Archive for the ‘Star Trek’ Category

by Fran Golden

On her left upper arm, Allison Holmes has a tattoo of an octopus with pointy Vulcan ears wrapping its tentacles around a spaceship that resembles an elongated VW camper. The “Spocktopus” is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek television series. “It was inspired by old science fiction posters,” says Holmes, 33, of San Antonio. Holmes is a self-described Trekkie, though that probably goes without saying if you’re showing off Spock-inspired body art. Especially if you’re showing it off in a hot tub aboard the Norwegian Pearl as it sails through the Western Caribbean on the first-ever Star Trek: The Cruise.

Joining Holmes in January were Trekkies from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, their suitcases full of costumes and body paint. Shorts and bathing suits were the favored daywear, but at night fans emerged from their cabins dressed as Vulcans, fierce-looking Klingons, antennaed blue Andorians, and green Orions. There were also several reptilian Gorn and Yeoman Rand look-alikes with beehive hairdos. Didn’t get any of these references? Then this cruise was definitely not for you.

You might not think of wannabe Klingons as people who leave their parents’ basements much, let alone as sun-and-fun types. But superfans such as Holmes make up one of the newest and most enthusiastic groups hitting the high seas. Music themes have dominated the industry for years, but cruises are increasingly embracing other forms of pop culture. In addition to the Star Trek trip, fans are filling ships for shows including The Walking Dead and Property Brothers, where the Scott brothers held Q&A sessions about design, signed autographs, and sang karaoke. Oprah is going to attend an O, The Oprah Magazine cruise to Alaska in July, and the publication, with partner Holland America line, is running four additional theme cruises this fall and next year. “There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie” on these cruises, says Howard Moses, a travel agent who also runs the website Theme Cruise Finder. “It’s nice to know that people you meet at dinner share your passion.”

It’s also nice for the cruise lines, which see themed events as a way to draw new clientele. Third-party production companies book entire ships, usually during what would otherwise be cruising’s fallow season; fans care more about the what of the experience than the when or where. And they’re willing to spend. The average fare paid by the 2,300 passengers on the six-day Star Trek cruise was $2,400 per person, more than double Norwegian Cruise Line’s typical January rate.

Since the first theme cruises set sail about 30 years ago, they’ve become a bigger and bigger part of the industry. Moses’ site recorded 150 in 2012. Today there are 600-plus listings. Included are small group gatherings and shipwide takeovers. Music and superfan charters have become such an attractive business that in 2012 Norwegian bought Sixthman, a production company in Atlanta that began staging Festivals at Sea each year; the 2017 lineup includes cruises featuring Pitbull, Kid Rock, Kiss, acts from the Warped Tour, outlaw country musicians, and the funny men of the TruTV show Impractical Jokers. “The purpose of a theme cruise is orange juice concentrate,” says Michael Lazaroff, executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions and the mastermind behind the Star Trek voyage. “We are providing fans with a chance to experience their passion in the most intense possible way.”

Lazaroff and his team started talking with CBS, owner of the Star Trek franchise, in the summer of 2015. As it happened, CBS had been looking for ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s creation, which went on the air in 1966. “We considered developing a Star Trek cruise for fans for some time, and the 50th anniversary seemed ideal,” says Veronica Hart, senior vice president for CBS’s consumer-products division. She adds that the “stars aligned” when William Shatner, 85, Captain James T. Kirk in the original series, signed on to host. “He wasn’t cheap,” Lazaroff says.

That September, Lazaroff and his staff headed to the annual Las Vegas Star Trek convention to test fan reaction. “The website we had wasn’t ready to take reservations,” he says. Interest was overwhelming, and his team cobbled together an online sign-up. “We just threw it up, and next thing we knew—boom!—we were done.” The cruise sold out in three weeks, although many who booked had never attended a Star Trek convention, according to a precruise survey. Hart says the experiences aren’t mutually exclusive: “The cruise is a completely unique, immersive experience.”

The Pearl was tricked out with references to the shows—the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and Discovery, which is set to premiere this May—and films. Special signage transformed elevators into turbolifts. The ship’s specialty restaurants incorporated the names of characters into dishes such as Vic Fontaine’s chateaubriand, which was named for Deep Space Nine’s holographic lounge singer.

Programming included the Q&As and the autograph and photo sessions you’d find at a convention; autographs cost $25 to $35, depending on the actor, and photos were $40. Klingon foreheads ran $45. Shatner, whose contract mandated that he pose for one photo per cabin, joked to the crowd about how cute Chris Pine’s portrayal of Captain Kirk is in the latest Star Trek movies, talked physics and global warming, and attempted to answer fans’ requests for details about his experiences on set.

