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Kraggh's Works ♫♪



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Esperanto Sucks

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd Dec 30 2016 · 100 views

:kaukau: You know the most popular constructed language in the world, created with the hope of unifying all of the peoples? Yeah, I hate it. L.L. Zamenhof designed it to be easy to learn, particular for people in his environment, and in that area, thee language succeeds. It is definitely easy to learn, due to its simplicity and familiarity, but in every other regard, I hate it.

First of all, it often sounds like someone just spoke Latin and then intentionally mispronounced everything. Seriously, why learn this language when you can just learn Latin, where everything sounds right? Okay, so Esperanto also uses words from English, German, and Russian, but that makes for a really ugly mixture of sounds. At least when you have words like "patro," "filo," and "frato," you have a feel for the language, with its flowy latin-esque vocabulary in there. But then you throw in words like "knabo," which really interrupt that Latin rhythm that it has. So even though this language sounds like some corrupted Latin overall, it doesn't have the rhythm that makes Latin so appealing.

For example, as someone who has studied Spanish, I look at the phrase "La libro" / "the book" and think to myself that the article should be masculine. I don't like that every single noun looks masculine. I'm used to a lot of Eurpean languages that Esperanto is based off of requiring adjectives to match the grammatical gender, grammatical case, or some other aspect of the nouns that they modify. Seeing phrases like "la granda libro," "la multekosta domo," and "la venenita pomo" just looks...malbela.

Speaking of gender, that leads me to the single biggest reason for why Esperanto sucks. I mean seriously, the way it distinguishes between male and female. The default gender is masculine, and in order to make the language easier to learn, all feminine words are derivatives of their masculine equivalents. Let me just give you a few examples:

Man/Woman --- Viro/Virino
Boy/Girl --- Knabo/Knabino
Father/Mother --- Patro/Patrino
Son/Daughter --- Filo/Filino
Brother/Sister --- Frato/Fratino
Male Cousin / Female Cousin --- Kuzo/Kuzino
Uncle/Aunt --- Onklo/Onklino (This last one is particularly egregious, because "onklo" stands out as a particularly English-y word, made to sound weird and kind of lame, making it stick out like a sore thumb, interrupting the Latin sound of the language. Also, if you call your aunt "onlkino," you sound like you're saying that she's unclean.)

Gah. I hate that. There are ways of distinguishing between male and female without increasing the number or root words that you have to memorize. For example, instead of having women being a derivative of man, girl being a derivative of boy, mother being a derivative of father, and so forth, all of those things could be derivatives "adult person," "young person," "parent," "offspring," "sibling," "cousin," and "parent's sibling," which are all grammatically neutral in gender. Then you could add suffixes that could alter the gender of these words. It's not that omplicated. As it stands, this language is pretty darn sexist, enough that I'm a bit incredulous that it's associated with such high utopian ideals.

So there you have it. Esperanto isn't that great. If you want to learn a constructed language, I'd encourage you to consider Lojban instead. It definitely could use more attention. Also, Ithkuil is the ideal language, philosophically speaking, but the grammar is so advanced that and requires such precision of thought that you basically have to be a genius to speak it.

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The Complete Lojban Language

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd Dec 16 2016 · 41 views

:kaukau: I discovered a book by this name on the Barnes & Noble website. I'm strongly considering getting it with my next paycheck. It's approximately 600 words long, so although I wouldn't quite consider it to be the length of a college textbook, it should have a decent amount of information in there and be a worthwhile read.

Also, Ithkuil has a grammar book, too.

I'm considering buying both of these, reading them, and then lending them to my high school English teacher.

After those, I might end up buying a textbook on Esperanto.

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Happy LEGO Day

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Life, BZPower, Nerd, Events Feb 14 2014 · 458 views
LEGO
:kaukau: Why not?
 
Valentine's Day is a stupid holiday.  Always thought so, always will.  It wouldn't make a difference if I was in a relationship, because the things I value in a relationship transcend hearts and chocolate (although to be fair to chocolate, it is one of the greatest inventions ever).  I mean, to have society try to associate your relationship with such a commercialized event that has seemingly nothing to do with relationships when you two are too busy doing something that's actually important is kind of embarrassing.  Everything about it is awkward.  Is it the only day of the year that people are supposed to be romantic or something?  Is there supposed to be some sort of special date that boys take their girlfriends out on this day?  I would have figured that a special date wouldn't be on a day where everyone else is doing it, because you'd want to make it a little more personal.  It's kind of hard to be personal when everyone else is doing it, and when the romantic theme of Valentine's Day is also so vague and ambiguous.  It's like you're not celebrating anything in particular, or anything meaningful about relationships.  You're just celebrating the shallow stuff.
 
So from now on, I'm making my own holiday on February 14, something that's actually fun.  I missed out on seeing the The LEGO Movie on its opening weekend, but there's a matinee this Friday.  I decided that I would dedicate this day to LEGOs and see that movie.  A friend even knew that today was LEGO Day for me and suddenly dropped in on me at midnight to say "Happy LEGO Day!"
 
I'll have a review of the movie up tomorrow, and I hope everyone else who hasn't seen it yet takes some time today to see it.  In fact, it would be awesome if you, too, would consider today LEGO Day from now on and it became a little tradition among us BZPers.
 
Happy LEGO Day!
 
Oh, and I admit, I did give in and celebrate Valentine's Day just a little bit.  This morning, I treated myself to a chocolate, heart-shaped doughnut.  But that was because of the chocolate. It just might be as awesome as LEGOs.
 

