Saturday, September 26, 2009

Random Linkage 26/09/09

An Odyssey From the Bronx to Saturn’s Rings
'Shadows lengthened to stretch thousands of miles across the planet’s famous rings this summer as they slowly tilted edge-on to the Sun, which they do every 15 years, casting into sharp relief every bump and wiggle and warp in the buttery and wafer-thin bands that are the solar system’s most popular scenic attraction.
'"From her metaphorical perch on the bridge of the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn for five years, Carolyn Porco, who heads the camera team, is ecstatic about the view. “It’s another one of those things that make you pinch yourself and say, ‘Boy am I lucky to be around now,’ ” Dr. Porco said. “For the first time in 400 years, we’re seeing Saturn’s rings in three dimensions.”'

US to deploy 'optionally manned' hover-dirigible in 2011
'The US military will deploy an "optionally manned" 250-foot surveillance airship to Afghanistan by the middle of 2011, according to reports. The dirigible spy-ship will be able to lurk high above Afghan battlefields for up to three weeks at a time, relaying information to ground commanders.'
(Battlefields? What battlefields? Oh right, the entire country is a battlefield.)

New Vista Of Milky Way Center Unveiled
'A dramatic new vista of the center of the Milky Way galaxy from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory exposes new levels of the complexity and intrigue in the Galactic center. The mosaic of 88 Chandra pointings represents a freeze-frame of the spectacle of stellar evolution, from bright young stars to black holes, in a crowded, hostile environment dominated by a central, supermassive black hole.'

Craters Show 1970s Viking Lander Missed Martian Ice by Inches
'Meteorites that crashed into the Martian surface last year exposed buried ice to the digital eyes of NASA spacecraft.
'Scientists have used those images to deduce that there is a lot more ice on Mars — and that it’s closer to the equator — than previously thought. In fact, subterranean Martian ice should extend all the way down beyond 48 degrees of latitude, according to the model, which was published in Science Thursday.'
(It's as if some agency reimagined Mars since the 1970s.)

Scientists hail new species of feathered dinosaurs
'The new dinosaur fossils, disclosed on Friday, representing five different species from two different rock sequences in north-eastern China, all have feathers or feather-like structures.
'The new finds are "indisputably" older than archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird, which scientists claim provides exceptional evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs.'

163 new species found in Asia
'A gecko with spots like a leopard and a fanged frog that preys on birds are among more than 160 new species that have been discovered along the Mekong River but which face the threat of extinction as a result of climate change.'
(Taxonomy was once a sedate occuptaion; now it’s like staging triage in a big city hospital.)

Music inspired by radio waves from Saturn’s rings
(Via Discover.)

Cocoon Cooker Grows Meat and Fish from Heated Animal Cells

'Here's a food-related invention that is even weirder than the notorious Beanzawave: The Cocoon, a concept cooker that grows meat and fish from heated animal cells in a process that looks disturbingly similar to magic animal growing capsules.'
(The black market in 'grow-your-own-celebrity-meat' capsules will start up about a week after this hits the shops.)


Blogger saint said...

A) Holy crap, 2011? Why will we still be paying for these stupid things.

B) Sad I'm a vegetarian and won't be able to stir fry some Lucy Liu.

September 26, 2009 8:39 pm  
Blogger Nick Barnes said...

These design contests are insane, and have no grip at all on what's genuinely possible. You could submit a design for a telephone to talk to the dead, and as long as it looked appropriately shiny in your Photoshop mock-ups, it could win.

September 27, 2009 8:13 pm  
Blogger Nick Barnes said...

Another example a couple of years ago was a reading lamp powered by a descending weight "for up to an hour". Any well-educated 8-year-old could have told the judges that the weight could only have powered the lamp for a few seconds. Dumb-ass arts graduates.

September 27, 2009 8:15 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Saint, to put the 2011 schedule in depressing context, someone in the British government
has said that the war in Afghanistan will (not might) last forty years. No matter how many
war blimps are deployed, presumably.

Nick, all kinds of wind-ups out there, certainly. Also, telephoning the dead, you say?

September 27, 2009 11:12 pm  
Blogger Nick Barnes said...

Wind-up technology is great. The gravity lamp was called the Gravia, and was pure bullshit. This blogger was much too kind:

September 28, 2009 8:04 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Should be renamed the Sisyphus, maybe.

September 28, 2009 10:57 am  
Blogger George Berger said...

I read about those blimps the other day. The report, while interesting in itself, reminded me of this: .

September 29, 2009 6:22 am  

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