NEWS NEWSLETTER: APRIL 2011Digital Papyrus newsletter
"Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily"
Date: April 2011
Issue No. 84
Most of the cyberpunk i've encountered has a pretty dark undercurrent, but I still find it a fascinating look at what could be. As rapidly as technology is evolving, as erratically as our modern economy runs a lot of cyberpunk seems to be a logical conclusion. Maybe I keep reading it as cautionary fiction?
"For all the claims one hears about the liberating impact of the data-net, the truth is that it's wished on most of us a brand-new reason for paranoia."
John Brunner, "The Shockwave Rider", 1975.
John Brunner contributed to the world's science fiction heritage for over forty years. Publishing his first novel at age 17 in 1951, he continued to put out traditional "hard" science fiction through the fifties and sixties. Among several dozen titles he produced, four stand out: "The Sheep Look Up", "The Jagged Orbit", "Stand on Zanzibar", and "The Shockwave Rider", all published between 1968 and 1975.
"Stand on Zanzibar", which won a Hugo award in 1968, moved Brunner out of deep-space adventures and into the near-future dystopias which were popular in the late sixties and early seventies (think of the films "Soylent Green" or "A Clockwork Orange"), and which prepared the way for the cyberpunk movement. READ MORE
After a 6.5 year journey around the inner Solar System, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranger spacecraft, MESSENGER, has become the first to ever enter orbit around innermost planet Mercury
After a period of systems checking, on 4 April its suite of instruments, including imaging cameras, spectrometers, a magnetometer and an altimeter, will be turned on and the science phase of the mission will commence. Throughout its one year nominal science mission, MESSENGER will orbit the planet once every 12 hours in order to glean information on Mercury's surface features, its magnetic field and exosphere. FULL STORY
Decommissioning work starts for shuttle Discovery
JUSTIN RAY, SPACEFLIGHT NOW
And so it begins. Technicians at the Kennedy Space Center have begun taking apart the shuttle Discovery, the ship now a laboratory specimen for engineering forensics before her future date with a museum.
Inside orbiter hangar No. 2 last week, the shuttle's nose piece containing the control thrusters used to maneuver the spacecraft was removed and taken to the hypergolic maintenance facility for decommissioning.
It's the first visible sign of critical post-flight safing work now underway on the three-decade-old Discovery as she goes into retirement. FULL STORY
NASA has unveiled a new facility to help ready commercial rockets for launch, and the first work at the new site should begin this month in preparation for a test flight to the International Space Station later this year.
The space agency held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday (March 22) — attended by bigwigs such as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. — to christen the new Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at its Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. READ MORE
Weird Saturn Radio Signals Puzzle Astronomers
Saturn is sending astronomers mixed signals — radio signals, that is.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft recently found that the natural radio wave signals coming from the giant planet differ in the northern and southern hemispheres, a split that can affect how scientists measure the length of a Saturn day. But the weirdness doesn't stop there, researchers say.
The signal variations — which are controlled by the planet's rotation — also change dramatically over time, apparently in sync with the Saturnian seasons. READ MORE
Mario Kart is one of the silliest console games around, but everyone seems to enjoy it. Here's a video from FreddieW inspired by the game:
Hook in the Book
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Take 'em an inch and they'll give you a hell.
The man in the bare steel chair was was as naked as the room's whire walls. They had shaved his head and body completely; only his eyelashes remained. Tiny adhesive pads held sensors in position at a dozen places on his scalp, at each side of his mouth, on his throat, over his heart and over his solar plexis and at every najor ganglion down to his ankles.
From each sensor a lead, fine as gossamer, ran to the sole object--apart from the steel chair and two other chairs, both softly padded--that might be said to furnish the room. That was a data-analysis console about two meters broad by a meter and a half high, with display screens and signal lights on its slanted top, convenient to one of the padded chairs.
The Shockwave Rider John Brunner
Most speculative fiction has an element of truth underlying the tale. Fantasy has characterixations that lend their truth to the "impossible"; science fiction has bare science (sometimes very bare) that lends possibilities to our "real" world. It's easier for me to suspend my disbelief when reading science fiction, especially when it's filled with hard science, but I do enjoy a well-written story of magic and magical creatures. I do LOVE those dragons!