Sci-Fi News and Analysis Roundup 11/3

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

Star Trek: Deep Space 9

A prosperous future, filled with opportunity and upside burst from The Next Generation as Captain Picard’s Enterprise pushed the boundaries of space and humankind each week. Its follow up, Deep Space Nine, showed audiences a far bleaker part of space, in a setting more accustomed to thievery, infighting, and insurrection than TNG’s spotless bridge.

This angered many fans, but others still would argue that the new tone allowed for more ethically challenging themes.

Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager didn’t follow through on the part of its premise that involved a Starfleet ship stranded 75,000 lightyears away from any military, technical, or mechanical support. That’s most evident in the ship’s consistently perfect condition throughout the run of the series.

The ship went through some major, major conflicts with nemeses like the Borg, Species 8472, the Kazon, the Hirogen – the list goes on. But apparently the repair crew (and the industrial replicators needed to produce the necessary materials) were really, really good at their jobs, because Voyager should’ve been a scrap heap.

More items follow the jump.

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Sci-Fi In-Depth Discussion Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • The politics of Doctor Who

  • Bradbury and The Twilight Zone

Marc Zicree claims Ray Bradbury gave him an exclusive on Bradbury’s falling out with Rod Serling. Zicree also makes a good case that without Bradbury’s proteges, The Twilight Zone would not have been as successful.

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Science News Roundup 10/10/18

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

An abundance of planets with an abundance of water

If you hope to one day wake up to the news that scientists have discovered a planet with alien life, the scientists working with the Kepler space telescope have some very good news for you. In a presentation at the Goldschmidt Conference in Boston, researchers from Harvard revealed that the data from the Kepler telescope suggests that water-covered planets are actually a lot more common than you might think.

NASA chief wants to populate space

NASA obviously has a huge interest in mankind exploring space, so it would make sense that the administration’s newly-appointed chief shares the same interests. In a recent interview with Space.com, NASA’s newly-appointed boss Jim Bridenstine makes a couple of interesting declarations, but starts by assuring everyone that he wants to get as many humans as possible off of planet Earth.

DARPA invests in AI research

At a symposium in Washington DC on Friday, DARPA announced plans to invest $2 billion in artificial intelligence research over the next five years. In a program called “AI Next,” the agency now has over 20 programs currently in the works and will focus on “enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies, reducing power, data, performance inefficiencies and [exploring] ‘explainability'” of these systems. “Machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible,” said director Dr. Steven Walker.

Satellites that have satellite babies that have satellite babies

Mysterious Russian satellite worries experts

 

Ion rocket engines

Rocket Scientist Natalya Bailey owns a space startup called Accion Systems that specializes in making wafer thin engines that require a tiny fraction of energy that conventional rockets use. If successful, these ion thrusters could revolutionize how we will move through the final frontier.

 

Flying scooter

A man in South China claims to have created the world’s first ‘flying scooter,’ although we’d be remiss not to point out its resemblance to a large quadcopter drone.

According to United Press International (UPI), the aerial vehicle can seat one person and travel at a top speed of roughly 70 kilometers per hour. The machine’s maximum load is 99 kilograms.

AI glider learns how to fly

It took mankind untold eons to learn how to fly, but now artificial intelligence is doing something similar and in a fraction of the time. No, there’s no robots constructing planes like the Wright brothers, but some AI-powered gliders are indeed learning how to cruise through the air just like birds, and they’re getting pretty good at it.

14-year-old builds bullet proof wall to protect students during school shootings

Audrey Larson is a 14-year-old inventor.

For past competitions, she’s created glow-in-the-dark pajamas and a device to pet your dog. But this year, after hearing about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, she felt compelled to focus on a more serious issue….

Mars habitat contest

Yes, we’ve yet to successfully send humans to Mars, but we already need to start thinking how we can stay there for long stretches of time — or even for good. NASA launched the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge back in 2015 to find a suitable artificial housing for the first wave of Martian residents, and now the agency has narrowed the contestants down to five after seeing the realistic virtual models they created. The agency and its project partner, Illinois’ Bradley University, judged 18 teams’ models created using a specialized software.

The Earth is wobbling, the Earth is wobbling!

…Two of the three factors identified by the scientists are glacial rebound and mantle convection. Glacial rebound happens when thick ice sheets physically push down on land masses, compressing them, but then release that pressure upon melting. The land then balloons back up over time, causing Earth’s spin to wobble as if slightly off-axis. The effects of the last ice age, which would have compressed a huge amount of land across many continents, is still being felt today in the form of glacial rebound…

Hexagons on Saturn

Saturn sure has a thing for peculiar shapes! Astronomers have known for some time that Saturn’s north pole has developed a very odd hexagonal shape. The massive storm swirling there has well-defined sides, and is a near perfect hexagon. It also has a habit of changing color.

