This Week in Geekdom

And just like that, 2013 is nearly over. Seriously? Wow. Not only is it surreal to think that it's already been almost a year since the GIR and I went on our Pacific sojourn to get married, but the countdown clock to PAX East 2014 presently stands at a mere 102 days. Gah! The costume for PAX is about 35% finished and will make its formal debut on the blog in the next two-ish weeks. It feels absolutely incredible to be actively making costumes again, but more on that later. Today's post will be the last of the year and next week will feature a round-up of things to look forward to in 2014. So, let's get down to the last This Week in Geekdom of 2013!   

We'll kick things off with this much-anticipated sequel to 2008's An Engineer's Guide to Cats.


2013 was rife with novel science. Just reading about some of the incredible breakthroughs made during the year was fascinating in itself, but the Smithsonian has gone a step further and created this compendium of the year in science as a series of gifs.

One of the subjects that appeared on the Week in Geekdom time and again in 2013 was 3D printing. Well, it's no surprise that this will almost certainly continue into next year, but the items slated for artificial genesis in 2014 may surprise you. San Diego-based 'bio-printing' company Organovo will attempt to make history in the new year by offering the first 3D printed human liver tissue.

Ever wondered if shelling out a premium for an Apple product versus the PC equivalent was a legit expense? The guys at BGR set out to see if the 'Apple Tax' is commensurate compensation for a product, or just the price paid for a brand name.

Volcanic lightening is many things: dramatic, powerful, and, until this week, infamous elusive for the purposes of formal study. That is, until a pair of vulcanologists accidentally re-created the phenomenon with their artificial volcano. Check out the video here.

What do sharks, honeybees, and humans all have in common? Turns out, we all travel the same way.

There have been many criticisms of The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, but this intrepid physicist was determined to see if the film's climactic scene was at all scientifically feasible. (Warning: 'spoilers')

The baleful effects of consuming gluten have been at the forefront of nutritional research for the past several years and is now the basis of the title sitting at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. What does this all potentially mean for you? Read here to find out.

The rise and fall of Jesse Willms, the so-called Dark Lord of the Internet.

Because nothing says 'dandy' like an Elvis-style bouffant

The creator of both Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Beebop has developed a series specifically for US audiences. The new show, Space Dandy, will debut on Cartoon Network's Toonami on January 4th.


Fans of the Homeworld franchise were given a bit of a Christmas present by Gearbox Software. The developer, who acquired the title back in April in the wake of the dissolution of THQ, appears to be moving forward with the re-releases of both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 and solicited direct input from some of the series' biggest fans. 

That repository for all things awesome, the Archive, has released these fully playable, completely free mods of five classic 70s/80s console games. Oh the nostalgia!

General Awesomeness

English is a notoriously inconsistent language, but could you imagine what it would look like with the inclusion of these 12 letters?

2013 has given us some very impressive fan films, and it seems that there's at least one remaining before the calendars all roll over. I leave you all with this devotional to everyone's favorite lady archeologist:

Best wishes for an awesome week (and year) ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

For serious. Where did this month go? I can't apologize enough guys; these past few weeks turned out to be nothing like they were planned to be. Fortunately, life appears to be returning to some semblance of normalcy (knock on wood), which is a holiday gift in itself for the GIR and I. Woot! Here's hoping that the holiday season has been good to you thus far and that the Steam Winter Sale isn't ravaging your bank account. Let's get down to This Week in Geekdom!


The 50th Anniversary Dr. Who special may be over and committed to the record books, but the tributes to the beloved temporal traveler continue. Read here Whovians (or those new to the Whoniverse) for a thorough and entertaining look back at these five decades past.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems as though he's on a personal mission to bridge the gap between the muggle and nerdy cinematic worlds. Earlier this week the would-be Robin announced that he will be producing a movie version of Neil Gaiman's the Sandman.

In further evidence that films based in comic book source material will remain with us for at least the next few years, we received a near confirmation this week concerning the casting of Ant-Man.


The fact that galaxies can assume a spirallic shape is something we generally take for granted. It's a common enough occurrence right? While that's true at this point in time, it was not always so. Here is a brief history of just how spiral galaxies evolved.

45 years old and still awe-inspiring
This upcoming Tuesday will mark the 45 anniversary of one of the most iconic photographs in history: Earthrise. In advance of the occasion, NASA has put together this brief but very interesting video detailing exactly how Apollo 8 astronauts were able to capture this image.

