NEWSLETTER: DECEMBER 2010 Digital Papyrus newsletter

Digital Papyrus

"Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily"

Date: December 2010
Issue No. 80


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.

Robert A. Heinlein

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New SF books for December 2010

Tor Books: Tor/Forge SF and Fantasy

CHAOSBOUND - David Farland
THE LOST GATE - Orson Scott Card
ILL WIND - Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason
SUICIDE KINGS - George R.R. Martin
HIDDEN EMPIRE - Orson Scott Card
PEOPLE OF THE MIST - Kathleen O'Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear
PEOPLE OF THE MASKS - Kathleen O'Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear

Baen Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy from Baen Books

BACK TO THE MOON - Travis S. Taylor, Les Johnson
CHICKS AHOY - [ed.] Esther M. Friesner

See also:

Del Rey [has completely revised their site - browse the Suvudu blog pages for more info.]
Science Fiction - Penguin Group(USA)
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
Random House, Inc: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Author's/Artist's Corner

the Offical Web Site of Mark Twain

I can't resist. Mark Twain is still my favorite author. He did occasionally write SF and fantasy. 'Nuff said.

Movie & TV Buzz


2010.12.10 2010.12.17 2010.12.22

NOTICE: For the time being we will be discontinuing FICTION CORNER

Con news

Conventions for December 2010:

2010.12.03-05    SMOFCON 28    San Jose, CA

Your favourite convention not listed here?
go to O*W*C Resources Conventions Calendar for more!

SPACE BABEL - The latest in Science, NASA and Other Agencies

Top Stories listed on Spaceflight Now

Discovery's final launch postponed until February


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--Launch of the shuttle Discovery on a space station resupply mission will be delayed until at least Feb. 3, NASA managers announced Friday, to give engineers more time to carry out tests to help figure out what caused cracks in the ship's external tank and what, if any, modifications might be needed before the ship can be cleared for flight.

"It's time to pursue a different path, and that's to head out with some test data," Bill Gerstenmaier, chief of space operations at NASA headquarters, told reporters. "Basically what we're going to do with these tests is make sure we didn't overlook anything, we'll see if these tests can reveal any new information for us and it'll also help us sort out what the real problems are we need to be working on versus ones that we just think theoretically may be there."

Musk 'optimistic' next Dragon flight will visit space station


SpaceX did its best Wednesday to quiet critics and convince NASA the company is ready to deliver supplies to the International Space Station some time next year.

The company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida at 10:43 a.m. EST (1543 GMT) Wednesday, releasing an unmanned Dragon space capsule in orbit 10 minutes later. The Dragon performed flawlessly, circling Earth two times before accomplishing a pinpoint landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of northern Mexico at 2:02 p.m. EST (1902 GMT)[2010.12.09].

Arsenic-eating bacteria may redefine 'life as we know it'


Researchers have discovered a bacteria that can substitute toxic arsenic for phosphorous, the first organism ever identified that appears to thrive in the absence of an element thought to be critical to life as it has long been defined. The discovery may require a redefinition of the basic requirements for life while expanding the potential environments on Earth -- and across the cosmos -- where life might be possible.

"The definition of life has just expanded," Ed Weiler, director of space science at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it."

From Space.com

Ancient Radio Waves Hold Key to Universe's First Light

Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Senior Writer

The early universe went through its own dark ages before the first stars formed and emitted the first light. Now astronomers are targeting this early epoch to try to learn precisely when that happened, and how.

So far, it has been difficult to learn much about the universe when it was so young, because any evidence is extremely distant and faint.

But a new study of ancient radio waves offers some hope that more answers could be around the corner.

Scientists Use Earth for Clues Into History of Mars

Charles Q. Choi, Astrobiology Magazine Contributor

There is no place on Earth that is a perfect copycat of Mars as it is now, or as it was at any specific point in the past. But scientists suggest Earth has little versions of Mars as it might have been over decades.

These places could help scientists develop a timeline of the Red Planet's history.

