Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dark Matter is real apparently, and not just a theoretical placeholder.

A cosmic collision has supplied direct proof that dark matter really exists, astronomers say. The collision has allowed dark matter to be separated from ordinary matter, casting doubt on the idea that dark matter could just be an illusion due to a flaw in our understanding of gravity.

The pull of gravity from ordinary matter seems to be insufficient to hold spinning galaxies together, including our own. This and several other lines of evidence point to the existence of a mysterious form of invisible matter that exerts a gravitational influence on other matter and outweighs ordinary matter by a factor of about 6 to 1.

Hmm. That's pretty damn cool. More thoughts when I don't have to dash off to work.

found via Mindmistress which you should be reading anyway if you like good comics.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Perseus Digital Library has been medusaheaded.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The World Just Gets Wackier and Wackier Around My Ears ...

The President of Iran Now Has a Mo********ing BLOG!!!

I seriously doubt Babelfish has an Arabic-to-English* option ... but oh how I wish.

*and before you even ask, yes google translate has one and no it doesn't work.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Normally, I leave the environmental stuff to Mac but ...

Plasma-screen TV population threatens planet - or at least, Britain.

Britain's seemingly insatiable appetite for the latest plasma screen televisions could be posing a serious threat to the planet, a technology expert has warned.

If just half of British homes were to buy one of the flat-screen sets, two more nuclear power stations would be needed to meet the extra energy demand - with all the environmental problems that would bring.

Ooh, ooh, wait till you read this:

The new sets use up to four times as much electricity as the old-style cathode-ray tube TVs, which is where the problem lies. Even so, the sets sold fast during this summer's football World Cup, with one reportedly being sold every 15 seconds.

It's Televisions on a Island!, coming soon to a big-screen near you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Now this could come in useful ...

Wikipedia Portal:Current_Events has been medusaheaded.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Blindsight Cover Art Debacle (and Other Stories)

Red giant swallows brown dwarf, but doesn't digest it

Image Hosted by

A failed star that was swallowed by its bloated, dying companion survived the ordeal unscathed, a new study reports. But it is not in the clear yet: in another billion years or so its dead companion will begin consuming it.

Is there such a thing as a celestial ecology? Can you have one without life -- or are the panpsychists right and all things are really alive in some way?

In either case, that little note on brutal interstellar predation brings us to our next point ...


I have pimped Peter Watts' upcoming novel quite a bit, for damn good reason. Blindsight (October 2006) makes very important points about - while rebutting - the clichés inherent in First Contact, Singularity, anthropocentricism and the utility of consciousness as a means of parsing observable reality. Like the rest of Watts' ouevre, the relentless pessimism is only surpassed by the frightening plausiblity.

If all that hasn't sold you yet, the cast (aside from the protagonist with literally half a brain) includes a superintelligent vampire (see: the Vampire Domestication lecture for details) at least as evolutionarily plausible as those "Hobbits" they found last year. Blindsight is worth your time even if you don't usually read science fiction.

Can't think of a higher recommendation than that.

So I ask, why is the art department on the publishing end, wittingly or otherwise, trying to sabotage the book? I mean, check it: for whatever reason, whoever decides these things settled for this awful cheap-looking red-on-black thing for the cover art, like so:

Unfazed and with a little Photoshopping, he banged this out,

an obviously way better piece. Yet, despite this, the publishers stuck with their chosen piece-of-crap.

Thus, he and a collaborator came up with a rather genius plan ; the particulars are detailed here, but it can be summarized as Downloadable Open-Source Cover ArtTM.

Spread the word. This could be something.

mood: pimptimistic
reading: empire of bones, liz williams
listening: "Nämdemans-Ola" by Garmarna

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

You might wanna take a look at this, Mac ...

Global Warming Beer FTW!

A brewery in Greenland is producing beer using water melted from the ice cap of the vast Arctic island.
The brewers claim that the water is at least 2,000 years old and free of minerals and pollutants.

The first 66,000 litres of the new dark and pale ales are on their way to the Danish market.

Drinkers: 1; The Planet: Zero - YES!

Via Warren Ellis, the one and only Internet Jesus. He is your Four-Colour Saviour and you are his Holy Slut. Kneel, bitch!


Memetherapy Interviews Peter Watts on a little book called Blindsight.

The central themes of the book deal with the nature and significance of consciousness, so there's a shitload of neurobiology and cognitive neuroscience packed in there. Also, tired of literary and cinematic aliens that might as well be people in rubber suits or giant bugs in chitin ones, I did a fair bit of research into alternative biologies. (I ended up with an intelligent, brainless organism without genes whose natural habitat is the heart of a cyclotron ...

If you don't buy this book, I will come to your house and beat you into a coma with my forehead. But only after you've been ... convinced to buy the book.