Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Doctor Who?

It's not been a good week for Doctor Who fans. John Hurt, the War Doctor (Also known to a lot of you as Mr. Ollivander) died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer.

And today, Peter Capaldi announced that the 2017 Christmas Special will be his last outing as the Doctor.

So...Who will be next?

Some thoughts I like:

Ben Whishaw definitely has the right kind of personality and talent. However, he's Q, and doesn't think he should do both, so would likely turn the role down.

Sacha Dhawan has come up - I don't know much about him, but from what little I've seen, he has a certain intensity that would be appropriate. He is also Desi, and anyone who knows me knows I've been quietly campaigning for a Desi companion. A Desi Doctor would be even better.

Emma Watson - I hadn't thought of her, but when it was mentioned, I looked again. She has the Doctor's eyes. She definitely has that...which was the thing which made me overlook Matt Smith being "too young." I think it's particularly important that the first female Doctor, when we get one, has that look of "the old soul" behind her eyes.

The bookies also like Richard Ayoade, a comic actor (which is a good qualification). I haven't seen him act, though. Eyes are good, though, and he would be the first black actor to play the role.

(I'm not diversity hounding here, there's another black name in the mix that I don't like at all).

The Doctor has to have something that convinces that somewhere under the regenerations and the physical changes the same soul looks out from those eyes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

And sometimes...

...you see a piece of science news so farfetched you just have to check it. And this time it's not cold fusion.

The phrase is "time crystals."

Which sounds like something the Doctor uses to control his TARDIS.

But time crystals - crystals who's lattices repeat in time rather than space - have now been made in three different labs, which is way ahead of cold fusion. They're similar to how qubits work in quantum computers. They can be made in different ways - meaning they're being classed as a new phase of matter.

And they break the laws of physics as we know them, because they break "time symmetry." This is matter that is not in equilibrium - that is to say it moves without energy. Whoah.

In fact, time crystals can't be time crystals without moving.

Practical use? Absolutely none...yet. (There's some possibility time crystals may be the RAM for a quantum computer).

But...well...breaking the laws of physics is something every scientist wants to do.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy New Year...

...Chinese New Year, that is. Welcome to the year of the rooster - now I'm hungry for chicken wings. Oops.

In any case, time to let off some fireworks.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Teth Star?

Saturn's moon Tethys looks even more like the infamous space station than we thought.

See? Where's Luke Skywalker when we need him. (The moon is, of course, just a ball of ice).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


...apparently most of the meteors hitting Earth right now come from a collision in the asteroid belt 466 million years ago.

Yup. It's 466 million year old shrapnel. And thus doesn't tell us as much about the composition of the solar system as we thought.

Ah well. That's science.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Synthetic DNA

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have created a bacterium with two extra synthetic base pairs, and it's "holding on" to them as it divides.

The implications of this are quite fascinating. There's no applications for this at all - but it's helped us learn something of how DNA works.

It's also proved in concept that DNA does not have to use the four base pairs our kind of life has settled on.

And it's proved in concept that DNA using multiple different kinds of base pairs could be combined to create a stable organism.

This means:

1. Life does not have to be based off of our base pairs.
2. Bacterium from an ecosystem based off of one set of base pairs could "take in" DNA from another. This means that cross-planetary disease/plague is possible. Viruses could even potentially do the same trick. Uh oh.
3. Hello, Mr. Spock. As in, it might be possible for a highly advanced civilization to genetically engineer stable, viable, healthy offspring from two (or more) sentient beings from different planets even if their DNA does not use the same base pairs...

In other words, fun for science fiction writers.

Monday, January 23, 2017

For my husband...

...new species of GIANT otter ;).


Sorry, he has a bit of a thing so I'm going to embarrass him about it in public again ;). (Otters are, of course, cute).

Friday, January 20, 2017

DC, What Are You Thinking?

No offense to The Rock, but who at DC is thinking a standalone Black Adam movie starring him is a good idea?

I mean, yes, Suicide Squad probably made them think villain-focused movies will sell, but really? Black Adam?


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Farewell, Gene Cernan

The last man to walk on the moon - so far - died this week at the age of 82. The era of Apollo is fading out, marked most noticeably by John Glenn's passing last year.

Is it time to go back to the moon? I'd argue - yes. The moon is far more interesting than just a giant rockball and there might well be real advantages to using it for science...and even tourism.

