Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Violent Universe

Cygnus X-1 Copyright David A. Hardy

One of the first suspected examples of a black hole was Cygnus X-1. In 1972 a massive blue supergiant star in Cygnus was found to have an invisible companion which emitted X-rays.  This was calculated to be 14 times as massive as the Sun – too massive to be a neutron star, so a black hole is the most likely explanation. Here it is seen pulling material away from its companion and becoming strongly heated; hence the X-rays. Excess gas is ejected in two very active jets above and below the disc.  (Digital, from Futures.)

Today on Far Future Horizons we take a breathtaking journey into the future, five billion years from now, to see the ultimate fate of the Solar System and other violent and destructive events which shape our Universe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mars Waterworld

Today on Far Future Horizons, in light of this recent discovery, we present another exciting episode of the acclaimed science series Naked Science that focuses on NASA’s mission Phoenix, to Mars and its searching for water to determine if the planet has sustained life in the past.

On May 25, 2008, NASA's Phoenix Lander  entered the Martian atmosphere and landed on its polar ice-cap in the last phase of a historic mission to investigate Mars' past by digging down into the soil and ice - something that has never been done before. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Universe - Deep Freeze

An Ice World

Today on Far Future Horizons we present another exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary series The Universe which takes us on a search for the lowest temperatures in the universe and the ultimate deep freeze.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tom Swift Still Lives

Allow me to introduce you to a website that is bound to stir a bit of nostalgia in all of us. Chances are if you are a regular reader of this Blog site you were also probably greatly influenced and nurtured by the Tom Swift Junior series. Can any of us forget our first forays into the frontiers of Earth, Space and Ocean with the great boy inventor Tom Swift and his pal Bud Barclay? Well here is a chance to relive the nostalgia with a series of pastiches by Scott Dickerson based on the original Tom Swift Junior stories from the 1950s and 1960s updated for a modern day audience.

You will also find many new adventures here which are not part of the original cannon yet, maintain the continuity of this wonderful series.
TOM SWIFT LIVES: A website for every person who ever was a Boy Inventor at Heart.

I am pretty sure girls will find these stories interesting as well. There are already a series of stories currently in the works concerning Tom’s sister Sandra Swift by amateur writers. I would like to see more stories such as these directed towards young women who are contemplating careers in science and engineering. In my teaching career I have the honour to say I met many. There need to be more role models for our young women both in real life and in fiction that will nurture their love of science and technology. I feel that more writers need to fill this need.

It is stories such as these that stimulate a love for science, learning, and innovation. Let’s direct our children to read them and fire their imagination

I would like also like to mention an
essay by Ron Grube titled "Where is Tom Swift, Now that We Need Him"? This is a very, very insightful essay that should be read again and again about the sorry state of education, culture, and individual initiative in the modern world.

"I was totally amazed when a group of parents and teenagers came to a city council meeting in my small Nevada town, complaining that the city government was not providing enough facilities to keep "the kids" occupied. In the ensuing discussion, it appeared that most of these people thought it was local government, rather than the parents and teens themselves, that was responsible for the boredom and general aimlessness of our younger citizens".
Another essay that will also revive in your heart a desire to reread the Tom Swift adventure series is entitled "Tom Swift, Jr: An Appreciation" by science fiction writer Jeff Dunterman the author of the novel "The Cunning Blood" published in November 2005.

To take one quote from the article:

"Of all Tom Swift's creations, none made my blood pound like the Challenger, Tom Swift's major spacecraft, the central gadget for 1958's Tom Swift in the Race to the Moon, with significant appearances in most of the later space titles. There was nothing else like it in all SF: A house-sized rectangular cabin held in a huge frame consisting of two perpendicular circular girders (with the obligatory Fiftyish round holes) making it look a little like a cubistic gyroscope."
A recent radio program in the series “The Engines of Our Ingenuity” eulogized the boy inventor. This is a radio program that tells the story of how human creativity formed and shaped our culture. Written and hosted by John Lienhard, it is heard nationally on Public Radio and produced by KUHF-FM Houston. These radio programs are not to be missed. Among other features, this web site houses the transcripts for every episode heard since the show's inception in 1988.

Program No. 491is entitled:
TOM SWIFTLY by John H. Lienhard

But we'd finally put a man on the moon. Somehow, after that, our dreams weren't the same. The world wandered away from Swift's workshop. Harriet kept running the enterprise -- but no new stories. She published one last Tom Swift book in 1981, but it wasn't right. Swift could not be written into the 1980s.

Tom Swift was born in the heat of our love affair with invention. Stratemeyer probably modeled him on Glen Curtiss with a little Edison stirred in. For sixty years Swift echoed our love of invention. He echoed progress and our brave new modern world. It was cheap formula stuff, but glorious in its own way.