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Doctor Who Series 7 Reaction

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd Dec 20 2013 · 260 views

:kaukau: I just got done watching the second half last night, and really all I have to comment on are Clara and The Name of the Doctor.  On Clara, she doesn't have much life to her and I wish that she was a bit more of a handful like she was in Asylum of the Daleks.  Otherwise, she was just kind of there.  On The Name of the Doctor...All I have to say is that the ending was -- WHAM!!!
 
Yeah, it hit me like that.  I've seen a fair number of twists on the show, but all of them had a certain character to them.  This one took the show in a very different direction, one I thought they would never go.  What I can say is that I was initially very sad that Matt Smith was leaving, but now I'm genuinely interested in seeing the new Doctor.
 

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Gravity on Krypton

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd, Superman Nov 13 2013 · 1,369 views

:kaukau: According to the first pages of Action Comics #1, Clark Kent's "physical structure was millions of years more advanced" than the ordinary human's.  His strength was explained right away as being analogous to that of an ant's, which "can support weight hundred of times its own."  His strength was, therefore, explained to be more a part of his "advanced" genetics rather than being tied to the physical demands of living on Krypton, which his species would have adapted to even when they were in their primitive stages.  The current theory behind his strength is that it is, in part, the result of Krypton's gravity.
 
There is still something to be said for his genetic structure being more advanced than ours.  The very first panel of Action Comics #1 says that Krypton died of old age.  It is now universally accepted into the Superman mythology that Krypton had an old, red sun.  Life in Krypton probably started out with a yellow sun like our own but eventually had to become more "advanced" after millions of years in order to survive under the sun's gradually less life-giving rays.  With weaker sunshine, plants would not be able to photosynthesize as well.  The ecosystem in general would have less nutrients.
 
According to Superman: The Movie, Earth people "are primitives thousands of years behind [Kryptonians]."  Thousands, not millions.  Therefore, we can assume that Kryptonians did not begin to evolve technologically until several thousand years ago.  Let's assume that they were technologically equivalent to us ten thousand years ago, wen we were still writing The Epic of Gilgamesh.  This would make sense, as it would be difficult to create any advanced structure that could endure Krypton's gravity.  They would need to invent materials as endurable as themselves, so technological advancement for them would probably need to first happen in one giant leap in order to overcome the challenges inherent in raising a society on Krypton.  It is reasonable to assume that they had invented electricity and other technologies long, long ago, but they probably hit a technological plateau as they would have likely been unable to raise buildings and other large constructs, due to the gravity of their planet.  Ergo, Kryptonians might have had Earth-level technologies for thousands of years but had almost nothing, as it would have been almost impossible for them to have an industrial revolution.
 



Posted Image

(thumbnail)

 
This is a size comparison between Krypton and its sun, Rao, taken from Smallville.  It is very similar to the size comparison in Superman: The Movie, and in fact directly homages the Christopher Reeve legacy.  In the film, the sun is closer to the viewer and the planet is behind the sun.  Therefore, this is not a trick of the camera where the planet looks bigger due to optic illusions.  It really is quite big compared to its red giant sun.
 
The size of a red-giant varies, but let's assume that Krypton was once much like our own sun.  In approximately 12 billion years, our sun will have a maximum radius of 1.2 astronomical units, or a diameter of 2.4 astronomical units.  This is is considerably more than "millions of years advanced" of our timeline, however.  Let's assume that Krypton isn't that old.  Besides, in the first comic it states that Krypton died because of the planet's old age, not the sun's.  Besides, the size comparison between Krypton and Rao is considerably less contrasting than the size comparison between the sun's present and future self in this Wikipedia image.  If Rao was 1.2 AU in radius, then Krypton by comparison would have to be larger than our current sun, both in radius and certainly more in mass.  In that hypothecal scenario, the planet would be the center of the solar system and the sun would have revolved around Krypton, which isn't a bad idea for science fiction, but it doesn't seem to be in keeping with how Krypton has been depicted.
 
Therefore, we will assume that Rao is a red star, but not necessarily a gas giant.  For the sake of these calculations, Krypton will have a radius estimated to be equivalent with either Jupiter's or one lunar unit.  Jupiter's radius is 43,441 miles.  One lunar unit (the distance between Earth's center of mass and the moon's center of mass) is 238,900 miles.
 
First, however, let's calculate the gravitational pull of Earth, which pulls with a force of 1 Newton per kilogram of mass at its surface.  The radius of Earth is 3,959 miles at the equator.  The volume of Earth is therefore approximately 260,000,000,000 (260 billion) cubic miles.  The mass of the earth is approximately 5.972x1024 kilograms.  The average density of the Earth, therefore, is 22,970,000,000,000 kilograms per cubic mile (yes, I'm mixing metric units with English units, which would be a no-no in a formal paper, but practically speaking it won't make any difference in the end conclusions given here).
 
Therefore, let us assume that Krypton's average density is equal to Earth's.  In reality, it would probably be even denser on average, due to intense amounts of pressure creating a larger solid core, but I do not have the math to calculate the internal makeup of Krypton anyway, and there's no guarantee that it has the same metals in its mantle as Earth does.
 
If Krypton was the size of Jupiter, it would have a volume of 343,390,000,000,000 cubic miles and a mass of 7.887x1027 kilograms.  That's over a thousand times that of Earth's mass, but the distance from the surface to the center of mass is greater.  Therefore, the gravity should be less than Earth's.  Thus, we look again at the radius, 43,441 miles.  For the sake of the ensuing calculations, this will have to be converted into metric, so it's 69,911,513 meters.
 
