Planetary Radio • Sep 25, 2019

Ad Astra: The Movie!

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20190924 ad astra ethan gross

Ethan Gross

Co-writer of Ad Astra

Casey dreier tps mars

Casey Dreier

Chief of Space Policy for The Planetary Society

Bruce betts portrait hq library

Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

Kaplan mat headshot 0114a print

Mat Kaplan

Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society

Brad Pitt sets out across the solar system to save Earth in the new space epic. Host Mat Kaplan enjoys a far-reaching conversation with co-screenwriter of Ad Astra that touches on the film’s meaning, the mythic journey of its protagonist, its spectacular images, and where it strays from known science. Registration for the Planetary Society’s 2020 Day of Action in Washington DC is open! Chief Advocate Casey Dreier has the lowdown. You might win a beautiful, rotating MOVA Earth globe in this week’s What’s Up space trivia contest. Hey! That’s LightSail 2 floating above our pale blue dot.

Brad Pitt in Ad Astra
Brad Pitt in Ad Astra Still from the movie Ad Astra featuring Brad Pitt.Image: 20th Century Fox
Ad Astra movie moon car chase
Ad Astra movie moon car chase Moon car chase scene from the movie Ad Astra.Image: 20th Century Fox
Mars from the movie Ad Astra
Mars from the movie Ad Astra A view of Mars from the movie Ad Astra.Image: 20th Century Fox

This week's prizes:

A gorgeous, limited-edition, solar-powered Mova Earth globe that rotates under LightSail 2, and a 200-point astronomy account.

Mat Kaplan and Bruce Betts with Mova Earth LightSail 2 globe
Mat Kaplan and Bruce Betts with Mova Earth LightSail 2 globe Mat Kaplan and Bruce Betts examine a limited-edition, solar-powered Mova Earth globe that rotates under LightSail 2.Image: The Planetary Society

This week's question:

Where in the solar system is the crater named Hamlet?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, October 2nd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's challenge:

Name your three favorite Milky Way satellite galaxies. There’s no single correct answer.


The winner will be revealed next week.

Question from the September 11 space trivia contest:

Create and share with us your “third-order” acronym that is related to space. A third-order acronym is an acronym containing an acronym that contains an acronym. Your acronym can be deadly serious or make us laugh!


Listen to the show to hear the winners of our 3rd order space acronym contest!


NOTE: This automated transcript is currently being edited by a human. Check back soon for updates.

[00:00:00] Ad Astra the movie this week on planetary radio. Welcome. I'm at Kaplan of the planetary Society with more of the Human Adventure across our solar system and beyond. Have you seen it Ad Astra is the new science fiction. Heh? Starring Brad Pitt and created by director and writer James Gray and co-writer Ethan gross.

Ethan is my guest for a fun wide-ranging conversation about the film and much more one own a rotating planet Earth. We're giving away a solar powered mova globe in this week's what's up space trivia contest. Wait, is that light sail to floating above? It sure is we'll start by diving back within the dreaded Washington DC Beltway with planetary Society Chief Advocate Casey dryer Casey.

Welcome back to the weekly edition. Of course, we'll be talking again as part [00:01:00] of the space policy Edition, but not quite as soon as we expected because you have you have graciously allowed me. To delay the October program from October 4, which would have been is the first Friday in October to October 11.

I really appreciate it. Just because life's going to get crazy with a lot of travel on behalf of the show and the society. Yeah. Well, we'll just have to make that episode extra good to make it worth the additional weeks. Wait, so no pressure or anything. Well, I know one way to help with that and that is will bring in your your colleague Brendan.

Yep, we'll have an update at to be a lot of stuff happening in politics. Let's say the fiscal year for the United States government begins on October 1st, notably in between now when we're recording this and when we will release the space policy Edition and the current plan is to have no plan, but at least they're extending the current budget for a sounds like too much.

That's the plan. That's the where things seem to be going right now [00:02:00] notably. And this is kind of interesting for space policy folks like us there's no special dispensation to let NASA Begin work on a human rated lunar lander. Now this basically means that any budget NASA would get coming up in November delayed by a couple of months would be the moment where they could really kick up a mission planning for something like that.

So this delays lunar Landing. And really again throws into question at 2024 deadline that the president and vice president have set down for NASA. So this is not good news for them. Even though the government will stay open. Wow, that's pretty huge. So this will be if it happens as you suspect a two-month continuing resolution, they're called yeah, it basically takes the current year budget that we're in and just extends it so it doesn't change anything and what that means that NASA can't start anything new.

It also means that NASA can't cancel anything and proposed to cancel. So everything [00:03:00] already approved whose future is Up For Debate like the W first Space Telescope that will continue on for those two months. But at the same time things NASA wants to do now like the Artemis lunar lander will be delayed until they are officially approved by Congress through the Appropriations legislation that hopefully now will get in November boy.

