July 29, 2015

Meanwhile, In Outer Space

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us news from the International Space Station, where...


OK. She seems busy at the moment.

While we wait for them to get things situated, here are some more links referencing this story.  

Note that they mean the outside of the windows...on the Space Station.

It seems that the organisms are terrestrial marine plankton. though how they got up there is unclear. My initial guess would be cross contamination from 0-G plankton experiments, but the C-Net article suggests air currents or the possibility that the plankton originated from Florida where much of the station was launched from (though that would mean the plankton had survived a rather long time).

Of course all of this is dancing around the fact that there is living greenery on the outside of the space station and we all KNOW what that means

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July 28, 2015

Exactly What it Says on the Tin

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Improbability Drive?

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes explains to us this news of researchers independently confirming the viability of the EM Drive,  a revolutionary propellant-less drive...

Here is a news article on the discovery which is cause for skepticism as it seems to a few things wrong in the title. For instance this (whatever it is...IF it is) is certainly not a rocket....and the moon in four hours seems HIGHLY unlikely given that the thing is giving thrust like an arc jet or ion thruster.

Here is a post with lots of links to papers and articles that indicate that this device (and other similar widgets) certainly appear to be producing tiny amounts of thrust. 


This is still interesting however, as the engine requires no reaction mass so if it really works it could keep accelerating as long as it has power, which given a nuclear power-plant could be for an awfully long time. A notational 950 day Saturn mission with 180 day stays at both Titan and Enceladus is included to give some idea of what that means.Even tiny acceleration adds up over time and this device is estimated to have seven times the thrust per kilowat of a hall thruster...without the need for propellant.  

The problem is that no one seems to have any idea how it works. The inventors claims to but their theories are based on...not physics.

This could be big, It could be a breakthrough. It could be bunk.
Time will tell, but this story is certainly tantalizing.

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July 27, 2015

We Sincerely Hope

...that the fact that the last transmission from Don was on the 22nd and concerned an approaching tornado is merely indicative of a vibrant and rewarding social life. 

May everything on his end be going well. 

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Wait...Is This A Game?

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July 26, 2015

"Have You Ever Seen The Blue Sky?"

This is a disturbing hour and a half that went viral and gained two hundred million views in less than a week before being banned by the Chinese Government.

It even attracted praise from the newly-installed environment minister, Chen Jining, for its contribution to the national debate on public health – but that was before it was abruptly scrubbed from the internet on Friday, ordered offline by the Communist Party's central propaganda department.

The segment that begins around 1:00 is disturbing in an entirely different way..as it highlights just how precarious the Chinese industrial economy actually is. 

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July 25, 2015


Those weren't accessorized ears.
It was just a damned HAT!

From episode 4 of GATE!, which,  in a completely unexpected development, manages to work in an onsen scene. This, however, is not one of THOSE shows as this remarkably non-gratuitous interlude makes clear. This brief scene moved the plot forward in a number of ways, provided significant character development and remained Comics Code Compliant throughout. The above scene of Leili (left) and Mercury (Right) washing the orphan's hair is as risque as it got. 

After the events of last episode, 2nd Lt Itami took his recon force and the refugees back to the main Japanese base much to the dismay of his immediate superiors who are appalled that he has brought all these orphans for them to take care of. The general in charge of the operation however, is impressed both with Itami's initiative and humanity and puts our hero's unit in charge of getting the refugees situated.  

...and our hero in charge of filling out the requisite paperwork tsunami.

The aforementioned bathouse scene is actually part of a montage of the refugees (and Mercury who is examining the Japanese of her own volition) reacting to such wonders as backhoes, prefab housing, field kitchens, and canned food....

Along the way, we do learn that Leili has a knack for languages. She can speak Elvish and is picking up Japanese very quickly...rather more quickly than the Japanese are picking up the local tongue. She is exceedingly smart as befits a mage and we learn a little about her past. It seems Leili grew up amongst nomads before she arrived in the imperial village, so this is not her first experience with a huge technological and cultural shock. 

 Or learning to use new kit.

Chika, the Elf, is still traumatized by the recent loss of her entire town, which, even amongst the elves was a somewhat insular tribe with an obscure dialect.  She is in mourning for her father and seems to be taking double rations to make offerings to his memory. Having lost everything she owns she is also concerned that she and the other female refugees will be forced to sell themselves in order to repay the kindness they have received...or, barring that, simply to survive in the world.

Meanwhile, Itami is tasked with taking his unit to reconnoiter a nearby town called Italica, but that won't happen 'till next week. 

No action to speak of, and our heroes didn't go anywhere, but this episode moved the story forward quite a bit.

This remains a very entertaining and intelligent show. it is just full of win right now, you should definitely be watching it. 

UPDATE: There is an extensive discussion of this episode regarding combat engineering over at Chizumatic.

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July 24, 2015

Gentle Readers

...I urge you to watch this.

I do so mostly because I am a very bad man, but also because watching this will kill sufficient brain cells that it might distract one from any pain one might be experiencing.

Warning: May also cause psoriasis. 

Via Moe Lane, who's write up, while technically accurate, did not prepare me for the epic dreadfulness of this thing. 

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July 22, 2015

Double Shifts Plus

I'm pulling near Christmas hours at work this week.

As compensation for the resulting light posting, here is a piece by Jumpei99.

Of course, I find myself wondering why there are no fairy-sized doors anywhere in this cityscape.

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July 20, 2015

46 Years Ago

A quarter of those who walked on the Moon have already passed

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Gatchaman Crowds :INSIGHT

Gatchaman Crowds was a strange but enjoyable series from two years ago. Perky quirky and completely unpredictable, it ended up being well above average through sheer charm and cleverness. The show closed with a definite hook for a sequel, and this summer, that much anticipated sequel is here!

Gatchaman Crowds: INSIGHT continues the franchises habit of surprising its audience by producing a perfunctory painting by numbers pastiche of periphrastic prattle.

Actually of all those "P" words the most applicable one is probably likely perfunctory.

We are introduced to two new characters one of which seems to be an audience surrogate (there was nothing like that before as the cast was just so....odd)

It is possible that this jumbled mess is going to coalesce into something entertaining, but this was such a muddled, talky episode that confidence is not high. The pilot just gave the impression of trying to emulate the series by being weird...but to no purpose other than to fill a time slot. There are actually two more episodes available, but I'm going to take a break for now.

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July 19, 2015

Something Retro and Japanese

Here is Yamada 2, a Japanese blimp from 1911.

Don has discovered something else in this ridiculously broad category...proto J-Pop.

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This is REALLY Getting My Hopes Up

Shamelessly nicked from J.Greely

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One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to a report about lava loving hammerheads.

"Can we get LASERS for them?"

In order to study the volcano, Phillips’ team used robots and cameras. While the volcano was not erupting, the images are blurred by orange plumes and bubbles. Carolyn Barnwell, writing for National Geographic, said that in the video "carbon dioxide and methane gas bubbles” can be seen rising from seafloor vents, and that the color of the water was "due to reduced iron and sulfur.”

Phillips and his team were shocked to find both hammerhead and silky sharks, in addition to stingrays and smaller fish, swimming around inside the volcano 

Presumably,  the sharks leave when the caldera fills with lava so this is not actually a Sci-Fi channel movie made real. OTOH it is hoped that this might lead to an eruption prediction system.

Of course, if the sharks preternatural predictive ability amounts to "Hmmm...getting a bit hot here...Let's leave." Then the potential implications are less exciting. 

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