‘Star Trek’ to return with ‘Mission Impossible: 3’ director at helm

“’Mission Impossible III’ director J.J. Abrams is going from Cruise control to warp speed. Abrams has committed to produce the 11th “Star Trek” feature film and there are plans for him to direct as well, Paramount Pictures announced Friday.

“Abrams also will write the script with his “Mission Impossible III” co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Paramount spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick said. The studio is hoping to release the film in 2008. No plot for the movie has been nailed down and no one has been cast for the film.”

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SCI FI Announces “Caprica”

“SCI FI Channel announced the development of Caprica, a spinoff prequel of its hit Battlestar Galactica, in presentations to advertisers in New York on April 26. Caprica would come from Galactica executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, writer Remi Aubuchon (24) and NBC Universal Television Studio.

“Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.

“But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television’s first science fiction family saga, the channel announced.”

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Why Firefly will never die

“Joss Whedon’s Firefly was canceled in 2002, but don’t tell the Browncoats. These superfans continue to produce weekly podcasts and engage in live-action role-playing games inspired by the TV show. Browncoat Andrew Schultz recently raised $1,300 in 24 hours to help Fox produce a second season. Studio officials scoffed, saying that fan funding is ‘simply not a realistic scenario.’ But the Browncoats aren’t giving up. They’re looking into licensing the rights to create and distribute new Firefly episodes on DVD or on demand – an arrangement that would cost millions. ‘I have no doubt that there will be new stories, whether they are in comic book form, a movie, or a new TV series,’ Schultz says. ‘It’ll happen; it’s just too good to let die.'”

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Microsoft’s one-day stock plunge: enough to buy all of Costco

“Microsoft’s stock took its biggest one-day fall in more than five years Friday, shaving about $32 billion off the company’s market value.

“That’s enough to buy Starbucks, with plenty left over to treat everyone in China to a tall cafe Americano. Or maybe buy Costco and Getty Images and get back about $2 billion in pocket change.

“It’s almost as much as the United States spends every three months in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The endowment of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charity, is a few billion less.

“Microsoft’s stock closed at $24.15, down $3.10 a share, or 11.4 percent, after the Redmond software company indicated plans Thursday to invest more in its businesses — including a battle for the Internet with Google and Yahoo! — at the expense of higher short-term profits.”

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Microsoft to upgrade Xbox 360 CPU

“Microsoft will upgrade the CPU used in its Xbox 360 games console early next year, the CPU’s manufacturer announced today. The new CPU will be built using technology that can reduce heat and power consumption, as well as potentially increasing speed. It will also help Microsoft cut the console’s cost. The new 65nm technology is also capable of running software faster than that used in the existing Xbox 360 CPU, Chartered said. But the company did not state whether the CPU’s performance when running software would be upgraded in any way to take advantage of this potential. It is uncommon for manufacturers to increase the speed of chips in games consoles which are already on the market, because this can cause unexpected compatibility issues with games developed for the original hardware design, as well as bad feeling among existing owners.”

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Solar dish can power eight homes

“It’s a Stirling solar dish, and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has recently completed a mini power plant composed of six of Liden’s dishes.

“The dish, made by Stirling Energy Systems in Phoenix, is the world’s most efficient solar generator. It uses an old principle—that concentrated light is a great heat source—to achieve a level of efficiency on par with conventional power sources and far higher than traditional solar cells. Instead of converting sunlight directly into electricity, as those familiar rooftop solar panels do, it uses a concave array of mirrors to focus light on a central point, where the resulting heat causes compressed hydrogen to expand, driving a four-cylinder engine that turns a 25-kilowatt generator.”

“Measuring 38 feet across and costing $250,000, this is no residential add-on. It’s meant for the opposite end of the power chain—that is, for utilities seeking extra juice for the grid, not for consumers hoping to reduce their household energy bill. Liden, Stirling’s chief administrative officer, says the company will install a 40-dish, one-megawatt demonstration project in California by early next year. Then, with manufacturing ramped up, Liden wants to get really serious, erecting a 20,000-dish facility somewhere in the Southwest to supply the region with 500 new megawatts, more energy than many nuclear or fossil-fuel plants crank out.”

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The “gravity-powered” aircraft

“The idea sprung from the brain of Robert D. Hunt, a theoretical physicist and inventor who founded Hunt Aviation to develop his patented “gravity powered hybrid aircraft” concept which operates on the principles of buoyancy, aerodynamic lift, and gravity. It uses a cycle of climbing and descending to maintain its lift and forward speed, mimicking the behavior of the bodies of warm and cold air which make up the weather.

“In order for the GravityPlane to become airborne, gas bags inside a pair of rigid, zeppelin-like structures are filled with helium from storage tanks inside the vehicle. This causes the aircraft to become lighter-than-air, and it rises from the ground. Compressed-air jets on the sides of the craft add further propulsion, pushing the vehicle skyward and decreasing the craft’s overall weight by releasing the stored air which acts as ballast. Once the craft reaches the altitude where the helium is no longer lighter than the surrounding air– theoretically as high as ten miles up– it is unable to climb any further. Some of the stored compressed air is then expanded into the dirigible areas, decreasing the buoyancy effect of the helium and starting the aircraft’s descent phase.”

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“Chaiyya Chaiyya”

When we went to see Inside Man the other night, the opening music got my attention. It is very catchy and unique, which lead me to look for it later online. I came to find out that the music was from of a 1998 Bollywood film, Dil Se.

The song is called “Chaiyya Chaiyya”; here’s the low-down courtesy of the Wikipedia.

“Chaiyya Chaiyya is the first song in the famous Hindi film Dil Se directed by Mani Ratnam… It became popular quickly upon release and its music video gained the same status partly because it was filmed on a moving train… Chaiyya Chaiyya not only reached the charts in India. The song was also popular in England… A remix of the song was used in the 2006 film, Inside Man.”

I found a version online, which is apparently free for the downloading. I can only assume it’s in the public domain. This remote site is hosting the file. http://scoopsthepodcast.com/2006/03/sukhwinder-singh-and-sapna-awasthi.html. There is a video clip from the movie available on YouTube.