Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time-lapse eclipse

This quality photo is a time-lapse photo of a total eclipse of the moon over the skys of North Carolina in the US.

Mmmm, pretty!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Starry starry night

The two stunning vistas show our wonderful galaxy in all its glory. You can see the dark band of dust that is our own galaxy, the Milkyway, that goes on forever (well 100,000 light years, if your counting). It is not suprising to me that both astronomy and 2 major religions were created in desert countrys, where there is nothing to do but look up at that sky and wonder what its all about!

Photo 1 is the famous water geezer Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park (a giant volcano waiting to send earth back to the ice age again)

Photo 2 is of the Tuton Mountain Range in Wyoming. Click on it to expand it to its full glory.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Technophilia is, in its simplest definition, a strong enthusiasm for technology, especially newer technologies such as computers, the Internet, cell phones and home theater. It is used in sociology when examining the interaction of individuals with their society, especially contrasted with technophobia.

My Laptop died last week. The C driev started making funny noises (which is never a good sign). I could have bought a nice spanky new one, but I have been spending money like its going out of fasion, and thats NOT a good thing!

The cheapest repair guys messed me around about picking it up, and after 2 days I got sick of waiting for them and called another company to pick it. Of course the first lot then turned up 50 minutes later. I had to shout at them to get them to go away!

The new company put a new 100 gig hard drive, and operating system and delivered it back to me 2 days later for £150 in total. Bargin!

But it was shocking how much I missed being able to go online. All the websites I visit, all my emails! It was like having an arm cut off. Sad really.

How ever did we manage before mobile phones and PC's. Very well, if I remember! lol.

Monday, August 13, 2007

No place on Earth

I was struck with more than a passing resemblance between these photos.

The first is of ice melting on sand dunes at the Martian pole. The dark spots are sand which doesn't reflect as much light as the water ice from the winter months.

The second* is of the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordon. I remember from my trips to Israel and Jordan that the landscape of the Negev Desert really looked like no place on earth.

It seems it(3) bears more of a resemblance to Mars(4).


* I'm not too proud to nick a nice photo, Alexander! Thank you ;)

Friday, August 10, 2007

How many suns?

Guess what? One sun per solar system is not the norm. Apparently, its about 50/50 between one sun, and a binary system. Some systems even have more than two suns in them!

Is that strange? Probably not. Virtually all solar systems that have been discovered to have planets, have gas giants in them. We have 4 gas giants in our system; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Jupiter, our biggest planet, is also classified as a Brown Giant, or a Glowing Planet (meaning that the planet kicks out energy from its own internal fusion). It has been estimated that if Jupiter was 5 times the mass, it would probably combust under its own mass and become a star. So Brown Giants are stars that have failed in ignite because they are not fat enough :)

A Gas Giant that is 70% the size of Jupiter has been recently discovered orbiting a sun in the Hercules system. But it is orbiting so close to the star that its atmosphere is being stripped off. In who knows how millions of years, it will have been blown away to nothing!

So its no wonder that there are so many suns out there. We could easily have ended up with a sky that would not look out of place in a Star Wars movie. In fact, the excellent movie 2010 is actually about Jupiter being turned into a sun by mysterious aliens. The movie ends with one of my favourite lines ever "All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Use them together in peace". I would sure enjoy looking at that sky!

So the mind boggles when you realise they have discovered a system with four suns in it! A double binary system. This is an artists impression of it. I wonder what that sky would look like if you could visit a planet in that system and look up?


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Star Wars

Don't panic! This isn't the start of an intergalactic war from Earth.

This fantastic photo was taken from an observatory in Chile. The laser is measuring the density of particles in our upper atmosphere.

Sure looks cool, though!


Monday, August 06, 2007

What would you do with a mountain?

Ah, Americans!

If you had a mountain in your area, that wasn't a national monument, what would you do with it?

In South Dakota there is the Crazy Horse Memorial. This fascinating project is staggering in its scope. The native tribe from the South Dakota, the Lakota, own the mountain as part of their traditional land (whats left of it!). The Lakota have one very famous son, known as Chief Crazy Horse. He fought a very famous battle called Wounded Knee.

