Monday, March 31, 2008

Canada Recruiting New Astronauts

Canadian Space Agency will begin a national astronaut recruitment campaign at the end of May 2008, to select astronauts to join its Canadian Astronaut Corps.

Those selected will take part in long-duration spaceflights on the International Space Station. The application process will open at the end of May 2008. To apply, candidates will complete an application form on the Canadian Space Agency Website. Final selections in May 2009. Two astronaut candidates will be selected. A pool of qualified candidates will also be created for service in the future.

"This is an exciting career and we hope that many Canadians apply," said Guy Bujold, President of the Canadian Space Agency.

TRON lightcycle scene Sweded

OK, late to the party on this one...but my excuse is I really didn't get Sweding. However I have seen this cardboard version of the Tron Lightcycle scene and it is brilliant.

Made popular in Michel Gondry's film Be Kind Rewind, sweding involves amateur filmmakers creating homespun homages to movies. In the film, Jack Black's character accidentally erases a whole rental store's VHS collection and sets out to remake them with a small group of amateur film makers. To ally renter's confusion as to the amateurish nature of each tape, Black comes up with the idea of calling them "Swedish" film remakes.

Now the idea has taken hold as a homage of sorts to redo the film as low budget as possible but as well done as well. Most are extraordinarily funny and then there are those like this sample while holding to the tenants of Sweding are brilliantly well done.

Check it out





SciFi Channel Cancels 'Flash Gordon'


SyFy Portal reports that the SciFi Channel has summarily canceled Flash Gordon. What kinda blows my mind is that Mike seemed to be troubled by the manner in which we had to find out. I guess "fans" got wind of the cancellation by a side comment made by one of the SciFi channels exes to that effect. You know, I have to say that anyone that is suprised by how the SciFi channel does business these days is a bit deluded. I have come to the conclusion that the SciFi Channel for some obsure reason is afraid to excell. That is the only explaination that fits with scheduling that would require us to watch wraslin and Flash Gordon....and now no more Flash.... I had hopes when they upped Anime to two nights....you see how long that lasted. I would hang my head if I were the flagship of telivised science fiction and I was eclipsed by Saturday night on the Cartoon Network. Get a Clue Sci Fi!

A Code of Conduct for Outer Space

Work is progressing on a Code of Conduct for Space – so spacefaring nations can continue to benefit from the national security and economic advantages provided by satellites.

A special edition of the Secure World Foundation’s newsletter – The Secure World – spotlights the ongoing effort to shape a Code that can be adopted by like-minded states that operate on the high-seas of space.

“We look at this important work on a Code of Conduct for Space as also a first step in developing a well-defined piece of space traffic management,” said Ray Williamson, Executive Director of the Colorado-based Secure World Foundation (SWF) Complete story here

image courtesy comics.com

Author Frank Herbert speaks about his novel Dune

Author Frank Herbert speak about Dune


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comcast Wants to spy on you oh yes they do...

Shaun said "MallCity infopanels, need I say more?" and you ask what he is talking about.....well check this out and then tell us we have been paranoid!

Comcast is experimenting with camera technology. More specifically, it trying out technology that turns cable boxes into camera-equipped devices that would utilize body-form-recognition as a means to provide custom-tailored service, and, of course, custom tailored advertising. The boxes would be able to tell who is in the room based on the shape of their body, thus tailoring programming to fit their specific desires and security settings. Facial recognition is not in the works as of yet.

Here is the rest of the story...



Strangely Lifelike CGI Woman interacts with your Mouse!


I have very little idea of exactly what is going on here, but if you want to see the extent of good CGI and I mean good, like in real time interaction with the outside world, click on the title or go here to see the head and shoulders of a woman. Ok, that in and of it self is not remarkable, but once she is on the screen, move your mouse cursor around on the screen.... Freaky huh?! I can see where something like this could be used to familiarize a new user with computer hardware or software....Microsoft's paperclip ain't got nuthin on this girl!

Botanist sues to stop CERN hurling Earth into parallel universe

A lawsuit has been filed in Hawaii in hopes to stop the start of operations by the Large Hadron Collider atom-smasher on the French-Swiss border. Walter L Wagner biologist and sometime physicist says that the LHC may rip a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the Earth. He wants the US government to act now and delay the LHC's startup while a new safety review is carried out. One of Wagner's concerns is that scientists at the colider, might slip up and create a miniature black hole. This would then suck in surrounding mass, gaining unstoppably in size and power in a runaway process until it had engulfed the entire Earth and packed it down inside its swelling, inescapable event horizon.

I am afraid that this is about as serious as the Register takes this story and they gleefully traipse off into quantum physics fairyland in a most humorous manner. Click on the article title for complete foolishness....

{via Boing Boing}

Friday, March 28, 2008

Space elevators face wobble problem

It has been readily admitted that a space elevator could slash the cost of space travel. But a new study suggests that even if we can get past the technological problems of building the gigantic structure, an even bigger challenge would be keeping it standing. It now appears the structure would need to include built-in thrusters to stabilize itself against dangerous vibrations. These vibrations can be generated by all sorts of forces. Gravitational forces from the Sun and Moon, as well as pressure from gusts of solar wind. Such oscillations could potentially make it veer into space traffic, including satellites and bits of space debris. A collision could cut the tether and wreck the space elevator. Previously considered methods of dampening the oscillations were to make the Earth-based anchor for the tether movable, there-by counter acting the vibrations. New research suggests that this may not be enough, while others suggest that this line of research has not shown enough quantitative analysis of the issue and disagree on the effectiveness of the ground based dampening. There has been some thought given to Earth's magnetic field naturally weaken any vibrations, though unlikely that it alone would cancel out the vibrations. Augmenting the Earth's magnetic field with electric currents through the cable might obviate the need for thrusters. All things considered however, researchers still feel that the space elevator idea is worth pursuing.
Here is a short video demonstrating the effects

Lord of the Isles by David Drake -TOR's newest free download

Lord of the Isles by David Drake is Tor Book's newest downloadable free ebook. For those of you not in the know yet, Tor is in the process of starting a new site that will mix news, commentary, original stories and art. To promote the site they are giving away a free ebook weekly until the site is in full swing.

