Science Friday: SETI Discovery + Video Paper + Touchable Holograms + Slimy Creatures + more

Science Friday is back after a crazy week at the Las Vegas convention (and then one more week to recover)! Get ready for a jam packed edition full of SETI discoveries, movies in magazines, invading slimy creatures, touchable holography, and Carolyn Porco wanting in to the next Star Trek movie! All this and more plus our gadget of the week: The iPhone Dino Dock!


SETI Telescope Array Produces Scientific Results
The SETI, or search for extraterrestrial intelligence, telescope array, the only array in the world focused on the search for intelligent alien life, has produced its first scientific results — but still no word from ET. While scientists want to continue to expand the array for the search for life out there, in the meantime, they are also surveying intergalactic space for ‘missing’ star-forming gas. The project, called the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) was designed to scan large areas of the sky for alien civilizations. Astronomers are now finding it useful in producing real science. Astronomers don’t see enough gas for the amount of stars that are forming. Using the ATA, they have put out their first science paper, which answers some questions as well as asking some new ones. Check out their published findings at IEEE.

And, if you’re not already, you can help search for ET life in the universe by installing SETI@Home, a program that runs as your screen saver processing information gathered by the SETI project. Check it out at

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

EW Adding Video Ads To Printed Magazine
Entertainment Weekly is adding full-motion video with audio next month to its printed page. Sound crazy? The cellphone-sized, wafer-thin screens activate when the reader gets to that page, and will feature characters from prime time television and ads for soft drinks. With displays and speakers getting thinner and lighter, applications like this are becoming more and more of a reality. Will we soon be reading newspapers like those in Harry Potter or Firefly? Let’s hope so! CBS won’t say how much it is paying for the spread, but the idea behind these new experiments is generally to charge a premium for advertising that has more potential to catch readers’ attention.

Just one example of flexible displays

What Are Those Things? Slimy Creatures Invade NJ Beaches
Earlier this month, beachgoers in New Jersey were feeling something slimy in between their toes and asking, “What are those things?” The little blobs are actually called salp, small free floating aquatic creatures that show up every now and then. Salps look like jellyfish but they are not and the good news for swimmers is even if they are kind of gross in the water, they don’t sting. They can stick together and form sticky, slimy sheets in the water. Here’s just another example of ‘alien’ creatures right here on Earth.

Touchable Holography
Although we can “see” holographic images as if they are really floating in front of us, we cannot “touch” them, because they are nothing but light. This project adds tactile feedback to the hovering image in 3D free space. Tactile sensation requires contact with objects, but including a stimulator in the work space dilutes the appearance of holographic images. The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display solves this problem by producing tactile sensation on a user’s hand without any direct contact and without diluting the quality of the holographic projection. For more, see the project’s website.

Scientist Spotlight: Petition to Get Carolyn Porco in the Next Star Trek Movie
If you have been following the evolution of the 2009 Star Trek (and now the upcoming 2011 movie), chances are you’ve heard the name Carolyn Porco bounced a round a bit. That’s because she is the science advisor that worked with JJ Abrams on the 2009 movie! (see TrekMovie interview) She is also the lead imaging scientist on the Cassini project, currently in orbit around Saturn. Some fans of Star Trek and Cassini spoke up on Cassini’s CICLOPS forums suggesting that Dr. Porco get a cameo in the next movie. She replied by saying that she would be honored to don a Federation uniform. Now, an official petition to get her in front of the camera this time around is circulating the internet and looking for signatures. Help get real scientists recognized in science fiction! SIGN THE PETITION!

Carolyn Porco with JJ Abrams

Video of the Week: Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D
We can’t travel to any of the other 100 billion galaxies in the universe yet, but their photons can travel to us. Capturing those photons over a ten-day period results in the most profound and humbling image ever created, the 2004 image known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Now it’s brought to life in 3D, letting you fly through 10,000 galaxies as they were 13 billion years ago.

