Category: Space



Tor.com
New Story! “Ghost Hedgehog” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

"Ghost Hedgehog" With all the places ghosts could go, in this world and the next, who do they keep hanging around Jack? From Nina Kiriki Hoffman comes a new short story, “Ghost Hedgehog“!

Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s first solo novel, The Thread that Binds the Bones, won the Bram Stoker Award. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for every major award in the SF and fantasy field. The illustration is by Goni Montes.


It’s the Muppet Week!

It's the Muppet Week!The Muppets is due out just before Thanksgiving, so Tor.com is devoting some time to all things Henson!Muppet Week is here and we’re going to be talking about films, puppetry, and the SFF inspirations throughout Henson’s work. Danny Bowes finds the Rainbow Connection in The Muppet Movie, Chris Lough needs to remind you why The Great Muppet Caper is the best Muppet film of the lot, and Emily Asher-Perrin asks the most important question about The Muppets Take Manhattan – are Kermit and Miss Piggy really married? Ryan Britt takes a look at six SF icons who hung out with Kermit and the gang, and we’ve learned that several Muppets tried out for the part of Yoda before the wrinkled one landed the part: see their auditions! Plus, Bridget McGovern discusses Henson’s first major foray into fantasy, 1982’s The Dark Crystal. There’s more coming all week, so don’t miss out on all the laughs, songs and dances!


Barnes & Noble Booksellers Picks Take a Look at New Releases!

Barnes & Noble Bookseller's PicksThe Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks is taking a look atnew releases this month: Michael M. Jones discusses the continuing adventures of a warrior princess in Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife: Daring, Gregory Manchess shares some of the year’s most fantastic SFF art inSpectrum 18, Emily Asher-Perrin talks about the nature of the Force in Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, and Ron Hogan gives us a vampire dystopia from the brilliant Guillermo del Toro in The Night Eternal. If you want excerpts, we’ve got one from Devon Monk’s Magic on the Line!

While you’re deciding what new books to add to your queue, we’ve got a question for you: what was the very first book you bought with your own money? We asked our readers last week, andwe’ve gotten quite a response so far – chime in with your own stories in the comments!


So Long, Johnny: Kubrick Week Ends

Kubrick's SFFDanny Bowes spent all last week revisiting Stanley Kubrick’s SFF films, but now it’s time to shut down our old friend HAL and send Dr. Strangelove to his top-secret subterranean bunker. In the final installments of the series, Danny praised Jack Nicholson and the visual impact of The Shining, worked through the problematic fever dream that was Eyes Wide Shut, and learned what happens when someone other than Kubrick tries to make a Kubrick film with A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Don’t forget to check the week’s index for any movies you may have missed!


Girls With Swords and Arrows Set to Dominate Theaters Next Year

The Hunger GamesWe’ve seen quite a few new trailers emerge in the past week, and there seems to be an emerging trend – all over Hollywood, ladies are taking up arms. First, take a peek at the full trailer for The Hunger Games, then head on over to watch a feisty Scottish redhead who’s also pretty handy with a bow in the trailer for Pixar’s Brave. Then, Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror are poised to bring us dueling updates on the same classic fairy tale – watch the trailers here.

In other movie news, it could be that Harry Potter director David Yates is looking to bring Doctor Who to the big screen without building on television show’s continuity (though certain sources are vehemently denying it). Would you go see it? And for SFF at the theaters this past week, our reviewers weigh in on The Immortals and Melancholia!


Tor.com Comes to Google+

Tor.com on Google+We want to make sure you can find Tor.com on whatever social media platform you favor. We’ve been bringing you our content through Facebook and Twitter for some time now, and providing extra coverage from all over the web with our specialized Facebook and Twitter satellite accounts, for fans of Science Fiction,FantasyUrban FantasySteampunkArt, and the Wheel of Time series. We are happy to announce that Tor.com is now available on Google+! So wherever you prefer to hang out on the internet, you can always find you favorite Tor.com coverage.

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Shadowfist! Out of the Darkness and Across Time!

Maybe the Glass is really Half Full!

