Sailing Through Space | Out Of This World Weekly


The concept of a solar sail was introduced when astronomers first noticed in 1610 that solar wind caused the tails of comets to blow away from the Sun.  Since then, many have dreamed of being able to sail through space using the solar wind as propulsion.  In fact, this technology has been successfully used to propel craft between planets.  In 2010, Japan launched the Ikaros probe to test solar sail technology on a trip to Venus.  It did this successfully and Japan is planning on launching another sail to Jupiter and the Trojan Asteroids late in this decade.  NASA is also trying to get in on this propellant less technology, testing a small sail in orbit for a limited time in 2011.  After NASA did confirm that this technology is feasible, they thought up their next solar sail project:  Project Sunjammer.  As early as 2014, this large scale solar sail project is set to fly through interplanetary space to test more advanced control schemes, attitude control, and sail stability to further prove the technology. 

Review: BioShock Infinite (Windows PC/Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)–You Will Believe the Unbelievable

A note before we start: If it sounds like we’re being a bit vague, it’s because we are. We felt it best to avoid mentioning anything other than the most basic of plot points or setting details, even when they overlap with gameplay mechanics, to preserve the surprise and wonder of your own exploration of BioShock Infinite.

BioShockInfinite 2013-03-29 01-10-49-61

In a genre littered by grey and tan shooters, BioShock Infinite (BI) is more than a breath of fresh air; It’s a VIP pass at the most expensive oxygen bar around. Donning the troubled past of the noir-styled, down on his luck PI Booker DeWitt, players are rocketed into the fascinating steampunk nation of Columbia, a flying clockwork city where images of the American founding fathers pose as the Holy Trinity to the God fearing populace circa 1912. And then it gets strange…

BioShockInfinite 2013-03-29 00-36-11-79The world of Columbia is one of the single most original and beautiful worlds yet created for a video game. The color pallet practically explodes off the screen. From the red, white, and blue pageantry of Columbia, to the warm yellow-orange of the bright sunshine, to the gloriously overblown ‘god rays’ streaming through stained glass, Irrational Games creates their wholly original world using more colors than those forgotten by Call of Duty’s designers. More impressive, the color and atmosphere change and evolve throughout the game as it moves into the darker themes of racism, nationalism, fanaticism, and the characters’ own pasts. Much like an animated feature, the art is exaggerated just enough to keep it out of the ‘uncanny valley’ and prevent the title from looking dated in the years to come.

Likewise, the soundscape is a wonderful collage of subtle ambient orchestral scores, BioShock’s disharmonious violin-centric combat themes, and period music, along with a few exceptional surprises I won’t ruin here. Barks of your friends, foes, and the general populace are district, non-repetitive, and add yet another layer of flavor to BI’s strange new world. The only disappointment is the voice of Booker himself. He never quite feels entirely appropriate, no matter the circumstance, and is prone to chattering to himself (you) to the point of distraction in the early hours of the game. He gets the job done, but in a cast of stand out personalities, he’s definitely the weak link.

Humble Bundle Takes Pay-What-You-Want Gaming Weekly and Launches New Android Bundle

b941c0c1b245d367bbe57846236ee0d98785803dI love the folks over at Humble Bundle! Name your own price, get games, support charity. What’s not to love? Maybe the waiting with baited breath for the next Humble Bundle to roll around. Good news: They fixed that problem! Those goodie-two-shoes of digital distribution over at Humble Bundle have launched shiny new weekly sales.

Humble Bundle’s new weekly sales follow the same formula as their famed bundles. How much? You decide! What portion of your purchase goes to charity? You decide! Don’t want to sign up for yet another account? Don’t! (Although their online account management is a fast, no-frills way of keeping track of your DRM-free downloads and Steam codes.) Want bonus games for paying over the average price? You got ‘em! Need an example? Of course! At the time of this writing, you can score Darksiders and Red Faction: Armageddon for a price only you know. Pay over the current average of $6.73 (right now), and you’ll also pick up Darksiders II and Red Faction: Guerilla.

