T-Rex is for the birds

The Guardian Unlimited is reporting the best evidence to date that the mean and nasty T-Rex might have had a nice coat of... feathers.

Dilong is the most primitive of the tyrannosaurid family found so far. But what shook the discoverers was that the region's unique volcanic ash and sandy muds preserved not just the skeleton but also some soft tissue - and the first direct evidence that tyrannosaurs had feathers, or at least branching structures an inch long called protofeathers.

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Stay tuned...

I've been leaning on Evo to get some anime reviews on this site. Joe does the books and I try to chip in and help the Murphy-meister out when and where I can, and the same can be said for Joe with the movie reviews when I can't get out to the theatre. But Evo and I have been talking anime for a long time and yet we haven't made it happen.

Well, get ready, we're going to be adding the Japanese import into the "Reviews" section of DragonPage.com, and the first anime reviewed is the recently released Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the series based on the innovative animation epic, Ghost in the Shell.

If you want to suggest any titles you'd like to see reviewed or think needs some attention, feel free to drop me an e-mail and suggest a title.   [Read more...]

Ten days and counting...

Hey, everyone! Answering Herbal Hippie-boy's challenge, I wanted to make a posting of my own sounding the call to all Scapers out there who may or may not know that Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is a T-minus ten days and counting!

And do you think that the folks at Skiffy are just banging their heads against a wall somewhere, thinking "Why won't this mistake go away?!" The claim from their executive suit, Bonnie "I Need a Whack to the Head with a" Hammer that no one was watching the show...and yet Farscape is not only gaining momentum since its cancellation, it's featured on the cover of this month's Starlog and enjoying some seriously cool promotion on Apple.com's movie trailers website, listing FS:TPW as an independent film!

Can I get a Frell Yeah?!

Click on this link -- FS:TPW -- for the ass-kicking trailer and if you need to catch up, tune in between 8am-4pm as Skiffy backpedals and runs an incredible marathon of EVERY frelling Farscape episode. When I last tuned in, it was "Look at the Princess" so we are still early into the series.

Never forget. Crackers still matter.   [Read more...]

While I'm away...

I'm outta here for two days. And since the other kids involved with this site still haven't stepped up and started posting, chances are you're on your own.

While I'm gone, check out these two sites for your science fiction news:

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Searching for space


Google
just got a whole lot cooler in my book, paying homage to the SpaceShipONE launch today with this graphic. It'll be gone tomorrow, so in the event you don't visit Google a thousand times a day like I do...   [Read more...]

7-Up to give away the first ticket to space

I'm still watching the webcast on the X-Prize. The spokesperson for 7-Up (didn't catch her name, didn't think it mattered until now) just announced plans to give away the first first ticket to space - FREE. Details won't be be announced until 2005, but I predict a HUGE RUN on 7-UP. Buy stock now...   [Read more...]

XPrize Cup!

Now that the award has been... awarded, what's next for the X Prize and the privatization of space? Howabout the X Prize Cup! It's a 10 day event that happens every year (dates TBD) in New Mexico.

Awarding the $10,000,000 ANSARI XPRIZE is not the end, but the beginning of an annual event called the X PRIZE CUP. Think of it as a cross between Champ Grand Prix racing, the America's Cup, and the Olympics!

An event where the average person can come and watch the next generations of space vehicles fly, where they can talk to the astronuts, see the vehicles up close, learn about the technology, and begin to dissolve the myth that they will never travel to space in their lifetime.

Here at The Dragon Page, we're taking donations from our listeners to support this foundation. If we can raise $10,000, the X Prize Cup (think Stanley Cup, minus the ice) will be engraved with the name of the show! We hope you'll donate a small amount of money and help us get there!   [Read more...]

Texans bow out of the race, but plan on pressing on

John Carmack and the boys at Armadillo Aerospace are conceding defeat most graciously:

We gave up our last glimmer of hope to have a vehicle ready after the August 8 test flight crash... Realistically, we fell out of the running when we had to give up on 90% peroxide due to the lack of availability...?

We recognized a year ago that the odds weren't looking good, so we haven't pushed on the launch license and launch site work, because both of those are likely to get easier in the next year or two, and it wasn't worth spending the time and money on them without a good shot at the X-Prize payoff.

With a few better decisions early on, maybe another day a week of work, and about a million dollars more thrown at the site and license problem, we probably could have done it this year.? We'll see if we have a 100km vehicle well tested by this time next year?

Assuming they can pull themselves away from Doom.   [Read more...]

He who comes in second is the first loser

The Canucks at the GoldenPalace.com Powered by the Davinci Project may be out of the $10MM prize, but managed to show up for the launch today at Mojave. According to pilot Brian Feeney (pictured here in his neat-o racing-hybrid flight suit like some misplaced con-goer,) they fully intend on launching within the month of October, money or no money...   [Read more...]

X2 - Check please...

Burt and the boys at Scaled Compsites are at it again this morning. I'm watching the webcast again, and we're about 5 minutes from separation of SpaceShipONE from the White Knight.

They've got a new pilot this time, Brian Binnie, and he's just reconfigured. I'll post more as it happens.

UPDATE 7:51
We're off, and already at over 200,000 feet and just shut off the engine... No ROLL!

