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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Terraforming Mars
Posted: September 20, 2021 at 9:16 am
Elon Musk has historically been in favour of colonising Mars; in fact, hes never shied away from it. Among other proposed methods to make the planet habitable for humans is the possibility to nuke it, which Musk seems hell-bent on, cheekily teasing the idea once again. What he actually means by nuking it is to terraform Marsa deliberate modification of the planets environment to make it fit for humans.
The teasing of this method came after @stats_feed tweeted yesterday, While Mars temperatures at the equator can reach as high as a balmy 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer at midday, the average temperature on the surface is -63 degrees Celsius (-82 degrees Fahrenheit), and can reach as low as -143 degrees Celsius (-226 degrees Fahrenheit) during winter in the polar regions. Musk cheekily replied to the tweet saying, Needs a little warming up.
This is not the first time the billionaire has teased the idea; in fact, there is a well documented timeline of his comments on the matter. His theory was first made known back in 2015 after Musk appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and described that the fixer-upper planet could be warmed up the fast way by drop[ping] thermo-nuclear weapons over the poles, to which Colbert responded calling him a supervillain. Later on 16 August 2019, Musk famously tweeted, Nuke Mars! later adding T-shirt soon. As promised, t-shirts did indeed come soon after.
The real life Tony Stark later clarified his comments made on the talk show at an event held that same year for SolarCityone of the largest solar energy companies in the US owned by Musk. Hes not looking to actually nuke the surface of the planet, just the sky over the poles every few seconds, he clarified. Im not sure thats any better, Musk The idea behind this proposed method would be to form two tiny pulsing suns over these poles. A lot of people dont appreciate that our Sun is a large fusion explosion, he explained.
Following his 2019 comments, the Tesla founder did his best to respond to scientific queries on this plan, making me think he is probably prepared to go to any lengths necessary to expand and explore this method. A 2020 Russian news agency TASS articlewhereby SpaceXs terraforming Mars strategy was questioned by a Russian space officialwas shared with Musk via Twitter. The official stated, For a thermonuclear explosion on Mars pole, one of the plans of SpaceX, to have tangible results, more than 10,000 launches of missiles that can carry the largest payloads and are being developed now are needed.
To which Musk replied, No problem.
Just shy of a year later, that previously mentioned t-shirt made a criticised appearance. In an image posted and shared by Saturday Night Live (SNL) in May 2021, to promote the SpaceX CEOs controversial hosting gig, Musk was seen sporting a T-shirt that read Nuke Mars. The picture only swelled the complaints against the show and Lorne Michaelsthe shows executive producerfor selecting Musk for the job.
So Musks been in favour of it and his latest tweet seems to showcase that he still is (so much so that its become a meme at this point) but what exactly is the science behind his strategy? The tiny suns that the dropping of thermonuclear weapons would formaccording to Muskwould proceed to warm the planet and transform any frozen carbon dioxide into gas. Essentially, the problem that we have on Earth, with CO2 warming up our planet, is what would happen in the case of Mars. The more CO2 present in the atmosphere of the planet, the hotter its surface would become.
Such a mission is incredibly complicated, not scientifically certain and likely impossible to come to fruition but Musks blas response to call it a little warming up is another in a long list of his supervillain tendencies.
Posted: September 17, 2021 at 9:18 pm
The mysterious Sleep Token are back with their latest video for "Fall for Me" from the forthcoming This Place Will Become Your Tomb album and this latest clip serves as a brutal introspection about our overall needs and desires.
The video centers on a solitary figure stumbling across a barren landscape as messages occasionally interrupt the action occurring onscreen. "The truth is I am due a harsh lesson," reads one message, later adding, "in truth itself and how bitter it can be." "The truth is, I am ugly, I am inadequate, I am lost," continues the messages, later added, "The truth is, I want, to want, to live."
The song itself is a more somber piece of music, further masking the band's unidentified vocalist with a more electronic sounding delivery. And as the video plays out, our central figure emerges from the barren wasteland to eventually find the coastal waters in which he will soon be submerged.
"Fall for Me" will join the previously released "Alkaline" and "The Love You Want" on the highly anticipated second album from Sleep Token, This Place Will Become Your Tomb. The album is set to arrive Sept. 24 and pre-orders can be taken via the band's website.
Look for the group returning to the road in November, hitting stops in the U.K. and Europe along the way.
Loudwire's picks for the best metal songs of 2021 so far.
