Geek Month in Review: January 2013

By JB Sanders

And the apocalypse just rolls on by…

Heavy Metal — Old School
Anyone remember the old Heavy Metal magazine? Chock full of busty art, heavy-muscled heroes and aliens? Kind of psychedelic, back in the days when they meant that quite literally. No? Yes? Either way, check out some of the magazine’s great covers over the years. Special bonus: they had an HP Lovecraft issue (yes, with semi-realistic-looking mind-shattering monsters).

1970’s Covers

1980’s Covers

The Once and Future Mars
It’s firmly in the category of “artist’s rendering”, but it’s still wicked cool. See Mars as if it had an Earth-like atmosphere.

Digital Globe
It’s a villain-lair must-have, or an essential item in your Orbital Control Center: the digital globe. Interactive, capable of displaying any information you want up there digitally. You want earthquake zones? Sure. You want political divisions? Got that. You want to just change it up and show the Moon? No problem. Everyone is going to want one of these.

3D Printer Pranks
Keep this comic in your “for future reference” file, and pull it out when 3D printers go mainstream. Some really amusing (and Evil) pranks in there (also some pretty adult ones, so watch it).

Whistle It!
Did you know there’s a whole language entirely composed of whistling sounds? Or that it can travel up to 2 miles because of it’s acoustic properties? No? Me neither.

A Light Powered by Gravity!
It’s actually a device meant to replace the kerosene lamp in developing countries — still widely in use, and responsible for respiratory problems, fires and increased poverty (kerosene isn’t cheap). You hang the Gravity Lamp, fill it’s bag with rocks or sand, and get about 30 minutes of light as the bag drops. Brilliant!

Scifi Writers Start Your Star Engines
Astronomers and researchers have discovered that a giant burst of gamma rays hit Medieval Earth after the results of a giant cosmic event (either two black holes colliding or two neutron stars). The event occurred sometime in either 774 AD and 775 AD. What effect might it have had? All sorts of possibilities!

Space Travel Will Make You a Better Person
Really. Plus, all sorts of geeky space race references, some Contact (the movie) and a little Adventure Time.

Swimming in the Reactor Pool
Oddly enough, not a synonym for instant painful death. Apparently, water is a pretty darn good radiation shield. Not that you should swim in one, but if you do, definitely don’t swim really low. Bonus fun for the response from an actual nuclear tech at the end of the article.

Video Games Are Now Art
That’s it, case closed, debate solved, done. That said, fun overview of some really amazing video games over the years and what makes them particularly “artful”.

Make Your Own Pulp Magazine Covers
Via the web and a really cool bit of web programming. Also, the host site sells some seriously cool t-shirts (man, I wish I was getting some advertising dollars for this plug).

How Much is Real?
In TV or movies, not nearly as much as you think. Check out these YouTube videos of various green-screen and special effects composites, even in TV shows that you wouldn’t think had them. You think Monk didn’t use any special effects? Think again!

From 2012:

From 2009:

From Game of Thrones:

The Slow-Mo Guys Pop a 6-Foot Water Balloon
These guys do some really fun videos. This one is no exception. It’s simple, it’s slow-mo, and it’s awesome.

The Kitten Setting
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world-renown scifi author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, Red Shirts, etc), he’s a damn fine writer. He also has a blog that he’s been regularly updating for over a decade. On it, he permits comments from readers, but moderates himself — often with ruthless efficiency. He’s very open and forthright about doing it, too. He even has a name for it: the Mallet of Loving Correction. Well, now he has another setting on his Mallet: the Kitten Setting.

I’ll let him explain:

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: