north pole.

Rather than the normally sinuous cloud structures seen on all planets that have atmospheres, this thing is a hexagon.

The honeycomb-like feature has been seen before. NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged it more than two decades ago. Now, having spotted it with the Cassini spacecraft, scientists conclude it is a long-lasting oddity.

he hexagon is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it. The thermal imagery shows the hexagon extends about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down into the clouds.

At Saturn's south pole, Cassini recently spotted a freaky human eye-like feature that resembles a hurricane.

The hexagon appears to have remained fixed with Saturn's rotation rate and axis since first glimpsed by Voyager 26 years ago. The actual rotation rate of Saturn is still uncertain, which means nobody knows exactly how long the planet's day is.

submitted by Shaun Saunders

Man claims to have met himself in the Future

Now as you know, I don't often link to material like this, and really this is no different. However this utube video is getting a lot of notice on the web and most notably DIGG.

The video shows a man standing beside an older man who does look very much like the younger version. (the man had a camera phone with him) and they both sported body markings that were identical.

This little short is just errie enough to be entertaining and is short enough for a quick look.

Check it out here YOUTUBE short

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Astronomers Puzzled by Titan's Missing Craters


The Cassini spacecraft’s radar sweep of Saturn’s largest moon Titan in January revealed a portion of what appears to be a 110 mile (180 kilometer) diameter This would only be the fourth such crater discovered on Titan, a surprisingly small number. Impact cratering is pervasive in our solar system. Earth's Moon remains heavily pockmarked because it has no significant weather or geological processes to wipe its face clean. Earth, similarly bombarded over the eons, shows many scars from relatively recent impacts that have not had time to weather away. Craters are common on several other satellites of Saturn. If Titan's surface had the same density of craters that other Saturnian moons have, there should be thousands of craters. With only three and a half dozen possibles, the question is "where did all the craters go?" Titan’s thick nitrogen atmosphere is partly responsible. It hinders the formation of impact craters less than about 12 miles (20 kilometers) in diameter, because smaller space rocks burn up before they reach the surface. Clues to Titan’s smooth finish can be seen in the presence of vast tracts of sand dunes, river channels and evidence for cryovolcanism visible in Cassini images. It is likely that a combination of burial in sand, erosion by methane or obliteration by the cold hand of cryovolcanism is responsible for paving over the craters.

Submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human


Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.

Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep's foetus.

He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Friday, March 23, 2007

Son of TIA Will Mine Asian Data


Nearly four years after Congress pulled the plug on what critics assailed as an Orwellian scheme to spy on private citizens, Singapore is set to launch an even more ambitious incarnation of the Pentagon's controversial Total Information Awareness program -- an effort to collect and mine data across all government agencies in the hopes of pinpointing threats to national security. The system -- dubbed Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning, or RAHS -- was rolled out early this week. Retired U.S. Adm. John Poindexter, the architect of the original Pentagon program, traveled to Singapore to deliver a speech at the unveiling. In 2003, plans for Total Information Awareness, or TIA, sparked outrage among privacy advocates. Poindexter, President Reagan's national security adviser and a key figure in the '80s Iran-Contra scandal, was in charge of the office. Facing an avalanche of bad publicity, Poindexter resigned in August 2003. Congress pulled funding for the program, and TIA and related programs were either terminated or moved to other agencies.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Pentagon working on computers to read minds

The U.S. military is working on computers than can scan your mind and adapt to what you're thinking.

Since 2000, Darpa, the Pentagon's blue-sky research arm, has spearheaded a far-flung, nearly $70 million effort to build prototype cockpits, missile control stations and infantry trainers that can sense what's occupying their operators' attention, and adjust how they present information, accordingly. Similar technologies are being employed to help intelligence analysts find targets easier by tapping their unconscious reactions. It's all part of a broader Darpa push to radically boost the performance of American troops.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Science Fiction Dead?

Nelson sends us a thought provoking excerpt from Bruce Sterling's Catscan column.

Bruce quotes from an earlier interview of Charles Sholtz about the weakening of science fiction and posits a few comments on his own....

