Posts Tagged ‘football’

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Playable races include all of the basic races featured in the original Mordheim.

Games Workshop’s cult classic specialist game Mordheim is getting its own digital version with Mordheim: City of the Damned.

The game will be a turn-based strategy game where players lead small bands of warriors into skirmishes in a blend of RPG and tactical combat gameplay.

The miniatures-based war game Mordheim is based on Games Workshop’s highly successful Warhammer franchise. Instead of fielding large armies, players would build small gangs that would then level up and grow depending on their performance in battle.

Mordheim: City of the Damned sounds to be faithful to the game’s setting with warbands squabbling over Wyrdstone fragments in the ruins of the ruined city in the same way as the tabletop game.

The digital version will include playable gangs from the Skaven, the Empire, the Possessed and the Sisters of Sigmar with more factions to follow.

The game is being published by Focus Home Interactive, the independent French studio that was also behind the digital rendition of Games Workshop’s fantasy football game Blood Bowl. The company also has Cities XL, TrackMania and Farming Simulator in its portfolio.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is scheduled for a late 2014 release.

Several games in Games Workshop’s back-catalogue have made the transition to video games in recent years. Space Hulk, Warhammer Quest, Talisman and the aforementioned Blood Bowl have all seen a digital release on various platforms.

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Obama: Would Michelle have married a nerd?

Not a nerd? No, never.

Funny Or Die screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

They say he’s a bookworm, rather than a barfly.

They say he’s more comfortable with the intricacies of policy making, rather than the crudities of glad-handing.

Such aspersions have clearly been preying on President Obama’s mind. So where better to assert his true self than on “Between Two Ferns“?

This entirely serious “Funny Or Die” talk show, presented by policy wonk Zach Galifianakis, allows guests to reveal the sides of themselves that might have been in the shade of the spotlight.

The president showed his mean, masculine side when asked: “What’s it like to be the last black president?”

His reply: “Seriously? What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a person?”

However, there was one very prickly area upon which Galifianakis trod halfway through the interview.

“Yousaid if you had a son you would not let him play football,” began the host. “What makes you think that he would want to play football? What if he was a nerd like you?”

So there we had it, exposed for all to hear — the accusation that the president was a cliche, a Napoleon Dynamite, a nerd in a basketball uniform, unworthy of true admiration.

You might imagine that the president would have retorted with an explanation that most political power was now in the hands of West Coast nerds. You might think he would have made some highfalutin point about education.

Instead, he replied: “Do you think a woman like Michelle would marry a nerd?”

Yes, he devolved to the idea that smart, attractive women would never go for fascinating, intelligent, uncoordinated men.

Much of the interview was, of course, an advertisement for, the Web site that has been as consistent as “The Hangover” trilogy.

I fear, though, that what will be remembered most is the president’s besmirching of nerd culture.

Will someone from the government be listening in today on the nerds’ private reactions?

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The Web at 25: I was a teenage dial-up addict

Beautiful since 1995. (Click to enlarge.)


This World Wide Web you’re looking at right now wasn’t always something most people considered worth a second glance — let alone hours days weeks years of nonstop staring. In fact, even some of the big info-nerds of the day ignored or dismissed it early on.

One of the earliest public demonstrations of the Web came back in 1991, when a man named Tim Berners-Lee sat at a table with a computer in a Texas hotel conference room, willing to give anyone with a few minutes to spare a personal introduction to his invention — a concept and a structure that would soon spark a worldwide information revolution.

Every person in the room that day likely came to depend on this invention by the close of the 1990s, if not sooner. But when first confronted with the Web in that hotel, most simply said whatever the equivalent of “meh” was at the time, and went in search of a drink.

“It was quite a warm December evening in San Antonio,” recalled Professor Wendy Hall of the UK’s University of Southampton, who was in that room for the 1991 Hypertext Conference where Berners-Lee had been denied a speaking spot to show off the most important human creation of a generation or three. “In the courtyard outside the demo room was a tequila fountain and everybody was outside drinking free margaritas, so nobody was inside. This was the first demo of the World Wide Web in America.”

The first public demo of the Web in the United States in 1991. (Click to enlarge.)


