>> Saturday, November 22, 2008

This week, NASA announced a successful test run for what could become a kind of interplanetary internet. The gist is that NASA scientists came up with a Delay/Disruption-Tolerant Networking protocol (DTN) which could allow various international space programs to bounce around messages and to network satellite communications to improve traffic (as opposed to direct transmissions from distant probes straight-to-Earth; relaying such transmissions between other probes, vehicles, earthbound antennae and receiving stations could improve speed and reliability of communications).

The exciting test runs of the system, according to Cosmic Log's Alan Boyle, included tributes to early internet pioneers:

Some of the people involved in developing the deep-space Internet also played a role in building the very first Internet - and the first image transmitted as part of the DTN experiment paid tribute to those pioneers: It was a reproduction of a hand-drawn diagram of the original four-node Arpanet, sketched in 1969 by Steve Crocker, who is one of the Internet's founding fathers as well as a participant in the DTN effort.

The second image was a photograph of another networking pioneer, the late J.C.R. Licklider. Licklider's concept of a "Galactic Network" was an inspiration for the present-day Internet as well as the interplanetary Internet, Hooke said.

But, inexplicably, the NASA press release and Boyle both fail to mention the mysterious third transmission received by the NASA team:


Sources have informed this blogger that the NASA team was still trying to determine whether this message was a joke or what it could possibly signify, when a burst of interference of a type previously attributed to distant gamma-ray outbursts was surprisingly rendered on the team's computers as:

Dear Honorable Sir, Madam, or Fwoop-nar: I am a humble civil-servant functionary residing on a world orbiting a star many parsecs distance from you on a co-ordinate line of 2.372 radians by 4.827 from Galactic Center. As you may be aware, recent civil unrest on my homeworld has resulted in the execution of the entire Royal Hive and most of the wjjasj'jjalli Clans. As a consequence, large amounts of Q'll'opialati have been secreted within and subsequently abandoned in the Labyrintine Caverns Of Lloi on the Fortress Moon, to lie unclaimed and nearly forgotten.

It is possible, however, for these deposits to be claimed. I can personally claim these deposits, but only if the transaction is enabled by a decent and honorable follower of VrioomPhiar like yourself who is willing to send a q-pulse to the Colonial Mind Of Lloi with InterStelBankingData that would allow the Colonial Mind to authorize that the deposits be scraped from the walls of Lloi and daubed onto the sides of an InterStelBankingMegaVault.

I have been informed you are of inestimable character and VrioomPhiar-oneness, and might be willing and able to assist me. For your efforts, I will be willing to share half of the accreted deposits--you will have to do nothing more than provide the Colonial Mind with your InterStelBankingData.

If you are willing, please reply immediately. Also, and I don't think I need to whoofle this, this q-pulse is wholly confidential. Please respond. VrioomPhiar be one with your heads.

Regrettably, within minutes of this second puzzling communiqué, and before the NASA team could comprehend the import of the printout they were holding, the NASA computer system was crashed by 10,029,299,103,812 separate identical messages from somebody named "Slizwort" who claimed to be lonely and to have liked the team's "page" and asked the NASA team to be a friend and to visit "Slizwort"'s "site," which "Slizwort" claimed the NASA scientists would "really really like."

Speculation that the messages might be extraterrestrial in origin were put on hold when a system trace showed that all of the messages had, in fact, at some point in their transit passed through a server farm in Russia. However, the apparent gamma-ray burst remains unexplained.

I'll update this story as I hear more from my confidential source, dear readers.


mattw Monday, November 24, 2008 at 10:15:00 AM EST  

My god, Eric, either you have way too much time on your hands or should be looked at. Too funny. Is this helping your NaNo come along at all?

Eric Monday, November 24, 2008 at 10:30:00 AM EST  

::looks down at his shoes and sulks::



But I'm on vacation this week! I can catch up my word count! And some of the other kids in class are behind too! It's not just me!

::shuffles off to type thousands of words::

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