Tag: Blastr

Con and Prometheus

By Phil Plait | June 18, 2012 1:39 pm

So a week or so ago I went to the movies and watched Prometheus. While I didn’t hate it unequivocally as a lot of people seem to, I didn’t love it without reservations either. On the Alien sliding scale, it was better than being attacked by a face hugger, but worse than listening to Hudson complaining about being a space marine.

I think there were some really good things about the movie, including many of the over-arching themes, but the problem wound up being in the details. And by "details" I mean "science", for the most part. At some point though, the details are the plot, especially when the movie revolves around those points.

So I wrote up some thoughts and sent them over to the good folks at Blastr, who added some pictures from the movie and let me rant. After my first draft, I edited it, and then again, and it was still 1300 words — it’s hard to do a good/bad analysis of plot points without racking up quadruple-digit essays, so I left a lot of stuff out that I thought was cool, as well as stuff that — haha — bugged me. Think of the article as an analytical sampling of the movie science.

Of course, there are spoilers flying as furiously as pressurized acidic blood there, so if you haven’t seen the movie, you might not want to read it. And if you have, feel free to leave comments there! The discussions I’m reading about the movie are actually pretty interesting, so I’m curious to know what everyone thought.


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MORE ABOUT: alen, Blastr, Prometheus

Asteroid, mine

By Phil Plait | May 9, 2012 10:45 am

I write a sporadically monthly column for Blastr, the science/science fiction web news portal for the SyFy channel. My latest is about asteroid mining — the company Planetary Resources announced recently they have big plans to Go Where No Mine Has Gone before, and I give it the once over.

As I said when I wrote about this earlier, I’m enthusiastic about it, but I’d like to see details. But I’ll say that the first few steps the company wants to take make a great deal of sense to me.

And hey, if you speak French — je ne pas parles merci bleh bleh PeeWee — the French newspaper 20 Minutes has an interview with me about all this as well. I think I come off sounding really smart, because I can’t understand a word of the interview.

More of my Blastr articles are listed below, too. I seem to have a predilection for destruction. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll write about unicorns and rainbows next.

Oh, wait.


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- Blastr: In which I vaporize the Moon
- Blastr: Invasion Earth!
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Humor, Piece of mind, Space

Blastr: In which I vaporize the Moon

By Phil Plait | March 20, 2012 10:17 am

I write a (very semi) monthly column for Blastr, the online portal for the SyFy Channel, and my latest article strikes close to my geeky heart.

When I was a kid I loved loved loved the TV show "Space: 1999". The premise of the show is that a nuclear waste accident blasts the Moon out of Earth orbit and into deep space, where weird unexplained hijinks ensue. Back then the scientific basis of the show didn’t bother me, but when I became a high-falutin’ science type, I wondered: how much energy would it take to hurl the Moon away from the solar system? And what would happen if it did?

The answer would not have made 13-year-old me happy. But as an adult I love playing with the physics and math, and you might as well admit you’re dying to know. So go read my article, and be glad our Moon has a nice, stable orbit right here around good ol’ planet Earth.


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- Blastr: Invasion Earth!
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- Big budget movies that got their science right
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Geekery, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: Blastr, Moon, Space:1999, SyFy

Blastr: Invasion Earth!

By Phil Plait | December 23, 2011 7:00 am

I watched "Battle: Los Angeles" recently, a movie about aliens invading the Earth. It wasn’t terrible, and it wasn’t great. It was watchable, and worked sufficiently well in lowering our supply of popcorn at Chez BA.

But like every alien invasion movie I see, there’s one small, really eensy-weensy problem: the reason they give for the invasion itself was dumb. [SPOILER] They came to steal our water? And use it for fuel? Say WHA?

Ignoring the silly idea of using water for fuel — that’s got physics exactly backwards, since you get energy out of combining oxygen and hydrogen to make water, and it takes energy to crack them apart — there’s an even bigger problem…

… which I won’t tell you here, because I go into all sorts of detail in my latest Blastr article, 6 Reasons Why Aliens Would NEVER Invade Earth. Mind you, I’m not talking about aliens just coming here to shoot the breeze, but aliens coming here to shoot us. It’s hard to think of a good reason they’d do so, and certainly the reasons given in pretty much every movie don’t make sense. And I have a real problem with just how bad aliens are at taking over. Wiping us out should be pretty easy; heck, I wrote a whole other Blastr article about that, too.

So head on over there and give it a read. Agree, disagree? Leave a comment there, too. But if you disagree, be nice: I’m way better at wiping out life on Earth than any Hollywood alien could hope to be.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: alien invasion, Blastr

Blastr: So, you wanna blow up the Earth?

By Phil Plait | September 13, 2011 1:00 pm

Blowing up a planet is hard. Really, really, really, really hard. In fact, if you had one "really" in that sentence for every Joule of energy it would take to make the Earth all explodey, you’d need more than 2 x 1032 of them. That’s a lot of "really"s.

I actually calculated that number using some basic physics and math, and then decided to write an entire article around it, which is now up on Blastr. It doesn’t matter how big a supervillain you are, blowing up a planet is next to impossible, despite the non-existence of Ceti Alpha 6.