In a recent remarkable interview in _New Pathways_ #11, Carter Scholz alludes with pained resignation to the ongoing brain-death of science fiction. In the 60s and 70s, Scholz opines, SF had a chance to become a worthy literature; now that chance has passed. Why? Because other writers have now learned to adapt SF's best techniques to their own ends.

I will read an excerpt from this column, however, to read the entire column, click the title of this article.

Thanks Nelson....

Why did the starship Enterprise have such a stupid bridge?


From the techrepublic blog!

You know, I have thought this for years and now someone has had the balls to come out and ask the obvious! Who in their right mind would put a command and control center right out where it could be blasted and waste all the ranking officers in one shot?! I tell you why, because Roddenbury wanted that opening shot of the very first show where the camera zooms right down onto the bridge. (I mean the REAL first show that got chopped all to crap in the 2 hour recut Minagerie) I like the line the article writer in Techrepublic wrote..."Seriously, if Sulu ever misjudges the top of the doorjamb in spacedock, every major character gets scraped out of continuity like extra icing off a cupcake." Even their graphic was a laugh riot....check out the whole article or rant if you will... damn funny.

Scientists Are Developing Drugs That Could Eliminate Traumatic Events From Our Memories


Much about why painful memories come back to haunt soldiers and those who live through other traumatic experiences remains unknown. Scientists say that is because little is known about how the brain stores and recalls memories.

But in their early efforts to understand the way in which short-term memories become long-term memories, researchers have discovered that certain drugs can interrupt that process. Those same drugs, they believe, can also be applied not just in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event but years later, when an individual is still haunted by memories of event.

The hope is that a post-traumatic stress disorder patient can work with a psychiatrist and focus a traumatic event, take one of these drugs and then slowly forget that event. With that hope, however, comes a series of ethical concerns. What makes up our personalities — the essence of who we are as individuals — if not the collected memories of our experiences?

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sackhoff Signs Onto 'Bionic Woman' Pilot


From the Syfyportal blog

Well if you were wondering what Katee Sackhoff, late of "Battlestar Galactica" as the hotshot pilot Starbuck, was up to post Galactica, it seems she has signed on to NBC's "Bionic Woman" remake, which is being led by BSG's Eick. The pilot will star Michelle Ryan as bionic woman Jaime Sommers, and it seems Sackhoff will not appear until the second series of episodes. It's not clear what Sackhoff's role would be outside of the fact that she will be an evil bionic woman. She apparently is being billed as a guest star which could mean only a one-time appearance.

Why Aren't Humans Furry?

A prize-winning paper suggests that humans are hairless apes because Stone-Age mothers regarded furry babies as unattractive. Written by Judith Rich-Harris, author of The Nurture Assumption and No Two Alike, the article, "Parental selection: a third selection process in the evolution of human hairlessness and skin color. Harris' theory is that this kind of parental selection may have been an important force in evolution. If Stone Age people believed that hairless babies were more attractive than hairy ones, this could explain why humans are the only apes lacking a coat of fur. Harris suggests that Neanderthals must have been furry in order to survive the Ice Age. Our species would have seen them as "animals" and potential prey. Harris' hypothesis continues that Neanderthals went extinct because human ancestors ate them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Could lasers zap away dangerous asteroids?

Space lasers that zap away rogue asteroids may still be in the realm of a video game. But researchers say the technique could one day be used to and deflect asteroids that could impact the Earth.

Previously, researchers have proposed several methods to save Earth from an asteroid impact. These include blowing it up with a nuclear bomb or putting a spacecraft beside it so the craft's gravity could tug the asteroid off course.

But these solutions have drawbacks – the smaller chunks of rock created in the nuclear explosion might still threaten Earth, and the 'gravity tug' would require a relatively massive spaceship with a lot of fuel.

Now, researchers say a lightweight, space-based laser could eliminate these problems gradually altering the trajectory of a threatening asteroid. Though the technology may take two decades or so to mature.

One of the great advantages of using lasers is that their beams remain relatively tightly focused over long distances, allowing them to study asteroids from farther away than is currently possible.

The laser could be fired in short pulses, focused on a centimetre-sized spot on the asteroid, they would repeatedly pulverise material, ejecting tiny bits of space rock at 10 kilometres per second. This would function as the asteroid's propellant, pushing it into a different orbit – and safely away from Earth.

submitted by Shaun Saunders

Sydney Bristow Beaming Up?

