Oct 312012

Ah, Fisker Automotive, the manufacturer of electric hybrid automobiles that received a $528 million loan from the FedGov, part of Obama’s “green” energy stimulus. What have they produced? Well, the Fisker Karma seems like a snazzy car… it seems to attain a fuel economy of 26 mpg, and has a sticker price of only $102,000. After “Cash For Clunkers,” how is this not a fantastic deal for your average family looking to trade in that Honda Civic for something more economical in these hard economic times?

Anyway, the Karma has another neat trick beyond costing twenty times what most people can afford while getting little better or actually worse gas mileage. For most gas cars, if you make the blunder of driving into water more than a foot or two deep, your car will up and die on you as water gets drawn into the engine and kills combustion. But the Fisker? Being electric, you don’t need to worry about the engine stalling. No, you will have no such worries about that, because you’ll be too busy trying to abandon ship as your advanced new car bursts into flames and burns down to the waterline:

More Than A Dozen Fisker Karma Hybrids Caught Fire And Exploded In New Jersey Port After Sandy

That’s outstanding.


 Posted by at 5:36 pm
Oct 312012

An issue that pops up from time to time in sci-fi – and will eventually pop up in real life – is when do artificially intelligent computers, genetically enhanced critters, possibly-sentient aliens get “human” rights? Many different answers have been given, but one I just read and quite liked was rather casually mentioned in the online webcomic “Quantum Vibe:”

“The rule is anyone who can understand what rights are and can both respect and demand them, has them.”

Robots that you can hold a conversation with probably aren’t that far away. But a robot that can look at the world, see how it’s being treated, and communicate a message equivalent to “hey, this ain’t right…” that will be a momentous occasion.

 Posted by at 1:10 am
Oct 302012

A 1954 NACA-Langley concept for a hypersonic research airplane, which eventually led to the X-15. Apart from the X-tail and the use of three rocket engines, the configuration is remarkably similar to the X-15 in general terms.

 Posted by at 9:55 pm
Oct 302012

Tourettes has got to really, REALLY suck… to not be able to control your movements or your voice has got to be a little slice of Niflhel.

As with any such disorder, some people have it worse than others. Take the German feller in the video below: if I understand it correctly, he has a truly astonishingly bad case od Tourettes… hardly able to communicate or get around in his environment. Until he self-medicates. The results, if everything is as it seems to be, are really quite remarkable.

Exactly why weed would help here? I’m guessing it’s because Tourettes is the result of neurons in the brain misfiring like firecrackers, and pot just makes the brain go mellowwwww. I hear tell that others with Tourettes have tried this, some successfully, some not; and that pot can make schizophrenics *worse.*  Well… so what, I guess. Take the notorious painkiller Thalidomide: if you take it while pregnant, it can mess up your baby. But probably half the potential users of Thalidomide will never be pregnant, being men and all; women who are past menopause or who have had damage or surgeries that have sterilized them are also unlikely to use Thalidomide while pregnant. And a woman who *might* get pregnant can choose to not get pregnant (Norplant, abstinance, etc.). I imagine anyone with a brain can recognize that there are a whole lot of people who would benefit from Thalidomide with virtually or completely no risk of birth defects, and thus the drug should be made available; the same reasoning holds for pot.

[youtube TzbLbW829Ls]

Assuming it’s on the up-and-up… who the hell would deny this guy a bag of weed a day? And it need not be some big government program… simply legalize the stuff, let market forces drop the price to less than tobacco, and this guy will be able to buy his own… because he’ll be able to hold down a job.

And yeah, yeah, you’re not supposed to laugh at such things, but the video below, showing a British guy with seriously NSFW Tourettes singing “Lady in Red” is definitely worth a couple dozen laughs. If you’ve got a socially debilitating problem, you could do worse than this guy and make a video that brings a  smile to people.

[youtube xoZuB8YfkaE]

 Posted by at 8:52 pm
Oct 302012

Sandy trashed the flimsy tent that had been covering the Shuttle, and appears to have ripped the tip off the vertical stabilizer.

Space Shuttle Enterprise Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

I guess it’s a good thing that Enterprise wasn’t taken somewhere like the USAF Museum in Dayton, where it would be in a good solid hangar.

This isn’t the first time Enterprise has gotten damaged in NYC on the barge ride in it mashed into a bridge, banging up a wingtip:

Wasn’t enough ‘space’: Enterprise damaged on barge journey

I wonder if the rudder damage will be fixed in the same way the wingtip damage was fixed… by painting it.

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Oct 302012


Disney to Buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 Billion; New ‘Star Wars’ Movie Set for 2015

A Disneyfied “Star Wars?” Why do I have this image of a musical number with JarJar Binks?

But then Disney owns “The Avengers” and that certainly wasn’t a disaster, so…

And there’s THIS:

With this many characters to develop and stories to tell, Disney plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every two or three years for the foreseeable future.

Had Star Wars films been produced at a rate of one every 2.5 years after Jedi, there’d be 14 or 15 movies by now.

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Oct 302012


Near-death experiences occur when the soul leaves the nervous system and enters the universe, claim two quantum physics experts

It is based on a quantum theory of consciousness he and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose have developed which holds that the essence of our soul is contained inside structures called microtubules within brain cells.

They have argued that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects in these microtubules, a theory which they dubbed orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).

Thus it is held that our souls are more than the interaction of neurons in the brain. They are in fact constructed from the very fabric of the universe – and may have existed since the beginning of time.

I think this is the very epitome of “untestable hypothesis,” at least for anytime in the near future.

The “soul” is one of those ideas that seems to exist not because there’s evidence to back it up, but because it’s something virtually everyone really, really wants to exist. But it’s so wrapped up in religious dogma that any effort to scientifically prove the existence of the soul is bound to irritate just a whole lot of people. Face it: if *any* physical proof (“proof,” not “evidence”) comes to light, it will show *numerous* religions to be wrong. For example, let’s say that “humans have a soul” is proved. They the Quantum Soul Detector is pointed at a cat. If the cat turns out to have a soul, then many Christians (Jews? Muslims?) will be P.O.’ed. If the cat turns out *not* to have a soul, Buddhists and Hindus will, I think, be P.O.’ed. If the soul is shown to hang around after death, or shown to evaporate after death, or shown to “transition” after death, or shown to be reborn after death, a whole lot of people will be P.O.’ed.

And if the quantum researchers proposing this theory are shown to be crackpots, or just plain wrong, a lot of people will be P.O.’ed. More will probably be happy, of course. Given the rather dire religious implications for *any* sort of proof, I suspect a great many people would prefer it if any sort of empirical proof was never announced. To me the hypothesis these fellers are touting sounds like just so much handwavy gibberish.

 Posted by at 11:36 am