Passengers could also attend a no-fee yoga class hosted by Terry Farrell, aka Jadzia Dax, Deep Space Nine’s Starfleet science officer; play blackjack with Marina Sirtis, aka the half-human, half-Betazoid Deanna Troi on Next Generation; and attend a happy hour with Denise Crosby, aka Tasha Yar, briefly the USS Enterprise’s chief of security on Next Generation. Special actor-led shore excursions to Cozumel and the Bahamas, which cost $75, up from the normal $50, sold out before the ship set sail. A lecture by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek (1995), drew a standing-room-only crowd. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo, who guest-starred as a comic on an episode of Next Generation, got multiple standing ovations for a nighttime set.

If the Pearl wasn’t quite a floating Enterprise—the crew didn’t wear Starfleet uniforms—there were constant references to “boldly going” and “warp speed.” The mood was friendly and accepting. “It’s nice to be among your people,” says Holmes of the Spocktopus. “You see a lot of cool costumes and a lot of people really, really geeking out.” Her parents were also on board, and she and her husband, Allen, 33, have already booked a penthouse for the first of two more Star Trek cruises that will take place next year, both hosted by George Takei, who played Sulu, the helmsman on Kirk’s Enterprise.

The cruisers knew their stuff. At a trivia contest with Max Grodénchik, who played Rom, a large-eared Ferengi on Deep Space Nine, passengers rushed to call out answers to questions such as “In the ‘Enterprise Incident’ episode, the Romulan commander offers Spock what?” (Answer: “The Right of Statement.”) During a $40 pub crawl with Robert O’Reilly, Gowron from Deep Space Nine, passengers showed off their Klingon language skills. One man pounded his feet as he sang the words to several Klingon battle songs. O’Reilly was impressed.

In one session, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, 57, and her husband Tom, 63, of Reno, Nev., renewed their wedding vows at a ceremony officiated by Deep Space Nine’s Farrell. Married 35 years and wearing Starfleet uniforms, they repeated vows written by Jordan Hoffman, host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. They referenced phasers and Tribbles and holodecks and, near the end, said, “You are the bridge to my Enterprise, you are the captain to my starship.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-02-15/maniac-killers-of-the-bangalore-it-department


Klingon was the chosen language for the Welsh government in its response to queries about UFO sightings at Cardiff Airport.

While English and Welsh are the usual forms of communications in the Senedd, it opted for the native tongue of the enemies of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar had asked for details of UFOs sightings and asked if research would be funded.

A Welsh government spokesman responded with: “jang vIDa je due luq.”

The Welsh government statement continued: “‘ach ghotvam’e’ QI’yaH devolve qaS.”

In full it said it translated as: “The minister will reply in due course. However this is a non-devolved matter.”

It is believed to be the first time the Welsh government has chosen to communicate in Klingon.

Mr Millar, shadow health minister and AM for Clwyd West, submitted three questions to economy, science and transport minister Edwina Hart about UFO reports around the airport and across the rest of Wales.

Responding to the government’s unusual diversion into trilingualism, Mr Millar said: “I’ve always suspected that Labour ministers came from another planet. This response confirms it.”

Mr Millar asked:

1) Will the minister make a statement on how many reports of unidentified flying objects there have been at Cardiff Airport since its acquisition by the Welsh government?

2) What discussions has the Welsh government had with the Ministry of Defence regarding sightings of unidentified flying objects in Wales in each of the past five years?

3) What consideration has the Welsh government given to the funding of research into sightings of unidentified flying objects in Wales?

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-33479808

NASA’s Harold White has been working since 2010 to develop a warp drive that will allow spacecraft to travel at speeds faster than light — 186,000 miles per second.

White, who heads NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Team, spoke about his conceptual starship at a conference last fall. But interest in his project reached a new level this week when he unveiled images of what the craft might look like.

Created by artist Mark Rademaker, who based them on White’s designs, the images show a technologically detailed spacecraft that wouldn’t look out of place in a “Star Trek” movie. Rademaker says creating them took more than 1,600 hours.

For now, warp speed is only possible in TV and movies, with both “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” referencing an idea that was completely speculative at the time. White has fittingly named the concept spacecraft IXS Enterprise, for the starship famously piloted by Captain James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” TV series and movies.

