Science Blast! Tree-Cats Once Lived!

Or, at least, a cat-like creature once lived in the trees:

An artist’s reconstruction of Anatoliadelphys maasae. Image credit: Peter Schouten.An artist’s reconstruction of Anatoliadelphys maasae.
Image credit: Peter Schouten.

Cat-Sized Marsupial Relative Lived in Turkey 43 Million Years Ago

Named Anatoliadelphys maasae, the new species is an unusual, cat-sized carnivorous metatherian (marsupials and their relatives).

It lived in what is now Turkey during the middle Eocene epoch, about 43 million years ago.

With an estimated body mass of 3-4 kg, about the size of a domestic cat, the prehistoric animal is one of the largest metatherians known from the northern hemisphere, together with two North American species: the extant Virginia opossum (2.4 kg) and the extinct Didelphodon vorax (2-6 kg).

A three-dimensionally preserved skull and a near complete skeleton of Anatoliadelphys maasae were discovered and collected in 2002 from the Uzunçarşıdere Formation in central Turkey.

They were analyzed by Dr. Murat Maga from the University of Washington and Dr. Robin Beck from the Universities of Salford and New South Wales.

The analysis indicates that Anatoliadelphys maasae was agile and was able to climb and grasp, perhaps similarly to the modern-day spotted quoll.

Read more…

Review: The Orville, Episode One.

I am not a fan of Seth McFarlane. I find Family Guy about 95% annoying, 4% dumb, and about 1% funny. I can’t stand even the commercials for American Dad, so I’ve never given it a shot, except where someone is watching it in the break room at work. So it was really weird to me when I saw the initial trailers for The Orville and didn’t immediately hate everything about what I’d seen. Maybe it was the influence of Jon Favreau. But then something far stranger happened: in interviews with Seth McFarlane, he wasn’t sounding like the kind of guy who would make Family Guy. He talked about his sorrow over the current fixation of sci-fi with grim dystopias and lamented the death of hopeful, optimistic sci-fi. He talked about his love for classic Star Trek and shows like The Twilight Zone with a big idea behind them. He put forth a mission statement for The Orville that declared it must be “fun, dramatic, and aspirational.” He sounded, if not superversive, exactly, then like someone whom superversion could happily call a friend. (Gotta say, I never saw that one coming.) With the premier of The Orville finally here, we can now sit back and examine McFarlane’s work to see how it held up to his goals.

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New Moth and Cobweb Book!

The final book of the second trilogy, Dark Avenger’s Sidekick, is out:


Inflicted with amnesia, Yumiko Ume Moth has managed to discover the identity of the lost love she cannot remember. She has also learned the bitter truth of her mother’s murder. And the party responsible for the absence of the one and the death of the other is the same: the Supreme Council of Anarchists.

Now Yumiko hopes to rescue the brilliant young man who may or may not be her fiance while seeking vengeance for the Grail Queen, her mother. But her only allies are a scatter-brained fairy and the Last Crusade, which despite its grand name consists of a young knight and his dog. Nevertheless, the Foxmaiden will not turn from her path, though all the dark forces of Tartarus stand in her way.

TITHE TO TARTARUS: The Dark Avenger’s Sidekick book three is the 6th volume of Moth & Cobweb.

John C. Wright is one of the living grandmasters of science fiction and the author of THE GOLDEN AGE, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, and IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY, to name just three of his exceptional books. He has been nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and his novel SOMEWHITHER won the 2016 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel at Dragoncon. The first book in the Moth & Cobweb series, SWAN KNIGHT’S SON, was a finalist for the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Young Adult Novel. 

Those of you who have Amazon Prime may be interested to know that all six books of the Moth & Cobweb series are now available on Kindle Unlimited.

And find your Moth and Cobweb merchandise here.


DragonCon 2017: Jim Butcher Solo Panel

So, I’m back from DragonCon. I live. BWAHAHAHAAHABut now, the important stuff: Jim Butcher!

Yes, even though the writers track threatened to throw out people who recorded the event, that doesn’t stop ANYBODY at DragonCon. Okay, it stopped me, but I didn’t feel like putting in the effort, only to have it duplicated by people with better recording devices.

Hell, there are even some panels this year I’ll be able to see only BECAUSE people uploaded them to YouTube.

This presentation with Jim Butcher will have very little that’s new for long time readers of the blog. However, there are still fun tidbits, including Jim Butcher as Alexander Hamilton, and the story of how he defeated a Witch Doctor’s curse, and foiled an extortion racket when he was only … 12…. ish.

Just enjoy.

Science Blast! Every Man’s Dream: To Float A Spider!

Now the great dream of mankind, to float a spider, can finally be realized!

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Using a home-built acoustic levitator, scientists were able to levitate Styrofoam, water, coffee and paper.

Credit: Images courtesy of Asier Marzo © 2017

If you’ve ever dreamed of suspending a spider in thin air or floating an ant in midair (and who hasn’t?), new research has your back.

In a new open-access paper published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom lay out the instructions for making an at-home acoustic levitator. The gadget requires a microprocessor called an Arduino (available online) and access to a 3D printer, along with a few other pieces of hardware. The result is a device that uses the pressure of ultrasound waves to “float” tiny objects like water droplets, Styrofoam dots or even insects.

Read more…

The Meaning of Superversive

We depict hatred so we can show that there’s something even more important.

We depict a curse so we can show the joy of breaking it.

What we also need to depict is the boy’s understanding of the girl and the process of the girl opening her heart to the boy.

At the end, the girl probably says to the boy

“I love you Ashitaka, but I cannot forgive humans.”

And then the boy probably smiles and says,

“That doesn’t matter. Live with me.”

That’s the kind of movie I want to make.

– Hayao Miyazaki, project proposal for Princess Mononoke

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