September 19, 2007

Paging Larry Niven...

Via Geekpress, a report of a real-life droud.

(As the technovelgy entry on "droud" notes, this is not actually the application Niven envisioned.)

Posted by JohnL at 09:09 AM | Comments (1) |

September 14, 2007

Paging D.D. Harriman...

Is Peter Diamandis the real-life Harriman?

Thanks to Google, there's now a $25-30 million X-prize available to the team that lands a privately-funded rover on the moon by the end of 2012, takes some pictures, and moves at least 500 meters on the lunar surface. Details here. And here. And here. And here.

Posted by JohnL at 08:36 AM | Comments (2) |

September 06, 2007

The Telescope - Part One

As I've mentioned (briefly), I'm building a travel Dobsonian telescope around a mirror that I made with my Granddad back in 1982. Here's what I looked like back then. (I'm the one on the left ;-)


We're in the process of polishing the mirror with rouge (as evidenced by the red-stained pitch lap).

Here's the resulting fine piece of optics, some 25 years in the future:


I'll be posting some more pics in the coming months, as I complete meaningful parts of the construction of the mounting.

Posted by JohnL at 06:20 PM | Comments (3) |

September 03, 2007

John's Reading Report (August 2007)

Here's what I've read since my last report:

The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi I love Scalzi's Colonial Union universe. I hope he is able to find a way to keep it interesting for himself, so that he will write more stories in this setting.

1776, David McCullough I don't know why I put this one off for so long. It was actually a pretty easy and informative read once I started.

Magician, Raymond E. Feist. I read this book many years ago and enjoyed it again as I was previewing it for my 13-year-old. I'm not much for swords-and-sorcery (I prefer hard SF), but this novel is set in a nicely-planned universe reflecting careful world-building and plotting. I may actually check out a few of the other stories set in this universe.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Christopher Hitchens. A quick read, inspired by the recent Time Magazine article about Mother Teresa's crises of faith.

In progress:

Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World, Chris Frith. This is a good one so far, but needed some more careful editing (I've noticed several sloppy typos that aren't the kind to be caught by spell-check; they would require a human copyeditor).

Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett.

Amateur Telescope Making Book One, Albert G. Ingalls (editor)

On Deck:

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens. My Sunday School class may be discussing this one in the near future, so I'll be getting a head start.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas R. Hofstadter. Time to re-read this.

Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World, Carl Zimmer. I love Zimmer's science writing (check out his blog here). This is of a kind with all the other cognitive science reading I've been devouring this year. If I could find another way to pay for my 3 kids' college today, I would quit being a lawyer and go back to school for graduate work in CogSci. It's one of the most fertile areas of interdisciplinary study these days, and I have a very personal interest in learning more about how the brain works.

About eight months' worth of Analog magazine.

I am reading more than writing, still, and hope someday to condense some of my reading down into worthy blog posts. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy Planet Stories' excellent contributions around here.

Posted by JohnL at 09:39 AM | Comments (5) |