Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Christmas

Had the most bizarre dream the other night. I often wonder how the brain in sleep comes up with these inventions that are pure fantasy, especially when they have absolutely nothing to do with your every day life. Naturally certain incidents during the day can be the touch paper as was the case here. Friends lent us two DVDs of “Startrek” and of course we had to watch them both; that is the others watched them both but I found, possibly because they were stretched into full length movies instead of filling a mere half hour usually with a simple straightforward story, I kept dozing off so obviously missed some of the plot. I really wasn’t taken in by them at all.* Plots involving time travels are often suspect. When we went all those year ago in London to the very first “Star Wars” I was riveted to it, so much so that the very next evening at supper I suggested we went to see it again, which we did; the only film that has ever received the two nights in a row treatment. Since then I’ve also sat through it a few times on DVD. I think “Startrek” was being too clever by half though the others seemed to enjoy it. It moved at such a rate the dialogue became almost unintelligible, so fast in fact the sub-titles couldn’t keep up with it. I disliked the boy playing Kirk but I have a feeling it was not his fault but the fault of the direction. Having been told to play it big and bold and brash and possibly egged on he went over the top and became objectionable, a lout: witness the apple eating scene. This of course is only my reaction and arguable.
But what all this is leading up to is the dream. Naturally, as with most if not all dreams, I don’t remember it exactly and if I hadn’t woken up to go to the loo I most probably wouldn’t remember as much as I have done which was this: the original crew of the “Enterprise,” that is from the original series; William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei etcetera were now crewing a double decker bus! I ask you, from a spacecraft going to where no man had been before, to the streets of (I presume as it was red double decker) London. Kirk was the driver (that’s logical) and Spock was the conductor. He had one of those old-fashioned metal ticket dispensers filled with a roll of paper and a handle to wind out the necessary ticket. Now this is the truly weird part. It turned out that Spock was Roman Catholic and his tickets were indulgences so if there were any passengers he didn’t like they didn’t get a ticket and went straight off to purgatory. Sulu eventually told him he was being a bit too judgmental so when a pretty girl boarded the bus and Spock fell for her that was the end of withholding any passenger’s ticket. So love speaks not only in the language of flowers but in London Transport bus tickets.
A billion pixels for a billion stars.The Gaia satellite, launched by the European Space Agency, is aiming to map the precise positions and distances to Earth of more than a billion stars. It is one of the most ambitious space missions ever to be launched and should give the first realistic picture of how our Milky Way galaxy is constructed.
Gaia's remarkable sensitivity will lead also to the detection of many thousands of previously unseen objects, including new planets and asteroids. The intention is to put it on path to an observing station some 1.5 million km from the Earth on its nightside - a journey that will take about a month.
Gaia has been in development for more than 20 years.
It will be engaged in what is termed astrometry - the science of mapping the locations and movements of celestial objects.
To do this, it carries two telescopes that throw light on to a huge, one-billion-pixel camera detector connected to a trio of instruments.
Gaia will use this ultra-stable and supersensitive optical equipment to pinpoint its sample of one billion stars,1% of the Milky Way's total, with extraordinary confidence; Their physical properties catalogued - details such as brightness, temperature, and composition. It should even be possible then to determine their ages.  
And for about 150 million of these stars, Gaia will measure their velocity either towards or away from us.
But the quality of the new survey promises a raft of discoveries beyond just the stars themselves: new asteroids, failed stars, and its map of the sky will be a reference frame to guide the investigations of future telescopes
And because Gaia will track anything that passes across its camera detector, it is likely also to see a colossal number of objects that have hitherto gone unrecorded - such as comets, asteroids, planets beyond our Solar System, cold dead stars, and even tepid stars that never quite fired into life.  Maybe even Heaven!
By the end of the decade, the Gaia archive of processed data is expected to exceed 1 Petabyte (1 million Gigabytes), equivalent to about 200,000 DVDs of information.

*All I can say is I had better get into a “Startrek” mood as we have been given
the full DVD set for Christmas and that’ a whole lot of viewing. A happy Christmas to you all and a bright 2014.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

A Merry Christmas to you all
and a
Happy New Year.