Star Trekkin’

My review of Star Trek Into Darkness can be succinctly written: As a film, I enjoyed it. As a Star Trek film, I didn’t.

There are two specific reasons why it didn’t work for me as a Star Trek movie. First, after the first J J Abrams movie, I was encouraged that they’d found a way to build a fresh start for the young versions of well-known characters. They completely threw that away in the sequel, though, rehashing old stories with the most simple, and not as clever as they seemed to think, twists.

Secondly, one thing that differentiates Star Trek from other science fiction movies is the attempt to justify the science bits while presenting the fiction bits. In this film, however, when someone asked why one ship could catch up to another in warp, the only reason given was that they had “advanced warp technology”. Not enough detail for this science nerd and long-time Star Trek fan.

However, in the spirit of being constructive, here’s my pitch for the next film.
Warning: Possible spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness ahead. 

Dr Carol Marcus takes the blood from Kahn and his army in combination with the prototype photon torpedoes to create the Genesis Device. When it is used to terraform a planet, the doctor is caught in the blast. This causes her unborn son (David Marcus, fathered by Kirk who is not aware that Dr Marcus is carrying his baby) to develop at a rapid rate. During the final showdown with the Klingons, who are trying to steal the Genesis for use as a weapon, an elderly David sacrifices himself to save Kirk and the crew, leaving Kirk forever embittered towards the Klingons.

Bonus points if old David Marcus is played by William Shatner.

I really want this on a t-shirt.


Anatomy of a tribble from the Starfleet Reference Manual book

I wish I could put my ~bio major skills to good use and dissect one.

Just Khan’t Get Enough

This may or may not be a surprise, given where I work, but sometimes geeky questions are asked, and geeky responses are necessary. After one such conversation regarding how many ‘a’s are canon for the imperative “Khaaan!”, I decided further investigation was necessary:

It is clear that a strong power law relation is present for low eigenkhans after the initial spike at eigenkhan 1. However, above eigenkhan 100 we enter a new realm that requires further investigation. In both power law regions we have an exponent of ~-2.68 (-2.60 for Google, -2.77 for Bing), which should be considered the canonical khansponent.

This is a slightly extended version as I have more results than I did when I wrote the first email. I can now see that the extended tail above eigenkahn 100 suggests an exponential relation, however I still do not have enough data to create a conclusive model.

In fact, this data follows a distribution known as the Pareto distribution and is related to the Bradford law of diminishing returns. In this case, the distribution has xm = 1 and α = 2.68. The expected value is, then, 1.6 with a variance of 11.12. Therefore, anything from “Kahn!” to “Kaaaaahn!” is within expectations, though there is no incorrect length.

Better things to do with my time? Why yes, why do you ask?

The perfect gift

Sometimes, you get the perfect gift. The gift that my wife bought me for Christmas finally arrived today, and it is every bit as awesome as she promised that it would be.

Presents are kept as great secrets in this house, and when it didn’t arrive for Christmas, she was very upset, and insisted that there was no way that ‘they’ could possibly send another. Also, she let slip that it came from Ireland. Now I don’t know about you, but thinking of strictly limited items coming from Ireland left me stumped. Unless it was a Leprechaun’s pot o’ gold. Or his Lucky Charms (that’s a North American cultural reference. I’m getting better at those). Fortunately, whatever Giants, Faerie Kings, Sober Irishmen and other mythological creatures she dealt with came through and another was sent.

When I finally saw what it was, it made me think about what it takes to get that perfect gift for someone, and hopefully how I can get there next year.

In essence, there are a few different categories of gift that can be given from one person to another. The first is the sort of gift that you buy, maybe when you don’t feel that you know someone particularly well, that you base off of what you would like to get. There’s no shame in that; it’s a perfectly good strategy when working with limited information. However, the gift is likely to be uninspired, and might even be something the receiver hates.

The next type of gift is the easy route: Get the thing that the receiver has been asking for, or dropping massive hints about, for the last 9 months. While possibly uninspired, you’re going to pretty much guarantee a happy recipient. You can also step this one up a bit by getting something that you know the receiver wants, but won’t ever get for themselves. Perhaps it’s a collectable gadget with no practical use or just something a little on the expensive side like the best watch ever.

If you’re not Mirto you can ignore this next bit: LOOK!

So how do you get the perfect gift? Well, it’s risky, but as with most risky strategies it has the greatest potential payoff. You get something that you know the receiver will love, but would never, in a million years, think of getting for themselves. That’s what Mirto is able to do again and again.

This time, she found a limited print of a watercolour of a scene from a magical kids book that I adore. Amazingly, I did not know that I adored the book until she bought it for me this Christmas. Yes, she knows me frustratingly well. The book is Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and the print is the cover of the book. The book, by the way, is being released as an animated movie.

I would never buy art for myself. And if I did, I would never think to find a print of a scene from a book that I haven’t even read yet. Still, it is just what I wanted. I just never knew it until I had it.