The ravens are looking a bit sluggish. Tell Malcolm they need new batteries.

Monday, December 31


To Infinity And Beyond

The New Horizons probe zipped past Pluto on July 14, 2015 at a distance of less than 8000 miles, providing in a few short hours most of the information we have about the ninth planet.*

Tomorrow, at about 4:30PM AEDT, it will pass (486958) 2014 MU69 - also known as Ultima Thule - at a distance of just 2200 miles.

As the official name suggests, Ultima Thule was only discovered in 2014. But its addition to New Horizons' itinerary is no accident. The Hubble Telescope was assigned to scan the region around the probe's trajectory to look for additional targets beyond Pluto but within range of the available propellant. A second, somewhat larger object was also found, but is further from original path and reaching it would require more of the propellant reserves.  An assessment was made that New Horizons had ample reserves for what was originally designated PT1 - potential target one - but only had a 95% chance of reaching PT3.

Right now, our best picture of Ultima Thule is still in the potato-at-ten-thousand-yards category but that will change rapidly. Only not that rapidly: While New Horizons is closing in at a rate of 30,000 miles per hour, the probe is so far away that its high-gain antenna effectively has the bandwidth of an early dial-up modem.

This is what New Horizons did for our understanding of Pluto:

It remains to be seen if the valiant New Horizons will run afoul of the Mi-Go after its narrow escape during its previous rendezvous.

Artist's depiction of a Mi-Go warrior princess.  Given that Mi-Go are fungi, we suspect our artist may have got into the liquor a bit early tonight.

* Shut up, Neil.

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Monday, December 17


Doctor Who Series 11 Viewing Order

Here's my recommendation.

Watch episode 1, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, and 2, The Ghost Monument.  These aren't bad and establish the new characters.

Then skip episode 3 unless you are deeply into badly-scripted 50s period drama, and go to episode 4, Arachnids in the UK.  It's a decently done Classic Who episode, like The Green Death, but a little more subtle.

Then skip episodes 5 and 6; they suck.

Then watch episode 7, Kerblam!, which is a good Russell T Davies-style episode which has the gumption to kill the characters who need to die to drive the story forward.

Then skip episode 8.  The script for this one isn't the problem; it's the directing.

Then watch episode 9, It Takes You Away.

Then skip episode 10.

Basically it's a five-episode season, like Series 4b or when they split Series 7 in the middle.  If you cut away the bad half, it's elevated to merely disappointing.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:12 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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