Thursday, August 21, 2014

Seriously?

Cosmonauts cleaning the ISS's windows and sensors claim to have found sea plankton.

On the outside.

On the freaking OUTSIDE.

NASA is remaining mum on the subject and says it's not confirmed and I'm only seeing it in UK sources, but if so...the question is not so much how it survived (tardigrades can survive in vacuum for days) as how the heck it got there.

And if this is real, then it's one piece of evidence for biological contamination between and beyond planets.

Or it's all a hoax. No way of knowing yet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Am...

...feeling the need for a bit of extra cute this morning (Don't worry, nothing's wrong, I just want cute).

So, how about some baby snow leopards?

Or just go hang out on Zooborns for a bit, on which the current star is baby cranes trying to dance.

Now I need to go do a bunch of writing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I've Talked About...

...the undersea power line from Iceland to Scotland before.

DanTysk is building a 99 mile submarine transmission cable to connect a wind farm off of Germany with the land. It's being put together by an Italian cablemaker, the Prysmian Group.

The lines will transmit DC electricity (which loses less over long distances than AC).

Other projects include Western Link, which will bring renewable energy from Scotland to England. Canada is building one to move hydroelectric power from Labrador to Nova Scotia.

As for the Icelandic link? Here's something as of last October.

Except for oil for transportation, all of Iceland's power comes from sustainable sources - and as electric cars improve in range, that might change. (They're also using geothermal electricity to create methanol from water).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tech News!

SpaceX has released a video of the booster splashdown from July 14. Reusable rockets are one step closer. Follow the link here.

The Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in math has been won by a woman for the first time - Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University. She earned the medal for some highly theoretical stuff connected to the "symmetry of curved surfaces." (Like most pure mathematicians, she apparently finds this kind of thing fun).

And for more fun along the same lines. Electrons and lasers, oh my - link here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Updates!

Forgot to mention - I got my contributors' copy of Thirst. It's a rather interesting looking book - looks like a comic on the outside, prose on the inside. (It's basically the same print format as pamphlet comics - I haven't seen that before, but it's ideal for the size).

Other than that, been working on stuff I can't talk about again. Always fun - by some definitions of fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams

Night at the Museum.  Bicentennial Man. Good Will Hunting. Hook. Dead Poets Society. Good Morning, Vietnam. Mork & Mindy. The list goes on.

Robin Williams was a very funny man...but also a very sad one. He suffered from bipolar disorder - a mental health condition that is characterized by periods of high mood and activity and deep depression. And on August 11, during a particularly bad bout with the latter, he took his own life.

The reaction from his fans was despair and grief. But that's not the only reaction I saw.

Zelda Williams was driven off of social media by "trolls" who decided to blame her for her father's death.

And on social media I actually saw an individual, who shall remain nameless, forward a Youtube video about why Robin Williams is in hell now.

Celebrity suicides happen. It's a high pressure business and sometimes people are driven over the edge even without an underlying condition. In this case, Williams died, essentially, of bipolar disorder.

But I have never seen this level of hate aimed at the person...and worse, their family. What is wrong with us?

What kind of person reacts to somebody's death like that? I don't know...but I'm more saddened by these reactions than the initial tragedy. Some days I honestly just don't want to admit to being the same species as some so-called human beings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hemp, hemp, hemp.

No, I'm not going to talk about our old friend Mary Jane - although she's going to become relevant.

The war against drugs has led to the growing of all forms of hemp being banned, even though hemp is actually a very useful fibre used in textiles and building materials in more sensible parts of the world.

The 2014 farm bill does include a provision for "industrial hemp" to be grown solely by universities and agricultural departments for experimental purposes. A lot of people - especially artists who would like to get their hands on hemp fibres - think the ban is stupid. Industrial hemp does not have enough THC in it for anyone to get high off of. Some varieties have none at all.

Industrial hemp has another downside, though. The inner bark is useless...

...until now.

Researchers in the UK have built supercapacitors out of the stuff - a kind of battery that could ultimately power electric cars and tools far more cheaply than the expensive graphene currently being used for the task. (The same team also made a battery out of...banana peels).

So, how about it. No matter how you feel about marijuana, banning industrial hemp is just stupid...and here's another reason to stop being so short-sighted.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28770876