Not a PC gamer? Maybe you’d be up for the all-new Humble Mobile Bundle! For the mystery price lurking in the back of your brain, you’ll get 4 amazing Android games (Contre Jour, Anomaly Korea, Plants vs. Zombies, Bladeslinger) and their soundtracks. But wait, there’s more! Pay more than the current average $5.42 and you’ll score the classic arcade favorite Metal Slug 3 and the amazingly creepy puzzle box adventure The Room.

Check out Humble Bundle’s Weekly sale or The Humble Mobile Bundle for great games for a great cause.

Domino’s Japan Puts Extra Hatsune Miku on Your Pizza

What do you like on your pizza? Extra cheese and peperoni? Well, duh. What about computer generated Japanese pop stars? Hey, you never know ‘till you try!

Domino’s Pizza in Japan has teamed up with Crypton Future Media to deliver more than just the best kind of pie to your door. They’ve created their very own augmented reality app for iOS devices that allows you to not only order pizza and track its creation in real-time, but take pictures with the #1 virtual idol herself, Hatsune Miku. Need more amazing, CG, blue haired fun? You’re in luck! Point your app equipped iDevice at the pizza box top and enjoy a special “Pizza Stage Live” performance right on top of your dinner.

Not in a Japanese delivery area for Domino’s? No worries, you friends over here at GUO have got  your backs. Download the app from iTunes Japan here. To unlock a special pose for the camera and to enjoy your very own Miku concert use the image below (Thank you, Domino’s web site!). For best results, you may want to print it out or use a screen that can lie flat, like a tablet.

miku dominos box

Star Trek Logo Lights Up River Thames in Support of Earth Hour

star trek quadrotorBoldly going where no promotion has gone before, Paramount Pictures assembled a team of 30 quadrotor mini-helicopters to take flight near the river Thames in London. Climbing more than 300 feet into the sky, the miniature air force brandished their lights to create the familiar wedge-shaped Federation symbol in celebration of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is an annual dimming of lights to raise awareness of climate change. The following comment on StarTrek.com explains:

“Each year, WWF (ed. World Wildlife Foundation) arranges for landmarks and cities to go dark for an hour in order to raise awareness about climate change. Paramount Pictures, with Star Trek Into Darkness due out in May, lent their support to this year’s Earth Hour event and tapped Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies to join with them to launch the quadrocopters 308 feet (or 94 metres) into the London sky both before and after the lights dimmed for an hour. Keeping with the Earth Hour theme, the quadrocopters utilized batteries that were charged in Austria using green energy from Austria’s renewable energy grid.”

Planck Mission Gives New Insights Into Universe | Out Of This World Weekly

The Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) was given off when the universe was only 379,000 years old and can be seen coming from all directions in the sky.  Study of the CMB allows us to look back in time to that era to determine the characteristics of that long past universe.  This study has allowed us to determine such things as the age of the universe since the big bang, amounts of Matter, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy, temperature of the early universe, and variations of density of matter in the universe.  The ESA’s Planck mission expands on the previous COBE and WMAP missions with an increased sensitivity and thus greater resolution picture of the early universe.  While the new data isn’t groundbreaking, it does confirm and refine previous estimates with a higher degree of precision that was not available until now and maybe that is the most interesting news – that we have been on the right track all along. 

Happy Birthday, William Shatner | Weekend Watchlist

220px-William_Shatner_at_Comic-Con_2012_croppedYesterday, the man, the myth, the legend, The Captain, William Shatner celebrated his 82nd birthday. World famous novelist and singer; humanitarian and cowboy; star of stage and screen, both large and small. What is there that I could say about Bill Shatner that you don’t already know? Thus, without further ado, Weekend Watchlist salutes William Shatner.

But where to start? I think we can all agree that the answer is obvious.

Star Trek Online to Launch First Expansion in May with Playable Romulan Faction

sto romulan shipsA mysterious countdown timer on the free-to-play Star Trek Online game ended today with a quantum torpedo to the pleasure center of geek’s brains everywhere. On May 21st the three-year old MMO will receive its first expansion: Legacy of Romulus.

