Oct. 22, 2004 | 3:20 p.m. ET
Cast your sci-fi ballot: After weeks of preparation, it's finally election day. ... No, not that Election Day, but the start of the voting period in our "Red, White and Bluetopia" contest for political science-fiction.

Over the past week, we've published entries from six finalists who have sketched out positive visions associated with the Republicans, the Democrats and "neither of the above." Between now and the day before the Nov. 2 presidential election, you can cast a ballot for your favorite entry using our unscientific Live Vote.

This is structured like a primary election, so two winners will be selected for prizes: the top vote-getter, and the highest-rated tale in a different color category. Thus, the two finishers could be Republican Red and Democratic Blue, or one of those plus a neutral White, but not two of the same color.

Each of the two winners will receive a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate that can be spent on a "Fahrenheit 9/11" DVD, a copy of the book "Unfit for Command," a Ralph Nader T-shirt or whatever else they want.

You can find all the entries below, in backward chronological order, or you can consult this hot-linked recap as a refresher:

Entry 1 (Redtopia): "The Keys to Success," by Robert Cornell, looks back at the early 21st century from history class in 2042.

Entry 2 (Redtopia): "The View From the Top," by Tom Hill, looks down on Earth from a Constellation-class starship 2.9 million kilometers away.

Entry 3 (Bluetopia): "Giving Away the World's Most Valuable Technology," by Stephen Kraus, looks ahead to the AE Prize and the fuel-cell era.

Entry 4 (Bluetopia): "Business Triumphant," by Rob Preece, looks provocatively at the economic power that could be unleashed by a "right-D" state of mind.

Entry 5 (Whitetopia):"Rainbow-topia," by Ross Mulker, looks at the State of the Union during a time when elections have been replaced by a lottery.

Entry 6 (Whitetopia): "First Marshall Package Arrives on Earth," by Michael Huang, looks at a time when we just might need some Red Planet relief.

The winners will be determined at noon ET Nov. 1. After that cutoff, winners will have to provide contact information for transferring the gift certificates. If you have any follow-up ideas about how politics can move beyond party lines in the future, feel free to drop me a line and I'll provide a sampling of the feedback in the run-up to the election. And get ready for a couple of new reader-participation exercises next week, having to do with paranormal experiences and high-tech toys.

Oct. 22, 2004 | 9:30 p.m. ET
Weekend field trips on the World Wide Web:
The Economist: Girl power in evolution
'Nova' on PBS: 'The Missing Link'
NASA: Blinding flashes in outer space
Wired.com: Chips coming to a brain near you

Oct. 21, 2004 | 7 p.m. ET
Election science alert: The editor-in-chief of America's most prestigious scientific journal is adding his voice to the chorus of concern over paperless electronic-voting systems. In an online editorial (PDF file), Donald Kennedy of the journal Science sums up the emerging scientific view on the reliability of such systems.

'"The consensus view, with which a few will disagree, is that for traceability, electronic machines should provide for a voter-verifiable audit trail in which the computerized system prints a paper ballot that is read and verified by the voter," Kennedy writes. "Such paper confirmation can be given to the voters privately, as well as retained by officials for later verification."

Kennedy notes that few of the e-voting machines out there for the 2004 election have such a "paper trail" capability — and then he sketches out some worrisome scenarios for the November elections. What happens, for example, if a Bush victory depends on a razor-thin win in Ohio, and it turns out that the paperless-vote totals disagree with the exit polls?

"Thus, the aftermath of a savagely partisan U.S. election turns into a field day for conspiracy theorists, and trust in government takes another hit," Kennedy says.

Such concerns have been rumbling among activists and computer-security experts for months, but they sound more authoritative when they come from the scientific establishment. The early problems reported in Florida only add to the sense of unease.

Kennedy doesn't offer up any instant prescription for e-voting headaches — although he notes that the concerns already raised by computer scientists have led election officials and e-voting vendors to beef up security. Other observers have noted that the e-voting debate has added to the push toward on-paper absentee voting.

Get yourself up to speed by clicking through "Making Your Vote Count," our special report on the voting process, and our Learn how voting systems work, from paper ballots to e-voting. interactive. Then follow along with us as we watch for polling-place glitches and showdowns on Election Day and beyond.

Oct. 21, 2004 | 7 p.m. ET
X Prize party news: The invitations are going out for the X Prize award gala, scheduled Nov. 6 at the St. Louis Science Center. We initially reported that the soiree, during which SpaceShipOne's team is to get its $10 million check, would be a $500-a-plate affair. However, the online reservation form (PDF form) sets out a more complex fee schedule.

