Thursday, February 28, 2013

Weekly Rundown

    The ISS will get it's second resupply from SpaceX as planned. Everything is underway, and on schedule to launch at 10:10 am EST tomorrow morning, March 1st 2013.  It will be carried aloft by a Falcon 9 rocket, also built by SpaceX. The rocket and resupply module stand a total of 157 feet tall. It will be carrying 1,268 pounds of supplies and equipment for the experiments going on. The rocket is two stages, and the first stage is powered by 9 rockets that generate 855,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, reaching around 1 million as it leaves the atmosphere. The Dragon itself is 14.4 feet tall, and capable of carrying 7,000 pounds between the pressurized and unpressurized sections. The crew will be loading 2600 pounds of samples and equipment to be returned to Earth. It is scheduled for a parachute splashdown on March 25, off the coast of Baja California. This is the second of 12 SpaceX missions  to the ISS for NASA.



    2 million miles across, and spinning so fast it's outer surface is nearing the speed of light. And yeah, it's real. It's the super massive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1365. The spin rate was measured using data from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray Satellites. This is the first time that anyone has been able to accurately measure the spin of a black hole. Think about the power of this thing. With gravity so strong that it actually drags the surrounding space along with it. That is just amazingly strong, and amazingly fast. So, if it can reach nearly the speed of light, and it certainly does not have limitless energy, (although it's bloody freaking close to having limitless energy), then maybe we can learn something here. Not sure what, but maybe something that we can actually use here and now. Well, close to now anyway. Yep, still hopeful here. A little anyway. And for those that are sincere fans of Einsteins Theory of Relativity, this is a gold mine, it has to be. No where else are you going to find space and time as messed up and distorted as you are going to find here.

     

     Anyone want to do a fly-by of mars? Besides me that is, but I'll never get chosen. Dennis Tito announced 
his plans on Wednesday, Feb. 27th, when he announced the new nonprofit organization he has founded called  the Inspiration Mars Foundation. IMF huh? And guess who they want to get to go. It's a two person team, on a 500 day trip locked in a small area together. Since it is a long trip, and close quarters, they want to send a husband wife team. Why they have to be married is beyond me, though being a couple might be a good idea. He says it is important to do it that way because they will be representing humanity. Representing to who? There is no one there, unless there are things they haven't told us. Represent humanity my behind. They are hoping to find out if sex is possoible in space, and what happens if you get pregnant. Fine, I volunteer me and the GF. At least if we did meet another race, (ha ha), I'd be the perfect speaker for us. I'd tell them the truth, we're fecking nuts. And then beg for a way to go with them. See, I'd be perfect, again. LOL. Hell, stick my brain a robot body, and I'll volunteer for the first long range mission to Alpha Centauri. Just laser beam the latest good movies and tv shows to the ship. But no news. Or send me mail plods, I'll pick them up on the way back, if I came back ever that is. Okay, I'm an ex drifter; truth is, I wouldn't be back for thousands of years, or when I needed more of the fuel source, even if I had a warp drive ship. Too many places to go, and too much to see out there. Someone please invent me a robot body. Thank you in advance. Married couple, PTTTHHHH. So they have a fight and what, he sleeps on the outer hull that sleep cycle, lol.



     Anyone tired of asteroid and comet scares yet. . Anyone out there ready to repopulate the planet after hiding in a shelter to avoid the destruction? Well tough luck folks, this one isn't for us. This one is aiming for our little red buddy out there. More or less anyway. Comet C/2013 A1 was discovered on Jan. 13th by the autralian veteran comet hunter Robert McNaught.  They finds indicate that it will pass Mars around Oct. 19th, 2014, at about 60,000 miles. They have tightened that orbit since to the point that it may pass within 23,000 miles of Mars. Now forgetting that the comet will miss, hopefully, what about Mars getting hit by debris from it. If it was me, I'd be sending another rover up there, and getting it in position where they believe they could get good shots, and maybe get extremely lucky and be close to a debris impact site if it happens at all. Though I am betting the two would be nowhere close together. See, that is why we need a base on Mars. I'm willing to make the sacrifice and volunteer for that mission as well. 



And lastly this week on the science front (Barely making the cut for space science here), is a photo taken from space of the Mount Etna Volcanic eruption.  It erupted yesterday on Feb 27th, 2013, and we already have pictures of it from space. One anyway that has been released, and probably more by the time I get this done. The photo was taken by Chris Hadfield, of the Canadian Space agency.  He is aboard the ISS, and regularly posts pictures he has taken from space. He's a general little shutter bug, thank the stars. Not exactly space science, but an astronaut did it, so close enough.



Nothing of any major interest in the Science Fiction area this week. Lots of speculation and rumors, but nothing concrete of any real interest that most of us don't already know about anyway. The biggest news was that the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that is probably going to be murdered anyway, has been pushed back a few weeks. Not due out till 2014 anyway, and Bay is doing it so there go more good memories probably. But at least now it is no longer saying that they are aliens, but spawned because of aliens coming to Earth. Who knows. I've given up on more than half the stuff he does. And don't be surprised if in 5 weeks I am saying the opposite, and we are back to them being the aliens again. 

That's it for this week folks. Now I'm off to watch some movies now that I finally got HD. Yep, still playing catch up, like I will probably be doing for the next 10 years. But wow do I like HD. Finally get to play RE6 as well. This is turning into a good week actually.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NASA's First Manned Orbit of Earth, Almost Ended in Tragedy

For the space geeks out there, you know exactly what February 20, 1962 (and yes last week was the 51st anniversary of one of the greatest moments in U.S.A's spaceflight history) means in the annals of the US's spaceflight.   

February 20, 1962 was the first time NASA had sent a manned craft into space with the intent of circling the globe.   The capsule in question was Freedom 7 and the pilot (I know, stretching the pilot on a Mercury) was John Glenn. 

But how many of you remember how close we came to losing Freedom 7 and Glenn on that same flight? 