To double-check our work here, the mass of Earth is 5.97x1024 kilograms.  The mass of Jupiter is 1.90x1027 kilograms.  Earth's density is 4.15 times that of Jupiter's.  If Jupiter had Earth's density, it would be approximately 7.885x1027 kilograms.  This alternative way of calculating the mass of Krypton renders a result almost exactly the same as the previous calculation.
 
If a mass of 1 kilogram is on Krypton's surface, 69,911,513 meters away from the core, and Krypton's total mass is 7.887x1027 kilograms, then we have enough information to "plug and chug" the data into the formula given in Newton's Law of Gravity:
 

GM1M2

____________

R2

 
G is the gravitational constant
 
G = 6.67x10-11 m3kg-1s-2
 
M1 = 1.000 kg
 
M2 = 7.887x1027 kg
 
R = 69,911,513 m
 
          Therefore:
 

(6.67x10-11 m3kg-1s-2)(1.000 kg)(7.887x1027 kg)

_____________________________________________________________________________

(69911513 m)2

 
First, let's cancel out the units.  (kg-1)(kg)(kg) becomes kg.  The top has m3 while the bottom has m2, which cancel out to become just m.  The rest is easily solved with a calculator, and the end result becomes
 

1.08x102 kg m s-2

 
A kilogram-meter per square second is the definition of a newton.  Therefore, the gravitational pull of Krypton, if it was equivalent in average density to Earth and in radius to Jupiter, would be 108 G.
 
This is truly monumental.  To put this into perspective, some humans can survive up to 9 g continually if they are in special suits that force blood to the brain, and if they strain their muscles.  These, however, are trained fighter pilots.  The typical person can survive up to 5 g before passing out.  Meanwhile, the rapid negative acceleration of a racecar crash is about 100 g and lasts only for a moment.  People do not always survive these.
 
However, let's think like Siegel and Sushter, who needed to compare Superman to existing specimens of life already found in nature.  According to them, he was comparable to an and, which could lift hundreds of times its own weight, not a mere one hundred and eight times its own weight.  This is somewhat of an overstatement on the creators' part, since an ant can really only sustain up to fifty times its weight, but this is where they estimated Superman's natural strength to be nevertheless.  There are other remarkable examples in nature of living organisms enduring extreme conditions.  For example, bacteria has been cultivated in an ultracentrifuge subjecting them to over 400,000 g, and they not only survived, but thrived (source).  What if not only single-celled organisms, but larger members of the animal kingdom could endure similar extremes?  Clearly, we're limiting Kryptonian life by assuming that its natural habitat exhibits only 108 G.
 
Therefore, let us not assume a conservative estimate of Krypton's size as being equivalent to Jupiter's but instead place its radius as equivalent at that of one lunar distance.  Pulling from earlier data, this is approximately 238,900 miles (or 384,472,282 meters).  The volume of such a planet would be 57,113,000,000,000,000 (approximately 57 quadrillion) cubic miles.  This is about 219,750 times Earth's volume, so assuming equivalent density, its mass would also be 219,750 times that of Earth's, or 1.312x1030 kg.  It should be noted that this is only about two thirds the mass of our sun.
 
Let us revisit the formula for gravity to find the amount of pull on a one-kilogram object on Krypton's surface, assuming these variables:
 
G = 6.67x10-11 m3kg-1s-2
 
M1 = 1.000 kg
 
M2 = 1.312x1030 kg
 
R = 384,472,282 m
 

(6.67x10-11 m3kg-1s-2)(1.000 kg)(1.312x1030 kg)

_____________________________________________________________________________

(384472282 m)2

 

5.93x102 kg m s-2

 

593 Newtons

 
Ergo, the gravitational pull would be 593 G on Krypton should it be the size of the moon's orbit around the Earth.    While hardly over 400,000 g, it's closer to what Siegel and Sushter imagined when they said that Superman's natural strength was comparable to the ant that could lift hundreds of times its own weight.  This is indeed several hundred times Earth's gravity, close to six hundred times our everyday experience.
 
There is little to compare 593 g to.  It is far more than a car crash.  If a person was subject to 593 g for even a thousandth of a second, he would surely die.  The highest recorded g-force ever survived was 214 g.  This 2.77 times that.
 
Before we move on to some of the further implications of the gravity, it would be useful to create an expanded formula to make any further computations easier, if one wants to find the gravitational pull of Krypton at any given radius, assuming average density consistent with Earth's.
 
M2 = (5.97x10^24 kg){[(4/3)Rπ]/[(4/3)(6378100 m)π]}
 

(6.67x10-11 m3kg-1s-2)(1.00 kg)(5.97x10^24 kg){[(4/3)R3π]/[(4/3)(6378100 m)3π]}

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

R2

 

or

 

R(1.53 kg s-2)

______________________

106

 
There we go.  Every variable is taken care of for us except for R.  Therefore, if we wish to quickly calculate the gravity of a terrestrial planet of density equivalent to Earth at any given radius (measured in meters), simply place the radius into this equation.
 Likewise, if we wanted to learn the inverse and know what the radius of such a planet would be given a specific gravitational pull, the formula can simply be rearranged.  Radius would be equal to:
 

106G

_______________________________

(1.53 kg s-2)

 
Returning to the bacteria experiment mentioned earlier, how large of a planet would they have to be on in order to experience similar forces?  Plug and chug: G = 400,000, therefore R = 261,437,908,496 m, which is about 40,990 times as wide as Earth.  Converting this into miles, the radius is approximately 152,000,000 miles, the circumference is approximately 325,000,000 miles, and the surface area is approximately 332,000,000,000,000,000 (332 quadrillion) square miles.  That would be one big planet.
 