Speaking of astronauts, we've talked a bit about the premise of long-haul space travel becoming a reality in the not-so-distant future. So, say you're headed out on a multi-year journey to Mars. Is there any chance you'll get half-way decent food en route. Why yes, at least some comfort foods can travel with you.

NASA has confirmed that the surface of the Moon is a bit rougher than it was about a year ago. The agency released this series of time lapse photos that appear to depict a new impact crater on our orbital neighbor.

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the single most daylight deficient day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It may have seemed extra dark yesterday, but, as NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Centre proves in this video, there was more to the appearance of the Solstice than an early sunset time.

It is the foundation of a significant portion of all marketing funds currently being spent: selling potential customers on the notion that a product can forestall or reverse the effects of the aging process. But what if such a claim were made real? The latest edition of the journal Cell presents findings from a joint venture between Harvard Medical School, the National Institute on Aging, and the University of New South Wales that a compound produced during the study actually undid parts of the aging process.


2014 will mark 40 years since Dungeons & Dragons changed the lives of countless gamers. However, the actual birthday of the seminal RPG system has been a matter of some debate. This well-researched piece gives us a pretty solid contender for the celebratory date, which is just over 1 month away!

Nintendo has been falling by the console wayside for the past year or so as the next generation of gaming platforms take center stage. However, this does not imply that the company is just going to lie back and give itself up for lost. Here are two new trailers for franchises intended to breathe new life into the Wii U: Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. 4.

More practiced gamers may scoff, but Candy Crush Saga is the single highest-grossing app on both iOS and Android platforms. This fact so perplexed so many individuals that the BBC sought to discern the source of the game's appeal. 

General Awesomeness

Looking for a last minute gift for that Settlers of Catan lover in your life? Consider this, a cookbook based off of everyone's favorite resource management game. The hexagonal serving dish alone would make an excellent present.

Roll for noms!
In a Da Vinci-esque endeavor, this Canadian duo successfully built a fully operational human-powered helicopter. 

There are gingerbread houses and gingerbread cookies, but can anything encompass more epic than this gingerbread Optimus Prime? I think not.

Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

Hi guys. I'm so sorry the blog has seen only This Week in Geekdom posts for the past few weeks. The combination of holiday frenzy and a rash of administrative edits on my graduate thesis before the latter gets sent off to the bindery has effectively sucked away any and all free time. Honestly, sometimes it seems like the thesis has more regenerative powers than the quarterly Workish Elder Hydra, but soon that nigh-unending tome will be out of my hair for good and we can return to a regular posting schedule. In the meantime, let's get down to This Week in Geekdom!


Though the helical shape of DNA has been an integral part of biology for decades now, the cause behind that unique formation has been a source of debate for just as long. This week, physicists at the University of Singapore released their findings that quantum entanglement may be a significant factor. 

It was not a good week for the International Space Station (ISS). On Wednesday, NASA was forced to reroute some of the Station's coolant systems in order to prevent overheating. 

Fortunately, this week wasn't all crisis-management for NASA. Tuesday gave us our first glimpse of the Valkyrie, their humanoid robot and entry to this year's DARPA Robotics Challenge. Click here for more pictures and check out the video below that will make you glad we're living in the future.  

Speaking of robots, Google got in on the mecha-party this week with their purchase of Boston Dynamics. This was the eighth robotics company that Google's bought in the past six months. Can we officially start calling them the makers of Dkynet?

It's easy to take the moon for granted, so regular in its orbit and rotations. However, the origins of our lunar satellite remain a point of contention for many researchers. The latest issue of Nature seeks to pry apart conventional impact theories and pinpoint how the Moon came to exist.

The European Space Agency has its sights set on a harrowing, impressive feat of extra-atmospheric dexterity: landing a probe on a moving comet.

An invisibility flashlight. Science fiction? Yes, but perhaps not for long...


Xbox One and PS4 have each only spent a few weeks in the public domain, but already programmers are working to build emulators for these new-generation machines. Read here for details on this quest to bring the console experience to your desktop.

While Microsoft and Sony vie for market share, Nintendo struggles to maintain relevancy. The Wii U has its work cut out for it if the console is to survive.

YouTube has not elicited too many smiles from its users in the past few weeks. The ruling by parent/overlord company Google mandating the use of a G+ account in order to comment on videos was not too popular to say the least,  and said edicts only appear to continue. Earlier this week YouTube sent thousands of notices to users who had posted clips containing video game footage claiming copyright infringement and demanding that these posts be removed.  