The flight play called for  seven orbits but shortly after launch NASA noticed that Freedom 7's yaw thruster  had malfunctioned which would mean that the mission would have to be drastically cut back.  

Freedom 7's problems didn't end there.  Almost immediately ground control received a warning that the "flotation ring " had been deployed.  The ring was carefully stowed behind the heat shield  and was only deployed after landing.  The thruster pack is discarded during re-entry and the heat shield when atmosphere heating is no longer a problem.   But when controllers discovered the floatation ring error, they knew this could only mean that the heat shield had partially or completely detached   

This means that astronaut Glenn could perish on re-entry.  

Since the thruster package still seemed intact and firmly attached, NASA decided  to  have Glenn fired a small de-orbit burn but do something unprecedented,  leave the maneuvering pack still attached in hopes that if  the heat shield was detached the pack would hold the shield in place. 

Since a whole lot of things went right, John Glenn is still will us as are some very fortunet                                                            
There is a wealth of information on this flight at nasa and this report from the wiki  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deceptive Shadows

Here is a little project, inspired by Paul G. Hewitt, from the Vritasium  Youtube site,  that is easy to set up and execute.  But before you do, just watch the video.  Of course it is a bit disingenuous by calling our attention to the dark areas.  I will give a better hint - great little photography demonstration.



More information the Vritasium Youtube site. 

Really, check it out!  Yes I know, it is all pretty much high school science and physics, and if you are really up on this material then you might find it a bit mundane.  But for the average adult, they have either forgotten it or never were privy to live demonstrations.

There is plenty of room for conversation but I am going to save it for the comment section. But do check the site and watch some of the videos.


Monday, February 25, 2013

End Of The World

    Okay, I know I'm going to get it for this one, but  
I am going to give a good review for a movie that
premiered on SYFy Saturday night. Still hate that
 spelling.
    Anyway, it was actually a pretty good movie. 
So here is the basics of the movie, and then we'll 
get to why I am giving it a favorable review.
    The Earth is being bombarded by plasma from the 
heliosphere. They look like little blue electrical meteorites
 actually, or small energy balls from DBZ. 
    This is not why the movie is any good, trust me. Even with a few people that went splat in all directions, that still isn't why it gets a decent review. But here is why.
    It stars Neil Grayston, who was Fargo in Eureka, and Greg Grunberg from Heroes. And this is what makes the movie. Greg owns a video store, and Neil works for him. They are complete movie addicts, and even have a closet full of survival bags for different scenarios, from alien invasion, to zombie holocaust. 
    And they are constantly using lines from movies they have seen. Anyway, they are the ones that go to an asylum to rescue a doctor that has built a bunker. The Doctors name is Dr. Walter Brown. When they rescue him, he tells them almost immediately that his friends just call him Doctor Brown. Yep, you are starting to see where this is going.
    I don't want to say too much, because I can't without removing too much of the humor from the film. Needless to say, it is a comedy sci-fi, with lines from numerous movies, used throughout the film. 
    Now this is in no way an equal to Red Dwarf, or most of the other comedy sci-fi shows and films that are out there. But it is also better than a lot of them as well. 
    IMDB has it at 5.1 out of 10 with 95 users voting so far. I personally give it a 6 for the lunacy, and for the constant line using of other films. As for the (ahem), science parts, I simply won't discuss that. 
    If you can catch it on SYFY watch it. If you find it on DVD somewhere and it isn't more than 2 bucks, go ahead and get it. There is nothing in depth about it, or even remotely scientific actually, but it is worth a quick watch for a laugh when nothing else is going on. 
    I admit I'm a lover of bad B movies, but this was actually a pretty decent B movie. The production company was World Pictures, and for this being their first film, they didn't do too bad. I mean, when you watch a Rutger Hauer movie like Hobo With A Shotgun, you know what to expect. This a B class SYFY movie, and you actually get more than you expect considering their recent disasters for the past 3-4 years. In truth, I was pleasantly surprised for once, instead of wondering where the last 120 minutes of my life went, along with 40-50 IQ points. At least with this, you only lose about 5 points.
    Okay, maybe I'd give it a 6.5 - 7. But only for the comedic aspect. I really love B movies. And it really was funny. I gave it a 9 on IMDb to help boost the ratings, but if I did that here, you people would rip me a brand new one. 

Wild Optical Illusion

Here is a very interesting illusion caused by a repeating monochromatic pattern.  It is described by the video makers as being mildly hallucinogenic but that is really stretching is a lot.  It is however interesting.  Fyi the effects only last a matter of seconds to at most a minute.  Have fun.


 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

BMU # 354 Now Online!

Yes, I am in the WRFR lp/fm studios this week! Not that this is of heart stopping importance other than it is episode 354!  But anyway, I start off with a new segment, weekly rundown from Kallamis which covers some of the news that BMU may have covered, but often other material of interest.  

Then we deal with one of the most twisted submissions I have had in some time.  We can all blame this one on Xnewsman, and it is better to just hear it.  Check it out at about 14:30 minutes into the broadcast.  

From there I play the conclusion to Colonial Scout by Doug Turnbull. 

Next I do a change up on Star Trek trivia.  There hasn't been much input, so I take the Star Trek trivia and basically turn it into....Did You Know or do you remember this type of information.  I think it will prove to be much more interesting this way.

In light of the Russian meteor, Earth Sky revisits the Tunguska impact of a hundred years ago.

I do two reviews this week, the first being Pixar's Brave, which I have to admit has made stunning improvements to their 3d rendering engine.  

Kallamis celebrates 50 years of Dr. Who with some really good, historical high points.  I give a brief summery, but it would behoove you to take a trip over to the wrfrbeameup.blogspot.com Beam Me Up blog for a more up to date rundown.   

My last review of the afternoon is the indie film Robot and Frank.  Frank played brilliantly by Frank Langella.  The film is a low key story of a two story man (Frank) who is suffering from dementia and must either accept a robot care taker or hospitalization. Check out my review in about 40:00 into the broadcast.

