Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy birthday, Capt. Janeway!

Beautiful and talented Kate Mulgrew who won the hearts of many Trekkies as Captain Katheryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, was born April 29, 1955 in Dubuque, Iowa.  In 1998, she won a Saturn Award (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films) and a Golden Satellite for her work on Star Trek: Voyager.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Emergency! Save Oklahoma from science!

The congress of babboons in power in Oklahoma - oops, I apologize for that reference.  Babboons are far more intelligent than those morons - have passed Bill No. 393, which allows "teachers to help students analyze certain scientific strengths and weaknesses".  The bill goes on to say that it wants to encourage students to "develop critical thinking skills and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."

According to Doc Hoc, previous versions of this bill listed evolution and global warming as controversial.  Despite this watered down revision, it is a thinly disguised effort to weaken the importance of teaching science and scientific facts.  Teachers are to "help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught." (The emphasis is mine.)  Global warming and evolution aren't theories, folks.  They have been proven.

By dumbing down Oklahoma's education, which is in serious trouble anyway, industries and businesses will look elsewhere to find an educated workforce.  Oklahoma has a lower-than-national-average college graduation rate.

But Gov. Scary Failing will most likely sign this bill into law.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My favorite movies 1979

My favorite movies from 1979, another year with some great films, too many to choose just one so I picked several favorites and one guilty pleasure.

Alien starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright.  It was the first horror movie that I sat through and enjoyed.  It created a monster (no pun intended) as now I enjoy horror films.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture starring everybody from the original series.  We had waited so long for a movie version of our favorite television show and finally got this.  Not bad but it wasn't good.  I often suspect they got someone who didn't like Star Trek to write the script.

1941 starring everybody.  I love this movie even though it's generally considered to be not funny.  And it's the only non-science fiction movie on this list!  Wow!

Walt Disney's The Black Hole starring Maximillian Schell, Yvette Mimieux, Tony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine.  I think Disney tried to capitalize on the whole Star Wars trend, and this was the result.  However, I like the non-Roddenberry, non-Lucas approach to space travel/exploration.

Guilty pleasure: Meteor starring Sean Connery and Natalie Wood.  I know it was a huge star-studded flop but I'm a sucker for disaster movies.  Now it's campy fun!

Columbia (STS-55) launches for 14th Mission 1993

First row (L-R): Pilot Terence T. Henricks, Commander Steven R. Nagel, Mission Specialist 2 Charles J. Precourt
Second row (L-R): Mission Specialist 3 Bernard A. Harris, Jr., Payload Specialist 2 Hans Schlegel, Mission Specialist 1 Jerry Ross, Payload Specialist 1 Ulrich Walter

Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off April 26, 1993 on its 14th mission and the 55th overall mission for NASA's Space Shuttle program.  She carried 5 Americans and 2 Germans.  The mission conducted 88 experiments, ranging from biology to observations of Earth, sponsored by 11 different nations, only 4 of which were NASA's.

The mission surpassed the 365th day in space of the Space Shuttle Program and the 100th day in space for Columbia.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happy birthday, Bjorn!

Bjorn Ulvaeus, born April 25, 1945, is probably best known for the Swedish 70's super-group ABBA.  He began his music career with the Hootenanny Singers.  Later he met Benny Anderson and soon the two formed ABBA.  The band lasted about 10 years but made history in such a short time with hits like Dancing Queen, Waterloo and Take a Chance on Me.

After ABBA, Bjorn has continued to collaborate with best friend Benny, writing musicals such as Chess and producing the movie Mamma Mia!

Monday, April 24, 2017

"Godzilla Raids Again" released in 1955

Only 6 months after the original Godzilla aired, Toho Company released its sequel Godzilla Raids Again April 24, 1955.  Riding on the wave of success of the first, Toho rushed the production of the second movie to capitalize on the popularity.

It was originally released in the U.S. as Gigantis: The Fire Monster to give American audiences the illusion they were seeing another monster, but that antic failed.  Still, Godzilla Raids Again was another success.  It pitted the G-Man against Anguirus and destroyed Osaka.

