27 February 2013

Mars May Be Habitable Today, Scientists Say

Ongoing research in Mars-like places such as Antarctica and Chile's Atacama Desert shows that microbes can eke out a living in extremely cold and dry environments, several researchers stressed this at "The Present-Day Habitability of Mars" conference held here at the University of California Los Angeles this month.

And not all parts of the Red Planet's surface may be arid currently — at least not all the time. Evidence is building that liquid water might flow seasonally at some Martian sites, potentially providing a haven for life as we know it. 

"We certainly can't rule out the possibility that it's habitable today," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, principal investigator for the HiRise camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

24 February 2013

Tunnels under New York

Here's some cool photographs of new subway tunnels being constructed under New York city. Quite impressive. They look like scenes from a science fiction movie.

The project was begun in 2006 and is now expected to be finished sometime in 2019.

23 February 2013

Instapaper - a simple tool to save web pages

Have you ever surfed to a page and thought that you'd like to revisit it at a later time? This happens to me regularly. Some people simply bookmark the page within their browser and this is what I used to do too. That is until I discovered Instapaper. I tag pages on whatever device I'm using at the time and revisit them later when I have the time.

Here we have "a simple tool to save web pages for reading later" which is pretty much it in a nutshell. It's a simple matter to tag a page using a special bookmark script and the page is saved to your Instapaper folder.

Instapaper main screen

I haven't tested this feature but you can also download text versions of the pages in epub or mobi format - I guess if you'd like to collect some articles to read on your e-reader device.

All-in-all it has proven to be of huge value to me and I use it daily. Give it a try.


20 February 2013

Analog Science Fiction & Fact Magazine

Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre.

Initially published in 1930 in the United States as Astounding Stories as a pulp magazine, it has undergone several name changes, primarily to Astounding Science-Fiction in 1938, and Analog Science Fact & Fiction in 1960. In November 1992, its logo changed to use the term "Fiction and Fact" rather than "Fact & Fiction".

Here are a few cover examples from over the years:






Spanning three incarnations since 1930, this is perhaps the most influential magazine in the history of the genre. It remains a fixture of the genre today.

It is in the library of the International Space Station.

As Astounding Science-Fiction, a new direction for both the magazine and the genre under editor John W. Campbell was established. His editorship influenced the careers of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, and also introduced the dianetic theories of L. Ron Hubbard in May 1950.

Analog frequently publishes new authors, including then-newcomers such as Orson Scott Card and Joe Haldeman in the 1970s, Harry TurtledoveTimothy ZahnGreg Bear, and Joseph H. Delaney in the 1980s, and Paul LevinsonMichael A. Burstein, and Rajnar Vajra in the 1990s.

One of the major publications of what fans and historians call the Golden Age of Science Fiction and afterward, it has published much-reprinted work by such major SF authors as E.E. SmithTheodore SturgeonIsaac AsimovRobert A. HeinleinA. E. van VogtLester del ReyHP Lovecraft and many others.


19 February 2013

Nebula Award-winning novels

The Nebula Awards are a set of awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works published in the United States during the previous year. The awards are organized and awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers. They were first given in 1966 at a ceremony created for the awards, and are given in four categories for different lengths of literary works. A fifth category for film and television episode scripts was given from 1974–78 and 2000–09. The rules governing the Nebula Awards have changed several times during the awards' history, most recently in 2010.

One of the most prestigious science fiction awards, the Nebula Awards have been termed as one of "the most important of the American science fiction awards".[1] Winning works have been published in special collections, and winners and nominees are often noted as such on the books' cover.

List Nebula Award Best Novel winners 1966-2012:

1966 Frank Herbert - Dune
1967 Samuel R. Delany - Babel-17
1967 Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
1968 Samuel R. Delany - The Einstein Intersection
1969 Alexei Panshin - Rite of Passage
1970 Ursula K. Le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness
1971 Larry Niven - Ringworld
1972 Robert Silverberg - A Time of Changes
1973 Isaac Asimov - The Gods Themselves
1974 Arthur C. Clarke - Rendezvous with Rama
1975 Ursula K. Le Guin - The Dispossessed
1976 Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
1977 Frederik Pohl - Man Plus
1978 Frederik Pohl - Gateway
1979 Vonda N. McIntyre - Dreamsnake
1980 Arthur C. Clarke - The Fountains of Paradise
1981 Gregory Benford - Timescape
1982 Gene Wolfe - The Claw of the Conciliator
1983 Michael Bishop - No Enemy But Time
1984 David Brin - Startide Rising
1985 William Gibson - Neuromancer
1986 Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game
1987 Orson Scott Card - Speaker for the Dead
1988 Pat Murphy - The Falling Woman
1989 Lois McMaster Bujold - Falling Free
1990 Elizabeth Ann Scarborough - The Healer's War
1991 Ursula K. Le Guin - Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea
1992 Michael Swanwick - Stations of the Tide
1993 Connie Willis - Doomsday Book
1994 Kim Stanley Robinson - Red Mars
1995 Greg Bear - Moving Mars
1996 Robert J. Sawyer - The Terminal Experiment
1997 Nicola Griffith - Slow River
1998 Vonda N. McIntyre - The Moon and the Sun
1999 Joe Haldeman - Forever Peace
2000 Octavia E. Butler - Parable of the Talents
2001 Greg Bear - Darwin's Radio
2002 Catherine Asaro - The Quantum Rose
2003 Neil Gaiman - American Gods
2004 Elizabeth Moon - The Speed of Dark
2005 Lois McMaster Bujold - Paladin of Souls
2006 Joe Haldeman - Camouflage
2007 Jack McDevitt - Seeker
2008 Michael Chabon - The Yiddish Policemen's Union
2009 Ursula K. Le Guin - Powers
2010 Paolo Bacigalupi - The Windup Girl
2011 Connie Willis - Blackout
2011 Connie Willis - All Clear
2012 Jo Walton - Among Others

