Jul 282013

Is time travel possible? Some theories suggest that it may be just barely possible. But will it ever be possible for people to actually travel backwards in time to the time and place of their choosing? Well… evidence suggests not. And what evidence is that? For one, the apparent complete lack of *billions* of time traveling science fanboys at the Fifth Solvay Conference in Brussels, Belgium, in 1927. What made that a special target? Consider the group photo:


Who do we have here? Marie Curie. Albert Motherfarkin’ Einstein. Neils Bohr. Paul Dirac. Max Born. Hendrick Lorentz. Max Planck. Louis de Broglie. Erwin Schroedinger. Werner “the one who knocks” Heisenberg.




If there was *ever* a time and place for a time traveler to go, either to snag some autographs or to show off their TARDIS, that was it.

Note the lack of time travelers in the photo. Sigh.

The group photo was black and white. But as with anything black and white, someone will try to colorize it. And in at least one case, someone did a *really* good job.


You can order a print or a poster.

Given a nice, convenient time machine, perhaps in the form of a flying Delorean, that’s certainly one of my top targets. However, to be honest, once I’d proven the thing functional, my first serious goal would be to hire a pack of mercenaries and/or Special Forces. Specifically, mercs who are fluent in Greek. And then we’d wander on back to Alexandria, Egypt, around 300 BC, and visit the library with a  hell of a lot of digital imaging and recording equipment and scan *everything.* And then re-visit the library every, oh, 50 years or so and re-copy everything. And stand back in 48BC as Julius Caesars troops burn the joint to the ground, then again in 391 AD when the place was trashed by the Christians, and again in 641 when Alexandria was conquered by the Muslims and the library finally and utterly destroyed.

Record the knowledge. And record the acts of unutterable stupidity that cost the world that knowledge.

But, sadly, as Solvay ’27 shows, chances that I’ll get a ride in a time machine are pretty slim.

 Posted by at 12:30 am
Jul 272013

I’ve finished up restoring scans of the old Colliers space article series for publication in AIAA-Houston “Horizons.” Some of the art was easy to fix up, some not so easy… art that was printed across two pages turned out to be especially annoying since there were inevitably differences in coloration from one page to the next. On the whole, though, I think it came out pretty well. Given that “Horizons” is free for the downloading, I recommend getting them.

Most of the art showing the Earth as seen from space is, well, wrong. This is not to say that the artists didn’t know what they were doing; but in 1952-54, it was just that nobody had actually seen Earth from space. And thus a lot of things are just wrong, most glaringly the lack of weather.

One Chesley Bonestell painting that I just cleaned up a bit depicts a “baby space station” (a smallish bioastronautics satellite) burning up over San Francisco at night, with the moon just setting over the Pacific:

babyspacestation 1


While a nice painting, anyone who has ever seen a photo of the night side of Earth will recognize that it’s not quite right. During the course of cleaning up the image, I tinkered with levels; one setting turned out to both completely mangle the painting… and also make it more realistic:

babyspacestation 2

So, you know… yeah. There’s that.

 Posted by at 5:57 pm
Jul 252013

Someone took the Cosmos trailer and re-musiced it. Instead of the music from “Kick-Ass” and “28 Days Later” from the original version, they added in a tune from “Inception.” And for most of the trailer it actually works really, really well.

[youtube vLi3leCn7vs]


The fact that the trailer music comes from two existing movie properties leads me to think that this is just temporary music, just for the trailer, and that the series will be quite different. But then I note that the scores for both “Kick-Ass” and “28 Days Later” were composed by john Murphy, and that leads to to wonder if the Cosmos reboot might be his to score, as the original was Vangelis’…

 Posted by at 11:30 pm
Jul 252013

As someone who has had lung infections often enough to have come to accept that I am going to die of such at a relatively young age, this is hopeful news:

Marine Microbe Produces Unknown Antibiotic

A new antibiotic called anthracimycin, produced by the bacterium Streptomyces, found to be structurally and chemically different from and 25 to 40 times stronger than current antibiotics. This means that whole new types of antibiotics might be derived from it that current infectious diseases will be wholly unprepared for. Wipes out anthrax and MRSA, at least in lab tests.

Apparently human trials are some ways off, however.

Still, maybe now I’ll get to die of cancer or diabetes! Yay!

 Posted by at 1:59 pm
Jul 252013

The Smartening of America (historical):

How adding iodine to salt made America smarter

Iodine was added to salt back in 1924 to help fight goiter, which was caused by an iodine deficiency in the diet of many people who lived nowhere near the ocean (and who thus didn’t get much in the way of ocean fish, the main source of iodine). Turns out that an iodine deficiency in the womb and in infancy also reduced IQ. And thus there was an increase in about 15 IQ points in those regions where iodine had been scarce. Woo!
The dumbening of America (current):

Wanted: Young Creation Scientists

Like science? Like God? Like lying? Oh, boy, does this guy have a career path for you!


Summon anti-dumbenation!

[youtube P_Um2VdIKmA]

NdGT: “I don’t even care if someone wants to say “You don’t understand that; God did it.” That doesn’t even bother me. What would bother me is if you were so content in that answer that you no longer had curiosity to learn how it happened. The day that you stop looking — because you’re content God did it — I don’t need you in the lab. You’re useless on the frontier of understanding the nature of the world. I’m glad, whoever those folks are, that there aren’t that many of ‘em. Because if they dominated the world, we’d still be in the cave. We would have never left the cave. Because “there are mysterious things out there, and God is doing that, and you don’t need to know that, and don’t even think about it.” Where would we be, if their understanding of the world ruled the world?”


 Posted by at 10:22 am
Jul 242013

I do my Web surfing via a dinky little netbook (all my *real* work is done on computers that *never* touch the internet). Generally adequate, but sometimes something a little more is needed. I downloaded the Cosmos trailer I linked to yesterday, and played it on my much bigger laptop.

Holy crap!



The original Cosmos had some fairly decent special effect for a TV show of its day. But it is clear that Fox/National Geographic have *lavished* the new Cosmos with not only the budget for good modern effects, but also the talent to do it right, and the art to do it spectacularly. I really hope that the show lives up to this. Giggity!

cosmos11 cosmos10  cosmos8 cosmos7 cosmos6 cosmos5 cosmos4 cosmos3 cosmos2 cosmos1

I’ve had this dream…


 Posted by at 10:56 pm