Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Mom, you sure can hydrate a...T-shirt?"

So some smart guys came up with a cool new T-shirt. It starts out super tiny, like...too small for even a newborn baby or a small dog.

Then, you apparently apply cold water, and the thing expands to full, human size.


I like how they tapped in to the growing consumer trend in wearing clothing that is freezing cold and sopping wet. It's nice to know I can cut out the part of my morning routine where I soak the shirt I'm going to wear to work in cold water while I shower and shave. That'll save me... at least... ten minutes.

Of course...I suppose I'll have to go through the same steps anyhow, only it'll be putting this tiny shirt in cold water instead of a huge shirt. But I won't have to use as much water, so I'm still saving something.

Heck, as long as I reach my goal of having correctly sized, cold and wet clothing by the time I'm ready to dress myself... I'm good.

Seriously, though, this is amazing. It's one step closer to Back To The Future Part II's promise of hydrating a pizza. Pizza comes in tiny package... put it in the Hydrator, and a few moments later... full sized pizza! This is a personal dream of mine. It's on my list of things I hope happens before I die.

Tiny food storage is a lot less consuming of space than regular-sized food storage. We'd be able to store a month's worth of meals in a drawer, people! Just think of all the uses for the pantry now that we don't need it for storage.

Also... how long could it possibly take before we see Star Trek's "replicators" in the real world? I mean... what if this fantastic tiny T-shirt started out even tinier... like, say, microscopically tiny? So tiny we can't see it with the human eye? We use voice-recognition technology and speak the name of the food we want. It drops out the little molecule for the food we desire... heats it or cools it or whatever... moments later we have the item, full-sized and the right temperature.

I'm telling you it's going to happen. All because of this wonderful T-shirt.

(by the way... that Spulch site is where I get many of my featured science-fiction-in-the-real-world examples. I probably haven't done a good enough job crediting them. A lot of the stories we both cover come from Digg and other social news sites. But I read Spulch every day too, and they find a lot of this stuff before I do. They cover a lot more than just sci-fi stuff...mostly, though, it's off-the-wall type stories. And they post often. Check it out.)

Also now on technorati! Technorati Profile

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Meet the New Earth, Same As the Old Earth (only bigger)

So NASA quietly secured the future of humanity this week by discovering Earth 2.

Earth 2--that's my name for it, by the way, not NASA's (they call it something stupid like Gliese, which, to me, sounds like one of those ice-dancing moves)--is basically like Earth, but with a few important differences.

-It's bigger than Earth, by like...1.5 times.

-It's about 14 times closer to its sun than we are to ours.

-Its sun is significantly weaker than our's, meaning that it can be a ton closer to its sun without it being way hotter than Earth is.

-It's orbit around its sun lasts only 13 days. So now we can start doing the whole "dog-years" conversions to find our Earth 2 age. One Earth Year is equal to 28 Gliese years. So on Gliese, I'd be 868, which means I'm gaining on Methuselah.

So what I need to know is this: when do we start colonizing this bad boy? I mean...heck, if there's another Earth-like planet, with liquid water and breathable air...who the crap cares about Global Warming anymore?! Let's just trash this sucker and move on to the next locusts.

Plus, since this planet is 50% bigger....that means we don't have to worry about overpopulation yet. So we can keep reproducing like rabbits without the fear of diminishing resources.

Of course, with out current would take 20.5 light years to get there. But there's hope that new theories on hyperspace will speed up that trip.

Anyway, this is great news, folks. Now, if some alien race comes to destroy our planet, a la Titan A.E. or like the Vogons, we're good to go. We just need some bigger space ships so we can all get there together. Like the Titanic of spaceships. All aboard the Earth 2 Express!!!

Oh crap, I almost can watch nerdy people discussing and explaining Earth 2 in this YouTube video:

(also talked about on Spulch)


So some geologist dudes found this strange mineral/rock that had apparently never been discovered.

It's powdery and white, not crystally and green ('s what, then? Chalk?). And it doesn't weaken Superman, because it probably didn't really come from Krypton--also, Superman is not real...he's a comic-book idiots.

But at any rate...the mineralist/geologist dudes said this:

'Towards the end of my research,' says Dr Stanley, 'I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula, sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide , and was amazed to discover that same scientific name written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns'.

'The new mineral does not contain fluorine and is white rather than green, but in all other respects the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite. We will have to be careful with it - we wouldn't want to deprive Earth of its most famous superhero!'

So...apparently this rock has the exact same geological make up as Kryptonite. Which is kind of cool, actually. The Superman writers must have had some serious premonitions here...or they know more than they are letting on. Maybe Superman is more of an accurate history than we know? Could it be that comic books are really stylized re-tellings of real events?

Of course not, you big nerd. But it's fun to talk about anyway.

I also think it's cute that the scientists used "the web" to find out what rock they'd found...and settled on something they read about a movie. There's science at work, folks!