There's video gaming and then there's video gaming as practiced in South Korea. The East Asian nation is famous for its voracious appetite and national esteem for video games, so it is not entirely surprising that a proposed new anti-gaming statute is starkly dividing the country. Read here for details on how video games may be classified as an addictive substance.   

Tuesday was the 20th birthday of Doom. Two decades later, the game's creator reminisces about the title and its impact on video games as a whole.


Watch the new, longer trailer for the Dr. Who Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, here. 

General Awesomeness

File this under Needed This When I Was a Kid: this understandably overfunded Kickstarter for Australian start-up Squishy Forts. Yes, those are structurally reinforced cushions designed explicitly for fort-building. Hell, forget being a kid...those would make an excellent addition to our Game Haven right now.

Ohio State University just became a bit more welcoming to us nerds. Earlier this week the University opened the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. 

As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead. I leave you guys with this amazing video footage from the JUNO spacecraft. 

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This Week in Geekdom

Hi everyone! Hope December is off to a great start for you all. Now that the holiday season has transitioned from entirely too early corporate-sponsored creep to legitimate year-end juggernaut, let's revel in some festive nerdery. Behold, Captain Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise "singing" Let It Snow.


There's no shortage of ideas regarding sources of renewable energy, but some of them are decidedly more feasible than others. In the Far-Fetched-But-Cool-Sounding camp is this plan proffered by Japanese architectural and engineering firm Shimizu, which calls for the construction of a solar power plant on to be constructed on the moon.'s recent announcement that it seeks to one day deliver packages via unmanned drone elicited a whole spectrum of reactions ranging from outright fear to "man, technology is amazing." Some of the most important reactions regarding this and other near-future innovations are those of legislators. This thoughtful piece looks into the murky, often thorny issue of crafting regulation for technology that may not come into use for a generation or more.

The artificial heart is a decades-old technology at this point, but this life-saving device has changed little since its debut. Researchers and engineers at the Texas Heart Institute endeavor not only to improve upon the existing model, but to reconfigure how we conceive of artificial organs as a whole.

While artificial hearts are the inspiration for some, researchers at Tsinghua University Beijing are preoccupied with gaining a better understanding of the real deal. Using gallium as a contrast agent, Qian Wang and Yang Yu have designed this set of 3D x-rays that make it possible to glimpse even the smallest of blood vessels.

The Cassini spacecraft has sent some incredible images back to Earth for our perusal. Fresh in from Saturn are these pictures of the planet's hexagonal mega-storm that astronomers believe may have been buffeting the gas giant's surface for 200 years or more.

Speaking of space, what ever happened to the comet ISON? At this point, scientists are still unsure, but this is what we know about the fate of the celestial wanderer.

It has taken data from 11 different spacecraft, but researchers now agree that the direction of our galaxy's interstellar wind has changed direction over the past 40 years. Here's the science.


On Monday the much chatted about MMO based on Jane Austen, Ever, Jane,achieved its Kickstarter funding goal. Those Regency period enthusiasts out there can still contribute if you'd like to help 3 Turn Productions reach their currently unfulfilled stretch goals.

It's no secret that Cards Against Humanity is insanely popular. As one of the all-time best party games, it's not likely to fall off any gamer's radar any time soon. So how is it possible for such a title to generate more buzz? Turn the concept of a Black Friday sale on its head and profit.

The guys at Dorkly compiled this list of the Most Annoying Gamers on the Internet. So funny and so true. 


Battlestar Galactica has been off the air for several years now, but that hasn't damped the enthusiasm of its fan base. This brilliant tribute video will give you your fix of space refugee drama in just 4 minutes.

General Awesomeness

Italian architect Luigi Prina has an impressive passion for model-building, but not just any models, mind you. This gifted, imaginative gentleman has constructed over 200 stunning models of airships. See some samples of his beautiful work here.

Designer Scott Park loves him some robots (because, really, who doesn't?). He put together this amazing poster of well known mechanical inhabitants of various TV and movie franchises. Bonus: the poster is available for sale!

I leave you with this gift idea for those Super Mario enthusiasts: this re-imagined map of the New York City subway system. You can get prints of the map, or the Legend of Zelda version, Donkey Kong, or Super Mario version of the Chicago subway system here.

As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead!
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