Science Friday: Halloween Edition

Happy (early) Halloween from Science Friday! This week, take a look at the successful Ares 1-X launch, a real life Star Trek translator, new planet exploring robots, and get some last minute geeky Halloween costume ideas, plus see some suggestions sent in by TrekMovie readers. All this and so much more. Plus, celebrate the Internet’s 40th birthday!


Ares 1-X Makes Successful First Flight
The first flight test for NASA’s Constellation Program, called Ares 1-X, is the successor to the Space Shuttle and launched without a hitch this Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:30 AM EDT. The test flight met all the basic benchmarks for success, NASA officials say. The success is great news for NASA’s human spaceflight program, which is currently facing an uncertain future. Ares failed to blast off on Tuesday due to weather related problems but things cleared up just in time for a Wednesday morning launch. If you’ve been following Ares’ progress, you may have heard the word “Triboelectrification” thrown around as something NASA scientists were worried about. Triboelectrification, put simply, is a build up of static on the rocket when traveling through water droplets or ice in high clouds. Scientists were worried that this could interfere with readings from the rocket. It turns out that this proved not to be an issue. Divers have now recovered the rocket booster that landed in the Atlantic Ocean and found it to be badly dented. NASA is not yet sure what the cause of the damage was. If you missed it, check out a video of the launch below!

A Real Life Star Trek Translator? There’s an App for That
Translation applications and services (even those for the iPhone) are no new thing. But, how about one that translates your spoken word in real time? Now, there’s something worth a second look. The application, called Jibbigo, is a spoken English-to-Spanish (and visa versa) translator that, according to DVICE who reviewed the app, actually works! “It does well with vital phrases you’d need, such as asking for directions for specific things,” says DVICE. “Each time you speak to Jibbigo, it’ll write what it thinks you said, vocally respond with the opposite Spanish or English, and display both on top of one another so you can check yourself. It’s quick, responsive and push-to-talk. You can also play spoken phrases back to yourself to make sure you’re getting it right.” The biggest set back? According to DVICE, the steep $25 price is the only negative attribute. You can buy Jibbigo from iTunes.

Jibbigo is truly a Trek-like translator

New Robot Armada to Explore Strange New Worlds
Scientists say that we are on the brink of a paradigm shift in planetary exploration, and the next round of robotic explorers will be completely different than what we see today. Physicist Wolfgang Fink envisions an armada of robots that work together and communicate with one another. In one mission scenario, an orbiter would circle Titan with a global view of the moon, with an air balloon or airship floating overhead to provide a birds-eye view of mountain ranges, lakes and canyons. On the ground, a rover or lake lander would explore the moon’s nooks and crannies. The orbiter would “speak” directly to the air balloon and command it to fly over a certain region for a closer look. This aerial balloon would be in contact with several small rovers on the ground and command them to move to areas identified from overhead. “One day an entire fleet of robots will be autonomously commanded at once. This armada of robots will be our eyes, ears, arms and legs in space, in the air, and on the ground, capable of responding to their environment without us, to explore and embrace the unknown,” says Fink.

We may soon send robot armadas to distant worlds

Last Minute Geeky Halloween Costume Ideas
Halloween is tomorrow! Want to show off your geekiness, but can’t think of a costume? Don’t worry, TrekMovie’s got you covered. Check out these awesome geeky halloween costume ideas plus how-to’s below!

Star Trek Character

Of coarse, you didn’t think we’d forget this one did you? And it’s super easy to do, especially if you’re going as a human federation officer. If you’re a supernerd like me, you already have a closet full of costumes to choose from. In that case, throw on your best uniform and hit the streets. If not, you can create your own uniform in a snap! Luckily, the low budget of the 1960’s Star Trek allows for easy-to-make Federation uniforms. Just grab your best long sleeve shirt in gold, red, or blue, throw an insignia on the chest, and garnish with black pants and shoes.

Mad Scientist

The mad scientist is an ever popular and easy to do costume. What you need: Lab coat, long pants, hair gel, extra accessories. Finding a lab coat is the hardest part of the costume if you’re in a hurry. But, you’d be surprised how many local stores offer lab coats for sale. For starters, check the bookstore of your local university. Many sell lab coats, gloves, and goggles for chem students. Also check stores that sell medical scrubs and the like. Once you’ve got the lab coat, mess your hair up and spike it with some super strong gel, put on a nice pair of slacks, and you’re good to go! For added fun, wear geeky glasses or chem goggles, and big rubber gloves. A pocket protector with pens is always a nice touch, too.

