Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Blog Tour: (Surprise) This Blog!

Since we’ve declared this week Spacefreighters Lounge Resource Week, we’ll be posting some of our most valued resource books, websites and materials and why they’re so important to our work.

In many ways, this is a “back to the future” opportunity. Spacefreighters Lounge was created in 2007 with the goal of becoming “one-stop shopping” for science fiction (romance) related research. We’ve since moved away from that theme to a more general SFR focus, so what a great time to revisit the original purpose.

We’ve done our spring cleaning and rearranged the sidebar to sweep away some of the cobwebs and clutter and bring one of our offerings to the forefront for this week’s “blog tour”, namely SCI-FI 101. There’s a virtual planetlode of information here that you could spend days perusing for your next inspiration. Let’s take a look

SCI-FI 101
Part I
Lesser Known Sites

About AI
The Artificial Intelligence Community website features the latest news on developing supercomputers, advanced algorithms, nanotechnology and thinking machines. The overview explains the definition and goals of AI. What is Moore’s Law?  “When will we reach ‘Singularity?’”  Even if you’re not into cutting edge science, this site is sure to stimulate ideas and What’s Ifs…

Atlas of the Universe
An overview of the universal time/distances and structure including our solar system, the nearest stars, our solar neighborhood, the Milky Way galaxy, other galaxies out to the fringes of the known universe. What stars or bodies are within 12.5 light years from our Sun? 250 light years? 5000 light years? 500,000 light years? What is the Orion Arm? Open Star Clusters? How do double (binary), triple, and quadruple star orbits work? See the animated illustration. Solid knowledge for anyone writing about characters who venture off into the great unknown. Includes a glossary and useful links. Drill down under each heading for a wealth of information on various topics from nebulae to a star chart you can print and assemble.

Ancient Empires
When we write about future civilizations, we often draw on our knowledge of the past. This site offers a wealth of archeological information, including a list of the Top 8 Unknown Ancient Empires. Have you heard of the Indus Valley site? Carnal-Supe? Moche? Hittite? (Maybe the Hittites, if you’re a Ghostbusters fan.) Let your imagination wander through time on the About.Com Archealogy site.

Anti-Matter Drive Theory
Also listed under Starship Design as Relativity and Star Ship Design. A technical discussion on space-time theories and star ship propulsion. Good reading for those who are interested in the principles behind of Einstein’s theories.

Explains the formation of the universe from Big Bang through the formation of the Solar System and includes links to a host of space agencies and many observatories. Good basic information, although somewhat suspect due to the ideas for Mars colonization proposed under “Where Do We Go From Here.” [Throw rockets with fertile soil, plants, algae and bacteria at Mars and in 20-50 years we can send scientists to start colonies. By that time there will be oxygen, warmer temperatures and an infant ecology.] Ah, yes, if only it were that easy.

Cosmic Log
A long-standing (since 2002) and frequently updated site of info on the cosmos such as the March 4, 2010 article A Giant Among Galaxies served up by award-winning science editor Alan Boyle. Other recent features include How Quakes Measure Up (effects of the Chilean earthquake) and Pluto Finds its Place. The fun and educational links on Weekend Field Trips on the Web will keep you in a wealth of new information and ideas. It also features a long link of valuable links on just about anything to do with space and science. Written in easy to understand, often entertaining language, consider booking yourself as a frequent flyer on this site.

Exploration: Sea and Sky
I heart kids’ sites! The contest is entertaining and provides a great jumping off point for the muse to further explore ideas. I’ve made a study of underwater vessels and habitats a major part of my research, because of the similarities to humans traveling through undersea and outer space environments. The site is divided into these two realms. Explore the Sky includes topic areas of Space Exploration, Sky News and Sky Gallery. Explore the Sea includes Ocean Exploration, Ocean Realm, and Sea Gallery to name only a few. Dive in!

Forms of Government
What sort of government will control your colonized planet or alien civilization? Will it be a form of Authoritarian such as Despotism, Kleptocracy, or Plutocracy? Or maybe it will form a Futarchy or Polyarchy Democracy? Possibly it’s been thrown into Ocholocracy or Tribalism Anarchy. Wikipedia brings some light to the many sides of civilization in this brief but informative overview.

An attractive, image-rich site that features galleries and photo tours, telescope facts, education and museums, and a Reference Desk that includes frequently asked questions, a glossary and conversion charts. Here’s a pop quiz. 1) What’s the name of the Hubble Telescope’s successor to be launched in 2014? 2) What is Fomalhaut b, how far is it and what did scientists find orbiting it? 3) What will be the major players in tonight’s sky? HubbleSite has all the answers.

Pyramids (Nova)
The Inside Story. How were the Pyramids of Giza built? Who built them? How are they laid out? How old are they? How are they excavated. Take a virtual tour of the inside and uncovery the secrets. The mystery of the Egyptian pyramids is explored in this fascinating Nova site.

Solar System Viewer
I gleaned some great information about planetary orbits and timing for my current work in progress from this animated site. Where will the inner or outer planets be at some point in the future?

Space Slide Shows (MSNBC)
Not in a mood to read?  Looking for some muse candy and eye-popping visuals? Check out the amazing photos in this list of space slide shows.

Space Telescope (European)
A slightly different perspective. The European homepage for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

SpacePort America
Yes, there is a first-ever commercial spaceport now being built in the USA! In fact, it’s right here in good ol’ New Mexico. Check out what’s coming in near future travel, including the history, vision, challenges. The site includes some stunning imagery and factual information of where we are headed just a few years down the road. There’s even an online gift shop!

US Military Enlisted Ranks
US Military Officer/Warrant Officer Ranks
Whether you read or write science fiction romance, these US Department of Defense sites are essential for untangling the mystery of rank and insignia across the branches of military. For instance, did you know a captain in the US Army is not the same rank as a captain in the Navy? Is a Petty Officer an officer? Which two branches have the same ranks and insignias? What’s an Air Force E-5? A Marine O-4? Did you know Army and Marine officer ranks (not enlisted) are identical except that the Marines don’t have a war-time general officer rank and they abbreviate the ranks differently? Print out these handy charts for answers and quick reference to military rank questions.

An astronomy site that’s out of this world and one of my favorite “fly-bys.” Quick links in the upper right show you the latest and hot! views. Just hover your mouse over the link for a summary and click the link to get a “big picture” view. The “Getting Started” link explains how the site works. Your muse will love it.

Part II
Major Science News Sites

You could spend hours or even days wandering most of these familiar science sites, but we’ll list them here for convenience. Most cover the gamut of science topics including astronomy, breakthroughs, culture, health, nanotech, physics, space exploration, technology, and “weird science.”
We hope you've found some useful sites in our list of Sci-Fi 101 resources.  Do you have any favorite sites you'd like to recommend?  Please let us know, we'd be glad to add them to our list.

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