Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Science Lesson #4: Planets

Something we find out about Marisol in this episode is that her dream is to become a famous rock n' roll drummer. Although in the real world of Cleveland she is only a pre-teen, she's the drummer in a band with her friends called Prussian Blue. The planets episode begins with Marisol bumming out about her band being rejected from her school's Battle of the Bands. She makes her way aboard the HMS Unknown where the subject of rejection...COLOSSAL rejection...is brought up with the Crew. The conversation turns to the recent rejection of Pluto as a planetary body and continues on to explore topics about our solar system.

Points of the lesson include:
- Planets held together by the gravitational force of the Sun
- types of planets: rocky vs. gaseous
- how many Earths would fill the volume of Jupiter
- temperature differences on the planets
- how the abundance of liquid water found on our planet is unique to the solar system
- Moons! How moons stick with their respective planets
- Rings of Saturn
- Quick mention of telescopes. How to build a rudimentary telescope?
- How far away we are from other planets and the Sun
     - How long it would take to travel to each planet
- Asteroid belts
- Kuiper belt which Pluto belongs to

Those are the ideas for the Planets episode. Marisol is comforted by the Crew who point out to her that being rejected from a Battle of the Bands isn't nearly as bad as a planet being rejected from a Solar System. She agrees. In the end, we come to find out that Prussian Blue is actually a really horribly unlistenable band who make noisy, disorganized punk music not fit for human consumption. The Crew are all very polite upon this discovery.

(image: www.solarsystem.nasa.gov)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing: Sophia

Sophia is the resident biologist on the HMS Unknown. She was picked up while drifting on an Antarctic ice flow during her search for the Diamond Diatom, a species of phytoplankton rumored to make it's frustules out of diamond instead of silicon. The Diamond Diatom is more myth than reality, but Sophia was hoping to find a specimen of the tiny sea life when an entire chunk of the glacier she was camping on broke away and floated out to sea. The captain and crew of the HMS Unknown were sailing the southern ocean in hopes of joining a game of penguin soccer and spotted the scientist drifting aimlessly. Sophia was invited on board.

Sophia brings a wealth of knowledge to the HMS Unknown in all aspects of biology. She is Marisol's go-to for any question on plants or animals and all living organisms in between. While most of the time she is cool headed, Sophia does tend to have a feisty streak. Spirited and gregarious, Sophia is a charming addition to the crew of the HMS Unknown.

Likes: the living world, microscopy, handsome paleontologists
Dislikes: losing an argument

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspirado: Jacques Cousteau

“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course.”

If you know me, you know my obsession with all things nautical. Fitting with this theme is my admiration of Jacques Cousteau. It wasn't until very recently that I picked up his book The Silent World at the downtown library. Published in the 1950's, The Silent World  recounts Cousteau’s adventures when he and his crew were testing the first “aqua-lungs" (underwater breathing apparatus predating SCUBA technology). 

I started reading it and I can’t put it down. It's filled with these wonderful adventures, real adventures, real exploration and really, really almost stupidly dangerous experiments that could NEVER be done today. My favorite section is in Chapter 4 where Cousteau and his diving partner Frederic Dumas take it upon themselves to test the bodily resistance of underwater explosions. So here are grown men, 60 years in the past and under 100+ feet of water, setting off grenades and just hanging around for the subsequent explosion. All for the sake of just finding out what happens. Sounds completely insane when you think about it. I can get behind that.

More than the subject matter, I'm very fond of the tone of the book. It reads like part report summary and part diary and in (I find) a very humble voice. Cousteau never belabors the point. He's telling you what happened during his dives but not in a way that's overly clinical. Not in a way that you forget people are involved. It struck me while reading this book that by 1953 when it was published, Cousteau had been diving for almost 20 years. Twenty years is a long time to do one thing. I haven't even done the same thing for 5 years yet. But diving is what he loved and when you find something you love...that's just what you do.  

The quote above is from the first chapter in the book where Cousteau describes how it was when he first looked through goggles underwater. I like this quote because it really hit home for me. So for that, and for all the wonderful adventures and beauty of the ocean that he brought back for us to enjoy, Jacques Cousteau truly is Inspirado.

Monday, November 15, 2010

When I can't write, I can draw

I'm a big doodler. I doodled my way through college, filling my math notebooks with drawings and patterns and some stuff I don't even know what it is. Sergio came from a doodle in a notebook. I'll at least try to draw something even if I find I am having a hard time writing. Maybe the doodles turn into characters, maybe they don't. Most of the time they are fairly amusing. Here are some from tonight:

Barry has a chest piece that shows images since he doesn't speak an actual language. He just beeps and boops and visuals come up on his screen to relay what he's saying. Fitting with the steam punk-ness of the design, his chest plate is old tyme. I realized I spelled chest piece wrong. Sadly, being a scientist does not make someone a good speller.
I have no idea what this is.