Since it's difficult to determine exactly what Krypton's radius or gravitational pull is, however, we will settle for the assumption that its the size of a lunar orbit and has a gravitational pull of 593 G.  This could also be expressed as there being an acceleration of downward movement of 5,800 meters per square second, but this might not be entirely accurate, since wind resistance could mess with that figure.
 
With a gravitational pull as heavy as that, Krypton must have dense atmosphere consisting mostly of hydrogen.  It would be very difficult to breath in.  Perhaps the Kryptonians are forced to be able to break the triple bonds of N2 in order to breathe (we humans only break up double O2 bonds).  In any case, their environment is harsh for more than just the gravity alone.  Not only is the atmosphere hardly breathable, but it should provide plenty of resistance to movement.  Imagine being at the bottom of a very deep swimming pool trying to do aerobic exercises.  At the same time, it would not make the body feel any lighter or buoyant.
 
There would be less atmosphere, of course, if the planet was closer to the sun, in which case the solar winds would blow most of it away.  In the case of it being further away from the sun, the atmosphere would be so strong that it would prevent most of the sun's rays from getting to the surface.  It would be very much like living at the bottom of the ocean.  How does an ecosystem thrive under these conditions?  An organism must adapt to be able to function off of the least nutrients possible.  Kryptonians would have also needed spectacular sight in order to see in the thick atmosphere, which would have been like an impenetrable fog to them.  Perhaps, when these acute senses are enhanced, they could lead to x-ray or cut-away vision.
 
Furthermore, it must have taken ages before Krypton could develop technology that could generate over 5,800 m/s2 thrust necessary in order to escape Krypton's gravity, or accelerate an object so that it reached the planet's escape velocity, which can be calculated this way:
 

(2gr)1/2

 
          Which is
 

[2(5800 m/s2)(384472282 m)]1/2

 

or

 

2,111,842 m/s

2,112 km/s

4,724,000 mi/hr

0.007c

 
It is entirely possible that Krypton's first space mission utilized a method similar to the one used in Superman Returns, in which a rocket shuttle was lifted high into the atmosphere using a plane.  Krypton's dense atmosphere would have made this fairly feasible.  Over the course of time, however, the most likely means of propulsion into space was anti-gravity rockets, which slip by the problem altogether.  It's possible that this technology would have been easier for Kryptonians to develop, since Lex Luthor theorized that Superman's flight came from a Kryptonian biological development that allowed them to manipulate the gravity waves around them to make life on Krypton more durable (Superman could develop this into total defiance of gravity due to his enhanced health under Earth's sun).  Given that it might have been part of their natural ability in the first place, such technology would be easier to study in nature.
 
After Krypton became industrialized, its conditions may or may not have changed over a long period of time.  In order to industrialize, they needed a major technological breakthrough in order to create structures that could endure Krypton's gravity.  In order to do this, they needed to create a new substance.  This would be the crystal seen in Superman: The Movie and Smallville.
 
What we know is that this crystal can seemingly produce matter out of nowhere.  We also know that it covers almost all of Krypton.  It would be reasonable to assume that it also grew into Krypton and infested the mantle until it worked all the way down to the core.  If the planet was converted into this crystal, which was strong enough to form large free-standing (sometimes diagonal!) structures under 593 G, then its density might have changed, and therefore so would its gravitational pull.
 
The density of Earth is 5.52 times that of water.  The density of a (pure) diamond is 3.52 times that of water.  Therefore, the Earth's average density is 1.568 times as dense as a pure diamond, or a pure diamond is only 63.77% as dense as the Earth.  If Krypton was as dense as a diamond, it will have lost mass.  If we were to assign an arbitrary density to these crystals, however, and give them a density equivalent to steel, for the namesake of Krypton's last son, which has a density of up to 8.05 times that of water.  If that was the case, Krypton would have grown to be 145.8% its original mass.  Since any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic, we will not ask where that matter came or went from (though I'm assuming it's the Phantom Zone).
 
The interesting part in all this is that this crystalization might have been what destroyed Krypton in the first place.  By "dying of old age," the original authors implied that it was a natural death.  Since then, of course, we have come to accept that Krypton has died of unnatural, man-made reasons that were long in the making.  It is more like the mistakes of Kryptonian society reached an old age where they finally came to fruition.  Therefore, after ages of making its way down to the Kryptonian planet core, the crystals probably changed under intense pressure.  Under these pressures, it is my theory that Kryptonite formed and created an unstable planet core, primed for destruction.
 
My theory for thy the destruction happened in one fast instant instead of gradually was because of the Phantom Zone, which may or may not have used technology closely related to the technology that allowed the crystals to develop.  By opening the Phantom Zone, it is possible that Jor-El or the counsel (probably the counsel, using the technology against Jor-El's wishes), causes a rift in space-time that affected the crystals on their planet and made them become hyper-active on an atomic level, which expotentially sped up the process in which Kryptonite formed and even caused it to stat acting on its instability.
 
It is difficult to say how Kryptonite destroyed the planet.  From a human standpoint, Kryptonite is a seemingly innocent substance.  Yet, it reacts destructively with other Kryptonian materials and has an askew relationship with the very laws of physics that, according to Smallville, allows people who come in contact with it to develop abilities that defy said laws.
 
