You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
China’s Space Program Is Taking Off
— "Its engineers have caught up with Europe when Europe was 20 years behind the space-racing superpowers. But by 2020 or a little thereafter, when the International Space Station (ISS) may be on its last legs, Chinese space managers expect to have a Mir-class space station in orbit. ... As was the case with the Cold War space powers, China's leaders are using human spaceflight to signal the world—and the long-suffering Chinese people—that Beijing's state-capitalism approach has won modern superpower status for their ancient society." From Aviation Week & Space Technology
, November 25, 2013.
: is a documentary film set in the not too distant future, following a mission to achieve interstellar space travel. As the mission unfolds with extraordinary results, the scientists find themselves dealing with a much bigger agenda.
A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
The satellite man is typically young, with an entrepreneur’s zeal and a sense of adventure, often from the mercantile district of South Tehran, trained by colleagues in the black-market niche of satellite TV installation...
on Curiosity landing has just started, landing itself is expected two hours later, at 5:31 am UTC/10:31 pm PDT. [more inside]
SpaceX's Falcon9 rocket carrying Dragon capsule to dock with the ISS, has launched successfully
. [more inside]
's Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to launch at 8:55 am UTC on Saturday, May 19, 2012 - a little less than 12 hours from now. [more inside]
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction
? The technology
may be in place, but is there any reason to go
The secretive NRO celebrated 50 years of spying from space
with a one-day surprise public exhibition of a just-declassified KH-9 Hexagon "Big Bird" imaging satellite
. Between 1963 and 1986, a constellation of KH-7 Gambit, KH-8 Gambit 3, and KH-9 Hexagon satellites
, all revealed after a half-century of secrecy, returned high-resolution film exposures of Cold War targets from orbit by parachute.
of remnants of the Soviet Lunar program
, via Jalopnik
, who have more details.
“In all honesty, we don’t know when it’s coming back for sure”
- The US Air Force's first launch of the X-37b
reusable space vehicle has provoked much speculation, with some even wondering if the Pentagon is reviving Nazi space-bomber plans
. But was the launch of spaceplane an attempt to mask the launch of another secret weapon
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year
, NATO may lose in Afghanistan
, the UK gets a regime change
, China needs to chill
, India's factories will overtake its farms
, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum
, the stimulus will need an exit strategy
, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2"
, African football
will unite Korea
, conflict over natural resources will grow
, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled
, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable)
, technology will grow ever more ubiquitous
, we'll all charge our phones via USB
, MBAs will be uncool
, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest
, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world
. And so the Tens
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
At the mostly abandoned Moffett Field in an abandoned McDonald's, digital archeologists attempt to restore, recover and archive abandoned high resolution imagery and data from previous manned Moon missions, using an abandoned Ampex 2" tape drive found in a chicken coop - the last working machine in the world, restored by the last man alive capable of rebuilding the heads. This is likely only part of their weird story.
The gyrojet pistol
) - a handgun firing 13mm rocket ammunition
, was an attempt to revolutionise gun design in the 1960s. Around a thousand were produced, and some may have seen use in Vietnam
versions were also produced. Design problems meant that it never seriously competed conventional firearms, but there is a modern attempt to revive the concept
Welcome to the decade of space robotics. Jules Verne
, Europe's shiny new automated transport vehicle, docked with the International Space Station today
, where Canada's Dextre is flexing her circuits
after moving in last month. Meanwhile, the Cadillac of Mars rovers
, JPL's humbly named Mars Science Laboratory
, is prepping for a fall 2009 journey to the red planet. Are we witnessing the beginning of the symbiotic relationship between robots and humans in space
"The next president of the United States of America will control a $150 billion annual research budget, 200,000 scientists, and 38 major research institutions and all their related labs. This president will shape human endeavors in space
, bioethics debates, and the energy landscape of the 21st century." With the coming election, the AAAS
has created a new website
and devoted a section of their journal Science
to the Democratic
candidates' positions on science
issues. But to help further clarify their positions
, some people are calling
for the candidates to have a presidential debate on science and technology
. [Via The Intersection and Wired Science.]
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
The NASA Centennial Challenges:
Inspired by the X-Prize
, NASA has begun a series of challenges to private inventors with cash prizes for things ranging from extracting oxygen from moon rocks
to building better astronaut gloves
to improving personal aircraft
. Thanks to Congressional approval
, NASA will be launching larger challenges of up to $50 million in value, including a new multi-million dollar lunar lander contest
. With government space efforts criticized
by private entrepreneurs
, is this the right direction for NASA?
Ignition sequence starts ...
A spoken word documentary album of the flight of Apollo 11 to the moon. Dramatic - evocative - the right stuff. Provided by Hepcat Willy
The first images
from the Spitzer Space Telescope
, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility and renamed after astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, Jr.
, were released on Thursday. Launched on August 25, it obtains images by detecting the infrared energy
radiated by objects in space, and it will drift behind the Earth
as the planet orbits the sun.
Scaled Composites unveils a privately built spacecraft
Could this be the leapfrog event that all of us sci-fi fans have been waiting for? If successful he will open up space for organizations other than the worlds most wealthy governments. Warp speed Mr. Sulu! (sorry getting a little carried away).
Seattle PI have picked up the news
that there's now competition in the race to build a space elevator. Liftport
are the new kids on the block, with a website that only went online about 24 hours ago. I'm watching them build the message board
as I type. Nothing like a bit of uplifting science news (pun unavoidable).
NASA admits "Dreaming isn't our job, anymore
<sigh> We're never going to get off this planet. Crap.
Liquid water discovered in a meteorite
by scientists at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The rock was discovered in 1998 by kids who saw it fall near a small Texas town.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at HOME
This isn't a new site, but there is a new version of the software. It's nice to be able to use your CPU to find ETs while your away from your machine. It is simple and doesn't crash. Check it out! I'm running in on both my NT box and my MAC G4