Guest Co-Host

Back to the Future Part II movie backdrop

Back to the Future Part II: time travel options, retro futurism, and hip thrust combat w/ Daniel Barker

Likenesses

The legal precedent set by Crispin Glover’s lawsuit against the production; folks are more careful these days as a result. “Grandma Tarkin.”

"Grandma Tarkin" Star Wars satire speech-to-text meme

Rick & Morty

Rick & Morty’s original short lampooning Doc & Marty.

The future

The fun, friendly future where the alleyways are safer than the streets. Worrying about your future children and feeling disgusted by your teenage self. Pelvic thrusting fight technique.

Daniel James Barker with embarrassing scene kid hair

DJB back in the embarrassing teenage days

Time travel technique

Buying The almanac. Varieties of time travel: mutable, immutable, and branching. The way BTTF mixes these options at its leisure. The butterfly effect. Coping with the scale of possibilities. Strategic infanticide and Godwin’s Law.

Spacetime travel

Taking into account frames of reference. Appearing suddenly in near-vacuum if you don’t properly calibrate your time machine to also account for space travel. The importance of accurate time measurement e.g. Doctor Who The Movie. Destroying “the universe” but only the local area as causality here could not affect far away galaxies due to expansion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Rational Optimism

Dan’s message welcoming Marty McFly to the future. Recognizing the overarching improvements in the wellbeing of humanity in the face of the negative newscycle.

Future things!

Bricking your self-lacing shoes. Keeping your shoes from joining a botnet. Self-smoking shirts. The periodic nature of futurism where “the future” always looks basically like now but with neato accessories. Hoverboard hoaxes and disappointments.

Links

Uncertainty Principle the Podcast: Soundcloud | The “Marty” Episode
VFXcool: Back to the Future Trilogy by Captain Disillusion: Part 1 | Part 2

Them! 1954 movie backdrop

Them!: nuclear optimism, amateur myrmecology, and Wilhelm-screaming w/ Joe Ruppel

Featuring guest co-host
Joe Ruppel Photo
Joe Ruppel, history nerd

Rise of the nuclear monsters

The era of nuclear nervousness and the nuclear monsters in cinema. “Take an object, and biggify it.” Nuclear power in the 1950s. The possibility of “unmetered” energy. White Sands, gypsum, and the Trinity test.

Nuclear optimism

The nuclear success hit list and the optimism of the early 50s. Recognizing downsides. Converting hydrogen into helium, but like really violently. Eclipses, occlusion, and we didn’t realize it at the time but Joe was right to use “occultation.” Las Vegas atomic bomb parties.

Nuclear fallout

The fallout from southern Nevada testing traveling directly as far as northeast Utah. The bitter, metallic taste of nuclear fallout. When Kodak accidentally discovered a-bomb testing.

A sense of scale

The scale of nuclear weapons since the first atom bombs. Considering the time when “duck and cover” made sense. Using NUKEMAP for a sense of scale.

Ants

Issues with upscaling. Myrmecology. Antennae and wayfinding. Evolutoniary history and their waspy ancestors. Ants as superorganism. Formic acid attack spray.

Links:

Them!: iTunes | Amazon Prime Video | YouTube
NUKEMAP: NuclearSecrecy.com
Decipher SciFi nuclear hot takes: WarGames | Superman IV

The Matrix 1999 movie backdrop

The Matrix: green phosphors, neuroplasticity, and rejecting utopia w/ Adrian Falcone

Featuring guest co-host
adrian falcone headshotAdrian Falcone

This movie is awesome

It is! And also we’re old. But honestly this is still unironically the best thing. The legacy of the Matrix. Falling back in love with the Wachowskis. Addressing the sequels.

Cyberpunk

The Matrix as cyberpunk. Comparing against other touchstones. Philip K Dick. William Gibson’s review from the time.

When I began to write NEUROMANCER, there was no “cyberpunk”. THE MATRIX is arguably the ultimate “cyberpunk” artifact. Or will be, if the sequels don’t blow. I hope they don’t, and somehow have a hunch they won’t, but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to worry about it.

-William Gibson lol

Old school computing

Damn kids and their pixels. CRT displays and low/high persistence phosphorus and how we wound up irl with the bright glowing green text aesthetic that informed The Matrix. Eye fatigue back in the day. Computer-touchers. Staring at people at work for fun and profit. The Solarized color schemes.

The Matrix

Taking the red pill. How easy it actually really is to explain what The Matrix is. Neo is a giant, slimy baby. The inefficiencies of using humans as batteries when you have fusion power. Grass, tastes bad.

