This Week in Geekdom

And what a week it was or, more accurately, still is! Aside from the multiple canonical shifts that we'll be getting in Marvel universe, this week features multiple milestone celebrations, the most prestigious of which we'll get to in just a second. So, without further ado, let's get down to the Week in Geekdom!

Image courtesy of NASA
Science/Technology

45 years ago today Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin descended from the Apollo 11 spacecraft and set their feet on the surface of the moon. The landing was the culmination of thousands of hours of labor by hundreds of NASA staff and embodied the 99.9% probability that the scientists and engineers had assigned to the mission being a success. Of course, NASA had a plan in place for the 0.1% chance that the landing ended in failure. The video below breaks down this plan and include this text of the 'Red Folder' speech that had been prepared for Nixon to deliver to the world in the event of catastrophe.


Fortunately, the intensive planning and quick thinking of Commander Armstrong won out and we are left with still-stunning images like these ones. At least one commemorative round of Kerbal is in order today. The Care and Feeding of Nerds salutes all the men and women who have pushed the limits of our capabilities as a species and dared to reach for the stars.

Speaking of daring to reach for the stars, here's a quick but well compiled slideshow of the history behind five of the most groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy.

Also along this vein, NASA released this, the largest and most detailed map of Mars we have to date.

Friday was the 93rd birthday of Senator John Glenn. This is how the crew members of the International Space Station paid tribute.

Just how likely is a robot uprising? Well, it's tough to gauge since none of the experts in the fields of robotics and/or artificial intelligence get pretty edgy about the topic. Fortunately, we humans have something of a safeguard in these three problems which computers will never be able to solve.

Sniffing out malaria, literally. This is the fascinating account of the unorthodox methods researchers are employing in the fight against the deadly mosquito-borne illness.

A promising first step in the fight against Type II diabetes, scientists at the Salk Institute have created a serum that causes blood sugar levels to normalize in mice in just a single dose.

The parasite Toxoplasmosa gondii is believed to be one of the most widely contracted parasitic infections in the biosphere but scientists now also believe it may play a role in the potential treatment of cancer.

Since they are both adorable and may be the reservoir for cancer treatment, let's see that our kitties are well cared for. Perhaps with the help of facial recognition software.

Think you ended up with your group of friends by serendipity and shared experiences? This study posits that those individuals you surround yourself with may more closely tied to you than you surmised.

The latest edition of Nature Communications contains this study that may help pinpoint where dinosaurs ended and modern birds began.

Throughout the year we've had the chance to bear witness to some astounding experiments and a corresponding number of rebuttals as researchers attempt to duplicate those experiments. More often than not, the discoveries end up with the lion's share of the attention, but this is an excellent decomposition of the latter: a telling of how the DAMA experiment fooled itself into 'detecting' dark matter.

Negative mass has always been physical concept that is widely acknowledged, but believed to be nigh-impossible to prove its existence. Earlier this week Saoussen Mbarek and Manu Paranjape at the Université de Montréal in Canada released their findings that not only is negative mass possible, but that the state does not violate Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Google is attempting to soften its burgeoning reputation as an evil mega-corporation by relenting on its mandate that users must employ their real names in its apps. Furthermore, Google will be launching the Zero initiative in an effort to combat bugs and other threats to online security.

This may be the future for start menus in Windows operating systems.

Why is it that you always seem to select the slowest line in the supermarket/traffic/shopping mall? Turns out, it's because the math is not in your favor.

Comics

The comic book world was front and center for much of this week. While most of the attention was, understandably, focused on the future, here are some of the weirder trends that have graced the pages of comics past.

Games

We've talked a few times now about the 40th birthday of Dungeons & Dragons and now The New Yorker is adding its voice to the chorus of tributes.

Presumably because he has little else to do in prison, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision for the manner in which he is portrayed in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Activision has yet to release a formal statement on the suit.

Ever wondered what your first-person character looks like if they were to be viewed from a third-person vantage? A Reddit user modded Crysis 2 in order to do just that.

TV/Movies

Warner Bros has confirmed that they will continue with the trend of making movies from games by producing Space Invaders, the movie. Neither a timeframe nor an explanation of what the plot could be has been provided so far.

We're mere weeks away from the premiere of season eight of Dr. Who, which promises that it will take us 'back to basics'. Here's what that phrase may mean.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

The results are still being tabulated, but Weird Al's new album, Mandatory Fun, is on course to be his first #1 on the Billboard charts.

Move over bitcoin; much walk-taking dogecoin. There's a new virtual currency in town and it's liable to drive you insane.

This is the story of one Swedish physicist who has personally authored 8.5% of the articles on Wikipedia.

That time wherein MIT offered a course on professional wrestling.

There's tricking out an expensive supercar and then there's making it the ultimate vehicle for traversing the zombie apocalypse.

I leave you guys with this fun stop-motion Lego film tribute to 50 years of Dr. Who. As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!


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