This blog is nearly four years old (I started on July 4th, 2011). This post makes it exactly 500 posts here on Logos Con Carne. To commemorate it, I’m giving myself the 500 Odometer Award (which I built myself from various electrons I had laying around).
As part of the party, this post consists of miscellaneous odds and ends that have intrigued me lately. I’ll leave it to you to decide which are the odds and which are the ends.
If they completely collapsed right now, fans of the Minnesota Twins would still have seen a better season than they have since 2010. If they could somehow continue playing at their current level, they could win 90+ games rather than losing that many as they have every season since then.
If they just win every other game (playing .500 ball), they’ll win 83 games and still end up with a much better record than they’ve seen in four years. They’re currently four games above the .500 mark — something fans haven’t seen since the end of 2010!
Whatever the case, the last few weeks have us jumping for joy!
Movies, for a variety of reasons, are hard to make. They’re even harder to get right. Science fiction and fantasy are also hard to get right — in addition to all the other challenges of storytelling, they require much more imagination and invention than fiction based on reality or history. This, in large part, accounts for the truth of Sturgeon’s Law.
So it’s not often that a science fiction movie gets all the notes exactly right. Many are lucky if they have just a few good ones that make the film worth seeing. A very rare few get enough right to make an SF film notable. (For my money, Elysium and Oblivion are recent good examples, and Ender’s Game and Edge of Tomorrow weren’t bad.)
And once in a blue moon a film gets it so right that the horse sings.
One Million Dollars!
Sometimes — and I guess I should count my blessings that it’s only sometimes — I’m really slow on the uptake. Slow, as in not noticing something that’s right in front of my face. Embarrassingly slow. For example, it took me forever to get the joke behind the Charmin bears hawking toilet paper.
And as much as I love puns, some of them have sailed right over my head without mussing my hair. For someone who tries hard to pay attention to stuff, it really lets the wind out of your sails.
So just imagine my chagrin when I was halfway through the second movie before I realized they both had “million” in their titles!
Minnesota Twins fans have enjoyed a wonderful four-day weekend to begin the merry month of May! After a very rough and disappointing first week, the Twins have been playing increasingly better baseball, and topped it off by sweeping the Chicago White Sox in a four-game home stand.
The icing on the cake was an absolutely gorgeous spring weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. The Thursday and Friday evening games were a little cooler with temps in the mid-60s, but Minnesotans are hardy people. We wear shorts and tee-shirts in 40-degrees!
The question with the Twins these days is: Can this possibly continue?
For my money, Sir Terry Pratchett is the greatest fantasy author ever. That includes Tolkien, Verne, Wells, Burroughs, and Howard. (Martin isn’t even in this conversation to my mind, but then neither is Lucas.) Pratchett’s work has incredible social relevance. His keen sense of people, his deft hand with humor, and his ability to weave a rich, textured story as engaging as it is fantastic, gives his work a substance that sticks to the soul.
A recurring theme in Pratchett is the power — and the reality — of belief. Is Superman real? Or Sherlock Holmes? If millions believe in them, if so many stories are told about them, how can they not be real? One might say the same of all the gods we worship.
There’s also the bit about the frogs.
We’re finally sliding into home plate in this series (it’s baseball season, so I get to use baseball metaphors now). After spending a lot of time looking into how Special Relativity works, we’re able to at last explore how it applies to the idea of faster-the-light travel.
Last time we saw that FTL radio seems hopeless — at least at communicating between frames of reference in motion with regard to each other. It’s possible there might be a loophole for FTL communication between matched frames. (If nothing else, it may be fertile background for some science fiction.)
Today we examine the idea of FTL motion — of “warp drive!”
Over the last five weeks I’ve tried to explain and explore Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity. We’ve seen that motion, velocity, simultaneity, length, and even time, are all relative to your frame of reference and that motion changes the perceptions of those things for observers outside your frame.
All along I’ve teased the idea that the things I’m showing you demonstrate how the dream of faster-than-light (FTL) travel is (almost certainly) impossible. Despite a lot of science fiction, there probably isn’t any warp drive in our futures.
Now it’s (finally) time to find out just exactly why that is.
This week I’ve focused on the relativity of time under motion, and we’ve seen that moving very fast allows “time travel” into the future. Very handy if you don’t mind the one-way trip. What’s more, a spaceship capable of such a flight is physically possible, so it’s a “time machine” we know works!
On Monday I described how fast-moving, but short-lived, muons created high in the atmosphere live long enough to reach the ground due to time dilation. That’s just one place we see Special Relativity actually working exactly as Einstein described. For another, fast-moving particles at CERN have decay times showing they, too, have slow clocks.
As we’ll see today, light’s behavior requires time appear to run slower!