The Biggest Deal Nobody’s Talking About

Aye maaaan!

Hold up, so Voyager 1 has left the damn solar system and it’s not on the front page anywhere?  Y’all do realize what an achievement this is, right?  Voyager has now traveled farther than any man-made object to date.

Just so we are clear, this is a photo of Earth from Voyager 1 in 1990.  See that little blue dot in the brown band?  Yep, that’s us and everyone who has ever lived on Earth.  It’s been 23 years since that was taken.

Photo credit: NASA via Wikipedia.

There’s been controversy about whether Voyager 1 actually left for a year or so now, but it appears researchers are certain that Voyager 1 is now traipsing through the Milky Way.  It has actually gone where no man has gone before!

Remember V’ger, anyone else a little nervous?  Could you imagine Voyager 1 being intercepted and upfitted by a race of aliens and returning to us?  I’ll be long dead by the time that happens, but it is kinda cool to consider.  On the other end of the spectrum, a probe entering a black hole and becoming self-aware was a very similar story to the movie Event Horizon– the scariest movie ever made.  Let’s hope that sh*t doesn’t happen.

The V’ger entity and resultant merger with Ilia and Lt. Decker is supposed to be the beginning of the Borg, so, yeah, let’s hope all of that doesn’t happen.  In fact, let’s hope that the galaxy is filled with gentle, kind My Little Ponies or something.

In fact, maybe there is good reason for this not to be front page news after all…

Happy Friday everyone!

Pop culture classic: ‘Galaxy Quest’

keithroysdon

galaxy-quest-movie-poster-

I’ve heard the argument made, online, that “Galaxy Quest” is the best big-screen “Star Trek” movie. “Star Trek” reboot director J.J. Abrams apparently said as much. While I think the claim is made somewhat facetiously, there’s a lot to be said for the light-hearted 1999 sci-fi comedy.

Beyond the trappings of the movie, which looks at a group of has-been actors living off the fame of their cult TV show 20 years later, there are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle nods to “Star Trek” the show, its cast and fandom.

The movie, directed by Dean Parisot, shows us the cast of the former “Galaxy Quest” series in the only setting in which they can thrive: Fan conventions. While the show’s captain, played by Tim Allen, basks in the glory of his adoring fans, the rest of the crew – Sigourney Weaver as the ship’s eye candy, Alan Rickman as…

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In other Science-y News: The Sun’s Magnetic Field Is About to Flip

No, the sun is not about to go DMX on you and lose its mind (up in here, up in here).  However, the sun’s magnetic field is about to flip, likely in the next few months.  The polarity flip takes place about ever 11 years, so, don’t worry, we aren’t going to die a fiery death.  There may be some more sunspot activity and potentially some telecommunications disruptions due to increased solar storms.  But, have no doubt, this is a big deal that will affect our entire solar system!

Check out more about the flip here

And, while we’re at it, here’s the clearest picture of a sunspot ever taken.  Pretty nifty, huh:

Credit: Big Bear Solar Laboratory/New Jersey Institute of Technology

In other Science-y News: Soylent, Stem Cell Burgers, and Nootropics. Oh My!


You may have seen or heard coverage this week about Google-supported research to develop meat grown from stem cells.  One of two people who was able to eat a burger cooked from the stem cell meat said that it was good, but lacked fat.  Now, any talk of artificially-grown meat makes our collective alarm bells go off because we all remember Charlton Heston yelling “Soylent Green is People!” in the eponymous 1973 film.  I am pretty confident that every third person who read or heard the story probably thought, “Hmm, how long before someone grows people burgers?”  I don’t think that fear is warranted, but I was definitely the third person in that case.  Slippery slope.  Would you eat a stem cell burger?  Tell the truth.   Truth-I might because I recognize that the demand for meat has all sorts of undesirable environmental consequences.  Probably no time soon, gotta wait and see if it turns anyone into the minion monster.

Which leads me to my next topic.  Why on earth would someone create a potentially revolutionary food (not meal) replacement drink and name it “Soylent”?

Beats me, but it’s working.  There is a growing movement of people who are trying to figure out how they can stay alive without eating actual food.  I’ve been trying to keep up on its development.  Apparently, Soylent is a blandly sweet concoction of everything the body needs to survive.  It can be prepared in advance and taken with you.  Right now the cost is still high and the ingredients can be hard to find, so it won’t be coming to a store near you soon.  That said, it could totally revolutionize the weight loss industry.  Liquid diets work, but they are typically missing nutrients and people end up losing hair, dying, etc.  The question for me is whether people will end up with gall bladder problems long term because fat is needed to cause the organ to contract.  That used to be a big problem with liquid diets in the ’80s.  Right now, the creator isn’t trying to lose weight, so he eats at his caloric maintenance and tweaks the formula when he starts to feel weak.  He also doesn’t advocate only drinking Soylent, he has a few regular meals with food when he feels like it.  Definitely keep an eye out for it.

