31 March 2010
Mercury, the solar system’s most elusive planet, will be easier to see for the next two weeks.Astronomers say that Mercury and Venus will appear unusually close together between now and April 10. Because Venus is one of the brightest objects in the night sky it can be used as a pointer to find the hard-to-see Mercury.Just look in the lower western sky about an hour after sunset. Find Venus and look down and to the right for Mercury.They will appear closest together on April 3 and 4, but Venus is really on the other side of the sun.Mercury is the solar system’s smallest planet and it looks pink. Miami Space Transit Planetarium director Jack Horkheimer calls Mercury the pinkie of the planets.
30 March 2010
29 March 2010
Star Trek: Unspoken Truth, written by Margaret Wander Bonanno and due out at the end of the month, tells the story of Lieutenant Saavik, left behind on Vulcan while the crew of the Enterprise is forced to return to Earth to be court-martialed for stealing the Enterprise and destroying it while on a mission to retrieve Spock’s body and katra.
That sounds good, I cannot wait for that one. More:
The second book, announced on Christopher L. Bennett’s website, has a working title of Star Trek: DTI (Department of Temporal Investigations.) The DTI was introduced in the Deep Space Nine Trials and Tribble-ations episode, when agents Lucsly and Dulmar paid Captain Sisko a visit after Sisko and crew’s visit to the past.“I’m able to announce my new Star Trek project now, and it’s my most offbeat one yet,” said Bennett. “The working title is Star Trek: DTI, with a more specific title to be settled on later.
I hope they keep writing books or make another television series or both, why not?!
27 March 2010
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking returns to Aggieland next month to present a rare public lecture, and officials in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University encourage Brazos Valley residents and members of the campus community to take advantage of a major opportunity to experience one of the most brilliant scientific minds of all time.Hawking, the world-renowned Cambridge University theoretical physicist famous for his theories on black holes and best-selling books about the universe, will detail more than 35 years of breakthrough research on black holes - which aren't as black as previously thought - in his lecture, "Out of a Black Hole," scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday (April 5) in Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M campus.
I love that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with Data and Stephen Hawking, it is so fun to see that scene! Here is a link to the lecture.
26 March 2010
25 March 2010
If you have a clear sky tonight and the next few nights try to get a good look at Mars, from Space.com:
22 March 2010
You may get a chance to see the container that holds their, well, you know, astro poop.With the shuttle fleet scheduled to retire later this year, NASA is cleaning out warehouses and storage rooms and offering space artifacts to certain organizations such as schools and universities, museums and libraries.
I doubt I want to see the potty the astronauts used, thank you very much! I find what the astronauts do interesting but not in such detail!
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was tentatively allocated 119 items, although officials don't know exactly what all of the items are. The artifacts won't be delivered until the shuttle program ends or as the items are phased out of production.
You can read the rest of the Article HERE and I am sure more news will pop up this entire year since the space program is sadly ending.
21 March 2010
All I can say is give me more episodes!
20 March 2010
19 March 2010
German scientists have been researching cloaking technology in three dimensions and ironically have been practicing on gold. I could go off on how funny and odd that is, cloaking gold? I know a lot of money has disappeared in this economic crisis, but it has been fiat currency, to make gold disappear, that is another story! In all seriousness, this technology has been researched for some time now with some success achieved in two dimensions and now in three dimensions, using gold. Those of you who watch or read science fiction, for example, Star Trek, the Romulans, Klingons, and Jem ´Hadar, all use cloaks. The Jem ´Hadar from Deep Space Nine are unique in that they cloak themselves and can sneak up right in front of you without you even detecting their presence, the Romulans and Klingons cloak their ships, so in all these examples, the cloak is used for battle or to move from place to place in stealth.
Now I am racking my brain trying to find some purpose that cloaking will benefit humanity and I cannot. Maybe the answer eludes me in this time and place, but all I can see is the military of any country eager to get its hands on this kind of technology as well as police. Not even the Federation in Star Trek used cloaking technology in order to keep the peace with those who used cloaks and the Federation did not believe in spying on its own citizens.
So again, I wonder why this type of scientific study is taking place?
17 March 2010
Two scientists in Japan decided to make a model ship, the Enterprise, so small you need a microscope to see it and in the mean time taking the art of building model ships to a whole new level. I wonder where they will keep it?
16 March 2010
Wired.com has an awesome pic of the Martian Moon, from the article:
The sharpest images yet taken by the Mars Express spacecraft of Mars’ tiny moon Phobos reveal features as small as 14.5 feet across, the European Space Agency announced March 15.
15 March 2010
14 March 2010
I was thinking about George Orwell yesterday and how he lived through two world wars and an economic depression so I relate to a lot of what he writes about due to living in what I call a depression (not a great recession) and two major wars being fought in two separate countries at the same time right now in the year 2010. He wrote his famous book "1984" in the year 1949 and yet it could have been written last year it is so relevant to our times as well as his various quotes.