It was also George Takei's first film as he provided voice-over work for the American release.  He also did work for Toho's Rodan.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Soyuz 1 launched 1967

Soyuz 1, launched April 23, 1967, carried cosmonaut Colonel Vldaimir Komarov.  He became the first in-flight fatality in any space program.  Komarov knew the Soyuz 1 capsule had many flaws but decided to fly it anyway, because if he refused, his best friend Yuri Gagarin would be assigned to it.

Komarov was killed when the capsule became tangled in its parachutes and he plummeted several miles to Earth.  His last words were cursing the men who built the Soyuz capsule.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fashionistas in space!

When many of us hear the word ‘fabrics’, we immediately think of avant-garde, haute couture dresses, the latest fashions from Paris, or ‘who-is-wearing-who’ on the Red Carpet.  In space exploration, however, fabrics have more applications than for just snazzy clothes, like antennas, spacesuits and shields for spacecraft.

Raul Polit Casillas, a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is the son of a fashion designer from Spain, so he grew up familiar with fabrics.  Now he is applying his knowledge and skills to develop woven metal fabrics for applications in space.

The fabrics that Polit Casillas and his colleagues are not hand-sewn but are 3-D printed, using a technique called additive manufacturing, which is cheaper and can be used to create unique materials.   This could also help reduce the costs of building complex, expensive spacecraft.  Fabrics can be manufactured for reflectivity, passive heave management, foldability and tensile strength.  For example, one side of a fabric reflects light while the other absorbs it.  It can be folded and cut into necessary shapes. 

One of the most important applications could be for spacesuits for astronauts.  A fabric that has heat-generating properties can be printed to keep astronauts and spacecraft warm.  It could also be used to help explorers walk on uneven terrain and not melt the ice underneath them.

I previously reported in a post that structures on Mars could be 3-D printed, and now fabrics and materials can be created with similar technology. 

But at first, clothes will be have to be manufactured for substance, rather than style. Sorry, fashionistas!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My favorite movies - 1975-1978

1975 - The Hindenburg with George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft.  Nominated for 3 Academy Awards and awarded an Oscar for Special Achievements.

1976 - Murder by Death starring everybody.  I loved the snarky humor and the spoof of whodunits.

1977 - Star Wars. Duh.  It is ranked by as the 20th most popular movie of all time.  It won 6 Oscars: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects and Best Music, Original Score (to John Williams).

1978 - Superman starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. John Williams was nominated again for Best Music, Original Score but lost to Giorgio Moroder for Midnight Express.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Surveyor 3, third lunar lander, launched 1967

Surveyor 3, launched April 27, 1967, was the third lander of the Surveyor program.  It landed on April 20 in Ocean Procellarum.  Actually, it bounced a couple of times before making a soft landing.  Surveyor 3 performed soil samples using a scoop, digging trenches that were photographed and transmitted to Earth.  The first lunar nightfall came on May 3 and when dawn came 14 Earth-days later, Surveyor 3 could not be reactivated.

Apollo 12 used Surveyor 3 as a target, landing within walking distance. Commander Charles Conrad Jr and Alan Bean, Lunar Module Pilot collected several components from Surveyor 3 and returned them to Earth, to study the long-term effects of exposure to the lunar environment on human-made stuff.

"Gamera vs Barugon" released 1966

The second film in the Gamera series, Gamera vs Barugon, released April 17, 1966, is the only film not to feature a child or pre-teen as a main character.  It takes place six months after Gamera, who was last seen trapped in a spaceship and launched.  A meteor collides with his ship and he returns to Earth with a vengeance.

Meanwhile, a large opal has been discovered and it turns out to be an egg.  It is exposed to infrared light and eventually, Barugon is hatched and all hell breaks loose.  Barugon can freeze things (including Gamera) from some sort of "freeze-ray" from his tongue.  He can also emit a rainbow spectrum from his back which can destroy things.

Gamera thaws out, kicks Barugon's butt and saves the day!