Grab 'em --::{{HeRe}}::--

17 February 2013

BOOKS: The Saga Of Seven Suns - Kevin J Anderson

THE SAGA OF SEVEN SUNS is a multi-volume chronicle of a legendary war that spans half the Galaxy and nearly shatters the cosmos. This series follows the family intrigues, the loves and tragedies, pomp and pageantry among several competing races in an expanding stellar empire.

This is a great series, no doubt about it. It's long (seven novels plus graphic novel prequel) but it's worth it. There is a bit of everything here for the science fiction/space opera fan.

Prequel: Veiled Alliances

This graphic novel is a prequel to the main series novels. Eleven exploratory ships carrying people who don't want their descendants to have to live on what they see Earth becoming have now been discovered by another, more advanced, space-faring civilization, the Ildaran Empire. The empire helps the refugees — by now the several-generations-later offspring of the original voyagers — settle in suitable situations and sends diplomats with a few of them to Earth to establish commerce and other connections. Meanwhile, both Earth and Ildaran authorities bring hidden agendas to their first-contact discussions. The book stands out for its superlative art by Robert Teranishi, whose rendering of characters, machines and alien planets is stunning. 

Book #1: Hidden Empire

Having colonized the worlds of the Spiral Arm, the three branches of humanity -- the Earth-based Terran Hanseatic League, the telepathic green priests of Theroc, and the fiercely rebellious, starship-dwelling Roamers - consider themselves lords of creation. After all, humans share the galaxy with only two alien species, one harmless and one extinct. The benign Ildirans are an ancient, senescent civilization, while the Klikiss vanished ages before, leaving behind vast ruins filled with technological wonders, but no clues to their mysterious disappearance. 

Book #2: A Forest of Stars

Five years after attacking human-colonized worlds of the Spiral Arm, the enigmatic hydrogues maintain absolute control over the galaxy's gas giant planets. On Earth, the corrupt government is exploiting the crisis, tightening an iron grip on rebellious colonies while seeking to dominate the other humans throughout the galaxy. Earth's alien "friends," the seemingly gentle Ildirans, are secretly abducting and breeding people in enforced sex camps. And the government is using military robots to build cybernetic legions to fight the war, robots that have exterminated their own makers and may turn on mankind. 

Book #3: Horizon Storms

The titanic war between hydrogues - powerful aliens that live within gas-giant planets - and faeros, fiery creatures inhabiting suns, continues to sweep across the Spiral Arm, extinguishing suns and destroying planets. It is a time when Chairman Basil Wenceslas of the Terran Hanseatic League and his figurehead King Peter must unify all branches of the human race to stand together against the threat . . . even if they must resort to deception and oppression to do so. 

Book #4: Scattered Suns

The destructive hydrogues continue their war against humans and the fiery entities, the faeros - a struggle that kills planets and extinguishes whole stars. Newly crowned Mage-Imperator Jora'h, the leader of the ancient and vast Ildiran Empire, struggles with new knowledge he has learned: an ancient bargain and long-standing treachery that may finally bring peace with the hydrogues . . . though it could mean the extermination of the human race. 

Book #5: Of Fire and Night

The extermination of mankind is at hand. In a war against alien races, killer robots, and elemental beings, Earth slips deeper into desperation. The Terran government always knew the hydrogues were a vicious enemy bent on humanity's destruction, but they didn't predict how many other factions would turn against them. 

Book #6: Metal Swarm

The alien hydrogues have been defeated, driven back into the cores of their gas-giant planets by an alliance of the Earth Defence Forces, the ancient Ildiran Empire, the gypsy-like Roamer clans and fantasic water elemental beings as well as gigantic living 'treeships'. But as the various factions try to pick up the pieces and recover, the deep-seated wounds may be fatal. 

