M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Attack of the Killer Drones — Non-fiction not fiction?

July 26, 2022
MThomas

These aren’t the drones that deliver your online order. Loaded with cameras, sensors, and explosives, their mission is to drive themselves to a target with an algorithm in the driver’s seat. They destroy themselves along with the target, leaving behind just a pile of electronic detritus.

https://m.dw.com/en/killer-robots-will-they-be-banned/a-62587436

Oh, joy. I can’t wait to see what happens when we program 3D printers to churn them out.

Or just simply make them self-replicating. What could possibly go wrong?

Another month, another missed Bringer of Light post…

July 18, 2022
MThomas

Yeah. So I missed another installment in my series.

Shoot.

Things are just ridiculously spiraling out of control at work. I hope to start posting more regularly again in a week or so.

In the meantime, check out more images from the Webb space telescope compared to Hubble. They’re pretty awe-inspiring.

Carl Sagan at the Illinois ACLU: A lost 1987 lecture on civil liberties

July 1, 2022
MThomas

…there has been a serious erosion of the tradition of skeptical inquiry, of vigorous challenging of government leaders, of public exposure of what the government is actually doing, rather than mere pomp and rhetoric. And it is in this area—skeptical scrutiny, public exposure—where the largest strides, in my opinion, are needed.

https://quillette.com/2022/07/01/science-and-civil-liberties-the-lost-lecture-of-carl-sagan/

Thank you, Stephen Pinker and Harvey Silverglate, for transcribing this. And Ann Druyan, for permitting it.

International asteroid day!

June 30, 2022
MThomas

Today is “International Asteroid Day”!

Who knew?

Asteroids hold large amounts of valuable minerals and metals. That is what International Asteroid Day is raising awareness about on 30 June.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-61985813

The University of Tokyo just covered a robot finger with real skin. The jokes write themselves…

June 20, 2022
MThomas

Skin is also just the first step in combining organic matter with machines, and opens the door for incorporating nerves and sensory organs such as olfactory receptors which can detect scents.

https://soranews24.com/2022/06/16/robot-finger-covered-in-living-skin-developed-by-university-of-tokyo/

The original report was published online by the U of Tokyo before it was covered last week by several online sources, including WebMD, the Independent, France 24, and ABC7, but the Sora News is the only one to post Japanese reader comments about, well, what fingers can do. Ahem.

The final quote of the researchers was posted on WebMD as:

“We believe this is a great step toward a new biohybrid robot with the superior functions of living organisms.”

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20220616/robot-finger-with-living-skin-points-to-a-new-future

Eek. Maybe might wanna rethink this…

Amino acids found in material brought back by Hayabusa-2

June 6, 2022
MThomas

More than 20 types of amino acids have been detected in samples Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe brought to Earth from an asteroid in late 2020, a government official said Monday, showing for the first time the organic compounds exist on asteroids in space.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/9a7dbced6c3a-amino-acids-found-in-asteroid-samples-collected-by-hayabusa2-probe.html

This lends support to the hypothesis that life on Earth was brought to it during the Late Heavy Bombardment period – in which meteors brought not just water but the building blocks of life…

Now imagine if someone were to find an asteroid with addition proteins NOT found on Earth… (i.e., my novel’s scientific premise…)

Madam, I’m ADAM

June 3, 2022
MThomas

<It has become more and more difficult to share images and quotes from websites that apparently refuse to allow WordPress to share content, so I am borderline “ef it” at this point.”>

This used to be a gif, but apparently I’m not allowed to download it as such, and even as a “webp” (whatever the hell that is) I had to convert it to a jpg just to upload it.

More than 100 previously unknown asteroids have been detected using a new tool that can comb through huge existing archives of data to search for potentially dangerous space rocks.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/asteroids-detected-new-tool-uses-existing-data-rcna31245

The above is *supposed* to be a “quotation” format from WordPress, which increasingly seems to want me to do all my posting from a smartphone *which ain’t gonna happen.*

Math to the rescue. No need for more scenes like this… (come on, you cried, admit it…)

Bringer of Light, Chapter 35: United Mars Colonies (pt 2)

May 21, 2022
MThomas

Mars, together — finally. Weng should have thought. But things are not what they seem, and nothing stays the same. Apologies, dear readers, for the endless delays in posting their story.

Recently, in Bringer of Light

(Had no idea until two weeks ago that I could do this. Neat.)

And what of Sergey?

Stay tuned…


Martin held his breath and looked around the room. It seemed even smaller and more confining with all the faction heads physically present.

And of course all the noisier, as well. The din was deafening, with each faction head clamoring to have questions answered.

Well, he thought with chagrin. More like shouting what they thought rather than asking questions.

He glanced at Captain Kragen. So this was the famous “Riss,” he thought. Medium height, dark hair that he could swear flickered Martian red. Powerful jaw and impassive face, like a block of marble…he shook his head. Martin could easily see what attracted his erstwhile water plant team chief to her.

Continue Reading

Plants can grow in lunar soil (barely)

May 16, 2022
MThomas

Doesn’t look too terribly attractive…

The samples were extremely hydrophobic, and repelled water as if it were the most disgusting thing ever invented. Researchers labored to get the lunar soil to gradually soak up water. They also added a nutrient solution.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/05/12/plants-grow-in-lunar-soil/

Turns out that it is possible to grow plants on the Moon…

…although you might want to wear gloves while farming, since the “soil” contains tiny pieces of glass from constant bombardment.

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