All Together Now

Things People Do on  
Earth & at the Moon

All things considered, it’s been hard to get along these days. So in the interest of building bridges and spreading goodwill to our fellow, jaded humans, we’re revisiting a time when some were happy to just play along together. Thus behold the Earth Jumpathon, and a Point Your Laser to the Moon activity – don’t laugh, it was big in the 2010s.
Granted, you may not have heard of any sillier ways of wasting your time before. But it definitely beats bringing guests to a shooting range, or posting a picture of Big Whopper on social media. Just in case, though, we’re keeping everything bouncy and light, so you won’t get so bored as to walk out like a buzzkiller.
Since the beginning of times, earthlings have found more fulfillment in playing with pretty much anything than getting crushed by yet another mindless task. Like showing pics of you chomping down on some junk. That’s because our brains are better equipped to learn stuff when idle than when hung up on some stupid routine.
It is in fact exactly those mindless activities that better train us to react in a flash when facing the unexpected, according to recent neurobiology studies. The variable in this equation about learning brains is, of course, the other members of our species. No one needs to be reminded about how unreliable that bunch can be.
A playful routine of the likes that help children cope with the natural world can turn into to a wide-ranging social experiment, revealing deeper links underlying any group activity. The roots of our sense of community and mutual collaboration may be traced back to the time our ancestors spent interacting with each other for no apparent gain.
The two activities to be described below also belong to that category, “I always wonder about.” It’s in such file that we keep our sense of curiosity ever simmering with new queries about life, the universe, and everything, to bring up a fine restless mind, that of Douglas Adams, who unfortunately left us 20 years ago this May.

THE DAY-SHORTENING QUAKE
Growing up back in the last century it was common to hear that China had so many people that if they all would jump, they’d move the Earth off its axis. Well, folks at the Straight Dope seemed to have grown up at the same time, for in 1984 (when we were (more)
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Read Also:
* Heavenly Bodies
* Paper Planes
* Tomorrow Never Knows

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Inspecting Gadgets

A Speech Gun, a Phone Tattoo,
the Book Machine & a Laser Ray

Ever want to mute the lout screaming on his cellphone in a crowded train? We can help you. Want to be on call, hate BlueTooth and need your free hands? Let us get back to you. Got fed up with publishers’ rejection to your great American novel? Do we have a machine for you. And if all else fails, and something needs to be done about those killer drones, meet the drone-slaying laser ray.
And you thought that it’d take at least a few years for this kind of news to be reported. But as that sage used to say, the future ain’t what it used to be. These gadgets are hardly breakthroughs and, in a few years, what’s most likely to happen is that you’ll be reading this as if it’d been written circa 1980s, which is when the technology that made them possible was developed.
There’s no way of knowing which of these will find its way into widespread use within a few years, or even whether any of them will even resemble, in appearance and purpose, to what they are now. Inventions have a way to evolve into many different things before (more)
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Read Also:
* Alt-Pace Makers
* Secret, Agent, Mad
* Made Up

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Space Droppings

The High-Speed Junk Our
Dreams Left Above Earth

Look at that sky above you. See how the stars are bright tonight. Think about the immensity of the universe, quasars and nebulae, waiting to awe you, just beyond the reach of your fingers. And be careful with the falling debris of thousands of objects man placed on Earth’s orbit.
That’s right. We can’t seem to live without producing many times as much as we’re capable of consuming. And just like the oceans, all that floating garbage is choking us. Or, in the case of space, either falling often over our heads or racing around the planet at top speed.
So, hail poets and philosophers and astronomers and dreamers. But also, hail the new class of space cleaners that will have to be trained and sent to do what janitors have been doing since time immemorial, besides taking the blame for their bosses’ crimes: cleaning after us.
The U.S., and as a distant second, Russia (as in former Soviet Union), are by far the biggest producers of space junk around. But neophyte China‘s also doing its part, as it launched this week a monitoring center to protect its over 130 space objects in orbit.
Other countries are concerned too. A month ago, Japan announced that it’s studying the possibility of laser-blasting, Star Wars-style, all that junk out of existence, probably from the International Space Station itself. Just imagine George Lucas losing his sleep over this.
But theirs is only a slightly more sophisticated idea that’s been tried before, with disastrous results. We’ve covered that a few years ago. Then as now, there were few reasons Continue reading

