Sunday, November 16, 2014


Mrs. Graybeard and I spent a couple of hours at the range yesterday; her shooting some guns she doesn't regularly shoot and me breaking in that little P238 I picked up last weekend (sweet...).  I put the first 225 rounds through it with nothing untoward happening.  I did manage to hit the mag release on one shot.  My "slap, rack, bang" subroutine started to auto-execute, but I caught myself and made myself look at it, confirming that the mag was actually out about a quarter inch, and would have dropped out if the small grip didn't allow my hand to stop it.  This is my first Sig and I really like the feel of it.

Before heading out, we made note of the times that Interstellar would be showing at the local cineplex, the one with an Imax theater inside.  It was about 2:30 in regular and 3:30 at the Imax and we figured the showing we caught would depend on how the day at the range went.  We found ourselves in the regular theater for the earlier show.

I find it interesting that we both had the same reaction as Tam did - that it's the 2001 of the current day.  The ending seemed quite reminiscent of 2001 and my wife and I were both commenting over dinner last night that at least it didn't end with Cooper (the astronaut, not his daughter Murph) visiting himself.  Although it got close... which is probably about all I should say. 

In many ways, the story is about the love between a father and his daughter.  It's based on what appears to be a near future earth: the tech is all recognizable early 21st century, but some sort of broad apocalypse, which isn't really explained in depth, has happened. Crops failed, first wheat, then others, due to "the blight".  There are references to the population being a small fraction of the prior six billion people, and they evoke something similar to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  A line that grabbed me was in the scene showing a parent teacher conference between Cooper and two teachers from his kids' school.  It's not in this clip, which is getting some play among conservatives who grab on to the "corrected" school texts, but is in this scene. 

The male counselor tells Cooper that "the world doesn't need engineers any more.  We don't need video gadgets or airplanes; we need food".  I fought back the urge to yell, "You don't have any problems any more?  You don't need problem solvers?"  This scene and some other vibe you get from trailers and the way it's being talked about make it seem like Interstellar has a strong greenie message about evil humans messing up the world.  Thankfully, they didn't really go there. 

The astrophysics and the depictions of relativity are widely commended as being the most accurate ones ever shown.  In this video, Kip Thorne, talks about working out equations for the computer graphics modelers and possibly discovering things that were never known before out of this collaboration.   Kip Thorne is one of the greatest living experts in gravitation and relativistic astrophysics.  On the other hand, some of the other aspects of the movie seemed like they didn't get quite that much attention.  How does a wave the size of a mountain exist in water that's not even knee deep? That's what they find on the first planet they visit.  Any wave theory I know of would have the waves break long before they get that big.  And the blight that kills the crops breathes nitrogen, instead of oxygen.  Maybe it's me, but I just don't see how that chemistry could work. All movies require the suspension of disbelief, though; it's just a question of how much. 

Regardless, I'd still say to go see it.  It's visually stunning and at least the relativity parts are right.  It is somewhat refreshing to see interstellar flights treated with some accuracy, and not just firing up warp engines, diving through hyperspace, hopping in a transporter beam to go down to the planet and all the other standard sci-fi movie tricks. 


  1. "How does a wave the size of a mountain exist in water that's not even knee deep?"

    A planet orbiting a black hole would have some pretty hella tides.

    (I was assuming there was only the one wave on a planet that was rotating rather briskly.)

  2. Wasn't there a second wave within a few minutes of the first? They're waiting for the engines to dry out and see the second one coming, leading to that whole dramatic, barely-surf-the-leading-edge-of-the-wave scene.

    I still think the waves would break even with extreme tides. I remember something about waves needing 10x the depth as the distance between them to be perfectly formed, and as the depth gets shallower, they break when the depth is less than the wave height. About.

    Of course, I've never seen anything on the effects of relativity on surfing, though.

  3. "Wasn't there a second wave within a few minutes of the first?"

    That's why I said "rotating rather quickly" (relative to the black hole.)

    IOW, it wasn't a wave, it was most of the water on the planet pulled up into one giant bulge with the planet spinning underneath it. At least, that's the way I interpreted it.

  4. I had a problem with the beautiful Apollo-type launch from Earth followed by multiple single-stage to orbit launches from every other planet.

  5. Mycroft, I was a bit amazed to see the Saturn V, and remarked on it to my wife. I can't say I noticed any explanation of that.

    Maybe they had a 3D model and just wanted to use it.