Monthly Archives: July 2012

The era of micro-spacecraft is here – ultra small satellites are everywhere

There is big news on the small satellite front. From super-secret agencies to the U.S. military, academia, private firms, world space agencies, and NASA, ultra-small satellites are the big thing.

In sizing up “smallsats,” there are a range of classifications in the less-than-500- kilogram department, be they minisatellites, microsatellites, nanosatellites, picosatellites, palm-size CubeSats, even the diminutive Femto satellite, weighing in at less than 100 grams.

Cornell University has begun to delve into a postage stamp-size “satellite on a chip” design, called Sprite, envisioning a swarm of these tiny probes exploring planetary atmospheres for organic compounds.

“The knowledge of how to make and use smallsats has passed the tipping point,” Matt Bille told SPACE.com. “It exists worldwide and has fostered a global generation of satellite builders and engineers. It used to be only a few organizations could build a satellite. Now, a smart teenager with a CubeSat kit and a soldering iron is a space agency. We’ve only begun to grasp the implications of that.”

“The age of microspacecraft is on solid ground now.”

 

Source: Space.com - Small Satellites Prompt Big Ideas for Next 25 Years

 

 

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Photos of the skydiver who parachuted into the Olympics dressed as the Queen

(Yahoo! Sports)

 

God save the queen. And get her a razor for her five o’clock shadow.

The stuntperson who was featured during that showstopping moment in Friday night’s Opening Ceremony when Queen Elizabeth jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond was a better actor than you ever knew. A closer look reveals it was a man dressed as the queen and pulling the cord on the parachute.

Gary Connery, above right, is a 42-year-old stuntperson who has appeared in British television shows and popular movies including the “Indiana Jones” series. He’s a jumping daredevil, having set the record for highest free jump and making close to 1,000 skydives in his career.

Connery was tasked with playing the queen during the ceremony, a role which included jumping out of the helicopter and landing precisely on a nearby bridge and, perhaps more dangerously, wearing a tiara and pearls.

 

Learn more: Times Union - The stuntman, emphasis on man, who dressed like Queen Elizabeth and jumped out of a helicopter

 

 

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Ai WeiWei reviews London’s opening ceremony for 2012 Olympics – criticizes Beijing’s

Brilliant. It was very, very well done. This was about Great Britain; it didn’t pretend it was trying to have global appeal. Because Great Britain has self-confidence, it doesn’t need a monumental Olympics. But for China that was the only imaginable kind of international event. Beijing’s Olympics were very grand – they were trying to throw a party for the world, but the hosts didn’t enjoy it. The government didn’t care about people’s feelings because it was trying to create an image.

In London, they really turned the ceremony into a party – they are proud of themselves and respect where they come from, from the industrial revolution to now. I never saw an event before that had such a density of information about events and stories and literature and music; about folktales and movies.

At the beginning it dealt with historical events – about the land and machinery and women’s rights – epically and poetically. The director really did a superb job in moving between those periods of history and today, and between reality and the movies. The section on the welfare state showed an achievement to be truly proud of. It clearly told you what the nation is about: children, nurses and a dream. A nation that has no music and no fairytales is a tragedy.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Olympic opening ceremony: Ai Weiwei’s review

 

 

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Prison inmates at San Quentin get contract to build satellite parts for NASA

The NASA Ames Research Center is known for establishing innovative partnerships and Pete Worden, the former Air Force general who serves as the Center’s director, is known as a maverick. Still, the latest joint venture to come to light has caught even some longtime NASA observers by surprise.

Under supervision from NASA Ames, inmates working in the machine shop at California’s San Quentin State Prison are building Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (PPODs), the standard mechanism used to mount tiny satellites called cubesats on a variety of launch vehicles and then, at the appropriate time, fling them into orbit.

Worden got the idea for the partnership with San Quentin while he was at a party, talking to the spouse of a NASA employee who happened to work as a guard on the prison’s death row. When the guard mentioned the prison’s critical need to establish innovative education and training programs, Worden, a former University of Arizona professor, said, “How about building small satellites?”

 

Keep reading: Space.com - San Quentin Prison Inmates Build Tiny Satellite Parts for NASA

 

 

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Astronomers discover black hole with 140 trillion times more water than Earth

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.”

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that steadily consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust. As it eats, the quasar spews out huge amounts of energy. Both groups of astronomers studied a particular quasar called APM 08279+5255, which harbors a black hole 20 billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns.

Astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early, distant universe, but had not detected it this far away before. There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.

 

And, the instruments they used:

Bradford’s team made their observations starting in 2008, using an instrument called “Z-Spec” at the California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory, a 33-foot (10-meter) telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Follow-up observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), an array of radio dishes in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California.

