Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's Origin and Purpose is Still a Mystery

I've linked to this in the past, but it is worth linking again since it came up in my feeds: A massive look at 2001: A Space Odyssey (including the script) at Cinephile.

Deep in the Red

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes a familiar telescopic sight (Messier 20, The Trifid Nebula) and pushes our view into the infrared. There's a lot more out there than our naked eye can see!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Only Occasionally the Dark Side

There really is no dark side of the Moon. At least, not all the time. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the lunar farside, of which we can only see glimpses as the Moon "nods" in orbit around us. Another image from the hard-working (and mostly forgotten by us) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows expanding shells of gas around young stars in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. Oh, for a sight of those southern skies on a dark isolated island in the Pacific!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a elusive (for my skies) object in the nebula found in and around Orion: The Horsehead Nebula.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Foxes Have Dens and Birds Have Nests

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 2264, a diffuse nebula in the constellation of Monoceros. The area is popularly known as the Fox Fur, Unicorn and Christmas Tree Nebula.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Weight of the Nation

You ever notice how the "kit" carried by a soldier never seems to shrink?

Newer Waves

An interesting article on Stanislaw Lem and, by extension, the "New Wave". Do certain segments of Genre embrace the New Wave as wrongly as other segments of Genre are accused of embracing the Golden Age? Perhaps both sides need to look beyond these "singularity points" in our reading?

And in other news, a bit from one film version of Solaris. Bruegel, Tarkovsky, Bach.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quality Issues

A shrinking budget, an aging and shrinking workforce, management issues and inattention probably aren't a good things when your product is a launch vehicle.

First Mission

The first crewed mission for NASA's Orion sounds interesting and finally gets us away from Low Earth Orbit, but why does it always seem to me that the planned date keeps creeping into the future?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016


A sketch (colored magic marker?) by Robert McCall of a lunar colony. I recall a bunch of these appearing in a magazine (newspaper Sunday supplement?) in the 1970's.


David Hardy takes us to Enceladus. A plume in the foreground, Saturn dominates the sky.


Michael Carroll depicts the Galileo orbiter on approach to Jupiter, passing the small "potato moon" of Amalthea.

Return Journey

Artwork by Pat Rawlings showing private and government space stations in orbit around the Moon and a Earth-bound shuttle heading home.

Entry Interface

Uncredited art from 1968 showing the Apollo Command Module re-entering the atomosphere.

Dream Mighty Things

The SLS, Blue Glenn and now the ever-growing SpaceX family.

What's Up in the Solar System?

What's up in the solar system in terms of robotic exploration for October? (More than a few days behind in my posting, like much of my life right now.)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Quest for the Homeworld

An article talking about E.C. Tubb and his most famous series: Dumarest of Terra. Stretching well over thirty (relatively thin) books, short on character, long on fantastic ideas, the series contributed to GDW's SF-RPG Traveller.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Durable Good

Here is a venerable ("old ass" give me a break) Commodore 64 that has been in use for over twenty-five years.

Now that is a durable good (says the man who still has a slide rule collection).

Wait! No dust cover on the keyboard? What?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Oblique Tools

Can a tool for musicians be of use to a critic of food? Apparently, yes.

Also worth reading for the description of what happens in a restaurant when the critic is recognized.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hide and Seek

We watched as it landed. We watched as it tried to explore. We waited and listened when contact was lost. Now, as the ESA Rosetta comet probe reaches the end of mission (and will itself terminate on the same body), comet lander Philae has been located on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.


What's this? Oh, nothing. Just the sounds of aurora from another planet.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016


So what's happening in the solar system this month? Emily Lakdawalla brings us the news. One mission to end after a success, but 19 still active!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Forgotten Voyager of a Sideshow

Way back when, we were going back to the Moon. And then not. And then yes. And then no. And so on.

Luckily, on one of the up cycles, we launched several probes to enhance our knowledge of our neighbor, in preparation for one of those (cancelled) plans to return. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the cornerstone of the latest series of probes is still going and has had its mission extended.

So, what next. LRO? Here's a list of targets and why they are the cornerstone of this mission extension.

Maybe someday we'll return to the Moon. Maybe some day we'll realize we can afford a lot more missions than we currently have (maybe we'll reduce spending in other areas?). If so, the LRO and others will have helped to pave the way back.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This Is Me, Jack Vance

Happy birthday to one of my favorite authors, Jack Vance. Yes, you can see the chips of wood pulp throughout his writing, but very few write with his eye towards character interplay, odd costumes and customs, plots of vengeance, humor, mystery and more.

(Go look for the story of the houseboat project between Jack Vance, Poul Anderson and Frank Herbert.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vinyl Echoes

Once upon a time we listened to our audiobooks on LP records. Which means they were very abridged (well, no, they were just a few excerpts). Turning up on the internet is Arthur C. Clarke reading from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Side 01 here. Side 02 here.


A short film about the restoration of the model used for filming the U.S.S. Enterprise in the original Star Trek series. I saw this model twice in it's pre-restoration life and would love to see what it looks like now.

Friday, August 12, 2016


What, two physics-related posts in one day?

Ever wonder what a typical science-oriented government agency keeps around in terms of equipment? Now you can know, down to the Jazz drives. Yes, Jazz Drives.

Fred and Jeff and John...

...are the Three Hoarsemen.

Once upon a time, our fellow member of SF Signal was so busy that he could not work on the SF Signal Podcast. I mean, poor Patrick was working like 40 hours of overtime on top of 40 hours of work.

So, we volunteered to do a fill-in episode. Then a second. Then we launched as a separate episode at SF Signal.

Then around episode thirty-five, the retirement of the site as a ongoing project was announced.

But, wait! There's more! We're now on The Incomparable Network, which grew from just The Incomparable (a show I started listening to around the original posting of their episode eight).

We live. WE LIVE...

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

It appears that we've broken physics. Gosh dang it people, I told you to put physics further back on the shelf, so it wouldn't fall over!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

From Seven to Seventeen

Apollo 7 to Apollo 17, a montage of photographs taken during the lunar-oriented missions (wish they would expand to include Skylab and ASTP!). Fifteen minutes of awesome.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Meanwhile, In the Solar System

Hey, it's August. What's up for robotic explorers this month?

Clarke's Craft

With the publication of the Alastair Reynolds–Stephen Baxter collaboration of The Medusa Chronicles, itself an expansion of a story by Arthur C. Clarke, co-author Baxter looks at the spacecraft of Arthur C. Clarke.

As a side note, David S.F. Portree has recently done a multi-part article on the craft of 2001 which is worth a look: Could the Space Voyages in the Film and Novel 2001: A Space Odyssey Really Happen? Part 01 here. Part 02 here. Part 03 here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

COINing Games

A profile of CIA analyst and game designer Volko Ruhnke, who has been sparking something of a revival (at least from my limited perspective) in gaming that combines history, politics, warfare and more.

The US military (especially the Army) has the unfortunate habit of forgetting lessons learned, figuring whatever happened won't happen again. I think games like these (plus books, movies and more) help to preserve those lessons. If distributed widely enough, maybe we'll start learning not to forget?