Tag Archives: Mars

Destination Mars! Tune in to watch!

Exciting news from Mars! As opening acts, spacecraft from both the United Arab Emirates and China entered orbit above the Red Planet, last week, with China hoping to be the second nation to land a successful rover, in a few months. And we await the news from NASA’s 2020 mission – which will attempt on Thursday to land the Perseverance rover that will explore the surface and collect rock samples for later return. In addition, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter will collect images from above. NASA will be using the same delivery technique – complicated and terrifying – that was so successful at landing Curiosity some years ago. 

Tune in! You can watch the landing broadcast live, starting at 11:15 am PST on February 18, for “seven minutes of terror” as the rover plunges through the atmosphere of Mars, slowed by thrusters, a parachute, and then lowered by crane to the surface of Jezero Crater. For a preview, watch this NASA animation of the landing procedure.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirate’s Hope mission has just returned its first images from the Red Planet this week; it will carry out research on the atmosphere of Mars. In addition China’s Tianwen-1 probe successfully entered Mars orbit after a seven month journey.

== So many ways it matters! ==

Technology developed for NASA’s Perseverance mission will have had many spinoff uses on Earth. These examples are important, but the most boring may also help save us… better ability to detect small amounts of methane, helping us find pesky leaks that contribute to climate change… and more urgently send forth drones to find those rancid SOBs who are venting it deliberately from pipelines and wellheads. 

Meanwhile Japan’s mission to the Martian moons will take images in 8k and return samples. Possibly among the most valuable pieces of real estate in the solar system, and the sort of partners NASA should be working with(!), instead of joining a silly rush of Apollo-wannabes eager to plant ego-footprints on a dusty lunar plain.  WHile we should continue robotic lunar science – and sell orbital hotel rooms and landers to those eager, would be moon-tourists… and polar water may have some limited uses… there is simply no valid reason for the US to join that rush to satisfy a footprint fetish that we took care of 50 years ago.

But sure… more lunar science! Fantastic new versions of Planetary Radar let Earth-based radio telescopes create incredibly detailed images of the moon and will open studies of other planetary moons and asteroids. Just stay on target guys! Minimize spillover! These beams are narrow, collimated, laser-like and much more detectable at long range (very long range, if you get my drift) than our measly TV signals and airport radars… which fade almost to nothing within a light year. (And no, ET is not watching I Love Lucy. That’s a silly cliché.)

Oh. Check out the bright dot of (immense!) lightning on this gorgeous Juno mission image of Jupiter! Taken by a camera made by Malin Space Systems in San Diego. Can you spot the dot… nearly the size of Europe?

== Looking toward asteroids ==

I’ve said it for more than a decade. One of the greatest astronomical discoveries has been the number of moons and dwarf planets that appear to bear pools… or oceans… of liquid water beneath protective ice roofs. Now even stronger evidence that at least some sort of briney lake exists under the ice on… Ceres. (Sorry EXPANSE fans! Ceres colonists would not have to import water.)

Leaving the (for now) pretty much useless Luna to tourists, some human endeavors are turning toward where the real wealth lies. For example: Japanese scientists open the Hayabusa probe’s containers of samples from carbon-rich asteroid Ryugu!

The mission to collect 60 or so grams of pristine material from Bennu instead may have collected more than 2000 grams, penetrating half a meter into the ancient, carbonaceous asteroid. Now stowed and ready for a launch homeward in March, the  return capsule will arrive home in 2023. Wonderful! OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission, but it’s not the first one in history. Japan’s Hayabusa mission delivered small bits of the stony asteroid Itokawa to Earth in 2010.

Only now… meticulous orbital studies suggest that Bennu is a lot less-dense in the middle, possibly even “hollow.” In which case the mind reels with sci-fi possibilities! From obviously trying to dig out a wonderful O’Neil space colony to… wait… did you say hollow? What’s mostly hollow inside and rigid outside and sails through space? Um, a ship?  

The New Horizons team that gave us the spectacular Pluto-Charon flyby, a few years back and a subsequent Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) recently partnered with the Subaru Observatory to search for new KBOs along the probe’s path, and about 75 new KBOs found in the direction New Horizons is traveling. Between 15 and 20 will pass close enough to New Horizons to be scientifically observed, beginning this December. 

