Calling All Earthlings

You guys. I don’t even know where to begin. I was given the opportunity to watch the documentary “Calling All Earthlings”, a film by Jonathan Berman. This movie has it all, aliens, Howard Hughes, free energy, the FBI, Tesla, the military, and a death…or possibly murder.

“Calling All Earthlings” explores a mid-century UFO cult led by one-time Howard Hughes confidante, George Van Tassel. Van Tassel claimed to have combined alien guidance with the writings of inventor/physicist Nikola Tesla, and other controversial science, to build an electromagnetic time machine he dubbed “The Integratron.” Was he insane? Or could the dome really break through the boundaries of space, time, and energy? FBI agents worked against Van Tassel and the alternative community that formed out of his work. Would he finish the Integratron before the government finished him?

The film examines the roots of the Peace Movement, Burning Man, and even the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO program. The verité tale of Van Tassel and his dome is told by relatives, neighbors, skeptics, believers, scientists, healers, artists, and historians. The film features the “stewards” and owners of the Integratron, the Karl sisters; Dr. Kevin Starr, the preeminent historian of California; Eric Burdon, Singer for The Animals and War; and the legendary Drs. J.J. and Desiree Hurtak.

I say this in all seriousness, why hasn’t this story been made into an actual movie as opposed to documentary? The story of George Van Tassel has all the makings for a fantastic Christopher Nolan film! Here’s the trailer:

Interested? “Calling All Earthlings” is available on Video on Demand in the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, AT&T U-verse, DirecTV, Dish Network/Sling TV, Hoopla, Sony Playstation, Swank, Vudu, Xbox, Youtube Movies, In Demand (Comcast, Cox, Spectrum, etc.) and Vubiquity (Frontier, Verizon Fios, etc.). Hopefully it will be available on one of the streaming services like Netflix or Hulu in future!

Geek Month in Review: September 2015

By JB Sanders

You know, Fall’s coming…

A Record Player, with Lasers
Stop making Dr. Evil gestures! It’s a real record player, vinyl disks of grooves, only instead of crude needle jolting through the channels, it uses lasers. No damage to the original at all. Plus if the record is already dinged up, it’ll compensate.

Lost Tunnels of Liverpool
So, there are these tunnels underneath the city of Liverpool — which is not exactly odd, except that no one knows who made them, or why. They’re over 200 years old, too, so it’s a mystery with some dust on it.

Archaeologists Reconstruct Doggerland
Remember that island off the east coast of England? No? It so totally used to be there, about 8000 years ago. Then the sea levels rose.

Recover Sound from Silent Video — and More!
This is some straight-up science fiction, here, only now it’s science fact.

Prosthetic Hand That Can Feel
DARPA researchers have created a prosthetic hand that can actually send a sense of touch to the wearer’s brain.

That’s Not Slow Motion, This is Slow Motion
Scientists have developed a camera that takes a trillion pictures a second. Yeah, you read that right. A trillion, with a “t”. It slows things down so much, they can observe light moving across an object.

Touch Screen That Grows Buttons
Those crafty folks at MIT are working on a screen that creates real buttons when you need them, right on the screen.

Blindsight and Human Consciousness
There’s more to human perception, and to human consciousness, then … er … meets the eye. It starts with a guy who is blind in one eye, but in repeated tests can still somehow perceive out of it. It gets stranger from there.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983

Geek Month in Review: August 2015

By JB Sanders

Not as hot as expected August…

Roomba Makers Exploring Autonomous Lawn Mower
Yup, robotic lawn mowers, just trimming away on their own. What could go wrong?

HyperLoop Actually Happening
Remember that crazy scifi pneumatic tube train that Elon Musk (super villain in training) was talking about a while ago? Sounded like a crazy, looney-tunes idea, right? Super-high-speed trains, running in tubes with little or no air, and getting places in an hour that normally require six. Yeah, that. They’re starting construction in 2016. Really.

Oldest Message-in-a-Bottle Found
At over 100 years old, this bottle has been floating around for a long, long time.

Real Locked Room Puzzle
Apparently, there’s a craze spreading around where people build real locked-room puzzles. Remember those things in video games where you find yourself locked in a room, and have to solve a variety of mechanical (or magical!) puzzles to unlock the door. Well, now people are doing that in real life.

Integrated Space Plan
Originally conceived by scientist Ron Jones, the “wildly detailed” plan to map how humans will expand into space has recently been updated. It sets out milestones and technology we’ll need to do things like permanently settle Mars, create a self-sustaining Moon base, and other fun items. Plus it comes in a handy poster form!

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: July 2015

By JB Sanders

Fireworks!

