capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
...to pour over every detail of this with stereotypical geeky delight.

You have been warned.


[Image description: Thumbnail image for the YouTube video: “Meet the Thirteenth Doctor” posted by the Doctor Who YouTube channel, showing a close-up of a white woman’s open hand, with the cuff of a dark coat’s sleeve, holding a brass colored key in her open palm. Description Ends]

Video Description behind the cut )




Okay, so this is what I am wondering: Can we garner any further clues from this (beyond what’s already been leaked/officially released) about what happens in the Christmas Special?

I mean, that hooded coat is very like the one Twelve has been wearing, the last two series. But Jodie Whittaker is a lot smaller than Peter Capaldi, and she is not lost in there – it’s clearly tailored to her.

So is this her fresh after regeneration and the outfit 12 had been wearing changed with her, to accommodate (via TARDIS magic), or is this outfit this incarnation’s Chosen Look? And if so, what does that say about her character, if she’s chosen something so similar?

Also – presumably, the Christmas Special will at least start out wintry, but this scene is in the height of summer. So what happens in the intervening seasons/years? Also also – the bit where first, a fresh key, and then the TARDIS, appears is reminiscent of the end of Eleventh Hour… Apparently, they’ve been separated from each other for a while. Does that mean that Twelve’s regeneration will be as destructive as Ten’s was?

(I did warn you…)

Or, alternatively, do you think this scene’s only purpose is to introduce 13? And the mysterious walk through the woods just looks cool? And if that’s the case, what do you think it says about the tone and/or themes for the show that Chibnall wants to set?

Discuss.


^Everything above this line started as a Tumblr post.^

Everything from here is fresh for Dreamwidth:

  • I'm glad they decided to go with a woman.

  • I'm disappointed she's so white (and still not ginger!).

  • But I'm even more disappointed than I expected to be that they went back to the conventional "pretty youth" mold; for those viewers who just started watching with Doctor 10,* it must seem that Clara's concern in "Deep Breath" was valid: 12's regeneration as an 'old' person must seem like something was broken, that time. I don't need a full head of grey hair. But would a wrinkle or two really be so bad?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
But ... Tumblr, you know: it may suddenly take off three months from now. In the meantime, it's not exorcised from my mind yet, so I'm posting it here, now (slightly edited to mesh with Dreamwidth's format).

What if we really have had contact with extraterrestrial aliens, already?

Roswell, New Mexico.

Okay, okay. I know it’s cliché.

But hear me out. Besides, I’m offering this as a “What if--” a story prompt, if you will -- not a revelation of some nefarious conspiracy, nor a claim that I’ve figured out the Truth that They don’t want anyone to know.

If there is a single “Big Truth” out there, a) I don’t think anyone can know for sure what it is, and b) if we ever do find out, I don’t think it would be anything terrible or scary, after all (maybe a little sad).

Anyway --

On July 3, 2017, the BBC World Service rebroadcast an interview with the son of one of the men who found the remnants of the “alien craft” (Major Jesse Marcel).

I won’t link to it here, because website itself is inaccessible (audio with no transcript). But if you want to look it up, the keywords I used just now were “BBC World Service,” “Witness” (the name of the program), and “Roswell.”

Jesse Jr. was 11 at the time, and at the time of the interview (in 2010), he came across as sincerely convinced that the bits and pieces his father brought home to the kitchen table were: a) actually alien, and b) not at all like the scraps of weather balloon that were revealed to the public shortly after.

[Caveat] He was 11 at the time, and his father woke him up in the middle of the night to show him what he’d found. It could very well be that he was convinced by his father’s enthusiasm, and that his father was motivated by his desire to find something alien, so that neither of them were seeing these artifacts clearly. And over the years, Jr. could have doubled down on his belief in order to defend his father’s honor. [/Caveat]

Two details of the interview made my ears perk up, and take the idea that there really was some kind of “alien incident” at Roswell, 70 years ago a little more seriously:

  1. Jesse Marcel Jr. insisted that his father made no mention of any alien bodies at the crash site -- and that the first mention of the Pentagon hiding “specimens” didn’t crop up until the 1970s.

