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MUSIC VIDEO: Armin van Buuren’s ‘Alone’

10 Aug

Sequence 3

So really, the only good thing we can say about Tom Cruise’s Oblivion is that it spawned this idea for a post-apocolyptic music video. Thanks to Armin van Buuren‘s catchy beats and Lauren Evan‘s haunting vocals, we combined some of the best disaster/solo films out there to bring you this Kibitzer’s exclusive!


Take a Tour of Roswell, New Mexico!

7 Jul

Ever wonder what it’s like to hang out in the most famous UFO city of all time? Even non-believers and hardcore-skeptics are familiar with Roswell, New Mexico and the 1947 crash.  Whether a top-secret military device or a spacecraft from out of this world, SOMETHING happened out in the desert and people still want answers. The truth is out there, my friends.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Review

7 Mar

We were able to preview the upcoming “epic” series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.” We here at Kibitzers love space talk, so here is our review!

“The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

A refresh of the classic “personal voyage” that Carl Sagan took us on in the original 1980 Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey opens like it’s predecessor, with the familiar voice of the famed astronomer setting the scene for the series. Though Sagan has since passed, he has a worthy successor in astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson and co-creators Ann Druyan (Sagan’s widow and co-creator of the original) and Seth MacFarlane (yes, of “Family Guy” and “Ted” fame) managed to bring modern science back to primetime in an enjoyable and entertaining way. I attended a screening of the first episode of the 13-part series and was quite impressed with the show’s production value and educational value. Spoilers beyond (can you really spoil the science of the cosmos?).

“Cosmos” is about making the current scientific understanding of universe approachable by the general public. The opening episode parallels the format of the old show and covers the basics: the Big Bang, the immensity of the universe in space and time, and a small sliver of scientific history.

The narrative is framed by a holdover from Sagan’s series, the Ship of the Imagination. Modern special effects really start to shine through here as we join Tyson on this ship, hurtling through both space and time. The ship allows us to traverse the entire history of the universe, shrink to the atomic level, and even imagine and speculate on where our universe might fit into the multiverse. I appreciate this alternative take on the typical “science” show, because it puts the host and viewer on the same level.

Tyson isn’t the disembodied voice of a narrator, nor is he a talking head. He is very much a character in the story, without overshadowing the magnitude of what he is teaching. I have always admired Tyson for his charisma and enthusiasm, and he does a fine job here as cosmic tour guide. That said, there was something about Sagan’s gravitas and the poetry with which he spoke that instantly captured the attention. I’ve heard Tyson channel Sagan before, but this first episode seemed a bit more “to-the-script.” The two have different styles, of course, and I think that Tyson (and MacFarlane) will be better at bringing out more playfulness that perhaps modern audiences need. We will see.

Visually, “Cosmos” is what we have come to expect from big budget TV shows. The shots of the Ship of the Imagination flying through space and Tiktaalik crawling out of the ocean are impressive, but the crowning scene is the formation of Earth and the moon from the swirl of the early solar system. The music and sound effects were good (though almost painfully loud at the theater I was in), but not yet matching the iconic tones of the original.

Also brought back is the discussion of historical figures and events in science to provide context to the lessons of the week. The creators of the new “Cosmos” chose to use animation instead of live-action (maybe influenced by MacFarlane). Don’t expect Family Guy, though. These are quite artistic and a big improvement on dressing up actors in cheesy Renaissance costumes.

I imagine that any show that attempts to cover the entirety of the universe must be terribly difficult to keep within scope. This episode seemed rushed at times. I expect that since we just got the universal basics down, future episodes will be able to move a bit slower. At a couple of points, the discussion took sharp turns without graceful transitions. For example, we were introduced to basic evolution and common ancestry of species, then suddenly we jump to how ancient plants died and became coal and oh-by-the-way we are now burning this and it’s causing our climate to change. Absolutely this topic is very important, but we’ll get to that later…right? Hopefully, the rest of the series can focus on more specific topics instead of having to rush through the entire 13.8 billion year history of the universe.

Overall, the episode was a great starting point for the series. I think there is definitely space (no pun intended) in our entertainment world for a show like “Cosmos.” Instead of relegating yet another science show to less-watched cable channels, the producers are bringing “Cosmos” to Fox in primetime. Those who watch it will undoubtedly be entertained and learn something. I think Carl Sagan would approve.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey airs on Sunday, March 9th

Mission to Mars

11 Jun

Sequence 2Any space junkies out there ever dream of stepping foot on the Red Planet? What if that meant you could never return to earth? Believe it or not, that’s an actual scenario being developed by Bas Lansdorp and his private spaceflight project, Mars One. NASA astronauts need not apply because Lansdorp wants ordinary earthlings to inhabit our celestial neighbor. Think you’ve got what it takes? You can apply online here … seriously!

Shine Bright Like a Diamond, Felix.

15 Oct

Thank you to Daniel G. for the inspiration.

The Eye of Sauron is Watching You From Space.

19 Jan

A star exploding in infrared in deep space — remind you of anything?!

[Hi-Res image link]


Space Shuttle Discovery’s Final Mission.

24 Feb

After cracks, leaks, and weather delays, the shuttle Discovery is finally set to launch today after originally set for November 1. This will be Discovery’s final mission, delivering supplies and experiments to the International Space Station, after which it will be retired.

After Discovery, NASA has two additional shuttle launches on the schedule before retiring the fleet. The Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled for April 19; the crew for that flight includes astronaut Mark Kelly – husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The final flight, Shuttle Atlantis, is scheduled for June 28 (anyone want to make the trip South?). Like you, I will be at work during launch – but fear not, NASA is broadcasting the proceedings online all day at NASA TV. Here is the schedule:

  • 10:15am – Docking coverage begins
  • 11am – Pre-launch press conference
  • 11:30am – Full launch coverage begins
  • 4:50pm – Launch
  • 5:45pm- Post-launch news conference

In honor of this event, a coworker…no…a friend of mine, Andrew Smith made a short music video to commemorate this event — and the video is awesome (and a lot of time was put into it) So watch it:

Discovery will spend 11 days in orbit — on top of the 352 days it’s already spent circling the planet — and will rack up another 4.5 million miles.

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