UPDATE 7:53
Feather manuver complete, at 362,000 plus and climbing... IN SPACE!

UPDATE 7:54
Apogee was reached at 368,000 feet (unofficially), and he's pinwheeling back down to earth. Gravity. It's not just a good idea... it's the law.

UPDATE 7:56
They are going to COMMERCIAL? Holy Shit! Oh wait... nah, just for those watching the network broadcast. Not the webcast! Goody. We've still got feed...

UPDATE 7:58
The tail has been reconfigured, back to the locked glider mode. Unsure of the alititude, but things look picture perfect on the webcast. Lots of happy noises coming from those folks watching today at the Mojave Spaceport

UPDATE 8:06
Chase planes are checking out SpaceShipONE as it glides back down...

UPDATE 8:07
17,000 feet. We should have the craft on the ground in less than five minutes.

UPDATE 8:12
Brian just said "Goodby Canda". Now that's funny! Landing gear down at 4,200 feet.

UPDATE 8:13
Wheels down. Brian Binnie, the second private astronaut in human history, has returned. After a few gauges and dialed are checked, some rich folks are handing over a check of $10MM to Burt and crew. Oh, and Brian has to survive for 24 hours. How ironic would THAT be? 🙂   [Read more...]

Canadian X-Prize contenders PR work

With almost assured victory to go to the crew of SpaceShipONE and Scaled Composites, it's raised certain serious concerns on whether or not the other teams intend to finish. For the Canucks, it's a question of did they ever plan on finishing or not:

Some people have suggested our throwing our hat in was a Golden Palace media ploy. Not in the least. This is a serious effort with a lot of dedicated people working long days, 7 days a week. We've come a long way in a short period of time. The folks at Golden Palace.com we're in the shop last week and are committed to the project through the 2 flights even if the X Prize is won. If Burt is successful in his second flight and wins the x prizeprior to us completing our flights, we will still fly and do so a soon as safely can be done. Our time frame is still inside October.

More info on the XPrize News site   [Read more...]

Cloning infested cats?

Now here's a story from the Boston Herald that sheds new light on the intricacies of cloning:

Cat Lady Heidi Erickson wants to clone her doomed colony of 42 ringworm-ravaged Persians before the state euthanizes and incinerates them...

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eBook discussed

Cruising around on BoingBoing today and saw a link to this piece on eBooks from Asimov's:

I should say here that I have long been one of those saurians who disliked reading for pleasure from a computer screen. But a couple of months ago, for reasons too boring to mention, I popped for a personal digital assistant (PDA), mostly to keep track of appointments and addresses when I was away from my desk. As it happened, shortly after I made the buy, I went to Florida to attend the International Conference on the Fantastic and to soak up some rays. On a whim, I loaded some ebooks into my new gadget. By the time I got off the plane in Fort Lauderdale I'd fallen in love with my PDA as a reading device. Yes, the screen is smallish but I can change the font at will. Maybe it isn't exactly ideal for the beach because direct light washes out the backlit screen, but my days of sunbathing are over and this thing is made in the shade. Often as not it's my book of choice for bedtime reading. And if my wife wants to turn in, we can douse all the lights and I can read from that cheerily lit screen.

I'm a huge fan of eBooks and have been converting Mike. They have arrived (though I still have plenty of dead trees laying around...)   [Read more...]

A smarter IRS?

Not in this country. But in Sweden, a newborn baby boy has had his name (Superman) rejected by the tax authorities:

The parents wanted their son to be named after the cartoon superhero because they say he was born with one arm pointing upwards, the position Superman flies in.

The local tax authorities said 'no', arguing the name could lead to the boy being subjected to ridicule in later life.

Barring the free-will issue, can I get a "no shit?"   [Read more...]

Spaceballs 2

Mel Brooks says that he's currently working on a Spaceballs sequel.   [Read more...]

X1 Launch

While I couldn't be at the Mojave SpacePort today, I'm sitting here watching the webcast of the White Knight and SpaceShipONE launch this morning.

The Canucks at The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project (yeah, that's their full name) announced that it has put its October 2nd planned flight to space in pursuit of the Ansari X PRIZE on hold. Why? See above...

UPDATE 8:35 PST
Wheels down. The first civilian funded, built and piloted space craft has returned from another successful flight into space. Let's do it again Monday and watch Mike Melville take home the ANSARI X PRIZE for Burt Rutan and Scaled Compsites!

UPDATE 8:18 PST
Sonic boom heard on the ground.

UPDATE 8:17 PST
Mike is reconfiguring for flight, wings down and locked. It's on a smooth glide back to the spaceport at Mojave.

UPDATE 8:16 PST
Bumpy ride on the way back down... unpowered and at mach 3! But everything looks good.

UPDATE 8:13 PST
Roll has been controlled... THEY ARE AT 338,000 FEET! That's space!

UPDATE 8:12 PST
Engine shut down after 38 74 seconds... he's in a roll. Oh shit... but still climbing

UPDATE 8:12 PST
The candle is lit! Headed for space...

UPDATE 8:04 PST
Separation in eight minutes...

UPDATE 7:13 PST
White Knight has left the ground with SpaceShipONE tucked safely underneath. Damn this is cool...   [Read more...]