Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A perfect storm of cosmic rays

Time for the Fantasticheliosphere2009_med Four to appear? Finally!

"In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we've seen in the past 50 years," says Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. "The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions."

The sun's magnetic field is our first line of defense against these highly-charged, energetic particles. The entire solar system from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is surrounded by a bubble of magnetism called "the heliosphere." It springs from the sun's inner magnetic dynamo and is inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. When a cosmic ray tries to enter the solar system, it must fight through the heliosphere's outer layers; and if it makes it inside, there is a thicket of magnetic fields waiting to scatter and deflect the intruder.


Earth is in no great peril (remember this when your body will take fire – flame on!). Our planet's atmosphere and magnetic field provide some defense against the extra cosmic rays. Indeed, we've experienced much worse in the past. Hundreds of years ago, cosmic ray fluxes were at least 200% to 300% higher than anything measured during the Space Age. Researchers know this because when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, they produce an isotope of beryllium, 10Be, which is preserved in polar ice. By examining ice cores, it is possible to estimate cosmic ray fluxes more than a thousand years into the past. Even with the recent surge, cosmic rays today are much weaker than they have been at times in the past millennium.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Order Pizza Right From Your PS3

Playing video games while throwing back a few beers and eating pizza is the perfect recipe for a chillax Saturday night. Thankfully Pizza Hut has already helped us get our pizza fix easier with their easy to use iPhone app, and now Papa John's is going straight for the gold — the PlayStation 3. So now when you've racked up some serious points singing your brains out withSingstar but you've got the munchies and don't want to stop your sweet sounding music, just click on your PS3's browser homepage. From there you can go straight to the Papa John's ordering page and you can even check out some special offers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super-Dense Frozen Water Breaks Final Ice Frontier

<b>Closeup of ice cubes with blue tint.</b> This image is provided free of charge under a <a href="" target="new" rel="nofollow">Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License</a> with the condition that credit is given to <b>Darren Hester</b>. When using the image online, please provide a link back to my <a href="" target="new">flickr photostream</a>.  Thanks!

I could not understand a single word, but the image is stunning! Here.

Scientists have created the final predicted form of stable ice, called ice XV, in the lab. But don’t worry — Kurt Vonnegut had nothing to do with it, and the exotic new form of ice can’t destroy civilization.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pure joy

Pure joy
Originally uploaded by Massimo B.
Last day of vacations, tomorrow back to school, but today, who cares, I'm having fun with my big brother!

(Yes, it's possible to take action photos with an iPhone, some preparation required - you have to shoot well in advance)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Luc Orient


Se chiedessimo a un appassionato di fumetti chi è Luc Orient, potremmo trovarci di fronte a due reazioni diverse, e per di più del tutto opposte fra loro: o uno sguardo interrogativo, tipico di chi non ha mai sentito parlare di questo personaggio, o uno nostalgico e sognante, che tradisce colui che torna con la memoria a un tempo remoto e probabilmente più felice di quello presente.

Almeno in Italia, infatti, Luc Orient è apparso tra il 1967 e il 1975, con nove delle sue diciassette avventure, e da allora è caduto in un oblio che ha pochi uguali nel mondo dei fumetti.

Leggete l’articolo, lungo e dettagliatissimo, qui.

Alla fine Luc Orient, con i suoi alti e bassi, si ricorda a lungo. Come scrivevo all'inizio, i suoi non pochi pregi finiscono per scavarsi un posticino nella memoria di quei pochi fortunati che ancora ne ricordano le avventure: è un personaggio che non conosce vie di mezzo, un retaggio di un'epoca particolare in cui la fantascienza non era così complicata, e nello stesso tempo gli alieni non erano semplici mostri animati da puri istinti omicidi, ma piuttosto creature complesse e ricche di sentimenti non diversi dai nostri. Molti storceranno il naso di fronte a questa fantascienza, banale in apparenza e capace solo di vivere alla giornata; ma che ne sarebbe, oggi, dei futuri pessimistici alla Blade Runner, delle realtà virtuali di Matrix, delle vite alternative di Philiph K. Dick e delle space opera alla Star Wars o alla Firefly senza le vecchie, buone, semplici trame ideate dai vari Alex Raymond con Flash Gordon e in seguito da Greg & Paape con Luc Orient?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Splende il sole a Milano

Splende il sole a Milano
Originally uploaded by Massimo B.

Il contrasto stridente tra le famiglie rom che vivono tra i rifiuti all'ombra del ponte di Via Bisceglie, e il lussuoso palazzo "Torre del Naviglio Grande", distante poche centinaia di metri. Il palazzo "si fa notare anche per un volume vetrato alla sommità che rappresenta un punto di vista panoramico su tutta la scena urbana milanese". Un folto albero fornisce ombra e riparo.

Gipsy families living in abandoned buidings, overlooked by a high-class condo.