Zombie Red Shirt

Anything can really be turned into a zombie for an awesome costume. You can be a zombie scientist, zombie cheerleader, zombie doctor. How about geeking it up another notch and going as a zombie red shirt? As with the Federation Officer costume, grab your red shirt costume or long sleeve red shirt with added insignia, slash it up a bit, and apply fake blood. You can get some white or pale colored face paint from a local halloween shop (or just really light colored make up from the grocery store) to make your face zombified and death-like. Add some black around the eyes for that just-from-the-grave sunken in look. Finally, apply some easy-to-make fake blood to your face and body. Roll around in the dirt a bit to make yourself all dirty for a look that screams “I just rose from the dead (and want your brains)!” Check out WikiHow for step by step instructions on making nontoxic fake blood.


Got a cardboard box? Then you can be a robot in one easy step! Step one: Put cardboard box on body. Congratulations, you’re a robot! Okay, so perhaps cutting some arm and eye holes will help. And for added fun, paint it silver and add those silver air duct thingies around your arms. Awesome.

Some More Suggestions Sent in by Readers

And, here is he full list of suggestions sent in by TM readers:

  • Captain Kirk! (from Dave)
  • Volcano! (from Christina)
  • The yip yip aliens from Sesame Street. This clip is just an example. There are a few more on the tubes. (from Charles)
  • Carmen San Diego, Mahatma Ghandi, Einstein, any president who died before 1975 especially any that were assassinated, Mary Todd Lincoln, Ernest (from the Ernest movies. this one is really easy), Laurel and Hardy, A horse, Peter Pan, The easy button or the like button, Marie Curie. Oh, miss piggy (or any of the muppets really), a stick figure, a blind ghost….and yea, that’s all I got. (all from Daniel)
  • Constellation (glow in the dark stars on black clothing). Orion is easy for that one. Miss Universe: pictures of stars, galaxies, planets, etc. on a pretty dress with sash and crown. (yes, I’ve done those!) (from Karen)
  • Sheldon’s doppler effect costume from last season [of Big Bang Theory]! now THAT’S geeky! (from @Starfleetmom)
  • I’m being a redshirt zombie with a friend. :) Or you could be a redshirt with a giant target on the front. (from @Homesickblues)
  • I will be an Andorian Starfleet Officer. I brought a white wig and blue make-up. Haven’t figured out how to do antenna yet. (from @trekladykim)
  • I went as an oil spill once. All black clothes, and beanies babies (sea life and birds) pinned to me in contorted ways. (from Jeremy)
  • Mummy with cheap toilet paper, Mad scientist, Harry Potter, Nerd (from Danielle)
  • Velma from Scooby Doo (from @unknowntrekkie)
  • USB Stick. Easy on easy off. (from @wikiwackywoo)

For some final science costume inspiration, check out Sheldon Cooper’s doppler effect costume.

From xkcd

Send in pics of your Trek costume to TrekMovie
If you are wearing your Trek pride this Halloween why not send in a photo to TrekMovie. We are compiling the images and will put up an article with them this weekend. You can send in your pictures to the tip line (tips AT trekmovie DOT com), or via a reply at our Twitter Account. Please send in photos from Halloween 2009!

Video of the Week: Glorious Dawn ft. Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking

This is a really amazing mix of Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking quotes with a great musical background and a great video to go with it.

Pic of the Week: Prandtl-Glauert Singularity

What you’re looking at below is called a “shock egg” or Prandtl-Glauert singularity. This particular one occurred around the Ares 1-X rocket during its test flight on Tuesday. The shock egg appears around mach jets and rockets when they hit transonic speeds, roughly around Mach 1 (the speed of sound).

Gadget of the Week: The Internet!
The internet, you say? Why, I’ve been on the interwebs for decades now! But, did you know that yesterday was the internet’s 40th birthday? It’s true! On October 29th, 1969, the very first message of “lo” was sent between two computers on the ARPANET network, which would become the internet. Check out the video below by National Geographic for the story of the internet through time.

Happy birthday, internet!