Therefore, my theory concludes that Kryptonite affected space-time until either one of two things happened.  Either it created a black hole, sucking the planet in, or it reversed the law of gravity, causing the planet to explode, as is traditionally depicted.  Or it somehow managed to do both, thereby sucking the rest of the planet in while creating an alternative plane of existence where gravity pulled the Kryptonite outward.
 

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New Math

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd, Music Aug 20 2013 · 425 views
youtube, Controversy!!!
:kaukau: If I am going to set precedent and post a video on this blog, there is one and only one video on all of Youtube worthy of being the proverbial golden spike.
 

 
One day, I promise, I will write a song stylistically similar to this dedicated to the derivation of the quadratic formula.  And I will use it as a love song to flirt with the woman of my dreams.
 

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Superman's Weaknesses: Technicalities

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd, Superman Jul 22 2013 · 251 views

:kaukau: One of the things that makes Superman so fun is that a science geek can dissect his abilities and ruined everyone's fun by bringing up all the technicalities.  It's also fun to try and explain how his powers should work, and there's even an entire book dedicated to that.  Back in the day, the only explanation for his powers was that he came from a planet with greater gravity, which was all that was necessary for explaining his initial set of powers, which were limited to merely strength and speed.  Nowadays, his abilities need more analysis as they get more complex, and perhaps making them more sensible would make them seem less generic.  Upon closer inspection, many of his powers also have natural drawbacks that have long been ignored due to bad writing, which created a stereotype that I believe has really been creating the long-held prejudice against Superman.  Behold the downsides to some of Superman's powers.
 
First, let's look at his speed.  Superman cannot safely use his speed to its fullest extent.  He can cause a powerful air current if he goes too fast that can damage nearby objects and knock people off their feet.  He can create shockwaves when he goes at supersonic speeds.  What happens when he hits a solid object going at ten thousand miles per hour?  Considering that that's over ten times the speed of sound, there's going to be a lot of destruction.  He simply can't do this on a regular basis if he's saving people in a populated area.
 
Then if he goes even faster, he'll ionize the air.  Even faster, and he would actually cause the molecules in the air to undergo nuclear fusion.  That little stunt he attempted at the end of Superman: The Movie would have destroyed the biosphere with radiation and burnt all life to crisp.  He simply couldn't fly at velocities near the speed of light unless he was in the vacuum of space.
 
Furthermore, at one point or other I think we all know that if he were to save someone, whether by pushing/pulling them aside from an oncoming disaster or catching them while they fell, he would have to decelerate to be very gentle before he did it.  And if he attempted to come in at ten thousand miles per hour and then slowed down, the person would still get his or her teeth knocked out by the blast caused by his sudden air displacement.  From experience, I know what it feels like to be next to the gust of wind caused by an oncoming semi-truck along the highway.  It really throws me off, and I can only imagine what the same force time a hundred would be like.
 
I must say, these particular scenarios have always been fun when doing problems in collision physics.  In fact, my physics teacher would often use him to describe an unexplained, hypothetical force acting on an object.
 
Continuing on, I also believe that Superman would not have the ability to go into "bullet time".  While I believe that to some extent his reflexes are much faster than a human's due to the advanced biology of the Kryptonian brain (perhaps their neuron signals travel at a dozen times the speed of a human's), and therefore he could be coordinated enough to run real fast and carry out other automatic motor functions with superhuman reaction time, I can't see him carrying out complex tasks at bullet-time.  It seems that the new Man of Steel movie went with this particular depiction.  I still think that time appears to go slightly slower for him, though.  I mean, if his neurons send signals, as I say, at a dozen times the speed as those of humans, then his perception of time might appear to go one twelfth of the rate at which we see it.  Sure, you might say that he could get bored with that, but I would imagine that his Kryptonian neural biology is hardwired to have a long attention span, and I think that he would instinctively see the slow passage of time as normal.  I mean, it's all relative.  Perhaps there are really slow beings that think our time goes by like a blur and that days go by like seconds.  In any case, I don't think that this should be something that he can turn off.  Biologically, that doesn't make sense to me.
 
So basically, I see his superspeed as being sort of a cross between the original movie and the new one.  In Superman: The Movie, Perry White had to say that Clark Kent was "the fastest typist I have ever seen!"  To me, that suggests that he can think fast enough to type at that speed, but I also like Man of Steel's emphasis on how he can move at extreme speeds, but usually for flying long distances in straight lines and not necessarily for carrying out complex tasks.

 
He's not the Flash; he doesn't have all of the required secondary powers to fully utilize his speed.  The Flash is the one hero I look at who uses superspeed who I imagine that all of the technicalities are accounted for, since his entire persona is organized around it.  He can move at the speed of light without dilating time.  He can manipulate objects at lightspeed without damaging them.  He can accelerate to his maximum velocity almost instantaneously in spite of insufficient friction.  He can run at the exit velocity without flying off the face of the Earth.  He can swiftly change directions and doesn't have to worry about centrifugal force.  He doesn't have to worry about creating sonic booms, ionizing the air, or creating nuclear fusion.  And, of course, he can carry out complex tasks while operating at full speed.  That's the Flash, and I'll have to admit that makes him quite the force of nature, perhaps more than even Superman.
 