Benevolent AI Dictators

But WHAT IF The Matrix actually has humanity’s best interests in mind? The possibility that they really tried to give us our utopia.

Virtual worlds

Plasticity and your brain’s willingness to accept new input schemes. Designing The Matrix with a “failsafe” so the humans are unadapted to their physical bodies irl. Acquired synaesthesia. Supernumerary limbs and phallic cartwheels. Upside down goggles and adaptation to a new “up.” Permanence in sensory adaptations.

Hacking The Matrix

Bendable physics. The difficulty with bending or breaking the rules of computing hardware.

Links:

The Matrix: iTunes | Amazon Prime Video | YouTube
The Pizza Matrix (it’s terrible): YouTube
The Animatrix: iTunes | Amazon Prime Video | YouTube
The Backwards Brain Bicycle by Smarter Every Day: YouTube

Superman 4 The Quest for Peace nuclear missile backdrop

Superman IV: Superman hair materials science, denuclearization, and pushing the moon w/ Jolene Creighton

Featuring guest co-host
Jolene Creighton headshot
Jolene Creighton, science communicator

A review

This was the best worst thing we’ve ever seen. I’m sorry. You’re welcome?

Space tricks

Leaving whole rocket stages to just kinda be in orbit and hit stuff. Talking in space by providing your own atmosphere thanks to your incredible, super lung capacity. Also, how that doesn’t work and Superman needs to be a close talker and hold conversations by vibrating his mouth directly on someone else’s spacesuit helmet.

Superman bodily materials

The hair that can hold at least a half ton. How does Superman cut his hair? Introducing weird gnarly alternate Superman with really long hair and uncut fingernails. Donating Superman’s bits to materials science. Making things out of hair. Totally realistic space elevator musings. Superman as a launch platform. Dissecting the Man of Steel for fun and profit. Using Superman for “free energy” (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal).

Super-denuclearization

Superman’s built-in orbital mechanics skills. The tiny bit of nothing that would be all of 1987’s nuclear world arsenal against the power of the sun. The relative tiny-ness of the only nuclear weapons ever used in war. Proposals for nuclear de-proliferation. Going Dr Manhattan on the problem.

A bunch of stuff oh god this movie was silly

Nuclear Man’s totally fab nails. The golden crotch-trim on his super suit. Plugging a volcano. Superman’s “brick vision.” Slowing things down, because the moon has “less gravity.” It’s obvious, really. The actual disasters that await us if Superman pushed the Moon away.

Links

Jolene Creighton: Future of Life
Superman IV: iTunes | Amazon
Superman IV deleted scene “Nuclear Man 1”: YouTube
Nukemap: Nuclear Secrecy

The Expanse Roci crew backdrop

The Expanse Season 3: low-g gardening, high-g deceleration, and more poop potatoes w/ Fraser Cain

Featuring guest co-host
Fraser Cain headshotFraser Cain of Universe Today

Past coverage

We like this show lots! Thus, our continuing coverage:
* Language & The Expanse w/ Nick Farmer, Linguist
* The Expanse VFX w/ Cailin Munroe
* The Expanse Season 2 (feat Fraser Cain)

Difficulties

The oft-overlooked actual difficulties of space settlement. Not technology and logistics, but like, how hard it will likely be for the humans doing the job at first. And second. And then for a while after, too.

Plants in spaaaaaaaace

Growing fresh food in space habitats. Poop-potatoes. Wide-spectrum LEDs. Self-contained hydroponics/aeroponics.

Low-g situations

People in spaaaaaaaaace. Dealing with microgravity. Bro, do you even lift in space? Eyeball un-squishing. Figuring out how to burp. Fluid-pooling and major injury.

High-g situations.

Turning people into jelly. Differing human sensitivity to sustained g-forces in different directions. The wonderful engineering concept of the ship with omnidirectional seating that reconfigures on-the-fly for optimal g-resistance (The Razorback).

High-speed space impact

Turning into jelly and then having your jelly explode your ship, because physics. Relativistic baseballs. Long-haul space-racing and how to be your own butt-wiping pit crew.

Kinetic weapon diplomacy

Nuclear non-proliferation treaties in space. Orbital kinetic weapons and cloaked nuke-ships playing the role of the submarine as deterrent.

Interstellar highway program

Minimum viable star system bootstrap answering machine. The Fermi paradox. The odds that most of the signs of alien civilization that we might discover would be past.