Keep in mind, this wasn’t a conference of Luddites. It was a gathering of people interested in hypertext before anyone really knew the phrase (most people still don’t know it, because it was quickly supplanted in our culture by “the Web”). This was a crowd of information nerds, and yet, they still were unimpressed by the World Wide Web on day one. And it wasn’t really even day one, either. Berners-Lee had actually first submitted a paper detailing his invention almost three years earlier, on March 12, 1989.

And this is the date I mean to commemorate over the course of the next week — the actual birth date of the World Wide Web, a creation Mr. Berners-Lee and his colleagues gave to the world completely free of charge on that day 25 years ago. In this post and three that follow, I’ll look at the first two and a half decades of the Web, from its awkward infancy, to those crazy boom and bust years, the lull that followed (I like to call them the “lost in the wilderness years”), and finally, the countless bits and pings of the lovable monstrosity that is today’s mobile and social Web.

But I’m less interested in the many technical milestones of the Web between then and now (I’ll still cover plenty of them, don’t worry), as I am in the infinite ways it’s changed the way we as individuals, and as a society, live and think. As I sit in my favorite chair right now, laptop in lap, my 6-year-old daughter diligently weaves tiny rubber bands together into the form of a toy horse according to instructions delivered by a friendly voice on the YouTube video streaming on a
tablet sitting on the coffee table.

The sight of a 6-year-old girl deep in the act of creation while tapping and swiping the screen in front of her triggers a flood of images — a massively compressed zip file of emotionally charged moments from the past two decades unpacked from my memory as I see myself growing up online — from an awkward teenager getting Web design tips from CNET in 1994 to a husband and father writing these words for CNET in 2014.

So let’s dive right in. Like most journeys that pass through the 1990s, this might get a little weird at points.

The Big Bang
It’s not hyperbole to say that I owe much to the Web, and I think that notion can be extended almost to my entire generation — and really all generations that have interacted with the Web. Of course, during the years that Berners-Lee and company were pitching their project to disinterested conference crowds, I myself was too busy watching “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and imprinting rude gestures on my Hypercolor T-shirt to pay any attention to what was coming out of CERN — let alone learn what CERN is.

Still, like many others on the bubble between Generation X and the so-called Millennials (I was 9 when the Web was born in 1989), I was old enough to appreciate on some level how big and exciting the coming changes would be, yet young enough to be open to something radical and non-linear — a new medium with the potential to not just shift paradigms, but to extract the whole damn paradigm transmission and leave it in a flaming heap by the side of the road.

The author looking lost in awesome specs around the time the Web was born. (Please don’t click to enlarge.)

Facebook/Bethany Watts Therrien)

Back in those days, I was spending lots of time escaping typical preteen traumas at a keyboard, first an Apple IIe and a Commodore 64, then an IBM PC XT clone. Then one day, my family added a modem to our PC clone setup and I soon understood the concept of the Big Bang. Not because I finally had access to the online Grolier encyclopedia, but because the connections I struggled to make at school, with family, and elsewhere in the world were suddenly possible from behind that keyboard.

I was no longer socially handicapped by my unwieldy afro, Hubble-scale specs, and strong tendency to be a pushover; instead I was part of a judgment-free universe (yes, the Internet was friendly once upon a time) that was expanding exponentially.

Within a few years, I had even grown bold enough to carry my early digital interactions into the real world. I went to meetups hosted by the Toad the Wet Sprocket listserv admin and purchased PC parts from a strange guy in a Denver apartment that had no furniture but did have more than 1,000 used monitors. These encounters were awkward, but hey, progress isn’t always pretty.

Keep in mind, this was still just the early ’90s and I was just a tween in the Denver suburbs logging onto BBSes, Prodigy, or America Online mostly for the purpose of trading stamps, coins, football cards, games, and software (although one screen name on my mid-’90s AOL buddy list also turned into my humiliating first kiss in the real world — it was so bad I remember sighing and actually saying “damnit” out loud, and I never heard from the girl again.)

But even at that early stage, and using services that were mostly walled gardens cut off from each other, it seemed like a bottomless well of possibility and potential. I was also aware of the cool kids over at The WELL and the fanatics playing Neverwinter Nights. Disparate online worlds had formed, and unbeknownst to most people in 1992, the system to unite them all was about to be commercialized, but first its access point needed a makeover.

