Habitable Exoplanets

holiday-planets

NASA’s Kepler Mission is a spacecraft observatory that scans a single large area of the sky in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. It simultaneously measure variations in the brightness of over 100,000 stars every half hour, searching for the half hour to half a day “winks” in light output that happen when a planet transits, aka passes in front of its star. Transits are only seen when the star’s planetary system is nearly perfectly aligned with our line of sight. For a planet in an Earth-size orbit, the chance of it being aligned to produce a transit is less than 1%, and the change in light akin to the dimming of a flea crawling across a car’s headlight and viewed from several miles away. Check the videos for more of an idea of how this observatory works.

It was named in honor of Johannes Kepler, who described the motions of planets about the Sun in a precisely predictable manner. Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed over 2000 planets. If you’d like to try your hand at sifting through the Kepler data, check out planethunters.org. Also check out the Kepler Mission on Facebook, where I learned that William Borucki, science principal investigator for the Kepler mission, received the National Academy of Sciences 2013 Henry Draper Medal for founding concept and visionary leadership of the project.

Image via the Planetary Habitability Library, who have a really cool collection of projects related to extra-solar life. Image Credit: The ‘X-mas Planets’ is a collage of computer generated images of habitable worlds by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) over an image of a section of the De Mairan’s Nebula (Messier 43) taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Earth is at the top right. This image was done to celebrate the first year of the PHL’s Habitable Exoplanets CatalogCredit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo (phl.upr.edu), ESA/Hubble, NASA.

 

Cyberwar 1.0 beta

singularityCan you believe it?

People are voluntarily joining botnets!

I mean. Botnets? Intentional zombification of your computer? Are you sure that’s … you know … wise?

If Wikileaks broke the Espionage Act, so did the NYT!

Because they got the data too. Others who have broken the 90 year old Espionage Act include e.e. cummings.

Don’t worry – Congress is ready with the SHIELD act!

That’s the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act for those of you who were worried that there wasn’t an awesome acronym!

Houston. We have a little problem handling our approach to the Singularity, please advise.

The photo is by sf à gogo and you can see her work in the Flickriver.

Computers don’t understand real world space

John Underkoffler says that “Computers don’t understand real world space” … until now. At 5:20, things start to get pretty crazy. These systems are already deployed, and he thinks we’re just 5 years away from mass consumer access to this.

via TED via Real-world Minority Report computer interface from kottke.org:

John Underkoffler was one of the science advisors for Minority Report. After doing that, he helped build a computer with an interface very much like the ones in the movie … you know, where Tom Cruise flings stuff around on a screen with his hands. In this TED talk, Underkoffler demonstrates the system.

A long time ago … when special effects were really hard

Computer Graphics From a Long, Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away from Topless Robot:

Oh man. /Film started my day with this 10-minute documentary from Larry Cuba about how he made the computer graphics for Star Wars, specifically, the Death Star assault video Dodonna plays for the Rebel pilots, and it is so, so awesome. Cuba is obviously so proud when he says he’s moving his Death Star model in real time, and he should be, since back in 1976 that probably needed 400 computers glued together and the blood sacrifice of a white calf. Anyways, it’s fun for Star Wars fans and a neat look back for computer nerds alike.

Imagine the movie industry doing what they do now without the plastic reality offered by oceans of computing power and unbelievable software.

Topless Robot is a kickin’ site that features geek chum like Teenage Mutant Reservoir Turtles and The 10 Best ’60s Batman TV Villains Who Should Make the Leap to Comic Books (10 villains, 10 videos including Vincent Price as the Egghead).

 

New iMac keyboard – tiny is huge?

I love Apple Computers for their ease of use, interface and design. All that love didn’t mean a whole lot when I unboxed a new iMac and saw this.

wtf??!!

You have a clean and open aesthetic in your OS and in your stores and then you jam some poor sap’s hands into a keyboard roughly exactly the size of an Apple laptop keyboard. I guess it helped reduce the overall price but seriously, wtf?

I think Ridley Scott needs to make another video…

I guess I do owe a note of thanks to the keyboard for leading me indirectly to that cool video from the 1983 Apple keynote by Steve Jobs.

The photo is by hyperscholar and I guess that to the caterpillar, the keyboard seemed massive.

SMT: Steampunk Explorations

Nominated for an Oscar and for a BAFTA award, The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello is bringing 110% of the awesome to Sunday Morning Theatre this week.

The silhouette animation was developed by director Anthony Lucas and you can get all kinds of info about Gothia, Jasper Morello and upcoming features & films from jaspermorello.com and read an interview with Anthony Lucas at Reader’s Voice.

The world of Jasper Morello is one of many works in the genre known as steampunk. Wikipedia says that steampunk:

…is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

…Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

Like many others, I first read William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s 1990 novel The Difference Engine before wandering off into Tim Powers and books like The Anubis Gates. I was unaware that steampunk is apparently becoming a subculture that is influencing film, music and fashion.

Curiously enough, a friend messaged me from a large steampunk convention last weekend and I also just read What Is Steampunk? A Subculture Infiltrating Films, Music, Fashion, More.

The photo was taken by Drhaggis and features the steampunk band Abney Park (entry is kind of hidden) – more about Abney Park in their video below. It’s part of his Steampunk & Clockwork set (slideshow). He writes the blog Slashboing, which looks pretty cool.

Yeah, it ends early … I assume that’s some kind of inside code. Check out Abney Park’s videos.