This strikes home for me because I'm going to be back in huh? Bill Alabama, it's one of those trips. I'm taking and had hoped to conduct an interview about the Artemis lunar lander that spacecraft that will take humans back down to the surface of the Moon and now I kind of wonder if there's going to be much to talk about but I guess we'll find out there is other important local news.

And that has to do with your day of action that we talked about in the September space policy Edition and now you're ready to start take an applications. Yes that the registration is open for our 2020 day of action. It's going to happen a little [00:04:00] earlier this year, February 9th and 10th in Washington DC anyone with basically an address based in the United States is welcome to attend individuals under 18 need to come with a legal parent or Guardian, but we encourage.

People to sign up you can go to planetary dot org slash day of action. You can join hundreds of other planetary Society members space Advocates these staff of the planetary Society is advocacy team like me will be there. It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of work not in a bad way, but it's. It's a lot of fun you get to meet your members you get to hang out and talk about space.

We schedule a lot of opportunities to engage and learn about things in addition to going out and advocating directly to members of Congress and their staff. For spaceflight for space exploration for space science. These really core issues that really drive us here at the planetary Society. It's a lot of fun again and you can sign up at planetary dot org slash day of action [00:05:00] again something that we've talked about on Space policy Edition, which is really striking to me which is how many of these folks these volunteers who are on their own time come to Washington and have these meetings with the representatives of the representative.

Who leave it feeling better about their government feeling better about what's going on inside the Beltway and in Washington DC. It's a pretty hardening it is and and God knows we could take all those opportunities we can get for that experience. I literally had a participant last year say that he had walked into this really not knowing what to expect.

And he was leaving it with a whole new respect for the process. Again. It's not a Panacea for the entire federal government, but it's an aspect of our nation's system of government that really does work still and it's a really rejuvenating process as it's an exciting process particularly through citizen the United States you get to go in and say what you think and it's really empowering to [00:06:00] do that for something you're passionate about which hopefully if you're listening to this.

Is space exploration we set up all of your meetings for you? So we take care of that we give training to you in person and online see walk-in ready to go you're going in with other members who share your values and again you get to kind of be rolling through the halls of power and Washington DC with people who want to listen to your opinions about space.

It's pretty amazing experience really as though our boss says space brings out the best in us and sometimes brings us to Washington DC. Thanks, Casey. I sure hope I can join you there next year. I hope to see you there. Matt. Lots of plans ahead that's case. You dryer. He's the chief advocate for the planetary Society catch us in the extended show the space policy edition of planetary radio that next one delayed by one week.

Just one week. Don't worry. We'll be there to Friday October. Yeah, they stole my tagline. But I forgive the makers of Ad Astra [00:07:00] screenplay co-writer Ethan gross prefers the full Latin phrase when he thinks about the new and spectacular film Ad Astra per Aspera, which the Wikipedia translates as through hardships to the Stars not all of those hardships are.

Human nature puts up some of the most challenging roadblocks Ad Astra star Brad Pitt's character must confront and overcome his personal demons as he makes an odyssey to the outer solar system. There is a strong Mythic core to his journey one that is punctuated by harrowing action and breathtaking visuals don't expect to see the story unfold within the strict confines of science says, we know it even with lots of cooperation from NASA liberties.

Been taken just as they've been taken in nearly all other science fiction films. That's just one of the many topics Ethan and I covered in this conversation. Recorded the day after add [00:08:00] Astros Hollywood Premiere Ethan gross. Thank you very much for joining us on planetary radio. And thanks for your contribution to a film that I got to say.

I enjoyed enormously having just been to the premiere last night. Thank you very much. Nice to be well, so you told me moments ago you were at the premiere, but you didn't sit stay to see the film. You just went there to be under the lights and and have pictures taken pretty much I was planning on.

And seeing the film there, but I was out there talking to some people and then it already started and I don't like barging in once it's already started and causing, you know, in my mind a disturbance. Well that that's decent of you. I like the reason you told me before we started recording that you wanted there to be at least one good press shot that your mom could see ya my mom has.

Joy from these things for me. I haven't very uncomfortable by them, but I have vicarious Joy from her vicarious Joy. So it's like a [00:09:00] vicious circle I guess. Vicarious Joy. I know what you're talking about because this why I think that's why my mother comes to our live shows when we have an audience because she's not a space geek but she does like to see me on stage.

Yeah. Sure. I don't know. I got one look like but I'm sure you look great and why wouldn't she want to see you up there? No, you know face for radio is the old joke. All right, and I have a New Yorker describe my voice as reading. There was a profile on James Gray in the New Yorker. Uh-huh. Call me Splendor, which is great and he called me try which is very accurate, but then help me redeem voiced with the creeping wit.

I like the creeping wit. Sort of and that's great and reading voice makes me a little nervous to do, you know phone interviews. So it excuse the reading this I'd like to be accused of having that kind of wit. Anyway, I got one of the things to think about before we get to this movie and that was your work on the that great TV [00:10:00] series Fringe because I you know, I was one of the multitude who thought that you were really on something there and I know you worked on it for several years, right?