Touching Holograms
Remember that scene in Iron Man or Avengers where someone moves holograms around like they’re real, physical objects? Yeah, we’re not that far away from having that.

Star Trek Bluetooth Communicator
So sure, it’s nothing more than a bluetooth headset in a weird form, but it does look freakin’ cool. How odd is it (for those of us above a certain age) to see something like this and think “that’s retro-future nostalgia tech”.

TWA Terminal in Time Capsule
It’s a view back to the Jet Age, when the wealthy travelled by jet airliner and smoked in their designer finery. It’s like a posh version of the Jetsons.

Super Camper Van
Planning an expedition to the arctic? Or that trackless wilderness that hides a pyramid? Then this “camper van” is your ideal companion. It’s something the company in the movie “Congo” would have bought. It has everything.

Blade Runner Prop Photos
See the miniatures created for all the effects in Blade Runner. You know, because there was a time before CGI.

Underground Drone Video
Not just for high-level aerial footage anymore — now drones are flying around the tunnels under London.

LEGO Queen Mary
Yup, an ocean liner model made entirely of LEGOs. It’s 25-feet long, has over 250,000 bricks, and weighs 600 pounds.

Giant Arrows from a Bi-plane Age
Obsolete infrastructure can be found all over the place — just look out the train window in the Easter US and see the telegraph cabling. There used to be arrows all over the US guiding early flyers to the nearest airport.

Healing With Ultrasound
Scientists are working to heal wounds with ultrasound, sci-fi style. Not instantly, mind you, but the technique appears to work on chronic wounds which won’t otherwise heal normally.

Plastic Roads
Like giant LEGO(tm) bricks, Plastic Roads are being developed in the Netherlands, and are designed to be modular.

The Tree That Bears 40 Different Fruits
Yeah, really. It’s not some weird genetic hybrid that might have tentacles if someone slipped a digit somewhere, this is straight-up ancient-as-hell hybridization. Or more specifically, grafting. Some joker grafted 40 different varieties of fruit-bearing tree limbs onto one tree, and then repeated the idea in several dozen locations. The article has a link to a map, if you want to see these trees in person.

World’s Largest Vertical Farm
Kickin’ it scifi-style in New Jersey with the indoor, sunlight-free, aeroponic farm. The facility will be capable of producing 2 million pounds of produce a year when it’s finished, and it doesn’t use nearly the resources of regular farming.

EM Drive May Actually Work
When it was originally announced, the EM space drive got a lot of scorn. Thrust from “nothing” (no reaction mass)? Yeah, lots of doubt. However, several independent scientists have now tentatively confirmed that there is something going on there. Space travel, ahoy!

Quietest Rooms in the World
Soundproofed, shielded from electromagnetic noise, and isolated from pretty much any odd earth movement, these rooms in Switzerland are great places to mess with particle physics.

Lamp Runs on Sea Water and Metal
Two Phillipine geniuses (genii?) have invented a lamp that can run on salt water and electrodes that only need to be replaced once or twice a year. It even has a port to charge cell phones.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-brother-and-sister-in-the-philippines-invented-a-lamp-that-runs-entirely-on-metal-and-salt-water?c=bl3

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: June 2015

By JB Sanders

Summer!

The 20-year-old Cleaning Up the Oceans
That’s not hyperbole, either. Boyan Slat has two major projects underway right now to do just that. The first one starting in August will collect more data in three weeks on the plastic floating in our oceans “than anyone has in 40 years”. In 2016, he’s deploying a device to collect plastic out of the ocean which will be the longest floating structure around (2,000 meters). I think he’s giving Elon Musk a run for his money. The guy’s only 20!

Flying Tricycle in Prototype
Technically, it’s a “coaxial, Y6-layout tricopter”, but if that confounds you — no worries. If you’ve seen Return of the Jedi, you’ve seen a flying motorcycle much like this. Yes, there’s video.

James Bond Cars Through the Years
Cool website that shows all the James Bond cars. Nice effects and cool art. Plus hot cars.

Magic, Light, and Quadracopters
Art and science meet, produce a wonderful dance. Done only with lights, lampshades, and some well-programmed quadracopters.

3D Printed Bridge
These crazy Dutch engineers/programmers/scientists have created prototype robots that are going to 3D print a bridge in place and kind of mid-air. Scifi in Action folks!

Gustav Eiffel’s Secret Tower Apartment
Built into the 3rd level of the Eiffel Tower is a secret apartment that the builder had put in over 100 years ago. See pictures of (more or less) how it looked back in the day.

Lexus Makes a Hoverboard — For Real!
It is 2015 after all, the year Marty McFly DeLoren’s to in Back to the Future. It had to happen sometime. Even if the hoverboard in question requires a metal surface to work.