Final story of the afternoon is a Trath tale, "The Story Continues" by David Scholes, another low key tale of the warrior Trath coming back to visit one of the remote aboriginal tribes.    

And that winds up the weekend.  Thanks for visiting and for listening.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Moving Window Manikins! Great Innovation or Hideous Mistake?



In certain store windows in Tokyo's Shibuya district, you can sample one of the most inventive use for advertising of robot tech and gaming equipment. Called Marionettebots they are in truth manikins with the addition of joints and control wires. The wires are then wired through accuators to a Kinect. This allows the Marionettebots to be controlled by anyone standing in front of the window. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fusion Power in Four?

By most estimates, fusion power is at least Forty years away.  But if the folks over at Lockheed Martin skunk works have their way, a working unit the size of a semi-trailer will be producing power in as little as four years.  

Lockheed Martin's Charles Chase, in an interview with Google's Solve For X, looks for their system to take plentiful Hydrogen and fuse it into Helium and in the process provide enough energy to power a small city.  Once Lockheed Martin moves to assembly line production in 2017  their unit can produce unlimited fresh water or even engines capable of powering a spacecraft to Mars in one month instead of six months it now takes.

Instead of huge lasers or toroidal plasma containment most common in systems like the Tokamac, Lockheed's fusion system will use radio energy to heat a type of hydrogen gas inside a magnetic field that is tightly controlled. This system will create a very high temperature plasma that is much more stable than competing systems. 

Chase is being very closed mouth about any more specific technical information but he is confident that his team will have a prototype 100 mega-watt plant by 2017 and commercial 100 mega-watt plant available by 2022.  

Below, Chase speaks about this new approach to fusion power at a "solve for (x)" talk. 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Weekly rundown

     Keplar 37b is the smallest exoplanet found outside our solar system. It is approximately 215 LY’s from earth. It is about the size of earth’s moon with a diameter of 2,400 miles (3,860 km), and has a year of 13.4 earth days. Due to its size, and high surface radiation, it is thought to be like mercury, with no atmosphere or water. Actually, all three planets found in the Kepler 37 system are all closer to their sun than mercury, and are all speedy little suckers too.  The longest year of the three being 39.8 earth days. There are two links to this, and both on space.com, so here they both are.


     Lovely sun we have folks. There is a sunspot on it at the moment that is large enough to swallow six of our planet Earth.  The giant spot was captured on camera by NASA’s SDO, Solar Dynamics Observatory. It grew to this size in just less than 48 hours, and due to some of the magnetic fields within it pointing in opposite directions, creating an unstable configuration; it is a prime target to create solar flares. And being the loving and compassionate person I am, my first thought was the fun this would have created if it had happened last year, say on dec. 17th or 18th, with all the end of the world Mayan stuff going on with some people. Not that I would have laughed; forever. Okay, I’d still be laughing.


Are the secrets of dying stars being carried around by us in our technology every day of our lives now? Apparently it is.  Here is what is going on. We have recreated here on Earth, the way magnetic fields behave around the dying suns known as white dwarfs.  We actually managed to pull this off in a lab here on earth, using devices made of silicon laced with phosphorous, which is quite similar to computer microchips. These are rated in Tesla strength. Earth’s surface puts out 30 – 60 millionths of a tesla, where as a white dwarfs field can reach 100,000 tesla.  So basically, if you put something like a magnet in the middle of new york city, with this field, everyone with a pace maker would have to evacuate immediately. Even creating a field in a lab at 1,000 tesla, lasts for only a fraction of a second, and you end up buying all new equipment, as it basically gets fried beyond repair. They used a 30 tesla field to see how atoms react in such a field. Very interesting article actually. Well worth checking out as well.

     Speedy little stars aren't they. By last reckoning, our star is moving through space at around 52,000 mph. Not too bad for a big flaming ball of burning gas. But she’s slow, especially compared to what has just been found. Now imagine a binary star system getting sucked in by a black hole. The one star gets eaten, while the other gets thrown out. That is the theory of six stars recently found with masses similar to that of our star Sol. Now these are moving at a bit faster speed. Like around 2 million mph. They are hoping that by studying these stars, they can learn more about the type of stars that are formed at the galactic heart of our galaxy, and help estimate the size of the black hole that resides there. Any way you look at it though, those are moving at a pretty fair clip by our reckoning. The speed of these stars actually makes them gravitationally unbound from the galaxy itself.


     The Klingons will apparently be showing up in the new Star Trek Into Darkness.  J.J. Abrams talks about it shortly in a video segment which I will post a link to. And thankfully, it sounds like they will be only enemies, and not any of this Worf stuff. I like Worf, but lets keep at least a bit of the original timeline in effect here. I mean, come on now, they are klingons. 


     And for all interested, here is a pic of Princess Leia in a supposedly never before seen picture in that slave costume. Same site, different page is all. Okay, even I have to admit, she looks freaking hot in this picture. Really hot. But green slave girls, and half cat women still look better in my book. I did warn you all that I was weird. Enjoy the link.


That's it for this week folks. I could go on as usual, but I can only do so much on a page, so I look around for things I think will be interesting, in the areas of space science, science fiction and fantasy. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

John Karlin, Developer of All-Digit Dialing Dies at 94

As the home phone is posed to slowly fade into oblivion, many of us are unaware of the process that took the home phone from the realm of operator controlled call centers to completely automated digital call handling.  

Before John Karlin call handling had transformed from operators to mechanical switches.  But in the decades following WWII the number of home based private numbers outpaced the mechanical switch centers ability to absorb them.  

Enter the DTMF system or Dual Tone Multi Frequency dialing which mixes two tones to represent a single number and as little as five frequencies mixed to produce 0 thru 9 plus room for two special keys.  This technology allowed the call centers to transit to filters and digital switches and the ability to handle substantially more calls. 

