Let’s get moving

This has to be the weirdest global warming solution I’ve ever heard. NASA Wants to the Move the Earth:

Hence the group’s decision to try to save Earth. ‘All you have to do is strap a chemical rocket to an asteroid or comet and fire it at just the right time,’ added Laughlin. ‘It is basic rocket science.’

The plan has one or two worrying aspects, however. For a start, space engineers would have to be very careful about how they directed their asteroid or comet towards Earth. The slightest miscalculation in orbit could fire it straight at Earth – with devastating consequences.

It is a point acknowledged by the group. ‘The collision of a 100-kilometre diameter object with the Earth at cosmic velocity would sterilise the biosphere most effectively, at least to the level of bacteria,’ they state in a paper in Astrophysics and Space Science. ‘The danger cannot be overemphasised.’

There is also the vexed question of the Moon. As the current issue of Scientific American points out, if Earth was pushed out of its current position it is ‘most likely the Moon would be stripped away from Earth,’ it states, radically upsetting out planet’s climate.

These criticisms are accepted by the scientists. ‘Our investigation has shown just how delicately Earth is poised within the solar system,’ Laughlin admitted. ‘Nevertheless, our work has practical implications. Our calculations show that to get Earth to a safer, distant orbit, it would have to pass through unstable zones and would need careful nurturing and nudging. Any alien astronomers observing our solar system would know that something odd had occurred, and would realise an intelligent lifeform was responsible.

‘And the same goes for us. When we look at other solar systems, and detect planets around other suns – which we are now beginning to do – we may see that planet-moving has occurred. It will give us our first evidence of the handiwork of extraterrestrial beings.’

Meanwhile, there’s apparently a polystyrene planet out there, moving backwards. I’m not entirely clear on what the scientific implications are, but it’s equally fascinating.

Links via Warren Ellis and SF Signal, respectively.

Wednesday various

  • Molly Ringwald remembers John Hughes:

    Eventually, though, I felt that I needed to work with other people as well. I wanted to grow up, something I felt (rightly or wrongly) I couldn’t do while working with John. Sometimes I wonder if that was what he found so unforgivable. We were like the Darling children when they made the decision to leave Neverland. And John was Peter Pan, warning us that if we left we could never come back. And, true to his word, not only were we unable to return, but he went one step further. He did away with Neverland itself.

  • The Daily Show Is Now Hiring Real Reporters. I think this has less to do with a desire for verisimilitude at The Daily Show, or a blurring of the lines between real and fake news, and more to do with somebody over at the show just finding Radosh smart and funny. The piece he says first caught their interest, after all, is amusing, and it does a good job of laying out the absurdity of the political situation. The Daily Show is best at providing commentary and context. Millions of Americans may get their news from John Stewart, but I don’t think this signals their intention of doing independent, investigative reporting. I could be wrong, though. [via]
  • The first rule of Write Club… John C. Wright’s rules for writers are as good as any I’ve ever read. [via]
  • I love these lesser-known editing and proofreading marks and plan to use them at every opportunity I get. [via]
  • And finally, while everybody’s making a big deal about this upcoming Sesame Street Mad Men parody, it really hasn’t struck me as so far outside their norm. After all, if Sesame Street can parody Desperate Housewives and Law & Order, why not this?No, what I found oddly compelling was a bit from this report on the parody plans:

    The panel was introduced with a clip with President Barack Obama, saying, “This video is brought to you by the number 40.” Along with TBS’ George Lopez talk show, this is the second program featured at press tour that’s nabbed an intro clip from the president leading some critics to say, “enough already.”

    I can see the President introducing Sesame Street — it’s an educational institution — but George Lopez’s talk show? Surely the Commander in Chief has better things to do with his time.

    What I do find interesting about the Sesame Street parodies, overall, is that the show has increasingly skewed younger, aiming more squarely at pre-schoolers than in its earlier days. (One could argue this started with Elmo, but it was all but inevitable as more edutainment options became available outside Seasame Street.) Yet these parodies skew way beyond pre-school. The show is courting two very different audiences, while increasingly widening the gap between them.

Wednesday various

  • Sense And Sensibility and Sea Monsters, huh? I worry about diminishing returns, but I’ve heard pretty good things about Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Quirk’s last book in this sort-of-series. (Seeing as how Pride and Prejudice is the only Jane Austen I’ve ever read, maybe I should also read Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody of it. Then again, I read Austen’s book, along with another for a test, in a single weekend, and I can’t say I remember a lot about it. Some people get married in the end, I think?) I just worry: can The Werewolves of Mansfield ParK or Emma: Vampire Hunter be far behind?
  • I fucking knew it! Cursing may be good for you. Clay Davis must be the healthiest man alive. [via]
  • Toxic Substance Allows Birds to “See” Magnetic Field:

    Cryptochrome is also present in the human eye, but our amount of superoxides is even lower.

    That’s because superoxides reduce longevity, so human evolution has put a premium on longer life spans instead of on better steering.

    In birds, however, evolution has favored a bit of cellular damage in return for the navigational benefits of magnetic vision, the researchers conclude.

    What this seems to suggest, possibly, is that if we increased the amount of superoxides in our system, we could “see” the magnetic field just like birds. Of course, given the trade-off in toxicity, I don’t think we’ll find anyone too eager to test this hypothesis. [via]

  • One should always be scared when George Lucas turns his eye towards “relationships and emotional landscapes.” [via]
  • And finally, I love these fake library ads. More pictures from the Johnson County Library here. [via]

Til death and then some

There have got to be better ways to meet women: Teenage girl dug up to be ‘corpse bride’:

In rural China, superstitious villagers have for centuries sought out the bodies of recently deceased woman to be ghost brides for young men who die single.

Even more scarily:

Last year, a gang in southern China was arrested for strangling young women to sell as ghost brides when the supply of female corpses in their area ran short.

I’m hopeful that I won’t die single, having never married, but if I do — please, don’t dig up any dead women on my account. I’m just saying. Via Jeffrey Ford.