There are ways of tearing a planet apart, actually, but I didn’t want the article to go on too long, and I figure exploding one versus ripping it apart are different things. Maybe I’ll do a follow up article. And really, why blow it up at all? If you want to kill everything on it, just set up a massive ad campaign for hair spray, sell the inhabitants a billion cans of the stuff, and then sit back and wait for them to destroy their ozone layer. Done and done.

[P.S. Today marks the 12th anniversary, ironically, of the Moon being blasted out of Earth orbit. Happy Breakaway day!]


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MORE ABOUT: Blastr, planet

Blastr: My favorite TV scientists

By Phil Plait | June 17, 2011 10:25 am

Good news, everyone!

I’ve written a new article for Blastr, the news and opinion web portal for the SyFy channel. This one is "7 TV scientists that even real scientists approve of", and is essentially my Top 6 (with a tie for second place, bringing it to 7) favorite fictional scientists on TV. The picture here may be something of a spoiler for one of them. Whaaaa?

I originally wrote the article as my favorite astronomers on TV, but decided to expand it to all scientists. That didn’t change my list much; it just made it easier to include a couple of folks. The problem with a list like this is, first, keeping it short — there are a lot of potential candidates. I got around that by adding an Honorable Mention at the bottom of each section.

Also, it’s hard to remember everyone! For example, several commenters on the article point out I didn’t include Walter Bishop from Fringe, and I have to cop to that one. I really like Walter, and to be honest the reason I didn’t include him is because of my initial astronomer prejudice, plus I haven’t watched the show in a while! I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the season finale because I’m trying to finish out Stargate Atlantis and the latest Doctor Who episodes.

And, oh yeah, having a life, too. So much TV to watch! But the weather’s nice in Boulder, and my bike gets so lonely…

Anyway, go give it a read and leave a comment there if you love it or hate it, or want to chastise me for leaving off some scientist or another.

And maybe I’ll have to do this same thing for movie scientists, too. After all, Clayton Forrester is top man in nuclear and astrophysics! He knows all about meteors!


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

Blastroid

By Phil Plait | March 31, 2011 12:30 pm

I have a new article up on Blastr, the SyFy channel’s web site for news and info and scifi-y stuff.

The article is about asteroid impacts, and the lack of Hollywood accuracy thereof. I take a typical movie synopsis and destroy it plot device by plot device. It’s like taking all my movie reviews and condensing them down into one run-on snark.

And yes, I know that the illustration for the article (seen here) is scientifically inaccurate. I know what you’re thinking; it’s so obvious: no asteroid is actually flying saucer shaped! At least, that’s what they want you to think*.

So go over there, read the article, and leave your own complaints in the comments. I promise I will read them all and take them into consideration.


* Dear readers with an impaired sense of humor: I know that’s not really how the picture is scientifically inaccurate. Of course, the actual mistake is that you should see thousands of stars in the background.

No I won’t.


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MORE ABOUT: asteroids, Blastr, SyFy

Blastr: Other than that, Spock, how was the movie?

By Phil Plait | January 27, 2011 2:37 pm

I write a (more or less) monthly column for Blastr, the SyFy channel’s portal for science fiction, fact, and speculation. My articles deal with the science of science fiction, and in that vein my latest is the Top Five astronomy screwups in movies that should’ve known better.

I know, that might seem like an impossible choice, which is why I added that last bit. Picking the five worst mistakes would look like this:

5) Armageddon
4) Armageddon
3) Armageddon
2) Armageddon, and
1) Armageddon

(and I’m not sure there exist enough integers to cover all of that movie’s mistakes).

So I modified it by picking movies that really shouldn’t have made the gaffes in the first place. My number one pick was a mistake that really, in the scheme of things, wasn’t so bad, but given the movie itself… well, you’ll just have to go over there and read it for yourself.

And I know my audience: there’s probably not a single person on the planet who agrees with me on the list, whether it’s the choices or the order. Love it? Hate it? Leave a comment, and maybe I’ll do another article: "Movies That Should’ve Known Better, 6 – 10".


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MORE ABOUT: Blastr

How to motivate a geek

By Phil Plait | November 10, 2010 11:00 am

How do you motivate a geek? With geek motivational posters of course!

doctorwho_motivation

I’ve seen a few of these before, but Blastr has 16 in total. If you’re a geek — and you are — then you’ll like ‘em.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Geekery, Humor, SciFi
MORE ABOUT: Blastr

Blastr: I Was A Zombie For Science

By Phil Plait | October 28, 2010 9:40 am

blastr_zombie_graphicI write a roughly monthly article about the science of science fiction for Blastr, SyFy Channel’s online portal for news and views. Just in time for Halloween, my new article is up: Scientist uses his brains to explain how to make zombies plausible. I’ve been thinking about zombies a bit lately — I’ve been eating up* books about them too — and thought it would make a fun topic for Blastr.

May I add? Coolest. Artwork. EVER! My kudos to the Blastr art department for the awesome and awesomely clever graphic to go with the text!


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- Blastr post: Why you’ll never meet an alien
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- Big budget movies that got their science right




* Haha.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: Blastr, zombies
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