You can get the PDF here
The HTML version here

You must sign up first at Tor to get on the mailing list, and they will send you all the links.

or if your so inclined, you can purchase the hard copy here.



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bleach the manga to be a feature film


I know, when am I going to grow up. Well if it means putting away Manga and Anime, I suspect never. So this piece of news caught my eye. Fans of Adult Swim on Saturday nights will appreciate the news that Bleach has been licensed for a theatrical release that will be called Bleach: In Memory of Nobody. The feature film will be set for a summer 2008 release and a DVD edition in the winter of 2008. As for all I could dig out of the press release is that most of the major character will be used in the movie, which I think you fellow fans will agree is a real good thing.

For those of you that are uninitiated Bleach the manga is wildly popular and has been licensed to more than a dozen countries, and sold more than 50 million copies in Japan alone. The official Bleach web site is bleach.viz.com.

BigDog Beta ?

Have you seen the videos of BigDog by Boston Dynamics yet? Well definitely click the link if you haven't yet. The thing is spooky and errie at the same time. It's a wonderful example of autonomous robotics. Well now after that, lets explore BigDog Beta. For a true WTF experience you just have to see what the maniacs at Seedwell have done or maybe have done BD one better?
Check this video out and then click on the article title to go to Gizmodo for an explanation of sorts.





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Suborbital Vehicle Expected To Fly Within Two Years


XCOR Aerospace has just unveiled a new suborbital spaceship that will provide affordable front-seat rides to the edge of space. XCOR Aerospace, of Mojave, CA, announced that its two-seat Lynx, roughly the size of a small private airplane, will first take off in 2010 and will be capable of flying several times each day. XCOR says that Lynx will operate much like a commercial aircraft. Its liquid fuel engines will provide the enhanced safety, durability, reliability and maintainability that keep operating costs low, while keeping pollution in the environment much lower than solid or hybrid rocket engines. The big difference is the passenger rides up front and not in the back which will add greatly to the flight experience.

Caprica Pilot Under Way

Mark's SF/Fantasy blog has some BSG/Caprica news:

A two-hour back-door pilot for Caprica, a series set in the Battlestar Galactica universe at least fifty years before the events shown in the current series, was greenlit last week by the Sci Fi Channel and is already in preproduction after two years in development. Sci Fi has made only a partial commitment to the series (and will most likely) pick up the series only if the ratings on the pilot are solid. The reluctance stems in part from creator Ronald D. Moore's intention to make Caprica heavily dependent on long story arcs, which networks tend to fear repel new viewers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Suspended Animation Now Possible


Scientists have unlocked the secret of suspended animation. Hydrogen sulfide may be the miracle substance that finally allows humans to stay alive in a frozen, non-aging state. According to a release about the study, which will be published in the April issue of the journal Anaethesiology, the researchers are convinced that they've hit on something that's very close to the scifi idea of suspended animation.

Click here for the research paper excerpt.

Mars Rovers Will Not Be Shut Down


It had been reported earlier that in order to make a 4 million dollar budget cut mandated by the US government, NASA was preparing to terminate monitoring of the Mars rover Spirit, in effect, turning it off. In a recent reversal NASA has announced that the Mars rover Spirit will not be shut down. NASA is saying that it has rescinded a letter that recommended budget cuts in the Mars Rover program to cover the cost of a next-generation rover on the Red Planet.

Forward Through Backwards Time

Is this science fiction? welllll maybe in a way. As Boing Boing puts it: The folks at Rocketboom released a lovely, dreamlike episode this week in which host Joanne Colan appears to move forward in time through a reverse-time New York City.





Jon Armstrong's GREY available as a free download

From Boing Boing I see that Night Shade books is releasing Grey by Jon Armstrong as a free down-loadable pdf. Described as a "high fashion dystopia" I suspect that we are in for a good read with this one. I haven't had a chance to check it out (if someone out there reads it before I do, let us know) but I can't beat the price, so I am going to go take a looksee.

Click on the article title to go to the download area on Nightshade books or go to http://www.nightshadebooks.com/downloads/

Those wanting a trade paperback version can go to Nightshade's site or Amazon



Sunday, March 23, 2008

Visual technology enables brain to learn in new ways

Shades of Mall City! Funded by a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Tufts' new 14-foot by 8-foot visualization display offers a combination of advanced features.

"Users will be able to manipulate, simulate, touch and literally immerse themselves in data in a way they never have been able to before," said Amelia Tynan, vice president and chief information officer and co-principal investigator.

The Tufts system can combine the sense of touch with that of sight through haptic devices that convey varying levels of resistance to the user when he or she touches graphical objects on the display wall.

Sounds like something the Spacing Guild's Navigators of the Dune-iverse, or the hyperspace pilots of the Phoenix in Cherryh's Foreigner series, would be comfy with, or the Mall City educators and advertisers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sarah Connor Bulking Up for Season 2


Good news for Terminator: Sarah Connors Chronicles, TV Guide reports that insiders hint that Fox is green lighting production for the fall season. Even though Fox is officially saying that there has been no official decision, the show is being told to go ahead and hire directors for the first three shows of the fall season.

Thanks to SF Signals for the original story

Graphic FoxTV

The Onion: Are We Giving Robots Too Much Power?

