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A scientist built a supercomputer from gaming consoles to study black holes.  Jerryrigging level = epic.
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Here's an article about an interesting feature of the Star Trek universe:

Something that is really great about Star Trek, is that when a character notices something is amiss, and they are the only one to see it, the rest of the crew doesn't just dismiss their concerns offhand. You aren't saddled with an episode of the character trying to convince everyone else that what they saw / heard/ felt was real. Everyone else believed them right away. They've probably already started running scans, and started trying to help their friend, instead of treating them like a child.

And it never matters what character it is. Their concerns are ALWAYS valid
.

It's a spacer virtue.  In space, you can't afford to ignore little things like that.  Space will kill you if it can.

That is the default setting for most of what I write.  Sometimes there are outside or unsympathetic characters who are indifferent to someone's observations or needs, but team members consistently support each other.  More often than not, if somebody points out a problem, other characters will start working on how to solve it.
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NASA just emailed a wrench to space.

While everyone else is geeking out over the idea of emailing a wrench, I'm over here thinking, "Damn, that is a great way to save on cargo weight!  Instead of expending  massive effort to send everything astronauts might need, we can instead send a smaller amount of materials to make stuff they need, and they can make exactly what they need when they need it."  That will work for everything that can be made of currently 3D printable materials and isn't needed all the time.  Send basic high-need supplies and stuff we can't just fab up yet.  Use the 3D printer to make the rest.  Even a very small  savings in cargo weight adds up very fast.

Space just got a lot more habitable.  :D
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This article includes a soundtrack of comet sounds

I have written a poem about it, "The Singing Comet," which also fills the "magnetometry" square for the Science Bingo fest.  9 lines, Buy It Now = $5
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This poem is from the May 6, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  It also fills the "telescope" square in my 3-30-14 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest.

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 Nerve-wracking animation of an asteroid almost hitting Earth repeatedly.  This is why we need a space umbrella.
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 So these are possible.  Now consider the oodles of stars in the Milky Way and other galaxies.  If it's possible, then somewhere out there is a planet shaped like a donut.  
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In space, water doesn't pool, it floats.  That turns a spill from a nuisance into an emergency.  Don't everybody write this into your stories at the same time, but keep it in mind in case you need it.
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Here's an article about radiation exposure and its challenges to a manned Mars mission.  The proposed solution is to hasten the trip by improving propulsion.  That's a useful idea.  But it's not the only  option.  We could also seek better ways to shield people from radiation, which would be quite handy and not much more challenging than propulsion.  Or we could look for ways to boost human tolerance of radiation, which is a lot more complicated and harder to do, but again would have further benefits.

I'm in favor of exploring all  of those options.  They'd all help us get to Mars, they'd all have space-inspired benefits elsewhere in life, and if we're exploring multiple things then we'll probably find one that works sooner.
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Here's a brilliant essay about the role of outer space, or the lack thereof, in space opera.  The same applies to other branches of science fiction.  The use of Middle Earth as a counter-example from fantasy is also exceptionally apt.

What makes this challenging is that it's very difficult to convey travel itself as interesting.  The tendency is to cut to the chase, showing only the most exciting action scenes.  But you really do lose a lot that way.  So you have to find ways of revealing why and how the journey is as important as the destination, the ways in which the setting drives the plot.

Take a look at my poetic series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.  Because the setting falls between two galactic arms, you know they have relatively fast space travel.  However, it's not like teleporting; it's more akin to international relations during the Age of Sail.  It takes time to cross from the Carina-Sagittarius Arm to the Orion-Cygnus Arm; that's why the Lacuna is important and turns into a no-man's-land.  It's out of easy reach, outside the core population centers.  After the secession, the setting continues to play a major role.  The secessionists don't have a planet to live on; they're scattered across little bases and ships.  They don't have the kind of resources that most people take for granted, like having a place to grow food or dip water out of a lake.  They only have what they can bring in or recycle.  They can travel to each other but that, too, takes some time.  Space is not just a backdrop; it influences the political dynamics and other challenges the characters have to solve in order to survive.

For a fantasy comparison, look at Path of the Paladins.  Most of the action takes place in villages or towns, but there are several battlefields in the middle of nowhere, and a handful of encounters along roads or trails.  Threaded throughout are indications of how empty and damaged the world has become due to all the fighting.  This series has a slow, one step at a time approach because it focuses on the practical effects of all the heroic action that fantasy often ignores.
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A boomerang does not require gravity to do its trick, just air.  Now we know.  This is why I love science.  We can ask questions, and if the answer is, "I dunno," we can say, "Let's find out."

I really have no understanding of the people who outgrow the "Why?" phase.
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This poem came out of the April 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  The form is forked parallels, a type of Egyptian verse.



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This poem came out of the April 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from DW user Rosieknight, [livejournal.com profile] the_vulture, [livejournal.com profile] wyld_dandelyon, [livejournal.com profile] rix_scaedu, [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman, and [livejournal.com profile] janetmiles.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

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This poem is from the March 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] meeksp, [livejournal.com profile] the_vulture, and [livejournal.com profile] chordatesrock.  It also fills the "2) Lacuna" slot in the Vellum list for the Rainbowfic fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.

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 ... awesome animated view of the fireball.

NOW can we put up a space-umbrella program to deal with things like this before they sneak up and smack us in the Urals?  PUHLEEZE?

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