The second group, led by Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to find water.

 

Source: NASA - Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

 

 

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Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Imagine this for a food pyramid – topped off by dark chocolate and red wine, dairy nowhere to be seen, and fruits/vegetables as the foundation.

 

(drweil.com)

 

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The most amazing, moving commercial of the Olympics – Meet the Superhumans of the Paralympics

 

This multi-sport training montage reveals that the Paralympics aren’t just a wheelchair affair. As Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think” blares in the background, we see Great Britain’s best: the visually impaired soccer team practicing with blindfolds (a way to ensure that those who see more than others don’t gain an unfair advantage), the fierce-looking four-foot tall champion swimmer Ellie Simmonds, amputee runners, and, yes, the wheelchair basketball team.*

Halfway through the clip, there’s a jarring cut to a bomb exploding in a war zone. Then there’s a pregnant mother at the hospital, awaiting word of her unborn child’s condition. That’s followed by a road accident that sends a car flipping on the highway. A second later, we’re back in the gym, where a legless man is doing pull-ups. Then we see a man—presumably the victim of that horrific car wreck—next to his crumpled vehicle.

 

Keep reading: Slate - This Trailer for the Paralympic Games is the Most Amazing Olympic Video You’ll Ever See

3 of the 12 victims in the Aurora shooting died protecting their ladies

In the movies the Dark Knight does not always save his lady, but in the Aurora theater the story unfolded differently. The male instinct to rescue and protect kicked in the way it does in less complicated superhero tales. At least three of the 12 victims of the shooting died because they were physically protecting the women they came to the movie with. Alex Teves, 24, used his body as a shield to cover his girlfriend. He was shot, and she survived. Matthew Robert McQuinn threw his body in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. He too was killed, and she was pulled to safety by her brother, Nick Yowler. Jonathan Blunk, 26, pushed his girlfriend, Jansen Young, under a seat. Again, he was killed, and she got out after the shooting was over. Young crawled out and realized she and her boyfriend were alone in the theater, only he was really wet, and she couln’t believe what had happened, so she tried to convince herself that someone must have thrown a water balloon. (Here is Young in one of the saddest Today show videos ever, her trying to match the steady upbeat tones of the format while talking about gruesome stuff: “I think John just took a bullet for me,” she says. “He provided me the opportunity to survive.”)

 

Source: Slate - In the Aurora Theater the Men Protected the Women. What Does that Mean?

 

 

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Google ads Amazon-style products to search results – in a big revenue grab

An interesting update by Google which seems directly targeted at Amazon. These new Product Ads from Google will compete with Amazon’s commission model, and may come down to who has the better search.

With billions of dollars in revenue the stakes…

 

In the early days of Google, users would type in a query, we’d return ten blue links, and they’d move on happy. Today people want more. When searching for great local restaurants, people want places to eat right there on the results page, not another click or two away. It’s the same with hotels, flight options, directions and shopping.

Today we’re announcing a new initiative to improve our shopping experience over time–so that shoppers (your customers) can easily research purchases, compare different products, their features and prices, and then connect directly with merchants to make their purchase.

First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall.

Ranking in Google Shopping, when the full transition is complete this fall, will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price–just like Product Listing Ads today.

In addition, merchants who want to stand out from the crowd can choose to participate in our new Google Trusted Stores program. Google Trusted Stores is a badge for e-commerce sites which gives users background on merchants—whatever their size—including ratings for on-time shipping and customer service. Google stands behind merchants that have earned the Google Trusted Stores badge with a $1,000 lifetime purchase protection guarantee per shopper.

Second, starting today we’ve also begun to experiment with some new commercial formats on Google.com that will make it easier for users to find and compare different products. These include larger product images that give shoppers a better sense of what is available and also the ability to refine a search by brand or product type.

For example, below is  what stargazers could see on Google.com when searching for [telescopes], or for a specific product, such as [Celestron CPC 800].

 

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The Surf Network – rent, buy, or stream your favorite surf films

If you’re looking for a surf movie that you can’t find at Blockbuster or Netflix then you will love The Surf Network. This website serves as the web home for all of your favorite surf films.

You can rent, buy, download, and watch pretty much any surf movie movie right on your computer. More from the website:

“TheSurfNetwork.com, is a simple easy to use video-on-demand service that provides access to the largest collection of premium surf video content.”

“When you purchase a video, your viewing rights do not expire. You can watch a purchased video as many times as you would like on your computer or compatible device.” (which includes computer, iPhone, iPad, Boxee, Roku, etc.)

The site is also home to snow and moto movies. Check it out.

 

The Surf Network

 

 

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