Robert J. Sawyer Does it Again

I got my hands on an ARC of Robert J. Sawyer’s new book Quantum Night.

quantum-night-cover

It’s funny, I was just saying to one of my customers that it had been a while since the last RJS book and *boom* there it was. When it was delivered to my workplace I was giddy with excitement – my coworker asked me if I needed a moment to be alone with the book.

Yes, I said.

Seriously, Robert J. Sawyer can tell a story. And it has been several years – his last book, Red Planet Blues came out in 2013. No biggie if we’re talking George R. R. Martin, but for a prolific guy like Robert Sawyer that’s a long time.

I loved this book. Loved it. It had all the things I’ve come to expect in a Robert Sawyer book – well researched high concept science fiction, interesting characters, Canadiana, philosophy jokes.  If you’ve liked his previous work, you’ll like this one. If you haven’t read anything by Robert J. Sawyer, why the hell not? Reading his books is like riding a water slide; you jump in one end and whoosh through the twists and turns until you pop out the other side.

Quantum Night comes out March 1, 2016 and from one sci-fi fan to another I highly recommend you buy it.

 

RaMJacks

Rick and Morty Pumpkin Stencils

Seriously.

It’s not Fall yet, I know, but I love me some Halloween. And my newest obsession is Rick and Morty. If you Googled your way here you don’t need me to tell you how awesome that is. If not, then feast your ocular appendages on this:

But it gets better! Adult Swim has posted Rick and Morty pumpkin stencils on their website. You can choose from Mr. Meeseeks, Rick, or Morty.

RaMJacksCheck out these examples by reddit user /u/OzmaofAK

Now go make your own. They are the best thing ever.

Seriously.

GFRnM

Gravity Falls X Rick and Morty: Callback or Coincidence?

I noticed something just now while watching Auto Erotic Assimilation. Just a throwaway piece of animation:

Rick_and_Morty_Season_2_Episode_3_Auto_Erotic_Assimilation_Full_Screen_720p_HDIt reminded me of this little bit of twin humour in Gravity Falls:

Gravity_Falls_SDCC_2015_Look_AheadCoincidence? Yeah maybe. I have no idea if the production schedules would have allowed this to happen on purpose, but it still makes me smile. And, I mean, the two shows have done this before:

So, in conclusion, I’m bored and it doesn’t take much to amuse me…

 

TardisRingYum

TARDIS Engagement Ring is the Best Thing Ever.

If you’re a Whovian getting married, or know a Whovian getting married, you need to check out this gorgeous TARDIS engagement ring for sale on Etsy. Check. It. Out. Etsy user dtekdesigns offers quite possibly the best TARDIS ring I have ever seen. Unlike some other designs, which only suggest a vaguely TARDIS-like vibe, this one is the freakin’ TARDIS.

TardisRingYumTardisRingYum2TardisRingYum3OtherTardisRing

With a selection of materials ranging from Sterling Silver priced at $1100 USD to Platinum at $3000 USD, there’s one for every budget.

Except mine.

Is there one made of used beer bottles?

dtekdesigns also offers a TARDIS pendant, Star Wars themed light saber rings and a selection of other delightful wares. You should definitely go and have a look: they are the best thing ever.

Source: Etsy (via the Mary Sue)

Mirieldesigns

Handmade Serenity Pendant Giveaway is the Best Thing Ever

I haven’t blogged in forever, but this seemed like a good reason:

Goldsmith, designer, and artist Miriel of Miriel Designs is giving away this handmade Serenity necklace on her blog:

tiny Serenity

To enter, all you have to do is comment on her blog with your favourite Serenity quote and why you should get the prize.

From Miriel’s blog post:

I will draw the winner randomly, and here is how you get the best chance at winning:

  • You get one point for commenting here.
  • One for liking my facebook page.
  • One for sharing on facebook.
  • One for following me on instagram.
  • Two points for blogging about this.

So you can get a total of 6 points.
Let me know here how many of these things you did, and that’s how many times I put your name in when I draw the winner!

