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Friday, April 30, 2010

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

AY DIOS MIO... Here are a couple of sexy pics (obviously an understatement) showing Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, which comes out in theaters a week from today in case you’re not a film or comic book buff, haven’t been to the cinema for the past year or so...or haven’t watched TV for the past month or so. For more images (actually, there are only two that weren't included in this entry) of Black Widow looking bad-ass , go to this website.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Images courtesy of Marvel Characters, Inc. / Paramount

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Robonaut 2 (R2) with its ominous-looking visor.

ANDROIDS... This September, NASA is planning to launch a 'special' crewmember up to the International Space Station (ISS) during the STS-133 shuttle flight. This crewmember, known as Robonaut 2—or "R2" for short—is designed to assist the ISS’ human crewmates by conducting daily chores such as setting up science experiments and wielding tools to conduct repairs. Click here for more details.

R2 pretending to train for the 'World's Strongest Man' competition.

Robonaut 2 won’t initially be given free run of the ISS...but eventually, NASA plans to have R2 use its hands to move about the orbital outpost the same way astronauts push and pull their way through the ship’s interior.

...

I expect Robonaut 2 to somehow take over the space station, HAL 9000-from-2001: A Space Odyssey-style, by this Christmas.


There's something disconcerting about the way these robots are holding those tools.  BLASTERS!

All images courtesy of NASA / General Motors

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Tobacco?

Anti-smoking TV ads crack me up. Just how many of the actors/actresses in these commercials actually lit one up while taking a break filming these ads?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A screenshot of the Hubble 'Google doodle'.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Hubble! Today marks two decades since the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched into orbit by space shuttle Discovery. HST has played such a pivotal role in presenting the cosmos to the world throughout the years that even Google is honoring the occasion (above)...

A Hubble Space Telescope image of the Carina Nebula...which is located 7,500 light-years from Earth.
NASA / ESA / M. Livio & Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

The photo above is of the Carina Nebula, which is located 7,500 light-years from Earth. The image was taken last February using HST’s Wide Field Camera 3...a new science instrument that was installed by space shuttle astronauts during flight STS-125 last year. Speaking of STS-125, don’t forget to check out that awesome IMAX film Hubble 3D (which focuses on NASA's final servicing mission to the space telescope) while it’s still in theaters. Check out the trailer below.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Atlas V rocket carrying the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on April 22, 2010.
Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

The X-37B lifts off... At 4:52 PM, Pacific Daylight Time yesterday, the Atlas V rocket carrying the experimental Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) launched on a flawless flight into Earth orbit...beginning what could be a 9-month mission to test out new technologies the U.S. Air Force would use in its quest to maintain superiority in space. Just joking about that one. Seriously though, one wonders what the USAF has up its sleeves if and when the OTV program is declared operational...assuming this current mission obviously concludes successfully, of course.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the OTV is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on April 22, 2010.
Craig Rubadoux / Florida Today

What will the X-37B eventually be used for? If you one day read in the newspaper that a volley of small but very explosive warheads suddenly dropped out of the sky and obliterated targets in North Korea and/or Iran (as speculated upon in my previous entry), then you’ll know the answer.


Just being facetious.

A graphic illustrating the OTV's specifications...courtesy of SPACE.com.
Karl Tate / SPACE.com

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) is prepped for launch at a Boeing Phantom Works facility in California.
U.S. Air Force

THIS EVENING, an Atlas V rocket carrying an experimental U.S. Air Force spaceplane is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Not much is known about its mission, but what is known is that the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) was originally the brainchild of NASA before it was taken over by the USAF in 2006 after NASA scrapped the program because of a lack of funding.

Artist concept of the OTV in Earth orbit, as originally envisioned by NASA.
Boeing Phantom Works

Other things that are known about the X-37B is that it is designed to stay in orbit for up to 270 days (or 9 months), receive electricity from a small solar array that will be unfurled from the vehicle once it is in space (as opposed to running on fuel cells like those used on NASA's space shuttle orbiters), test out surveillance and satellite-repair techniques and possibly carry special weapons, most likely nuclear, that it can deploy over targets in North Korea and Iran. Just kidding about that 'special weapons' part... Or am I?

Computer-generated image showing the OTV re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
NASA

At the end of its flight, the OTV will glide in for a touchdown at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California or the space shuttle’s back-up landing site at Edwards Air Force Base (also in California). What the USAF does next with the OTV remains to be seen. Actually, click here for more details on the X-37B's future.

