'We are all interested in the future, because that is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives.'
-- Criswell, Plan 9 from Outerspace

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." -- R. Buckminster Fuller

NuVinci Bicylcle Transmission

Features: Current EventsInstitutions: Fallbrook Technologies

This video shows how the NuVinci CVP (continuously variable planetary) transmission works. The example video shows a bicycle transmission, but the patent holder Fallbrook Technologies claims that the technology would also work for cars, electric vehicles, wind turbines, farm equipment, etc.

Candidate for Aceize Intro Video?

Features: Entertainment

I'd like to see something like this for Aceize.

found on boingboing.net

NASA creates uracil, component of RNA

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: BiologyInstitutions: NASAPlaces: Ames Laboratory

At Ames Research Center in California NASA scientists have successfully created uracil in a laboratory environment. Creating a relatively simple organic compound such as uracil is an important step to understanding the formative process of more complex organic molecules according to Stefanie Milam, an astrochemist with NASA. The implication here being that NASA has observed more molecular organic complexity on a meteorite than simple building blocks such as uracil. A quick search revealed that various amino acids have been found on meteorites as well as other nucleobases such as uracil.

The uracil was created by taking a sample of ice laced with pyrimidine. This ice was then kept in an environment around -240 ° Fahrenheit (-207° C), high radiation, and a near vacuum. This environment was selected as an approximation of space-like conditions. The ice was also exposed to ultraviolet radiation. As the ice warmed, uracil was found within the sample.

Bio-sphere 2 -- images of a slow collapse

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: BiosphereInstitutions: Bio-Sphere 2
Bio-Sphere 2 (Image by Noah Sheldon)

Noah Sheldon posted a bunch of great photographs that he recently took of Bio-Sphere 2. Posted on BlogSpot. The bio dome is not doing well these days.

The Bio-Sphere 2 project holds a special place in my memory. It's one of the first science memories that I can remember. The Washington Post ran a big glossy article in their Sunday insert when I was in middle school. I was hooked. There was this huge building housing plants collected from all over the world, and a few lucky punters would be locked inside just to see what happened. And if it worked... the universe would be our oyster. At least that's how everything seemed to me when I was younger.

Unfortunately, the Bio-Sphere 2 project suffered problems early. Gasses were soon out of balance and the enclosure had to be opened up. None-the-less I found the whole project inspiring, and still do.

Higher than expected Lunar Radiation

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Radiation, Moon ColonyProjects: Lunar Reconnaisance OrbiterSites in Space: Moon

The lunar surface has been found to be a significant source of radiation. Cosmic radiation has been radiating the lunar soil for so long, that the soil itself has become radioactive. This information is based on measurements taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which show that the amount of measured radiation does not decrease closer to the moon's surface. It is expected that measured radiation would decrease as the moon itself blocks a larger portion of the incoming cosmic rays.

This means that radiation dosages on the lunar surface will be 30-40 percent higher than previously expected.

California Firm to provide launch service in S. Korea

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Private Space TravelInstitutions: Xcor AerospacePlaces: Yecheon Astro Space CenterSpacecraft: Lynx Mark I

Xcor Aerospace, based in the Mojave desert of California, has been selected to provide launch services to Yecheon Astro Space Center in South Korea. Xcor will be flying the Lynx Mark II, a production model of the Lynx Mark I which is currently being tested.

The deal is subject to US government export licensing and approval.

Time lapse of the Milky Way Galaxy : From Paranal Observatory, Chile

Features: Current EventsInstitutions: Paranal ObservatorySites in Space: Milky Way

Giant hole found on the moon. Heinlein fans amused.

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Space ExplorationInstitutions: JAXAPeople: Junichi HaruyamaProjects: SELENE
Vertical Shaft on the Moon (JAXA/Selene)

The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, has reported the discovery of a large vertical shaft on the moon. The hole is nearly circular, about 213 feet (65 meters) across with a depth of 262 to 289 feet (80-88 meters). JAXA's lunar probe, SELENE captured images of the giant hole. Junichi Haruyama led the team that analyzed the images and determined the approximate size.

The hole could one day be used to shield people and equipment from radiation. The discovery is further significant because of Heinlein's novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. In the novel humans worked and lived in caves on the moon. The lunar colonists were led in rebellion against their earth bound landlords by a giant computer named Adam Selene.