If you take a tight-fisted approach to aviation history, you can opt for "Ground Control" seating at $275 a ticket. The "Starship" option, at $800 per couple, will get you closer to the stage, and the "White Knight" package is even more exclusive, at $1,500 per couple. As previously reported, you can call 314-286-4633 for more information. The registration deadline is Nov. 1, and the St. Louis Science Center reports that it's already receiving plenty of faxed-in forms.

Meanwhile, one-time X Prize contenders are quietly working on their own launch preparations. The leader of the Canadian da Vinci Project team, Brian Feeney, told me today that "we're still moving toward a launch" from the prairies of Saskatchewan — but liftoff could conceivably come later than Nov. 1, when the team's existing launch license expires.

Feeney pointed out that the license is determined by the term of the project's launch insurance. If the da Vinci / GoldenPalace.com space effort needed more time, the insurance and the license could be put back into force for a later time frame, he said.

"Having climbed so many hurdles in this project, that doesn't even fall into the hurdle category," Feeney told me.

In the meantime, the "Cape Kindersley" office in Saskatchewan will be closed down until local authorities are notified about the timing of the da Vinci Launch, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix's Web site reports. (Scroll down to the last item.)

And on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, the Space Transport Corp. is still working toward another test launch of its Rubicon rocket, following up on August's blow-up . But on its Web site, Space Transport says the test will likely be "a private affair" in late October or early November, with the results posted afterward.

Oct. 21, 2004 | 7 p.m. ET
Scientific smorgasbord on the World Wide Web:
The Guardian: What lies beneath
Defense Tech: Pentagon 'hearts' NASCAR
NASA: Saturn's rough around the edges
Archaeology Magazine: Cooking ancient recipes

Oct. 20, 2004 | 6 p.m. ET
Politics beyond party lines: Do you think you could do a better job than the major political parties when it comes to charting a course for the long-term future? In our "Red, White and Bluetopia" contest, some Cosmic Log readers gave it a try, coming up with science-fiction mini-stories that followed a road not likely to be taken by the Republicans or Democrats.

This "none-of-the-above" category is known as Whitetopia — that is, a political utopia that avoids Republican Red as well as Democratic Blue policies. The Whitetopia category yielded the most entries, and six semifinal entries were reviewed to come up with the two finalists published below.

Starting Friday, you'll be able to vote for your favorite entries in Red, White or Blue. The biggest vote-getters in the top two categories, as of noon ET Nov. 1, will win $20 gift certificates. Do you have your own idea for taking politics beyond party lines? Send a quick note — no more than, say, 100 words — and I'll pass along a selection of the feedback.

Entry 5 (Whitetopia):
"Rainbow-topia," by Ross Murker:
Actually, things have been going very well since the election revolts of 2008: No more expense of campaigning, conventions, elections, no more mudslinging, no more political advertising clogging our entertainment media — just a simple lottery draw from among citizens who meet the criteria: They're over 35, they were born in the United States, they have served at least four years in an active U.S. armed forces branch, and they're willing to serve a standard two-year term as president.

Taxes have been much easier to bear since they did away with the thousands of pages of tax codes and brought the issue down to its simplest form: 18 cents of every dollar earned, collected from every tax entity, whether citizen, trust, or corporation, no matter where on the globe the dollars were earned, as long as the tax entity resides, maintains citizenship or licensure, or even does the majority of its business, within U.S. borders. All those exceptions were so wasteful. It's a great feeling knowing everyone gets truly equal treatment under the laws.

Speaking of equal treatment, have you seen the overhaul of the punishment statutes? It seems that murderers will now actually spend more time in prison than drug dealers, and child rapists will no longer have special protection inside prisons. Oh, and the bankruptcy rewrite was long overdue — no more "scaling" of what's allowed to be kept based on the fictional wealth one had previously. Equal treatment under the laws indeed — how refreshing!

Scaling fines to address severity of various crimes was a nice change, with all those automakers paying per-ton fines for the pollution their products generated before the switch to bio. So was the rewrite in product liability law: The use of a product finally and properly determines where liability resides, rather than which side can afford the best lawyers.

Personal responsibility is on the upswing, although that wave of vigilantism that swept the country a while back was probably somewhat overdone. Admit it, though: Wasn't it fun seeing the crack-dealers begging for admission to the jails so the crowds wouldn't get them? Would've been the highest-rated TV ever if it wasn't such a huge public participation set of events...