Even though it's no longer as rosy as it used to be, Superman can still use his speed.  There's one power, however, that I think he should be completely stripped of.  That's right, I'm talking about the ridiculousness of his superbreath.  I understand that if he sneezed, he could blow your face off.  It would be the ultimate air cannon.  That being said, I never bought the proposition that he could inhale indefinitely and compress as much air into his lungs as he liked.  How do his lungs compress the air?  How does the air work its way into a compressed space?  You can't do that simply by inhaling.  It beats the principles of thermodynamics.  I think he should be able to contain as much air as any normal human can.  You can tell me that he can hold his breath longer, and that his diaphragm has a kick to it that could send the Wicked Witch of the East all the way back to Oz, but I really can't see him using his superbreath in anything but short, deadly bursts.
 
The only way I would change my perception on this is if his powers were explained by saying that the laws of physics were different inside of his body.  Perhaps within him, entropy works in reverse.  Which would actually explain a lot about his powers.
 
Back in the day,
Superman's x-ray vision could give innocent bystanders cancer.  The George Reeves Superman actually got that bit about his powers scientifically accurate.  However, his powers didn't have the visual affect that they should have.  His x-ray vision was simply an ability to see through whatever layers of matter he wanted.  His x-ray vision wasn't treated like an actual x-ray until Smallville, as far as I was aware.  However, that depiction never explored the effect the x-rays would have on people and never mentioned their danger.  That would have been interesting.
 
I'll confess: I honestly don't mind that Superman can see through objects inexplicably.  That's really cool, and it's fun fantasy.  It's also real fun to try to come up with a scientific explanation.  However, for this highly flawed version of Superman that I'm painting, a sketchier x-ray vision is more appropriate.  Let his x-ray vision put people at risk of cancer, and let the images he gets not be very clear.  Perhaps he could learn to control it later on to be more like the x-ray vision seen in all of the movies thus far, but I'm fine with the Smallville-type vision crossed with the health concerns of the George Reeves Superman being his starting point.
 
Speaking his vision abilities, let's move on to what is arguable one of his coolest powers.
 
Recently, I also noticed certain innovations touched upon by the Man of Steel movie, and I appreciate where it goes with his heat vision.  It's subtle, but it appears that
the new Superman needs a cool-down period after using his heat vision.  That would explain why he didn't use it too often, since it would potentially distract him for a split second.  In other variations, his reason for not using this ability as often as he should has been suggested to be that heat vision drains his powers fast and exhausts him if he overdoes it.  However, I would like to take this all further.  I believe in the two downsides mentioned before, but the implications of the heat vision interest me.  First of all, I don't quite understand how anything about his Kryptonian biology would have prepared this side-affect of living under the sun.  I really would like to know how Kryptonians evolved that would lead to this symptom of yellow sun exposure.  That's a discussion for another day, however.  What I would assume, however, is that using heat vision would hurt.  I know he's supposed to be godlike and all that, and heat normally wouldn't hurt him, but this is the power of the sun in his eyeballs.  It's something he's producing, so I assume he would feel it.  So I have to imagine how much pain this would cause him.  Maybe it would be like giving birth or passing a kidney stone.  Maybe even worse.  Who knows - maybe his Kryptonian neurons pick up more pain than we humans can imagine?  Sure, if he were to do this often enough, his brain would neurologically rewire itself to build up a tolerance to this pain, and his eyes might eventually adjust and build a resistance to the damage, so like many of his abilities, this is a downside that would probably grow less significant as he grew old.
 
Yet, I can think of another effect that his laser vision could have, and one that would make it impractical and risky in certain situations.  Imagine looking into the sun.  That would, of course, have no affect on Superman, but perhaps his own heat vision could give him similar results.  
Using heat vision could temporarily blind him. Depending on the intensity and the duration, the after-effects could range from having spots in his eyes that last for a few minutes or being completely without sight for the full duration of a fight.  I also doubt that he could even see while using his heat vision.
 
Therefore, he would want to be careful about when he was using it.  It is certainly something he would want to avoid in close-quarter combat against another superbeing or someone with kryptonite, magic, or electricity, and save for those occasions where he would want to strike from a distance.
 
I still definitely appreciate the heat vision.  It says a lot about who he is.  Batman once said that "Clark is ironically the most human of us all.  Then he shoots fire out of his eyes, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god.  We are fortunate that it does not occur to him."  Heat vision is to Superman as lightning is to Zeus.  I mean, this is a guy who has the power of the sun running through him, and if the eyes are the windows to the soul, then I would think that when he truly pulls back the curtains you'd see the sun behind them.  I think of the cover for Superman: Earth One, where he's surrounded by destruction and his eyes are glowing red, and that's a pretty powerful image that can send chills down you.  It's just plain cool, so I definitely wouldn't take it away.

 
If anyone can think of other technicalities, go ahead and mention them.  I am convinced that this analysis is incomplete, and hardly definitive in spite of how thorough I attempted to be.  Meanwhile, tomorrow I will return with my final entry in this series, which will consist of proposals for new weaknesses altogether that are both in keeping with his character while also adding whole new dimensions to him.  Tune in!
 

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Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies, Nerd May 27 2013 · 246 views
Star Trek

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:kaukau: How to watch this:
  • Wear a Starfleet shirt
  • Wear Vulcan ears (or Shatner's old toupee)
  • Watch The Wrath of Khan first
  • Make sure you go to a theatre with a large silver screen
  • Rinse and repeat
Don't let the name fool you - this isn't a dark movie.  In fact, though there is more emphasis on the villain's character this time around, I would consider 2009's Star Trek a darker film.  I had several misconceptions going in that perhaps foiled my ability to fully appreciate this.  For example, the trailers made the villain look like he was going to be ten times more challenging than he actually was.  He was a good villain, but I would not necessarily say that he was a more formidable threat than Nero.  I also thought that this was going to be a more emotional film that would stretch the way we look at these characters, and though it had some emotional notes, they were only partially explored.
 