Gadget of the Week: Dinosaur iPhone Dock (King of all iPhone Docks!)
Sure, it’s basically just a rubber dinosaur toy with an iPhone shaped hole cut in it and a cord strung up through the middle. But, you can’t look at this and tell me it’s not the most epic iPhone dock EVAR! This would look great on my desk!



If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…

  • @CarolynPorco: Planetary scientist, Cassini imaging director, and Star Trek science advisor!
  • @DoWhatITellYou: This is an experiment in basic mass action. Do as the llama tells you. Good.
  • @Feliciaday: Actress, New Media Geek, Gamer, Misanthrope. I like to keep my Tweets real and not waste people’s time.

Science Quickies
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.


TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.

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Video Ads = Groovy

The hubble clip is astounding. I need to wikipedia the big bang — it still seems so counter intuitive to hear “when the universe was only 500 million years old.” So what was there — and what will there be — before and after the universe?

I need that dock

love the hubble clip also those saps were also very interesting

The hubble clip was astounding, Imagine in just 20 years , what we will be able to see. I wish carl sagan could have seen this, billions upon billions of galaxies….In the mean time, lets turn the scope towards our moon so we can enjoy the original apollo moon landing sites! up close!

A big fat NO to Porco in the next Trek movie. PLEASE.

I think I have seen Carolyn Porco in a fifteen second segment making a comment on Deep Space imaging in Season 2 of The Universe (second half of the season). I’ll have to pull out my old DVD’s I record of the shows to look for the clip. The image I recall in my mind she was wherein a Pale Pink turtle neck pull over sweater with the California Mountains in the back ground.

I think the show was about the most amazing things in the universe.

If you like understanding the universe this TV series answers many of those little bugging questions you have. And the imagery is beautiful viewing. Even in letterbox form that then fills my 720p HD screen. Yet to see it in Blue Ray on a full 1080p screen.

Now if I could only remove the History channel logo. The Netflix DVD’s still have the logo but do the retail one remove it, it would be nice if they did but that removes their ID branding.

And Kayla are we going to see any of the Exoplanets that the new space telescopes are begining to look for. Glimpsed at one news spot on Fox news at the beginning of the month, but I was leaving for somewhere else and could not see the whole news article or record it on my DVD DVR and my Dish DVR was in the live TV mode so I lost the bit of Video News. But the planet looked much like Jupiter with a big yellow/orange sun in the background.

But as far as I know it could have been an artist’s painting not a real picture. I’ve seen blurry/grainy images in the last 4 years but not sure we have gotten that good in such a short time. Can’t wait for a multi kilometer wide space telescope that uses Interferometer tech like the telescopy in Chile and Hawaii.

sorry for the typo on telescope but it should be easy to auto correct when you read it.

Looks like I’m gonna have to extend my EW subscription!!!

Interactive holograms! Epic win! Using sonic pulses is fine for rain drops, but what are we going to use for Megan Fox or Zac Efram? Hmmm.

The Hubble footage was awesome! Neil Degrasse Tyson (sp) is also terrific, I like how he makes everything interesting.

As for this Porco woman… she may have been the science advisor, but I saw a lot of glaring pure fiction & psuedo science in that flick. I’m not impressed with either how she presented the science to Abrams, or how he intrupreted it. Either way, it looked bad on screen that Spock was able to witness the destruction of a planet from what must have been light years away.

I might have to pick up an EW just to see one of those ads. Welcome to the future!

#11. DAK23 wrote: “As for this Porco woman… she may have been the science advisor, but I saw a lot of glaring pure fiction & psuedo science in that flick.”

Not that it hurt the film particularly, but I agree. They want us to sign a petition to get her in front of the camera so she can actually demonstrate the bad science advice she gave off-screen?

If we live in a world wherein’ we put teevees in our periodicals, whose ta’ say that Spock’s red matter can’t make a black hole appear and suck stuff inta’ it?