(also covered over at Spulch)

"Traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops, boy! "

Wooo-hooo! Hyperspace--or "light-speed" or "hyper-drive" or "warp speed" or any other sci-fi name you want to throw on it--is here at last!!!

Okay, well, not exactly. But it's here in theory! A theory so good that it won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' "Paper of the Year" award.
According to the paper, this hyperdrive motor would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could leave Earth at lunchtime and get to the moon in time for dinner. There's just one catch: the idea relies on an obscure and largely unrecognised kind of physics.'s a theory in a paper based on an obscure and little-known type of physics...but still...HYPERDRIVE!!

Man, I wish I could get warp drive on my car. It'd be like the "Ford POS" from Men in Black...and all my guest passengers would be all screaming and panicking and stuff. And I'd be laughing and very calm because, well, obviously it's not my first trip through hyperspace.

Any kid who's ever enjoyed a space movie wants to see hyperdrive exist. I don't know why it's not a Presidential Kennedy's famous declaration that we'd send a man to the moon. Bush could give a speech and say "Within the next 10 years, we will perfect technology that will allow our spaceships to make the jump to hyperspace." And the crowd would go wild and cheer and rave. Everyone would be all excited and the country would unite.

Until then...we have to settle for movie-based hyperdrives and warp drives. Thankfully, such movies abound (heck, there are nine of them alone just in the Star Trek series). But this paper is surely a step in the right direction. Nevermind that you've never heard of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics before today. Nevermind that the paper was probably written by some guy in a Rebel Hoth uniform or a 10-year-old. Just shut your eyes and allow your world to be a bit sunnier today, knowing that we are that much closer to Hyperspace!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Aliens Under the Sea!

Okay, so think about movies with aliens. Any movie with aliens. You could even consider the movie "Aliens," but there are hundreds of extraterrestrial movies. How about this...think of any movie you've seen with a fictional monster or alien creature.

Got one?

Good. Because here's a brief series of photographs of some science-fiction-type aliens that are found right here in the real world...miles below the surface of the ocean:

See, the deep, deep sea is so pressurized, dark, and not-intended-for-humans...that we never get to see half the crap that's down there. There are hundreds of species we haven't even discovered yet...many more still "unidentified." If the deep sea wouldn't so easily implode us humans...we should seriously think about moving down there and checking out all the crazy alien fishes.

There are a total of 26 images like this over at this very cool blog. I hope you enjoy them.

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!"

Popular Mechanics has a fun piece up called "Flying Cars, Your So-Called Sci-Fi Life." It's really written by Daniel H. Wilson, a humorist who wrote the tongue-in-cheek How To Survive A Robot Uprising.

It's sort of an excerpt from his new book Where's My Jetpack? The book playfully questions where some of Sci-Fi's most frequent predictions are...such as jet packs and flying cars.

However, there are several companies and private parties actually working on flying cars. Some have prototypes even.

Here's what I never understood about flying cars: roads are 2-dimensional. 3-dimensional. How on Earth do we keep any sort of order once cars are able to fly? In Back to the Future 2, there are these little floating lights that are sort of the future's version of highway reflectors...marking the path of the road. But I think that's highly impractical and not the way to solve the problem.

Personally, I would love to have a flying car. I would not, however, love the monthly payment that buying a flying car would bring.

I also want to point out that a flying car...really, if we're just an airplane. I mean...a flying car is a vehicle that has wheels and can drive on a flat surface but also take off and fly. Sounds a lot like every airplane I've ever seen.

Some of these prototypes even resemble small kit-planes. I mean, why try so hard and spend so much money inventing what already exists? Why don't we just give every citizen a pilot's license and let them start flying planes wherever they want?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Chinese Control The Weather!! (X-Men, The Avengers)

Don't look now, folks, but China has just leapfrogged over Iran in the race for world domination by inventing a way to control the weather--so they say.

Scientists in China claim to have caused it to snow in the village of Nagqu. This is part of what appears to be several years worth of efforts to control the weather.

They actually have 37,000 employees working on this rain-seeding project, which sounds like a lot at first, until you remember that there are, like, 99 Billion people in China. So by their standards, 37,000 employees actually translates to something of a well-kept state secret.

Hey, maybe their ulterior motive on the weather-control thing is a means to help thin out the herd a bit over there. Or maybe it's because they are a backward and odd people. No...I'm pretty sure it's the first...some sort of genocide is at the heart of this. Why else would anyone want to control the weather?

Sure, Storm from The X-Men could do it, but I thought everyone realized that she was the wussiest X-man. I mean..."There's the bad guy! Take him out with....well...your ability to make it rain, I guess." When they were handing out powers she must have thrown a fit! "Weather control?! Are you freaking kidding me? Why don't you just give me the power to make people smile or the power of positive thinking?!" She totally got the least powerful power, no doubt. Wuss.

