Press your spaceface close to mine

For Every Monster a Beautiful Face

Posted by Sunday on Apr 11, 2008 at 12:13 am

Back when my mom first started poking around the internet, she was understandably distraught by the overt lawlessness of it all. This was a time when email viruses made the evening news – remember that? Don’t open an email with a subject line that says “I love you”!!! Lightning will shoot from your monitor and destroy your child’s inheritance! At the time she had vague notions that the government might need to step in and control things.

Pshaw! I said, and described it thusly: the internet is like the Wild West; if you prefer things controlled, safe and predictable, stay in the established areas. If you are interested in independence, discovery and deviancy, then feel free to roam. Like the time of western expansion, these latter options are vital: those willing to take risks and explore new things are in fact forging a new lifestyle and future for the rest of the populace. People get hurt and porn pop-ups occur, but such is the price of sitting back and letting the maniacs win all the rest of us fun new things. My mom was agreeable to this idea and has since become a happy webizen. Not that she needed me to make this fairly weak analogy, but I think it might have 0i182644sz100.jpgaccelerated her acceptance: we’re a family that believes the bleeding edge must exist.

These days I find myself thinking of the internet as an organism. Clever, right? Shut up. Anyway, in my mind it has become a vibrantly pustular, fecund, pendulous, expansive, obese, tentacular creature, saturated with diseases, genetic mutation and facing a future unknown. Which means that I love it.

Lucky for me, I am not alone. Lucky for all of us, people like Romanian artist Alex Dragulescu like to make it visible (like the Trojan to the left there).

By entering a few parameters into a 3D rendering program, Dragulescu has produced organic-looking objects by which we may delight and entertain ourselves, much in the same way we once marveled so satisfactorily at the brutal shape of the HIV virus two decades ago.  After all, Grendel wasn’t a monster until he had a face.

What Does A Computer Virus Look Like? at

0 Posted in Visual, Weird Science

Donnie Darko, Is That You?

Posted by Sunday on Apr 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

The entire world including the C.H.U.D.s already know about this because it was on Boing Boing, but sometimes my mind gets a little blown and then I have to vent.

In summary: a man’s house in Bosnia has been hit by meteorites FIVE TIMES in the last six months. Unsurprisingly, the man suspects that aliens are pissed off at him. I myself would have a combo Job/paranoia reaction: Why are the aliens testing me? It doesn’t matter, I still love them. Unless it’s not aliens.

The thing is, most folks, like Boing Boing, categorize this under “That’s funny!” Mmm, yes, what kind of fool would think aliens would chuck carbonaceous chrondrite at him? Also, imagine that being said by someone with a monocle and a mustache. I do.

However: seriously? Five times? In six months? That is as close to impossible as I care to bother with, statistically. Which means that it is not random. Clearly there are further explanations, but each of these is as unproven as alien malevolence. Magnetic resonance? It only happens when it rains, which makes it even more bizarre – why would atmospheric precipitation affect the trajectories of space objects? That’s a trick question, since it wouldn’t. Unless we are looking at it entirely the wrong way – what if the objects aren’t coming from space? What if they are coming through a trans-dimensional wormhole that also triggers rainclouds? Eeee!

So anyway, welcome to my internal thought processes.

Man ‘targeted by aliens’ via Boing Boing

What’s better than being a scientist named Krzysztof Matyjaszewski? Being a scientist named Krzysztof Matyjaszewski who has invented a way to make nanoparticles “invisible”.  I’m uncertain as to the usage of the quotation marks over there, because they aren’t faking being invisible, they really are.  Visible to the naked eye, anyway.

Basically, nanomaterials are often whitish in color, or milky, due to the way they refract light.  By combining them with a polymer,  Matyjaszewski and pal Michael Bockstaller had produced a way to “grease” the light on through, as Matyjaszewski says.  And I can never argue with a scientist who says that photons can be greased up.

And while Bockstaller says the invisible materials have use in the “aerospace and cosmetics industry” I think what he means by this is UFOs and cyberpunk urban camouflage cloaks.  Or some kind of new and totally revolutionary Apple product that is packed to the gills with DRM and costs more than your mother’s hip surgery.

Secretive and teaser-y article here at Scientific Blogging.

0 Posted in Weird Science

I Vote “Astrobotic” Based On Name Only

Posted by Sunday on Feb 21, 2008 at 7:09 pm

The Lunar X PRIZE (hoping to do for lunar landings what the Ansari X PRIZE did for civilian orbital capability) has announced their official contenders. The teams now have until December 31, 2012 to win the whole $30 million purse – late-comers will then have a further two years to win a lesser amount.

for_dave.jpgI’m a big X PRIZE supporter (minus the spelling and all-caps) (and also, not actually monetarily, just spiritually) and I encourage you to at least respect their endeavor enough to read up about it. The Ansari X PRIZE triggered unexpected emotions for me; I expected to be excited, but I didn’t expect to weep and then get a tattoo of the SpaceShipOne, which is exactly what happened. Seeing Mike Melvill emerge from the tubby little hero of a spaceship broke something loose in my black, dessicated heart, and that something is still floating around in my eyeballs – truly, I couldn’t even resize this photo without getting weepy.

In all seriousness, I’m a pessimistic person. For me, scifi apocalypse stories are where I find solace, because, strangely, they offer the most hope; they at least have a chance of coming true. SpaceShipOne is as close as I get to feelin’ churchly, particularly because it was just a few earnest nerds deciding to make something happen for real. I have true awe for the little man and the underdog, and while many would argue that Paul Allen is as far from those two descriptors as a human can get, I prefer to focus on the designer Burt Rutan, for whom money was not the motivating factor. Rutan was a life-long devotee of aviation culture, a rogue aerospace engineer who often followed his gut rather than established norms. The knowledge that SpaceShipOne now hangs next to Chuck Yeager’s “Glamorous Glennis” in the National Air and Space Museum is enough to make me break into alarming sobs – these are the people that would risk their life for the black, the great vacuum sea, the siren call of an entire universe.

Are you with us?

Movie Review: The Invasion (2007)

Posted by Sunday on Feb 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Jack Finney’s classic novel The Body Snatchers is re-re-re-made in this science fiction thriller starring Nicole Kidman and the delightful Daniel Craig. Kidman plays the role of Carol Bennell, a psychiatrist on the run from emotionless drone-people seemingly infected with some kind of extraterrestrial virus after the crash of the space shuttle Patriot. Car chases ensue.

Spoilericious review after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

2 Posted in Movies, Weird Science