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NASA budgets for development of MMO & Worldspaceparty

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another example of 'NASA gets it...the others follow': NASA moving into virtual world development:

To successfully advance the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), NASA is continually refocusing and streamlining its organization, realigning ongoing programs, and tapping the innovative talents of our nation. To accomplish the VSE goals of returning to the moon and going beyond to Mars, NASA must find ways to enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This intramural call for proposal ideas seeks to develop a persistent, online, synthetic environment that will support NASA's STEM education goals and allow millions more American to share in the experience of NASA science and exploration virtually.
Read more about this particular solicitation (16-page pdf) at (the call seems to have been postponed). Seems to follows neatly along the lines of a NASA activity that has already been going on for some time: NASA CoLab:
NASA CoLab is a Collaborative Space Exploration Lab being developed at NASA. CoLab will provide a framework for exciting partnership projects between the nation’s space program and the thriving technology-entrepreneurial community. In addition to the benefits to collaborating with intellectual assets of the technology business sector, the general public will benefit through various projects supporting the NASA’s goals. CoLab will feature a physical space in downtown San Francisco, a collaborative online space where scientists and engineers from NASA will collaborate with the entrepreneurial technology community, and a space in “Second Life”, a virtual learning community with interactive content.
This also reminds me: forget Easter, its WorldSpaceParty time. Some of the people I met while over in Cupertino are taking part in the organisation of this once in a lifetime party commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch, while at the same time celebrating the annual Yuri's night which is held all over the globe. Located in a hanger on NASA Ames premises, the event includes amongst others a concert by Plaid (enough reason already to go over there) and also hosts several space art exhibitions. In case you can't make it over to California, there is always the opportunity to visit the party through your second life ;)


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FeedBurner goes outer space...

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Finally...where can I sign up for a feed from the Mars Exploration Rovers or, say, the International Space Station?

A couple of months ago I stumbled upon this ad by FeedBurner which I found kind of intruiging. Thinking about the convergence of user generated content, games like Spore, collective intelligence, NASA teaming up with Google, Google Earth becoming more mainstream, locative media art, blogjects, my project with Jeremy hight 'Floating points', The Internet of Things, advertisements 'in space' and satellites as blogging objects, it seemed they tapped into the right kind of nerve with this particular add. There won't be anybody blogging from Jupiter anytime soon, but considering that satellites have been blogging since the early days of Sputnik (audio), the idea of the blogosphere moving into outer space doesn't strike me as all too crazy (let alone the advertising dollars). The main question that strikes me is: what would somebody something near Jupiter blog about? Any thoughts?

(note: the above flash file was kindly provided to me by FeedBurner after some back and forth communication on my request to host the ad on my blog. Sofar, I haven't been able to make the click-through URL for this particular ad work, so in return I am happy to host their FeedBurner ads URL. Thanks Jessica.)

200,000,000 and counting

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Google Earth hits 200 million 'unique user activitations' as of February (via MIT Advertising Lab)

Falcon 1

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2007


Another beautiful launch video, this one's from last monday's SpaceX's Falcon-1 launch

Cyberspace or the metaverse?

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2007

Update Monday 26th March: The lecture of Bruce Sterling is available here (649 Mb Quicktime)

Soon, here will likely be the online video of Bruce Sterling's talk tonight at 'Pakhuis 't Zwijger', 2nd in line, about an hour into the evening programme. Felt like he was off to a slow start, but had some pleasant rides along the way ;)
After this cyberspace revisit, I just uploaded a talk I found on my harddrive from Michael T Jones (Google CTO, must be from Where2.0 2006, but can't find it anywhere anymore online). For me, its the follow up on his other highly inspirational talk. And here's an interesting press release from Bruce Sterling's blog on a conference on locative media.

Eric Schmidt interview

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An excellent and clear interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt (blogged all over the place).

YES2 into EMC testing

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2007


YES2 finally made it into the Electromagnetic compatibility testing. Congratulations team!


Posted on Monday, March 19, 2007

Below images show some kml outcomes of a python script I am writing. Not quite there yet, but its already starting to be fun. Reminds me of a poster I saw in the cinema the other day.



