NASA's next exoplanet-hunting space telescope has arrived in Florida, two months ahead of its planned launch. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was delivered via truck to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Monday (Feb. 12), agency officials said. The spacecraft made the journey from the Dulles, Virginia, facilities of the aerospace company Orbital ATK, which had spent the last year building and testing TESS. TESS is scheduled to lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than April 16 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next door to KSC. The spacecraft will then spend at least two years studying more than 200,000 of the sun's closest and brightest stellar neighbors, looking for tiny brightness dips caused by planets trekking across the stars' faces. NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope has found nearly 2,500 confirmed exoplanets using this same "transit" technique. TESS team members have said they expect to find several thousand planets during … [Read more...] about NASA’s Next Planet Hunter Arrives in Florida Ahead of April Launch
Star next door
Surprise! Kevin Smith has cast himself into another role as a pothead.The Mallrats and Clerks director and star has just finished production on a TV comedy called Hollyweed, according to Variety. Smith and Donnell Rawlings (from Chappelle’s Show) will play two potheads who manage a small pot business in L.A. with help from a porn star played by Frankie Shaw (Mr. Robot). Smith wrote and directed the half-hour show.“When I wrote ‘Clerks,’ I wrote the role of Randal to play myself. But as we got close to shooting, I got scared and chickened out of trying to act with dialogue, opting to play Silent Bob instead,” Smith told Variety. “Two decades later, the universe, StarStream, and FremantleMedia are giving me the chance to play a clerk with dialogue that I wrote. The fact that it’s a dispensary instead of a convenience store makes it even better.”Variety notes that Smith, with financing from FremantleMedia and five cannabis-related … [Read more...] about Kevin Smith to star, direct in pot TV comedy ‘Hollyweed’
With a little more than just three and a half months until the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits literally every theater on Earth, Disney is hard at work marketing the absolute hell out of the upcoming flick. While promoting something as astronomically large as a J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars movie seems illogical — seriously, who on the planet isn’t going to see this movie? — Disney continues to pull out all the stops to make sure the words “Star Wars” get uttered about every 2.5 seconds. To Disney’s credit, its latest endeavor may just make Star Wars junkies lose it completely.During an epically long 18-hour unboxing event, Disney unveiled (among many, many things) an X-Wing and Millennium Falcon remote-controlled drone. Go ahead, it’s okay to absolutely lose it for a second. Though the prices for said drones are currently unknown, Disney did say the drones would be available for public purchase starting September 4 (tomorrow).Built by … [Read more...] about Delighting Star Wars fans everywhere, Disney unveils Millennium Falcon and X-Wing drones
If you are already a Call of Duty Elite premium member, then you are flush with new maps. You are swimming in it, while the rest of the world stares at you jealously. Of the four maps that will be released to the public (the Xbox public, that is—PS3 and PC users still have a month wait ahead of them), three have already been in heavy rotation, and the fourth will be released tomorrow.I had the chance to check out the newest multiplayer map, as well as the two Spec Ops missions last week at GDC. To sum up the entire meeting, the representative had to politely tap me on the shoulder and let me know that I was late for another appointment. When I mumbled something about “research” as I aggressively ignored them, they were forced to shut the system down.Black BoxThe multiplayer map is set in the ruins of a Southern Californian suburb, which Air Force One fell on. The shattered remains of the giant plane create a central focal point, as well as multiple pathways. Houses … [Read more...] about Hands on with the next Call of Duty content drop
Massively multiplayer gaming has never held much appeal for me beyond the restrictive confines of your typical online shooter’s versus map, but that attitude changed when Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced. The sci-fi universe created by George Lucas has always been close to my fanboy heart, and here was a game that promised me the opportunity to tromp around a galaxy far, far away as anything from a Force-using mystic to a tough-as-nails bounty hunter. The game officially launches today, and after spending almost a week immersed with the rest of the Early Access pre-order community, I’m ready to share some initial thoughts on the game.Let’s also note at the outset: while this review does indeed have a score attached to it, the opinions expressed below are based on spending roughly 30 hours with my level 21 bounty hunter. I’ve sampled much of what the game has to offer, but I’ll be back in a month with some additional opinions and a read on how The … [Read more...] about Star Wars: The Old Republic Review
