Wednesday, March 31, 2010

50 Years of Space Garbage

The amount of space garbage is unbelievable! Check out this video of how space trash accumulated since the late 50s to 2000.

Phosphors via IO9

Judge Rules Genes Can't Be Patented

IO9 reports that a judge recently ruled against the pharmaceutical industry stating that a company could not patent a human gene just because they discovered it.

From the article:
  • The ruling grew out of a suit brought by the ACLU and Public Patent Foundation against Myriad Genetics, Inc., which had a patent on a gene which can lead to breast cancer.
  • The ruling that could invalidate patents held on almost 20 percent of the human genome. There is a long-simmering debate within the biotech and scientific communities over whether it makes sense to patent genes. At this point, most scientists agree that patents on genes retard scientific innovation.
complete IO9 article

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Space Sail Could Help End Space Junk

I guess it's no mystery how I feel about space junk. I honestly think that the most dangerous part about going into Earth orbit is not the environment, it's what we have done to that environment that is ultimately so very dangerous.

Well the ESA may have something that will help take care of making any news hazards. They call it The CubeSail. It is designed to help solve the problem of space debris by pushing dead satellites towards the Earth, burning them up harmlessly and getting them out of the way.

Satellite makers will be able to have the CubeSail automatically deploy when the satellite's job is done and the good news is that it should be available in 2011 for deployment.

Dvice article

That's no moon...

Remember that great line from Star Wars? Well we get a chance to use it again with the moon that has been described as resembling Star Wars' Death Star. We are talking about of Mimas, one of Saturn's moons. As you can see in the photo that accompanied the Dvice article you can see the massive, 81-mile-wide Herschel impact crater. However, viewed in infrared we see the Mimas has an ummm uniquely different cast. Yep that Pac-man.

NASA was using the Cassini spacecraft to capture highest resolution temperature scans of Mimas when this unusual picture came up. So what caused this unusual result? Well, NASA scientists suspect the temperatures are revealing differences in texture on the surface. Which means that when the large body that struck Mimas making the Herschel impact crater, the dust kicked up settled in the odd pattern that absorbs, which makes the odd pattern instead of the more natural gradation of temperatures.

Dvice article

Oh...and FYI we have a conversation going on in the comments....LMAO Dorn may well have called this....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Jumpers blu-ray

Directed by Doug Liman, Produced by Simon Kinberg, Written by screenplay David S. Goyer Novel Steven Gould

Starring Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell,Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Michael Rooker, Diane Lane

Jumpers the movie is pretty much a one trick pony. Through a misadventure on a frozen river, a teenage boy discovers that he can teleport. For the balance of the movie we are treated to a large dose of self indulgent behavior, fueled by teleporting bank robberies. Then we are treated to Sam Jackson in dyed white hair and a big ugly knife slicing and dicing other jumpers with great zeal. (oh and the director wants us to believe that this whack job is the hero?! whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?)

Ok, maybe I am being harsh. I like Samuel Jackson, and his evil anti-heroes are always fun and this outing is no different. Maybe the just sheer lack of a "good guy" made the movie difficult for me. Maybe the director is right, if suddenly you found out you could go anywhere you wanted and have anything you wanted, and as far as you know with out any consequences, what would YOU do? Exactly - especially if your a young male.

So we have a young boy who can teleport who instantly moves out, gets a seedy room and robs a bank. Flash forward, he is older, lives better, doing pretty much the same thing. No saving people, fighting crime, nope, thats fiction, this guy travels the world, stealing what he wants and screwing anything that moves.

Then Sam Jackson shows up with white hair and a cattle prod and proceeds to make the next few minutes very unpleasant (oh and the setup scene before this is pretty self explanatory.) until said jumper manages to escape. Does he run? Does he hide? Not really no, he goes to an old girl friend and goes to Rome? HUH? Where life again gets difficult. Some plot expansion here but if you havent seen the movie, I am not going to give it away. But we do find out that Jumpers are not all that unusual... So we get the obligatory "you screwed up and this is how you screwed up and I don't want to be part of your screw up. And old girl friend is now a prisoner trap by Sam Jackson who manages to almost end jumper #1 (for a movie that was trying not to be predictable it sure gets there fast)

So, jumpers fight, jump around the world, fight some more by throwing the most awesome crap at each other. Some things work out, some things don't and boy and girl go off together.

Maybe I am being a bit tough on the movie. It IS pretty frenetic and certainly is a large dose of wish fulfillment. But is is very difficult to identify with a cast of unpleasant characters. And this is no Pulp Fiction. But it does have it's high moments....I can guarantee the world's most outrageous driving sequence to date!

So, how are we set for special features? Well I have to fess up and tell you that I took a friends suggestion and got the blu-ray version and was pleasantly surprised! There are I would hazard a guess, several hours of additional material (that's if you take the director's comments into account) There is a deleted scene real, many many deleted scenes, a graphic novel section, the making of shorts based on areas on the globe. Plus some stuff that pertains to motion control furnature of all things! Oh yes, this is a cornucopia of additional material!

So how would I rate the movie? Well it's a bit too experimental for me. They tried too hard to keep everything as normal as they could except for the power of teleportation....Not sure I am sold on this idea. I really don't buy into it. Remember the Will Smith movie about the reluctant superman? I see it more in that vein. It's not a bad movie, just didnt do much for me. So, 6 for the movie, but a flat out 10 for the extras so what does that give us an average of 8? meeeeeeeh......bit high but I can live with it. It will make a fair addition to your library.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hubble Confirms Accelerated Expansion of the Universe

A recent Hubble project requiring 600 Earth orbits and 1000 observational man hours has confirmed that the Universe is indeed expanding and expanding at an accelerated rate.

European scientists from the Leiden Observatory and the University of British Columbia studied over 400,000 galaxies in the hopes to better understand cosmic expansion. The model that had been in use until recently was constructed using only 2d information. With the new Hubble observations and additional ground based telescopic data has allowed for an extremely accurate model to be constructed.

The scale of this study enables an independent confirmation that the expansion of the Universe is accelerated by an additional component that researchers have labeled dark energy, which up to this point has been all but impossible to study let alone quantify.

The results of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

For a more detailed explanation of the study, check out the article at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

100 Best RSS feeds to Follow Science News"

Hey, here is something that Jess Young just sent in from the online degree program blog. It is most likely a resource for college degree students, but if you find science blogs interesting and informative, you may find this list helpful.

It's a list of the "100 Best RSS feeds to Follow Science News" now you can take the 100 best with a grain but just having someone pull together a listing of science feeds is pretty damn useful in my mind.