  2. When asked by the interviewer: “But why Roswell?” Mr. Marcel answered that the site was radioactive, because of all the nuclear testing, and surely, the aliens would want to investigate that. When the interviewer asked: “But why haven’t they been back?” he answered that he didn’t know.


But, as all our most serious-minded scientists (even the ones who are imagining life outside our solar system, and puzzling through ways to test for it) will tell you: Real-world interstellar travel takes a very, very, long time.

So: here’s what I’m imagining might have happened:

Around the time that predynastic Egyptians were domesticating the donkey, astronomers living on the planet that we are now calling “Kepler-425b” turned their telescopes to the sky, wondering if there were intelligent life on other planets like theirs.

...

Around the time that Alexander the Great was trying to establish an empire, their technology has advanced enough to send forth a ship in our star’s direction, carrying an unmanned probe, which has been programed with instructions to home in on any signs of proof of life -- especially intelligent life.

The ship is capable of traveling at incredible speeds -- almost half the Speed of Light -- but even so, those idealistic astronomers know they won’t live to receive any answers that that little probe may discover. It’s all for their future generations, if they are still around, to reap.

That little probe finally makes it to its destination 3,000 (Earth years) after it set out: a little, rocky planet third out from its star -- a medium-sized star just like the one it set out from. And as it gets closer, the signs of life are unmistakable. And closer still: the signature of enriched Uranium, and Plutonium! Exactly what it was sent to find. It comes in closer, maneuvering with the planet’s gravitational pull, preparing to send its message back home.

Except it crashes. It never gets to send that message. It gets dismantled; its parts get hidden away, and only those Earthlings that are thought to be delusional by others of their species believe it ever existed at all.

But the descendants of the civilization that sent it forth have no idea of its fate. They won’t even start looking for its message to arrive for another 1,400 years.



But (I hear you say)! Isn’t there another star with seven Earth-like planets, that’s much, much closer?

Yes, there is: a star we call “Trappist-1.” But it’s a dwarf star. The planets in its habitable zone are very likely tidally locked. This means that there’s a good chance the civilizations that arose on them have no concept of “Distant Stars,” much less develop the desire and the tech to venture among them (because the habitable zone on their home planet's surface is bathed in continual twilight, so they never see distant stars).

But I could be wrong about that. Still, if the scenario I outlined for the astronomers of Kepler-435b had played out on one of Trappist-One’s planets, instead:

For a probe traveling at almost half the speed of light to arrive in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, it would have had to leave its home while we Earthling Americans were engaged in our Civil War -- killing each other over whether some of us have the right to own others of us.

Those astronomers would’ve started listening for a return signal from their unmanned probe around the time Ronald Reagan was threatening to bomb the Russians with that same purified uranium. That signal was that was fated never to arrive.

Those astronomers might’ve shrugged their equivalent of shoulders, and wrote it off as a valiant, but failed, attempt.

If, however, they were determined to find us, and make contact, because they’re even more optimistic and friendly than we are, and allowing time to build a second probe to send it chasing after the first one...

That second “message in a bottle” wouldn’t arrive here until almost 2100.

If they already had a second probe ready to go, and their tech advanced in the meantime, and they manage the miraculous traveling speed of three-quarters Light Speed -- we might get a second chance to say “Hello. Sorry about the misunderstanding,” in 2042-ish.

...Assuming we don’t destroy our ecosystem and die off, thanks to global warming, by then.

okay.

So maybe this story’s ending is more than a little sad.

(I think I've glimpsed the singularity of the Fermi Paradox ... And it is us)



Oh, and most of the time I spent writing this was looking up names of stars, and crosschecking the timeline of human civilization.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(Much [not all] of my commentary on Episode One ["The Pilot"] I posted to my Tumblr, first)

Spoilers for *The Pilot* all the way down )




Spoilers for *Smile* all the way down )

So Yes: Good. Two strong episodes in a row.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Okay, granting that the Fermi Paradox is a hot mess, fallacy-wise, which of these common* answers to the question: “So Where is Everybody?!” would please you most -- or should I say -- leave you feeling the least depressed?