Updating your res in Google E

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007


Wanna get a better resolution of your house in Google Earth? Consider inviting Osama Bin Laden for tea.


Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007

Update saturday March 17th: I thought this already happened a few weeks ago, but only now is there an official announcement that Google acquired AdScape, an in-game advertisement company. Seems to fit nicely with the objective of user generated game content...mix that with Spore and you get "Evolution, sponsored by Adsense".

Following a lead from a blogpost @ 3pointD on the SXSW conference, where Will Wright gave a keynote, I stumble upon a game currently under development which totally blows me away. Working title 'Spore'. Below are some videos where Will Wright demos the game. Its amazing: how could I have missed this one? The videos have had over 2 million views. Kind of brings the whole point of the merger of outer space and cyberspace home. Mission accomplished. Blog closed till further notice ;)

Interesting note on the first video is the commentary by Will Wright. Watching it from a distance, I am surprised how much the intonation of his voice resembles that of Google Earth CTO Michael T Jones in this seminal 2005 presentation on Google Earth (if you haven't watch this presentation, do...its definitely worth it). I wonder what happens if you overlay Will Wright's video with the audio track of Michael Jones...would anybody notice? Anyway, the concept implemented in Spore gives some interesting clues as to where the combination of collective intelligence, user generated content and space exploration might end up in the future (harnassing, leveraging etc, you know the drill). Oh, and btw, Will Wright is the guy from Simcity and the Sims in case you wondered. Here is an interview with Will Wright on Spore in Popular Science.

Spore gameplay video (February 2006)

Spore demo from E3 2006 (may 2006)

Mars flyovers

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007


Two impressive Mars flyover videos were released last week by NASA, one for each of the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity (via Nasa Watch). If this technology is available on the MRO satellite, I wonder what is possible with this technology for Earth orbiting satellites.

Flying to the moon

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007

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Still trying to get back into Second Life after I lost my password...the help line doesn't do much...let alone trying to get a new free login...hope they solve their my problem before NASA gets back to the Moon in First Life.

Dropping the bomb

Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007

One of the nice extra's of working in the space sector (and currently collaborating with Russian Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) designer SRC Makeev) is the opportunity to sometimes get a little sneak preview into the Russian industrial military complex. One of my collegues from Samara recently wrote me an email announcing his absense in our collaboration because he was going to a conference in a higly secretive town called Sarov:

Yes, I'm back from Sarov, one of the "mail boxes" (i.e. closed secret towns). When I say closed I meen that it's really closed - the whole town is surrounded by fence, with only few check-points. You need a special permission to enter and also another permission to leave! Foreigners should apply 3 months before visit.

In Sarov he managed to visit the Nuclear Weapons museum. All items in below photo are nuclear warheads, with a particularly large one in the back. The second photo shows my collegue in front of the worlds largest fusion bomb. I don't know, but it has a weird kind of 'Tintin' or 'Melies' feel to it. Imagine dropping a bomb like that...

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LBS in mainstream advertising

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A new ad campaign for KPN mobile here in Amsterdam gives a (creative) hint at what's coming with Location Based Services (LBS). Tagline (free translation):

KPN MobileatHome : within 100m around your house, mobile calling at the rate of a landline.
How about free calling within 100m around the ad display?

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Computer liebe

Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Via Jurryt Pietersma, did you know this (from an interview with J. Presper Eckert, co-inventor of the ENIAC):

Q: So it's a myth that ENIAC could only add, subtract, multiply and divide?
A: No, that's a calculator. ENIAC could do three-dimensional, second-order differential equations. We were calculating trajectory tables for the war effort. In those days. The trajectory tables were calculated by hundreds of people operating desk calculators -- people who were called computers. So the machine that does that work was called a computer.
Sweet...More at

Btw, for those of you in the Netherlands, I just discovered this series of lectures that could be of interest to you: cybersalvations. Here is the line-up:

March 21:
Bruce Sterling (science fiction writer, design visionairy) &
Peter Pels (anthropology, Leiden University)
Moderator: Sally Wyatt (Virtual Knowledge Studio, former president of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology)

April 11:
Rudy Rucker (science fiction writer, mathematics professor)
RU Sirius (founder cyberculture magazine ‘Mondo 2000’)
Moderator: Giselinde Kuipers (sociology, University of Amsterdam)