Read it, believe it, but it don't mean ya gota go see it! I love ST, I do, however casting and script ideas like this will assure that I won't be going to any new star trek movies.

J.J. Abrams has reportedly cast his Alias star Jennifer Garner as the love interest for Mr. Spock in the 11th Trek flick. Garner's real-life hubby, Ben Affleck, was at one time rumored to be a candidate to play Mr. Spock, with his BFF Matt Damon still, reportedly, the producers' first choice to fill the Enterprise-leading shoes of Capt. Kirk. And Moviehole.net reports that Gary Sinise and Adrien Brody are also still in negotiations to play McCoy and Spock, respectively, with production on the Christmas 2008 adventure......

I don't need to add more...you get the idea... If interested, click the article title and go where I didn't want to go anyway...ll&p

GM mosquito 'could fight malaria'


A genetically modified (GM) strain of malaria-resistant mosquito has been created that is better able to survive than disease-carrying insects. These GM insects carry a gene that prevents them from being infected by the malaria parasite and has the added benefit of providing a fitness advantage to the mosquitoes.

In experiments, equal numbers of genetically modified and ordinary "wild-type" mosquitoes were allowed to feed on malaria-infected mice. As they reproduced, more of the GM, or transgenic, mosquitoes survived. After nine generations, 70% of the insects belonged to the malaria-resistant strain.

The question in my mind, though, is what effects on the ecosystems of these areas will replacing an organism low on the food chain with a GM version? Between the news we saw last week and, could this wind up substituting one problem for another?"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lunar dust 'may harm astronauts'


Scientists are investigating the possible threat posed to astronauts by inhaling lunar dust.

A study suggests the smallest particles in lunar dust might be toxic, if comparisons with dust inhalation cases on Earth apply.

Teams hope to carry out experiments on mice to determine whether this is the case or not.

Nasa has set up a working group to look into the matter ahead of its planned return to the Moon by 2020.

The health effects of inhaling lunar dust have been recognised since Nasa's Apollo missions.

Astronaut Harrison H (Jack) Schmitt, the last man to step on to the Moon in Apollo 17, complained of "lunar dust hay fever" when his dirty space suit contaminated the habitation module after an energetic foray on the lunar surface.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

UK uncover more secrets of the gamma ray burst

New observations of one of the largest and most violent explosions in the universe have provided valuable to researchers seeking to understand the physics of Gamma Ray Bursts. Scientists at the Liverpool John Moores University were able to begin observing the burst just 203 seconds after it had begun, thanks to the early warning given by NASA's Swift satellite. Scientists used the Liverpool Telescope on the island of La Palma and its new polarimeter, RINGO, to perform the measurement.

Gamma Ray Bursts are very short lived, but incredibly powerful explosions, so bright that we can see them as far back as the earliest five percent of the universe's life time. It is thought that a star must collapse, or two stars must collide to produce one, so their presence is seen as good evidence of star formation. This is important because it gives us an idea of when stars began forming, and what the universe must have been like, billions of years ago.

But because they are so brief - lasting from a few seconds to maybe a few minutes - very little in known about them. The launch of the Swift satellite is changing all that because it sets in motion a cascade of observations in space and on the ground the moment it detects a blast.

This latest explosion has revealed a huge amount of detail about the polarisation of the "optical afterglow", the burst of light emitted in the blast that is thought to be caused by ejected material impacting the gas surrounding the dying star.

Until now, the composition of the ejected material has remained a mystery and, in particular the importance of magnetic fields has been hotly debated by GRB scientists. Either way, the early optical glow contains important clues for both these areas of research.

