Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: Interstellar


Directed by Christopher Nolan

Running time 169 minutes

Budget $165 million  Box Office $672.7

Cast (partial listing)

Matthew McConaughey as Joseph
Anne Hathaway as Dr. Amelia Brand,
Michael Caine as Dr. John Brand
Casey Affleck as Tom
Ellen Burstyn as elderly Murphy
John Lithgow as Donald, Cooper's father-in-law
William Devane as Williams, a NASA board member
Matt Damon as Dr. Hugh Mann
Bill Irwin as robots TARS (voice and puppetry) and CASE (puppetry)
Josh Stewart as robot CASE (voice)

The first thing to look at in Interstellar is the out of this world cast!  Michael Caine  -  Ellen Burstyn, Pay attention, It wasn't just a small walk on part for her, but an important almost narrator.  The film is rife with instances where something is not what it appears.  John Lithgow in a part that reminds us just how good of an actor he can be.  And William Devane who has been one of my favorites for some time now,   Lets not forget about the "new" kids on the block, but are every bit as fantastic actors.   Matthew McConaughey spins this film in his hand. He was a perfect choice for the lead. Matt Damon really took a part that stretched his ability and he rose to the challenge.  The robots were a bit weird but what a freshness, non_ humanoid and still interesting and engaging, plus not stooping to robot cliches like jerky movements and that emotionless voice.

The movie premise is that the Earth is dieing.  Whole crops and even crop species are becoming extinct.   This galvanizes a super secret agency to begin with a plan to find an alternative place for humans to live.  

A select crew is chosen which will cold sleep it out to Saturn where a small wormhole has been discovered and a previous exploratory mission has already entered.  The plan being to follow the first mission in along the same trajectory to follow up on the first information block that made it back through.

And then let the weirdness begin.  Loose ends tied up, help comes from the most unusual corners.

I am reluctant to be a spoiler.  The movie as a whole is a strong 9 to 9.5, but the stuff they got wrong was done in spectacular fashion.  Watch the baseball game towards the end of the movie.

I really can't go further without really becoming a spoiler so I will end with a solid 9 maybe 9.5 well worth checking out.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why No Windows 9?

Yep that is the question that has been driving the nerd in us bonkers.  What possessed Microsoft to skip over 9 straight to ten. 

From the Kim Komando site:   
  • One popular theory was that Microsoft didn't want older software to confuse Windows 9 with Windows 95 or 98.  
Crazy as it sounds, it is perfectly reasonable to many of  Window users.   Plus things started to take a turn towards the strange when Microsoft staffers showed up at last weeks Build Developers conference wearing blue t-shirts  with the company’s four-paned Windows logo — only each pane was constructed out out of binary numbers.  Strings of ones and zeros that didn't seem to make any sense at all. 

Being developers, the conference attendees recognized the strings right off as binary.  One very enterprising attendee by the name of  Kevin Gosse even started to decode the strings which proved to be four separate messages, one for each "pane". 

The first message read “There are 10 types of people in the world,”.  You really have to wrap your head around the binary language to appreciate just how clever and funny this "play on words"  is. 

Remember I said that binary has only two states, off "0" and on "1".  So if zero is zero and 1 is 1 what is 2?  Well like every other number base, once you have used all the number in you base, you move up a column and express the use of all the numbers in your base a 1 or +1 and reset all preceding columns.  So in "base 1" it is first column zero, first column 1. So now we have one of something setting in front of us until some wise guy put another something in front of us. Now we have 2 somethings in front of us.  Since we can only count with zeros and ones, we now have to start another column, mark that column as +1 sets and zero out the preceding column(s).  That gets us this configuration 10.  I know, confusing, but remember in binary the biggest number in ANY column is 1  first column 1 is one, second column 1 and first column zero is 2  which again looks like 10.  So when the blue T's first pane reads   “There are 10 types of people in the world,” we actually have a play on numbers.  Remember the message was in binary and 10 in binary is.......right you are 2, so the message really reads “There are 2 types of people in the world,”    Here is something to think about, but solvable with the knowledge at hand, say this self-same person sets another something in front of you so you now have 3,  

So we have traveled a bit astray.......

It was the second pane that told Gosse that Microsoft/Windows  staffers  were having a bit of fun with the developers.  The decoded pane said 
  • Windows 10, because 7 8 9.”   
A minor twist on  a children favorite.  

Somehow it's a bit fun and interesting to note that a multi-million dollar enterprise has a healthy and a bit goofy sense of humor.   

Time article link HERE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Barycentric Systems


How many times have you tried to explain the Earth Moon system and their orbital dynamics?

The Earth and Moon orbit around each other at the point of equal mass or the Barycenter.   Any system that  has moving mass in balance with another has a center of mass.  The Solar System has such a center.   The Moon appears to orbit the Earth but in truth they both orbit the same center of mass.  The effect is a bit difficult to observe as the center is below the surface of the Earth so the movement is slight compared to the Moon.   It is the same with any planet or star that has bodies orbiting.

