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Ed Hudgins

On Viewing Forbidden Planet on Its 60th Anniversary

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On Viewing Forbidden Planet on Its 60th Anniversary
By Edward Hudgins

June 2, 2016 -- Science fiction reflects our hopes and fears for the future and, at its best, it offers an elixir of inspiration. On viewing the 1956 film Forbidden Planet on its 60th anniversary, you can see in its intelligent story, special effects, design, sounds, and message why this classic that has stood the test of time.

Monsters and dystopias of ‘50s science fiction

Science fiction films in the 1950s often offered giant bugs, mutant monsters, and cheesy effects. Some featured visits to Earth by space aliens that were malicious (War of the Worlds), indifferent (It Came from Outer Space), or serious in their warnings that the Earth must abandon its warlike ways or be destroyed (The Day the Earth Stood Still).

Unlike those films or the many dystopian sagas that followed, Forbidden Planet is set in a peaceful 23nd century, during which “mankind began the conquest and colonization of deep space.”

Forbidden Planet: Tempest on another world

The story is roughly modeled on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which centers on a ship that is wrecked on an isolated island inhabited by the wizard Prospero and his beautiful daughter Miranda. Forbidden Planet opens on spaceship, United Planets Cruiser C-57D commanded by Captain J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen). It has been on a year-long voyage to discover the fate of settlers who had traveled two decades before to the isolated planet Altair 4. They have not been heard from since.

The ship lands. Adams and his officers meet Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon as a sci-fi Prospero) in his house that seems designed by an interstellar Frank Lloyd Wright. (I wanted that house!) Morbius explains that all the other settlers save his wife were killed within a year of their arrival by some invisible planetary force (Caliban?) that tore them limb from limb. Mrs. Morbius died of natural causes but not before giving birth to Altaira (Anne Francis as a mini-shirted Miranda), now a beautiful young woman.

Adams must jerry-rig a system to communicate with far-off Earth for orders concerning this unexpected situation. But soon he finds equipment sabotaged. Has the planetary force returned?

“Prepare your minds”

Morbius then reveals the mystery he has tried to solve for 20 years. The planet was inhabited by the Krell, a race that was a million years ahead of humans. But on the eve of some crowning technological achievement, one the Krell hoped would free them “from any dependence on physical instrumentality,” ... (Continue reading here.)

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I saw this film as an 11 or 12 yo boy in a theater in Waltham, MA when it was released. Three screens, simultaneous projection. I didn't really believe that 1 million years from now the human race might be where the Krell had been in movie time, not even then. I thought it was end of the movie boilerplate, although not with that actual word, which I didn't know at the time. Today it will probably be only a thousand or two thousand years if that. Why? Look at the exponential expansion of technology soon to hit biology. The human race is going to self evolve. In a thousand years an IQ of 200 (today) could make you less than average. The only danger is giving up natural birth so babies can be born with bigger heads with bigger brains so we trade off good looks for ugly, bloated, but brainy heads.

--Brant

and the missionary position could be the hardest position for copulation (thank your lucky stars you aren't yet to be born with that big head)

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As you know, I've been hammering on the exponential tech theme for a while! That's why I mention the appeal to transhumanists in my piece. And that's why the moral revolution to promote the value of human achievement in our culture is so urgent.

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From Newsweek: The Fermi paradox has puzzled scientists and philosophers since it was first posited more than 50 years ago by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who essentially asked: “Where are all the aliens?” Fermi argued that taking into consideration the age of the universe and the high probability of other planets capable of developing intelligent life existing, Earth should have been visited by extraterrestrials long ago and many times over. Taking this paradox as the basis for their own calculations, astronomers at Cornell University have now estimated that humans will most likely be contacted by aliens 1,500 years from now.

According to the astronomers, signals from Earth would need to reach half of all the solar systems in the Milky Way in order to be picked up by an intelligent lifeform. Given that signals from TV and radio were first sent into space as a byproduct of broadcasting 80 years ago, it will take around 1,500 more years for aliens to receive, decode and respond to the signals.

