Category: TV/Movies

Revealed: My tattoo

By Phil Plait | November 12, 2012 6:00 am

Folks, it’s time. And an appropriate time: for my penultimate post here at Discover Magazine, I’ve decided to show you my tattoo.

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but there were a lot of behind-the-scenes issues getting permissions I won’t bore you with. But by the time I was able to post this it was so long after I got inked it seemed a little silly. Still, Discover Magazine was the reason I got it, so it seems fair and fitting to post this now. And I’ve dyeing to let y’all know anyway.

As a brief recap, a few years ago I made a bet with then-Discover Magazine CEO, Henry Donahue: if I got 2 million page views in one month, and the magazine got 5 million total, we’d both get tattoos. In March 2009 we did it! So Henry and I went about getting inked.

He got a pretty nifty Celtic fish on his shoulder. For mine, I decided to turn to you, my readers, for suggestions. And they poured in. I narrowed it down to a handful I liked, then made my decision. Henry and I thought it would be fun for me to try to get my tattoo on the TV show "L.A. Ink", so I applied. They accepted! Discover Magazine generously offered to cover my expenses, and so a little while later I was on my way to Hollywood to get myself some ink.

That’s the basic story. So, without further ado, here it is: my tattoo!

Cool, huh? It’s perfect, and just what I wanted! And how appropriate is it to get an asteroid burning up over the Earth? I know, the scale’s a bit off, but it’s a tattoo, not a scientific graphic in the Astronomical Journal. And I love the flames and the colors.

The actual clip never wound up getting aired on TLC, but they did create a fully-produced version and put it up on YouTube – they have a higher res version on the TLC site. For those of you too lazy to click, here is the YouTube video version:

The first thing to note in the video is that while I seem upbeat I was actually screaming in pain inside my head. The whole thing took just under four hours, and the last quarter of that was where Dan was going over the flames again and again, shading in all the reds and oranges. The pain was, um, astonishing.

Still, I love the end result! If you’re looking to get a full-color tattoo, you could do a lot worse than Dan Smith. He’s an excellent artist, and a friendly guy. If I were to get another tattoo – which will never ever happen – I’d want him to do it.

Thank you Henry, thank you Dan, and thank you Discover Magazine for supporting this bit of fun. It was quite a ride, and I have a nice piece of art to show for it that’ll last the rest of my life.


Related posts:

Big news: Bad Astronomy is moving to Slate magazine
My secret nefarious inky plan revealed
We who are about to dye
Tat two

MORE ABOUT: L.A. Ink, tattoo

To Dorkly Go

By Phil Plait | October 24, 2012 12:00 pm

How much do I love Dusty Abell’s artwork?

A whole quadrant’s worth, that’s how much. And here’s why:

Oh, my. [Click to massively balokenate. This is only one small part of a much larger piece, and it’s amazing.]

And why, yes, I do recognize Every. Single. Thing. in this drawing. Because my geekery is beyond even the capacity for Norman to coordinate.

Dusty also did this piece of awesomeness, too. And? He has the coolest name ever. He should’ve been an astronomer.

Tip o’ the Tranya to io9.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: Dusty Abell, Star Trek

Dragon*Con 2012

By Phil Plait | August 28, 2012 2:22 pm

Now that I’ve properly recovered from Comic Con in July, it’s time for Dragon*Con! Woohoo!

D*C is another huge fan convention, held in Atlanta, and this year it’s Friday August 31 to Monday, September 3. As usual, I’ll be running around doing a million things and wondering if a human can survive on Tootsie Rolls and 4 hours of sleep every night (answer: yes). If you’re attending, here’s my official schedule for this year:


Title: Quiz-o-Tron 2000
Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: International South – Hyatt
Description: Rebecca Watson’s science-themed quiz show!

Title: Gonzoroo II
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: Atrium Ballroom – Marriott (Length: 2.5)
Description: An evening of music, comedic delights, and surprises galore!

Title: The Kevin & Phil Show
Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Crystal Ballroom – Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: Space Track’s comedy duo! Topical, engaging, informative & always funny! Whatever the subject, you don’t want to miss it!

