Sunday, November 25, 2007

Injured Stormtrooper - Fan Film

Extreme Universe - Planet Hunters Episode

Approximately two weeks ago I recorded an episode of Extreme Universe featuring planet hunters and their discoveries. I managed to watch about twenty-five minutes of the hour episode before I reached my boiling point and had to stop and delete this episode from my DVR.

First, lets start with the concept of how planets are discovered. It's plain and simple, because planets would be too hard to spot directly using the billion dollar telescopes that are located around the world, astronomers choose a section of stars and watch for a star to have signs of wobbling. Here's my problem with this:
1. American astronomers decided that to make a star wobble, a planet approximately the size of Jupiter would have to be traveling around that star.
2. Using Jupiter for their example, the Americans believed that no wobbles would be seen for about twelve years. This concept was agreed upon because it takes Jupiter twelve years to rotate around our own star.

The wobble theory turned out to be useful in late 1995 when a Swedish astronomer decided to look at a different portion of sky and realized after four days that one of the stars in his section of sky had a wobble. This brought about several other discoveries and theories:
1. The Americans went back through their records that started in 1986 and found that they had actually missed several wobbling stars because they weren't looking for wobbles yet because their concept was based on Jupiter's travel time.
2. Jupiter sized planets that traveled so fast around a star, anywhere from four days to several years, would simply be an inferno, those rendering the planet uninhabitable.

This inferno theory is what finally broke the camels back for me. After concluding that even those metals that we believe we couldn't melt, it was hypothesised they would be melted within a matter of seconds on entry into one of these planets. Though the next thing that was discussed was our sending of probes to gather data. Problems with this is probes would be constructed of metal, which we were just informed would inevitably burn up on entry. Not only this but to slow these probes down we were to jettison parachutes, can you say DUH!!!

At this point I turned the episode off. Fumed a bit about how stupid astronomers are, and on how many other things we could be wasting our time looking for using these expensive telescopes. Like alien aircraft.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Be Human

This is an article I wrote back in High School and just feel like sharing. It's not my best work but it's kind of interesting.

12/13/2001 English III

What does it mean to be human? This, a question with over a million possible answers, it just depends on who you ask. In the book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (D.A.D.O.E.S) by Philip K. Dick, Philip Dick challenges our definitions of humanity.

From page 3 to 244 Philip Dick challenges our humanity. The first thing that comes to some people’s mind when they are asked what is it to be human is, the ability to make the choice of what mood you want to be in for the day. Well in chapter one of D.A.D.O.E.S Rick and Iran are arguing about what to dial in the mood organ, which means people have to use a machine to get in the right mood. This mood organ allows you to schedule your different moods for the whole day, which means you don’t get to decide what kind of mood you want to be in at different times or if different events occur, which means you lose the opportunity to make decisions for yourself, and isn’t making decisions a part of being human? The mood organ also has to be used to make arguments nastier than they already are. An example of this is when Iran says, “If you dial for greater venom, then I’ll dial the same. I’ll dial the maximum and you’ll see a fight that makes every argument we’ve had up to now seem like nothing.” See, now that’s not humanlike because as humans we have never had to use a machine to have an argument, it just comes to us naturally.

Philip Dick believes to be human you have to look for this higher being to believe in, and in D.A.D.O.E.S this being is Mercer. Mercer is like a god and to be human you must believe in some kind of higher being. Mercer helped everyone, or made them feel better; then the androids proved hat he was a fraud, but they were yet to find out that proving him as a fraud would change nothing. On page 234 Rick says “Mercer isn’t a fake, unless reality is a fake.” This would be like if god was proved to be a fraud, there would be a change in many people’s lives, but for most nothing would change, because god is the supposed one who created reality and without a god there is o reality, so many people would still believe in god, because there is reality.

To be human also means to love nature, and to love nature, is to love animals. Animals are nearly extinct, well real animals anyway, and every human left on the planet wants a real animal. Rick’s main goal in life is to own a real animal. Owning an animal makes people happy, and they understand the importance of animals, unlike the androids who don’t understand the importance of animals.

D.A.D.O.E.S is a book that makes us stop and think about what it means to be human, and author Philip K. Dick does an excellent job of making us think.
“The Matrix” is a movie that doesn’t question our humanity, but questions our perception on what is normal.

