Monday, February 27, 2006

My first rant - Invasion

***Spoiler warning***


I've been watching this show on Channel 4 and E4 for weeks now, to be honest I am not sure why. Perhaps its because I can't wait to see what other unusual names they will come up with for key characters, after "Meriel" and "Larkin" who knows?

Or perhaps I am still hoping that it will actually turn out to be a bit more interesting and live up to some of the potential shown n the first few weeks.

So there I was last night watching the latest episode and actually getting quite interested, crazy Dave has met up with some other people that believe in his EBE theories; his brother-in-law has decided to start using his brain and put together all the whopping big clues that all is not right in his part of the Everglades; and Tom the sheriff decides that his inquisitive one-armed deputy (what is that all about) is being a bit too curious, plus he finds out his loyalty is not to spooky Tom, but to a higher power, namely the big JC himself.

So what does he do? He lures him out to a popular beach, popular that is with strange glowing EBEs in the water and then looks all surprised when he is taken off for an unplanned underwater excursion.

Finally we get to see a bit more of the EBE, in all its glowing orange proboscises and how the "pod people" get taken, nice.

Then after all this (almost) excitement and the feel of ponderous plotlines actually shifting into 2nd gear, the producers go and spoil it with the most ludicrous plot twist of all. One armed deputy, turn into two armed "pod person" glorifying in his miracle, so what does spooky Tom do, take him out into the woods with a chain saw and a contrite explanation about how God got it wrong and didn't mean to give you your arm back and "people don't like things they cant explain" speech.

You think you can guess the rest, disbelief; a struggle; the sound of a chain saw starting; spurting noises muffled by screams. Oh no, almost but not quite. No, we get asked to believe that Mr stupid deputy, is so stupid and loyal that he will willingly go off into a derelict cabin and do the deed himself.

Maybe I am missing something, maybe next week's episode will start with Deputy Dim running away fro the cabin with both arms pumping whilst making tortured screaming noises. Somehow, I don't think so, I look forward to see how the writers try to cover up the fact that is well healed stump of an arm has suddenly become a bit more troublesome overnight

With at least ten more weeks to go, plenty more time to suspend disbelief. And to think I watched this live and chose to record 24. Ah well, at least that means I can get my Jack Bauer fix sans adverts


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yet more science fiction becoming fact

One of my favourite books by Arthur C Clarke, is The Fountains of Paradise. I read this in my teenage years and was inspired by the theory of the "Space Elevator", where cars, running down a magnetic track anchored between an asteroid in orbit to a ground station on Earth, generate electricity to power cars rising up the same cable. Such a system would make traveling into low Earth orbit, cheap affordable and relatively safe, when compared to sitting on top of a chemically powered rocket.

Like almost all of Clarke's novels, the idea had a solid foundation in fact and only lacked the technical capability of its time to implement. One of the things I love about good science fiction is seeing the some of this scientific dreaming become reality. Consequently, I was delighted to read this article about a real project to build a Space Elevator by 2018 and a recent successful test by a private company LiftPort which involved a 6 mile high cable tethered to a balloon and a robotic lifter which managed to climb 460m up the cable.

I'll watch this project with interest...

Fascinating article about perception of time

I found this article on the BBC News website, which IMHO is one of the best news sites around.

Have you ever experienced your own personal time dilation? Usually this happens at a stressful time, such as in a car crash, where you perception shifts and time seems to slow down. Is it real or is it just a psychological memory blip?

Well a team from the University of Texas came up with a plan to test and measure if this actually happens. They invented a device called a "perceptual chronometer" which flickers between two displays of an LED screen. Normally the flicker is so fast you only see a blur. But if during a time of stress, such as falling backwards of a 33 foot high scaffolding, then if time perception slowed down, you should be able to read the display.

After repeated jumps the "victim", sorry the test subject actually made out a random number on the device, proving that his perception of time had slowed down and he was able to read the LED screen - fascinating stuff.

After this I went on to speculate about the practical applications of this? Surely the next step is to try and determine what physiological symptoms cause this shift in perception and if it is possible to recreate it at will. I am sure the military would find a use for a heightened perception "switch", but maybe they wouldn't like a perpetually terrified platoon of soldiers. Good material for a short story I think...

Note to

I just saved my first post for this blog and used the built in spell check facility. I found it very amusing that the Blogger spell check function didn't recognise the words "blogging" and "blog". Errmm, bit of a fundamental oversight I would think...

Update: When spell checking this post, it didn't recognise "Blogger" either

Blogging again, but this time it is personal...

I recently added a blog to my business website Third Aspect, but this one is to be a mix of personal interest, random musings and anything else I feel like. Will anybody read it anyway??