Get Moving

Cars That Fly, Hover, Fold, & 
Get Powered by Compressed Air

You’ve heard that one before. By now, we were supposed to be living in smart cities, with cars flying overhead, and androids doing menial work, so we’d be zipping around, 90 minutes from New York to Paris, or ‘the chance to start anew in one of the colonies of Jupiter.’
Well, enough of that for now. While we’ve wasted our youth complaining about lower-expectations, and the ennui of our times, inventors got busy, and came up with exciting ways to get us in gear. You’d be surprised how close we’re from a new age of cars. And it yes, they all come in black.
A few months ago, we told you about the Terrafugia, a foldable-wing car-slash-small plane, that became the first private aircraft to be licensed by the FAA. Something about its design, though, which resembles a German jeep from the 1940s, low speed, crammed cabin space, and stiff price, didn’t drive anyone to take their shirts off.
But alas, it somehow opened the floodgates, and now pretty much every month there’s a new design being tested in some secluded desert, that promises to take the world by storm. And they’re no longer being developed by the crafty weekend-hobbyist; many heavy weights in the industry are getting in the game early, and often.
It may not happen tomorrow, though, so you too can keep your clothes on for a while. But chances are these things will be coming to mass production even before the 1884 De Dion Bouton Et Trepardoux Dos-A-Dos Steam four-seater, the world’s oldest still running car, grinds to halt.
If you think that there isn’t enough demand for such a radical change, one that has the potential to literally leave the present in the dust, you may be underestimating the unpredictable factor at the root of most modern inventions. As Henry Ford once said, about his invention: “If I had asked people what they want, they would have said a faster horse.”
Finally, for those who feel that we ought to move faster, and catch up with the sci-fi world already, a word of caution. Despite all laws and heavy penalties, people who should never get behind the wheel, still do, and still cause unspeakable lifetime heartbreak to loved ones and Continue reading

Breaking (Fake) News

Obi Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says,
or When Truth Hides Behind Humor

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.”
That’s how the special edition of the Galactic Empire Times broke the news that send ripples throughout nearby and faraway lands, mostly fictional. The announcement and the “final” edition of the New York Times, dominated the water cooler talk of the midweek and welcomed a return to lighter, more satirical takes on the news.
By showing one of the most reviled fictional villains, Lord Darth Vader, announcing the killing of the main hero of the Star Wars film franchise, the Galactic editors play it as a double entendre, down to its PhotoShop-enhanced White House’s East Room Continue reading

Exhibit B

Lucas Sues Creator
of Star Wars Helmets

George Lucas is taking to the U.K. Supreme Court his fight to preserve the rights to the famous stormtrooper helmets, used in the “Star Wars” movie saga. He’s suing British artist Andrew Ainsworth, who created and manufactured the original helmets used in the first films of the series, and who a few years ago, Continue reading

Monolith, Isle & Star

Wood on Ice, Birth of an
Island & A New Sun Coming

Religion and scientific inquiry were bred out of our compulsion to explain the world. Whereas science challenges dogma and welcomes questioning, faith thrives when reason fails. Fortunately, neither is relevant at this moment. Or necessary when you’re having a laugh.
So when an Australian reporter came upon a piece of wood laying on top of an Antarctic iceberg, miles from nowhere, someone suggested it was a take on the black monolith Stanley Kubrick used in his “2001 – A Space Odissey” to illustrate mankind’s progress.
A coffin. A door to a magical world. Debris from a shipwreck. Or a rudimentary penguin surfboard were some of the theories Continue reading