Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vacation Home

Mars was "life-friendly" more recently than thought? Well, we're still talking "geologic time" here, but it is interesting to see how the estimates keep creeping down!
The Spirit of 1776

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a tad early for the 4th of July. It shows the North American Nebula, which I've only been able to spot once (from a very dark site). I still remember the most excellent Rick Sternbach cover for Joe Haldeman's Tricentennial, which appeared on the July 1976 issue of Analog.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fresh Racing Stripes

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Saturn's moon Enceladus, a possible source of materials for Saturn's E-Ring. Or not. The hunt continues!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Digging in the Dirt

MER Spirit has gotten stuck in the soft soil of one region of Mars. Engineers are working to free the rover, utilizing such things as photographs of what is underneath to mixing what seems to match the soil on Earth (in order to use a working rover to develop strategies). In the meantime, science continues! Go Spirit, go!
Locked Room Mystery

This probably won't put an end to the various theories (conspiracy and other) about what really happened in remote Siberia in 1908!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Inner Ocean?

Sodium salts have been detected in Saturn's outermost ring...did they get there from water-ice jets spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus? The chemical signature hints that this is the case. An ocean inside Enceladus? Fish? Fish sticks?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Worlds Collide

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows two galaxies merging. Generally a less exciting process than a "collision".

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Space Review

The current issue of The Space Review has two items of interest: Michael Huang looks at politics, reality and the possible death of the human spaceflight program in the United States. And Jeff Foust looks at another product that is being published ahead of the 40th anniversary of the first step on the Moon.
Streams in the Star River

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows "streaming" dark nebula near Antares. Strange skies, indeed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Objects in Space

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a supernova remnant with an unusual shape. Why unusual? Most results from a supernova expand in spherical fashion. Was this a irregular supernova (and what the heck would that mean)? Did something else block the expansion? Hmmm.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009: The Year in Current Reads

The other night, my wife, my daughter and I were comparing the number of books we are simultaneously reading. For my wife and daughter, if was four or five books; but for me, I guessed I was reading between thirty-five and fifty books.

I've always been able to do this, don't know why. I can juggle multiple plotlines or non-fiction threads. I can put a book down for days, weeks or months (even years) and pick it up again without a problem. Don't know how...

Anyway, here's a fairly complete list (without pulling off layers from the bookshelves to scan all the titles) of what I'm currently (more or less currently) reading. In looking at the non-fiction, can you discern what I'd like to be doing now?

Abnett, Dan: The Founding (omnibus, part of the "Gaunt's Ghosts" series, which is part of the "Warhammer 40,000" series).

Anvil, Christopher: Interstellar Patrol.

Asher, Neal: The Shadow of the Scorpion ("Polity" series).

Banks, Iain M.: Matter; Use of Weapons ("Culture" series).

Bear, Greg: Darwin's Radio ("Darwin's Children" series).

Beattie, Donald A.: ISScapades: The Crippling of America's Space Program.

Benford, Gregory: Across the Sea of Stars (part of the "Galactic Center" series).

Berry, Adrian: The Next Ten Thousand Years.

Bova, Ben: Laugh Lines.

Brooks, Max: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

Brotherton, Mike: Stardragon.

Brunner, John: Stand on Zanzibar.

Buckell, Tobias: Crystal Rain; Halo: The Cole Protocol (part of the "Halo" series).

Burrough, Bryan: Dragonfly.

Burrows, William E.: The Survival Imperative; This New Ocean.

Butrica, Andrew J.: Single State to Orbit.

Campbell, Donovan: Joker One.

Chandler, A. Bertram: Spartan Planet (part of the "Commodore Grimes" series).

Chesterton, G.K.: The Man Who Was Thursday.

Clarke, Arthur C.: Tales from the White Hart; The Coast of Coral.

Cook, Glen: Passage at Arms; The Dragon Never Sleeps.

Cooper, Henry S.F.: A House in Space.

Crichton, Michael: The Andromeda Strain.

The Dali Lama: The Art of Happiness.

Dick, Philip K.: The Man in the High Castle.

Dickson, Gordon R.: The Right to Arm Bears.

Dickson, Gordon R. and Anderson, Poul: Hokas, Pokas.

Drake, David: Cross the Stars; Grimmer Than Hell; Old Nathan; Seas of Venus; Starliner; The Sea Hag; Paying the Piper (part of the "Hammer's Slammers" series); Redliners.

Dyson, Freeman: Infinite in All Directions; Origins of Life; Imagined Worlds; Disturbing the Universe; The Sun, The Genome, and The Internet; The Scientist as Rebel.

Egan, Greg: Incandesence.

Eisley, Loren: The Invisible Pyramid; The Unexpected Universe; The Star Thrower.

Flint, Eric: The Philosophical Strangler; Forward the Mage ("Joe's World"); Mother of Demons.

