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See A Working Homemade Phaser In Action

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In light of the modern trend in which effects artists fake You Tube videos to prove their skills, you might be tempted to approach this video with caution. But you should probably be ready and willing to believe a man can build a working phaser, just like the ones Captain Kirk used on Star Trek, in his garage. It’s entirely possible. We’ll tell you how to build your own, after the jump.

First watch a man play Captain Kirk in his garage…

The video comes without explanation but it’s almost certainly real. What he’s pulled off is entirely possible and might be done with several different high-powered lasers (you really can buy lasers hot enough to pop a balloon) built into a plastic, toy phaser sold as a Star Trek souvenir (and complete with built-in sound effects). Besides, if someone was going to fake this with special effects, you’d think they’d have the phaser blow up something more impressive than a black rubber balloon.


Why Star Trek: Enterprise Failed And How It Nearly Worked

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When Enterprise debuted on UPN in 2001 it was with a self-assured sense of success. Sure Star Trek was in a bit of a decline after all the misfires of Voyager, but Enterprise promised to remedy all of that by taking Gene Roddenberry’s vision in a fresh direction, rewinding the clock back to where the Federation began to rediscover the spirit of adventure and exploration that used to be the hallmarks of an aging franchise now drowning in overwrought techno-babble. They were so certain this would work that, at least not until it became clear in the third season that it wouldn’t, Enterprise didn’t even bother to put the words “Star Trek” in its title. Their audience would find it, support it, and love it no matter what they called it.

They weren’t wrong. Had Enterprise turned out to be any of the things it was supposed to be, all of those things would have come true. We know that because five years after its cancellation director JJ Abrams pulled off all the things Enterprise originally promised, and more, in his 2009 movie. The 2009 Star Trek was, basically, everything Enterprise was meant to become but didn’t.

What happened? Where did they go wrong? I’ve spent the last few months re-watching every episode of the show and, seven years after its cancellation, I have answers. This is why Star Trek: Enterprise went wrong and how it so nearly didn’t.

Enterprise NX-01


The USS Enterprise Sets Sail On Her Last Voyage

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The Enterprise is, almost without question, the most legendary starship in pop culture. But the name is equally legendary in military circles. Eight naval vessels have born the name Enterprise and served with distinction. During World War II the seventh Enterprise was one of the first to respond after Pearl Harbor and one of only three US carriers to survive the entire war. Enterprise VII became the most decorated ship in naval history, in the process. Now the eighth and last of them, the 50 year old aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, is setting sail on her final voyage.

This Enterprise was the first ever nuclear powered aircraft carrier constructed and put into operation by the United States Navy in 1961. She’s still the longest naval vessel in the entire world. Measuring 1,123ft and weighing in at 93,284 tons, Enterprise is home to more than 4,000 sailors. She’s a floating city, with 8 nuclear reactors and her own newspaper.

The ship should be particularly familiar to sci-fi fans. Not just for the name she shares with Captain Kirk’s starship, but for her appearance in Star Trek IV: The Voyage home where Enterprise is the ship Chekov ends up infiltrating in his search through modern day Earth for a “nuclear wessel” (though that case another ship ended up doubling for the real Enterprise). She’s been in other movies too, most notably Top Gun, in which Enterprise is the carrier Tom Cruise stages from.


How Much Is Chris Pine Paid To Play Kirk?

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Chris Pine has been a hot commodity in Hollywood ever since he stepped into the shoes of Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot as a virtual unknown. But have you ever wondered what exactly somebody gets paid to take over an iconic role like Kirk? Now, thanks to a lawsuit Pine’s former agency, SDB Partners, has filed against the actor, you have a chance to find out.

In the suit, SDB Partners claims that Pine owes commission for a number of roles they secured for him (or roles they somehow made it possible for him to get). In doing so, they lay out Pine’s negoiated compensations for the films since he really broke onto the scene:

  • Star Trek (2009) – optioned for three films, with an (alleged) $1.5 million paycheck for the first film and $500,000 backend compensation should it do well enough for a second. Pine’s salary doubles to $3 million for the second film (currently in production), with the same $500,000 in backend if there’s a third. There’s also 5% earnings on any merchandise bearing his image.
  • Unstoppable (2010) – $3 million
  • Paramount’s upcoming Jack Ryan films – another three-film option, but with $4 million for the first film, $8 million for the second, and $12 million for the third (plus an unspecified backend)
  • This Means War (2012) – $5 million, with “up to $1 million in deferred compensation based on box office”

You can read more about the lawsuit over on The Hollywood Reporter, including the email Pine sent to break it off with SDB. The agency claims it’s an abrupt and unwarranted termination, but it sounds pretty reasonable. I guess it’s not really in your best interest to attest to the reasonability of the person you’re suing for hundreds of thousands of dollars, though.


The 10 Best Alternate Universes In Sci-Fi

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Whether they’re created by time travel or simply by the possibilities presented by the roll of a dice, some of the best moments in science fiction have happened while hopping between parallel worlds. Sometimes alternate dimensions are a place of unspeakable evil, other times they’re a perfect example of what might have happened had we gotten it right the first time. These are the ten best alternate dimensions in science fiction.

The Mirror Universe as seen in the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”
Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror” universe episode made such an indelible mark on our culture when it debuted in 1967 that it’s still the default way of explaining alternate dimensions, in just about any context. Like all the best original Trek episodes, it still holds up.

It revolves around a transporter accident which sends Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura to a nearly identical, yet fundamentally different universe. There the Enterprise is the tool of an organization called The Empire, which uses it to murder and threaten anyone who opposes it. They must attempt to blend in with a crew full of bloodthirsty killers, including an evil, goatee wearing Spock, while looking for a way to get back to their own universe without actually having to commit genocide. Other Star Trek series went on to visit the Mirror Universe, but none of them ever did it as well as they did it the first time. Remember to put on a goatee the next time you want to do something evil, then blame it all on your Mirror Universe counterpart if you get caught.

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The Next Generation Hits Blu-Ray This Week in Science Fiction

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level
Blu-Ray, Tuesday 1/31

Yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation finally hits Blu-ray this week. Unfortunately, not in the way you might prefer. What arrives today is the Next Level set, basically a sampler that includes four episodes to showcase just how impressive the cleaned up episodes look (check out this earlier story to see for yourself). Individual season sets are supposed to be arriving beginning sometime this year, so the devoted fan will likely want to save their cash. If you absolutely must have some high-def TNG in your collection right now, The Next Level will at least give you some top-notch episodes. The set includes the two-part pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint” (the one with the space jellyfish), “The Inner Light” (the one with Picard’s flute), and “Sins of the Father” (the one with Worf’s Klingon problems). Each episode has been restored and remastered into full 1080p and 7.1 sound, so there’s no question that this is the best The Next Generation has ever looked, and that’s why it’s our GFR Pick of the Week.