It's great that younger people are also free and being taught wherever their vouchers and interests lead them. Basic literacy is still taught in public schools, but once that test is satisfactorily passed, it's up to the student, parents and whatever guides they trust. The increase in job and overall satisfaction has been truly wonderful to see.

Yes, I'd say we're much better off, as a family, a community and a country — I just wonder why it took us so long to realize that "We, the People" refers to, well, us!

Thank you, fellow citizens of the United States of America, for these few moments of your time. As always, if you have any suggestions, ideas or concerns, you may address them to me at President@whitehouse.gov. I'm Ross Murker, your president. Our nation and the state of our Union still stands strong. Good night.

Entry 6 (Whitetopia):
"First Marshall Package Arrives on Earth,"
by Michael Huang:
Thursday, December 23 — The first aid package sent under the New Marshall Plan has arrived in the United States of America. The 60-metric-ton package — containing food, life support systems and agricultural, industrial and communications equipment — landed successfully in California. The package was launched nine months ago from Mars City Spaceport.

The New Marshall Plan, announced last year by President Kennan, will deliver humanitarian and economic aid to Earth nations recovering from the Third World War. It is modeled on the American-funded reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War.

Oct. 20, 2004 | 6 p.m. ET
Virtual newsstand on the World Wide Web:
Nature: Auras may be generated in the brain
Discover Magazine: Bring back the Buddha
National Geographic: Was Darwin wrong?
Scientific American: Heartbeat poetry

Oct. 19, 2004 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Dispatches from Bluetopia: What would America look like under the visions put forward by the presidential campaigns? We've heard a lot about the nightmare scenarios for Sen. John Kerry, as described by President Bush ... and vice versa. But there's been relatively little about the best-case scenarios for the long-range future, other than Bush's hopes for space exploration and Kerry's hopes for stem-cell research .

This week's "Red, White and Bluetopia" contest is aimed at correcting that, by giving proponents of Republican Red and Democratic Blue policies an opportunity to extrapolate those policies into the sci-fi future. On Monday, we started with the two Red finalists. Today we present the Blue finalists, and on Wednesday we'll publish the two White ("neither of the above") finalists. You'll be able to vote for your favorites starting Friday, with the winners announced on election eve.

Entry 3 (Bluetopia):
"Giving Away the World’s Most Valuable Technology,"
by Stephen Kraus
Although John Kerry’s surprising easy victory in the 2004 was driven in large part by unrest in Iraq, it was also driven by a shrewd maneuver engineered by a latecomer to the campaign: Ragin’ Cajun James Carville.  Carville’s brainstorm:  Create a simple, 10-point, voter-friendly platform — the “Blueprint for the Future,” styled after the “Contract with America,” which ushered in the short-lived Gingrich revolution of the early ’90s.  Where Al Gore had failed to make the case that he could represent the people in his “people versus the powerful” paradigm, Kerry was successful in positioning himself as the “candidate of the future” while painting Bush as symbol of the past.

It turned out that Kerry’s Pillar No. 4 would be the first tipping point of the 21st century: “Make the United States the world leader in alternative energy technologies.”  On the stump, he found the eloquence that had previously eluded him:

“Four decades ago, John F. Kennedy challenged this nation to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth before the decade was out.  Today, I challenge the best and brightest of this nation to land us in a new era of world leadership, and to prove that our technological prowess knows no bounds.  We lead the world in every form of technology except one.  When I become president, we will lead the world in every form of technology, bar none.  I challenge some American to step forward, to be the next Henry Ford, the next Thomas Edison.”

Of course, this high-road talk was very different from John Edwards’ constant campaign refrain about “George Bush and his buddies from Enron” wanting to keep our nation dependent on the archaic technology of fossil fuels, and destroy the environment in the process.  Regardless of their stylistic differences, the Kerry-Edwards Blueprint for the Future caught the imagination of America, and swept both into office.

Kerry’s clean-energy initiative didn’t have the budget of the Apollo program.  But borrowing a page from the X Prize, which ushered in the era of commercial space flight, the government created a multibillion-dollar alternative energy (AE) prize subsidized in part by Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey and Sam Walton’s offspring.  The result was an influx of mildly crazy entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. They engineered a breakthrough in fuel-cell technology that revolutionized how energy is created, transmitted and stored throughout the world.  Suddenly, energy was clean and virtually free.

Certainly Kerry deserves much of the credit for inspiring the AE Prize.  But its worldwide impact resulted from a crucial decision by President Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Thomas Friedman, who captured the White House when Kerry was unable to run for re-election due to injuries arising from a freak windsurfing accident. Their brainstorm: Give the fuel-cell technology away.

Clinton's strategy was inspired in part by the success of open-source operating systems such as Linux : Given away free, they opened up other lines of business, such as consulting, for companies with the appropriate expertise.  Although the United States gave the basic fuel-cell technology away, solving energy crises throughout the world, Detroit made the best fuel-cell cars, Boeing made the best fuel-cell planes, and so on. Just as digital technology led to more documents and thus more paper being used, rather than the “paperless office” which never emerged, the markets for these devices using fuel cells exploded, leading an economic renaissance domestically.

Abroad, ripple effects were felt as well. Oil-based monarchies such as Saudi Arabia fell, giving way to the beachheads for democracy and equality in the Middle East that Iraq never became.  President Clinton sent her husband Bill to the Middle East, where he was able capitalize on the new optimism to broker the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord he so narrowly missed as president.  Carbon dioxide levels decreased, the greenhouse effect subsided, and the ensuing enthusiasm for preserving the environment led to a boom in conservation and education efforts throughout the world.

The foreign-policy inconsistencies and the perceived arrogance that hampered America’s image abroad gave way to a new image for America, one more consistent with her self-image: a leader, a beacon of democracy, a liberator of humanity, architect of the 21st century.

Entry 4 (Bluetopia):
"Business Triumphant," by Rob Preece:
Scott Anglewood switched mode to audio on his latest eBook so he could keep his eyes on the road. Not that he needed to: His new Lincoln drove itself. Still, he liked to override when he saw a chance to pick up some time — and time was money.

He was late again. Lisa wouldn't be happy, but she had her own business designing foods for the latest concept restaurants. She'd understand.

He did override when he saw the legless man begging on the side of the road.

"Spare me 20 bucks?"  The Lincoln's air conditioning automatically picked up when it sensed the odor seeping through the open window.

Scott thrust out his business card.  "My company makes cyber-prosthetics.  You can refit yourself and be as good as new.  Get a job or whatever.  No reason you should have to panhandle."

"Yeah, sure.  And how am I going to pay for that?"

"Take out a loan.  You're worth it.  Once you're on your feet, you'll be able to pay it back in no time."

"You think that's pretty funny, don't you, rich guy?  Back on my feet — very funny.  But legs or no, I got no job. Who's going to hire me?"

Scott was losing sympathy fast.  "Then start your own company.  Like I did."  Pretty much everyone he knew had started their own companies. America didn't have a lot of jobs working for someone else any more.  You had to use your creativity to create something new, not use your muscles to re-create billions of the same old thing.  The Chinese and Indians were too good at the mass production stuff.

"I lost my legs fighting for my country. I think maybe my country owes me something for that."

"Contact the VA office. Or universal health care. They'll pay for your legs if you can't.  I've got to go."

"But how about a few twenties?"

"Sorry, I've got no change."

Lisa was waiting for him, looking gorgeous as always, in a one-time dress that uncovered parts of her body while he watched, flashing back to opacity just when his eyes started to focus on whatever was revealed.

"I thought those were old-fashioned."

"Everything old is new again.  You know that."  She ran a hand across his smooth cheek.  "Looks like you finally went in for a permashave.  It'll make things more comfortable when we smooch."

All of a sudden, Scott was in a hurry.  The Chamber of Commerce meeting was important, of course.  He got lots of business from the networking he did there — and Lisa got even more.  But a night alone with Lisa was worth sacrificing a few bucks.  Unfortunately, though, Lisa liked to draw out the suspense, make him wait, impatiently, until she decided she was ready.

"Come on.  I got a new car, I'll drive."

She had one of the new solar jobs, practically weightless and actually environmentally positive, according to the sales material. Scott preferred the weight of a steel and plastic vehicle and good old-fashioned fuel-cell technology to power it.  Still, Lisa was more into style than he was, and hers was the more impressive conveyance.  It would get them noticed at the COC meeting, let Lisa brag about the styles she was bringing to the dinner table.

He figured the COC meeting was practically the same as the ones his father would have gone to — if his father hadn't been a union man rather than an entrepreneur.  A fast-talking inspirational speaker wasted a few minutes, then they got into politics.

