Sci-fi Tech Almost a Reality

February 28, 2009

Remember the digital media format outlines in Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age?? There were sheets of “paper” which could wirelessly download your favorite magazine or newspaper (customized to your social status and preferences). After reading, the page could be blanked out for the next reader. Imagine a doctor’s office with up-to-date periodicals! And ones you actually wanted to read! Well thanks to the E-Ink technology behind the new Kindle 2, this sci-fi tech is almost reality. This article discusses the new push by publishing giant Hearst to market newspapers and magazines in the digital age. Can’t wait to see the new color E-Ink coming down the line! I think I’ll still keep my (ever growing) library of books though – there’s just something personally gratifying about shelves and shelves of books. Some habits die hard, I guess.

New Poster

February 28, 2009

I finally pestered hubby into posting something, so expect it to be up tonight or tomorrow. I just have to get him set up as an approved poster first.

Playing God – It’s super fun!

February 28, 2009

And potentially very useful too.

This article on MSNBC says scientists in a Florida lab have created a synthetic genetic system capable of Darwinian evolution.  Translation:  a synthetic life form.  No, really.  It is not self sustaining yet, but it really is evolving on its own.  The main goal of the project is to help NASA understand what to look for as signs of alien life on other planets (one would presume it would be helpful in detecting alien life on this planet also, just in case any aliens decided to drop in unannounced), since life may develop in radically different ways in different environments.  Twelve DNA building blocks were used to create the life form instead of the usual four, which makes it hard to confuse the ‘genetic system’ with natural life, but also makes it more versatile – which is important because another goal of the project is to make biotech easier.  Here’s the money quote:

“The underlying goal of synthetic biology is to make biology easy to engineer,” said Drew Endy, a bioengineer with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  “When I want to go build some new biotechnology, whether it makes a food that I can eat or a bio-fuel that I can use in my vehicle, or I have some disease I want to try and cure, I don’t want that project to be a research project. I want it to be an engineering project,” he said.

I have said before I am all about the biotech revolution, and the Singularity, and so on.  I applaud the ideals of the scietists working on this project, and the goal of understanding how life develops, and of course curing disease and making our lives better.  But we have people creating actual life forms here, ones that evolve all by their little selves.  Doesn’t it seem the tiniest bit egotistical to think we can make them evolve only into what we want?  Sure, right now we are just talking about a puddle of goo in a beaker, but it isn’t going to stay that way, is it?  And does this remind anyone else of some pretty scary sci fi stories?

BSG – 7 down, 3 to go

February 28, 2009

And back on track!  While this week did not provide the answers many of us were hoping for, it did move the show forward instead of just wallowing in drama/melodrama like last week.  We still don’t know exactly what Starbuck is, but her father – who disappeared when she was a child – taught her to play the song that the Five recognize from Earth, the one that woke four of them up.  All Along the Watchtower was the name I think.  I know Hera wrote the notes for her (and I thought it was very interesting that Ellen’s answer for that was that something is manipulating all of them, presumably the One True God who Ellen also believes set up the show at the Temple of the Five)  but Starbuck already knew the song and just needed help remembering.  And Starbuck now has a head character in the form of nameless piano player/pseudodad.  Personally, I think this supports the theory that she is a human/cylon hybrid, child of one of the Five (I really hope not Anders…talk about gross) or of #7 Daniel.

Now, about Boomer.  That conniving frakking toaster should be shot on sight!  She betrayed Tyrol AGAIN, this time after seducing him into a fantasy of a normal life with the house and kid and everything.  Then she beat the crap out of Athena, tied her up in a closet, and frakked Helo in front of her!  THEN she kidnapped Hera, drugged her, stuffed her in a storage crate, and jumped away with her! Not to mention that she destroyed a hunk of Galactica in the process!  Any one would be worth a bullet in the head, but all three?  Being shot on sight is probably too kind.

Also, while I agree that Cavil/John must have set all this up from the start, why does he want Hera?  He doesn’t want to be humanized.  He wants an all machine Cylon nation with him in charge.  Hera represents the hope for a biological future, a true blend of cylon and human – exactly what he has been railing against.  Has the loss of the resurrection hub changed his mind?  Doubtful.  My guess is he thinks he can use Hera, though I have no idea to what purpose.

So the mystery continues, and once again I am left in agony, waiting for next week to arrive.

A Whopper

February 26, 2009


Seriously, that thing is huge.  Per this story, it is a 771lb pregnant freshwater stingray found in the Maekong River in Thailand by a British biologist.  I think I’ve mentioned my theory about alien species living in the oceans before…well, they’re getting closer to land.  And bigger.  And this one looks righteously pissed.

