Chris and I are reaching the end of our formal training in journalism, with only a week to go before we are cast out in the world.
The professional world that we are joining is a hard one. Media conglomerations threaten to decrease the amount of jobs for journalists. Confusion in the editorial-rank-and-file of what a story is threatens, or has damaged, the quality of the news. And the constant fear that the whole model of modern media will collapse into simple rants and entertainment news are a few of the horror stories that we journalists are told every day.
Although I don't really believe that there are no jobs for young journalists (ask me in a few months if I have changed my mind), I do know that my industry has been slowly changing for a long time, and that the "big shift" in media coverage is either happening right now, or is about to.
Frontline has just completed an excellent series on the state of the news media in the U.S. and the world. Although it is heavily U.S.-centric, there are a lot of lessons that a Canadian media consumer can learn, like what happens to local media when they are converged into national chains (although Canada may have taught the States this - we are the most centralized free press in the world.)
Watch it. Think about. Start to learn about the media landscape.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Posted by Sterling at 3/29/2007 11:42:00 PM
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
CG Society has announced the winners for its latest challenge: make a movie trailer based on a sci-fi novel.
They chose Greg Bear's EON, one of the best sci-fi books around. I remember reading this book when I was fourteen; I think I read it twice within a week (and I can't wait to read it again.)
Here is the winner:
And here is a video of the islands - you have to read the book to figure it out.
Posted by Sterling at 3/27/2007 11:59:00 PM
Wasn't I an idiot.
Mark has drawn captivating pictures of pterosaurs running, flying, hunting, living.
And this picture is my favorite.
From his site:
The scene shown in this picture is pretty controversial in some circles - namely between myself and my PhD supervisor. Some palaeontological types would have you believe that these animals grabbed fish and other vertebrates from the water through skimming or dip-feeding, but I (among others) have found numerous anatomical features that suggest that this is not the case.
And that dinosaur they are eating is a baby t-rex. Witton says the pterosaurs would have " a wingspan of over 10 m and a shoulder height comparable to an Asian elephant."
An Asian elephant stands 2.5 to 3 metres at the shoulder.
Mark Witton, you have changed my life.
Posted by Sterling at 3/27/2007 11:24:00 PM
When you add a new software system called SpaceNet with the Interplanetary Transport Network, you might have a revolutionary transport system.
So all you have to do is put manned and/or automated hubs at the right nodes for the right time.
Pictured above is the Orbital Express, a re-fueling robotic station that is being developed by DARPA.
Posted by Sterling at 3/27/2007 10:45:00 PM
Friday, March 23, 2007
Astronaut pee, yum!
NASA is tired of lugging water up to the space station because, well, it's pretty damn expensive to get it up there. Anyway, their solution to the problem is genius -- they're going to make astronauts drink their own pee.
But not until it's been recycled.
This article explains it in detail (subscription required.)
And for anyone who may be disgusted at the idea of drinking recycled pee, I have this to say: every time you drink anything, you are drinking recycled dinosaur pee!
Posted by Chris at 3/23/2007 01:48:00 PM
Four vehicles with odd form, and sometimes odder function:
Acabion: bred from motorcycles and private jets, this hybrid claims to get up to 450 km/h.
PAL-V: Street gyrocopter that can take off on the straight-away and land in front of your home. Could be on the streets by 2009.
The Carver: the three wheeled dexterous roadster seen on Top Gear.
The VentureOne: child of the Carver, with a hybrid power system.
Posted by Sterling at 3/23/2007 02:20:00 AM
Monday, March 19, 2007
I have loved the idea of these passive, energy producing structures since I first read Ken Macleod's Cassini Division.
The Solar Tower
Here is how they work: this is an older video about a prototype built in Spain.
And here is a full size animated mock-up of a tower that could soon be built in Australia by Enviro Mission Limited.
Now, all we need to do is figure out how to make these structures living, bio-organic constructs, make them the basis of our cities, and create forests of kilometre high towers.
Just think of the view.
Posted by Sterling at 3/19/2007 06:20:00 PM
Sunday, March 18, 2007
And yes, I am talking about the Martians.
