Friday, March 28, 2008


Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as... something.

The team: Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder and myself with some help from Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione. Rob Sheridan collaborated with Artist in Residence (A+R) to create the accompanying visual and physical aesthetic.

We began improvising and let the music decide the direction. Eyes were closed, hands played instruments and it began. Within a matter of days it became clear we were on to something, and a lot of material began appearing. What we thought could be a five song EP became much more. I invited some friends over to join in and we all enjoyed the process of collaborating on this.

The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we're able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed - from a 100% DRM-free, high-quality download, to the most luxurious physical package we've ever created.

More volumes of Ghosts are likely to appear in the future.

- Trent Reznor, March 2, 2008

Check out the Nine Inch Nails: Ghost I-IV website.

What an awesome new album by Nine Inch Nails! It's all instrumental, and they've really come up with some thought-provoking melodies! I bought the whole thing and I'm definitely not disappointed!

Not only was this album released exclusively on the web through the NIN website, but the first volume is free to download! Trent Reznor is finally free from the puppet strings of the record industry, and is celebrating by delivering a superior product to the fans in a new and conventional way. Who knows, he could be paving the way for the future!

The coolest aspect of this new release is the online community involvement. The NIN Ghosts Youtube group is dedicated to fan videos created around the melodies of the new tracks! Check it out:

To expand the idea of the "Ghosts" project, Nine Inch Nails is inviting anyone and everyone to create visuals to accompany the album's music. In a few months, we'll be gathering the entries we feel are particularly exceptional and highlighting them. There are no rules to this - be as creative as you like. Create a music video, or a short film, or something completely abstract. Use only one track from the album, or use multiple tracks.

Sweet! I'll post mine when/if it's finished!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flying Suirrel Suit?

Wingsuit Flying

Flying Squirrel

It sounds crazy, and it probably is: Skydive from 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) and land safely—without a parachute—wearing a getup that resembles a flying squirrel costume.

"It's pretty much considered impossible," said Maria von Egidy, a designer with Jii-Wings in Cape Town, South Africa.

Von Egidy isn't interested in trying the stunt herself. But she aims to design the first wingsuit that will help pull it off.

Wingsuits are jumpsuits with fabric panels between the arms and legs that enable skydivers to zoom around in freefall.

By angling the self-inflating, rigid "wings," pilots can turn, dive, or rocket forward.

What wearers can't do—at least not yet—is land safely without the aid of a parachute.

"In terms of downward speed, we're actually within the margin of safety there for landing," von Egidy said. "But of course the forward speeds are tremendous."

And therein lies the catch.

Terminal Velocity

If pushed from a high-flying plane, a naked human would fall to Earth at a terminal velocity—or maximum speed—of about 120 miles (190 kilometers) an hour.

A wingsuit doubles a person's surface area, slowing the descent rate to about 30 miles (50 kilometers) an hour, about the same as with a small parachute, von Egidy said.

The main problem with making a safe landing is that wingsuit pilots descend not only downward but also forward, propelled by the gliding action of their wings.

Forward speeds can top 75 to 90 miles (120 to 150 kilometers) an hour.

For now wingsuit pilots deploy a parachute at the end of their jumps to slow their descent for touchdown.

But a few pilots and designers have been exploring ways to set down on solid ground without the aid of a chute.

Some, like BASE (building, antennae, spans, and Earth) jumper Jeb Corliss of Malibu, California, are reportedly experimenting with landing gear or special surfaces.

Von Egidy has a different idea.

"We're trying to flare the suit without using landing gear [but] with aerodynamics," she said. "It's really a very simple solution in the end."

The designer won't discuss her plans in more detail, lest she divulge trade secrets. But she does say that the key to her concept is to create a forward brake at the right moment.

"Our design efforts are centered around solving that problem," she said.

Von Egidy's passion for the wingsuit might seem ironic, as she has never skydived at all, let alone jumped wearing one of her prototypes.

Instead she relies on a clutch of experienced skydivers around the world to test the suits and report on their performance.

"I don't have the luxury of actually experiencing it myself," von Egidy said. "So I have to rely on really good descriptions from [the testers]."

Danger Dives

Jean Potvin, a physics professor at St. Louis University in Missouri, analyzes parachute safety for the Parks College Parachute Research Group.

Potvin, a veteran skydiver who's logged more than 2,400 jumps, believes it's possible to land the right wingsuit without a parachute.

But, he says, the very high speeds involved and the potential for pilot error pose huge risks.

"It's something that's doable, but it's … fraught with danger," Potvin said.

Whether von Egidy's strategy will work remains to be seen. She says it will be another few months before a prototype can be safely tested in the air.

In the meantime, she and business partner Cate Turner will continue to subsidize their wingsuit work with income from their main business: Tailors of Tinseltown, which supplies costumes to South Africa's television and film industry.

As for her quest to design the first wingsuit to safely deliver a person to Earth, the South African says she harbors few doubts she will succeed.

