Oct 282011

A nearly universal trope in science fiction movies – and a lot of non-sci-fi dramatic movies/TV shows that exchange realistic police forensics for nonsensical rubbish – is the use of a blurry security camera image which is magically “enhanced.” Well, soon the “Lytro” camera will be made available that can kinda do that. Using an image sensor that not only records the color and intensity of light rays but also their vectors, the Lytro camera produces an image that is apparently more of a 3 dimensional block of data than a single 2-D flat image… with the end result being that you can focus the image *after* it’s been taken. Behold:

[youtube JDyRSYGcFVM]

And this little video shows some of the “Light Field” photos focussing back and forth, as well as the 3-D possibilities with the single-lens camera:

[youtube xNJZHFZEkYQ]

If part of that – specifically the part where the fixed camera produces an image that can be panned back and forth – seems familiar to you, rest assured that it seemed familiar to me, too.

[youtube QkcU0gwZUdg]

 Posted by at 11:29 pm
Oct 282011

The first Progress (automated cargo-hauling version of the Soyuz) since one went ker-BLAM in August is set to launch Sunday. In all probability, based on years of experience, it’ll work just fine. If it doesn’t… then the ISS will be pretty much done, since it’ll have to be abandoned by the current crew, and a new crew won’t be able to be launched until 2012 sometime (if then).

So you read this conspiracy theory first here: if the Progress fails, it’s because the Russians made it fail in order to trash the ISS.

First Progress Launch Since Accident Looms Large for Space Station Program

 Posted by at 11:04 pm
Oct 282011

If you caught the return of Beavis & Butthead last night (and really, who didn’t?), then you’ve already seen this. If not, then you probably haven’t. It’s a music video for a group called Skrillex; never heard of ’em, not really my kind of music (I assume it’s music… it’s, errr, odd). But the video portion of it is certainly well done. Starts off creepy, and ends up creepy in an entirely different and rather surprising way.

Note: jack the volume *way* up to annoy the hell out of your co-workers.

[youtube 2cXDgFwE13g]

 Posted by at 10:31 pm
Oct 272011

The idea of nuclear powered aircraft has been around since shortly after WWII. Since nuclear reactors of the time were massive items requiring many tons of shielding, any aircraft based on a nuclear powerplant would necessarily be fairly big. Additionally, a larger aircraft would provide greater distance from the reactor for the crew, using space as shielding to help reduce the radiation dose the crew would get.

A USAF brochure from 1951 presented a number of preliminary configurations for nuclear powered bombers. One of them, the N-1 design, was a half-million-pound plane with a span of 225 feet and a payload of only 10,000 pounds.  It would be capable of cruising at Mach 0.9 at 60,000 feet. Other designs were smaller with greater payload, but designed to fly at lower altitudes. The cost of high speed at very high altitude was extremely long wings with high sweep; the result was a plane that would have made the B-36 look like a pipsqueak.

 Posted by at 10:50 pm
Oct 272011

One of the reasons why my “Nuclear Pulse propulsion” book is taking so long is because there are a boatload of drawings needing doing, and some of them are seriously troublesome. Take, for example, the “Messiah” from the movie Deep Impact. Below shows the current status of the 2-D layout drawings I’ve been tinkering with. As well as the book, these will probably serve as the basis of of a scale model.

 Posted by at 10:19 pm
Oct 272011

The hub of the SSV is just about done. The parts in yellow shown below will have to be done in photoetch. The hub will be in four parts… two identical “faces,” and two different central parts. These are hollowed out to help reduce the volume needing to be printed and thus the cost of the kit.

The little purple sphere is just a modeling aid as opposed to being something in the kit.

 Posted by at 1:21 pm
Oct 272011

No, I’m not referring to the Occupy Oakland protestors getting teargassed and beaten by the local agents of Big Government. Instead, I’m referring to the free-food providers at Zucotti Park in New York.