Here are a couple of the rss feeds listed:
Scientific American – News, Science Daily, LA Times – Science, Science & Technology RSS Feeds and more. I just went through a couple and found some that I will add to my science listing.

Check it out here

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: A Question of Balance by Robert M. Blevins

I really don't have a good excuse for waiting so long in review Bob Blevins A Question of Balance (selected works 1982-2007) but if I want to get a read the book myself lol.

Anyway, the title pretty much sums up what Mr. Blevins had in mind when he put this compilation together. We are treated to a smattering of different themes in different formats, from flash to novella or maybe short novels.

Even though the book is a soft cover, it's got some size and heft to it. Hard cover in size and thickness so you needn't worry about running out of material to read anytime quickly.

If you haven't treated yourself to Robert's style, this is an excellent cross section. Most of the stories have been around for a bit, but they really hold up well. Blevins throws his imagination out there a bit that you never feel like you're reading dated material.

The flash section really is a flash. You tend to steam right through that section. And its great fun. But when we come to the meat of the volume is where the serious entertainment starts.

Blevins may be a lesser known author, but that in no way reflects on the quality of the writing. Like any author, Blevins has his strengths and weaknesses. He may be a little weak in characters, a very very minor thing and he may be slow to get going, but I want to tell you that when things start to happen, Blevins can maintain the tension like no one I have read. A true strength for Blevins is his ability to describe a hostile environment and move his characters through these environments with ease. What's more he may and does handle several downright hostile environments all at the same time in his first novel "say goodbye to the sun". We are treated to the the obligatory dangerous space emergency, then a horrific near death struggle in high altitude mountain survival, that is so real it will make you shiver and we will deftly switch to scorching desert survial where you can practically see the heat shimmer. It made difficult to put the book down. My only complaint is he just couldn't resist keeping the story going. There were a few excellent places to end the story but he continued to tie up ends after ends.

Where the first story takes place on a planet around a distant start, "The 13th Day of Christmas" takes place on Mars. Like the first story Blevins, really underplays political resistance that would result from such large mandates. They are all but blown aside in something akin to the Kennedy/Apollo mandate. I would have to say in this story there was a real push to get the story going, but it still drags as we see the interaction between the characters...but when things start to happen...... Because whatever misgivings that I might have started with as soon forgot in a rush of this and that going wrong....constantly. It certainly is a "how the hell are they going to get out of this?"

The most improbably of the bunch is the last "The Corona Incident" which spins government intrigue with time travel and UFOs. Pretty heady mix that keeps you turning the pages.

Overall I found myself really enjoying Robert Blevins writing so if you you can find a copy of A Question of Balance, it's well worth checking out. I would check with Adventure Books of Seattle for availability.

I'm Here a short film by Spike Jonze

I just got a chance to see the new short film by Spike Jonze called I'm Here which premiered this past January at Sundance. It is now available to view online. . The film, which stars Andrew Garfield and Sienna Guillory was funded by Absolut Vodka has taken a really strange step by allowing only 5000 viewings a day. So as you can guess it takes forever to get into a cue. I really have to say that I almost gave up on trying to view it and what's worse, I wanted to at least put the trailer up and guess what....that's been taken down! I can't remember when the very people you want to see a film were ever treated so surly.

So...what about the movie? Oh it's cute. A pretty simplistic robot love story. Predictable, but certainly not unwatchable....well at least in one sense! The movie has elements of futility, depression, alienation, so when a "girl" comes along that steps outside the boundaries, the main character will take whatever measures he can to preserve her in his life.

I'm Here is like a surreal Wal-E perhaps, but not animation. Green screen elements and live action are pretty deftly handled.

So the movie is diverting and cute. I would suggest it if you're not put off by the way the movie is being distributed. I would think, that if you're releasing it, put it on You-Tube with a limited creative commons copyright instead of the stupid flash setup they are using now. The sponsor gets even MORE exposure and far less cost in server overhead. But now maybe I am being simplistic.

I'm Here movie site

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WARREN LICH Concept Trailer

Wow have you seen this concept trailer yet? It is a concept trailer for a movie called Warren Lich. The trailer's text says it was made to demonstrate the visual style for the movie and it sure does that in no uncertain terms! It was assembled by Shaun Rana for the amazing amount of 1000eur or $1300! Why is amazing? Well you just have to watch and listen. It really is 4 amazing minutes!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nuking Killer Asteroid Probably Wouldn't Work

Blowing up an Earth killer asteroid with an nuclear weapon has been a mainstay of written and movie science fiction. It has fallen out of favor over the past few years because it was thought that even though the body was broken into parts, they would continue along the same trajectory and impact the Earth like a shot-gun blast instead of a bullet.

But according to an article in New Scientist, unless the nuke was sufficiently large there might be another reason that this method probably wouldn't work.

It seems that if the constituents are not accelerated apart at a high enough velocity, the pieces start to coalesce in as little as 2 hours, therefor the net impact effect would be almost identical.

The good news is that if the bomb is of sufficient yield and the asteroid relatively small, the blast would permanently disperse the asteroid's parts.

Scientist have simulated blowing up 1 kilometer asteroids and found that a bomb of 900kilo-tons yield would be sufficient. The good news is that 900 kilo-ton is a doable size however even simple math shows that even a modest increase in asteroid size requires a geometric increase in the size of the explosive device.

via Gizmodo

3d Phobos photo!

The ESA spacecraft Mars Express took this and other stunning images of Mars' moon Phobos
on March 7 2010 using the on-board High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) .

With this photo, there are also several excellent high resolution and 3d pictures as well.

Check out the article on the ESA space science online site here

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The 10 most absurd published scientific papers

From Wired online comes a list of 10 absurd but published scientific papers.

Optimising the sensory characteristics and acceptance of canned cat food: use of a human taste panel. (Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition)
Ok, this reads like we want people to enjoy and use canned food to feed their cats. That's reasonable, I mean, I used to dread opening a can of that nasty crap, so I am with them so far.... but a quick turn into the twilight zone starts when a human taste panel.....? Can you imagine that day? Guy asks you if you want to make some cash being on a science panel...that is cool...out comes the catfood and you have to open it...not so cool. Now taste some (if ya want to get paid~!) and the real bad news has got to be that they had to do this more than once!!!???

Effects of cocaine on honeybee dance behaviour. (Journal of Experimental Biology)
Honest? Give a bee some coke and say build a house and make some food. Just imagine this in real life...Here is da toolz and da board oh and a pound of me a house....aaaaaaahuh

Swearing as a response to pain. (NeuroReport)
I would have told them this for free! Same guy above, loaded nail gun, two boards on the ground and he manages to drive one in right between the eyes...bets on the next 2 words he says?

