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Is it pulsars? A spy satellite? Or an alien message?

from New Scientist

Is this ET? Mystery of strange radio bursts from space

by Sarah Scoles

Mysterious radio wave flashes from far outside the galaxy are proving tough for astronomers to explain. Is it pulsars? A spy satellite? Or an alien message?

BURSTS of radio waves flashing across the sky seem to follow a mathematical pattern. If the pattern is real, either some strange celestial physics is going on, or the bursts are artificial, produced by human – or alien – technology.

Telescopes have been picking up so-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) since 2001. They last just a few milliseconds and erupt with about as much energy as the sun releases in a month. Ten have been detected so far, most recently in 2014, when the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, caught a burst in action for the first time. The others were found by sifting through data after the bursts had arrived at Earth. No one knows what causes them, but the brevity of the bursts means their source has to be small – hundreds of kilometres across at most – so they can’t be from ordinary stars. And they seem to come from far outside the galaxy.

The weird part is that they all fit a pattern that doesn’t match what we know about cosmic physics.

[ click to continue reading at New Scientist ]

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Editor

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“Endgame is one of the first truly 360 degree content propositions to really excite me.”

from The Huffington Post UK

Lessons From SXSW

by  / CEO of Creative England

Image courtesy of GeekWire

Beau Willimon’s first thought when he wakes up every day is that he is going to die. This is apparently what “concentrates the mind” for the lead writer and creator of House of Cards.  It’s a great axiom and one which I think I might adopt. It’s certainly better than Roman Polanski’s start to the day, which is with a cold shower on the basis that the day can’t get any worse…

I have been to many film festivals but this is my first outing to SXSW. I’m here because there are two films supported by Creative England in the festival. The first is Julien Temple’s amazing documentary on the living legend that is Wilko Johnson, of Dr Feelgood fame. The second is The Goob, Creative England’s first completed  iFeature, which premiered at Venice Film Festival last year. SXSW is the film’s first US outing.

Both films have been very well received – particularly The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson. You should check out the reviews on Indiewire and AintitCool – there definitely seems to be a competition going on for the most thoughtful and insightful critique. And as an avid cultural consumer it’s not often I can say that!

As well as watching some amazing indie films, I’ve also been to a few sessions in the interactive and film workshops, where two in particular stood out. The first was a session with writer and author James Frey – whose novel Endgame is one of the first truly 360 degree content propositions to really excite me.

Endgame is the story of 12 teenagers dispersed around the world playing a competition to survive the forthcoming apocalypse. All come from a particular tribe and woven into their journey is a rich tapestry of mythologies and stories of ancient civilisations. These are then translated into to a much larger alternative-reality game.

Frey has teamed up with Google’s Niantic Labs to create both a virtual and a real-life gaming experience that has the potential to work anywhere in the world. Think Second Life but playing in Real Life, connecting with people to collect treasure and weapons, defeat enemies and helping your dispersed team to win. To complete the IP circle Frey has also just signed a deal to transfer the stories into a theatrical franchise.

[ click to continue reading at HuffPO UK ]

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Editor

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Bad Moon Rising

from The Independent

Solar eclipse, Supermoon, Spring equinox: Friday will see three rare celestial events

by ANDREW GRIFFIN

Eclipses have long been feared as bad omens, but the equinox is celebrated as a time of renewal

As the eclipse plunges the UK and other places into darkness this Friday, two other rare if less spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: a Supermoon and the Spring equinox.

A Supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. And the spring equinox refers to the time of the year when the day and night are of equal duration, mid-way between the longest and shortest days.

The solar eclipse refers to a phenomenon where the sun and moon line up, so that the latter obscures the former. And while it won’t be affected by the two other events, it is rare that the three events happen even individually.

[ click to continue reading at The Independent ]

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Editor

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Gene Gene The Dancing Machine Gone

from The Hollywood Reporter

Gene Patton, Gene Gene the Dancing Machine From ‘The Gong Show,’ Dies at 82

Gene Patton, the NBC stagehand in Burbank who stole the spotlight as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine on NBC’s wacky The Gong Show, died Monday, his family announced. He was 82.

Patton died in Pasadena, according to a spokeswoman at the local Woods-Valentine Mortuary. He had suffered from diabetes.