Says PI Alan Stern: “Although none of these KBOs are close enough for us to reach for a close flyby like we did at Arrokoth, the science we can do even from a distance will produce new results on KBO surface properties, shapes, rotational periods, and close-in moons that could not be achieved any other way.” And with new observations… “Perhaps (if we get lucky) we’ll even snag a new flyby target if we can find a KBO that’s within reach of our current fuel supply (about an eighth of a tank, which was about the same amount it cost to get to Arrokoth).”

== And more space news… ==

The next SpaceX cargo mission to the space station will carry an experiment called BioAsteroid that will contain pieces of meteorites and fungi, to see if a fungus can extract useful elements. Recently one kind of bacterium was shown to pull rare earth elements from basalt. Important. 

As if taken from the very 1st chapter of EXISTENCE, “Scientists estimate that almost 3,000 dead satellites are orbiting our planet, which doesn’t account for the 900,000 pieces of debris less than 10 centimeters long that could cause a catastrophe should a chunk hit the wrong satellite at the wrong time…. and now, the European Space Agency is in the beginning stages of executing one of the more bizarre solutions: a space claw that would grip larger defunct satellites and steer them back into the Earth’s atmosphere, where both the satellite and the claw itself would burn up in peace.” Alas, the tether based technology that I describe would likely work much better and less expensively. (Here’s that vivid trailer of Existence with art by Patrick Farley!)  

Finally…No, this is not an actual image sent back from Voyager 1, as the article seems to imply. But it is a kinda cool representation of what the solar system would look like, in V’ger’s rear view mirror, right about now.  One of humanity’s proudest accomplishments.  And let’s hope for another this Thursday, as our civilization resumes lifting its head.

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The Near Future of Manned Spaceflight

I’ve been feeling a bit inspired about our prospects in space, lately.  Foremost (of course) by the incredible competence displayed by the makers of the Curiosity probe that landed on Mars, last week, and the JPL controllers and the citizenry that backed such a wonderful venture.  If we must preen about “american exceptionalism” then let it be about Curiosity – and other admirable traits – that truly are exceptional.  Also recently, I met one of the great astronauts of our time, Story Musgrave, at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, where another topic was the greatness displayed during pioneering days in space – in light of the passing of Neil Armstrong.

For a recent interview I was asked — Where is manned spaceflight headed in the near term?

First off, these responses are not given in my role as a member of the board of external experts for NASA’s NIAC program that grants seed funding for new and innovative advanced concepts. The comments that follow are off-the-cuff speculations about the longer range, in an area NIAC scarcely covers.

Having said that, let me add that I see two drivers and two paths ahead for human spaceflight, one slow and plodding, the other quick and exciting.  Both will be needed. Each will benefit from the other.

Ever since Challenger blew up, NASA’s meticulous approach to manned spaceflight has been to redouble caution. To fill in each missing step, then the sub-phases between each step. After Columbia, this fill-in-every-gap method has led to such flawless undertakings as the recent Curiosity lander’s spectacular (and spectacularly complicated) landing on Mars…

… but that was a robot.  When human lives are at stake, the process becomes so carefully mature that – in effect – nothing gets flown at all. At minimum, human-rating every component multiplies costs by as much as two orders of magnitude, in some cases. Let’s be plain. If today’s NASA constituted our only path to human spaceflight, countless thorny problems and sub-problems would be vanquished!  But nothing would ever actually fly with people aboard.

Fortunately, through this process NASA keeps developing new technologies.  So do the civilian world, foreign governments and the military.  These improvements trickle – or gush – and spread. New thresholds have been reached in computers and sensors, in equipment capability and reliability. And in plummeting hardware prices.

One result? We are ready for the dawn of a new era, one of private space ventures. And, fortunately, the politicians – those in power at-present – seem perfectly ready to welcome non-state activity.  Instead of raising obstacles, they seem bent on clearing a path.

From the Rutan/Branson Spaceship to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, there are dozens of private manned and unmanned missions being planned. Some of them leverage upon the desire of the rising caste of super-rich for unusual experiences, starting with sub-orbital jaunts.  Plans are in motion to extend this market, leading downstream to space hotels and – eventually – private moon landings. Even more boldly entrepreneurial, the new Planetary Resources company plans to access the vast wealth of asteroids.

All of these things can be done now because technological thresholds are falling… and also because they can allow higher risk ratios, because private ventures aren’t answerable to the same levels of enforced care as public ones.  The cost effects of allowing lethal failure rates in the one-millionth probability – instead of one-billionth – is nothing short of astronomical.