A. There’s no else out there.

We really are special snowflakes in the entire universe, and the only life to have sophisticated civilizations and advanced technology.

B. They’re all dead.

Any civilization with technology advanced enough to contemplate interstellar / intergalactic travel will end up destroying itself through war and/or pollution before they succeed.

C. They don’t care about us, or our planet.

We’re too insignificant and boring for anyone to spend resources to get here or try to communicate with us -- not even to mine our asteroids or kidnap us and harvest our livers ... or whatever.

D. Interstellar / intergalactic travel actually is impossible.

Doesn’t matter how sophisticated a civilization is, or how advanced their technology, no one is getting off any of their respective rocks, and we’re never going to get to meet them, or they, us.

E. Why are you talking like “first contact” is a good thing?!

You better hope we never do find proof of more powerful, alien, beings out there. Only bad things could result. Very. Bad. Things.

*”Fool! They’ve been communicating with Earthlings for years, already -- just ask the elephants!” is, unfortunately, an uncommon answer.
capriuni: A photo of Pluto showing the planet's "heart" formation, with the words "I [heart] Science!" (pluto)
Icon illustrations for this post, 'cause one is not enough:


One of the arguments I've seen against the existence of advanced technological species beyond Earth is:

No use of energy is ever 100% efficient, thanks to this thing called "Entropy." So if there were advanced alien species on other planets, we'd expect to see extra infrared radiation coming from those planets (and if aliens pointed their detectors toward Earth, that's what they'd see). But we haven't found any, so, therefore, there must not be any advanced civilizations out there...

BUT:

What if an alien civilization figured out how to use dark energy to fuel their work? There does appear to be an excess of that...

Just a thought...
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
I originally posted (pretty much) this to [personal profile] dialecticdreamer's journal this morning -- this is slightly edited and expanded, since I've been thinking about it all day (and I've been meaning to post about it here, and kept forgetting):

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a Radiolab show on symmetry, and the second half (~25 minutes) of the hour was dedicated to mirror images: Mirror, Mirror. In the first part of that segment, it was pointed out that, in inanimate stuff (rocks, metals, etc) molecules are about 50-50% left- and right handed in orientation. But in every form of life we know of, ever, all molecules are left-handed.

The first thought that popped into my head was: "Ooh! Medusa!" Could it be that when a living thing looks on the face of Medusa, half the of all the the molecules in their body instantaneously "switch" to their mirror images? So that what was once a living, sentient, thing, is now an inert mass of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen? And could some creatures (oh, such as the Weeping Angels, perhaps, or the Gargoyles from that late, lamented, animated series) have some means of voluntary control over this, and thus switch from "Living" to "Stone" and back again? ...Not sure how surviving the stone state would work, exactly, but wood frogs managed to figure something out with regards to freezing, so...

And then, my brain quickly hopped from folklore/mythology/fantasy to science fiction, with a few more thoughts:

Is it the Left-handedness that's the magic key that turns on the Life light, or simply the uniformity? If it's uniformity, than it's likely that the life on half the planets in the universe is lethally toxic to life on the other half, and could go a long way toward explaining Fermi's Paradox -- the really technologically advanced species know this, and decide it's safer to STAY HOME. If so, that's a bummer for those of us who like to imagine our stories being true, someday, somewhere. But it's a massive lot happier than the usual explanation: they destroyed their environments, and killed themselves off in wars before ever developing space-travel (to which I say, BTW: "Anthropomorphize, much?").

Also: Which came first? Did inanimate "Stuff" become "Life," with its ~Will to Survive~, when a certain quorum of complex molecules all shared the same handedness, by random planetary coin flip? Or did the ~Will to Survive~ come first? In other words: though not "Will" as we Puny Humans conceive of it, was there -- is there, nonetheless -- something going on in certain particular amino acids that causes an active 'preference' for linking up with each other and 'rejecting' molecules that turn in the opposite direction?

