Saturday, October 29, 2016

NASA press release announces citizen scientists help discover oldest stellar nursery

So,  I have been still doing research here and there, and one of the things that I help with is classification of data for large projects needing "extra eyes" to identify things that computers miss or have difficulty spotting. From looking for Higgs bosons to spotting glitches in gravitational wave detectors, these projects are anything from a method of training the software to better identify what scientists are looking for, to other projects so phenomenally large that it would take decades to sift through the material with a small research group.
NASA/Jonathan Holden

One of these projects that I have been working on, Disk Detective, involves classifying potential planet-forming disks around certain types of stars in our galaxy. These stars have been recorded by several sky surveys, which are then compared to recent images taken by WISE to help eliminate those that don't meet Disk Detective criteria.

What is WISE? Well, WISE is an acronym for the Wide‑field Infrared Survey Explorer, a NASA mission to survey the whole sky in the infrared spectrum of light. With the data received from WISE, astrophysicists and astronomers are able to search for planet-forming debris disks of dust and gas similar to what we would expect our own solar system would have had in its early stage of planetary development.

The latest discoveries are the result of careful research and study that ended up revealing astounding discoveries over the past four months. Two stars have been identified as having very unusual properties that are now calling into question certain fundamental understandings regarding debris disks capable of forming planets. While HD 74389's triple star system has its own peculiarities, the latter star, AWI0005x3s, might well be the oldest planetary nursery ever found - about 45 million years old!

"But stars live for millions of years, so what's the big deal?" you might ask. The answer is, yes, debris disks are known to persist for hundreds of millions of years. However, only certain stars (called young stellar objects, or YSOs) are born in a gas-rich environment that becomes the type of debris that forms protoplanetary disks like the one around AWI0005x3s. Compare most YSO disks that seem to disappear by about 10 million years and you get a picture of why this disk is unusual for not fading away about 35 million years earlier.

And this is only the beginning! The Disk Detective project needs more "citizen scientists" to help classify the right kind of debris disks from millions of images of stars (over 2,000,000 subjects have so far been classified and that's 40% of the total). More scientific breakthroughs are out there, and citizen science is a chance for a person like me who isn't a "rocket surgeon" (yes, I'm being silly) to be a part of a scientific community, discovering strange new worlds.

(Edited for clarification.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Star Trek Online: Agents of Yesterday trailers and Forsaken Fleets Promotional Contest

Contest rules are listed below but, first, check out Star Trek Online's official launch trailers for the latest season coming out this summer, Agents of Yesterday, starring several Star Trek alumni reprising their roles, including characters from the original series:

Star Trek Online: Agents of Yesterday - Official Launch Trailer

Star Trek Online: Agents of Yesterday - Official Announce Trailer
FORSAKEN FLEET CONTEST RULES Now for the Forsaken Black Ops and House of the Forsaken contest rules: Since this guy made such an awesome cosplay outfit from one of my favorite films (just totally incredible the level of craftsmanship he put into it), I just had to use it for our newest Fleet promotional contest. Now, if you guess which film this beastie is from before the release of Agents of Yesterday, reply to the Twitter feed that brought you here with your in game handle, and join us in Star Trek Online, you will be entered into our Fleet promotional sweepstakes. Three (3) winners from the pool of Forsaken Black Ops (Federation fleet) recruits and three (3) winners from the pool of House of the Forsaken (Klingon Fleet) recruits will be selected and awarded 1 million Energy Credits worth of items from any vault in our Fleet Banks. Only 6 winners total this round, but don't worry - we give away stuff like this all the time! Apply to Forsaken Black Ops in Star Trek Online, join our public in-game channel, ForsakenOps, and be part of one of the coolest fleets in the game!

