Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wash Had to Die

My father is a regular reader of the website Slice of SciFi and he always lets me know when something comes up that I will find interesting or entertaining.  A couple of weeks ago her found an article about a grad student who thought he could prove that Wash should not have died in the film Serenity.  Being a bit of a science and math nerd my own self I was excited to see what his conclusion was.

Here's his basic idea..."What if the Reaver spear couldn't possibly have made it through the forward windows of Serenity?"   The rest of the article is here for your consideration.  Feel free to follow the link above on over to the article at Slice of SciFi and add a comment if the moods strikes you.  I'll give you the text here as well.

First Hill had to understand what modern spacecraft use. Certainly they have windows just as Captain Mal's Serenity does, but how thick are they and what protection do they provide from the harsh vacuum of space?

Hill is quick to point out that, within Earth orbit, space debris, no matter how small, still travels at approximately 9,000 meters per second. Which brought Hill to the following important scientific fact -- "Shuttles today are outfitted with shielding to prevent such disasters, and feature two-and-a-half-inch thick windows."

Next we need an example of what happens when a ship's window is damaged by debris in the vacuum of space. In this case, Hill selected an occasion wherein a paint fleck struck a window of a ship in flight to an international space station. The fleck caused damage that looked like the indentation of a "sort of miniaturized plate." Hill estimates the fleck caused "5,000 pounds per square inch impact, creating more than enough damage to warrant a window replacement." Yikes!

Now we need to estimate. So Hill eyeballed Wash's death scene repeatedly and concluded that "If Reavers shoot spears slow enough to be dodged (which they do), the spear that kills Wash can't be moving much faster than a Major League fast-ball, putting the upper limit on speed around 100 miles per hour (45 m/s). 

This is orders of magnitude slower than the hypervelocity impacts that a shuttle deals with, but the spear is thousands of times more massive than a fleck of paint. Assuming it's fashioned out of a metal, and given its size, I'd guess it's around 100-200 pounds (45-90 kg)."

Our short translation for that is "Uh-oh." But Hill's not done yet. He adds, "Kinetic energy is easy enough to calculate, as is pressure. The kinetic energy of a moving object is one-half of its mass multiplied by the square of its velocity. This equation gives the Reaver spear a frightening 101,250 newtons of force at the low end. The pressure exerted by the spear is then equal to the force divided by the area it is acting on. Making the tip of the spear the size of a US quarter, the resulting pressure is a ludicrous 31,800 psi."

Conclusion? "This is over six times the force of the largest recorded impact to a space shuttle window, and almost four times the maximum pressure a shuttle window can take before deforming and failing."

Hill's ultimate conclusion almost isn't necessary, but, for the sake of finality, he revealed, "Wash didn't stand a chance."

As I sat pondering the science and math behind this analysis I thought, "I bet Joss Whedon could've told you that and saved you a bunch of work.  Because he knows sci-fi fans will call you on something like this if they can."  Wash never stood a chance.

A few seconds later another thought hit me.  Remember the guy in Florida who got whacked out of his brain and started eating people's faces.  The guy they said bath salts had turned into a zombie?  Couldn't have been more wrong.  He didn't become a zombie.  He was still alive.  He became a REAVER.  There's a thought that will keep you up at night.


Monday, December 10, 2012

So there I was cruising around on you tube when what should my wandering attention land upon but a Stanley Steamer commercial featuring one of my favorite vocalists from my miss-spent youth.  I have attached it here for your consideration.

In the aftermath of that little gem, I noticed that Dee has also done an album (once again showing my age) of Broadway covers entitled Dee Does Broadway. As I rolled through them imagine my delight to find an actual music video of Dee's cover of Mack the Knife.  Enjoy.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad Food Choices

I know I have a bad relationship with food.  I know the things I choose to eat are going to hurt me, but yet when the chance presents itself to do myself harm I invariably take it.