3D Color Images of 1850’s Japan
No, it’s not the result of time travel, it’s stereoscopic photography during the time it was invented. It’s been converted for your convenience into animated GIFs.

Tactile Tablet
It’s like an iPad, only it creates a raised surface for braille, contour maps, or whatever.

Creepy Writing Doll
What is even creepier is that the doll in question is over 240 years old. Nothing quite like 18th century clockwork automatons.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: May 2015

By JB Sanders

May flowers!

We Are Truly in the Future
Let Pancake Bot draw whatever shape you want your pancakes in, then cook them for you.

What Do Tree Rings Sounds Like?
Oddly ethereal. See scientists take tree rings and treat them like they’re special long-playing vinyl.

The Forgotten Pyramids of Meroe
Along the Nile, in the Sudan, there are some 200 pyramids left — not by the Egyptians — but by the Meroitic Kingdom. They’re not as big but they are very cool looking. In fact, I suspect some of the artists drawing tombs in various fantasy games over the years saw these.

Cube inside a Cube inside a Cube
Which is not not the remarkable part — no, because any idiot with a 3D printer and the right file can make one of those. This guy did it with a block of aluminum, some hot glue, and a lathe. Not a CNC reduction machine. No! An honest-to-Pete lathe — spinning in circles, crank-controlled, and computer-free.

Artificial Lava
Want to experiment with lava flows, but live in upstate New York? Melt some basalt and make your own!

The Quiet Zone
Imagine a place with no cell phones, no radio broadcasts, not even any microwave ovens (unless they’re in a Faraday cage). That place is the Quiet Zone, an area of 13,000 square miles that is forbidden by law from having any radio interference.

3D Interactive Map of the Universe
Yup, time to break out your holoprojectors. It’s a full 3D map of the known universe and you can monkey around with the view.

Hyperloop Test Track in the Works
The Hyperloop is a train, set in a near-vacuum tube, which — if the theory proves correct — could travel faster than an airplane. Yes, Elon Musk, super-villain in training (or a hero using the villain playbook, which one is unclear) is making another of his wacky ideas a reality. Giant pneumatic tubes could some day criss-cross the country, or even under the oceans. If you’re wondering why anyone would want to use or build something like that, let’s lay down the travel times: Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Yeah. Anyway, they’re actually building a test track now.

How to Make Stackable Edible LEGOs
Want to build amazing structures or spaceships (spaceships!)? LEGOs. Want to be able to eat them after the inevitable fiery comet of doom? Look no farther.

Micro-Living Pod
It’s a super-tiny house that can accommodate up to 2 people, runs off wind and solar, and even collects its own rain water in a cistern below the living space. Looks like a futuristic egg, but the interior is actually kinda cool. Coming in 2016.

Wait, the thing has its own website:

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: April 2015

by JB Sanders

Spring flowers!

World’s Largest Airship Nearly Ready for the Skies
The airship is set to return to the skies (with helium!), now in an industrial capacity.

Fiction to Invention: Timeline
Great infographic on the time it took for something that appeared in science fiction to turn into fact.

All the Best Supervillains Have Them
Elon Musk made a twitter post that seems especially appropriate.

Chinese Farmer Builds Transformer Figures
Doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it? Did I mention that these “figures” are life-sized (as in 20-feet tall)? And made out of car parts? They look pretty awesome.

I Think There’s a Movie In This
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking to find people to live in an abandoned mining town that has a reputation for being haunted. You should totally do it! All the cool kids are. And I’m certain that nothing would ever go wrong with living in a haunted ghost town. Definitely.

Wanna Buy a Village?
Speaking of abandoned properties, there’s a little village in Connecticut — all 64 acres of it — that is up for sale again. It was a mill town, then the mill burned, then it was a Victorian recreation village, and then it was planned to be a created community.

The Invisible Infrastructure
Really fascinating visualization of all the airplanes going into and out of the UK airspace in the course of a day.

Ancient Computer Festival
Marvel at the vacuum tubes! Wonder at the giant cabinets! See the original iMac doorstop. All this and more at the Vintage Computer Festival East.

Chernobyl Fox Makes Sandwich
Yup, we got us some mutants. No doubt.
Note: auto-playing vide

GM Futureliner — the Car of the Future, In the 1950’s
They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore — because they NEVER made them like this. A vehicle both huge and odd-looking, it does have the whiff of a 1950’s future. They were put together by General Motors as traveling exhibits to showcase GM tech. And they are monstrously big: 33 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 11’ 2” high.

