Thursday, September 27, 2007
When Dawn reaches the Asteroid Belt, it will visit Ceres and Vesta, two of the largest known asteroids in our solar system. The spacecraft will take images of the surfaces of these minor planets.
And they are neat - Ceres may have a lot of water, and Vesta has evidence of magma flows.
From New Scientist:
Vesta and Ceres are large enough to be thought of as worlds of their own, and are some of the last such worlds in the inner solar system that remain unexplored, Rayman says: "I think many people think of asteroids as kind of little chips of rock, but the places that Dawn is going to really are more like worlds…they really are like small planets."
By understanding how the these asteroids formed, scientists hope to better understand the processes that formed Earth and the other rocky planets.
The other really cool thing about Dawn? It has an ion engine!
And now for a video about Dawn, narrated by Leonard Nimoy:
NASA's Dawn mission site
What you are about to see is one of the greatest film detectives of all time, and he does it drunk by ten in the morning. William Powell plays Nick Charles, a man who wears in nice suits, drinks, and jokes around. A rake, thats for sure.
Myrna Loy and William Powell are amazing together. When I grow up, I want to be the Thin Man.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Here it is:
powered by ODEO
Russians at the North Pole, bats and humans talk the same genes, and better light through salmon sperm science.
Coming next week the first Future Soon Primer. Find out what you need to know about Panspermia.
Now this ad by Makoto Shinkai, of The Place Promised in Our Early Days fame, is beautiful. And that it was created for a newspaper, the Nagano Shinano Mainichi Shinbun, even better. Now I really like the kinetic typography of the Globe and Mail ads, but 'the anime' always grabs me.
found via Japan Probe
Marko-93 is a light-painter. Watch this video of one spectacular piece of kinetic art in Paris. I have seen the future of graffiti - I want this guy to give me tattoos of light.
Check out Marco-93's work, it's fantastic.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
A reunited Pangaea, or Pangea Ultima, will happen around 250 million years in the future.
That is if we don't ride herd on continental drift.
found via Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Travelling at warp speed will expose a ship and its passengers to increased levels of radiation. That's because the faster you go, the more stuff you run into in a shorter time, kind of like driving through a diffuse swarm of mosquitoes - the faster you go, the more bugs on the windshield.
But the bigger story to me is that people are actaully trying to mathematically model warp drives! The recent New Scientist article on warp speed summarizes the 'warp bubble' concept of Pedro González-Díaz of the Institute of Fundamental Physics and Mathematics in Madrid, Spain.
From New Scientist:
González-Díaz has now shown that his "warp bubble" effectively acts like the edge of a mini-universe, containing a space-time similar to that of the observable cosmos. This analogy, he hopes, may make warp-drive solutions more palatable to mainstream physics and may even mean that our universe could actually be a passenger inside its own "warp drive" bubble.
So the 'bubble' gets pulled along faster than the rest of reality around it, but the inside of the bubble still works as normal.
The warp drive idea is called the Alcubierre drive. Want to know what the math looks like?
And here is the equation:
Now, can you tell me what it means?
Theo Jansen explains in this video how his kinetic-sculpture/lifeforms use wind to power themselves. These Strandbeests can interact with their environment (i.e. when to not walk into the ocean) and respond to stimuli. It's amazing that these creatures are only put together by plastic tubes, nylon string and tape. Now Jansen has to figure out how to make them reproduce on their own, giving our planet another Domain of Life.
My two favorite parts of this clip: The titanic Rhino that could house people and carry heavy loads (possibly across the surface of Mars) and the pounding in of a spike by the strandbeests when the wind gets to strong.
Read Wired's article "Wild Things are on the Beach" for more info.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Do you ever wonder about the graffiti on the wall? I have often wondered how much evidence is left behind when another artist, or the city, paints over what is left behind. Could you see the work with infra-red, better lenses or stripping away the layers of paint?
Follow the Graffiti Archaeology blog.
Found via Drawn!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Great post from the always amazing Modern Mechanix. When Louis Koefoed, an architect from East Rockaway, NY, put grass on his roof in the fall of 1932, he found that the grass insulated his house. Koefoed didn't have to by as much coal that winter, and he was expecting that his house would be twenty degrees colder in the summer.
I wonder how long this house had a green roof? Did his kids put grass on their rooves? And how hard, or easy, was it to use a small hand scythe to mow the lawn?
Too bad this trend didn't catch on. What would a Depression era green-roof movement look like? Would Art Deco become Art Verdigris? Would modernism ever have caught on? Imagine a green Seagram building, with goats on the roof in Midtown Manhattan, and Rothko designed public gardens.
