Updates: NASA, Terra Nova, STO, and DARPA!

Greetings my fellows!

Hope this week finds everyone well.

Between E3 and the new PC I've not had much time this week for much of anything else.  In fact, I've been bad about writing too.  However, I do have a few things for all of you.

First off: SCIENCE!

The two Voyager probes that left Earth over 30 years ago have discovered yet another quirky, mysterious thing about our corner of the universe.  Magnetic fields at the edge of our solar system don't quite function as predicted.  The original models had them being smooth curves bent by the interstellar winds (which, similar to solar wind, are made of charged particles traveling at near the speed of light.  Interstellar winds are also called "cosmic rays").  However, it seems that this model is incorrect.  The video explains:

Not to sound like a complete nerd, but I do wonder what more the probes will find out as they pass into the dark beyond our local space.  It's an exiting time to be alive!

Dumbest idea I've heard in a long time (For a Sci-Fi show)

I recently started to get excited about an upcoming genre show coming up this fall on Fox called "Terra Nova", that is, until I realized what it was really about.

It looked kind of cool from some of the commercials.  Humans go to an alien world populated by dinosaur like creatures and try to eke out an existence.  Sure, it's been done before (Earth 2 comes to mind), but the effects looked good and in the face of a derth of what I would consider good sci-fi this fall, I was willing to give it a chance.

The only problem is, that's not what the show's actually about.

As the preview on Fox's website (here) shows, the program is actually about the human race escaping environmental doom through some kind of time-tunnel into Earth's own past.  It then shows that dude from Avatar aiming at dinosaurs, actual dinosaurs, and people eking out an existence on our own primitive planet.

It's about here that I started to think, "oh wait, if you shoot that dinosaur you might wipe out about a thousand species of birds or something... and what about all the futuristic bacteria you all just introduced into Earth's past...  For all we know, you just wiped out the human race by introducing a contagion to what will one day be us... you bastards!"

So it seems I will still have the majority of my evenings free this fall.  What the hell is wrong with genre writers these days?  Obviously they're trying to play to the "Dinosaurs make money" market, but come on!  I would've actually enjoyed a "humans escape to an alien jungle world with large predators" show, if for no other reason than the campy factor, but this is intollerable.

Hey, network execs, give those more creative shows a chance before I quit TV entirely, please!

Star Trek Returns to My Life

Among the many things that I've been trying out with the new PC is Star Trek Online (STO).  I was invited to this by a friend who gave me the link for a free trial long before I had the means to take advantage of it (it's PC only).  I finally got the chance to try it out yesterday, and I'm impressed.
STO has a good game engine, similar to most MMO's out there for interactions on a personal scale (beaming down to a planet, walking around on a star base) but also includes a star ship interaction feature which enables vehicle combat, scanning, etc.  It's really the latter feature that impressed me.  It handles warping between systems, shield management, and starship scale weapons quite well.

Nearly everything is customizable, including your bridge crew, appearance, and even that of your star ship.  Personal combat and interaction is done in a style similar to Knights of the Old Republic by Bioware, and for veterans of that game (like myself), the system will be readily understandable.  I found the menus to be a bit confusing at first as they aren't as user friendly as they could be, but overall the game is quite solid.  I may have found something new to get addicted to before The Old Republic comes out.

Here's a trailer:

In some regards, I could really do with not spending another $15 a month on an MMORPG, but unless something totally disasterous happens during my "free trial week", I'm thinking that's exactly what I'm going to wind up doing.  I'll also be previewing Rift at the same time, but I've got little doubt that STO will win out (mainly because I'm more of a space guy than a swords and sorcery guy, and because I hear Rift gets boring fast- but time will tell).

On a final note

I was quite surprised recently to learn that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), made famous (to me) by its appearance in Metal Gear Solid (original), is actually (as far as I can tell) soliciting corporate interest to build a working, manned star ship.

Now, the website could be total BS, but I'd like to think not.  (I'm sure one of you will be happy to point out how foolish or correct I am here).  I've believed for a very long time now that getting off this rock is the only way we as a species is going to wind up living the galactic high-life of awesomeness that I'd like us to be living, so news that someone is approaching accomplishing this goal with a real plan and seriousness is quite heartening to me.

The project is supposed to take 100 years.  Given the increasing pace of technological development, and some promising signs in the world of Quantum Physics that making artificial worm-holes (Einstein-Rosenburg Bridges) might actually be possible, it's conceivable that we'll be living it up on Epsilon by 2112.  Perhaps this isn't likely, but I'd like to think that it is.

You can read all about the DARPA initiative here.

And that's all for this week!  Be well!

Oh and if any of you have a favorite pic for this fall's sci-fi shows, please do let me know.


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