Earth 1, Planet-Killers 0

Here we find the perfect site for those of you wanting to annihilate an Earth-like planet. And, incidentally, it contains some good info that can be applied to sci-fi planet-killers.

The introductory paragraphs alone are worth the click. Give them a read and ponder just how utterly pissed off the Xindi must've been. After all, they weren't even bothering to go up against humanity . . . they were utterly destroying every planet upon which humans existed.

(Speaking of the Xindi, there has been some confusion as to what to call their planet-killing weapon. It was generally (if unimaginatively) referred to as "the Xindi weapon" in Enterprise. "Xindi Death Star" seems to have become the most common fan name.

In any case, the above gives me a topical excuse to link to the Lost Hope trailer/spoof site, where we can find alternate names for the Xindi weapon. Give it a view. )

Cosmic Irony

Comet Tempel 1, due to play "windshield" to the Deep Impact probe's impactor "bug" on July 4, has decided to ruin the show by releasing spoilers of the film.

Of course, I imagine Hubble is one of the only things already set up to look right now, but I'm nonetheless amused at the fact that the comet is spewing its innards for us already, which of course was our goal to begin with. It would be rather like planning and launching a long voyage to Mars only to have the planet hop over and pick up our astronauts en route.


Viacom Split

From the "oh, great, 'cause that wasn't complicated enough already" department, and according to TrekToday:

Viacom Inc., the entertainment giant that owns all aspects of Star Trek from Paramount Pictures films, UPN television episodes, Paramount DVD releases and Pocket Books novels, is dividing into two separately traded companies [...] which will create CBS Corp. as a separate entity. The new company will include both the CBS and UPN television networks, the television stations now owned by Viacom, CBS and Paramount TV production and book publisher Simon & Schuster, as well as cable network Showtime, Infinity Broadcasting radio and Paramount Parks. Viacom Inc. will control Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, MTV Networks, BET and Famous Music.


Insurrection Phaser Shots

From the "how did I miss that?" department:

On the phaser rifle page, I point to an example from Insurrection wherein about six cubic meters of rock were explosively disassembled via phasers.

For some reason, I evidently always missed Data's line before that, wherein he identifies the rockface as being a calcite formation.

Calcite denotes the most stable form of calcium carbonate . . . the same stuff you find in chalk, limestone, and marble, and a common fixture in most sedimentary rock formations.

The mineral calcite generally has a density of about 2700 kg/m³. The rockface we see presumably contains various impurities, given that it is not clear or even mostly so as pure calcite would be.

Calcite isn't particularly hard . . . if you catch it just right, your fingernail might scratch it. Because of the softness and other issues, it's difficult to get a fracture out of it.

The shots do not seem to produce significant amounts of molten rock. The phasers produce a firey explosion and physical blasting. If each phaser did a third of the work, then each one would've blasted apart two square meters . . . 5400 kilograms . . . of calcite.

This information can take us toward other bits and pieces, but that will wait for another time.

Another Step Toward Tricorders

Here is a link about a wearable AI system capable of pointing out geologically interesting features with the intent toward finding Martian life. It's basically like having a geologist strapped to your back.

From the "ugly bastard alert" in Nemesis to the frequent reports given from tricorders that are detecting awfully specific things (needles in stacks of needles, as it were), I'd imagine this same sort of technological concept is employed in tricorders, and perhaps even in the bulky scanning equipment from Star Wars. (The current system could probably fit in the scanning crew's big box from ANH.)


Velocity Measurement

Here, we get some interesting information about the science of determining an object's velocity via a single, fixed camera point. Some recent advances have resulted in a new camera system capable of doing this automatically.

Some of my opponents will undoubtedly be shocked, given their claims that this is not possible. For instance, they argued against the page on the Falcon's acceleration, claiming that velocities . . . even relative velocities versus the camera . . . could not be determined via the methods I was using. I recall even explaining the concept to them using the idea of a car passing over a mark in the road over the course of multiple frames.

While I'll grant that compared to the new camera system my methods are primitive, I do rather enjoy displaying yet another proof of concept.


*snort* (chuckle)

From the TFN thread "Is My Jar-Jar Coloring Book Canon?"

"I wonder if the goings on inside my morning bowl of Episode III cereal are canon. Just this morning The Darth Vader head soggily became one with the c3po head in a sugary transmogrification. Can I gleen from this that Darth Vader's suit actually contains pieces of c3po...because, according to my bowl of cereal, that is indeed the case"
- 'wcleere', TheForce.Net forums


They're baaaack . . .