"We need a more business-friendly government," Scott observed to the woman on his right — a woman whose right eye was one of his products, a special that let her zoom in, eliminating the need for a microscope, telescope or any other sort of scope.

"Business has never been better," Martha reminded him.

"Yeah, but taxes stink." Nobody ever liked paying taxes, although the high income of the all-entrepreneurial economy made the burden bearable.

"Oh, Scott.  You are so right-D.  Don't you think Scott is a right-D, Amy?"

Of course Amy would think so.  She thought anyone who didn't mind taking occasional bucks from the government to deliver health care products was right-D.  She also disliked Scott because she'd had a crush on Lisa going back for eons — even after she'd hooked up with Martha.

"Maybe so," he said.  "But just because they're wrong about some things doesn't mean they're wrong about everything."

"Hey, break it up, you guys.  Josh here has finally had his breakthrough.  You really want to hear about it."

Josh had been on the verge of a breakthrough since 2005, so Scott wasn't holding his breath.  On the other hand, letting Martha and Amy gang up on him wasn't a great plan.  "What do you have, Josh?  Finally cure cancer?"

Josh gave that the half-laugh it deserved.  "Diabetes. One of the 3,000 stem-cell lines that went public domain last year did the job.  Poof — no more insulin, no more needles, no more people losing their feet and sight."

Scott joined in the applause.  Josh would be rich.  Well, he'd paid his dues, even worked for Scott for a while until he built up the funding he needed for his own lab.

The rest of the COC meeting was same-old.  Scott got a few business leads — one from an Egyptian, and another from a Frenchman of all things. Lisa persuaded a major Chinese restaurant chain to trial-market one of her dinner plans.

Traffic was light as they returned home, Lisa's solar job barely grinding along at 70 because she'd parked it in the shade that afternoon and the batteries were running down.

"You really are a right-D," she murmured to him as she switched the car onto full auto and cuddled up next to him.  "You don't really think things would be better if the hard-R's hadn't imploded back in ’04, do you?  I mean, they preached the same low-tax pro-business line you talk."

He shuddered.  Before he'd decided on robotic prosthetics, he'd studied economics.  "Come on, Lisa.  Without some sort of health care system, we could never have had the explosion in entrepreneurship that created the new economy. Plus, they wanted to drive the gays out of the country — half our best ideas came from them. Besides, I'm a scientist.  And a 5 percent tax rate isn't really killing us."

Lisa nodded.  "They said that letting gays get married would mean an end to marriage, and look at us. We've been dating for years and no ring."

Scott grinned.  "I'm going to take that as a proposal.  And the answer is yes."

Oct. 19, 2004 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Progress and parody on the scientific Web:
The Register: Fuel-cell laptop to be unveiled
New Scientist: Scientists seek to create 'three-parent' babies
Technology Review: Power on a chip
The Onion: Stem cells may hold cure to ailing campaign

Oct. 18, 2004 | 8:40 p.m. ET
Dispatches from Redtopia: The presidential campaign is in full mudslinging mode as the candidates reach the two-week countdown. With so much negative campaigning, it seems almost like a science-fiction concept to contemplate the positive long-term visions for Republicans, Democrats and others. So we're only too happy to oblige with the "Red, White and Bluetopia" political science-fiction contest.

A couple of weeks ago we solicited science-fiction plot treatments that were inspired by the positive political visions of "Red" and "Blue" America, as well as "White" entries that hewed to neither party line. Over the next three days, we'll roll out six finalists, selected from the entries received: two each for "Red," "White" and "Blue." If you have any feedback on the entries, send it in and I'll pass a selection along on Thursday. Beginning Friday, you can cast your ballot for your favorite science-fiction tale.

The top vote-getter as of noon ET Nov. 1, the day before Election Day, will receive a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate, as will the highest finisher of a different color.

We'll start with the two Red entries. Thanks to all who entered, and may the best visionary win:

Entry 1 (Redtopia):
"The Keys to Success," by Robert Cornell:
Steven sat at his terminal, as his freshman history class was about to start. He found history particularly compelling these days, as they had just started studies of the early 21st century. Study of this era caused Steven to think about how many things in 2042 he and his friends took for granted — and how incredible it was that Americans endured so much back then.

It was so easy to take for granted that, these days, no one has 25 percent of their income — or any of their earnings — stolen from their paychecks by the government. And yet, those at the turn of century had been tolerating that very thing for so long!

