I'm grateful to have had my kids home for Thanksgiving dinner, and grateful for so many things in my personal & work life. With year-end deadlines approaching, the new few weeks will be very busy, but I'm anxiously looking forward to getting in some time on the slopes. Arizona ski season started yesterday -- earlier than usual, thanks to a couple feet of new snow last weekend :)
Thanks for your thoughtful articles & blogs, and for the review of Gravity. I will be sure to catch that movie soon. Enjoy your holidays Rick!
Hi Rick: We're hoping to see Gravity this weekend but have heard it's a must see at an IMAX theater. What type of screen did you see it on? As far as what I'm grateful for in my work life, I love what I do but it's the people I work with that make it amazing. When you consider all the time one spends at work, I'm grateful for me that it's a great experience that I look forward to every day. :-)
@Karen: I'm 3-D junkie so I recommend seeing it on the best stereo 3-D screen you can find. It's worth it. Sandra Bullock gives a great performance.
As for work gratitude, I am regularly humbled by the amazingly smart people I get to meet. As folks at the annual SIA dinner said recently this industry has brought amazing things to life (like space travel) and it aint done yet.
We saw Gravity too. It was well done. I read a review which said the one main inaccuracy was that all of these satellites are not traveling around the same orbit. So you can't just hop from one to another. It would take a major change in energy to move to a different orbit and reach the other satellite, not something you could do with the maneuvering rockets.
The other point is, this is the thrid movie, in a short time span, that is essentially a one-actor show. The other two are After Earth and Captain Phillips. (The latter made me sea-sick.)
I recommend the coffee-table photography book Full Moon -- a book of photographs the Apollo astronauts took on the Moon. I saw the photographs in an exhibit at SF MOMA a few years ago and bought the book. The photos are amazing and scans NASA allowed to be made from the master negatives; it's hard to believe the photos are in color because the moon is so grey and space is so black. Only when you see a few splashes of color (such as yellow foil on the landing module and the famous photo of Duke family photo).
There's no shortage of media celebrating our planet and universe. I am a huge fan of the BBC'sPlanet Earth series and its Blue Planet docu-flicks. The episodes are always just a few clicks away on my tablet, which allows me to couch surf into the depths of jungles, deserts, and oceans.
I remember not a long ago, you wrote that "tablets are cool, but I just don't use them"!
I also couch surf all the time, Junko, like now for instance. Only there's no tablet or smartphone involved. I have a wirelss full-size keyboard on my lap, a wireles mouse on the couch next to me, and a desktop PC on the equipment shelf under an HDTV. The HDTV is the PC monitor, and my stereo is the PC's audio system.
For TV channel surfing or web surfing, or reading EE Times articles, all you need is the mouse.
I watched "Gravity" just yesterday with 3D glasses in a nearby theater here in India. Apart from the movie itself which was a totally engrossing experience for me , another scene in the theater lifted my spirits - A school teacher had brought about 10 of her students to watch this movie and since she had a limited budget, she compromised on not buying that popcorn so that the students could enjoy the movie from the premiere seats.
Apart from the pull of "Gravity", I was happy to see the "pull of science" still existing in the student community which has become so Facebook-twitter-Whats-app- crazy these days.
I found the movie to be unbelievable and technically wrong on so many levels so I can't give it two, or even one thumbs up – Sorry. Come on! How can two astronauts that rigorously train together prior to a mission know so little about each other? These people eat, sleep, change clothes, and work together so closely that they would definitely know each other profession, projects, children's names, etc. that there would be no point going over that again while in orbit. And why would CapCom put up with all that non-mission related chit-chat? Other space stations in the same orbit so close that you can see them with the naked eye as more than just a speck? Using your MMU ('jet pack') to 'speed' up in order to get the next space station in your orbit will only put you farther away from the co-orbiting vehicle because speeding up will just put you into higher orbit (you have to slow down to catch another object). And somehow, after three volleys of orbital debris, the only thing that is not hit is Sandra Bullocks' character. How many times did the script overuse the phrase 'transmitting in the blind'? Lastly, how does a high caliber actor like George Clooney get just five minutes of screen time? I guess the studio needed a box office draw. Frankly, I lost count of the number of technical issues with this film. If you want to see a good space flick I recommend 'Moon'. Sam Rockwell carries the whole movie, and even though there are some technical gaffs, you can count them on just one hand.
I found the movie to be unbelievable and technically wrong on so many levels so I can't give it two, or even one thumbs up
I recently listened to an interview on Science Friday with two real astronauts on their opinion of Gravity. They did pick up on the issues that you mention, but still seemed quite positive about the movie.
One other flub mentioned- apparently (I have not seen the movie yet) a Chinese astronaut is seen with a table-tennis paddle!
You'll note, however, that the main TECHNICAL objection is the one on multiple satellites close together, in the same orbit. Your other objections have to do with creating a story line that can keep a movie audience engaged.
Imagine trying to make a movie of an engineer's day at work. Unless you can read his mind, and the minds of the other engineers he's conferring with (almost exclusively) electronically, such a movie would be a crashing bore. If Sandra Bullock and George Clooney already knew everything about each other's lives, having no reason to divulge all this dramatic content to the audience, we would just be twiddling our thumbs watching people floating around. And if the space debris got everyone on its first or even second pass, I suppose we'd have been going home after the first 30 minutes or so!
As to maneuvering to get close to a satellite, the space shuttles and Soyuz have such small rockets, used for rendezvous as well as to change the attitude of the ship while in orbit.
I did wonder about the one-person show, though. Then again, I wondered about that even in the two other movies I mentioned (After Earth, Captain Phillips). Not sure why Hollywood finds that one-person formula so alluring, of late.
They could have made it more interesting by showing it as a joint rescue effort , if they would have shown that Sandra Bullock somehow manages to locate George Cloony and get him on board again. The formula of SPEED was better where there was a joint effort by the police officer and the naive passenger Sandra,
"They could have made it more interesting by showing it as a joint rescue effort , if they would have shown that Sandra Bullock somehow manages to locate George Cloony and get him on board again."
I was sort of expecting that, actually. And by the way, same applies to the other movies, Captain Phillips and After Earth. In the former, it would have been far more interesting if there had been more about the Navy operation and less focus on Captain Phillips getting hot in that cramped lifeboat. Pirates yelling at Phillips took up a huge chunk of time, I thought. Kind of got old.
What happens, I believe, is that the artists in Hollywood want to spend time "developing the character," which may not always translate to the most engrossing story. Although that depends on personal tastes, of course. Me, I prefer to get beyond just developing that single character, in stories.
It wasn't my intention to be so negative; it just turned out that way. I wanted to like this movie and even paid a premium price to see it in 3D and IMAX in order to maximize the experience but the 'techie' in me couldn't stop counting the obvious technical errors which were distracting to the experience.
I highly recommend "The Dream Is Alive." It was made in 1985, shortly after the Challenger explosion. It was great for morale. Walter Cronkite's narration was great, the shots are spectacular. See it in IMAX. The ride down the escape system is great - folks in the theater all surged forward and went, "Oof!" when the basket hit the net at the bottom :-)
Well, you know what they say...a bad day biking beats a great day at the office! Or something like that :-)
I was taking a design class that was partially offered/sponsored by NASA at the time. We were on our way to tour a plant for that class when we heard over the radio of the accident. It was a very sobering and subduing experience. When that movie came out, it was almost mandatory viewing...and it did a lot to restore spirits. The orbital shots simply take one's breath away, and the opening sequence will really get your attention. Go see it!!! Even if you have to bike there :-)