Salts in Martian Soil point to a time when Mars had water


Some bright white and yellow Martian soil containing lots of sulfur and a trace of water that was hidden under a layer of normal-looking soil - that was until the Martian exploration rover Spirit's wheels churned it up while the rover was struggling to cross a patch of unexpectedly soft soil nearly a year ago. The right front wheel had stopped working a week earlier. In an effort to manuver the rover, NASA controllers reversed the rover and dragged the wheel backwards, to an area where the rover could position itself to recharge its batteries through the solar arrays. The soil proved unusually soft and a large amount of bright yellow material was uncovered. The material is sulfur-rich and consists of sulfate salts associated with iron, and likely calcium. "These salts could have been concentrated by hydrothermal liquid or vapor moving through the local rocks," said rover science team member Dr. Albert Yen, a geochemist at JPL.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Website archiving old radio programs

Shaun Saunders just let me know about this website. OldRadioFun.com - They have taken thousands of old time radio shows, but instead of just archiving them, the folks at OldRadioFun have assembled a compact disk library. Now if your like me, your thinking, oh wait, that don't work...cds only hold an hour. But it seems they have collected and stored the shows as mp3s which means that you get a tremendous amount of programming on each cd, up to 20 hours it seems on some. The sci-fi library is pretty well rounded. Some of the programs listed are X-Minus One', 'Exploring Tomorrow', 'British Sci-Fi' and 'Dimension X' just to name a few.
Worth a check out people.

Did a giant impact create the two faces of Mars?


The impact of a giant asteroid could explain why Mars has two very different faces. The northern hemisphere is much flatter and lies lower than the southern hemisphere, with a difference in elevation between the two of about 5 kilometres. In the 1980s, scientists suggested a giant impact by an asteroid about 300 kilometres across in Mars's early history could have led to a permanent depression in the planet's northern hemisphere. Reasearchers using computer simulations found that such an impactor would produce huge amounts of lava – enough to cover the planet in an ocean of molten rock somewhere between 14 and 48 kilometres thick. That would have ended up erasing any record that an impact happened in the first place. But simulations carried out by other teams suggest the giant impact hypothesis could still do the job if it struck only a glancing blow. One that would produce much less heat and therefor much less lava flow. n this scenario, the total amount of lava produced is equivalent to a 5-kilometre-deep layer distributed over the whole planet. This would be small enough to avoid erasing the depression.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment

How many times have you heard this? "If a tree falls in the woods, and there is no body there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Or have you ever heard of the Schrodenger's Cat theorem?

Well both of these thought experiments are based on quantum events, where matter and energy become very very strange indeed.

A good example of this weirdness is the humble electron. Without which, modern electronics (see!) would not function. But our humble sub atomic particle exhibits some very odd behaviour at the quantum level. It can become or is both a particle and a wave, depending on how its being tested and get this.....just watching, makes it do weird things.

In this very cute youtube video, called Dr. Quantum, featuring the famous "double slit" experiment. It is a fun watch, but I will guarantee that you will come away scratching your head. Give it a go!

SCI-FI smackdown!

And now for something completely different......

Remember those MTV smackdown stop motion things a few years back? You watched them?!!
loser! lol ok, I will be good... so here is a podcast that posits, what would happen if the icons of science fiction got into a rumble?

This from the podcast's own "about"

This is the show that you, the fans, demanded. Spawned from Slice of SciFi, we're here to once and for all answer the question of who would win in a fight between the greatest icons of Science Fiction. We've drawn combatants from across the multiverse to fight in an intergalactic cage match like none other. Who will be the last being standing? You decide!


The first show contests the USS 1701 (better known as the Enterprise) against the aging workhorse Galactica...

letsgetreadytoruuuuuuuuuumbbbbbbble

Spacecraft may surf the solar system on magnetic fields


Future spacecraft may surf the magnetic fields of Earth and other planets.

These electrically charged craft would not need rockets or propellant of any kind.

The idea, for this revolutionary propulsion method, is based on the fact that magnetic fields exert forces on electrically charged objects.

To start the process, a satellite could charge itself up in one of two ways – either by firing a beam of charged particles into space, or simply by allowing a radioactive isotope to emit charged particles. Then the charged satellite could then be gently pushed by Earth's rotating magnetic field, enabling it to change orbit and even escape to interplanetary space.