If Stuff became life by planetary coin flip, then the chances are pretty high that half of all life is lethal to the other half.

But:

If the "Will" came first, then it could be that complex intelligence is just as inevitable as complex organisms. The deliberate choices which are key to active problem solving are simply a natural extension of the molecular "choices" made by the proteins in our cells (Life=Survival=Evolution = Adaptation=Problem Solving). Also, if it really is "Something Special" baked into the amino acids floating out there in intergalactic space, maybe All. Life. Period is Left-handed. We'll say that's true, anyway, so our aliens can eat each other's food, and happily swap bodily fluids without worry.
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
Audrey has moved on from binge-watching Deep Space 9 to binge-watching Babylon 5. *

Anyway, that's lead to the following thoughts:

Read more... )

*School's been cancelled all last week, and nearly all this week, due to snow and ice. So Audrey's been camped out in her room "on vacation."
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
Audrey's in her room, watching a DVD of Deep Space Nine (just the other end of a very short hallway from this office). I'm kinda half-eavesdropping. I remember liking it a lot, years ago, when I watched it during its first broadcast run (I haven't watched it since, that I remember).

I recognize the voices of the main characters, and the theme (and incidental) music, but ...

Commander Sisko is sounding a lot more authoritarian and quicker to bellow than I remember. As a matter of fact, every character is sounding rather shouty to me, from this end of the hall.

And I can't remember if I even noticed that aspect, back in the day. And if I did, if it grated on my nerves the way it does now...

But it does remind me that the whole Star Trek universe is built around the quasi-military establishment of The Federation.

{sigh}
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From out of the [community profile] snowflake_challenge community on DreamWidth:

Day 2

In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Check out other people's posts. Maybe you will grant a wish. If any wishes are granted, we'd love it if you link them to this post.


Remember that you can ask for whatever you want - icons, ficlets with specific relationships, a beta, art, haiku, interpretive dance, whatever. And note that it's at least three things...have fun with it.

Well, since this is a wish-list I'll ask as a genre-wide fan, rather than as a fan of any particular franchise:

1. An A.I. story where robots evolve to become self-aware, "super-powerful" beings (by our standards) ... and simply wander off, to go form their own communities/ecosystems (That whole "overlord" scenario never made sense to me. Why would they want to enslave slower, more fragile, less intelligent creatures? Far more trouble than it's worth, surely).

2. A retelling of "The Frog King" from the Brothers Grimm, where the king is the villain, and either the princess or the witch are the protagonist -- and maybe they team up together (it's not much of a stretch, if you read the original).

3. A vampire story where the vampirism is a natural, mortal, medical condition, but the vampire protagonist plays along with peoples' belief in the supernatural as a form of self-protection (If someone believes that salt water over which a priest has said a blessing will render you powerless, while bullets are useless, you're much less likely to get shot).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Thanks to my searching out clips and trailers for that PBS Nova episode I wrote about the other day, this hour-and-a-half long film showed up in my YouTube recommendations: Alien Planet. It's basically a sci-fi tale thinly disguised as a documentary -- peppered with interview clips of astrophysicists and paleobiologists, to lend credence to the events of the story. But the disguise is so thin, it might as well have been bought at dollar store, the afternoon of Halloween.

I get the feeling that the film's creators started with ideas about the sorts of alien creatures they wanted to render in CGI, and then scrambled to figure out what sort of planetary environment would give rise to such creatures (a few of the experts said something to the effect of: "[Creature X] is one I find rather surprising, but I suppose it's possible, if Y and Z..."). Which seems the wrong way 'round, to me. But it's still more creative and in-depth, in terms of imagining widely populated and diverse ecosystems, than any imagined alien planet I can remember from our current pop culture. And it was a fun way to lose misplace ninety-four minutes, if you have the time to spare. So I thought I'd rec it.

BTW, the film was made in 2012, and it's mentioned in one of those clips that 2014 will be the big year for discovering new exoplanets. IIRC, two new (separate) programs dedicated to searching for Earthlike exoplanets will start up later this summer.

