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Messages - Estin Dwarfslayer

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San Francisco serves, in Star Trek’s fictional universe, as the site of Starfleet Command – the headquarters of the good guys – and despite all the time they spend boldly going where no one has gone before, the Enterprise and its sister ships make it back home surprisingly often.

Novelist Iain Banks has posted an update to his fans, saying he has revived his love of fast cars and is considering chemotherapy following his cancer diagnosis.

News / Doctor Who Dalek designer Ray Cusick dies after sickness.
« on: February 24, 2013, 01:56:59 PM »
The designer of the Daleks from the BBC's Doctor Who has died aged 84 after a short illness, his daughter has said.

News / Scifi show being killed? It was the "Last Resort".
« on: January 31, 2013, 03:07:29 AM »
A interview with Shawn Ryan about his (now terminated) plans for the near future science fiction conspiracy TV show, Last Resort.

News / Huge ideas that could change the planet (for the better).
« on: January 30, 2013, 10:41:01 AM »
The movie Armageddon got two things right: First, we are woefully unprepared for an incoming asteroid. And second? The right tool for the right job. “Bruce Willis made a very significant contribution to planetary defense,” says Bong Wie, director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University.

News / Battlestar actresses Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer interviewed.
« on: November 22, 2012, 06:42:11 AM »
I’ve been a fan of the Riddick series since Pitch Black, and I’m such a huge fan of Vin and (director) David Twohy.  When I got the job, I was jumping up and down and crying and screaming.  And then, the director said to me, “You do know there’s nudity, right?”

News / The Hobbit rights holder sues makers of Age of the Hobbits flick.
« on: November 10, 2012, 04:50:31 AM »
Saul Zaentz submits legal complaint against The Asylum for attempting 'to divert customers away from the Hobbit films'

News / Michael Arndt to write next new Star Wars movie.
« on: November 10, 2012, 02:51:11 AM »
As pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII begins, Lucasfilm has confirmed that writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay for the new Star Wars film. As revealed in the ongoing video series posted here on, Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas have begun story conferences with Arndt.

Arndt won an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay for writing Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing Toy Story 3 (2010).

More at

News / The Walking Dead Season 3 boasts more Zombies, butt-kicking.
« on: October 14, 2012, 11:46:58 PM »
Brace yourself for an onslaught of walkers when the new season premieres. A report from New York Comic Con.

News / Ten best aliens in Sci-Fi history?
« on: October 14, 2012, 04:36:28 AM »
Some space aliens are born great; others achieve it, and some have greatness thrust upon them. But even if they're here to wreak havoc, we can't help but love them.

News / Doctor Who – bedroom romp.
« on: August 28, 2012, 10:06:54 AM »
Well, it’s not much of a bedroom romp, to be sure, but the Doctor does smash the Amy Pond and Rory bedroom rule by breaking into their boudoir and demanding that they help save the universe again. Yes, this is the 2nd part of their little Pond Life mini-series trailing the new full series on TV soon.

Observations from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer have led to the best assessment yet of our solar system's population of potentially hazardous asteroids. The results reveal new information about their total numbers, origins and the possible dangers they may pose.

Potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are a subset of the larger group of near-Earth asteroids. The PHAs have the closest orbits to Earth's, coming within five million miles (about eight million kilometers) and they are big enough to survive passing through Earth's atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale.

The new results come from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE mission, called NEOWISE. The project sampled 107 PHAs to make predictions about the entire population as a whole. Findings indicate there are roughly 4,700 PHAs, plus or minus 1,500, with diameters larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found.

While previous estimates of PHAs predicted similar numbers, they were rough approximations. NEOWISE has generated a more credible estimate of the objects' total numbers and sizes.

"The NEOWISE analysis shows us we've made a good start at finding those objects that truly represent an impact hazard to Earth," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Object Observation Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "But we've many more to find, and it will take a concerted effort during the next couple of decades to find all of them that could do serious damage or be a mission destination in the future."