From the Wired Danger Room via Boing Boing is The Onion doing a very slick skit which entails a news cast from the future discussing the pros and cons of to many robots in human society. As the clip unfolds, you discover that things are MUCH worse than you think. Wildly funny and well done





Hugo nominees for 2008

From Boing Boing:

The Hugo nominees for 2008 have been announced,

Best Novel

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
Brasyl by Ian McDonald
Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer
The Last Colony by John Scalzi *
Halting State by Charles Stross

Best Novella

Fountains of Age by Nancy Kress
Recovering Apollo 8" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Stars Seen Through Stone by Lucius Shepard
All Seated on the Ground" by Connie Willis
Memorare by Gene Wolfe
The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics" by Daniel Abraham
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang
Dark Integers by Greg Egan (audio available on BMU #104,#105,#106 & #107)
Glory" by Greg Egan
Finisterra by David Moles

Best Short Story


Last Contact by Stephen Baxter
Tideline by Elizabeth Bear (audio available on BMU #109)
Who's Afraid of Wolf 359? by Ken MacLeod (audio available on BMU #99 +#100)
Distant Replay by Mike Resnick (audio available on BMU #98)
A Small Room in Koboldtown by Michael Swanwick (BMU #101 & #102)

Link to Denvention, home of this year's Hugo


*review earlier


Tor offering Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain Free

If you have been living in a cave for the past few months and are not up to date, Tor Books is offering several of it's most popular books as free pdf downloads from their site. Tor is giving away this and other books to help promote their new site. With that in mind, the newest offering is Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell. Crystal Rain is the first in a series by Buckell. Ragamuffin was the follow up, of which we have a review of, a couple of months ago.

Print copies from Amazon






Thursday, March 20, 2008

NASA Swift Satellite Detects Record Explosion Halfway Across Universe


A powerful stellar explosion detected March 19 by NASA's Swift satellite has shattered the record for the most distant object that could be seen with the naked eye. Swift's Burst Alert Telescope picked up the burst at 2:12 a.m. EDT, March 19, and pinpointed the coordinates in the constellation Boötes (pronounced boo-OH-tease). The gamma ray burst was measured at 2.5 million times more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright object ever observed by humans in the universe. The most distant previous object that could have been seen by the naked eye is the nearby galaxy M33, a relatively short 2.9 million light-years from Earth. Analysis of GRB 080319B is just getting underway, so astronomers don't know why this burst and its afterglow were so bright. One possibility is the burst was more energetic than others, perhaps because of the mass, spin, or magnetic field of the progenitor star or its jet. Or perhaps it concentrated its energy in a narrow jet that was aimed directly at Earth.

Bionic Woman Is Officially Cancelled

The rumors are true: NBC's The Bionic Woman is officially dead. SciFi Wire recently spoke with the show's co-executive producer, David Eick, who confirmed that the show was terminated, even though the network has given no public word on the show's status. The Bionic Woman has been believed to be cancelled since the end of the writer's strike, when NBC didn't order any new episodes of the program.

Man killed by gun weilding Robot

Now here is a first, for me at least: Fox News via Boing Boing

An 81-year-old Queensland, Australia man has died of gun shot wounds to the head. The weapon was a 22 caliber firearm operated by a robot of the man's own construction from plans he found on the web. News is still sketchy, but a note left at the scene suggests that the man deliberately set the robot and himself up in such a way that he would be discovered quickly by workmen nearby. It's still unclear as to just what motivated him to go to such extremes, however his note expressed anxiety cause by pressure from relatives suggesting he move out of his home and into a care facility.

Biggest Black Hole in Universe Discovered


From the Daily Galaxy online - Shaun Saunders sends in a major find....

The biggest black hole in the universe weighs in with a respectable mass of 18 billion Suns, and is about the size of an entire galaxy. The biggest black hole beats out its nearest competitor by six times. (This monster is located) 3.5 billion light years away, forming the heart of a quasar called OJ287. The massive black hole has, by comparison, a diminutive companion massing in at just over 100 million solar masses that orbits its larger neighbor every 12 years. That sounds slow until you consider the size of the bigger singularity and then you realize that the smaller companion is orbiting at near relativistic speeds.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Grant Imahara does M.O.R.A.V.

Ok, before you ask, M.O.R.A.V. is an action/sci-fi story that features massive armored robots embroiled in a corporate war. M.O.R.A.V. stands for Multi-Operational Robot Armored Vehicle. A MORAV is a 30 feet tall, humanoid style 2-legged piloted robot. MORAV is a fully-fleshed out concept created by artist and model designer Fon Davis, who has worked on many high profile projects such as The Matrix. The website is well fleshed out with history, bios, news and vids. One that proved very interesting was a short of Mythbusters Grant Imahara doing remote model work for Fon. I though you might be interested in seeing Imahara's multifaceted talents as well as some of the models in work. There is plently more on the main page of MORAV, I know I am looking forward to seeing where this all will go.





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Free Telescopes....well almost


Shaun Saunders and I must have discovered this at the same time. So, let me pose a question to you. Are you fascinated by the night sky? Do you know the name of a few of the constellations and know where the ecliptic is? Do you have a small telescope, but wish you could afford something really massive? Have I got a sweet deal for you. How about something in the 14 inch range, robotic control that will output pictures to you, so you never have to spend another freezing night bent over an eye piece? Oh and its free. Whats the catch? Well you have to share. What we came across was several telescopes that are remotely controlled and are accessed by the internet. You point them, take pictures and then download your output. And we are not talking about toys here people. No, these are the real deal, upwards of 14 inches of raw telescopic enjoyment. Here is the WIRED page that describes the installations and where to log on to get started. In most cases your allowed to use these machines for free, in some cases, your asked for a donation for the pictures you take.