The Gong Show, dreamed up and hosted by producer Chuck Barris (The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game), aired on NBC in daytime from 1976-78 and then in syndication. Acts — most of them amateurish and just plain awful — auditioned for three celebrity judges, who banged a gong on stage to mercifully send the bad ones packing.

At a random moment during the game show, Barris would introduce Patton, and the curtain would part, bringing the shuffling stagehand with the painter’s cap onstage to the sounds of “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” a jazz tune made popular by Count Basie. His dance sent everyone on the set — Barris, the judges, the cameramen, the audience — into an uncontrollable boogie.

[ click to continue reading at THR ]

Posted on March 15, 2015 by Editor

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I Like Pi

from The Washington Post

10 stunning images show the beauty hidden in pi

By Ana Swanson

Saturday — March 14, 2015, or 3/14/15 — marks an extremely nerdy holiday. It is the official celebration of π, the magical, mathematical and infinite constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

For any circle you can imagine, if you divide the distance around the circle by the distance across it, you will get pi, or 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749
445923078164062862089986280348253421170679821480865132823066
470938446095505822317253594081284811174502841027019385…

We could keep going, but you get the picture.

Some people will celebrate the holiday by making and eating pies (Washington restaurants are offering specials on everything from pizza to banana cream). Others will run a Pi-K race of 3.14 kilometers. And some data tinkerers are making art that visualize pi’s infinite and random digits.

One of the best known of these data tinkerers is Martin Krzywinski, a scientist who specializes in bioinformatics, or using computer science and statistics to understand biological data.

[ click to see more Pi art at WaPo ]

Posted on March 14, 2015 by Editor

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Why Pi Matters

from The New Yorker

Why Pi Matters

BY 

The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach.The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. CREDITPHOTOGRAPH BY JEFFREY COOLIDGE / GETTY

Every March 14th, mathematicians like me are prodded out of our burrows like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, blinking and bewildered by all the fuss. Yes, it’s Pi Day again. And not just any Pi Day. They’re calling this the Pi Day of the century: 3.14.15. Pi to five digits. A once-in-a-lifetime thing.

I’m dreading it. No hope of solving any equations that day, what with the pie-eating contests, the bickering over the merits of pi versus tau (pi times two), and the throwdowns over who can recite more digits of pi. Just stay off the streets at 9:26:53, when the time will approximate pi to ten places: 3.141592653.

Pi does deserve a celebration, but for reasons that are rarely mentioned. In high school, we all learned that pi is about circles. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around the circle, represented by the letter C) to its diameter (the distance across the circle at its widest point, represented by the letter d). That ratio, which is about 3.14, also appears in the formula for the area inside the circle, A = πr2, where π is the Greek letter “pi” and r is the circle’s radius (the distance from center to rim). We memorized these and similar formulas for the S.A.T.s and then never again used them, unless we happened to go into a technical field, or until our own kids took geometry.

So it’s fair to ask: Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on March 13, 2015 by Editor

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Why Pacquiao-Mayweather Matters

from The New Yorker

How Much Does Pacquiao-Mayweather Matter?

BY 
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. CREDITPHOTOGRAPH BY ESTHER LIN/SHOWTIME®

In a humid boxing gym in Hollywood on Tuesday, members of the sports media outnumbered world-class boxers by about twenty to one. They had come to watch Manny Pacquiao, by most measures the second-best welterweight in the world, prepare for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., by all measures the best. As Pacquiao shadowboxed in the ring, Michael Koncz, one of his closest advisers, looked at the reporters and videographers and seemed to wince. “After these two weeks, that’s it!” he said. He had agreed to a brief media invasion, but he wanted as much brevity as possible.

Fred Sternburg, Pacquiao’s publicist, just laughed. Pacquiao-Mayweather will almost certainly be the most lucrative boxing match in history—it’s being called the new Fight of the Century, and it requires a publicity push to match. The fight is scheduled for May 2nd, in Las Vegas, and until then everyone in both fighters’ orbits will have to accommodate and ignore the non-stop stream of outsiders bearing notepads and cameras. The fight will be broadcast on pay-per-view, as part of an unusual arrangement between HBO and Showtime—the rival fighters are attached to rival premium cable networks, who therefore have had to find a way to collaborate. As far as the fight’s promoters are concerned, members of the media have one job to do: help them entice more paying customers.