Yeah. That was really. To be in the writers room great collaboration. Just anything goes kind of thing. And I love the fact that show always Reinventing itself from year after year and sometimes episode to episode. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know with the science of it was intriguing, you know, it wasn't always totally realistic but it's it was always thought provoking and yeah, it was a show that had a lot of really good followers not enough to keep it going but I love.

Anything with parallel universes and Leonard Nimoy going back and forth between the two of them is okay in my book. Yeah exactly Ad Astra. Like I said, I saw it last night and I want to warn everybody there are probably going to be spoilers and there is stuff that you may not want to have spoiled in this film.

So, you know, you may not want to hear this section of planetary radio. [00:11:00] Let me start with the guy that the story revolves around. I've heard this described as Brad Pitt's best performance. I can easily believe that and I'd love to talk to you about his character because it's so Central to the story.

I mean he gives he gives plenty of evidence that at least outwardly. This is a guy who has the right stuff as Tom Wolf would put it but there's a lot more going on underneath that veneer. It seems that's right. He's a. Outwardly, he's got the right stuff, but inwardly he has a void created by some personal issues by his relationship or lack of relationship with his father.

And that's something that he really only discovers the further out in space that he he gets. It's almost like the the deeper he goes the more inward he becomes because he's left with nothing but his own thoughts and memories. Along with the revelations of what his father is been doing in the past [00:12:00] couple decades and things that he did not quite know about his father.

So it's a very subtle and complex performance. But Brad Pitt is great in it. I mean, it's the whole movie. There's a reason there's a reason why the posters just a big some of the posters. We try to be placed that's worth everything whenever James would ask me a question or I didn't know what to do.

I would just say just just shoot Brad's face thinking. I'll get you that's usually what we need. I mean, I love Brad Pitt though. Not as much as I'm sure a lot of the people who will see this movie because they can't get enough of his face. But I'll tell you it does work. He carries it off. Yeah One reviewer compared the story to Joseph.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Also the basis of course for Apocalypse Now, do you think that they're they're good parallels there? Yeah, I mean I'd be lying if I didn't say that the Apocalypse Now is one of the main Inspirations for it and 2001 and it's pretty evident. But there's also elements of other [00:13:00] myths other movies like less lesser-known movies like The conformist the Bertolucci movie which is really great, which I think was an inspiration for a Coppola to begin with.

And the original text of Heart of Darkness and then reading a lot of Joseph Campbell and and reading a lot of Science and science fiction. I was more initially intrigued just by the science fiction of it all and the locations and things like that and James he always goes through everything through almost a filter of the main character the protagonist and what the state of his soul is, so trying to.

But those two together was was a lot of fun. I suppose we should say a little bit more about the plot without giving everything away and it opens with this spectacular sequence where a Brad Pitt literally becomes the man who fell to Earth. Yeah, and it kind of establishes who this guy is or at least who he seems to be right?

Yeah. It establishes his Bona fides as a space [00:14:00] hero as a man who is reaching for the Stars. He's getting. As high as you can literally on this international space antenna, which is part of the effort to contact and detect extraterrestrial life. In other drafts. It was like a space elevator and things like that, but that was even though space elevators are things that have been I'm sure you're aware of contemplated and can be maybe even feasible.

Something silly looking about it. Would you believe that just on last week's show I talk among other people to a guy who wants to build one on the moon because it'll be so much easier to build their no no wind no weather and a lot less gravity. But but anyway, yes, we'd does come up on this show now and then yeah, but anyway, he's only and the space antenna and he falls to Earth.

Literally, which is a great way to show him being heroic. He saves lives after this establishes The Surge, which is this these mysterious electrical verse that have [00:15:00] been coming from somewhere in our solar system and he is led to believe that his father is responsible for. And because he's his father's son.

He has a unique ability to contact his father and his father in return will accept the signal and they'll be able to trace his father's location and hopefully figure out where his father is what he's up to and put an end to whatever his father's doing that threatens the stability. The solar system that's pretty much the a story as it's called.

That's the main plot and then the main thrust of the Plaid is Brad's emotional Journey along the way. Yeah, there's no question that he goes through a lot of changes over the course of the story. And as I said, he pulls it off and along the way he ends up on the Moon. Yes for what I think is destined to become one of the great car chase scenes of all time.

And then on to Mars and then far beyond with some great representations, I mean [00:16:00] for our folks who know these images when they see them wait until you see Jupiter Saturn and especially Neptune folks. They're pretty spectacular. Yeah, and Mars is beautiful-looking sequence. Some of it was actually image from actual footage from Mars.

So NASA was able to give us that that's truly beautiful. Apparently we learned after after the movie was finished. I wish we would learn to beforehand. We might not have changed anyway, but apparently Martian dusk isn't the color that we have it in there. It's not for you. Red, it's apparently it's blue.

But if you would have had if he blew people would have thought to look fake maybe because they're so used to having being read but Mars looks like Mars to me and the moon sure looks like the Moon. I mean, it may be a better cinematic representation of what the moon really looks like than I have seen anywhere ever.

