Interstellar was a let down

posted Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Interstellar was a let down.

My biggest problem was Anne Hathaway and her comment about love being a multidimensional technobabble. Had any real astronauts been in that situation they would’ve recognized that something was wrong. “Hey guys. I’ve got this irrational notion. I thought I’d use it to guide us through this critical moment where rational thinking is essential. Love is all you need. Whad’dya think?” They should’ve blown her out the airlock for a comment like that.

I did not enjoy Matt Damon’s meltdown followed by the destruction of the rotating space habitat (don’t remember what they called it). It was a horrid intrusion that was telegraphed to us for what seemed like minutes. “Hey Coop. I’m going to tell you this really creepy story, real slow like and you’re going to listen to it and not know what my motive is. Then I’m going to fuck everything up irrevocably. You don’t see this coming, do you?” Nothing worse than sitting there watching a formulaic movie trope play out in slow motion. Pure agony.

So then Matt Damon crashes into the rotating space habitat. The thing should’ve fallen apart. Spacecraft aren’t constructed like terrestrial buildings. The thing didn’t look any more robust than the ISS, which is basically a bunch of aluminum cans draped over a giant bicycle frame. Then they spun it up to 10-20 rpm. Ummmm, no.

The future humans built a tesseract just so that Matthew McConaughey could get a trans-temporal message to his daughter and save the Earth. Why didn’t they just save the earth? They had enough technology to build a 5D funhouse for Mr. Alright Alright but not enough to save the Earth. Logic meltdown!

It was too long. I didn’t pay attention to the times when I bought the ticket. I kept wondering when something was going to happen. Then I thought I was witnessing actual time dilation.

Really loud music that obscured the dialog. That’s so the audience will know that something physically or emotionally powerful is occurring. Because you know, we really aren’t smart enough to figure that kind of thing out. Mash that organ keyboard!

One physics error. Inside Cooper station when the kids were playing baseball. The batter hits a pop up and the ball traveled straight up across to the opposite side and crashed through a skylight in a detached house (because, when all that remains is a few thousand humans in rotating cylinders in space, we’ll all live the wasteful suburban lifestyle that destroyed the original Earth). There was no Coriolis effect. The ball should have travelled on an arc.

I did enjoy the theme of runaway fungal infestation. That totally seems believable. I realize this somewhat contradicts my earlier statement about suburban living being the death of the earth. Some critter figures out how to remake the earth into its own personal paradise. Do you think fungi give a crap about us? Corn rust 1, Vertebrates 0.

Thank you for your time.

First airplane flight (1903)

posted Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Wright Brothers (bicycle makers from Dayton, Ohio) made the first four sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flights on 17 December 1903. Orville Wright piloted the first flight of 120 feet (36.5 m) in 12 seconds. Wilbur Wright took the controls for the second flight when this famous photograph was taken.

Library of Congress original photo

Voyager 1 crosses termination shock (2004)

posted Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The termination shock is the locus of points in space where the solar wind basically stops blowing outward from the sun and begins to drift with the background gases of interstellar space. It is one way to mark the edge of the solar system.

The two Voyager space probes were launched in 1977 to study the giant outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. They are on escape trajectories and will never return.

Distances within the solar system are frequently measured in astronomical units. One AU is equal to the average distance from the sun to the earth, about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles). Both Voyagers are currently more than 100 AU from the sun. For comparison, Jupiter is about 5 AU from the sun and Neptune is about 30 AU from the sun. Everybody’s favorite non-planet Pluto has an orbit that varies in size from about 30 AU to about 50 AU.

Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock of the supersonic flow of the solar wind on 16 December 2004 at a distance of 94.01 astronomical units from the Sun, becoming the first spacecraft to begin exploring the heliosheath, the outermost layer of the heliosphere.

Stone, et al., 2005

South Pole discovered (1911)

posted Sunday, 14 December 2014

Taking an Observation at the Pole Expedition Members at the Pole

"Discovered" might not be the right word here. "Arrived" perhaps?