Posted: July 18, 2021 at 5:47 pm
Since the publication of Planet-Sized X-Men #1, I have enjoyed amateur scientists weighing up what the mutants of Krakoa and Arakko did, terraforming Mars into a mutant home. From Magneto bringing in an iron core, Oceans and fertile land being created, Iceman forming coeanic sheets, Storm controlling and creating an atmosphere and more. But plenty of folk have been asking other questions online regarding gravity, heat, solar radiationand even the effects of Mars' moons. And today's Way Of X #4, not following on from the death of the Scarlet Witch, but rather reintroducing X-Men Sooraya Qadir, also known as Dust.
And with Mars suddenly being a lot heavier and denser, it is getting more attention from the smaller moons that orbit it.
And Dust is the one who is left to literally, sweep up the mess. Across the entire planet. Before it causes a major intrgalactic incident. One of many things the founders of Arakko may not have planned for. There's going to be a long list.
Do we have another Omega Level mutant in the making? Say, I wonder what the wifi signal is like on Krakoa? Maybe something going down in X-Corp #3 could be ported across
Surely that is too much for just one world?
WAY OF X #4MARVEL COMICSMAY210592(W) Si Spurrier (A) Bob Quinn (CA) Giuseppe CamuncoliKILL NO MAN! (BUT SOME EXCEPTIONS MAY APPLY) Nightcrawler must act fast to avoid catastrophe as the laws of Krakoa (and physics) are tested to their limits. Also: a nice family bonding sesh with no violent repercussions. Just kidding. This is Xavier vs. Legion in a boozed-up Tiki bar, with the sanity of mutantkind at stake. Rated T+In Shops: Jul 14, 2021 SRP: $3.99
X-CORP #3MARVEL COMICSMAY210590(W) Tini Howard (A) Valentine De Landro (CA) David AjaMULTIPLE MEN, MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS! He's everywhere you want to be. He's never not in the office. And his direct reports always fall in line. How does X-CORP meet their nearly impossible quotas with maximum synergy and minimal bandwidth? They've got Dr. Jamie Madrox, and he's the world's best boss. Rated T+In Shops: Jul 14, 2021 SRP: $3.99
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 5:47 pm
Three of the richest billionaires on Earth are now busily spending billions to exit our Earths atmosphere and enter into space. The world is watching and reflecting.
Some commentators see our billionaire trio Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk as heroic heirs to the legacies of Charles Lindbergh and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first mere mortals to high jump the Atlantic alone and scale the worlds highest mountain.
Our billionaires racing into space, other charmed commentators are adding, arent just thrilling humankind. Theyre uplifting us. The technologies that the space operations Branson, Bezos, and Musk develop could benefit people worldwide far into the future, says Yahoo Finances Daniel Howley.
But most of our commentators seem to be taking a considerably more skeptical perspective. Theyre dismissing the space antics of Branson, Bezos, and Musk as the ego trips of bored billionaires, cynical stunts by disgustingly rich businessmen, as one British analyst puts it, to boost their self-importance at a time when money and resources are desperately needed elsewhere.
Space travel used to be about us, a collective effort by the country to reach beyond previously unreachable limits, writes author William Rivers Pitt. That was the Cold War propaganda, anyway, and it had an unavoidable allure. Now, its about them, the 0.1 percent.
The best of these skeptical commentators can even make us laugh.
Really, billionaires? comedian Seth Meyers asked earlier this month. This is what youre going to do with your unprecedented fortunes and influence? Drag race to outer space?
Lets enjoy the ridicule. But lets not treat the billionaire space race as a laughing matter. Lets see it as a wake-up call, a reminder that we dont only get billionaires when wealth concentrates. We get a society that revolves around the egos of the most affluent among us and an economy where the needs of average people go unmet and dont particularly matter.
Characters like Elon Musk, notes Paris Max, host of the Tech Wont Save Us podcast, are using misleading narratives about space to fuel public excitement and gain tax-dollar support for various projects designed to work best if not exclusively for the elite.
The three corporate space shells for Musk, Bezos, and Branson SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have all benefited greatly through partnerships with NASA and the US military, notes CNN Business. Their common corporate goal: to get satellites, people, and cargo into space cheaper and quicker than has been possible in decades past.
Marvel redefines Earth’s place in the universe with cosmic X-Men spinoff SWORD #6 – spoilers – GamesRadar+
Posted: June 28, 2021 at 9:46 pm
One of Marvel's most popular mutants gets a world-shaking new status quo in this week's SWORD #6 which could have implications that reach far, far beyond the boundaries of Krakoa - and which could change the place mutantkind occupies in the Marvel Universe at large.
