Thursday, April 17, 2008

13 Year Old Knows More Than NASA - Yeah Right!!!

Busted. The story that is knocking around the net at the moment about a 13 year old kid that has recalculated an asteroid impact is complete rubbish. Yes there is an asteroid called Apophis, and yes it will pass Earth, but an no time will it come near any satellites that might change its path causing it to crash. More after the jump.

Both Bad Astronomy and New Scientist websites have posted new articles, here and here saying that the story is essentially not true. The Agence France Presse (AFP) had originaly stated that:
"NASA had told the European Space Agency that the boy's calculations were
New Scientist reports that NASA have said:

"Contrary to recent press reports, NASA offices involved in near-Earth object
research were not contacted and have had no correspondence with a young German
student, who claims the Apophis impact probability is far higher than the
current estimate"

What has happened here that someone somewhere has picked up on a story an run with it without checking the facts, basic journalism fuck up if you ask me. This is how rumours spread and potentially cause grief somewhere down the track. The fact that this story has made its way all over the net has quite frankly amazed me. I thought people would be more skeptical with this information. Needless to say that the truth seems to be spreading at a similar speed and maybe next time people with think before believing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cassini Gets a Second Life

No I don't mean that crapfest that is Sadlife (Second Life). I am talking about the remarkable mission to Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft. The bods at NASA have decided to extend the mission for a further two years, which means that there will be at least 60 more orbits. This means more chances to study the Planet itself, the Saturnian rings and also the moons Titan and Enceladus. This is another major bonus for NASA after the success of the two rovers currently exploring the Martian landscape more than 3 years after they were supposed too have gone belly up.

Not only has Cassini sent back some incredible new pictures of the rings and the Planet itself but but the bus sized spacecraft has also detected three new moons Methone, Pallene and Polydeuces. Cassini's biggest triumph to date would have to be the Huygens probe which landed on the surface of Titan. The first man made object to land on another planets moon. More importantly is the possible discovery of liquid on the surface of Titan. As yet is is not fully understood what the liquid is but scientist speculate that it is some kind of hydrocarbon 'sea'. It is good to see that NASA and the US government is extending the missions of these incredibly successful missions and letting scientists study and learn more about the Solar System that we live in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Movie Review : The Signal

Have you got the crazy?

Directed by : David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Written by : David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Stars : AJ Bowen, Anessa Ramsey, Scott Poythress, Justin Welborn
Synopsis : After a bizarre signal is broadcast, a city goes mad and a small group struggle to stay alive and sane.
Rating/5 : ★★★★

I saw the trailer for this one a while ago and was really looking forward to it, in the same way I looked forward to 28 Days Later and the new version of Dawn of the Dead. After seeing their trailers, I had that same nervy feeling when watching either the undead, the infected or insane run amok on the city streets, and society falls apart in minutes.
I finally got hold of a copy of The Signal last night, and I was not disappointed. Its a decent flick with a pretty basic premise, and it keeps you hooked all the way through.
The movie is split into 3 segments (Transmission I, II and III). Each segment was written and directed by each of the three Directors, but it runs together so well, you might not know it.
The story line is pretty simple - a bizarre signal is seen on TV screens and heard on phones that drives people mad. It appears to distort their view of reality and lower them to their base instincts, usually with a violent outcome. It has a similar feel to the movies I mentioned earlier, but with a real twist in that you see some of it from the perspective of the deranged lunatic. It gives a unique feel to the film, introducing an empathy and even some humour into what is a very dark look at humanity's reliance on technology. What if all our appliances which we rely on day to day became the reason for our downfall?

I enjoyed this movie immensely and definitely in the top 5 for the "low-budget horror movies seen by me" category. And considering it was filmed in 13 days on a $50k budget, it shows some serious writing and directing talent.

And as an aside, how about this for life imitating art - during the recent screening in Fullerton in February this year, a man leapt up during the movie and stabbed two others in the theatre. Do you have the crazy?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Robo Seal begs to be clubbed

OK, maybe the headings a bit tasteless, but then fuck - look at the damn thing. Its asking to be made into a pair of shoes and some lovely mittens. What is it? Well its the latest model of therapeutic robotic synth-animal with a $US5000 price tag. Yes, apparently the old folks lap this shit up, and according to the freaky Japanese who keep turning out some of the weirdest products, it increases happiness in the oldies, thereby decreasing stress, need for med's, and less requirement for nursing home staff to deal with cranky old nana's.

I'm not 100% convinced that this sort of stuff works. There have been studies (see here and here) and there is anecdotal evidence to support the fact that old people live better lives with the responsibility and companionship that comes with having an animal. But a freaking robot?

Even though it looks cuddly, do people want some simulcra of life taking up space on the bed at night, all in the name of keeping their nuts and bolts together? I'm sure its soft and all, but wouldn't it have a limited response set, like those toy dogs that you can buy that you turn on, they move half a metre, bark, sit up, repeat. Ok, I'm sure it has more tricks up its.....flipper than 3, but people, even old people, are not stupid. Well, some are, but this is not a product aimed at brain dead or mentally challenged shrieking bed pan hurlers. If it has, lets be generous, 50 different actions, surely anyone would notice after a limited amount of time that it was beginning to repeat itself.

And who wants a bloody sea dwelling mammal for a pet when you are already over the hill and gathering speed? Surely something a bit more independent like an adult cat, or adult dog, or a frickin hamster would be preferable?

Some might say, what the hell is your problem? Its a robotic seal? Build a bridge. But its precisely this waste of robot building talent that rev's me up - why waste million of dollars building something this shitty? Why not build something more useful like a beer retrieval robot that knows when you need one WITHOUT asking? Or a robot that chases the neighbours cats off the lawn so you don't have to dodge cat shit landmines next time you mow the bastard?

I'm all for that - the Catenator Mk1. Comes with optional flamethrower.

Clone Wars - It Has Begun

OK Star Wars geeks, here is the first trailer to the new Clone Wars animated film coming out in multiplexes later this year. I have to say.... Damn this looks good. I was dubious to say the least about this but it looks as though good old Uncle George has done it again. The Star Wars franchise world proves its worth....again. Check out the video after the jump.

Sorry about the quality....