== A New Barnstorming Age? ==

We may, at last be ready to embark on the equivalent of the the great age of barnstorming aircraft development, that our grandparents saw in the 1920s, when risk – and even some loss – was considered part and parcel of courage and exploration. When the new frontier was legitimate territory for tinkerers (albeit, today they would be billionaire tinkerers).

If so, it will have come about from a mix of government investment in meticulous process and checklisting a myriad details… meshing well with the unleashing of private ambition.

No example so perfectly disproves the idiotic canard that everything must be all-government… or else that all government action is evil and wholly uncreative.  We are a complex people in a complex age.  But we can rise above comforting nostrums to realize, a careful mix was how we got everything we see around us. A mix that is negotiated by goal-driven grownups — that is how we’ll get farther ahead.

== What are pros/cons of each approach? ==

The Branson/Rutan “Spaceship One” approach, and others like it, have the advantage of paying for themselves incrementally, improving their methods and capabilities in the same way. Those offering suborbital jaunts won’t have to answer to taxpayers or budget committees. If Branson and Rutan and the others deliver a safe and peerless experience, the new lords will thrust money at them, hand-over-fist (doing us all a favor by recycling some of it into useful and cool things.)

Some of us will also go, through prizes and lotteries (and gifts to favorite authors?) Calling Fantasy Island!

And their next products will emerge in a matter of due course.  Orbital hotels and – quicker than you now might expect – private moon landings. These missions will be of very little scientific value.  (The moon’s only likely use for a generation will be as a tourist attraction.  There are no other near-term features of any value.) But they will leverage technologies developed by NASA and others, transforming them into off-the-shelf tools and something that today’s NASA is ill-equipped to do — actual, risk-taking human crewed expeditions.

In time, this will transform into own-your-own sub-orbital rocket kits, as I depict – with pulse-pounding action! –  in an early chapter of Existence.  (See this portrayed in some early images in the vivid preview-trailer. )

SpaceX and others are counting on winning contracts to deliver commercial and government payloads into orbit, predictably and reliably. This will soon include human crews for the Space Station.  The Dragon capsule will not be optimized for paying private customers seeking a “yeehaw” experience.  But I expect there will be some such, as well.

Way back in 1982 I headed a team at the California Space Institute that outlined an alternative space station design, using Space Shuttle External Tanks, that would have been soooooo sweet.  Just five launches would have led to a station larger than the present one and far more capable.  Ah,well.  The tanks are gone.  (But sample it with my short story: “Tank Farm Dynamo“!)

Still, some of the new inflatable structures… and composites being developed at UCSD’s new Structural and Materials Engineering Building… may lead to new, commercial stations that offer hotel experiences in the sky.  And even though the moon is sterile scientifically and for physical wealth, it may (as said earlier) be enough of a tourist allure to propel us back to that sere (but romantic) destination.

== What about the Old Dream? Missions to Mars? ==

Oh, we will poke away at the big stuff.  Certainly the shift away from a return-to-the-moon boondoggle, which almost no scientist on Earth supported, was a step in the right direction.  And with private capitalists salivating over asteroids, it does look as if the choice was was a correct one.

NASA will keep developing the technologies we’ll need for missions to asteroids, to Phobos (potentially one of the most valuable rocks in the Solar system), and eventually Mars.  We could afford to spend twice what we do and pick up the pace.  The payoffs – just for remembering we’re a scientific civilization – would be overwhelming.

Oh, and of course other nations will be joining this mix, in ever-greater force.  In Existence, I portray manned spaceflight getting a nationalist impetus when the Chinese start flexing their competence and muscle out there. It could help propel interesting times.

Still I was asked about just human spaceflight in the near term.  And the near term to me looks commercial, private, bold, close-to-home, rather lavishly exclusive…

…but fun.

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The decline of American manufacturing

What if America lost its knack for making things?  Manufacturing is the root that all other projects sprout from… even the arts!  In a new graphic novel – TINKERERS – famed author David Brin combines art with a guided tour of history and tech, exploring how to win back the knack!

tinkerers_thumbI kid you not! I was asked by a major metals industry group to create a comic book set in 20 years, that discusses the many reasons for US industrial decline… and how it might come back. A low-res preview edition is available online (if you’ll spread the word!)

Physical copies will be available soon from Amazon. I cover the whole range. Comments are welcome…

Tinkerers has its own Facebook page!

And here’s a timely-related piece of news — Manufacturing with every atom in its place: a scanning tunneling microscope can be used to remove surface atoms one at a time, and then add single atomic layers only to those cleaned areas.