A ‘Mosaic’ of early adopters
If you really boil it down, the problem with the early Web that probably led Berners-Lee to play second fiddle to the tequila fountain in San Antonio in 1991 was its lack of animated GIFs.

The first Web browsers were either text-only affairs like LYNX or used unwieldy means of processing images like popping them up in separate windows. It was not quite yet the short-attention-span multimedia extravaganza that would soon come to define modern pop culture.

The Mosaic browser.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications/University of Illinois Board of Trustees)

Enter Marc Andreessen, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and Mosaic in 1993. While initially it did not even have a back button, its simple installation for Windows systems, intuitive interface, and integration of graphics made it the first widely-used Web browser. As the software was spreading, so was the infrastructure for the young Web. During 1993, the number of Web servers worldwide quickly grew from just dozens to several hundred.

By 1994, the roads for the information superhighway had been laid down — to borrow an ancient digital metaphor — and the vehicles had also been manufactured in the form of software like Mosaic. All that remained was to recruit some Web drivers, or uh, surfers, or whatever. Unfortunately, many of the folks in the mainstream media at the time weren’t quite hip to the Internet’s crazy new symbology to do much of that proselytizing. Case in point: this clip of NBC’s “Today Show” hosts bantering off-air during a commercial break and finally flat-out asking co-workers “what is internet?”

When the Pew Center started its research into the Internet and American Life in 1995, it found 14 percent of the country was already online. These were the early addicts like myself who tied up our families’ phone lines and ran up big bills with online services — and then with long-distance charges.

One of the first major purchases I ever had to save up to pay for with my own money was $220 worth of long-distance calls (explanatory link meant to be sarcastic — if it doesn’t read that way, you must be younger than me) incurred during a single week in the mid-’90s when America Online’s Denver dial-in numbers were chronically busy, “forcing” me to get online by dialing-in via a Cheyenne, Wyo., number instead.

I had to mow many a Colorado lawn to pay off that tab, but I don’t ever recall thinking it wasn’t worth the time and effort.

This early addiction to the exciting and limitless online world would eventually lead very smart people to think it was not only possible to nuke our aforementioned paradigm transmission, but to challenge the very foundations of economics, leading to a remarkable boom and bust that… but now I’m getting ahead of myself.

The master protocol
Fairly quickly after the introduction of Mosaic, the Web’s hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) would become the preferred means of sharing information for public consumption over the Internet’s pipes. Newsgroups could not support the critical masses of the information-addicted like myself that were beginning to coalesce in those early days. Neither could other predecessor/parallel protocols to the Web like Gopher, WAIS, Telnet, or even the mighty FTP, which all saw their status degraded as the Web rose to prominence over the next two decades.

It was when AOL, Prodigy, and others began to take down the wall and added a browser to their subscription offerings in early 1995 that I began to fully understand the gravity of this insane, intangible, indomitable force that is the Web.

There were early indications of the weird places this unprecedented access to information would take us. The project that would begin as the Cardiff Internet Movie Database before becoming just the Internet Movie Database and eventually IMDb mimicked the old brick-and-mortar library model, but with the digital twist of crowdsourcing a wealth of information on a popular topic to create a whole new reference resource.

In the offline world, that probably would have been the end of the story.

But in this bold new frontier, college students and film buffs didn’t just use the Internet Movie Database to settle bets and research film history midterms. They also mined it to waste countless hours playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The Web dropped a chaos bomb, and many of us didn’t just embrace it, we set up shop to begin mining it for gems of pure awesomeness, exploiting its riches to enable unbridled creativity and achieve new levels of procrastination.

Failure of imagination
At this point, I was 15 years old and I had been online in some capacity for four or five years already, yet I didn’t really get it until I started spending time on the completely unfettered Web. Even as I spent countless hours the previous few years in America Online forums, newsgroups, and chat rooms, I still thought the most likely career for me might be at a local radio station, or maybe enjoying a quiet life as a librarian. Talk about a failure of imagination — I was like a kid peering through a window at the wonders of Henry Ford’s assembly line in the 1920s while still pondering a career making ox carts. If there had been a tequila fountain nearby, I might have found myself shelving books today instead of writing this.