The new analysis also suggests that about twice as many PHAs as previously thought are likely to reside in "lower-inclination" orbits, which are more aligned with the plane of Earth's orbit. In addition, these lower-inclination objects appear to be somewhat brighter and smaller than the other near-Earth asteroids that spend more time far away from Earth. A possible explanation is that many of the PHAs may have originated from a collision between two asteroids in the main belt lying between Mars and Jupiter. A larger body with a low-inclination orbit may have broken up in the main belt, causing some of the fragments to drift into orbits closer to Earth and eventually become PHAs.

Asteroids with lower-inclination orbits would be more likely to encounter Earth and would be easier to reach. The results therefore suggest more near-Earth objects might be available for future robotic or human missions.

"NASA's NEOWISE project, which wasn't originally planned as part of WISE, has turned out to be a huge bonus," said Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE principal investigator, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Everything we can learn about these objects helps us understand their origins and fate. Our team was surprised to find the overabundance of low-inclination PHAs. Because they will tend to make more close approaches to Earth, these targets can provide the best opportunities for the next generation of human and robotic exploration."

The discovery that many PHAs tend to be bright says something about their composition; they are more likely to be either stony, like granite, or metallic. This type of information is important in assessing the space rocks' potential hazards to Earth. The composition of the bodies would affect how quickly they might burn up in our atmosphere if an encounter were to take place.

The WISE spacecraft scanned the sky twice in infrared light before entering hibernation mode in early 2011. It catalogued hundreds of millions of objects, including super-luminous galaxies, stellar nurseries and closer-to-home asteroids. The NEOWISE project snapped images of about 600 near-Earth asteroids, about 135 of which were new discoveries. Because the telescope detected the infrared light, or heat, of asteroids, it was able to pick up both light and dark objects, resulting in a more representative look at the entire population. The infrared data allowed astronomers to make good measurements of the asteroids' diameters and when combined with visible light observations, how much sunlight they reflect.

News / FaceBook's most popular scifi page gets a new look!
« on: February 29, 2012, 09:04:44 AM »
FaceBook has just introduced a whole new look for pages in its system. One of the first to be upgraded is their most popular page covering scifi, fantasy, horror and all matters geeking. See what it looks like now at...

News / The Beauty Of Space edited by Jon Ramer (art book review)!
« on: December 06, 2011, 01:03:38 AM »
‘The Beauty Of Space’ has a longer sub-title, ‘Space Art From The International Association Of Astronomical Artists’ which clues you in that this book isn’t about empty space but rather what fills it off this planet and the interpretation by its artists.

Read the review in full at...

News / NASA's Voyager hits new region at Solar System edge!
« on: December 05, 2011, 02:50:30 PM »
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory. In it, the wind of charged particles streaming out from our sun has calmed, our solar system's magnetic field piles up and higher energy particles from inside our solar system appear to be leaking out into interstellar space.

"Voyager tells us now that we're in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn't have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like."

Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space. In the latest data, the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.

The latest findings, described today at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco, come from Voyager's Low Energy Charged Particle instrument, Cosmic Ray Subsystem and Magnetometer.

Scientists previously reported the outward speed of the solar wind had diminished to zero in April 2010, marking the start of the new region. Mission managers rolled the spacecraft several times this spring and summer to help scientists discern whether the solar wind was blowing strongly in another direction. It was not. Voyager 1 is plying the celestial seas in a region similar to Earth's doldrums, where there is very little wind.

During this past year, Voyager's magnetometer also detected a doubling in the intensity of the magnetic field in the stagnation region. Like cars piling up at a clogged freeway off-ramp, the increased intensity of the magnetic field shows that inward pressure from interstellar space is compacting it.

Voyager has been measuring energetic particles that originate from inside and outside our solar system. Until mid-2010, the intensity of particles originating from inside our solar system had been holding steady. But during the past year, the intensity of these energetic particles has been declining, as though they are leaking out into interstellar space. The particles are now half as abundant as they were during the previous five years.

At the same time, Voyager has detected a 100-fold increase in the intensity of high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from outside, which is another indication of the approaching boundary.

"We've been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity," said Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "We've found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us. We are evidently traveling in completely new territory. Scientists had suggested previously that there might be a stagnation layer, but we weren't sure it existed until now."

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 are in good health. Voyager 2 is 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from the sun.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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