SWORD #6, from writer Al Ewing and artists Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia, kicks off with the preview pages that Marvel released prior to the issue, in which Captain America and Doctor Doom discuss the philosophical ramifications of the X-Men having terraformed Mars into Planet Arakko - while the sinister Henry Peter Gyrich seemingly recruits Alpha Flight's James Hudson/Guardian into the anti-mutant group Orchis.
But from there, Abigail Brand drops some stunning revelations about what SWORD and mutantkind in general have in store for Planet Arakko, and her plans may change the entire political landscape of Marvel's cosmic wing - a 'New Age of Space' indeed.
We'll break it all down right now.
Following Captain America and Doom's conversation, in which Doom implies the two may soon be allies against Krakoa and the mutants, we're transported across the stars to the meeting chambers of the Galactic Council, where SWORD leader Abigail Brand is addressing the galactic representatives of the Galactic Rim Collective, Great Kymellia, the House of Rigel, the Z'nrx Empire, the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, the Kree/Skrull Alliance, the Shi'Ar Empire, the Astrologers of Spartax, the Utopian Kree, and Richard Rider of Earth, who represents human interests but has a lesser position than a full council member.
Brand starts off by discussing the terraforming of Mars into Planet Arakko through mutant power and technology. Though some council members are mostly unimpressed thanks to the limited scale of the feat compared to the interplanetary empires of some council dignitaries, others, including Richard Rider, are upset or even concerned about the implications of mutants taking unilateral action to establish a new home world on Mars.
To win them over, Brand offers every council member in attendance a large quantity of Mysterium, the material that Brand guided Manifold and the other members of SWORD in harvesting from the time/space continuum, which has incredible properties that will aid the economies of all the worlds and empires of the Galactic Council. She suggests the Mysterium be used to create a new galactic currency known as "the Sol," after the name used for Earth's solar system.
Incredulous, Rider asks what Brand wants in return.
Brand responds that SWORD and Krakoa simply want recognition of Sol as a member of the Galactic Council - though with Planet Arakko as the leading world of the system, not Earth, with Earth essentially relegated to being part of Sol rather than its most important planet. Brand states Sol should be led by Planet Arakko because they have a unified world culture of mutants, unlike Earth which is splintered into many political factions and cultures.
As the council members begin to react, Doctor Doom appears, demanding to know, if Planet Arakko is so unified, who is the leader of the planet.
"Who is King of Mars? Who would speak for Sol?" Doom demands.
"Victor, you know my name," comes the demure response, as a slender, gloved hand comes through the Krakoa gate. "You all have heard it whispered. It is Wind-Rider. It is she-who-swam-with-Acanti. It is Hadari Yao."
And with that, the new ruler of Planet Arakko is revealed.
"I am Storm, Regent of Planet Arakko - and I am the voice of Sol!"
As Storm is revealed as the ruler of Planet Arakko, she summons a massive thunderclap to demonstrate the majesty of her royal bearing.
All signs point to Storm's rulership of Planet Arakko being the major development that's been teased for the character since even before 'X of Swords,' which brought Arakko into the mainstream Marvel Universe to begin with.
Ruling a whole planet is no small accomplishment for Storm - and having a mutant as the Galactic representative of Sol, with Earth not even included in the decision making or influence could have unheard of ramifications across the Marvel Universe, well outside of the X-Men's usually private corner. But it won't be Storm's first time as a monarch, which could be exactly why the beloved and formidable mutant may have been chosen to lead Planet Arakko.
Only the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda rejects Brand's offer of Mysterium - which is particularly interesting, considering Storm was once married to T'Challa and sat as queen of Wakanda on Earth. The note offered with their rejection of the Mysterium reads "We have no need of mutant metals," and of course Wakanda is well known for its supply of the mystical metal Vibranium.
That could be the end of it, but it's also worth noting that the last time Storm saw T'Challa, she was stealing an ancestral Wakandan weapon during 'X of Swords'. She later returned it, but her deception soured her relationship with T'Challa - and possibly the relationship between Krakoa and Wakanda as a result.
Part of the issue's backmatter, which consists of a communication written by the Galactic Council's representative from the Kree/Skrull alliance Paibok the Power Skrull to Emperor Hulkling, includes an ominous, if slightly vague portion, which then leads right into the issue's final scene.
"I would strongly consider accepting Krakoa/Arakko's proposal - but not too soon," reads Paibok's missive. "The alliance remains in a position of considerable strength, and by showing restraint, we can bring some pressure to bear on smaller matters - such as the Wanda Maximoff situation, which has yet to be resolved, and which many consider to be an intolerant insult to the dignity of the throne."
