Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cesar Chavez Boulevard Improvements

For those wondering what that mess is all about on Cesar Chavez Boulevard in San Francisco, here is the lowdown: They are in the process of replacing a giant 8 feet diameter sewer pipe that runs under the whole length of Cesar Chavez Blvd, from Guerrero Street to the 101 freeway, and also under Valencia Street between Chavez and Mission St (where the Burger King is) as well as under several adjacent streets. So what we see right now around Harrison Street is just the beginning! Once they are done with the underground work, Cesar Chavez blvd will be redesigned, with an addition of bike lanes and a median, plus trees on both sides. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chinese complete their first space docking manoeuvre

After successfully sending their first man in space in 2003 with Shenzhou-5, and executing their first EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) in 2008 with Shenzhou-7, this week the unmanned Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-8 successfully docked with the TianGong-1 space module, a first for the Chinese Space Program.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NASA's Next Manned Mission to an Asteroid

Now that the Space Launch System program is officially on its tracks, lets take a look at what NASA plans to do with the giant rocket. After the first couple of test flights (including a manned fly-by around the moon somewhere between 2017 and 2021), the first big objective is to send 4 astronauts to a 6 month trip to a Near Earth Object (NEO). The mission would be called 'Plymouth Rock'.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NASA Officially Announces the Space Launch System

Last Wednesday NASA officials publicly unveiled the Space Launch System, the new heavy lift rocket that will send astronauts beyond earth orbit, to asteroids, the moon and possibly some day to Mars. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the design has been known for a few months now, but for various political reasons, the project hadn't been officially announced yet.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kepler telescope finds planet Tatooine!

NASA engineers operating the Kepler Space telescope have announced this morning that they have discovered the first planet to orbit a twin-star system. The planet is a gas giant about the size of Jupiter, and its temperature is about -70 C, so it's not really habitable. What is important about this discovery is that it proves that planets can be formed on binary star systems. Before today, it had been speculated but never proven.

The newly discovered planet is officially designated as Kepler 16b, but NASA officials have proposed that it should be named Tatooine, after the twin-sun planet in Star-Wars, barring any licensing issues with Lucasfilm...

The Kepler 16 star system is about 200 light-years from earth.


Sunday, June 5, 2011 Crime Map, the real estate web-site, has unveiled a new web site that shows a great interactive crime map for most US cities, including San Francisco. This is not the first online crime map out there, but this one has by far the best interface. It looks really good, is well designed, and it is very fast and responsive. You can zoom in from National level all the way to street level and get all kinds of detailed information about every single crime reported. You can also see trends by hour or day.

[ via gizmodo]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Battlefield 3 Trailer

Check out the amazing full lenght trailer for the upcoming first person shooter Battlefield 3. This is actual gameplay footage, the realism is impressive! You've got destructible environment, immersive sound effects, photo-realistic lighting and rendering. You hear all kinds of sounds, people talking, dogs barking, you see sun rays through the smoke and partial lighting on people, see the reflections of your surroundings on your scope, flags floating in the wind, tracer bullets and sparks flying, debris blown up in the air everywhere.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Endeavour's Last Flight

The Space Shuttle Endeavour launched for the last time this morning at 8:56am EDT, carrying 6 astronauts and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), as well as the new STORRM navigation and docking system to the International Space Station. This is the second-to-last flight of the Space Shuttle fleet, the last flight will be Atlantis' STS-135 mission, scheduled for July 12, 2011.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ah, crap! We're running out of Neodymium, too...

We already knew that we were running out of oil, and in recent years experts have started to worry that we are running out of Uranium to power the world's Nuclear power plants. But now, new reports show that we are also running out of Neodymium and Dysprosium, two rare metals used in the manufacturing of the powerful permanent magnets found in electric car engines and wind turbines.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt gets 26 Mbits/second!

Yep, 26 Mbits/s. That's the amazing download speed I was able to get on my friend's HTC Thunderbolt running on Verizon's 4G LTE network. We were at Rosamunde in San Francisco's Mission district, with four out of four bars of signal strength. The upload speed was 5 Mbits/s.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The RoboEarth Project and The Rise Of The Machines

The field of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence seems to have been making significant progress these last couple of years. A few months ago, IBM's Watson supercomputer was able to beat the two best human players at Jeopardy. It is capable of understanding questions formulated in normal English language on a variety of fields like science, history or popular culture, and come up with an answer in less than a second.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Skylon Spaceplane

British Aerospace company Reaction Engines Ltd is working on a design for a Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) Spaceplane called Skylon that will take off and land horizontally from a runway, just like a normal plane. This concept has been studied several times already in the past, with projects such as the U.S.'s National Aerospace Plane (see my previous post) or the British HOTOL, but all encountered technological problems that they could not solve. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

SFPark iPhone app shows Real-Time Parking Availability in San Francisco

As you may or may not know, San Francisco's SFPark Project has been installing state-of-the-art park-meters and sensors on the ground that can tell if a car is parked in the spot. This information is transmitted wirelessly to their central server. Now this information is available to everybody on-line on the website, or with the SFPark iPhone app. It displays a map showing each street block color-coded depending on the approximate number of spots available.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Saga of NASA's Heavy Lift Launcher

Last week, after years of studies and negotiations, NASA finally released a preliminary design for the new rocket that will replace the space shuttle. The new rocket will be a Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Vehicle, meaning that it will make maximum use of existing Space Shuttle components. Basically they will keep the Space Shuttle External tank and two Solid Rocket Boosters unchanged, remove the space shuttle, take the shuttle's three main engines and put them and the bottom of the External Tank, and put the cargo on top of the External Tank. This design is pretty much the solution proposed by the DIRECT team last year, called the Jupiter launch vehicle.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Giant 'straddling bus' rides above traffic