Swift died when that love affair with invention died. I suppose it was our childhood's end. The end of soapbox racers and model airplanes. And Swift leaves us all asking: How can we make that lost child live and breathe once more?

The Engines of Our Ingenuity is Copyright © 1988-1997 by John H. Lienhard.
I personally disagree. Tom Swift still lives. The spirit of invention and innovation is still alive and well. Tom's many wonderful inventions caught and stirred the imagination of many a future sci fi writer and future engineer. If Tom could stir our generation to reach for the stars and colonize the oceans think of what he may do to awaken the next. It is up to us to pass on this legacy to our children.

The Ancient Supercity of Athens

Today on Far Future Horizons we travel back in time to the age of classical antiquity to visit the Ancient Supercity of Athens.

In the 5th century BC, one man led his city to greatness and paved the way for western civilization. The city was Athens and Pericles was not a king or prince, but an elected ruler. He directed the most costly and ambitious construction campaign undertaken in the western world, creating a model city of temples, houses, market places, civic buildings, and a highly innovative sanitation system.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sea Monsters - A Prehistoric Adventure

Today on Far Future Horizons we are going on an incredible odyssey through time which will teleport us eighty million years into the past, when dinosaurs ruled the land, and an incredible assortment of reptiles ruled the seas.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Siege of Troy

Today on Far Future Horizons we journey back in time three thousand years to one of the most epic battles of ancient history – the Siege of Troy

For three thousand years the Siege of Troy has remained steeped in mystery. Journey with us in this exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary series Ancient Discoveries, to the site in Turkey believed to be the location of the real Troy, as we analyze one of the world's greatest historical battlegrounds for new clues.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the sixth episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ " Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still" hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse  Tyson.

In this installment of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey we join Dr. Neil deGrasse  Tyson, using the Ship of the Imagination,  on an exploration of the Cosmos on the micro and atomic scales.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Letter to The Next President concerning the Promise and Challenge of New Worlds

I Wrote this back on July 4th, 2008. I believe it is still relevant today. 

This is an election year for the people of the United States of America and I thought it only fitting that today, the 232nd anniversary of our independence, to write a letter to the future occupant of the oval office, whomever it may be. We the people of the United States of America are not just choosing our own president come this November but, the de facto leader of the free world. The eyes of the world look to us for leadership. The choice we make on Election Day will determine how the rest of the world perceives us for many years to come. Our choice will also determine our long term relationship with the rest of humanity. What follows is just a personal wish list of the many challenges and goals I hope the new administration will address. I also tacitly state in this letter what I hope it will accomplish over the next four years here on Earth and out in the New Frontier of Space. The views stated here are mainly my own. If you share or do not share them you are quite welcome one and all to comment as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ancient Discoveries - Chinese Warfare

Today on Far Future Horizons we will be exploring the military innovations of ancient China,including their invention and use of gunpowder, flame throwers, rockets,automated crossbows, siege machines, and the grand scale of their battles.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hiding in the Light

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the fifth episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ "Hiding in the Light" hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse  Tyson.

The exciting installment explores properties of light, cameras, the scientific method, and the composition of the universe.

The episode includes a look at the contributions of the 10th century physicist Ibn al-Haytham, described as the "father of the modern scientific method."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Sky Full of Ghosts

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the fourth episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The title of this installment is “A Sky Full of Ghosts”. This episode explores how light, time and gravity affects our perception of the universe.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Secret Science of the Occult

Today on Far Future Horizons we present another exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary Ancient Discoveries - Secret Science of the Occult.

Do not let the title of this installment of Ancient Discoveries mislead you. It is not a affirmation of the esoteric world of the occult but rather a behind the scenes look at the technical wizardry employed to bedazzle worshipers and instill fear in attacking enemy forces bent on conquest and pillage.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Knowledge Conquered Fear

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the third episode of the acclaimed documentary series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ When Knowledge Conquered Fear” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Edmond Halley (left), Christopher Wren (center), Robert Hooke (right) having coffee while discussing the Cosmos

This installment of  “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”  pays homage to the theories that evolved due to contributions from Isaac Newton, Nicolaus Copernicus, Edmond Halley, and Robert Hooke.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ancient Super Ballistics

Today on Far Future Horizons we present another exciting episode of the acclaimed History Channel documentary series Ancient Discoveries that investigates the ancient super ballistics technology of the ancients.

Since the first time a rock was thrown in anger, mankind has endeavoured to deliver larger, deadlier payloads further and faster.