At the SpaceVision 2013 Space Conference last November in Phoenix, White talked about his design, the concepts behind it and the progress that’s been made in warp-drive development over the decades. He discussed the idea of a “space warp,” a loophole in the theory of general relativity that would allow for massive distances to be traveled very quickly, reducing travel times from thousands of years to days.

In his speech, White described space warps as faraway galaxies that can bend light around them. They work on the principle of bending space both in front of and behind a spacecraft. This would essentially allow for the empty space behind the craft to expand, both pushing and pulling it forward at the same time. The concept is similar to that of an escalator or moving walkway.

“There’s no speed limit on the expansion and contraction of space,” White said at the conference. “You can actually find a way to get around what I like to call the 11th commandment: Thou shall not exceed the speed of light.”

It’s the idea of space warps that inspired physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994 to first theorize a mathematical model of a warp drive that would be able to bend space and time. While studying Alcubierre’s equations, White decided to design his own retooled version of the Alcubierre Drive. His recently unveiled design has much less empty space than the first concept model, increasing its efficiency.

The warp drive that White’s team has been working on would literally transcend space, shortening the distance between two points and allowing the craft to break the speed of light. This would be a spaceship with no speed limit.

Because travel into space has been extremely limited due to existing means of propulsion, such a technology could blow open the possibilities of space exploration. It could allow for study of the farthest reaches of space, parts that scientists once considered unimaginable.

Although the technology to create the spacecraft or the warp drive doesn’t yet exist, the artistic renderings Rademaker created could potentially be a model of what’s to come — the first spacecraft to break the speed-of-light barrier and journey beyond our solar system.

In his design, White says he drew from Matthew Jeffries’ 1965 sketches of the Enterprise from “Star Trek,” saying parts of that ship were mathematically correct. He worked with Rademaker and graphic designer Mike Okuda to update the math and produce what he believes to be a viable spacecraft.

According to NASA, there hasn’t been any proof that a warp drive can exist, but the agency is experimenting nonetheless. Although the concept doesn’t violate the laws of physics, that doesn’t guarantee that it will work.

“We’re starting to talk about what the next chapter for human space exploration going to be,” White said at SpaceVision.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/12/tech/innovation/warp-speed-spaceship/index.html

Hyperdrive-yes

The science fiction vision of stars flashing by as streaks when spaceships travel faster than light isn’t what the scene would actually look like, a team of physics students says.

Instead, the view out the windows of a vehicle traveling through hyperspace would be more like a centralized bright glow, calculations show.

The finding contradicts the familiar images of stretched out starlight streaking past the windows of the Millennium Falcon in “Star Wars” and the Starship Enterprise in “Star Trek.” In those films and television series, as spaceships engage warp drive or hyperdrive and approach the speed of light, stars morph from points of light to long streaks that stretch out past the ship.

But passengers on the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise actually wouldn’t be able to see stars at all when traveling that fast, found a group of physics Masters students at England’s University of Leicester. Rather, a phenomenon called the Doppler Effect, which affects the wavelength of radiation from moving sources, would cause stars’ light to shift out of the visible spectrum and into the X-ray range, where human eyes wouldn’t be able to see it, the students found.

“The resultant effects we worked out were based on Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, so while we may not be used to them in our daily lives, Han Solo and his crew should certainly understand its implications,” Leicester student Joshua Argyle said in a statement.

The Doppler Effect is the reason why an ambulance’s siren sounds higher pitched when it’s coming at you compared to when it’s moving away — the sound’s frequency becomes higher, making its wavelength longer, and changing its pitch.

The same thing would happen to the light of stars when a spaceship began to move toward them at significant speed. And other light, such as the pervasive glow of the universe called the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is left over from the Big Bang, would be shifted out of the microwave range and into the visible spectrum, the students found.

“If the Millennium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable,” said research team member Riley Connors. “On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation.”

The increased X-ray radiation from shifted starlight would even push back on a spaceship traveling in hyperdrive, the team found, slowing down the vehicle with a pressure similar to the force felt at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, such a spacecraft would need to carry extra energy reserves to counter this pressure and press ahead.

Whether the scientific reality of these effects will be taken into consideration on future Star Wars films is still an open question.

“Perhaps Disney should take the physical implications of such high speed travel into account in their forthcoming films,” said team member Katie Dexter.

Connors, Dexter, Argyle, and fourth team member Cameron Scoular published their findings in this year’s issue of the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics.

http://www.livescience.com/26272-star-wars-hyperspace-physics-reality.html