Scintillations

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The newly announced N-Prize will award 9,999.99 to a team which can put a satellite of mass 9.99-19.99 grams into space for 9 Earth orbits on a budget of 999.99 before September 2011. There are separate competitions for reusable and non-reusable launch systems. Sound doable? Further details at http://www.n-prize.com/.

Slightly lower down, the ongoing effort toward the world's highest paper plane launch, Vulture 1, has gained a sponsor (PEER 1 Hosting) which has provided it space in its blog (http://www.peer1hosting.co.uk/blog) for updates. Launch is now set for Summer 2010.

New item for when we get back to the Moon: retrieving the Soviet moon rover Lunokhod-2, finally located where it was abandoned in 1963 by its controllers after it became stuck in a crater. Not that the Soviets want it back; it was auctioned off by their successors sometime in the 1990s, and purchased by Richard Garriott.

Back on Earth, the argument over whether manga can be considered literature has officially ended with the announcement of oku: The Inner Chambers as a co-winner of the Tiptree Award. As a service to the fan community, this publication would like to help avert the next stage of controversy by explaining now how to actually pronounce the newest honoree's name.

That funny-looking word is the original title transliterated. It's a compound of the Japanese word for big, , which is a long "oh", and another word meaning "chamber, interior", oku, pronounced roughly "ohkoo". So what you need is two distinct "oh" syllables at the front, rather than "ookoo", which is the way your non-manga-reading friends are probably going around pronouncing it right now. See if you could get in a gentle correction before Wiscon, could you? Thanks.

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