Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fiction/Science: Series 2, Log 1.0 - The Great Ape Race

Ape Hospital vs. Space Hospital ("The race is on!")
Yesterday we launched the first episode of Series 2, “The Great Ape Race,” which you can watch on YouTube or in Koldcast’s high-definition player.

Space Hospital is on a computer-navigated course for Re-Earth where The Centrality plans to turn the failed hospital into a bakery and “terminate” the crew. In a bid to save their jobs (and possibly their lives), the crew overrides The Hospital Computer to respond to a distress call from an orbiting research colony, hoping to pick up a slew of wealthy patients. But in order to get the patients, they’re going to have to race against their cunning adversary – Ape Hospital - helmed by Professor Wizard and his silent counterpart, Dr. Patsy (the show’s hat tip to sci-fi’s most iconic apes).

Space Hospital wins the race!  But there are only two survivors. One is a handsome doctor - and the other is Nurse Barbara who Ratknee had gleefully transferred off Space Hospital several weeks earlier.

Nurse Ratknee decides to concede to Ape Hospital, but they decline to house two “penniless refugees” and advise Space Hospital to turn back as it is drifting dangerously close to a dark nebula. Dr. Drake and Nurse Barbara are running out of oxygen, and Nurse Ratknee must decide what to do.

Space Hospital was launched during the Atomic Age, after nuclear had proven itself to be extremely efficient at flattening cities and became the great hope of a new age, adaptable to a wide range of purposes from irradiating food to powering cars and planes - even as skeptics questioned its dangers

Ford "Nucleon" concept car
Ford’s “Nucleon” (c. 1958) never made it past concept. And the Atomic Energy Commission, after working with General Electric to develop an aircraft powered by an onboard nuclear reactor, finally folded the project in 1961. 

But Space Hospital, the dream of its era, would have incorporated the most cutting-edge technology from the greatest minds in the world and would most certainly have been nuclear-powered – even centuries later when new technologies would have far outpaced it.

Space Hospital co-creator, Robert Poe, has very specific ideas about how the ship is powered, explaining, “The main engine of Space Hospital uses nuclear pulse propulsion powered by a "controlled" nuclear reaction provided by an oversized magnetic confinement fusion reactor that essentially uses nuclear explosions for thrust and antimatter as a catalyst. This complex system of propulsion, however, is so beyond the abilities of Space Hospital's crew that navigation and propulsion is controlled by the Main Computer, which accepts imperatives directly from Centrality guidance stations.”

Propulsion research continues to be one of the most important areas of R&D to make deep space travel possible. One of the promising areas of development is in solar sails – thin, reflective sails that use the pressure of photons for propulsion. In June of this year, the Japanese successfully launched the first solar sail.

Doctor Patsy & Professor Wizard
Quiet Doctor Pastsy and his more cunning, ruthless counterpart Professor Wizard are characters created and performed by Aaron Arendt and Aaron Morse for an 8mm film, "L.a.P.E.," produced by Mary McIlwain.

In ""L.a.P.E.," longtime friends Patsy and Wizard find a magic genie lamp in the Mojave Desert, which sparks a power struggle between them for power, fame and fortune.

"The movie was my first venture into filmmaking," Aaron Arendt explains, "and it ended up turning into my thesis project in grad school. It was pretty much an unscripted free for all."

The idea for a more simple ape and a more sophisticated ape was actually inspired by the condition of the masks. "As soon as I got the Patsy mask, the paint started falling off his teeth and his hair kept falling out. We tried at first to repaint the teeth and glue the hair back on but it was no use. So we just sort of built it into their characters that Patsy was the inferior one."

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