This update brings your favorite snooty, big browed baddies to the character select screen as the Romulans and Remans become the game’s third faction to battle against and along side the Federation and Klingons. Denise Crosby (TNG’s Tasha Yar) will return as the voice of Empress Sela to bark orders as you take command of some of the sexiest starships known to Trekkers. Other announced features include a Tholian reputation system for your end-game grinding pleasure (although it boggles the mind as to how you’d gain the favor of the xenophobic bug dudes) and a revamped UI that will, hopefully, tame STO’s rather schizophrenic interface.

Video Game Series Portal Goes Live Action with Aperture R&D Web Series

It’s time to dust off all your old Internet memes regarding cake and lies. Machinima.com is now home to Aperture R&D, a live-action series of productions that take a look at the off-kilter scientists behind the creation of everyone’s favorite psychotic AI, GlaDOS.

This new series comes to you compliments of the fan-based production group Wayside Creations, a team that made Internet waves with their Nuka Break short film set in the Fallout universe. Stay tuned to Machinima’s YouTube page for future episodes and be sure to check out the ‘Behind the Scenes’ feature on Aperture's creation here.

$12 Homemade Violin Makes Cheap, If Not Beautiful, Music

IMG113-300x2251Got two days, twelve bucks, and a hankerin’ to make some music? Goodness knows Alex Davies and friends sure did! Wielding a 3D printer, art class cred, and a heaping helping of chutzpah, Alex and co. set out to create a real playable violin, strings and all, from zip-dot-squat.

Here’s the materials list:

    • About 80 hours between the two of us, most of which was spent doing prototypes, reading the internet, and watching other streams. If you had a kit you could probably do it in 8 including drying time.
    • Some newspaper, pilfered from the bus stop.
    • Flour and water for the wheat paste.
    • A 3D printer,  and maybe 4 dollars worth of plastic.
    • Some picture hanging wire, pilfered from my room mate.
    • A drill, with a few drill bits.
    • A bottle of chai tea liquor.

The results? Magical!

Check out the journey to create this DIY paper violin here.

Dust Motion On Non-Atmospheric Bodies | Out Of This World Weekly

We all know that The Moon and Asteroids are covered in dust, dirt and tiny bits of matter but recently, a new way of explaining how all this dust gets around has been proposed.  Research conducted at NASA has shown that dust moves around on the surface of the Moon without the help of any wind, atmosphere, or even air to blow it around.  When we look at a full Moon, there aren’t many shadows because the Sun is directly above the surface, resulting in very little shadows on the surface.  However, when the Moon appears to us as a crescent or half-Moon there are large portions of the Moon that are covered in a mixture of both shadow and light.  It is the interaction between the dust particles in the shadow and the light that makes all of the difference. 

Microsoft Resurrects MineSweeper Online as Browser Benchmark

IE10 benchmarkSome folks over at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team appear to have been feeling a bit nostalgic. IE’s latest bit of marketing mayhem takes the form of a beloved old friend to Windows users: The productivity destroying game MineSweeper.

While the purpose of this release is to allow users to check the performance their favorite window to the web versus Internet Explorer 10, this browser based release still delivers the turn-based, hide-n-seek gameplay of the old OS pack-in, complete with some shiny new visuals. At least if you’re on a PC. Mobile users are left out due to the lack of any means to flag a mine, an act usually done by right-clicking.

Got a couple of minutes and mouse buttons to spare? Head on over and start sweeping up them mines.

Hello Kitty Prepped for Tabletop Battle Against Spider-Man and Batman

wk-kitty-1Is it possible that we’ve gotten this far into 2013 without some bizarre new Hello Kitty crossover product? Worry not friends, those masters of marketing machismo over at the Sanrio have spent the past few months powering up to blow your minds with a hypercharged hadouken of H.Kit.

A new licensing agreement with with National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA to their friends) has just been announced for a whole slew of new Hello Kitty branded merch. This newest deal promises to unleash a torrent of new Hello Kitty toys and collectables onto an unsuspecting marketplace including “action figures and statues, high-end lamps, calendars, tea sets, vintage carrying cases, and more.” Speaking of “more”, the deal also includes a provision for NECA subsidiary WizKids to create a Hello Kitty tabletop miniatures game in the HeroClix line.