Pigeons can discriminate "good" and "bad" paintings by children. (Animal Cognition)
Hell I know people that can't do this!

The "booty call": a compromise between men's and women's ideal mating strategies. (The Journal of Sex Research)
I don't even care about the question....the idea that someone got a paper printed that is called Booty Call gets a thumbs up from me!

Intermittent access to beer promotes binge-like drinking in adolescent but not adult Wistar rats. (Alcohol)
Maybe its just any day they have access to beer is a banner day for the rats. huh? but I have to ask, what is the base line for non binge behavior in the winstar rat? and is rat binge like a group of rat frats buddies and a dixie cup?

Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time. (PLoS One)
First I hear that a pig can have hours long orgasms and now Fruit Bats get head?

More information than you ever wanted: does Facebook bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy? (Cyberpsychology and Behavior)

Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull? (Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine)
was this like a field research thing? Case first off, no one is going to waste a perfectly good bottle of beer...Now if its really skunky, it deserves to be broken over someone's head.

The nature of navel fluff. (Medical Hypotheses)
It's gray and often has a serious funk....payme

Complete article

Monday, March 08, 2010

Review: Surrogates DVD

Surrogates DVD

Bruce Willis Radha Mitchell Rosamund Pike Boris Kodjoe Jack Noseworthy James Cromwell Ving Rhames

Surrogates must seem like I am on a theme kick here. Here I am viewing a movie where a person need not ever leave their home. If you like you can take over some one else's body as in Gamer or through a data link consisting of sensors and other vr you can send out a Surrogate as in the movie of the same name. Here we have a much better realized science fiction theme with users becoming more and more insulated and withdrawn from the world that when a new tech comes along to help the severely handicapped lead "productive" lives, Surrogates tech is co-opted for use in the general public.

When users start dying, it is up to Bruce Willis' character to discover the cause. Yep, Bruce Willis fans rejoice, Surrogates is just about custom made for Bruce.

Though the Surrogate tech may have shown up often, this version spins it is new directions. Even though I have often read stories where the characters have been VR for so long that they can not deal with being in the real, seeing the effect on the screen really brought it home.

Surrogates is nothing if not a truly convoluted murder mystery. Convoluted in a way only the surrogate tech can twist it. You got to love that! Plenty of slick action for those addicted to the high energy special theme spun only the way the Surrogate tech can.

The ending is predictable but not so bad that you feel like you have been cheated, and of course what could make the movie hard to follow is the fact that you are never sure who is who.

As for the special features on this DVD one word - anemic. Now maybe the blu-ray has something more to offer but the DVD version only has a director's comments that is unless you consider trailers for other movies and audio setup "extra" features. I don't. But the director's comments are good, maybe not as much fun as Gamers but as far as tecnique and vision it was really good.

I would take off a point for some predictable elements, but the twist at the end pulls it up the lack of features that the director himself mentions irks me.

So, if your looking to this movie as a fast action shoot em up like it was promoted, your going to be a bit underwhelmed. The movie does require you to pay attention and does have some twists to think about.

So, over all, 8.5 rental you won't feel gypped and even if you're adding this to your library, I think it is worthy.

Hawking asks:What's the future of manned vs robotic missions?

I read in an article in "The Daily Galaxy" online magazine, that Stephen Hawkings has asked a question that has certainly weighed on many person's minds, exactly what is in the cards so to speak, concerning space exploration missions and will they be robotic or human crewed missions.

Hawing has said:
DVD-1081-2_300x375 "Robotic missions are much cheaper and may provide more scientific information, but they don't catch the public imagination in the same way, and they don't spread the human race into space, which I'm arguing should be our long-term strategy. If the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before."

The concern being, will robotic explorers be able to step outside their mission parameters, to say, recognize lifeforms that it was not specifically programmed to look for.

Astronomer and planetary scientist at Cornell University Jim Bell in an article in Scientific American said that you might think that being so heavily vested in robotic exploration that he would dismiss manned missions as too costly but he added: “Although astronaut missions are much more expensive and risky than robotic craft, they are absolutely critical to the success of our exploration program."

The article continues with quotes on the subject from luminaries like Ben Bova.

Read complete article here

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Daily KOS: Science Fiction you should be reading

Ron Huber send me a cool link to a new feature on the Daily KOS website that might just become a regular feature, if it does, I would be a fan.

The article in question is called Science Fiction you should be reading, and the couple titles that are listed in this introductory article peaked my interest.

After the introduction the first novel that they mention is A Fire Upon the Deep by Venor Vinge. With this blurb:
  • Right on the border between the worlds of normal matter-based beings and the unthinkable beyond, a little race called humans has found the wreck of a mammoth computer. With a little work, they might be able to get it going. It could be the greatest thing ever discovered by man. Or the very worst.
and the second is a personal favorite of mine Startide Rising by David Brin.
  • The starship Streaker and splash into an alien ocean. Crewed by a mixture of humans, chimpanzees and dolphins, the ship has located something very valuable in space – something that many more ancient races than man are willing to go to war over – but Streaker hasn't shared the location of its find, and as the ship hunkers down to hide beneath the waves, vast forces prepare to battle.
Both novels are discussed in an intelligent manner with background and various other information nuggets that just imbues this article with enough goodness that entertains and informs.

It's a solid recommendation that can be found here and I know I look forward to the next installation.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Cold Light By Capt. S. P. Meek, first published in Astounding Stories

"Confound it, Carnes, I am on my vacation!"

"I know it, Doctor, and I hate to disturb you, but I felt that I simply had to. I have one of the weirdest cases on my hands that I have ever been mixed up in and I think that you’ll forgive me for calling you when I tell you about it."

Dr. Bird groaned into the telephone transmitter.

"I took a vacation last summer, or tried to, and you hauled me away from the best fishing I have found in years to help you on a case. This year I traveled all the way from Washington to San Francisco to get away from you and the very day that I get here you are after me. I won’t have anything to do with it. Where are you, anyway?"

"I am at Fallon, Nevada, Doctor. I’m sorry that you won’t help me out because the case promises to be unusually interesting. Let me at least tell you about it."

Dr. Bird groaned louder than ever into the telephone transmitter.

"All right, go ahead and tell me about it if it will relieve your mind, but I have given you my final answer. I am not a bit interested in it."

"That is quite all right, Doctor, I don’t expect you to touch it. I hope, however, that you will be able to give me an idea of where to start. Did you ever see a man’s body broken in pieces?"

"Do you mean badly smashed up?"

"No indeed, I mean just what I said, broken in pieces. Legs snapped off as though the entire flesh had become brittle."

"No, I didn’t, and neither did anyone else."