The promotion began in earnest the next day, with the Press Conference of the Century, which took over the Nokia Theatre, in downtown Los Angeles. There was a red carpet, where each fighter could take a hundred-yard stroll in front of broadcast media. A number of outlets, including ESPN and CNN, had erected temporary anchor desks, which heightened the illusion that something important was about to happen.

Mayweather versus Pacquiao has been the most talked-about match-up in boxing for more than six years, and many observers had been skeptical, in recent months, that the fighters would finally agree to fight. Now that the date is set, boxing fans can go back to doing what they do best: complain—in this case, about the fact that it didn’t take place years ago, when both men were younger and quicker.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on March 12, 2015 by Editor

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Enceladus Moon

from Popular Mechanics

Why the Warm Ocean on This Moon of Saturn Could Be Perfect for Life

One of the most promising places to look for life beyond Earth just got even more tantalizing

Move over, Europa. It looks as though the most life-friendly habitat ever discovered outside of Earth is Enceladus—Saturn’s sixth-largest moon.

Astrophysicists working with NASA’s Saturn sweeping Cassini spacecraft have just announced that Enceladus has a warm ocean at its southern pole with ongoing hydrothermal activity—the first ever discovered outside of Earth. This new research, published in the journal Nature, builds upon last year’s discovery of the moon’s 6-mile-deep ocean, which is also believed to contain many of the chemicals commonly associated with life.

“We now have very strong evidence that there is a hot hydrothermal environment at the base of Enceladus’s ocean, perhaps like those where we believe life began on Earth,” says Jonathan Lunine, a planetary scientist at Cornell University who works with the Cassini spacecraft but was not involved in the new research. “This is yet another discovery in a series of really remarkable findings that have come one by one, to tell us that this may be the place to go look for life in the outer solar system.”

[ click to continue reading at PM ]

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Editor

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Mining The Moon

from CNBC

Billionaire teams up with NASA to mine the moon

by Susan Caminiti

Source: MoonExpress

Moon Express, a Mountain View, California-based company that’s aiming to send the first commercial robotic spacecraft to the moon next year, just took another step closer toward that lofty goal. Earlier this year, it became the first company to successfully test a prototype of a lunar lander at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The success of this test—and a series of others that will take place later this year—paves the way for Moon Express to send its lander to the moon in 2016, said company co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain.

Moon Express conducted its tests with the support of NASA engineers, who are sharing with the company their deep well of lunar know-how. The NASA lunar initiative—known as Catalyst—is designed to spur new commercial U.S. capabilities to reach the moon and tap into its considerable resources. In addition to Moon Express, NASA is also working with Astrobotic Technologies of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California, to develop commercial robotic spacecrafts.

Jain said Moon Express also recently signed an agreement to take over Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral. The historic launchpad will be used for Moon Express’s lander development and flight-test operations. Before it was decommissioned, the launchpad was home to NASA’s Atlas-Centaur rocket program and its Surveyor moon landers.

[ click to continue reading at CNBC ]

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Editor

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Moto Colombia

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Editor

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Heart of Glass How-to

from The Wall Street Journal

How Blondie Created ‘Heart of Glass’

Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein talk about ‘Heart of Glass’

By MARC MYERS

Until 1978, Blondie was a punk band with a cult following and not much visibility in the U.S. beyond New York’s Lower East Side. Eager for a hit album, Chrysalis, the band’s label, paired Blondie with Michael Chapman, an inventive producer who had success recording other downtown artists, including Suzi Quatro and Sweet.

The result was “Parallel Lines,” Blondie’s third album, and the single “Heart of Glass.”After the song’s release in early 1979, it became Blondie’s first Billboard pop-chart hit, climbing to No. 1 in April 1979, helping to pave the way for synth-pop and electronic dance music (EDM).

Mr. Chapman and the song’s co-writers—Debbie Harry (who opens at New York’s Cafe Carlyle March 24) and guitarist Chris Stein(author of the recent “Negative: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk”)—talked about the hit’s evolution, Donna Summer’s influence and the struggle to adapt the high-impact Euro-techno sound. Edited from interviews:

Chris Stein: When Debbie and I were living in our top-floor apartment at 48 W. 17th St., I often messed around on a borrowed multitrack tape recorder. It let me record a rhythm guitar track and then layer melody and harmony lines on top. I wrote and developed my songs this way. In the summer of 1974, I wrote a song and referenced the catchy feel of “Rock the Boat” by the Hues Corporation, which was a big hit then. Debbie and I began calling it “The Disco Song.”