I've seen this three times, and might see it a fourth.  So that should disprove any notion that if this film doesn't live up to the freshness of its predecessor then it's a disappointment.  It's still lovable, and still has many things that make Star Trek great.  The bright colors, the imaginative fantasy, and the many elements that make science fiction fun.  This reflects the imagination I had as a kid.
 
It's debatable whether or not this film will please Trekkies or not.  The way I see things, the one thing that all "true" Trekkies have in common is that infinite combinations form infinite possibilities, and no one is alike.  This is because to be a geeky fan is to be opinionated, and to have a definite sense of how things ought to be.  Ergo, a superhero film will never please everyone, no matter how good.  I used to think that the Dark Knight films had universal praise and formed the greatest blessing ever to Batman fans, but I have encountered Batfans who detest them and think that Nolan did a gross injustice to the character.  So therefore, Star Trek Into Darkness could either be the best thing to happen to the franchise or the worst, depending on who you ask, although I don't think that it's too controversial.  It fits well with the new tone set by the previous installment.  That was the film that made Star Trek cool again, but it was to the style of Star Wars.  J.J. Abrams was a huge admirer or Steven Spielberg and Star Wars, and between that director and those films, he found the inspiration for his style.  So this new film feels a little like it's playing Star Wars's game, minus the outright war.  That might annoy people who would rather Star Trek be a little more slow-paced and distinct from the mother-of-all-franchises to which it is often compared.
 
Fans will be rewarded, however, in its many references to classic Star Trek lore, from The Trouble With Tribbles to - not surprisingly - The Wrath of Khan.  In fact, I slipped up and accidentally called this movie The Wrath of Khan when talking with my cousins, because there were so many references, which just goes to show that it's still the greatest Star Trek movie ever made.  2009's Star Trek is, in my opinion, the second best.  Both have very moving stories about the Enterprise's crew and how they underwent definitive and permanent character change.  What made the last one extra impressive is that it started with some of the characters right at birth and build them up from scratch, which was a very engaging journey.  Into Darkness does not benefit from an origin story.  It introduces Carol Marcus, but she's only an inclusion, not a central point to the story, and doesn't have her own origin story.  In fact, none of the characters goes through any apparent journey, for which I really can't credit this for being the best Star Trek film.
 
Nothing truly gets resolved.  At the end of the movie, there's no permanent change to the status quo, and I think that's why I wasn't content.  Things were touched upon, but they didn't get enough time.  Whenever the movie had what looked like a slow moment, when things got a little more somber, something would come crashing in -often literally - interrupting the scene.  I can't, therefore, say that it did a good job of building up those iconic moments.
 
So those were my concerns.  However, Abrams made this movie with the intention of it being a standalone, something that someone could watch without having any prior experience with Star Trek, even the 2009 film.   So I know where this film comes from.  That's why I still really enjoy it and try and see it as an entertaining fantasy adventure with cool warp space jumps, aliens, voices, costumes, and sound effects.  Oh, and lots and lots of lens flares.  It isn't a weak film at all.  Why else would I watch it three - possibly four - times?
 
So, in spite of the lack of game-changing character development, there were certain people who had major moments in the limelight. What pleases me most is that with this second film, the actors fit more and more into their roles.  Whenever iconic characters get recast, longtime fans can get uncomfortable because they feel like they're betraying the original actors who defined the roles in the first place if they embrace the new actors.  Yet, I now see that everyone in this cast, save for Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (who will never replace Shatner and Nimoy), has the potential to be just as iconic as the original actors.  Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin are taking ownership of these roles.  I think it helps that the rest of the crew in the original series wasn't quite as flamboyant, and a little more subdued compared to the larger-than-life performances of Shatner and Nimoy, whereas Pine and Quinto must embrace a subtler approach with their characters in order to fall into imitation, while the other actors can add energy to these characters that wasn't fully exploited back in the day.  The eminence of most of the cast had room for promotion, but by the time Shatner became Admiral Kirk and Nimoy the Ambassador, there were no new levels to go to, metaphorically speaking.  So now Scotty is Super Scotty, and Bones is Super Bones, more themselves than they ever were before.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with the blazing new characterization given to Chekov, who's a far more distinct personality aboard the ship than he ever was in the past.
 
Because of this, I can't fault the film for having little in the way of milestone character developments.  It seems that it geared more toward cementing the legacy of these characters, and demonstrating the new status quo established at the end of Star Trek.  Abrams plays with the characterization of the crew members, perhaps not twisting them to their limits but showing off what's fun about them.  The person who benefits the most from this is Scotty, followed closely by Chekov.  This was Scotty's movie to shine.  The story didn't revolve around him, but considering that he appeared closer to the end of Star Trek, it's fair that he should get more screen time and a greater taste of the action in this highly anticipated sequel.
 
Chekov, meanwhile, sent a chill down my spine when he received Kirk's order: "You're my new head of engineering.  Go put on a red shirt."  I won't tell anyone what happened after that, but it was a major moment in the film for me that stood out.
 