BBC Science has recently posted two articles that point to the possibility of life on the red planet.
The first article shows that water is definitely abundant enough to support life:
Enough water is locked up at Mars' south pole to cover the planet in a liquid layer 11m (36ft) deep.and
Analysis of the Marsis radar data shows that the polar deposits consist of almost pure water-ice.As if that's not enough excellent news about that planet, it was followed up with even more great news:
The caves may be the only natural structures capable of protecting primitive life forms from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.So we basically know exactly where we should be looking for life. Forget Europa, the nest flagship probe should head back to Mars!
(But I still think checking out Europa's oceans would be pretty damn cool.)
Posted by Chris at 3/18/2007 03:45:00 PM
Friday, March 16, 2007
I discovered the biosingularity blog today - a lot of great information that is not generally acknowledged on the major science sites.
Here are two videos:
1) How HIV infects the body
- a bit technical, but not too hard to understand if you pay attention and check out this New Scientist site.
2) Inside look at the body
- this is a commercial for a 3D imager that helps doctors explain how the body works to their patients. Send your comments in if you can identify all the processes.
Posted by Sterling at 3/16/2007 02:50:00 AM
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Introducing the Takanawa TQ - an unmanned rescue robot that is being tested by the Tokyo Fire Department. After the Takanawa grabs the unconscious person, it drags him into its robotic belly.
I feel safer already.
Translated Tokyo Fire Department Page - there are a lot of other, cool robots here.
(found via we make money not art)
Posted by Sterling at 3/15/2007 02:54:00 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Before I was sure I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to be many things: a professional jazz musician, an armorer, a terraformer, a novelist, and a moon colonialist. But number one in my minds eye (at leas for a few months) was to become an architect.
This little video is about the creation of a wild, organic home; a home that is shaped by the plants around it and the passage of time. It's a good view if you can get past the "design speak."
Land Living article
Posted by Sterling at 3/14/2007 02:53:00 AM
You don't need a rockets or thrusters to travel through space. All you need is a giant, electrically-charged carbon-fibre stocking that surfs planetary magnetic fields.
From New Scientist article:
A cylindrical mesh of fibres – resembling a stocking – could also be attached to the spacecraft. To charge itself up, the stocking could be coated with a radioisotope, and one of the most powerful would be polonium-210, the isotope used to poison former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. But it should be safe to use on the stocking "as long as people working on the spacecraft don't lick it".
This idea is only on the drawing board at NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts. It will probably be a few years before we'll see giant radioactive stockings in our skies.
I can't wait.
Posted by Sterling at 3/14/2007 02:23:00 AM
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
What does trust mean to you when you are online?
How private is you life?
Security is a loaded word. It can mean personal protection, or it can mean protection of the State from you. Both of these films speak to the concerns we should have about our online and real-world activities: how much of our private lives are respected and how much information can the State store for its own uses?
We are in an age where all our movements and activities are being watched, categorized and recorded. This will not change.
The question is will we have an open, participatory panopticon that is chosen by free citizens, or a Big Brother system that either gives information to other governments, or sells it to corporations.
Posted by Sterling at 3/13/2007 03:31:00 AM
The Ice Mantis of Europa are already here. We at the Future Soon would like to welcome them with open arms. Do not be fooled by their menacing appearance: they are a peaceful race that only need some willing hosts for their larval young.
Don't worry, they are very gentle.
Link to the real story behind this sculpture.
Posted by Sterling at 3/13/2007 02:37:00 AM
Monday, March 12, 2007
Both NASA and the ESA are in the process of deciding where next decade's flagship probes will go. Among the top targets for both agencies are Jupiter, Titan, Enceladus and Europa.
Let's hope they pick Europa.
If there's any other place in our solar system that can support life, it's Jupiter's moon. Europa's surface is solid ice, but beneath the ice are oceans.
From the BBC article:
Who knows what we'll find when we beneath Europa's icy shell.
A probe to Europa has been on the wish lists of planetary scientists for a decade.
Thought to host an ocean of water under its icy shell, this Jupiter moon is considered to be one of the best places in the Solar System to search for extraterrestrial life.
