viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

Captain's Log: Next Movie Chatter, Dark Matter and Watery Worlds

A few items approaching news surfaced recently regarding the next Star Trek Paramount feature film, due for release in the 50th anniversary summer of 2016.  Actually they were more like somebody spilling tea leaves on your plate, but then a lot of news is like that.

One story (which flared like a meteor and disappeared) was about a prominent British actor "in early stages" of negotiations to play the "villain" in the next Trek feature.  While Trek bbs parse the idea, nobody seems to be asking the key question: where did this story come from? It's possible it leaked from Paramount, perhaps as a trial balloon but the phrase "in early stages of negotiation" suggests to me that it's much more likely to have come from this actor's agent or publicist, who seems adept at getting publicity for this client that has no substance beyond speculation.

If that's so, it seems less likely that this bit of casting is going to happen.  It looks too strategic in terms of the actor's career.  Doesn't mean it won't happen, but it doesn't feel that way to me.

Of course the V word is discouraging to a number of Trek fans, who've seen three straight Trek features try to reinvent the single-villain success of exactly one of the previously successful movies, namely the second, The Wrath of Khan.  And even that film was about more than revenge or Kirk v. Khan.

The other tea leaves spill was an interview by one of the new writers for the movie, who also plays engineer Scott, Simon Pegg.  It seems to confirm that the story for the film as well as the previous screenplay have been totally thrown out, suggesting to some fans that there isn't enough time for (a) a movie in summer 2016 or (b) a good movie in summer 2016.

However, several of the first ten Trek movies were made on tight schedules, with new screenplays written quickly after prior ones were rejected.  Whether it works out this time, and especially with the complexities of visual effects and editing of movies now, remains to be seen.

Some fans see Pegg's insistence on being true to the original series as hopeful, which it may be.  On the other hand, it is the 50th anniversary of a saga that went well beyond the original series.  Star Trek began but did not end with the original series or even its films.  The soul of Star Trek contains elements from the entire saga.

There seem to be two concerns building about this feature.  First, that it will be the kind of pandering big villain misfire as some believe the last one was, and second, that it will not honor the saga by including actors from prior Trek series, especially the first.

As one comment on the Trek Movie thread noted, the JJA Star Wars movie in preparation includes its classic crew while it seems unlikely that this 50th anniversary Trek movie will.  It makes the death of Leonard Nimoy--the only such actor to appear in the JJA features-- just a year before the 50th anniversary especially poignant.

Trek Universe V. Real Universe

The Trek universe includes a mirror universe, and with the JJA films, embraces the reality of parallel universes.  This week's science suggests that if there is a mirror universe, it isn't made of dark matter.  But what dark matter is remains a mystery.  Since it comprises some 70% of the known real universe, that's a big mystery.

We may experience first contact with a parallel universe however, along with a the creation of a mini-black hole, at least in this interpretation of what the Large Hadron Collider will be up to next.

But like a lot of phenomena (and inventions) that draw Trek universe analogies, these are much more modest and technical.

The more understandable stuff, and in its way the more exciting, has to do with recent discoveries about our own solar system, which gets short shrift in Trek but is likely to be our outer space future, if any, for a considerable time, and perhaps forever.

Scientists announced recently that they believe observations by means of the Hubble Telescope confirm the existence of liquid water--of an underground ocean in fact-- on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter.  Scientists were already excited about the possibilities for life on two other moons of Jupiter: Europa and Callisto.

  At almost the same time, other research suggests that Saturn's moon Enceladus has hot springs in its own underground ocean, which on Earth hosts some of the more exotic forms of life on the planet.

The existence of water at one time or another in so many places, and especially these latest findings, means life may be possible to find elsewhere in the solar system, or at least evidence of life in the past.  But proof of life will take actual observation, and the outer planets are still very far away.  So even if probes are sent soon, it will probably be near the end of this century before the questions can be answered.  (The discovery of nitrogen on Mars however is another plus in the search for life in that nearer planet's history.)

The solar system itself is sort of changing, at least in our view.  There's a theory that there are actually one or two more large planets on its outer edges beyond direct observation, and another theory that there once may have been more small planets closer to the sun, until Jupiter blew them away.  It turns out we're still not sure there aren't more very small planets in our solar system, especially since scientists can't decide on what qualifies as a planet.

Evidence grows also for the possibility of panspermia--the spread of microbial life from one place in the universe to others, including to Earth--and also of lithopanspermia--the spread of life from Earth to Mars and elsewhere.  Life arising independently on planets and moons, or life transferred from a common ancestor to several places---both are exciting possibilities.  Though we seem tantalizingly closer to answers, we are still in the realm of science fiction.

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