From mega-catapults that destroyed cities to rocket launch systems that could fire a hundred rounds per second to anti-personnel machines that pierced armour and shields, ballistic weapons technology first made its appearance on the bloody battlefields of the ancient world.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Some of the Things That Molecules Do

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the second episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ “Some of the Things That Molecules Dohosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ "Standing Up in the Milky Way"

Today on Far Future Horizons we begin a thrilling, new adventure across space and time with the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ~ “Standing Up in the Milky Way” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Machines of the East

Today on Far Future Horizons we explore the Science and Technology of the Islamic Golden Age with another exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary series of Ancient Discoveries - Machines of the East.

This installment of Ancient Discoveries exams the remarkable inventions of Arabic engineers such as Al-Jazari amongst others.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Near Earth Objects and Planetary Defense

Today on Far Future Horizons we highlight the outstanding work of the Near Earth Object (NEO) working group within the Space Generation Advisory Council.

The Space Generation Advisory Council  supports  the United Nations Program on Space Applications and is a non-governmental organization which aims to bring the views of students and young space professionals before the United Nations, Space Agencies and other organisations from all over the world.

The Near Earth Object (NEO) working group is dedicated to helping the worldwide planetary defense community to meet one of nature's greatest challenges. The group provides a youth perspective to planetary defense through annual reports, competitions, conference attendance, and public outreach projects related to Near Earth Objects.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Knights of Malta and the Great Siege of 1565

Today marks the four hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of Malta's victory over the Ottoman Empire  during the Great Siege of Malta.    

Victory Day, September 8th, is a national holiday in Malta. It is locally known as il-Vitorja (the Victory) and il-Bambina (Baby Mary). It marks the following events:

  • The victory of the Great Siege by the Knights of St. John against the Ottoman Turks of 1565.

  • The rebellion against the French troops in Malta ended in those days in September 1800 driving them from the Maltese islands.

  • Italy surrendered during Second World in 1943, and turned against its former German ally.

The day is also connected to the Nativity of Mary, and in fact feasts are celebrated in towns Xagħra, Naxxar, Senglea, and Mellieħa on the day.

The Siege of Malta (also known as the Great Siege of Malta) took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island, then held by the Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and Chevaliers of Malta).

The Knights, together with between 4-5,000 Maltese men, women and children and approximately 2,000 footsoldiers won the siege, one of the bloodiest and most fiercely contested in history, and one which became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth century Europe. Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta," and it undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility and marked a new phase in Spanish domination of the Mediterranean.The siege was the climax of an escalating contest between a Christian alliance and the Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean, a contest that included Turkish corsair Turgut Reis's attack on Malta in 1551, and the Turkish utter destruction of an allied Christian fleet at the Battle of Djerba in 1560.

To mark this occasion we present two documentaries concerning the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta and the Great Siege of 1565. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Is It Real? - Crop Circles

Across the English countryside, a decades-old mystery refuses to die. Are crop circles highly complex messages from the outer limits or a man-made hoax of profound proportions?

In 1978, a crop circle first appeared on a farm in England's West Country. Since then crop circles have appeared with larger frequency and complexity. Today on Far Future Horizons we present another exciting episode of the acclaimed National Geographic documentary series Is it Real? - Crop Circles.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Modern Marvels: 90's Tech


Today on Far Future Horizons we travel back to the last decade of the Twentieth Century for a retrospective look at the beginnings of the trendy technologies that have defined that epoch and has shaped ours.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Modern Marvels: 80's Tech

DeLorean DMC-12

Today on Far Future Horizons we take a trip back in time, back to the 1980s and will examine some of the most popular gadgets and fads that defined a decade.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Modern Marvels: 70's Tech

The Famous Video Game Pong

Today on Far Future Horizons we take a retrospective look at the technology of the Nineteen Seventies.

From pong to CB radios, to the instant camera to the Pontiac Firebird and everywhere in between it all has the mark of the technology of the seventies.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Modern Marvels: 60s Tech

Today on Far Future Horizons we take a voyage back to the 1960s and recall the technological happenings that helped shape the decade. A decade that saw humankind take its first steps on another world.

Color TV, computers the size of Mac® trucks and Lava lamps we return to the heady days of the Space Age with this affectionate look at the advances that convinced us the “future is NOW!” For over a decade, Modern Marvels has brought grand stories to life. This documentary is the ultimate celebration of engineering excellence.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Engineering an Empire - China

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the eleventh episode of the acclaimed documentary series Engineering an Empire that highlights the engineering and architectural achievements of some of history’s greatest civilizations and the empires they created.

This installment of Engineering an Empire focuses on China.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Einstein’s Biggest Blunder

In 1917, Albert Einstein inserted a term called the cosmological constant into his theory of general relativity to force the equations to predict a stationary universe in keeping with physicists' thinking at the time

Today on Far Future Horizons we present two video features that explore Einstein's "biggest blunder".