Admitedly though, tha’ plan ta’ suck in whate’er wuz’ exploding near Rommie-World wuz’ a bit off… But, I guess he couldn’t get that giant maid wit’ vacuum from “Spaceballs” ta’ sweep up tha’ mess and save Rommie-World that way…

I gots me own red matter- it be tha’ dryer… socks and liederhosen goes in and get whisked away… possibly ta’ where Vulcan is now… Maybe I should chuck some Q-Tips in me dryer ta’ go ta’ tha’ survivors…


Tactile feedback on holograms. Amazing.

13) Why do you assume she gave bad advice?! I’d say JJ just chose not to follow it by quoting “artistic license” . Give the woman a break and let her have her cameo that will be about .08 seconds anyway. Jeez!

How can one get that Dino iPhone dock? There’s no link.

Tactile feedback holograms… there’s a definite potential there. I’m not sayin’ for what…

Installing Stephen Colbert in the ISS is too funny.

& Carolyn Porco gets my vote.

Thanks, Kayla.

Having encountered Carolyn P in a professional capacity, and come off the worse for wear (anyone else who’s worked with her knows what I mean), then it would ruin my life (which is pretty crap to begin with) if she were to be IN the next Trek.


Can we have an anti-Porco petition??

#16. I’m dead Jim wrote: “Why do you assume she gave bad advice?! I’d say JJ just chose not to follow it by quoting “artistic license” .

Of course I don’t know. You’re viewpoint is as valid as mine. The only reason I would assume is that I haven’t heard either side offer a response after what has been a considerable outcry – the supernova in particular. If JJ wanted to protect her, he would cite artistic license somewhere (perhaps he did and I missed it?). Perhaps I assume too much. Either way, it was a waste of money, unless some of the other minor stuff they got right would have otherwise been wrong. Still I’m hard pressed to understand what she did that she needs to be on screen.

You know Esquire did something similar earlier this year, they used an E-Ink panel on the cover of their magazines. Now EW, the magazine that published the FIRST official Star Trek Screencaps, are going to do VIDEO ADS IN THEIR MAGAZINES?!! Sh!t, Im going to buy me a whole SET of those mag’s! Cant wait to see what I can do with them.

Ms Porco has earned the privlige of getting a cameo – that’s hard work balancing real science with drama! She is doing her part to raise awareness of our place in the universe. Go Carolyn!!

Um – one litte issue with the statement that the, “Allen Telescope Array (ATA) was designed to scan large areas of the sky for alien civilizations. Astronomers are now finding it useful in producing real science.”
What is not useful about SETI? Is SETI not science? Is it not the testing of a hypothesis regarding the possibility of intelligent, technicly advanced alien life existing? I think that qualifies as science… and also the part in Trek about seeking new life and civilizations too…

Sorry for my mini-rant, but SETI could produce the most significant data that mankind will ever know and it isn’t even that costly. Now, having said that, I think it is WONDERFUL that it is also finding other scientifice data.

Someday, I will learn to use spellcheck before posting…

I’ll bet the moving ads are going to cost a mere fortune.

Tactile feedback on holograms is awesome. Just give that technology ten years and we will all be in the Matrix.

OK, my computer is now searching for ALF. Does this mean the flea-bag Melmac spawn is going to swipe my best porn links and bore me to tears with Twitter updates?


are there trekmovie teams in BOINC projects? perhaps, I will have a look :)
If not, I think it will be time!

“Astronomers are now finding it useful in producing real science.”

Kind of a jab at SETI. It may not have produced scientific results yet, but I’m not sure that disqualifies it as science.

In fact, even a negative result is something.

I now see other people posted on this point too.

Welcome back Kayla, I would have missed you but I was away myself.

How long before we can get a HoloTactile feel of Salps squishing between our fingers in a Video Ad in our favorite magazine online, but viewed in 3D from the point of view of a galaxy in Hubble’sUltra Deep Field???????????

Hey, whattayou mean I’n nuts! That’show Roddenberry got us here: “What if, what if, what if . . . and then go farther!”


I’d rather do a Petition to get Kayla into the Next Trek as the new Marta Britanites!

The Kayla Iacovino International Fan Club unites!

I’m starting a petition to get BND in the remake of Porky’s.


