Just the Two of Us

Men in Black international movie backdrop

Men in Black International: Eiffel, backfilling memory, space hacking

Eiffel

LPT: you can get pommes frites in Europe. Could Eiffel have been an agent? The history of the Eiffel tower. The Eiffel Tower’s science history. Cosmic rays. Wireless telepraphy (radio). Outliving its intended lifespan.

Aliens

Which government agency should you be applying to in order to research alien stuff? Remembering the MiB is an NGO.

Space tracking

Increasing ability to track nearby space objects. Tracking objects in our solar system’s plane. The difficulty of tracking interstellar objects. Being a good space neighbor. Confirmed tracked interstellar objects. Failing to pronounce “ʻOumuamua.”

justin: dude
Danzig lives next door to me in l.a.
down the street
and he is the worst neighbor ever

justin: so he has this huge pile of bricks in his front yard
and the house looks like an evil pixar house
so anyway, his neighbor was like, “dude, danzig your bringing property values down with these bricks in your yard.”
and danzig was pissed
so anyway, back and forth with his neighbor and danzig
and finally one day
i see danzig outside
in his front yard
and he’s hurling bricks into this drumpster and he’s screaming, “HERE I AM MOTHERFUCKER, JUST CLEANING UP MY FUCKING BRICKS BITCH!”
Just super loud
to no one in particular
for two hours
it was amazing
like, i couldn’t even think about other things
because it was so amazing

me: oh my god
this is amazing

justin: dude
it blew my mind
because it was danzig as just a really poor homeowner

Space security

Hacking satellites! Actually totally possible and has happened. Air Force satellites at DEFCON. DDoS in space. The possibilities for catastrophy in hacking things in space. The many ways an attacker could damage or destroy our space telescopes.

Stars!

Blue giants! They’re rather large, and luminous. And hot. Capturing star energy. Kardashev scales.

Memory

The tendency of our minds to backfill missing information. Using neuralizers without providing a cover story is probably actually good enough, really.

Links

Men in Black: human gestation, stimulants, and Earth as backwater w/ Liam ginty: Decipher SciFi
Isaac Arthur: YouTube

Star Trek Voyager backdrop

Star Trek Voyager: water, galactic scales, and coffee replicators

Setup

Cross-galaxy teleportation macguffins. The Delta quadrant. Where are the Borg!?

Species

The Kazon, aka less-good, less-organized Klingons. Were Klingons racist? Or the Ferengi? Or the Kazons?

Water

The availability of water in star systems. Exoplanet surveys and water-rich gas giants.

Voyager

Yay Janeway! Comparing with the original actress. Imagining a Star Trek/Too Many Cooks crossover.

Replicators and teleporters

The most incredible Star Trek technology of all. Teleporter failure rates: very low, or actually 100%?

Scales

Galaxy Scale. “Quandrants” actually refer to “quarters of the galaxy” which blew Christopher’s mind slightly (like this guy). And here is a map. Putting speed limits on the universe.

Links

The Orville: iTunes | Amazon | Hulu

Godzilla King of Monsters movi backdrop

Godzilla King of the Monsters: acoustic wildlife tracking and moth superiority

Titans

Awaking dormant giant monsters from within the Earth. Bio-acoustic signatures. Giant balloons! Tracking elephants by sound.

Pre-civilization civilizations

The Silurian hypothesis thought experiment, especially as part of our Atlantis coverage. The increasing disappearability of the details of civilization as they raise their technological level.

Moths

Moths: way better than butterflies! Echolocation defense mechanisms. Corresponding bat appreciation in our A Quiet Place episode. Echolocation signal jamming vs. aural camouflage. Giant moths and dedication to reproduction so complete that they will never once eat as an adult and devote all of their stored energy to reproduction. How we harvest silk from moths.

Creature combos

Pterosaur-bird monster Rhodan. Inane pedantry. Pterasaurs vs dinosaurs! Freedom at the cutting creative edge of paleontological art.

Links

Deep Learning With The Elephants by Planet Money: NPR.org
Godzilla: postwar Japan, science, and regrets w/ Miles Greb: Decipher SciFi

Species movie backdrop

Species: alien bio-containment, the Arecibo message, and Von Neumann trolls

Species

Wow there some really good movies in 1995! Geiger alien designs. Not “Alien,” but “alien.” This time, with nipples.

Ptosis

Forrest Whitaker. Chris’s history of eyelid laziness variability. Being either a dolphin or a flamingo. Eye farts?

The Arecibo Message

The limited utility of sending messages to aliens 25,000 light years away. The Arecibo Message sent in 1974 toward the M13 globular cluster. A cluster containiner millions of stars. 1679 bits: not a lot of bits!