Flint, Eric and Freer, Dave: Pyramid Power ("Pyramid"); Rats, Bats and Vats ("Rats" series).

Forward, Robert L.: Indistinguishable from Magic.

Franklin, Benjamin: Autobiography (Harvard Classics, Volume 01).

George MacDonald Fraser: Flashman; Quartered Safe Out There.

Friedman, Thomas L.: The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

Gallun, Raymond Z.: The Planet Strappers.

Geston, M.S.: The Books of the Wars (omnibus).

Gibson, W.: Idoru (part of the "Bridge Trilogy"); Spook Country (part of an unnamed duo of books, probably a trilogy).

Gilliland, A.A.: The Revolution from Rosinante ("Rosinante Trilogy").

Gleick, James: Chaos--Making a New Science.

Gordon, Michael R. and Trainor, Bernard E.: Cobra II.

Greenspan, Alan: The Age of Turbulence.

Hackworth, David R. and Sherman, Julie: About Face.

Hamilton, Edmond: Crashing Suns.

Hamilton, Peter F.: The Confederation Handbook; The Nights Dawn Trilogy; A Second Chance at Eden (all set in the same universe).

Harrison, M.J.: Viriconium.

Hart, Stephen: The Last Three Miles.

Heinlein, Robert A.: Between Planets; Farmer in the Sky; The Rolling Stones.

Herodtus: The Histories.

Hodgell, P.C.: The God-Stalker Chronicles (omnibus).

Hughart, Barry: Bridge of Birds (part of the "Master Li Kao and Number Ten Ox" series).

King, Stephen: The Stand.

Kipling, Rudyard: Kim; Departmental Ditties and Barracks Room Ballads (poetry); The Kipling Reader; Verses, 1889-1896 (poetry).

Kishimoto, Masashi: Various volumes in the "Naruto" series of manga.

Kitmacher, Gary (editor): Reference Guide to the International Space Station.

Kratman, Thomas: A State of Disobedience; Caliphate.

Lambshead, John: Lucy's Blade.

Lumpkin, John: Through Struggle, The Stars (unpublished, courtesy of the author).

MacAvoy, R.A.: Tea with the Black Dragon.

Machiavelli, N.: The Prince.

Martin, George R.R.: Clash of Thrones (part of "A Song of Ice and Fire").

Maberry, Jonathan: Patient Zero.

Marozzi, Justin: The Way of Herodotus.

Matloff, Gregory L.; Johnson, Les; Bangs, C.: Living Off the Land in Space.

McCaffrey, Anne: Dragonflight ("Pern").

McCullough, David: Truman.

Miller, Christopher: The Cardboard Universe--A Guide to the World of Phoebue K. Dank.

Moon, Elizabeth: Heris Serrano (omnibus, part of a series made up of three major lines of stories).

Moore, Harold G. and Galloway, Joseph L.: We Were Soldiers Once...And Young.

Mullane, R. Mike: Do Your Ears Pop in Space?

Niven, Larry: Flatlander, Tales of Known Space, Crashlander (all part of the "Known Space" series).

Norton, Andre: Star Flight (omnibus); Crosstime (omnibus); Dark Companion (omnibus); Darkness and Dawn (omnibus); From the Sea to the Stars (omnibus); Gods and Androids (omnibus); Janus (omnibus); Lord of Thunder; Masks of the Outcasts (omnibus); Moonsinger (omnibus); Search for the Star Stones (omnibus); The Sargasso of Space; Plague Ship; Voodoo Planet; Postmarked the Stars; Star Gate; Star Hunter; Star Soldiers (omnibus); The Beast Master; The Game of Stars and Comets (omnibus); Time Traders I (omnibus); Time Traders II (omnibus); Warlock (omnibus).

Pangborn, Edgar: Davy.

Peters, Ellis: A Rare Benedictine (part of the "Brother Cadfael" series).

Pournelle, Jerry: Exile and Glory (omnibus); The Mercenary ("Falkenberg"); West of Honor ("Falkenberg"); Prince of Mercenaries ("Falkenberg"); Go Tell the Spartans (with Sam Stirling) ("Falkenberg"); Prince of Sparta (with Sam Stirling) ("Falkenberg"); King David's Spaceship ("Empire of Man").

Pournelle, Jerry and Niven, Larry: Footfall; Lucfier's Hammer; The Mote in God's Eye.

Pratchett, Terry: Jingo (part of the "Discworld" series).

Pressfield, Stephen: Gates of Fire.

Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged.

Reynolds, Alastair: Revelation Space ("Cojoiner").

Ringo, John: Hells Faire (part of the "Posleen" series); March to the Stars (part of the "Prince Roger" series).

Robinson, Spider: Very Bad Deaths ("Smelly"); Very Hard Choices ("Smelly"); The Lifehouse Trilogy (omnibus).