I thought I would list some of my favorite quotes written by him over the years and in no particular order here they are:
1. All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
2. Big Brother is watching you.
3. But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
4. Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.
5. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
6.In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
7. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun.
8. To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization.
9. War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.
10. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
12 March 2010
Here is the original post:
How does the Terminator, Twitter, and the economy relate you ask yourself? Well I received a most interesting e-mail from a friend who is into economics and knows how much I love science fiction and thought I would get a kick out of reading the article and I did. The article is relating Skynet, from the Terminator series, which is a computer system that is created for defensive purposes, to Twitter and other social networking/info sites that provide us with quick information and connection to others. How, once again you ask, does this relate to the economy? Well, Skynet in the Terminator became self-aware and viewed humans as a threat to its existence and thus began the quest to wipe out the human race (I believe the Governator of California has become self-aware that he cannot fix the budget problems of that State in the US but that is another post!)
The article, which is found in Marketwatch and I will link at the end of the post, states that Tweeting and Twittering about the internet is making our attention spans shrink with the massive amount of data being downloaded into our minds each day. It makes us forget that, for example, GM would not survive through December '08 without a bailout and bankruptcy would be devastating for all involved to fast forward to June 1st, 2009 and bankruptcy is the best thing in the world for GM and "Skynet", I mean the major networks and online papers are cheering the bankruptcy and telling us the economy is improving!
This entire thing reminds me of an episode of Stargate SG1 called Revisions(2003) in which each member of a very small society that lives in a bubble has a neural interface that keeps each person linked with the computer and when a "revision" is made, all memories of the previous persons or situations are erased as if it never happened. So if we had placed on our heads a neural interface, Skynet, or insert here your favorite government agency, would have just revised the data and we collectively would have forgotten the whole GM debacle.
I love technology and I know this article sounds pessimistic but with high quantities of information available to us these days, it is important to be discriminating in what we read and make sure our long term memories stay intact.
Anyway, I thought the article interesting and worth reading HERE.
11 March 2010
When I read this article in Space.com, I became very interested in what the scientist William Edelstein presented about warp speed using Star Trek and the Enterprise as his example. From the article:
The original crew of "Star Trek" featured as unfortunate examples at a presentation by William Edelstein, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University, at the American Physical Society conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13. The physicist showed a video clip of Kirk telling engineer Scotty to go to warp speed."Well, they're all dead," Edelstein recalled saying. His words caused a stir among the audience.
Some audience members at the American Physical Society event protested that Kirk, Spock and the "Star Trek" crew would all still live because of the starship Enterprise having shields. But Edelstein noted some of the existing difficulties with creating an electromagnetic shield with any resemblance to "Star Trek" technology.
I like how the audience wanted something to work, that it is possible to create or design a ship that can travel great distances in a short time!
The physicist concluded by suggesting that extraterrestrials might not have visited Earth because of all the problems in traveling at near-light speeds, including how to deal with deadly hydrogen space mines. But for the record, he does believe that alien life exists.
09 March 2010
At the website Wired.com, they have some great charts of how the Chilean city Concepcion moved 10 feet to the west after the 8.8 magnitude earthquake. From the article:
Precise GPS measurements from before and after the earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded by seismographs, show that the country’s capital, Santiago, moved 11 inches west. Even Buenos Aires, nearly 800 miles from the epicenter, shifted an inch. The image above uses red arrows to represent the relative direction and magnitude of the ground movement in the vicinity of the quake.The analysis comes from a project led by Ohio State earth scientist Mike Bevis that has been using GPS to record movements of the crust on Chile since 1993. The area is of particular interest to geoscientists because it is an active subduction zone, where an oceanic plate is colliding with a continental plate and being pushed into the Earth’s molten mantle below.
Wow! I wish we had the crew of the Enterprise from the episode entitled "Pen Pals" in which Data has contact with a a young alien girl whose planet is ravaged by earthquakes. He breaks the rules of the Prime Directive and helps her and her world. The Enterprise and crew through advanced technology is able to stabilize the the crust thus ending the earthquake and volcanic activity.
Right now, I would settle for an early warning system that would let us folks that live in earthquake zones at least get out of a building before the quake hits!
You can read the article about the earthquake HERE.
08 March 2010
10 things every geek should know
- Date: January 19th, 2010
- Author: Nicole Bremer Nash
In the spirit of bettering myself and continuing my quest for knowledge of all things geeky, I have come up with a list of 10 things every geek lad or lass should know. It’s my New Years resolution to know them all by the end of 2010. In no particular order:
- Every geek should be able to give the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” hand signal from Star Trek. (Check out this toy for geeky sports fans.)