CmdrR: I haven’t found your petition yet.

Why don’t we get BND into Star Trek 2011? That would really freak him out.

And, waiter? Another drink for post #19. On me.

I think the Good Dr. should be in the new Movie. But thats just my opnion. Of corse if anyone disagrees with me then they will spend a lot of time in the Agoniser Booth.

CmdrR and AJ…. OK wit’ me then…

KIRK: Sailor- whatthedevilinthedark are you doing to that bulkhead?
Have you you drilled a hole in the wall?

BND: Two by now, sirs. Uhhhhhh… that evil alien in tha’ brig may wanna kill us all… but boy iz it/he/she hot and so steamy-like, sirs. Look at it/he/she just undulate all silky whilst eatin’ Mr. Kyle’s foot… Boy, he wuz’ a bad guard he wuz’…

KIRK: Stand aside, sailor. And Spock?

SPOCK: Yes, captain?

KIRK: Get a bigger drill bit for the, uh, lower porthole. My omega glory one, to be exact.

BND: Hey, this here ray gun really heats up me hotpocket quite quickly.

SPOCK: Please do not fire a phazor upon your food.

BND: Not me food! I said me “hotpocket.” Tickles a bit.

JJ ABRAMS: Re-write!!!!!!

SPOCK: This has nothing at all to do with Science Friday.

BND: Well, I did show how I can get a jolly outta’ a lazor pistol. And I used that large cone dish array more properly this time than when I gots me spacesick on tribble chow.

SPOCK: If you had not sent that picture in which you are rubbing salp upon yourself through the SETI array, then these glowing, slimy alien beings with a penchance to hit Atlantic City would not be destroying the earth right now.

BND: Live and learn. That’s why we arrrrrrrr here, right, Dr. Science?


So Carolyn Porco is to blame for the God awful doesn’t-make-any-sense science used in “Star Trek”?
Am no tanx….

OMG! Touchable holograms?
That is uber fantastic!
And moving Adverts in magazines?
Dat will be so amazing.

Okay… maybe I’m missing something here. But why does this woman ‘need’ to be in a film? Again, assuming she gave sound scientific advice (which was promptly ignored), so what? Does the caterer get a bit part, too? Hell THE Isaac Asimov was science advisor for ‘The Motion Picture’, but we didn’t see him on screen (thank goodness… not an attractive man, even by his own admission— yeah shallow, bite me).

As for the video ads in magazines, I wonder how many viewings one would get out of them?

And I forgot to mention in my first post, I wonder if there’s some way to combine this ‘interactive hologram’ with something I saw a few years ago… I can’t recall the product name (had helio-something in it) but it ionized water vaper into a free floating interactive display. Granted, best viewed in a darker setting, and you’d have to refill the thing with water, but great possibilities I think.


Her job seem to be to make sure the visual fx space shots looked “real”:


According to the February 11, 2008 exclusive interview by Mr. Pascale, her position didn’t appear to involve any script reviews:

“Porco’s role in the new Star Trek film will be to help the team artistically show the reality and beauty of space…
Porco will be working directly with Roger Guyett, the film’s supervisor for visual effects…” – Anthony Pascale, TREK MOVIE

Principal photography reportedly started in November of 2007 and was largely finished by the time of her announced acceptance in February of 2008.

Would it be a fair to say that the position of “science advisor” seems to have been an afterthought?


According to the February 11, 2008 exclusive interview by Mr. Pascale, her position didn’t appear to involve any script reviews:

Principal photography reportedly started in November of 2007 and was largely finished by the time of her announced acceptance in February of 2008.

Would it be a fair to say that the position of “science advisor” seems to have been an afterthought?

If someone could let me (us) know which issue that video ad is in, that’d be great! My subscription ran out last month.

First off Capt. Mike, why the Agonizer Booth, Unlesss you have one in your basement I can think of a far more Earthy thing that is just as painful and only costs a phone call. If you can not guess try the IRS, but as I typed that I realized that the IRS has no off switch. So if they give in stopping the pain may not be possible so your method may be more practical, just may cost more.

