Geek Month in Review: September 2012

By JB Sanders
And so school starts.

Easy Alternate Earth
Looking for a wild alternative Earth for some Great SciFi story you have in your head? Look no further!
Yes, it’s an xkcd What If article, but it’s all about an alternative Earth based on the simple idea: what if the Earth were rotated 90 degrees?

Missing Some Treasure?
I was doing some research, and came across a really handy GM tool. Or if you’re a thriller writer and need a handy lost treasure for your protagonists to stumble across, here you go. It’s the whole list. All known “lost” treasures. Enjoy.

The Only 25 Words You’ll Ever Need to Name Your TV Show
I’m not sure how serious this is, but take any two words from the list in this article and they will form an immediately obvious and totally viable concept for a TV show. Don’t believe me? Try it out.

See Curiosity Land on Mars — in HD
Great video, color-corrected and enhanced, of the Curiosity lander reaching the surface of Mars. The video is all real-time.

Lava Fountain — Up Close
These crazy people got themselves a mostly heat-proof suit and filmed a lava flow (fountain?) up close and personal. Great video.

The Caves Beneath Nottingham
Yes, the Robin Hood Nottingham. Apparently it’s sandstone bedrock makes it really easy, with hand tools, to dig out a cave. So everyone in the last two thousand years appears to have done that. The geek part of this is the laser-mapping the archaeologists are using to find all of the caves. Be sure to watch the movie. Also, there appears to be an upcoming enhanced-reality app for the caves — where you use the app to reveal what caves lie beneath buildings and streets by pointing your smart phone at them.

A little addition for medievalists and beer lovers, another blog on the same private tour wrote up information about Nottingham’s “beer caves“.

Hybrid Transparent Rocket Engine
Scientist builds a rocket engine with a transparent acrylic rod and some oxygen. See the rocket burn and consume the fuel (acrylic) from the inside.
Bonus: full explanation of how it was built.

Where Science and Science Fiction Meet
Neal Stephenson and the president of Arizona State University have together setup the Center for Science and Imagination, a collaboration of scientists and scifi writers to create a better tomorrow. Or something like that. All sorts of Serious Names in scifi are involved.

Einstein’s Brain
Now an iPad app. No, I’m not kidding. Stop laughing. The folks who have Einstein’s brain preserved took thousands of pictures and slides of his brain, and made it into an interactive app. Not sure it’s worth $10, but still.

Laser Pointers and the Moon
What if everyone pointed a laser pointer at the same spot on the moon? The latest xkcd What If article is up and it’s fun.

Solar Super-Charger
Sounds like a scifi thing, right? Nope. Elon Musk, the savvy CEO of Tesla Motors (and backer of SpaceX) is planning to build fast-charging (full charge in 30 minutes or so) stations all over the US. Right now, he’s got 6 stations built in California, with more to come. The idea? Stop for food and charge your car while you wait. All using solar power.

And in the Geek Dad Category
This guy, his 4-year-old son, a toy train and space. Oh, also an HD camera, a weather balloon and an old cell phone with GPS (for locating it all afterwards). This guy sends his son’s toy train into space via weather balloon, and films it from liftoff to finish.
Note: some special-effects wizardry on the toy train’s “face” for amusement (or how the Dad thought his son saw the toy train Stanley).
Warning: Some mushy content!

Leonard Nimoy on How the Vulcan Salute Got Its Start
Do you need more than the title? Go read it!

Nazi Buddha Originally from Space
You know what? I had to link this article just because of that headline, pulled shamelessly from the BBC’s website. The less sensational version of that headline goes: a statue of the buddha, recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930’s, was made from a meteorite that fell to Earth 15,000 years ago.

Tiny Dragons Found in Indonesia
No, really. Look, there are photos!

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: