Wednesday, January 7, 2004  [!]
Information Week looks at the information technology that went into Mars Rovers.

"I look at NASA and see that they just put a device on Mars, and it's working," Hurtado says.... "There isn't anything we can't do with computers."

It's NASA's job to make the Spirit's mission look easy. But the richly textured, red, digital images that appeared on the space agency's site Tuesday belie the truly monumental task of sending large quantities of data tens of millions of miles through the solar system.

Like all those NASA developments that made it into common use (um, besides Tang and Space Food Sticks, that is), technology developed for Mars Rovers may find its way into the mainstream:

Both Deliman and Trosper say technology that Jet Propulsion Laboratory introduced for this latest Mars mission will have an impact on business technology in the future. The lab's AutoNav system in particular lets Spirit find its way along the Martian surface without assistance. "This could lead to a car that drives itself," Deliman says.

Also, Computerworld looks at how NASA's been able to keep up with web traffic demand: outsourcing.

1/7/04; 5:51:29 PM | GeekTech | Discuss | # | |

Jeweler, challenged by members of the Mars Rover team, makes a watch that ticks to Mars time -- running 40 minutes slower per day than earth watches. He's gonna make 200 or so for the whole Mars team, and then, then may offer them to the public.

(So, does that explain the picture of Julie Townsend and her watch by the Christian Science Monitor? If so, the caption-writer didn't convey it; caption says that she keeps her watch to Mars time, not that she challenged/commissioned a watch-maker to make one for her that kept Mars)

Another keeping Mars hours article hints at the intensity that'll happen when Opportunity arrives. To avoid burnout, the Mars team will be working a 4 days on, 3 days off schedule. That is, if they can find it within themselves to go home, what with all the exciting discovery going on.

1/7/04; 4:44:49 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

..while Chris Kirk was outta town, his practical joker housesitting friend wrapped everything --everything-- in Kirk's apartment with Aluminum foil. [via boingBoing]

(oh, and what was the prank I took part in? Getting into a professor's office and turning each book so that all the spines were at the back of the bookshelf. And turned his desk around. And his pictures.)

1/7/04; 4:22:11 PM | Giggles | Discuss | # | |

The list of Iraqi bloggers grows. Zeyad of Healing Iraq points to a couple, notably Ihath- losing myself, Iraqi giggler laughs at the lunacy of the world. Written by an Iraqi woman in Canada (grew up in Kuwait, emigrated to Canada, married to a Palestinian who holds Israeli citizenship, lived for 4 years in Israel... what experience and perspective!)

And Salam Pax points to this article in Prospect Magazine: Hearts and minds: A ten-point plan for solving the difficulties of the occupation in Iraq.

A Family in Baghdad is a group blog: "mother: fayza, sons: raed, khaled and majed writing down their diaries. Father: azzam is not interested." Raed is the same one from Salam Pax's "Where is Raed?" and he and others translate Fayza's writings.

1/7/04; 3:40:08 PM | Iraq | Discuss | # | |

Ecliptic has a set of RocketCam movies. so you can look down and watch the ground fall below, the solid rocket boosters fall away, and engine cutoff and the like. I saw these on the big screen at Wild About Mars. Includes Spirit, Opportunity launch, Stardust launch, and several others.

1/7/04; 1:25:01 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

Hmmm. wonder if I should put up some sort of sidebar with Mars Rover links now that my serious link list is scrolling down the page?

1/7/04; 1:13:16 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

Provide two laws based on your empirical work, requests Edge's John Brockman.

There is some bit of wisdom, some rule of nature, some law-like pattern, either grand or small, that you've noticed in the universe that might as well be named after you. Gordon Moore has one; Johannes Kepler and Michael Faraday, too. So does Murphy.

141 contributors to date and counting. One small sample from Steven Levy,

Levy's Law: The truth is always more interesting that your preconception of what it might be.

In journalism, this means that the best practicioners should not have the stories written out in their heads before they report them. Preconceptions can blind you to the full, rich human reality that awaits you when you actually listen to your subjects and approach the material with an open mind. It wouldn't surprise me if the same tabula rasa principle applies when scientists try to answer the big questions.

UPDATE: What should have been there and wasn't: Rebecca Blood's Law of Weblog History

The year you discovered weblogs and/or started your own is 'The Year Blogs Exploded'. Corollary: the year after you started your blog is the beginning of 'Weblog Permanent September.'

1/7/04; 12:50:42 PM | Science | Discuss | # | |

...that is, now that Wild About Mars is over... I'm looking for an L.A. -based event for Opportunity's Landing, Saturday the 24th.

1/7/04; 12:38:34 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |

Mars Express fails to pick up a signal.

"Today in conditions we thought were very good for getting direct communication between Mars Express and Beagle 2, we did not get any contact," said David Southwood, the European Space Agency's director of science.

1/7/04; 12:33:23 PM | Space | Discuss | # | |