Nootropics, I still don’t fully understand this topic.  Basically, people are trying to figure out how to lifehack their brains to squeeze out every ounce of cognitive computing power through nutritional or pharmaceutical supplementation.  Essentially, they want to be like the lead character in the movie Limitless.  Some of the ingredients have to be procured through grey markets, meaning overseas pharmacies and others are simply nutritional supplements like melatonin.  Many of you have taken 5-hour Energy to give yourself extra pep and sharpness, we may see something similar on the market soon for mental clarity and memory.  I haven’t tried any of them though the topic is definitely interesting.

I worry less about Soylent being people;  I don’t want us to end up like Morlocks.

What about you; are you up to try these?

This is old, but it is so perfect that I had to share.

Gotye

All Trekkies who watched the Borg Queen’s torment/seduction of Data in First Contact will appreciate this.

To jog your memory (from IMDB):

[a Borg scratches Data’s flesh arm]
Lieutenant Commander Data: Ah!
Borg Queen: Is it becoming clear to you yet? Look at yourself, standing there, cradling the new flesh I’ve given you. If it means nothing to you, why protect it?
Lieutenant Commander Data: I… I am simply imitating the behavior of humans.
Borg Queen: You’re becoming more human all the time, Data; now you’re learning how to lie.
Lieutenant Commander Data: My programming was not designed to process these sensations.
Borg Queen: Then tear the skin from your limb as you would a defective circuit.
[Data hesitates]
Borg Queen: Go ahead, Data! We won’t stop you!
[Data forces himself to try to tear off the skin]
Borg Queen: Do it! Don’t be tempted by flesh!
[Data relents and leaves the skin alone]
Borg Queen: Are you familiar with physical forms of pleasure?
Lieutenant Commander Data: If you are referring to sexuality, I am… fully functional, programmed in… multiple techniques.
Borg Queen: How long since you’ve used them?
Lieutenant Commander Data: Eight years, seven months, sixteen days, four minutes, twenty-two…
Borg Queen: Far too long.
[they kiss passionately]

P.S. I still have no understanding of the Gotye video concept.  Why was he painted like that?

Spoiler-free Review of The Wolverine


First, let me say that I love me some Hugh Jackman.  I don’t know him personally, but everything about him just suggests that he is a stand-up guy who can act his behind off.  He’s a quadruple threat.  That said, not even he could save this slightly-worse-than-mediocre movie.  I was really excited about seeing this movie because I was hoping that they could make a good Wolverine movie.  Wolverine is probably the most explored character in all of X-men and, yet, they just can’t get the movies right.  I think they are going to have to reboot James Bond-style and make the movies darker to achieve what moviegoers want from the character.  Wolverine is impulsive, daring, self-sacrificing, brooding, and vulgar and Jackman hasn’t been given a script yet that allows him to show that.

The plot starts out good enough.  He is, as always, on a search for himself and missing his love, Jean Grey, who is pretty effective in her tiny role.  Famke Jennsen is so beautiful that she looks unreal anyway (hate her!).  Yukio is well cast and has some great scenes and I thought they did a great job in selecting Mariko as a foil to Wolverine.  That’s about it for the smaller parts.  Let’s not even get into the waste of screen time that was the Viper’s character and the Silver Samurai.  The f-ing Silver Samurai, how do you mess that up?  There is passion in that hyphen.

Aside from some great action sequences, the second half of the movie is just a waste.  I was honestly stunned at how bad the plot became.  And, I really just want filmmakers to stop selecting female villains just to have some eye candy.  It’s so unnecessary.

Rating: C with a sideye for the Viper character.  Wait for Redbox.

P.S.  Don’t go see it in 3D, no need for it.  And, yes, there is a great extra scene about halfway through the ending credits.

P.P.S. I don’t think there was one black person in the entire movie.  I mean the setting is Japan, but still, not one…in 2013?  Get with it Hollywood.

A Dirge for the Star Trek: Las Vegas Experience

The first time I went to Las Vegas, there was one place I knew I had to go.  That place where everyone’s at least a passing Trekkie.  Well, alas, it is no more.  The Las Vegas Hilton got rid of it years ago, but I still miss it.  I guess that it wasn’t bringing in the big bucks like its Elvis impersonator.  Yes, these grapes are sour.

If you’ve never been, I’ll paint the scene from memory:  You walk in and get in line and see a few prop exhibits and a Trek timeline.  But, the real fun starts when you get into the interactive Borg invasion.  The Borg Queen tops my list of villians because of her detached ruthlessness.  She was a bad mamajamma!  The simulation was dated, but I didn’t care because it was the closest I’d ever get to being on a starship.  Then, after you won, you could go into the Enterprise simulation and sit on,the Bridge and play an officer.  Again, it felt more like a science museum exhibit, but it was great for any trekkie.  Afterward, you could hang out in Ten Forward, drink some Romulan ale and chop it up with the Klingons wandering around.  The highlight for me was being choked by a Klingon female.  Then, of course, there was a neat gift shop with pretty good memorabilia.

Vegas felt a little emptier without any sort of Star Trek attraction there.  So, here’s to sadness.

FYI:  I hear there is a nice convention coming in August.  Check it out if you get a chance.