Debbie Harry: I used to keep a notebook to jot down lyrics and ideas that came to me. On this one, Chris was constantly experimenting with the song, and the lyrics just floated into my head. The words I came up with expressed a very high school kind of thing, of falling in and out of love and getting your feelings hurt. But instead of dwelling on the pain, the words sort of shrugged off the breakup, like, “Oh, well, that’s the way it goes.”

Chris and I both came from an art background, and we were familiar with existentialism, surrealism, abstractionism and so on. The feeling I wanted to get across was, “Live and let live,” like this is what happened and now it’s not happening, you know? I threw in the “Ooo-ooo, ohhh-oh” fill when we started performing the song at CBGB. It was a 1960s “girl group” thing. Chris and I both loved R&B.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ.com ]

Posted on March 8, 2015 by Editor

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Second Moon

from geek.com

Earth’s mysterious ‘second moon’ and its odd orbit

By 

It sounds like one of those crazy conspiracy theories: There are aliens at Area 51. Abraham Lincoln was a lizard. The Earth has a second, secret moon. However, the last of these is actually pretty widely repeated in scientific circles, though only with a very colloquial definition for the word “moon.” Though it’s technically a near-Earth asteroid, the astronomical body called 3753 Cruithne spends much of its time following the Earth like our much more famous satellite, Luna.

First, a quick explanation of why Cruithne is not actually a moon, then an explanation of why many refuse to accept that fact. It’s not a moon because, well, it’s an asteroid. Cruithne orbits the Sun, not the Earth, and its seemingly wonky orbital pattern is definitely not tied to the Earth’s in any satellite-like fashion. By no means is Cruithne actually a secondary body orbiting the Earth — so why is it so often referred to that way?

The answer is that Cruithne has a very similar orbital period to the Earth’s, just a day or so off at 364 days per cycle. This means that when the astroid happens to be close to the Earth, it will also happen to stay close to the Earth for quite a while. The tendency of this small celestial body to move in tandem with the Earth, often for long portions of the year, has led some to incorrectly dub it our second moon.

However, though it may take a similar amount of time to loop around our star, Cruithne’s orbit is anything but regular. As seen from an objective viewpoint (above right), it’s easy to see how the two orbits are independent of one another. Seen from a more realistic perspective, one which keeps the Earth stationary and simulations our view from its surface, shows a very different picture. View the video below, which offers a great three-dimensional look at Cruithne’s so-called “horseshoe orbit.” Seen from this perspective, it’s a lot easier to understand why Cruithne has been so widely mischaracterized as a moon of the Earth.

[ click to continue reading at geek.com ]

Posted on March 7, 2015 by Editor

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Zombieville For Sale

from ebay

grantville

[ click to bid at ebay ]

Posted on March 6, 2015 by Editor

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The 23-year Premiere

from Indiewire

Watch: Exclusive Trailer for Tsai Ming-liang’s Long-Awaited ‘Rebels of the Neon God’

By Travis Clark

The film is finally set for a theatrical premiere in the U.S.

It’s been a long time coming, but Tsai Ming-liang’s 1992 film “Rebels of the Neon God” is finally getting a U.S. premiere thanks to Big World Pictures, and Indiewire has the exclusive trailer.

The film centers on a young man named Hsiao-kang who defies his parents wishes and runs away to downtown Kapei where an unfortunate meeting leads him down a path of trouble.

[ continue reading at Indiewire ]

Posted on March 5, 2015 by Editor

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The Baller Formerly Known As Prince

from The Washington Post

Yes, Prince really did play high school basketball, and we have a tremendous photo to prove it

By Des Bieler

By now, you should have seen the hilarious “Chappelle Show” skit in which Charlie Murphy recalls a night when Prince surprisingly schooled him in basketball (if not, drop everything and check it out). And there has been some corroboration that the diminutive pop star/strange person really does have game.

On Tuesday, we got something wonderful: An old photo of Prince in his high school basketball uniform, plus some words of praise from his coach at the time. This came from Libor Jany, a reporter for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, where the man who would later give us “Purple Rain” first learned to rain jumpers.