But the shift to the new system required a paradigm shift in the design of the phone. 
From the article:
  • The rectangular design of the keypad, the shape of its buttons and the position of the numbers — with “1-2-3” on the top row instead of the bottom, as on a calculator — all sprang from empirical research conducted or overseen by Mr. Karlin. 
2013 is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the touch-tone phone.  In those 50 years, Karlin's designs have affected many more technologies than the phone.  The keyboard design alone has become innocuous  finding itself incorporated in dissimilar items as the microwave oven to cellular phones.   And to consider that John Karlin made such stunning contributions to the very nature of how we use technology was virtually unknown outside his field.  

Original article in the New York Times 2/8/13 by By Margalit Fox

submitted by xnewsman


David Scholes "For Odin, for Thor, for Asgard"

Author and BMU contributor Scholes sent in a note telling us about his newest book.
What I like about Scholes is he is not afraid to tell us whats us.  Boils down to if you like the works he has let Beam Me Up read, then you will most likely enjoy the book a well.

Check out the note:
  • "For Odin, for Thor, for Asgard" - a collection of tales of the Norse gods.
  • It's had some mixed reviews on Amazon but if your readers enjoyed "OdinForce" and "The Intervention" - they may enjoy some of these stories.  
  • Here's the link:  http://www.amazon.com/For-Odin-Thor-Asgard-ebook/dp/B00AHNE27W
  • The book was first available December 2012, but David will be making it available free for 5 days from 5 March.
Thanks for the update Dave!

Double Slit Experiment: easily reproducable

I know....one of my favorite hobby horses this one.  But I truly love experiments that screw with our perception of our environment.  One of the fundamental ones deals with our perception of frequencies in the visible light band.

The famous dual slit experiment which showed that light was a wave was first put forth by Thomas  Young in the early 1800.  In this video, we are shown that complicated machinery to demonstrate the phenom.  

Check out the video.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

review: Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank

Staring

Frank Langella as Frank
Susan Sarandon as Jennifer
Peter Sarsgaard as Robot (voice)
Rachael Ma as Robot (body)
James Marsden as Hunter
Liv Tyler as Madison
Jeremy Strong as Jake
Jeremy Sisto as Sheriff Rowlings
''Directed by:

Jake Schreier

Frank played brilliantly by Frank Langella is an aging jewel thief that he spent time in prison for.  Now he is alone in an old house and his health and memory are both fading.  Franks son, with whom Frank has a tenuous relationship with at best, gives his father a choice, accept a robot caretaker or go to a managed care facility.  

Frank very reluctantly accepts the robot.  Finding weak points in the robot's program, Frank waylays the robot into helping him with a couple nefarious project  that turn into one of the oddest buddy movies you are likely to see.  

The plot moves along very well and manages to get it's point across without being heavy handed.  The ending is telegraphed but done so sweetly that you find yourself buying right into Franks conflict.  

The plot is subtly  broken in an undefined way.  Maybe it was the speed Frank accepted the device or maybe for the near future, the secondary characters seemed much further removed...but it IS subtle.  In the end it may be that the characters just are not all that well defined, leading to a one trick pony show. But again it is no where near bad enough to warrant a pass.  The movie is cute and whimsy in a kittenish kind of way.  And in any event you are ill used if you don't watch the film.   

For an Indie film, I am very impressed.  I would give it a solid 8 for acting and plot development.  

You can find it of all places on Youtube here

Monday, February 18, 2013

50 years of the greatest hero ever celebrated on BBCA


 


The old Doctors have returned, all of them. From William Hartnell, to David Tenant.  Even the old TARDIS has returned.
   What I am talking about is the 50th anniversary specials of the greatest hero in all of time, space and dimensions Doctor Who.
   BBCA is running specials the entire year called Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited.  They are apparently showing 1 a month, and last month was the first one with William Hartnell.  This month on the 24th, they will be showing that one again, along with the new one which of course will be the second man to play the Doctor, Patrick Troughton.
   The first and the second, and I am guessing all of them, will be 3 hours long.  They include one full show of that particular Doctor, and also a lot of trivia, and interviews with people that were involved during the filming, and others from today as well. 
   And just a quick piece of TARDIS trivia, in case it doesn't get expounded on in the specials is this. All TARDISes created after the type 24 have more than one control room. And although they actually occupy the same space. they are separated by way of a different time phase. Any control room can be reached by way of the corridors within the TARDIS, but for safety purposes due to the time phasing the walk is between 2.5 - 5 miles. The freaking thing is huge inside, and it has been wondered if even the doctor knows everything that is in there. The main TARDIS door, the one we always see them enter and leave by can be connected to any of the control room by way of the control panel, or even from the outside by way of the key TARDIS itself. 
   And she is alive, like all of them. Do to this fact, she has the ability to regenerate the same as the Doctor can. Yes folks, the TARDIS for all her magnificent glory and abilities, is a living being. And all TARDISes are female. That was made clear by the Doctor himself actually.
   As for the differences between Time Lord and homo sapiens it gets interesting as well. This may be due to the ages they spent being bombarded by vortex radiation, or it may just be how they are naturally to some respects, minus the big one of course, regeneration of the cellular structure of their bodies. That itself had to be from exposure to the vortex.  Whether all gallifreyans could regenerate is not entirely known, as some left the citadel of the Time Lords, and lived on other parts of the planet without the massive technology used at the citadel. And also it is not known for certain if the Time Lords were really that different, or if they were just the ruling class, or if a Time Lord was simply a Gallifreyan with a TARDIS. And that's enough of that, because if I start on Gallifreyan beliefs and society this thing will be 100 pages long.
   The physiological differences can't be seen, but they are slightly extreme, and I wish I had them. All of them. They have 2 hearts, with an average heart rate of 170 beats per minute. Their normal body temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit. They also have a respiratory bypass system which basically prevents them from being strangled to death. They have an increased resilience to high frequency sounds, and can actually survive fully exposed to the vacuum of space with no ill effects, though if they are going to be out for an extended period, they will need an air supply or they will suffocate. Also, if they are severely injured, but not to the regeneration point, they can go into a healing coma, where their body temperature drops to below freezing. Also a good way to make your enemies think you are dead. Oh the trouble I could get into with a Time Lords body.
   Needless to say, if you do not have knowledge of the Doctor, or are a fan and want to see and hear trivia that you have not heard before here in America, you need to watch the specials. I'll be watching it instead of the running weekly soap opera known as Walking Dead, that's for sure. 
   To make it simple, beyond Kirk, Beyond Han, beyond any super hero you have ever heard of, there is one that is and will always be greater. Though his name may not be known, he is the true hero of the universes, and is known simply as; THE DOCTOR.















