If you’ve ever taken a deep breath before boarding a long trans-continental airline flight, then you know that, even with the modern miracle of ultra-comfortable jet aircraft, 12-plus hours in a snazzy flying bus is still a bit of an endurance test. Not surprisingly, SpaceX and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk thinks he can do better – by a long shot.
As you probably already know, Musk is planning to send his SpaceX “Big Frikkin’ Rocket” to Mars in 2024, and, of course, he didn’t say “frikkin.” But now, Musk is also thinking of repurposing the giant transports for more earth-bound duties, namely flying passengers from anywhere on earth to pretty much anywhere else on earth in under an hour – sometimes well under an hour. And, he claims he can do it at a ticket cost close to current coach airline fares!
A compelling video shows passengers taking high-tech ferryboats to sea-based launch facilities, where rockets carrying a hundred or so passengers would blast off, go sub-orbital at 18,000 miles an hour, and then touch down at another facility in literally 40 minutes or so on the other side of the planet. That’s a pretty big improvement over the typical travel time of 15 hours to get from New York City to Shanghai, China.
Will it happen? We’d say stranger things have succeeded, but we’d be lying. All we can say about a guy who is revolutionizing the auto industry, the space industry and possibly the electrical power industry is: When are the tickets going on sale, again? Check out more details and the video about Musk’s latest audacious plan.
Google won’t be a no Show
With Amazon going full-court-press in the smart home space with a whole fleet of Alexa-powered Echo machines, similar offerings from Google and Apple – which has yet to even start selling it’s HomePod Siri device – are looking pretty weak. But it looks like Google is working on another entry with an Echo Show competitor that features a video screen and other features similar to Amazon’s top-of-the-line Alexa box.
Techcrunch says multiple sources have told them Google is working up just such a device, code-named Manhattan. And with Google recently pulling YouTube access from the Amazon Echo line, access to the world’s biggest reservoir of cat videos could help the Manhattan devices scratch an itch that Amazon no longer can. Techcrunch says the device was expected to debut in 2018, but Amazon’s growing dominance in the space has pushed up the timeline considerably.
Tech crunch also says the device is likely to run on the Android OS, which means it could also run third-party apps like Netflix and so forth, giving it another edge over Amazon. No release date or price has been specified, but we’d say sooner than later and at a price point that will take on Amazon head on.
Asking the big questions once again
The 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner has become such an icon of cinema, many people don’t remember that it pretty much tanked at the box office when it was first released in 1982, and it quickly disappeared from theaters. But it’s release was serendipitous: Blade Runner arrived right at the dawn of the VHS/Beta home video revolution, and over the ensuing years, repeated viewings, director’s cuts, DVDs and the internet have continually boosted its cult status.
And now, we’re just one week away from the debut of the long-await sequel, Blade Runner 2049, which smartly picks up the story 30 years after the original, or about the same amount of time that has elapsed since the original movie. This time around, Ridley Scott executive produced and Arrival and Sicario director Denis Villenueve helmed the picture, which includes Harrison Ford returning as Deckard and Ryan Gosling as young Blade Runner Office K.
Jared Leto plays a blind but villainous replicant maker who has big ideas about what the future of humankind might be, and there’s a strong supporting cast filling out the story. But is it a worthy follow-up? The first reviews are in, including ours by cinephile Phil Hornshaw, and good news: Blade Runner 2049 is indeed another brilliant multi-layered look at humanity’s possible future – and its possible downfall.
Original cinematographer Roger Deakins is also back, and the new Blade Runner looks to be a continuation of the dark fever dream of the original. Check out our full review, trailers and links to the three short lead-in mini-movies commissioned by Villenueve.
We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans) on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.