On possible configuration for a satellite would be long, thin filaments, on the other which have a lot of charge-holding surface area. A possible design involves many filaments attached to the spacecraft. The setup would have a rather comical look – because of the static charge, the filaments would stick out in all directions, like newly brushed dry hair.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New Panorama Reveals More Than a Thousand Black Holes


A new wide-field panorama reveals more than a thousand supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies, some up to several billion times more massive than the sun. This survey, taken in a region of the Bootes constellation, involved 126 separate Chandra exposures of 5,000-seconds each, making it the largest contiguous field ever obtained by the observatory. At 9.3 square degrees, it is over 40 times larger than the full moon seen on the night sky, which is also shown in this graphic for scale. In this image, the red represents low-energy X-rays, green shows the medium range, and blue the higher energy X-rays

submitted by Shaun Saunders

The Sun May Be Causing Global Warming

Earth is heating up, but so are Mars, Pluto and other worlds in our solar system, leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun’s activity is the common thread linking all these baking events. Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, recently linked the attenuation of ice caps on Mars to fluctuations in the sun's output. Abdussamatov also blamed solar fluctuations for Earth’s current global warming trend. His initial comments were published online by National Geographic News. But Abdussamatov’s critics say the Red Planet’s recent thawing is more likely due to natural variations in the planet’s orbit and tilt. On Earth, these wobbles, known as, are thought to contribute to the onset and disappearance ice ages.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CBS' Jericho may not return in the fall


It's a bad time to be on the bubble at the Eye.

Underperforming shows seeking a spot on the CBS sked next fall will face an uphill struggle. Assuming CBS goes through with plans to take some chances, execs will need to open up some slots.

That's not good news for "Jericho," the apocalyptic hour that looked to be the Eye's big drama hit of the year but saw its ratings come tumbling down after returning from a lengthy hiatus -- and went head-to-head against "American Idol."

Eye execs are keeping a close watch on the show. If things don't get better once "Idol" moves out of its path, this promising hour might be in jeopardy -- despite strong internal support for the show.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Scientists say nerves use sound, not electricity

The common view that nerves transmit impulses through electricity is wrong and they really transmit sound, according to a team of Danish scientists. (oh I can already see this is going to be fun!..pac)

According to the traditional explanation of molecular biology, an electrical pulse is sent from one end of the nerve to the other with the help of electrically charged salts that pass through ion channels and a membrane that sheathes the nerves. That membrane is made of lipids and proteins.

The Copenhagen University researchers argue that biology and medical textbooks that say nerves relay electrical impulses from the brain to the rest of the body are incorrect.

"For us as physicists, this cannot be the explanation," said Thomas Heimburg, an associate professor at the university's Niels Bohr Institute. "The physical laws of thermodynamics tell us that electrical impulses must produce heat as they travel along the nerve, but experiments find that no such heat is produced."

Heimburg and Jackson theorize that sound propagation is a much more likely explanation. Although sound waves usually weaken as they spread out, a medium with the right physical properties could create a special kind of sound pulse or "soliton" that can propagate without spreading or losing strength.

submitted my Shaun Saunders



Sunday, March 11, 2007

Zeroes


I know a whole lot of you have seen this clip....I know I have watched it several times, laughed each and every time. However here is some news on this extremely well made spoof!

Zeroes, features a familiar voice talking about regular people with "Pointless Abilities". For example, one guy can ripple his stomach and a girl can put her entire fist in her mouth. You get the idea. It's worth a chuckle or two.

It turns out, the 2-minute spoof was an NBC creation. Marketing guru Vince Manze admitted to Variety that he created the spoof without any fanfare or even a tease to the real series, just as an experiment. He didn't even tell Heroes creator Tim Kring about it.

Click the title of the article, its worth a giggle or 2

Painkiller Jane premieres April 13


Painkiller Jane, SciFi's new series based on the comic by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada, will premiere April 13 at 10:00 p.m on the sci-fi channel. The series will focus on the titular character (played by Kristanna Loken) a woman who can regenerate from any injury, but still feels pain. She hunts Neuros, humans with super-mental powers, for a secret agency.

Cyborg army in the works

Elbit Systems Ltd., an Israeli defense firm has recently unveiled a portable robot known as VIPeR which is capable of entering most combat zones on its own and exchanging fire with enemies thanks to its arsenal of a machine-pistol and some grenades. Sharing the rough dimensions of a small TV, the VIPeR could play a vital role when it comes to protecting Israel's interests from Palestinian or Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. The VIPeR still requires the assistance of a human controller to perform.

I got a charge out of Well, it's official. Life is turning into a mediocre science-fiction movie and our remote control is out of batteries."


