5.23.2013

Interesting Tidbits from Chris Hadfield



Last week, Commander Chris Hadfield returned to Earth and, true to form, continues to Tweet and gave a press conference full of interesting information (especially for writers) about how it felt being back under gravity after 5 months weightless. Here are the highlights:
  • "Right after I landed, I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue and had to change how I was talking. I didn't realize I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue."
  • He "Tweeted": Return to Gravity, so many things. It is strange to talk and feel the weight of my lips and tongue! Dizzy too - would fail any sobriety test
  •  ''My neck is sore and my back is sore ... It feels like I played a hard game of rugby yesterday or played full-contact hockey yesterday and I haven't played in a while.''
  •  Since he hasn't walked in over five months, his feet have lost their callouses "so I was walking around like I was walking on hot coals ..."
  • Under his clothes, he had to wear a "G-suit", with inflated trousers that squeeze his legs to help sustain blood pressure in his upper body for several days. He "tweeted" that on Friday (17th) he didn't have the wear it anymore (he landed on the 13th).
  • He's been tottering around like an "old duffer", shuffling and with poor balance. As of 18 May he reports on Twitter that he doesn't "have full breath yet" but balance is better.

5.22.2013

Anton Yelchin on Russian History


Anton Yelchin, who portrays Ensign Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films, is baffled by Russian history. He says:


It is one of the most complicated histories. It produced Dostoevski and Rachmaninoff. And then it produced Stalin and Lenin. It is such a strange combination. I could go on about this forever ...


Well, firstly, I think it bears mentioning that neither Stalin nor Lenin are, strictly speaking, Russians. Stalin (Dzhugashvili) was born and raised in Georgia. He attended Georgian Orthodox seminary in Tbilisi in his early days. Lenin (Ulyanov) was the son of Kalmyk (Mongol) and Tatar parents, although he was born and raised in Russia. So it could be argued that they're not products of Russia although they are a part of Russian history.

Russia's "complicated history" isn't really all that unique when one looks at the history of other nations. To follow Anton's lead and look at musical beauty versus tyrannical ugliness, one need look for further than Austria for Mozart and Hitler or Germany for Beethoven, Bach, and Himmler.

If anything, Russia's is actually less complicated or contradictory than others -- the characters Mr. Yelchin speaks of are from completely different spheres of life; Dostoevsky and Rachmaninoff being artists and Lenin and Stalin being rulers. And Lenin and Stalin are pretty much in the mould of many a Russian ruler from Ivan the Terrible, to Peter the Great, to Catherine the Great, (even to Putin, to a lesser degree) butchers and tyrants are pretty par for the course. Whereas their artists have generally been very good any they have not devolved to the Western extremes of Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga. So from a certain perspective, Russia seems pretty straight-forward.

France, on the contrary, has much more contrast among its rulers. Russia never had a Charlemagne or St. Louis IX like France, which also had blood-soaked monsters like Robespierre. England had St. Edward the Confessor, and on the other hand Henry VIII. Yet even so, while history in never completely cut-and-dry, one may note that all of the worst tyrants listed were revolutionaries against the old order of their respective countries. So it's not all as complicated as young Mr. Yelchin thinks, in my view!

5.21.2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Podcast now Available for Download

Had a blast this evening chatting with three other certifiable nerds about the latest Star Trek film. You can download/listen to the podcast below:


Listen to internet radio with AMDG Radio on BlogTalkRadio

5.20.2013

Update Number Whatever

Okay, the updates have fallen by the wayside, as has much else on this blog. Hopefully that will improve but I promise nothing! Unfortunately we had to postpone the Warhammer 40,000 show that was scheduled last week on Swords and Space Radio, due to some stuff at home. Family always comes first. That said, I've still got some stuff going on:
  1. Went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness with the missus on opening night. Thanks to Empire Extra, we strolled in 5 minutes before the show and took our seats second from the top and in the centre. I thought the film was really well done, and liked it quite a bit more than Abrams' 2009 original. Purists might scoff at it, but I like the reboot. My wife, who was never a Trekkie, but did watch The Next Generation when she was young, loved the film so much that on the drive home she suggested we start buying the original series on iTunes and watch it along with the original films. Check out the trailer:


