20050525

How to destroy the Earth

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Sam's Archive - How to destroy the Earth "Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.

Fools.

The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy."

An entertaining look at the science of the "end of the world"--not "as we know it"--period!

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20050524

FAQ: Bush's New Space Vision

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FAQ: Bush's New Space Vision: "President Bush's Jan. 14 speech painted broad brushstrokes of his plan to put humans back on the Moon and send them to Mars. He will depend on NASA and a new commission to sketch in the details.
The information below includes the opinions of scientists and space analysts inside and outside NASA. Details attributed to the White House are drawn from internal position papers obtained by Space News and SPACE.com."

Here's a FAQ with details on Bush's vision for NASA. Considering the mothballing of NASA's shuttle fleet and the potential rise in commercial space access. NASA astronauts could be destined to take commercial flights to the ISS within the next 20 years or so.

With frequent commercial trips to Earth orbit, lunar, near Earth asteroids, and Mars will be much easier to reach. Perhaps this could accelerate NASA's goals over the next few decades. NASA would be working less on the infrastructure of space travel and focus more on the medical, industrial, exploratory, and astronomical sciences.

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Private Moon Trips Forecast

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Private Moon Trips Forecast: "The personal spaceflight revolution now underway is spawning a suborbital travel market that will lead to passenger traffic headed into Earth orbit, Diamandis said. “In the next five to eight years we will have the first private orbital flights occurring,” he predicted.

Diamandis added that something very natural will happen when private orbital flights arise. “When you’re in orbit you are two-thirds of the way to anywhere,” he said.

“I predict that within about three years of private human orbital flights…you’ll have the first private teams of people stockpiling fuel on orbit and making a bee-line for the Moon,” Diamandis said."

Looks like commercial space flight might be taking off in a big way. Right now the US and China are planning to go back to the Moon and head for Mars. Could it be, that private space programs are getting ready to join the race?

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Virgin Galactic and the Future of Commercial Spaceflight

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Virgin Galactic and the Future of Commercial Spaceflight: "The one space tourism venture that has garnered the most interest in recent months, however, has been Virgin Galactic. Days before the first Ansari X Prize flight, Virgin announced it was partnering with Scaled Composites and Mojave Aerospace Ventures—the joint venture of Scaled and financier Paul Allen—to create a suborbital space tourism business flying vehicles based upon SpaceShipOne."

Virgin Galactic plans to offer space tourism at prices starting at $200,000 a pop that may eventually fall to $25,000 a ride. The space travel adventure trip include several days training and a preview flight aboard the launch plane. With flights starting in 2008, they hope to reach profitability at around five years and to forge ahead with the commercialization of orbital flight.

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20050520

The View Askewniverse - Kevin Smith geeks out on 'Sith'

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The View Askewniverse - Kevin Smith geeks out on 'Sith': "'Sith' doesn't happen; 'Sith' rules."

I've been saving this Kevin Smith review of the movie until after I saw Episode III. Well, now that I've seen the movie, I'm glad I waited because I don't think he left anything out! It was a fantastic movie, and he was absolutely thrilled. My only warning, don't click on the link above until AFTER you have experienced Revenge of the Sith!

Say more on this, I will not. Until the movie you have had chance to see.

20050519

NASA Challenge: Pull Oxygen from Moon Dirt, Win $250,000

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NASA Challenge: Pull Oxygen from Moon Dirt, Win $250,000: "The cash prize is the reward for winners of the agency’s Moon Regolith Oxygen (MoonROx) challenge, the third contest set by NASA to encourage commercial space industry.
In the MoonROx contest, NASA and the Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI) challenge inventors to pull at least 11 pounds (five kilograms) of breathable oxygen from a volcanic ash-derived lunar soil substitute called JSC-1.
But it doesn’t end there. Participants not only have to extract the oxygen, but must accomplish the feat within eight hours. The competition expires June 1, 2008."

Hey, I wouldn't mind trying out for this one! My wife is a chemist too. I think I'll start thumbing through her books when I get home...

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Planet hunters lose out to Hubble rescue

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Planet hunters lose out to Hubble rescue : Nature: "Astronomers' elation at the prospect of a rescue for the Hubble Space Telescope is turning to dismay as the price of saving the venerable observatory becomes clear."

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20050518

Tech Firms Owe Debt to 'Star Wars' Creator

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Tech Firms Owe Debt to 'Star Wars' Creator: "In fact, dozens of groundbreaking technologies were initially developed at Lucasfilm Ltd.'s San Rafael headquarters, known as Skywalker Ranch.
“Half the technology companies here are spinoffs'' of a Lucas' company, said Robert Huebener, a former LucasArts videogame developer who in 1998 founded a competing firm in nearby Redwood City.
Perhaps not half, but the list of companies that in one way or another got their start at Skywalker Ranch is long."

The impact Lucas has had outside the movie industry is even more astounding that within it.

