February 28, 2015
February 14, 2015
It’s a long movie. I mean, really long. At 2 hours and 49 minutes, it requires you devote a lot of time and attention to a story line that does not move quickly. The unfortunate thing with that is there are enough plot holes that are large enough to fly a spaceship through, and the science is murky, at best. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
A quick synopsis: Continuing crop failures on Earth predict the collapse of human civilization. Our only hope? A secret plan from a NASA in hiding. Send exploratory missions through a recently discovered, and not natural, wormhole, to another galaxy to find planets capable of supporting human life. (they might have reasonably called the movie “Intergalactic”, since the new worlds are in some unspecified galaxy, far far away. I suppose it didn’t test as well as “Interstellar”. Pity.)
The hero of the story is a former NASA engineer-turned-farmer who, after a convoluted story that leads him to the secret NASA facility, must go and find out what happened to the exploratory missions.
Worm holes, black holes, snarky robots, time dilation, relativistic issues, and love all work their way through the story, mostly killing people. But in the end, our intrepid hero saves the day, saves humanity, and then steals a spaceship to join the woman he didn’t realize he loved on a desolate planet in another galaxy.
If you can ignore the glaring science fails, like a space station in Saturn’s orbit that is way too small for a 1g environment as shown, and too far away from the Earth to be as big as it is, and the seemingly random use of relativistic time issues while ignoring them elsewhere, to list just two, and focus instead on the story, then you’ll enjoy “Interstellar”.
Unless you’re really a sci-fi geek, however, I’d recommend waiting until it’s on DVD, Blu-Ray, or a streaming service to watch it. That way you can take a break or two, and not feel like you’re a prisoner of doomsday.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.
Three and a half stars (or galaxies?).
December 8, 2014
December 1, 2014
Eta Carinae and the Expanding Homunculus Nebula, 7,500 to 8,000 light years from Earth. NASA
October 26, 2014
From Science is a verb‘s Facebook:
On October 26, 1977, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise completed its fifth and final Approach and Landing Test free flight. Enterprise was released from the back of a modified NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and had a two-minute glide back to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.
The Approach and Landing Test program demonstrated the orbiter’s capability for safe approach and landing after an orbital flight from space. It also validated crucial onboard control systems necessary for the Shuttle Program’s next step: the launch of Shuttle Columbia into orbit on April 12, 1981.
To learn more about Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests , visit:
September 3, 2014
August 27, 2014
Since most people know more about astrology than astronomy (and, no, they’re not the same thing), this nonsense has been making the rounds on Facebook recently. Needless to say (at least to anyone who paid attention in junior high school science class), Mars will not appear to be as big as the Moon.
The absolute closest distance the Earth and Mars can theoretically ever come to each other is 33.9 million miles. We’ve never observed that, due to the elliptical nature of the orbits of planets. An approach that close requires a coincidental alignment of orbits that is exceedingly rare. So rare, that it’s not been observed in human history.
For comparison, the orbits of Venus and the Earth can come within 24 million miles of each other. The diameter of Venus is 3,032 miles, while Mars is 4,212 (not much difference in the grand scheme of planets). Earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. (give or take. It’s a bit more at the equator, less at the poles, due to the spin of the planet on it’s axis.) Venus, even at it’s closest approach, 10 million miles closer than Mars ever gets, never appears as more than a bright star in the morning or evening sky, so the idea that Mars will look like our Moon is, simply, hooey. Never going to happen.
If you ever do see something in the sky as big as the Moon (that’s not the Moon), we’re in deep shit. That’s either the Death Star, or Gallifrey.
Either one of those, and we’re screwed.