Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Live and Let...

The classic Bond actor Roger Moore has died at the age of 89.

Moore starred in seven Bond movies (more than any other actor). In his home country, he was almost as well known for his role as Simon Templar in The Saint - it was undoubtedly this role that brought him to the attention of the Bond franchise in the first place.

Moore had semi-retired from acting, with only a few, mostly voice, appearances in the last decade. He spent the latter part of his career hosting documentaries and doing work for UNICEF.

Connery made the best Bond movies, but I have to admit that if you say "James Bond" to me it's probably always going to be Roger Moore's face that pops into view.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nebula Winners

Here are the Nebula winners.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/20/15653006/nebula-awards-2016-winners-science-fiction-fantasy-charlie-jane-anders

Going to say - I wouldn't have picked All The Birds In The Sky, but I just, plain, don't like that book.

Haven't read any of the shorter works, although some are on the pile.

Getting more and more annoyed about not having had time to catch Arrival in theaters.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Updates...

I don't have a huge amount in the way of updates, but I'm trying to get in the habit of giving them.

Right now, I'm doing the preliminary work for a short story to be included in a new anthology from Battlefield Press. There will be a Kickstarter later in the year - I'll keep people posted. It's military science fiction and should be a lot of fun.

I've also started some research for Lost Guardians #3.

Got a couple of other projects that I can't talk about just yet. Oh, and the Hugo package dropped a ton of reading on my desk.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Changing Our Environment

We hear a lot about how humans keep changing the environment in bad ways - but it turns out we may have accidentally done something quite useful.

VLF radio communications are used to keep touch with submarines underwater. Not something most of us think about in our day to day lives.

The reason this form of radio is used to talk to subs is that it's very powerful - and thus can punch through layers of insulating seawater. The side effect is that it also goes a good way out into the atmosphere.

And NASA has now discovered that this is creating a VLF "bubble" around the planet, pushing the Van Allen belts higher. If you don't know, the Van Allen radiation belt protects Earth's atmosphere from cosmic ways and such. The bubble is preventing the charged particles of the Van Allen belt from dipping lower.

So, how is this useful?

It could also keep other charged particles from reaching the planet's surface. Like those from solar flares. In other words, we could have, completely by accident, stumbled on a way to make sure a major solar flare does not take out power for millions for possibly months.

And here's another intriguing thought.

One of the big issues with a space elevator is the damage to passengers that might be caused by an extended traverse through the Van Allen belts.

But if VLF keeps out those kinds of charged particles, a sheath around the tether or a bubble around the climber could be used to protect passengers and fragile cargo...solving one of the major engineering problems of the endeavor.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3-D printed...

...ovaries?

The idea is an artificial scaffold that supports the development of ovarian follicles, and it's worked in mice.

In human women, the idea would be to remove ovarian cells before, for example, cancer treatment, and then implant the "bioprosthetic" ovaries afterwards. The advantage over freezing eggs - it's possible for normal conception to occur.

In the long term, the ovarian cells could be developed from the person's own stem cells - allowing for normal pregnancy and childbirth in women born without ovaries, possibly including some intersex individuals (AIS comes to mind)...and trans women. (Combine this with a uterine transplant, if we could work out how to create ovarian cells from somatic stem cells, then...)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Is Proxima B habitable?

It's in the habitable zone - and simulations indicate it could have liquid water on the surface. However, it's a guess - we don't know for sure. We need to improve imaging greatly.

Or, you know, send an interstellar probe, but that won't call back for years if not decades.

Even if we could walk the surface of Proxima B, it would be a highly alien landscape. Because it receives less light in our visual range and more in the near-infrared - and almost none in the UV - plants would have to be very different. They would have to draw energy from the red light more and the UV less. And with less light energy in general, it is entirely possible that the plants on Proxima B would have to be black or perhaps dark gray - can anyone give me a better guess?

Oh, and it's tidally locked...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Thoughts on GotG Vol. 2

Avoided the opening weekend rush only to go see it on Mother's Day. (Because I'm that busy ;)).

Both the people who said it was worse than the original and the people who said it was better? Wrong.

I'd put it at about the same level. No danceoffs, but Pac-Man made up for it. (I will say no more). Mantis was adorable, although not nearly as adorable as Baby Groot.

(I am Groot).

And I actually think the animation on Rocket was even better than in the first movie. Probably practice.

As usual with this kind of movie, don't expect any real science. But quite a few laughs and plenty of explosions. Mostly of things the team were standing on at the time.