The Chinese are building a giant tramway that rides on stilts high enough so that it can ride over cars on busy streets, avoiding traffic jams. Cars will also be able to drive under them so as not to be stuck behind them when they are stopped at a bus stop.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Captain Kirk doesn't trust the VSS Enterprise

Virgin Galactic is proceeding with tests of its first SpaceShipTwo sub-orbital spacecraft, the VSS Enterprise, that will carry private, paying passengers on a short, 6 minutes flight to space. On October 10, 2010, it successfully completed its first glide flight dropped from the WhiteNightTwo mother ship, and company officials say that they are on schedule to start commercial operations in 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Farewell, Discovery

The Space Shuttle Discovery will be launching for the last time on February 24th at 1:50pm PST. Mission STS-133 will be the 39th flight of the 27 year-old spacecraft, and will be bringing the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo to the International Space Station, as well as the Robonaut 2 robotic astronaut helper.

With only two more Space Shuttle flights scheduled (Endeavour in April and Atlantis in June), this represents the end of an era of ambitious human space exploration, as after that the US will be left with no means of sending astronauts into space and will rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS.

With the cancellation of the Constellation moon program in October 2010, the only serious prospect for US manned space flights is the privately funded and operated Dragon capsule from SpaceX, which, although a remarkable achievement for a private company, is a return to 1970's designs, and is nowhere as advanced and capable as the Space Shuttle. And Dragon will not be operational before 2013 at the earliest.

Watch the historic flight live in HD on ustream TV.

Update: For those who missed it, here is the video of the launch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apollo 18 movie: Cloverfield meets the Space Program

We finally have a trailer for the upcoming movie 'Apollo 18', a horror science fiction movie about a hypothetical 18th Apollo moon landing. As most of you know, in real life the last Apollo mission was Apollo17th. The premise of the movie is that an 18th mission actually took place, but it was kept a total secret. The movie shows raw footage from portable cameras brought aboard by the crew, just like in the movie Cloverfield.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ares I Resurrected! Give me Liberty

ATK, the makers of the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters is joining force with European aerospace company Astrium/EADS, the makers of the Ariane 5 rocket, to propose a new rocket to launch US astronauts into space after the Space Shuttle retires later this year. The new Liberty rocket would be operational in 2015.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gliese 581g, Mono Lake and the Drake Equation

In September 2010, scientists discovered a new extrasolor planet, Gliese 581g, that is to date the planet the most similar to earth that we found. It is in the Gliese 581 star system, only 20 Light-years from us, and orbits its sun at the right distance to have liquid water, so it is not too warm and not too cold. It has a gravity similar to earth (between 1.1 and 1.7 G) strong enough to maintain a thick atmosphere.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Black Ops Map Pack

Treyarch is releasing a Map Pack for Call Of Duty: Black Ops. It will include a Berlin Wall map, Kowloon map, Stadium and Arctic research station maps as well as a new Zombie map called Ascension.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cats in Space!

Oh, this is hilarious. This is part of a series of experiments made by the US Air Force to study the effects of Zero G on humans and animals. 

Now I'm gonna dream of Molly and Delilah fighting in zero G... Thanks for the clip.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is the car we will all be driving in 2020


Forget about the fancy $30,000+ gas-guzzlers showcased at the Detroit Auto Show, the Indian made Tata Nano is the kind of car we will be driving 10 years from now. It weighs only 1,300 lb, has a 624cc, 35hp gas engine, it does 62mpg and it costs only $2,200. That's one-tenth the price of a baseline Toyota Prius.

When gas will cost $10 a gallon and with ever dwindling resources and incomes, i believe this will be the only kind of car that will make sense - or the only one that we'll be able to afford.

Battle: Los Angeles

Check out the trailer for the new Battle: Los Angeles movie starring Aaron Eckhart. I don't care if it's yet another Aliens-Invade-Earth-Hollywood-Blockbuster, it looks awesome. It's got Marines battling Aliens. I'm gonna love it. It's coming out March 11th.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sprint finally turns on 4G in San Francisco

At last, I can use the ridiculously superior speeds of the 4G network on my HTC EVO! Sprint turned on the service in San Francisco on December 28th, but for some reason it took a few days before was actually able to connect. I did some tests and was able to consistently get from 8 to 11 Mb/s download speeds in the Mission (Valencia/Mission streets, from 18th to 25th streets).

That's outside in the streets, tho. Inside buildings, the signal strength is very weak and i am lucky if i get 3 Mb/s, when i get a connection at all. So indoors, it usually falls back on 3G. WiMax technology, sprint's choice for its 4G network, is notorious for having poor indoor coverage. Also the coverage map shows quite a few blind spots in the City.

There are technological solutions out there to address these issues, but they are expensive for operators. Lets hope Sprint will be willing to foot the bill and improve coverage in the future.

Sprint 4G Coverage in SF

So now, i actually have a faster internet connection on my phone than on my DSL at home... Isn't that great? ;)

New Giant Planet in our solar system?

Scientists analyzing the trajectory of comets coming from the far reaches of our solar system have come to the conclusion that those comets have probably been hurled towards us by the gravitational pull of a giant planet four times the size of Jupiter (!!) orbiting our sun in the Oort Cloud, some 2,800 Billion miles away.

The WISE space telescope, launched last year, will soon be able to confirm (or infer) the presence of that new planet, named Tyche.

Four times the size of Jupiter! Now if that isn't the 9th planet, what is??...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Post

Welcome to my amazing tech blog!!

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