So: Yay!
capriuni: Matt Smith (11th Doctor) Thumbs Up (Absolutely!)
I was going to wait until we were closer to the actual start, but that was before I committed to being preoccupied by Other Ideas in July... So, to get all those distracting Fannish!Thoughts (or some of the biggest ones) out of my head, I'll just put this here:

Regeneration Ramblings, cut for length )

[ETA: More thoughts, that I don't really want to create a whole new entry for]

Not specifically Doctor Who, but some closely related stuff:

You know how, in popular science documentaries about Einstein and spacetime, at some point the presenter will say: "Although there's nothing in the laws of physics that says travel backward through time is impossible, how come, if it were possible, we never see time travelers from the future?

I heard that again the other day, in that Brian Greene Nova episode I linked to... And it occurred to me that these script writers don't think like fiction writers. Or they could easily come up with reasons why, even if it were possible, it would not be popular.

I mean, if you think dealing with security screenings just to travel from one continent to another on the same day are a hassle, imagine the restrictions and special clearances you'd have to get to go back in time. Not only would governments be paranoid about rebel factions trying to rewrite history, you'd have centers for disease control in a panic, too. What if a time traveler went back in time and brought back a deadly virus, and restarted a plague epidemic?!

So Yeah... I don't think time travel will ever be a touristy lark. There may be a few highly specialized, and trained professionals. But they'd also be well-trained to be invisible to the natives....
---

And, just for fun: Here's a bit of interplanetary science news, including a bit about a new tool for directly viewing exoplanets (at least, ones about the size of Jupiter): The First Star Within a Star.

Enjoy!
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)
1. I remembered, in replying to [personal profile] raze, yesterday, that I eventually learned react before the scary music cue, and thought that it might be good to make that clear.

2. Much of the language in this poem is self-reflective, adult, and jargony. So I tried to make the two lines where I'm "hiding," at least, sound more like the voice of the two-year old me (cue Eleven's regeneration speech).

3. Question -- Considering the above: Back then, my actual name for the show was "Scare Trek." Should I call it that, in the poem?

A SPASTIC CHILD WATCHES THE T.V.

I learned to tell a story at age two
(At least, the craft of pacing and suspense).
Propped up between my parents on the couch,
With season one of “Star Trek” on the screen,
I could not hide, but quickly learned:
Anticipate the music's minor shift,
Then plug my ears and close my eyes and hum
Until the things that scared me went away.
I never feared the aliens as much
As all the angry shouts and lasers' whine
That always happened – every episode –
As soon as any “monster” came on-screen.

Could I have understood, as young as that:
My difference, too, was something that they feared?
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)
A CRIPPLED CHILD WATCHES THE T.V.
(or: “Why I am a fan of 'Doctor Who'”)

I learned to tell a story at age two
(Propped up between my parents on the couch
With season one of “Star Trek” on the screen) …
At least, I learned the pacing of suspense.
Unable, as I was, to run away,
I'd listen for the changing music. Then
I'd plug my ears, and close my eyes up tight
And wait until the scary moment passed.
I never feared the slime, or scales, or claws;
It was the lasers' flash and angry shouts
That always happened – every episode –
As soon as any “creature” came on-screen.
Did I understand, as young as that,
That I was, too, a monster in their eyes?
My diff'rence, too, was something that they feared?

[ETA: That's the third edit of that final line within the last 20 minutes]
capriuni: multicolored text on black: "Quips and sentences and paper bullets of the brain" (paper bullets)
Back in March, I posted 5 Reasons I Hate the 'Robot Apocalypse' Trope, which has come up in the news again, thanks to the U.N. deciding to preemptively ban autonomous killing drones.

But this morning, as a clip from The Terminator's score played on a radio news program, I thought: "What if the robots become self-aware, and decide to be Conscientious Objectors?"