===  AM I A FRIEND OF THE SHOW? ===

A crew from the Colbert Report just spent 7 hours here in my home, asking about alien invaders!  I tried to stay “calm & mature” but I’m sure they’ll edit-for-humor.  Heck, I love the show (and they gave me great schwag!) So I guess they can make me look dopey in a good cause…. 😉

=== OTHER MATTERS ===

That 90 minute audio interview I gave last month, for Jay Ackroyd’s BlogTalkRadio (in conjunction with an event on Second Life), is now available on podcast.

More specifically about the topic of Extraterrestrial life – here’s a podcast and interview I gave to Tom Fudge of KPBS radio.

See a fan’s way-cool visual bibliography of my works.
=== And Science! ===

Cancer is a modern, man-made disease (?) caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study by University of Manchester scientists has strongly suggested. A study of remains and literature from ancient Egypt and Greece and earlier periods — carried out at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and published in Nature — includes the first histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy. Ummm….

Paul Davies argues for a one-way manned mission to Mars, where astronauts plan to stay for the rest of their life, setting up a permanent colony, representing a commitment to space and a return to the can-do spirit of exploration “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars” (Appears in the often-bizarre “Journal of Cosmology.”)

A terrific cartoon exploration (in a sci-fi’ish vein) of some fun philosophical quandaries.  Hilarious… and a bit of a take on the concepts in KILN PEOPLE.

James Cameron will take moviegoers back to Pandora in a pair of Avatar sequels (actually prequels) that he promises will deliver the same visual and emotional impact as the original sci-fi smash.” Whine groan and gnashing of teeth!  Not because I begrudge Cameron… he gave the world a terrific romp and unleashed new technologies that will probably get talking dolphins onto your screens (or holo tanks) within the decade!

No, what upsets me is that I have a LOT to say about Avatar, both good and bad, that I’ve been putting off.  Thoughts that Mr. Cameron really ought to ponder… even if he chooses to reject my advice. (A fellow who has given us so much is entitled.)  I had hoped to put it off for a while……now I dunno. The issues are pretty darn important. Cameron is trying to teach lessons that aren’t getting through… and won’t, so long as he makes some basic polemical mistakes.

Research at the University of Chicago indicates that a clenched fist can help deal with stress, anger — and concentrates the mind away from negative actions

What Kevin Kelly says about his wonderful new book, What Technology Wants.”What I learned from writing this book is that I want to minimize the amount of technology in my own life while maximizing it for others. I want the largest pool of choices possible so that I can select a minimal set of  highly-evolved tools that will optimize my gifts. At the same time I have a moral obligation to maximize the amount of technologies in the world at large so that others may also select their minimal set from this ever growing pool of possibilities.”

Gregory Benford ruminates, entertainingly, about the prospects for extended life through cryonics.  He leaves out some factors, alas, like the odds that people in future generations would want to thaw you out and bring you back!  They’ll be the ones with the power, right?  In that case, your top priority should not be stashing “investments” to mature and make you rich in the 25th century.  It should be to make a better world that will be filled with future folk who are rich and wise and generous… and who might possibly recall – with some gratitude – the efforts that you contributed.  To solving problems in your own time, and making a civilization worthy of the name.

The founders of Recorded Future, a new Boston area start-up, believe there is value in applying Google-like search capabilities and a simple interface to a tightly constrained set of data: occurrences that are expected or predicted to happen tomorrow and beyond.  It looks fascinating and (at last!) a fresh break away from the over-hyped realm of Prediction Markets.

Since he first heralded our era of environmental collapse in 1989’s The End of Nature, Bill McKibben has raised a series of eloquent alarms. In Eaarth, he leads readers to the devastatingly comprehensive conclusion that we no longer inhabit the world in which we’ve flourished for most of human history: we’ve passed the tipping point for dramatic climate change, and even if we could stop emissions yesterday, our world will keep warming, triggering more extreme storms, droughts, and other erratic catastrophes, for centuries to come. This is not just our grandchildren’s problem, or our children’s–we’re living through the effects of climate change now, and it’s time for us to get creative about our survival.

Bacteria R Us : Are we being manipulated by our bacteria? Ninety percent of the cells in your body are bacteria, not human cells. These bacteria appear to coordinate and even ‘communicate’ among themselves (termed quorum sensing), to manipulate the chemistry of their environment.

