Let’s Party Like Spacemen

The title was my status on IM until Saturday April 12, which was Yuri’s Night. Erica and I went to the best local place to celebrate, the NASA Ames Research Center. My one regret is that we did not go as early as possible and stay the whole time. Attending an early morning motorcycle Basic RiderCourse prevented that.

One of the best installations for me was that of the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group. One of the scientists had made steel-caged AI balls of about 2.5 feet in diameter. In the middle on a perpendicular axis was a motor. Lights and cameras mounted on the motor as well. Their directive is to find their position as accurately as possible using on board GPS. It allows them to know the location of each other. The system can be overridden with a radio remote, or a program. The inventor was telling us about the choreograph
dances they were doing out in Black Rock City. Many of the inventions looked like they would be at home out there.

The one thing which completely blew me away was a 3D mapping application lecture. It combined data at the lowest level of the earth’s terrain, and added on more layers so that the speaker was able to zoom back from the top of Everest to 2 billion light years out. It showed the constellations above us, and then zoomed back to show the distance of those stars as lines to the earth, like spikes going in every direction. He lit up a sphere of how far radio signals have traveled since the 1930s. Highlighting other solar systems, nebulae, galaxies, the microwave field, and on back. Insane patterns with a fractal image sort of look to them. I want to find the DVD but don’t even know what to search for.