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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

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Capturing Starman from Earth

Rogelio Bernal Andreo:

Astrophotography can be applied in many different ways. I utilize technology that allows me to capture ancient photons so that I can later process and create my own interpretation of the data captured, effectively blending art and science like not many other disciplines do, but I don’t usually track “small pixels in space” (aka comets, asteroids and yes, even spacecrafts) as some of my peers do. Yet, surely enough, comes the day when someone decides to launch a cool red car “driven” by a dummy in an astronaut costume, I had but to go for it! Yeah, red sports cars make even tiny pixels look cool!

Capturing the Tesla while it speeds through the night sky was no easy task. Read his entire post to see how he did it.

/via Space.com who didn’t directly link to his blog. Why do online publications do this? It is evil.

I literally can’t even right now…

I’m so glad I watched the Falcon Heavy launch live. That is a moment I’ll remember for many years.

Shooting a car at Mars

Space X  (watch this video):

The first test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 1:30 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.

With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

That’s tomorrow. And what this release doesn’t state is that they are putting a Tesla Roadster (which has a starting price of $250,000 USD) in Falcon Heavy’s cargo bay and, wait for it… are shooting it into orbit around Mars.

A luxury sports car is being shot from Earth to Mars. This is something that is happening tomorrow.

Space X just did a static fire of Falcon Heavy. Fast-forward to 16 minutes.

Dynamicland

Dynamicland:

We are inventing a new computational medium where people work together with real objects in the real world, not alone with virtual objects on a screen.

From Bret Victor and others.

Swoon.

1I/2017 U1 `Oumuamua

ESO:

For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space.

!!!!!!

This created a unique problem for the naming of this object.

The IAU also created a new class of objects for interstellar asteroids, with this object being the first to receive this designation.

When these types of things break I like to allow a little bit of time for more research, observations, and perspectives to be published. I’ve been soaking in everything I can about this object over the last few days. The entire thing is so so cool.

What a year it has been in astronomical observations!

August’s kilonova in NGC 4993

Robert Naeye for Astronomy magazine, on the instrumentation that detected a 130M year-old kilonova:

The LIGO and Virgo instruments detected a crescendo of waves for a whopping 100 seconds — much longer than previous detections. The duration, amplitude, and frequency of the waves had all the characteristics that theorists have expected for a binary system consisting of two neutron stars on a death spiral ending with coalescence.

I haven’t written too much about this event yet. Mostly because I’ve been devouring as much information about it as I’ve been able to find time for.

The series of events that led to the construction of LIGO and Virgo are incredible enough on their own. The subsequent series of events leading to the direct observation of a kilonova are downright unbelievable.

Naeye’s piece is great and goes into detail. But it merely scratches the surface. I urge you to pour over this event on your own to see how astounding this observation really was.

A technology predication time capsule

Readers of my blog will know that I occasionally attempt to predict when certain technologies that I write about will hit the mainstream. While I’m very passionate about a few technologies, I try to temper that excitement with the experiences I’ve had, the wisdom that comes with age, and other factors. Usually, things take a little longer to happen than we’d like for the things we want to see most. And sometimes, sometimes, the things we want most never materialize at all.

For the purposes of this post, mainstream doesn’t mean critical mass but rather mass market adoption. With 7B+ people on the planet reaching critical mass is far easier than reaching mass market saturation. In other words, a company, product, or technology can reach sustainability and never truly hit the mass market. Examples: Tesla can succeed, be profitable, and have happy customers without the world moving on from fossil fuels. A company focusing on AI can make great livings, do compelling and challenging work, without every family having their own personal C-3PO.

Here are some stake-in-the-ground predictions on some of the most talked about technologies of our day. We’ll see in the next few decades if I was even close.

