Thursday, August 29, 2013

Captain's Log: Nobody Here But Us Martians

We have met the Martians and they are us.  Or that's the theory, according to Professor Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology. "The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock.”  The combination of biochemical building blocks and the factors it appears are necessary to transform them into microbial life existed on the really ancient Mars more than the ancient Earth.  Meteorites from Mars are a pretty frequent occurrence, so that's how such microbes would have been transported.  Or for Trek fans, one way they could have been.  Given that the latest theories conclude that all the water on Earth came from elsewhere (transported by meteors and comets) the extraterrestrial origin of life is not out of line with current thinking.

In specifically Trek news, the Star Trek Into Darkness feature is already online and on its way to disk (with fans complaining about the absence of extras.)  Not to reach premature conclusions, but the movie's reputation seems to be getting worse.  For those who fear that the Star Trek saga is being looted rather than honored or extended, this interview with writer/producer Damon Lindelof won't be comforting.  My guess: there will be a 50th anniversary film in 2016 (probably with Klingons, Borg, Q and Khan, and maybe Batman) and that will be the end of the JJA era.  Here's Trek Movie's take on the "franchise" future.

Big news in Whoville: the next regeneration of Doctor Who has been announced.  Not surprisingly, he's a white guy from the UK, but this time showrunner Steven Moffat has made good on his suggestion that the Doctor should be older.  This time he will be: actor Peter Capaldi is 55.  He's got that Italian name but he's a Scot, as was/is David Tennant.  But Moffat believes that unlike Tennant, he'll use his Scottish accent.  He'll be an "older, trickier, fiercer" Doctor, Moffat says.

Capaldi has done a lot of Brit TV and theatre, and his rep is mostly as a fierce bad guy. But his face may be most familiar to Whovians as the slightly comic character he played in the fourth season Tennant episode "The Fires of Pompeii."  He played Caecilius, the entrepreneurial survivor, who gets to respond to the volcano by saying, "It's so--volcanic."  So he can do lighter stuff, too.  And gentler: I remember him from that wonderful feature film Local Hero, which apparently was his first acting job.

As for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary year, they're doing it up big in the UK with a number of ongoing events.  The 50th anniversary episode will be broadcast there and in the US in November, and it may well feature most if not all of the past Doctors, including David Tennant and Christopher Eccelston.  I gather it will also be Matt Smith's last episode, with Capaldi taking over at Christmas.

In other real world news, the astronomical "photos" of distant galaxies and objects as well as artists' renderings of newly discovered planets (some of which have since been undiscovered) use a certain artistic license in particular when it comes to colors.  But scientists feel they know what color this newly discovered planet is: it's blue.  But not because of oceans--because it rains glass, which diffuses light into the blue.  How cool is that?  Though it's not the kind of place you want to be on the away team to visit.  I hope that wasn't a cutting remark.

As for real world space travel,  the recently quantified radiation of a Mars trip should not stop such a voyage, and a lot of people are apparently willing to make the trip even if they never come back. On the other hand I guess they'll be home.  Beyond the solar system, there's still hope for warp drive, this scientist says.  Engage!

1 comment:

Adam said...

Whether or not you like the quality of the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies, it's hard to feel that Star Trek's legacy is being honored and extended when it is not on television. A movie every three or four years, even a good one, can't really be considered an addition to the Star Trek legacy.

Maybe it is impossible to do justice to the Star Trek legacy. Star Trek has a very simple message. Maybe Gene Roddenberry had fully explored it by the time he died. His successors are left with a dilemma: if you explore the same ground again then it's just a pale copy, but if you do something different then it doesn't feel like Star Trek. Or maybe the times have change and people aren't in the frame of mind to think the same way about this set of ideas.

If the studio didn't think of Star Trek as a commodity to be exploited, we probably would have dropped it long ago. We would have remembered Classic Trek and TNG fondly, revisiting it from time to time, but rather than turning out endless clones we would create something new that would explore these ideas (or others) in a fresh way. It's not as if nothing as good as Star Trek can ever be created again.