May 2:
Brenda Laurel (virtual worlds and game designer)
Bruce Damer and Galen Brandt (virtual worlds developers and performers)
Moderator: Christian van ‘t Hof (Rathenau Institute)

Location: Pakhuis de Zwijger, Piet Heinkade 179, Amsterdam
Start: 19.45 uur
Entrance: Free

O'Reilly Radar on space

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2007

Some space related blogposting at one of my favorite blogs O'Reilly Radar:

The Earth pulse

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2007


Its not my normal routine to blog about Google Earth kml files. For one because Google Earth Blog and OgleEarth do a much better job than I ever could, and (2) because there are so many being released these days that it is hard to keep up (don't want to end up in the categories section of the geographic web...and now with kml search, that's no longer needed anyway).

This one I have to blog though. Reading through the kml specifications, I came across this time-lapsed serie of NASA Blue Marble imagery. Still puzzling over the idea of 'pattern recognition' as prophetised by Jeff Hawkins of Numenta (previous tbd post ::: just found out they released their first release of the Numenta platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC)), this serie of images displaying the appearance of the Earth through 1 orbit around the Sun gives food for some good pattern recognition thought. See for example the pulsating ice sheet coverage as seen from the North Pole (image above). Its quite extraordinary that everybody running a computer and an internet connection these days can have a look at these out-of-this-world patterns. And this is only just the beginning. Anytime soon now, we can all have a go at making our own personalised 'unconvenient truth' documentary ;)

Europe ahead of itself

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2007

After Sweden opened the first embassy in Second Life last month, now has the story (in Dutch) that the European Commission is studying opening up a European Commission office in Second Life. What's going on here...?

Trying to get back into Second Life over the weekend to have a look at the embassy (amongst other things), I am surprised to learn that I am locked out of my second life because (1) if forgot my password (could only just remember my ackward name Sergey Arkin) and (2) in order to reset my password, I need to give the answer to the captcha ''what is your pet's name'....but I don't even have a pet, let alone that I would remember what I filled in at the time I was making the trial account (usually its something like 'qwerty' or '')...there is clearly a need for some better ID management here. Maybe the European Commission can start by giving each European a unique and personal digital identity while they are at it, instead of just hobby-horsing extending their own little Brussels island into the virtual domain...

Germany to the Moon

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2007


OHB System seems to have some good lobbyists in the German parliament (FT article in German). Here are some more computer renderings of the system.

But...but, where's the singularity?

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2007


Vernor Vinge recently gave a talk at the Long Now foundation: What if the Singularity does NOT happen.

....It's 2040 and nerds in old-folks homes are wandering around, scratching their heads, and asking plaintively, "But ... but, where's the Singularity?"...
As part of his excursion into possible future scenarios for humankind in case the singularity does not happen, he explores the importance of human space flight as a way to secure our long term future. His conclusions sofar:
Humankind's presence in space is essential to long-term human survival.
That is why I urge that we reject any major humans-in-space initiative that does not have the prerequisite goal of much cheaper (at least by a factor of ten) access to space.

Makes sense. Not so sure though if I agree with the idea of human spaceflight as being essential for our future survival, but that doubt is more to do with the notion of 'humans-in-space' compared to that of 'humankind's presence in space'.

KML Search explained

Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2007


Directions Magazine has an informative graphic explanation of KML search.

update Sunday March 4th: Another informative article on the same topic at (via OgleEarth).

Uh, what's up doc?

Posted on Friday, March 2, 2007


Nasa Watch has a link to a presentation by John Connelly (Lunar Lander Project Office) about the current status of the US plans to go back to the Moon. Brings back memories of Euromoon2000 (below), my initiation in the inner workings of the European Space Agency. Goes to show (again) that the right timing is an essential ingredient for success. Wubbo Ockels's vision was right on the money, just about a decade early...


The future is process, not a destination
Bruce Sterling

Everything is ultimately becoming information technology
Ray Kurzweil

Data is the Intel inside
Tim O'Reilly

There is only one machine and the web is its OS
Kevin Kelly

The medium is the message
Marshall McLuhan