The Internet of Cows
Researchers in San Francisco are attaching special pedometers to cows. They’ll track all sorts of data about them to help dairy farmers with their herds.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: March 2015

by JB Sanders

Snow, snow go away…

Jurassic Park Computer System
So, there’s this website out there that simulates the computer control system in the original Jurassic Park movie. Give it a whirl.

Low-Tech Old-School Secret Drawers
Lovely antique small writing desk, with a TON of secret drawers and hidden compartments.

Oldest Surviving Movie Footage of New York City, Annotated
Great video showing what appears to be the oldest movie footage of New York City, from May of 1896. Annotations show a map of the current NYC on the left. Pop-up highlights over the video call out landmarks and other points of interest. There’s movie footage from 1896 to 1906, going backwards in time from newest to oldest. Fascinating stuff.

Geek Makes Secret Door Into His Home Theater
But that’s not the best part — the awesome thing is that it’s a secret door, modeled on the secret back entrance in Moria. Yes, that Moria — as in, Mines of Moria, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, etc. It even — oh, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say it has features.

That’s Not a Table! It’s a Machine!
Watch this crazy complex table go from a small size to a larger size simply by turning. It’s based on an 1835 patent.

Easily Build a Hidden Safe
Ok, it hasn’t got a TON of room, but it’s got the nice benefit of being difficult to spot. Plus who doesn’t like hidden drawer-type-things that you can do yourself for $3?

Zombie Infection Simulation
Watch as zombies spread out from the point of infection, in hour-by-hour time, until they engulf the US. You can even slider-bar the parameters to make zombies faster or slower, and more or less infectious. Science!

Comic Book Cartography
Some 4-color plates of famous geography from yesteryear. Browse the contents of the Bat Cave, or the hidden secrets of the Baxter Building.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

The Geek Month in Review: February 2015

by J.B. Sanders

Stupid groundhog…

RC Millenium Falcon
So, build your own flying Millennium Falcon model. No, really.

No Big Bang. Universe Is Forever.
So these quantum physicists, always at the crazy end of the physics spectrum, have come up with a cosmological theory that the universe has no beginning and no end. We’re not talking just spacially here, as in an infinite physical universe, but also in time — no beginning, no end. Thus, no Big Bang. Read the mind-bending details in the article.

Viewmaster for the Modern Day
Instead of getting fun 3D images via circular photo disks, the modern Viewmaster is instead a plastic holder for your smartphone. Grab the Viewmaster app, and then point your head at the new “Experience Disks”, which are basically triggers for content. It’s better if you watch their movie to see what I mean, but it does seem ultra-cool.

Tesla Model S Easter Egg
Fun little visual easter egg in Tesla’s Model S onboard controls.

The Overlook Maze
Ever wonder what a scale model of the Overlook Maze, from the movie The Shining, would look like? Or how hard it would be to build it?

12 Optical Illusions Based on Color
In case you weren’t over color-based tricks of the eye.

Over-the-top Clockwork Hidden Drawers
For all you steampunks out there, this one’s for you.

Watching Aliens with 11-year-olds
Great article by a guy chaperoning a slumber party full of kids watching Aliens for the very first time.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

The Geek Month in Review: January 2015

By JB Sanders

Frigid, frigid January…

Flying Cars of Future Past
So where are all our flying cars, anyway? See illustrations of what folks in 1862 thought we’d be flying around in come the year 2000.

Star Wars Concept Art
From the first three movies, starting with New Hope. Seriously cool 1960’s style scifi artwork.

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) from 1960’s to 1980’s
See the evolution of what has become (or perhaps now was) the largest electronics (then computers) show in the world.

New Uses for a PowerGlove
Remember that failed attempt at “virtual reality” that Nintendo came out with? The one where you wore a clunky glove thing on your hand to control on-screen games? Yeah, it’s back and doing stop-motion animation. Bonus points for video of the taking-apart phase of the conversion.

Microsoft’s Virtual Reality Assisted Holographic Interface
Really feels like the future when we can write headlines like that, right? Microsoft introduced a set of tools for creating programs with augmented reality elements — in holographic form. They require the use of Google glass like headset, but not quite as obnoxious. For those familiar with the previously linked NASA program that let you interact with virtual versions of their various rovers, this is like the big boy version of that.

More detail and a hands-on overview:

Elon Musk — Supervillain or Science Hero?
Is it just me, or is the resume of engineer-billionaire Elon Musk starting to look like the CV of a Grade A super villain? Dude got his start helping to make e-payments possible, then went on to revitalize electric cars (almost single-handedly), and now he’s got his own commercial space company. Also, he wants to build a city on Mars, and he’s going to pay for it by putting 4000 satellites into orbit, and provide internet connections wirelessly to anyone (who pays) anywhere.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/