I am currently taking a class from 5:30 to 7:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I often don't get supper until I get home around 7:30.  My wife works diligently to provide me with food choices that my aging and injured body can handle with a minimum of undue stress.  She does a fine job and I love her for the work she does.

On the rare occasion that I am left to my own devices, all of her hard work comes to naught.  Like a child, animal, or every other grown man on the planet I will do things I know I shouldn't if I am left unattended.

All that said, I had plans to drive to my folks house last night after class.  "Self," says I, "your family is at church and has been since before you got off of work.  Nothing will be ready for you to eat.  You know your parents have already eaten, so you should get something on the way."

It was at this point that the clouds parted and a shaft of golden light feel from the heavens on the Carl's Jr.  that I was approaching.  I address myself once again, "Haven't eaten there in a while.  Why not?"

I pull into the drive thru and there, on the menu, is an advertisement for a new choice.  Next, a very pleasant voice come to me over the intercom and asks, "Would you care to try the new Memphis BBQ Burger?"

"Why yes, yes I would," I reply.

"Can I get you some fries and a drink as well?" asks the voice.

"That would be great."

Then I pull forward to the window and am handed this...

Pulled pork with bbq sauce, a hamburger patty, cheese, and fried onion strings all contained between a warm bun.  Chowed it down like the dog with your favorite shoe when you're not home. Knew it was going to bring trouble and didn't even care.

In case you haven't guessed it yet, I recommend it whole heartedly.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A New Take on a Great Song

Normally I prefer the traditional arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner. I'm kind of an old fart that way. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the artistry that Hendrix brought to the party. Usually it's the pop star who can't remember the lyrics or who get so wrapped up in the vocal gymnastics of how long they can carry a melisma (look it up, but it is rampant on American Idol for instance) or sometimes they even sing the wrong song entirely. For the love of all that is holy America the Beautiful is NOT the national anthem!

That being said, I was sent a link to a video by a group called Madison Rising of their performance of The Star Spangled Banner, and I have to say that I am impressed. They recorded this in response to two statements that I have to admit kind of piss me off too.

"The Star Spangled Banner is stupid and embarrassing."
- Bill Press, Current TV

"No one has the Star Spangled Banner on their iPod."
- Comedian Daniel Tosh

So here it is. Enjoy...I did.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The End is Nigh...More or Less

It was alsmost seven years ago that I picked up The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.  At that time I only had the first five of what was then an eleven book series.  I had inherited them from my late brother-in-law who spoke of them with great enthusiasm.  I thought to myself, "self, if he thinks they're worth reading, they probably are."  Well, I dove in.

It wasn't until I was in book four that I discovered how many more there were.  I got to be a little discouraged.  I had just read an 11 book series by Terry Goodkind and really wasn't up for doing it again with another high-fantasy novel series.  So I put it down for a bit thinking that I'd just hold out until the series was finished and read the rest.

Enter cardiac amyloidosis.  In 2007, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with this invariably fatal disease. It brought his books back into my attention and I started to read them again thinking that the more people he had on his side and hoping for him to beat the odds the better.  He fought hard, but this disease is a mean one and he fell in 2007.  With his passing I put the books down again thinking I didn't want to finish the last book that wasn't really the last book and be left hanging for an end to the story.

Now it looks like this story will finally have an end, or start a new begining (the Wheel turns and ages comes and go). 

Mr. Jordan had intended one final volume, "even if it were to be a 1,500 page" beast.  Brandon Sanderson has stepped in and brought that beast under control though it has taken three volumes to do so.  Apparently Mr. Sanderson took one look at the notes and outlines left behind by Mr. Jordan and realized that one volume was an impossibility.

I guess that the point of this little ramble is that come January 8, 2013 the last book will be released and roughly a month after that my journey through that world will conclude.  While I am very excited to see how all of the multitude of story arcs will resolve, I'm also a little sad that it will all come to an end.

Oh and as a side note, sometime in March I will have the complete 13 volume set for sale if anyone is interested.  (I'm kidding. I never sell my hardback books, and I just give away my paperbacks.)