Here's a picture from the Cairns Zoo in Queensland, just after the zookeepers foiled the Ewok wombat's attempt to dig an escape tunnel. According to them, this wasn't the first time she'd tried to make a getaway. I'm not sure how well-drilled they were, but after an hour-long struggle, the keepers won in the end. » 2/13/15 5:19am 2/13/15 5:19am

Ever go to an exhibit of Star Wars props and costumes? The costumes all look kind of deflated and sad (except maybe those moments when you suddenly realize, "Oh, that's a toothbrush glued on there?!" or similar). But then you get to Yoda. And he looks like he's just about to get up and start talking to you. Even… » 2/08/15 2:13pm 2/08/15 2:13pm

Incidentally, my dissertation was on making spacecraft out of components that hover near one another, but don't touch. I had in mind something like the space station, but all the modules stand off from one another by several centimeters. (You can snake a tube across for the astronauts.) Our more reasonable ideas,… » 2/06/15 7:14pm 2/06/15 7:14pm

Nuclear deterrence is a crappy strategy. It encourages arms races, and it encourages adversaries to look for asymmetric ways to attack us. That comes as the price of only a nominal - if any - increase to our own security. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons systems and warning systems around the world are deteriorating,… » 1/22/15 7:36pm 1/22/15 7:36pm

Small correction: the mission was a complete success. Dragon is in orbit. The TEST FLIGHT did not result in its "stretch goals," as it were - of total success on the first try - but it was also successful in that it provided necessary data for improving the technology. The fact that there are pieces of the Falcon on… » 1/10/15 10:18am 1/10/15 10:18am

Stardust is also one of those rare cases where the movie was better than the book. Sorry, Gaiman, but some storytelling techniques work better on film than in long form prose. (I'm looking at you, training montage by the end of which the unlikely hero is super competent and in love with the character he previously… » 1/07/15 8:09am 1/07/15 8:09am