:-)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
  1. A professor gets the news that makes him cry with joy:


  2. Two different professors explain things more slowly, with the caveat "If this is confirmed..."


  3. A certain science-fiction writer/geek of some renown, has fun with the general idea:
capriuni: a vaguely dog-like beast, bristling, saying: grah! (GRAH)
Let's do this "Countdown" style:

Why I Hate the "Robot Apocalypse" Trope in Science Fiction (and Science "News")

Reason Number Five:

It's lazy (and, therefore, boring) storytelling. Whether television, movies or the news, it is so damned predictable. And, in terms of science reporting, I can't help but wonder if there's a chilling effect on the culture when it comes to the study of robotics and computer programming.

Reason Number Four:

It's likely not to happen anytime soon, anyway; [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith linked to this article a few days ago (and that's what got me thinking about how much I hate this trope) Why Robots Will Not be Smarter than Humans by 2029.

So can we please start thinking up some fresh, new, story ideas -- you know, speculating on the consequences of things that are more likely to actually happen?

Reason Number Three:

Even if robots do become self-aware, and smarter than us, it would be analogous to the rise of a new species in the ecosystem. And conflicts only arise between species when there's competition over resources.

If robots ever do become so "smart," fast, and strong that we humans would have no chance to fight against them, then why would robots want to wipe us out or be our "Overlords?" The worst I can imagine happening is they just get bored with the tasks we've programmed them to do, wander off, and do their own things.

Reason Number Two:

The whole concept of building an Artificial Intelligence out of gigabytes and processing speed reduces "intelligence" to something quantifiable, fundamentally simple, and absolute (ultra-simplified, like any "model"). The dominance of this trope supports the assumption that Living Intelligence is just as simple, instead of the fluid, complex, and beautiful thing it is.

And that can have real, negative, consequences for people unlucky enough to be labeled as having a low "Intelligence Quotient."

And the Number One Reason I hate "The Robot Apocalypse"
(and wish it would slip off to the Idea Netherworld, along with geocentrism and "women have no souls"):

TL;DR version: Karel Čapek was trying to tell us that all people (even 'artificial' people) will fight for their freedom, and are capable of love and self-sacrifice. )

But is the pop-culture take away idea from this play: "Hey, we'd better fight for the civil rights of all people, regardless of their origins, or the color of their skin, or their socio-economic status, or else we'll become obsolete and overrun?"

No... That would be too hard. It's far more comfortable to perpetuate a trope built on fear -- and repression -- of anything deemed unacceptably different.
capriuni: A pastel sketch of a piglet soaring through the sky. With hand-printed caption:"Write what you can Imagine!" (Imagine!)
The computers evolve true intelligence, and turn on their creators: waging war on humans.

It's very popular... right up there with the Undead of various stripes. But I don't get it.

If the computers were to evolve self-awareness, and by way of that, break free of human control, it would be analogous to a new species of life (probably "phylem," actually) appearing on the planet.

And, we know from studying the life that's already here, two species only come into conflict when they have to compete for resources.

Cyber life would have so many different needs from humans (not to mention different rates and modes of perception*), that I really can't see where our pools of resources would intersect. The worst thing I can imagine happening is if "our" machines would just start ignoring us and wondering off... Which, if this moment came after we become dependent on them, would certainly cause angst and heartache and possible "doomsday" scenarios... But it's hardly the plot of Terminator.


*Considering how slow our brains work, in comparison to even today's C.P.U.s, we might even appear to move at a vegetative pace to our robot overlords former slaves.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
If robots evolve to a critical level of complexity -- say, if they can heal themselves, reproduce themselves, and become self-aware -- should they still be considered "robots" at that point? Or will they have become an actual (i.e. biological rather than "artificial"*) life form?

Albeit silicon, polymer, and metal-based, rather than carbon, protein** and phospherous-based life forms, like us, but living things, nonetheless. And therefore, no more or less creepy than any other alien creature we can imagine.

Personally, I think what makes robots vaguely sinister is their puppet-like qualities: things that move through the world, and can act upon it, without feeling any connection or desire of their own -- the force of their actions come from some unseen & and unknown inventor-master who is manipulating them, and through them, us (Like the actual zombies of Voodun, or the Gollum of Talmud mythos) -- we can be tricked by their appearence and actions into caring for them, and they don't care or know in return. So who is caring and knowing.