Attached to a Scaled Composites' White Knight aircraft, the OTV undergoes a flight test in this NASA file photo.
NASA

The OTV undergoes launch preparations in this Boeing file photo.
Boeing Phantom Works

The OTV is shown inside its Atlas V payload fairing during encapsulation, ahead of its April 2010 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
USAF

The OTV is shown inside its Atlas V payload fairing during encapsulation, ahead of its April 2010 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
USAF

The OTV is shown inside its Atlas V payload fairing during encapsulation, ahead of its April 2010 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Boeing Phantom Works

The Atlas V rocket carrying the OTV rolls out to Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on April 21, 2010.
Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

A close-up of the X-37B's mission logo on the side of the Atlas V rocket's payload fairing.
Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

The Atlas V rocket carrying the OTV rolls out to Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on April 21, 2010.
Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

The Atlas V rocket arrives at SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on April 21, 2010.
Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

The OTV is seen on a runway during flight tests in this USAF file photo.
USAF

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lightning envelops a plume of ash that comes out of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, on April 19, 2010.
Vilhelm Gunnarsson / EPA

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... MSNBC.com posted these images showing the volcano Eyjafjallajokull spewing out a plume of ash and creating a so-called "dirty thunderstorm" in Iceland. Pretty awesome...unless, of course, you live anywhere in Europe and were planning to fly out of the continent for vacation. Anyways, these pics show how reality can be more interesting than fiction sometimes. In the Lord of the Rings movies, Mt. Doom would’ve looked a whole lot cooler if you saw lightning shoot out of the ash cloud across the skies above Mordor (and striking Frodo and Sam on the ground in the process...seriously injuring the two Hobbits. Hah). Or, you would see Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to dodge lightning from above as they engaged in that climactic lightsaber duel on planet Mustafar in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. You dropped the ball there, Peter Jackson and George Lucas.

Lightning envelops a plume of ash that comes out of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, on April 19, 2010.
Vilhelm Gunnarsson / EPA

One last thing: When was this volcano given the name Eyjafjallajokull? It would make sense if it was recently (obviously not)...seeing as how it sounds like someone just randomly pressed a bunch of buttons on a keyboard to come up with this weird moniker. Whatever.

Lightning envelops a plume of ash that comes out of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, on April 18, 2010.
Nordicphotos / Getty Images Contributor

Lightning envelops a plume of ash that comes out of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, on April 17, 2010.
Ragnar Th Sigurdsson / www.arctic-images.com

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick-Ass confronts a group of thugs in KICK-ASS.

KICK-ASS... I saw the satirical comic book flick this weekend, and all I can say is...Kick-Ass kicked ass! I could care less about what people are saying about Hit Girl, she f***in’ rocks! One of my co-workers who I watched the movie with yesterday pointed out how some people are objecting to that scene where she’s dressed up as a schoolgirl (since Hit Girl is around 11-years-old in the movie)...because it makes her look like a sex object. Um, really? Hit Girl says the word c**t, uses profanity left-and-right, stabs people left-and-right, and blows people’s brains out with a Glock left-and-right, and the schoolgirl outfit is what people are taking issue with the most? Um...okay.

Hit Girl beats the crap out of a mob boss in KICK-ASS.

A lot of you will probably be asking why I think Hit Girl is awesome despite her doing the despicable things mentioned above, but that’s what makes Kick-Ass an amusing film. The title character of the movie is portrayed as some douchie punk teenager who constantly gets his ass kicked whenever he dons his green superhero outfit, and yet here comes this little girl clad in bulletproof attire, using night vision goggles during a gun battle and fights in a way that would remind you of The Matrix or a number of Japanese anime that The Matrix was ripped off from. Oh, and her dad (Big Daddy) is what Chris Nolan’s Batman would be like if he actually decided to use guns (and made an intentionally poor but hilarious Adam West impersonation). It just comes to show you that someone can become a superhero in the real world if they had the right equipment (RE: firearms and body armor) and amazing fighting skills. Haha. Of course, the short answer for why I find nothing wrong with Hit Girl is that Kick-Ass is a friggin' dark comedy. Get over it.

Red Mist shows up out of nowhere in KICK-ASS.

Will I buy Kick-Ass on DVD? You bet. Will I buy the Kick-Ass film score (I don't care what my co-worker thinks, the music was cool)? If it was available on CD—yes. Do I think Lyndsy Fonseca is as hot in this movie as she was in the recent film Hot Tube Time Machine? You bet again. Oh, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse was as much a dork playing Red Mist as he was being McLovin in 2007’s Superbad. That was a compliment. Later.

At his house, Kick-Ass is visited by Hit Girl and her father, Big Daddy in KICK-ASS.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

An artist concept of the IKAROS solar sail...floating near Earth.

