Today the BBC is celebrating 50 years of Dr Who (no one is dwelling on the decade and half (ish) when they did not make the show for TV (aside from the under rated US pilot).

Why has the show endured for so long, especially during that TV show blank period (altho I understand the continuation books flew of the shelves during this era). There are countless audio books available and fan sites, blogs and the British tabloids go properly nuts for any snippet of Dr Who news.

But why is this the case?

Well, certainly domestically, the Doctor is very British. An eccentric, intelligent gentleman (so far – am personally very pro a female Doctor as that would be within the (modern) show’s ethos of refreshing itself). There is a bit of Sherlock Holmes in there and as quoted in the BBC dramatisation of the genesis of the Doctor a bit of HG Wells, CS Lewis and father Christmas. British quirkie-ness, British geekie-ness (before the term geek probably existed).

Outside of the UK, why has the Doctor endured? Well in the US he is so that lone hero character so popular in Westerns and beyond: think Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy, Batman or Superman or the Lone Ranger. Even Buffy – which I remember reading somewhere the 2005 return was particularly influenced by, in terms of the companion element of the narrative. Buffy was that lone hero who had friends, but walked a path they could not ever fully understand. The Doctor walks a path like that too.

And what has contributed most to the longevity of the Doctor on TV? The genius idea of regeneration – or what to do with your TV show when the star wants out. This sci fi way of dealing with the problem is completely genius and works so well within the narrative universe of the Timelords. This also gives the producers a way of refreshing the show every so often and, in theory at least*, allowing it to go on and on. What is not to like: a little blue phone box; new Doctors every now and then; endless new companions; adventures across all of time and space.

 

* There is that lingering plot device about the Master being on his last regeneration (13th, if memory serves) but I am sure some genius already has that covered (spoilers alert) – I expect River Song gave him all of hers when she saved his life that time, or maybe he has all of the Timelords regenerations ever, assuming it was he who wiped them out during the Time War.

 

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Found this excellent interview with a sci-fi great, Arthur C Clarke, who grew up in Somerset, UK.

if you havet heard of him (tsk) he was behind the movie 2001: A Space Odessy and the book of that name as well as Childhood’s End (similair in themes and content tyo the later TV series V ) and the Rama series of books

Still extremely excited about the project to find earth-like planets and the latest news is as usual very interesting.

Though, these new finds appear not to be in the “habitable zone” it is still pretty cool we can find planets smaller than Mercury in star systems 200 light years away.

The real talking point about this project is that it means we can figure out in the near term where to point radio telescopes to “listen” for signs of extraterrestrial life.

And in the longer term , when we start to explore the Galaxy, we’ll know which stars to head towards in the hope of finding life of one sort or another.

Great post here about NASA robots and Mars – there are, I guess two general schools of thought – send humans into space or send robots.

Robots are hardier and dont need as much oxygen / heat / organic fuel (food) / water as humans, so cheaper to achieve and health and safety aspects lower too.

 

 

PC in my pocket

June 28, 2011

A long,long time ago, in a galaxy that seems so far away, Bill Gates said there would be a PC in every home. That revolution was scoffed at back then in the 1970s. But it has come to pass.

What is happening now – which I think Microsoft is trailing behind on – is the PC in every pocket.

I have a HTC phone – which has more processing power than the first computer I ever owned (tho that Spectrum +2 will always have a special place in my heart). I would guess it is also more powerful than the first IBM clone (PC) I ever owned too. It runs an Android operating system and I use it to surf the net more than my desktop PC.

I would hazard a guess my HTC has more processing power than NASA used to send men to the moon, but that statemnet would have to come with a citation request (more on Wikipedia another time).

At some point the PC in my pocket will become as powerful as the desktop in my house. There is a good article about the future of “smartphones” here.

When my pocket PC (that also makes phone calls) is as powerful as a desktop is now, what I want is either a docking station (or an app that conects via wireless) to my 17 inch monitor, keyboard and mouse, so I can work from home in a comfortable way.

NASA has sent a humanoid robot into space.

This type of robot is called a Robonaut (this  specific oneis  named R2) it was sent into space in the Space Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay en route to the International Space Station.

R2 is the first humanoid robot in space.

An unmanned (robot) spacecraft, named Johannes Kepler, has completed an eight-day mission to fly itself from Earth to the International Space Station, docking itself accurately.

If we have robots that can do that, how long before the Google cars are out and about on our roads?

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