Hexbyte Glen Cove Beam me up, Jeff! William Shatner lends Blue Origin star power

Hexbyte Glen Cove

On October 12, William Shatner is set to become the first living member of the iconic show’s cast to journey to the final frontier, as a guest aboard a Blue Origin suborbital rocket on the company’s second crewed flight.

When Star Trek first aired in 1966, America was still three years away from putting people on the Moon and the idea that people could one day live and work in space seemed like a fantasy.

On October 12, William Shatner—Captain James T. Kirk to Trekkies—is set to become the first member of the iconic show’s cast to journey to the final frontier, as a guest aboard a Blue Origin suborbital rocket.

For fans, the 10-minute hop from a West Texas base back to Earth will be a fitting coda for a pop culture phenomenon that inspired generations of astronauts.

“I plan to be looking out the window with my nose pressed against the window, the only thing that I don’t want to see is a little gremlin looking back at me,” the 90-year-old Canadian, who will become the oldest person ever to go to space, joked in a video release.

Blue Origin’s decision to invite one of the most recognizable galaxy-faring characters from science fiction for its second crewed flight has helped maintain excitement around the nascent space tourism sector, as the novelty starts to wear off.

This summer saw flamboyant British entrepreneur Richard Branson fly just beyond the atmosphere in a Virgin Galactic vessel on July 9, beating the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by a few days in their battle of the billionaire space barons.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent four private astronauts to orbit the Earth for three days as part of the Inspiration4 mission in September, which raised more than $200 million for charity.

“Bringing on a celebrity like William Shatner, who’s related to space, brings a kind of renewed novelty, and creates media and cultural attention,” Joe Czabovsky, an expert in public relations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told AFP.

Pioneering show

The original Star Trek was canceled after only three seasons, but went on to spawn more than a dozen movies and several spin-off series, including some that are ongoing.

Shatner, as the plucky and decisive Kirk, commanded the USS Enterprise on a five-year-mission “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

His actual voyage to space will be far shorter, taking the crew just beyond the Karman line, 62 miles (100 kilometers) high, where they will experience four minutes of weightlessness and gaze out at the curvature of the planet.

He will be joined by Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries, a co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions.

Star Trek turned American attention to the stars as the US space program was in its offing, landing a man on the Moon towards the end of its run in 1969.

It broke ground by tackling complicated moral questions, and was notable for its diverse cast at a time when the country was struggling through the Civil Rights era.

The Enterprise crew included an Asian-American helmsman, a half-human half-Vulcan science officer, and a Russian-born ensign.

Shatner made history in 1968 when he kissed Black co-star Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, in the first interracial kiss on American television.

Influential

The show is also closely intertwined with the US space program.

In 1976 the first Space Shuttle was named “Enterprise” following a letter writing campaign by fans that swayed then-president Gerald Ford.

NASA hired Nichols in the 1970s to help recruit new astronauts, and numerous other cast members have voiced official documentaries or given talks for the agency.

Astronauts have returned the favor, posing in Star Trek uniforms for mission-related posters and embracing the show’s motifs.

“For 50 years, Star Trek has inspired generations of scientists, engineers, and even astronauts,” NASA astronaut Victor Glover said in a 2016 video that drew parallels between research on the Enterprise and the scientific instruments on the ISS today.

Another mega-fan: Bezos himself.

Amazon’s Alexa was said to be inspired by the conversational computer in Star Trek, and Bezos—wearing heavy makeup sporting an egg-shaped head—appeared in a cameo in the 2016 film “Star Trek Beyond.”

Shatner’s star power and wit—he joked to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the New Shepard rocket, which has been mocked for its phallic appearance, was in fact “inseminating the program”—could provide a welcome distraction for Blue Origin.

The company is under a cloud of allegations, made by a former senior employee, about a “toxic” work culture with rampant sexual harassment and decision making that prioritized speed over safety.

Blue Origin denied the claims and said the employee was sacked two years ago for issues involving US export control regulations.



© 2021 AFP

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Beam me up, Jeff! William Shatner

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Hexbyte Glen Cove The origin and legacy of the Etruscans thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove The origin and legacy of the Etruscans

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Sleep and Death Carrying off the Slain Sarpedon (cista handle), 400-380 BC, Etruscan, bronze – Cleveland Museum of Art. Credit: Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Etruscan civilization, which flourished during the Iron Age in central Italy, has intrigued scholars for millennia. With remarkable metallurgical skills and a now-extinct, non-Indo-European language, the Etruscans stood out from their contemporary neighbors, leading to intense debate from the likes of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus on their geographical origins.

