Starship Troopers may not be so far away. Utah-based Sarcos, Inc., under contract to the U.S. Army, has developed the first practical robotic exoskeleton.
Rex Jameson bikes and swims regularly, and plays tennis and skis when time allows. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound software engineer is lucky if he presses 200 pounds — that is, until he steps into an “exoskeleton” of aluminum and electronics that multiplies his strength and endurance as many as 20 times.
The Army’s exoskeleton program is nearly 25 years old, but until now the suits haven’t been practical to manufacture or to wear. This new design could change all that.
The article says that although the Army believes that soldiers may someday wear the suits, right now it’s focusing on uses such as repairing heavy equipment and loading cargo. So if a Queen Alien shows up, we’ll totally be ready.
Posted in News May 19th, 2008 by Chip
(Subtitle, Oh FFS)
As Slice of SciFi points out, the original 1957 version of the movie was a drama which probed serious questions about the nature of humans and their place in an ever-expanding universe.
It goes without saying that Murphy is turning this into a comedy.
The remake features Murphy as a Las Vegas magician who is put under a shrinking spell. He has to find a cure before he disappears completely, and the film revolves around his “misadventures” as he keeps shrinking. Verily, it will be a laff riot.
It’s a shame there isn’t some sort of review panel that has to approve any potential remake of a classic before production can begin. And if they’re presented with some kind of wacky “reimagining” of a much-beloved film, they’re allowed to slap the writers.
Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir wrote an article blasting the decision to have Guillermo del Toro direct the upcoming The Hobbit. John Scalzi, who has begun blogging for SciFi Scanner, blasts back.
Most geeks are spittle-flinging happy that Pan’s Labyrinth director, Guillermo del Toro, has signed on to helm The Hobbit (and its ill-defined and almost certainly ill-advised extra-canonical sequel, which I henceforth dub The Hobbit 2: Electric Bilboloo), but most geeks are also not Salon.com film writer Andrew O’Hehir.
He makes some valid points about why del Toro might be a better choice than Peter Jackson, and even makes del Toro’s dislike of all things Hobbity sound like an asset.
Yesterday the Vatican stated that it’s acceptable to believe in extraterrestrial life and that such belief in no way contradicts the Church’s teachings on faith in god.
The Reverend Jose Gabriel Funes, the Pope’s chief astronomer, said that the vastness of the universe surely suggests that there could be other forms of intellligent life outside Earth, and that “Aliens would still be God’s creatures…[and rejecting this idea is] putting limits” on god’s universality.
Well that’s a relief.
I’ll include the link for the sake of completeness, but the article is in Italian. This particular tidbit appears in the daily version of L’Osservatore Romano, which is Italian-only; the English weekly version doesn’t have it.
(via Slice of SciFi)
Commenting on this Wired article where J.J. Abrams claims that he is “reinventing” Trek with the new movie, Wil Wheaton offers his thoughts.
Speaking as a lifelong geek, my knee-jerk reaction when I hear someone talking about “reinventing” something like Trek is that it will be a tower of suck, built out of an endless supply of Jar-Jars and midichlorians.
However! Ron Moore reinvented BSG, and it’s the greatest thing ever, so reinventing things isn’t automatically horrible. In fact, if the article had been titled “JJ Abrams promises thrilling effects for Star Trek movie” I’d be celebrating right now. Language is important, as they say.
Wheaton’s official stance is wait-and-see, but part of the article he quotes makes it sound like Abrams is tone-deaf where the Trek mythos is concerned. I envision a mass of fanboys on opening night, leaping to their feet and shouting, “Wait a minute!”
Posted in Movies & TV May 13th, 2008 by Chip
According to the fashion mavens over at the New York Times, whom I cannot guarantee weren’t huffing spray paint when they wrote this, all things “superhero” will be the hot trend in springtime fashion. Webbing, latex, primary colors, and space-age sleekness will feature prominently this season.
I want to see the “Barbarella” line.
Link (via SciFi Scanner)
In preparation for the release of his new book, The Word of God, author Thomas Disch has revealed himself to be God and is taking questions from the faithful over at his blog.
Dear G_d: Could you clarify the order of Creation? There are two different lists in Genesis, and people have died over interpretation. Please guide your humble flock.
PS: What did you do on the 8th Day?
The Aardvarks came first. Then the others, in alphabetical order. Except some of the really cute ones, like the panda, wheedled their way to the head of the line. And the zebra just stood there feeling this would be his lucky day.
Should we be at all concerned that God uses LiveJournal?
Link (via BoingBoing)
The “flash fiction” site 365 Tomorrows is a collaborative project which presents a new piece of short speculative fiction each day. Contributions come from a combination of staff writers and select submissions from amateur authors around the world, and the site has posted a new piece every day since August 1, 2005.
The pieces are very short–the submission guidelines state 600 words or less–but there are plenty of stories in the archive: They’ll post their 1000th story this month.
This would be a good place to get a little taste of SF every morning, as well as get some exposure if you’re an aspiring writer.
This isn’t precisely SF-related unless you want to explore the whole somebody-tracking-your-every-move thing (which is a whole ‘nother post), but it’s such an insanely useful little link that I feel the need to showcase it.
Bugmenot is a repository of usernames and passwords for sites that require registration. Want to view a story on the NY Times site without filling out a lengthy registration form? Not terribly comfortable forking over your personal information to yet another marketing drone? Check Bugmenot to see if someone else has already registered for that site (using fake information, of course) and listed a working username and password.
The site also offers free, disposable e-mail addresses for sites that insist on e-mailing you your login information.
Note: Lest I be accused of promoting anarchy on the Web, let me note that I administer several sites (blogs, message boards) that get hit by spammers daily, most of them using fake e-mail addresses. I hate spam with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns. But I also hate having to fill out a lengthy form when I’m trying to read an article, and I particularly hate answering marketing questions. That’s why I give cashiers a CA zip code when they want my zip, refuse to give them my phone number, and think Bugmenot is a splendid idea.