Steven king to write comics??

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There are few things Stephen King hasn't tried when it comes to his work. He's already the master of horror fiction, a tour guide through disturbing and fantastical worlds, a writing coach, a nonfiction author, a screen writer and even a director.

He can now claim a new genre with the recent Marvel Entertainment comics publication "The Dark Tower," based on his books of the same name.

"I'm a big fan of the medium," King said of comic books. "A different way to tell stories is always exciting. It's like being a kid with a chemistry set."

It's not that he's a comic book buff. In fact, he hasn't really kept tabs on the medium since his "Sandman" days as a child. But when the idea came up to make his seven-book "Dark Tower" series into a comic serial, he jumped at the chance.

The time is right for the collaboration, as both the genre and the author are being showered with critical and academic success like never before. These days, comic books aren't just for gangly teenage boys or geeky adults, and King isn't just a grocery store paperback writer.

The "Dark Tower" is part Western, part fantasy and part adventure, centering on the story of Roland Deschain, a man who lives in a futuristic kind of world, and his quest to find the "Man in Black" and later on, the dark tower.

King calls it his life's work — it took him nearly 20 years to complete the series, the final book was published in 2004. But unlike myriad other King stories, it's never been made into a film or TV show.

Friday, March 09, 2007

American Express to install spy chips in their credit cards

Credit card provider American Express has applied for a patent related to RFID devices.

That patent application, titled "Method and System for Facilitating a Shopping Experience," describes a Minority Report (or MallCity 14) style blueprint for monitoring consumers through RFID-enabled objects, like the American Express Blue Card.

According to the patent, RFID readers called "consumer trackers" would be placed in store shelving to pick up "consumer identification signals" emitted by RFID-embedded objects carried by shoppers. These would be used to identify people, track their movements, and observe their behavior.

In response to concerns expressed by consumer protection groups like CASPIAN, American Express also promised that it would make a chip-free version of its credit card available to concerned consumers who ask for it.

submitted by Shaun A. Saunders

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Robotic age poses ethical dilemma

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea. The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007. It is being put together by a five member team of experts that includes futurists and a science fiction writer. The new charter is an attempt to set ground rules for this future. Imagine if some people treat androids as if the machines were their wives, or others may get addicted to interacting with them just as many internet users get hooked to the cyberworld.

The new guidelines could reflect the three laws of robotics put forward by author Isaac Asimov in his short story Runaround in 1942, she said. Key considerations would include ensuring human control over robots, protecting data acquired by robots and preventing illegal use.

ASIMOV'S LAWS OF ROBOTICS
1 A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2 A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3 A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

China's 1st lunar probe ready for launch


China has finished assembling its first lunar satellite probe after three years of research and development, Luan Enjie, chief commander of the country's lunar exploration program, told Xinhua Tuesday. The carrier rocket, a Long March 3-A, which will be used to push the orbiter, Chang'e I, into the outer space, is currently under testing," Luan said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body. The orbiter will provide 3D images of the moon's surface, probe the distribution of 14 usable elements on the moon, study lunar microwaves and estimate the thickness of the moon's soil.

posted by Shaun a. Saunders

Particle physics on the cancer ward


Techniques developed by atomic physicists are being used to develop the first of what promises to be a new generation of cancer treatments in place of conventional radiotherapy. One day doctors could even be using anti-matter.

Cancer cells were successfully targeted with anti-matter subatomic particles, causing intense biological damage leading to cell death.

These pilot experiments may have future potential. But applications borrowed from particle physics are already being used in cancer treatment to help avoid the major side effects of radiotherapy.


posted by Shaun A. Saunders

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids


NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn't enough money to pay for the task so it won't get done.

The cost to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020 would be about $1 billion, according to a report NASA will release later this week. The report was previewed Monday at a Planetary Defense Conference in Washington.

Congress in 2005 asked NASA to come up with a plan to track most killer asteroids and propose how to deflect the potentially catastrophic ones.

These are asteroids that are bigger than 460 feet in diameter -- slightly smaller than the Superdome in New Orleans.

The agency is already tracking bigger objects, at least 3,300 feet in diameter, that could wipe out most life on Earth, much like what is theorized to have happened to dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But even that search, which has spotted 769 asteroids and comets -- none of which is on course to hit Earth -- is behind schedule. It's supposed to be complete by the end of next year.