From there, the issue jumps to Magneto's chambers on Planet Arakko where he sits alone celebrating his success in spearheading the initiative to create the new mutant home world. He's suddenly joined by - who else? - Wanda Maximoff, apparently at Magneto's personal invite.
Wanda laments the time she spent thinking Magneto was her father before learning the truth that she and her twin brother Pietro are not the children of Magneto at all (at least in comics) and are in fact not even mutants, but genetically engineered beings created by the High Evolutionary.
Magneto states his regret at the way their relationship and his mistreatment of Wanda affected her, and tells her that even though they are not biologically related, he still considers her his daughter - and he'll do anything it takes to make amends with her.
There are a lot of implications to unpack, between the backmatter and the subsequent scene. First off, it's not clear exactly what the embarrassing "Wanda Maximoff situation" Paibok mentions is. Wanda is, of course, Emperor Hulkling's mother-in-law by way of his husband Wiccan, one of Wanda's twin sons whose souls were reincarnated in new human bodies after she lost them.
The "situation" could be as simple as a person known to be as volatile as Wanda, who has used her powers to rewrite reality in villainous ways before, being so close to the throne. Or it could have something to do with the still un-reckoned-with events of Empyre: X-Men, in which Wanda attempted to resurrect the dead population of the former mutant island of Krakoa during the Kree/Skrull alliance's war with the Cotati - an act that resulted in the mutants not being resurrected, but reanimated as necromantic zombies.
As for the part with Magneto, it's worth noting that both Wanda and Magneto have important storylines in the near future, with The Trial of Magneto putting the master of magnetism on the stand for the murder of an unknown victim in August, and the upcoming Darkhold series of annuals pitting Wanda against the dark magic unleashed by the evil tome in September.
How it all shakes out remains to be seen - though Marvel is drawing the web of connections between its upcoming events and stories ever tighter.
This week's Way of X #3 and June 30's X-Factor #10 mark the next chapters of the current 'Hellfire Gala' storyline, while SWORD #7 is due out July 28.
With 'The Hellfire Gala' story wrapping up at the end of June, stay on top of everything coming up for Marvel's entire mutant line with our listing of all the new X-Men comics scheduled for release in 2021 and beyond.
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Posted: at 9:46 pm
All of Fridays best Mac and iOS app deals to head into the weekend with are now up for the taking. Alongside all of our price drops on games and apps, we also have anew all-time low on Apples gorgeous new 24-inch M1 iMac, deep deals on unlocked iPhones, and even more in our Apple guide. But while youll still find an absolutely massive collection of app deals live from yesterday right here, there are plenty more to add to the list this morning as well. Highlights include titles like Door Kickers: Action Squad, Agent A: A puzzle in disguise, Land and Castles, freebies for the kids, and more. Head below for a complete look at Fridays best iOS and Mac app deals.
iOS Universal: StoryToys Puss in Boots: FREE (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Windy White Noise Sleep Sounds: FREE (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Emoji Camera unique filters: FREE (Reg. $1)
iOS Universal: StoryToys Beauty and the Beast: FREE (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Cribbage HD: FREE (Reg. $6)
iOS Universal: My City : Home: FREE (Reg. $3)
iOS Universal: File Explorer for Mac [Pro]: FREE (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Land and Castles: FREE (Reg. $1)
iOS Universal: Door Kickers: Action Squad: $1 (Reg. $3)
iOS Universal: Agent A: A puzzle in disguise: $1 (Reg. $6)
iOS Universal: Away ~ Nature Sounds to Sleep: $1 (Reg. $4)
iOS Universal: Blast Rush: $1 (Reg. $3)
iOS Universal: The Castles of Burgundy: $5 (Reg. $9)
iOS Universal: Steam: Rails to Riches: $3 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Heads Up!: FREE (Reg. $1)
iOS Universal: Bloons TD 6: $1 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Iron Marines RTS Offline: $1 (Reg. $3)
iOS Universal: Bloodstained:RotN: $7 (Reg. $10)
iOS Universal: Ticket to Ride Train Game: $3 (Reg. $7)
iOS Universal: Small World The Board Game: $3 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Terraforming Mars: $6 (Reg. $9)
iOS Universal: Carcassonne Tiles & Tactics: $3 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Pandemic: The Board Game: $3 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Kingdom Rush Vengeance TD: $3 (Reg. $5)
iPad: Kingdom Rush Origins HD: $2 (Reg. $5)
iPhone: Kingdom Rush Origins TD: $1 (Reg. $3)
iPad: Kingdom Rush Frontiers HD: $1 (Reg. $2)
iPhone: Kingdom Rush Frontiers: $1 (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Sentinels of the Multiverse: $1 (Reg. $7)
iOS Universal: Door Kickers: $1 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: D&D Lords of Waterdeep: $4 (Reg. $8)
iOS Universal: One Deck Dungeon: $2 (Reg. $7)
