Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NASA: We found 2.5 million supermassive black holes gorging themselves

DUDE. Don't look up, lest your eyeballs be sucked into any one of 2.5 MILLION supermassive black holes currently digesting spacetime. NASA announced today that they've pinpointed the suckers (ha!) using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope.

All those little circles are really reality-ripping hot DOGs (dust obscured galaxies) with black holes at their centers that care not for your puny "sentience" or pleas for mercy. NOM-NOM-NOM. From Universe Today:
WISE scanned the whole sky twice in infrared light, completing its survey in early 2011. Like night-vision goggles probing the dark, the telescope captured millions of images of the sky. All the data from the mission have been released publicly, allowing astronomers to dig in and make new discoveries.

The latest findings are helping astronomers better understand how galaxies and the behemoth black holes at their centers grow and evolve together. For example, the giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, has 4 million times the mass of our sun and has gone through periodic feeding frenzies where material falls towards the black hole, heats up and irradiates its surroundings. Bigger central black holes, up to a billion times the mass of our sun, may even shut down star formation in galaxies.

In one study, astronomers used WISE to identify about 2.5 million actively feeding supermassive black holes across the full sky, stretching back to distances more than 10 billion light-years away. About two-thirds of these objects never had been detected before because dust blocks their visible light. WISE easily sees these monsters because their powerful, accreting black holes warm the dust, causing it to glow in infrared light.
It's funny, but quasars always seem to come up as "extroverts" on the Myers Briggs.
WISE actually picked up other objects too, including asteroids, quasars, and a whole mess o' other stuff that you probablly think is cool, but should thank your stars isn't headed this way.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

A giant leap home.

Thanks Neil, for helping to make our dreams a reality.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

HD VIDEO: Curiosity's descent onto Mars as filmed from orbit

Absolutely incredible! This was apparently compiled into a video using images from the MARDI Descent Imager. What you see at the beginning is the heat sheild being shed. Followed by the rover's P.O.V. descent, via sky crane.

UPDATE: Here's a new "smoothed" version that's easier to follow, visually. Props to Boing Boing.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


AS STATED PREVIOUSLY: Seriously, why hold on to that $5, $15, or $25? You know in your heart that you've wanted to laser blast things and strangle other things with noodley appendages.

Entanglement: A creature with that many arms can quickly seize control of an opponent once in close range. The Squid can use it's arms to strangle an opponent very effectively. When grappling an opponent, the Squid takes no to hit penalty for the attempt, the entangled enemy takes a -2 to its STR check to escape, and the Squid can deliver 1d6 crushing damage to the opponent each round it is entangled.

Look into your three-chambered heart and tell me you can't honestly imagine yourself giving a big space bear hug to your enemies.
Rage of the Hunter: While the modern civilized Bearman is seldom the font of violence of eons past, he nevertheless bears within him an innate Rage that he may call upon to become a truly unstoppable force on the field of combat. Once per day, the Bearman may call upon this great rage, granting him an additional +2 to hit and -2 to AC for the duration of the combat, and allowing him to continue fighting on even after his hit points have been reduced to up to -10 below zero.

Hulks and Horrors wants you. NEEDS YOU. YOU'RE PART OF THE TEAM, MAN/WOMAN.

Even that thing on the right, says you're the best.

Dig deep (into the cushions of your Laz-E Boy, Lazer boy). The clock is ticking--there's like, less than 56 hours left...but I know you'll come through, Space Ace. YOU'VE JUST GOT TO COME THROUGH.

.....he believes in you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Need a quick hook for a X-plorers, sci-fi, or space opera adventure?

Just a few quick and easy one-off mission ideas for X-plorer GMs/referees. These run as short, pick-up jobs for PCs to rack up some extra XP and space creds between campaigns:

Take a salvage assignment to exploit a derelict (1d6) 
  1. ...high radiation danger on board (hazard pay is double normal rates) special gear required 
  2. ...near a known, dangerous anomalie (e.g., black hole, supernova) (pay is triple, plus anything you find that's not on the manifest)
  3. ...near a "devil's triangle" where space sailors are known to disappear (e.g., region of space planet, etc.) (no pay, but you may keep whatever you find that doesn't belong to the client)
  4. ...of a famous galactic crime boss (pay is double, expect a bonus and future contracts) but if PCs keep anything at all, the boss will put a hit on them
  5. ...which is an undead husk of a previously "living" ship (pay is double, and you get a "chaperone" to make sure you're doing things "right")
  6. ...just yer average abandoned ship...yep, nothing unusual to speak of... (pay is normal, ship hyperjumps to primative "lost island" system as soon as all X-plorers are aboard)
Take a live bounty (1d8) 
  1. Runaway bride/groom (grifter) who's left the last few spouses/marks totally broke, heartbroken, (lots of scorned exes desperate to get to her/him first)
  2. Gang of galactic bank robbers who made off with a fortune belonging to a long list of dubious investors (same as above, but potential for space gangs, decadent-and-crumbling empires, etc. to be after them)
  3. Cosmic mind wizard, extremely dangerous, powerful, and likes to make law enforcement his lab rats
  4. Previous bounty hunter who absconded with last quarry for reasons unknown
  5. Deposed interstellar gangster who's heirs are looking to put a hit on him so they can win control of his empire
  6. Shamed politician who's gone missing and knows too many juicy government secrets and is ready to sing like a canary
  7. Escaped android convict who hates humans, aliens, and anything else with a heartbeat
  8. Alien meta-morpher that's infiltrated a royal house on a civilized planet to overthrow a rich galactic ally
Take out the trash (1d6) 
  1. Extermination of space kaiju that are plaguing orbital- and asteroid-based luxury hotels
  2. Eradicate an Insectaur infestation, which are in this case a race of garbage truck-sized, robotic hornets that move from system-to-system
  3. Infiltrate a sentient, artificial planet's subterranean tunnels to shut down its main computer before it makes it's way to Earth
  4. Immoliate a particularly nasty strain of space algae that's gumming up spaceship lanes and creating a "Sargasso Sea" from which no ship can escape....without getting stuck yourself 
  5. Take down anyone in the "Take a live bounty" table, but for half the XP and double the money (also, the PCs automatically incur someone looking for revenge in a later session) 
  6. Literally "take out the trash" by capturing and/or blasting space junk endangering an orbital space station or planetary settlement
Click the "random" tag below to get more random tables for your sci-fi gaming.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


If you haven't seen this "Seven Minutes of Terror" video detailing the difficulties of landing a one-ton rover on the Red Planet tonight, then here it is, in all it's nail-biting glory:

NASA is running a live feed right now. has a great bunch o'links too.

Here's to Curiosity sticking the landing!

Expiscor Eternus!

UPDATE: NASA has confirmed Curiosity has landed safely on Mars. SCIENCE ROCKS!