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Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 07:53 PM PDT

Freeping the Hugo Awards

by Susan Grigsby

Reposted from Daily Kos by pat208 Editor's Note: Meanwhile, in fictional solar systems and galaxies near and far... -- pat208
Depiction of a futuristic city.
I don't read much science fiction anymore, but it was the stuff of my teens. Perhaps it was geared to 13-year-old boys, but it still allowed me journeys to the Ringworld or to Rendezvous with Rama, worlds so vast and detailed that leaving them and coming back to earth in the 1960s was jarring. I grokked Michael Valentine Smith (or would have liked to) and studied psychohistory under Hari Seldon.  

Today I mostly read mysteries for the Monday Murder Mystery series, and sadly my sci-fi reading is limited to cross-genre novels like John Scalzi's Lock-In, Matt Haig's The Humans or Max Barry's Lexicon. But when I have the time, I confess that I look to the Nebula and Hugo award winners and nominees for titles to add to my TBR list.

The Nebulas are awarded by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The Hugos are nominated and awarded by fans of the genre who are members of Worldcon, making them basically a popularity contest. Which is fine with me as those voters are avid readers of science fiction and fantasy who are dedicated enough to attend the conventions or at least to pay the $40 fee to join. And over the years, the fans have managed to select some pretty good reading.

Until now. This year a right-wing minority of science-fiction writers and publishers have decided which nominees the fans will be allowed to vote for. Nothing that they have done is illegal, although the word unethical could be applied if it held any meaning for them. It doesn't however, because within their bubble they are the oppressed minority who are being censored and put upon by the "social justice warriors." Sigh.

Grab your popcorn and meet me below the fold for the sad and rabid story of the puppies.

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Reposted from eState4Column5©2013 by pat208
Even the FSM used Kickstarter.com. "HCN is abundant in comets, which rained down steadily for nearly the first several hundred million years of Earth’s history. The impacts would also have produced enough energy to synthesize HCN from hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen"
Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum

The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.

Now, researchers say they may have solved these paradoxes. Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start. Although the new work does not prove that this is how life started, it may eventually help explain one of the deepest mysteries in modern science.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0325

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Reposted from Daily Kos by pat208
It's hard to believe it's been almost 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope went up on Shuttle Mission 31. NASA is gearing up for the official April 24 anniversary and released a stunning new image of an old favorite: The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula. Be prepared to wait if you click on that image, it's linked to the huge NASA billboard version. This image at Bad Astronomy is a little easier to digest:
The pillars are these towers. The tops are pointing toward the onslaught of stellar radiation and are slowly being dissolved by the light. You can see small knots, clumps of material here and there; these are where stars are being formed and are being uncovered as the dust dissolves. You can see numerous finger-shaped blobs all over the region, too, being eroded by the same process. There’s also a near-infrared image, which detects light that can get through some of the otherwise-opaque dust, showing even more details, including baby stars.
What with lousy weather and terrible news all week, it's good to remember we live in a gorgeous universe and the HST showcase site might well be worth visiting this weekend.
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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

This week, Science Saturday takes a look back at the year in science.

This week's featured story comes from Science Magazine on YouTube.

Science's Breakthrough of the Year 2014!

Each year, Science chooses a singular scientific development as Breakthrough of the Year. This year, the Rosetta mission took the crown! Meet this year’s Breakthrough and check out our nine amazing runners-up!

More stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in cities and states with runoff elections and unresolved contests.  Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor and Austin, Texas, had a runoff election for Mayor on December 16th.  Also, between now and the first NCAA Division 1-A College Football Championship decided by playoff, OND will feature the research stories from universities with teams in post-season play.  This week, stories will come from schools involved in bowl games held between December 22nd and December 27th.

This week's featured story comes from The Huffington Post.

Winter Solstice 2014: Shortest Day Of The Year Marked By Pagan Celebrations
By HuffPost Religion Editors
December 20, 2014

In 2014, the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on Dec. 21 at 6:03 p.m. EST. To calculate the turning point in your time zone, click here.

Officially the first day of winter, the winter solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This is the longest night of the year, meaning that despite the cold winter, the days get progressively longer after the winter solstice until the summer solstice in 2015.

More stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in cities and states with runoff elections and unresolved contests.  Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor and Austin, Texas, has a runoff election for Mayor on December 16th.  Also, between now and the first NCAA Division 1-A College Football Championship decided by playoff, OND will feature the research stories from universities with teams in post-season play.  This week, stories will come from schools involved in bowl games held on December 20th.

This week's featured story comes from Jessica Contrera of The Washington Post and Victoria Jaggard of Smithsonian Magazine.

On 12/13/14 one last chance to indulge in sequential date frenzy — this century, anyway

It’s the very last sequential day of the century. We are already out of triple dates, the 11/11/11s and 12/12/12s, and Saturday we run out of 1/2/03s and 4/5/06s.

There is no 13/14/15! And there won’t be anything like it until the year 2101!
...
Journalists have been reporting on these special dates — calling wedding planners and casinos and numerologists and “scientists” — and maybe exaggerating the details of the situation a bit, but we’ll get to that — for 14 years.

