science

Comic Issues #197 – Rocket to the Comet

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Comic Issues #197 – Rocket to the Comet

Surely you already know that humans, the second greatest species on Earth, has landed a probe on the comet, Rosetta.  I’m sure it’s the talk about the town and the only thing people are talking about… wait, who’s fat ass did what now?  Well Anthony and Elizabeth are excited at this amazing technological event and this week the two get nerdy over Philae and dread the oncoming of the “Big One” that’ll destroy the West Coast.

Also this week we read Avengers / X-Men: AXIS #5, All-New Captain America #1, Superior Iron Man #1, and the greatest comic you’ll read all month (may year), Rocket Raccon #5.  Join in on the fun and find out why these were our favorite comics of last week.

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ESA Space Telescopes Are Go for May 14 Blast-Off

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ESA Space Telescopes Are Go for May 14 Blast-Off
Herschel and Planck

Herschel and Planck

Europe’s entry into the space telescope market, Herschel and Planck (catchy names don’t you think?) is set to be blasted into the the dark void on Thursday 14th  May. The Ariane 5 rocket carrying the precious cargo was given the green light by Kourou spaceport in French Guiana after some doubt as to it’s condition. The two telescopes are being sent to the second Lagrange point (L2) , a one of five gravitional ‘sweet spots’ worked out in the 18/19th century, which is approximately 1.5 million km from Earth on the opposite side to the Sun, where the telescopes can maintain a realtively stable position in the ‘dark spot’ with few orbital corrections due to the unique gravitational properties of the position.

Herschel, the bigger of the two brothers, at 7.5m in height is designed to monitor far-infrared and sub-millimetre waves allowing astronomers to investigate how stars and galaxies form and their evolution. Planck, the smaller but no less important sibling, will conduct a survey the Cosmic Microwave Background which is a “fossil light” that flows through the entire Universe and is detectible at radio wavelengths allowing investigation into how the cosmos came into being and what created its current form. The L2 position allows the extremely sensitive and complex electrics and mechanics in the two telescopes to avoid the temperature swings experienced in close orbit to Earth created by the emergence into and out of shadow. Both telescopes require a temperature as close to absolute zero (0K, -273C) as possible for efficiency due to the properties of the detectors used to analyse the exotic wavelengths.

Hit the read link for more on the ESA venture to discover the history of the Universe and how celestial bodies are formed and evolve.

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Skynet Moves Ever Closer to Reality

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Skynet Moves Ever Closer to Reality

jeopardy_logoWatson, IBM’s latest silicon creation has been tasked with taking on humans in a slightly different setting than it’s used to. Playing chess against grandmasters is all in a days work for the computer that would be human (or is that destroy them?) but IBM’s next goal is to go head to head against human contestants in an attempt to “..get Watson to think and interact in human terms,” IBM’s Dr David Ferrucci is quoted as saying.

“It will try to understand a user’s question and intent and understand it at a rudimentary level and provide and accurate and confident answer.”

Of course buzzing in with a wrong answer in Jeopardy is costly and so Watson must be absolutely sure before answering. This kind of open ended question answering is something that hasn’t been tackled successfully in the past. Playing chess means calculating millions of chess moves to find the best solution to a fixed problem. Answering questions on a game show like Jeopary requires a very different skill set, something computers are not naturally good at requiring broad general knowledge, quick prompt analysis of meaning, irony, riddles and other natural language subtleties that are at a pinch out of the remit of a computer. Matching words to words is something a computer excels at but matching meaning to meaning is still something that although we take it for granted in our own lives, computationally is exceptionally hard.

Hit the read link for more on what could become your computer overlords in the near future.

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Carbon E7; KITT Eat Your Heart Out

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The New Age Cop Car Cometh

The New Age Cop Car Cometh

The cop car is something that most people take for granted as being pretty crappy. Ok you have high-speed persuit cars and armoured vechicles but your day-to-day beat car is reduced to the lowest common denominator. If we are to believe the movies (and we do learn everything from TV and movies) cop cars are only good for one thing, smashing up in droves. Carbon Motors are attempting to change that with their E7, thought to be vapourware (he’re looking at you Phantom) the first showing of the gadget ladened E7 prototype has put our fears to rest. The in-developement purpose built police cruiser is equipped with all the things a modern day police officer needs. A 0-60 time of under 7 seconds thanks to a 300 BHP diesel engine, an operating specification of a good 250,000 miles, suicide (pillerless) doors to make getting perps into the thing easier, a hoseable interior for when the action gets a bit too great for your dumbass criminal passengers and integrated bull bars for when that joyrider just won’t pull over.

Hit the read link for a video of the E7 and more on the gadgets this car wields.

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Anatomy of a Black Hole

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blackholeI’m always intregued by our investigations into space and time filled with wonder and things that we can barely comprehend never the less understand. One of the most curious and awesome phenomena in the universe has to be the Black Hole. Their existence is something of an enigma and the theory behind them is quite complex. The more we know about them the more questions become uncovered. Are they a gateway to another dimension or galaxy, a worm hole if you will? Can space and time really cease to exist as we know it at their center? What would happen if you were trapped in the gravitational pull of one of these monsters and are they only a totally destructive force? Well for those of you who are curious about these things (you’re a geek why wouldn’t you be?) here’s something I Stumbledupon the other day, a brief and informative walk through of the Anatomy of a Black Hole. Well what are you waiting for then, head on over and you might learn something for today?

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Aurora Borealis

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The Aurora Borealis, better know as the Northern Lights, is a phenomenon caused by the collision of charged particles (electrons, protons and some heavier particles) from the Earth’s magnetosphere with atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere induced by solar wind. This provides energy to the molecules causing a temporarily excited state which is then lost as light emission (mostly green, red and high blue/violet). This light emission creates one of the most beautiful natural phenomena known to man and can been seen flickering across the sky. Unfortunately unless you live or travel near to the North Pole, you’re very unlikely to see it yourself. Along those lines here is a fantastic animation of the Aurora Borealis from space first posted by the NY Times:

Hit the read link for another beautiful video.

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