Sunday, March 19

The Expanse vs Battlestar Galactica

This isn't the normal sort of subject I blog about, but The Expanse is probably the hottest Science Fiction series out now (available in the UK on Netflix) and I like science fiction.

Battlestar Galactica (the remake) has been praised as being a cutting edge expensive modern Sci-Fi series, but the fact is much of it is a low cost 'soap' with very few CGI sequences. Plus of course the science portrayed is largely garbage. I picked up season 2 to 4 of Battlestar on DVD for £2.75, so it looks like it hasn't stood the test of time. That's a huge number of episodes for next to nothing.

The same can not be said for The Expanse which has just started it's second series in the US on the SyFy channel. The first season was very addictive with the storyline progressing throughout the season (unlike Star Trek where episodes are self contained).

The Expanse is set about 200 years into the future, Mars and the Asteroid Belt are both colonised with Earth governed by the UN (probably the least convincing part of the scenario!). Mars and the Belt have their own governments or political factions and none of the three factions seem to trust each other.
This leads to many undeclared battle scenarios where space stations and ships are destroyed with much loss of life (many acts of genocide, but remember this is space and it is vast, so you can get away with murder). Flushing someone out of an airlock is an instant answer to any personal or political disagreement!

What does stand out by far is the attention to engineering and science detail. Unusually for science fiction The Expanse (with the exception of the space ships main rocket engines and unusually normal gravity on small astroids!) does take real science into account.

The ships are armed with kinetic weapons, not lasers. There are few or no explosions when these kinetic projectiles hit their target, they smash up their targets or produce holes in the hulls.
This means that if you are on the receiving end of one of these space projectiles you need to be suited up because the big holes in your ship will vent atmosphere (Whipple shields don't offer much protection).

The weapons used are the space equivalent of the modern Phalanx CIWS and instead of laser flashes, you see tracers fly across space to their target. The big Mars and Earth battleships have rail guns (electric guns). Missiles are also used and they can carrying nuclear warheads.

Gravity is another thing that is taken seriously in The Expanse. The ships do not fly unrealistically in space like aircraft (as in Star Wars and Star Trek), they have to manoeuvre using thrusters and rocket engines. To make a 180 degree turn, a ship first has to use manoeuvring thrusters to make the turn and then the main engines to de-accelerate to a stop and accelerate in the new direction.

Gravity onboard these huge ships does not exist unless there is acceleration or de-acceleration (or there is a centrugal force system). The ships are built like skyscrappers with the engine at the equivalent of 'ground level'. When they accelerate, all the decks (skycrapper floors) experience artificial gravity, sometimes to much!

When there is no gravity onboard ship, crew engage their magnetic boots to walk around, these can be turned on and off instantly with a click of the heel.

Is all this science bad for the narrative and story?

Hell no. The story includes an element of fantasy and an engaging plot. If you like politics, mystery, intrigue, 'alien' culture, who dunnit etc. then they all exist in The Expanse.

http://www.syfy.com/theexpanse
Some unofficial space war science at Atomic Rockets web site:
http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewardefense.php
http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacegunconvent.php

Season 2 trailer:

Saturday, February 25

Froggy is back


Mr or Mrs Frog is back in the garden, keeping guard on a lot of frogs spawn again.


Sunday, February 19

Trump has all the hallmarks of a - potential - totalitarian leader

But will he succeed?

Why do I suggest Trump has the character of a totalitarian leader?

Well, the final clue is his 'rally' this weekend. In a working democracy an elected leader accepts the rules of the process that defines the democratic system. If the leader wishes to change things, they do so using the government processes and the rules that define democracy.
Elected leaders once in office are required to work within the process. This includes public meetings and events, they accept that process and address the nation as a whole that elected the leader.

Trump this weekend is doing what all dictators do (or presidents in deep trouble??), they define the rules and bring in their own supporters to a rally, they then claim that those supporters represent the nation and implicitly suggest that anyone else can't exist or is not worthy to be a citizen of the nation.

Another indicator of a dictator is the attack on the media. Trumps claims of Fake News and lying media is straight out of the Dummys Guide to becoming a Dictator. Trump claims everyone who attacks his ideas and position are liars. This process in itself is not important, it is the fact that Trump does it and believes it makes sense to continue down that path that indicates that dictatorship is a trait he has.

Let us not forget that Hitler basically whined and complained his way into power and he pulled thousands of others into power by suggesting their problems were basically the same as his.

I'm not a great fan of Thatcher, but the fact is she didn't complain about Spitting Image or the numerous other attacks on her politics and personality made by the media. She new it was a part of the democratic system and free speech.

Trump and his buddies do not appear to tolerate democracy or satire. This is either a ruse, or the they are incompetent or they genuinely have totalitarian tendencies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39018096

This blogger BTW has become a real fan of Saturday Night Live, it is the key to prevent the likes of Trump destroying his nation and taking the world with it!




Sunday, January 15

DAB reception improved in the area?

I purchased a Pure DAB/FM radio-alarm clock many years ago. The old radio alarm clock was getting annoying after many years of good service because it was manually tuned.
So some 6 years ago (I think) I bought the Pure clock radio for £25. It turned out to be a bargain because of all the automated features, including keeping track of the yearly time changes. However I struggled to get good DAB reception, so after a few years I gave up bothering and stuck to FM radio.

That changed recently when I decided to try DAB again and was surprised to hear perfect glitch free audio. Plus it has been consistently perfect ever since, this is particularly useful for listening to Radio 4 Extra which is a digital only channel. So finally my little £25 radio has become a real bargain.



Thursday, December 22

Waterlooville Christmas 2016

The flats that are replacing Swiss Cottage are near completion, solar panels mounted on the roof:


Old post office building still derelict.

Shops empty:


Betting shop takes prime position, flats replace office space in the background:



The Waterlooville story continues with mixed fortunes. The overall picture though is one of empty retail properties.

The future is bright and it's electric

Robert Llewellyn takes a look at 2016 and the future.
Don't mention Brexit or Trump...
2017 will see a huge number of electric vehicles being launched, plus they will get closer to a 300 mile range.