"It has the three ingredients that life needs: liquid water, energy and nutrients," said Dr Niebur.
Posted by Chris at 3/12/2007 11:09:00 PM
Thursday, March 8, 2007
2,000 miles southwest of the Canary Islands, pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic, the Earth's crust is missing and 30-mile chunks of the mantle are peeking through.
This is very strange, so, of course, robots are going down to bring back samples! What will these samples tell us? Hopefully more than "yep, this is a piece of the mantle alright."
Posted by Chris at 3/08/2007 01:24:00 PM
Posted by Sterling at 3/08/2007 04:38:00 AM
From Science Daily:
The Large-billed Reed-warbler is the world’s least known bird. A single bird was collected in the Sutlej Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India, in 1867, but many had questioned whether it was indeed represented a true species and wasn’t just an aberrant individual of a common species.
More research is always better.
Other bird news:
'Wingman' -- How Buddies Help Alpha Males Get The Girl
"Mafia" Behavior In Cowbirds? Study First To Document Evidence
Why do birds migrate?
Posted by Sterling at 3/08/2007 04:27:00 AM
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
When I was working on my first degree, I took a philosophy about the nature of mind. We basically explored what intelligence is, what consciousness is, etc... My professor was very fond of The Matrix because it illustrated what he considered to be some of the most important problems with human perception.
I think he was also fascinated by the idea of intelligent robots.
Some people, including this professor, say that the Internet will be the eventual source of a kind of naturally evolving artificial intelligence. If the people who make these claims are correct, then Wikipedia, with its constant revisions, will surely play an important role in the development of AI's ability to learn.
New Scientist has posted a feature in which Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, answers questions from readers. It's pretty interesting, especially since he treats the idea of AI as a joke.
Read the Q&A here.
Posted by Chris at 3/07/2007 02:09:00 PM
Monday, March 5, 2007
The Russians started out ahead of the Americans in the space age, but after the death of Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov in January of 1966, they were losing ground.
Realising that they were probably not going to beat the Americans to a manned mission to the Moon, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviakosmos started working on a manned mission to Mars.
On March 5th, 1967, three Soviet cosmonauts entered a mock-up of the TMK-1, a prototype interplanetary vessel. There goal was to study the effects of living in a closed, artificial ecosystem.
They spent a year inside.
An American experiment in closed ecosystems lasted only 90 days.
TMK-1 on Astronautix
Anatoly Zak's TMK page
A model of the Mars flyby spacecraft 'Mavr' at the Tsniimash museum. Mavr was a revision of the TMK in the mid-1960's to incorporate a flyby of Venus on the return leg of the voyage. This would reduce propulsion requirements and total time for the primary Mars flyby mission.
Posted by Sterling at 3/05/2007 06:19:00 PM
I just stumbled on a great blog that has real, imagined, misguided, and controversial maps. Above is a map of the Hollow Earth.
Strange Maps blog.
One of the many odd maps on the blog is this chart of a possible Earth (below), circa 1918.
Behold the future Earth,based on a misguided understanding of physics, and no comprehension of plate tectonics.
Posted by Sterling at 3/05/2007 03:15:00 AM
Here are a few articles about Planetary Engineering and terraforming on Wikipedia.
I wish I had known about this group when I was in high-school and had plans of being a world-builder: Terraformer Society of Canada.
A nice, a little depressing, film about panspermia and sentient microbes: Horses on Mars.
Posted by Sterling at 3/05/2007 01:06:00 AM
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Friday, March 2, 2007
From New Scientist:
For the last two months, Cassini has been taking pictures during high-latitude trips around Saturn, providing new views of the planet and its rings.
For all pictures go to CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations
Posted by Sterling at 3/02/2007 04:30:00 AM
If you use a little gene therapy, combined with a wee-bit of electrical current, you can regrow the tail of tadpole.
Re-growing the tail you cut off a little animal is all plain and good, but this research could lead to fixing damaged spinal tissue.
Science Daily article
Posted by Sterling at 3/02/2007 04:15:00 AM