Robinson, Spider and Robinson, Jeanne: Stardance Trilogy (omnibus).

Sawyer, Robert J.: Flash Forward.

Schmitt, Harrison H.: Return to the Moon.

Schroeder, Karl: Sun of Suns (part of the "Virga" sequence).

Stanton, Doug: Horse Soldiers.

Stapledon, Olaf: The Star Maker.

Stephenson, Neal: The Diamond Age. Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer; Cryptnomicon; The Baroque Cycle; Snowcrash.

Stewart, George: Earth Abides.

Stine, G. Harry: Living in Space; Halfway to Anywhere; The Space Enterprise; The Third Industrial Revolution.

Stross, Charles: Halting State.

Thomas, Lewis: Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony; The Lives of a Cell; The Youngest Science; The Medusa and the Snail; The Fragile Species.

Thorpe, Gav: The Last Chancers (omnibus, part of the "Warhammer 40,000" series).

Toffler, Alvin: Future Shock.

Travis: Karen: Aspho Fields (part of the "Gears of War" series).

Van Gulik, Robert: The Chinese Lake Murders (part of the "Judge Dee" series).

Various: The King James Version of The Bible; The Common Edition of The New Testament; The Psalms.

Weber, David: The Honor of the Queen (part of the "Honor Harrington" series); The Oath of Swords/Sword Brother (the "War God" series).

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent (part of the "Inspector Chen" series).

Williamson, Michael Z.: Contact with Chaos (part of the "Freehold" series).

Wolfe, Gene: The Shadow of the Torturer (part of "The Book of the New Sun").

Zahn, Timothy: Blackcollar ("Blackcollar"); Blackcollar: The Judas Solution ("Blackcollar"); The Cobra Trilogy (omnibus).

Zebrowski, George: The Omega Point Trilogy (omnibus); Macro-Life.

Zelazny, Roger: Jack of Shadows; The Amber Cycle (10 books).

Zelazny, Roger and Saberhagen, Fred: The Black Throne.

Zimmerman, Robert: Leaving Earth.

Zubrin, Robert: The Case for Mars; Entering Space; On to Mars; How to Live on Mars.

And that's not all! I've pretty much skipped the current reads from The Year in Shorts. In typing up this list I said "Oh, yeah, what about..." several times, but did not enter most of the titles I recall I'm also reading. Hopefully this will be constantly modified, as I finish titles or remember what else I'm reading.
Walking on the Moon

This is a pretty amazing image! While we wait for the first step in the return to the Moon with the launch of LRO/LCROSS, a small private effort is working on cleaning up and processing images from the Lunar Orbiters that were launched in the 1960's. Here's one frame, that shows details of the site that Apollo 14 explored.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Like a Bad Penny

If you get an e-mail saying..."Mars will look as large as the full moon...No one alive today will ever see this again."

Chains Keep Us Together

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the distinctive deep sky object known as Markarian's Chain, a string of galaxies. Most, but not all, are actually part of a large scale structure.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Slamming the Hammer

Take a look: new Hammer's Slammers game (from Mongoose, though, errrrr....) and new Hammer's Slammers edition. The best news about the second is that we'll finally be getting the compleat canon as eBooks!
The Civil Heretic

I somehow overlooked this March 25, 2009 article about Freeman Dyson. Would that his critics were as polite and unassuming as he is!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an astronomical mystery: are we seeing gas jets from a microquasar near Cygnus X-1?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

One Arm

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4725, a one-armed spiral galaxy. Look carefully, though, and you can trace a lot of very subtle structure around this galaxy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Very Secret Diaries of Tim Powers

I spent a couple of hours last night with my latest acquisition: Powers: Secret Histories (A Bibliography), compiled and edited by John Berlyne. I'm a big fan of the works of Tim Powers (he ranks up there with Gene Wolfe and a few others as practitioners of "modern fantasy"), but I'm no where near a fanatic collector as Berlyne!

The book is worth it if you collect the works of Powers (I've missed more than a few chapbooks, alas). It is worth it to see his sketches (his style resembles that of Mervyn Peake). It is worth it for the various essays.

And it is worth it for the biting commentary of one "William Ashbless". Live or Memorex? I won't tell.

Monday, June 01, 2009

He's Back!

Ansible 263 is now up.
Season Three

One podcast that I found relatively recently...and have gone through extensively (nearly two seasons in one week!) is Writing Excuses. Helmed by Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells (with the occasional guest) you get 15 minutes (more or less) of advice on managing a writing career in each episode. Good stuff, funny stuff; even my wife enjoyed the several episodes I "inflicted" upon her.

Season three is just starting...
Soft Patch, Dangerous Terrain

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the loose soil Spirit has had to contend with on Mars of late.