Showing posts with label space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Signal Watch Reads: The Martian, Andy Weir (audiobook)

I guess back in January, my pal Paul suggested I read The Martian (2011) by Andy Weir.  I know this because I keep a list of books I've read mixed with a list of suggestions I've taken seriously, and I do write down who made the suggestion.

When the trailer hit for the soon-to-be-in-theaters Ridley Scott directed version of The Martian, it was absolutely the sort of thing I like seeing, and I got pretty excited.  I was a big fan of Interstellar, and I even really liked Gravity, warts and all.  And as much as I like strange visitors from other worlds-type scientifiction, I also get pretty jazzed about fictional takes or speculative takes on plain old science and technology.  Mix that with the space program, like the two movies I just mentioned, and you've sold a couple of tickets to the occupants of my household.

You've got a few weeks before the movie arrives, and I highly recommend checking out the book prior to the film's release.  It's not that I think Matt Damon and Co. will do a bad job - I'm a big fan of Damon (have you seen the Bourne movies?).  It's that the book is really good and reads really fast.  I'd started the book just over a week ago, and recommended it to Jamie.  She started and finished it all today.  So, there's a context clue for you (and she also cleaned out the cupboard.  I think she bent time.).

I listened to the audiobook, which takes longer, of course, but it more than filled the commute and back I had to Arlington, Texas this week.

If you haven't seen the trailer - and I'm not spoiling anything - an astronaut is delivering his first log entry after an accident occurred during an emergency evacuation of a Mars mission.  He'd been stuck through by part of a loose antenna in a wind storm, and then blown over a hill, his suit's life signs reading nil.  Of course, he wasn't dead, but the crew was forced to leave him, and now he's stuck on Mars, with no way to contact home, the next mission coming to the planet in 4 years, and only enough supplies for 6 people for about a month.

And yet, it's the most optimistic book I've read in years.  Maybe ever.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Neil Armstrong - Reboot the Suit

Today marks the birthday of Neil Armstong, the first human to step foot on The Moon.

Next time you're feeling cocky, just remember, Neil Armstrong walked on that shiny thing up there that's affecting the tides and spawning werewolves.

I know Armstrong passed years ago, but why not get him a present?  He got you one.  He went to THE MOON.

There's a Kickstarter going on that's already reached it's financial goal.  The Smithsonian is raining funds to restore the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore wandering around on THE MOON.

Now they're in stretch goals, and the big one is to raise funds to restore the Mercury suit for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Restored, we'll all be able to see these suits down at the Air and Space Museum in DC.  Already a pretty fantastic place, but who wouldn't want to see even better space displays?  And see the very suits of America's real life heroes?

Sure, you aren't helping some dweeb from BFE fund their dream project of a Yu-Gi-Oh fan film, but you are, you know, supporting things that actually matter and aren't a waste of time and resources.  I mean, just...   ugh.

If you're wondering why the Smithsonian needs to go to Kickstarter...  well, (a) it's a publicly funded institution, and we haven't been great about funding public institutions the past decade or so, and (b) what money they do have could also be allocated to work on less high-profile items as well as the suit, so you're making the Smithsonian budget go farther (further?).

Here's that link again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SW Watches: The Right Stuff (1983)

I was lucky to be born into an era when the job everyone aspired to was "astronaut".  As you got older, if you were me, you realized you were going to be too tall, wear too many glasses, be just amazingly awful at pre-Calc, and maybe develop a crippling fear of heights.  I was just never going to be astronaut material.

But, yeah, like a lot of people my age and older, I was pretty space-crazy growing up.  We were living on the edge of the world of Buck Rogers and Star Trek.  And, to be a part of that seemed like being a part of the future more than anything you could do (we can quiz Matt A. on the veracity of this childhood fantasy later, but it seemed right at the time).

On my 6th birthday, the Space Shuttle Colombia took off from Kennedy (STS-1). I was well aware it was a coincidence, but it still felt like a pretty good birthday present.  Watching it with the fam is still one of those indelible childhood memories.

Two years later, the Philip Kaufman directed movie The Right Stuff (1983) was released to theaters.  Based on a Thomas Wolfe novel, it's certainly not a movie aimed at kids, but The Admiral was also not one to let the two little miscreants he'd sired run around ignorant of one of the greatest periods (if not THE greatest period) of technical achievement in human history.  Nor would he let it pass that we would not know of the flawed, insanely brave men who sat atop those rockets and came back safely.  Let alone, we might not know the name of Chuck Yeager.

I remember seeing many movies in the theater from my childhood, and certainly the memory of seeing The Right Stuff is still vivid.  While the movie was not the sort of thing I was running around play-acting afterward, I knew I'd seen something quite different and kind of astonishing.

In the years that have passed, I have no idea how many times I'd seen it, but I caught it again while Jamie and I were dating, and I remember really realizing for the first time how damn good the movie really is.  I'm always shocked not just by the mixed reactions you can get at the mention of the film, but that it's not mentioned in the same breath with other films that routinely make great movie lists.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Canadian Astronaut aboard ISS covers Bowie's "Space Oddity"

Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, is aboard the ISS and covered some Bowie - mixing it up a bit to reflect his experience. Really, after this cover, not sure there's any point in anyone else every trying their hand at this tune again.

