Friday, September 29, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
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
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.
Monday, September 18, 2006
So how will we know if we have found life?
Scientists can tell the composition of a planets atmosphere by how light is refracted by it. Different chemicals refract light differently. They call it spectromentry. If a planet had an oxygen atmosphere, or if there was methene in the atmosphere (from living creatures), it would have a distinctive signature that would be readable through a spectrograph.
Knowing this, the good folks at NASA figured they had a good idea what Earth should look like. When they launched the first probe they sent that had a spectrograph on it, they pointed it back at Earth.
It looked just how they thought it would.
Now all astonomers are searching for a new Holy Grail, a planet that has the distinct signature of a planet that carrys Life.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
The poker pro career is back on!! Or maybe not, lol.
I came 3rd in a $24 multi tournament with 501 people in it on Full Tilt poker which earned me $1354.00. Very nice.
And just now, finally finished in the money at the White Rose Poker Club. Came a respectable 5th earning £64 from a £15 buy in. It was a relief finally putting in a good performance at my local club. It has been a long time coming.
A few more of these and the poker career is back on. :)
The picture is of one of the unsung planets Neptune. Just remember Neptune might not be as famous as some of the other planets, but it has its own rings, is minus 250 degrees, and has a core of rotating liquid metal.
Oh, and the big dark shape is a storm bigger than Earth with winds of up to 500km.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Spare a thought for Mimas, Suturns moon.
The outer Giants are responsible for life on Earth. Life would never have started, or certainly got as complex, if the outer giants werent hoovering up meteors that otherwise would have slammed into Earth.
We've already seen Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter. This is what happened to Mimas.
Scientists think that if this impact had been any bigger Mimas wouldnt have survived. It would have been blown to bits.
Instead we have one of the best impact craters in the Solar System.
It is 130km across and they call it Herschel.
Big, huh. lol
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Well yesterday. I am 33 if you need to know.
I should like birthdays more, but since I was 25 I have never looked forward to birthdays. I am that grumpy sort of person who not tell anyone unless they asked.
Dont know why. My mother the the other sort! Make a big deal. Throw a party. Generally make a big song & dance about it. And I just want to bury my head until it goes away.
I am going out for a meal with about 10 friends tomorrow at the Oxford Street Brasserie. Sounds nice. Thats the only thing I like about birthdays, friends. But you should be a good friend everyday of the year, not just on someones birthday. Bah Humbug!!
And if you wonder what I got for my birthday? A pair of work trousers and 40 bottles of beer. Both useful and practical bit not exactly exciting. Two years ago Richard (my brother) bought me two tickets to the opening night of The Producers in London (Unbelievably funny!!) and the year before he bought me two season tickets for Leeds United football club (they got relegated that year, lol!!). But if you could buy me what I really wanted for my birtday, see the photo above :)
Anyway, roll on 34, Horray!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
There is a British childrens song that I learnt at school. It is a simple melody with the following lyrics:
"Red and Yellow and Pink and Green."
"Purple and Orange and Blue"
"I can sing a rainbow. Sing a rainbow. Sing a rainbow too"
After seeing that beautiful aurora, I thought I would see what other coloured skies I could find.
To my joy, I found one for every colour of the rainbow.
You know, its not a bad planet to live on after all!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I have been to a lot of fantastic places on this planet, and I've seen quite a few of the great sights on this planet; but I have never taken a photo of a great view and had it look this good.
Or is it just me? Is this just another average holiday snap that has got the owner thinks is a work of art?
Anyway, Victoria Falls in Zambia.
(It looks best in fullscreen!)
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Another spacey thing I support is a British company called Starchaser Industries. They are building a commercial space tourism vehicle.
It was founded by a man called Steve Bennett who used to build small rockets and launch them from Morcambe Bay in the north of England.