Now, using images gathered from the Cassini mission (rest in pieces), a new study reveals that there’s not one, but two massive hexagons swirling on Saturn’s northern half, and the new one is even higher than the other. As LiveScience notes, scientists haven’t figured out if the two are actually connected in any way, but it would be a pretty wild coincidence if they’re not.

Super soldiers now

Ever since Captain America debuted in Marvel Comics, scientists have been getting closer and closer to creating real-life super soldiers. With the help of Professor E. Paul Zehr and his new book ‘Chasing Captain America’, we’ll explore the origin and history of the Star Spangled Man and explain the science of the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into the Sentinel of Liberty!

 

“Starfish, destroy!”

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has seen better days. The massive natural wonder is dealing with the impacts of ocean warming (thanks to manmade climate change) which have pushed species away and killed off massive sections of coral, but that’s not the only problem the reef has been forced to deal with.

More recently, an influx of starfish have begun to take over the reef. This is thought to be the result of chemicals from human activity running into the ocean. As CNET reports, some of those chemicals can have the unintended effect of promoting breeding due to increases in algae, which is exactly what the starfish look for to keep their offspring alive. But now, researchers have a robotic ally to keep starfish populations in check, and it’s a real killer.

“Lionfish, destroy!”

Lionfish are incredibly eye-catching creatures, and they’re a favorite of salt water aquarium enthusiasts because they just plain look cool. They’re also an incredibly troublesome species when they are introduced in areas where they don’t belong, and coral reefs in the Caribbean are under serious threat from an invasion.

Now, researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed an autonomous robot that is capable of hunting down lionfish all on its own. But the bot doesn’t just identify and kill the invasive fish — using sharp spears to snag the fish and bring it down — it also allows for the dead fish to be fetched by fishermen who can harvest and sell it.

Is humanity about to accidentally declare war on an alien civilization?

…So let’s say we get it right. We develop the right material to reflect enough of the laser light that it doesn’t incinerate the sail. We collimate the lasers well-enough and build a large-enough array to accelerate these starchip spacecrafts to their designed speeds of 20% the speed of light: ~60,000 km/s. And then we aim them at a planet around a potentially habitable star, such as Alpha Centauri A or Tau Ceti.

Perhaps we’ll send an array of starchips to the same system, hoping to probe these systems and gain more information. After all, the main science goal, as it’s been proposed, is to simply take data during arrival and transmit it back. But there are three huge problems with this plan, and combined, they could be tantamount to a declaration of interstellar war….

Screen News and Analysis Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

Men in Black spinoff

Liam Neeson is in negotiations to join Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Sony’s Men in Black spinoff.

Fate of the Furious filmmaker F. Gary Gray is directing the project, written by Iron Man screenwriters Matt Holloway and Art Marcum. The studio has the film dated for a June 14, 2019, release.

Hemsworth and Thompson are not playing the same alien-fighting and world-saving characters portrayed by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the initial film trilogy. The new movie is set in the same onscreen world, however.

Watchmen TV show

The show was in the pilot stage until now, but HBO released a short teaser video on the network’s Twitter on Friday to celebrate the series order. The video shows the text “Nothing ever ends” and the bloody smiley face that is the novel’s signature image, before revealing that the show will premiere in 2019.

…Lindelof revealed plot details about the series in a letter on Instagram in May. The show will be an original story with new characters, but take place in the universe of the graphic novel. He implied it would be set in a post-Trump world.

Live action Doom Patrol

A former race car driver, Cliff Steele was in a horrific accident that left his body uninhabitable. Cliff’s brain was saved by the mysterious Dr. Niles Caulder and he lives on in a powerful robotic body.

Fraser will provide the voice-over for Robotman and will appear in flashback scenes as Cliff Steele. Riley Shanahan has also been cast in the role of Robotman. He will provide the physical performance of the character on stage in full body costume.

Vampyr TV show

If you’re looking for a new supernatural television series, you’re in luck (if you don’t mind waiting a while). Fox 21 Television Studios will produce a new show based on the video game Vampyr by the developer of Life is Strange, Dontnod. The title came out for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 5th.

Prodigy TV show

The service has unveiled Prodigy, a Mark Millar-penned comic book due in both digital and paper forms on December 5th. The series revolves around Edison Crane, the “world’s smartest man,” who has virtually everything he could want but is fueled by an endless drive that leads him to solve problems for governments around the planet. As the artwork from Batman visualizer Rafael Albuquerque suggests, Crane will have to rely on both his mind and some firepower to get things done.

Birds of Prey / Black Mask

Black Canary, Huntress, Cassandra Cain, and Renee Montoya will join Harley Quinn’s girl gang in the Margot Robbie film “Birds of Prey,” TheWrap has exclusively learned.

