Friday, October 21, 2016


It is looking pretty conclusive that Europe's Schiaparelli probe crashed into the surface of Mars at high speed and was destroyed.

Fortunately, this is not the bad news it might be - the probe's primary mission was to test descent technology for a larger planned spacecraft - and they got a lot of good data before it mysteriously broke radio contact and plummeted. The probe was not carrying a lot of instrumentation.

In other words, engineering continues as normal with the destruction of prototypes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Not Unique...

...humans, that is. Turns out capuchin monkeys make very basic stone tools, called stone flakes, using the same techniques as early hominids.

Or maybe they're catching us up, although I'd be more worried if we caught the crows doing it...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

CO2 to ethanol?

It could be cold fusion and I'm going to be skeptical until somebody duplicates it - but researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee appear to have found a way to turn straight up carbon dioxide into ethanol. It involves nanospikes of carbon and copper on a silicon surface. And it supposedly works at room temperature.

See why I'm worried it's cold fusion? It's awesome if it is actually true, but the skeptic in me has doubts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Artificial eggs

Scientists have managed to turn adult stem cells from mice into egg cells - which if it can be translated into humans might create a new fertility treatment for women who produce low quality eggs.

It might also allow for children created from two male parents without the need of a female donor to provide an egg.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Robot Sweat?

Turns out one of the most efficient ways to cool a robot is - to have it sweat.

It is more effective than air cooling and much, much lighter than fans and the other devices we use to cool our computers. Robots overheating is a very real concern.

Of course, a robot that sweats is also a robot that drinks...

Friday, October 14, 2016


I just got my electronic contributors' copy of "Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures," an anthology being produced by Mad Scientist Journal.

The anthology, which contains my story "Old Country Wolf," will be released on October 31 in paperback and multiple e-book versions.

Edited by Dawn Vogel and Jeremy Zimmerman, it also contains tales by Laura Duerr, Amelia Fisher and J.C. Stearns. And a bunch of others. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the stories myself.

I'll post buy links, etc, once they're up ;).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Expanding the definition of Literature

In a radical - and somewhat polarizing choice - the Nobel prize committee announced this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Bob Dylan.

Yes, you heard that right. The songwriter, known for his powerful lyrics and for being the definitive singer of the 60's protest movement. (In The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey has a character practice "Dylanizing" - which is the art of using music and lyrics to alter people's moods and actions) is now a Nobel laureate.

The official grounds for the award: "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

This is the first time the prize has been given to a songwriter - expanding the definition of literature for sure.