Archive for the ‘space’ category

“Lost in Space” Revamped on Netflix…

April 14, 2018

The original Lost in Space tv series ran from 1965 to 1968, and was set in the then-distant future year of 1997!  In the Netflix reboot, the year is 2048, the Robinson family is still with us, but Dr. Smith is a woman!  “Oh the pain, the pain!,” as the original Smith memorably would whine.

At least they got the robot (whose name was “Robot”) right.  He no longer looks like he was cobbled together from a vacuum cleaner and several kitchen appliances.  In fact, this robot is not even of human construction, but is alien in origin, and has a dark past.  Although the robot doesn’t sing, ” I am a cybernetic hero,” he will say, “Danger, Will Robinson!”  Gone from the series, however, is the cheesy, camp-classic fun that made the original series a hoot.  This version is serious, gritty, filled with Hollywood explosions, and almost no fun at all.  Like many reboots, it has very little reason to exist.

A movie version of Lost in Space from 1998 with Matt LeBlanc was darker and had its moments, but was commercially unsuccessful.  In this reconceptualization, the Robinson family is not on a solo mission but is one of a number of colonist families trying to populate the Alpha Centauri system.  The Jupiter II winds up sinking into a frozen lake, and most of the first episode apparently involves trying to retrieve daughter Judy from said lake before she buys the farm.  Will Robinson thankfully plays less of a central role in this series than he did in the 1960’s original, allowing some updating and expansion of the other characters.  

The ten-episode series is family-friendly and action or crisis oriented, but while drawing from the original series, fails to recreate its spirit or substitute anything in its stead, making it truly lost in space…


Churchill and the Aliens…

February 16, 2017

Now this is kinda cool, especially if you’re a bit of a history buff as many nerds like myself are.  The history and science fiction nexus gets thick at times over World War II, what with the insane speculation that Nazi Germany was scientifically advanced due to alien “assistance.”  So it really floats my boat to hear that a lost essay has been discovered by none less than Winston Churchill in which he supports the existence of alien life…

…I swear that I am not making this up!  The unpublished essay from 1939 by Churchill was discovered in of all places a Missouri museum to which the paper had been donated and then forgotten.  Now Winnie was a remarkable guy; a politician, statesman, writer, and even a friend of the sciences who while prime minister of England appointed a science adviser, and regularly met with scientists.  Radar was developed during his watch, and may have kept England afloat when the Nazis came calling.  Anyways, Churchill in this essay ponders the timeless question of alien life, and concludes that we are not alone

…remarkably, Churchill’s reasoning even from over seventy years ago mirrors scientific thought even today, proving that the cigar-smoker was both broad-minded and a man ahead of his time.  Churchill and Carl Sagan probably would have liked each other.  The best politicians are scientifically friendly; if only such could be said of Mr. Trump…

“End of World” Scares

December 4, 2012

Mayans– – Sadly, even NASA has found it necessary to debunk the reputed end of the world hysteria that some believe is suggested by the Mayan calendar. The Near-Earth Objects Program at NASA has explained away many of the most frequently cited doomsday scenarios for 2012.

One scenario involves an enormous imaginary planet called Nibiru supposedly swinging in from the outer solar system just in time to collide with the Earth in December. With thousands of astronomers scanning the skies on a daily basis, such an object would have been discerned long ago. A true believer might contend that the malevolent rogue planet is invisible. If such were the case, the gravitational effects of the rogue on neighboring planets would be discernible.

Alternative doomsday scenarios involve such things as massive solar flares or planetary alignments. Earth’s magnetosphere shields its inhabitants from solar radiation, although it can damage orbiting satellites. There are no planetary alignments anticipated for December, and even if there were, there would be negligible tidal effects upon the Earth as a result. Additional speculations that the Earth’s axis is going to shift are nullified by the fact that the rotational axis of the Earth is stabilized by the orbit of the moon. While the Earth’s magnetic field does shift every half-million years or so, there is no evidence that a shift, which takes thousands of years, is in the works for December.

As the late great Carl Sagan observed, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Despite hundreds of thousands of predictions for the end of the world since the beginning of human history, we’re still here…

Some “Thing’s” Coming!

September 27, 2011

 – – Wow, it doesn’t seem possible that it was way back in 1982 that John Carpenter made his version of the sci-fi/horror classic The Thing, complete with Kurt Russell as that film’s protagonist, R.J. MacReady!- –Well, some Thing else is coming this October, this version a prequel taking place three days before the events of the John Carpenter film and following the exploits of the Norwegian and American scientists unfortunate enough to originally discover the shape-shifting alien.