This wonderful costume was designed by Ryan Wells, and featured on the Facebook Page of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Nostalgist

A touching story of dystopian society that longs for utopia. Based on a short story by Daniel H. Wilson, this short film was produced and directed by Giacomo Cimini and stars Lambert Wilson and Samuel Joslin.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Maker Profile - Jake van Slatt on MAKE: television

Jake von Slatt is an artist and tinkerer whose steampunk designs are renowned and have been featured in national media. Make: magazine's Youtube channel, follows von Slatt as he discusses his art and the world of Steampunk in general. You can find out more about his steam-powered and steam-inspired designs on his website, The Steampunk Workshop.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Alphonse Swinehart - "Riding Light"

Riding Light is a presentation of a photon (a packet of light) emitted from the sun and traveling for 45 minutes at relativistic speed. Through his shared vision, Alphonse Swinehart gives us a glimpse at, not only the speed at which light travels but, also, how insignificant the size of our home really is compared to our solar system - at the very least. The following comments about this musical 800-million-plus-kilometer sprint across part of the solar system (at which point, we have only just passed Jupiter), were posted by the author on Vimeo, and describes how he put this extraordinary visual together.

Alphonse Swinehart:

"In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it's unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system.

I've taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, but overall I've kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour."

Music: Steve Reich "Music for 18 Musicians"
Performed by: Eighth Blackbird

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Steampunk Anime: Last Exile

I am going to flashback to several of the really good anime series' that I have come across in my life. Japanese animation has really added much to the steampunk genre, that to ignore it would be missing out on really great works of art and dramatic presentation. By no means are the order in which I post them on here an indication of quality comparison between them. The first one I will mention today is the first in a two season series. This is fortunately available to view for free thanks to Funimation and you can even order the series on DVD on their site (you guys are awesome, thanks!).

The story begins with top-of-her-class navigator, Lavie Head, and first rate pilot, Claus Valca, working together to earn their livings doing easy courier work in retro-futuristic sky vehicles called vanships. The "planes" fly without wings, instead using an antigravity source of energy to hold them aloft rather than relying on airfoils for lift. This makes the vanships highly maneuverable, yet highly dangerous, to fly.

Meanwhile, war is brewing between Claus' and Lavie's home nation of Anatoray and an opposing nation, Disrith, on the other side of a region of unusual turbulence in a separate dimension above the planet, called "the Grand Stream." Intrigue pulls the two friends into unexpected danger when they take on an urgent delivery to Duke Madossein of Anatoray.

From Studio Gonzo, directed by Koichi Chigira, featuring art from anime master Range Murata, and music composed by Hitomi Kuroishi, I am sure you will enjoy each episode. Here is the preview trailer for the DVD set that Funimation distributes.

For the steampunk hobbyist, I recommend finding the complete boxed set that was released on November 21, 2004. The deluxe edition of this set included a model of Tatiana's and Alister's red vanship, a short story on the "Battle of Otranto" (mentioned in episode 11), unpublished articles on the series, and illustrations by character designer Range Murata. The selling point for me on this set is the card-model vanship that I my 8-year-old son can run around with in our living room pretending to cross the Grand Stream!

JVC (Victor Entertainment, Japan) distributed the original soundtrack for Last Exile, and has a site where you find out more information about anything to do with the series - that is, unfortunately, only if you can also read Japanese (which I do not). However, there are many images to peruse and if you can get a good Japanese-English translation engine to convert the site for you, you can read all about the flying machines, the characters, the staff and cast, as well as design notes and even a glossary of "Words*" - terminology - that are used in the episodes. All of this information is linked here and (old) "News" info for merchandise is linked here. Plus, the page has news of other extras that you can then search on eBay for (3G iPhone covers, a model of a vanship made of ABS/PVC, etc.).

Whether you wish to buy it or simply watch it online, Funimation provides both options on its website for English speaking fans. Whether you prefer to see it dubbed or subbed is up to you. Each episode title utilizes chess terminology. Therefore, the first episode is appropriately titled, "First Move."

The video above is the first episode on Funimation's YouTube channel, and is looped to play all of them - that is, if you have the time. Please note that it is subtitled on YouTube. If you want to watch it without having to read everything, then you need to visit Funimation's website to watch the dubbed version of Last Exile, here, which was also very well translated and voice talented. Enjoy!