Yeah, I think the moon that's gorgeous sequence. And the way the James used a [00:17:00] lot of great techniques that he and his cinematographer Hoyt to devised. Tell me what they were. I cannot comprehend exactly what that information is out there in 2001 is I think. Probably the greatest movie ever made, but they got the the surface of the Moon wrong.

Didn't doesn't quite look that way and you know, that's the only thing that we can say. Hey we did it better than 2001. It's true. Yeah, and you know, they have the excuse of when they were putting that that film together. They didn't know any better, but it but I obviously you guys did and I would agree with you about 2001.

I don't know maybe. The Wizard of Oz might be higher on my list but but it sure is one of my favorite films in 2001. There is eventually a an interaction a confrontation with some kind of alien intelligence and that in fact there is a line. Which I hesitate to give [00:18:00] here's the spoiler one of those spoiler alerts folks, which is so key to this film and it's When Brad Pitt's character is confronting.

His father hasn't seen for all these decades and his father wants to keep up the work that he's been about which is trying to find intelligence Across the Universe and Brad Pitt says to him. Yeah dad, you know, you've done your work and I think the line is something like. We're all we've got I'm sure you remember the line.

Yeah, personally. I don't believe that we're all we've got if it just to look at it like that. I mean, I do believe that there are this probably. Intelligent life out there. I don't know how exactly one question I have. I don't know who can answer that is how do you just how do you define intelligent life like anything like a squirrel and above?

Like what is this melody of life, but and say another life might not think they were intelligent life. They might Overlook us or think that we're below a squirrel, but I do [00:19:00] think in the universe there's plenty of it. I don't know how much you've discussed in your board all the time you there? Yeah.

I mean, I do believe in the Drake equation, but I don't believe. Much in the Fermi Paradox or the great filter Theory. I just don't think that makes much sense. I mean, it's much more likely that we just haven't been able to discover them. I mean, we've only known about Shakespeare was the best writer ever to live.

Genius but he didn't even know about the existence of dinosaurs in their bones good point that's cover and we don't know about what 70% of the universe is made of and nor do I think we will be able to detect any kind of intelligent life for a long time. I'm hopeful that and I think we must try I think it's I'm obsessed with it in a way, but we defined the playing field as the reachable universe and that's what well, I don't want to give away any spoilers.

I don't know when it's coming out back to Ad Astra Rider Ethan gross in a. I know you folks one reason you listen to planetary radio is the same as mine because you love learning [00:20:00] more about life the universe and everything. That's what the Great Courses plus is dedicated to making exciting education available to everyone they make it possible to learn from the brightest Minds out there that the very best professors most of us would never otherwise have access to its college level learning but with no student loans or grades.

And the Great Courses Plus app means you can learn whenever you like as I mentioned last week. I'm deep into black holes tides and curved space-time accomplish physicist and Professor Benjamin Schumacher is the kind of teacher we all wish we'd have throughout our education. Want to join me, there are hundreds of courses to choose from and the Great Courses plus is still offering that great limited time offer to planetary radio listeners of free month of unlimited access to their entire Library start your free month today.

Go to the Great Courses / planetary. That's the Great Courses [00:21:00] / planetary. See you on campus. All of what you've just said, I mean part of our mission. Well our boss Bill Nye the Science Guy. He says we were the planetary Society. The audience is tired of hearing me say this wants to answer two questions.

What are we come from? And are we alone and so we spent a lot of our time looking for Life Across the Universe and supporting people who who do that? So it's good to hear you say that. Yeah, I also to bring up the Fermi Paradox that question that Enrico Fermi asked so many years ago. Where is everybody?

How come we haven't heard from them? Right? I've only half jokingly speculated that we may be in the middle of The Intergalactic internet except that they're using neutrinos to talk to each other and we don't know how to do that yet. Yeah exactly. I never understood why it was such a lasting Mainstay in the argument.

Maybe I guess it's just a thought. Exercise why haven't we discovered them, but why would they that's like [00:22:00] saying because they're not calling us talking to us investigating us. They don't exist. I think we have to check our ego at the door maybe because they're intelligent. They're avoiding us.

Yeah might be a wise move. Yeah whether Brad Pitt's character is correct or not that we are alone. It's still important to the story right? Because in a sense he has to find his connection to two other people. Other than just looking for you know, the next challenge out in the vacuum. That's my impression.

Yeah, there's a something that's expressed by Donald Sutherland character how he came to believe that sometimes people that are exploring and looking outward they're doing that not so much for the knowledge and for the exploration, but they do it as a way to escape from themselves and from there things that on Earth that are that are important and it's an expression of the ego.

In some ways and so we I'm all for exploration and finding out as much as possible, but I think we have to do. [00:23:00] For the right reason so the movie on the one hand, it's got some beautiful sequences of the great possibilities and technological and wonders of space travel, but it shows also, you know how it can be sort of corrupted with the human problems with conglomerates and the military space force type things and we just have to be careful.