Half the world’s population burns biomass to cook food, contributing to deforestation & global warming. Solar cookers may be part of the solution: in Africa women & children spend 3-4 hrs gathering a day’s supply of firewood & often resort to animal dung (fumes cause respiratory problems). Solar cookers can be used to make water potable, reducing disease, improving life in refugee camps. http://www.solarcookers.org/

Dolphins uplifting themselves? In Australia, a group of river dolphins has learned to walk on water, by rapidly paddling their tail fluke. The first dolphin learned during an episode in captivity; she taught others, who passed on the technique –just for fun. An example of cultural transmission in the wild.

Why complex life probably evolved only once: the key step may be in forming complex eukaryotic cells – the more complex the cell, the more problems generating enough energy.  In fact, I consider these authors to be foolish. Cells have incorporated other cells many times, not just once.

Just released: Alex Lightman’s new book, Reconciliation – offering 78 reasons why we should end the U.S. embargo of Cuba. After fifty years of a failed policy, it’s time for a fresh start. Mind you I think Fidel Castro needlessly jumbled needless autocracy with a socialist experiment that could have (alas) been tried in good faith, in the most favorable of all conditions. We (humanity) never got to see the experiment, because he gave in to human delusional temptations that any astute reader of history should have known, and avoided… but that very few powerful men ever do, on their own.  Having said that… it is simply time. Open it all up. FLood that island with tourists and good and light and returning-rich-emigres. Just do it.

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Truthiness, aliens and science

I’m quoted on Stephen Colbert’s Restoring Truthiness site: “Sci fi author David Brin: humorists are precisely the kinds of guys who can cut through the orgy of petty indignation that we aging baby boomers are imposing on this country.”

And now I see that liberal so-’n-so Jon Stewart stole the title for his new guide book to the planet Earth (for aliens)? I am so ticked off over his hilarious tome-of-the-stolen-name that I won’t even link to it here!  You’ll have to google or amazon “Stewart” and “Earth” in order to rush & buy it for yourselves!  (Take that Stewart!)

In fact, I plan – on October 30 – to attend the local “Keep Fear Alive!” Colbert rally, in my hometown.  Find your own town’s satellite rally at www.rallymao.com.  And march in support of Stephen’s campaign to resist sanity!  If Stewart’s ilk have their way, Republicans and Democrats will go back to negotiating with each other, reason will prevail, science will thrive and we’ll resume modernist quests for progress. Heck, we’ll even start settling outer space… and my far-out tales of futuristic adventure will all become obsolete!  For the sake of my children, march with Stephen!

(Side note: for us realist-paranoids rallymao.com means “rally-my-ass-off” for the Colbert Nation.  Clearly that means it will be a great way to trim those extra pounds!  But for Stewart’s crowd of pinko namby-pambies, rallymao has another meaning! Did you notice the last three letters? It’s a code! Clearly, they’re congregating to support the murderous commie founder of Red China.  Ooh, that burns, even worse than discovering that Che-Ney was Russian for the “new Che Guevarra.” And he seemed such a nice fellow!)

(More about this at the end.)

=== SCIENCE FICTION MARCHES ON! ===

Announcement to e-book readers! Reports of poor quality control have plagued the electronic versions of my books. Now it appears Bantam/Randomhouse is about to pull and recall all my books from Kindle and other e-readers, in order to re-do the editions.  Generally good news.  So please be patient.

Oh, have you heard? Tim Powers’s great book On Stranger Tides was bought by the producers of Part IV in the Pirates of the Caribbeanseries, starring Johnny Depp.   That bodes well for a hilarious film with some content for the mind and heart, as well!  And it couldn’t happen to a better book, or author.

Meanwhile, I just returned from the Royal Society’s gorgeous new conference facility, in the beautiful countryside outside London, where I participated in a debate over the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and the silly notion that Earthlings should shout Yoohoo! into a dauntingly mysterious cosmos. On the blithe assumption that all advanced aliens will automatically be as beneficent as Californian and Canadian radio astronomers. Which proved ironic.  Illustrating the benign maturity they expect to find out there, three speakers in a row proceeded to use strawman arguments and ridicule against the three of us who were there to ask for serious discussion.  Although not one of us mentioned even a single “danger” in our proposal to expand the advisory panels to include historians, biologists, anthropologists, philosophers — our opponents evaded this simple suggestion, instead choosing to concentrate on mocking the notion of “danger!” Presenting lists of lurid alien invasion scenarios straight out of bad Hollywood thrillers (“Are they coming to take our water? Our women?”)

