You may recall last week, when we told you that the SETI Institute was inviting the public to help name P4 and P5, Pluto’s so-far-untitled moons. The existing, already-named moons are called Nix, Charon, and Hydra. They all fit within the International Astronomical Union’s naming convention for the dwarf planet’s satellites: namely, that “Those that share Pluto’s orbital rhythm take the name of underworld deities.” The proposed new names all fit within that pattern, but SETI also invited voters to write in their own suggestions. And then William Shatner happened.
I’m not a Halo fan, or a big player or the first-person shooter genre in general. I’m not saying anything negative about them. My talent is severely lacking anytime I attempt one. But I’ll definitely be willing to take on former Halo developer Bungie Studios’ long-awaited Destiny, so if you don’t hear from me for a few years after the game is released, tell my wife and daughter I did it to save their lives.
So, for the past six years, Bungie has been hard at work on the “mythic sci-fi universe” of Destiny, and apparently it will be less a single gaming experience and more of a life dedication that will place your character in a living world that adapts and changes over time randomly, so that you’ll never have the same gaming session twice. And what is that character doing? He’s a Guardian for the only city left on Earth, constantly battling to save it from evil alien races bent on destruction. And there’s a giant extra-terrestrial globe hovering right above the city, offering extra protection, and it’s what powers you. Check out the trailer and some behind-the-scenes info in the video below.
The past few days have had many of us looking to the skies. On a day when asteroid 2012 DA14 was skimming past our little blue marble, many Russians got an early morning surprise as a meteor or small asteroid entered the atmosphere above the city of Chelyabinsk, blowing out windows and injuring hundreds from shockwaves as it passed. It turns out the universe wasn’t quite finished with the light show, as San Francisco residents got an impressive fireball of their own.
As reported by NBC News, the fireball appeared in the sky above San Francisco around 7:45 p.m. Friday night, the same days as the asteroid flyby and the meteor that came down in Russia. The bluish fireball wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Russian event, but thankfully it also wasn’t damaging. You can watch the local news story about the light show below.
There’s been much talk lately of asteroid DA14, the 50-meter-wide space rock that’s zipping past the Earth later today, but it turns out the universe had an early surprise opener in store for us. Early Friday morning what’s believed to be a meteorite arced through the sky above Russia, resulting in shattered windows, some astonishing video footage, and a whole lot of surprised Russians.
Russia’s Interior Ministry says that around 1,000 injuries have been reported, including 200 children. Thankfully, it sounds like most of the injuries are not serious. Most of the injuries reported in the Chelyabinsk region, some 950 miles east of Moscow. As many as 3,000 buildings have sustained damage, mostly from the shockwave as the meteor broke up during its entry through the atmosphere.
The meteor blazed through the morning sky around 9:20 a.m. local time. Understandably, early reports were contradictory and occasionally bonkers, with the expected rumors of UFOs and at least one report that the meteor had been “shot down” by Russian fighter planes. Expect that to be dissected thoroughly on the conspiracy theory forum of your choice.
Want to wave goodbye to any chance of productivity for the rest of the day? Then step right up to 100,000 Stars, an interactive starmap from those mad geniuses at Google’s Creative Lab team. The map allows you to click, scroll, and otherwise explore a (mostly) accurate representation of our cosmic “neck of the woods.” It’s gorgeous, it’s fascinating, and it will absolutely force you to cancel any meetings you had planned for the rest of the day.
Here’s Google’s official description of the map:
Visualizing the exact location of every star in the galaxy is a problem of, well, galactic proportions. With over 200 billion stars, capturing every detail of the Milky Way currently defies scientists and laptops alike. However, using imagery and data from a range of sources, including NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), we were recently able to take one small step in that direction by plotting the location of the stars closest to our sun . . . The experiment makes use of Google Chrome’s support for WebGL, CSS3D, and Web Audio. Music was generously provided by Sam Hulick, who video game fans may recognize as a composer for the popular space adventure series, Mass Effect.
In my opinion, you can improve pretty much any concept by adding “in space” to the end of it. Birthdays…in space. Water balloon fights…in space. And, of course, food…in space. Because the simply daily act of eating becomes a far more interesting challenge when you can’t rely on your food to stay on the plate, and an unexpected sneeze could send your chicken kiev ricocheting off of sensitive equipment.
We’ve seen all sorts of fascinating things beamed back home from the International Space Station, from a full tour to a demonstration of how water works in microgravity. Now NASA Commander Chris Hadfield has pitched in with a look at what passes for your three hots (cot not included) up on the ISS. First: nachos!