Saturday, August 7, 2010
In honour of its 75th anniversary this year, DC Comics is doing a series called DC Universe Legacies, which retells the history of the DC Universe; it's drawn by a host of famous artists and penned by the great Len Wein (preview of #2 here; reviews here and here). Of course, like any history there is an opportunity to throw in a few retcons. While reading DC Universe Legacies #2 (August 2010), what did my eagle eyes spy but a plot to steal the Markovian Crown Jewels.
If you've been following my comics entries, you'll know I'm writing a history of the infamous character Tara Markov here. The Markovs were only invented in the 1980s, but with this issue, their family is being inserted into Golden Age DC arcs. Golden Age stories were originally published by DC in the 1940s; the stories summarized by Wein's DC Universe Legacies have so far covered events inside the DC Universe of the 1920s and 1930s. And in this issue, a gang of 1930s thieves break into a museum (in Gotham?) to steal the Crown Jewels and a portrait of an eighteenth or nineteenth century Markovian royal - who looks suspiciously like Tara Markov, the Titan who died in a DCU story set in the 1980s. Many will say this is just a family resemblance to an ancestor. But these are comic books, where such obvious explanations will never do. Seeing that portrait, I immediately thought of the old Hammer horror film, Countess Dracula. That movie picked up on an idea in other Hammer films and in other contemporary horror films, like The Haunted Palace, starring Vincent Price and based on the story by H. P. Lovecraft. A noble family has a female member of dubious parentage who is introduced as a daughter, niece or cousin. Yet curious visitors are puzzled to see her exact likeness reappearing in a much older portrait or a statue at a gravesite. It turns out that the obscure, eternally young girl is the immortal founder of the whole family legacy. This is the kind of mystery that might suit Tara Markov, if her immortality depended on her status as an earth elemental, rather than as a vampire.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Phoenix El Sereno. Paper Sculpture by Jeff Nishinaka.
The Telegraph has posted a new gallery here of paper sculptures by Japanese artist Jeff Nishinaka, including this Phoenix. There are more pictures of his work here. The mythical firebird of course is associated with immortality, rebirth, regeneration. It lives for 500 or 1,000 years, then builds a nest made of cinnamon and myrrh that burns while the bird sings a dying song, and a new bird is born from the ashes. The ancient symbol derived from Indian mythology that migrated north and west; there are versions of the Phoenix in the legends of China, India, Persia, the Philippines, Russia and Hungary.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Image by David Hellman for the video game Braid © Microsoft Game Studios and Number None Inc.
Scientists have found that the expanding universe is speeding up at its outer edges, rather than slowing down as would be expected from a cosmos moving outward and away foom the source of the Big Bang. At first, astronomers and physicists attributed this strange phenomenon to the influence of Dark Matter. But since Dark Matter is an unknown quantity, cosmologists find themselves turning to quantum physicists, whose research with particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider are trying to find evidence for Dark Matter at the sub-atomic level. When publicity over the LHC was heating up in 2007, some scientists announced alternate explanations for the accelerating edge of reality. According to this report from the Telegraph and this article at the New Scientist, one team suggested that time is slowing down and will eventually run out, stopping the entire universe in a single, freeze-frame final moment (Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain). Another scientist (Itzhak Bars of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles) has suggested that there are two or more dimensions of time. For an explanation of Two-Time Physics, a theory which has been developing since 1995, go here. Bars's work is another attempt to explain the Theory of Everything.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A reminder today to listen to BBC World Service's Age of the Genome here. This is the second of a four-part series, which commemorates the tenth anniversary of this landmark finding. The series explores how the 26 June 2000 discovery by Venter and Collins, which was supported by a research team of thousands, will change our world forever.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
August 1, 2010: A Solar Flare. Photo Credit: NASA/SDO.
NASA's Goddard Center twitter feed points to a Telegraph report that on August 1, an explosion occurred on the sun. NASA: "On August 1, 2010 around 0855 UT, Earth orbiting satellites detected a C3-class solar flare. The origin of the blast was sunspot 1092." And more from NASA here: "almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection." A film of the event is here. When particles from the explosion reach the earth today and tomorrow, they will likely cause displays of the Northern Lights.
Posted by Tam B at 2:53:00 PM
I09 and Bleeding Cool are reporting on The Curfew, an online, old school point-and-click interactive game that just went online. It's set in a dystopian Britain in the future. Think Nineteen Eighty-Four meets V for Vendetta, with the core messages from both works (anti-Marxist, anti-totalitarian Socialist and Anarchist respectively) mashed in ways that would not necessarily line up with Orwell's and Moore's original visions. The game's homepage is here. It's ironically published by Channel 4, so expect their peculiar political brand to be hard at work here. This is certainly what the site, the promo videos, and Bleeding Cool's first review all suggest. The game was created by Littleloud Digital Entertainment and written by comic book author Kieron Gillen.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Arrow of Time, by Vladimir Kush.
Yesterday, I blogged about Deepak Chopra's efforts to link problems related to theories of gravity to the Arrow of Time problems in physics. This kind of speculation on the meaning and direction of time, if locked into the mysteries of how gravity works at macro- and microcosmic levels, will lend itself to debates on aging, consciousness and death - and thus to issues of spirituality and religion. This is all pretty dicey. Now enter the biologists.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
There are some strange, strange ideas floating around right now on the edges of quantum physics. What's brewing is a peculiar and unfortunate marriage of science and religion, all of it hinging on the relationship between gravity and time.