New York Times Announcement
Excerpt from the New York Times,
8 March 1912. Click here for the
full article [login required].

Norwegians Roald Amundsen, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting arrived at the South Pole on 14 December 1911 after 57 days traveling by dogsled. They stayed for three days, planted a Norwegian flag, left a letter announcing their arrival, and then headed back to their departure point at the Bay of Whales. From the Bay of Whales they sailed to Hobart, Tasmania where on 7 March 1912 they announced their accomplishment to the world.

On 17 January 1912, 35 days after Amundsen’s team reached the pole, Englishmen Robert F. Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans, Henry Bowers and Lawrence Oates arrived. They stayed a day and headed back to McMurdo Sound where their sailing ship Terra Nova awaited them. They did not make it. Evans died on 17 February at the base of Beardmore Glacier. Oates disappeared on 17 March in what was a presumed suicide. His last word were, "I am just going outside and I may be some time." Scott, Bowers, and Oates died on 29 March. They were only 11 miles from a resupply tent, but were unable to reach it due to whiteout conditions that lasted several days. Their bodies were found 7 months later on 12 November 1912.

First casualty of the US space program (1958)

posted Saturday, 13 December 2014

On 13 December 1958, a South American squirrel money named Gordo died during the flight of a Jupiter AM-13 rocket. The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and was set to splashdown safely 2400 km away in the South Atlantic. The parachute did not open and Gordo died on impact. The spacecraft was never recovered.

The Mother of All Demos (1968)

posted Tuesday, 9 December 2014

9 December 1968, 3:45 PM Pacific Standard Time. Douglas Engelbart, director of the Stanford Research Institute Augmentation Research Center, demonstrated the world’s first publicly seen mouse, hyperlinked text, navigable windows, and shared-screen collaboration.

Light is an electromagnetic wave (1864)

posted Monday, 8 December 2014

James Clerk Maxwell’s paper A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field is read before the Royal Society of London on 8 December 1864. Maxwell provides theoretical and experimental evidence that light is an electromagnetic wave. Here’s the key sentence.

The agreement of the results seem to show that light and magnetism are affections of the same substance, and that light is an electromagnetic disturbance propagated through the field according to electromagnetic laws.

Maxwell’s letter is 54 pages long and is filled with equations of all types: numeric, algebraic, and differential. I doubt that it was actually read out loud, but then again, I have no idea how patient the members of the Royal Society were in 1864.

Big Blue Marble (1971)

posted Sunday, 7 December 2014

raw image processed image
Source: NASA

The iconic view of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew returning to earth from the moon on 7 December 1971. Almost the entire continent of Africa is clearly visible. Since it is summer in the southern hemisphere in December, Antarctica is nicely illuminated. The version on the left shows the original photo, which is "upside down" in a sense and in need of color correction. The version on the right is color balanced and neatly cropped to look like a globe.

God does not play dice (1926)

posted Thursday, 4 December 2014

In a letter to the physicist Max Born dated 4 December 1926, Albert Einstein wrote …

Die Quantenmechanik ist sehr Achtung gebietend. Aber eine innere Stimme sagt mir, daß das noch nicht der wahre Jakob ist. Die Theorie liefert viel, aber dem Geheimnis des Alten bringt sie uns kaum näher. Jedenfalls bin ich überzeugt, daß der Alte nicht würfelt.   Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one”. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not play dice.

Serious news

posted Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Today in New York we have a very serious event and WCBS makes a dumbass graphic of a person’s voice. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of audio technology knows that on an oscilloscope display like this, the vertical axis is amplitude (not pitch) and the horizontal axis is time (not frequency).
What graphic artist made this? What producer approved it?

What’s the first rule of writing? Write about what you know. I say the same rule applies to graphic design. If you don’t understand it, don’t make it into a graphic — especially when you are dealing with a serious message.

I am now doubly pissed off.