Now, a new study by a team of scholars from Germany, Italy, U.S., Denmark and the U.K., sheds light on the origin and legacy of the enigmatic Etruscans with genome-wide data from 82 ancient individuals from central and southern Italy, spanning 800 BCE to 1000 CE. Their results show that the Etruscans, despite their unique cultural expressions, were closely related to their italic neighbors, and reveal major genetic transformations associated with historical events.

An intriguing phenomenon

With an that is only partly understood, much of what was initially known about Etruscan civilization comes from the commentary of later Greek and Roman writers. One hypothesis about their origins, the one favored by Herodotus, points to the influence of ancient Greek cultural elements to argue that the Etruscans descended from migrating Anatolian or Aegean groups. Another, championed by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, proposes that the Etruscans originated and developed locally from the Bronze Age Villanovan culture and were therefore an autochthonous population.

Although the current consensus among archaeologists supports a local origin for the Etruscans, a lack of ancient DNA from the region has made genetic investigations inconsistent. The current study, with a time transect of ancient genomic information spanning almost 2000 years collected from 12 archaeological sites, resolves lingering questions about Etruscan origins, showing no evidence for a recent population movement from Anatolia. In fact, the Etruscans shared the genetic profile of the Latins living in nearby Rome, with a large proportion of their genetic profiles coming from steppe-related ancestry that arrived in the region during the Bronze Age.

Considering that steppe-related groups were likely responsible for the spread of Indo-European languages, now spoken around the world by billions of people, the persistence of a non-Indo-European Etruscan language is an intriguing and still unexplained phenomenon that will require further archaeological, historical, linguistic and genetic investigation.

“This linguistic persistence, combined with a genetic turnover, challenges simple assumptions that genes equal languages and suggests a more complex scenario that may have involved the assimilation of early Italic speakers by the Etruscan speech community, possibly during a prolonged period of admixture over the second millennium BCE,” says David Caramelli, Professor at the University of Florence.

Geographic map of the Italian peninsula (right) including a zoom-in (left) indicating the maximum extension of Etruscan territories and the location and number of individuals for each archeological site newly analyzed in this study. Credit: Michelle O’Reilly, MPI SHH

Periods of change

Despite a few individuals of eastern Mediterranean, northern African, and central European origins, the Etruscan-related gene pool remained stable for at least 800 years, spanning the Iron Age and Roman Republic period. The study finds, however, that during the subsequent Roman Imperial period, central Italy experienced a large scale genetic shift, resulting from admixture with eastern Mediterranean populations, which likely included slaves and soldiers relocated across the Roman Empire.

“This genetic shift clearly depicts the role of the Roman Empire in the large-scale displacement of people in a time of enhanced upward or downward socioeconomic and geographic mobility,” says Johannes Krause, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Looking at the more recent Early Middle Ages, the researchers identified northern European ancestries spreading across the Italian peninsula following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. These results suggest that Germanic migrants, including individuals associated with the newly established Longobard Kingdom, might have left a traceable impact on the genetic landscape of central Italy.

In the regions of Tuscany, Lazio, and Basilicata the population’s ancestry remained largely continuous between the Early Medieval times and today, suggesting that the main gene pool of present-day people from central and southern Italy was largely formed at least 1000 years ago.

Although more ancient DNA from across Italy is needed to support the above conclusions, ancestry shifts in Tuscany and northern Lazio similar to those reported for the city of Rome and its surroundings suggests that historical events during the first millennium CE had a major impact on the genetic transformations over much of the Italian peninsula.

“The Roman Empire appears to have left a long-lasting contribution to the genetic profile of southern Europeans, bridging the gap between European and eastern Mediterranean populations on the genetic map of western Eurasia,” says Cosimo Posth, Professor at the University of Tübingen and Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment.



More information:
The origin and legacy of the Etruscans through a 2000-year archeogenomic time transect, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abi7673

Provided by
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Citation:
The origin and legacy of the Etruscans (2021, September 24)
retrieved 25 September 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-legacy-etruscans.html

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