Links

The Universe Today Ultimate Guide to Viewing The Cosmos: Everything You Need to Know to Become an Amateur Astronomer by David Dickinson & Fraser Cain: Amazon
The Expanse Season 3: Prime Video
Guide to Space by Fraser Cain: YouTube

Total Recall Arnold in machine backdrop

Total Recall – top-notch Arnold, muscle memory, and how not to settle Mars w/ Josh Effengee

Featuring guest co-host
Josh from LSG Media headshotJosh from LSG Media

Man meat

Ahhhhnold! Your average Joe, working construction just like any other regular guy who is a giant bodybuilding monster-person. We really missed this in our coverage of Total Recall 2012.

Memory

Memory “insertion” and memory “deletion” or “blocking” in mouse studies. The great distance from where we are now to trivial memory “vacations” a la Recall. Semantic memory, autobiographical memory, and muscle memory.

Tracking devices

Ideal tracking-implantation locations. The incredible utility of the anus for tracker storage, weighed against the small time window.

Mars

Building Martian settlements with as much radiation exposure as possible: glass! glass everywhere! Radiation exposure on the Martian surface. Burying your dead on Mars: a tasteful resource-wasting mausoleum indoors, a giant pile of bleached-out mummies outside the door, or arrange them in awesome poses?

Space Resources

Natural resources in space. Calculating mining cost vs cost to get it where it will be useful. Mining and transporting Helium-3 for fusion energy. Harvesting oxygen from frozen water and getting rocket fuel as a bonus. NASA’s Moxie and inventing trees for spaaaaace. Making your Martian habitat smell like a dirty fish tank, for science.

Links:

Josh’s shows on LSG Media: The X-Files Podcast (always) | Science Fiction Film Podcast (sometimes)

The Predator 2018 movie backdrop

The Predator: glistening biceps, savant syndrome, and first contact w/ Josh Effengee

Featuring guest co-host
Josh from LSG Media headshotJosh from LSG Media

Action heroes

Glistening, rippling man-meat. Sweaty pecs. Aggressive handshakes with biceps the size of coconuts. Longing for the good old days. Feeling unjustified disappointment when our heroes aren’t giant walking meat monsters. The inapplicability of the bodybuilder physique to actually getting hero stuff done. Bodylifting.

Savantism

“Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average” –Wiki. As opposed to someone just simply being awesome at something. Josh’s recent related coverage from The X-Files Podcast @ LSG Media. Acquired savantism. Aptitude for… alien user interfaces? Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.

Nerddom

Chess club vs computer club. Afterschool D&D. Duke Nukem and Team Fortress LAN parties at school.

Predator

Predator vs prey. Linguistically, should they be called “predator” if they hunt mainly for sport? “Predator” as a label for a biological relationship in which one creatures hunts and eats another for sustenance. The deadliest cat in the world. Humans as top “predator.” How to judge top predator when the line is not so clear cut.

Alien contact

Survey of movie alien contact scenarios and what they reveal about us. Energy required for interstellar travel and the likelihood anyone will happen by by accident. Government secrecy. Zip tie budgets and how to keep an alien captive. irl tranquilizer dart use and the inherent dangers. Why not to shoot yourself with an alien tranquilizer dose.

Building the megapredator

Selecting desirable traits from around the cosmos. Leave enough room for my stomach. Spinal juice collection. Gene manipulation. Selecting for intellectual traits: competitive science. Interpretive flex-dancing to enable armor modes.

Predator-killer

Reasonable solutions to the predator problem. The fix for climate change (fusion?). Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator integrated with The Predator, Aliens, and Blade Runner. How awesome was the original predator?

Links:

Josh is on other shows at LSG Media!: Science Fiction Film Podcast, The X-Files Podcast
Meet the Deadliest Cat on the Planet: YouTube

Akira red motorcycle on white background

Akira: mind bullets, evolution, and odd horsepower calculations w/ Jolene Creighton

Featuring guest co-host
Jolene Creighton headshot
Jolene Creighton, the science queen

Akira

Hey this movie was really important! Time and place. Budgets. Omg so pretty.

Subtitles

Subtitling adult anime for the west. Translation vs localization. Different industries and approaches to localization. Software localization in comparison to film localization. Fansubs online before the likes of Crunchyroll.

Motorcycles

Horsepower! Sweet motorcycles. High-speed motorcycle attacks. Turning people into “mushwater.”

Funiculars

giant slidey freight elevators. Also mountainside trams. Related words:

  • Funicular is Latin for cord
  • Funiculus is Latin for umbilical cord
  • Umbilicus is Latin for navel

Waterways

Underwater or otherwise. Rivers vs sewers. The Tokyo sewer and transport overhaul preceding the 1964 Olympics. The inefficiency of poop-sucking truck fleets. Traveling in sewers and dysentery avoidance.