The Web was the ultimate killer app because it made the potential of the wider Internet so obvious. It was the conquest of time and geography in digital form.

Columnist James Coates put it a little more eloquently back in May of 1995, writing about the Web’s penetration of the biggest online dial-up services: “Right now, only a handful are tasting the wonders to come. But it won’t be long before these humming handfuls give way to the howling hordes and browsing the Web becomes as common as surfing the cable channels or twisting the radio dial.”

Coates nailed it all the way back then, even though I still don’t understand how to dial someone with a radio.

But what few people saw at the time was the steep trajectory the Web would take over the next few years as it launched itself into our collective consciousness.

The wild success of the Web that would define the final years of the century would also determine the course of my life, at least until things eventually got derailed. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. More on that in the next installment when I take a look at the boom and bust years of the late 1990s.

CNET comments are currently down for maintenance, and should be back soon. In the meantime, please share your memories, and parts of early Web history I’ve missed, on Twitter at @crave and @ericcmack.

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Asteroid breaks up just like in Atari game

Atari was right! This screenshot from the video game maker’s online version of Asteroids illustrates the way the space rocks break up into smaller and smaller pieces, as recently witnessed by astronomers.

Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Remember the old Atari Asteroids game and how the space rocks would split into smaller and smaller pieces as your little arrowhead-shaped ship shot tiny balls of light at them? Well, astronomers at UCLA have just seen, for the first time ever they say, that asteroids really do break up that way.

The discovery was made possible by data derived from a team of telescopes. It began when a fuzzy, strange-looking shape was spotted in the skies by the Catalina telescope array, located both outside of Tucson, Ariz., and in Australia, and a Pan-Starrs telescope atop Mount Haleakala on Hawaii’s island of Maui. Astronomers then used the Keck telescopes on the Hawaii Mauna Kea volcano, where they believed they saw three bodies moving together in a cloud of dust that measured roughly the same diameter as that of of Earth.


This series of images from the Hubble Space Telescope shows an asteroid coming apart, likely from forces applied to it by sunlight. (Click to enlarge.)


“The Keck telescope showed us that this asteroid was worth looking at with Hubble,” according to David Jewitt, a professor in the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences and the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy who led the investigation.

So the astronomers aimed the mighty space telescope at the debris and discovered that the dust cloud contained 10 different mini asteroids, with the largest fragments measuring about twice the size of a football field.

The observations, which were published online Thursday in Astrophysical Journal Letters, postulate that the asteroid began coming apart early last year, but that it continues to disintegrate even now.

As we all know, there are no arrowhead-shaped ships in the asteroid belt shooting at these big space rocks, so just how did the asteroid (known as P/2013 R3) begin breaking up?

The researchers ruled out collision with another asteroid because that would have been spectacularly violent and would have instantly smashed the rocks to bits. They also eliminated the idea that interior ice turned to steam and blew the asteroid apart as, according to Jewitt, P/2013 R3 has kept a cool approximate 300-million-mile distance from the sun pretty much since the solar system was born.

But that’s not to say the sun didn’t play a role.

Jewitt postulates that the asteroid is breaking apart due to something called “YORP torque.” “Light is made of photons and photons carry momentum. Not very much, but a finite amount,” he told Crave. “When an asteroid radiates away the heat it receives from the sun, it tends to do so asymmetrically… because the day-side is hot and radiates much more heat than the cold night-side. This results in a net reaction force on the asteroid just like throwing a sack of coal forwards would tend to knock you backwards.” It’s this force that caused P/2013 R3 to fail.

Like many things in the vastness of outer space, Jewitt says the YORP torque process took a very long time to take hold. “Because photon momentum is very weak,” he said, “the time taken to spin up an asteroid is very long. For R3, the time is probably 100,000 or even a million years — it’s actually impossible to calculate without knowing the exact size and shape and surface nature of the asteroid. But that is short compared to the age of the solar system, so YORP can still be effective.”

I kind of think NASA should put out a new video game called YORP where you spin asteroids to death. But I want part of the royalties.