Bio-executable Von Neumann machines

Von Neumann trolls. Self-assembling bootstrapping biological systems. What if DNA is very common across life in the universe?

Containment

How to combine biological containment and prisoner containment. Lots of “fire” buttons. Biocontainment protocols. Integrating what we’ve learned from prison-escape movies. Considering the Magneto-vault.

Cocoons

Vulvic wall-pods. What the hell even is up with cocoons anyway? Cocoons are basically alien material already. The “soup method” of metamorphosis.

Fat-bergs

Links

We redid our Patreon tiers! Check it out!: Patreon

Arnold Terminator bad guy movie backdrop

The Terminator: bootstrapping, machine uprising, and time traveling meatballs w/ Joe Ruppel

People

James Cameron’s first film! And Arnold is amazing! The possibility of casting O.J. Simpson as the T-100. Harlan Ellison lawsuit.

Robots

The thawing of the AI winter of the 70s. Robots finally showing up in our lives and in the workplace. Terminator bootstrapping. Robotics and machine learning.

Skynet

The possibility of AI becoming “self-aware” or “conscious” and whether we even know what those things really mean. Big data feeding skynet.

Terminators

Jacked-up and oiled beefcake “infiltration” models. Franco Columbu. Robotic Ahhhhhnold blending in. The “rule of cool.” Feeding and maintaining a terminator’s “living tissue.”

Persistence of information

The persistence of human knowledge after the nuclear apocalypse. The fragility of magnetic storage media. Storing your data under a mountain. The weakness of encryption over time.

Time travel

How to not sound crazy when telling people in the past that you’re from *the future*. Meatball time travel. Using the “living tissue” time travel rule to transport large weapons into the past. Stuffing a whale or elephant. Realizing that maybe (probably), no one (not even SkyNet) has the slightest clue what they are doing with the time travel.

Links:

Harlan Ellison and the Terminator: YouTube

Lockout prisoners in space movie backdrop

Lockout: plagiarism, space shuttle design, and how to skydive… from space!

Plagiarism

John Carpenter, this movie, and Escape from New York plagiarism. Metal Gear Solid also as an Escape ripoff. Running popular media through a “Hideo Kojima filter” to see what comes out.

Space Shuttles

Side-mounting your spacecraft. Flying  a brick. Deorbiting and landing in the space shuttle’s “orbiter.” Wiggle-worm descent. Having only one chance because all of your fuel was spent getting out of orbit. Returning to shuttle-like designs with mag-lev mountain-ramps.

Inert gas asphyxiation

Nitrogen! Biologically inactive gas asphyxia vs potentially-toxic: CO2, CO, etc. Hypoxia.

Falling out of space

The slim odds of hitting the ISS when accidentally de-orbiting. Space is… small? Understanding what “orbit” really means. HALO/HAHO jumping, Baumgartner’s Stratos jump, and the incredible difficulty of jumping out of orbit ffs. Copyrighting all of the “totally radical” stunts.

Breaking the sound barrier

The difference in the “speed of sound” at different atmospheric densities. Terminal velocity at high altitudes. Air is more “sticky” than you might expect. Why didn’t Felix Baumgartner “burn up” on reentry?

Orbital decay

“Jumping down” from a space station and how that is not sufficient for deorbiting. Megaconstellations and space junk.

Links:

How to Land the Space Shuttle… from Space by Bret Copeland: YouTube
Escape From New York: Decipher SciFi

Rocky IV backdrop, Rocky being held up in triumph by his cornermen while wrapped in an American flag

Rocky IV: sports science, brain injury, and horsepower punches

Forces

Height and reach advantage and impossible momentary punching force. Punching with horsepower vs just straight up hitting people with horses.

‘Murrica

James Brown and showboat Apollo. The Khaleesi naming scheme.

Sports Science

The rising tide of money in sports. The “big bang of body types.” Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Brain Injury

The particular badness of boxing for brain damage. The possible safety increase in taking off the gloves in MMA. Just about any sports injury is better than brain damage. The brain compared to Jello. The extra danger of rotational brain injury. Cumulative microconcussions.

Robots!

Surprisingly not a cynicalproduct placement.

Ryan Gosling First Man space launch backdrop

First Man: moon rocks, moon lasers, and the edge of space

One Small Step

Worrying the minimum amount about your speech. The difficulty of quoting noisy radio transmissions.

Because it is haaaahd

Recognizing the small temporal distance from the first powered flight to the first moon landing. The cutting edge of the early space program. Test piloting. Gemini.

The edge of space

Defining the edge of space. The “Karman Line”: transition from atmospheric lift to orbital velocity. Complications and redefinition of where “space” begins. Geopolitics, ruining everything since forever.