[ click to continue reading at WaPo ]

Posted on March 4, 2015 by Editor

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“Everyone was willing to let the writer hang, and I wasn’t.”

from NY1

One on 1 Profile: Editor/Publisher Nan Talese Continues Her Legacy in the World of Books

By Budd Mishkin

In any book, one of the most heartfelt thank yous from an author usually goes to the book editor, and for many years, some of the most prominent authors have thanked Nan Talese. NY1’s Budd Mishkin filed the following One on 1 profile.

Nan Talese was once dubbed the “high priestess of all New York editor/publishers.”

“People have said, ‘I’m so glad to meet you,'” she says. “Now, I cannot figure it out. (laughs).”

Talese: The hard thing is to write. What I do is easy.

Mishkin: Maybe it’s easy for you.

Talese: It’s easy for me.

Talese is held in such high regard that she has her own imprint, akin to her own department of the publishing giant Doubleday.

On the walls of her Midtown office hang pictures of some of the writers with whom she’s worked for decades, including best-selling authors Margaret Atwood and Pat Conroy.

At her Upper East Side home, there are notes from book projects both present and past.

“What I usually do is – I won’t do it because it’s undignified – I lie down here with my feet up here and I read the manuscripts,” Talese says. “I read very, very slowly. because I hear the words.”

Her appreciation for what writers endure is helped immensely by the fact that she lives with a writer, and a pretty fair one at that: her husband of more than 55 years, Gay Talese.

“As Gay writes his book, I read aloud the pages as they come out, and I think it puts me in the atmosphere of the writer’s working,” Nan Talese says. “I think it’s helped me a great deal.”

[ click to continue reading at NY1.com ]

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Editor

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And He Walks Away

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Editor

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ENDGAME Helps Ward Off Endgame for Cahokia Mounds

from St. Louis Public Radio

Crowdfunding and an alternate reality game provide a modern boost for ancient mounds

By

Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earthen construction in north or south America.Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthen construction in [the Americas]
PHOTO COURTESY CAHOKIA MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE

After word spread that the cash-strapped Cahokia Mounds Museum Society was crowdfunding to raise $7,500 to print brochures for the storied Illinois landmark — the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico — donations poured in from down the road, around the globe and from a mysterious alternate reality.

More than 500 people pledged upward of $8,500 to the campaign on gofundme.com after St. Louis Public Radio’s storyon Feb. 23 made the rounds on social media. Many of the donors are players of Endgame, an alternate reality game created by Google’s Niantic Labs, which adopted the cause because Cahokia Mounds is one of the ancient societies included in the game’s lore.

Lori Belknap, the society’s executive director, said she was surprised and grateful when the Endgame players began driving the contributions upward. They used the hashtag #AncSoc to designate their connection to Ancient Societies, an Endgame website.

Belknap said the campaign touched a nerve.

“It says to me that a lot of people are passionate about our site and are appalled at what’s happening with funding — and how we’re affected by the state’s politics and budget concerns,’’ she said.

Unlikely allies from an alternate reality

The crowdfunding effort by the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society was slow-going until the Endgame players jumped in. The gofundme.com page, which was posted nearly a month ago, had about $550 in contributions when St. Louis Public Radio highlighted the need behind the campaign.

Brian Rose, community manager at Niantic Labs, says a player alerted Endgame to the story after it triggered a Google alert on Cahokia Mounds. Endgame issued a “call to action,” offering to match contributions of $5 or more marked with the #AncSoc hashtag, until the goal was reached. The players were also added to a beta list for a mobile game app that will launch soon.

Rose noted that some of the players live in the St. Louis area, but most of the contributors live across the United States, and some are from Europe and Australia.

“It was really great to see how quickly people leapt to action on this,’’ he said. “Players wanted to contribute because that’s sort of what the game is all about — rediscovering and supporting these ancient societies.”

Niantic matched about $2,100 in donations, and author James Frey, who wrote the Endgame trilogy on which the game is based, donated $1,000.

Rose said the challenge fit with the mission statement for Niantic Labs —  “adventures on foot with others” — which seeks to build real-life experiences into its games.

“We were looking at how people were playing video games and it’s somewhat of a solitary hobby. Usually, people were sitting behind TVs or computer monitors,’’ he said. “We wanted to give people some encouragement or incentive — some reward to explore neighborhoods around them and to travel more and to rediscover their neighborhoods and find the hidden gems in their towns.”

[ click to read complete article at St. Louis Public Radio ]

Posted on March 1, 2015 by Editor

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