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This ‘Back to the Future’ hoverboard will blow your mind

Tony Hawk pulling a “360 Hoverboard Hoax McTwist” for the well-produced, but ultimately phony, HUVr product teaser.

Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET)

A hoverboard, like the wondrously 1980s pink variety Marty McFly cruises on in “Back to the Future Part II,” is universally accepted as the most awesome thing we don’t yet have. The wheel-less skateboard that floats above the ground and travels as if by magic has even become a bit of a pop culture trope recently for semi-sarcastically lamenting the slowness of technological innovation, of wanting the future right now. Sure, we have cell phone computers,
car-sized roving science labs on Mars, and gigantic particle accelerators capable of recreating miniature versions of the Big Bang, but a hoverboard? Now that will be the day.

Unfortunately, anyone who stumbled onto a quickly-going-viral video Tuesday from a mysterious company called HUVr were probably devastatingly disappointed to learn, almost immediately depending on your incredulousness, that it was too good to be true. The hoverboards in the video don’t just surpass the most advanced superconducting research of as little as three years ago, but blow it completely out of the water.


The board not only sustains more weight than the 100kg limitation of “Mag Surf” — a hovering technique developed in 2011 that employs a liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductor and a magnetic track — but it can also be controlled by a smartphone, lift a person off the ground, travel at high speeds, and seemingly extend a electromagnetic field to curved objects like ramps. “The Future Has Arrived,” the company’s site reads, with a product launch this December. As far as hoaxes go, this one is well-produced and elaborate.

In an attempt to make it even more believable, demonstrations include Tony Hawk whirring in mid-air, Terrell Owens being vaulted four feet off the pavement from a flat-ground standstill, and Moby convincing us that even he, the tech noob that he is, can use HUVr.

There’s a good number of tip-offs throughout the video that we’re being hoodwinked, namely that ensemble cast of awestruck celebrities that also includes Los Angeles rapper Schoolboy Q, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, and Back to the Future’s very own Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). In fact, it’s likely that a good number of celebrities were roped into the stunt both because it’s hilarious and also because it acts as a solid point of distraction from the fact that no actual members of the supposedly real MIT-spawned company are identified.

Claiming to have developed it at MIT’s Physics Graduate Program in the summer of 2010, the team behind HUVr is showcased on the Web site stereotypically folding their arms. In an enjoyable and pointed skewering of a startup’s standard hyperbolic nonsense, they describe their hoverboard with enough buzzword runarounds to make even the most skeptical of Y Combinator diehards clap with joy.

They also look like Hollywood’s version of “nerdy startup folk,” like the people whose faces it actually put in front of the camera at Google headquarters for the filming of “The Internship” or the actors that made the cut to be in Amazon’s “Betas.”

This group of arm-folding smart people totally could have invented a hoverboard, Los Angeles producers think.

Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET)

The contact page for HUVr has a company e-mail, though no one replied to my request for comment. Neither did MIT, which probably thought having to debunk a viral hoverboard hoax video ridiculous. Don’t worry, so did I.

There’s a few other, more telling hints. Ignoring of course the video’s opening disclaimer — “The following demonstrations are completely real” — one only has to wait until the last third of the video when things get really wild. With montage music playing, Owens is there catching a football, Moby is filming himself riding the board with his iPhone, and Hawk is doing his best re-creation of what his facial expressions looked like ten years ago at the peak of a halfpipe exit mid-900. All of the stunts look impossible, even if HUVr was remotely resembling modern hover technology, and the whole scene devolves into a self-aware parody.

Terrell Owens just invented a new sport.

Screenshot by Nick Statt)

So what’s actually going on here? Some postulate that it’s a “Back to the Future IV” teaser. That sounds plausible, though that film has never been officially announced, having been endlessly wrapped up in debunked rumors for years. However, with Lloyd’s involvement in the video, alongside the DeLorean he arrives in, there’s a chance a viral marketing operation of this magnitude really is proof the long-awaited film is on its way to production.

There’s another point of film history that also lends credence to the fact that this might be related to an official announcement of the fourth installment. Let’s recall that the Back to the Future series’ director Robert Zemeckis perpetuated a hoax after the release of the second film, claiming in a behind-the-scenes feature that hoverboards were real and not available to the public because of safety concerns. He kept that up, making sure it was featured in the “extras” section of the trilogy DVD box set.

