Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mars Needs Moms…and Dads and Kids

March 11 will see the release of Mars Needs Moms, a computer-animated Disney movie based on the children’s book by Berkeley Breathed.  I’ve read the book to my children, and look forward to taking them to see the adaptation.  It will be interesting to see if a film based on a 700-odd word story can stand on its own, or if it will be an afternoon wasted, a la The Polar Express.

Of course, I’m hoping for the former.  Even if realism is out the window, anything that gets the next generation interested in Mars is a good thing.  What I’d really like to see, however, is some realistic Hollywood fare to get kids excited about Mars.  In the Shadow of Ares would be a great place to start.

After all, Mars really needs humans.

Roadkill

Bookseller Borders filed for bankruptcy yesterday.  That was hardly a surprise, and neither was the following:

Its inability to garner significant online business and its near absence from the growing digital book market have made it difficult for Borders to keep up with Barnes & Noble and online retailer Amazon.com Inc.  [emphasis added]

Really?  We’ve had requests to make In the Shadow of Ares available on Borders’ KoBo reader, but decided not to.  In addition to having a platform that was significantly more difficult to use than those of Amazon or B&N, Borders had higher set-up fees and lower royalties.

Looks like the future is here already, and you can get on board or get run over.

Coming Soon: Smaller Nukes?

Does the forecast nuclear renaissance include smaller nukes?  The folks at NuScale Power in Oregon seem to think so:  Small Nuclear Ready for Big Splash.  I’m a strong supporter of nuclear power, but disagree that small nukes will be practical for electric generation anytime in the foreseeable future.  At least on Earth…

In the Shadow of Ares includes what we consider technically achievable near-term Mars settlements, meaning ones heavily dependent on nuclear power.  Solar will play a role, but most other terrestrial power sources will have no relevance.  What too many humans today irrationally fear on Earth will be indispensable as we open up a new world.

Life Imitates Art: MAs and 5G

While looking at upgrading to a 4G phone/hotspot combo this afternoon I got to wondering if there was a “5G” in the works. It turns out there isn’t, exactly, but there are a few hints on the Wikipedia page on what that wireless standard might include when it emerges around 2020:

* Pervasive networks providing ubiquitous computing: The user can simultaneously be connected to several wireless access technologies and seamlessly move between them (See Media independent handover or vertical handover, IEEE 802.21, also expected to be provided by future 4G releases). These access technologies can be 2.5G, 3G, 4G, or 5G mobile networks, Wi-Fi, WPAN, or any other future access technology. In 5G, the concept may be further developed into multiple concurrent data transfer paths.

* Cognitive radio technology, also known as smart-radio: allowing different radio technologies to share the same spectrum efficiently by adaptively finding unused spectrum and adapting the transmission scheme to the requirements of the technologies currently sharing the spectrum. This dynamic radio resource management is achieved in a distributed fashion, and relies on software defined radio. See also the IEEE 802.22 standard for Wireless Regional Area Networks.

* Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6), where a visiting care-of mobile IP address is assigned according to location and connected network.

* High altitude stratospheric platform station (HAPS) systems.

* Real wireless world with no more limitation with access and zone issues.

* Wearable devices with AI capabilities.

* One unified global standard.

    Hmm…that “wearable devices with AI capabilities” business sounds awfully familiar…

    Given that new wireless communications “generations” come out approximately every ten years, the standard that emerges around 2050 — “8G” — ought to be pretty impressive.

    Concept Art

    While rooting around in a desk drawer this evening, I came across a bunch of sketches of our early concepts from 2002-2003 for several locations and bits of hardware for In the Shadow of Ares. It’s surprising how similar most of them were to what ended up in the book — and that only one specific setting ended up not making it.

    If I can get some time this weekend, I’ll scan them in, and in the case of the MA add a sketch of what the original concept morphed into over time.

    Amber’s Mission

    Last week marked the anniversaries of the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia accidents.  Those old enough to remember one or more of those tragedies recall the feelings of shock and sadness.  Eventually we moved on, however, recommitting ourselves to the noble endeavor of manned space exploration.

    But what if a spacecraft vanished without a trace?  And what if, decades later, you had the chance to solve a mystery that most had given up on, even if they hadn’t forgotten?  That’s the challenge facing 14-year-old Amber Jacobsen:

    There was an ocean of data from the Ares missions and the subsequent exploration and settlement of the planet…surely there was some clue, something that had been missed.  She looked up at the portraits again.  What if it was right in front of everyone, and they couldn’t see it, because they were still thinking like Earthers? 

    But shewasn’t an Earther.  She looked around the cabin at the memorials to the Ares III crew.  Mars was her world, the only one she’d ever known.  If something had been missed, maybe she could see it.  Why shouldn’t she be the one to find the truth? “I’ll do it.”

    “What’s that?”  Aaron had drifted over to the other side of the cabin.

    “Find out what happened.  You know, figure it out.  I’m gonna do it.”