Title: 2012 – Don’t Panic!
Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: Crystal Ballroom – Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: Panicking about 2012? Nope, not panicking until Phil Plait gets a role on the next Twilight film or Scott Sigler teaches classes on home economics.

Title: Gonzo Quiz Show IV: The Quest For Quiz
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Atlanta Ballroom – Westin (Length: 2.5)
Description: Teams of celebrity guests are led through a series of panel show games that you entertained.

Title: Space Geeks
Time: Sun 10:00 pm Location: 203 – Hilton (Length: 1)
Description: Time was when scientists traced early interest to reading SF classics; is this still true? How common is it for scientists to remain readers/viewers?


Not only that, but I’ll be dropping in on some other events – I love disrupting other people’s panels – and Thursday night before it all starts, on August 30, is our annual Star Party to raise money for cancer research. A few tickets are still available, but today (Tuesday August 28) is the last day they are on sale! So if you wanna come, buy those tickets right away.


I’ll also be doing something right after as well on Monday, but that will be its own post. Stay Tuned!

And in the meantime, check out my pictures from Dragon*Con 2011. It’ll be great to see everyone again!


Related Posts:

Dragon*Con 2011
Tales of DragonCon: Scalzification
Tales of DragonCon: Overview
DragonCon: Made of awesome

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: Dragon*Con

ANIMATION DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

By Phil Plait | August 17, 2012 11:00 am

Oh, that uncanny valley. Cute cartoon characters are adorable, aren’t they?

… until depicted realistically. Which is what Jared Krichevsky does. And then yikes.

Like this drawing of Morbo from Futurama, one of my favorite characters on the show:

Yegads! He’s also done other Futurama characters, like Kif, Lrrr, and Nibbler. And of course, his terrifying Zoidberg. [Note: Jared’s drawings are amazing, but some are perhaps distressing, and should be considered NSFL.]

It’s amazing how creepy these guys are "in real life". I’ve written about this before; a drawing of Homer Simpson freaked me the hell out, and I mean that in the most literal sense. Click through to that drawing of him if you dare. But don’t blame me when he haunts your dreams for all eternity.

And as for the title of this post, you should really know your meme. And watch Futurama, because if you read my blog you’ll LOVE AND OBEY HYPNOTOAD.

Tip o’ the brain slug to io9.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies

Mad Art: Giger Counter

By Phil Plait | August 15, 2012 10:18 am

What, you may ask, is this?

That, dear BAtweeps, is a Giger Counter. It’s an actual thing, built by my friend Steve D at Mad Art Lab, and he got the idea from an idle joke I recently tweeted.

Seriously. Go read the whole story behind it, and be amazed at the creativity some folks have. And to know that something I wrote as a silly joke inspired someone enough that he turned it into an actual physical object – especially a pun! – is beyond awesome. I am honored.

Get your badastro to Mars!

By Phil Plait | August 11, 2012 7:00 am

My pal Annalee Newitz over at io9 asked me to come on her show "We Come From the Future" and talk about how Mars is treated in movies. The program aired on Friday, and is up on YouTube:

That was a lot of fun! I tried to think of a movie where Mars is actually depicted correctly as it is now: low gravity, cold, almost no air. I couldn’t think of a single movie where that happens. I went on Twitter and asked the folks who follow me what they thought, and got lots of suggestions. Unfortunately, no movie suggested that I had seen was entirely accurate.

"Mission to Mars" was close, but they had a dust devil pick up astronauts and even tear one in half. Granted, it’s implied that was an outcome of alien tech, but dust devils on Mars simply aren’t that strong. Also, that movie got so much science wrong I don’t really feel like cutting it much slack.

Most other movies forgo showing Mars’s 0.38 Earth gravity due to the difficulty in portraying it well. Some, like "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" – which I loved as a kid – gives Mars enough air to breathe if you take oxygen supplements. I’ll note that I also just saw "John Carter" and actually quite liked it. I knew it was epic, sweeping fantasy going in, so I was able to not worry too much about the scientific booboos.