   

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Brave

Brave staring the voices of

Kelly MacDonald as princess Merida, 
Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor
Billy Connolly as King Fergus,
Julie Walters as The Witch,
Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall
Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin
Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh
Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser as Maudie, the castle maid.
Peigi Barker as Young Merida
Steven Cree as Young Macintosh
Steve Purcell as The Crow
Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall
Patrick Doyle as Martin, the guard
John Ratzenberger as Gordon, the guard

Brave at it's heart is a morality play.  A teenager has been groomed all her life for the purpose of in this case marriage. But it could be anything.  As it is in most of these type of stories, she doesn't want to get married and certainly not to a boy of her parent's choosing.   She excels in archery and winds up besting all, which was hardly her parents intent. 

In defying her parents and running away, Merida consults a wise woman (witch) who winds up cursing her family and rushes to reverse the curse before her parents and brothers are lost forever.

Plotwise there is nothing new here.  Typical Disneyesque plot at heart.  But the real chances being taken here was Pixar with new 3d modeling and the ability to handle complex structure movement even better than say "Tangled.  Hair and fur are even more natural than before, and structures under the fur are moved in a totally life like manner.  There is no question Pixar's 3d engine is one of the best going.  

So for a review, the story is pretty much off the shelf, some minor tweaking here and there but for the most part, nothing new here, graphics and rendering, well both are top notch.  Well researched landscapes gives us   believable environments and with the excellent modeling done, the film is a treat just for the combined animation.  Over all I would give it a 7 or 8, depending on how much you like the story.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Never Ending Cantina

Xnewsman is an evil entity....and here is proof!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

BMU Podcast # 353 Now Online

Welcome to episode 353 of Beam Me Up.  This week, a change or two, some surprising happenings and I continue with Doug Turnbull's story.

First off an excellent new piece of music called 7 Rounds from John Anealio.  FYI  you can follow John and catch other tracks on John's blog http://scifisongs.blogspot.com/

As a change up, instead of asking questions as trivia for star trek, I think each week, I will come up with a couple of Star Trek trivia facts.  You are always welcome to weigh in on either trivia questions or facts.

From there I have a couple of Earth Sky news stories. 
Earth Sky reports on a possible new dwarf planet more than 600 million miles past Pluto. 

Kallamis  Gives us a weekly run down of news.

And I continue on with the Beam Me Up blog, more on the Russian Meteor strike, The Goldilocks Zone has been modified, discovery of the youngest black hole in our galaxy? Kallamis again is on a tirade about Pluto and it's new moon....and new equipment for the blind.

I finish with part 2 of Colonial Scout by Doug Turbull.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Over 1000 Injured in Meteor Blast!


  • Over 1000 people were hurt when a meteor slammed into a remote Russian village.

  •  According to NASA the small asteroid released the equivalent to 300,000 tons of TNT, the space agency's officials said Friday, adding that the incident was a once-in-100-years event.  

  • A large portion of the injuries were caused by flying glass and other debris, resulting from the powerful shock wave.  Most of those hurt, including at last count, over 200 children,  are in the Chelyabinsk region.  Apx. 3000 building were damaged.  

  • From the CNN article:


  • Vladimir Stepanov, of the National Center for Emergency Situations at the Russian Interior Ministry, earlier told state media that hospitals, kindergartens and schools were among those affected.

  • The national space agency, Roscosmos, said scientists believed one meteoroid had entered the atmosphere, where it burned and disintegrated into fragments.  The resulting meteorites are believed to be scattered across three regions of Russia.




UPDATE
Kallamis just wrote to say that the stats have been changed

The meteors size is now thought to have been 55' wide, and sent off a blast of 500 kiloton.

That's more like 3 city buses or couple of train cars now.  And 500 kiloton?!! damn!

Fast weekly rundown

This is nothing more than a quick list of things put out this week, and anything new that has happened of interest.
So lets start with the two most recent events.

1. A meteorite the size of a bus apparently, came apart over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, doing extensive damage, and injuring perhaps as many as a 1,000 people do to flying glass and debris. Initial reports state that the explosion was equal to a 2.7 magnitude quake.
It is not believed to be connected in any way to the approaching asteroid, such as a piece of it or anything due to the trajectory of the meteor. It didn't travel south to north as the asteroid will be traveling.

2. For all those interested, Harrison Ford has apparently been confirmed to be a part of Star Wars 7.  Wonderful. Han Solo in the old spaceman's home. He's 71 now for crying out loud. (Don't  get me wrong, I love Han, and Chewbacca, and the Falcon. It's just a lot of the other silliness I have trouble with). 

3. NASA has confirmed that the target date for the next SpaceX resupply mission to the ISS is scheduled for March 1 at 10:10am EST. It is to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

4. At 2:25pm ESt today Friday, Asteroid 2012DA14 will pass the Earth at a distance of 17,150 miles, (27,600 kilometers).

And there is probably a lot more but it's been a busy week for me. But I may start doing this every Friday or maybe Thursday now. 
Let me know what you all think about a quick run down of weekly science and sci-fi news. And if you all think this is a good idea, I'll include links as to where the articles are, or the information can be found next time. Like I said, very busy week here. And I'm sure a week will be enough for even me to figure out how to properly put a link in these things. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bionic Eyes for Partially Blind

People with limited sight can now get an  Argus II bionic eye from Second Sight.

the unit consists of glasses with a camera installed.  The camera sends information to a processor which in turn sends the heavily processed video to an implant located in the eye which stimulates the eye's remaining photo receptors. 

