From dust to dust — asteroid, that is

517_bennubeautyshot_main

What came before the planets? What are the origins of life? And how much of a threat do asteroids pose to life on Earth today?

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that asteroids have (or used to have) hydrocarbons. If they have amino acids and nucleic acids…

Hmm. Sounds like a science fiction story based on science…

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/asteroid-sample-missions-hayabusa2-ryugu-osiris-rex-bennu?tgt=nr

The Ultima Thule Awakens! (Well, OK, New Horizons Awakens, Fine…)

It’s been a long 13 years.

Remember New Horizons? The Little Probe That Could?

No?

You know, the photos of Pluto, Formerly Known As the Ninth Planet?

Doesn’t ring a bell?

Hmpf. Go read about about it.

Anyway, by sheer chance, New Horizons happens to be close enough to grab some pictures of an object in the Kuiper Belt (which looks like KEW-per or KWEE-per but is actually pronounced KAI-per and is completely unrelated to former SF Giants player and current announcer Duane).

Ever wanted to see a peanut-shaped tiny rock (or rocks)

Only half a day left!

Read all about it, uh, pretty much anywhere online, really:

The Verge

Space.com

BBC

Globe and Mail

WIRED

Farout is, like, far out, man

Farout

A newly discovered object is the most-distant body ever observed in the solar system—and the first object ever found orbiting at more than 100 times the distance from Earth to the sun.

Keep in mind this is in addition to several other dwarf planets — Eris, the “Goblin,” and Sedna. Oh, and of course Ceres (which is much closer than the others). And Pluto. Which used to be a “planet” and not a “dwarf planet” (I say COUNT THEM ALL! Planet / dwarf planet / who cares).

So why is 2018 VG18 important?

Because it adds to the existing body of knowledge indicating the possible existence of a mysterious “Planet 9” (which used to be Planet X before Pluto got demoted) — which still has not been actually observed (emphasis!) and yet is the source of endless internet hoaxes, influencing all the whackadoodles who think we’re about to be invaded by alien hordes and/or that the Nibiru Apocalypse is coming / has come / will have had already been coming repeatedly (the date keeps getting changed when the end fails to occur).

Like, far out, Farout.

www.scientificamerican.com/article/farout-newfound-object-is-the-farthest-solar-system-body-ever-spotted/

I hazflare cheezeburger! I mean, Red Dwarf

RedDwarf-hazflare

Another red dwarf has been caught firing off a super powerful flare, further bolstering the notion that life might have a hard time taking root around these small, dim stars.

Well, no wonder there are no aliens. Smegging hell.

https://www.space.com/42196-red-dwarf-star-hazflare-bad-news-life.html

Wandering Earth and the future of SciFi — the China syndrome?

foldingbeijingChinese science fiction has been up and coming for a while now. The work of Liu Cixin, for example, earned the author (or translator, not sure which) a Hugo Award. (I reviewed and found the Three-Body Solution to be full of interesting ideas but bogged down with poorly written dialogue, unexpected shifts in voice and style, stereotypes, and two-dimensional characters.)

And, of course, China is about to (re)discover itself as a major player on the world stage. Complete with the “only our civilization can save humanity” trope, a.k.a., just like the US.

So it was just a matter before Chinese cinema followed suit. Continue reading

Apply not to others the cold wind of criticism! “Get your ass to Mars”

Unworldly and unearthly — by definition. A low rumbling at very low frequency, barely discernible at first until shifted up two octaves.

Imagine living with this constant mild 15 mph wind all the time. Imagine what the wind sounds like when the global dust storm hits.

via Listen here to wind on Mars — the first it has ever been captured —

The predictive space powers of Linda A Langworthy

Apollo-Soyuz_Test_Project_patch.svgI’ve made good progress on my mother’s high school manuscript — up to Chapter 9 (out of 15). Taking notes while I type, particularly about cultural references and language usage, I came across one interesting prediction:

“The space program of the two major nations [US and Russia] were joined after the moon project because it was cheaper to outfit; also, with the world’s greatest minds working together, better vehicles could be built.”

This was written a full 9 years before the joint Apollo-Soyuz (or Soyuz-Apollo) Test Project in 1975 that basically ended the “space race” started by the launch of Sputnik.

Written by a 17-year-old in 1968. The reality was more complicated, but still, heck of a prediction. Go, Mom!