May 8 2009

Congratulations to J.J. Abrams!

Clearly the new Star Trek film is a critical smash.  Only time will tell

if it is as big a box office smash, but the odds are good.  I’m going

to see the IMAX version tomorrow.


May 7 2009

12 Years At The Mast


Yes, this site has been up for over 12 years now.  Originally this

site was a Jonathan Frakes fan site - “Riker Heaven” and then

later “Planet Riker” – hence the name for the site.  After the

success of “First Contact” the prospects for running a site

that offered scoops and (admittedly slightly cynical) commentary

on the (at the time) next Trek film, “Insurrection”, seemed

like a pretty good idea.   Interest in that film ran high right up until

the moment of release,  with around 5,000 unique visitors

a day hitting this site in the months leading up to the film’s release. 

This site even got some mainstream media coverage, being featured

in newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald as well as print

magazines that specialised in on-line content – admittedly that was

most likely because of the notorious “121 Uses For A Dead Wesley”



Unfortunately, “Insurrection” didn’t live up to the expectations of

the fan base, or indeed anyone and interest in Star Trek waned.


The 2002 release of “Nemesis” did nothing to help matters and the

television series “Enterprise” lost its way (and audience) in the less

than inspired second and third seasons.


With the lack of public interest on Trek my personal enthusiasm

for this site also fell away.  I attempted to set up a forum to

encourage others to interact, which had some success, but

it was never quite as successful as I would have liked.

Overall perhaps it was a mistake to try and run this site single-

handed, but that’s how it panned out.  Obviously since I started

this site over 12 years ago I am no spring chicken, and to be

honest I wasn’t exactly a raw youth even then.  Lots of other

things have happened in the intervening years, not the least

of which is that I have now released an album.

Since I still own this domain name and have a website account

I will continue to update this site in a periodic fashion now that

Trek seems to be alive again. 

April 27 2007

New Star Trek Movie For Christmas 2008

J.J. Abrams, director of the next Trek film, rumoured to simply be

titled Star Trek, has confirmed that 'Kirk will appear'

in the film, which will premiere Christmas 2008.


No official word on who will play Kirk, or whether Kirk's role will be a

major one, but there's plenty of speculation!


I'm sure you've all heard the stories that Matt Damon has been

approached to play Kirk, plus Adrian Brody as Spock and

Gary Sinise as Bones, so I won't go over those at any length

except to say that nothing can be confirmed at this stage.


April 21 2006

New Star Trek Movie For 2008

Variety have just posted a story confirming that Paramount will be making an

11th Trek movie for release in 2008.   Biggest news is that Rick Berman

will not be producing as he has been replaced by J.J. Abrams who will

be producing, co-writing and directing.   


Planet Riker says:  This would be the Mission Impossible 3 J.J. Abrams,

right?      Well, we all remember how Nemesis went with a similar style

director; but hey, the only direction is up now!   Since Trek X broke the

cycle of good “even number” flicks maybe it’s fitting that Trek XI might

be the first great “odd number” Trek film.  It certainly couldn’t be worse

than Insurrection!

February 26 2006

A Good Moon Hoax Article have a good article about the “Top Ten” Moon Hoax claims.   


It occurs to me that another good argument that might be made would be according

to Occam’sRazor:  that the simplest explanation is the most likely.  For example,

some people dispute that William Shakespeare really wrote the 37 plays and various

sonnets traditionally attributedto him.  Occam’s Razor would suggest that as a number

of Shakespeare’s contemporaries say he wrote the plays, none of them is recorded as

disputing the authorship, and the plays were published in his lifetime with his name

listed as the author then in the absence of compelling evidence we simply must

accept Shakespeare as the author.   The main “evidence” that Shakespeare didn’t

write his plays was the he was insufficiently educated, that the original manuscripts

no longer exist, and that did not have the life experience to have written about such

things as foreign countries and affairs of royalty.   All this ignores the fact that

Shakespeare did have a regular school education, that very few manuscripts of any

work survive from his era and that nothing he wrote actually suggests any deep

familiarity with other countries or the affairs of state.  In fact, Shakespeare’s

portrayal of the affairs of stateis far removed from the realities of the time but is

in perfect accord with thenecessities of drama.   Amusingly one of the people

suggested as the “real” author, Christopher Marlowe, came from a background of

poverty and had the same sort of education as Shakespeare.  He also

inconveniently died in 1592, over 20 years before the production of Shakespeare’s

last play.    You can only imagine the wacky arguments produced to support these

alternate Shakespeares.  I can only assume that at some time in thefuture there

will be people questioning the “real authorship” of the Beatles’ songs on the

grounds that Lennon and McCartney didn’t have the musical knowledge to write

them!   In fact, I don’t need to imagine that, it was suggested back in the 1960s.


I mention this because it shows what people can convince themselves into believing

despite the obvious evidence.  For example,  in the face of the evidence that many

thousands of people worked on the moon landings, and that 12 men claimed that

they walked on the moon (with film and video evidence) and that none of these people

have ever stated that it was a fake (famous Moon Landing denier Bill Kaysing quit

his job at Rocketdyne in 1963, six years before the first Moon Landingand so can

hardly be said to have worked on the Apollo program which didn’t even exist in 1963)

it is impossible to even consider that that the Moon Landings were a fake in the

absence of compelling evidence.