She also has an Etsy store which is all kinds of awesome. Check these out:

Solarsystem by Josephine Ryan

Amazing Solar system pendant.

 

fotostudio

Another view of the Solar System pendant.

 

backlace

Gorgeous swirly backlace.

Neat, huh? Go visit Miriel’s blog, and win yourself a Serenity pendant. It’s the best thing ever!

 

motherbabyowl

Asteroid with its Own Moon is the Best Thing Ever.

Just a quickie here, but we have an asteroid due to pass the Earth today – Asteroid 1998 Q#2 – that has its own little moon.Check out this NASA JPL video:

Isn’t that sweet? It’s like that mother and baby owl picture that keeps getting passed around the internet. Only with death and destruction from the skies (not really – we’re safe).

motherbabyowl

Cheese-Space-Station-22259

3D Pizza Printer is the Best Thing Ever

I love pizza. Sure, everyone does right? But I mean I looooove pizza. I would marry it if I could. You know, with a tiny veil and a little bouquet for my little pizza bride…um, never mind.

So here is some awesome pizza related news from NASA! When you combine NASA and pizza, you know you’re in for a good time. NASA has handed out a $125,000.00 grant to Systems and Materials Research Corporation, based in Austin Texas, to develop a 3D food printer, which would print food on demand from canisters containing powdered nutrients. Check out this schematic:

via qz.com

Senior Mechanical Engineer Anjan Contractor won the grant with his proof of concept video, which shows a 3D printer printing chocolate. Apparently chocolate printing is not as new as I thought it was, and it’s damn boring to watch considering it’s implications for the future. But watch it anyway, Okay?

Of course NASA isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its heart, but rather with an eye to feeding its astronauts on interplanetary journeys. One of the main features of the 3D food printer is that it printers from canisters of powdered nutrients which will be shelf stable for up to 30 years.

So, Mr. Contractor’s first order of business is to construct a device capable of 3D printing a pizza, a food chosen because of its distinct layers. First the crust gets printed, and cooked as it prints (I have no idea how that would work), then the tomato sauce, then a nebulous sounding “protein layer” which I guess would mimic cheese. I think they could have spun that last bit a little better, don’t you? By calling it ‘space cheese’ or something? Wait. Maybe that’s actually worse…

https://i1.wp.com/www.missfidget.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Cheese-Space-Station-22259.jpg

But I’d still eat it. And right after the pizza I am going to print me out some tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Hehehehehhehe. I’m giddy with anticipation. 3D printed food is the Best Thing Ever. Now somebody 3D print me a sandwich…

Sources:

http://qz.com/86685/the-audacious-plan-to-end-hunger-with-3-d-printed-food/

http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/21/4350948/nasa-funding-3d-food-printer-pizza?utm_source=feedly

words

Timeless Words and Nerdy Shirts are the Best Thing Ever

I didn’t post last week so here are two awesome things for you:

First, over at the Washington Post they have a great infographic on words that have remained the same for 15 000 years. It even has sound clips so you can hear the words spoken. Have a look at it here, it’s pretty friggin cool.

Anthropological and historical linguistics is one of those things that fascinate me. Words drop in and out of fashion, they get replaced by adopted words from other languages, they change pronunciation. Knowing this I expected to see words similar across the Indo-European Family of languages, which is something known, but sometimes the news isn’t as new as it could be.

But the exciting thing here is that all 23 of these words predate Proto-Indo-European by thousands of years. These so-called “ultraconserved” words appear across widely varying and unrelated language families. Of the seven Eurasiatic Language families, all these words appear in at least 4. One of them, the word “thou,” appears in all seven.

Here’s the list:

  1. Thou
  2. I
  3. not
  4. that
  5. we
  6. to give
  7. who
  8. this
  9. what
  10. man
  11. ye
  12. old
  13. mother
  14. to hear
  15. hand
  16. fire
  17. pull
  18. black
  19. to flow
  20. bark
  21. ashes
  22. to spit
  23. worm

This version comes from National Geographic, and is also excellent:

This amazing graphic shows the linguistic evolution of 200 common words, or cognates, across languages. Graphic by Oliver Uberti, National Geographic

Second, the awesome Tumblr of Megan Lara. I got here from the Doctor Who Subreddit on Reddit, but the first thing I saw upon getting there was this great Team Rocket design.