- A true geek must be able to carry on a conversation using only Monty Python quotes.
- To be a proper geek, one must know the answer to the Ultimate Question.
- In order to show that you are a Master Geek, you must be able to name the primary characters of all five Star Trek series.
- Like that geek hero, Ash, all geeks should know the three words you must recite in order to retrieve The Book of the Dead.
- A geek must know how and when to implement the Konami Code.
- A smart geek should recognize WoW and OOo and be able to explain them to a non-geek.
- A romantic geek can say “I love you” in binary.
- A savvy geek knows at least one way to kill a Dalek.
- Any life-loving geek has a survival plan for a zombie apocalypse and knows the best way to kill a zombie.
(Geekend readers should have the skills to find the answers to all of these items, even if I hadn’t given helpful links.)
I admit that I don’t have all this knowledge committed to memory yet, but you can rest assured that I’ll be working on it all year.
After reading the list, if you think there will still be gaping holes in my geek knowledge bank, tell me what I need.
HERE is the link.
07 March 2010
Every year I get tired of the hype leading up to the Academy Awards, this year being the 82 year of the show. I do not like the show for many reasons so I will limit my rant to a couple of reasons. I am tired of spoiled actors who arrive in limos walking the red carpet in what is basically one long commercial for fashion and jewelry designers. Don´t get me wrong, I love movies and actors who are good at their craft, can tell a well written story that entertains us and leads us to a different time or place for a moment in our lives. The problem is, the awards and Hollywood are very political so the best actor or movie may not be the one that gets acknowledged. I always think back to the 1950´s and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz of Desilu Studios, and I liked their style and elegance, their acting, and their business acumen. As well, they drove their own car to the awards shows ( which were still political even then) and Desi used to wash and wax his car the day before, they wore their own clothes, and had little plastic surgery. I do not begrudge anyone the right to work hard and get paid for it when the system is truly based on merit, but what I see now is just a disgusting display of plastic surgery, fake hair, and the designer clothes and jewels that are loaned to and not owned by the actors, the show and some movies are not about the craft of acting.
I mention Desilu studios because Lucille Ball was the President at the time of giving the green light to Star Trek and putting the show on a tight budget that made special effects important but made more important the writing. With a great script, even the over-acting and few special effects did not take away from the overall message of the show. I even watched Planet of the Apes(1968) last night and all the over-acting, Carlton Heston running around in a loin cloth, and few costumes did not distract from the great story being told, which leads me to my next complaint about the Academy Awards and that is science fiction is always ignored, again due to the politics, I guess. I still get angry when you get a great science fiction movie that is well acted such as Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) and Sigourney Weaver was nominated for best actress and did not win, the story was probably not up to snuff to the "dignified" Academy voters.
This year the big buzz is about Avatar (2009), but James Cameron seems to have a lot of political influence in Hollywood, so we shall see what happens, but to me that movie was a big video game in 3-D, I know a lot of people loved it, but I did not. I prefer less special effects or some effects that are well placed, but instead I like a great story such as Blindness(2008), if you have not seen this movie it is a must see because the acting is great and the special effects minimal.
As I said, it will be interesting to see what happens with Avatar, District 9, and the Star Trek reboot movie this year since all are in contention for awards..
05 March 2010
04 March 2010
As I sit here safely behind my computer typing this post, I feel for the Chileans who had to endure the 8.8 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks they are feeling each moment of the day. Growing up in Los Angeles, I have felt my fair share of earthquakes, I lived close to the epicenter of the 5.8 magnitude Whittier Narrows quake in 1987 and being just miles from the epicenter is a horrible sensation and the noise is incredible as well as the aftershocks, they seem to go on and on endlessly, so I cannot imagine 8.8 on the Richter Scale.
Space.com has some very interesting information about the Chile quake as well.
- 10.5 (2004)
- 10.5: Apocalypse (2006)
- 2012 (2009)
- Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999)
- Aftershocks (1998)
- The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake (1990)
- Crack in the World (1965)
- The Day the Earth Moved (1974)
- Deathquake (Japan 1980)
- Deep Core (2000)
- Descent (2005)
- Deluge (1933)
- Earthquake (1974)
- Epicenter (2000)
- Epoch (2001)
- Epoch: Evolution (2003)
- Megafault (2009)
- Nature Unleashed: Earthquake (2004)
- The Night the World Exploded (1957)
- The Rains of Ranchipur (1955)
- San Francisco (1936)
- Short Walk to Daylight (1972)
02 March 2010
A blogger decided to make a list of the most intriguing women in science fiction according to her, so I thought I would pick apart her list, although I agree with most of it and some of the women are in shows that would be considered fantasy and not science fiction but the blogger admits this openly.
