I have a feeling we’ll be debating the merits of the Mars One plan for the next decade or so, and perhaps even after the actual colonization mission is underway (if that indeed happens). I’ve been pretty critical about certain aspects of the plan, namely the reality television funding model, and people who know way more about the science than I do have expressed skepticism about whether the current mission model is feasible. The UAE even issued a fatwa against Muslims traveling to Mars, likening the endeavor to suicide. But not everyone is down on the idea of sending human colonists on a one-way trip to Mars. On Wednesday, the idea received got vocal support from a pretty compelling person: Buzz Aldrin.
Last night The Simpsons’ long line of notable guest stars checked author Harlan Ellison off its Bucket List, alongside a return appearance from Stan “The Man” Lee. Now, don’t assume that just because I’m using a Bucket List metaphor, I think Simpsons is on its death bed. No, I’m suggesting Simpsons should have been mercifully put down ages ago. But while the show’s writing has spiraled down a well of diminishing returns, it continues to draw all manner of notable persons into the jaundiced world of Springfield. Over the years that’s included quite a few famous faces from the worlds of science and science fiction. Here’s the cream of that crop from The Simpsons’ two and a half decades (so far) of life.
Appearances: “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” (1991), “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” (1999), “A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love” (2001)
Star Trek actor/Facebook staple George Takei has popped up in Simpsons several times over the years, but unlike a lot of the names on this list, he’s never appeared playing himself. He first popped up in “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” lending his distinctive voice to Akira, a waiter at a sushi restaurant who serves Homer a fugu blowfish, an extremely venomous dish that must be prepared by a master sushi chef or risk killing its eater. (Akira has appeared other times in the show, but was voiced by Hank Azaria on those occasions.) Takei later voiced Wink, the host of a Japanese game show called Super Happy Smile Time Family Wish Show and and an unnamed waiter in a 2001 episode.
Homer: There’s got to be something I haven’t tried. Huh? Hey, hey, what’s this? Fugu!
Akira: (Gasps.) It is a blowfish, sir. But I should warn you that one–
Homer: Come on, pal. Fugu me!
Though there is the sporadic nut in the crowd with nothing but negative things to say, the public’s onion about Alfonso Cuaro&oacture;’s space thriller Gravity has been overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. (Like our own Brent’s glowing review.) All one needs to see is the multitude of blurbs the ad campaign has been using to shove all that positivity down people’s throats. But none of us print and online journalists have been to space, so what do we know, right? You know who has been to space and is increasingly becoming the go-to guest film reviewer in situations like this? Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, that’s who. And his take on the film, as printed in The Hollywood Reporter, is just as commendatory as everything else. What more could one need to be inspired to watch this movie?
“It was a real blast pretending that people were stranded in me. I looked awesome.” – Outer Space.
That’s not a real quote, but this one is.
‘I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the reality of zero gravity,’ said Aldrin. ‘Going through the space station was done just the way that I’ve seen people do it in reality. The spinning is going to happen — maybe not quite that vigorous — but certainly we’ve been fortunate that people haven’t been in those situations yet. I think it reminds us that there really are hazards in the space business, especially in activities outside the spacecraft.
It’s two days after the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and eventual transformation of the moon into mankind’s toilet/golf course in the sky, but we’re not done celebrating just yet. The fabulous people at Jalopnik posted a slew of pictures from the Apollo 11 mission that stray beyond the shots you’re used to seeing of the historic event.
The photographs come courtesy of the snap-happy Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who made themselves familiar with cameras throughout the mission. And why wouldn’t they? People inundate social media with images of the cupcakes they’ve made and how their dogs look while they sleep with their legs in the air, so it’s only natural that humanity’s greatest achievement in space would warrant a couple more shots than just the moon man and his flag that became MTV’s logo so many years ago.
The pictures are in high definition, which gives them all stunning depth, but I’m sure conspiracy theorists would also say they look more staged than ever. But these life trolls should probably look elsewhere for like-minded nuts. Take a peek at a few more below, and hit the link for more.
Over 40 years after astronaut Buzz Aldrin first become a household name with that whole “going to the moon for the first time in human history” jazz, the 83-year-old is set to step right back into the spotlight. Or at least behind the scenes of the spotlight.
Aldrin is hard at work adapting his celebrated 1996 novel Encounter With Tiber, which eh co-wrote with author John Barnes, into a television series. While it would seem to be a challenging text to transform into episodic TV, don’t let anybody fool you into thinking Aldrin has doubts about it. Here’s what the legendary astronaut has to say:
I believe that it will be better than Star Trek or Star Wars because it is more realistic, it deals with real kind of beings a long time ago that had realistic travel capabilities and they weren’t shooting people up or anything. It is genuine progression of exploration to the point where we are now, in our thinking. And [in the story] we think about getting that new information that the fictitious aliens left that we found and gave us the knowledge to travel from our sun to nearby stars… I think what we are doing will progressively be a lot more realistic.
When Buzz Aldrin puts in his two cents about the realism of how space travel is portrayed in a movie, it’s worth at least 10 cents. And while nobody really needed an explanation of why M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth wasn’t the most realistic movie out this year, it’s better than hearing a non-astronaut say it. (But seriously, read our review.)
Aldrin got a chance to see the film at its New York premiere and spoke with the Huffington Post at an event where he was a guest of honor. Though he enjoyed the set design and the family dynamic between Will Smith and Jaden, he felt the film was too much of a “shoot-em-up,” joking that he would hope “the aliens are more peaceful than they are in this film, wherever they are.” But his main point of contention is one of the oldest errors in sci-fi: sounds in space.
“There was a lot of noise,” he said of After Earth. “In space, you don’t get that much noise…Noise doesn’t propagate in a vacuum. We talked over headsets. Fortunately, we were free of static. We could communicate with each other pretty clearly, and mission control, though we were 50,000 miles away.” Should we just chalk another checkmark next to Joss Whedon’s name for offering complete silence in space on Firefly? I think we shall. Maybe if they’d have kept to the film’s original pitch, this wouldn’t have been an issue and we wouldn’t have spent so much time talking about a damned Shyamalan movie.