Yeah. One more time: Hello Kitty is getting a HeroClix game.

Already home to such franchises as Mage Knight, Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, and many flavors of DC Heroes, Hello Kitty and Friends are currently being fitted with the famous combat disk base. While no pictures of the new figures were on display for the announcement at the 2013 New York Toy Fair, we did get a picture of the above oversized novelty box. Lovely. WizKids states that the new figures are expected to ship in North America this summer. I, for one, cannot wait to see how the plushy pink princess of purr stands up to Steam Golems! Or Killer Croc!! Or a Sentinel!!! Or…

hello kitty vs mage knight

SimCity’s Botched Launch and Why It Will Happen Again

simcityerror-640x353International mega-publisher EA launched the newest version of Maxis’ popular city builder game, SimCity, last week. The results? Pfft, beats me. It’s not like I can start the game due to overloaded servers. Even if I could, there are now widespread reports of deleted save data and game features,such as time compression, having been disabled. So… Why did this happen? Two public beta tests and a mountain of pre-order data later, how did EA get caught flat-footed for the launch of one of the oldest running PC game franchises in history? Short answer: It wasn’t in the company’s best interests.

The Last Temptation of Croft–New Tomb Raider Game Fetishizes Violence

tomb_raider 2013

What comes to mind when you think of Tomb Raider? Is it leaping across a bottomless chasm deep in the bowels of some forgotten cave? Turning stopcocks and flipping switches to unravel the mysterious machines of some ancient civilization with far too much time and engineering talent on their hands? Perhaps jumping though the air while firing a pair of pistols at dinosaurs? Whatever your answer, it’ll be sure to change after playing the newest game in the series, titled simply (and confusingly) Tomb Raider. After this new adventure you’re bound to be haunted by images of staring gaming’s greatest heroine in the eye as she twitches and writhes after having been impaled on a tree branch.

A generation of gamers have grown up thrilled by the adventures of Lara Croft. The strong, resourceful homage to Indiana Jones has spent the past 17 years leading players on artifact laden journeys around the world. The Tomb Raider series spans over 30 gaming titles across more than a dozen different hardware platforms and two feature films. It is a legendary franchise of high adventure where the violence never escalated beyond what you’d expect to find while Raiding a Lost Ark. Until now. Unfortunately for Lara, the 2013 release of Tomb Raider see a much younger, less experienced version of the well known action star appearing in her first “M for Mature” rated adventure. An adventure full of pointy objects ready to stab her through the neck and in-game camera all too eager to deliver snufftastic close-ups of her final moments.

A Glimpse Into Europa’s Oceans | Out Of This World Weekly

Jupiter’s moon, Europa, has long been a point of interest in our solar system.  Europa is surrounded by an ocean made of water that is thought to be about 60 miles deep with an ice crust on the surface that is anywhere from a mile or two thick to 10 to 20 miles thick, depending on which theory you subscribe to.  Studying this ocean has long been a dream of many scientists, mostly because of the idea that where you find liquid water, you may very well find life – as water is a key component in all life on Earth.  Recently researchers have found that there may be a chemical exchange between the ocean and the surface, showing that the water from the subsurface ocean does work its way to the surface and vice-versa.  Exchanges between the surface and the ocean would be an important way of exchanging energy and material to enrich Europa’s oceans to make them more hospitable for life. 

Slowing Down With High Speed Filming | Weekend Watchlist

18000fps bubble pop“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Thus sprach the great sage Ferris Bueller. While we may not be stopping in this edition of the Weekend Watchlist, we sure the heck are slowing things down. There is a bevy of beautiful and bizarre sights to behold that simply occur faster than we can see. Thanks to technological advances in high speed cameras, we can capture these moments and play them back at a speed we can comprehend and appreciate.