"I have seen it, Doctor."

"Hooey! What had you been drinking?"

Operative Carnes of the United States Secret Service chuckled softly to himself. The voice of the famous scientist of the Bureau of Standards plainly showed an interest which was quite at variance with his words.

"I was quite sober, Doctor, and so was Hughes, and we both saw it."

"Who is Hughes?"

"He is an air mail pilot, one of the crack fliers of the Transcontinental Airmail Corporation. Let me tell you the whole thing in order."

"All right. I have a few minutes to spare, but I’ll warn you again that I don’t intend to touch the case."

"Suit yourself, Doctor. I have no authority to requisition your services. As you know, the T. A. C. has been handling a great deal of the transcontinental air mail with a pretty clean record on accidents. The day before yesterday, a special plane left Washington to carry two packages from there to San Francisco. One of them was a shipment of jewels valued at a quarter of a million, consigned to a San Francisco firm and the other was a sealed packet from the War Department. No one was supposed to know the contents of that packet except the Chief of Staff who delivered it to the plane personally, but rumors got out, as usual, and it was popularly supposed to contain certain essential features of the Army’s war plans. This much is certain: The plane carried not only the regular T. A. C. pilot and courier, but also an army courier, and it was guarded during the trip by an army plane armed with small bombs and a machine-gun. I rode in it. My orders were simply to guard the ship until it landed at Mills Field and then to guard the courier from there to the Presidio of San Francisco until his packet was delivered personally into the hands of the Commanding General of the Ninth Corps Area.

"The trip was quiet and monotonous until after we left Salt Lake City at dawn this morning. Nothing happened until we were about a hundred miles east of Reno. We had taken elevation to cross the Stillwater Mountains and were skimming low over them, my plane trailing the T. A. C. plane by about half a mile. I was not paying any particular attention to the other ship when I suddenly felt our plane leap ahead. It was a fast Douglas and the pilot gave it the gun and made it move, I can tell you. I yelled into the speaking tube and asked what was the reason. My pilot yelled back that the plane ahead was in trouble.

"As soon as it was called to my attention I could see myself that it wasn’t acting normally. It was losing elevation and was pursuing a very erratic course. Before we could reach it it lost flying speed and fell into a spinning nose dive and headed for the ground. I watched, expecting every minute to see the crew make parachute jumps, but they didn’t and the plane hit the ground with a terrific crash."

"It caught fire, of course?"

"No, Doctor, that is one of the funny things about the accident. It didn’t. It hit the ground in an open place free from brush and literally burst into pieces, but it didn’t flame up. We headed directly for the scene of the crash and we encountered another funny thing. We almost froze to death."

"What do you mean?"

"Exactly what I say. Of course, it’s pretty cold at that altitude all the time, but this cold was like nothing I had ever encountered. It seemed to freeze the blood in our veins and it congealed frost on the windshields and made the motor miss for a moment. It was only momentary and it only existed directly over the wrecked plane. We went past it and swung around in a circle and came back over the wreck, but we didn’t feel the cold again.

"The next thing we tried to do was to find a landing place. That country is pretty rugged and rough and there wasn’t a flat place for miles that was large enough to land a ship on. Hughes and I talked it over and there didn’t seem to be much of anything that we could do except to go on until we found a landing place. I had had no experience in parachute jumping and I couldn’t pilot the plane if Hughes jumped. We swooped down over the wreck as close as we dared and that was when we saw the condition of the bodies. The whole plane was cracked up pretty badly, but the weird part of it was the fact that the bodies of the crew had broken into pieces, as though they had been made of glass. Arms and legs were detached from the torsos and lying at a distance. There was no sign of blood on the ground. We saw all this with our naked eyes from close at hand and verified it by observations through binoculars from a greater height.

"When we had made our observations and marked the location of the wreck as closely as we could, we headed east until we found a landing place near Fallon. Hughes dropped me here and went on to Reno, or to San Francisco if necessary, to report the accident and get more planes to aid in the search. I was wholly at sea, but it seemed to be in your line and as I knew that you were at the St. Francis, I called you up."

"What are your plans?"

"I made none until I talked with you. The country where the wreck occurred is unbelievably wild and we can’t get near it with any transportation other than burros. The only thing that I can see to do is to gather together what transportation I can and head for the wreck on foot to rescue the packets and to bring out the bodies. Can you suggest anything better?"

"When do you expect to start?"

"As soon as I can get my pack train together. Possibly in three or four hours."

"Carnes, are you sure that those bodies were broken into bits? An arm or a leg might easily be torn off in a complete crash."

"They were smashed into bits as nearly as I could tell, Doctor. Hughes is an old flier and he has seen plenty of crashes but he never saw anything like this. It beats anything that I ever saw."

"If your observations were accurate, there could be only one cause and that one is a patent impossibility. I haven’t a bit of equipment here, but I expect that I can get most of the stuff I want from the University of California across the bay at Berkeley. I can get a plane at Crissy Field. I’ll tell you what to do, Carnes. Get your burro train together and start as soon as you can, but leave me half a dozen burros and a guide at Fallon. I’ll get up there as soon as I can and I’ll try to overtake you before you get to the wreck. If I don’t, don’t disturb anything any more than you can help until my arrival. Do you understand?"

"I thought that you were on your vacation, Doctor."

"Oh shut up! Like most of my vacations, this one will have to be postponed. I’ll move as swiftly as I can and I ought to be at Fallon to-night if I’m lucky and don’t run into any obstacles. Burros are fairly slow, but I’ll make the best time possible."

"I rather expected you would, Doctor. I can’t get my pack train together until evening, so I’ll wait for you right here. I’m mighty glad that you are going to get in on it."

Silently Carnes and Dr. Bird surveyed the wreck of the T. A. C. plane. The observations of the secret service operative had been correct. The bodies of the unfortunate crew had been broken into fragments. Their limbs had not been twisted off as a freak of the fall but had been cleanly broken off, as though the bodies had suddenly become brittle and had shattered on their impact with the ground. Not only the bodies, but the ship itself had been broken up. Even the clothing of the men was in pieces or had long splits in the fabric whose edges were as clean as though they had been cut with a knife.

Dr. Bird picked up an arm which had belonged to the pilot and examined it. The brittleness, if it had ever existed, was gone and the arm was limp.

"No rigor mortis," commented the Doctor. "How long ago was the wreck?"

"About seventy-two hours ago."

"Hm-m! What about those packets that were on the plane?"

Carnes stepped forward and gingerly inspected first the body of the army courier and then that of the courier of the T. A. C.

"Both gone, Doctor," he reported, straightening up.