iOS Universal: Passpartout: Starving Artist: $3 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Smash Up The Card Game: $1 (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Scythe: Digital Edition: $6 (Reg. $9)
iOS Universal: Mystic Vale: $2 (Reg. $5)
iOS Universal: Book of Demons: Tablet Edition: $5 (Reg. $10)
iOS Universal: Hidden Through Time: $1 (Reg. $2)
iOS Universal: Evoland 2: $1 (Reg. $6)
iOS Universal: Townsmen Premium: $1 (Reg. $3)
iOS Universal: Talisman: Digital Edition: $1 (Reg. $3)
Door Kickers: Action Squad is a crazy old school side scroller action game that puts you in the role of a SWAT trooper and sends you to deal with the bad guys in Nowhere City USA. Choose your gear, then kick the doors down and face the action. Adapt and react by the seat of your pants, and if needed restart without a care and rethink. Master weapons recoil and time your reloads, use distance and cover to your advantage and use the in-game Strategic Abilities to decide for yourself when healthpacks or gear refills are needed, or if that team-mate of yours is worth saving. Or just save up the Points earned and unleash your Ultimate to waltz through that tricky final room.
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Posted: at 9:46 pm
The early summer months are traditionally a slow period for fans of tabletop games, as big publishers gird their loins for the convention circuit. This year, the pandemics disruption to tabletops annual events calendar has freed things up a bit, and there are a bunch of great games going up for sale this June, July, and August. Weve rounded up all the information that we could, and dropped the most notable new titles here for you.
My personal picks include Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, which promises to streamline the award-winning strategy board game into a more beginner friendly, one-hour experience. Theres also a ton of new and revised content on the way for Vampire: The Masquerade, which was recently handed off to the capable team at Renegade Game Studio.
Remember that you can pick up just about everything listed below at your friendly local game store as well as online.
I was introduced to the Clever series of games by NPRs Petra Mayer, and Ive since sort of fallen in love with the roll-and-write genre. Players roll a series of multi-colored dice and use them as a kind of shared resource, tallying them on a scorecard with the intention of earning the most points and doing the most harm to their competitors totals. Clever Cubed is getting its first English translation this summer. Copies should be available through the Stonghold Games website soon. Your best bet, however, is probably to drop a dime on your local game store and get it pre-ordered.
Thats So Clever
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The first game in the Clever series of roll-and-write board games.
If youve heard of Czech Games Edition (CGE) then you likely know them from their breakout hit series, Codenames. But tabletop aficionados will also know them for their very first game, Galaxy Trucker. Its a madcap adventure with a frantic real-time ship-building sequence and a turn-based delivery phase. The award-winning formula helped put the publisher on the map back in 2007. CGE is relaunching the game with a brand new edition featuring fresh art and revised rules. Youll find it available for order on the CGE website soon.
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The original version of Galaxy Trucker is shipping now.
Gravwell on the Gen Con show floor in 2015.Photo: Charlie Hall/The Madison Leader Gazette
Gravwell is one of those high-concept board games that sounds incredibly complex, but is actually quite simple and compelling at the table. Players take on the role of a party of small ships navigating a black hole. With your engines failing, the only way to maneuver is by using tractor and repulsor beams. That means youll have use your neighboring ships as leverage to catapult your own crew to safety. This second edition of the game appears to be a straight reprint, but its well worth your time.
Haba is a household name in Germany with lots of different product lines, but American consumers likely only know them for the bright yellow boxes of their family board games, including mainstays like Rhino Hero and Animal Upon Animal. Haba has a new game coming to the states this summer called Hammer Time, and no it doesnt have anything to do with parachute pants. Players will use a toy hammer to knock gems loose, all while being careful not to wake the sleeping dragon. Pre-orders kick off on Aug. 1, which a retail release set for Aug. 20. Keep an eye out on the official Haba Amazon storefront, or let your local hobby store know youd like a copy when its available.
Germanys biggest board game award, the Spiel des Jahres, unveiled its 2021 nominees in May and among the more traditional titles was an outlier MicroMacro: Crime City. This cooperative game consists of a poster and a deck of cards. Players work together to scour the Wheres Waldo-style map for clues to solve clever little mysteries all around the city. The awards hype made the game hard to find in the spring, but stock has been flowing in sporadically all summer. Keep an eye on the official website, or ping the nearest game store.