“Do you love Shadowfist but have no one with whom you can play in your area? Shoot us a message and we’ll either give you the tools to start your own Shadowfist group or find hidden players you might not know about! It only takes three players for a great game night of equal opportunity butt-kicking!”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shadowfist/180919495284693

Check out November’s Inner Kingdom Update to read up on the latest news and the long-awaited list of top Secret Warriors of 2011!
We have a new name at #1 this year!
http://www.shadowfist.com/node/3375

Hey Shadowfist friends! Inner Kingdom has released the board game, Zombie Dash. Available here: http://www.shadowfist.com/node/2968. We could use some help getting traffic to the game page athttp://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/111292/zombie-dash. Please rate the game, or become a fan, or ‘Like’ it, if you like it. 🙂 Thanks!

www.shadowfist.com

Inner Kingdom Games’ very first board game pits players against each other as they race across town to safety! Outpace your opponents and beat your zombies to the finish line! For 3 to 6 players, ages 8 and up. Retail price: $24.95. Price below includes shipping.

http://s102.photobucket.com/albums/m92/Icehealer/?action=view&current=ZD1.jpgZombie Dash



You have to check out these great shots from the Gondola! For full viewing pleasure go to the source below!

http://home.comcast.net/~bzee1b/Zeppelin/Zeppelin.html

  Zeppelin Eureka

Photo Gallery

I’m still giddy over having had the opportunity to ride in, and photograph the only Zeppelin in the United States. The ‘Eureka’ is one of a new breed of lighter than air ships manufactured by the Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, and operated by Airship Ventures. Based out of Moffett Field (in Mountain View, CA), the Eureka offers sight-seeing rides of the Bay Area and Monterey. Riding on the Eureka, and becoming a Zep head was truly a remarkable, and unforgettable experience!
Nikon D300 w/ 18-105mm VR lens, Nikon D200 w/ 70-300mm VR lens – Bernard Zee


Our trip started out with a preflight briefing, security screening, then a ride out to the private section of the Oakland airport. There, we watched the arrival of the Eureka airship!
Not to be confused with a Blimp, the Eureka has a rigid internal structure. So even with the helium removed, it will retain its general shape.
Airship Ventures started operating the Eureka out of Moffett Field in November of 2008. At 246 ft long, it is the largest airship in the world.
That’s our pilot Katherine ‘Kate’ Board. She is the only female Zeppelin pilot in the world. I believe she’s British.
Eureka’s 2 main engines are mounted high above the gondola, attaching to the airship’s internal bracing instead. This reduces engine noise and vibrations in the cabin, and also allows for an impressively unhindered viewing experience.


The 3rd engine is mounted aft, where it drives 2 propellers. One helps control yaw (like a helicopter tail rotor), and the other pitch. The one pointed down in the picture can be swiveled upwards, where it acts as a pusher propeller during normal flight.


Here’s Kate getting ready to lift off.


And away we go!! Oh my gosh, the take off was unbelievable! With no effort at all, we were hundreds of feet above the ground. It really was just like releasing a helium balloon. Helium of course, is the inert-lighter than air gas which provides the buoyancy that allows Eureka to fly.


Airship Eureka has 2 doors, each with a window that opens. Yes, not only do they open in flight, they encourage you to stick your head out there!!


The cockpit area, like the rest of the cabin, provides a wonderfully unobstructed view of the surroundings.


As we head towards San Francisco, Alameda island can be seen on the left.


Eureka’s cabin can seat 12 passengers, plus a crew of 2.


Here is an aerial view of the USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), moored in Alameda.


Sticking my head (and arm and camera) out the window, I get this view… Yeah, it’s pretty intense!


Directly below is the 880 Freeway (which we all know and love so much). I believe that’s Jack London Square towards the middle, and the old Alameda Naval station towards the top left.


Cruising at around 1000ft and 35mph, we got this amazing view of downtown Oakland, Berekely, and beyond!