We have to know why we're looking. Not just for its own sake not for vainglory. That's a big part of it. But I'm a hundred percent for exploration. I think we need a backup drive for Humanity. Yeah, but what about humanity is worth backing up? What are the things that make us human, you know the love and the art and the beauty and the human connections.

That's the stuff not the you know, Applebee's yeah, and I'm fast food outlets on the moon base. Yeah. There are a lot of us who hope that with this next Frontier not to say the Last Frontier that maybe we'll maybe we'll get it right this time. Maybe [00:24:00] we'll do a better job, but you know that that may be wishful thinking well, we're bound to take our Humanity with us wherever we go.

Yeah. That's right. The lp well, the one that Carl Sagan didn't he curate that was sent to oh, yeah, the golden record golden record for the lp as I call it because I don't have anything written for fact. That's the ideal just the greatest sounds. Of humanity, can you imagine if instead of that he put on an ad for a and I don't want to use Applebee's as a punching bag.

He's not going to end up a coupon to Applebee's for free appetizer. That's perfectly okay with me using Applebee's has an example that food snob and there is no fancy Corporation. Yeah, and and the Thousand other examples that you could have used in that case. We think a lot of that golden record and.

I'm looking at the copy of it. That's on my laptop right now. Of course Carl Sagan was one of our [00:25:00] Founders at the planetary Society. So and the fact that he sent the woman who would soon become his wife that her heartbeat or her brain waves actually went out into space for all of our faults. It does seem that Humanity has something to offer we do get it right now and then we absolutely get it right now.

And again, yeah. Our flaws are in a lot of ways what make us human would make us interesting and. Can make us beautiful if we were perfect automatons, then we might as well just send out drones. Into space and we should do that. But we also ultimately have to send our people and people have to learn and grow from what they experience and become better and smarter and more aware of what's out there and what's what's within them.

That's the lot of what this movie tries to do this movie it in some ways. It's not the rosiest picture of space and of the future because of. Some of the violence in the other forces out there at play that Brad has to navigate through the [00:26:00] movie is not a glorification of the space program or the or space exploration.

It doesn't sugarcoat how hard it is. In fact the. The Ad Astra part is from the Latin phrase Ad Astra per Aspera Ad. Astra means to the Stars which is great and exciting the movie pretty much focuses more on the per Aspera part, which means with difficulties or through hardships. Clearly the difficulties in mounting any kind of Space Program are numerous whether it's just a simple question of getting enough funding and getting enough interest maintained to the big problems in the movie has the more cinematic problems of space of moon Pirates and other things that you'll see but some of the less cinematic things are just the long.

Distances that will drive a person crazy or most people crazy in a small ship the time needed to travel from A to B the radiation. We still don't know exactly how we have ideas. But how to Shield against [00:27:00] radiation the complex calculations that have to be considered Mars has to be in the right place the right time and so it's really it boggles.

Boggles the mind to think about all the problems, but it's to me there's no more noble science. Well, I guess there are more than one up there. It's a really up there but I think we can chew gum and walk and travel to the Moon at the same time. In fact Brad Pitt his character in some scenes and shots you'll see him chewing gum so we can do more than one thing at a time.

We can work on all our terrestrial problems and oftentimes when you work on the the other problems as it advances us terrestrially to GPS and other things that have been created because of space technology. Doubting that a question Stanley Kubrick had Arthur C Clarke helping him to do 2001 and he was a genius with a both for geniuses and James has me so and Clark created the [00:28:00] infrastructure that allowed the GPS to exist and.

I can get I can barely get my GPS to work. So well, you're you know, you're comparing yourself to at least a demigod if not a God. So we all cut we all kind of pale compared to the likes of Arthur C Clarke and I love is the quote that I think about a lot in James and I discussed a lot is I think it's out the Z Clark who said either there is life out there or there isn't life out there either proposition is equally terrifying.

I used to agree with that. But the more I think about it. I think it's more terrifying if we're for a loan just puts more pressure on us to get it right here in to honor and respect and appreciate what we have here. Let me say that you're in good company because Clark was a guest of mine on the show at least a couple of times and wow and was just as amazing to talk to is as you might as you might have guessed it even if he had to come on until the fence one side of the other did he think that there is [00:29:00] intelligent life in the universe, you know, I don't know if I ever asked him flat flat out.

I'm sure other people must have yeah, I think he. I'm almost certain that he would have said what other people have said which is that if there isn't it seems like a colossal waste of space, right? That's from Cosmos. I'm from contacts, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, he was a marvelous character just had a wonderful time talking with him, you know, he wasn't afraid to go into the unknown out at the bleeding edge of Science and even a little bit beyond it.

Sometimes I want to bring it back down to. Well, I was going to say to Earth but it's really to the Moon. You said you got pirates in the movie you do. I won't exactly say how they come into it. Yeah, but we are talking you and I are conversing on September 19th. Did you know that this is international Talk Like a Pirate Day who doesn't my mom woke me up early this morning and said Hawaii made it.