Cole Wehrle is a strategy board game designer with a very specific oeuvre. His past games have dealt with the politics of nation-states, but in beautiful and at times cuddly ways. Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right, for instance, is basically an asymmetrical wargame starring adorable woodland creatures who use guerrilla tactics to fight against an oppressive monarchy. Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile uses some of the same design hooks, but extends the experience out into a longer campaign. Pick this up if youre looking for an engaging solo experience, or have a gaming group eager for a new obsession.
Based on the hit video game of the same name, Plague Inc. The Board Game is a strategic game of infection, evolution and extinction where players take on the role of viruses with the goal of infecting the world. While this may feel a bit too on the nose given the ongoing global pandemic, its actually a very entertaining way of teaching the broad strokes of modern virology.
Terraforming Mars is a hugely successful strategy board game, but it takes quite a bit of work to get new players up to speed. Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition aims to streamline the onboarding process considerably, all while speeding up playtime as well. This new version began life as a Kickstarter, and went on sale at Target stores on June 20. Expect to find it available on Targets website soon as well.
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The original Terraforming Mars, a competitive strategy game for 1-4 players.
The Loop caught my eye with its quirky, Saturday morning cartoon-style art treatment, and then drew me in with its mechanics. The cooperative game tasks players with stopping the evil Dr. Faux from destroying the galaxy. Players spend energy to create temporal loops, allowing them to use skills over and over again. While the game ships in August, you can peruse the manual online before you decide to place your pre-order.
Kids on Bikes is a tabletop role-playing game that rode the wave of Stranger Things fandom to commercial success. Now theres a spin-off board game set in the same universe called The Snallygaster Situation. The game begins with one player taking on the role of the Lost Kid, whom the other players must rescue from the clutches of the monster of the week. Then its a matter of gathering up enough resources in order to win the day. Expect a charming art style and lots of twists and turns.
Evil Hat Productions (Blades in the Dark, Agon) most anticipated new tabletop role-playing game is called Thirsty Sword Lesbians, and it sounds like an absolute blast to play. Using a ruleset inspired by Powered by the Apocalypse it will help players tell queer stories with their friends. Im especially interested to see how its flirting mechanics work. The game is available as a physical book and as a downloadable PDF.
Alongside Pandemic and Catan, Ticket to Ride remains one of the most newbie-friendly board games around. Players take turns drawing cards and then use them to take trips across the map. Its dead simple to teach, and the base game looks marvelous when its all set out on the table. Ticket to Ride Europe: 15th Anniversary Edition is a collectors dream. It includes metal tins filled with intricate train car playing pieces that can be used with any version of the game. Ive been told this set is only available in limited quantities, so grab your copy before theyre gone.
Photo: Keymaster Games
Much like Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, Trials is a streamlined version of an even larger game called Parks. The family-friendly board game takes just 20 or 30 minutes to play, and includes beautiful art from the Fifty-Nine Parks project. You can read our full preview from early June right here. The boxed game is available in-store at Target and will soon be available on the Target website.
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The original Parks strategy game. A portion of the sale of each game helps support the National Park Service.
Image: Paradox Interactive
The latest edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, the classic tabletop role-playing game, got off to a disastrous start by courting several entirely unnecessary controversies. Development has since shifted to Renegade Game Studios, and theyre pushing out a load of new and reprinted material this summer. That includes the core rulebook and the Anarch and Camarilla sourcebooks, which are all currently up for pre-order. If youve been interested in doing something other than medieval fantasy with your TTRPG group, now is the time to hop in. The system is even available via Roll20 for remote or enhanced in-person play.
Ive yet to try my hand at Wrath & Glory, the current iteration of the Warhammer 40,000 role-playing universe, but I have started painting up some Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures. That sudden interest has been brought on by Audibles comprehensive selection of books from the Black Library and the upcoming release of Warhammer Plus, Games Workshops new streaming video service. Cubicle 7 will soon be adding to its own library with Church of Steel, which promises all the inside information on the artificers of Mars. Look for more information soon on the Cubicle 7 website.
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Posted: at 9:46 pm
Welcome to Friday, everyone. Thanks to the recent launch of Steam's Summer Sale, we've seen a massive amount of game sales hitting the Google Play Store, and so we have a huge list of sales for the weekend, including a few standouts I'd like to point everyone towards. First up is Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a solid (but buggy) metroidvania title from the very man who popularized the genre. Next, I have Agent A: A puzzle in disguise, a fantastic point-and-click adventure game that's easily worth the sale price. Last but not least is OK Golf, one of the best golf games currently available on the Play Store. As always, I've highlighted all of the interesting titles in bold green text in order to make discovery easier. So without further ado, here are 25 temporarily free and a whopping 106 on-sale apps and games for the end of the week.