Strong women in science fiction have always provided for me the example of how to be strong in your convictions, fight for what you believe in, and still retain feminine qualities in the process.
2. Starbuck, Six, Eight, “Battlestar Galactica” (Katie Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park): The re-imagined series from 2004-2009 managed to create some truly exciting characters with complicated stories. And playing a Cylon must have been an actor’s dream, given that there were several different iterations with varying personalities. Six and Eight, as agents of the Cylons living with humans, were fascinating and complex. And Starbuck had some rather unladylike traits, but she always provided a thrilling ride.
I agree 100% with these choices especially Starbuck since the original role was played by a man, so it gave her character the ability to play a very strong part, I know some disagreed with the change in gender, but I think it worked out well.
5. Buffy, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Sarah Michelle Gellar): I’m going to make a huge confession now, and that is: I wasn’t a big fan of Buffy (1997-2003). I had nothing against her, really, and I love some of Joss Whedon’s other work, but the show just isn’t one of my favorites. Nevertheless, she’s been hugely influential, and she and the other female characters of the series (especially Willow) without question belong on this list. Her adventures, her romances (Angel! Spike!), her teen angst—it all adds up to a fascinating run and some very well thought-out scifi characters.
While this show was more fantasy, who can resist a good vampire tale especially with a teenager able to dispatch with evil vampires. I enjoyed the show and the risks it took.
9. Jaime Sommers, “The Bionic Woman” (Lindsay Wagner): Talk about a strong woman. Bionics-enhanced Jaime caught bad guys and generally saved the world from 1976-1978. Although some will say the show doesn’t exactly stand the test of time, the idea of Jaime Sommers certainly has. Let’s face it, back in the ‘70s we needed Jaime to show us what an action heroine looked like.
I absolutely loved this show and wished I could run as fast as Jaime Sommers or be as strong. The re-make could have been good if they had not tried to make the character exactly as the original. They should have let Michelle Ryan speak in her lovely English accent and modified the story to fit into modern times and technology, too bad it did not work out.
13. Kira Nerys, Jadzia Dax, “Deep Space Nine” (Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell): For my money “Deep Space Nine” (1993-1999) is absolutely the “Star Trek” version with the most fascinating females. Maybe in this, as in other things, it took a cue from “Babylon 5”? The Bajoran-Cardassian conflict would not have been nearly so interesting without Kira’s aggressive take on things. As for Jadzia--she’s the woman who won Worf’s heart and was strong enough to hang out with Klingons, which is in itself a major accomplishment.
What can I say!!! Dax is my favorite character in Star Trek and Kira Nerys is right up there at the top. Both are strong in unique ways, and I liked how Kira became less angry throughout the course of the series and more pragmatic. I agree with the comment, DS9 has some of the most interesting characters period.
Here is the complete list.
01 March 2010
I keep musing about an interesting poll I read at the blog by Mike Brotherton about bionic limbs and would you replace a perfectly healthy limb for a bionic one, or for that matter, if available a bionic eye to improve your vision and give you the ability to measure the distances of objects from where you are positioned. In fact, they are developing a contact lens that will have this very capability. The poll that was set forward was about replacing perfectly healthy limbs for the bionic ones and would you be willing to do such a thing with 50% saying it would depend on the needs of the limb and my needs. Always when the Olympics are happening, I begin to think of sport enhancing drugs and other methods used to improve athletic performance. There seems to be less noise about it during the Winter games and more press coverage about doping during the Summer games and other sports like pro cycling which is set to begin the new season. Even something like a contact lens could give an athlete a great advantage over another especially in the arena of golf such as being able to measure the distance needed to hit the ball and position it correctly on the course.
From an article I found:
If you've ever wanted to be the Bionic Woman or a Terminator, new research may at least let you see with their eyes. Scientists have taken the first step toward creating digital contact lenses that can zoom in on distant objects and display useful facts.For the first time, engineers have installed an electronic circuit and lights on a regular contact lens.The prototype they created does not actually light up or display information. But it proves that it is possible to build an electronic lens that is safe to wear and doesn't obstruct vision."Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," said Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer at the University of Washington who worked on the project. "This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it's extremely promising."
It was difficult for the researchers to graft the tiny electrical circuits, built from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick (for comparison, the width of a typical human hair is about 80,000 nanometers), onto the contact lenses, which are made of organic materials that are safe for the body.
I think it would be disorienting at first to wear such a contact lens, but I imagine I would get used to it, but what would I need such a lens for in my everyday life? I could see such a use for the military or a pilot, or athletes and not much else. HERE is the link.
I have nothing against athletes using performance enhancing technology as long as it does not damage the body in the long run, and if this could enhance our lives in a positive way and be available to everyday people, again I am in favor of such technology.