Monday, March 05, 2007

Scientists Try to Predict Intentions

At a laboratory in Germany, volunteers slide into an MRI machine and perform simple tasks, such as deciding whether to add or subtract two numbers, or choosing which of two buttons to press.

They have no inkling that scientists in the next room are trying to read their minds using a brain scan to figure out their intention before it is turned into action.

In the past, scientists had been able to detect decisions about making physical movements before those movements appeared. But researchers at Berlin's Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience claim they have now identified people's decisions about how they would later do a high-level mental activity in this case, adding versus subtracting.

The techniques may eventually have wide-ranging implications for everything from criminal interrogations to airline security checks. And that alarms some ethicists who fear the technology could one day be abused by authorities, marketers, or employers.

Mallcity anyone?

A pilot for Paul Reubens

Thanks to TVSQUAD for this gem

It seems that pesky little problem has finally left Paul Reubens behind. (of course from my perspective - its not his behind that the pesky little problem has to leave, but then, that's just me......PAC) He has been cast as the lead in a pilot for NBC called Area 52. He'll play the role of an alien who is being housed in a government facility. Ahhhh does anyone have trouble picturing Rubens as an alien.....didn't think so. Paul Reubens has done all sorts of guest starring roles on television, most recently on Dirt and 30 Rock, since his arrest for public ummm......oooh....ahhhh... well you get the point. He is also currently filming Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Movie-- further proof that his past is now behind him.

(if my mic dies during this article....I'm sorry, I really am trying to be good....honest! links I've just got to remember it's links)

SFFAudio highlights Beam Me Up


Jesse Willis over at SFFAudio has mentioned Beam Me Up in one of his latest blog entry. I wanted to take a second to thank Jesse for the kind words and highlighting one of the stories we have read lately (Ambassador by Peter Watts episode #42)

I am sure you fine readers will recognise the url. I have unashamedly used Jesse's blog for material often, but I have really fallen down on the job of mentioning just what a treasure trove SFFAudio is!

Beam Me Up might offer one or two pieces of fiction a week, if your lucky. SFFAudio is jam packed with audio resources and links to material and fiction that you can get lost for days in there.

Don't take my word for it, click the article title and take a jaunt over and see for yourself. If you like what Beam Me Up does, your in for a real treat.

The Human Brain....

Jeff Hawkins created the Palm Pilot and the Treo. Now he says he’s got the ultimate invention: software that mimics the human brain.

Jeff Hawkins of Palm Computing and Handspring is at it again. This time he is going where conventional wisdom has cashed in and given up the ghost. Hakins has set up a new company
called Numenta. Numenta's product will be something different for Hawkins - a data set based on how the human mind thinks, and learns. Hawkins has some radically different ways of
expressing how the mind learns and thinks, which puts him ahead of how conventional have addressed the problem of a true human level AI.

click the article title to go to the complete story. Its truly fascinating.

submitted by Shaun Saunders

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pigs in Space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, lets see....how do I explain this?..... Ok, your Russian....you are researching the effects of certain aspects of being launched into space....ok so far?.....So you get yourself a pig - see - and....you make this ummm capsule? K? and then....OMG I can't do it straight faced!

Here is a pictorial of Russian researchers into the effects of space flight. You don't need to be able to read Russian or even need any kind of description. The pictures alone are so very out there!

Salute!!!!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Probe spies Jupiter's moon Io's volcanic plume


Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft has sent back images of a huge volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io. A massive dust plume, estimated to be 150 miles (240km) high, can be seen erupting from Io's Tvashtar volcano. On Wednesday, the US probe flew by Jupiter, using the planet's gravity to boost its speed, reducing the travel time to its ultimate target of Pluto. New Horizons also took photos of the icy moons Europa and Ganymede in the run-up to its encounter with Jupiter. New Horizons made its closest approach to Jupiter on Wednesday, passing within 2.3 million km (1.4 million miles) of the planet. The probe will carry out more than 700 observations of the Jupiter system by June, in a dry run for its planned rendezvous with Pluto and its moons in 2015.

posted by Shaun A. Saunders