It was easy to take for granted that, these days, nobody — no "institution" — cared about racial or ethnic demographics. And yet, in those days, "race" was actually used to allocate admissions to the very university that Steven was attending!

It was easy to take for granted that the democratic principle of equal representation had taken hold in every nation on the planet — that tyranny, oppression, persecution and religious jihad had evaporated from the Middle East and everywhere else. It amazed Steven that once there were actually Americans who opposed fighting for the very freedoms everyone enjoyed and took for granted these days!

Steven was excited that today they would be examining the root causes behind the revolutionary changes he and his friends now took for granted.

Chapter One: "Democracy, Liberty, Capitalism and the Republican Party — the Keys to Success."

He savored every word.

Entry 2 (Redtopia):
"The View From the Top," by Tom Hill
The camera view is filled with a somewhat cluttered-looking spacecraft interior. In the middle, a thirtyish woman hovers. "Greetings to the people of Earth! This is Elizabeth Short, commander of the Endurance. We asked for a live downlink today because it is the halfway point in our journey to check out this craft for the length of a return trip from Mars. We've been on this journey for just under two and a half months, and today, for the first time since we left our refueling station, we are moving back toward our home. We wanted to take this time to share something special with you.

"As everyone knows, this is the second trial run of a Constellation-class spacecraft to shake it down for a long mission. These ships, and the others like them, have served us well as lunar ferries, but it's time to stretch their capabilities a little more. We've added a lot of supplies in a logistics module, and a lot of equipment to keep us in clean air, clean water and warmth for 200 days, allowing us to complete one long orbit around Earth and collect the prize. The first try to certify these craft for the trip was cut short by a carbon dioxide filter that..."

Her glance moves past the camera for a moment.

"Folks, my cameraman just reminded me that you didn't tune in tonight to revisit recent space events. Today, as our craft hovers over our home planet at almost 2.9 million kilometers, we're going to turn our ship so we get to look back on Earth. Normally, this is something we don't do because takes a lot of the sun off our solar panels, but for this special occasion, it's the right thing."

The camera pans over her shoulder, through the window visible behind and out into the depths of space. After focusing on a bluish dot, the view zooms in, and the dot resolves into two thin crescents, lit from the right side. The larger one has the land, sea and cloud patterns familiar to all those who live on Earth, while the smaller one looks familiar in color but not in pattern, as the moon is closer to Endurance, and people are receiving their first live views of the far side of the moon.

As the planet resolves itself and becomes larger, the camera operator's jerkiness becomes more apparent, until he mounts his eye to the world in place. Then the view is motionless, and the hyper-sensitive camera provides some of the best views possible of Earth from a distance of nearly 3 million kilometers.

There is a moment of silence, and then the commander's voice comes over the link again. "Like our time on this mission, or even on our home planet, the time we can spend looking back in this way is fleeting. As we look upon this cradle of humanity, we on the Endurance are reminded of the amazing things that humankind can accomplish when they set their minds to a goal.

"No matter what your religious preference, even if it is 'none of the above,' this image has to invoke a powerful emotion within you. We are four people, in a small bubble of gases a long long way from home. Yet we are connected to all of you on the surface, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

"I'm going to be quiet now, and let the scene speak for itself, after taking this last moment to wish everyone below a very Merry Christmas."

Oct. 18, 2004 | 8:40 p.m. ET
The $10 million party: More details are emerging about the Nov. 6 award ceremony for the X Prize, during which a trophy and a $10 million check will be handed over to the team behind the SpaceShipOne rocket plane . The event will be a $500-a-plate, black-tie-optional gala at the St. Louis Science Center, beginning with cocktails at 6 p.m., according to Gregg Maryniak, executive director of the St. Louis-based X Prize Foundation. During the day, a variety of educational events will be presented for the public. The science center will be in charge of handling the reservations for the gala, Maryniak says.

Update for Oct. 19: The St. Louis Science Center says 314-286-4633 is the number for reservations.

Oct. 18, 2004 | 8:40 p.m. ET
Your daily dose of science on the Web:
Popular Science: The new right stuff
NASA: 'Solar Minimum' is coming early
Carnegie Mellon U.: Robots and thought
Technology Review: Global warming bombshell
Quark Soup: Global warming caveats

The fine print: Looking for older items? Check the Cosmic Log archive. Share your perspective on cosmic subjects with Alan Boyle. If you link to this page, you can use http://cosmiclog.msnbc.com or http://www.cosmiclog.com as the address. MSNBC is not responsible for the content of Internet links.

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