Monday, January 20, 2014

Sci Fi pARTy & Firefox Thought-Helmets

Last Friday I attended yet another fun art event put on by Toronto-based Christian Aldo. Yet again was temped into buying some art created around the theme of Sci Fi.

While there I had a great conversation with a PhD in neuroscience who actually worked as a National Defence Scientist for Canada's National Research Council. He had worked on such projects as night vision goggles as well as a rather interesting project for Lockheed Martin involved with developing an advanced helmet to enable pilots flying fighters such as the F22 or F35 to essentially control the aircraft or weapons systems much like in the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox. He doesn't quite like using his iPhone as he knows it can be turned on anytime remotely to be used a listening device; I'm not sure what to think about that.

On a side note, I did visit Russia's Far East a while back and spent some time in Komsomolsk-Na-Amure, likely the city where in the movie Clint Eastwood's character had to sneak in in order to steal the Mikoyan MiG-31"Firefox". Komsomolsk is the location of the highly secretive Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production AssociationRussia's largest aircraft-manufacturing company, maker of numerous types of fighters among other planes. I had read that fifteen years ago that even ordinary Russians needed a permit to enter or stay in the city, even if visiting relatives. I cloud only see the tips of the plane tails over the wall.

Of note, if you wander out of town you enter the hunting ground of the world's largest cat, the Siberian tiger. The city is also the location of the Amur Shipbuilding Plant where well over a hundred warships have been built, including both conventional and nuclear submarines.

As computers become ever more powerful and our understanding of neuroscience advances, a thought-helmut may soon be reality. But perhaps too latecockpits no longer need pilots.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Anti-Hero ゴジラ Godzilla is Back!

After a deliberate absence spanning a decade, ゴジラ/Godzilla is back!

Well, at least by mid-May this year. One of the silver screen's largest ever anti-heroes, Godzilla--as a representation of the wrath of nature--will co-star with Bryan Cranston, the man who portrayed one of the most beloved anti-heroes ever, Breaking Bad's Walter White.

Nice to know that much of the film was shot in Vancouver, but Godzilla's stomping ground appears to be deservedly San Francisco.

I've tried to erase the terrible memories of the 1998 American reboot; this version promises to be better, honouring the franchise's 1954 roots: "An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence."

Too bad the storyline panders to anthropogenic climate change alarmism. Despite the concept that we are destroying the planet, we likely will never come close to  being as destructive as bulldozing more than half of North America with an ice sheet a kilometre thick. That happened at least eight times in the past million years.

Not even a galleon of Godzillas could ever match that destruction.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Toronto's Ice Quakes / "Cryoseisms"

On days like today I'm wondering what am I still doing hanging around Toronto. It's so damn cold I learned a new word today: cryoseism, or "ice quake".  

The whole Toronto region is hearing loud booms--sometimes like gunfire--as the water in soil and rocks expands into ice from the recent rapid temperature drop. 

Having studied chemical engineering, water is always surprising me, and now is startling my neighbours into calling the police. 

While I don't believe in anthropogenic global warming--as I've read far too much about astronomy to know that solar output and gravitation pulls from other bodies including Uranus are responsible for our planet's orbit and warmth, I am a supporter of doing whatever we can to heat the planet up more. 

Canada is actually one of the only countries that does not gripe about transitioning to a warmer planet; we perhaps have the most to benefit...just don't tell that to anyone from recently flooded Calgary.