Monday, April 29, 2013

Random Tech Bits

This should be an interesting project to watch. SpaceX is working on rocket called the "Grasshopper" which is capable of returning back to the launchpad after being fired...vertically.

Here are a couple of other assorted Mars-related videos. One on settling the Red Planet and another about rovers.

In this video, Scott Nicholson holds an in-depth discussion on modern game board design. This has applications not only to board games but to video games as well.

And finally, here is a brief discussion in MIT Technology Review as to what might be holding 3-D printing back from widespread adoption.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Yet Another Corridors Update, Part II

After a long delay, I can finally announce some release dates for Corridors, as well as give you an idea of what the cover will look like. If all goes well, the paperback version will be available via Lulu by Tuesday, April 30th. The Kindle/ePub versions will be available on May 17th. I will also run some paperback giveaways over at Goodreads and perhaps a giveaway or two over on LibraryThing.

So far the book has been described as being "like the Twilight Zone". It contains fourteen stories in all and their titles can be found in this post. It covers an immense amount of science fiction ground, from a Martian transport train to dome cities on the Moon to a story that takes place during the Millennium ("Cities of the Plain"). There are electronic insect battles, robotic ants, mind-transfer experiments, and lots more.

This brings me to the cover. There is quite a bit going on in this illustration, and I was surprised that the cover artist incorporated so many story ideas into it (eight or nine out of the fourteen). I added the Twilight Zone style lettering because the stories go in so many different directions. As you can imagine, I'm having a difficult time trying to come up with decent back cover copy for this collection.

If this isn't enough, there is another book on the way that I've talked about in previous posts (Fractal Standard Time). The stories in that collection are tightly interlinked, however. For those that read "The Mines of Mars, Part I" (found in Corridors) there is a corresponding story, "The Mines of Mars, Part II", which will be found in Fractal Standard Time.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Ordinary Thread

What's stronger than steel, highly conductive, yet can act like a textile fiber?

Carbon nanotubes.

This is one of those fields that is growing by leaps and bounds all the time. There are a few videos out there on this topic...for example, here and here are videos showing the process of spinning carbon nanotube threads as if they were yarn.

Like so many other things nanotech, carbon nanotubes have all sorts of unusual properties. Some of the potential applications may one day include stronger-than-steel cables, space elevators, and improvements in lightweight armor.

One of the more intriguing developments seems to be in the area of circuits. For years, the idea of Moore's Law has been discussed, but there are also inherent limitations with silicon chips in terms of size. Now there is research being done on carbon nanotube circuits...and one of those articles can be found here. IBM is working on chips that contain carbon nanotube transistors (instead of silicon transistors). That article can be found here.

Regarding textile applications, however, this type of technology could see uses in tear-resistant fabrics, water-resistant fabrics, body armor and even fire protection. Now if they could make a lightweight thread that keeps buttons from popping off of pants and jackets, I'm all for it.