Featured Sci/Tech

Mars Simulation Nearing Completion

I mentioned this mission back when it started, and now it is nearing completion (you may need a New Scientist login to view that article).  What I’m talking about is Mars 500, an experiment to test the psychological stresses of long-term spaceflight, such as what would be required on a trip to the Red Planet.

 the “spacecraft”: a set of interconnected cylindrical modules. The windowless chambers are locked and soundproofed, with air and water piped in. The six volunteers inside eat only what they brought and what they can grow.

They also simulate the communication delays, with messages taking an appropriate amount of time to reach them, so they have to solve problems on their own.  It’s neat stuff.  I wonder if that French guy’s guitar survived the ‘trip’, though.

Featured PC Games

Old Game Tuesday – The Homeworld Series

My review here will be on Homeworld: Cataclysm more than the other two, but much of what I have will apply.  The Homeworld series of games, and Cataclysm specifically, I picked up because they were different.  Unlike the 2D+ you got from some other RTS type games of the era, this had true 3D ship to ship combat as you had to specify both direction of travel but also elevation ‘up’ or ‘down’.  If you had been playing hours upon hours of Starcraft or Command and Conquer, it was a welcome change.

The story followed a race (the Kushan) who found out they had been displaced from their homeworld long ago, and build a generational mothership to go take it back.  The subsequent stand alone expansion and sequel deal with what happens after doing that.  The other unique feature is that your fleet (based out of your mothership) is persistent from mission to mission.  So there is a benefit to planning and executing a strategy in your missions.  You may find your self hard pressed to finish the next mission if you get most of your ships blown up in the previous one.  It might take a bit of time to gather the resources to rebuild.

The games (despite being 10+ years old) run well enough even on Windows 7 to play now.  If you can find a copy and think what I said above sounds intriguing, check it out.

Featured Life Movies Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Downy Canadian Dinosaurs and Colliding Galaxies

Hey everybody, hope you had a fun week.  Here’s the posts from this week:

Here are the links you may like: 

Scientists found dinosaur feathers from 70 million years ago in a chunk of amber in Canada.  Of course dinosaurs in Canada had feathers, have you been there in the winter?

Galactic collisions caused our galaxy to have spiral arms.  And the rogue galaxy is coming back for us again!  We’d better train up some oilmen to launch into space and take it out, in 10 million years or so.

An alternate theory on how cancer cells get energy could change the way we fight them.  It requires more study but this is fascinating stuff.

And now, for something completely different.  If you’ve ever had to cook corn on the cob for a party or simply a large family, it was probably a pain to either keep a couple of large pots boiling.  So use your cooler instead.

Finally, if you’ve got a LEGO fan who loves Star Wars, and honestly most of them do, the LEGO Star Wars Hoth/Wampa playset is on sale.


Simulating Mars

There is a simulation going on in Russia right now, with a team of  ‘astronauts’ living in a series of modules designed to resemble a ship flying to Mars.  They are stuck together in there for 520 days, about how long it would take to fly to Mars, to test whether 6 random scientists could stay level-headed and relaxed after all that time.  This line, though, kills me:

“Well aware of this hazard, crew members equipped themselves accordingly. For instance, French participant Romain Charles said he was bringing along a guitar so he could entertain the other team members.”

I’m SURE that’s what I’d want if I was locked in a spaceship with a bunch of other dudes for a year and a half, and one of them is a French guy with a guitar.  I sure hope the rest of them have some noise isolating headphones.