What’s with the Death Star’s ring of destruction as it explodes?

Tuesday, 13 May, 2014

Like it or lump it, “Star Wars” is the talk of the galaxy, and the excitement is only going to grow in the run up to the release of the new film in the franchise, The Ancient Fear.

While there’s loads that could be discussed, I thought I might focus on the rings seen emanating when the two Death Stars, and the planet Alderaan, explode, in the first films. Obviously this is science fiction, but what is the go with these rings anyway, would they actually occur should a planet sized body be destroyed by super powerful laser?

But wait! These are no ordinary planetary sized explosions. Instead, all of these blow up and produce this expanding ring of stuff. I really don’t know why they do this. Maybe this is due to a high speed internal rotation of the core. I could understand some type of high speed spinning thingy inside the two Death Stars, but Alderaan? Maybe Alderaan has a secret core power source inside so that they can keep the surface looking all natural. I’m just guessing here. Oh, we all know that there would be no sound from these explosions in space, right?

It has been suggested these rings only came along after first being seen in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but I’m not going to touch that.

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May the fifth be with you, new “Star Wars” film cast named

Monday, 5 May, 2014

The cast of the upcoming Star Wars movie has been officially announced. Those expecting the actors who originally played Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker, to return for the new film, er, like worst kept secret ever, will not be surprised.

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“2001: A Space Odyssey” photos set between the scenes

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

2001: A Space Odyssey set photo

I’ve seen some of these, while others are new to me, another collection of set, or behind the scenes, photos from the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In the above image, Stanley Kubrick (right), chats with Margaret Tyzack and Leonard Rossiter between takes.

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How that elegant weapon, for a more civilised age, came to be

Thursday, 10 April, 2014

A short feature, produced in 2004, that charts the development of the lightsabre, the weapon of choice of the Jedi and the Sith, in the “Star Wars” films.

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You won’t be here when I get back… that’s living forever for you

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014

As a job, searching for habitable planets to live on, has its ups and downs. The travel is a killer though, the commute takes fifteen years. You spend the transit time in hibernation of course, so from that point of view it’s not so bad. But if you’re going to live forever, what’s a fifteen year commute anyway?

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We like the new “Star Trek” movies better than the old ones

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014

Ranking the so far twelve “Star Trek” movies by their IMDb rating, reveals fans of the sci-fi franchise have a clear preference for the two “re-booted”, or most recent features, as inspired by the original TV series.

It’s interesting to see the first “Trek” film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, that was met with – to put it mildly – a mixed reception, appears to have almost the best box office take of the lot. I think that has much to do with its nostalgic appeal at the time of its 1979 release.

I wonder how the upcoming “Star Wars” films will fare, compared to the earlier installments of the saga, in this regard?

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There’s no ocean, but there’s oceans of water below our feet

Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

A certain nineteenth century French novelist may have been onto something after he wrote of a vast ocean that lay below the Earth’s surface, in a certain book published in 1878.

While there is no actual ocean somewhere deep under our feet, at least as far as we know, it seems a large proportion of rocks residing in a transition zone between the upper and lower layers of Earth’s mantle, contain molecules of water. All up, there may be as much water here as there is in Earth’s oceans.

What is it that they say… today’s, or a past century’s, science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact?

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Behind the scenes “Star Wars” photos as taken by Chewbacca

Monday, 13 January, 2014

Star Wars, behind the scenes, photo by Peter Mayhew

British actor Peter Mayhew, who hails from none other than Barnes in south-west London, and is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, last week uploaded a stack of photos taken during filming of the sci-fi saga, to his Twitter account.

If you’re only finding out about this now, what can I say, the news is bound to make a “Star Wars” fan’s Monday morning.

Via io9.

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How to become a time lord like Dr Who

Friday, 29 November, 2013

While we may not be able to carry it off with quite the same… panache, it is nonetheless possible to emulate time lord Dr Who with varying degrees of success. Sure, travel through time and interstellar space are still a tad difficult, but with a little… spin it may even be possible to compensate for that.

It’s rare for anyone to enter the Tardis for the first time without uttering some variation of the above phrase. From the outside, the Doctor’s time machine appears to be a wooden Police telephone box, similar to those seen in 1960s London. But on the inside… it is vast. Perhaps infinite. Surely it’s not possible to squeeze an infinite space inside a small blue box? Well, it sort of is, with a little help from a virtual reality headset. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria have created a simulator that generates endless rooms and corridors. The device tricks users into walking around a much smaller space in the real world by making them turn before they hit a wall.

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The economics of the “Star Trek” universe, it’s a free for all

Friday, 29 November, 2013

I’ve seen a fair few “Star Trek” episodes and movies, but cannot recall seeing any of the crew shopping, dining out, or in situations where they are required to fork out money for goods and services. The exception may be when they’ve time travelled into the past, but no transactions appear to take place in the twenty-third century or beyond.

As Captain Kirk tells us during “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” though, they don’t use money in their time. If that’s the case, what might a… non-monetary “Star Trek” world look like, if we were part of it? In a word, idealistic would sum it up. Apparently everyone has, or is provided with, everything that they need:

In Star Trek, most economic value is created by essentially free goods. That is the simple explanation as to why we don’t see money exchanged. That is the point of free. But more to the point, one has to think about how much is free in terms of allocations. Researchers on happiness like Justin Wolfers, in my reading, seem to indicate that once we have about $100 million in wealth (based on today’s goods), that is about as happy as people can get. Marginal utility is effectively zero in wealth beyond that point. In Star Trek, at least the closer you get to Sector 001 (or the Solar System), everyone has what, in today’s terms, would be $100 million or more in wealth. The free goods that are provided from housing to technology to services and to Earth and Earth orbit transportation are what would $100 millionaires can get today. They may be the very same humans who are motivated by wealth acquisition as we have today but the economic problem of “not enough to go around” has been solved up to the level of a saturation point.

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