Wait. No, I tell [00:30:00] me about it every day has this one of those things. You can just like pay $10 to a registry and get your day any method you want I suspect yeah knocking. I'm not going to talk like a pirate. And I think yeah, I'm self-conscious enough about how I speak without it. Well, you're Pirates.

We don't hear from them, but they do make their presence known it's in that scene terrific car chase actually on the moon as I said and Donald Sutherland is in it, you mentioned him and I can never get enough Donald Sutherland. I'm sorry. He didn't make it further into the movie. Yeah, I won't say what happens but I also want to mention Tommy Lee Jones because he is always a Marvel to watch and I don't think anybody else could have pulled off his.

As well. Oh, yeah, he's just got so much gravity to him. No pun intended. Ha ha ha. He's he's great and he I visited the set quite a lot and I talk to Donald Sutherland a lot and he's beautiful to talk to but I was too intimidated to even approach Tommy Lee Jones. That's probably my own issues.

Yeah, [00:31:00] he's one of my favorite things in the movie mine too. I've talked to a lot of people who've made or worked on science fiction films and even the ones that are often identified as having the you know, the best science the most realistic science like Interstellar. Yeah, which I've talked with Kip Thorne about Kip Thorne the the Caltech physicist who helped produce that film as well as help to right?

He says that yeah, you know when it comes right down to it in that film they stuck very close to the science. But there were places where the director said. Nope. Nope. We're going to go in a different direction here because the story requires it that certainly seems true here. I mean, there are certain things that are kind of far-fetched including.

The sort of central premise the the reason that McBride Brad Pitt's character ends up heading across the solar system to meet his dad. I don't know about the premise being far-fetched in terms of we tried to keep it vague enough about what was happening and mysterious [00:32:00] enough with what time of the Jones is character is doing to to elicit such a response to figure out what he's doing in to stop it the some of the things I know that the rings around planets aren't as tightly packed.

With rocks as they're shown apparently there you can go through them without being in danger of hitting them. But some of the things are just work better cinematically some of the things we tried to keep things vague in terms of the means of propulsion how long it would take to get to Neptune or wherever we you say, the central premise is far-fetched.

Like what do you do are you talking about like in sunlight and the movie The Danny Boyle movie also because that that was one thing that I thought was funny when. One of the commentators on IMDb. There's like a goof section under the Goofs. There was like the premise which I thought was funny. They have all what is no movie.

Exactly. I mean this happened with the Martian as well and Andy, where's and in the book The Martian [00:33:00] because Andy Weir admits right up front. Hey, you know there's never going to be a windstorm on Mars that could rip off an antenna and impale your lead character the wind is fast, but they're just as in much of it, but he knew he had to do that because he had to get the Martian to be by himself that whole planet to himself, right?

There's a little bit of that here. I think in that this thing that is happening the in the outer reaches of the solar system. That's affecting Earth. It's very hard to imagine any kind of science that could that could pull that off. But if the if you didn't have the threat to Earth, why would anybody be headed out there too?

It's not a put a stop to it. Right? I know we do mention antimatter, which to me is a almost a science fiction placeholder the science. Yeah, and the premise is was to a large large part inspired by some of the we were developing the bomb during World War II some people feared that splitting the atom could incinerate much of the.

Fear across much of America. I was a minority View [00:34:00] and obviously it was incorrect. But that was one of the fears that once you unlock that power of the atom it would cause a chain reaction. So this what we did that on a more Celestial level here with this. Yeah, it's I'll leave it as being highly speculative house, of course now in part of the fun.

Everybody should see it and then make up a list of things the science no knows but I look at it. As you know, it's more it's not supposed to be a hundred percent realistic because then it wouldn't be a movie. It would be I mean, there's so many great science documentary is Out There For All Mankind, I could watch that movie every every year.

Yeah, it's more. This is more of a poetic Sumptuous experience and it's not to be taken literally a poetic Sumptuous experience. I think that's a great description of the film and and I do recommend that everybody see it. Thanks, especially Space Geeks even if you may want to make that list. Even the to further that you've mentioned we can share about people's lists later on.

[00:35:00] But yeah, I have my own missed. I'll share one of these days but I think yeah because you know what? I'm an extra on the shuttle that goes from the Earth to the Moon. Yeah, and I think that's highly unrealistic because I would never never let me in there. You wouldn't go I wouldn't know now, I think so.

I don't think I'd be my dogs. Can I have your seat? Yeah, absolutely. II know I got to see the film a second time because I got to find you in that scene. Yeah mulching the previous scene in which Brad's getting ready to go on to the IV in the room that is taken like almost right out of one of those Norman Rockwell painting.

Of the Apollo Astronauts getting ready being put there having their space suit put on. I don't know if you've seen that Norman Rockwell painting if I think it's Neil Armstrong, but it's just you guys really pulled it off there. And I also like that app or Brad Pitt, but when he wants a blanket and a pillow on his Virgin [00:36:00] Galactic or Virgin Flight to the Moon they're going to charge him a hundred and twenty-five bucks.