Doctor Who has had several episodes take place on Mars including the recent "Waters of Mars". That too was close – the Doctor was in a spacesuit – but gravity was clearly Earth-normal. Sigh.

A lot of people suggested "Watchmen", but only a few minutes were on Mars, and the gravity was unclear. Also, I suspect that Dr. Manhattan could’ve manipulated the gravity, so it doesn’t really count.

At the end of the show, Annalee challenged HBO to make a good Mars series. The obvious place to start is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars trilogy. And unlike Game of Thrones, they wouldn’t have to wait for more books to be written!

Post Script: I’ve reviewed the science in lots of movies, including a few dealing with Mars. Here are my reviews of Red Planet and Mission to Mars.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Debunking, Geekery, SciFi, TV/Movies

2001: A Space Thriller

By Phil Plait | July 30, 2012 12:15 pm

I have no reason to post this, other than it made me laugh: a trailer for the classic movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" as if it were made today.

Being pretty familiar with the movie, it was funny to see how these scenes were used out of context. Of course, doing this you can make any kids’ movie into a scary one, and any scary movie into a romantic comedy.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies

Attack of the Pluto!

By Phil Plait | July 25, 2012 1:21 pm

I was interviewed once again on the G4 TV program "Attack of the Show!" – I guess they didn’t learn their lesson the first time – where my pal Matt Mira (from Nerdist!) and I talked about planets around other stars, and whether Pluto is a planet or not.

Here’s the segment (you may need to refresh this page to load it):

I pretty much restated my case that I’ve been making about Pluto for quite some time: you can’t really define what a planet is, so the argument over whether Pluto is one or not is the wrong thing to be talking about. The fact that a fifth moon was recently found is irrelevant; "planet" is more of a concept than a defined object. Trying to draw firm borders around a fuzzy thing like this only guarantees more arguing and less light shed on the topic.

Anyway, it was a fun interview, and it’s always a good day when I can get one good zinger in, especially at Matt’s expense.


Related Posts:

Mars Attacks of the Show!
In which we define what a planet is
A fifth moon for Pluto!
Shining shoes for NASA
My Nerdist episode is online!

MSM tackles the need to explore… and gets it very right

By Phil Plait | July 21, 2012 7:00 am

BABloggee Steven Avery on Twitter sent me a link to a story about astronomy done on MSNBC… and it’s great. Seriously, it’s worth the 11:30 to watch it. They show not just what we’re doing, but why we’re doing it. It’s rare for any mainstream medium to cover this well, but it’s extraordinary that they delve into the philosophy and sheer joy of exploration.

[You may need to refresh this page to get the video to load.]

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fantastic. The short segment after, with Brian Williams talking to Harry Smith is simply wonderful. It’s uplifting to see two news people talking about how much they love this sort of thing. I wish we had more of this. I spend a lot of time shaking my head and gritting my teeth over science coverage in the news in this country, so something like this is a breath of fresh air so sweet it’s staggering.


Related Posts:

Debating Space
Did a meteor plunge into the ocean near Perth? I’m thinking no.
Wall Street Journal: neutrinos show climate change isn’t real
Big Picture Science: climate change denial on Fox News
Homeopathy slammed by Australian TV news show

MORE ABOUT: ALMA, MSNBC

Mars Attacks of the Show

By Phil Plait | July 20, 2012 6:30 am

On Tuesday, July 17, I was a guest (via Skype) on G4TV’s "Attack of the Show". I talked with host Mo Mandel about astronaut food, and the ridiculously complex and knuckle-biting way the Mars Science Laboratory – aka Curiosity – will land on the Red Planet on August 5 (you may need to refresh the page to see the video):

[The audio quality was a bit dicey due to my headset, but hopefully next time (assuming there is one) we’ll be able to use something better.]

This was fun! I like doing somewhat more irreverent interviews sometimes. And that video we talked about – Seven Minutes of Terror – really is amazing and worth watching.

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