PREPARE FOR TROUBLEby Megan LaraBuy the shirt here!

It is possible that I watch too many cartoons, but if you have a nerdy bone in your body, you will find something here to love. Like this:

Or this:

Here’s the best part: all these designs are all available as T-shirts or prints. Go buy one, or 3, or 10, they are the best thing ever.

Scale of the Universe Infographic is the Best Thing Ever

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” Douglas Adams

When I think of objects that are either really big or really small there is a definite limit to my imagination. Once things get past a certain size, I lose all sense of their size relative to each other. Milky Way Galaxy? Horsehead Nebula? Really really big.  Gas Giant? Really really big. It’s just hard to wrap the limited human mind around. But that’s OK. Now I have help:

Scale-of-the-Universe

Thanks to Reddit, I stumbled across this neato interactive infographic made by Cary Huang – The Scale of the Universe. You can zoom in and out from the smallest thing in the universe to the biggest thing, the universe itself. Go right now! You will love it. I swear.

Some highlights:

Minecraft World: Ok, so technically not a thing in the universe, but its included so I’ll mention it. Minecraft world is huge! At 64 000 kilometres, it is pictured as being on a comparable scale with Neptune and Uranus.

Russell’s Teapot: I didn’t realise there was a stated size for the darn thing, but there is. Its 25 centimetres.

Japanese Spider Crab: Bigger than any spidery looking thing has any right to be (3 metres). Yikes!

Phobos: At 23 kiometres, its about the same size as a neutron star.  And both are smaller than Rhode Island. Who knew?

Human Egg: At 120 micrometres it is just barely big enough to be seen by the human eye. Apparently humans can’t see anything smaller than 100 micrometres.

Proxima Centari: At 200 000 kilometres it could easily fit in between the earth and the moon. Except, you know, bad stuff would happen.

Gomez’s Hamburger: it’s a real thing. In space. And it’s enormous, measuring 2.5 trillion kilometres in total, but honestly? It’s a hotdog.

Visible light: those are some teensy wavelengths. Violet light is 400 nanometres, and red light is 750 nanometres. I guess that’s how they fit them in your eye! I’m joking, don’t hit me!

There’s lots more in there to see. Go have a look (but I recommend you turn the music off – it’s annoying). The Scale of the Universe is the Best Thing Ever.

Hardy-asteroid-580x418

NASA Plan to give the Moon a Little Sister is the Best Thing Ever

We need some good news today. So listen to this: over at National Geographic they’re saying that NASA is planning a mission to capture an asteroid and bring it into orbit around the moon. The asteroid would then be available to study and to mine at our leisure. How awesome is that?

My first thought was: “Will we be able to see this Little Sister from Earth?” I sincerely hope so. It would be amazing to look up into the sky and see (with the naked eye) something that we put there. How inspiring would it be to stand outside with your kids, point to the sky  and say that despite all the BS that divides us, a bunch of people got together and put a freaking asteroid in orbit around the moon.

And before anyone mentions it I have seen the International Space Station in the sky before (thanks to Heavens Above, which should probably have it’s own Best Thing Ever post.)

Here’s NASA’s conception of how the mission would run:

The NASA page is a little light on details, as they are still in the proposal stage. It mostly focuses on how this mission will piggyback on knowledge gained from other missions, such as the Near Earth Object Program, to select candidate asteroids and to fine-tune the mission details.

According to National Geographic:

In a presentation, NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot laid out the agency’s timeline for the mission: target selection in 2016, asteroid capture in 2019, and the first astronaut visits to the relocated rock in 2021.

Isn’t that exciting? With any luck, this will be just the beginning of humanity’s Age of Exploration in space. Humanity growing up and taking its first steps out into space is the Best. Thing. Ever.