In 2000 he entered The X-Prize. This is a competition set up to award $10m to the first people who could launch a vehicle to a height of 100km with 3 passengers, land, then re-launch with th same equipment only 2 weeks later. It is a prize for cheap, re-useable space travel! http://www.xprizefoundation.com/
Starchaser has a fantastic model for their vehicle, but they dont have the serious money needed. They raise their money through events and sponsorship. They have a membership ( of which I am a proud memeber) but this sort of cashflow means they can only work on one item at a time; enigine, then guidance, then excape capsule!./ It is not a very quick way of doing it. Steve has designed his own engines called Churchill! They have worked brilliantly in his smalled rockets (only 30 feet high!). I saw a test in a carpark where he got the Churchills burning for so long and so hot that he melted the asphalt, lol!! He has recenlty bought a plot of land in New Mexico and has opened Starchasers first Spaceport. We just need the spacecraft now. http://www.starchaser.co.uk/
However the X-Prize was won last year by a man called Burt Rutan and his vehicle SpaceShip-1. Congratulaions to Burt. It is a fantastic achivement, but I must point out that Burt had a backer. A man named Paul Allen. You may or may not have heard of him but he helped found a little known company called Microsoft with his college buddy William Gates III. Paul is worth about $15billion and pumped over $30m into SpaceShip-1 to help it win a $10m prize! And as we have now heard SS1 bearly got over the 100km mark and was a bit un-steady in its flight. But thats not who History will remember. I spoke to Steve Bennett once about it and he said that with £2m he could have had a shot at the record but Starchaser just didnt have that sort of money.
But the plan still continues. The X-Prize was such a sucess that they are doing an annual X-Cup, for achievement towards cheap space travel for all, and Starchaser is there every year. Richard Branson from Virgin has bought into Burt Rutans business and intends to offer flights into orbit in 2008 for about $125,000. Cheap but nowhere in the reach of most people. Starchaser is aiming for a cheeper flight than that. And a rocket is intrinsically a more safe design than SS1. Starchaser's Nova1 (their vehicle) has an escape module on it; a little rocket on the top that blasts the command module away in case of danger. ss1 doesnt.
The US Airforce defines an astronaut as someone who has passed 100 km. Nova1 climbs to 130km so everyone who flies in it can call themselves an astronaut!!! Before I die I will be able to fly a plane and call myself an astronaught. Even if I have to sell the flat to do it, lol
I will leave the final word to Steve Bennett. It may explain why this is one of the most important things I want to do.
Everyone at Starchaser Industries shares the dream of space travel and we are working toward providing you with a truly unique and memorable experience.
When you launch with Starchaser you'll have the Experience of a true Astronaut.
- Outfitted in an authentic spacesuit you'll head down the access ramp toward the Starchaser rocket, as clouds of vaporizing LOX shroud the launch pad.
- You'll climb into the capsule and be strapped securely into your seat to wait for the action to start.
- The dramatic countdown will begin, filling your mind and body with anticipation.
- As you hear the roar of engines coming to life, the rocket propels you upwards with a kick.
- Your body becomes one with the vibration of the rocket as it accelerates, quickly breaking the sound barrier and beyond.
- You'll be pushed back into your seat and feel the awesome power within every fiber of your being.
- The rocket engines shut down and everything will go silent.
- Coasting silently upward you'll feel a slight jolt as the capsule separates from the booster.
- And as you look out of the porthole and see the Earth below... you will know that you have achieved your dream...
Sunday, September 03, 2006
This is Valles Marineris on Mars.
"The Valles Marineris is a system of canyons located just south of the Martian equator. The system is about 4000 km long, and, if on earth, would extend all the way across the United States. The central individual troughs, generally 50 to 100 km wide, merge into a depression as much as 600 km wide. In places the canyon floor reaches a depth of 10 km, 6 to 7 times deeper than the Grand Canyon"
Friday, September 01, 2006
The Mars Rover on its travels came across metal on the surface of Mars. Rather than proof of an ancient civilisation it turned out to be the heat shield from the Mars Rovers original decent over a year ago.
Humans! Cant take them anywhere!