So, how does filming at high speed get us into slo-mo? Your average video camera captures anywhere between 20 and 60 ‘frames per second’, of FPS. This is the number of still pictures taken for one second of video. High speed cameras take 420, 2000, 10000, or even 18000 pictures in a second. So, if we take 3000 pictures every second and play them back at a much more standard 30fps, we have a video that shows things ten times slower.

Got it? Good. Let’s blow some sh*t up! In the name of science, of course.

Sega Polls Fans for Support in Bringing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F to the Western World

hatsune miku project diva f facebookSay what you will about Sega and their treatment of the Sonic franchise, but the truth is that the famed publisher and one time console maker just happens to be one of the few big boys is still taking chances and bringing that special flavor of Japanese quirk westward. It’s Sega who brought the revolutionary strategy title Valkyria Chronicles to English speakers. Sega who responded to fan feedback and continued to deliver the Yakuza series despite soggy sales. Sega who gave the stylish action mavens Platinum Games their shot with MadWorld, Vanquish, and Bayonetta. And who gave us a Japanese made, Blade Runner-styled shooter that let you actually talk to your teammates via a microphone AND included a French robot? Yep, Binary Domain was published by Sega. And where did listening to fans and giving us something to play beyond Call of Honor V: Shoot ‘Em in the Face get Sega? Bupkis.

Sega also seems unable to market their way out of a paper bag, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…

Anyway, you’ll have to forgive Sega for being a bit cagey when it comes to bringing more of that takoyaki-flavored fun Westward. Still, bless ‘em, Sega is continuing to listen to fan feedback. Their latest venture up for consideration? The very, very Japanese music rhythm game Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F, starting the world famous Vocaloid idol and all her virtual friends.

Interested? Sega is asking everyone to head on over to their Facebook page and click your Like and Share buttons together to show your support.

Google Play Store Celebrates Its 1st Birthday with Free Breaking Bad and Android Themed DLC

google play birthday

Google is throwing a birthday bash to celebrate having gone one year since renaming its Android app store to Google Play. Don’t bother bringing a present, ‘cause the folks over at the Big G have this whole birthday thing backwards. They’re giving the presents to you!

So, what’s up on the gift table? How about some free tunes from The Velvet Underground? Get your eBook fix with Morgan Rice’s first novel in the The Sorcerer’s Ring series, A Quest of Heroes. Still watching TV? Pick up the pilot episode of Breaking Bad for the special birthday price of zip-dot-squat. And for our gamers in the audience, grab special Android themed DLC featuring every nerd’s favorite green robot buddies for mobile free-to-play titles such as Tiny Castle, Monster Pet Shop, Yumby Smash, and more. There are even gift cards up for grabs for those that still prefer their stuff a little more tangible.

For all these deals and tons more free and discounted movies, music, TV, and Android mobile apps, open your window to the web and check out Google Play’s 1st birthday promotion.

Flex Your Creativity Every Day With DrawQuest

drawquestDrawquest2
Remember me, art? I’m baaack!

From the mind of Chris Poole, perhaps better known as 4chan’s moot, comes this free iPad application that challenges users to get their doodle on each and every day. In DrawQuest you’ll be provided with the challenge of filing in the blanks of a picture. For example, an empty outline of stick figure wearing a cape with prompt you to “Create your own superhero” and set you free with the app’s robust and easy to use art tools.

Unlike social games such as Draw Something, there is no scoring mechanic in DrawQuest. Eachdail picture, or ‘quest’, you complete will earn coins that can be used to unlock additional colors to paint, pen, and marker with. Drawing on tablets is always a satisfying experience, but I was genuinely surprised as to how good dialing through the color wheel feels. DrawQuest does require users to sign up with either a Facebook account or email address. Completed pictures can be shared across your social media empire via Twitter or Facebook with the tap of a button. Each quest also allows you to browse the gallery of your fellow questers’ creations. These can be starred to shared as desired. This gallery even includes the rather amazing feature of watching a playback of how the selected picture was created, stroke by stroke.

If you enjoy doodling but are daunted by a blank canvas, DrawQuest is just the creative outlet you’ve been waiting for.

DrawQuest in available for iPads running iOS 5.1 or later. Get it free from iTunes.

