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Messages - Decato

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News / Survive an apocalypse in old missile silos!
« on: April 13, 2012, 12:58:09 PM »
The 'Doomsday shelter' being built below Kansas prairie where millionaires will be able to sit out the Apocalypse in style.

JK Rowling new adults’ book, The Casual Vacancy, will sell by the bucketload, says Sameer Rahim. But that won’t make her a great writer.

Sliding Void / Just noticed Stephen Hunt is on Pinterest.
« on: April 13, 2012, 08:08:18 AM »
If any of you are fans of author Stephen Hunt's fantasy/scifi/thriller novels, I've just noticed he's now on Pinterest (the coolest new social networking thing to hit the streets since Twitter started tweeting). Friend up over at

 :-\ ???

Greg Bear, Drew Magary, China Miéville, Jane Rogers, Charles Stross and Sheri S. Tepper are the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s premier prize for science fiction literature.

News / Doctor Who official con attracts 1000s from around the globe.
« on: March 25, 2012, 01:44:06 AM »
Thousands of Doctor Who fans are meeting their heroes - and villains - at an official convention for the long-running show. People from as far away as America and New Zealand have flocked to the Wales Millennium Centre to see their heroes and villains.

News / Game Of Thrones Season 2: Lots of new photos.
« on: March 24, 2012, 12:12:27 PM »
New faces, old faces, but no dragons in this fantasy TV series. Well, what the heck did you expect... orcs?

We’ve noted many times that Google‘s commitment to selling ebooks has been shaky at best.

If you’re still a little confused about whether the new Blade Runner movie is a prequel or a sequel, don’t worry: there is no definitive answer to that question yet.

The Diogenes Club / Somewhere a steampunk baby is dying...
« on: February 09, 2012, 07:41:29 AM »
Every time the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) stars in a film nominally based on the writings of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert Lewis Stevenson – or any combination thereof – somewhere a steampunk baby dies. That means we’re down one future brass-accented zeppelin pilot already, and the way things are going we’re going to need all the steam we can generate.

News / Billy Connolly to star in The Hobbit
« on: February 09, 2012, 07:19:42 AM »
Scottish actor Billy Connolly is joining the cast of Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  In the films, Connolly will play Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and cousin of Thorin Oakenshield.

Press Releases / The latest issue of Apex Magazine has been released.
« on: February 09, 2012, 01:01:29 AM »
Table of Contents

"Bear in Contradicting Landscape" by David J. Schwartz
"My Body, Her Canvas" by A.C. Wise

Classic Revisited:
 "Useless Things" by Maureen McHugh

"Caverns of Science" by Carrie Vaughn

"Editorial: Blood on Vellum" by Lynne M. Thomas
"No Mortals Allowed" by Alex Bledsoe
"Interview with Maureen McHugh" by Maggie Slater

Cover art by Donata Giancola

Apex Magazine is edited by Hugo Award-winning editor Lynne M. Thomas. Visit the magazine at

Apex Publications - Books of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

News / WB sets rewrite of 'Jetsons' script.
« on: February 08, 2012, 01:58:21 PM »
Warner Bros. has tapped "Chewie" scribes Van Robichaux and Evan Susser to rewrite its bigscreen version of TV toon "The Jetsons."

The giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way may be vaporizing and devouring asteroids, which could explain the frequent flares observed, according to astronomers using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

For several years Chandra has detected X-ray flares about once a day from the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A*, or "Sgr A*" for short. The flares last a few hours with brightness ranging from a few times to nearly one hundred times that of the black hole's regular output. The flares also have been seen in infrared data from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

"People have had doubts about whether asteroids could form at all in the harsh environment near a supermassive black hole," said Kastytis Zubovas of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the report appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "It's exciting because our study suggests that a huge number of them are needed to produce these flares."

Zubovas and his colleagues suggest there is a cloud around Sgr A* containing trillions of asteroids and comets, stripped from their parent stars. Asteroids passing within about 100 million miles of the black hole, roughly the distance between the Earth and the sun, would be torn into pieces by the tidal forces from the black hole.