If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…

  • @Astro_Bones: The doc is in! @Astro_Bones, scheduled to launch aboard Atlantis in nearly 3 weeks, is tweeting about his mission:
  • @larrynemecek: Greetings from Trekland: the family, facts, and fans, via years of working and playing there!
  • @MikeOkuda: Mike may be best known for his graphic designs for the Starships Enterprise in several of the Star Trek films and series.

Science Quickies
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.


TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.

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I bought the blue Spock 09 costume, but removed the ears and adopted the cynical slightly racist accent of Leonard McCoy, Then I’ll apply blood and white/grey makeup so I can become Zom-Bones

“Have you come as Spock or something?”

“No, Its worse then that, I’M DEAD JIM!”

Re: Star Trek Character

Kayala, loved the pun.

A friend of mine went as a “undead” red shirt last year. I was going to be Dr. Horrible this year, got the goggles and most of it together but may not be around to do it this weekend.

Last year, I was mirror Nero :D
Still looking for something for this year…

“Still looking” getting a bit close isn’t it? If you were mirror Nero last year just take off the gotee and be normal Nero…I mean you had to have a gotee right? Or is normal Nero, Mirror Nero….alternate universe….aww crap. Let me take some tylenol and I’ll be back to continue! ;)

I’m being Spock!!! I had to paint a pair of pointy red ears thd it would be kinda hardough…
I wanted to be a redshirt with a phaser through my chest, but not enough ppl would get it and it would be kinda hard

Ares I-X was good, but I hope they take a close look at why that dummy second stage tumbled so unexpectedly.

Oh man, I was already being a Zombie Red Shirt for Halloween… I thought I was so original! /weep

So I know this may be a shameless plug, but I hope you dont mind it as we are raising money for a good cause! If anyone reading this needs scrubs for Halloween (or any other costume party) visit we donate a portion of our proceeds to the fight against breast cancer (we even donate 100% of our proceeds from our pink ribbon line!). I’ll also give your readers a 10% discount use the code blog10 and you will get 10% off. Anyhow, keep blogging it is appreciated! and I hope to see you at the site!


Last year my wife and I were Riker and Troi. This year, though I’m being a Babylon 5 Earthforce officer.

No one is going as a Klingon? :-)

So we are sending robots out. Hmm Does the name Nomad ring a bell. Or what about Veger. Could there be a second Voyager series going out. Happy Birthday to the Internette. May you have many more.I do not know about putting on a Red Shirt. I do not want to Die. I think I will dress up as in my Uniform from the Terran Empire.

Happy Birthday, internet! I love you, and you disgust me.

…and I thought the first two computers to talk to each other were Colossus and Guardian ;-)

The should’ve sent “lol” instead of “lo”, That would’ve made it more memoriable. : )

I liked the Sagan / Hawking video. It was fun!

@7 It tumbled because it didn’t have a rocket engine to provide the forward momentum to keep it flying straight.

Sagan/Hawking video was great.

And I was the one who sent you the yip yip alien youtube vids.

5. Skippy2k
It is my Star Trek Movie Forum avatar ;)

17, true, but the stage sep was followed almost immediately by the tumbling motion; there would have been a major issue if the engine had fired and the second stage was other than in the appropriate position.

What’s true is that the second stage was just a dummy; a real one would have probably fired orientation thrusters to prevent the tumbling.

#1 Why do you refer to McCoy’s accent as “Slighty Racist”? You have the bridge #1.

I still have my gold tos mini uniformm! And it still fits great! I’m nearly 60! Happy holloween!

19. Never used it as an avatar but here last time I went Trek for halloween was 3 years ago(pretty sure 3) as Spock. I had wore it to work, I had a customer come this year and ask if I was going to dress up like that again. :)

Wow, you’re cute ;)

Happy 40th Birthday, Internet! Did your Daddy (Al Gore) get you anything?


Dude, did you actually shave your eyebrows? That’s fascinating! And dedication!


I was Data many years ago. It was hard to do. Planned it for a couple of months, but it turned out alright. Learned how to apply makeup for the first time ever. Had it in my ears for a couple of days. That first shower after the party was nasty.

Um, I am the kid in the red shirt. Really. (I am 43 and bald now). I was a bit startled to see myself on this site. I originally posted that photo online at

Jerry in MN

Im going as Spock with my LIFESIZE SHUTTLECRAFT I built. Oh yeah, you heard it right. Friends are going to be red-shirts and other various officers. It will be sweet.