Though we have seen similar systems and this appears to be variations on a theme, in truth it is a very inventive use and utilization of the equipment.  Check the video below.

My Little Planets moons name.

   Pluto it seems just seems to keep popping up lately.
Got to love it too. My little planet just won't stay out
of the news it seems. And yeah, I know, here we go again.
   Well, now we are talking about the names of the moons,
 and the ones that haven't been named yet. And that is
what this is really for, the ones un-named.
   Pluto has 5 moons, but only three have been named so far.
They are Charon, Nix, and hydra. The last two are named
 P4 and P5. 
   Scientists are hoping to keep the names going like they are,
named for Greek and Roman characters that have a connection
 to the underworld.
   Well, I won't discuss what I think of scientists that attempt to kill my off my planet, (Yeah I'm still in  protest mode here). But now we (I), have a chance for a slight revenge on them all for my little planet. And it is all thanks to the greatest Star Ship captain there ever was. Thank you Captain Kirk.
   William Shatner promoted the names of Vulcan and Romulus. Romulus is already the name of a moon however, so it is out. Both Romulus and Remus are the names for the moons of  asteroid 87 Silvia.
   But that still leaves the name Vulcan. And Vulcan is the roman god of fire and lava, as in volcano I believe.
Shatner promoted these names  on Feb 11th, and on the 12th Vulcan was added to the voting list and is gaining ground rapidly. It would also appear that it is now in the lead, though barely with 2nd going to Styx, and 3rd going to Cerberus at the moment. There have been more than 215,000 votes so far.
   The voting polls will remain open on the Plutorocks.com website until 12pm EST on ffeb 25th.
   So first the link to the space.com article about it.

http://www.space.com/19784-pluto-moon-names-william-shatner.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+spaceheadlines+%28SPACE.com+Headline+Feed%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

And now on to the link to the voting, which you can also navigate to from the end of the article on space.com

http://www.plutorocks.com/home

   So, to make this simple, you vote for VULCAN. Time to make those scientists that are accepting of a bunch of bloody planet killers not get what they want. 
Vote once, vote often, and vote Vulcan. Go to your friends houses and vote. Vote from work. Just vote vote vote, for Vulcan. 
   I must have a masochist side. I seem to love making myself a target out here. 

   



Nebula May be an Indicator of Galaxy's Newest Black Hole

W49B, shown in this photo is the remnants of the end of a super-massive star's life.  This super-nova took place about 26,000 LY away, as seen from Earth the explosion took place, according to the Wired article, the object is only about 1000 years old. 

(Ok, other than 1000 years old and possibly one of the youngest in the galaxy, something about that statement caught me strange. the Wired article  was worded just as I entered it.  2600 lys away and a 1000 years old.  Do you see yet what has me going....ahhhhh what???  Let me explain...and where does my logic fall down?  Light travels at light speed, for the most part right?  When the super-nova blew, light traveled from it to us.  Said star is 26000 LY, we are not  interested so much in distance but in time 26,000 years time to be exact.  So how can something that blew 26,000 years ago be anything but 26,000 years old? )

Oddities in age not withstanding, W49B is still an odd creature.  Looking at it's shape it is evident that the collapse and release of matter was not uniform.  You can see from the picture that instead of a uniform globe, the super-nova left huge spikes at what may have been it's poles.  

Also, data gathered from the Chandra X-Ray telescope:
  • only half of it showed concentrations of iron while sulfur and silicon were spread evenly throughout. This type of explosion, known as a bipolar supernova, has never been seen before in the galaxy.
Chandra can also look "inside" of the nebula cloud:
  • Intermediate-mass stars will give rise to neutron stars — heavy, compact objects that emit copious amounts of X-rays or radio pulses.  Since these signals are not present, scientists suggest that the star was massive enough to continue the collapse all the way to a black hole.
Read the complete Wired article here

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Goldilock Zone Redefined

The Goldilocks Zone, according to the Wikipedia, is: 
  • In astronomy and astrobiology, habitable zone (more accurately, circumstellar habitable zone ) is the scientific term for the region around a star within which it is theoretically possible for a planet with sufficient atmospheric pressure to maintain liquid water on its surface.
In the past this has been fairly easy to determine as, where ever the Earth was in reference to a yellow dwarf star, that was the habitual zone, and all other calculations could be made from this generality.  

Well Space.Com has an article that seems to throw a bit of a monkey wrench in to the mix.
In a recent article:
  • Now scientists have redefined the boundaries of the habitable zone for alien planets, potentially kicking out some exoplanaets that were thought to fall within it, and maybe allowing a few that had been excluded to squeeze in.
What surprised me however was the redefined low end (how close a planet can be) for an Earth style system  was .99 AU.  Earth at 1 AU just barely makes the cut as a world almost too hot to maintain liquid water without it boiling away.  

Many astrobiologists are surprised at the closeness of Earth to the inside edge.  Plus with the new definition, many planets now fall into a to hot class not likely to harbor life.  

Nuclear Sub, For Sale 6,98!

Wow, talk about a flash from the past!!!  Do I REMEMBER this sub.  I couldn't remember what comix I saw it in, but the 6.95 was such an astronomical amount back then, but I wanted one SO bad!  So bad in fact that I asked my dad if I could buy one.  Needless to say the late 60s saw me sans sub.  Now I might have been a little old by the time I saw this, but it flared my imagination so much!  I don't know what the equivalent exchange would be, but I hazard a guess that you would still be out the cost of a big cardboard box and some stickers....  But think about it!  Man that would have been sweet!