When Morpheus and Neo enter the matrix for the first time together Neo say “This isn’t real” and Morpheus responds with “What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, taste, hear or smell, then real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” This is a clear definition of what real is.
The definition Morpheus gives us on what is real, tells us, the mind gets to decide what reality is, but our mind can be tricked by electrical signals. Our hopes and dreams also affect our reality, which causes what we see as normal to change.

The movie doesn’t come out and say this, but it implies it. Neo plans on rescuing Morpheus, that is his goal, he is so intent on doing so he believes he can dodge bullets and take on three agents, and he does. To do these things though, he has to believe in the impossible, which makes him change his reality, and when he changes his reality he change what is seen as normal.

The little boy bending the spoon, shows Neo that sometimes things are not always what they seem, and sometimes you have to believe that something isn’t there. The boy tells Neo, “Remember, there is no spoon,” then he says “You are not bending the spoon, but you are actually bending yourself.” These words allow Neo to bend the spoon, or he thinks he bent the spoon, when in actuality he bent nothing.

The Matrix makes you think about what is real and what isn’t. After watching this movies, some wonder what really would of happened if Neo had taken the blue pill.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is The World of Fiction Good for Kids...

by: Laura Hickey

Fiction- Good or Bad for Children?

Ghosts, vampires, demons, wizards...all items you could easily find in a fictional story. Or all items that some parents may feel would give their child nightmares. Is fiction something we should keep away from our children? Two experts in the field of fiction comment.

“First of all fiction is really just a reflection of reality told in a way designed to fire up the imagination. For example, Aesop's and LaFontaine's Fables are books of moral codes for kids and examples of human behavior which are dressed up as fictional parables. If they had been set out in a nonfiction way, they would have seemed dull and boring.

Science Fiction is the one fiction which has inspired people more than any other. For example, many scientists have stated that they only became scientists because of the SF novels they read as kids. Science Fiction can also inspire the young to invent new ideas decades later. In the article above, it mentioned that Arthur C Clarke had written a novel decades ago about a space elevator linking Earth and Space. Now, according to New Scientist, scientists are studying a new material which might serve for that purpose.

Other non-scientists have been inspired by SF as children. The film director James Cameron, for example, lists the SF writers Arthur C Clarke and A E Van Vogt, who he read as a child, as being a major influence on his later career.

SF books can also be a very good way to preach to people about modern-day issues. Frank Herbert, for instance, was always deeply interested in environmentalism, but he realized that if he wrote about the subject merely as nonfiction he would be constantly restricted to writing about dull facts. He therefore created the book "Dune" which is a novel about a desert planet with a fragile ecosystem ruthlessly exploited by Mankind. The result was that this became the bestselling SF novel of all time, and inspired many people to support the environment than would otherwise have been the case.

Generally speaking, SF is a far more imaginative genre than any other type of fiction. Where else, can you dream up entire new worlds, alien societies, different periods of history and different technologies. Other fiction sub genres are restricted by the society or historical period they focus on, so that they often are in danger of becoming clinched and stereotypical. SF is different in that it has evolved continuously since H G Welles and Jules Verne, with dozens of subcategories such as cyberpunk, soft/hard SF, etc. etc.” -Geoff Purcell

And Sue Kayton comments “I believe that children should read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The benefits of non-fiction are obvious, but fiction is also necessary for a well-rounded person. Speculative fiction helps kids think about what the future might be like, and encourages them to think outside the box, such as the Harry Potter novels or Jurassic Park. Historical fiction with interesting protagonists helps kids understand what the world used to be like, through the eyes of the ordinary people of the day. Contemporary fiction helps them to understand interpersonal relationships and current issues, especially helpful to adolescents dealing with dating, drugs, and pressure from school and friends. Mystery stories like Sherlock Holmes encourage critical thinking skills, while the reader tries to put two and two together to figure out whodunit. Stories set in other cultures (such as The Good Earth) help students understand other ways of looking at the world.

Most students find fiction easier to read than non-fiction. The best way to become a good writer is to read a wide variety of material, which usually includes copious doses of fiction.”