But machines aren't creatures. They aren't individual organisms able to reproduce or even repair themselves. Adding such capabilities would be technically difficult, but also fundamentally stupid, since it would vastly increase their cost. People don't want to pay for even the simplest self-repair like… » 12/21/14 8:48pm Yesterday 8:48pm

So Jamieson has just found a new record for the pressure that life can live under! That's really basic biochemistry, and could lead anywhere. It's sad that he has to work so hard to justify such research, especially when it costs so little and gets such immediate returns. » 12/20/14 1:05pm Saturday 1:05pm

You've got to get the CO2 into the surface rocks somehow. There's no hope of getting the ~2 quintillion tonnes of CO2 off the planet, even if you smash a comet into it. That would spray debris all over the solar system anyhow. Maybe crack open the crust with a LOT of nuclear weapons, and let the magma soak it up, as… » 12/19/14 6:45pm Friday 6:45pm

Parade raining time. 3D printing gets even more hype than nanotech, and for less reason. Consider a plastic socket wrench. How much torque can it actually apply to a metal nut before stripping? And do you think that in all of the $100B spent on the ISS no one ever included a $10 socket wrench set, or even an… » 12/19/14 6:21pm Friday 6:21pm

Michael Nesmith gets big coolness points for backing this! I had no idea that the leader of the ultra-square Monkees had done so much interesting stuff afterwards. Apparently he had to buy his way out of his Monkees contract, and was broke for years until he inherited the fortune that his mother made by inventing… » 12/19/14 9:26am Friday 9:26am

I blame Hollywood. Every single cop show and movie has them roughing up suspects to get information, and no one bats an eye. In reality, that immediately taints any evidence you might get, and they would lose the case. Unless, of course, the suspect is black. » 12/17/14 12:38pm Wednesday 12:38pm

The High Temperature Accelerant (HTA) Arsonist. There was a series of fires in industrial buildings in Seattle in the 1980s, all marked by bright white lights and copious smoke. The fires were so hot that the buildings would go into flashover (all organic material ignites), and contained melted steel girders and… » 12/15/14 1:30pm 12/15/14 1:30pm

Those are large numbers, but are not really that large proportionally. So we need to install 50*90M solar arrays? That's 4.5B arrays, less than one per person over the next 50 years. That's a problem why? The price mentioned in the article, $15K for a 2.1 kW array is already off by a factor of 3. And of course they… » 12/15/14 2:55pm 12/15/14 2:55pm

We haven't gone back because space really is the most hostile environment human beings have ever tried to explore. It costs about $1 billion a year to support a person on the ISS, versus $500,000 a year in Antarctica. And Low Earth Orbit is still pretty friendly compared to being outside the Van Allan belts, where the… » 12/13/14 10:52am 12/13/14 10:52am

I've actually seen the world's longest play, the 24-hour "The Warp" by Neil Oram. This was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1979. They took over an abandoned movie theater, stripped out all the seats, and built sets around the walls. The actors would walk from one to the other to change scenes. At one point the… » 12/11/14 8:21pm 12/11/14 8:21pm

Mike Davis is a Marxist, but he's also an acute social critic, particularly of the culture of southern California. His book "Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster" is right over the plate for Ballard, since it talks about the looming dread that rather inexplicably lies behind the cheery LA… » 12/11/14 8:53pm 12/11/14 8:53pm