Tag Archives: Prometheus

Ridley Scott Lied to Me (Ask a Guy in an Unrelated Field)

Every now and then science comes up in the news. Since none of us at The Cool Ship are scientists, we turn to the one science-y person we know – Colleen’s husband, Mike Padgen. Mike is proud to be The Cool Ship’s resident non-expert and our Guy in an Unrelated Field.

So you finally got around to watching Prometheus when your wife was out of town. What did you think of it?

It was fine. I enjoyed a lot of it. It was well made, but the whole time I kept thinking, “When is this guy going to show up?”

Georgio from tumblr

Really, Ridley Scott? Image courtesy of Tumblr.

The Ancient Aliens guy?

Yeah. It’s just such a silly show – “Why would these people have done this? How could this happen? Must’ve been aliens!” To make a serious movie using those ideas, it’s just boring to me. The possible answers to how life can come from non-life and, for that matter, what distinguishes life from non-life, are so much more fascinating than anything conclusions we could possibly draw by saying, “Must’ve been aliens!”

So then, if Ridley Scott is lying to us and it wasn’t aliens, how did life on Earth come about?

Well, it’s important to preface the rest of what I’m going to say with the fact that we will never know exactly how it happened on Earth. What we can know (even if they’re not fully understood as of yet) are plausible mechanisms by which the conditions on Earth 3.8 billion years ago (or so) would yield simple, self replicating life forms.

Life on Earth started 3.8 billion years ago?

Well, there’s no exact date, but it seems to have started soon after the Earth cooled enough to have liquid water on it, which happened when the Earth was only a few hundred million years old. Interestingly, the fact that life came about fairly quickly on Earth lends credence to the idea that life is common throughout the universe, even though we have no direct evidence of that.

So how could non-life become life?

The primordial soup, approximated in the famous Miller-Urey experiment, is not exactly right. One missing piece in that hypothesis is the lack of thermodynamic push – there is nothing pushing the ingredients in the soup to sustainably react with each other. Instead, it is thought that life originated in hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the sea, which provide both reactive hydrogen and a state of thermal disequilibrium that can drive the formation of complex molecules. The porous rocks in these vents contain small compartments that allow the organic molecules to accumulate, allowing further reactions to occur.

Since all life on this planet uses DNA to store genetic information, it is thought that the last universal common ancestor must have also had DNA. However, the very first self replicators could not have used DNA due to a chicken-and-egg type problem. The proteins that duplicate DNA are also encoded by that DNA. There is no selective pressure that would ensure that the genes responsible for duplication are maintained. It has therefore been posited that the initial life forms on this planet used RNA, which is able to catalyze its own duplication.

But where did the RNA come from?

where did the lighter fluid come from

Come to think of it, where did the lighter fluid come from too?

Several organic molecules, including precursors of amino acids and sugar, can be formed in space and have been found on asteroids and meteors. The period before life arose, the Earth was bombarded with asteroids, so these interstellar organic molecules were delivered from space.

So it was aliens!

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. These organic molecules form spontaneously in space, and with the right conditions on earth, can be organized into nucleic acids and proteins and all the other stuff life needs to exist. There is no infinite regression required.

Sounds like it was aliens.

Ugh.

Georgio from tumblr

Called it.

Tagged , , , ,

Who Doesn’t Love Giant Robots? (or The Awesomeness of Pacific Rim)

I’m sure that in the back of everyone’s mind there has always been the question of what the results would be if you made a grown-up version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with a cast featuring incredible talents. Well, how about if that film starred Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Ron Perlman(Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy), Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus), with Guillermo del Toro directing? On July 12th, you’ll have to wonder no longer because once Pacific Rim hits theaters, all of your questions will be answered.

Pacific Rim poster featuring a Jaeger. (image source: Legendary/Warner Bros.)

Pacific Rim poster featuring a Jaeger. (image source: Legendary/Warner Bros.)

By now, every die-hard sci-fi fan has seen the Wondercon trailer for Pacific Rim. If you haven’t, why not?! It’s freakin’ amazing! One of the most exciting trailers for potentially one of the most fantastic films of all time.