As for the sence of touch in Holograms, when I started writing a book back in 1994 I invisioned using magnetic fields controlled by a configurable shaped metal mass to move the magnetic fields. But that required free floating metal dust to contact you, in return the fine dust would get left on you.

I like the acoustic sound waves idea, and it leaves no duct to clean up or off.

Now if they could only make LCD panels with fine enough detail to act like a 33mm photo negative this way the LCD could create the interference pattern to phase change light beams to generate a light wave disturbance pattern to reproduce the 3D image.

When that is done then visual holographic images can become computer created. Then Holodeck ver. 0.1 could start being created.

I thought of LCD panels becoming Photo Negative lightwave disrupters for holograms back in 1985 when I use to help do LASER light shows for local Rock Bands for my friends company in Boulder not far from CU.

@20 Fair enough. I bet she rolled her eyes a billion times whenever good hard science was overruled in favor of fantasy during the making of the film. She didn’t get to work on Cassini because of making stuff up.

The SETI article while nice isn’t quite accurate! The array pictured is not ours – TRY the one at Aricibo!, New science is also supported by the search for ET such as signals that may indicate black holes or other phenominon that may be of interest in the cosmological community, SETI also supports something called Astropulse which esentially says IT AINT E,T, but check it out – it’s ntot just noise!

DAMMIT! I just discovered that they will only be shipping the Video Versions of the magazines to LA And NY only.

That Hubble video just completely blew my mind. Thanks for that.

Thanks for sharing!!!! Looking forward to reading books in basically a ‘thin piece of glass’.

Hubble vid is amazing.

#22 & #27 – Right on. SETI is producing quite “real” science. By NOT finding signals from other civilizations, we’re learning something quite profound about the universe in which we live.

I just got back from seeing “District 9” … I’m not sure I want to find advanced life forms spawned on other worlds anymore. (What’s the emoticon for a nervous smile?)

Scott B. out.

Speaking as someone how *knows* Carolyn Porco and *has* worked with her, I think people here are abusing the anonymous nature of this medium rather a lot. She’ll certainly tell you what she thinks and has high standards for people she works with, but if you do your part of the work, she’s actually wonderful to work with.

Also, people need to be aware of how Hollywood works with science advisers. From talking to Carolyn as well as several other friends who have been consultants on various movies and TV shows, I can tell you right now that their advice isn’t always taken. In fact, if often seems like it is seldom taken. Part of that is because of needing to protect the plot and/or whiz-bang scenes that sell the product. (Some of that might be not caring or cost concerns, I grant you.) And they aren’t always consulted on every point, either. Outsiders are often only asked for specific input and it’s not always appreciated when they go beyond that.

ucdom: I’m with The Cat on this one. Having encountered Carolyn P in a professional capacity and come off the better for it, I signed the petition to get her in the movie. I can’t see the point in your negativity but good luck with your petition.

Poor UCDOM withhis/hercrappy life having worked with Dr. Porco. Sounds like UCDOM is on a jealousy trip! My side of the story … having worked directly with Dr. Porco, and having been a colleague for many, many years, I signed the petition because she DOES KNOW her science and she’s brilliant, talented and knows what she is doing and deserves an appearance in the next movie. She has been a pleasure and an honor to work with on the same team. And, let’s be real, movie makers ALWAYS take creative license with science, medicine, technology, etc. As such, the title ‘Advisor’ is just that… Dr. Porco didn’t direct, produce or pay for the movie. She gave her scientific opinion and what the movie powers-that-be want to do with it is their call. With a PhD from Cal Tech, Dr. Porco is not only incredibly competent scientifically (and the first woman to lead a large scientific team for a major space exploration mission!), she has the unique talent to remain constantly enthusiastic and excited by the universe, both in a scientifical and in a very personal way. To me that warrrants a VERY POSITIVE VOTE FOR A CAMEO APPEARANCE in any movie that relates the universe for us movie goers.

Get a life UCDOM!