IKAROS... One month from today, a uniquely-designed spacecraft built by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center to embark on a groundbreaking flight that will test a new form of propulsion in deep space. Known as the Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun, or IKAROS (as in the Greek figure, Icarus), this probe will use light from the Sun to propel it through the inner solar system. IKAROS will launch into space onboard a rocket that’s carrying another robotic craft named Akatsuki...which will enter orbit around Venus and study the greenhouse planet after Akatsuki arrives there this December (assuming it launches as scheduled at 2:44 PM, Pacific Daylight Time, on May 17).

The IKAROS spacecraft inside a clean room at JAXA's Sagamihara Campus.

While the Akatsuki spacecraft will spend its entire life circling Venus, the IKAROS solar sail will fly pass this world and venture around the Sun. Its giant sail will be able to be adjusted in ways that allow it to steer through the vacuum of space...by controlling how much sunlight is reflected off a given area on the sail’s polyimide surface, and thus allowing IKAROS to change direction in flight. Where IKAROS will end up at the end of its voyage remains to be seen...but if this mission is successful, JAXA might ultimately send a much larger solar sail (complete with an ion engine, just like the one used onboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and JAXA’s Earth-bound Hayabusa probe) to Jupiter and nearby Trojan asteroids by the end of this decade.

The IKAROS solar sail (lower-left) and Akatsuki spacecraft (upper-right) inside a clean room at JAXA's Sagamihara Campus.

Akatsuki and IKAROS (plus 3 smaller satellite payloads) will lift off towards Venus on an H-IIA rocket, which is the same launch vehicle that sent JAXA’s successful Kaguya spacecraft to the Moon in 2007. Below is a video that highlights the IKAROS mission. Unless you speak Japanese, just leave the computer speakers off and pay attention to the images. You’ll still get the gist of what this groundbreaking flight is all about by watchin 'em.




All images and video courtesy of JAXA

Thursday, April 15, 2010

With a space shuttle main engine and an Orion capsule mock-up behind him, President Obama makes a speech about his plans for NASA at Kennedy Space Center, on April 15, 2010.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

OBAMA VISITS THE SPACE COAST... Earlier today, the President flew down to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to make a speech about his new plans for NASA. In his speech, Obama talked about how he wanted U.S. astronauts to visit an asteroid by 2025, finally get to Mars by the 2030s, continue to promote private companies like SpaceX to launch cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS), convert the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle into an ISS lifeboat instead (rather than canceling Orion as previously planned), and authorizing NASA to finalize a new design for a heavy-lift launch vehicle (HLV) by 2015.

...

2015. What I find funny about this is that Obama wants NASA to finalize the design of the HLV a little more than one year before the President would complete a 2nd term in the Oval Office (assuming he got one). So even if NASA does design a new rocket that would efficiently and cheaply take astronauts out of low Earth orbit again, the space agency would be at the mercy of yet another White House administration that would make even more drastic (RE: crappy) changes to the U.S. space program by early 2017...and scrap the HLV and any other thing NASA will try to get done once the space shuttle program ends this year.

Awesome.

During Obama's visit, Air Force One is parked at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility, on April 15, 2010.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A surreal shot of space shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station (ISS), on April 13, 2010.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... These four pics were taken by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who is currently part of the 6-person crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS). If you want to see more awesome images taken by Noguchi in orbit (using the newly-installed Cupola viewport), visit his Twitter page.

The ISS flies over an aurora while orbiting the dark side of the Earth, on April 6, 2010.  The Moon looms in the background.

The photo at the top of this entry (taken yesterday) shows a surreal shot of space shuttle Discovery docked to the ISS. The pic directly above (taken on April 6) shows the ISS passing over an aurora while orbiting the dark side of the Earth...with the Moon looming in the background. The shot below (taken on April 2) shows the ISS flying from an aurora a few days before. The two capsules seen are Russian-made Progress and Soyuz spacecraft. The final image (taken on April 5) shows the ISS flying away from another aurora the day before. The Progress spacecraft is visible.

With Russian-made Progress and Soyuz vehicles in the foreground, the ISS flies away from an aurora, on April 2, 2010.

With a Russian-made Progress vehicle in the foreground, the ISS flies away from an aurora, on April 5, 2010.

All images courtesy of Soichi Noguchi / Twitter.com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

24 logo.
ON LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE... Good grief— This is the second week in a row where 'The Jack Bauer Power Hour' concluded with a silent clock. Jack sure can't catch a break...

Jack Bauer and Renee Walker share a moment on '24'.