Here is a link to the new (and improved?) VIP thread at StarWars.com . . . the old one, of course, was the source of many of the statements from Sue Rostoni of LLP, Leland Chee of LL, and others involved mostly with the EU.

It's bound to be an interesting read, especially if "Darth Talas" jumps in with some more leading questions. translation:  Wayne, you freak, leave Rostoni alone.


Lightsaber Inconsistency?

In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan picks up Anakin's lightsaber. The two had fought with them earlier, the two blue blades dramatic against one another.

In A New Hope, Obi-Wan gives "your father's lightsaber" to Luke. Not counting those times when it still looks white in the DVD, it generally looks green.
The main exception is when Luke first activates it in Obi-Wan's house on Tatooine. There, it does indeed appear blue, though not so richly blue as Obi-Wan's.


1. Obi-Wan mixed up which lightsaber in the case was which.
2. Obi-Wan was just randomly lying again.
3. Lightsaber colors are variable with tuning. (This would mean that the lightsaber was only briefly blue as it 'warmed up', then went to its de-tuned green. Green lightsabers might de-tune to some other color.)
4. Lightsaber color changes with age. (This would mean that crystals or other components would change over time, so that a blue lightsaber would become green over the years. While an interesting idea (think of Yoda), I don't think it works given Luke's new lightsaber that was green, or Obi-Wan's blue one.)
5. Lightsaber color changes with battery life. (This would mean that after a brief burst of battery power making the saber blue, it went back to the low-power green. But again, we have the issue of normally-green sabers. Perhaps the blue sabers were a newer technology.)
6. (other)

I'm against #2 on general principle. #1 is a possiblity, but a disappointing one that I'm against on aesthetic grounds.

That would seem to leave the technological issues. Pity Bob Brown isn't around to help guide us as to which is correct. Perhaps at some point I'll do some further research to see what can be gathered about the situation. As it stands, though, I'm somewhat fond of #5.

Federation Charter

(Preamble as seen on Janeway's monitor in "The Void"[VOY7])


We the life forms of the United Federation of Planets determined

to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and

to reaffirm faith in the fundamental rights of sentient beings, in the dignity and worth of all life forms, in the equal rights of members of planetary systems large and small, and

to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of interstellar law can be maintained, and

to promote social progress and better standards of living on all worlds,

. . . et cetera. The rest, alas, was not visible, though if the above is any indication it would be the United Nations charter re-worded. In any case, it's rather amusing to consider the above compared to Palpatine's announcement of the Galactic Empire.



Among other things, I'd like to use this weblog to comment on really spiffy things not necessarily (or just tangentially) related to the Vs. Debate . . . something along the lines of the somewhat abandoned "Cosmic Thoughts" page. The items below aren't necessarily that spiffy, but give the drift of what I'll be going for:

For instance, the Jovian moon Amalthea is a large icy rubble pile less dense than water, though with mountains and craters and a position that would generally indicate a pretty solid body.

You can't always tell a book by its cover. But soon you'll be able to read the back cover without ever looking at it. I've long understood that if we could basically have impossible optical processing capabilities, we would be able to tell what was behind something else in a two-dimensional image.

Well, it turns out that we now have impossible capabilities. As noted here, we've developed a technique wherein a computer can reconstruct the backside of an object via the reflected light of it upon other objects.

The trick right now is that the reflected light originally comes from a very special projector that puts light and dark pixels on the backside of an object, and the computer determines what happens to the reflections. However, it seems likely that this technique will expand and be incorporated into other techniques. One day reconstructions could possibly be made just off of old video, albeit at less-than-perfect resolution. They might even be able to roughly approximate such things from still pictures, especially if the same scene is available.

As noted in the article, there's a certain holodeck quality to the idea, and they're quite right. One is reminded of Geordi's holodeck reconstruction of a somewhat invisible alien in the otherwise forgettable "Identity Crisis"[TNG4], or the reconstruction of 75% of a woman's blocked and shrouded face based on a still photograph in "The Vengeance Factor"[TNG3].

(That said, those are exceptions to my general opinion that the future (a.) won't look anything like Trek or Wars, and (b.) will put them both to shame all too soon in several arenas.)