Possible villain? We don't have one of those yet in the show...

I like this one. As part of the ship, I want to have a house band with some marine life puppets as the musicians. Reminds me of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Science Lesson #3: Gravity

Short list of topics to be included in the lesson on gravity:

- Explain how gravity is a force
- Newton's law: F = mg
- How things fall i.e: slowly at first, building up speed with gravitational acceleration
- History behind gravitational theory (Galileo and Newton)
- Gravity holds bodies in the Solar System together
- The Moon stays in orbit around the Earth because of gravity
- Bigger objects (planets, stars) have greater gravitational pull
- Weight on the Moon is different because the Moon is so much smaller than Earth

This episode starts with The Captain receiving a package in the mail.  The Crew (with visiting Marisol and Barry) spend some time guessing what is in the package. The Captain finally opens it and it's an anti-gravity laser gun - whatever you shoot it at loses gravitational pull. This lends to lots of items in the ship being fired at and floating up and away - most notably, Rodger and Sergio.  Can put in some funny gags like they are tethered to furniture or weigh down their feet to keep them anchored. Lessons on gravity are interspersed through the episode while the cast tries to bring Rodger and Sergio back into check with gravity. The Crew learns that you have to order another product to undo the effects of the anti-gravitational laser. Rodger and Sergio end up floating for a weeks time before the re-gravitizing potion arrives. 

Here's a song by one of my favorite bands Super Furry Animals that was playing in my head while I was thinking about gravity. It doesn't have much to do with science, but is a nice song anyways.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Introducing: Marisol

Our main character, Marisol, lives with her mother in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her parents are divorced and her mother is a busy engineering professor at the local university who is rarely around.  Barry was built to serve as sort of a nanny to young Marisol before her mother lost the time and interest to perfect Barry’s robotics.  Despite being left to her own devices most of the time, Marisol is rarely sullen. She’s a bright girl, full of enthusiasm, and a true believer in the idea that everyone has something good about them if you look hard enough.

Marisol’s grandfather was a renowned ocean explorer who was lost at sea when she was 4 years old. Hanging on the wall in her attic is a lifesaver that her grandfather found in his travels. The lifesaver serves as a porthole through which, along with her famous sailing heritage, Marisol is granted access aboard the HMS Unknown. 

Her dream in life is to become a famous drummer. She’s in a band in the real world with a few of her friends and they play new-wave/electro-clash. In addition to being charming and adventurous, Marsisol is also very hip.

I’d like the part of Marisol played by 2 actresses – as a child between 10-12 years old in the real world of Cleveland, and as an adult in the world of the HMS Unknown.  I think this could work nicely.  This way the science lessons can be introduced by Marisol’s school work or a project that’s due or something an elementary/junior high school kid would have to deal with.

As an aside, the character Marisol is partially inspired by my friend, Marisol Medina. To find out more about Marisol the Person, please feel free to visit her WEBSITE.  You can see me in her video short "Beards and Plaid" as one of the moustachiod hipsters. I'm the one that says, "Heeeey Buddy!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inspirado: Thee Cormans

Thee Cormans are some pretty righteous dudes. They're friends of mine who play rowdy surf music while wearing homemade monster masks. They're a fun band to see live. I've taken a few people to see Thee Cormans and the majority of them walk away smiling and laughing. The ones who don't are clearly squares.

Three of the members are brothers and I think it's pretty rad to get to be in a band with your family. My buddy Mr. Tiny designed and made the swamp monster mask that the guitar player wears. He also made these little russian dolls all by hand!

Swamp monster, Ape, Biker Frankenstein, and Tadpole. Mr. Tiny is a diamond and when the time comes to start making stuff for S.O.S, I definitely want his wonderful sense of design to be involved.

I love the asthetic of Thee Cormans - horror show surf rock that's tough but also silly and accessible. I think a kid watching them might be inspired to make his or her own goofy costume and rock out. I'm keeping in mind a place for Thee Cormans to exist in the world of S.O.S, be it a reoccuring guest spot or house band. It's my friends like Thee Cormans who inspire me to make this show so more people get to check out their tunes and enjoy what they do.

Find out more about Thee Cormans on their BLOG or friend them on FACEBOOK.

Here's a clip from one of their shows: