Category Archives: space & science

The Force Awakens is going to SDCC

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There will be a Hall H panel for The Force Awakens at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, July 10, StarWars.com revealed today. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and “special guests” will be present.

There are several other panels, including two for Star Wars publishing. (Del Rey will be at ‘Part 2,’ Friday at 11 a.m.)

Rogue One writer asks for science help from Neil deGrasse Tyson, prepare to be mansplained to about the term ‘space opera’

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So a few days ago, Rogue One writer Chris Weitz asked Neil deGrasse Tyson for science help. Star Wars has always had a very tentative relationship with real science – it’s just not that kind of movie, kid – so this has resulted in some spirited discussion in certain areas of fandom.

Now, by no means do I think Weitz’s question will turn out be the very lynchpin of the film, but if the dude wants to make some random thing scientifically accurate, I’m not gonna disapprove, either. After all, what is space opera but a big melting pot of genres?

Tyson hasn’t replied publicly. But he did once tell Business Insider that he never got into Star Wars. “Maybe because they made no attempt to portray real physics. At all.”

This has still made a few headlines, so if nothing else, it’s turned into a cute little stealth marketing trick.

And, for the record, @RogueOne2016 is not an official account.

Today in The Force Awakens: Six Star Wars technologies we might see for real

real-star-wars-landspeeder-split→ Popular Science points out six Star Wars technologies that may not be as far away as we think. Most shocking? There’s already a robot ball.

Why racial diversity in The Force Awakens matters.

→ Chris Taylor implores fans to stop overthinking the new teaser. Alas, it is in vain, but I’m sure he knows that.

→ Rumor corner: Jason on Making Star Wars has more thoughts on the beginning of the film, given what we heard yesterday. And there are yet more 4chan/Reddit ‘spoilers,’ including at least one direct contradiction to what we heard yesterday from the same ‘source.’

Review: National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds Star WarsIt’s that most wonderful time of the year when all the Star Wars gift books come out. So which ones are worth putting on your gift list for the year?

National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga has a fairly self-explanatory title. This book, targeted at the teenage reading level, gives you cute little stories about the adorable Angry Birds Star Wars characters, but also delves into the science associated with it. Astronomy. Physics. Science history. There’s a little bit for everyone in there. And since it’s National Geographic, you know they’ll have it right.

This is probably a fun book even if you haven’t gotten yourself aggravated by Angry Birds Star Wars, yet. (Why am I so bad at that game?) Many of the facts concern the science behind Star Wars, as well. And the graphics are bright and colorful.

Both the hardcover and paperback versions are reasonably priced. So if you’re trying to find something on the lower end for folks to get you, this would be a good one to add to your wish list.

Star Wars museum exhibits on the move!

Where-Science-Meets-Imagination-x-wingAlready thinking about travel plans for the summer and rest of 2013? The traveling museum exhibitions for Star Wars and Indiana Jones are!

Announced on Thursday with Billy Dee Williams on hand with the mayor of San Jose (yes, San Jose!), alongside Pablo Hidalgo and members of the 501st and Rebel Legions, San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation will be hosting the final stop of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition from October to next February.

Where-Science-Meets-Imagination-logoThe exhibition has been traveling around the US since 2005 (see my pictures from when it was at Santa Ana’s Discovery Science Center), and is currently wrapping up its stay at the Orlando Science Center (ends April 7). Over the summer, it will be at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis (May 25 – Sept. 2). This exhibition brings out props and costumes from the Star Wars films and connects them to real world science and technology, such as space travel, prosthetics, maglevs, and robotics.

Star Wars Identities logoMeanwhile, the Star Wars Identities exhibition, which started in 2012 in Montreal, and focuses on the concepts of identity, through origins, influences, and choices, will be ending this weekend in Edmonton’s Telus World of Science to move to Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum from May 10 to September 2.

Indiana Jones The ExhibitionFinally, the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition is wrapping up its first US stay, at Santa Ana’s Discovery Science Center, closing April 21. Presented by the National Geographic Society, it highlights the real science of archaeology, and connects it to the four Indiana Jones films with both real world artifacts and movie props, costumes, and artwork. I had a chance to see the exhibition last weekend, and provided an in-depth report earlier. While I am told that this exhibition will be moving onto a new location, it hasn’t been announced yet.

The Empire responds to White House nixing Death Star construction

Construction_of_the_Death_StarWith the White House responding to the petition to research and build a Death Star, the Empire has issued its own statement on the decision by the United State not to build a giant planet-destroying space station in a post on the StarWars.com blog.

Calling Earth an unimaginatively named planet, the press statement quotes both Governor Tarkin and Admiral Motti on their views for why our world has decided against building the Death Star, and smoothing over any concern about that design flaw that was cited by the White House.

White House responds to Death Star petition

death-star-7The White House has given an official response to the online petition “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016″, which has over 34,000 signatures. In a response entitled “This isn’t the petition you’re looking for”, Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the Office of Management and Budget, points out some of the key issues against building the not-quite-ultimate power in the universe:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

With plenty of links, Shawcross continues the response with examples of what the U.S. is doing to develop other Star Wars-esque technologies, including laser-wielding robots on other planets (Mars Rover), and fostering greater interest in STEM careers.

Probably another key consideration would be the additional security risk to prevent the Death Star plans from being stolen.

Remembering Sally Ride, first American woman in space

Today we say goodbye to a woman who inspired many, if not all of us, in Club Jade.

You can read about her life on her wiki page, her science education company website, or any of the regular news outlets.

Yes, she contributed to science, to the space shuttle program, and to science education.  You’ll read about those at the sites above.

However, it’s the stories you will not read as part of the official record that are the most important when it comes to the impact Sally Ride had on the hearts and minds of children growing up in the 80’s through today. 

Club Jade’s own Paula tweeted earlier today:

I had the honor of meeting Sally Ride when I was twelve. She encouraged me to pursue science so I could follow her to the stars.

My earliest memory of Sally Ride was seeing her picture on a wall in a classroom, with the simple note of “First American Woman in Space – 1983″.  My first report in that class was on her because of that picture and caption and it made me a fan for life.  I wanted to go to space camp, I was driven to learn more about science and technology, and I was absolutely empowered to never let anyone tell me “girls can’t do X”.  All because of Sally’s example.  Thank you Sally Ride, for giving so many of us young girls an example of what we too could achieve.

I’d like to invite you to share how she impacted your life, no matter how small, in the comments below.

Sorry, nerds: Tupac hologram at Coachella was not actually a hologram

A lot of George Lucas jokes have been made over a ‘hologram’ performance by dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella music festival on Sunday, but it wasn’t a hologram at all.

Coachella’s Tupac was a 2-D creation of Digital Domain Media Group, who won a visual effects Oscar for aging Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And it was projected using technology dating from the 19th Century:

The effect relies on an angled piece of glass in which a “ghostly” image is reflected. “A piece of glass can be both transparent and reflective at the same time, depending on how it’s situated relative to the audience,” said Mr. Steinmeyer, pointing out the secret.

In the Victorian version of the trick, the glass reflected an actual actor, situated out of sight in near the orchestra. On Sunday night, the image was projected on a piece of Mylar—a highly reflective, lightweight plastic—stretched on a clear frame.

A similar effect was used in 2003 to project an image of Frank Sinatra. Virtual Tupac may go on tour later this year with other (living) hip-hop stars