When will people learn that advertising doesn't work on the Web? Apparently, not until they try every colossally stupid idea first.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, has started a private space development company called Blue Origin. It's nice to see all this interest in private space exporation, especially by folks with money to spend. Oddly enough, Neal Stephenson is being listed as one of the advisors. I say "oddly enough" because all of his sci-fi stories (to date, at least) have been set firmly on Earth. He has his own reasons for joining, though.
Looks like Chewie will be back in Episode III, along with C-3PO and R2-D2. Specifically, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker have been signed to star in the next (and final) Star Wars prequel. Go Chewie! (Thanks to Deana for the scoop.)
Deb writes: Put this on your global blog and smoke it!:
Toyota announced a new Prius that manages to have more interior room and better gas mileage (about 55 mpg). They also reiterated that the hybird is profitable at its $20,000 price point.
Of all places, MSNBC has a good article with specifics on SpaceShipOne's flying characteristics. It really looks like they've put a lot of thought into it, down to using the same flight controls for the carrier ship and rocketplane so that maneuvers can be practiced in either.
Scaled Composites revealed their passenger-carrying spaceship today. This is an actual, working vehicle they're planning to use as part of a commercial space program. It would also get them the X Prize once flown. Wow!
For those who don't know Scaled Composites, it's an aerospace firm run by Burt Rutan. His plane Voyager was the first to fly around the world without landing or refueling. He's known for working, low-cost aircraft designed with revolutionary techniques. Go Burt!
Just in case it gets clouded, the main justification for attacking Iraq was the supposed presence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Let me know if anyone finds any.
Looks like Paul Allen wants to create a Science Fiction Experience multimedia museum in Seattle. I'll reserve comment until it opens, but it should be interesting to follow.
(Nitpick note: it's Heinlein's "Rocketship Galileo" that inspired him as a kid, not "Spaceship Galileo". Ya-hey.)
Not sure if it will happen, but it would be nice to see Segway kiosks the next time we go to Paris. I'd love to be able to rent a couple of Segways at the train station, strap our bags to them, and zip over to the hotel. Tooling around the museums and such would be easier, too, especially if it's easy enough to lug one onto the Metro. The Segway site has video examples of the kiosks, too.
Ever wonder who thought up the mouse? Now you can watch the 1968 demo that introduced it to the world, along with hypertext, the "document", WYSIWYG editing, and a host of other staples of modern computing.
I'm not sure how big a grain of salt to take this with, but Scientific American has just published an overview article on the state of the art of parallel universes.
An article in The Star says Bush won't let anyone have dictators, and he personally will rout them out.
It's basically, "Syria, you're next," and I love the quote:
In meetings in Damascus with British and Saudi envoys, Syrian President Bashar Assad again denied all U.S. accusations.
"For the president of the United States to come on television and say that Syria must co-operate, my question is who, in the name of heaven, does he think he is?" asked Syrian political analyst Mohammed Aziz Shukri. "Is he the god of this Earth?"
Ahem. I believe that is indeed the question.
I'm glad I waited to put up photos of our sprouting seedlings. Three days later, they're reaching for the sky! Only a few of the seeds haven't burst forth from our hi-tech Seedling Growth Pods (tm) (T.P. tubes to the uninitiated) .
Apologies for the blurry close-ups. It's hard to see 'em when the dirt pieces are bigger than they are. ;)
If you haven't seen the new Honda Accord commercial yet, you have to see it to believe it. Note that only one small part of the process was computer-generated; it took 606 takes to get it right. That must have been so much fun to make...
Kirk Boyd, a human rights lawyer from the Bay Area, is going to present his life's work, an International Bill of Rights, to the United Nations Human Rights Commission tomorrow. The project, associated with the University of California, aims to put together an International Court of Human Rights charged with protecting fundamental rights in all U.N. member nations.
The Gate has more details on Boyd and his dream. Please take some time to check out the project's Web site and help out however you can. Specifically, the site has a complete copy of the Bill, with a forum for commenting on any or all Articles.
One of my favorite concepts is a bit closer to reality. The Taxi 2000 corporation just announced the completion of a prototype Personal Rapid Transit system called SkyWeb Express. If put into wide use, such a system would provide a sustainable, low-cost, high-density, convenient form of transportation in urban areas.
Our basil plants are sprouting! I'll take a picture or two once they're big enough to show up on film. :)
14 Apr UPDATE: We're also seeing tomato and snow pea shoots! I took pictures over the weekend, but I haven't uploaded them yet. Soon, I swear!
I'm not saying anything personally, but there's an interesting analysis of the pull-down-Saddam's-statue footage that was recently all over the media. Again, this isn't my statement because I don't know the details. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that it was a PR stunt on behalf of the US, though.
It's official: British Airways and Air France are retiring the Concorde. I'm less saddened by the retirement (they're old planes, after all) and more worried that no one has shown interest in a replacement. Has airline technology hit a plateau?
I'd like to say that I've been quiet because it's a slow news day, but it really isn't. I'm a bit busy with work, but I'm mostly preoccupied by concerns, both local and abroad, natural and human. I'd give them all space here, but I don't want this to become Eeyore World Daily.
The San Diego Zoo recently announced the first healthy clone of an endangered species, a Javan banteng. The clone is an early sign of success for the "frozen zoo" concept, where cells from endangered species are stored in hopes that cloned animals can be produced at a later time.
The process is still very inefficient, with 45 embryos and 30 cows required to give birth to a single banteng healthy enough to live past a few days. However, scientists at CRES are hoping that the process will provide greater genetic diversity to existing zoo populations.
If you do any collaborative programming, there's yet another reason to get a Mac with OS X. Hydra allows multiple users on a network (automatically detected by Rendezvous) to edit the same text file(s) in real time. The editor has lots of perks: syntax highlighting, spell checking, and functional bookmarks to name a few. The team is expecting to add scripting support in the near future. Oh, and its a free 600K download.
Wow! It must be the week of X Prize related announcements. The latest is from XCOR, which successfully tested their new XR-4K5 engine on Monday. It's just one stage in their plan to go suborbital and win the prize.
Whoo! Starchaser is going to unveil their manned capsule on Thursday. After some drop-and-retrieve tests, they're going to launch the one-man craft on their previously-tested NOVA II rocket, first unmanned and then with a test pilot. Cool stuff!
OK, the details I promised.
Karen and I decided a while back that we would do adventurous things for our decade birthdays (e.g. 30th, 40th) because it would give us something to look forward to rather than dread.
For Karen's, she flew a plane and spent a month [not week; sorry K!] on her own in Europe. For mine, it had to be Space Camp, because I've wanted to go for years. It's a one-week immersion into astronaut training, using real (if older) NASA procedures and equipment.
I'm going a few weeks after my birthday, from December 28th to January 2nd. For the Shuttle missions I'll be trained as a Mission Specialist, mostly because I don't have the coordination to fly the thing or handle that robot arm. A good solid tech, that's what they need. ;)
The whole thing sounds exciting, but I'm most intrigued by things like the buoyancy trainer tank, where I get to strap on SCUBA gear (first time ever) and work on space station components in a weightless-like environment. Kind of a poor-man's Vomit Comet, if you will.
I'm going to read up on Shuttle systems before I go, but otherwise there's not much to do but count the days until I'm 30. Come on, 30! Oh, and plan for what I'll do when I turn 40, or perhaps when I turn 50.
Looks like the Iraqi people aren't quite as joyous and welcoming as American forces had hoped. Be careful out there, guys.
Get it while you can, the USB network-enabled George Forman iGrill!