And thanks to Mulluane from The Old Bat’s Belfry (via Twitter)  and to Enter The Octopus for pointing this monster out.

I Want to Go to Australia!!

February 24, 2009


Some of you may have heard about ‘The Best Job In the World’ – a position newly created by Queensland Tourism for a person to live on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, going on lots of adventures and blogging about them – and getting PAID to do it!  Sounds to good to be true, right?  Well, I though it might be, but I finally gave in and applied on the very last day possible.  So go look at my video, and vote for me.  I promise I’ll keep up this site too, and I’ll hunt up as many Australian sci fi writers as humanly possible if I get the job!

BTW – give it a minute when the screen comes up, my video will start.  Then just click on the stars to rate my video and vote for me.

A New Ice Age?

February 24, 2009

This is a very interesting article about climate change, written by Dr. David Archibald as a guest post at Watts Up With That?.  It supports what more and more scientists are starting to say (in direct contradiction to the media and many environmentalists) – that instead of global warming, we are poised on the brink of global cooling.  I’m not a scientist, but the data looks reasonable, and it is much less arrogant to reach conclusions based on millions of years of global cycles than on a couple hundred years of man messing with things. (State of Fear by Michael Crichton is a fiction book, but it has a lot of footnotes for actual research on climate change, if you want to find out more.)

For any environmentalists who read my blog, please understand that I am not discounting the entire green movement.  I think it is vitally important that we stop dumping contaminants into our environment.  We are poisoning ourselves and our food sources, and we can only suffer for it.

But that does not mean we are altering the natural course of climate change for the entire planet.  We are only just beginning to understand how climate change even works, and what forces within and outside our planet impact it.  For example, no matter how much CO2 is in our atmosphere if the sun cools significantly our planet is going to get cold.

So before you get out the tar brushes, read the article and other scientific research on climate change.  Look at both sides and decide for yourselves.  Don’t blindly panic at the words of fearmongers who may not know what they are talking about anyway.

Dawn borrows a page from Star Trek

February 23, 2009

The spacecraft Dawn is the first true interplanetary craft, according to this article in Scientific American.  She can travel to one planetary body, stop there in orbit for a while, then move on to another and stop to orbit it and gather data, then… Well, you get the idea.  Dawn uses a trick out of Star Trek to help conserve fuel for her journey – she slingshots around planets (specifically Mars) to build speed without using thrusters.

How awesome is it that NASA is using Star Trek technology for actual space travel?!  I mean sure, NASA probably thought of it first, or at least did the math to make sure it would really work, but it’s still Trek tech.  I’m also jazzed that when Dawn does need additional speed, she has ion plasma thrusters.  The controlled venting of plasma will give her the extra push she needs to reach her destinations.  Not quite the same mental picture as Geordi yelling ‘She’s venting plasma, Captain!’ and running madly through Engineering, but close enough to make the leap.)  And the combined thrust from the plasma and the slingshot around Mars will spend the Dawn whizzing along at 24,600 mph – the fastest any man-made craft has ever gone.  Wow.  I’m having another ‘Go NASA!’ moment.

Free (Horror) Fiction

February 22, 2009

John over at Grasping for the Wind pointed this one out…

BSG – 6 down, 4 to go

February 22, 2009

I was actually a little disappointed with this week’s episode.  It was interesting and all, but at this stage of the game, I want more than interesting.  I want answers, and this episode didn’t deliver.

I still don’t know what is up with Starbuck – although I’m liking the half Cylon child of Daniel idea that has been floating around out there more and more.  I still don’t know if the fleet is going to find a home, or if they plan to just flat around a dead Earth until they all starve.  I still don’t know what is up with the opera house or why Roslin was having visions shared with Cylons.  And I hadn’t made the connection that the visions stopped when Caprica 6 got pregnant, but since it was pointed out, does that mean they will start again since the baby died?  I also don’t know why Baltar has a 6 in his head (and since they brought it back up, I certainly hope they’ll resolve that question – I have been wondering about that for 5 seasons now).

Speaking of the 6 in Baltar’s head – she is TROUBLE.  Always has been.  Giving those sheep bigger guns is more likely to get them killed than…well, almost every other course of action I can think of.  And I’m really getting tired of Baltar’s scheming.  What does he hope to accomplish at this point?

And on the topic of trouble, the Ellen we all know and love to hate was back and vindictive as ever.  I think she isn’t a bad person, she is just bad for (and around) Tigh.  I can understand her being jealous, especially since she and Tigh were never able to conceive.  But to blame Tigh for sleeping with one of their children when he didn’t know they created her is hypocritical since she slept with Cavil too.  And to put Caprica 6 under that kind of stress, leading to her losing the baby – well, that was just low.


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