We've all seen Earth from space a hundred times before, privileged as we are to live in an era when people travel into space. But, man...

Here's to Commander Hadfield and all aboard the ISS.

Thanks to Slicing Up Eyeballs for the link.

Let's hope Commander Hadfield gets to cover "Life on Mars".

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The 2012 Not-a-List Rundown

author's note:  2012 is a year I have been looking to put behind me for quite a while for any number of reasons.  Obviously the events in my personal life marked a very sad end to the year for us at our house.  Perhaps we should declare 2012 Annus Horribilis and move on.

With recent events weighing so heavily on me right now (and with this post started a long, long time ago), I'm going to stick to pop culture and the original, intended tone of the post - and this blog - and take a look back instead at...  yeah, I guess comics and whatnot.

here we go.

The 2012 Not-a-List Rundown

My Totem for Everything About my Pop Culture Hobbies in 2012

My relationship fundamentally changed with my hobbies and past-times, and superhero comics have begun to dip below the horizon to the same place Star Wars went circa 2002.  Because of travelling and the fact I was sick a lot this year, I also didn't really make it out to the movies very often.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Octoberama! War of the Worlds on the Radio!

On October 30th, 1938, the Mercury Theater performed a radio show adaptation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds.  I expect that most of you will have heard of this presentation.

On the eve of Halloween, 1938 - war brimming over in Europe, Asia in chaos, science and engineering on the march despite a decade of financial instability - Americans tuned into the radio for their after dinner relaxation.  Sure, everyone knew Halloween was coming, but like the first April Fool's joke sprung on you each year, it may not be the first thing on your mind.

The broadcast was the one that supposedly set the nation into a panic and had people driving around, shooting at water towers and running from imaginary space men.  It also ended in folks calling for the head of Orson Welles - well before he decided not to sell any wine before its time or voice the monster planet in the Transformers Movie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Felix Baumgartner Space Jumps into the History Books

I had tried to watch this guy, Felix Baumgartner, jump several times, and he kept getting delayed.  So I was quite pleased when PalMatt posted to Facebook that Felix was about to jump yesterday.  I tuned in just as he was about to exit the capsule.

Holy @#$%

In case you missed it, Austrian Felix Baumgartner attached a capsule to some balloons, went up 24 miles above Roswell, New Mexico, and then tossed himself out and over the side of the capsule with naught but a parachute between himself and the record for largest crater formed by a human body.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong Merges with The Infinite

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, possibly the most well known of all astronauts, has passed at the age of 82.

Armstrong was part of the Apollo 11 team that reached the moon, and was the first human to cross the great void and touch foot to moon soil.

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Armstrong's family on his passing:

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request: Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

That's a pretty damn good epitaph.

Godspeed, sir.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let the Science Begin! Olympics. Mars. Tomorrow! This Moment in History

Let's get this party started!

Man.  It wasn't enough that I got to watch Usain Bolt win the 100m again, but UT alum Sonya Richards-Ross won the Gold in the Women's 400m.

I also watched a man with prosthetic limbs race in an Olympic foot race.

But after watching the Twitter Feed for the Mars Curiosity Rover the past couple of months, Curiosity came down successfully on the surface of our sister planet, Mars.

You guys, we live in the future.

I haven't gotten teary during the Olympics.  I've done my fair share of yelling and cheering and chanting "go go go go go go go" while watching races.

But I admit I got a little choked up watching the JPL crew high-fiving after the news that Curiosity had landed and we received the first images back from the rover.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sally Ride Merges With The Infinite

I am very sad to say that Sally Ride has passed at the age of 61 after fighting pancreatic cancer.

Sally Ride was not the first name of an astronaut I knew or heard (the first name I really remember is John Glenn.  I think the KareBear liked the cut of his jib or something).  But something about Ride stuck with me not just because she was the first woman in space, but because she felt always seemed like the embodiment The Modern Space Program.  She rode shuttles, not capsules.  She wore the blue jumpsuit.  She was a pilot, a space jockey and a scientist.  She was the Shuttle era and the promise it held.

We all grew up proud of the name Sally Ride, but it wasn't until I was older that I appreciated how amazing Ride must have been to actually win that seat on Challenger and the pressure on her to not just be as capable of her male colleagues, but much more capable lest anyone seize the opportunity to hold her up as an example of why giving her a chance was a mistake.  I cannot begin to imagine.

And Ride pulled it off.

She succeeded not just at NASA, but went on to teach at UC-San Diego, formed a company to create educational materials for young scientists, and served as a consultant in aerospace and defense arenas.

Here's to one of the real pioneers of the era in which I was raised.  You will be missed.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Alan Poindexter Merges with the Infinite

Astronaut Captain Alan Poindexter has died in a water craft accident.

There is an article on his death here.

Poindexter served with NASA for over a decade and served as Pilot for Shuttle Atlantis and Commander for Shuttle Discovery.