Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Much better again!! Its alright this Poker lark!

Finished 3rd out of 863 in a $24 mulyi tourney on Full Tilt. Won $2278. Took 5 and a half hours but was worth it.

Along with winning $318 for 6th in a $12 MTT on Wednesday, and $155 for 34 in $18 on Sunday; its not been a bad week at all!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Janus and Epimetheus

This is Saurns moon Janus.

Janus [JAY-nus] is the sixth satellite of Saturn. It was discovered by Audouin Dollfus in 1966 and was named after the god of gates and doorways. It is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus has an irregular shape with a size of 196x192x150 kilometers (122x119x93 miles) in diameter. It is heavily cratered with several craters 30 kilometers (19 miles) in diameter. The pervasive cratering indicates that its surface must be several billion years old

And this is Epimetheus.

Epimetheus [ep-eh-MEE-thee-us] is the fifth satellite of Saturn. It was discovered by R. Walker in 1980. Epimetheus was the son of Iapetus and brother to Prometheus and Atlas. Epimetheus means hindsight in Greek. It has an irregular shape with a size of 144x108x98 kilometers (89x67x61 miles) in diameter. It is traversed by several large and small grooves, valleys and ridges. Several craters larger than 30 km can be seen on its surface. The pervasive cratering indicates that its surface must be several billion years old.

Epimetheus and Janus share the same orbit of 151,472 kilometers from Saturn's center or 91,000 kilometers above the cloud tops. They are only separated by about 50 kilometers. As these two satellites approach each other they exchange a little momentum and trade orbits; the inner satellite becomes the outer and the outer moves to the inner position. This exchange happens about once every four years. Janus and Epimetheus may have formed from a disruption of a single parent to form co-orbital satellites. If this is the case, the disruption must have happened early in the history of the satellite system.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Its a monster

Look at this beauty!!

"Please wait while one of the largest mobile machines in the world crosses the road. The machine pictured above is a bucket-wheel excavator used in modern surface mining. Machines like this have given humanity the ability to mine minerals and change the face of planet Earth in new and dramatic ways. Some open pit mines, for example, are visible from orbit. The largest excavators are over 200 meters long and 100 meters high, now dwarfing the huge NASA Crawler that transports space shuttles to the launch pads. Bucket-wheel excavators can dig a hole the length of a football field to over 25 meters deep in a single day. They may take a while to cross a road, though, with a top speed under one kilometer per hour."

I'd love a go on one of those!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Fogbow!

" Is that white arch real? What is being seen is a fogbow, a reflection of sunlight by water drops similar to a rainbow but without the colors. The fog itself is not confined to an arch -- the fog is mostly transparent but relatively uniform. The fogbow shape is created by those drops with the best angle to divert sunlight to the observer. The fogbow's relative lack of colors are caused by the relatively smaller water drops. The drops active above are so small that the quantum mechanical wavelength of light becomes important and smears out colors that would be created by larger rainbow water drops acting like small prisms reflecting sunlight. The above striking image of a fogbow was taken last week with the Sun behind the photographer. Close inspection of the far right of the full image will show one of the two suspension towers of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, USA."

Ah the perils of cut and paste

Didnt even know fogbows existed!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Hubble Deep Field

I have been reminded how cool the Hubble telescope Deep Field is. By pointing the telescope at a seemingly empty patch of sky, and leaving the exposure open, they have captured these amazing shots of how densely populated the universe is. Thousands of galaxys stretching into the visible distance. And each one may contain life!

But Hubble is also a time machine. Everything it can see is from the past. These galaxys are billions of light years away, which means what we are seeing are galaxys that are billions of years old when we see them.

Including this photo of galaxy cluster Abell 2218. Abell is SO fat and its gravity is so strong that it is warping the light from galaxys behind it. It is called gravitational lensing and it makes light from behind it warp around it. You can see multiple images stretched and warped like a lens around it. It also amplifies images, making visable galaxies so far away that they could never be viewed with conventional instruments. The circled area shows a galaxy that is visible only because of the gravitational lensing. When they measured the red shift in the light, they discovered that the galaxy was 13 billion light years away, making the image 13 billion years old. The oldest thing ever seen by far.

Cool, huh?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


A better few days at poker. Played four $20 multi tournaments over three days. Finished in the money in all of them. Made the final table in two! Won $800.

Horray. Poker god status may soon be mine! Or pride cometh... We shall see.

The fantastic photo is a time-lapse shot of the International Space Station passing over a crater on the Moon.

Cool, huh?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


They are still taking cool photos out there.