So to celebrate this century’s last hurrah, this final quirk of the calendar, let us compile all the essential ingredients for the ultimate 12/13/14 sequential date story.

After 12/13/14, What Are the Next Fun Dates for Math Lovers?

[N]umberphiles need not despair. Counting from one to 365 is just the simplest form of a mathematical tool called an integer sequence, says Neil J. A. Sloane, a visiting scientist at Rutgers University and founder of the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, or OEIS. "Our days are numbered," Sloane quips. So what other types of sequences can we look forward to celebrating this century?

Primes (11/13/17) and Mersenne Primes (07/13/17) [sic--the next Mersenne Prime date should be 3/7/31, not 07/13/17--NV.]
...
Fibonacci Numbers (08/13/21)
...
Recamán's Sequence (07/13/20 and 08/25/43)

There's also Pi Day next year, 3/14/15.

Stories originally included in 12-13-14, the last sequential day of the century on Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

More stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in cities and states with runoff elections and unresolved contests.  Louisiana held a runoff for U.S. Senator today, Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor, and Austin, Texas, has a runoff election for Mayor on December 16th.  Also, between now and the first NCAA Division 1-A College Football Championship decided by playoff, OND will feature the research stories from universities with teams in post-season play.  This week, stories will come from schools involved in conference championships.

This week's featured story comes from NASA and Space.com.

Orion Flight Test

After years of design, fabrication and testing Orion completed a perfect launch into Earth's orbit. After returning to Earth NASA's Orion spacecraft is seen from an unpiloted aircraft descending under three massive red and white main parachutes and then shortly after its bullseye splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles southwest of San Diego. During the uncrewed test, Orion traveled twice through the Van Allen belt, where it experienced periods of intense radiation, and reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth. The spacecraft hit speeds of 20,000 mph and weathered temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

Orion’s first flight on This Week @NASA

The successful first flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft on Dec. 5 not only was a historic moment for the agency – but also was a critical step on NASA’s Journey to Mars. Orion rode to space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a Delta IV heavy rocket with no crew, but loaded with about 1,200 sensors. The flight test basically was a compilation of the riskiest events that will happen when astronauts fly on Orion on deep space missions. Also, Journey to Mars briefing, 1st SLS flight barrel and Commercial crew milestone.

NASA's Orion Spaceship Test a 'Textbook Spaceflight'
by Miriam Kramer, Space.com Staff Writer
December 06, 2014 09:49am ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's first capsule built to take humans to Mars aced a seemingly flawless first test flight on Friday (Dec. 5), with the space agency overjoyed with the spacecraft's performance.

The Orion spacecraft appeared to function spectacularly during the risky unmanned test flight in space, and also as it came back through Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Some people are comparing this historic capsule to the capsules flown during the Apollo program that brought NASA astronauts to the moon for the first time.

"It was just such a textbook spaceflight," said NASA astronaut Rex Walheim, who worked with the Orion team to develop the spacecraft. "That's what we want for our first flight."

More videos and articles about this and other stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in states with runoff elections, other unresolved races for U.S. Senator or Governor, and Democratic victories for U.S. Senator or Governor, in addition to universities in cities with runoff or special elections.  Louisiana is holding a runoff for U.S. Senator, Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor, and Austin, Texas, has a runoff election for Mayor.   Democrats won elections for U.S. Senator in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  Democrats won elections for Governor in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from the states of Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia and the city of Austin.

This week's featured story comes from io9.

Everything You Need To Know About NASA's Next Deep Space Mission
Charlie Jane Anders
November 28, 2014

NASA is dreaming big and working hard. Orion is the result, the first step in opening up deep space exploration to humans — and hopefully, bringing people to Mars. The spacecraft undergoes its first test flight next week, and here's everything you need to know about it.

Meet Orion, NASA's New Deep Space Explorer

The largest rocket on the planet is about to carry NASA's dreams into a highly inclined orbit around the Earth. Exploration Test Flight-1, the first uncrewed full-system test flight for the new Orion spacecraft is December 4th. Here's what it is, why it's awesome, and how it's the first step in NASA's Next Giant Leap.

More stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in states with runoff elections, other unresolved races for U.S. Senator or Governor, and Democratic victories for U.S. Senator or Governor, in addition to universities in cities with runoff or special elections.  Louisiana is holding a runoff for U.S. Senator, Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor, and Austin, Texas, has a runoff election for Mayor.   Democrats won elections for U.S. Senator in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  Democrats won elections for Governor in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from the states of Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Vermont and the city of Austin.

This week's featured story comes from Space.com.

Philae Lander Sniffed Out Organics in Comet's Atmosphere
by Miriam Kramer, Space.com Staff Writer
November 19, 2014 11:57am ET

The first probe ever to land on the surface of a comet performed some serious science before going into hibernation. Europe's Philae lander found organic molecules in the comet's atmosphere and discovered that the frigid object's surface is as hard as ice.