“We haven’t heard from aliens yet, as space is a big place—but that doesn’t mean no one is out there,” said Evan Solomonides, a co-author of the paper who will present it at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting on June 16 in San Diego.

“It’s possible to hear any time at all, but it becomes likely we will have heard around 1,500 years from now. Until then, it is possible that we appear to be alone—even if we are not. But if we stop listening or looking, we may miss the signals. So we should keep looking.”

Earlier this year, the hunt for extraterrestrial life was given a boost by Breakthrough Starshot—a $100 million venture headed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and supported by Stephen Hawking. Breakthrough Starshot announced that it plans to send spacecraft the size of postage stamps towards Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system. Travelling at 20 percent of the speed of light, the nanocraft are expected to take around 20 years to make the 25 trillion-mile journey. Onboard cameras, photon thrusters and communication equipment will allow the tiny spacecraft to report back their findings.

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Just proves scientists--many of them--love to be romanticists. They immediately stop calculating the variables when the wanted conclusions might be threatened.

--Brant

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8 hours ago, Peter said:

From Newsweek: The Fermi paradox has puzzled scientists and philosophers since it was first posited more than 50 years ago by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who essentially asked: “Where are all the aliens?” Fermi argued that taking into consideration the age of the universe and the high probability of other planets capable of developing intelligent life existing, Earth should have been visited by extraterrestrials long ago and many times over. Taking this paradox as the basis for their own calculations, astronomers at Cornell University have now estimated that humans will most likely be contacted by aliens 1,500 years from now.

According to the astronomers, signals from Earth would need to reach half of all the solar systems in the Milky Way in order to be picked up by an intelligent lifeform. Given that signals from TV and radio were first sent into space as a byproduct of broadcasting 80 years ago, it will take around 1,500 more years for aliens to receive, decode and respond to the signals.

“We haven’t heard from aliens yet, as space is a big place—but that doesn’t mean no one is out there,” said Evan Solomonides, a co-author of the paper who will present it at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting on June 16 in San Diego.

“It’s possible to hear any time at all, but it becomes likely we will have heard around 1,500 years from now. Until then, it is possible that we appear to be alone—even if we are not. But if we stop listening or looking, we may miss the signals. So we should keep looking.”

Earlier this year, the hunt for extraterrestrial life was given a boost by Breakthrough Starshot—a $100 million venture headed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and supported by Stephen Hawking. Breakthrough Starshot announced that it plans to send spacecraft the size of postage stamps towards Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system. Travelling at 20 percent of the speed of light, the nanocraft are expected to take around 20 years to make the 25 trillion-mile journey. Onboard cameras, photon thrusters and communication equipment will allow the tiny spacecraft to report back their findings.

Postage stamps that go 35,000 miles per second.  I will have to see that before I believe it.  We have no technology at this juncture that can get anywhere near that.  Our best space probes have hist 110,000 miles per -hour-  and that with gravity boosts from planets along the way.....

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9 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Postage stamps that go 35,000 miles per second.  I will have to see that before I believe it.  We have no technology at this juncture that can get anywhere near that.  Our best space probes have hist 110,000 miles per -hour-  and that with gravity boosts from planets along the way.....

The abandoned atomic-powered rocket engines?

--Brant

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7 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

The abandoned atomic-powered rocket engines?

--Brant

Not a chance.  An ion drive reaction engine (with energy produced from a fission source)  cannot get anywhere near 35,000 miles per second.  The only man-handled massive objects that can go that fast are sub-atomic particles.  In a high energy accelerator (usually a cyclotron)  sub-atomic particles can be propelled to move with 99.99 percent the speed of light.   That do that at the LHC at CERN.   When they turn on the power to bash proton streams together at 99.99999 percent the speed ol light,  half of Switzerland goes dim,  that is how much electricity is needed. The electric bill runs into tens of millions of Swiss Francs. 

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