I dont even know the name of this nebula, but sure is purty!

This next one is called the Ghost Nebula.


Hope you are all well out there in blogging land.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

So close, but yet...

Came 11th in the local poker tournament. It started paying out at 9th!! So close. Oh well. Lucky to be there. Was down and nearly out at one point. I was in for 1600 and I only had 1500 left. Someone put me all-in. With less than a blinds worth of chips left I called in the dark (not having looked at my cards). He turned over Ace Queen hearts. A very strong hand. I turned over two Aces!! What a time for them. Anyway that gave me enough chips to last to eleventh. So close...

Here is a beautiful picture of the Moon rising over an observatory in Chile.

As Boart might say


Monday, October 30, 2006

Venus and the Moon

The Moon and distant Venus in crescent.

Hope you are all well, and the global warming isnt getting you down!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 Ep 4: - Exodus part 2

So why do I feel the need to talk about a TV program?

Well the recent episode of BSG, Exodus part 2, is most certainly the best episode yet of this show. But perhaps, this was possibly the best hour of Sci-fi TV ever. Hell of a boast, no?

So why do I think I can say that? If is not something I have ever felt the need to say about any other show. I watch a lot of American dramas. I feel I know their style very well. From Star Trek, through Stargate, 24, Lost, The West Wing, ER, Desparate Housewives, Murder 1, Alias, Futurama, Angel, and the previous winner of greatest hour of TV ever Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6 finale, prove me wrong!!). I know good (!) American scripted drama well.

So what made this different? Well BSG is already gaining a huge following around the world. People who are getting into are getting blown away like few other shows before. They are fanatics about it (myself included). You should have seen Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creaters of South Park when they collected their prestigeous Peabody Award (BSG also won one for writing!). They used half their speach to lavish praise on BSG and how blown away they were.

Perhaps I am most blown away by the series because I had such low hopes for it when it began. I watched the original but was never a devote. When I heard they were remaking it, with human looking Cylons (who are all supermodel quality) and they changed two of the leads from men into women (Starbuck and Boomer) and two other leads were bein played by British pretty boy actors (putting on yank accents), I was seriously underwelmed! Too many US shows just fill the screen with beautiful people to hide a lame show (Mutant X anyone).

Well they shut me up! BSG (2004) is most deffinately a post 9/11 show. It is a show about Genocide. Perhaps that element was over looked or didnt mean as much in the 80's, but it packs a punch now. The orginal mini series in 2003 started with the 12 colonys (planets) being totally nuked in a suprise attack. Only 50,000 humans get off the planet and flee for their lives. The mini series cranked up the tension and people who were suspected Cylons were thrown out of airlocks. A ship that was late turning up was blown up becuse they couldnt be sure it was afe anymore. You really feel the desparation and hopeless in the first few episodes. BSG and its rag-tag fleet of civilian ships are blind running, searching for Earth (an old legend. Admiral Adama doesnt believe it exists and is only saying it to keep up hope in the fleet). They have Faster Than Light (FTL) technology where they can jump to another location. It is a quality special effect when they do this. Infact, all the SFX are fantastic and state of the art. This show looks GOOD. The acting and writing are top notch. The supermodel Cylon (Six) is both believable and a fantastic actress. The human cylons have gone mad. They believe totally that they have a God and what they are going is all his work. Six is particually bonkers. And they cant be killed. If they are, they download into a new copy of themselves. Turns out that this is sending them mad as they feel all the pain of dying and comeback again. Not that they think they are.

By the end of the second season they have found a new planet that is capable of supporting life, a bleak place they've called New Caprica. Half the population are sick of running and set up a makeshift town of tents and scrap huts. Then the Cylons find them. Season finale.

Season 3. It is Vichy France! There are collaborators, a secret police, torture cells, a resistance. They even had a suicide bomber! when a human who had lost his wife and child joins the human police (who all wear balaclavas to hide their identitys) and blows himself and 30 others up. Really dark stuff. Episode 4 is where all the stories from the collaboration get settled. Deaths and betrayals and come-upances. This episode has some serious drama. Then Galactica comes to rescue them!

It seems the creaters of BSG managed to find a new sci-fi effect that no-one has done before! Now if you think about it, you would have thought you had probably seen all the spceship effects that you could. With Trek, Star Wars and from everything from the Matrix onwards, we've seen it all? No.