A little part of me wants to find former Senator Trent Lott and apologize for some of the things I said about him on December 23, 1997. I didn’t mean to insinuate anything about his mother, and that crack about his love of animals was totally uncalled for. I plead no contest: the blame lies with my late Uncle Will and a mediocre PlayStation One fighter from LucasArts called Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. But if it’s any consolation to Lott, the evening in question remains one of my fondest memory of my uncle, and it inadvertently helped to define my career.I was in my late teens at the time, on a holiday visit to Los Angeles, which had become a tradition for my mom, brother, and me. These beach escapes from the winters of Kansas were generally positive experiences, with the one exception being the holiday party my uncle threw every year on December 23.It was the type of party adults hope they are invited to, populated by fun-loving professionals with interesting stories … [Read more...] about Gifts of Holidays Past: The lousy Star Wars game and the beloved uncle that defined my career
It’s being called the Industrial Revolution 2.0; “Manufacturing’s Big Bang.” Forget about “Made in China,” the future will be constructed in your living room — everything from cars, food, guns, drugs, even human organs. If you believe the hype surrounding 3D printing, which reached a crescendo last month with the opening of the first MakerBot retail store and the New York Maker Faire, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re entering a Star Trek-like age of endless possibility.Also known as Additive Manufacturing, 3D printing is the process by which objects are created by “printers” spraying carefully calibrated jets of various raw material, guided by digitized instructions. Plastics, metals, and ceramics are the most popular materials, but new ones are being used all the time. This is making stuff at the most fundamental level. Suddenly, we have this bridge, this physical extension of the virtual world, where, with the … [Read more...] about Is 3D printing the next big thing or the next big bust?
Astronomers have wondered for centuries about the possibility of Earth-like planets in the neighboring Alpha Centauri star system, but only just recently did their ongoing search bear fruit. Specifically, in an announcement made last week, European astronomers said they have discovered a planet with about the mass of Earth orbiting a star in Alpha Centauri.Observations made over more than four years have revealed "a tiny, but real, signal from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days," explained Xavier Dumusque, a researcher at Geneva Observatory and the Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto in Portugal. "It's an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!"Dumusque was lead author on the paper that announced the results in the journal Nature. Alpha Centauri, the stellar system closest to our own, is actually a triple-star system consisting of two stars similar to our sun -- Alpha Centauri A and B -- along with a more distant and faint red … [Read more...] about Scorched ‘Earth’ Spotted in Star System Next Door
The end of the year and holiday season is a natural time to look back -- and then look forward to the year to come. Apple started 2014 slowly but more than made up for it in the long haul, introducing the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, an iPad Air 2 with a super-fast processor, the massively selling iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and a luscious iMac with a 5K Retina screen, which, it turns out, is priced less than some 4K monitors.Gushing adjectives aside, what, out of all of this, is truly interesting or groundbreaking? What is going to be meaningful in 2015 and beyond?Piper Jaffray's Apple-watching analyst Gene Munsterhasn't given up on a full-fledged Apple HDTV.Because most connected TVs aren't used for much more than doing simple things like streaming Netflix, "the concept of what the opportunity can really hold around connected TVs hasn't even been tapped, so they (Apple) haven't missed out on anything," he said.Still, Munster is hedging his bets, thinking that … [Read more...] about OPINION Which Stars Will Shine Brightest in Apple’s Brilliant 2015?
Microsoft's Internet Explorer has had a lead in the Web browser battle for years, and that lead is still alive, but it's not well. IE has been losing some serious market share over the last few years, mostly because of young Turks like Firefox and Chrome. Not helping matters is the fact that the ancient IE6 browser is still tottering around like a sick old dog that won't die on its own, and it seems nobody has the heart to put it to sleep.So Microsoft's pressing on with a public beta release of its next-generation browser, IE9. The goal is lighter and faster. Faster because that's just what every browser is after these days - life is short, gotta shave those nanoseconds off rendering time. Lighter because this time around, Microsoft has emphasized that the webpage is the star of the show. The browser should give you as much window space as possible, sorta like Chrome, and then fade into the background once you're there.IE9 has support for HTML 5, as well as a download manager and a … [Read more...] about PODCAST Microsoft’s Next IE: Ninth Time’s the Charm?