Dr. Bird’s face fell into grim lines.

"There is more to this case than appears on the surface, Carnes," he said. "This was no ordinary wreck. Bring up that third burro; I want to examine these fragments a little. Bill," he went on to one of the two guides who had accompanied them from Fallon, "you and Walter scout around the ground and see what you can find out. I especially wish to know whether anyone has visited the scene of the wreck."

The guides consulted a moment and started out. Carnes drove up the burro the Doctor had indicated and Dr. Bird unpacked it. He opened a mahogony case and took from it a high powered microscope. Setting the instrument up on a convenient rock, he subjected portions of the wreck, including several fragments of flesh, to a careful scrutiny. When he had completed his observations he fell into a brown study, from which he was aroused by Carnes.

"What did you find out about the cause of the wreck, Doctor?"

"I don’t know what to think. The immediate cause was that everything was frozen. The plane ran into a belt of cold which froze up the motor and which probably killed the crew instantly. It was undoubtedly the aftermath of that cold which you felt when you swooped down over the wreck."

"It seems impossible that it could have suddenly got cold enough to freeze everything up like that."

"It does, and yet I am confident that that is what happened. It was no ordinary cold, Carnes; it was cold of the type that infests interstellar space; cold beyond any conception you have of cold, cold near the range of the absolute zero of temperature, nearly four hundred and fifty degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. At such temperatures, things which are ordinarily quite flexible and elastic, such as rubber, or flesh, become as brittle as glass and would break in the manner which these bodies have broken. An examination of the tissues of the flesh shows that it has been submitted to some temperature that is very low in the scale, probably below that of liquid air. Such a temperature would produce instant death and the other phenomena which we can observe."

"What could cause such a low temperature, Doctor?"

"I don’t know yet, although I hope to find out before we are finished. Cold is a funny thing, Carnes. Ordinarily it is considered as simply the absence of heat; and yet I have always held it to be a definite negative quantity. All through nature we observe that every force has its opposite or negative force to oppose it. We have positive and negative electrical charges, positive and negative, or north and south, magnetic poles. We have gravity and its opposite energy, and I believe cold is really negative heat."

"I never heard of anything like that, Doctor. I always thought that things were cold because heat was taken from them––not because cold was added. It sounds preposterous."

"Such is the common idea, and yet I cannot accept it, for it does not explain all the recorded phenomena. You are familiar with a searchlight, are you not?"

"In a general way, yes."

"A searchlight is merely a source of light, and of course, of heat, which is placed at the focus of a parabolic reflector so that all of the rays emanating from the source travel in parallel lines. A searchlight, of course, gives off heat. If we place a lens of the same size as the searchlight aperture in the path of the beam and concentrate all the light, and heat, at one spot, the focal point of the lens, the temperature at that point is the same as the temperature of the source of the light, less what has been lost by radiation. You understand that, do you not?"


"Suppose that we place at the center of the aperture of the searchlight a small opaque disc which is permeable neither to heat nor light, in such a manner as to interrupt the central portion of the beam. As a result, the beam will go out in the form of a hollow rod, or pipe, of heat and light with a dark, cold core. This core will have the temperature of the surrounding air plus the small amount which has radiated into it from the surrounding pipe. If we now pass this beam of light through a lens in order to concentrate the beam, both the pipe of heat and the cold core will focus. If we place a temperature measuring device near the focus of the dark core, we will find that the temperature is lower than the surrounding air. This means that we have focused or concentrated cold."

"That sounds impossible. But I can offer no other criticism."

"Nevertheless, it is experimentally true. It is one of the facts which lead me to consider cold as negative heat. However, this is true of cold, as it is of the other negative forces; they exist and manifest themselves only in the presence of the positive forces. No one has yet concentrated cold except in the presence of heat, as I have outlined. How this cold belt which the T. A. C. plane encountered came to be there is another question. The thing which we have to determine is whether it was caused by natural or artificial forces."

"Both of the packets which the plane carried are gone, Doctor," observed Carnes.

"Yes, and that seems to add weight to the possibility that the cause was artificial, but it is far from conclusive. The packets might not have been on the men when the plane fell, or someone may have passed later and taken them for safekeeping."

The doctor’s remarks were interrupted by the guides.

"Someone has been here since the wreck, Doctor," said Bill. "Walter and I found tracks where two men came up here and prowled around for some time and then left by the way they came. They went off toward the northwest, and we followed their trail for about forty rods and then lost it. We weren’t able to pick it up again."

"Thanks, Bill," replied the doctor. "Well, Carnes, that seems to add more weight to the theory that the spot of cold was made and didn’t just happen. If a prospecting party had just happened along they would either have left the wreck alone or would have made some attempt to inter the bodies. That cold belt must have been produced artificially by men who planned to rob this plane after bringing it down and who were near at hand to get their plunder. Is there any chance of following that trail?"

"I doubt it, Doc. Walter and I scouted around quite a little, but we couldn’t pick it up again."

"Is there any power line passing within twenty miles of here?"

"None that Walter and I know of, Doc."

"Funny! Such a device as must have been used would need power and lots of it for operation. Well, I’ll try my luck. Carnes, help me unpack and set up the rest of my apparatus."

With the aid of the operative, Dr. Bird unpacked two of the burros and extracted from cases where they were carefully packed and padded some elaborate electrical and optical apparatus. The first was a short telescope of large diameter which he mounted on a base in such a manner that it could be elevated or depressed and rotated in any direction. At the focal point of the telescope was fastened a small knot of wire from which one lead ran to the main piece of apparatus, which he sat on a flat rock. The other lead from the wire knot ran into a sealed container surrounded by a water bath under which a spirit lamp burned. From the container another lead led to the main apparatus. This main piece consisted of a series of wire coils mounted on a frame and attached to the two leads. The doctor took from a padded case a tiny magnet suspended on a piece of wire of exceedingly small diameter which he fastened in place inside the coils. Cemented to the magnet was a tiny mirror.

"What is that apparatus?" asked Carnes as the doctor finished his set-up and surveyed it with satisfaction.

"Merely a thermocouple attached to a D’Arsonval galvanometer," replied the doctor. "This large, squat telescope catches and concentrates on the thermocouple and the galvanometer registers the temperature."

"You’re out of my depth. What is a thermocouple?"

"A juncture of two wires made of dissimilar metals, in this case of platinum and of platinum-iridium alloy. There is another similar junction in this case, which is kept at a constant temperature by the water bath. When the temperatures of the two junctions are the same, the system is in equilibrium. When they are at different temperatures, an electrical potential is set up, which causes a current to flow from one to the other through the galvanometer. The galvanometer consists of a magnet set up inside coils through which the current I spoke of flows. This current causes the magnet to rotate and by watching the mirror, the rotation can be detected and measured.

"This device is one of the most sensitive ever made, and is used to measure the radiation from distant stars. Currents as small as .000000000000000000000000001 ampere have been detected and measured. This particular instrument is not that sensitive to begin with, and has its sensitivity further reduced by having a high resistance in one of the leads."

"What are you going to use it for?"

"I am going to try to locate somewhere in these hills a patch of local cold. It may not work, but I have hopes. If you will manipulate the telescope so as to search the hills around here, I will watch the galvanometer."

For several minutes Carnes swung the telescope around. Twice Dr. Bird stopped him and decreased the sensitiveness of his instrument by introducing more resistance in the lines in order to keep the magnet from twisting clear around, due to the fluctuations in the heats received on account of the varying conditions of reflection. As Carnes swung the telescope again the magnet swung around sharply, nearly to a right angle to its former position.

"Stop!" cried the doctor. "Read your azimuth."

Carnes read the compass bearing on the protractor attached to the frame which supported the telescope. Dr. Bird took a pair of binoculars and looked long and earnestly in the indicated direction. With a sigh he laid down the glasses.

"I can’t see a thing, Carnesy," he said. "We’ll have to move over to the next crest and make a new set-up. Plant a rod on the hill so that we can get an azimuth bearing and get the airline distance with a range finder."

On the hilltop which Dr. Bird had pointed out the apparatus was again set up. For several minutes Carnes swept the hills before an exclamation from the doctor told him to pause. He read the new azimuth, and the doctor laid off the two readings on a sheet of paper with a protractor and made a few calculations.

"I don’t know," he said reflectively when he had finished his computations. "This darned instrument is still so sensitive that you may have merely focused on a deep shadow or a cold spring or something of that sort, but the magnet kicked clear around and it may mean that we have located what we are looking for. It should be about two miles away and almost due west of here."

"There is no spring that I know of, Doc, and I think I know of every water hole in this country," remarked Bill.

"There could hardly be a spring at this elevation, anyway," replied the doctor. "Maybe it is what we are seeking. We’ll start out in that direction, anyway. Bill, you had better take the lead, for you know the country. Spread out a little so that we won’t be too bunched if anything happens."

For three-quarters of an hour the little group of men made their way through the wilderness in the direction indicated by the doctor. Presently Bill, who was in the lead, held up his hand with a warning gesture. The other three closed up as rapidly as cautious progress would allow.

"What is it, Bill?" asked the doctor in an undertone.

"Slip up ahead and look over that crest."

The doctor obeyed instructions. As he glanced over he gave vent to a low whistle of surprise and motioned for Carnes to join him. The operative crawled up and glanced over the crest. In a hollow before them was a crude one-storied house, and erected on an open space before it was a massive piece of apparatus. It consisted of a number of huge metallic cylinders, from which lines ran to a silvery concave mirror mounted on an elaborate frame which would allow it to be rotated so as to point in any direction.

"What is it?" whispered Carnes.

"Some kind of a projector," muttered the doctor. "I never saw one quite like it, but it is meant to project something. I can’t make out the curve of that mirror. It isn’t a parabola and it isn’t an ellipse. It must be a high degree subcatenary or else built on a transcendental function."

He raised himself to get a clearer view, and as he did so a puff of smoke came from the house, to be followed in a moment by a sharp crack as a bullet flattened itself a few inches from his head. The doctor tumbled back over the crest out of sight of the house. Bill and Walter hurried forward, their rifles held ready for action.

"Get out on the flanks, men," directed the doctor. "The man we want is in a house in that hollow. He’s armed, and he means business."

Bill and Walter crawled under the shelter of the rocks to a short distance away and then, rifles ready, advanced to the attack. A report came from the hollow and a bullet whined over Bill’s head. Almost instantly a crack came from Walter’s rifle and splinters flew from the building in the hollow a few inches from a loophole, through which projected the barrel of a rifle.

The rifle barrel swung rapidly in a circle and barked in Walter’s direction; but as it did so, Bill’s gun spoke and again splinters flew from the building.

"Good work!" ejaculated Dr. Bird as he watched the slow advance of the two guides. "If we just had rifles we could join in the party, but it’s a little far for effective pistol work. Let’s go ahead, and we may get close enough to do a little shooting."

Pistols in hand, Carnes and the doctor crawled over the crest and joined the advance. Again and again the rifle spoke from the hollow and was answered by the vicious barks of the rifles in the hands of the guides, Carnes and the doctor resting their pistols on rocks and sending an occasional bullet toward the loophole. The conditions of light and the moving target were not conducive to good marksmanship on the part of the besieged man, and none of the attackers were hit. Presently Walter succeeded in sending a bullet through the loophole. The rifle barrel suddenly disappeared. With a shout the four men rose from their cover and advanced toward the building at a run.

As they did so an ominous whirring sound came from the apparatus in front of the house and a sudden chill filled the air.

"Back!" shouted Dr. Bird. "Back below the hill if you value your lives!"

He turned and raced at full speed toward the sheltering crest of the hill, the others following him closely. The whirring sound continued, and the concave reflector turned with a grating sound on its gears. As the path of its rays struck the ground the rocks became white with frost and one rock split with a sharp report, one fragment rolling down the slope, carrying others in its trail.

With panic-stricken faces the four men raced toward the sheltering crest, but remorselessly the reflector swung around in their direction. The intense cold numbed the racing men, cutting off their breath and impeding their efforts for speed.

"Stop!" cried the doctor suddenly. "Fire at that reflector! It’s our only chance!"

He set the example by turning and emptying his pistol futilely at the turning mirror. Bill, Walter and Carnes followed his example. Nearer and nearer to them came the deadly ray. Bill was the nearest to its path, and he suddenly stiffened and fell forward, his useless gun still grasped in his hands. As his body struck the ground it rolled down hill for a few feet, the deadly ray following it. His head struck a rock, and Carnes gave a cry of horror as it broke into fragments.

Walter threw his rifle to his shoulder and fired again and again at the rotating disc. The cold had became intense and he could not control the actions of his muscles and his rifle wavered about. He threw himself flat on the ground, and, with an almost superhuman effort, steadied himself for a moment and fired. His aim was true, and with a terrific crash the reflector split into a thousand fragments. Dr. Bird staggered to his feet.

"It’s out of order for a moment!" he cried. "To the house while we can!"

As swiftly as his numbed feet would allow him, he stumbled toward the house. The muzzle of the rifle again projected from the loophole and with its crack the doctor staggered for a moment and then fell. Walter’s rifle spoke again and the rifle disappeared through the loophole with a spasmodic jerk. Carnes stumbled over the doctor.