They jump into the high atmosphere of the new planet, and just drops. They do this so they can launch their fighters "Well this is gonna be different!". The effect as Galactica just freefalls is breathtaking. And as it nearly hits the ground, it engages its FTL drive and jumps away just leaving the shockwave and heated air to hit the ground like a huracane. Never seen anything like it!

With that and the sister ship going out in a blaze of glory by taking 3 Basestars in a suicide run, it is the best effects in a TV show ever. With intense drama of the storys, this is the best hour of TV drama I have ever seen. Catch it, its a blast!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mars from orbit

This is the view of the Victoria Crater on Mars, as taken by the MarsExpress Orbiter.

You can actually see the Mars Beagles tracks from space.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Starry Starry Night.

"This crowded star field towards the center of our Milky Way Galaxy turns out to be a great place to search for planets beyond our solar system. In fact, repeatedly imaging about 180,000 stars in the field over a one week period, the Hubble Space Telescope enabled astronomers to conduct the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search (SWEEPS). Their search looked for brief, periodic dips in brightness caused as a large planet eclipses or transits its parent star. Since chances of seeing such an eclipse are slim, it was a definite advantage to examine as many stars as possible. In the end, SWEEPS astronomers found 16 candidate stars (green circles identify 11 in this cropped picture) that are likely closely orbited by large Jupiter-sized planets with periods of a few days or less. Large planets orbiting so close to their stars are termed hot Jupiters. Kepler, a future NASA mission, is intended to extend the transit technique to search for Earth-sized planets."

Its only a matter of time before we find ourselves a life supporting planet.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"We'll meet again. Dont know where, dont know when"

Ah, Stanley Kubrick knew his stuff.

Doctor Strangelove (Or How I Stopped Worrying About The Bomb) is one of my favourite movies. It is almost my favourite comedy of all time.

It contains three fantastic performances by Peter Sellars. It has some classic lines including the gem said by Peter Sellars as the US President to the Russian Ambassador and a general (played to perfection by George C Scott) who are currently fighting each other "No Fighting, gentlemen. This is the War Room!"

The final scene is a classic. A rogue bomber captained by Colonal Kong, played by the brilliant Slim Pickens (yes, really!) is going to bomb a Russian base. His radio is out and he doesnt know he has been recalled. The nuke is stuck in the bomb-bay. He sits straddling the bomb trying to release it when it suddenly releases with him still on it. And down he falls riding the bomb like a bucking bronco, waving his stetson going YeeHaw!!

And as the bomb explodes we get the lovley tones of Vera Lynn singing We'll meet again to the images of nukes going off. Classic!

Good ol' Glorious Leader. Obviously the world was too stable at the moment. Why not add a new nuclear arms race in Asia. Just what we all need.

Funny thing is, Nukes are quite pretty really.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Happy Valentines Day

Couldnt wait till February to post this.

The appropriatly named Heart Nebula.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nebula and galaxies

A beautiful nebula.

And beautiful galaxys.

It's a nice universe out there.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Double rainbow

Yes Kasia, Autumn is most definately here.

Caught a beautiful double rainbow outside my kitchen window. During the break in the rain, of course.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

International Space Station

A slow week. But a couple of cool photos to share.

A fantastic shot of the space shuttle docking with the International Space Station sillouetted against the sun. Very clever.

And this is what it was fitting. A nice new huge set of solar pannals. Its getting big now.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

3D Poker

Sorry I havent posted for a while, its been a busy week.

Work has been hellish, and I've been playing a bit of poker when I get home.

I' ve discovered a new poker site. It is called PKR and it is fully 3D!!! This may not seem much, but it is truely the next step forward in this sort of personal computer interface. Its not just restricted just to poker.

Although all the recent poker sites that have sprung up are interactive in realtime, PKR adds a truly new dimension as you can customise your avatar/image just like in The SIMS, But as well as realistic looks, movements, and backgrounds, PKR offers you about 30 voice commands and movments. There are the usual niceties like Nice Hand, Thank You, Hi, Goodbye, and Unlucky. But there are also many other fantastic little florishes that you do can use like Chicken (you cluck!), Fan (where you fan yourself theatrically and say "Im feeling the heat"), Cry, Laugh Out Loud, Laugh My *** Off, Cheer, Thumbs Up, and my two favourites Dude! (where you do the cheesy American Bullhorns with your fingers), and Dance (where you do your favourite dance at the table). All off these enhancements really do enhance the playing experience where you tease and josh with your playing mates in realtime.

But it is only a matter of time before our online persona (like Teamwak) will have an avatar that will be able to interact with businesses. You could conduct a virtual interview with an almost perfect virtual human.

Interesting times