At the briefing, they actually encourage you to stick your head out the window. That is how one gets inducted into the Zep-Head club! Yes, some people did it more than once. 🙂


No, it’s not a bluescreen photoshop. This is actually the back end of the gondola (note the little sticker about the seat). It’s this bench, with a wrap around view of the rear. Other than sticking the head out the window, the best spot to be on the airship!!


With the engines mounted so high, you’d really have to make an effort to see it. Even with the windows open, it’s more of a whishing noise, as the propellers cut into the air. Seen in the distance is of course, downtown San Francisco.


Once airborne, passengers were free to roam around and take in the sights from different stations. Trust me, no one just stayed in their seat!


Here we are, flying over Alcatraz.


Lived here for almost 20 years, but have never set foot there. The shame! But at least I’ve now flown over it!!


A picture postcard view of San Francisco, including Pier 39, and the Aquatic park. Other icons like the Transamerica building, coit tower, and Bay bridge can also be seen.


Looks like a wing, but it’s actually the rear underside of the airship.


We make a U-turn before getting too close to the Golden Gate Bridge. We were not flying the airship’s normal routine, as this was the Thursday of Fleetweek, and the Blue Angels were getting ready to do their practice flight – all sorts of airspace restrictions were in place… we were thankfully to be even allowed to fly! By the way, Eureka did participate in the Fleetweek ’09 air show. It did a hover, rocking, spinning, and nodding routine (I don’t know how else to describe it!) Saturday. Sunday’s show was considerably shorter, and it only did a fly by.


Here’s another shot showing the interior. Even if you stayed in your seat, there are huge windows you could look out of.


The pilot and co-pilot’s view.


This is looking out the back window, where the airship’s tail wheel can be seen, as we turn away from San Francisco.


Over flying Yerba Buena island.


Our co-pilot for the day was Flight Instructor consultant from Germany, Hans Paul Strohle. Got a lot of good information about airships from him! Weight management is very important for airship operations. Tiny things like direct sunlight warming up the gas in the airship a couple of degrees would generate increased lift (I think he said 80kg per degree Celsius) – due to the gas expansion. Conversely, losing the sun in the evening would cause a loss of lift. Things like how much fuel, rate of consumption of fuel, how many passengers, and so forth all figure into the calculation.

When they first picked us up, there were a few extra crew members on board. But that’s not nearly enough to offset the 12 passengers they were to take on. So they carried water as ballast. After taking on the passengers, the water was released, and away we went! (The grass at Oakland airport really looked like it could use it too!)


An artsy shot of San Francisco, in almost monochrome color.


Shooting towards the sun is usually not advised, but what the heck. Rules are meant to be broken!


Downtown Oakland. That crazy straight street? I believe that’s Broadway.


Lake Merritt is pretty darn big.


If you stick your head far enough out the window, you CAN look straight down. Probably not something many would want to do!


A parting view of downtown Oakland. Or as a Southwest flight attendant said over the intercom – land of Oaks. I know, I’m just repeating what I heard!


The Oakland Coliseum parking lot is huge!


The Oracle Arena (where the Warriors basketball team plays) looks like a giant bulls eye that says to space aliens – shoot me here!


Yeah, Kate thinks that’s funny! (no, not really…she’s just smiling for the camera). The air ship uses fly-by-wire technology, to control the 3 engines.


The airship pilot uses the joy stick for primary directional control, and the computer figures out the rest (like how much to swivel or tilt the engines, and a host of other calculations). There are a also other controls available which can be used to adjust for trim and buoyancy if needed.


View from the cockpit. Note the ropes are always there!


Actually shot this with a very slow shutter speed. The props don’t really seem to spin that fast in real life. Even though we were supposed to cruise at around 35mph, I think the pilot’s GPS said we were going 45kt. Max speed, which is not ever used, is 70kt.


Eureka is the 3rd of its class of Zeppelin NT airships, and the only one in the United States. The other airships are in Germany, and Japan. The one in Japan flies for ads space only, and doesn’t carry passengers.


Am I sticking my head out the window again? Looks like it! It’s actually hard to hold steady with the wind buffeting me.


Here’s a shot showing the Zeppelin’s shadow. With the sun being so far from earth, the light rays reaching us are for all intents and purposes parallel. Thus, the shadow cast by sunlight is the same size as the object (assuming the surface the shadow is cast on is normal, or perpendicular, to the light rays). You can see how big Eureka is by comparing the cars on the freeway below to the shadow!
Of course, the Eureka is a fraction of the size of the giant interwar year Zeppelins and rigid airships. Those behemoths can easily carry over 100 people in comfort.


Throwing in an artsy shot of the airship controls.


I liked the way the 4 softball fields are arranged.


The old salt evaporation ponds (between the San Mateo Bridge, and the Dumbarton Bridge) creates interesting color patterns, due to the different salinity and resultant algal and brine shrimp concentrations.


Helium and air valves. Apparently, helium is never released during normal flight. Air is moved back and forth to help trim the air ship though.


Here’s a nice view of the air ship’s cabin.


As we approach the end of the flight, we have to once again take our seats and buckle in. Out the window can be seen the main runway of Oakland International airport. No, we’re not landing there…


As mentioned before, the cabin is very quiet, and it’s effortless to carry on a normal conversation. The ride was likewise very smooth.


Just so there’s no mistake, ‘OAKLAND’ is painted in big letters on the tarmac.


On final approach, it’s as soft as an escalator ride. Actually, even smoother! The key to Eureka, is that it is safe. Unlike blimps and older generation airships, the Eureka is fully maneuverable. Even in light to moderate winds, it can hover and land, and only needs one person on the ground to hang on to the rope. A far cry from the old days, when there were tons of people grabbing the ropes and hanging on for dear life!


The front of the airship has what looks to be a quick connect fitting, which attaches to a boom on a truck in Moffett field. That’s how they park her at night. Sometimes, they will roll her into the hangar. But mostly, it’s park outside hangar 2. Tethered only on the front, the airship is allowed to swivel around that attachment point by the blowing wind.


With all the passengers off, and a new load of passengers on, Eureka prepares to take off again.


And Off it goes!


Pretty cool to have it fly directly overhead!


you can check their website for details, but I believe Airship Ventures charges $495 for an hour’s flight. Chartered flights are also available.


I count my lucky stars to have had the opportunity to experience flying in an airship! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to float above the hustle and bustle, you owe it to yourself to try this out!

More aerial shots

Some more aerial shots from the Zep (if you’re not tired of them yet!).



www.bernardzee.com
 

Martian Volcano!


Martian Volcano!
http://news.yahoo.com/photos/mars-volcano-1320955000-slideshow/mars-volcano-photo-1320954869.html
Mars volcano The area surrounding the mountainous landmark is relatively bare, causing the huge Martian structure to stand out. When active, Tharsis Tholus was likely much larger than it is today. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of Tecca

Mars volcanoThe planet Mars is a bit of an obsession for the human race. We’ve romanticized the red planet in everything from movies to video games, and we can’t seem to get enough of the barren, desert-like planet. The European Space Agency isn’t immune to Mars lust, and the organization recently released some stunning images of one of the planet’s most striking features: the Tharsis Tholus volcano. Presented with false color to highlight its geographical features, the once-lively mountain is still a sight to behold. Join us as we take a tour of a true Martian landmark. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of TeccaMars volcanoThe Tharsis Tholis volcano stands 5 miles tall on the rocky Martian landscape, dwarfing the tallest volcanoes on Earth. Ojos del Salado on the Argentina-Chile border comes closest, measuring 4.2 miles tall. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of Tecca

 

Mars volcanoThe expansive crater located in the center of the volcano resulted from the loss of supportive magma that the mountain spewed billions of years ago. With the interior of the volcano lost, its roof caved in, forming the giant hole we see today. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of Tecca

 

Mars volcano

Over the course of billions of years, Tharsis Tholus has become dotted with the scars of small to medium-sized impacts from space debris. The mountain is in an advanced state of erosion, making it particularly interesting to scientists looking to study the history of the red planet. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of Tecca

Mars volcanoTharsis Tholus’ large size is aided by the relatively low gravity of Mars. With less than half of the gravitational force of Earth, it is easier for huge geographical features to exist on the Martian landscape. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum). Photo courtesy of Tecca

 


Need a little Pick Me UP? Ice Pick up a Han Solo!

http://www.neatorama.com/2011/11/10/han-solo-in-carbonite-ice-tray/

 

Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Tray – $9.95

Do you fear that your Thanksgiving meal is doomed? Don’t surrender to the dark side. Use the force and the Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Tray from the NeatoShop to distract your guests from your terrible cooking.

The Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Tray is made from food-safe silicone. Do or do not make other things in this Ice Tray. Mmm. Make Han Solo in Carbonite butter patties, I will.

Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more fantastic Star Wars and cool Ice

 

Trays.

Loren Foster aka shadolrds

“From Whom Words Shadow Doles”

/https://shadolrds.wordpress.com

 

Use Pineapple Juice, and you can Dole out the ICE!

 

 


Astronomer admits to stellar pedophilia, youngest known planet captured on telescopic image!

Must be really small balls to need a telescope!

Photos deemed to graphic for public disclosure!

Only an artistic rendition allowed for public viewing!

Check out the littlest painted dusty ball before that too is banned!

http://news.yahoo.com/hawaii-astronomer-captures-image-forming-planet-230958310.html

In this undated artists rendering provided by the University of Hawaii, a new planet forming around a star is seen. The Institute for Astronomy said in a statement Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, Adam Kraus and his colleague Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory used Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to find the planet. LkCa 15 b is 450 light years away from Earth and is being built by dust and gas. It’s the youngest planet ever found. (AP Photo/ University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Karen L. Teramura)

University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Karen L. Teramura – n this undated artists rendering provided by the University of Hawaii, a new planet forming around a star is seen. The Institute for Astronomyy said in a statement Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, Adam Kraus and his colleague Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory used Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to find the planet. LkCa 15 b is 450 light years away from Earth and is being built by dust and gas. It’s the youngest planet ever found. (AP Photo/ University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Karen L. Teramura)

HONOLULU (AP) — Astronomers have captured the first direct image of a planet being born.

Adam Kraus, of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, said the planet is being formed out of dust and gas circling a 2-milion-year-old star about 450 light years from Earth.

The planet itself, based on scientific models of how planets form, is estimated to have started taking shape about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.

Called LkCa 15 b, it’s the youngest planet ever observed. The previous record holder was about five times older.

Kraus and his colleague, Michael Ireland from Macquarie Universityand the Australian Astronomical Observatory, used Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to find the planet.

“We’re catching this object at the perfect time. We see this young star, it has a disc around it that planets are probably forming out of and we see something right in the middle of a gap in the disc,” Kraus said in a telephone interview.

Kraus presented the discovery Wednesday at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Kraus and Ireland’s research paper on the discovery is due to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

Observing planets while they’re forming can help scientists answer questions like whether planets form early in the life of a star or later, and whether they form relatively close to stars or farther away.

Planets can change orbits after forming, so it’s difficult to answer such questions by studying older planets.

“These very basic questions of when and where are best answered when you can actually see the planet forming, as the process is happening right now,” Kraus said.

Other planets may also be forming around the same star. Kraus said he’ll continue to observe the star and hopefully will see other planets if there are in fact more.

Scientists hadn’t been able to see such young planets before because the bright light of the stars they’re orbiting outshines them.

Kraus and Ireland used two techniques to overcome this obstacle.

One method, which is also used by other astronomers, was to change the shape of their mirror to remove light distortions created by the Earth’s atmosphere.

The other, unique method they used was to put masks over most of the telescope mirror. The combination of these two techniques allowed the astronomers to obtain high-resolution images that let them see the faint planet next to the bright star.

The astronomers found the planet while surveying 150 young dusty stars. This led to a more concentrated study of a dozen stars.

The star LkCa 15 — the planet is named after its star — was the team’s second target. They immediately knew they were seeing something new, so they gathered more data on the star a year later.