And experiments in weather control don't always end well. Just ask Sean Connery. Better yet, ask his character from The Avengers. I can't remember how that movie ended because I never saw it (I know a stinker when I see one, and I try and avoid them), but I have to imagine it ended poorly for the bad guy Connery played...who was trying to control the weather.

There are probably other movies I'm forgetting that feature a plot about weather-control, but these movies are all moot now that the Chinese have figured it out. In fact, I think Al Gore needs to hop over to the People's Republic and see what evidence he can dig up to prove a connection between these experiments and Global Warming. After all...if they can make it snow in Nagqu, they can probably make the whole damn planet hotter, don't you think?

At any rate, it sounds like a really cool project. A waste of time and money and man-power and even possibly delusional and misguided...sure. But still really cool.

Also, those of you who follow sports may note that making it rain didn't exactly do anything good for PacMan Jones.

So...what have we learned? Chinese control weather. No one else wants to. Still cool. Any questions?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Shields Up, Mr. Scott."

Wow! Scientists are talking about creating a Star-Trek-like magnetic shield that might allow astronauts to be protected from radiation in space. Now if only they could create actual starships.

The picture above is the actual picture used in the BBC News article--extra awesome!

From the article:
"They argue that magnetic shields could be deployed around spacecraft and on the surfaces of planets to deflect harmful energised particles."

I don't care how they do it...I just want one. I want one on my car, and I want one on every car in my city, and on all the roads and guard rails and houses and telephone poles. Then, driving would become like bumper bowling...and we could go as fast as we want and not even aim much and we'd just "bounce" off everything (since everything has a Star Trek shield on it). It would probably double the length of time it takes for my commute, but all the bouncy hilarity would be worth it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Car That Drives Itself (Minority Report)

This is a shot of the interior of the Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI, which drives itself by using two eye-like laser sensors in the front and one in the back that scan road conditions, buildings, other vehicles and pedestrians over a range of up to 200 metres (650 feet). That's right. No humans needed.

This is just like Minority Report, except that I doubt the Passat 2.0 TDI can turn sideways while moving forward. It probably also can't drive straight up or down a vertical road either, but who's complaining? It's a car that drives itself for crying out loud!!

Apparently, there are several prototype cars like this, because the Passat is being taken to a contest against other self-driving cars. You can read the whole article here.

Personally, I think this is going to be standard in my lifetime. Too many errors and mistakes when a human drives. Cars guided by sophisticated computers, lasers, and cameras are much more precise. You can read about more self-driving cars here, and here, and here. You've no doubt seen the commercials for the self-parking Lexus, which is on sale now all over the world.

Also, while I connected this real world invention to the science fiction world of Minority Report,
there are several other sci-fi movies, tv shows, and books containing self-driving cars. Knight Rider comes to mind--oh, by the way...the original KITT car is for sale.

Another favorite is Herbie the Love Bug. He didn't have Kitt's charm and actual speaking voice...but he was a spunky little guy in his own right.

There's been decades of science fiction fantasies where humans are freed from the cumbersome burden of having to drive their own vehicles...enough with the dreaming! The self-driving car is here...and a day when we all own one is on the horizon! Unless they go all Terminator on us and develop awareness and start killing all the humans in terrible gory ways. That would suck.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Cloaking (Invisibility) Device

Wow. Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have designed a cloaking technique that, theoretically, could make something as large as a passenger jet invisible.

Harry Potter would be proud. Actually, he's had a working invisibility cloak for some time now, so he's probably not all that impressed. But he's also a fictional character, so he can kiss my butt.

The design uses special fabric to bend light rays around the object being hidden. To the observer, it would appear as though nothing were there.

Invisibility, obviously, holds tremendous potential for a number of uses--many of which would be for the military. Imagine if we could make our tanks or other vehicles and weapons effectively disappear from the enemy's sight?

Also, Trekkers should take heart knowing that we are now one step closer to achieving that Holy Grail of starship design technology: the ship that can fire while cloaked. Sweet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

House That Fixes Itself

I can't really think of any science fiction movies where a house fixes itself. Sure, there are countless movies about haunted houses, wherein the house in question behaves strangely.

But a house that fixes itself sure sounds like something straight out of a movie, doesn't it?

Well, it might just be a reality soon, if this article is to be believed.

Of course, I'm making it sound more Jetson's-ish than it really is. The house can really only heal small cracks in walls and such. If a tornado comes through and tears this thing's not going all Iron-Giant on us and literally putting itself back together.

But it's still cool. It's still science-fictiony.

Liquid Robots--T1000

Remember Terminator 2? Remember the "bad" terminator, played by Robert Patrick? Remember how he was made of "liquid metal" and could basically make himself take any shape he wanted?

Yeah, well some scientists are trying to create something in the real world that sounds very similar to the T-1000..."ChemBots."

From the article: ChemBots will be "soft, flexible, mobile objects that can identify and manoeuvre through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions."

A real-life T-1000?! Sweet!

Read the article here.