"Are you hit badly?" he gasped through chattering teeth.

"I’m not hit at all," muttered the doctor. "I stumbled and fell just as he fired. Look out! He’s going to shoot again!"

The rifle barrel came slowly into view through the loophole. Walter fired, but his bullet went wild. Carnes threw himself behind a rock for protection.

The rifle swung in Walter’s direction and paused. As it did so, from the house came a strangled cry and a sound as of a blow. The rifle barrel disappeared, and the sounds of a struggle came from the building.

"Come on!" cried Carnes as he rose to his feet, and made his stumbling way 303 forward, the others following at the best speed which their numbed limbs would allow.

As they reached the door they were aware of a struggle which was going on inside. With an oath the doctor threw his massive frame against the door. It creaked, but the solid oak of which it was composed was proof against the attack, and he drew back for another onslaught. From the house came a pistol shot, followed by a despairing cry and a guttural shout. Reinforced by Carnes, the doctor threw his weight against the door again. With a rending crash it gave, and they fell sprawling into the cabin. The doctor was the first one on his feet.

"Who are you?" asked a voice from one corner. The doctor whirled like a flash and covered the speaker with his pistol.

"Put them up!" he said tersely.

"I am unarmed," the voice replied. "Who are you?"

"We’re from the United States Secret Service," replied Carnes who had gained his feet. "The game is up for you, and you’d better realize it."

"Secret Service! Thank God!" cried the voice. "Get Koskoff––he has the plans. He has gone out through the tunnel!"

"Where is it?" demanded Carnes.

"The entrance is that iron plate on the floor."

Carnes and the doctor jumped at the plate and tried to lift it, without result. There was no handle or projection on which they could take hold.

"Not that way," cried the voice. "That cover is fastened on the inside. Go outside the building; he’ll come out about two hundred yards north. Shoot him as he appears or he’ll get away."

The three men nearly tumbled over each other to get through the doorway into the bitter cold outside. As they emerged from the cabin the gaze of the guide swept the surrounding hills.

"There he goes!" he cried.

"Get him!" said Carnes sharply.

Walter ran forward a few feet and dropped prone on the ground, cuddling the stock of his rifle to his cheek. Two hundred yards ahead a figure was scurrying over the rocks away from the cabin. Walter drew in his breath and his hand suddenly grew steady as his keen gray eyes peered through the sights. Carnes and the doctor held their breath in sympathy.

Suddenly the rifle spoke, and the fleeing man threw up his arms and fell forward on his face.

"Got him," said Walter laconically.

"Go bring the body in, Carnes," exclaimed the doctor. "I’ll take care of the chap inside."

"Did you get him?" asked the voice eagerly, as the doctor stepped inside.

"He’s dead all right," replied the doctor grimly. "Who the devil are you, and what are you doing here?"

"There is a light switch on the left of the door as you come in," was the reply.

Dr. Bird found the switch and snapped on a light. He turned toward the corner from whence the voice had come and recoiled in horror. Propped in the corner was the body of a middle-aged man, daubed and splashed with blood which ran from a wound in the side of his head.

"Good Lord!" he ejaculated. "Let me help you."

"There’s not much use," replied the man rather faintly. "I am about done in. This face wound doesn’t amount to much, but I am shot through the body and am bleeding internally. If you try to move me, it may easily kill me. Leave me alone until your partners come."

The doctor drew a flask of brandy from his pocket and advanced toward the corner.

"Take a few drops of this," he advised.

With an effort the man lifted the flask to his lips and gulped down a little of the fiery spirit. A sound of tramping feet came from the outside and then a thud as though a body had 304 been dropped. Carnes and Walter entered the cabin.

"He’s dead as a mackerel," said Carnes in answer to the doctor’s look. "Walter got him through the neck and broke his spinal cord. He never knew what hit him."

"The plans?" came in a gasping voice from the man in the corner.

"We got them, too," replied Carnes. "He had both packets inside his coat. They have been opened, but I guess they are all here. Who the devil are you?"

"Since Koskoff is dead, and I am dying, there is no reason why I shouldn’t tell you," was the answer. "Leave that brandy handy to keep up my strength. I have only a short time and I can’t repeat.

"As to who I am or what I was, it doesn’t really matter. Koskoff knew me as John Smith, and it will pass as well as any other name. Let my past stay buried. I am, or was, a scientist of some ability; but fortune frowned on me, and I was driven out of the world. Money would rehabilitate me––money will do anything nowadays––so I set out to get it. In the course of my experimental work, I had discovered that cold was negative heat and reacted to the laws which governed heat."

"I knew that," cried Dr. Bird; "but I never could prove it."

"Who are you?" demanded John Smith.

"Dr. Bird, of the Bureau of Standards."

"Oh, Bird. I’ve heard of you. You can understand me when I say that as heat, positive heat is a concomitant of ordinary light. I have found that cold, negative heat, is a concomitant of cold light. Is my apparatus in good shape outside?"

"The reflector is smashed."

"I’m sorry. You would have enjoyed studying it. I presume that you saw that it was a catenary curve?"

"I rather thought so."

"It was, and it was also adjustable. I could vary the focal point from a few feet to several miles. With that apparatus I could throw a beam of negative heat with a focal point which I could adjust at will. Close to the apparatus, I could obtain a temperature almost down to absolute zero, but at the longer ranges it wasn’t so cold, due to leakage into the atmosphere. Even at two miles I could produce a local temperature of three hundred degrees below zero."

"What was the source of your cold?"

"Liquid helium. Those cylinders contain, or rather did contain, for I expect that Koskoff has emptied them, helium in a liquid state."

"Where is your compressor?"

"I didn’t have to use one. I developed a cold light under whose rays helium would liquefy and remain in a state of equilibrium until exposed to light rays. Those cylinders had merely enough pressure to force the liquid out to where the sun could hit it, and then it turned to a gas, dropping the temperature at the first focal point of the reflector to absolute zero. When I had this much done, Koskoff and I packed the whole apparatus here and were ready for work.

"We were on the path of the transcontinental air mail, and I bided my time until an especially valuable shipment was to be made. My plans, which worked perfectly, were to freeze the plane in midair and then rob the wreck. I heard of the jewel shipment the T. A. C. was to carry and I planned to get it. When the plane came over, Koskoff and I brought it down. The unsuspected presence of another plane upset us a little, and I started to bring it down. But we had been all over this country and knew there was no place that a plane could land. I let it go on in safety."

"Thank you," replied Carnes with a grimace.