One reason: Helium 3. Apparently whatever happened to create the moon made it. Or it got most of earth's share. If we get fusion reactors, they'll need helium 3...


Let's work towards making Gene Cernan no longer the last man to walk on the moon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NASA TV Show In The Works

CBS has ordered the pilot for a show called "Mission Control," a drama set at...yes, Houston. The pilot episode was written by Andy Weir. This is not connected to a different canceled show called "Mission Control" - this one is apparently not a comedy, although if it's written by Weir I wouldn't expect it to be too serious.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


So, an Australian aquarium decided they already had enough zebra sharks and separated their female from her mate.

Four years later she decided that was long enough without babies...and made her own. Without stored sperm.

Parthenogenesis had not previously been observed in sharks...

Monday, January 16, 2017

SpaceX Back In The Game

The return to flight of the Falcon went textbook, with a perfect launch, correct insertion of the payload (two mobile relay satellites) and correct landing of the first stage.

I'm wondering what else the engineers tweaked while waiting to find out what the heck went wrong last year.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tabby's Star Mystery Solved?

The latest theory for the peculiar dimming of Tabby's Star is quite plausible - but sadly doesn't involve aliens.

The brightness changes might indicate that a large planet fell into the star recently - probably a gas giant and its associated moons.

Which is not nearly as much fun as a Dyson's Sphere, but interesting to study.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Plan(et) 9 From Outer Space?

Scientists have done the math - and there's an intriguing possibility. The theorized (based off of disturbed objects) large planet in the far outreaches of the solar system may be a rogue planet.

The orbits allow for it - but don't require it. Common sense suggests that it would be strange for a planet to drift that far out during system formation or for such a large object to have the more elliptical object theorized.

First we have to find the thing, though...and prove that this time (unlike every other time it's been theorized) it really exists...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Star Wars gibbons?

Scientists have identified a new species of gibbon - and are naming it the Skywalker gibbon after Luke.

Personally, I think they should have named it after Leia under the circumstances, but Hamill is still rather chuffed.

Or maybe they should be named after ewoks...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Space X Return To Flight Delayed...

...because it's raining in California. Which is a good thing - they need the rain - but not so good for rocket launches.

This launch needs to go well for SpaceX after the fuel tank explosion that occurred during their last attempt, destroying valuable payload and damaging the company's reputation.

The launch has now been scheduled for 9:54am PST on January 14.

Monday, January 9, 2017

"New" Star in 2022?

If scientists are correct two binary stars will collide in 2022 - producing a new star bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

If right, it will be the first time we've been able to predict such an event - and quite fun for stargazers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

August 21, 2017...

...there will be a total solar eclipse across a band of the United States.

This site gives the path, details for specific areas, and should help you find the best place for viewing.

Personally, I hope it's a good omen for a better year. But it's at least a chance to see something cool.

For those of you who did not plan to be in Europe that day. (I think I may be eclipse-jinxed).

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Space X Explosion Mystery Solved

...and it turned out to be a rather complex thing.

Liquid oxygen somehow got into the wrapping of the helium tank. Snap. Boom.

They are planning return to flight soon, so presumably they've patched the leak.

Side note: 4 star review on Call To Arms: Horses and Mules

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sisterhood Of The Blade - Funded!

So, the kickstarter for Sisterhood of the Blade hit its goal this morning! (You can still pledge, we have a few limited hardcovers left, and our first stretch goal is at $5,500 for a story by Andrew Lucas)

This means the anthology, edited by Hal Greenburg and Jonathan M. Thompson will be going ahead. We're anticipating a publication date of next October (so be patient, although I believe add-ons will be going out right away).

It's going to be an amazing anthology with some kick ass writers. Now to start working on my story.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Call To Arms: Horses And Mules

Aww. Look at those horse faces.

This is a little project I've been working on for Fat Goblin Games for some time now. It's for the Pathfinder system and contains:

Improved rules for overland travel by horse.
Roleplaying tips for playing horses, mules and other equines as characters rather than just transport.
New horse-like monsters (and existing ones collected in one place).
New feats for horses and mounts.
The Hussar Cavalier variant class.
New horse and mule types.

It's intended for campaigns that have a lot of overland travel, players who enjoy the Cavalier, Paladin and mount-oriented classes, and for simulationist GMs. (Might also be handy as a basic guide for writers).

You can get your copy from RPGNow for the introductory price of $5.95.