By providing insights on how Mars has changed over time, these terrestrial mimics could help us better understand the results of past and current missions to Mars. They also could help researchers plan future expeditions to look for signs of life on Mars. In addition, investigating these extreme sites on Earth could shed light on the limits of life.

From The New York Times: Space & Cosmos

A Costly Quest for the Dark Heart of the Cosmos

Fred Merz for The New York Times

After 16 years and $1.5 billion of other people’s money, it is almost showtime for NASA and Sam Ting.

Scientists hope that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will lend important insights into what makes up the universe.
Scientists hope that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will lend important insights into what makes up the universe.

Sitting and being fussed over by technicians in a clean room at the Kennedy Space Center in preparation for a February launching — and looking for all the world like a giant corrugated rain barrel — is an eight-ton assemblage of magnets, wires, iron, aluminum, silicon and electronics that is one of the most ambitious and complicated experiments ever to set out for space.

From Discovery News

Life on Earth Spawned by Dead Alien Microbes?

How life appeared on Earth is one of the biggest questions hanging over modern science. For many, the idea that simple lifeforms appeared from a primordial soup of amino acids is, well, too simple to explain the genetic diversity we see today. If life didn't form here in puddles of ooze, where did it come from?

One exciting hypothesis is that life came from an interstellar origin; hitched a ride on a speck of dust, blew out of its host star system by stellar winds and then ended up on our planet. This concept is called "panspermia."

Black Hole Baby Spotted Being Born

By Larry O'Hanlon

For the first time ever, a black hole has been seen being born out of a supernova of a star perhaps 20 times the mass of our sun.


  • A supernova spotted in a nearby galaxy in 1979 appears to have produced the first ever observed baby black hole.
  • This is the first time a stellar black hole (as opposed those giant, galaxy-centered black holes) has been seen being born.
  • The discovery could help sort out the fates of many other stars with masses close to the black hole threshold.

From BBC News: Science & Environment

Antimatter atom trapped for first time, say scientists

By Jason Palmer

Researchers at Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have held 38 antihydrogen atoms in place, each for a fraction of a second.

Antihydrogen has been produced before but it was instantly destroyed when it encountered normal matter.

The team, reporting in Nature, says the ability to study such antimatter atoms will allow previously impossible tests of fundamental tenets of physics.

And, of course, don't forget to check out our very own Blog:

A short break from gravity

From Sci-Fi Heaven:

Five ways to ruin a perfectly good sci-fi show

Chris McQuillan

Sci-Fi has a long and proud history of cancellation. Perfectly good shows (and plenty of plain awful shows) have seen the axe for a multitude of different reasons. Let’s take a look at five sure-fire ways to ruin a decent show.

Hook in the Book

    Well, when I had been dead about thirty years I begun to get a little anxious. Mind you, had been whizzing through space all that time, like a comet. LIKE a comet! Why, Peters, I laid over the lot of them! Of course there warn't any of them going my way, as a steady thing, you know, because they travel in a long circle like the loop of a lasso, whereas I was pointed as straight as a dart for the Hereafter; but I happened on one every now and then that was going my way for an hour or so, and then we had a bit of a brush together. But it was generally pretty one-sided because I sailed by them the same as if they were standing still. An ordinary comet don't make more than about 200,000 miles a minute. Of course when I came across one of that sort--like Encke's and Halley's comets, for instance-- it warn't anything but just a flash and a vanish, you see. You couldn't rightly call it a race. It was if the comet was a gravel-train and I was a telegraph dispatch. But after I got outside of our astronomical system, I used to flush a comet occasionally that was something LIKE. WE haven't got any such comets--ours don't begin.

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven
Mark Twain

Last Word

This is certainlay not the "Last Word" of the year (see the O*W*C blog: Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily), but it's a final issue of the Digital Papyrus for the year.

Think back on the year: remember the good and the sad; share the adventures you've read, the changes you've experienced. Think forward to the coming year: consider the changes you'd like to make and the things you'd like to keep the same: make your plans.

And, of course...

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