Geek Appeal

Link here.

So many science fiction scenarios talk about asteroids hurtling toward Earth. They’re about struggling with an imminent catastrophe – Armageddon comes to mind.

Recently scientists recovered the first bits of an asteroid that was detected in space in the Sudan desert. A few fragments recovered only a portion of the car-sized asteroid. They were taken by surprise but are making the most of it by trying to analyze the pieces to identify more asteroids by their type.

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More about the Sun? Think we’ll find another Earth?

Through a Swedish Solar Telescope, they’re learning more about the sun. Hannes Alfven won the Nobel prize in 1942 for theorizing about waves that he couldn’t prove existed. Recently, scientists have figured out how to explain the waves that make the surface of the sun near 5,000 degrees, yet the photosphere is near 1,000,000 degrees.

It’s hoped to learn more about the Sun to figure out how other stars work and how they affect planets like Earth.

Even with this new information, they’re not thinking it’ll be easy to find another Earth-like planet out there with an Earth-like orbit. In 2013, they’re launching a new telescope that might help.

“The study also considered planets orbiting red dwarf stars. Such stars, called type M, are the most abundant in the Milky Way – far more common than yellow, type G stars like the Sun. They are also cooler and dimmer than the Sun, as well as smaller, which makes finding an Earth-like planet transiting an M star easier.”

This part reminds me of Star Trek – M class planets anyone? Sometimes science fiction has a basis in science. I think it’ll be interesting to find planets by the signatures of their atmospheres by colors with the new telescope. Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they find.

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Even though it’s no longer considered a planet, Pluto still captures my imagination.

You wouldn’t think so, perhaps, because I hate the cold. It’s estimated Pluto’s surface is -220 degrees Celsius. (Only 53 degrees colder and all movement stops – the literal ‘frozen solid.’)Yet scientists wonder why it’s so warm. Warm? Really? I don’t think it’s a joke. The methane in the atmosphere apparently makes it ‘warm.’

I’m fascinated that the atmosphere freezes when it’s farther out and becomes gaseous again when it returns to the sun. Now that’s harsh conditions and makes my mind wander in so many directions. I wouldn’t live long enough to see a full cycle if I lived there, though. Pluto’s orbit takes 248 years.

Read more about it here.

Another cool thing about Pluto is sometimes it’s closer to us than Neptune. I’ll just have to keep tabs on it when the news comes in. It must be able to turn enough corners in my mind to make a story out of there somewhere. Though, what creature in my mind breathes methane, carbon dioxide, or nitrogen… Oh, wait, I have one!

My critters are awesome! One day I’ll share them with the rest of the world, hopefully in novel form.

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Good news for doodlers everywhere! Ever been stuck somewhere, like a lecture or on the phone with an especially long-winded person, and began to doodle on a sheet of paper? A new study suggests those doodlers may actually remember more than those of us who drift off to daydream.

Read more here.

No hope for me, I’m afraid. I’m a serial story-dreamer. It takes effort to concentrate, and sometimes I lose the battle – as evidenced by a few of my lecture notebooks in college.

And a word for Twitter, which I recently joined: Secret Confessions?

They say they don’t even track your IP address, so you can let out your secrets to the world with complete anonymity. What is it about secrets that we feel we need to tell them to the world, just so long as our names aren’t attached?

So many people have much more bravery when they’re unknown, but when the time comes to take responsibility, everyone disappears. It’s interesting that we need such outlets – or maybe just that we think we need them.

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Read more here.

The interesting part of science is the advances they make to try to fix things. What they’re discovering in this article looks like a way to silence genes to promote health. The part that amuses me is where they’re going to make pills to target the parts they want to improve.

Science fact is catching up with science fiction. Star Trek had plenty of little pills or shots to cure what ails – and society does seem to be craving easy solutions to every problem. (Funny, everyone wants to take the easy fix with just a pill, rather than the hard work for actually changing behavior, yet when doctors prescribe medications, they sometimes have trouble getting those same patients to take those doses needed to cure – which leads to some bacteria with strains that are immune to the medicine… but back to the subject.)

I’m waiting for the day when there’s a pill for everything, and we look the other way to get our own solutions. If they do learn to silence the bad genes properl, we could really help a lot of people – but what if by helping them we lose some of the things about our own individuality? We struggle so much, but sometimes that’s what makes us into who we are. On the other hand, it might be nice to take the easy path once in awhile. Medical malpractice might get out of hand, though – “I was looking for the little green pill to help my meory loss, but they gave me the littleĀ  dark green pill and now I have no recollection of anything, except that pretty pill…”

Might have to use that in a story, sometime.

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They’re wonderful tools in fiction, but the scientists are doing their best to catch up to the writers’ imaginations. I find it amazing they’ve figured out how to make the robot respond with seeming empathy to stimuli.

Of course they have a bit to go for looks. Their current picture looks like a lego guy with Einstein’s face attached. Definitely an oddity.

Scientists aren’t always known for their aesthetic values, though. They’re the ‘function’ lot. When they let the fashion gurus in, the clashes begin because the process of prettying up the prototype often involves difficult changes to the functional part of the machine.

Bugs the heck out of engineers to figure out how to make things work once that new design has that polished look. There is no end to the work!

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A new quantum internet? This article, while quite technical, talks about things like teleportation as a reality, not science fiction.

It gets the brain wondering how close we are to some of those Star Trek ideas that seem so far off. It’s all about ‘beaming’ the information from one place to another and I find it fascinating.

If we’re able to get our information from one place to another faster and with great accuracy, it shows we can make great strides for the future. I’m sure there will be more applications for this as time goes by. It only depends on our creativity.

Read about it here.

I hope the next thing they pull from the silver screen science fiction is replicators. It would save so much cooking time!

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New ceramic material that might change a lot of things since it’s tough and durable. Based off actual shells (think mother-of-pearl).

New advances that are tougher than most people generally think of ceramics and nearly as light as aircraft-grade aluminum alloys. That’s amazing. Unfortunately, the drawback is it doesn’t do extreme temperatures.

Nature did it first. I bet their patent’s expired by now, though.