It’s tough keeping track of all the places that Margot Robbie might show up in the DCEU at the moment. Conservatively, there’s Suicide Squad 2, a Joker and Harley Quinn movie, maybe a Harley Quinn solo movie, and Birds Of Prey.

The team-up movie that could potentially introduce characters like Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Black Canary, Huntress, and others to the DCEU, seems to be high on the priority list at WB, having recently hired Cathy Yan as director with a script by Christina Hodson.

Move over Marvel/DC, these are the new comic book movies

But there are a lot more comics out there. If you’ve never heard of Rogue Trooper, the Umbrella Academy or American Jesus, here’s everything you need to know about these stories leaping from page to screen.

15 comic book projects in development and 15 that are rumored

It’s not only limited to the big screen, though. Comic books are being adapted everywhere. There are almost too many shows to count from both Marvel and DC, not even counting series based on so many indie comics.

DC has built an entire universe at CW, just as Marvel has done at Netflix.

Spider-Man will return to the universe of open-world adventure games that he helped to define with ActiVision’s Spider-Man on the original PlayStation for the new PS4 game, while other Marvel properties are promised to receive new games as well.

DC has been dominating the gaming sphere for years with mega-hit titles like the Arkham series and Injustice.

From comics to TV to movies, superheroes are all over the place—and comics aren’t just limited to them either, of course. There are so many comic based properties coming down the pipeline that they can be hard to keep track…

Not Space Force. Space Forces. Forces Plural.

By Carl Slaughter: When Trump announced a space force, the late-night comedians had a field day.

But Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is this generation’s Carl Sagan, has been making the rounds of the talk shows to say that the idea of a space force is not fundamentally flawed.

I would go further.  Much further.

Tucked away in an article about China going to Mars and the Moon is a sentence that jumped out at me:  One of the craters on the far side of the Moon is iron rich.

We haven’t seen a soil sample from that crater or a gas sample from Jupiter or an ice sample from Saturn’s rings or a metal sample from the Asteroid Belt.  So we have not yet gotten excited about space mining.

But we will.  When we have lab confirmation that those resources are available and realize they are within our grasp, we’re going to decide to mine space, just as we decided to walk on the Moon, and we’re going to make it happen.

And that’s when we will have high-stakes claims wars  –  and sabotage and espionage and assassination.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, geopolitics and economies will go through upheaval in response to what’s happening in space.

Meanwhile, out in space, colonies will declare their independence, just as America and India did, and try to nationalize the resources they were sent there to mine.

Those mother countries are going to say to those colonists, “We financed that colony.  If you want to be independent, you can start your own colony.  If not, prepare to be executed, exiled, or imprisoned.”

It’s going to be something out of a science fiction story.  Yeah, there’ s gonna be space forces.  Forces plural.

The Pentagon, the Russians, and the Chinese have all demonstrated the capacity to shoot down satellites.  We have manned shuttles and manned space stations.  We have already landed on the Moon.  It’s only a matter of time, and probably in our lifetime, before Elon Musk or NASA or someone builds a colony on Mars.

Eventually, some clever scientists will find a way to mine those gases, metals, and ice.  Then other clever scientists will find a way to transport all those resources to Earth cheaply.

Wormholes, FLT, mass transfer.  They are distant, but their day will arrive.

The day is coming when a space force will make as much sense as a police force, a naval force, and an air force.

Quatermass Experiment TV Series

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • Pilot

The Quatermass Experiment is a British science-fiction serial broadcast by BBC Television in the summer of 1953 and re-staged by BBC Four in 2005. Set in the near future against the background of a British space programme, it tells the story of the first manned flight into space, overseen by Professor Bernard Quatermass of the British Experimental Rocket Group. Only poor-quality copies of the first two episodes were recorded before the idea was abandoned.

 

  • Quatermass 2 TV series

All episodes

Quatermass II is a British science-fiction serial, originally broadcast by BBC Television in the autumn of 1955. It is the second in the Quatermass series by writer Nigel Kneale, and the oldest of those serials to survive in its entirety in the BBC archives. The serial sees Professor Bernard Quatermass of the British Experimental Rocket Group being asked to examine strange meteorite showers. His investigations lead to his uncovering a conspiracy involving alien infiltration at the highest levels of the British Government. As even some of Quatermass’s closest colleagues fall victim to the alien influence, he is forced to use his own unsafe rocket prototype, which recently caused a nuclear disaster at an Australian testing range, to prevent the aliens from taking over mankind. Although sometimes compared unfavourably to the first and third Quatermass serials,[1] Quatermass II was praised for its allegorical concerns of the damaging effects of industrialisation and the corruption of governments by big business.[2] It is described on the British Film Institute’s “Screenonline” website as “compulsive viewing.”

 

  • Quatermass and the Pit

All episodes

We begin our third year of Orphaned Entertainment with the 3rd and final “Quatermass” serial from the BBC.