Feel free to see rooftop gardens, vertical orchards running up and down the skyscrapers, and airships. Lots of airships.
Tripod robot 'STriDER' - Now I know what my Martian Post-Singular Great-Great-Children will look like
The tripod STRider (Self-excited Tripedal Dynamic Experimental Robot) moves by "falling" along a set course.
From New Scientist Tech:
To take a step forwards, the robot shifts its weight onto two of its legs, allowing itself to fall forwards away from the third leg. Its body then flips upside-down and the third leg swings up between the other two just in time to catch the ground and return STriDER to a stable tripod stance. To change direction, the robot simply switches its choice of swinging leg.
Now watch the video
Pretty cool. The STriDER is being developed by the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia tech.
So why build a flipping tripod robot, other than for fond memories of martian death machines? A tripod is more stable, and although the STriDER moves strangely, the gait of its movements mimic those of a biped. That means its movement are smooth and efficient.
So, when can I get the plans for this machine? Probably when I get a 3D printer.
Check out the abstract.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The other day I was mining my RSS reader when I stumbled upon a great video speech by Cory Doctorow about copyright and futurism.
It is awesome! Cory was speaking to a group of people at the Beijing Bookworm bookstore in Beijing. The video was shot by Victor Muh, and the event was hosted by Danwei.org.
Well, since I am an under-employed broadcast journalist/writer, I thought I would make an audio-copy for people who still like not having to look at a screen.
So here it is.
powered by ODEO
To see the video, go to Danwei.org, where you will see Cory read some of his fiction and listen in on a pretty good Q & A.
Thanks to Cory, Danwei and Victor Muh for letting me put this on Future Soon Radio.
The kickin' music is "Push" from the group Cheebacabra. I found them on PodSafe Audio, so check them out.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
When people in Carancas, Peru (near Lake Titicaca) started getting sick after an object fell from the sky, word of an Andromeda Strain-like outbreak spread across the internet.
Although the cause of the illness hasn't yet been determined, the BBC is reporting that the sickness is not likely to have been caused by the meteorite.
Hell, Wired is even reporting that it probably wasn't even a meteorite that crashed in Peru.
While we may not know what it was, something did crash in Peru (see the pictured crater). And people Peruvians who go to the site are getting sick.
I am curious though. If a meteorite could make a crater that size, you'd think they would have found it by now.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The ecology of my home province is sure taking a beating, and being the upbeat guy I am, I thought I would share it with you.
Missing Gray Whales
My home town of Ucluelet has a Pacific Gray Whale festival every year because the whales travel close to the shores as they migrate from Baja to Alaska. If you stand out by the lighthouse during the height of the migration in early spring, you can see hundreds of whales. The whales numbers had dropped due to hunting, but had rebounded back to the pre-whaling population of just over 20 thousand.
Turns out the pre-whaling Gray Whale population was actually near 100 thousand! Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Washington have found this number by comparing the genetic variability between whales.
From Science Daily:
Gray whales were hunted extensively in the late 19th century. "The lagoons of Baja California were the primary killing fields for gray whales," recounted lead author S. Elizabeth Alter, a Stanford researcher. "But we don't know exactly how many there were before whaling took its toll." The new research measures the amount of genetic variation in current gray whales across ten different sections of their genome, and back calculates the long-term population size based on new measurement of the mutation rate of these gene segments.
What does this mean? The population seems to have slowed down in population growth, meaning the ocean can't sustain that near 100 thousand strong ancestor population. Meaning the ecology of the Pacific is not as robust as it once was, and isn't getting better.
And to make it worse, there is a growing number of Gray whales found starving.
The research also raises questions about how many whales the current oceans can now support-- and whether the future of whales, even if whaling is limited, may be reduced by new problems in the guise of oceanic overfishing and global climate change. "Despite our best efforts," Palumbi said, "these genetic results suggest gray whales have not fully recovered from whaling. They might be telling us that whales now face a new threat - from changes to the oceans that are limiting their recovery."
"Decades ago, whales were the first creatures to tell us that we were overfishing the oceans," Palumbi concluded. "Maybe now they trying to tell us the oceans are in deeper trouble."Hopefully, this ancestor whale species that was hunted by Megalodons and has swum in the oceans for the last 30 million years can make it through the wrecking times to come.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Forty-eight years ago today, Luna 2 crashed on the surface of the moon. This made the Soviets' little lunar probe the first man-made device to reach the moon.
Launched on Sept. 13, it only took Luna 2, the second of 24 Soviet lunar probes, 33.5 hours to reach its destination -- and doom.