"The preliminary ground tests are very positive," she said. "Everybody who knows what I'm doing believes in it. It's just a damn good idea that no one spotted."

Check out the article at National Geographic News.

Sounds like an awesome ride... I wanna try!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dextre heads to the ISS!

The Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the Space Shuttle Endeavor

Space Shuttle Endeavor liftoff - March 11, 2008

The International Space Station at the conclusion of NASA Mission STS-122

The Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) will be installed on NASA Mission STS-123

The Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) will be installed on NASA Mission STS-123

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on what was to be the longest space station mission ever, a 16-day voyage to build a gangly robot and add a new room that will serve as a closet for a future lab.

The space shuttle roared from its seaside pad at 2:28 a.m., lighting up the sky for miles around as it took off on a multinational flight involving Canada and Japan.

It was a rare treat: The last time NASA launched a shuttle at nighttime was in 2006. Only about a quarter of shuttle flights have begun in darkness.

"Good luck and Godspeed, and we'll see you back here in 16 days," launch director Mike Leinbach radioed to the astronauts right before liftoff.

"Banzai," replied Endeavour's commander, Dominic Gorie, using a Japanese exclamation of joy. "God truly has blessed us with a beautiful night here, Mike, to launch, so let's light them up and give Him a show."

They did. The shuttle took flight with a flash of light, giving a peach-yellow glow to the low clouds just offshore before disappearing into the darkness.

Shortly after liftoff, the astronauts had to deal with alert messages regarding their ship's steering thrusters. Then for unknown reasons, the cooling system had to be switched from the primary to backup line. NASA said it was looking into the problems.

Gorie and his crew face a daunting job once they reach the international space station late Wednesday night. The astronauts will perform five spacewalks, the most ever planned during a shuttle visit.

The launching site was jammed with Canadians and Japanese representing two of the major partners in the international space station.

The Canadian Space Agency supplied Dextre, the two-armed robot that was hitching a ride aboard Endeavour, while the Japanese Space Agency sent up the first part of its massive Kibo lab, a storage compartment for experiments, tools and spare parts.

Also on hand for the liftoff was a 19-member congressional delegation led by Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, whose district includes Johnson Space Center in Houston. He is pushing for increased NASA funding.

For the first time since space station construction began nearly 10 years ago, all five major partners were about to own a piece of the orbiting real estate. The launch of the first section of Kibo, or Hope, finally propelled Japan into the space station action.

"Our Japanese people have been waiting for a very long, long time," said Yoshiyuki Hasegawa, the Japanese Space Agency's station program manager.

"With this flight I believe that we finally became a real partner of the (space station) project, not just one of the members on the list, after 20 some years of effort in the project," said Keiji Tachikawa, head of the Japanese Space Agency.

Work on the space station project began in the mid-1980s, with preliminary design work for Kibo (pronounced KEE'-boh) starting in 1990. Space station construction, however, was stalled over the years for various reasons, most recently the 2003 Columbia tragedy.

The main part of the Kibo lab will fly on the next shuttle mission in May, with the final installment, a porch for outdoor experiments, going up next year.

Altogether, the Japanese Space Agency has invested about $6.7 billion in the space station program, including a Kibo control center near Tokyo.

Canada's $200 million-plus Dextre, meanwhile, is designed to eventually take over some of the more routine outdoor maintenance chores from spacewalking astronauts.

Dextre, short for dexterous and pronounced like Dexter, will join the space station's Canadian-built robot arm, already in orbit for seven years.

In addition to working with their international payloads, Endeavour's astronauts will try out a caulking gun and high-tech goo on deliberately damaged shuttle thermal tile samples.

The test — part of NASA's ongoing post-Columbia safety effort — should have been performed last year, but was put off because of emergency space station repairs.

Astronaut Garrett Reisman will stay behind on the space station until June, swapping places with a Frenchman who accompanied Europe's Columbus lab into orbit in February.

A Japanese astronaut is also part of Endeavour's all-male crew.

Endeavour's countdown was the smoothest in years, officials said. Shortly after liftoff, however, the astronauts had to deal with a couple of problems that ended up being minor. They got alert messages for some of their ship's steering thrusters, but it turned out to be a bad electronics card. Then the primary cooling system failed, and they had to switch to the backup.

A cursory look at the initial launch images — fewer than usual because of the nighttime launch — showed only one significant loss of debris from the external fuel tank 83 seconds into the flight. But it appeared to miss the right wing.

In any event, Endeavour will be checked thoroughly in orbit for any potential damage, standard procedure ever since the loss of Columbia because of a foam strike.

"This is just a wonderful beginning to what's going to be a long and challenging mission for us," said LeRoy Cain, a shuttle manager who gave the final "go" for launch. "But we're really looking forward to it and we're ready to go, ready to get to work on orbit."

It is the second of six planned shuttle missions this year, all but one to the space station. NASA faces a 2010 deadline for finishing the station and retiring its shuttles.

Check out the article at Fox News.

Cool stuff! Man, do I need a Dextre at home!