Monday, June 20, 2016

Farewell Anton Yelchin

Star Trek fans around the world were saddened with the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin.

By: Ringo Bones

Anton Yelchin was introduced to the Star Trek universe as the actor who played Pavel Chekov – first made famous by Walter Koenig in the mid 1960s era original Star Trek TV series – during the JJ Abrams reboot of the iconic science fiction franchise. Yelchin has been killed by his own car at his home in Los Angeles, police say. It struck him after rolling backwards down the steep drive at his Studio City home, pinning him against a brick postbox pillar and a security fence. He died shortly after 01:00 (08:00 GMT) on Sunday, June 19, 2016. 

Yelchin reprised his role as Pavel Chekov in a third film, Star Trek Beyond, which is due for release next month. JJ Abrams, who directed Yelchin in the first two Star Trek reboots, paid tribute on Twitter saying he was “brilliant”. Fellow Star Trek cast-mates Zachary Quinto, John Cho and even William Shatner also paid tribute. 

Anton Yelchin’s untimely death had saddened the entire Star Trek fan-base because he has yet more to offer to the iconic science fiction franchise’s ongoing trajectory. His untimely passing could “complicate” any subsequent Star Trek movies that are yet to be made. 

Yelchin’s first screen role was in the US TV drama ER in 2000 and appeared in more than a dozen TV series and films before his breakout role in 2006’s Alpha Dog. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Colonel Philip Green: Star Trek’s Most Mysterious Villain?

Despite reappearing sporadically in Star Trek: Next Generation and in a couple of episodes in Star Trek: Enterprise, why is it that Col. Green remains a “mysterious” villain to the casual Trekkie?

By: Ringo Bones 

Despite the actor Philip Pine saying that Col. Green was one of the most recognizable villains of Star Trek, it seems that to younger Trek fans – especially those born after the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired back in 1994 – Colonel Philip Green is still a relatively obscure minor character that, to them, is probably reserved for high-stakes Star Trek trivia games. But despite his picture inexplicably appearing in TNG after Data was assimilating the Dixon Hill novels prior to participating in a Holodeck role-play in the episode The Big Goodbye, and a few episodes in the 21st Century era Enterprise, why is it that Col. Philip Green is still a relatively obscure and mysterious villain to the young Trekkie? 

When he first appeared in the original Star Trek series episode titled Savage Curtain, Colonel Philip Green was a despotic militia leader on Earth in the 21st Century during World War III, Green, known for his motto: “Overwhelm and devastate,” was notorious for striking at his enemies during treaty negotiations. During the war, Green led a faction of violent eco-terrorists whose actions led to the death of 37-million people. Barely two years after a cease-fire had ended the war Green ordered the euthanasia of thousands of radiation-sickened humans so they would not pass on mutations to future generations. Green outlined his rationale by speaking to a crowd about how they must “reject the impure and cast it out.” This act was met with mixed feelings by survivors, may regarding him nothing more than a genocidal madman. Others saw him as a pragmatic visionary who “humanely” euthanized radiation-afflicted individuals, preventing those afflicted and their descendents from passing on deadly mutations and the suffering that would come to that. (ENT: “Demons”) This controversial and posthumous view of Col. Green resulted in the heated debates about him and the impact of his policies for many years; among the students of Green’s teachings, years afterward, John Frederick Paxton made use of his ideologies to lead a group known as Terra Prime in an unsuccessful bid to expel all non-humans from the Sol System in 2155 (ENT:”Terra Prime”). 

As a Star Trek fan himself, Philip Pine – the actor who played Col. Philip Green when he first appeared in Star Trek TOS – was delighted to receive the role of Green, play the part, and be associated with it. “The character of Green was well-written,” he remarked. To the first generation of Trekkies, Col. Green proved extremely popular. Although Philip Pine had previously played many villains in television productions, he found Col. Green to be most often recognized by Trekkies at the time. “I think Colonel Green is probably well-remembered because he was such an unmitigated bastard,” Pine mused. “He had no redeeming qualities at all, none. The guy’s smile was even sinister! He probably had bad teeth and they hurt. Everything about him was bad.” Col. Green’s timeline in the Star Trek universe happened way after the Eugenics Wars / Gene Roddenberry's Sino Indian War of 1992 – 1996. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Is NASA Seriously Testing A Star Trek Style Warp Drive?

Even though it may seem farfetched, but is NASA seriously testing a Star Trek style warp drive propulsion system that could someday propel a spacecraft faster than the speed of light?

By: Ringo Bones 

From naming the first Space Shuttle prototype after the starship Enterprise after a letter writing campaign from Star Trek fans to the increase in astronaut applicants after Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon, it seems that NASA’s post Apollo projects have been largely shaped by the fans of the original Star Trek TV series. But did you also know that they are currently working on a Star Trek style warp drive that could someday propel a spacecraft faster than the speed of light that could make interstellar travel a practical reality? 

Unlike Star Trek’s Zefram Cochrane who built his warp capable ship under post World War III shortages, NASA physicist Harold “Sonny” White and team had been for a number of years been working on a propulsion system based on the Star Trek warp drive based on the groundbreaking equations formulated by Prof. Miguel Alcubierre showing the feasibility of faster-than-light travel that doesn’t violate Einstein’s Special Relativity. Only this time, they are actually receiving federal government funding. 

The White-Juday warp-field interferometer is a space warping experiment to detect a microscopic instance of a warping of spacetime with the intent of creating an Alcubierre warp bubble, if possible. A research team led by Harold “Sonny” White in collaboration with Dr. Richard Juday at the NASA Johnson Space Center and Dakota State University are conducting experiments but results so far have been inconclusive. An additional experiment with an EmDrive is showing interesting results. 

The NASA research team led by Harold White and their university partners currently aim to experimentally evaluate several concepts, especially a redesigned energy-density topology as well as an implication of brane cosmology theory. If space actually were to be embedded in higher dimensions, the energy requirements could be decreased dramatically and a comparatively small energy density could already lead to measurable – i.e. using an interferometer – curvature of spacetime. The theoretical framework for the experiment dates back to work by Harold White from 2003 as well as work by White and Eric W. Davis from 2006 that was published in the American Institute of Physics, where they also consider how baryonic matter could, at least mathematically, adopt characteristics of dark energy. In the process, they described how a toroidal positive energy density may result in a spherical negative-pressure region, possibly eliminating the need for actual exotic matter. 

The NASA research team has postulated that their findings could reduce the energy requirements for a spaceship moving at ten times faster than the speed of light from the mass-energy equivalent of the planet Jupiter to that of the Voyager 1 spacecraft or less. By harnessing the physics of cosmic inflation, future spaceships crafted to satisfy the laws of these mathematical equations may actually be able to get somewhere unthinkably fast – and without adverse effects. Also, physicist and Earth Tech CEO Harold E. Puthoff explained that contrary to widespread belief that even the highly blue-shifted light seen on board such a spaceship would not fry its crew, being bathed in strong ultraviolet light and X-rays. It would however be dangerous to anyone seeing it fly closely.