Super Sonic Ping Pong Ball?!

You read that right! On Brain Waves at Purdue University, here is a fascinating demonstration  about the physics of a supersonic air gun.  Towards the end a demonstration of a supersonic ping pong ball shooter. The amount of energy that they are capable of packing into such a small sphere with simple air pressure is truly amazing. Check it out.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 15th Asteroid Close Encounter

I know I have spoken about this one before but now that the close pass with this object is imminent.

Here is a short video that explains who will be able to see this  object along with some really good information. 

BMU # 352 Now Online!

Episode 352 for February 9th 2013.

This week, everything ran a bit late, I will or course blame it on the weather.  

This week's stories are part one of Doug Turnbull's Colonial Scout  and I start with episode 17 of Jason Kahn's Dark InSpectre series, In Plain Sight.  Our favorite physic detective continues to investigate gruesome murders in some of New Eden's most dangerous places.  Where people and specters can be witness and victim alike! 

I didn't get a chance to do articles from the Earth Sky web site so this week I make up with some of the
best news in science for the week.  

Then it is over to the BMU blog  at wrfrbeameup.blogspot.com.

First off the blog is a review of the motion comic which is a low rez low frame rate animation type.  The comic in question though is The Astonishing X-Men Unstoppable which pits the x-men against
beings from Breakworld bent on destroying Earth.  These started out as comic book arcs written by Josh Wedon.  Who, when it came time to port the comic to dvd, was joined by illustrator John Cassaday.  I break down what was interesting to me and what was good about the format.

We have heard of Jumping the Shark, but have you heard of a Bogosity Generator?  Coined by author Rudy Rucker's site, what is a bogosity generator and why is it used so heavily in science fiction or fantasy?

On the very near event horizon for tech is a very interesting “film” speaker.  Quite literally a speaker that is little more than a thin film of plastic type gel that can be rolled, folded, all but spindled and mutilated and still make wonderfully high fidelity music and sound. 

I say my final goodbyes to the wonderfully warped show Fringe.

Even though the government has given up on the idea, supporters of building the SW Death Star will not be deterred.  They are going to ask for donations through kickstarter!  To the tune of 21 million and that for plans only no real building....that will take MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH more.  

I start the ball rolling on tech myths.  A few that make you just say...huh?  But yeah...the things people believe to be true.

 The closing story is part one of  Doug Turnbull's Colonial Scout which deals with a fairly normal slice of life but the twist is that it's a Boy Scout over night and the environment is Mars.  The thing to remember though that what gives the average scout here on Earth, a scrape or bruise would be life threatening on Mars....

That's the week!  Enjoy!



Saturday, February 09, 2013

Five Most Popular Tech Myths







Popular may have been a bit of an over statement, lets say the five most commonly held myths in the tech world.  First off, I know that Five common anything in and of itself is a myth, so I am not about to say that this is definitive in the least. But I crawled through a few lists and took some that just screamed of polarization in the techie world. Let's see if you agree:

1: Macs are immune to Malware: Last year alone the trojan called Flashback infected more than 600,000 Macs. The idea that Macs were not as likely to contract malware was more of a marketing ploy spread by Apple marketing than actual statistics of real conditions.

2: The more megapixels a camera has the better the pictures: Do you remember the movie "This is Spinal Tap"? The part I am referring to is when Nigel explained to the documentary's director that their amps went to 11 while other amps only went to 10. When pushed for the significance his only reply was "But Ours Go to 11!" as it was with Nigel so is it with camera buyers today. Unless you plan on printing and enlarging your photos, the extra pixels are of no use what so ever. For the web, a 3 mega pixel camera's output will be virtually the same as a camera with 3 to 4 times the pixel count. Plus if the pictures are going online, even 3 mega pixels have to be downsized to less pixels so they will load faster. Yep, pixels from your great 16 mega pixel camera are thrown away when you put them online for viewing.

3: Commercial software is safer and more reliable than free or open-source software. Wow talk about a loaded question! But one near and dear to my heart, because you see, free or open source and free software is in many ways superior to their commercial counterparts. First quite a few free software titles are gateways to commercial packages. That's fine in my book. As long as the free packages have enough features from the commercial versions to make them safe and functional. I myself use almost exclusively open-source ( open source software is usually conceived and coded by programming pros that have a need for custom software, which they then release to the public to change or improve the software to make it more up to date ) These packages are equal and in a lot of cases superior to the commercial offering.

4: The qwerty keyboard was designed to slow typists down: Here is another that is close to my heart and to be truthful I know this answer from experience. The true answer is exactly opposite. From my experience the keyboard designed was to speed up or to be clearer to make typists more efficient by having them type more. Yes the design comes from the old typewriter days when the keys and letters were mechanical. Only one key could occupy the paper strike area at a time. In the ABC keyboard, it was easy to get the most common keys used to try and occupy a space designed for one letter, the keys would then jam and you would spend time getting the keys unstuck. The less time you did this and the more you spent typing the more efficient you were, so the most common keys were moved apart to cause less jamming and much less wear and tear on the expensive equipment. Typing speeds in truth went up and repair bills went down all due to the qwerty keyboard design. today, no one design is better than another because it is now impossible to "jam" keys.

5: Refurbished tech is not as good as new: Another one that near and dear! WRONG! People have this idea that refurbed means broken damaged or otherwise not working that has had the bare minimum needed to get it operational and returned to the sales floor or bought by junk dealers who sell it with no warranty. In reality refurbs can be as simple as a floor demo or a unit with packaging damage or missing instructions or secondary hardware. Often these are cleaned, tested, repacked and sent for sale. It has been< my experience that such units are NEVER old, then they can only be sold as used. They can not be sold as new, so you often get great savings on items that have little or no usage at all. Now to be as safe as possible, purchase factory certified. These have been tested to spec and often have 30 to 90 day warranties. The savings may be shorter though. If you can forgo the< factory certifications look to buy from sites that will allow you to lodge a grievance should you be unhappy with your purchase. I myself have used these option with a great deal of success and maybe once or twice had to ask for a replacement. You should check the reputation of the site you are making purchases from would not hurt though.

