Posts Tagged ‘Science & Tech’

Send R2-D2 to the Moon?

Bonnie Burton | September 13, 2007

According to a recent post on Wired News:

Google will award $20 million to the first private team to put a robot on the moon, the company and the X Prize Foundation announced at Wired NextFest in Los Angeles Thursday. Members of the public will also get the chance to send digital mementos to the moon. In this advance from the October issue of Wired magazine, contributing editor Spencer Reiss explains what’s behind the Google Lunar X Prize, and what it will take to win it.

Read all about it here:
Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation

I’m looking at you R2 Builders! HINT HINT

Wired News,,

Good Thing We Don’t Have Two Suns

Bonnie Burton | September 12, 2007

(Tatooine’s twin suns)

According to The New York Times, astronomers are announcing that they have “discovered a planet that seems to have survived the puffing up of its home star, suggesting there is some hope that Earth could survive the aging and swelling of the Sun.”

The newly discovered planet is a gas giant at least three times as massive as Jupiter. It orbits about 150 million miles from a faint star in the constellation Pegasus known as V 391 Pegasi. But before that star blew up as a red giant sometime in the past and lost half its mass, the planet must have been about as far from its star as the Earth is to the Sun — about 90 million miles — the astronomers led by Roberto Silvotti of the Observatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy, calculated.

Dr. Silvotti said that the results showed that a planet at the Earth’s distance “can survive” the red giant and he hoped the discovery would spur searches for more like it. “With some statistics and new detailed models we will be able to say something more even to the destiny of our Earth (which, as we all know, has much more urgent problems by the way),” he said in an e-mail message.

Read more about it here:
Earth Might Survive Sun’s Explosion
(NY Times registration required)

The New York Times

Star Wars Phones in the Future?

Bonnie Burton | August 30, 2007

(Photo: AFP)

Who needs a cell phone when you can send a holographic message — without an R2-D2 unit? Japan’s Hitachi has recently developed a lightweight 3-D display that can potentially be adapted for mobile devices such as phones.

The 1kg gadget, using what is known as stereoscopic vision display, and resembles an upside-down, multi-angular pyramid full of mirrors on top of a liquid crystal display.

“I’d like to see the technology eventually applied to mobile phones, so people could see images three-dimensionally from their handsets,” Rieko Otsuka of Hitachi’s Advanced Research Laboratory said.

Read the full article here:
Star Wars phones not far away

Brisbane Times

Chewie Hands off Lightsaber to NASA Team | August 28, 2007

Luke Skywalker’s original Jedi lightsaber film prop from Return of the Jedi makes its way into space (for real) with NASA astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery in October. To commemorate the historic event, Star Wars characters visited the Oakland International Airport where Chewbacca handed the lightsaber over to NASA’s Space Center Houston during a special ceremony on Aug. 28, 2007.

Arriving by Escalade and Hummer stretch limos (the Falcon‘s in the shop) Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, X-Wing pilots, Jedi and stormtroopers (from the Golden Gate Garrison of the 501st Legion) accompanied Chewie for the fun-filled press event which took quite a few travelers and tourists in baggage claim by surprise. NASA’s Space Center Houston Director of Marketing Roger Bornstein greeted the intergalactic guests and warmly thanked everyone’s favorite Wookiee for bringing him Luke’s lightsaber.


May the Flight Be With You

Bonnie Burton | August 27, 2007

As Star Wars celebrates its 30th Anniversary, Luke Skywalker’s original Jedi lightsaber will head into space with NASA astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery in October. Chewbacca will officially hand the lightsaber over to NASA’s Space Center Houston during a ceremony at the Oakland International Airport, Aug. 28, 2007.

The ceremony will include characters from a galaxy far, far away including Boba Fett, Jango Fett and X-Wing pilots, Jedi and stormtroopers. This will be followed by a spectacular departure aboard a Southwest Airlines flight as Chewbacca and his galactic friends help push back the airplane on the tarmac.

Stay tuned to the Official Star Wars Blog for more on the special event.

Breadboard Electronics and Vader

Bonnie Burton | August 24, 2007

Need a geektastic project to tinker with over the weekend? Lucky for you Make magazine’s Bre Pettis, host of the “Weekend Projects” series is here to give you a few ideas.

