Space Elevator Games – year 2

Sue hasn’t mentioned the Space Elevator Games yet this year so here goes nothing. The second year of the Space Elevator games can be described simply as impressive. The games are divided into two competitions: 1) tether strength and 2) climbing a tether. No one took home the cash ($200k) in either of the two competitions this year, though one team only missed the money on the climbing comp by a couple of seconds. The competition will heat up a bit next year as they raise the purse to $500,000.

The competition, which started last year, is planned to be an annual event until 2010.

The Space Elevator Blog

Wired News on Web 2.0, mashups, and revitalizing democracy

Over at Wired News, Jennifer Granick has a nice article on how Web 2.0 apps, including mashups and online mapping, can help us get back to the essence of democratic government: “Though it may not be obvious, the road marks in this amorphous thing called Web 2.0 are political: grassroots participation, forging new connections, and empowering from the ground up. The ideal democratic process is participatory and the Web 2.0 phenomenon is about democratizing digital technology.”

She also mentions GeoRSS and OGC’s WMS standard as ways of integrating data sources, and notes that the big internet players are beginning to understand the potential of collaborative efforts to map political information, pointing out the new US Election Guide in Google Earth that was unveiled on Monday.

If you haven’t checked it out already, it’s short, but definitely a good read.

Life on Mars…..?

Honestly, we just don’t know. Apparently the basis of most of our belief in the lack of life on Mars might be bad data. The Viking Mars Mission from 30 years ago flew close enough to Mars to see if it could remotely detect signs of life. Apparently scientists have reproduced the technology the Viking mission used and tested it in remote regions of Earth. Their findings show that Viking wouldn’t have found life on Earth using the technology it employs in similar climate regions when clearly there is life on Earth in those regions. Does that mean there is life on Mars? Nope, not necessarily. All we can say is that the Viking Mission employed techniques that wouldn’t have found signs if there were any life on Mars. Hopefully the 2009 mission will help decide once and for all this age old question.