Whatever the purpose of this, Internet debunkers were quick to suss out the source of the video’s production. On the online portfolio site of Lauren Biedenharn — a costume designer and an artist based in Los Angeles where, as well as being the home of Hawk, Schoolboy Q, and Consentino, the video was shot — the most recent line of her resume reads, “Commercial: Back to the Future HUVR BOARDS.” Her employer and the producer of said commercial: comedy video Web site Funny Or Die.

And so it goes. Another day, another wasted 24 hours without real hoverboard technology. Let’s hope that “Back to the Future IV” is the real deal, so that the time exhausted on HUVr at least results in a much-needed Dr. Emmett Brown reprising.

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YouTube comments become a hilarious YouTube movie

February 23rd, 2014 No comments

You twerker.

Dead Parrot/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Sometimes we say things without thinking.

Then there are the times when we say things without saying anything at all.

But there are also the willfully aggressive types who steam into comments sections in order to enjoy their own particular form of Fight Club.

The problem with these so-called troll types is that their discourse doesn’t always rise to the level of minimal grace or education. Instead, there’s rabid invective, with spellings from the time of Chaucer. If you’re lucky.

Thankfully, the lighthearted souls at Dead Parrot decided they would immortalize some of the more memorable comment exchanges on YouTube, by turning them into movies.

One of the best features an exchange beneath a video entitled “Soccer Player Accidentally Slaps a Referee’s Boob.”

The two commenters enjoy the handles “Ivy Kenso” and “ShortShortDI.”

In choosing actors with expressive English voices, true gravitas is lent to what might at first seem like banal words.

“Football, you f***ing Yanks,” begins one.

What transpires brings to life the essential superiority that is necessary in being a perfectly annoying, self-righteous commenter.

“You twerker,” says one to scorn the other. “You’re stuuuupid. And I’m smart and I’m better than you,” he continues.

To see these words spat out with a face full of meanness gives them far more dramatic presence than mere words on a screen.

“Go impregnate a goat, you constipated middle class Rush-lover,” is but one more of the colorful suggestions on offer here.

“Insults, insults and more insults. Is that all you’ve got?” says his exasperated partner in this “Waiting for YouTube Godot.”

Well, yes actually.

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Tonight on reality TV: Giant asteroid just misses Earth

February 18th, 2014 No comments


Hercules better watch out. A giant meteor (labled 2000 EM26) is heading right for him!


There’s a lot of talk at the Olympics about history as athletes try to outdo their predecessors on the slopes, ice, and luge tracks in Sochi. It seems that Mother Nature herself wants to get in the game too, because She’s hurling a huge asteroid at our planet almost a year to the day a space rock, measuring 65 feet in diameter, slammed into Russia. The incident released the energy equivalent to 20-plus atomic bombs.

No life was lost in the February 15, 2013, ordeal, but it did cause injuries and significant property damage in the area.

This latest Earth-bound asteroid, named 2000 EM26 and known as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), is due to be at its closest to Earth tonight. But even at that, it will still be about 8.8 times farther away than the Earth’s moon. That’s good news because this asteroid is about 13 times as big as the one that struck Chelyabinsk. With a diameter of 885 feet, it’s approximately three football fields around and is traveling at about 27,000 mph.

But just because 2000 EM26 is going to miss Earth doesn’t mean it won’t be thrilling. If you want to watch it whiz by, tune in to, which will broadcast the near-miss starting at 6 p.m. PT. Slooh specializes in broadcasting cosmic events, often using images from its robotic telescopes at its flagship observatory on Mount Teide in the Canary Islands, which will be the source of Monday’s live stream.

The sky show will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host and astronomer Bob Berman; Slooh technical director Paul Cox; and special guest Mark Boslough, an expert on planetary impacts and global catastrophes. You can tune in either on Slooh’s Web site or by downloading an app to your
iPad. I recommend using your iPad, because in case the astronomers got it wrong and the asteroid really is going to hit Earth, you can hold it over your head as a shield.