I'm just going to squeeze this in here and say that "Cupcake" from the previous film made an appearance, even though he's entirely minor.  I really appreciate the consistency that they have with these extras, because it's good to feel that these films pay more attention to continuity than the Original Series was infamous for lacking, and it makes the world seem more real, solid, and tangible.
 
The main new character from Star Trek canon that Into Darkness introduces to the cast is Carol Marcus.  Even though she has yet to be fully developed, I appreciated her involvement.  She was an element from The Wrath of Khan who had a vaguely defined history with Kirk as some sort of love interest.  Like so many things in this film, that was only touched upon, but it certainly had a sense of going somewhere.  She was only a small element from the original films, and yet she had a distinction of mother's Kirk's son.  Since then, this character needed more development, a full story of her own, and I like that this film opens that up.
 
Benedict Cumberbatch, as expected, played an excellent villain, and this was certainly a movie where it was the villain's moment to shine.  It's not quite The Dark Knight or The Silence of the Lambs, especially since his rivalry with Kirk isn't quite as personal, but John Harrison was a cool villain with complexity and was very nice to look at.  The only real problem with him was that the film needed more of him, more of his villainy, because I could stand to see it.  However, casting Cumberbatch is slightly controversial, and he might not have fit his role as John Harrison.  I won't explain why...You'll just have to see the movie to know what I'm talking about.
 
By the end of the movie, I felt that the franchise was really ready for another television series.  I think that's what this is leading into.  I have know way of knowing that for sure, but those are really my hopes.  What would excite me the most about this is that Carol Marcus would make the most amazing change to the status quo, while being entirely appropriate.  She's the perfect addition if there's to be a fresh take on the Original Series, and will give it the ideal "new" feel, because what the new series would need is a certain chemistry that should have been there before.  That is, Carol Marcus, whose legendary but untold love story with Captain Kirk should finally get the weight it deserves.
 
Looking further into the future, there are other characters I really want to see, preferably in a full-blown film instead of in the series.  This movie had a great villain, but I was really hoping for Gary Mitchell.  I really want the villain in the next film to be Gary Mitchell.  I also wouldn't mind a return of Khan, because I can only imagine how much damage he and all of his followers could do after the standards set by the lone wolf villain in Into Darkness.  Charlie X would be incredibly interesting as well, though I could stand to see him in an episode rather than a standalone movie.  I want to see Spock grow a beard, and not just for an episode but for a whole movie, which Zachary Quinto has mentioned, though I wasn't sure if that was in jest.  Finally, I really, really want to see Saavik's origin firsthand in order to keep the freshness of the 2009 Star Trek.
 
So in all, it's a good movie, and I highly recommend seeing it.  Just not in 3D.  I tried 3D first, and it really wasn't doing it for me in this film.  Star Trek just works so much better in 2D, especially on a bigger screen.  Watch it, several times, and if you're single, gather the courage to ask someone out to see it as a first date.  Or don't.  I didn't, either, so I won't judge you.  Just make sure to have fun.
 
Oh, and for the record, the reason why it took me over a week to write this review was because it's extremely difficult to talk about this film without giving away major spoilers.  The most awesome things about the film are things I can't even touch on.  So therefore, in order to truly express myself, and to say the one thing that simply must be said, I must for the first time ever use a spoiler tag in of of these reviews:
 
Spoiler


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Fridge Brilliance

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Music, Superman, Nerd Sep 23 2012 · 358 views
Superman, nerd, music
  • :kaukau: One thing I thought was cool about the opening to Superman Returns is that there is a hint of Also Sprach Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey in the Kryptonian Fanfare segment as the archived voice of Jor-El says that "You will travel far, my little Kal-El".
  • Now, rewind a bit, to the point where you're now at a point of time before this movie. In fact, we're going back in time before Superman comics. "Superman" is a rough translation of Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch (it can also be translated as "superior man", "over man", and "above man"), which initially inspired the comic character when Jerry Siegel imagined him as a villain, but then he completely changed him and turned him into a hero on the polar opposite end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, Superman owes his inspiration to Der Übermensch.
  • Nietzsche wrote about Der Übermensch in a book called Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • Fridge brilliance!
On another note of fridge brilliance, "Lois" is a Greek name that roughly means "desirable/agreeable", but another interpretation is "Superior", i.e. "Super"! I just find that awesome.





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Hip Action Figure of My Lifetime

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Nerd Aug 22 2012 · 393 views
nerd

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:kaukau: Sure, it's really expensive, but I'm genuinely saving up to by one of the 5,000 authentic Helms of Sauron. There's not much that I desire more. Can you imagine how hardcore I would look wearing this on Halloween? I've decided I've moved past action figured and evolved into a figure of action myself.

Hopefully I can get enough art commissions this year to earn a few thousand dollars. If not that, then maybe over the course of the next few years. If I'm really lucky, I can also get the money to afford one of these:




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Me

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Username: Jean Valjean
Real name: N/A
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, 25% Hungarian, 12.5% Swedish, 6.25% German and Irish
Physical description: Looks like the eleventh Doctor
Favorite food: Chicken, turkey, and beef.
Least favorite food: Vegetables of any kind
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite singer: Billy Joel
Favorite song: American Pie
Favorite movie: Schindler's List
Favorite TV show: Smallville & Arthur the Friendly Aardvark
Favorite play: Les Miserables
Favorite color: Silver
Second favorite color: Brown
Favorite board game: Risk
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Lucky Number: 53
Past-times: Writing, reading, politics, drawing
Political party: Republican
Religion: Christian
Language: Not English, but American.

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