Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just In Case You Weren't Certain That The Future Is Already Here

Why complain that aircars aren't clogging our skies when you can buy a DNA synthesiser on eBay?

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THIS ISA AB APPLIED BIOSYSTEMS 392 DNA/RNA SYNTHESIZER WITH MANUAL AND BOX OF EXTRA NEW FITTINGS UNIT POWERS UP UNABLE TO TEST CLEAN UNIT. Shipping on this item is 158.00 to the lower 48 states. If you are from overseas or Alaska or Hawaii please email me for a shipping quote. Please understand if it is going out of the country it can take between 3 and 6 weeks depending on customs. If it is not shown in the picture then it probably does not come with the item please email me if you have a question before purchasing. Paypal Is accepted All Items will be shipped out within 48 hours of purchase if it is a item that must be palletized I need a commercial address and phone number. If you have any problems with the item please email us so we can work the problem out

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.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gardens Of The Sun, Part Three, Chapter Three

After the publicity tour was cancelled Frankie Fuente went home to the state of Paiuí, where he planned to buy a share in a carnaúba palm plantation and spend the rest of his life watching other people make money for him. Cash Baker went back to the academy, and teaching.

At first, little seemed to have changed. There was a month of mourning after the state funeral of the president -- flags at half-mast, black armbands, water instead of wine served at meals in the officers’ mess. In a short address at his inauguration, the new president, Armand Nabuco, promised a smooth transition and a continuation of the policies that had made Greater Brazil a power for good in an imperfect world. Flare-ups in wildsider activity in the Andes, the Great Desert, and along the border of the northern territories were quickly suppressed; renewed calls for independence by banned nationalist groups like the Freedom Riders came to nothing; anti-government posters were torn down, graffiti was scrubbed away, links to clandestine sites on the net were purged. And then, the day after the official period of mourning ended, the Office for Strategic Services removed thousands of civil servants and government officials from their posts, and it was announced that General Arvam Peixoto, leader of the expeditionary force at Saturn and acting head of the Three Powers Authority, would be returning to Earth after he had handed over command to Euclides Peixoto.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spirit At Gusev Crater

Created by Doug Ellison using data from the Spirit rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, this fabulously detailed flyover sweeps across the Columbia Hills in the middle of a simulated dust storm, past the place where the brave little toaster is currently mired. The kind of detailed virtuality that will be as near to actually being on Mars that almost all of us will get* (more on that, soon); it can't be that long before there's a version where we can wander around the planet at will.

*unless you're Australian

Via Universe Today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Quiet War, American Style

Officially published today in the US. Maybe I should remind new readers that I posted a portion of the novel on my web site last year, as part of Earth and Other Unlikely Worlds's try-before-you-buy service. Same goes for Cowboy Angels, incidentally. Just seen a rough of the cover for Gardens of the Sun, also packed with space hardware goodness; hope to have some news of the US publication date realsoonnow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gardens Of The Sun, Part Three, Chapter Two(ii)

The gig’s cabin was a fullerene shell perched on top of its motor platform, a claustrophobic closet with no room for seats or couches. Loc stood next to the pilot, with Berry Hong-Owen crammed in behind them, all three strapped into the webs of their crash harnesses and bulked out in pressure suits, globular helmets screwed on, as the frail craft arced halfway around Mimas in a free-fall trajectory.

The little moon was a ball of dirty water ice just under four hundred kilometres in diameter that had frozen all the way down to its silicate core soon after its formation: its ancient, unmodified surface was pocked and spattered by a chaos of craters of every size, like a boiling sea instantly turned to stone. Peering out of the gig’s slot-like window, it seemed to Loc that he was plunging headlong past a vast pale cliff printed with a random jumble of inky crescents and clefts and staves: slanting shadows cast by blocks and boulders, shadows cupped inside craters, shadows curving around crater rims. He’d patched a slow-release dose of a local smart drug, pandorph, before putting on his pressure suit. Yota McDonald had turned him on to it. It was cleaner and more effective than any of the military smart drugs they’d used back in the good old days before the war, when they’d brainstormed political and strategic scenarios for a government commission. It sharpened his perceptions and quickened his thoughts and gave him a crystalline god-like perspective, a necessary edge that would help him deal with Sri Hong-Owen, and it had the useful side effect of overlaying his usual anxiety and fright at being fired like a bullet across a hostile moonscape with a calm, semi-detached interest in the spectacular scenery unravelling beyond the gig’s window.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gillian Welch At The Newport Folk Festival

The entire set, courtesy of NPR. Man, I love the internet.

(Via Small Beer Press.)

Random Linkage 20/09/09

Moon is coldest known place in the solar system
'Poor Pluto. First it gets kicked out of the planet club, now it's not even the coldest place in the solar system. Dark craters near the moon's south pole have snatched that title – which is good news for the prospects of finding water ice on Earth's companion.'

Using Magnetism To Turn Drugs On And Off
'Many medical conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer and diabetes, require medications that cannot be taken orally, but must be dosed intermittently, on an as-needed basis, over a long period of time. A few delivery techniques have been developed, using an implanted heat source, an implanted electronic chip or other stimuli as an "on-off" switch to release the drugs into the body. But thus far, none of these methods can reliably do all that's needed: repeatedly turn dosing on and off, deliver consistent doses and adjust doses according to the patient's need.
'Researchers led by Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD of Children's Hospital Boston, funded by the National Institutes of Health, have devised a solution that combines magnetism with nanotechnology.'
(Ingenious - but what happens if the patient passes through a magnetic field at the wrong time? We’re not short of them, in the C21st. Cheap idea for a thriller: the hero has been implanted with a magnetically-controlled poison capsule, and has to chase down the villain while *avoiding* every magnetic field. Maybe involving Chev Chelios.)

Saturn's Turbulent 'Storm Alley' Sets Another Record
'The longest continuously observed thunderstorm in the solar system has been roiling Saturn’s atmosphere since mid-January and is still churning now, according to a presentation by a Cassini team scientist at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany.'

Tiny ancestor is T. rex blueprint
'A 3m-long dinosaur fossil from China which predates T. rex by 60 million years is a blueprint for the mighty carnivore, say researchers.'
(Some commentators have been claiming that it’s human-sized. Human-sized in the same way that a grizzly bear is human-sized.)

New Evidence of Dry Lake Beds on Mars
'Networks of giant polygonal troughs found in crater basins on Mars are cracks caused by evaporating lakes. These landforms had been attributed to thermal contractions in the Martian permafrost, similar to what the Phoenix lander explored near the north pole on the Red Planet. But these polygon-shaped cracks are too large to be caused by thermal contractions and provide further evidence of a warmer, wetter Martian past.'

The Incredible Ghost Fleet Off The Coast Of Singapore
'Off the coast of Singapore is a collection of ships larger than the U.S. and English navies just sitting idle, waiting out the recession. It's a spectacular image, capturing our bruised global economy better than any we've see thus far.'

Best McDonald’s Ad Ever
(At least, until the amniotronic version comes along.)
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