Futurist’s review: Interstellar

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InterstellarInterstellar, the Christopher Nolan movie (co-written by himself and Jonathan Nolan), is the sort of science fiction movie that comes along very seldom these days… unfortunately for all of us.  In an entertainment market that will go out of its way to throw boy wizards, zombies and Klingons at ravenous audiences—but turn up its nose when someone offers real scientific content—Interstellar strives to hit some notes that are rarely touched by Hollywood anymore.  But as those science notes are nested within some of the more well-known notes preferred by Pop Movie 101 aficionados, this movie does a great job hitting the right notes at the right times.

(Spoiler-free review follows) Continue reading

A little perspective

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Some cool images have been bouncing around IO9 for the past few days, related to the orbits of our Solar System, and attempting to point out some fallacies.

The first is a video that attempts to illustrate the fact that, although it seems the planets orbit the Sun in a more or less circular, or heliocentric, orbit… in fact, the Sun is orbiting the Milky Way galaxy at 43,000 miles per hour… and the Milky Way itself is moving at 1.3 million miles per hour.  The result: The planets are all moving in a helical orbit, being pulled along by the Sun’s gravity.

The first video (above) is a nice way to envision this.  It’s also wrong, of course.

Continue reading

A Worldview via balloon

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World View capsule and balloonWorld View Enterprises, a Tucson, Arizona start-up, has gotten FAA approval for a revolutionary experience, riding 19 miles into the stratosphere and getting a spectacular view of the planet… by balloon.

Which may not sound like much to most jaded humans, until you remember that a commercial airliner generally flies no more than one mile high.   Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet, is about 5.5 miles high.  You’re still in atmosphere, and it’s not quite considered orbit (officially designated as being 100 km or 62 miles high)… but for the view, I’d say it’s frackin’ close enough. Continue reading

The author interviews the cast and crew of The Kestral Voyages: The Lens

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cover of The Kestral Voyages: The Lens

An unutterably silly story, transcribed (with comments) from the MobileRead forums

Konichi-wa. I’m Steven Lyle Jordan, and I’ve been offered a rare opportunity. I am standing just outside of the space freighter Mary, featured in the novel My Life, After Berserker, and The Lens. I have been given permission to go on-board the Mary and speak to its cast—er, crew, about the upcoming novel, and anything else they want to talk about, before it is released! And as this is a sort-of pseudo kinda something like live feed, you, my MR friends, can also suggest questions for me to ask the crew, about anything you want! (And they may even answer you!)

Yeah! Cool, isn’t it? Just like a DVD extra! Continue reading

Fashion and workplace (lack of) equality

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sexy legsIn the news today is a 200-year-old French law that’s just been overturned for being, basically, outdated and pointless: A ban on women’s trousers.  Though it hasn’t been seriously observed for quite some time, France finally decided to strike the old law, designed (when it was written) to keep women out of certain job opportunities.

This strikes me as interesting—not just because it gives me an excuse to show the picture at left—but because the issue of sexual equality in the workplace has always set me off by its obvious imbalance.  Continue reading

4-Star Review of Verdant Pioneers

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The following is a review of Verdant Pioneers from Sift Book Reviews:

Verdant Pioneers was a real page turner for me. I haven’t read a ton of space operas, but I have to imagine this story is one of the better ones. Take a look at the description.

The city-satellite Verdant has spent a year out in deep space, moving from system to system in search of the raw materials it needs to survive, fighting off terrorist factions that seek to force their return to Earth influence, and unsure of Earth’s state. No one on Earth knows Verdant’s status, either, and both sides are afraid of aggression from the other.

And when the deep-space discovery of the age is spoiled by the unexpected disappearance of one of their freighters, Julian Lenz and his staff must make a difficult decision: To take Verdant into hiding, perhaps forever; or to return to Earth, and risk Verdant’s survival.  Continue reading

How biking can save us

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Oh, look… another infographic! One of these days, I have to make one of these myself… but for now, you can enjoy this one about the power of bicycles to transform our world.

I can attest to some of the data below… for instance, weight loss.  I lost about 20 pounds in a year of riding just 2 miles from home to the local MARC station, then another 1.5 miles from Union Station to my office.  I admit I do little biking to shop, but I tend to combine trips, and if the store I want to hit is between the station and home, I stop along the way. Continue reading

Back to the future for the U.S. space program

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SpaceX DragonLooking at first glance like an Apollo spacecraft of old, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is a private industry ship, has visited space once, and is due on November 30 to launch again, then dock with the International Space Station (ISS) 9 days later.

After years of watching the more advanced-looking Space Transport System, or Space Shuttles, plying their winged bulk into orbit and back, this almost seems like a step backward in time; why do the newest spacecraft look like revamped 1970s models?  Are we flying Corvairs to space now? Continue reading

Two releases: A new book and a reissued book

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I’d like to announce two releases from Steven Lyle Jordan Books, a new book and a reissued book.

The new book is Verdant Pioneers, sequel to last year’s hit Verdant SkiesPioneers picks up a year after the events of Verdant Skies, as the satellite Verdant struggles to make ends meet out in deep space, moving from system to system in search of the raw materials it needs to survive, fighting off terrorist factions that seek to force their return to Earth influence, and unsure of Earth’s state. No one on Earth knows Verdant’s status, either, and both sides are afraid of aggression from the other.

And when the deep-space discovery of the age is spoiled by the unexpected disappearance of one of their freighters, Julian Lenz and his staff must make a difficult decision: To take Verdant into hiding, perhaps forever; or to return to Earth, and risk Verdant’s survival. Continue reading