It seemed the Master was gone at the end of “The End of Time”, but we all know he cheats certain death with enormous ease, and sometimes not even anything in the way of an explanation. But reportedly, not only has he been cast, but some of the old cast knows who he is. Sylvester McCoy let slip at a convention that he knows who the next Master is (though he wouldn’t say who) and that he will be “very, very scary”.
Sounds intriguing, for sure. ;-)
NASASpaceFlight.com has an intriguing article on the subject of SpaceX’s plans for future super heavy lift vehicles, heavier even than the Falcon Heavy (which is planned to have three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together) — the Falcon X and Falcon XX would be more powerful than even the Saturn V, and would likely require a new engine. The Merlin engine is very much state-of-the-art for kerosene burners, but the propellant does have its limits, and the engine isn’t robust enough for the many restarts over a long maintenance-free period that would be needed during a Mars mission. So what are they planning?
Well, surprisingly, it appears that this time instead of perfecting a very reliable, tried-and-true combustion cycle and propellant combination, they’re considering treading new ground with a full-flow staged cycle methane/LOX engine, with a novel turbopump design that would greatly improve longevity and safety. It’s very ambitious, and could be the answer . . . but have they finally bitten off more than they can chew? The answer will likely come when they start test-firing the Raptor engine. It’s not clear when that would be, but they’re in the process of modifying a test stand at Stennis Space Center to supply the methane/LOX combination. So, probably sooner rather than later. Exciting. ;-)
That’s right. NASA’s 2015 budget proposes grounding the SOFIA observatory, a huge gamma-ray telescope mounted in the side of a 747. It’s a beautiful instrument, and it’s only recently become fully operational, but NASA’s budget is limited. Indeed, this decision was made entirely from the budget office, without any input from (or even warning to) the astronomers and JPL engineers who operate the aircraft. Unless Congress decides to fight for SOFIA (which seems unlikely), the only hope for keeping it flying next year is for the Germans to supply the necessary funding. If they don’t, it’ll be parked at Dryden Flight Research Center once the current budget cycle is over.
Filed under Science, Space
Today’s XKCD really gave me pause, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a visualization of the mass of all the world’s land mammals. Humans are a larger fraction than I expected, and if you add in all of our domestic animals, our entire footprint is pretty huge — but I wasn’t prepared for quite *how* huge. (Original comic here.)
Alt text with comic: Bacteria still outweigh us thousands to one–and that’s not even counting the several pounds of them in your body.
This one got me right in the feels. ;-) A devoted Whovian family was vacationing in Cardiff when they learned that Doctor Who was filming that day. So of course they had to go see. The younger daughter in particular is a massive fan, and autistic; she was experiencing some anxiety because Matt Smith wasn’t going to be the Doctor anymore, and she was afraid this new Doctor wouldn’t want to be her imaginary friend.
That very much hit home for me, because my eldest daughter is autistic as well. While she is not a major Whovian (her passion is Pokemon; it’s my youngest who shares my insane passion for Who), she also can develop quite profound anxieties over things that don’t seem like a problem to other people. The destruction of a balloon animal in the opening scene of “Despicable Me”, for instance, was the end of the movie as far as she was concerned. And she worries about watching unfamiliar movies or TV shows, because she is afraid of getting her brain too full of things to like, so that she starts to forget some of them. So I can relate to what this little girl was going through.
They went on down to see the filming, and met Jenna Coleman. They also explained the little girl’s fears, and the production staff asked them to come back the next day. So they did, this time in costume. ;-) The older daughter was dressed as the TARDIS, and the younger was dressed as a Dalek. And lo, Peter Capaldi was there, and made time for the little girl to try to reassure her that the Doctor could still be her imaginary friend, showing her a picture of himself with Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman on his phone, and then telling her that they said it was okay if he was the Doctor now, and he hoped that it would be okay with her too:
Read the whole story and see the pictures here, on the girls’ mother’s blog:
This is simply sublime. Gameplay is like the Pacman we all know and love, but Binky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde are Daleks, and Pacman has Matt Smith hair. The wocka-wocka sound is there, but added are various Doctor Who sound effects, and the Power Pellets are replaced by sonic screwdrivers. Go ahead and play; it’ll bring back memories. ;-)
As any student of the Bard knows all to well, he sure likes to kill off characters, especially in his tragedies. But so many die, and by so many varied methods, that how is one to keep track? Well, follow this link and check out this infographic showing all the deaths in Shakespeare. Yes, including Titus Andronicus.