Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Geek Shit Wednesday Vol. X

We skipped last week's Geek Shit Wednesday due to an overwhelming attack of the drunkenness (IE, my birthday) but here, faithful readers, get your geek on.

US Navy Makes MMO Wargame to Combat Somali Pirates

Taking open-source to the next level, the Navy is launching a wargame allowing you to suggest solutions to the problem of real-life piracy. 

"'We want to test this proposition: can you get a crowd to provide you with good information?' Larry Schuette, the director for innovation at the Office of Naval Research, the Navy’s mad scientists, asks Danger Room. "'Is the wisdom of the crowd really that wise?'

"Working with the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley nonprofit, Schuette produced the Navy’s first foray into the gaming world. Other services have put together video games before, like the America’s Army recruitment game.  In fact, the Army has a whole office dedicated to gaming. But those games have been internal affairs, aimed at getting people to enlist or sharpen a servicemember’s skills. MMOWGLI wants you involved, even if your only experience with the Navy comes from Village People songs or Charlie Sheen movies."

The game sounds pretty fun-- you essentially Tweet (within the MMO interface) suggestions or ideas, have your ideas adjusted and voted on, and are awarded points based on those ideas.  What will be done with the information?  Maybe nothing.  However, if something innovative and new comes of the game, you could see your ideas adapted into Navy war doctrine.  I'm probably going to play.

[Ars Technica]

NASA Choosing Between Titan Boat, Mars Lander, or Comet Hopper

The Discovery Program at NASA has examined submissions by teams of scientists to decide the course of upcoming interplanetary investigations.  They've come up with three different proposals and will decide which one will become the Agency's next pet project.  What's on the table?  A lander which will examine the interior of the planet Mars, a hopper which will visit the same comet multiple times to measure its changes during its journey, and a boat which would visit the methane-ethane sea Ligeia Mare on the moon Titan.

"Nasa is pondering three potential missions as it picks its next interplanetary project. Depending on its final choice the US space agency could examine the interior of Mars, study a comet over time or float a robot boat in the icy seas of Titan.

"The agency's Discovery Program invited proposals for cosmic investigations in June 2010. The panel received 28 submissions and has now whittled the competition down to the final three. Each team will receive $3 million to further study, conceptualise and design their plans.

"In 2012 Nasa will pick the winner and supply the team with a sizable budget (cost-capped at $425 million) to carry out development and embark on the mission by around 2016."

Sweet!  I totally vote for the Titan boat-- the moon has always held fascination for me and is one of the top contenders in our solar system for harboring extraterrestrial life.  

[Wired UK]

Navy Advances the Science of Fusion

The Navy is innovating again, with a project moving forward seeking to produce fusion, the process (as yet unsustainable) that fuels the hearts of stars.  

"EMC2 Fusion doesn't have tens of millions of venture capital to play with — but it does have a $7.9 million Navy contract to test a plasma technology known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, also known as Polywell fusion. The idea is to accelerate positively charged ions in an electrical cage to such an extent that they occasionally spark a fusion reaction, releasing energy and neutrons. The concept was pioneered by the late physicist Robert Bussard, and carried forward by the EMC2 Fusion team in Santa Fe, N.M."

If fusion like this could be achieved, it would be revolutionary to the energy industry.   


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