Telescopes

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Review: Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by R.A. Bedford

The folks over at Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing have certainly peaked my interest. How? Well, in amongst the material sent to BMU for review was a wee bit of a booklet. What I had come across was a "teaser" for a new book by author K.A. Bedford called Time Machines, Repaired While-U-Wait" that is due for release August 15 2008. It happens to have a theme that is one of my favorites. Time Machines or Time Travel and if you throw in some tech, well I am even more entertained! Something that Bedford seems to have given us in goodly measure. Of course I am basing this on just the first chapter, however this was ample for me to seriously want to check this out when it's released. Call While U Wait, time machines with a twist. Sometime in the near future, time machines have become common as well, the family auto. Different models abound, with the venerable Tempo being the model of choice because of it's economy, for the average consumer. The most common model is the 300 which we are told are turned out by the thousands and have yet to saturate the market. The protagonists are ill used hand to mouth repairmen who are called to repair a malfing Tempo 300, speculating that a cat may be to blame, which seems to be, mysteriously a very common cause. What our intrepid service persons find is something outside their comfort zone. A Tempo that seems all wrong on so many levels. Just setting in the machine gives one vast amounts of unease. At the end of chapter 1 the repairmen agree, against their better judgment, to remove the unit for repair. I know, I was left turning the page wanting more and that is a telling enough review in my book. Yep, looking forward to August. I will try to get a full review as soon as I can get a copy of the complete text, but so far so good!

Title Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait
Author K.A. Bedford
Pages 320
Price 17.95
Format Trade Paperback
Publisher Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Visionary Arthur C. Clarke dead at 90


Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, an aide said. He was 90. Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s died at 1:30 a.m. after suffering breathing problems. I am not going to bore you with anymore details. If you are reading this blog you know who AC was and what he was known for. Of note recently was Clarke's very vocal support for the Google prize for a private Luna mission. Other than that, the sense of lose is only matched by the loss in the 90s of Dr. Asimov.

AP story

The imagination of the science fiction author Sir Arthur C Clarke bubbled over with ideas about the future of science, technology and human society. BBC science and technology staff look at some that came true, and some that did not. Click Here for the BBC News report


Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't Sell Off This Satellite!

Why Canada must hang onto Radarsat-2.
Read testimony given March 5th by University of British Columbia Professor Michael Byers to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry Science and Technology on the proposed sale of Canadian aerospace firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., which includes operations in Richmond, B.C.

Byers, a poli-sci professor, holds the Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law and leads a project on the Northwest Passage for ArcticNet, a federally-funded consortium of scientists from 28 Canadian universities and five government departments.

Excerpt from testimony:
"Once Radarsat-2 is sold to Alliant Techsystems, the United States will likely replace Canada as the country with licensing authority over it. I have sought to confirm this with several officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, including in the minister's office. All of them claim not to know what will happen to the license."

If the United States becomes the licensing authority, Ottawa's ability to control what the satellite is used for -- and to commandeer the equipment in emergencies -- might be lost. And even if Canada were to retain some sort of notional control, one can well imagine that control breaking down in certain circumstances when the company in question is owned and located in the United States."

Suppose, for instance, that Canada wanted priority access for sovereignty assertion purposes just as a major war involving the United States was breaking out in the Middle East."

One can even imagine the U.S. government using Radarsat-2 in ways that directly contradict Canada's interests. Suppose that the United States sends a ship into the Northwest Passage without Canada's consent. Or that it attacks a foreign country in the absence of UN authorization or a truly imminent threat -- and in direct contradiction of the Canadian government's stated position."

Image courtesy Canada Space Agency


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Video - Space Alone

SF Signals is always coming up with the best short videos. This one is cute and sad at the same time. Oh admit it, you liked it!



Farscape Goes Oline! well, maybe


ohhhhhhhhh now here is one I can get behind. IO9 reports: Farscape may make a comeback online. Star Ben Browder says he's into reprising the role of John Crichton. Sci Fi Wire says Executive producer Brian Henson and creator Rockne O'Bannon are talking about how to revive Farscape on the Web. The recently settled writers' strike put the project on hold, and as Browder puts it "it will take a little while before a number of things get going again."

Lets hope this project does come to fruition.

Boldly Going Nowhere

From Entertainment Weekly

The boys behind FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia — have sold a pilot to Fox. The show, is called Boldly Going Nowhere. It will follow a spaceship captain's mundane life as he kills time between missions. The writers thought it would be funny to watch what goes on in between exciting adventures, when they're waiting for the next big thing to happen. How do they keep themselves busy?

huh....so we are suppose to watch a show about a ships crew that isn't doing anything but waiting around? Well the concept takes my breath away. No wait, that's the plastic bag I just put over my head. Never mind.......

article link

Father of "Eliza" Joseph Weizenbaum, Dead at 85


Joseph Weizenbaum, whose famed conversational computer program, Eliza, foreshadowed the potential of artificial intelligence, died on March 5 in Gröben, Germany. Eliza, written while Mr. Weizenbaum was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964 and named after Eliza Doolittle, who learned proper English in “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady,” was a groundbreaking experiment in the study of human interaction with machines. The program made it possible for a person typing in plain English at a computer terminal to interact with a machine in a semblance of a normal conversation. To dispense with the need for a large real-world database of information, the software parodied the part of a Rogerian therapist, frequently reframing a client’s statements as questions. Mr. Weizenbaum later said that he was stunned to discover that his students and others became deeply engrossed in conversations with the program, occasionally revealing intimate personal details. Often people failed to understand that they were talking to a computer program.

Click Here For the complete article from the New York Times

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A lyrical look at life on the ISS

Bud Roman sent me this short video containing snippets of life on the International Space Station set to music. It was just such a nice short that I thought I would share.
Enjoy

video

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Myth Busters to do the Moon Landing Hoax

I was just reading on the Bad Astronomy Blog that the guys over at the Discovery Channel program MythBusters, are going to do a program on debunking the myth that the Apollo Moon landings were staged. The Blog reports that the episode will air April 25th but other than that, any details on the episode is under wraps. However here is a short video of the build team visit to the Marshal Space Flight Center.