Most famous for discovering the solar wind, Luna 2 also confirmed the notion that the Moon possesses no significant magnetic field.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
And they will give you $30 million.
From the BBC:
In a statement announcing the competition, Google and the X-Prize Foundation said it had been created in a bid to stimulate research into low-cost robotic exploration of space.
The top prize of $20m will be given to the private firm that soft lands a rover on the Moon which then completes a series of objectives.
These include roaming the lunar surface for at least 500m and gathering a specific set of images, video and data.
A prize of $5m will be given to the second firm that manages to reach the Moon with a rover that roams the surface and shoots some pictures.
Google said it would give bonuses of $5m if the rovers complete other objectives such as travelling further on the Moon, taking pictures of Apollo hardware, finding water-ice and surviving the freezing lunar night.The catch is that a team has to get up there before 2014, otherwise the money will go unclaimed.
I wonder who the takers will be?
Maybe I am watching too many Cold War dramas, but this press release from the National Science Foundation caught my eye.
From Science Daily:
Terrorists and extremists have set up shop on the Internet, using it to recruit new members, spread propaganda and plan attacks across the world. The size and scope of these dark corners of the Web are vast and disturbing. But in a non-descript building in Tucson, a team of computational scientists are using the cutting-edge technology and novel new approaches to track their moves online, providing an invaluable tool in the global war on terror.
As a Canadian, I sometimes forget that phrase, war on terror.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, Hsinchun Chen and his Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona have created the Dark Web project, which aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web.
The press release goes on to say the terrorist groups are hiding in message boards, banal sites, and hiding their message in multi-lingual statements. The NSF believes that there are over 5,000 sites that are involved in the management and propagandizing for Al-Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents and other terrorist groups.
So how is the NSF going to flush out the baddies? They are "shipping out" web spiders, content filters, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis. And the NSF also has a new program called Writeprint "which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content online."
Basically, the program extracts and creates a digital fingerprint that can be tracked.
Writeprint can check out an online posting and compare it to other writing on the web. The program then analyses the content and style of the text and can make a plus-95% accurate correlation with the anonymous author. That means that an anonymous poster can then be tracked and later identified.
But one of the most intriguing things to me, as an online weaponized newbie, is that the spiders that track down posts can become infected, bringing back viruses to the Agency searching for terrorists. It seems that online terrorist and "virtual imams" fight back.
I don't know about you, but this innocuous press release is making me realize that the Russian Esotnian e-conflict is a drop in the bucket. And if the war on the ground can't be won, can the e-war?
And just like the birth of rocketry and the internet, the NSF sees commercial and research uses for the Dark Web.
Dark Web's capabilities are also being used to study the online presence of extremist groups and other social movement organizations. Chen sees applications for this Web mining approach for other academic fields.
"What we are doing is using this to study societal change," Chen says. "Evidence of this change is appearing online, and computational science can help other disciplines better understand this change."When do you think we will get an open-source version of Dark Web?
Finally, some science on this blog.
A pulsar has been found siphoning off the mass of its stellar neighbour.
From Science Daily:
"(The object) orbits the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon distance).
"This object is merely the skeleton of a star," says co-discoverer Craig Markwardt of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The pulsar has eaten away the star’s outer envelope, and all the remains is its helium-rich core."
This grisly, yet beautiful, stellar scene has been observed by using NASA’s Swift and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellites.
Astronomers first noticed the pulsar when it sent a burst of x-rays and gamma rays towards the galactic centre. The scientists think that the Jupiter-sized pulsar should suck the other star dry within 25 000 years.
And they found the star-beast on my birthday - that is only a fact that will interest Liam Neeson, Dean Martin and me.
We have just entered a whole new world of astronomy, people.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Found this great little primer on typography on Geekdad.
1) Have your geekkids draw letters or shapes in black marker on a sheet of white paper. Remember, it can be a dingbat font -- if the kid doesn't want to do letters, that's OK. Even if he or she is designing traditional a traditional alphabet, it's nice to have a couple dingbats in there for personality.
2.5) Alternatively, go back to the classics by scanning in public domain letterforms. You can find a lot of reprinted woodcuts in various Dover books like 100 Ornamental Alphabets and Script and Cursive Alphabets: 100 Complete Fonts. The resultant glyphs can be remixed in Photoshop or Illustrator to add a little creativity.
