Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Osmium: The Best Radiation Shielding Material?

As the material of choice used as the radiation shielding in the warp nacelles of the first Starship Enterprise, is osmium the best radiation shielding material out there?

By: Ringo Bones

From a nuclear engineering standpoint, when the subject of using osmium as a radiation shielding material – every competent engineer will be concerned about costs. After all, even though the metal itself is not regularly flashed during the commodities segment of the NYSE – just by belonging in the platinum group of metals only makes one safely assume that osmium could be closer in price to either platinum or palladium – its other two siblings regularly monitored on the ticker tape of the commodities markets. Cost concerns aside, is osmium truly a better radiation shielding material in comparison to ones currently used – i.e. like lead, steel or concrete?

It was in the Season 2 episode of Star Trek: Enterprise titled The Catwalk – which was originally aired back in December 18, 2002 – where osmium was mentioned as the radiation shielding used in the warp nacelles of the Starship Enterprise. The subject came about because during a deadly radioactive storm in space threatens Enterprise, the entire crew took shelter in the starship’s warp nacelles which were the most shielded part of the ship against radiation. And given that most radiation shielding currently used are known for their relatively high density – i.e. lead, steel and concrete – does this mean that the densest nonradioactive we currently know, osmium at 22.5 grams per cubic centimeter at almost twice the density of lead, is the more ideal radioactive shielding material?

Using current International Atomic Energy Agency standards in commercial nuclear fission power plants – and future nuclear fusion power plants are more than likely to comply with this figure for safety of both human personnel and electronics – adequate shielding consists in reducing radiation levels to values approximately as follows: in the gamma radiation wavelengths – 2,750 Mev per square cm/second; fast neutrons – 75 neutrons per square cm/second; and thermal neutrons – 3,600 neutrons per square cm/second. For humans – and other humanoid carbon based life-forms and the electronic systems on the Starship Enterprise to perform efficiently, not to mention stay healthy, Captain Jonathan Archer would probably stick with the IAEA’s established occupational radiation level standards.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Alicia Silverstone’s Attachment Parenting: Ferengi Parenting?

 Is actress Alicia Silverstone’s version of attachment parenting might have been influenced by Star Trek’s “Ferengi Parenting”? 

By: Ringo Bones

A few months ago, actress Alicia Silverstone made headlines when a video of her pre-chewing her food before spitting it into her kid’s mouth in the name of “attachment parenting” went viral on the web and got everyone talking about the pros and cons of attachment parenting. But to us Star Trek fans, the practice of parents pre-chewing their kid’s food before “spitting” it into their mouths is eerily similar to a somewhat strange-from-our-perspective Ferengi parenting practice. 

This quirky Ferengi sociological practice was first seen when a spin of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek TV series called Deep Space Nine aired on primetime TV back around 1993. Pre-chewing of food then feeding it to their infants is not only practiced by Ferengi mothers but also of Ferengi women to their husbands and / or prospective husbands. Given that President Obama was recently “outed” as a Trekkie – i.e. Star Trek fan, does this mean that Alicia Silverstone a Trekkie too?      

Is U.S. President Barack Obama A Bona Fide Star Trek Fan?

Nobody outside the “Trekkie” community would have believed it, but does the Tweeted photo of Nichelle Nichols and President Obama proof that he is now a bona fide Star Trek fan? 

By: Ringo Bones

It’s now official folks – at least back in Thursday, April 5, 2012 when actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek TV series Tweeted a photo of herself alongside President Obama while flashing the iconic “live long and prosper” hand signal made famous by the character Mr. Spock. The photo was originally taken in late February, 2012 when Nichols visited the White House and later headed to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  

In the past, President Obama has revealed that he had a crush on Nichelle Nichols as a kid, given that she was one of the first African-American women who have a major role on a TV series back in the 1960s. So does the Tweeted photo now serve to make President Obama a bona fide “Trekkie”?