Yes, you know, but you need your pillow and float up. From behind your head and you'll lose it. You need something pillow zero gravity volleyball or something. Well, that's you know Heywood Floyd when he was on his way. Was it to the moon or just up to the space station? He falls asleep and the steward that they still call them stewardesses than the flight attendant has to grab his pain that stuff loaded away that there are a lot of little things that could whether they were intentional or not.

They sure seem like nice little tributes to some of the great science fiction films of the past. I got one other. In for you along those lines chart. There is a seen on Mars. There are a couple of scenes actually where McBride Brad Pitt's character. He's in a room. It's referred to at one point as a comfort room.

Yeah, and all of the walls are our giant screens and it's as if he was in a different place. It's [00:37:00] almost virtual reality but not quite was that inspired by anything. I'm thinking of a certain Ray Bradbury story called The veldt and might have been. In the script, it was just described as a kind of a blank room.

It was just supposed to be a room for almost ironic because it wasn't really that comfortable just for him to settle down and after the experience that he just experienced like a waiting room and I haven't read the veldt but now I have to but all that stuff those in those great images that were put in afterwards and the to me that would make me even less comfortable the way they were they were huge.

It does work that way it actually does it says somebody had the idea that this would be comforting to see these giant images of nature, but they're kind of pale and they they really are unsettling. Yeah, and we must make you miss him more, you know, and I feel lonelier. I would just rather just have for a comfort room just in.

Recliner and you know some dogs someone asked me. What am I might comfort room is and I [00:38:00] would just say I used to say any room that I could bring my dogs. They just make things more comfortable. In fact, I had to leave the room because my dogs were moved. Just making too much of a Ruckus. So that's why I might sound a little uncomfortable right now and not near me, but I'll read the votes.

You should yeah. It's a great disturbing story. It is a reassuring human quality that you are that close to a to another species. I feel the same way about my dog. Yeah, they're the best. I mean there is there's a dog on Mars and one of the sequences that's right. Yes, I forgot about that. Yeah that I would just I would just like to be the dog handler there.

That's what I would do and I still feel bad about Leica though. Oh, yeah. She's one of the I think it's a she one of the unspoken. Heroes of space to murder. I agree. I agree unwitting maybe but she was yeah, he still be a hero. If you don't know you're being a hero probably not. That is an excellent question.

Maybe one to consider [00:39:00] for another time when we talk more about astronauts in the right stuff and maybe even more about Ad Astra. I've enjoyed this enormously from thank you so much and thank you for your work on this great film and earlier on Fringe because I was a big fan. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and your time producer and writer Ethan gross the co-writer with director James Gray of Ad, Astra.

Go see it. Tell me what you think. What's up with Bruce Betts is moments away this week, including your chance to win a pretty terrific prize man. Am I glad I'm no longer in charge of hiring people for the University. I once worked for it wasn't just the weeks it often took to fill a position, but the difficulty in finding great candidates.

I hear things haven't changed much except for the appearance of LinkedIn LinkedIn is the best place to post your job openings. The best candidates will provide you with all the information. But even before you contact them and once the [00:40:00] process starts LinkedIn gives you the tools to manage it right through shaking hands with your new employee.

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Time for what's up on planetary radio? We are in the planetary Society Studios magnificent, aren't they in Pasadena, California plural? Not really with the chief scientist Bruce Betts. He's sitting across the table from me. Welcome. Its glorious their glorious surroundings, it's hard to think. I just feel a sense of nobility and [00:41:00] today a special prop a special animated prop a globe that we will be talking about in minutes because we're going to offer one of these.

As a prize first, please tell us what's hanging above that Globe what's hanging above that Globe is the moon passing by a number of planets in the evening sky in the South. You can check out Jupiter looking like the brightest star like object in the low in the southwest and the Crescent Moon will be nearby on October 3rd, and then a couple nights later on October 5th.

Saturn will be hanging out near the moon looking yellow. And if you can get a really low view to the Horizon, I mean low view to the Western Horizon shortly after Sunset. You may be able to pick up a very very young Moon and Mercury Mercury making an appearance very low in the west far to the lower right of Jupiter.

So really low angle. Will it help if [00:42:00] I lie down on the ground? Yes, clearly that no, no, in fact the higher you can get literally or figuratively the more likely you will see Mercury and a young Moon. That's great. Well, I'm doing this week in space history. It was this week in 1958 that little organization called NASA was founded.

Yeah, remember that acronym because it's going to come up. Yes. Remember NASA we move on to. Well, um space fact how dignified Noble effort interestingly on the asteroid ryugu that is currently being explored by Hayabusa to all the features are to be named. Based on names and stories and fairy tales for children.

So they name things after characters in children's stories kind of cool. I didn't know that Des Pokemon [00:43:00] count. Well, of course, all right, we're ready for this contest and it was. I was worried about this contest I as I told you I thought we might only get two or three entries. It picked up toward the end of the contest period and so we did okay, but remind people what were what were we about it was challenging and came up with it on the Fly based upon our listeners input, but we got some good in trees.