Book #7: The Ashes of Worlds

The culminating volume in Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns weaves together the myriad storylines into a spectacular grand finale. Galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and the factions of humanity are pitted against each other. Heroes rise and enemies make their last stands in the climax of an epic tale seven years in the making. The Saga of Seven Suns is one of the most colorful and spectacular science fiction epics of the last decade. 

14 February 2013

BOOKS: Perry Rhodan ebooks

Perry Rhodan is the name of a science fiction series published since 1961 in Germany, as well as the name of the main character. It is a space opera, dealing with several themes of science fiction. Having sold over one billion copies (in pulp booklet format) worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written.

Check out some epubs that I found --::{{HeRe}}::--

13 February 2013

Ownshelf - ebook sharing site

Now I like the look of this!

Ownshelf is a cloud based solution to save and share ebook files across devices. Friends can browse each other’s shelves, and borrow one another’s books. Just like the bookshelf in your home, it is a way to show off and share your taste in books online. It is a friend to friend way to discover and read great books.

At this stage you need a Facebook account to log in, and the site is still in the development phase but so far it's looking really good.

The world sorely needs this sort of thing - easy online sharing of books between friends like we do at home with our actual physical bookshelves. Some publishers and retailers (book Nazis) are doing their best to tie up the ebook market and kill the sharing of books. This will help stop that unnecessary control.

12 February 2013

4.5 Billion 'Alien Earths' May Populate Milky Way

Our galaxy - 100,000 light years across & easily big enough for more civilizations.

Billions of Earth-like alien planets likely reside in our Milky Way galaxy, and the nearest such world may be just a stone's throw away in the cosmic scheme of things, a new study reports.

Astronomers have calculated that 6 percent of the galaxy's 75 billion or so red dwarfs — stars smaller and dimmer than the Earth's own sun — probably host habitable, roughly Earth-size planets. That works out to at least 4.5 billion such "alien Earths," the closest of which might be found a mere dozen light-years away, researchers said.

"We thought we would have to search vast distances to find an Earth-like planet," study lead author Courtney Dressing, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said in a statement. "Now we realize another Earth is probably in our own backyard, waiting to be spotted."

Original article HERE.

Music Pirates are Cheapskates, Some of Them

New data on actual music spending in the UK shows that on average music pirates spend less than regular buyers of digital music. The figures are being touted by the UK music industry to show that file-sharers are cheapskates, but those who take a careful look at the numbers will notice that the labels forget to make an important reservation. Let’s lift the curtain of spin to see what’s really going on.

Over the past months we’ve reported on a variety of studies which concluded that, among those who buy music, file-sharers spend the most.

These findings were confirmed this week by a report from the UK music industry group BPI, but only for those who read between the lines.

In their Digital Music Nation report the music group focuses on another comparison, the spending of all file-sharers compared to that of consumers who only buy digital music through legal channels. Their conclusion reads as follows:
“Appearing to debunk the common belief that file-sharers spend more on music than other consumers, Kantar Worldpanel found that the average spend over a 12-month period for professed file-sharers was lower than the spend of consumers who only use legal services.”
Indeed, when all file-sharers are lumped together, they spend 25% less than “legal only” consumers. In a year this comes down to £26.64 versus £33.43. However, this doesn’t mean that the earlier reports were incorrect.
Let’s give an overview of the numbers we can extrapolate from the BPI report.
- Legal only digital music buyers spend an average of £33.43 a year.
- File-sharers, in total, spend an average of £26.64 a year.
- File-sharers, the 44.8% who are not buying, spend an average of £0 a year.
- File-sharers, the 55.2% who are buying, spend an average of £48.26 a year.

The above shows that the file-sharers who also buy music spend 44% more than those who exclusively buy legal. This is in line with previous studies, which 
according to the RIAA indicates that these file-sharers are more engaged consumers.
TorrentFreak contacted the BPI for a comment, and the music group told us that this comparison is not fair.
“You cannot just wave away the 44.8% of file sharers who are not spending anything on music, despite being music ‘consumers’, and pretend they don’t exist or are not relevant. What happens if only 5% of file sharers are spending on music? Do we disregard everyone else who is freeloading?,” a BPI spokesman said.
“It’s not credible to discount the people who consume music, for free, illegally.”
The BPI absolutely has a point here. However, is it then credible to simply lump all file-sharers together when there are clearly two entirely different subgroups with different spendings?
And what about the legal music “consumers” who buy nothing? What if we added all the non-sharing and non-buying people who use YouTube to listen to music, and add them to the “legal only group”? Then the average spend there would be lower as well.
That said, the data does make clear that there’s a huge group of file-sharers who are freeloaders. Of all Brits, 4,000,000 engage in file-sharing, and 1,768,000 never pay a penny for any of the music they acquire.
In the end a safe conclusion is that about half of all music pirates are cheapskates, and the other half are the music industry’s most engaged customers. But what does that say about file-sharing?