In his regular DIY video podcast, he explains the science behind all kinds of cool projects (droid building, geek knitting with hackers, tabletop biospheres) making it fun for you to learn while crafting! Recently, Pettis gave viewers the lowdown on how learn how to test electronics projects on a breadboard.

Check out his video and see if you can detect a few inside Star Wars references in his podcast.

Watch his video podcast here.

Bre wears the same cool Vader shirt in this short video talking about Handmade Music Night at Etsy Labs and demonstrates his 201 Kit.

Hovercraft Today, Landspeeder Tomorrow?

Bonnie Burton | August 15, 2007

When Luke Skywalker’s beloved T-16 skyhopper wasn’t functioning, his only escape from moisture farm drudgery came from his beat-up brown landspeeder. Hovering aloft on a cushion of antigravity, the speeder got Luke and his passengers (droids and a wacky Jedi Master) around maybe not in style but it did the job.

Well, if that’s happening a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, why aren’t we commuting in our own landspeeders yet? Good question. Luckily for us, Wired magazine takes a look at the history of the hovercraft, from mid-1950s Popular Mechanics covers to Survival Research Laboratory’s Pulse-Jet Hovercraft!

Here’s a snippet from Gareth Branwyn’s stellar article:

An artist friend of mine once said: “When I think about the future, all I wanna know is: When do we get to wear the tinfoil?” That statement perfectly encodes those kitschy, iconic images we have of the future, a world in which we dress like space people from bad ’50s sci-fi, and travel through elevated cities on jetpacks or in flying or hovering cars. We’re still waiting for the jetpacks and skycars, but, to paraphrase sci-fi author William Gibson, “the hovercraft is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” And it likely never will be.

Read the full article here:
“Fifty Years of Hovercraft: The Tech That Barely Takes Off”


Homeland Security’s Real-life Lightsaber? Team | August 8, 2007

Would Darth Vader be just as powerful wielding a flashlight instead of his trusty lightsaber? Maybe not, but Homeland Security is hoping their experimental, lightsaber-inspired weapon — the LED (light-emitting diode) Incapacitator — will subdue criminals, terrorists, illegal immigrants and unruly airline passengers (no word on Rebel scum, however).

The device works by temporarily blinding and disorienting a person, says Bob Lieberman, president of Intelligent Optical. Once aimed at someone’s eyes, a series of light pulses and colors can be triggered and the subject’s eyes can’t adjust quickly enough to see. “It’s like someone shooting off a flashbulb in your face every few seconds,” Lieberman says. “Because of the wavelengths and frequencies we use, there are psychophysical effects — a real disorientation. The reaction can range through vertigo to nausea.”

What the flashlight-size device doesn’t do, however, is use lasers or permanently blind people, Lieberman says. In 1995, the United States signed on to a United Nations agreement that banned blinding weapons.

Read more about the LED Incapacitator here:
Is this a real-life ‘lightsaber?’


C-3PO was a Cub Scout?

Bonnie Burton | August 8, 2007

C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels talks with Boy Scout publication Boys’ Life about the science of Star Wars and his rather brief stint as a Cub Scout. Here’s a couple of highlights from the recorded interview.

On being a Cub Scout:

“Around the age of 8 or 9 I was a Cub Scout. I had the little gray shorts and the little green sweater. And I had socks that were hairy and itchy and they had a green tab that was underneath the top. I had a cap, and that was it. I saw that all these other boys had badges and I didn’t have any. So I went to a store about bought all these badges, and I took them home and my mother sewed them on. Then I went back and joined our troop and they looked at my badges and asked where they were from. No one had explained to me that you had to earn the badges. I thought they were just for decoration. So I left shortly after that. You could tell I wasn’t made to be a scout.”


Star Wars-inspired Helmet Helps Cyclists

Bonnie Burton | July 10, 2007

Look in your rear-view mirror and you might be startled to see an Imperial biker on your tail. Of course, it could just be the “Breathe Air” bike helmet designed by 22-year-old Brunel University industrial design and technology student Luke Pannell. Lancashire Evening Post reports:

The helmet was created to filter out particles which irritate hay fever and asthma sufferers. It covers the cyclist’s nose and mouth with a shield behind which the filtered air circulates. Used air is expelled via a plastic tube when the cyclist exhales.

SOURCES:, Lancashire Evening Post