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Posted: June 6, 2021 at 7:42 pm
Following the inaugural flight of NASAs Ingenuity, science fiction writer Gareth L. Powell considers the future of powered flight on other planets
Earlier this spring, with the maiden flight of NASAs Ingenuity, we celebrated one of the most significant engineering milestones of recent times. Despite having to contend with lower gravity and a thinner atmosphere, an aircraft flew on Mars for the first time. It was the first powered, controlled flight of a human-built vehicle on another planeta significance celebrated by the onboard inclusion of a tiny scrap of material from the Wright brothers first flyer.
The Ingenuity flights were relatively modest in duration, but they were a proof of concept. What comes next will be interesting. The Wright brothers first hop was shorter in length than the wingspan of the Boeing 747, which first took to the skies only sixty-six years after Kitty Hawk. Who knows what we could have flying through the Martian clouds sixty-six years from now?
The first thought I have is of a massive blimp carrying several dozen of these helicopters. Being solar powered, theres little reason it cant stay aloft for days, weeks, maybe even years. Every time the scientists on Earth identify a location of potential interest, the blimp dispatches a helicopter to investigate, soaring over any intervening rough terrain with more ease and speed than a rover.
A helicopter has the potential to get up-close and personal with the strata in a cliff facesomething thats obviously difficult for a ground-based vehicle. A fleet of them could traverse and map the length of the great Valles Marineras canyons without worrying about the bumpy topography.
But why stop with an automated blimp? Viewers of The Martian will remember long sequences of Matt Damon bouncing around in a rover for weeks as he treks towards salvation. But what if hed been able to jump in a helicopter and fly there in a day? When humans start building bases on Mars, helicopters would be as valuable to them as they are for bases in the Arctic and Antarctica. They could be used to airlift personnel to areas of potential interest identified via satellite survey. They could fly missions to resupply forward outposts, and rescue explorers stranded by injury or technical malfunction. They could evengod forbidbe used for security and defence.
Science fiction writers get a lot of mileage from imagining worst-case scenarios. We find drama in the idea of things going wrong. So, while I hope that in the near future we as a species will outgrow our childish infatuation with war, Mars is an entire planet filled with currently unclaimed resources and territory. A bright red jewel hanging just within our reach. Can our acquisitive monkey natures resist squabbling over such a prize? Only 15 years after Wilbur and Orville showed powered flight was possible, squadrons of biplanes were dogfighting in the war-torn skies over France. So, now Im imagining a drone war on Mars, fought remotely by competing governments or corporations, each vying for control of profitable ore deposits or water sources. Helicopter gunships whispering through the thin air, hunting for enemy rovers. Mass accelerators on Phobos and Deimos wiping out mining installations with meteoric bombardment from on high
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Air travel shrank the Earth. Instead of spending months sailing to Australia, it is now possible to get there in a matter of a day or two. The same will be true of Mars. If we build the right aircraft, well be able to go anywhere on the planetand dont forget how much smaller Mars is already. Where Earths diameter is 7,926 miles, the diameter of Mars is only 4,220 miles. So, while the technical challenges are huge, the distances are shorter and the gravity is lighter.
But why stop there? Now we know we can engineer machines able to fly in different gravities and through different atmospheric compositions, we should be building choppers capable of exploring the cloud tops of Venus. Huge machines with rotors the size of wind turbines could track the storm systems in Jupiters atmosphere, or cruise the ochre skies of Titan seeking life in its hydrocarbon lakes.
However, Im going to end this months column with a truly science fictional image. Imagine, if you will, a Mars in the not too distant future, where a combination of terraforming techniques have thickened the atmosphere enough for hardy plants to grow and specially adapted animals to roam the surface. And on this new tundra, shaggy herds of reindeer and buffalo graze the tough, wiry grass, watched over by autonomous helicopter shepherds, while overhead, two moons shine in the afternoon sky.
Gareth L. Powell writes science fiction about extraordinary characters wrestling with the question of what it means to be human. He has won and been shortlisted for several major awards, and his Embers of War novels are currently being adapted for television. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram as @garethlpowell.
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Posted: at 7:42 pm
The Homo sapiens, in their current evolved form, have been around on Earth for about 200,000 years. Many advances have taken place since then, with each advance seeming to have had a greater impact on our environment than the previous one. More recently, the use of technology that brought human society an unprecedented level of comfort and material well-being is threatening to destroy our planet, the only one that is in the Goldilocks zone of the solar system.