Check out this ESA short that has an excellent demonstration of just this effect.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We are almost out of Internet!

Back in the 1980s, the engineers who created the internet and the IPv4 specification made 4.3 billion addresses.  Last forever right?  Wrong - we have blasted right through that by assigning an address to just about anything.  Everyone gets a share of addresses and the US now has about 5 million IPv4 addresses left.....starting to sweat yet?  Have we got a disaster of unknown proportions looming by the end of summer?  Maybe not so much....

Back in 98 the IPv6 specification was approved which allows for 340 undecillion, or 340 followed by 36 zeroes. Oh and undecillion IS a word according to the Gizmodo article I found this data in.

So why aren't we switchin right now?  Well it is called ALL NEW EQUIPMENT.  No bigy for small users (read regular customers) but for big business.....routers and loads of associated equipment will need to be switched out...Big hit to the bottom line. 

So, the times, they are a-changing.....just business will put it off as long as they can...

Large Hadron Collider Observes a Very Rare Event

Scientists at the LHC announced that they have observed the decay of a particle that if anything is harder to discover that the elusive Higgs particle.   The strange B meson which plays an important role to play in the Standard Model of particle physics.

The Standard Model allows particle physicists to classify subatomic particles and make predictions about particles and processes still not yet observed. The Higgs boson being the most famous example.

Mesons are one of many subatomic particle. This particle can decay into several "flavors" of which the strange B mesons being just such a particle flavor of the subatomic particle. Every sub-atomic particle will decay. Mesons should decay at a rate of four out of every billion strange B mesons ever produced, and non-strange B mesons at a rate of one in 10 billion.

Now teams of physicists have detected the decay of strange B mesons for the first time, but the kicker is that the decay rate strange B meson was four times what the Standard Model predicted.

Discounting the amount of decay seems to support the Standard Model which is good and bad. The SM is known to be incomplete and it also can not account for Dark Matter or why the universe is made of matter instead of anti-matter.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beam Me Up 445 moves along pretty rapid this week.

First I manage to way lay Nelson of New Farmer Films once again.  This week we spend time talking about one of the most talented writers of the previous century.

Next a quick visit to the blog to see what is new.

Seem Supergirl is final a go for the fall season. A flash from the pas to see how the iconic Dr. Who theme song was created.  Great pics taken by Solar Winds scientists of the March Total Eclipse.  The Internet archive just released 2400 old ms-dos games!  and more.

Check out the blog at

Finally Part three of the quite literal cliff hanger, The English Dead by Vaughn Stanger.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Supergirl Oked For Production

News is exceedingly sparse, but it would appear that CBS is about to jump onto the superhero bandwagon with the long anticipated Supergirl. 

Arrow and The Flash director director/cinematographer and longtime Smallville director of photography Glen Winter was tasked with calling the shots on the Supergirl pilot which wrapped production at the end of March. 

Speculation has it that CBS will hold the pilot and regular episodes back until the fall season.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Creation of the Dr. Who Theme

Today in the world of A/V production, you want sounds added to a track or even mixing in a completely new track is child's play and a single computer.

But in the middle parts of the previous century it was a feat only accomplished by the truly dedicated and a room-full of dedicated equipment.

Here is a fascinating look under the hood of the creation of one of sf television's most iconic themes.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Unique photos of the march Full Solar Eclipse

Wow, now this is what I call an eclipse photo! 

In the Arctic's Svalbard islands  Solar Wind researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa  sat up camp in March, in hopes of capturing images of the Sun's corona, or that aura of plasma surrounding the sun.

This close up photo is a composite of 29 separate shots.

Link to Gizmodo article

Friday, May 01, 2015

A recent resupply mission to the iss has been deemed a total loss.

Russian flight controllers have given up attempting to salvage a Progress cargo ship loaded with 3 tons of supplies and equipment intended for the International Space Station.


The Progress M-27M/59P spacecraft lifted from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:09 a.m. EDT Tuesday and continued to operate normally. however soon after booster separation from the booster’s upper stage and deployment of the craft’s two solar panels, communications and control of the craft ceased. Rendezvous antennas deployment or propulsion system pressurization could not be confirmed. It was at this time that rendezvous was canceled with a decision to let the supply craft fall back into the atmosphere.

 NASA is hoping that Russian controllers will be able to regain enough control to bring the craft in for a water impact as to not endanger people and structures on land.
Hey, here is something that could be wonderfully entertaining or ultimately a huge bore.  It may be how you view old MS-DOS games. 

From a recent Gizmodo article:
  • The Internet Archive just dumped nearly 2,400 old MS-DOS video games into an easy-to-navigate repository. Every single one of the games is free to play in your browser. Some of the games are classics. Some of them are hilariously obscure. And some of them are porn—which is something you probably didn't realize existed on MS-DOS.
Titles like Street Fighter II,  Sim City. Aladdin,  and  Duke Nukem 3D show the shear diversity of the archive.   Some are very NSFW so be careful

Here is the main jumping off page for the game archive   GAME ARCHIVE