The “right stuff”

Badass engineer pilots. Moving fast and breaking things. Selection testing. Giving prospective astronauts ice-water wet willies. The importance of simulation in the early space program and the difficulty of simulating things we haven’t actually ever done or seen up close.How hard it really is to stay conscious under high-g stress.

Moon landing

Monocular depth cues. Light and shadow, unfamiliar objects, and depth perception. Equatorial noon on the equinox when stuff looks creepy: Lahaina Noon.

Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment

Retroreflectors and really really powerful lasers. Tiny photonic returns: 1 out of every 10¹⁷ photons shot at the moon mirror make it back for our detection. Multi-mile laser beams. Confirming relativity ftw.

ROCKS

… from the moon! And some regolith to boot. Vacuum transport for moon samples and how we work with them on Earth’s surface without contaminating. The difficulty of maintaining a a very strong vacuum vs nonreactive gasses. Detecting the provenance of proposed moon rocks. NASA’s moon-rock cataloguing system.

Moon-landing video

Viewership numbers. NASA’s custom video encoding and the incredibly analog conversion methods employed to bring it to television.

What if

What if it didn’t work out? The Nixon speach made ready just in case. “In Event of Moon Disaster.”

What now

Why we have no rockets now to match the power of the Saturn V. Loss of engine-production expertise. Looking at near-future Moon and Mars missions.

Links:

Where does NASA keep the Moon Rocks? by Smarter Every Day: YouTube
Apollo Television by Bill Wood: NASA

Alita Battle Angel movie backdrop

Alita Battle Angel: cybernetic cyborgs, photorealistic cg, and sports plus immortality

Alita

“The movie with the cyborgs and the kicking and the punching.” There are two kinds of film: people in a room talking and people in a room kicking and punching. Robert Rodriguez lands firmly within only one of these groups. Accidentally fitting Alita into the Robocop universe. Shooting and punching people in their robo-bits.

Cyborgs

Robots arms everywhere. But maybe not just for show? Cyborg arms as the cyborg future cliche. Replacing your limbs proactively for fun and profit. Replacing all of your joints, but not just with hinges. Defining “cyborg” more precisely in consideration of the definition of “cybernetics.”

Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary[1] approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities.

Wikipedia

“Real” cyborgs

We are already cyborgs, we just don’t ourselves enough credit. Cyborgification as performance. Designing a new hearing aid to help us talk to bats.Imagining all the ways in which implanted and attached technologies would help improve the human experience. And what do we get? Always super-strong robot arms. Realizing you would need the whole-system upgrade to support the forces exerted upon/by your super-arm.

Doing it right

Don’t be a cyborg bicep bro. Taking the short route to functional cyborg limbs by using existing neuromuscular wiring. The difficulty of inventing new appendages or body formats.

Photorealistic CG humans

Wow dude this was actually pretty great. Sidestepping the uncanny valley slightly by going with anime eyes. Aperture and catching more light. Legolas with dinner-plate eyeballs. Neoteny.

Nonsensical murder sports

Future cybersports: more violent spectacle, less athleticism. Sports and functional immortality.

Reign of fire dragon attacking London movie backdrop

Reign of Fire: types of dragons, animals that hibernate, and the Purkinje effect

‘Murrica

Jacked Christian Bale, Scottish Gerard Butler, and brash American hero Matthew McConaughey. Fighting a dragon with an axe. Appreciating the brash American caricature.

Dragons

Dragon VFX. Drawing the line from here to Game of Thrones. Animals that use a spray attack (or defense). Skunks, ants, horned lizard, snakes, even bombardier beetles and their boiling butt juices. Dragon classification (vs wyverns, etc).

Fire etc

Actual napalm is a hell of a thing. Remember the Anarchist’s Cookbook and how innacurate and unsafe everything was. Practical fire FX in the movie and how well it holds up. Hundreds of gallons of propane per dragon blast. Burninating all the food on a planet.

“Hibernation”

Hibernation vs other states. Dormancy Torpor. Estivation. Endotherm and ectotherm dormancy. Classical and modern ideas of what counts as “hibernation.” EXTREEEEEEME dormancies. Water bears/tardigrades.

Eyesight

Vision difficulties at twilight. The Purkinje effect. Shifting spectral sensitivities based on brightness. Progression through photopic, mesopic, and scotopic vision. Appreciating the idiosyncratic nature of our vision and understanding why emulating what we see is so difficult with a camera lens.

Twilight, my only weakness. How did you know?

-A Dragon

Castles

Buying up castles in the Romanian countryside. Castles come in different sizes but no matter how you measure that’s a really big dragon.