Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is There A Star Trek Like Force Field Wrapped Around The Earth?

Even though it is a relatively recent discovery, will scientists be able to further explain why there is a Star Trek-like force field currently wrapped around planet earth?

By: Ringo Bones

As published back in November 30, 2014, a team of American scientists had just recently discovered that planet Earth is apparently encased in an invisible force field that the team compared to with the “shields” featured in the iconic TV science fiction show Star Trek. The barrier is located 7,200 miles above the Earth’s surface and blocks high energy electrons incoming from the Sun and elsewhere in the cosmos but the high radiation cloud that results might pose a threat to astronauts and the sensitive electronics of satellites traversing this region for prolonged periods.

Scientists identified an “extremely sharp” boundary within the Van Allen Radiation Belts as two large doughnut-shaped rings held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field that are filled by fast-moving energetic particles. Lead researcher Professor Daniel Baker, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “It’s almost like these electrons are running into a glass wall in space. Somewhat like the shields created by the force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

The team originally thought the highly charged electrons, which loop around the Earth at more than 100,000 miles per second, would slowly drift downward into the upper atmosphere. But a pair of probes launched in 2012 to investigate the Van Allen Belt showed that the electrons are stopped before they get that far.
The nature of the force field remains an unsolved mystery. It does not appear to be linked to the magnetic field lines or human-generated radio signals and the scientists are not convinced that a cloud of cold electrically charged gas called the plasmasphere that stretches thousands of miles out into the outer Van Allen Belt can fully explain the phenomenon either.

“Things we thought in the past were truly simply are not correct”, Baker said: “It is for this reason that I cite the great American philosopher Yogi Berra who said, ‘You can observe a lot just by looking.’ Our new instruments allow us to look in ways we never could before.”

Baker added: “I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes.” The research is reported in the journal Nature. But unlike the known Earth's magnetic field that enabled the Van Allen Radiation Belt to exist, the force fields and other "advanced fields" featured on the iconic TV series Star Trek seems to be created by a point source, or monopolar / magnetic monopole based technology, field generators - as opposed to via a north and south magnetic field or positive and negative electrically charged fields of the ones scientists are currently familiar with.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Elim Garak: The Only Paedophile In The Star Trek Universe?

Every Star Trek fan worth his or her salt is very much familiar with the seediness of Deep Space Nine, but is the Cardassian Elim Garak the only confirmed “paedophile” in this 1990s era Star Trek series spinoff?

By: Ringo Bones

Often cited by snarky science fiction critics as a mere “sci-fi soap opera” - inexplicably, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine still managed to become one of the longest-running spinoff of the original Star Trek TV series started by Gene Roddenberry back in 1966. And every dedicated Star Trek fan worth his or her salt is very familiar with the seediness of the Benjamin Sisko commanded space station called Deep Space Nine that’s never found the closer one gets back to the United Federation of Planets headquarters in planet Earth’s San Francisco. But is the Cardassian Elim Garak (played by actor Andrew Robinson) of Deep Space Nine the only confirmed “paedophile” in the Star Trek universe?

Garak’s “paedophile” status was first noticed when the half Bajoran – half Cardassian named Tora Ziyel (played by a young Cyia Batten when she first appeared)  appeared in Deep Space Nine in the episode titled “Indiscretion” and then in “Return to Grace”. Tora Ziyel was an illegitimate love-child of high ranking Cardassian officer Gul Dukat (Skrain Dukat) and a Bajoran named Tora Naprem during the Cardassian occupation of the planet Bajor. A time when the space station that was renamed Deep Space Nine when Benjamin Sisko assumed command was still known by its Cardassian name – Terok Nor.

Assuming that Tora Zyal was around 15 to 16 years of age when she first appeared on DS-9 and as played by Cyia Batted and assuming she is still of under-age status if one distinction still exists in the 24th Century Star Trek universe, many regular viewers of Deep Space Nine did begin to wonder given that Garak was starring at her a little funny during a tennis match on the space station which even DS-9’s doctor-in-residence Dr. Julian Bashir (played by Alexander Siddig) even started to notice. So obvious was Garak’s intentions that Dr. Bashir even warned him and that DS-9’s security chief Major Kira won’t take kindly to such inappropriate actions and would certainly “kick Garak’s ass”.

Though the sexual tension between Garak and Tora Ziyal is so thick from the viewer’s perspective (thicker than the tension between 2013 era Billy Ray Cyrus and daughter Miley Cyrus?) it seems that this could be safely assumed the screenwriter’s inspiration for the movie American Beauty that Garak began to look like some dirty old man out to seduce an under-age teen girl. But that “tension” got diffused when the relationship between the two evolved into some “Platonism” given that they are the only two Cardassians who are permanently living on the Space Station. In the later DS-9 episodes, towards the series’ finale – both Elim Garak and Tora Ziyal became lovers – though Tora Ziyal is has now grown older and played by “older” actors like Tracy Middendorf and Melanie Smith. It seems though that Elim Garak’s paedophilia is only a “phase” – a “mid-life crisis” perhaps? 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lt. Mae Jemison: The Only Star Trek TNG Cast-Member Who’s Been to Space?

Given that she became a mission specialist on NASA’s STS-47 Space Shuttle mission back in September 12, 1992, is Lt. Mae Jemison the only Star Trek TNG cast-member who’s actually been to space?

By: Ringo Bones

Though James “Scotty” Doohan only experienced space travel posthumously, it seems like Lt. Mae Jemison is the only Star Trek: The Next Generation – or any Star Trek series – who actually been to space and returned safely to Earth. As a mission specialist on the STS-47 NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour back in September 12 to September 20, 1992, it seems like Jemison is by default the only space-faring Star Trek cast member. 

Born Mae Carol Jemison back in October 17, 1956, she cites Lt. Uhura as the one who inspired her to become an astronaut. Jemison obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981 from Cornell Medical College – now Weill Medical College of Cornell University. After her medical education and a brief general practice, Jemison also served in the Peace Corps from 1985 to 1987 and then was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps after she was inspired by astronaut Sally Ride first mission back in 1983 and applied for NASA's astronaut corps.

Jemison was part of the first batch of astronauts that got accepted after the Challenger disaster. Even though she mentioned that she didn’t adjust to weightlessness well at first, but the view of the planet Earth from low earth orbit was worth is she says. 

In 1993, Jemison appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation after LeVar Burton – who plays Geordi LaFroge in the TV series - found out that she was a big Star Trek fan. She appeared as Lieutenant Palmer in the TNG episode titled Second Chances and Jemison has since gained the distinction as the only real astronaut to ever appear on Star Trek TNG.