And, no lie, when you watch it, you’ll think to yourself, “This looks like the Power Rangers but better. So much better. Leaps and bounds better.” I’ve waited so long for something like this. And since the wonderful wizard of odd, Mr. Guillermo del Toro, is directing the film, I’m positive the wait will be well worth it. Oh, and it’ll be in 3D! Normally I don’t get excited about 3D,a but I’m pretty stoked about this.

Here’s the plot, courtesy of Wikipedia:

[In the near future, giant monsters identified as “Kaiju” arise from a crevice in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a war which takes millions of lives and quickly consumes humanity’s resources. To combat this new threat, a special type of weapon is designed: massive robots, known as Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. As time passes, even the powerful Jaegers prove almost defenseless in the face of a relentless enemy. On its last stand and on the verge of defeat, the remaining defending forces of mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to pilot a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the early trials of the mechanical titans. Together, they must stand as the human race’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.]

How does that not sound like the greatest giant robot movie ever? It’ll be some of the best giant monster versus giant robot fighting since Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. I’ll definitely have a full review when this is released.

So if you haven’t seen it, or just want to watch it again, here’s the trailer:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Space Colonization Begins With You! If You Dare…

I recently stumbled upon an article from Wired.com thanks to a link posted by Pee-wee Herman on his Facebook page (yes, I follow him) about a group from the Netherlands planning on colonizing Mars in the not-so-distant future. The group, Mars One, is a non-profit organization with the goal of sending “astronauts” to Mars to prepare it for habitation. Whether or not this whole venture will pan out remains to be seen, but I think the idea is both exciting and insane.

Could Pee-wee Herman be headed for a Star Trek?

Could Pee-wee Herman be headed for a Star Trek?

I’ll explain:

It’s exciting for me because I have always been a science fiction geek and have always wanted to be an astronaut. The thought of travels through space, whether it be to the moon or another planet or another galaxy, has always fascinated me; I have always wanted to make the trek– not for the notoriety that would come with it but for the actual experience.

Just the thought of being one of the first people to set foot on a new planet or discover a new form of life is exhilarating!

Watching the Earth fade off into the distance as I zoom through the stars has been a dream of mine since childhood. So, it’s no surprise that when I read about Mars One, my first thought was “Where do I sign up?”

I’ll admit that was the younger sci-fi geek in me.

The older, more cynical scifi geek in me offered a different view on things. Yes, it’s exciting to think about such an adventure becoming a reality, but it’s also incredibly insane and frightening to think about what could come of such an endeavor.

Don't forget to get a shine job on your eyes.

Don’t forget to get a shine job on your eyes.

There is certainly a chance that things may be all fine and dandy when the planetary colonizers make it to Mars. They may be able to make it completely livable and start moving in more willing participants ASAP. Before we know it, a good majority of us will be claiming to be Martians instead of Earthlings.

On the other hand, this could be a completely horrific idea. I’ve seen enough sci-fi movies (Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Pitch Black, Prometheus, etc.) to know that this could all end in tragedy. Vicious, murderous tragedy that will only end up in a government cover up, which will more than likely be followed by an alien invasion. Once they’ve had a taste for blood, they’ll want more. This will all culminate in a large scale intergalactic war, which I honestly don’t think we’re ready for.

There’s also the chance that we’ll colonize it, and the current unsuspecting inhabitants will be enslaved or slaughtered…because that’s what we do.

I mean, the Japanese might be ready with giant robots or something, but the United States of America and every other country are trailing behind in intergalatic defense as far as I’m concerned.

WE NEED GIANT ROBOTS!

I’m getting off topic.

independence-day

I’m hopeful and skeptical of the whole situation. But for some reason, I say we should go for it no matter the outcome may be. I think while Mars One is preparing for space travel and colonization, we should be building giant robots for the oncoming alien assault. Huge freakin’ robots, armed to the teeth with rockets and lasers and such. And other defenses that will be ready to blow any unfriendlies out of the sky at first glance. If you’ve seen Independence Day, you’ll understand why.

So, if you’re feeling brave, ballsy, or just completely insane, here’s the application requirements. From what I’ve read, they’ll be taking applications soon, so prepare yourself!

I may sign up just for the heck of it, but I know nothing will ever come of it. I’m gonna be one of the people still on Earth, building a survival shelter and arming myself to fight off our possible alien overlords.

JOIN THE REBELLION!

Oh, but if this whole planet colonization thing works out, I’m going on the expedition to here. Gallifrey, baby. Gallifrey.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,