The Lakota, rightly proud of their famous son, wanted a monument to honour him. They agreed with a local artist/sculpturer in 1948 to create a monument to Crazy Horse and they gave the whole mountain to the project. The Lakota and the artist Korczak Ziolkowski knew that this monument could never be completed in one mans lifetime. So has begun is a project that is to handed down from father to son or the next who-knows-how-many generations until the project is finished. Kroczaks son is now middle aged and has spent his whole life carving the mountain, with his son soon ready to take over. I wish I could be here to see it when its completed. Great story!

Or instead of a bold, and noble, and beautiful project; you could turn your hand to something a little more garish and pink! I give you the world heritage site yet to be, Salvation Mountain, California! Enjoy!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

A History of Gaming and Everything aka Tomb Raider: Anniversary edition

I don't play many computer games. I did once, though. We forget that the computer game industry is now in its 2nd generation. There are people in their 40's who played computer games. Their children play computer games. My mothers assertions that only children play games is totally wrong now. Sucessful, professional people come home from the City and switch on their X Box for a few hours. Its now a normal pass time.

I played many games in the 80's as a kid. Down the local arcades playing PacMan, Street Fighter, Mortal Combat, Bubble Bobble, and of course, the legend that is Mario Brothers! I could get further than nearly anyone on Mario, and was the un-disputed champion of Bubble Bobble. I had minor celebrity down the local arcades for a time. :)

In the 80's when you qualified for a top score you were only given three letters. I got bored with my initials MWW. Other people were known by their playing "handles" and I wanted one of my own. So I shortened my surname Walker to WAK and thus my nickname was born. In the end I ended up being only known as WAK by everyone, and those people who ended up my close friends had to be trained to call me Martin again! I occasionally run into people I knew from back then, and I cringe when they call me WAK. I started going back to my real name when a friends Dad shouted up to us "Tell WAK to move his car!". When your friends parents only know you by a nickname its time to start using your real name again! But yet, Ive gone back to using a version of it (Its my fantasy football team name Team Wak!) for my internet peronae. Maybe they'll have to put it on my tombstone, in case nobody knows whose buried there, lol.

I still have a Playstation 2 that I bought years after its launch (just like my PS1), and I play only two games on it; Resident Evil and Tomb Raider. I played both games in 1997 when the PS1 come out and I was blown away by them both. Resident Evil had a sense of terror about it that is palpable. I had never known anything like it before, and Tomb Raider was a full realised 3D world. For anyone who had grown up on 2D games this was a revolution like the invention electricity. TR cast a spell on me that has last 10 years. I have consistantly bought every new version of each game and played them to death.

Tomb Raider for their 10th anniversary had the fantastic and novel idea of revisiting the world of the first game in 1997 and re-doing them with the new techologys of 10 years later. We sometime forget how powerful micro processors have become in 10 years. The quality of the graphics and gameplay has increased expotentially in ten years. Tomb Raider:Anniversary is just beautiful to behold. Its like a painting come to life, and total immersement that the game brings has been hightened even more. I bloody love it!

I took the opportunity to dig out the original TR game to compare graphics. :) That was what this post was to be about. Two paragraphs and a couple of pics. Somehow it turned into the History of Gaming and Everything! How did that happen?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lolcats, or the legend of I Can Has Cheezburger

The internet is truly a strange place. Let me introduce to "lolcats". Thats "lol" as internet laugh, and "cats" as in cats!

Lolcats are humourous cat pictures, with a cute or silly slogan on them. Usually spelled using textspeak, ie. spelled wrongly! They were originally called Cat Macros, but evoloved into the internet friendly term, lolcats.

The first known lolcat is the first picture, bearing the now legend "I Can Has Cheezburger". From there, an internet craze was spawned. And its not just limitted to cats anymore. There are loldogs, lolbunnys, and lolgerbils. I am sure you've received by email various funny cat pictures, I know I have. Monorail Cat, and Invisible Sandwich are favourites of mine.

There is now a website set up where people can send there own lolcats. You won't be suprised to know its name. . People are sending them in at a crazy rate. I know I ended up spending a couple of hours just looking at pictures on the site! lol

I came across this when Time magazine did a piece on it, and I saw a couple of my avatars looking back at me. The internet is truly a strange place!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Normal service is resumed

I've been stock-piling cool photos for the past couple of months. The problem with looking at photos a couple of months ago, is that you forget what they were about! LOL.

So here is a collection of sandstorms in Phoenix, shuttles and shuttle plumes, and Gaia, in all her glory.