Now there are MANY other tech mythperceptions that can be found by googling the subject. Some of these ideas came from

Lifehacker

and

from an article by Kim Komando

Friday, February 08, 2013

Death Star Supporters Head to Kickstarter

It seems that the US government has not found the building of a Star Wars Death Star practical.  However the supporters are far from deterred!  Supporters have turned to the crowd funding project Kickstarter to raise the 31 million it would take to design the thing.

So far their efforts have raised 31 thousand dollars!  But as NBCNEWS.COM points out in their article:

  • The funding deadline? April Fool's Day. 
Of course 31 million only gets you plans on "how to build a Death Star" because the cost of a functional "Star" would set you back a whopping $850 quadrillion!  

Of course the odd man out in this stunt is Kickstarter itself.  I suspect they are not finding the "april fool" at all funny......


Fringe, We Gona Mis Ya

Again for those that might have lived in a cavern over the past several years, I am writing about Fox's sf series Fringe. Staring Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop, John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop and a cast that enjoyed many recurring as well as regular appearing characters.  Check out the wikipedia here. 

Fringe is a secret government project that investigates very odd and strange occurrences  that don't make any sense.  This in itself is a twisted plot device.  At first they are attacks from possibly a parallel dimension, but there are other things going on that point to very strange individuals, from someplace even stranger!

What it comes down to is that in it's run, Fringe is and was a very smart program.  Even when there were occurrences the science seemed so plausible  even if it does fall under the general field covered by as Rucker calls bogocity generators (I just LOVE that term!)  

Now a lot of shows did what Fringe did....but no where  did they dare do it all at the same time.  Not that Fringe didn't have plot arcs, because it did, but they were like Russian nesting dolls, one inside another.  

Yes, it was a very smart program and one that I put off ending as long as I could.  For those of you that would like to catch up on fringe you can find it on Hulu and Fox.  If you haven't seen the last season or the last few programs, you own it to yourself.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Flexable Film Speakers

This is probably old news, but this is the most flexible film medium speaker I have ever seen demonstrated!  With this type of speaker and the flexible displays that are right around the corner, you can well imagine that rolled up flexible communicator that has been getting air time on almost all new sf movies and shows.  This device is so much more flexible than anything that I have seen up to this point!  Check the vid out!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

MacGuffin Vs. Bogocity Generators

Cory at Boing Boing points us toward Author Rudy Rucker's blog. The point of interest is a device used in science fiction called a "bogocity generator". As Rucker's blog entry notes:

  • filmmakers use the term “MacGuffin” to stand for some object that various characters in the tale are competing for. A secret paper, a formula, a stunning gem, a statue....
But it is a bit different in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Again from Rucker's blog:
  • (There is often) a special device or procedure or organism with special powers that affect the flow of the story.
From here the writer works backwards.  Often an object is introduced to the story, and only then put forward  an idea or gimmick that will make the effect or object possible.  Or with tongue firmly in cheek a Gogocity Generator...

The really funny thing is that until you know of it, you don't realize it is happening.  Very much like the Wilhelm Scream. 

I would take a moment and read the Rucker Blog entry

The Avengers' Breakfast Club Mashup

Here is a funny mashup of the trailers from The Avengers & The Breakfast Club...Sometimes the jokes are kind of slid in quick and others are heavy heavy handed...Watch and be lafin man.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Astonishing X-MEN Unstoppable

First, I know that I am terrible at writing a synopsis, so here is a short description from the wikipedia:
  •  In the following Unstoppable arc, Whedon wrote an adventure taking place on the alien Breakworld. The X-Men square off against the Breakworld leaders, who are intending to destroy Earth
First off it should be noted that yes they are animated but with what is described as "motion comics" so it has a very low frame rate and ridged movements.  But if anything it helps you to get back into the "feel"  of reading a comic.  That is, up to a point, then the rigid, limited number of frames is a bit distracting.  

Whedon's arc, it should be noted, began as a comic arc done with illustrator John Cassaday.  Here is what the Wiki had for a short description:

  • In the ... Unstoppable arc, Whedon wrote an adventure taking place on the alien Breakworld. The X-Men square off against the Breakworld leaders, who are intending to destroy(ing) Earth 
That is basically the whole plot, sorry, I don't often give a complete movie description but when you can do it in two line, well,  

As simplistic as it sounds, Whedon's script is tense and moves fast.  The characters have depth that you can identify with.  The predicament makes sense and the final outcome is something that you can emphasize   with.  

I can not speak to extras because it was a rental but if you are an Avengers fan and even if you are not familiar with the comics that was the basis of these DVDs, I can almost bet that these "motion comics" will be good solid entertainment. I would rate the effort a 7

Saturday, February 02, 2013

BMU #351 with Steve Tuttle on Comics


This week I am joined in the studio by Steve Tuttle. Steve has been my go to guy for all things comics. I am planing and hoping to have him on the program at least once a month, but if we can get him interested enough, maybe once a week! 

 I open with a tribute the Shuttle Columbia which broke up over Texas on February 1st 2003. 

 New music this week from John Anealio called Scavenger, easily one of his best works! 

 Next I spend the next few moments talking to Steve Tuttle our comic guru about the influence of comics on entertainment like movies. Plus what is the attraction for many of the lines. 

 Star Trek trivia has a couple of new questions this week and then over to the beam Me Up blog but 

First I read some of the historic moments that happened in February throughout history. Then from the blog....

Robo-butt!    Later this year Johnathan Trappe plans to fly the Atlantic using a large cluster of balloons strapped to a lifeboat. 

and finally from Libravox, Goodbye Deadman by Tom W. Harris 

 Enjoy!