The negative impacts on the environment caused by our unbridled use of technologies are numerous. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss in detail all the adverse side-effects. Instead, I will focus on perhaps the most significant oneclimate change, followed closely by air pollution, water pollution and resource depletion, albeit not necessarily in the same order.
Our laptop or smart phone or iPad may not release any climate-altering greenhouse gases, but their production and subsequent use involves energy generated by fossil fuels that are responsible for global warming. The same is true for other high-tech devices and electronic implements that have become an integral part of our daily life. For example, using a cell phone for just an hour a day via massive server networks, which consume a huge amount of electricity, translates into more than a ton of carbon dioxide a year.
In the latest report of the World Meteorological Organization, projections of rising global temperatures due to unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases, aided and abetted by technology, underscore that Earth's climate is moving to greater and greater extremes at an accelerated pace. Indeed, the fury unleashed by climate change is not just making us live in a radically transformed world, but also negatively impacting our health, economic infrastructure, supply chains, and will eventually induce widespread famine and mass migration. Anticipating a grim future for Earth, we are now exploring the possibility of colonising Mars by terraforming it into a habitable planet.
Is it possible to go far back in time to a period when the air was pure? If we think of pure air as we think of pure water, probably not. Long before man, dust storms, fires and volcanoes polluted the air with vast quantities of particles and impurities of various sorts. They threw very fine dust into the atmosphere that finally dispersed and settled on the ground. Our appearance, of course, compounded the picture. When we discovered that fossil fuels could generate more heat than wood, we said goodbye to a halcyon period when the air was relatively pure.
Today, some of the major pollutants in the atmosphere are by-products of technology, such as emissions from vehicles, industries and power plants using fossil fuels, brick fields, foundries, refineries and waste incineration facilities. The pollutants from these sources not only add significantly to local air pollution levels, they also interact with environmental components to form secondary pollutants, thereby making a bad situation worse. The primary pollutants together with the secondary ones are precursors to the formation of smog, the worst form of air pollution against which our body has very little defence.
There is no other environmental issue more important than safe and clean drinking water. A continuous supply of clean water is our inalienable right. As noted by the Anglo-American poet W. H. Auden, "Thousands have lived without love, not one without water."
How does technology contribute to groundwater pollution? The lifetime of new technologies is very short. They become obsolete after only a few years of use, which leads consumers to dispose of their old ones to buy the newest versions. It is estimated that globally, we throw away roughly 50 million tonnes of electronic waste every year. More often than not, we throw them away as household trash that ends up in landfills. The toxic material they contain or are made of may eventually leach into the ground and make their way to the water table which is a major source of our drinking water.
Being a mineral intensive industry, technology contributes towards depletion of resources. Increased industrial activity to meet the demands of a digital society requires raw material, some toxic and carcinogenic, whose reserves are finite and are on the decline. Lest we forget, it takes minerals and fossil fuels hundreds of millions of years to form, but only a few hundred years to use up all the reserves.
Mining itself comes with a high carbon cost. Even if factories reuse or recycle material, they still need space because high-tech industries are growing at a rapid rate. Making space for new facilities often involves deforestation, which in turn results in loss of habitat for the animals. Besides, in the long run, over-exploitation of resources ceases to be beneficial and becomes an environmental threat.
All told, at the end of a typical day, in view of our over-dependence on technology, the Earth's atmosphere becomes a little warmer, the water a little more polluted, the soil a little more chemically altered, and natural resources a little more depleted. Crime-ridden and overcrowded cities become even more crowded, while the air in and around them, already choked with pollution, becomes a little more toxic. In sum, the web of life becomes a bit more torn. And tomorrow, it will start all over again.
Although these statistics are extremely depressing, my intention is not to discourage the readers but rather to make the point that we are on an unsustainable course. This is not to say that we and the rich biological world we live in are doomed. True, we cannot turn the clock back, but we still have a chance. We need to get our heads out of the sand, we have to get active, we have to be bold, we have to make profound changes to reverse the environmental mess of our own making, and soon.
A final thought on the World Environment Day 2021. It is possible to coexist with nature regardless of all the technological advances by finding sustainable solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the future. But they have to be affordable and equitable for all people and all nations. However, if we continue to ignore the modest demands that the environment makes upon our use of it, then all the technology we can devise will not suffice to put right the endless environmental traumas that we have created. On the contrary, it will only impoverish our future generations, who will have enough dilemmas to deal with. Let us give them at least a glimpse of how our planet once looked like.
Quamrul Haider is a Professor of Physics at Fordham University, New York.
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