Today I found a smattering of random links worth posting.

Google announced that they’re going to be developing a “Google Chrome OS”… basically a whole new open-source operating system for notebooks. As a Mac user I’ve yet to experience the Google Chrome web browser (it’s not available for Mac), so I don’t really know what to expect here. (Via Yewknee)

yazoologo02Nashville brewers Yazoo are going to be re-locating to the Gulch neighborhood next year. The new facility will allow the company to produce 4 times as much beer, which means they’ll be able to expand distribution to several neighboring states. They’ll also have a taproom at the new location, with the same hours they have now plus the possibility of opening a full-on pub if the demand is there. I must say I’ll miss the charm of the current taproom in the old Marathon Motor Works building, but it’s good to see a local brewery doing so well. (Via Bites/Nashville Scene)

In other local news, Nashvillest has a sexy new look to their website. Go check it out. I also found some disturbing news while exploring said new look- even though GM rid itself of Hummer, the brand still exists and it was bought by a Chinese machinery manufacturing company, and thus the Hummer executives need a new HQ. Unfortunately it looks like Franklin could be it. Honestly though, they’d fit right in, what with Nissan HQ there and the GM plant just down the road in Spring Hill. Why won’t these things just die? More at the Tennessean article.

Science is getting closer and closer to making invisibility possible. A new breakthrough in metamaterial technology may soon allow one to see through solid steel, or even become invisible. Furthermore, one could make one object look like another. The example they use is making a cup look like a spoon. The cup is sitting there, but when you look at it through a layer of the special metamaterial, you would see a spoon. One of the biggest applications that I can see with this technology would be in spaceships. The scientists behind this research say that it would be possible to make an otherwise opaque material transparent. This would eliminate the need for traditional windows on a spaceship- you could just install one of these devices made of metamaterials on a solid aluminum (or other metal) hull, which is much safer than cutting a hole in the hull to install a glass window, which is much more susceptible to the inevitable impacts from micro-meteors and other space junk. (Via NewScientist)

It’s pretty obvious that hydrogen is fuel of the future. It’s the most abundant element in the universe, and when it’s burned the only byproduct is pure water. Even though it’s abundant, it’s still hard to make here on earth. Up until now the best way was through electrolysis of water, but that’s very expensive, so unfortunately most of it today is made from fossil fuels, which kind of defeats the whole purpose (to get away from fossil fuels!). But that may be changing. Researchers at Ohio University found a way to make it from urea, which is the main compound in urine. Crazy eh? It’s not the most practical idea, but it could be made practical eventually… (Via EcoGeek)

Foxes… dinosaurs… robots.

February 19, 2009

Science first today. Then we’ll get to the funny stuff.

In some really depressing news, the Space Shuttle Mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope one last time may be in serious jeopardy. That satellite collision last week, which you’ve undoubtedly heard about by now, was in the same general orbit level of Hubble, and the debris from the collision significantly increases the likelihood of a debris strike during the servicing mission to unacceptable odds. NASA estimates that the chance for a debris impact will be about 1 in 185, which is over their threshold of 1 in 200. Even a tiny piece of metal the size of a pea or even smaller could do serious damage to an astronaut’s space suit during a spacewalk, and since there were 5 spacewalks planned to service Hubble, well… you can see where this is going. The good news is, they’re pretty sure the International Space Station is not at much risk for impact from the debris, because its orbit is much lower than that of satellites. It’s just beyond the outer edges of earth’s atmosphere, which means there are just enough air molecules floating around to put a slight drag on any space junk at that orbit level, thus said space junk burns up relatively faster than junk at higher orbits. Thus, low earth orbit stays comparatively clear of debris.

Space.com reports on how the discovery of alien life could impact society. According to the article, a panel of scientists sponsored by the SETI Institute and the NASA Astrobiology Institute recently met over 3 days to discuss this and come up with a basic outline of what impacts they thought such discovery could have on human society.

Very good news for Hummer-haters (myself included!): The Tennessean reports that GM has announced that it will discontinue or sell the Hummer brand by March 31st. Let’s hope it’s the former, not the latter. In my opinion, there is no greater symbol of the wasteful and inefficient extravangance that helped get us into this economic shitstorm than the Hummer. Good riddance!

Remember my post about the movie Coraline from a week or two ago? At the time I was unclear as to the extent of They Might Be Giants’ contribution to the soundtrack. Well, turns out that 28-second jingle that plays through one of the TV trailers is it. Stereogum reports that they did some other material for the movie that got canned, because in the end it turned out not to be “dark” enough.

Dinosaurs fucking robots. Via iO9.

Foxes jumping on a trampoline. Via Yewknee.

Need I say anything else?