Above all, it seems that the core SETI community has acquired a deeply-felt and pervasive rationalized hatred of science fiction, bolstered by willful ignorance of the literary genre where most thought experiments about contact with alien life have taken place.

The irony is almost too rich.  A field that was engendered by science fiction, that had its roots in SF and that owes it everything, has turned inward, avoiding contact with most other human scientific specialties… so how will they deal with truly alien beings?  Above all, they offer only hackles toward the one literary realm that should be viewed as the R&D department of the entire field. Especially during the era when SETI has no palpable subject matter other than ideas.

From the Transparency Front — Eeek!  Creeped out, even though I both predicted this and expect it will be part of a generally good trend. With LOTS of irksome aspects to get used-to. Snoopers paid to catch shoplifters.

Past observations at visible and near infrared wavelengths had implied the presence of primitive carbon-rich materials on the moons  of Mars, which are usually associated with asteroids that populate the central part of the Asteroid Belt. But recent thermal infrared observations from Mars Express’ Planetary Fourier Spectrometer did not find any such evidence, instead finding signatures that match types of minerals identified on Mars’ surface.  Also low density and highly porous. This may be bad news.  But the Russians are persisting, fortunatley, in their space mission to Phobos.  Perhaps they’ll find resources – including water – making it one of the most valuable spots in the solar system.  Let’s hope.

Father and son film outer space, do-it-yourself style.

Hilarious: Glenn Beck’s words selling fear, set to a Donald Duck cartoon.

China has launched its second lunar orbiter.

Cyberweapons will continue to haunt us. The Stuxnet software worm – designed to destroy industrial control systems — may have been designed to target Iran’s nuclear program. It infected 45,000 computers worldwide, most in Iran. The next generation of malware could be a danger to power plants and electrical grids worldwide.

The building blocks of life may be constant throughout the cosmos: humans and aliens may share the same DNA roots: ten amino acids form at low temperatures and pressures – you don’t need a miracle to arrive at the chemical cocktail for life. (Actually, Leslie Orgel predicted this decades ago.) Ah… but life ITSELF?  Stay tuned, stay ambitious.  And actually READ the passages in Genesis about the Tower of Babel.  This time, we have auto-translation software on iPods!!!

Nobel Prize awarded to two University of Manchester physicists for work with graphene – a two-dimensional, one-atom thick carbon sheet extracted from graphite. Graphene is the thinnest, strongest material ever developed, nearly transparent, an excellent conductor of electricity & heat. Can be mixed with plastic to generate flexible solar cells, smaller, faster transistors, high-capacity batteries & ultracapacitors.

NTT DoCoMo has developed a tiny display that clips onto a pair of eyeglasses and provides navigation services or information about local shops.

Filming human embryos used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) at an early stage in their development has allowed scientists to select those with the best chance of going on to develop into healthy babies, with an accuracy of more than 93%.

A new microphone system allows broadcasters to zoom in on sounds as well as sights, to pick out a single conversation.

A fascinating persepective suggests that our human ability to empathize broadly with other species… and perhaps even some of our intelligence… arose because of our 100,000 year co-evolution (perhaps a love affair?) with dogs.

=== FOOD FOR THOUGHT ==

It turns out that almost all the job growth  over the last year has come from those who have reached “retirement age” (whatever that is) continuing to work or going back to work. The total number of people over 65 who are employed has risen by 318,000 over the last year, accounting for nearly all the job growth

And… oh… Ack!  Share this with your Ostrich.

===  FINALLY, BE AROUND PEOPLE on 10/30/10! ===

Seriously folks. (Or not.) Find a place outdoors with lots of people, on October 30. Stephen Colbert says we should all be VERY afraid of being indoors or alone, or too quiet, that day!

He’s being vague, but some of his hints may imply some kind of alien pod-people replacement attack in which the invaders feel a need to avoid crowds of people who are chanting, marching, waving placard/signs and having fun.  Especially the placards. (Ask any alien invader; those signs can really sting, when they smack you on the antennae or the sucker-pads!)

Or  maybe it’s not aliens but something similarly fear-inducing. Anyway, Colbert has good instincts about these things.  So get OUT of the house and join one of Stephen’s fear-preserving rallies.  Go to the main one in Washington DC (the safest place from alien probes, that day), or in your own town, via www.rallymao.com!

(Or else join Jon Stewart and his militantly-moderate-reasonable-rational-politeness-troopers… if you really must.)

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