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File this one in the “what could have been” folder. Local classic indie rock (yes I’m using “classic” with “indie rock”) trio And The Relatives have sadly reached the end of their career… for the forseeable future, at least. I hate to say that, but it’s true. I won’t go into explicit details but a member of the band rather unexpectedly made the decision to move to California. That being said, they ARE releasing the debut album Green Machinery which they’ve been working on for the past few years; it will be out very soon on vinyl via a joint effort between Michael Eades’ YK Records and Theory 8. It will also be available digitally via their Bandcamp. You can actually go there now and preview a couple of the tracks. I’ve watched this band develop over the past few years, and it’s rather amazing how far they’ve come. I also must mention the eye candy that is the artwork and new website, designed by Eades and Kyle Scudder. I’d like to hope they will eventually reunite at least to play a show here and there, or even just to work on new recorded material… similar to the Hotpipes’ situation.

Some more random links/tidbits of interest:

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog has a series of beautiful and moving photographs from the Chilean mine rescue. I can’t imagine being trapped underground for 2 months with 32 other men, and no doubt the full psychological effects have yet to be seen. Regardless, these photographs are incredible.

T.I. apparently talked a guy out of committing suicide Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta, just a few days before he’s scheduled to go to trial on a probation violation. Good job, T.I.! Maybe the judge will go a little easier on you?

The Village Voice did a pretty cool interview with Duck Sauce (a.k.a. A-Trak and Armand Van Helden). Just go read it, and be sure to check out their new single “Barbara Streisand” for which they did this awesome came0-packed video:

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It’s been a minute since I mentioned the NASA budget/direction controversy, so here’s a bit of an update:

Lots of NASA employees and contractors in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral have launched a campaign against Obama’s budget cuts/change of direction for NASA. They are doing this because when the shuttle program winds down later this year, and the Constellation program gets ousted altogether, there won’t be nearly as many jobs in the area. That’s a legitimate concern, but in the big picture, I say it’s a necessary evil. Besides, these people are engineers, scientists, etc… they are all very smart and quite capable of finding work in other areas, maybe even for the private companies like SpaceX that will take over the duties of getting cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. I am all for Obama’s plan, because it pushes NASA to look ahead into exploring the rest of our solar system. That’s where the REAL science/discoveries happen. In reality the space shuttle is a dinosaur- it’s expensive to maintain, and it’s not safe. It has no bailout system whatsoever, so if something goes wrong (see: Challenger and Columbia), the astronauts inside are screwed. It is most definitely an impressive piece of engineering, but it’s time to move on. NASA can NOT continue spinning its wheels, never getting us past the ISS and/or low Earth orbit. NASA needs to focus its efforts/money on projects like the VASIMR plasma rocket engine, which could cut a spacecraft’s trip to Mars from 6 months to roughly 40 days. The new commercial spaceflight companies will be more than capable of handling NASA’s cargo and low Earth orbit needs much sooner than NASA could on its own via the Constellation program. End of rant.

In some happier science news, Google is developing a new thermal mirror energy system that could cut the cost of electricity to 5 cents per kWh. This would make solar thermal energy much cheaper than coal. These stations are made up of a huge array of mirrors arranged so that they create one gigantic parabolic mirror. The parabolic shape reflects all the sunlight into one point, at which a heat-collecting device is mounted (on top of a tower), which in turn heats water into steam that runs a turbine to generate power. Naturally this system is only good for areas which receive a lot of sunlight such as deserts, but if Google can make them cheap to build, they could play a big part in getting the world weened off of fossil fuels for energy production. As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t be fiddling with ways to cleanup our use of fossil fuels, we should be focusing eliminating our dependence on them altogether. (Via EcoGeek)

Finally, the earthquake that rocked Chile over the weekend may have actually shortened the length of a day. Granted the current estimate is that our day was shortened by only 1.26 milliseconds, but that’s still pretty amazing. Not only did the day shorten, but the figure axis was also offset by about 3 inches. Think of how big this planet is… that earthquake had to release an unfathomable amount of energy to actually alter its axis! (Via Space.com)

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