Star Wars – The Force Awakens Reaction and Review

I posted my review and reaction to The Force Awakens as a vlog. I wanted to talk, rather than write, about it.

Have you seen the new Star Wars movie yet? What did you think? Let me know :)

For the Love of The Saga

starwarscomplete

It’s now less than two weeks until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am at maximum excitement. I was pleasantly surprised that I could still get this excited about Star Wars. My anticipation for the new movie has also fostered a renewed appreciation for the Star Wars Saga as a whole. Continue reading

A moment of reflection on my life trajectory

Today I watched Engadget’s mini-documentary Citizen Mars, which provides a glimpse into the character of five different Mars One candidates who have made it to the Final 100. Since I’ve finished it, I’ve been thinking about my priorities, my ambitions, and my goals. I’ve been focused on graduate school and my goal of becoming a math and physics teacher for the last few months. My attention has been on the day-to-day because I’ve had so many short-term commitments. I haven’t really thought about the overall direction of my life for a while.

When Mars One first put out the call for candidates to go on a one-way trip to Mars, I applied. Getting to Mars was my ultimate goal. It still is. As I watched the Citizen Mars videos, I realized that I feel just as passionately as those candidates.

Can teaching get me to Mars? Maybe. A true colony will eventually have children, and children need to be educated. What will education look like within a Martian colony?

I still have Ph.D. ambitions. I need to find a critical need of a colony mission and pursue solutions to that need as my graduate work. I need to make myself an obvious and necessary addition to such a mission.

In pursuing teaching now and Mars overall, I’ve chosen to leave behind other ambitions. Robotics and artificial intelligence are now merely hobby interests. My interest in user experience remains that. Even my further study of physics or mathematics has been halted. Yet, I cannot give up my drive towards Mars. I am not yet ready to cede this ambition to something more realistic or pragmatic.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy Promises More Women in STAR WARS

I am pumped about Star Wars The Force Awakens. My giddiness is actually a bit of a welcome surprise. When Disney announced the Sequel Trilogy, I wasn’t sure if I’d be quite as excited this time around. Maybe I’m jaded from the Prequels. Maybe I just thought I might be too old to really geek out over Star Wars.

Well, the excitement is here, as full and real as it was 16 years ago in the lead up to Episode I. I think part of the reason I’ve been able to rediscover that old enthusiasm is because Disney and Lucasfilm seem to be doing so much right. The president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge that what Star Wars has in fictional alien diversity, it lacks in real human diversity. By watching the first six movies, you’d think that most of the humans in the Star Wars galaxy are white men (and primarily British). Kennedy has a problem with that, and she’s using her position to change it.

At Star Wars Celebration 2015, the yearly international convention dedicated to the universe, Kennedy spoke at a panel about the lack of women on screen. When the moderator asked which charaacter she’d like to be, Kennedy responded, “I don’t have many choices.” She let that statement hang in the air for a moment, making an important point from the light-hearted question. She continued, “But that’s going to change.”

Though there was only one new female actress announced in the original casting, Kennedy prosmised, “There are going to be a lot of wonderful new [female] characters.” That seems to be the case. In addition to the female lead Daisy Ridley and returning star Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Maisie Rishardson-Sellers have all joined the cast. That is five significant female roles in this film alone. We now know that Felicity Jones is the only confirmed cast member for the first stand-alone film, Rogue One.

Obviously, this only addresses the issue of gender diversity. I’m holding out hope, though, that we’ll see considerably more racial diversity as well.

The panel with Kathleen Kennedy can be found here.

I am excited for new Star Wars. Not only does the upcoming movie look fun and exciting, but Star Wars is poised to become culturally relevant again.

Enumerating the Rational Numbers

One of my tutoring students is taking an Introduction to Mathematical Proof course. During one of our recent sessions, he had a problem that challenged him to come up with a way of enumerating the rational numbers, thus showing that they can be mapped to the natural numbers, and thus are a countably infinite set. I saw the proof that the rational numbers are countable way back in undergrad, but I couldn’t remember the process. So, I tried to come up with a means of counting the rational numbers. The enumeration I came up with is solid, I’m pretty sure, and I can’t seem to find it replicated elsewhere on the web.

So, I’m putting it here for others to comment on and to see if anyone can point me to where this method may have been used before. Here is my method for enumerating the rational numbers.

Let m, n \in \mathbb{Z} and m \ge 0, n > 0 such that \frac{m}{n} \in \mathbb{Q} and is irreducible.

Now let p_n refer to the nth prime number.

The number (p_n)^m \in \mathbb{N}. This value is unique in the natural numbers.

Thus, each positive rational number–and zero–maps onto a unique natural number. This same process can be duplicated for the negative rational numbers. Since both the positive and negative rational numbers can be shown to be countable in this way, the union of the two sets is also countable.

Continue reading

Research Notes: Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX

I sing a lot of praises for Elon Musk because he seems to be that mythical ethical capitalist. I really respect the way he runs his companies and I truly believe his companies SpaceX and Tesla are going to catalyze some tremendous changes.

I realized, though, that I only know the awesome things that the Musk PR team tells me about. Surely his companies, as big corporations, must be just as corrupt as those other corporations. While they do good works and really draw attention to their ethical behavior, Musk’s companies must also be exploiting overseas labor and resources. That’s just how corporate entities operate as they poach money, right?

What isn’t Musk telling us about the less ethical practices of his businesses Tesla and SpaceX?

I truly don’t know. So, I thought this was the perfect topic for my inaugural Research Notes format blog post. What follows are summaries of the resources I find to help me answer my question. I’ll wrap up with any conclusion I can draw.

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Ender’s Game – To See or Not to See

November 1st is the end of a decade of waiting, of starts and stops. At the beginning of the month, the Ender’s Game movie is finally going to be released. I am extremely excited because Ender’s Game is my all-time favorite book (though Still Life with Woodpecker may have dethroned it). I’ll finally get to see all of the Wiggin kids, Bean, the Battle Room and Command School. I can’t actually remember the last time I was this excited for a movie. Unfortunately, this movie has become a bit of a battle ground itself, so I’m uncertain whether I’ll see it in the theater at all. Continue reading