Spirit Rover Stuck on Mars

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Robotics, Space ExplorationProjects: Mars RoverFree Tagging: Spirit
Mars Rover

The golf cart sized Spirit Rover has been on Mars since January 2004. Six years later, Spirit and it's twin, Opportunity, have far exceeded their initial 90 day mission. But the Spirit rover is in trouble. The right front wheel was disabled in 2006. And now the back right wheel is stuck in sand and stalling. The back wheel has been stuck in the sand for 8 months. The wheel stalls have been complicating efforts to free the rover. Now that the rover has only 4 operable wheels, it may be stuck at it's current location until the beginning of the Martian winter. If that happens, the rover is not likely to recover.

Call a tow truck and a garage. Or a good buddy with some tools (Opportunity?). Aren't there tools on those things?

Bacteria turn tiny Gears

Features: Current Events

The gears in the video are about 380 microns across. (about 3 hairs). They are sitting in a pool of common soil bacteria, Bacillus subtilis. The bacteria have a tendency to swim and move about when in the presence of oxygen and nutrients. This swimming creates a random motion. The gears are harnessing that random motion to achieve 'directed motion'. The random movement of particles in a fluid is called Brownian motion. Hence this experiment is a demonstration the translation of Brownian motion into directed motion.


While digging around yesterday I found this site, Technovelgy. This is a forum/news site that looks at the ideas from science fiction which become reality.

Organic Chemistry on the Moon

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Biology, Space ExplorationInstitutions: Indian Space Research Organization, NASAProjects: Chandrayaan-1, LCROSS

The Indian Space Research Organization has reported that they found the signature of organic compounds in the lunar surface. This finding following the collision and data gathering of ISRO's Nov, 2008 Moon Impact Probe. The organic compounds detected were carbon molecules in the presence of some other element such as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, etc. These molecules can be formed under a wide variety of conditions and do not necessarily mean that life is present, or has ever been present. The organic compounds are essential building blocks for life, however.

Generally, the harsh conditions in space will break down more complex molecules such as organics. However, the MIP crashed into a frozen crater, the Shackleton Crater. The theory is that cold temperatures have a tendency to preserve these complex organic molecules.

NASA has also reported organic compounds on the moon. These were found during the lunar landings of the 1960's as well as with the LCROSS data from earlier this year.


I found this forum recently while looking around for some random piece of information. It is a well used and visited forum with many informative and interesting contributors. FYI: As is normal on the internet, the same contributor generally does not fall into both categories.

Super-Earths and Extraterrestrials

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Space ExplorationPeople: Dimitar SasselovFree Tagging: super earths, Fermi ParadoxSites in Space: Gliese 581d, CoRoT 7b
Planet orbiting the star Gliese 667C, part of a triple system (ESO)

Super Earths are planets that range from 2-10 earth masses. Several of these planets have been in the news lately, a result of the several ongoing research projects dedicated to looking for new planets outside of our solar system.

In the attached article, Leslie Mullen talks with Harvard astronomy professor Dimitar Sasselov regarding the potential superiority of these super earths for harboring alien life. Sasselov makes the assertion that a low mass planet like Earth is probably not the ideal place for life to take root and grow.

The lower mass of Earth has several drawbacks compared to super-earths:

  • The lower mass makes it less likely for the planet to hold onto an atmosphere.
  • The planet's tectonics on earth are possibly slower acting that those of a more massive planet. The slow moving plate tectonics would have the net effect of trapping carbon needed for life within the planet, rather than releasing that carbon from volcanoes, etc.
  • The relatively small size of the earth means that the rotation about the axis is less stable than a larger planet. The moon helps to balance this lack of stability.

  • Cleaning Tips from Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor

    People: Chuck PalahniukFree Tagging: uberkorp.biz

    This article is from an old site of mine, uberkorp.biz. It was originally published Jan 1, 2006. The article was originally published in 3 sections, I have condensed this down to one article.

    Uber Korp isn't just about world domination. We are also about community service. To that end, we present:
    Cleaning tips from Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor

    1. Repair bullet holes in walls with toothpaste or paste of cornstarch and salt.

    2. Polish copper with half a lemon dipped in salt.

    3. Repair stab holes in nightgowns, tuxedos or hats with clear nail polish applied to the inside of the puncture.

    4. Hide red, slapped skin with green-tinted moisturizer.

    5. Hide a cut from a diamond ring. First stop the bleeding with a styptic pen. The close the gash with super glue.

    6. Create a temporary tooth pack for a knocked out tooth by mixing a compound of zinc oxide and oil of cloves into a paste. Rinse tooth socket, pack with compound and allow to harden.

    7. Remove tear stains, perspiration, mascara on a pillow case by dissolving five aspirin in water and daubing until the stain is gone.

    8. Remove lipstick from a shirt collar by rubbing with white vinegar.

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