So here was what what we said create and share with us your third order acronym that is related to space. Third order acronym is an acronym containing an acronym that contains you guessed it an acronym your acronym we told you could be deadly serious or make us laugh and we got both tell us tell us more about how we did man.

We got serious ones. I mean real ones and there were so many good ones. Really everybody deserves a prize or a mansion will mention a few. But [00:44:00] we're going to have two winners one for a fake third order acronym and one for a real one is it turns out which was just too good to pass up. So the first of these this is not a prize winner, but I like it from Chris Garland recent winner in Phoenix abracadabra.

A Broadband resident approach to Cosmic Axion detection with an amplifying be filled ring apparatus. I think it's fake. Wow. I'm guessing but that's that's pretty cool. It's actually not a nested or a third-order acronym but but still you've got to let it out Perry metzker in New York New York makes up for it because his is space which stands for space podcast acronym contest entry, but cleverly space.

Is recursive within that acronym space [00:45:00] is also stands for the same thing. And so it's an nth order acronym. Wow. That kind of hurt. He blew your mind, didn't he? Wow. All right. Here's one for Mel Powell in Sherman Oaks, California. He says it's a fifth-order acronym but really really means is that it represents five different things five principal is.

SRA International Space Station agencies NASA jaxa Isa roscosmos roscosmos and the CSA and jerk and Je RC injured. I've known some people who were amateurs. Here's a real one from Devon O'Rourke in Lakewood, Colorado its new tea and UTI, which is the nasscom user traffic interface. Nasscom stands for NASA Communications and NASA.

He says well, you know what that stands [00:46:00] for? Yes. I'm sure we do the first of our winners this came from Jordan Tipton who is an intern at JPL. He actually was part of the light sail to team when he was at Cal Poly. I think he's still at Cal Poly it's eagle. Espa or ESP a augmented geostationary laboratory experiment.

Within that espa is e e LV secondary payload adapter. And then we e LV of course is evolved Expendable launch vehicle. He says full disclosure. I pulled the JPL slack Community to mine for a real one. Thank you Spencer bachus. You know what happened here all the resources at JPL went to work to find a third order acronym for Jordan Tipton.

I figured we probably set back the Europa Clipper Mission by 3-4 hours. Oh my gosh the guilt [00:47:00] now this is totally worthwhile. They'll be more productive going forward having satisfied this and finally this fake one from Darren Richie felonious. Testing human endurance limits of Nemo which is the NASA extreme environment Mission operation and contains NASA, of course, testing human endurance limits of Nemo interior underwhelming spaciousness.

Felonious. Well, yeah, they do have underwhelming spaciousness down on the ocean floor Nemo NASA extreme environment Mission operations. We've talked to people of course. On neemo missions while they were under water on this program fun stuff fun stuff blue blue. So our two winners, Jordan and Darren we're going to send both of you planetary radio t-shirts.

And if I telescope is up for this, I think they are I telescope dotnet accounts. Well, thank you all of [00:48:00] those of you who work so hard on that one give you something. That's probably a little bit easier it's time once again to play. We're in the solar system. And your question this time is where in the solar system is the crater Hamlet.

To Hamlet like, you know the Shakespearean play or a small cutlet of him. Go to planetary dot org slash radio contest to get us here entry to impact or not to impact matches the question. So here's the deal. I told you we have something special this week. It's sitting in rotating in front of us right now.

Do you want to describe this? So it is a. Earth globe that on the outside of the clear plastic has a lovely representation of light sail to and then the Earth globe is rotating just hanging out rotating on its own [00:49:00] inside and it's on a lovely stand with the planetary Society logo. It is gorgeous as well.

This is from our good friends at mova. It is a limited edition design that is only available for a few more days you can. More about it. You can even order one at mova lightsail to and fifty dollars of each sale of one of these comes back to the planetary society, which is why we're talking about it, but mova has donated one of these for us to give away on the show.

So you might get one for free it as Bruce said features light sail to on the outer shell and it rotates using light. And Earth's magnetic field. So it's a lot like light sail to it is it's a lot like light sail to of maybe we can get one of these launch. All right. Well probably probably not it's super cool.

You've got until Wednesday October 2nd [00:50:00] to get us the answer this time around Wednesday October 2nd at 8 a.m. Pacific time and we'll throw in an eye telescope dotnet astronomy account on that worldwide network of telescopes. All right, everybody go out there. Look up the night sky and think about making your name into an acronym.

What would it be? Thank you and good night. I am so glad you mentioned that because here is Devin O'Rourke's entry Matt always transmits killer awesome planetary lessons and news that Kaplan mr. Audio time. Planetary radio is produced by the planetary Society in Pasadena, California and is made possible by its Mythic members helped us create that myth join the society at planetary dot org slash membership Mark Hill Verdes our associate producer Josh Doyle composed our theme which was arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser.

I'm at Kaplan Ad Astra [00:51:00].