A number of the protestors thought it would be a good and harmonious idea to provide free food for the other protestors, and promptly went to work on doing exactly that. Coupling their own hard labor with financial expenditure, they’ve apparently been putting out a whole lot of food. While I can’t say as I think much of their larger goal of extinguishing capitalism and replacing it with a modernized form of fascism, I commend them for their work ethic and commitment.

But there’s been a problem: turns out protestors aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the free chow.

Occupy Wall Street kitchen staff protesting fixing food for freeloaders

The short form here is that the food preparers have decided to curb food production from goofy hipster dishes like “organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad” down to the likes of brown rice and PB&J sammiches because they’ve discovered that by offering free food to all comers, they have been set upon by “professional homeless,” “vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders.” As a result, they’ve been working 18 hours a day and feel “overworked and under appreciated.”

Huh. So… turns out that when you offer freebies, people take ’em.

Now, what lessons can be drawn here?

 Posted by at 10:08 am
Oct 272011

When many (most??) people think of “the Bible,” I bet they think of the King James version. Depending on how you look at it, it was written either between 3500 (or so) and 1900 (or so) years ago, or 400 years ago (when King James I of England ordered it put together). In any event, that’s a long, long time ago… long enough that it’s obvious that it’s in the public domain.


The Bible lives forever, even if the KJV is copyrighted

In honor of the KJV’s 400th anniversary, London’s newly reconstituted Globe Theater—Shakespeare’s old home stage—scheduled a series of actors to recite the entire King James Bible from the stage between Palm Sunday and Easter of 2011. But a few days before the presentation, the director received a bill for payment of a substantial royalty fee for the privilege of reading it publicly. The British Crown actually owns the copyright to the King James Bible, which has been renewed upon the accession of each succeeding monarch since King James himself. So the queen, through the auspices of Cambridge University Press, was sending him a bill, according to BBC Music Magazine.


In other words, in a few years the Bible as it’s known to a whole lot of millions of people will belong to this feller:

The question is… how enforceable is this copyright? Apparently if you’re in Britain, they can come and get you for quoting the Bible. But I’d be interested to see what would happen if some American or – better – Chinese publisher put out their own copy of the KJV Bible without paying fees to the British crown.

Copyright is a wonderful and vital thing. But maintaining copyright for four hundred years seems massively inappropriate.

 Posted by at 7:43 am
Oct 262011

The Space Station V kit will come with at least 2 Orion III spaceplanes. The question, of course, is how to scale the Orion III with the station, since there is no official size for either. One stated diameter for the SSV is 1,000 feet, which was apparently a size specified before filming. That’d be fine, except that apparently Kubrick thought that the Station looked small compared to the Orion III, and had it optically scaled up by a factor of two, leading to a diameter of 2000 feet.

The Orion III is also officially unsized. However, I believe that a good case was made for a span of 109 feet by Ian Walsh of Stargazer Models, described here.  And so, one of the Orion III spaceplanes will be scaled to the station by a ratio of 109 feet/1,000 feet, as shown here:

This is clearly wrong when you look at how the two objects scale against each other as actually filmed. However, it’s actually a pretty good match, and it really looks like this was how the two were originally intended to be scaled:

On the other hand, when they are scaled to a ratio of 109/2,000, they look fairly right compared to the screen.

So at least these two size of Orions will be included, so that the model builder can choose their own scale for the kit. Depending upon production costs, a third or even a fourth intermediate size of Orion may be included (such as one to depict the station being 1500 feet in diameter).

 Posted by at 10:36 pm
Oct 262011

Sci Fi authors take note:

Researchers Identify Mysterious Life Forms in the Extreme Deep Sea

The team documented the deepest known existence of xenophyophores, single-celled animals exclusively found in deep-sea environments. Xenophyophores are noteworthy for their size, with individual cells often exceeding 10 centimeters (4 inches), their extreme abundance on the seafloor and their role as hosts for a variety of organisms.

The researchers spotted the life forms at depths up to 10,641 meters (6.6 miles) within the Sirena Deep of the Mariana Trench.


 Posted by at 6:51 pm