3) When the kids have completed their letters, scan them in. I find scanning in as a bitmap (as opposed to grayscale) is best because it facilitates cleanup once they're in Photoshop. Clean them up and trace each letter using the Path feature. For quick and dirty you can get away with selecting all black and converting the selection to a path. However, I prefer the former method because it results in cleaner paths.4) Export paths to Illustrator. Once in Illustrator you can clean up the points and make sure the letters look good situated on the baseline. At this point you can use the Knife tool to cut apart letterforms and create new ones. Don't forget basic punctuation and numerals!
5) Cut and paste each letter into FontLab. From there you can clean up spacing and kerning, preview the font and export as a font file!Sure the primer's for kids, but are you really more talented than an impressionable, open-minded child?
I didn't think so.
Why do I post about items not science related? Why do I put random items up on this site? Well, because it is a blog, that's why.
But this short animated lecture from Vancouver film students Boca and Ryan Ulrich is amazing. Not only does the piece tell you what typography is, but also shows you the power of what a kinetic typography lesson can accomplish.
I find that kinetic typography is cinematic as well as information dense, because the text moves from a two dimensional internal process to a three dimensional, multi-sense visceral experience.
I hope that I can one day harness this power for visual science chasers.... maybe after the new site is up, and I learn everything about animation.
OR until I have enough cash to hire someone to do it for me.
Previous kinetic typography posts:
Three tales of the web
While searching for one particular post, I realized that I didn't actually do it. So here is a link to a very powerful, kinetic typography argument against the war in Iraq.
What Barry Says
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Almost five-hundred-thousand people will be getting U.N.-provided cell-phone service in Africa.
From the BBC:
As part of a UN programme to tackle poverty in rural Africa, 79 villages across 10 African countries will be hooked up to cellular networks. It is hoped that the connections will help improve health care and education, as well as boosting the local economy.
Phone service and handsets will be distributed as part of the UN's Millennium Villages program. The program sets up cellphone networks in areas where there is chronic hunger, poverty and prevalence of disease.
The hope is that by expanding wireless communication, people in these areas will be able to build there own responsive and grass-roots infrastructure.
The is also data that shows that when cell phones are in an area, GDP increases.
From the BBC:
A 2005 study showed that an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people could increase GDP growth by 0.6%.
Other spin-offs from this program could be new businesses and services.
The UN also hopes that exposure to cell phones will encourage and develop IT skills .
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I was searching for video clips on the History Channels City of the Future contest, when I found this little hour long talk by Cory Doctorow.
If you don't already know about this Canadian hero of the future-now, check out his site.
In this talk with Google, Doctorow tells you why DRM doesn't work, why giving stuff away for free is a basis for future wealth and good for society, and why the only people getting screwed by downloading are greedy corporate monopolists.
You don't have to watch it, just play it while you surf in other tabs.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Canion believes she may have the head of the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra. "It is one ugly creature," Canion said, holding the head of the mammal, which has big ears, large fanged teeth and grayish-blue, mostly hairless skin. Canion and some of her neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 80 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Canion said she saved the head of the one she found so she can get to get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity. She suspects, as have many rural denizens over the years, that a chupacabra may have killed as many as 26 of her chickens in the past couple of years.
I've seen a lot of nasty stuff. I've never seen anything like this," she said.
Are these the famed Chupacabra?
The "chupacabras" could have all been part of a mutated litter of dogs, or they may be a new kind of mutt, he said.
As for the bloodsucking, Schaar said that this particular canine may simply have a preference for blood, letting its prey bleed out and licking it up."I think it could have wolf in it," Canion said. "It has to be a cross between two or three different things."
Canion thinks that the animals were forced out of their dens by recent rains.
link via neatorama
Saturday, September 1, 2007
From the Telegraph:
Anatoly Perminov, the head of the space agency Roskosmos, said Russia would organise a manned lunar mission by 2025 and would be ready to build an “inhabited station” between 2027 and 2032.From there, cosmonauts could strike out on a long-planned mission to Mars as early as 2035.
“According to our estimates we will be ready for a manned flight to the Moon in 2025,” said Mr Perminov, adding that Mars remained a long-term ambition for Russia.
There you go, the Red Star is pushing for out-of-orbit space again - but can they go the distance? Korolev has been dead for decades, and the economics of space travel don't bode well for Russia. But, this could be a Space 2.0 approach, especially when India and China are planning moon missions.
Comrades, is this the beginning? Will new N-1 rockets actually make it to space?
I hope, fellow travelers. I hope
Every time I watch this video I think I am seeing the realization of multiple timeline, a post-singular cephalopod, or the birth of a dynamic and semi-intelligent city-gelatin-star-ship.
Maybe a little of all three.
Video by Thomas Williams.
found via neatorama