Shuttlecraft pictures here, but no Spock pics yet until Halloween:


Dear Internet,

You said you couldn’t be my biological father because you weren’t old enough. Now I know you were lying.

the the hell hasnt the Guinan/Picard relationship been fully explained? I doubt we’re going back to TNG anytime soon. It always bugged me that even after the series was done, we never got an explanation.

Er…other than the fact that Star Trek had the “Universal Translator”, what does yet another iPhone text translator app have to do with Star Trek?

#15: I actually heard from Leonard Kleinrock, one of the people behind ARPANET, about that first message on a CBC radio show a couple days ago. Apparently, “lo” was all that made it through of a message intended to be just slightly longer: “login”.

To quote:

Well, all we wanted to do was to log in from our host computer, to the SRI host computer. Now, to log in, all you have to do is type L-O-G, and the other machine types the I-N, so we’re ready to go…with a telephone connection as well, so we typed the L and said,
“You get the L?”
Aaaand we heard “Got the L!”
Typed the O, “You get the O?” “Got the O!”
Typed the G, “You get the G?” *clap* CRASH! The SRI computer crashed.
(Jian: You invented the Internet crashing, too! In the same sitting!)

#29 – Bradester

Hey, that’s pretty cool. Whose the friend of Porthos?

Congratulations, NASA! now start going boldly, already! :)

Anthony, I’m sorry I’m not that familiar with twitter, but was that you that posted that you had h1n1? If so, I hope you get better soon.

20…. Yes, the operational Ares I rocket will have separation motors (rockets) on both the first stage (to back away) and the upper stage (to accelerate ahead), while the Ares I-X test only had seperation motors on the first stage. Ares I will also do its “staging” at significantly higher altitude in thinner air than Ares I-X. It is unlikely the “exciting” seperation of the Ares I-X test flight will occur on the real Ares I.

I miss Carl Sagan… That was amazing!

32. Shunnabunich – “Er…other than the fact that Star Trek had the “Universal Translator”, what does yet another iPhone text translator app have to do with Star Trek?” Because this is spoken word near real time; you speak english then it speaks spanish…

#36 yes, Sagan was brilliant. Sad loss indeed.
Just for fun…. I noticed that an anagram of William Shatner is Slim Alien Wrath! Spooky or what! lol

#29 thats staggering!

35, Thorny, thanks for your input. Those in the know at NASA have just said similar things with regard to orientation thrusters which, in a live second stage, would kick in to assure proper attitude.


fantastic Carl Sagan video
thank you for posting it

Happy Halloween! The coolest holiday!

One year in the 90’s I was a Ferengi. That was the most gawdawful uncomfortable combination of rubber mask and greasepaint! I had to take it off in less than an hour–even with healthy doses of shots and beer, I was in agony…. But damn, it looked great while it lasted!

I remember:
1. sweating
2. itching
3. mask digging into flesh
4. unable to turn head
5. vision reduced by about 90 percent.

Did I mention the sweating?

Just think how awful it must be to go as a Horta rock alien, then! Although, it would really be a “rockin'” costume. Pun intended.

Just returned from the party… I was a Klingon. I’ll send the pics as soon as I get them.

Finally! A Klingon!

and an anagram of Leonard Nimoy is I’m only a drone! Happy Halloween!

and an anagram of Patrick Stewart is A Crap Trek Twist! I promise, it really is!

Oct. 29? Woo hoo! MY birthday too!!
I am so glad the Ares test was successful. It’s our ONLY hope for the US in space. (Would’ve liked to see a “Shuttle Mk. II,” but oh well.)
Obama had better not kill the program, or we’re fkd.

48, Google “X-37” and you’ll see that the United States Air Force and certain other entities are planning to loft a small space shuttle-like drone atop an Atlas rocket — in January of next year, I believe. Few people know about this technology demonstrator; it’s about the size of a sedan but can stay on orbit for 21 days and then come in for a landing on a runway. True, it’s only one-fourth the size of the Space Shuttle, but this thing ain’t peanuts — it weighs five tons and comes complete with a liquid-fueled engine.

About the size of a Predator or a Reaper, I reckon, but almost five times the weight.

Think about it.

All the sources say that it’s just a technology demonstrator.

Ares I-X is great, but I have a feeling there are other things out there that we should keep an eye on, too.

Keep watching the skies.

Correction: Actually, the Reaper weighs about as much as the X-37. (Of course, it can’t get anywhere near orbit.)