  • Legal, fully autonomous driving with no human assistance: Mid-summer 2026 – Even 9 years out there will still only be a few select vehicles that will fit into this category. There will still be humans driving on the road. And, only the most expensive cars will have all of these features. But, it will exist, be available to anyone, and be legal in the US. And I also believe there will be small fleets running in select cities for Lyft, Uber, and I believe Tesla will have a ride-share platform by this point. Also, don’t be surprised if Apple does too.
  • Bitcoin, or some crypto-currency, being widely transacted at small retail stores in the US: 2027 – If Square, or some other platform with high market saturation, turns on crypto for retail SMBs then we can say they accept this form of tender. But, I believe it will be 10 years before we see a decent number of daily transactions by consumers. I know, “decent” is relative so I’ll give it a number: $100,000,000 US dollar equivalent in a single month. This is roughly 25% of US monthly retail revenue as of September 2017. Side note: By this time we’ll see talk of the US dollar being converted to an all digital currency and, perhaps, transacted on its own blockchain.
  • Mixed Reality experiences used in everyday work environments: 2027 – Today we share links to web sites, documents on Google Drive, and flat or animated graphics to design and develop both soft and physical products. By 2025 many of these every day things will be accessible and even better experience within MR. I believe most businesses with digital assets will have multiple pairs of “glasses” or “goggles” that will allow team members to view or collaborate on these types of data. In other words, by 2030 rather than sending a child a link to Wikipedia to learn about our Solar System I believe we’ll be sending them MR experiences that they will consume using an augmented reality experience on a device other than a flat panel display. This happens today. But no where near mass market. And this industry has a long way to go. Even further than I previously thought.
  • Wireless internet takes over all cable based internet: 2029 – Most people in the US will connect to the Internet via wireless across all devices. And there will be no limitation on bandwidth usage.
  • Fully autonomous fleets replace individual car ownership: 2037 – Today US cities are plagued by traffic jams comprised of single occupant vehicles. Mass transit softens this but doesn’t solve the issue due to the convenience of a car. Ride sharing services have softened this even more and car ownership in urban areas is on the decline. By 2037 we’ll see massive reduction in individual car ownership in cities but also in the hinterlands as fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, combined with better mass transit, can care for the majority of transportation needs. I believe, however, families with at least 2 children will still have a single family-owned vehicle of some sort. Again, I’d like to put a number on this. So I’d say 15-25% less car ownership/use for individuals and commuters nationwide.
  • Mixed Reality replacing many conventional meat space locations/activities: 2050 – By 2050 the majority of children in the US will have the option to attend school in VR ala Ready Player One. Virtual classrooms will no longer be limited by federal budgets but will be designed to appear like cathedrals of learning.
  • (Because, why not?) An off-planet human civilization: 2175 – Humans will walk on Mars in the 2020s. And, perhaps, a small moon or Mars base will exist in similar fashion to today’s ISS in the 2030s. But a civilization, where people live, work, play, have children, and die peacefully etc. won’t exist on any other planet or moon (likely the Moon will have an established civilization prior to Mars). The reason I put this far-reaching prediction on this list is because I believe the excitement around a human footprint on Mars will lead to speculation about off-planet civilizations. But, we must all remember, we put a footprint on the Moon many, many decades ago and then just never went back. I do think that we’ll be mining objects near Earth much, much sooner. Even the Moon. But we’ll do that with robots and minimal human intervention.
  • Tweet editing – Never.

Check back in a few decades to see if I was even close.

ESO observes kilonovae

European Southern Observatory:

ESO’s fleet of telescopes in Chile have detected the first visible counterpart to a gravitational wave source. These historic observations suggest that this unique object is the result of the merger of two neutron stars. The cataclysmic aftermaths of this kind of merger — long-predicted events called kilonovae — disperse heavy elements such as gold and platinum throughout the Universe. This discovery, published in several papers in the journal Nature and elsewhere, also provides the strongest evidence yet that short-duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars.

Just two neutron stars makin’ it rain.

What an incredible observation. Well done ESO.

Update: Here is the timelapse.