How To: Terminate a Terminator (Updated)


I love this kind of stuff! Wired's Danger Room online page delves once again into how to take down a Terminator. Going through classes of armor, and weapons choices both indoor and outdoor, to get the most effective damage results. What makes this exercise fun is they tie it into the Terminator movies for hints on what will and what will not work against what director Cameron calls "chrome plated death". As Wired puts it: Generally speaking, Terminators appear to be able to shrug off small-arms fire. However, as a military technology enthusiast, you have to ask exactly how good their protection is. They have done their research, you can say that. The classes of armor even have hotlinks to detailed ballistics and the types of armor that will stop them. Also is a discussion on metal armor (which director Cameron went for for asthetic reason....lol) vs the real life adoption of unique ceramic composites. Each round and firearm type has links to realworld pages on these weapons, which give you a real insight into the power that some of these modern weapons can develop. Many of which were not even available when the first Terminator appeared. Makes you wonder what influenced what? Click the link for the complete article

McDonald's Star Trek commercial?!!!

From the WTF department - I found this link on SF Signals which showed what I think has to be the strangest Star Trek movie tie in. From 1979 comes the Klingon Happy Meal. First off....who did the research for this? Klingon eating processed food? If I remember my Klingon preferences, food must still be moving when eaten is the general rule...Nope, not likely to find that in a happy meal. Take a look at this strangeness....






Locus’s best sf of 2007 list

From Cory Doctorow's Craphound:

The annual Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List just came out — it’s the critical consensus of Locus’s reviewers on the best science fiction and fantasy of the year, and a more reliable guide to great speculative fiction you will not find. I’m pleased to say that my short story collection Overclocked and my novella After the Siege made the cut! SF novels

* HARM, Brian W. Aldiss (Del Rey; Duckworth)
* The Sons of Heaven, Kage Baker (Tor)
* Conqueror, Stephen Baxter (Gollancz; Ace)
* Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
* Till Human Voices Wake Us, Mark Budz (Bantam Spectra)
* The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
* Spook Country, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
* In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan (Tor)
* The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman (Ace)
* Mainspring, Jay Lake (Tor)
* The Execution Channel, Ken MacLeod (Orbit UK; Tor)
* Brasyl, Ian McDonald (Pyr; Gollancz)
* Black Man, Richard Morgan (Gollancz; Del Rey as Thirteen)
* Shelter, Susan Palwick (Tor)
* Engineer Trilogy: Devices and Desires / Evil for Evil / The Escapement, K. J. Parker (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
* The Prefect, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz; Ace 6/08)
* Sixty Days and Counting, Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam Spectra; HarperCollins UK)
* Bad Monkeys, Matt Ruff (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
* Queen of Candesce, Karl Schroeder (Tor)
* Halting State, Charles Stross (Ace)
* Ha’Penny, Jo Walton (Tor)
* Axis, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

Nanotechnology and the phone


I was reading through Kim Komando's online newsletter and found this short movie on Nanotech. Now yeah, it is a bit self-serving, however at the same time, it does have some intriguing prospects for tech in the near future. Here is what the article had to say in brief:

Cell phones have gotten smaller and cheaper over the years. And, new features are added regularly. But Nokia envisions a startlingly different type of phone. It’s called the Morph, and it uses nanotechnology.

Plus it has some good background music! Enjoy

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mankind's secrets kept in lunar ark

Now here is a perfect example of something conceived in science that could make a great science fiction story.

Plans are being drawn up for a “Doomsday ark” on the moon containing the essentials of life and civilization. A basic version of the ark would contain hard discs holding information such as DNA sequences and instructions for metal smelting or planting crops. It would be buried in a vault just under the lunar surface.

I can see the drama of the build, the horror of the collapse, and something akin to Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders when they found the ancient AI that helped rebuild civilization. As great as it sounds....could it work? Look at how fast knowledge can fade away. Often the same thing is invented several times, there is ample evidence in history to support this claim. I suspect that if a life ending event happens on Earth, the ability to run the machinery or maintain the machinery that would retrieve this information would quickly pass. The knowledge that is saved would still be lost. If not retrieved and implemented almost immediately, I suspect that within a century there would be no one left who would understand how it all functioned. Look at how much was almost lost when the Egyptian empire collapsed. They left the records, but the ability to decode the writings was lost. Great fiction, not practical.

click here for the complete article from the Times Online




Cassini to make unprecedented flyby of Saturn's Enceladus.



NASA has engineered a most unusual flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The spacecraft, will make its closest approach to date, where it will will skirt along the edges of huge geysers that erupt

from fractures on the south pole of Enceladus. Cassini will test for water-ice, dust and gas in the plume. The source of the geysers is of great interest to scientists who think liquid water, perhaps even an ocean, may exist in the area. While flying through the edge of the plumes, Cassini will be approximately 120 miles from the surface. At closest approach to Enceladus, Cassini will be only 30 miles from the moon. In 2005, Cassini's multiple instruments discovered that the tiny moon was gushing water vapor geysers out to a distance of three times its radius. This is the first of four Cassini flybys of Enceladus this year. In June, Cassini completes its prime mission, a four-year tour of Saturn. Cassini's next flyby of Enceladus is planned for August, well into Cassini's proposed extended mission. Cassini will perform seven Enceladus flybys in its extended mission.

Update: here are some of the first pics of that encounter

Stargate Atlantis may be coming back earlier than expected


Richard Keller at TV Squad reports that Stargate Atlantis may not wait until fall to resume season 5. It seems that several sources have said that Atlantis may start new shows as early as July! Gateworld, TV Guide, and others have reported a move up of two months for the fifth season premiere episode. Why the change in schedule? Keller speculates that it might be due to the writers strike and the fact that shows like BSG are planning on starting up with new episodes in the spring and summer months.

Clarke Award Nominees

The Science Fiction Awards Watch blog has listed this year's nominations for the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The short list for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award is as follows:

  • The Red Men by Matthew de Abaitua
  • The H-Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter
  • The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hal
  • The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
  • The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod
  • Black Man (Thirteen) by Richard Morgan

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Sci-Fi London film festival on April 30th.

The annual award is presented for the best science fiction novel of the year, and selected from a shortlist of novels whose UK first edition was published in the previous calendar year.

