The PJ Tatler

#SXSW Day One: Space Flight, War Games, and a Man Made Entirely of Legos

Let’s get this out of the way up front: The weather for SXSW 2013 is terrible so far. Austin is dry as a bone for probably 345 days out of the year. Today is not one of the dry days. I snapped this from South Congress crossing the lake going north. On a good day, you can see the state capitol from here.

NASA is here. They’ve set up a full-scale model of what will be the next great observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope. The real JWST will orbit earth at a Lagrange point, which is about one million miles out. This model is getting soaked, and probably wishes it could get outside the weather.

It’s tough to get a sense of scale here or, really, what it even looks like. Here’s shot from the night the model was assembled out next to the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Here’s a time lapse of its construction.

NASA has a small building full of space interactives behind the JWST model. NASA’s touchscreen is bigger than your touchscreen.

That screen lets users fly around and zoom into Hubble Space Telescope images. The James Webb will replace Hubble, eventually.

Here’s me in infrared. That’s the wavelength in which the Webb will see space. Peering in infrared will allow it to see farther out, and back in time given the nature of light, than any other telescope ever made.

Disclosure time: I used to work on the JWST project back in the day.

Next to the NASA building, the SXSW Gaming convention is gearing up for a busy weekend. I’ve never worked in the gaming industry.

The Gaming Convention is part trade show, part tournament. Gamers will compete against each other here.

Audiences will watch the action here.

I know that we have some folks and a writer here who think that no one who plays video games will ever amount to anything in life. But the fact is, gaming is huge now. It’s on a par with the movie industry. The makers of Minecraft now have 33 million customers worldwide and have made a fortune off of a product they created for kicks. Many of the people who will attend the SXSW Gaming Convention make their living on games — creating them, producing them, marketing them, selling them, and playing them. It’s a big business, it’s an entrepreneurial business, and it’s one that could have some conservative tendencies.

That’s a promotional booth for I’m guessing its customers aren’t too interested in gun control.

Nintendo is the big kahuna of the SXSW Gaming show. So they have the biggest booth, which they’re using to promote the new WiiU console.

Outside the gaming hall, there’s a man made entirely of Legos. I don’t know why, but it’s cool.

I also don’t know how many Legos they used to build him. A lot. More than I had as a kid.

Tomorrow at SXSW: Elon Musk and Al Gore. I’m hoping someone asks Gore the following question:

“Sir, you have called the internal combustion engine the greatest threat to mankind because it runs on petroleum products. Your sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera, which is funded by oil, makes you an oil profiteer now. So given all of those facts, why should anyone take any of your other warnings, or anything else you say, seriously, ever?”

Or something along those lines.