23 June 2009
Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the little-known movie Moon. It's about a man who single-handedly runs a Helium-3[?] mining outpost on the far side of the Moon -- until strange things start happening. Moon is a perfect example of Hard Sci-Fi[?]. Everything on screen is completely realistic. No ray guns, no teleportation, no sounds in space, no bumpy-headed aliens. The only concession was the presence of 1G inside the lunar base instead of 0.17G. This is excusable on the basis of production costs and did not affect the plot at all.
While the science was perfectly presented, I do have a minor issue with the engineering. The lunar base comes with several pressurized rovers for making excursions. To use a rover one must get into a space suit, exit the base through an airlock, climb into the rover, then pressurize the rover before removing one's helmet. This adds two completely unnecessary EVAs per excursion. NASA has already got a better design: attach a docking port to the aft end of the rovers thus allowing them to connect directly to the base.
Moon is extremely similar to 2001. Both movies have the science nailed, both are about isolated humans with realistic AI, both leave the ending open. I cannot think of a single other film which comes close to accurately depicting space. If you liked 2001, you will like Moon. Likewise if you didn't like 2001, you won't like Moon. I just hope it won't take another forty years before the next scientifically accurate space movie is released.
My website is back up on new hardware after a severe drive crash. I used UNetbootin which made installing Linux from a USB stick pleasantly easy. The only issue was Debian which refused to boot after its installation (BIOS said: "Error Loading Operating System"), so I switched to Ubuntu.