While it’s hard to beat Kurt Russell, the new version of The Thing includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dr. Kate Lloyd, a lead character somewhat modeled after Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in the Alien film series; fortunately, no romantic or sexual elements will be introduced associated with her character in keeping with the dark tone and paranoid atmospherics of the previous film.   Efforts have been made to keep the new film visually consistent with the 1982 Carpenter flick, and creature effects will include both animatronic and computer generated imagery.  We’ll be seeing much more of the interior of the crashed alien spacecraft, and it will also be implied what the nasty alien mimics were doing about in the galaxy.- -All in all, The Thing should serve to remind us that if we find something buried deep in the ice in Antarctica, leave it the hell alone!

I plan on seeing The Thing in October, and you may want to, as well…who knows, The Thing may become you!

Death from the Skies?

September 23, 2011

 – – Perhaps Chicken Little was on to something after all…a dead climate satellite about the size of a school bus is expected to plummet back to Earth around Friday, September 23rd or Saturday, September 24th.  While most of it will disintegrate in the atmosphere, over two dozen pieces weighing a total of about 1,200 lbs. are still expected to survive re-entry, the largest weighing about 300 pounds.  If such were to hit you on the head, it would probably ruin your whole day!

While this is the most massive NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in more than three decades, not to worry…the odds of the big nasty hitting anyone anywhere in the world are about 1-in-3,200.  The odds of you getting hit personally are on the magnitude of 1-in-21-trillion, meaning that you are much more likely to be struck by lightning or eaten by a shark than to be hit by a piece of the UARS satellite! 

Anyways, a killer satellite might really enliven an otherwise dull weekend…so “Look to the skies!”

Don’t Forget To Duck!

June 27, 2011

 – – A bus-sized asteroid with the catchy name of 2011 MD will pass within about 7,500 miles of the Earth on Monday, June 27th…a near-miss in astronomical terms.  An object of this size can be expected to come this close to Earth about every six years or so on average. 

Asteroid 2011 MD will be visible in moderately-large amateur telescopes, measuring 9 to 30 meters wide with the best guess about 10 meters.   There is no chance that the asteroid will impact with the earth, and even if it entered the atmosphere it wouldn’t likely reach the Earth’s surface…no planet-killer, this.  After making its closest pass at Earth, the asteroid will zoom through the zone of geosynchronous satellites, but is also extremely unlikely to hit any space junk…unless Lone Star and Barf are out there in their space Winnebago, seeking Princess Vespa!

“Alien” Prequel Coming…

September 8, 2010

– – The Alien franchise has operated with mixed success since 1979, with in my opinion Alien and Aliens being the best of the lot.- -Well, a prequel and perhaps even two are supposedly coming in 2011 or 2012 (hopefully before Dec. 21st), with Ridley Scott at the helm and the film(s) likely to be shot in 3D.- -We’ll even find out what happened with the “Space Jockey,” that poor alien devil found on Zeta Reticuli!

The prequel will be set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney Weaver made her first memorable appearance as Ellen Ripley with the Nostromo, and will in the words of Scott be “…really tough, really nasty.”

…and that’s just how it should be!- –Count me in!

Primitive Aliens!

June 7, 2010

– – I, for one, like the thought of primitive aliens so that we could feel superior to them. We’re all heard that aliens may have seeded earth with life in the long-ago, given the technological know-how to build the pyramids, and other great stuff. But forget about awesome aliens for now, and consider aliens that are below even ourselves on the evolutionary scale.   Such aliens might exist as methane-based life on Saturn’s moon, Titan.

Now Saturn, while it has really cool rings, has no liquid water on its surface.  It does, however, have lakes of liquid methane there.  While you’d hardly care to vacation on Titan, exotic primitive life forms may exist by feeding on organic chemicals such as methane.  Scientists note that lack of hydrogen and acetylene near the surface of Titan suggest that it is being consumed by something there…

..and wouldn’t a methane-eating pet beat a Chia Pet any day?!

Ancient Astronauts?

May 19, 2010

– – The notion of ancient astronauts (namely extraterrestrials) visiting earth and spurring the development of human culture, technologies, and religions is nothing new, and found popularity during the later twentieth century in the writings of Erich von Daniken and others.  Ancient astronaut theories have been widely used in science fiction, but have not received support within the scientific community.  Astrophysicist Carl Sagan and others have concluded that extraterrestrial visits to earth were possible but unproven, and likely improbable.

The History Channel now has an Ancient Astronaut series that may pique your curiosity if you haven’t been down  this trail before.  It’s good fun, and you may want to believe as you’re exposed to ancient religious texts and physical specimens such as cave drawings, stone sculptures, and pyramids…

We’re the Primitives…

April 30, 2010

– – British scientist Stephen Hawking in a new television series recently entertained the possibility that alien life may exist, but felt that contact with aliens could have devastating consequences.  “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” said Hawking in the series.

The program imagines a universe in which alien life forms in large spacecraft hunt for resources after draining their own planet of such, conquering and colonizing such planets as the can reach.  Perhaps if we were more fortunate, alien life might be observing a version of Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” in which indigenous life was not interfered with…

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