February 4 2006

Bush Seeks 1% Increase In NASA Funding for 2007 reportsthat President Bush is requesting that NASA’s funding be

Increasedto $16.792 billion.


Now to put that into perspective, Bush is requesting that the Defense

Budget be increased by 5% to $439.3 billion.  That’s a little over 26

times as much.   Next time someone tells you that there’s far too

much money spent on Space, you might point that little statistic

out to them. 

October 8 2005

So, Where Is Everybody?


Despite decades of searching no evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence has so

far been discovered.


Some possible explanations:


1. There is no extra-terrestrial life at all.  This would seem unlikely.  Even if the

conditions that lead to life arerare it would be implausible that life would only

ever have arisen on one planet (out of a vast number).  Of course, if you were

a believer in ‘intelligent design’ you might be prepared to believe this...


2. Extra-terrestrial life exists, but we are the only example of intelligence.  Again, this

seems relatively unlikely, unless conditions favouring life did not exist prior to the

formation of our planet, and/or the evolution of intelligence is incredibly rare.


3. Humans are the most advanced race of beings, at least in this region of the

galaxy, so no other beings have yet developed the ability to communicate with us.  On the

surface this might seem implausible, given the age of the universe, but I suppose

somebody has to be “first”.  


4. Extra-terrestrial intelligence exists but we do not have the means to detect it.   This

could be the case if extra-terrestrials do not wish to communicate, or if they use

methods that are beyond our ability to detect.  A plausible explanation although it

relies on extraterrestrials being indifferent to our existence. Alternatively, extra-

terrestrials might be scattered at such great distances that contact between them

and us is unlikely – however this to some extent relies on similar reasoning to

point 3: that extra-terrestrialsare no more advanced than we are.


5.  Extra-terrestrial intelligence exists but we just haven’t had enough time to find it, or for

it to find us.   This is the assumption of the SETI program.  If any of the other

earlier explanations were true there would be no point trying to find ETs. 


6.  Extra-terrestrial intelligence is commonplace but extra-terrestrials have made

efforts to hide their existence.  This explanation unfortunately veers very close to

what UFO conspiracy theorists would suggest.   However if it is true then efforts

such as SETI would be futile.   This explanation also assumes that ETs don’t want

us to discover their existence, presumably because they think it would be

damaging to our culture.


7. Extra-terrestrial intelligence has developed, but those extra-terrestrial civilisations

have all destroyed themselves,or otherwise ceased to exist, in the remote past.

Possible, but not an encouraging thought.




So how long do we keep trying before we give up?     A hard question; I suppose

it would be decades before anyone seriously gets disheartened about the prospects

of failure.


How do we proceed if we d ofind something?    I expect it would depend on what

we find.  A signal denoting intelligence isn’t necessarily the same thing as getting

a complete download of the Encyclopedia Galactica.   I imagine that there might

be opposition by some people to the notion that we should attempt to respond to

a signal, as this would then flag our existence to those beings at “the other end”. 

Whether we should assume that other beings might harbour malevolent intentions

towards us, we would also have to expect that they would not be able to make an

immediate response.  If there really were beings capable of faster-than-light travel

in our vicinity then they might well discover us no matter what we do. If faster-than-light

travel is not possible then wehave nothing to worry about.   It wouldn’t be worth

making the enormous effort to travel here.    Additionally, we probably wouldn’t have

anything of value for a more advanced civilisation to exploit.    Note that in “Star Trek”

type scenarios almost  all the races are roughly at the same stageof development,

which is extremely unlikely.   On the other hand, if a vastly more advanced race

(such as the Borg) really existed it is unlikely that they would have a dependence on 

‘assimilating’or conquering other cultures.   The notion that we would have anything

of value, either biologically or technologically, to a culture far more advanced to ours is

rather unlikely.


October 3 2005

If It Looks Like aPlanet, and Smells Like a Planet, Then…


It would appear that the recently discovered 10th planet, informally dubbed “Xena”,

really can be awarded planetary status now that it has been revealed today that it

has a moon:


September 28 2005

Back To The Moon.  Why? Because If You Want to Go Anywhere You Have To

Get To The Moon First


NASA announced their Lunar Exploration Plans,currently scheduled for 2018,

last week.   Why the excitement over something that wasalready done over

30 years ago?  Well, to understand the purpose of the returnto the Moon, you have

to consider what comesafter that.   Mars and beyond.


Of course, NASA’s plansmay prove to be redundant if private enterprise gets there

first.   NASA could have a brand new ‘space race’ onits hands.   We can only hope.



September 10 2005

New Company Aims ToColonise Mars

New company Four Frontiers hopes it will be possiblyto establish a privately run

Marscolony by 2025.   I note the quote byGene Roddenberry on the front page of

their web site.


Keep the faith, siblings!



September 9 2005

New Sunlike Star Has A Proto-Planetary System That EerilyResembles The

Early Solar System


News of a ‘baby solarsystem’ around a star almost exactly the same size as the

Sun has been reported at  Most interesting is the evidence that this

planetary system appears toalready have several gas giant planets at distances

corresponding precisely to our ownsolar system.