However according to Torque Control blog, not all is hunky dory as far as fans are concerned with the short list. Comments such as insular and ludicrous were bandied about. Click the Torque Control link to read more.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Astronauts Will Assemble Robot in Space


From Wired: Astronauts on the next Endeavour launch will be doing something that smacks of science fiction. They will be assembling a giant robot in space! On their 16 day mission, shuttle astronauts will spend 3 out of 5 space walks assembling Canadian Space Agency's Dextre - short for dexterous and pronounced like Dexter. Dextre is a two-armed space station robot with 11-foot arms, a shoulder span of nearly 8 feet and a height of 12 feet and weighing in at 3,400-pounds. Equipped with a tool holster, Dextre is designed to assist spacewalking astronauts and, ultimately, to take over some of their dangerous outdoor work. Dextre can pivot at the waist, and has seven joints per arm. Its hands, or grippers, have built-in socket wrenches, cameras and lights. Only one arm is designed to move at a time to keep the robot stable and avoid a two-arm collision.

Saturn Moon May Have Rings

From National Geographic News, Shaun sends in this article:

Rhea, Saturn's second largest moon, may be the first known moon with its own small system of rings. Although no one has actually seen Rhea's rings, scientists say that odd data collected during a 2005 flyby of the Cassini spacecraft provides strong clues. "We can't say definitely that there are rings surrounding Rhea," said planetary scientist Geraint Jones. "But the data we have are a real puzzle, and the only reasonable explanation we've been able to come up with is the debris disk proposal."

Now there is a graphic that I bet we see in some upcoming science fiction movie. Odds on when we see it first?

Click on article title for complete story in National Geographic News

New Amsterdam a first impression


NEW AMSTERDAM Fox Monday 9pm eastern, centers on a brilliant and enigmatic New York homicide detective unlike any other. And he has a profound secret - he is immortal. Staring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as John Amsterdam, which you would think is the reason for the title, ah but you would be wrong. The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam which flourished in the 1600s later became what is now known as modern day New York City - Ok, history aside, Amsterdam is for all intents immortal ala The Highlander. There isn't any of the there can be only one BS going on here though. John was "saved" in the 1600s by an Indian priestess who tells him that he will not die or grow old until he finds his one true love. Amsterdam, in the show pilot, has become a homicide detective and while chasing down a murder suspect, suffers a mysterious heart attack. He suspects that this is an sign that someone in the crowd was the woman who will be his soul mate. And so the hunt is on. There seems to be something about this show. I had finally sat down to watch the first episode expecting a Highlander ripoff. Though there are some similarities, it would appear that the writers are trying their hardest to steer away from the comparisons. Though there is the bar tender who knows all, Amsterdam does not try to keep an especially low profile. He constantly has running jokes on how long he has been alive, to how long he has been sober, to the name of his dog. Though there are the obligatory flashbacks, they seem to be done in shorter snippets, which I find far less annoying. The dialogue on first breath seems fresh enough, though I can see where the jokes and flashbacks could become old after a few episodes. But for now, I would suggest giving it a looking at. Its not terrible.

Hold the Milky Way in the palm of your hand


Remember that moment in Men in Black when we find out that the whole galaxy is held inside a crystal? I thought that was a pretty neat graphic. Well now we can get close to the same thing. Living World's has developed the Milky Way galaxy 3D model. This model is a Lucite like block that is totally clear except this cube contains 80,000 laser rendered stars that represent the Milky Way galaxy. Each point was created using real space data. However this piece of art doesn't come cheap. It will set you back over 700 dollars US.




Friday, March 07, 2008

Selected Wastelands stories available online free


Wow, here is some real good news. SFSignals has an article reporting that John Joseph Adams has posted six stories from his anthology, Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, on the book's website! The stories are:

  • "And the Deep Blue Sea" by Elizabeth Bear
  • "Bread and Bombs" by M. Rickert
  • "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" by Cory Doctorow
  • "The Last of the O-Forms" by James Van Pelt
  • "Still Life With Apocalypse" by Richard Kadrey
  • "Waiting for the Zephyr" by Tobias S. Buckell

  • This is seriously good news. I have read the book and these are great stories, with the good news that there are even more inside that are as good or better. Here is the book's website http://www.johnjosephadams.com/wastelands/

    Here is my review of the book that I posted earlier REVIEW

    In Space, do Boomerangs come back?


    Japanese astronaut Takao Doi is asking a question that seems fairly simple at first. How does a boomerang behave in a weightless environment. Without the pull of gravity, will the ancient hunting device return to the person who threw it? When the Space Shuttle Endeavour launches on March 11, Doi will be carrying a pair of paper boomerangs to the International Space Station. There Doi will soon find out by throwing some around inside the station. The boomerangs were presented to Doi by the Japanese champion Yasuhiro Togai, who suspects that the devices will spiral up and away from the thrower.

    Article source Pink Tentacle

    Sci Fi Channel Remakes Waterworld

    IO9 is reporting that the Sci-Fi channel has dumped 6.4 million into a remake (or tribute if you will) to Kevin Costner's Waterworld. And you thought I was just joking when I said that the folks at Sci-Fi were on Crack....

    Here is what IO9 had to say: Lost City Raiders, [is] the Sci Fi Channel's $6.4 million tribute to Kevin Costner's Waterworld. Two groups survive the flooding of the Earth: the poor, who huddle in near-starvation, and the rich, who survived the disaster and now live in artificial islands. But a third group, the Lost City Raiders, searches the flooded remains of cities for treasures in their high-tech submarines.

    In truth I didn't think Waterworld was all that bad. Mad Max done wet was my opinion. Some of my favorite stories are set in just these sort of worlds. Yeah the whole thing with the tanker and smokers was overdone, however the imagery was great. So I guess I will give this version a looksee.

    More on the project that will star James Brolin from c21 Media

    Oh I know I shouldn't do this, but if anything, it give you insight into the inner workings, or dysfunctions of my mind. I was reading the IO9 blog when I came across this picture. Now really, if it has to be explained, you are reading the wrong blog. The basic article was talking about the original actor who played the creature had died a while ago, but for a moment I had this weird though....."I wonder who he is talking to in this picture?" No, wait, really, for a split second all I could think of was, he is on a cell! No, really! Loook! Doesn't it look like he has just received a call? And the call? Well....."Hi, Ma?! yeah Ma, umm Fine, yes....I am eating well....yess.....um ma can I get back to ya? I am kind of in the middle of lunch here....yeah, love you tooo...." Ok, yeah I know...I should have put that thought in the deep dark corners from where it came.

    Adventure Books now Podcasting!!!


    Robert Blevins has taken Aventure Books into the audioscape - starting a brand new blog. From the podcast's main page Robert writes:

    Adventure Books of Seattle is the 'Small Press From the Great Northwest' publishing sci-fi and other genres in paperback and hardcover. We also publish the magazine 'Escape Velocity'. The Adventure Books Podcast presents exciting science fiction short stories, poetry, and occasional film reviews.

    As he goes on to say, the aim of the podcast is: To broadcast short science fiction stories, market news, film reviews, and other items for sci-fi fans. Narrator Robert M Blevins is the author of the sci-fi novels 'Say Goodbye to the Sun', 'The 13th Day of Christmas', 'The Corona Incident', 'A Question of Balance', and other works. He lives in Seattle.

    Got to love their quote!

    'Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made POSSIBLE.'

    Lot of luck with the new podcast!

    Here is the url http://adventurebooks.podomatic.com/

    Star's Death Could Kill All Life on Earth


    Shaun found this article in Cosmos online. A spectacular, rotating binary star system is a ticking time bomb, ready to throw out a searing beam of high-energy gamma rays – and Earth may be right in the line of fire. Astronomers at the University of Sydney, in Australia, first discovered the star system eight years ago in the Constellation Sagittarius. One member of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, thought to be the final stage of stellar evolution to precede a cataclysmic supernova explosion. When it finally explodes as a supernova, it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays [which would be aimed right at Earth]. The pair of stars is only 8,000 light-years from Earth, just one quarter of the way to the centre of the Milky Way. WR 104 has been observed emitting a vast plume of heated dust and gas, billowing out in a spiral as the stars rotate once every eight months. Viewed from Earth, the rotating tail appears to be laid out on the sky in an almost perfect spiral. It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system. This means we are peering down the barrel of the gun, as when binary supernovae go off, all their energy is focussed into a narrow beam of wildly destructive gamma ray radiation that emanates (both up and down) from the poles of the system. A 2005 study showed that a gamma-ray burst originating within 6,500 light-years of Earth could be enough to strip away the ozone layer and cause a mass extinction. There is evidence that gamma ray bursts have swept over the planet at various points in Earth's history with a devastating effect on life.

    Shaun commented: "Curtain Call and Last Light all rolled into one!" Both short stories by Saunders have been read on BMU (both are available in the show's story archives and in his book Navigating the New World)

    Mind-reading Machine becoming a very real possibility

    From New Scientist Tech: A device that reveals what a person sees by decoding their brain activity could soon be a reality. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, US, developed a computational model that uses functional MRI (fMRI) data to decode information from an individual's visual cortex – the part of the brain responsible for processing visual stimuli. Research has made substantial advances towards being able to decode mental content from brain activity as measured using fMRI (functional MRI) results suggest it may soon be possible to reconstruct our visual experiences from brain activity. The research also hints that scientists might one day be able to access dreams, memories and imagery.

    Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post


    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Jericho Struggling?


    What is it about Jericho? I know I pounded on it a bit in it's first season for what appeared to be soup opera type plot lines. Other than that, I was a faithful fan until it returned from hiatus. Now, do you think I can set through a complete episode? Nope..... Oh I got the jist, new government coming in, may or may not be legit, the whole "attack" may have been a complete inside job, several of the main characters risk being discovered for this or that infringement... and so on. Not one part of that led me to think Jericho might be worth spending 10 more minutes with. Which is strange, because Jericho is clearly one of the better shows being offered on any of the networks. The machinations just are not holding me and that seems to be what was happening to it's last episode. Which seems to be the same with quite a few watchers. Mike Hinman at SyFy Portal reports that Jericho lost 9% of it's audience on it recent episode, turning in one of the lowest weeks yet. I certainly am not panning the show, but for me, it's once too many times back to the same well.

    Read Michael Hinman's post on SyFy Portal


    Paul Goebel on TVSquad blog
    had some interesting observations on some Jericho "Oversights" as well.

    Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins 5/2009 release

    Mark Wilson in Mark's sf/fantasy blog wrote about the newest Terminator movie:

    The fourth film in the series, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, is now slated to be released May 22, 2009. Terminator Salvation is in fact expected to launch a new trilogy of films documenting the rise of the machines, with John Connor -- the one man identified by artificial intelligence Skynet as capable of stopping them -- played here by Christian Bale. The film is directed by McG, who's best known for Charlie's Angels and Supernatural (as executive producer). The film reunites writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris from Terminator 3.

    Johnny Mnemonic is dated OMG!


    I know most or at least a good portion of you thought Johnny Mnemonic was so much trash. However, I like the cyber-punk sub-genre and on top of that, I like William Gibson's style. I first read the short story in OMNI magazine in '81 and was floored. At that time I was just starting to play around with computers. Most of what I could store was on audio tape which I might remind you was a major upgrade from paper tape. A machine running a 1mhz with 4kb of RAM was a serious piece of machinery. The thought that you could have 128kb and store data on 360kb disks was still a bit off. So here is this story where Johnny could store GIGABYTES mind you in his HEAD! Well that was just plain fantastic! then the movie came out in the late 90s when you could get a gigabyte drive without taking out a house loan, the though still of all that storage, SMALL enough to fit in your head was still major geekiness. So what is my problem? No, it's not realizing that Reeves can not act, it was a simple throwaway line in the movie that I again watched last night. Johnny is trying to escape from someone bent on taking his head off. He finds himself in the sewers having weird flashes as the data in his head starts leaking. When asked what is happening to him, he replies "I got this implant that can store 80gig in my head, 160 if I use a doubler" and the movie instantly became quaint. Why? I just took an 80 gig drive out of my "play" computer and threw in a 160gig why? because the 160 was dead cheap and was "old" pata tech. So, Johnny went from being uber cool to being a cheap hack geek using discoed ots trash. Sigh......