"We robbed the wreck and we found two packets, one the jewels I was after, and the other a sealed packet, which proved to contain certain War Department plans. That was when I learned who Koskoff was. I had hired him in San Francisco as a good mechanic who had no principles. He was to get one-fourth of the loot. When we found these plans, he told me who he was. He was really a Russian secret agent and he wanted to deliver the plans to Russia. I may be a thief and a murderer, but I am not yet ready to betray my country, and I told him so. He offered me almost any price for the plans; but I wouldn’t listen. We had a serious quarrel, and he overpowered me and bound me.

"We had a radio set here and he called San Francisco and sent some code message. I think he was waiting here for someone to come. Had we followed our original plans, we would have been miles from here before you arrived.

"He had me bound and helpless, as he thought, but I worked my bonds a little loose. I didn’t let him know it, for I knew that the plane I had let get away would guide a party here and I thought I might be able to help out. When you came and attacked the house, I worked at my bonds until they were loose enough to throw off. I saw Koskoff start my cold apparatus to working and then he quit, because he ran out of helium. When he started shooting again, I worked out of my bonds and tackled him.

"He was a better man than I gave him credit for, or else he suspected me, for about the time I grabbed him he whirled and struck me over the head with his gun barrel and tore my face open. The blow stunned me, and when I came to, I was thrown into this corner. I meant to have another try at it, but I guess you rushed him too fast. He turned and ran for the tunnel, but as he did so, he shot me through the body. I guess I didn’t look dead enough to suit him. You gentlemen broke open the door and came in. That’s all."

"Not by a long shot, it isn’t," exclaimed Dr. Bird. "Where is that cold light apparatus of yours?"

"In the tunnel."

"How do you get into it?"

"If you will open that cupboard on the wall, you’ll find an open knife switch on the wall. Close it."

Dr. Bird found the switch and closed it. As he did so the cabin rocked on its foundations and both Carnes and Walter were thrown to the ground. The thud of a detonation deep in the earth came to their ears.

"What was that?" cried the doctor.

"That," replied Smith with a wan smile, "was the detonation of two hundred pounds of T.N.T. When you dig down into the underground cave where we used the cold light apparatus, you will find it in fragments. It was my only child, and I’ll take it with me."

As he finished his head slumped forward on his chest. With an exclamation of dismay Dr. Bird sprang forward and tried to lift the prostrate form.

In an agony of desire the Doctor tightened his grip on the dying man’s shoulder. But Smith collapsed into a heap. Dr. Bird bent forward and tore open his shirt and listened at his chest. Presently he straightened up.

"He is gone," he said sadly, "and I guess the results of his genius have died with him. He doesn’t strike me as a man who left overmuch to chance. Carnes, is your case completed?"

"Very satisfactorily, Doctor. I have both of the lost packets."

"All right, then, come back to the wreck and help me pack my burros. I can make my way back to Fallon without a guide."

"Where are you going, Doctor?"

"That, Carnes, old dear, is none of your blankety blanked business. Permit me to remind you that I am on my vacation. I haven’t decided yet just where I am going, but I can tell you one thing. It’s going to be some place where you can’t call me on the telephone."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Skinput interface - very cool -

Odds on when we will see this in everyday consumer electronics?

article in Core77 via Make

Researchers Certain: Chicxulub event did wipe out the dinowsaurs

In a review, published online March 4 in Science, a team consisting of 41 researchers, have decided that the 30 year old paper by father and son research team Luis and Walter Alvarez, was indeed, a massive asteroid that slammed into Earth, creating Chicxulub Crater on Mexico's Gulf Coast, that killed off many of the species on the planet, including the non-avian dinosaurs.

The team looked at:

Volcanism that produced the great Deccan Trap formation, and Multiple asteroid impacts, involved in the extinction event, and concluded that these possible causes are to inconclusive and in some instances may actually made conditions on Earth MORE favorable for life.

Read the complete article in Scientific American here

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Got some good news and maybe not so good news. The good news We may still yet see a Foundation movie. The potentially bad news? Roland Emmerich of 2012 and Independence Day fame has optioned the rights. I have heard this twice so I guess there is a good chance that this may happen. What scares me is that Emmerich, in an effort to lessen misgivings has promised "Not to ruin Foundation". Wow that's a load off me! I would have settled for I will do the very best job I can and honor Dr. Asimov's memory and treat his work with the respect it is due.

Read the 42 Blip article

NASA could put telepresence robots on Moon in 1000 days

You know those fancy gold robots that NASA has been experimenting with? Well according to an article in Gizmodo:
  • NASA can put humanoids on the Moon in just 1000 days. They would be controlled by scientists on Earth using motion capture suits, giving them the feeling of being on the lunar surface.

This works only for the moon of course. Mars has a substantial signal delay, but the 3 second delay to the moon and back can easily be accounted for.

Below is some video of how that might look:

Read complete Gizmodo article here

How the newest Star Trek movie should have ended!

One of the funniest moments is when Kirk mentions the lens flares which were a big contention for me... yep funny stuff.

Thanks to for the post

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Like Tears in the Rain scene done in Legos?! WTF!

I am not sure if someone should be slapped for this or not. Here we have the truly iconic moment in Blade Runner done in Lego of all things...

Blade Runner - Tears in Rain (in LEGO) from Zach Macias on Vimeo.

The Brick Brothers
via Make

Earth Bumped off it's Axis

If you ever doubted the vast power released during a

According to NASA's website:
  • The Feb. 27 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shortened the length of each Earth day.
  • JPL research scientist Richard Gross computed how Earth's rotation should have changed.
  • Using a complex model, he and fellow scientists came up with a preliminary calculation that the quake should have shortened the length of an Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds.
What is even more amazing is that Chilean quake may have shifted the whole planet off it's axis by as much as 3 inches!

By comparison - estimates of the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatran earthquake should have shortened the length of day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted the axis by 2.76 inches.

Off course these are estimates and are likely to change as more data comes in.

Read NASA article here

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

AntipodeanSF Issue 141 is now Online!

Editor Ion tells me that the newest issue of the Australian online flash fiction site AntipodeanSF has posted their newest issue, number 141 and can be accessed here

AntipodeanSF magazine

Here is a list of the stories available this month, but there is so much more. Check it out!

The Cats By Julie Cohen Wornan

Otis Regrets By Morva Shepley

The Heresy of Darren Wexmouth By Brendan D. Carson

All In Time By Chris Castle

Cobweb Walking By Jan Napier

Waste Not By Matt Cowens

A Very Exclusive Club By Shaun A. Saunders

Meeting By Chance By Darren Lipnicki

Soul Mates By Matthew James

Happily Until Their Deaths By Monica Carroll