Playing Catchup

You play your games and we'll play ours.
You play your games and we’ll play ours.

I have been a busy little Billy recently. That whole job thing has been taking up a lot of my time. Which is a good thing. It means I’ve hitched my wagon to a growing concern that has room for advancement. Never a bad realization. That said, the glorious world of World News Center podcasts on the Big Wake Up Call have continued apace. That means that, for the first time in this blog’s illustrious history, we’ve discussed stuff on the radio that wasn’t on the site. So, today, I’m going to fix that. Let’s start with the easy stuff. On September 19th, against the advice of all rational people, I turned 53. I also was able to note that I’m 170 lbs lighter than I was on Valentine’s Day 2013. Since that was accomplished under a doctor’s care you need not worry about my health. I mean I did have the flu last week but that’s about it.

So let’s get this party started. Supergirl is coming to TV.

CBS has given a series commitment to Warner Bros. TV’s Supergirl, EW has learned.

Based on the DC Comics character, the drama tells the story of Kara Zor-El, who was born on the planet Krypton, but escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin Superman. But now, at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.

Arrow and Flash executive producer Greg Berlanti and New Normal’s Ali Adler will write and executive-produce with Sarah Schechter.

For those of you who aren’t professional TV Producers, a series commitment is almost unheard of. It means there will be 13 episodes created no matter what. Unheard of, yes, but not insane. They know that, last March, a guy named Vincent Tran created a bit of fan fiction called Girl Of Steel and it won him awards, critical acclaim and free admission to every Comicon in the country. They also know they have a winning production team and, more importantly, that the comic book industry is no longer the sausage fest it used to be. There is a real market for strong, female, characters. Rumors say that Powergirl will also appear. Whether it’s the “lesbian lover” version or the “evil clone” seems to have not been decided. My guess is evil clone. CBS is still a family oriented station and Americans are cool with killing, not so much the kissing stuff.

for those of you who’ve been waiting for an invisibility cloak or stuff that see’s through brick, keep reading.

Janet Fang, from I Fucking Love Science, reports that researchers are closer now than ever before to making a cloak just like the one Harry Potter wore.

The idea of an invisibility cloak depends on manipulating light in the way electronic circuits manipulate the flow of electrons. When electromagnetic waves (such as light) hit an object like metal or wood, they scatter; that’s how we see the object. But say there’s an artificial material that cloaks the object—bending an incoming wave around it without scattering it. Then we wouldn’t be able to see the object.

We manipulate light all the time: magnifying glasses focus light down to a spot while mirrors reflect light and change its direction. But metamaterials can do something more sophisticated. “They’re able to bend light, to scatter it, to manipulate it in unusual ways,” Tiffany Walsh of Deakin University explains.

Simply put, if the light isn’t bouncing off your glorious bod, no one will know it’s there. Whether or not invisible people are a good thing or not I’ll leave for another day.

But as long as we’re bending light, let’s take a look at what Lisa Winter found.

A device that sees through objects.

“This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum,” Choi added.

The secret is not focusing the light straight through the center of the lenses. “This cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device, so the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked,” explained Choi.

If larger lenses are used, the device could conceal larger things, or see around large objects. Howell explained that this setup, which allows objects to be concealed when viewed from a span of 15 angles, could also be used to allow semi-truck drivers to see around their blind spots. As truck drivers are involved in over half a million accidents each year, this has incredible potential for real world integration.

Best of all, the researchers have included directions to make your own cloaking lenses here:

Image credit: University of Rochester

-Purchase 2 sets of 2 lenses with different focal lengths f1 and f2 (4 lenses total, 2 with f1 focal length, and 2 with f2 focal length)

-Separate the first 2 lenses by the sum of their focal lengths (So f1 lens is the first lens, f2 is the 2nd lens, and they are separated by t1= f1+ f2).

-Do the same in Step 2 for the other two lenses.

-Separate the two sets by t2=2 f2 (f1+ f2) / (f1 — f2) apart, so that the two f2 lenses are t2 apart.


Achromatic lenses provide best image quality.

Fresnel lenses can be used to reduce the total length (2t1+t2)

Smaller total length should reduce edge effects and increase the range of angles.

Okay, now you’ve got your invisibility cloak and you can see through objects. What’s next?

How about a nice jaunt around the solar system?

Those fun kids down at NASA have built a new space vehicle that can go anywhere in the solar system. And, just because they’re whimsical like this, they also built the most powerful rocket the world has ever seen.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

Orion’s first flight test, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch this year atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37. This test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield.

In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars. Exploration Mission-1, scheduled for 2017, will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.

Say hi to this bad boy.

You’ll note the solar panels. Once in space it can power itself, and all its components, with nothing but sunlight. As envisioned it could travel between the planets indefinitely and just load and unload astronauts.

So, yes kids, this is a thing.

A very very cool thing.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
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