Tag Archives: Space

This Week in Geek- We Went Back to Space

Image Courtesy of www.nasa.gov

Image Courtesy of www.nasa.gov

What a momentous occasion.  3 years ago, with the completion of the Space Shuttle program, it looked like our days of heading to outer space were through.  We were now living in a world where flying into the cosmos was not a high priority, and the funding just couldn’t be spared to make that sort of stuff happen.  Most people in America simply did not care about space exploration any more.  It was a sad day for geeks like me.  When I was a kid, watching shows like Star Trek, all I dreamed about was one day going into space.  All of a sudden it look like no one would be doing that any more, at least no Americans.  It was just really too bad.

Flash forward 3 years, and the space program is back on track.  This last week witnessed the first test flight of the new Orion Spacecraft.  This vessel went further into space than any other vessel has since Apollo 17, 42 years ago.  The plan is to continue to test Orion over the next few years, and then in the 2020’s, we will send a crew to an asteroid that is currently orbiting our moon, and then in the 2030’s we will land someone on Mars.  This timeline is both exciting and disappointing.  It took less than 10 years from when Kennedy said we would put a man on the moon until we put a man on the moon.  This process to get to Mars will take us at least 16 years, possibly 20.  I understand that Mars is a lot further away than the moon is, but a big reason why there is such delay is budgeting constraints.

I am a big believer in the Space Program.  I think we need it, because it helps us to strive for something bigger than ourselves. It brings us together in ways that nothing else can.  How many people who witnessed the first moon landing have anything negative to say about it?  I mean except for the people out there who believe the whole thing was faked (Most of those folks did not witness it).  People who saw it were inspirited by it.  When we landed on the moon, we began to believe we could do anything, and when we all come together to accomplish something, we can do everything.

I am a big Star Trek fan (A Trek fan, not a Trekker and never a Trekkie), and one of my favorite Star Trek movies is First Contact. This movie involves time travel and has the crew going back in time to the historic day of “First Contact,” the day when Humans encountered an Alien species for the first time, officially.


The Borg go back to this time to stop this from happening because it is a pivotal moment.  The crew of the Enterprise go back to stop the Borg, because this is the moment where everything changes.  All the warring factions stop fighting and the people of Earth come together because they realize that they are not alone in the universe, and that is a uniting thing.  Because of this event, they go further out into space and eventually become the central race of the United Federation of Planets.

I feel like going out into space, exploring, it brings us together.  Helps us to see a much bigger picture.  We are so small compared to what’s out there.  And sending people into space reminds us of that, but it reminds us too, that when we come together, we can do some amazing things. This country needs NASA and the space program now, more than ever.  We need something bigger than ourselves to strive for, something that will bring us together, help us to see that our prejudices, our disagreements are all really so small.

Seeing the footage of Orion launch, and seeing some of the pictures that were taken from Orion, it made me proud to be an American again.  We were leaders in the race to the Moon, and we can be leaders in the race to Mars as well.  Orion may have just been the first step in us expanding beyond this world and possibly reach further than we have reached before.  I wish the whole process was more accelerated, but at least there is movement.  At least it’s not 3 years ago when it looked like NASA was done for good.  For the first time in a long time I am excited about the Space Program in our country, and I am excited about what that might mean, as an American, and as  geek.

The Doctor 101 Part 6-Doctors 9, 10, 11, and 12

I meant to get this post written and published yesterday, in time for the premiere tonight of season 8, but due to an unforeseen trip to San Francisco, it didn’t happen, so I am here today to get it done.  This is the last piece outlining, however briefly, all the different incarnations of the Doctor.  All the Doctors listed today are post the relaunch of the series.  These are the Doctors I know the best, well most of them.  One of them I don’t really know at all, aside from him not liking the cold of his kidneys.  Starting tonight, that will be different.  Are we ready then?  Fantastic! Then Allons-y, and Geronimo!


In 2005, The BBC decided it was time to bring back Doctor Who.  This was really a second attempt to bring the series back, the first was the 1996 TV movie.  Despite the number of years it had been since the Doctor was on TV, he had never really gone away.  There were novels, comics, and audio plays, all keeping the Doctor alive for the fans out there.  At this time, the BBC hired show runner Russell Davies to bring the character back.  Wisely, Davies decided that the reboot would be a continuation of the old series, but with a new incarnation of the Doctor.  The actor brought in to play our favorite Time Lord was Christopher Eccleston.  The look of this Doctor was modern and hip.  It was a simple black leather jacket, dark T and dark pants.  No bright colors of clown costumes, just a sleek, modern look.  In addition to the new look of the Doctor, the whole series got a new look.  Better special effects and little larger budget helped with that.  Plus, the Doctor’s companion, Rose, was one of the more iconic companions in the history of the series.  All of this combined for a success for the series, and it looked like the Doctor would be around for a while. Eccleston played the Doctor in a very confident manner, but he was friendly and kind to Rose and to others.  However, when it was necessary he could be very serious and dark.  He alluded to some bad things happening in the last time war, and that he was the last Time Lord out there, which was new for the series.  He also gave us the first catch phrase of the relaunch with “Fantastic.”  I guess phrase isn’t the right term, but is catch word a real term?  Eccleston had only planned to be in the series for one season, he stuck to that.  Despite the popularity of the series, Eccleston did not return for season 2.  Infact, he also refused to be part of the 50th with David Tenant and Matt Smith.  As an actor, he has said he accomplished what he wanted to with the character, and doesn’t want to go back to it.

Since I am more familiar with these Doctors, I want to list some episodes from each to help you get started.  For the 9th Doctor, these are my recommendations:

Rose:  This is his first story and kind of sets up the whole relaunch.  It is not the best story of the first season, but it is good to start here.  We meet the Doctor, get an explanation on a lot about the series, and meet Rose and Mickey for the first time.  We also get to see the Doctor be happy, confident Doctor and scary, vengeful Doctor.

Father’s Day:  This deals with the question we all ask at some point in life, I wonder what would have happened if… In other words, the great What If question, and sometimes, despite what we think at the time, the bad stuff that happens has to happen.  Plus we meet Rose’s father.

The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances: This was by far my favorite story during this season.  It is a little creepy, but has a great ending.  Plus we meet Captain Jack for the first time.


With the show being a success and with Eccleston leaving after only one season, it was time to introduce a new Doctor.  Enter David Tennant, the 10th Doctor.  He is my favorite Doctor.  I enjoyed the passion this Doctor brought to the character.  Everything was always all out with him on screen.  I, personally liked him better post Rose.  I like Martha and Donna more than Rose, which I know would make a lot of people upset, but it’s how I feel.  The 10th was just so cool.  He was clever and fun and serious and tragic and triumphant all at once.  Plus he only wore “trainers” all the time.  When I lace up my own Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars to go to work, I always think to myself “These are world saving shoes.”  It makes me want to make a difference.  If Eccleston re-established the Doctor Who Series, Tennant made it here to stay.  He was received very well, and began to bring in a whole new generation of fans, and a whole new group of fans, the Fan Girl.  During his time, we met the Master again, lost Rose, met Sara Jane again, met the Stone Angels, and met River Song for the first time.  We also get our next catch word: Allons-y, and in Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor realizes a dream of his when he gets to say Allons-y, Alonzo.

Some must see episodes from Tennant’s time:

The Christmas Invasion: This is Tennant’s first episode as the Doctor, and right away we get to see the differences between his and Eccleston’s versions.  Plus, we are adjusting to the new character along with Rose, and probably feeling a lot of the same things.

Blink:  Chances are, if you have asked a Doctor Who fan which episodes you should watch, they always point you to this one.  This is one of the most beloved Doctor Who episodes since the series relaunched.  It doesn’t help you get to know the Doctor to well, since he’s barely in it, but it is a great episode and worth every minute of your time.

Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead-  This is a fun 2 part episode, and we get to meet River Song, who ends up not being critically important during the 10th Doctor’s time, but plays a huge role during the 11th’s.

Waters of Mars:  An incredible episode.  If you watch the whole season, do me a favor, when you get to this episode, skip Tenant’s last episode and go straight to Matt Smith’s first episode.  Pretend like The End of Time never happened.  You will be doing me and yourself a huge favor.


David Tennant and Russell Davies left the Doctor Who show at the same time, so Matt Smith comes in not just as a new Doctor, but also with a new producer at the helm of the series.  Fortunately for us, that new producer is Steven Moffat, and this ushers in one of the best runs of the series to date.  There were some great story arcs in Smith’s time.  The Doctor and his companions, the Ponds, along with River Song were like one big happy, time traveling, Family.  It was hard to see any of these actors leave the show at any point.  Matt Smith brought a new quirkiness and energy to the role.  There were some dark stories, but through it all, the 11th Doctor was all smiles.  Except when he wasn’t, and then it was really sad.  Tennant really helped to affirm what Eccelston established, but Smith and Moffat brought Doctor Who to new heights internationally.  It is now a world-wide mega-hit. Smith is my wife’s favorite, I think mostly because she knows him the best.

Some episodes to check out:

All of them from Season 5 and 6: It is hard to pick just one because you might really miss out on some important piece of information, and the really good episodes are only really good because the rest of the episodes lead up to them.

The Name of the Doctor/The Day of the Doctor/The Time of the Doctor- I really enjoyed these last 3 episodes of Matt Smith’s time, and they all lead into what is happening today, this evening, hopefully after you read all of this, when season 8 premieres.


That brings us to Peter Capaldi, who premieres tonight as the Doctor.  We know next to nothing about his Doctor, except he doesn’t like the color of his kidneys…