Winning Science April 16, 2014

The Cassini spacecraft has discovered what appears to be a new moon being formed in the rings of Saturn. The new moon, named Peggy, is being formed from the ice that makes up Saturn’s rings. While this baby moon is still currently too small to see, the gravitational effects on the rings are visible. Peggy joins the 62 other moons that Saturn has, both official and provisional.

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The moon might be named after a real person, but all I can think about is the guy from the Capital One commercial.

Leave it to the folks at MIT to determine that our furniture is too lazy. They seem to think it should be doing more for us. The Transform projects created a table-ish structure that moves and responds to people. The system senses when a person is nearby using a Kinect (from an Xbox). The table uses 1,152 plastic pins to provide motion. There is also a fantastic video of the table rolling a ball around. Yes, you just read that right, the surface is moving a ball around, in a controlled and complex manner.

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Maybe it won’t be too long until we have hospital beds like Yashida’s in The Wolverine. Seems like it could be comfy.

Scientists in Russia have successfully grown a new esophagus and implanted it in a rat.  What is an esophagus? When you drink something and you start coughing because it went “down the wrong pipe,” it should have gone down the esophagus. It’s the part of the body that takes food and liquids (e.g. beer) from the mouth to the stomach. The Russian scientists were able to accomplish this by using a scaffold of existing cells and then allowing stem cells to develop around that scaffold. Not only is this a fascinating advance, but an interesting technique for doing it as well.

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I’m pretty partial to my own esophagus because of the whole loving beer and food thing.

 

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Random Thought Generator Episode 3, Feat. Pete Newcomb of Borderless Comics

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On this episode Tracy got the opportunity to sit down and chat with Pete Newcomb of Borderless Comics.  Pete is a fascinating storyteller, and the tale of how he became a comic book store owner is unique and very interesting.  Besides sharing his personal journey, Pete also provided some insight into the workings of a comic book store.  Borderless is unusual in that it is a read store–meaning that the owners encourage customers to read comics in the store. If you think this sounds like an insane idea, you’re not alone, but Pete has some compelling reasons for believing that this is a solid business model.

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Around the Web April 11, 2014

In a rather surprising announcement yesterday, Comixology announced that they are becoming a subsidiary of Amazon. The digital comics outlet has made quite the name for itself the last few years, and even has the distinction of being the highest grossing non-game app in the iTunes store. It’s currently unclear what this acquisition will ultimately mean for users, but details will likely be coming soon.

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While I’m a fan of both companies, I do get concerned when too many things that I enjoy get clustered under one company. There is always a risk of the market being run by edict instead of by competition to be the best service.

Over the last couple decades there has been a consistent push to blame violent video games for the various violent events that occur in real life, such as the Washington Navy Yard and Sandy Hook shootings.  While events such as these are tragedies to be certain, it is wholly incorrect to blame video games for the actions of these deranged individuals. In a recent article by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund  two more studies to the existing mountain of evidence to support the fact that violent video games do not increase violent tendencies in individuals.

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In the end, the only “evidence” to support the idea that video games cause violence, is anecdotal, which is, in fact, not evidence of any sort.

There has been some speculation lately about the fate of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and whether or not the show will get a second season. I think it’s safe to say that the show hasn’t been performing quite as well either ABC or Marvel would like, but that is not to say that the show isn’t performing. It has the highest ratings of any ABC show that night, it is not too far below the network’s average, and to be fair, they’re directly competing with N.C.I.S. which is one of the highest rated shows on TV right now. In all likelihood we will get at least one more season out of the show and if the ratings can turn around, maybe more.

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Hopefully the end of the season will gain some last minute momentum, thanks in part to its tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Webcomics are a wonderful thing. Personally, I start off my day by reading several rather enjoyable ones. The only real problem is that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them, especially the ones that come out daily. For those of you who have this issue, here’s a list of 17 webcomics that have wrapped up their runs and are available for you to read at your leisure. Among them is Starslip, which is one of my personal favorites, and 8-Bit Theater by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger.

 

 

 

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Comic Cover Imitation: Fan Art Isn’t Just For Fanboys

They say that imitation is the most sincere from of flattery. If that’s the case, then comic books love to flatter one another. From the beginning of superhero comics there have been copies of the most successful characters and their gimmicks. This applies not only to the characters, but also to the most visible part of the book–the covers. It is a common practice in the industry to pay homage to classic or favorite covers from other books. Of course what better place to begin than Action Comics #1. This particular issue is one of the most frequently parodied.

Superman-First-Comic-Action-Comics-No-1This is of course an absolute classic. In his book Supergods, comic writer Grant Morrison talks about all the various reasons this cover appeals to people and he is dead on. There is something about this cover that tells people that inside these pages is something new and different, which it is. Because of this, the cover has been copied repeatedly through the years. Continue reading

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