Wow there some really good movies in 1995! Geiger alien designs. Not “Alien,” but “alien.” This time, with nipples.
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!
Von Neumann trolls. Self-assembling bootstrapping biological systems. What if DNA is very common across life in the universe?
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.
Vulvic wall-pods. What the hell even is up with cocoons anyway? Cocoons are basically alien material already. The “soup method” of metamorphosis.
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James Cameron blank checks and record-breaking budgets and payouts.
Getting re-jacked to your original shape at 56 years old. Screening your movie at Saddam’s palace.
The broadness of the term “nanotechnology.” Upgrading your liquid-metal nanotechss32 robots.
Placing this movie in the data collection timeline: after the dawn of big data digital government spying, but before smartphones when we willingly began to give up all the data. But there’s a Terminator movie for that too!
Direct linkages in car systems. Driving by-wire. Hacking automobile computer systems. Wired hacking and modern wireless car hacks.
Finally, a Terminator in the age of the ubiquitous cell phone! Still not smartphones yet, but it’s a start! Hydrogen fuel cell failure modes and the danger of tiny hydrogen bombs. MRI dangers.
AI escape scenarios. Supercomputing at “60 teraFLOPS” and wth is a “teraFLOPS” anyway? Computing power measurement and FLOP precisions. Recognizing the actual utility of supercomputers only becoms apparent with very paralellizable tasks.
The Cold War and looming climate catastrophe. What are Colossus’ goals? What goals does it think it has?
Period conceptions of computing as centralized and institutional. Computing in the era of the first moon landing. The “big board.” Computer scientists a la Mad Men. Colossus as a Golem story. How to take over the world with no subterfuge or tact. Gendering AI.
Portrayal of telecommunications literally before the invention of networking. Packet switching was first implemented after the novel was written and only just before the film! Computer communication syntax. Computing language. Computer interfaces and code checking.
The books get weird. And weirder! How sometimes books are accidentally way better than their author is capable of.
Colossus as utilitarian “peace maximizer.” Showing the monkeys the gun to get your point across.
Love and appreciation for the humans involved. James Cameron is amazing. Arnold, always our favorite. Linda Hamilton playing one of the most iconic characters in film. Robert Patrick doing the robot. James Cameron doing everything himself.
VFX and CG and the high shot counts for the time. The expense of CG and the appropriate use thereof. Budgets. Incredible animatronix! The value of high-quality practical FX from the 90s and how they hold up.
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Motorcycle jumping. Harley’s Fat Boy. Jumping into helicopters.
The Terminator series as a window into our concerns over technology in different decades. Computing miniaturization. Quantum stuff. Read-only Terminator modes, IRQ switching, and ro cassettes.
Terminator models and designs. Possible Billy Idol T-1000, or Kyle Reese-bots. T-1000 shiny grey goo nanite flow robot.
Pork chop sandwiches! Inert gas asphyxiation. Steam barriers, sugar work, and dipping your hand into hot lead.
T2 Stunt Trailer by Peter Kent: YouTube
The Forgotten Art of Blockbuster Cinema by Mike Hill: YouTube
Particle collider scales. Increasing energies. Finding the Higgs Boson. Different ways of smashing things. Straight colliders, ring colliders, and rings so large they kinda seem straight at a certain scale. Adrian’s new area of expertise. “Natural experiments” in particle physics. Imagining future colliders and subsequent discoveries. Confirmation of supersymmetry. Probing the edges of the standard model.
Stragelets and black holes and other things that won’t happen. Anatoli Burgorski taking a load in the eye. Magnetic monopoles and winning “Magnetic Monopoly.”
OMG the art. Chromatic aberration. Offset printing errors. Smearing vs motion blur. Animating on “twos” or “threes” and the use of fluidity as a storytelling tool.
James Cameron’s first film! And Arnold is amazing! The possibility of casting O.J. Simpson as the T-100. Harlan Ellison lawsuit.
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.
The possibility of AI becoming “self-aware” or “conscious” and whether we even know what those things really mean. Big data feeding skynet.
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.
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.
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.
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?
“Jumping down” from a space station and how that is not sufficient for deorbiting. Megaconstellations and space junk.
Height and reach advantage and impossible momentary punching force. Punching with horsepower vs just straight up hitting people with horses.
James Brown and showboat Apollo. The Khaleesi naming scheme.
The rising tide of money in sports. The “big bang of body types.” Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
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.
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.
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.
… 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.
Viewership numbers. NASA’s custom video encoding and the incredibly analog conversion methods employed to bring it to television.