NASA And MIT Team Up To Search For Earthlike Planets

TESSAt the end of last year, astronomers said they believed an Earthlike planet would be discovered in 2013. Lo and behold, it’s 2013. As far as most exoplanets go, they’ve found big and small, with some Earthlike-like-like planets out there. But nothing quite so unique as our big blue marble.

The Kepler observatory, launched in 2009, will soon be completely outdated, thanks to a partnership between NASA and MIT that will give us TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which will do the same thing that Kepler has been doing — namely searching for planets by detecting dips in a star’s brightness as the orbiting body crosses between it and the observer. The difference between the two is simple: TESS is going to be searching about 400 times as much of the sky as Kepler does. It will be here to survey the entire sky and chew bubble gum, and it’s all out of bubble gum. Also, satellites can’t chew bubblegum.

“It will identify thousands of new planets orbiting a broad range of stellar types, and with widely varying distances from their host star,” said the project’s principal investigator George Ricker, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. We all grew up with eight or nine planets to worry about memorizing mnemonically, but our kids’ kids are going to have thousands. The plastic glow-in-the-dark wall stick-on industry is going to explode!


The Walking Dead Season 3 Visual Effects Reel


Season three has wrapped up on The Walking Dead, and as we wait for season four to begin this October, we can say, for the most part, that last week’s season finale — “Welcome to the Tombs” — was overall weak, with a few bright flourishes. While the quality of the show’s writing has been lacking in recent weeks, the quality of the show’s blood, gore, and zombie kills has been at an all-time high.

The Walking Dead features some of the most brutal and dynamic kills on cable television. Even when the story is lacking, The Walking Dead is still worth watching because of the amazing job Stargate Studios has done with the show’s visual effects. Stargate Studios put together a sizzle reel highlighting the show’s best zombie kills, and how their talented visual effects artists put them together. It’s really surprising to see how small some of the prison location sets are when you compare them to how big and effective they are on the small screen.


Syfy Options A Slew Of New Sci-Fi Series

McCallEven though Syfy’s original movies are more creature features than actual science fiction, and their reality shows are almost all about the paranormal, and their actual name is just a made-up word, the original series Syfy puts out, regardless of quality, usually do fall within the realm of actual sci-fi. They’ve just kicked it up a notch, adding seven more original series to their upcoming roster, which already includes the highly anticipated Defiance, the Blake’s 7 reboot, and Ron Moore’s Helix. From space operas to space mysteries to meteorite crashes, this will be a year in which Syfy leaves our planet behind and takes viewers all over the universe. At least, through a TV screen. Let’s go over some of them, shall we?

Sojourn: From screenwriter Phil Levens (Smallville) and producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity) comes this mystery set aboard a starship heading to colonize another planet. For the first time ever, a space detective is needed to investigate a murder that ends up leading to a conspiracy involving a crime that happened back when the ship launched. Drama!

Shelter: As a massive meteorite heads toward Earth, 30,000 people are chosen to begin a new society in an underground government facility. But perhaps not all is as it seems. This will be written by Bruce Joel Rubin (Deep Impact) and Ari Rubin.


NASA-Backed Fusion Drive Could Get Us To Mars In 30 Days

In Jules Verne’s classic book, the eccentric Phineas Fogg leaves his peers gobsmacked when he bets them that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, and then does exactly that. Now University of Washington researchers have a proposal that would undoubtably put a smile on Mr. Fogg’s face: they’re working on a fusion engine that they suggest could cut the travel time to Mars down to a mere 30 days. That’s genuinely jaw-dropping when compared to NASA’s estimated travel time for a round-trip journey using conventional rockets: a whopping four years.

One of the biggest obstacles to expanding further into our own solar system is the sheer cost and the amounts of fuel required to get you from here to wherever you’re going. But the proposed fusion-powered vessel wouldn’t require the massive payload of fuel, and the key process could be powered by solar energy collected during the voyage.

Fusion ship

Concept art of a solar-powered, fusion-driven craft


EyePlus Gives Any Room A Breathtaking View


For many people, living somewhere with a fantastic view just isn’t an option. From the mediocrity of suburbia to high-rise apartment buildings surrounded by more high-rise apartment buildings, you usually need deep pockets to secure an abode that is as attractive looking out as it is looking in. A good scenic view is what separates a $200 hotel room from a $500 hotel room. That, and all the mini-bourbons.

The Italian company EyePlus — or Eye+, since they’re not too picky about their trademark — wants to give every room a view with its innovative display system that could, in the future, let someone feel like they’re anywhere in the world. Or at least let them know how it feels to look out of a window anywhere in the world. It looks like a TV, and actually is a TV when not being used for display purposes, but a USB attachment allows you to pick between various locations that you’d like to look at and experience. From a window.

And no, it isn’t just a simple picture. After all, you could just go out and buy a picture for that. The EyePlus features an optical sensor that tracks the onlooker’s movements, adjusting the angles to give the full view of a location from that particular vantage point. Say you’re looking out over a cityscape; as you get closer to the “window,” you can look down to the ground below and see cars moving, or look up to the sky and see the birds. The following video showcases quite a number of these video loops.


Joseph Kosinski On The Direction Of Tron 3, Confirms IMAX

Tron: Legacy

With less than a week and a half before Oblivion is released in theaters in the U.S. (it will be released internationally this Friday), director Joseph Kosinski is one of Hollywood’s rising stars. His directorial debut, Tron: Legacy, grossed $400 million, while his sophomore effort stars Tom Cruise; Kosinski’s career can only get brighter with his next film Tron 3.

In an interview with Empire Magazine, Joseph Kosinski briefly talked about Tron: Legacy‘s sequel film, and how it will continue what was established in the previous Tron films:

‘Tron 3 delivers on the promise of Tron Legacy, particular the final scenes,’ elaborates the director. ‘There’s a big clue there as to where we’ll go with the next one. There’s some characters we establish at the beginning of Tron Legacy who have a much larger role in Tron 3.

The character Kosinski is mentioning could be Edward Dillinger Jr., the head of the software design team for ENCOM and the son of former ENCOM Senior Executive Ed Dillinger (David Warner) from the original Tron film. Actor Cillian Murphy played Edward in Tron: Legacy, which seemed odd because Murphy is a very notable actor and he was only featured in one scene at the very beginning of the movie. While Murphy was uncredited in Tron: Legacy, it seems likely that he’ll have a bigger role in the upcoming sequel.