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Power of the Future: 10 Ways to Run the 21st Century

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Power of the Future: 10 Ways to Run the 21st Century: "Scientists are racing to perfect greener sources of energy to improve the environment and reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Some predict a hydrogen economy. Others say solar is the way to go. Wilder schemes involve sky-high wind turbines or antimatter engines. LiveScience explores the expectations, myths and realities of 10 top possibilities."

A look at 10 power strategies including solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

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Not So Picture Perfect: Proposed Lunar Landing Site Has Drawbacks

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Not So Picture Perfect: Proposed Lunar Landing Site Has Drawbacks: "This euphoric “eternal light bandwagon” gripping perhaps most lunar enthusiasts and supporters seems all very much like the momentary delight and anticipation of the moth that sees a bright porch light or street light, and is drawn instinctively, unsuspectingly, to its certain doom. Yes, we need water. But we need more iron and other materials. So is it better to ship X tons of water to sites away from the poles, or 10X (to grab a figure) tons of other materials to the poles? The answer to that question seems to me to be a “no-brainer”."

For those interested in going to the moon as a next step toward colonization, the use of polar craters as base sites could hinder lunar development. The easy access to water and solar power is only available in sparse areas at the poles. Developing a moon base could be cheaper at thes locations. However, the necessity of the ability to collect and store power over the 14 day luner days and nights might be delayed leaving much of the moon uninhabitable. The author suggests tackling these problems upfront will lead to cheaper and faster access to the moon.

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Star Wars Special Feature

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ROTTEN TOMATOES: Star Wars Special Feature: "The year was 1976, and a young filmmaker named George Lucas was coming off of the critical and box office success of a nostalgic ensemble comedy called 'American Graffiti.' George's current project was an outer space adventure called 'Star Wars,' and little did the filmmaker know what he was building at the time. Immediately upon its release in July of 1977, 'Star Wars' became a bona-fide cultural phenomenon. And now, 28 years later, Mr. Lucas is about to unleash the sixth and final entry in the 'Star Wars' saga, 'Revenge of the Sith,' to a planet full of devoted fans, unhappy skeptics, and young newcomers who've yet to experience what the excitement's all about.

In an effort to help those neophytes get up to speed, and maybe remind casual fans of the various plot divergences, we present a 'surface overview' of the story so far. "

(That could have used a vertical crawl animation...)

Finally, the circle is complete. The final story is revealed, and Vader is masked. I can't wait much longer.... Here's a guide to the movies from my favorite aggregate movie critic site: ROTTEN TOMATOES.

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20050517

TIME Magazine's: Video Game Web Guide

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Video Game Web Guide - Xbox 360 - TIME Magazine "Our list of must-see sites for walkthroughs, strategy, classic consoles and the next generation"

Time Magazine has a cool list of sites for all things gaming.

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Message from Wayne Hale

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Message from Wayne Hale | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "It is no fun to come close to success just to find that more work is required. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult. Rather than complain that life unfair and we deserve better, it is time to be mature, to accept setback with a modicum of grace, and to pick up the shovel and start again to dig ourselves out of the hole."

I'd like to wish the new and improved NASA effort for safety. Hopefully, once these bitter trials are completed, the Shuttle will be retired (in 2010) without another tragedy. I do hope it returns to operation soon, but I certainly understand the need for caution.

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20050512

The Language Construction Kit

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The Language Construction Kit: "This set of webpages ... is intended for anyone who wants to create artificial languages-- for a fantasy or an alien world, as a hobby, as an interlanguage. It presents linguistically sound methods for creating naturalistic languages-- which can be reversed to create non-naturalistic languages. It suggests further reading for those who want to know more, and shortcuts for those who want to know less. "


This looks really cool. Any SF world building Zemoxians should take a look at this for creating unique languages. Software Zemoxians could possibly take this and build a language construction tool or generator.

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The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work

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The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work: "The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work
Space.com examines the top 10 imaginations at work in a swiftly changing space industry. They are the entrepreneurs, policy makers, and visionaries helping to push innovation and technology to new heights, as well as the scientists who remind us of the hopes, dreams and ambitions that the cosmos could fulfill. "

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New Robots Clone Themselves

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New Robots Clone Themselves: "Mimicking reproduction in living organisms, researchers have built a simple self-replicating robot out of automated blocks.

Machines that can copy themselves have been built before, but the earlier experiments were limited to two dimensions or confined to a track. Hod Lipson and his collaborators at Cornell University have designed modular cubes, called molecubes, that can assume a range of three-dimensional shapes."

This is cool! I want a kit of my own!

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Shuttle's Retirement May Affect ISS Construction

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Shuttle's Retirement May Affect ISS Construction, NASA Chief Says

The shuttle is due to retire in 2010 and its replacement isn't due until 2014. And with the shuttle out of commission for two years, the space station's completion may be in jeopardy.

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