Video Throughput: John Carter Revisited

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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20 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Phobos is also (IIRC) busy getting torn apart by Mars tidal forces.Report

  2. CJColucci
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    says:

    Suppose Carter times his jump so he is going down when he grabs her. Would that solve the problem of the initial contact? And if it does, why wouldn’t the shock of the landing still kill her? It’s not as though Carter could slow down his descent.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      Pretty much. I mean, from that scene, she wasn’t even close to terminal velocity, but still, she was falling.

      You can catch a falling person, but the length of travel of your bent knees and hips isn’t much for a soft deceleration. Better to land in some water, or a big airbag, or something else that will provide for decel.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      Most fantasy or science fiction movies regard conservation of momentum as a suggestion, not a law. I’ve been writing a group of lighthearted short fantasy stories to work on details about how the world they’re set in works. One of the questions asked by an academic sort of sorcerer at some point is, “We know magic lets us violate conservation of momentum; what we want to understand is how the process works. Is there some momentum bank where we’re making deposits and withdrawals? What about overdrafts?”Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        If you make an overdraft, you have to run through molasses until you satisfy the debt, plus the fee.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          I admit to borrowing the basic notion from Dickson’s The Dragon and the George where there is a magical auditing/accounting department that can be invoked in real time when the bad guys or the good guys have exceeded the amount of magic the situation would allow them (ie, cheated).

          Always wondered if Dickson’s bit prompted a part of one of the Dream Park novels where a software glitch left an NPC in the game, and the actor demanded to speak to the gods — large voice from the sky — to stay in the game, without the gods cheating to kill him off, on double-time wages.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain
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            says:

            If you like the notion of magic-as-contracts combining with modern concepts of contract law, look into Gladstone’s “Craft Sequence”.

            They’re written out of story order — like, the first book published is technically the third part of the story. I would say to start with the first book written, “Three Parts Dead”, and if you dig it then go on to read the others in whichever order you choose.

            Publication order is 3-2-5-1-4, and that’s how I read it, and you can tell that he wrote it that way because the end of #4 is very definitely a Big Wrap-Up; plus which there are some cute “oh-ho, so THAT’S how they got that way” bits you get (basically it’s the author doing fix-it fic for his own books).

            But it still works to read in number order; the “#5” book is more like the first part of a second series (…which is, so far, only itself and another book) so you can read it after the others without losing any fun playing-with-story-sequence effects.Report

  3. Damon
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    says:

    I read all of Bburrough’s books about Mar, and the one for Venus too–I still have them. They were great entertainment. The movie fails to capture all the hack and slash of the book, but overall I enjoyed it. Good review.Report

  4. Burt Likko
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    says:

    Do we have any explanation for how Schiaparelli, and later Lovell, came to think there were canali on Mars? I haven’t found much more explanation than “it was an optical illusion.” Were they perhaps seeing Valles Marineris?Report

    • Michael Siegel in reply to Burt Likko
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      Somewhat. Mars has lots of surface features — craters, outflow channels, etc. When viewed through a small optical telescope — like the one Schiaparelli was using — they can appear to form vague lines on the surface. I think it was also a matter of people seeing what they wanted to see.Report

  5. Michael Cain
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    says:

    While trips to Mars remain an impressive contemporary accomplishment, this past week suggests just how routine low Earth orbit seems to have become. On Friday just past, SpaceX put up another load of Starlink satellites. Perfect lift-off, dead-center booster landing on one of the SpaceX barges. Second stage orbit-correcting burn before releasing 13 tons of satellites was less than two seconds duration. It was their sixth launch this month, only two days after the fifth. The reused booster had flown just 21 days previously. This was its sixth trip.

    None of the general news sources mentioned it. (Heck, they barely mentioned the two days previous manned flight to the ISS.) Not even the general science news sites I read mentioned it. You had to go look at space-specific sites in order to find it.Report

    • rexknobus in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      Mixed Feelings Missive: About a year ago we were on Lake Powell (evidently won’t be making that trip again) taking dark sky shots deep in the canyons. Suddenly! Streaming through the sky! A line of incredibly bright lights! And then another! Dozens of them! WTF!?! I have to interject that I am recently retired from a major satellite research facility funded by NASA. Not a scientist, per se, but I know the difference between polar and geostationary orbits. These were obviously neither. I had never heard of StarLink so (while I knew deep down it was satellites of some sort) the long line and regular procession of them took me a bit too far into H.G. Wells territory. We marveled, perhaps like biblical shepherds, at the sight. The next day we got some online access and found out what they were. Whew! Turns out Woking and New Jersey were safe.

      But what a mess those lights made of the dark sky! Is that worth it?

      But are they useful in providing internet access to places that could really use it…say, Ukraine, or citizens of Moscow?

      I have no answers.

      I even have mixed feelings about Lake Powell. Very cool trip. Probably should be a scenic canyon and not a lake. I keep waiting for my aging brain to completely ossify and make it all simple…

      Oh yeah, I devoured Burroughs throughout my early teen years. School? Pah! Thanks for the post.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to rexknobus
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        says:

        As I understand it, the lines of Starlink satellites are those that have been recently released. They scatter as they move themselves into position in the orbital shells SpaceX is building. Won’t just be Starlink in the long run, of course. OneWeb, in partnership with part of Airbus, is putting up hundreds of satellites. Bezos is funding the Kuiper Systems constellation, which is approved for thousands.

        The two arguments for keeping the Glen Canyon Dam is replacing the large amounts of hydroelectricity it generates, and a complete rewrite of the now hundred year old Colorado River Compact so the upper basin states aren’t totally screwed.Report

        • rexknobus in reply to Michael Cain
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          says:

          We had several reasons for fleeing Los Angeles many years ago, one of them was understanding the fact that, sooner or later, water was going to be a Big Issue. The American Southwest just plain doesn’t really have much water. I have no idea when it’s gonna get really serious, but we moved to a place that has lots of its own water. Today, if I’m showering with a friend, it’s by choice and not necessity.

          Power needs might be fixable, if folks get serious about it. We’ll see.

          Dark skies in northern Michigan in a couple of weeks…though I’ll have to use my lens warmer. And then go inside and shower with a friend…Report

          • John Puccio in reply to rexknobus
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            says:

            Counterpoint: The idea of showering with a friend is always much better than actually showering with a friend.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to rexknobus
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            says:

            IIRC, the largest single use of water in California is to raise alfalfa, much of which is shipped to China. Arizona screams that they’re on the verge of disaster, but continues to use very large amounts of their Colorado River water to grow cotton in the middle of the desert. Here in Colorado, we use stupid amounts of water to irrigate corn that goes into ethanol plants.

            Some degree of sanity broke out in Utah this legislative session, where they passed several large laws emphasizing conservation and blocked a major new long-distance diversion.

            I’ll give the prize for dumbest water move this legislative session season to Nebraska. They committed to spend $500M to build a modest ditch part way across Colorado in order to grab a small diversion allowed by the South Platte River Compact. A right to divert that disappears if Colorado spends a much more modest amount of money to divert the water anywhere upstream from the point Nebraska has to take it.Report

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