On Nov. 12, the European Space Agency's Philae became the first probe to softly land on the face of a comet. After being released from the Rosetta orbiter, the lander actually bounced off Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko twice before coming to its current less-than-ideal resting spot. Because of the low sunlight conditions, Philae went into hibernation after only about 57 hours on the comet when its primary batteries depleted. But the probe still beamed back a wealth of science during its short initial life on the icy body.

While it will take scientists a while to sift through the data collected by Philae, it looks like the probe has sent home some interesting new results. Before shutdown, one of Philae's instruments managed to "sniff" the first organic molecules detected in the atmosphere of the comet, officials with the DLR German Aerospace Center said. However, scientists still aren't sure what kind of organics — carbon-containing molecules that are the building blocks of life on Earth — were found.

More stories after the jump.

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Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in states with runoff elections, other unresolved races for U.S. Senator or Governor, and Democratic victories for U.S. Senator or Governor, in addition to universities in cities with runoff or special elections.  Louisiana is holding a runoff for U.S. Senator, while Alaska has uncalled races for both U.S. Senate and Governor, Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor, and Austin, Texas, has a runoff election for Mayor.   Democrats won elections for U.S. Senator in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  Democrats won elections for Governor in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from the states of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Vermont and the city of Austin, Texas.

This week's featured story comes from Discovery News and Space.com.

We Just Landed On A Comet!

Earlier this morning, the Rosetta satellite successfully landed a probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! Trace is here to explain how the European Space Agency managed to do this.

Comet Landing - Surface and Descent Pics Beamed To Earth | Video

A soft landing on the surface of comet 67P/C-G was successfully completed on Nov. 12th, 2014. The Philae lander and its mothership Rosetta probe both snapped imagery of the descent. Also, the first image taken from the surface of a comet is snapped by the lander.
Double Comet Landing? Philae Probe May Have Bounced During Touchdown.
The European spacecraft that performed the first-ever soft landing on a comet might have done so not just once, but twice.

The Philae lander, part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission, made history Wednesday morning (Nov. 12) when it touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But the probe's anchoring harpoons didn't fire as planned, and Philae may have bounced off the surface before settling back onto the icy body once again, mission officials said.

"Maybe today, we didn't just land once — we even landed twice," Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center, said during a news conference Wednesday.

Philae Comet Lander Falls Silent as Batteries Run Out
The first spacecraft ever to land on a comet has fallen silent, entering a potentially long, cold sleep after running out of power.

The European Space Agency's Philae lander completed its last transmission Friday (Nov. 14) at 7:36 p.m. EST (0036 GMT) before settling into a hibernation state as its batteries ran out. The probe had been studying the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for 57 hours when it went to sleep, possibly for good.

More stories after the jump, including more Rosetta videos in comments.
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Reposted from Daily Kos by pat208
Shortly after bouncing down, the lander Philae reported it was alive and well on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But it may be perched on top of a cliff or chasm at the edge of forever:
While it was touching down, the lander bounced twice -- almost as if the comet were a trampoline. The first bounce lasted almost two hours and took the lander about two-thirds of a mile above the comet's surface. The second bounce was smaller and lasted just a few minutes, said Stephan Ulamec, the Philae landing manager. The craft's harpoons failed to attach it to the surface after touchdown Wednesday but it's now stable, scientists said. ... Scientists also said Philae landed with two legs on the ground and one foot in the vaccuum of space during its final touchdown. Ulamec said the lander has the capability to make a little "hop" on the surface, which could help it get into a better position but the maneuver would be risky and it is not likely ESA will try it.
The picture is hard to get a bead on, because 67P has two lobes. The camera appears to be looking toward the "neck" connecting the two halves with the other lobe hanging above. It would be a weird place to stand. Even in the comet's microgravity, roughly one one-hundredth of Earth normal, our terrestrial senses might insist the overhanging 'comet-scape' is about to crash down, or the observer about to fall off into infinity.

There will be more and better pics soon. Philae sent back a bunch of data last night. Right before it went into a deep sleep it may never awake from.

And just last night, the ESA announced a risky maneuver may have put enough sunlight on the lander's panels to recharge the batteries. It is in now contact with Rosetta. It appears Philae is not ready to give up just yet.

Discuss
Reposted from Overnight News Digest by Neon Vincent

Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

With the general election concluded, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in states with runoff elections, other unresolved races for U.S. Senator or Governor, and Democratic victories for U.S. Senator or Governor.  Louisiana is holding a runoff for U.S. Senator, while Alaska has uncalled races for both U.S. Senate and Governor, and Vermont has an unresolved race for Governor.   Democrats won elections for U.S. Senator in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  Democrats  won elections for Governor in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from California, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

This week's featured story comes from Climate Central via Discovery News.

2014 Will Go Down As Hottest In California’s History
by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central
Nov 5, 2014 02:15 PM ET

Book it: This year will go down as the hottest in California’s history.

With just two months left in the year, there’s a better than 99 percent chance that 2014 will be the warmest year on record for California, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

The state has been baking in above-average temperatures all year — setting a record for thewarmest first six months of any year this June — thanks to a persistent atmospheric pattern that has also mired California in a major drought. The heat has only exacerbated the drought’s effects, and the state is in dire need of a really wet winter, an uncertain prospect right now.

More stories after the jump.

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