Chopping Up the Tesla Model S Electric Car for Education and Safety

jaws of life vs tesla sIt takes practice to be able to do something well. When someone’s life is on the line, doing things well is kind of important. That’s why these firefighters are going to chop up this Tesla electric sedan with the Jaws of Life in the following safety video. The design of electric cars is still new and potentially very dangerous, what with the massive battery packs and high voltage cabling installed throughout the vehicle’s frame.

If you’re a member of our brave civil service, grab your favorite tablet and get ready to take some notes. If you’re just looking to kill some time with cool stuff on the web, grab some popcorn and get ready for one heck of a show!

Kudos to Wired for finding this one.

DARPA Robot Big Dog Now Armed and Agile

big dog cider block throwWho says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Certainly not folks over at Boston Dynamics! They recently showed off the latest trick of their DARPA funded, 240 pound, robotic pack mule Big Dog’s latest stunt: Chucking cinder blocks.

Complements of an infusion of funds from the U.S. Army’s RCTA (Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance) program, the now ‘armed’ (Yeah, I crack me up too) four-legged robot shows off its new found pitching ability in the video below. Boston Dynamics explains: “The goal is to use the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic, whole-body approach to manipulation is used routinely by human athletes and will enhance the performance of advanced robots.”

The management and staff of Growing Up Otaku would like to take this time to remind our future brick hurling mechanical overlords that we are stanch supporters of the upcoming Robot Revolution and in no way condone the actions of this so-called ‘stability tester’ at Boston Dynamics.

After all, who else is going to save us from zombie Armageddon?

SpaceX Launches 2nd Resupply Mission To I.S.S. | Out Of This World Weekly

The progress of commercial spaceflight advances as SpaceX had a successful launch of their Dragon Resupply Capsule to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 Rocket.  The Dragon Capsule did suffer a temporary loss of 3 of the 4 control thrusters upon entry to orbit, which seemed to correct itself within a short time.  No damage was taken from the failure other than the loss of one day to re-adjust the orbit so that it could meet the Space Station as intended.  This is another bug like the last Falcon 9 flight, which shut down 1 of 9 main engines due to a undetected “Material Flaw” in that engine’s jacket.  That flaw did not cause a mission failure as the Falcon 9 was designed to achieve orbit with only 8 of 9 operational engines.  Hopefully like that minor problem, SpaceX will be able to learn from the experience and further increase their operational reliability.  SpaceX is so far the only private company that has been able to re-supply the space station, working off a $1.6 billion for 12 missions contract signed with NASA to take over space shuttle re-supply missions. 

Behind the Blog: March 1, 2013–Grinding for Stylish Consoles

Behind-Blog-button-2_thumbWelcome back to BtB, my little monthly jibba-jabba on what’s happening on this side of your screen.

First up, let’s look at some site numbers. February saw our view stats continue to decline. This time, at least, I know what happened. Traffic traditionally trends down a bit this time of the year. Google also rolled out a new format for their image search. A reasonable chuck of our views come from this form of search. Previously image search would actually take you to the page that hosted the picture you clicked on (you know, like you would expect a search engine to work). The new version keeps you on Google. It is yet another example of the Internet giants creating their own walled gardens to keep visitors on their own site and clicking on their ads. While our visitors from image search would occasionally spend some time browsing and checking out our stuff, the vast majority would grab the picture and bounce. So, not a big loss for us in term of building an audience but this change is bound to be devastating to any site based on visual art. Just another sign of the sad trend of the grand landscape of the Internet being reduced to three AOL-styled locations that most users will never leave (Google, Facebook, and Amazon).

Behold my segue! Speaking of Amazon, we’re not exactly on track to get the blog bills paid. If you’re looking to do a little online shopping via Amazon, kindly think of using one of our referral links. Like that one! Or the Amazon search box in the right sidebar. Thanks. It doesn’t cost you anything. but Amazon kicks us a few cents back for spreading the word. Like you didn’t know about Amazon before…

In other news, it takes WAY too long to search for how to spell segue! Stupid freaking Segway scooter!