These fragments then would be vaporized by friction as they pass through the hot, thin gas flowing onto Sgr A*, similar to a meteor heating up and glowing as it falls through Earth's atmosphere. A flare is produced and the remains of the asteroid are swallowed eventually by the black hole.

"An asteroid's orbit can change if it ventures too close to a star or planet near Sgr A*," said co-author Sergei Nayakshin, also of the University of Leicester. "If it's thrown toward the black hole, it's doomed."

The authors estimate that it would take asteroids larger than about six miles in radius to generate the flares observed by Chandra. Meanwhile, Sgr A* also may be consuming smaller asteroids, but these would be difficult to spot because the flares they generate would be fainter.

These results reasonably agree with models estimating of how many asteroids are likely to be in this region, assuming that the number around stars near Earth is similar to the number surrounding stars near the center of the Milky Way.

"As a reality check, we worked out that a few trillion asteroids should have been removed by the black hole over the 10-billion-year lifetime of the galaxy," said co-author Sera Markoff of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "Only a small fraction of the total would have been consumed, so the supply of asteroids would hardly be depleted."

Planets thrown into orbits too close to Sgr A* also should be disrupted by tidal forces, although this would happen much less frequently than the disruption of asteroids, because planets are not as common. Such a scenario may have been responsible for a previous X-ray brightening of Sgr A* by about a factor of a million about a century ago. While this event happened many decades before X-ray telescopes existed, Chandra and other X-ray missions have seen evidence of an X-ray "light echo" reflecting off nearby clouds, providing a measure of the brightness and timing of the flare.

"This would be a sudden end to the planet's life, a much more dramatic fate than the planets in our solar system ever will experience," Zubovas said.

Very long observations of Sgr A* will be made with Chandra later in 2012 that will give valuable new information about the frequency and brightness of flares and should help to test the model proposed here to explain them. This work could improve understanding about the formation of asteroids and planets in the harsh environment of Sgr A*.

Press Releases / Where's my Goddamn 5,600 mph naval rail-gun, dude?
« on: February 08, 2012, 11:22:45 AM »
The Office of Naval Research’s Electromagnetic railgun program will take an important step forward in the coming weeks when the first industry railgun prototype launcher is tested at a facility in Dahlgren, Va., officials have said.

“This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day,” said Roger Ellis, program manager of EM Railgun.

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.

With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50- to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.

The EM Railgun program, part of ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, previously relied upon government laboratory-based launchers for testing and advancing railgun technology. The first industry-built launcher, a 32-megajoule prototype demonstrator made by BAE Systems, arrived at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Jan. 30. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

“This industry prototype represents a step beyond our previous successful demonstrations of the laboratory launcher,” Ellis said.

The prototype demonstrator incorporates advanced composites and improved barrel life performance resulting from development efforts on the laboratory systems located at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and NSWC-Dahlgren. The EM Railgun laboratory demonstrator based at NSWC-Dahlgren fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010.

The industry demonstrator will begin test firing this month as the EM Railgun program prepares for delivery of a second prototype launcher built by General Atomics.

In the meantime, the Navy is pushing ahead with the next phase of the EM Railgun program to develop automatic projectile loading systems and thermal management systems to facilitate increased firing rates of the weapon.

“The next phase of the development effort is to demonstrate the ability to operate at a firing rate of significant military utility,” Ellis said.

ONR recently awarded $10 million contracts through Naval Sea Systems Command to Raytheon Corp., BAE Systems and General Atomics to develop a pulsed power system for launching projectiles in rapid succession. These new contracts kick off a five-year effort to achieve a firing rate of six to 10 rounds per minute.

BAE Systems and General Atomics also are commencing concept development work on the next-generation prototype EM Railgun capable of the desired firing rate.

News / The Wolverine movie.
« on: February 08, 2012, 07:32:12 AM »
Inspired by the iconic 1982 Chris Claremont and Frank Miller miniseries, The Wolverine film has been set for a release date of 26th July 2013.

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