    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Last Confessions Of A Dying Star


    Here is a prime example....tell me that there isn't a story in here somewhere.
    In Science Daily online: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals a wealth of previously unseen structures while scanning a glowing bubble of gas and dust encircling a dying star. The object, called NGC 2371, is a planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a Sun-like star. The remnant star visible at the center of NGC 2371 is the super-hot core of the former red giant, now stripped of its outer layers. Its surface temperature is a scorching 240,000 degrees Fahrenheit. NGC 2371 lies about 4,300 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. A planetary nebula is an expanding cloud of gas ejected from a star that is nearing the end of its life. The nebula glows because of ultraviolet radiation from the hot remnant star at its center. In only a few thousand years the nebula will dissipate into space. The central star will then gradually cool down, eventually becoming a white dwarf, the final stage of evolution for nearly all stars.

    Click here for the complete article

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Key to Life Before its Origin on Earth discovered

    Researchers studying a special group of meteorites have found them to contain amino acids that have identical counterparts in terrestrial biomolecules. These meteorites are fragments of asteroids that are about the same age as the solar system (roughly 4.5 billion years.)

    The discovery was made possible by the finding in Antarctica of an exceptionally pristine meteorite. Antarctic ices are good “curators” of meteorites. After a meteorite falls -- and meteorites have been falling throughout the history of Earth -- it is quickly covered by snow and buried in the ice. Because these ices are in constant motion, when they come to a mountain, they will flow over the hill and bring meteorites to the surface.
    ...
    Dr Sandra Pizzarello, a research professor at Arizona State University, who led the research team said: “Thanks to the pristine nature of this meteorite, we were able to demonstrate that other extraterrestrial amino acids carry the left-handed excesses in meteorites and, above all, that these excesses appear to signify that their precursor molecules, the aldehydes, also carried such excesses,.”

    “In other words, a molecular trait that defines life seems to have broader distribution as well as a long cosmic lineage.” Pizzarello said.

    (image courtesy Anders Meibom)




    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    Ulysses mission coming to a end


    According to an ESA news release: Ulysses, the mission to study the Sun’s poles is coming to an end. After more than 17 years in space – almost four times its expected lifetime – the mission is finally succumbing to its harsh environment and is likely to finish sometime in the next month or two. Ulysses is a joint mission between ESA and NASA. It was launched in 1990 from The Shuttle Discovery on October 6, 1990. Ulysses was the first mission to study the environment of space above and below the poles of the Sun. Originally designed for a lifetime of five years, the mission has surpassed all expectations. The spacecraft is powered by the decay of a radioactive isotope and over the 17-plus years, the power it has been supplying has been steadily dropping. Now, the spacecraft no longer has enough power to run all of its communications, heating (which keeps its' supply of hydrazine fuel, for maneuvering, from dropping below -20 degrees C at which point it will freeze blocking pipes and making maneuvering impossible) and scientific equipment simultaneously. Though several attempts to conserve power have been partially successful, Ulysses will begin to fail within 1 to 2 years. Nasa plans to continue to operate the craft at reduced capacity until it fails to communicate.

    The Iron Man Trailer or why I am now a slut for Sci-Fi

    ok, look, I didn't want to get onto this web wide band wagon of "ooooh have you seen the new Iron Man trailer" expecially since I hate Robert Downey Jr. as Stark. Yeah, I know the hype, "oh he is the perfect choice, they are both hyped up drug abusin alkies!" but come on! Downey as the weapons genius Stark?!!! uhhhhh NO! But I finally in a weak moment broke over and watched the trailer, mixing AC/DC and Black Sabbath, plus explosions?! I am so in! So the main might not thrill me, but the movie looks like it is going to kick some serious ass. Check out the trailer....What? oh yeah... I know, I am a sci-fi slut now too.

    New Inductees to the Science Fiction HOF

    From the Science Fiction Awards Watch I read that Locus reports this year’s inductees for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame will be William Gibson, Ian & Betty Ballantine, Rod Serling, and Richard Powers. The induction ceremony will take place at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle alongside the Locus Awards ceremony on June 21st.




    Poll, what do you look for in Science Fiction


    Science fiction is really a jumble sale of about twenty different genres. We use the term "science fiction" to label a whole range of material, from space opera to near-future dystopias. But what really matters is what you get out of reading or watching it. What do you look for in your science fiction?

    click here to go to the IO9 poll to cast your vote and see some interesting results

    graphic IO9

    Plan to teach baby robot to talk


    ok, this is one story that I was kind of sitting on for no other reason than it at first seemed to be alarmist and derivative. So many are looking at it as either just a waste of effort and other reactionaries are screaming the AI's are commin! When both sides are patently wrong, why bother? But then Shaun sends in a report on the project that the BBS News had picked up on. And what are we talking about? The project to teach a "baby" robot to speak. And your already saying "teach a robot to speak? Just program in the words!" nope, wrong answer. What you have created is a fancy recorder. The "baby" would understand nothing about what was being said or why it was being said. The experiment is to try to get an AI to learn and understand the fundamentals of language just as a child would as it was learnig to speak. As the BBC reports:

    Their findings could lead to the development of humanoid robots which learn, think and talk.

    Here is more from the BBC article

    What's next you ask - well Shaun say iChild...lol I on the other hand are a bit more freaked out and the first thing I though of was Kubric's AI based on Aldiss' "Super Toys Last all Summer" Read the article, read the story....you judge. Oh and yes I am trying to get Brian to let me read this disturbing piece on BMU and for your money, I thought Kubric nailed it.