In the Loop

In the Loop: April 2, 2008 Archive

Mission to Mars: Is it even worth it?

Posted at 11:06 AM on April 2, 2008 by Sanden Totten (1 Comments)

For those of us already giddy over the thought of the world's largest particle accelerator going live, yesterday's announcement that Google has teamed up with space pioneers Virgin Mobile to plan a future colony on Mars practically made us fall out of our seats. That is of course, assuming you first fell for the press release.

Okay, so it's a joke. But Mars exploration isn't. In fact, NASA plans to launch another red rover to our planetary neighbor in 2009. And folks, this one is a "mega rover", which in my mind means it will be able to drill for core samples, stream live video and have sweet tail fins and a custom paint job.

But lacking the financial capital of a Google or Virgin Mobile, NASA is struggling to pay for this project. Not surprising when you consider it's $2 billion price tag. And to make matters worse, it looks like sending humans to Mars may be a suicide mission. Experts are now realizing that cosmic radiation and solar storms could wipe out any explorers before they even touch down on Martian soil.

I love the idea of colonizing Mars. It's one of my top science fantasies, right up there with seeing dinosaurs brought back to life. But you got to ask, is it a dream worth pursuing? Between an ailing economy and the threat of global warming, I'm starting to wonder if $2 billion is too much to ask for something Hollywood managed for only 1 million.

But I could be convinced otherwise. To rove or not to rove: what's your take on it?

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News Flash: MySpace preparing to take on iTunes

Posted at 2:58 PM on April 2, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (1 Comments)

Not seeing it anywhere else on the web yet, but the wires just flashed an exclusive little item from Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp's MySpace, the world largest social networking site, will unveil a joint venture with at least three major music companies within 5 days, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday. Called MySpace Music, the service will be integrated with and is being touted as a rival to Apple Inc's iTunes online music store. It will offer music streaming, MP3 downloads, concert tickets, ringtones and merchandising, the sources said. News Corp, Warner Music Group Corp, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group will each have a stake in the venture, the sources said. It is not clear if EMI Group, the fourth largest music label, will be involved.

(Update: Reuters has now posted the news item on its web site.)

Is this the iTunes killer? I'll admit, as a huge user of subscription services (Rhapsody has changed my life) I have been hugely frustrated to watch an inferior product and delivery model (iTunes) so dominate the scene.

(Seems like a nice time to bust out this snarky little graphic I made a couple years ago when I did an episode of Future Tense about this:)

The fact that the MySpace product will offer "streaming" suggests to me there will be some embrace of the subscription model (even if they'll still offer up paid MP3 downloads for the suckers whose heads explode at the thought of not shelling out a per-song fee).

Anybody else as anxious as I am for more iTunes competition? Does MySpace have what it takes? Here's a poll on the matter:

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