Psi powers

Creepy, wrinkly children. Psi floaty chairs, the escalator of chairs! When operational, their ares a floaty chair. When they fail, they are… a comfortable chair.

Mind bullets

Obvious thing to do: government research into mind-bullets. Surprising thing: when it works. Even more surprising: when it works so well it blows up Tokyo and starts World War III.

The future of humanity

Evolutionary milestones. Latent abilities. Guided evolution. Atavism.

Laser guns

Laser rifles! Conventions against blinding weapons. Tricking the enemy into rout with elaborate eyepatches. Recognizing the obvious advantages of space lasers. Space-based light concentrators. The difficulties of penetrating atmosphere with space-based lasers. Space lasers for space junk cleanup (Kurtzgesagt).

Blobby guy

Overloading on mind bullets and turning into a big blobby guy before going all mini-singularity. Crushing your girlfriend in your fleshy bits.

Links

AKIRA: How To Animate Light by Nerdwriter1: YouTube
Decipher SciFi animated scifi posters: Twitter
Jolene Creighton: Website | Twitter | Future of Life

I Origins movie backdrop

I Origins: rationality, eyeballs, and biometric ID w/ Daniel Barker

Featuring guest co-host
Daniel Barker headshotDaniel James Barker of Uncertainty Principle the Podcast

Eyeball anatomy

All the important parts, wherever they are! Who really cares anyway we’re only here for two in particular: the iris and the retina. The retinal blind spot.

Creationism

And intelligent design. Are wrong. Reaching conclusions and working backwards for fun and profit. Young Earth creationism. Dan’s religious upbringing. Irreducible complexity. Faulty reasoning.

The evolution of the modern vertebrate eyeball

Fish and their goofy eyeball arrangements. The crazy Charlie eyeball progress chart. Light sensitive flat patches, pits, enclosures, open pinhole eyeballs, lenses, and flexing your sphincters. Dan’s episode on Three-D Vision.

conspiracy charlie eyeball evolution

Comparative eyeball studies

Human eyes are pretty sweet! But there other ones that do other things (at their own local summits on Mount Improbable) and are also really good at stuff! Goats, sharks, snakes (sorta), bees. Removing your lenses for fun and profit. Monet’s lens removal and ultraviolet perception.

Eyeball shortcomings

Common “colorblindness” is a misnomer, but “color discernment syndrome” doesn’t flow as well. Retinal wiring and the “blind spot.” Saccades. “Chronostasis” or “the stopped clock illusion” and the tight coupling of our eyes and our brains.

Bio-identification

Selecting scanning sites for statistical uniqueness and natural resistance to hacking. The insufficiency of fingerprints. Iris scans. Retinal scans. Bio-identification security. Ease of use.

Rationality

Rationalism/spiritualism/etc. The rational scientific worldview and self-correction. The absolution of new knowledge.

Links

Richard Dawkins demonstrates the evolution of the eye: YouTube
Uncertainty Principle the Podcast Daniel James Barker: The Show | The Marty McFly episode

The Meg movie backdrop sharks

The Meg: claspers, megalodon teeth, and shark proponency w/ Melissa Marquez

Featuring guest co-host
Melissa Márquez headshotMelissa Márquez Website | Twitter

Sharks

A sharky public service message/pro-shark propaganda. Sharks get a bad wrap in the media. Eating weird stuff. The importance of sharks in the ocean and their roles in their particular ecosystems.

Shark behaviour

Biting the internet. Alternative shark species name suggestions. “Exploratory” biting. Claspers! The Megalodon’s likely “biiiiiiiiiig” penis. Shark skin with dermal denticles, aka “teeth paper.” Shark intelligence and how you might measure it.

The Megalodon

Irl best estimates of megalodon size vs the creatures of the film. Limited fossil data and cartilaginous skeletons. Learning from paleoarchaeological study of ancient shark relatives with more calcified skeletal material. Working backward from the modern shark bodyform. Ancient buzzsaw-mouthed monsters. The importance of teeth.

Helicoprion illustration

Helicoprion by ДиБгд via Wikimedia

The Marianas Trench

Pressure and darkness at depth. Adaptations to pressure and darkness. Odd, squishy creatures. Blob fish as the gudetama of the sea.

Blob fish

Blog fish by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via Wikimedia

Conservation

Shark public image management. Sharks with eyebrows.

Links

Melissa’s Chondrichthyan-promotion organization: The Fins United Initiative
Melissa’s podcast: ConCiencia Azul