  2. As such, you know what the topic of the next episode of Swords and Space Radio is going to be! On Tuesday at 8pm Central/9 pm Eastern, we'll be setting the geek levels to maximum as I'll have my co-host Stephen on board along with two enthusiastic guests do discuss the film in detail. The first half of the show will contain no spoilers if you want to listen to decide whether you want to watch, and the second half will be a more detailed and spoiler-ridden autopsy of the film:

    Swords & Space X: Star Trek Into Darkness 05/21 by AMDG Radio | Blog Talk Radio
  3. All this Trekkiness has gotten me inspired about Rex Caelestis again so I've done a bunch of brainstorming this weekend. Aside from working on the man storyline anew, I'm going to pull down the first two parts of "The Sleepers" and rework that. Plus, since inspiration seems to beget inspiration, the ever-fickle Muse has returned to me as regards some other works, too.
  4. HAPPY VICTORIA DAY! Interestingly, a distinctly Canadian holiday, despite Queen Victoria having been the monarch who reigned over the British Empire at it's height when the sun never set upon it. The celebration actually predates the very existence of Canada by about 20 years, when enthusiatic and patriotic British North Americans fêted the 35th birthday of their queen. God save the Queen!

5.06.2013

Swords & Space IX: Nightfall -- Tomorrow Evening at 9 Eastern


Tomorrow evening I'll be joined again by my friend Marc Ratusz, who was my guest on the inaugural episode of Swords and Space Radio. I found this work a fascinating read, although it relies heavily on the false dichotomy of "reason/science versus religion". I'll admit that I haven't read a ton of Asimov (just the Foundation books, and that was a lifetime ago) and hadn't realised he was a militant atheist. Anyway, here's the link:

Swords & Space IX: Nightfall 05/07 by AMDG Radio | Blog Talk Radio

We'll be starting at 9pm Eastern as usual. Hope you'll join us.

5.02.2013

Ancient Greek Art -- Apparently Worse than the 80s!





I stumbled across an article today from io9.com, discussing how ultraviolet light can tell us how Ancient Greek and Roman statues originally appeared. Apparently they were painted, and over the centuries that paint has faded/eroded/been cleaned off, but UV light makes tiny fragments of pigment still left on the surface glow bright. Then with Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy they figure out what the paints were made of.

Once the patterns have been established, an idea of what the statues looked like can be extrapolated and the result is ... loud and tacky. No doubt, the Ancient Greeks loved their colour but ... wow, those statues look ugly. Just look at the comparison of the two versions of the iconic statue of Julius Caesar:


 

Yet one wonders if this isn't a situation where an original colour was applied with the knowledge that it would quickly darken, or whether the scientists' results are off.

5.01.2013

Space Exploration Roundup


I hope none of our readers were hanging around yesterday evening waiting for a show -- I announced my "vacation" from Swords & Space Radio on Facebook, but forgot to mention it here. In the mean time, while I still struggle to find time to write while settling into the new house, I wanted to mention some of the interesting things that have come up lately regarding space exploration.
  • Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station has been in the news a lot thanks to his Twitter posts and videos that show him playing the guitar, wringing out a wet cloth, clipping his nails, etc. He even unveiled the new Canadian $5 and $10 bills this week. Seems like a very lively character and I really like how he's improving the profile of space exploration.
  • A month or so back I posted a link to Faccebook about a company, Mars One seeking volunteers for a one-way exploratory trip to Mars. Apparently the thinking being that we have the technology to get people to Mars and keep them alive there, we just don't have the technology to bring them back. If I were single, I would have SERIOUSLY considered this. Apparently lots of other people have. According to wired.co.uk, over 20,000 people have applied. In our risk-adverse, safety conscious society, where everyone wants to live forever, this sounds like craziness, but trips by sailing ship in the 15th/16th century was frequently a one-way trip also. Living conditions were also quite nasty, and I have little doubt the Martian explorers will be roughing it and then some. 
  • In true 21st century fashion, Mars One apparently intends to finance the thing by making the whole excursion a "Reality TV show". When I first read that I laughed. Then I looked up some of the top-rated applicants on http://applicants.mars-one.com/ and I like some of those guys. I think if they threw me into the mix complete with bow tie and contrarian views it would make for a pretty hilarious reality show. Or a real gong show. But, in the end my duty is here with my family! And thank goodness, because in all seriousness, being cooped-up in some small mars habitat module with 1984-style omnipresent cameras for the rest of one's natural life would be pretty close to Hell on [Mars].
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