Sunday, 1 July 2012

Consilience #52: More me, bordering on the habitual

A pretty inaccurate artist's rendition of Shenzhou 9 (right)
docking with a dinky little version of Tiangong 1, missing large bits.
I'm audible for the fourth time now. With Mike and Angela on reproductive leave, Owen's been the only "real" Consilientist on duty for the last few weeks, with a trickle of guest hosts filling the empty microphones. I was actually supposed to help out with two previous episodes (#49 and #50, if I recall), but I had some last-minute problems on both occasions, and so my contribution was limited to just some material I'd written for #49 that Owen and Sam found useful. Episode 52 was then also postponed by a week, as it was just me and Owen, and he had a last minute problem of his own getting in the way.

I should point out that I was deeply ashamed to notice after the episode was released that I'd called the first series of Soviet space stations "Salyuz." I know it's Salyut. I've spent ages just memorising these names (in chronological order), never mind all the time reading up on their details. But I think I had Almaz in my head at the same time, as I wasn't certain while we recorded whether I should draw attention to the distinction between the two similar classes of station, and maybe the Z slipped in from there. Or perhaps it's because it sounds closer to Soyuz, also with the Z?

You can find the file and the show notes for #52 here:
http://consiliencecast.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/episode-52-taikonauts-in-space-nobel-laureate-goes-wild-and-textbook-stuff-up

Anyway, Episode 52 is good and you should listen to it, but I feel obliged to talk more about #49, especially the stuff I contributed (the Teaching Angela to Appreciate History segment and the news about Nanocthulu lovecrafti). I was disappointed that they made no mention of Snoopy the lunar lander module of the Apollo 10 mission, since the pairing of that with the Charlie Brown command module seems brilliant to me. But more than that, there's a whole extra bunch of history to be explored down that path, about how NASA and Charles Schulz were in cahootz, after the Apollo 1 disaster. Perhaps a bit too much to cover in that one brief segment, but at least a taster might have been good. How's Angela supposed to get interested in history if she's never inspired to look beyond the most immediate facts we present? Huh? On a briefer note, did you know that Snoopy is the only LM sent into space to survive (even Armstrong and Aldrin's Eagle was destroyed after use) and is still out there somewhere right now? Nope, I bet you didn't, because that fun factoid was also cut. But don't worry, I've got a post in the works that'll cover way more than you ever wanted to know about astrohistory.

I was also a little surprised that they kept in my comment that Nanocthulhu looks more like an Insect from Shaggai, without knowing why I'd said that. The short answer is just that it looks insecty, rather than humanoctopoidy. But if you search for images of these Mythos creatures, you'll note that there's virtually no agreement about their basic form, let alone detailed features. The only reason the pictures of Nanocthulhu brought the Insects from Shaggai to my mind (apart from the general Lovecraft connection) are two pictures I'd seen that kind of agree with each other and which I happen to like.

The first, which is clearly not a big stretch from Nanocthulhu, is by John T. Snyder and is from the book Delta Green: Countdown:

The second, which I love and is probably why the Insects stuck in my mind so clearly, is by Alex Loob and was used as the main convention art for Icon 2006: