Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids – T. Gehrels

February 24, 2013

Now that the Chelyabinsk bolide has our attention briefly, here are the first four of seven posts about Earth impactor popularĀ  science books or textbooks to suggest to your local college library. Give Chelyabinsk-inspired students some reference and study materials for their efforts to help the Earth avoid a hard rain someday.

Tom Gehrels and others edited and wrote Asteroids in 1979, followed with Asteroids II by Richard P. Binzel, Tom Gehrels and Mildred Shapely Matthews in 1989 as part of the excellent Arizona Space Series.

Noticing that earthpeople still weren’t seriously discussing the threat of earth-impactors, they came up with a catchier, more memorable title for their next related volume – Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids edited by T. Gehrels in 1995. 1300 pages, 4 pound/2kg hardback, University of Arizona Press, U$62 at Amazon, list price U$85. The best financial bargain of the textbooks in terms of technical papers per dollar.

This is the textbook/collection of papers that I’m recommending first and most highly. Summary: when the equivalent mass of a hundred million copies of this book hits this world as one object, ‘we in trouble!’ šŸ™‚

‘Hazards’ contains 46 papers, divided by topic into 8 parts: (more…)

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Mayday 1990 – Leonard Nimoy and the Bank Stickdown

January 11, 2012

SPNN Entertainment, Harvard Square, North American Landmass, Sol III – My heartbeat quickened as I dodged and weaved across JFK Street (which many of the natives still called Boylston Street), avoiding the primitive manually-controlled internal combustion groundcars. But it was a one-way two lane thoroughfare, and they were moving slowly, towards the busiest intersection in this Earth town called Cambridge.

The non-digital traffic control lights overhead ordered stops frequently to allow the native hoards of students, workers, and non-native consumers and tourists to safely cross the street – a technology not much more advanced than bearskins and stone knives. The trinary fuzzy-logic green-yellow-red sequence of incandescent lights in the unnetworked controller were intended to be translated as move, prepare to stop, and stop, by driver and pedestrian alike. In practice, all the sentient lifeforms interpreted them as move, move faster, and rapidly decelerate.

It was difficult to ignore the heavy smell of incompletely burned fossil fuel in inefficiently tuned and maintained piston engines. This was ironic, since the bank’s building housed the famed automobile mechanics advisory firm of Click and Clack, producers of Car Talk on the third floor; confusingly, their office window was labelled Dewey, Cheetham & Howe

Reaching the odd-numbered streetside’s non-slidewalk, I turned right and slowly strode along the unpowered sidewalk towards the bank on the corner, trying to avoid drawing attention to myself. But the 2D movie company had recently finished filming its Harvard Square scenes and the additional native crowds of onlookers had left, and my long black hair covered my ears.

As I perambulated, my mouth was dry, and I hefted the light bag I was carrying. After all, I was walking with a note demanding a raising of hands and a transfer of cash. It was a crime to take money from a bank in this manner. But I had travelled through time to this May day in 1990 for a specific purpose, and was determined to go through with it, despite the risk.

Leonard Nimoy holding a cup of coffee

Leonard Nimoy in Harvard Sq directing "The Good Mother"

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When Worlds Collide – An Office Portrait

December 30, 2011
Paradox Olbers at work in Spike’s office

Portrait by Metropoly; click on the photograph to see the larger version at her Flickr site.

Mild-mannered virtual worlds avatar Paradox Olbers in the office ofĀ Spike MacPhee, hisĀ wild-mannered not-so-secret identity, working on a blog post about Lynette Cook‘s painting of worlds colliding (on the screen).

You can also see my paperback copy of Balmer & Wylie’s classic 1933 doomsday sf novel “When Worlds Collide,” later made into George Pal’s movie of the same title. This sets up my joke about my virtual and real worlds meeting, while her painting and the book also meet. And now while I’m editing this post, I’m running by pure coincidence “When Worlds Collide,” the name of one of many NPC (Non Player Character, for those non-D&D gamers) scenarios in EVE Online galaxy, too.

Here’s the Amazon Books page link, while I relearn how to make it display correctly on WordPress. The book cover displays correctly in IExplorer, but in Mozilla Firefox you don’t see the cover and Amazon link box until you click on the Amazon text line. Click again on that to go to the book. Ignore the expensive trade paperback (though I’m grateful that it’s back in print) and try one of the many used paperback copies, if your library doesn’t stock it. Ouch – checking the used copies page reveals there are actually very few copies available, starting at U$7.

Update: My crack about ignoring the expensive trade paperbackĀ  is unfair and wrong; this 1999 edition description clearly states at the end that it includes the sequel “After Worlds Collide” as well!Ā  (Balmer and Wylie disagreed on the third book of the trilogy and it was never written.)

When Worlds Collide amazon link

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tech change – Flatscreens

August 24, 2011

At the Science Fantasy Bookstore in the 1980s, one recurring discussion was ‘when would we have consumer-priced flatscreen television?’

I swapped out this 35 pound CRT for a six pound flatscreen in 2007, after prices had dropped to under U$250 for 17″ displays.Ā  One-sixth the mass, and one-sixth the length.

Display compression, lessened energy consumption, and mass reduction


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