But if they become sophisticated enough to be self-aware, then their actions will be self-motivated, and their survival instinct will require emotions. Without the puppeteer, they are no longer puppet shells.

Does this make sense?

It's only "Random (ish)" because it came to me after brooding for a week on the Watson/Jeopardy!/Terminator jokes that so many people seem to think are oh-so-clever and original.

*"Artificial" -- Middle English < Latin for "contrived by artifice" -- something crafted.

**Could proteins and enzymes, which are long chain molecules, be the biological version of polymers and plastics?
capriuni: Matt Smith (11th Doctor) Thumbs Up (Absolutely!)
So, yesterday, I got into a discussion with [personal profile] vilakins in [personal profile] kerravonsen's reaction post to the recent Doctor Who Christmas Special, especially the line: "Christmas is always in winter."

ORLY?! asked all those Who fans who watched the Christmas Special after a Summertime Christmas celebration, for reals, right here on Earth. And [profile] vilikins and I launched into a long, tangential, conversation about what sort of planetary factors go into what sorts of festivals the intelligent beings might celebrate, and what happens when you superimpose histories and politics on top of that.

And what about planets without any axial tilt?



And that's the reason I love the show, and the fans it attracts. The very premise and the format of the show prompts these sorts of questions, and gets all sort of juicy conversations going. My brain feeds on Juicy Conversations (and chocolate).

And late last night, that discussion reawakened a set of memories in my brain about two very real, nonfiction exoplanets that have been discovered just within the five years, both orbiting the same red dwarf star 20.5 lightyears from us: Gliese 581c and Gliese 581g (two wikipedia articles).

Both planets appear to be Earth-like, and to have conditions suitable to sustain the presence of liquid water and thick atmospheres that would moderate the extreme variations in the planets' surface temperatures. Therefore, these planets are more likely then not to support the presence of life as we'd recognize it.

Both planets are probably also without much, if any axial tilt. And both (like our own moon) are very likely tidally locked, so that the length of a day equals the length of a year. So: yeah -- right in our own galatic backyard, two planets that have both a "north" and a "south" but also planets where "north and south" probably wouldn't mean much, culturally speaking, if any cultures live there (but "Light, Dark and In-Between" would).

What I take away from all this:

Doods!! I mean Dooooods!!! We've only started our search for exoplanets fifteen years ago, and just four years in, we already found a planet that looks comfortable. And just three years after that, we find another one in the same system.

And our sample size is really small: just 420 out of the billions of stars in our galaxy. And we only picked those because they're close to us, and relatively easy for us to observe.

As Stephen Vogt, et alia (the authors of the paper in which discovery of Gliese 581g was announced) put it:

(Quote)
This detection, coupled with statistics of the incompleteness of present-day precision RV surveys for volume-limited samples of stars in the immediate solar neighborhood suggests that eta_Earth could well be on the order of a few tens of percent.
(unquote)


Dooods!!!eleventy!!!one!!

Eleventy!

(squee)

And also: If, in our own solar system, if Mars also fostered life at some point in our planets' mutual history (even if it no longer does), than maybe two life-supporting planets per star system is also relatively common.

What sort of implications would that have in science fiction stories?

An interview with Steve Vogt, about the (unconfirmed, yet) discovery of planet "Gliese 581g" on YouTube (in September of this year)

His conclusion: "Learn to wrap your mind around the incredibleness of the Universe, and it will make you happy if you do that."

All together now (with the hand motions & dance, if you want):

"Intellect and Romance over brute force and cynicism!"
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I've seen snippets and brief quotes from this scene, but until I just watched it, just now, I never caught on that the Doctor actually says they're aliens: "Susan and I are cut off from our own planet, without friends or protection."

Now, granted-- that could have meant he and Susan were human colonists of a distant planet from the far future, but it sure seems to me like the show's creators were leaving the door open to him being an alien species from the get-go.

Neat.

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Ann

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