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Learn to exercise like an astronaut

February 5th, 2014 No comments

Video screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET)

Going into space does havoc on the human body.

One of the biggest problems is muscle atrophy. When the body isn’t working against the forces of gravity to move, or even stay upright, thereby putting weight on the muscles of the legs and back, those muscles can waste away pretty quickly. To combat this, astronauts in space have to work out for two hours a day to keep their muscles in check.

As you can see in the video below of astronaut Colonel Michael Hopkins training aboard the International Space Station, it’s pretty intense.

If you’d like to be able to do what he does, Colonel Hopkins will be taking to Google+ on Thursday, February 6, at 9:15 a.m. PT to share some of his astronaut-training tips. He’ll be joined by fellow astronaut Rick Mastracchio, and the pair will be streaming from space, onboard the ISS. Joining them Earthside will be astronaut Jeanette Epps, US Olympic bobsledder Curt Tomasevicz, CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning, Houston Texans football player Jared Crick and Peter Moore of Men’s Health magazine.

To check out Colonel Hopkins’ Train Like an Astronaut program, head over to the Facebook page. You can join the Google+ Hangout here. And don’t worry if you’re not awake in time to catch it — you can submit questions via Google+ beforehand, and the video of the event will be available afterwards via NASA’s Google+ page.

(Source: Crave Australia)

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‘Iron Man’ on steroids: Step into a working ‘Appleseed’ Mecha

January 30th, 2014 No comments

Meet the wearable technology I’m most interested in this year.

Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET)

Last year, Japan’s Sagawa Electronics released a powered exoskeleton, the Powered Jacket MK3, with the potential to bring lots of our science fiction and anime fantasies to life. But somehow, being able to see the tiny and frail human at the center of the outsized metal skeleton just doesn’t seem imposing enough.

Fortunately, another Japanese company — Dai-Nihon Giken, manufacturer of lots of anime merchandise — has stepped in to fill that intimidation gap with armor designed to fit on the MK3 modeled on the Landmate power suits from Shirow Masamune’s 22nd century manga saga “Appleseed.”

The result certainly helps bring visions of a dystopic future to life. While the armor is made from urethane that isn’t likely to stop a well-thrown football, let alone a bullet, it looks slick and doesn’t get in the way of the exoskeleton’s range of movement.

You can see the whole thing in action below. It turns out to be so imposing, that the top and bottom could only be operated independently, not at the same time, due to space constraints.

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Can the Seattle Seahawks’ ’12th Man’ be a 747? Boeing says yes

January 30th, 2014 No comments

Boeing is proud of its home-team, the Seattle Seahawks. Even though its actual corporate headquarters is in Chicago.


As a San Francisco 49ers fan, it pains me to write this. As a fan of airplanes, and especially Boeing 747s, I’m a lot happier about it.

Boeing said today that to commemorate the Seattle Seahawks’ NFC championship and the team’s appearance in this Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos, it has painted one of its 747-8 freighters in Seahawks livery. The Boeing-owned plane will make its first flight with the new paint job tomorrow.

This, of course, is nothing but a bit of fun being had by the aviation giant, which though it has its corporate headquarters in Chicago, builds 747s in Everett, Wash., just a few miles up the road from Seattle, and has a long history in and around the Emerald City. Broncos fans, however, may find themselves wishing Airbus was based in the Rockies.

To commemorate the Seattle Seahawks’ appearance in the Super Bowl, Boeing painted this 747-8 freighter in Seahawks livery.


To go along with photos of the plane — which features a big “12″ on its tail, a reference to the fact that Seattle fans have come to be known as the “12th man” thanks to the record-breaking noise they make at home games — Boeing offered up a few humorous tidbits about the plane.

For example, Boeing pointed out, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s longest pass went for 80 yards — or 240 feet — almost the same length as the fuselage of a 747-8 (243.5 feet). Similarly, Wilson threw for a total of 3,357 yards (10,071 feet) during the 2013 season, just short of the 10,650 feet a 747-8 needs to take off. And, finally, a 747-8 at takeoff goes fast enough that it can cover the length of a football field in just one second.

That’s all cool, of course. But as a 49ers fan, I just can’t find myself rooting for the Seahawks. Bring on the flames, but go Broncos.

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