Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Several items of likely interest to the SF (and just S) readers of this blog ...

What if robots could share what they learn?  Is that a step toward Skynet or just towards less dumb robots?  Check out RoboEarth: a Worldwide Web for Robots

(Robots interacting with the real world is a hard problem. My grad-school days are long passed, but back then I shared an office with a guy whose doctoral dissertation involved programming a robotic arm to ... stack blocks.)

 On a slightly larger scale, and from the Department of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, comes the forecast of a New Climate Change Worry: Space Tourism Soot. So I'm supposed to worry about 1,000 suborbital flights per year, when the current number is ... none? Still, it'll be nice when we have space elevators. If only world records for the longest carbon nanotube weren't denominated in centimeters ...

On a quite different scale, it appears that galaxies are more complex than astronomers thought. As in: the Hubble has seen the apparent rejuvenation of very old galaxies. See: Giant Rings Around Galaxies Perplex Astronomers

From the Department of Overstatement (but still cosmic and interesting), see Scientists re-create Big Bang in lab. No one has produced a new universe, but physicists at the Large Hadron Collider briefly created a quark-gluon plasma like what existed very early in the life of this universe. Primordial soup, anyone?

And still in a cosmic frame of mind, tantalizing hints about the nature of dark matter. See Has Dark Matter Finally Been Seen? Time Will Tell. The data are at once inconclusive and tantalizing.

(I've always had a warm spot in my cerebral cortex for the WIMP theory of dark matter. WIMP is clever, unlike quark. Naming a particle for a nonsense line in Finnegan's Wake? Really?)

May your galaxy not by superannuated, your dark matter mysterious, your space adventures sooty, nor your robots homicidal.

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