Defying Gravity – Overview and Opinion

October 27, 2009 at 3:35 am (Uncategorized)

Today I’m going to give a little information about this great show that I discovered over the summer called Defying Gravity. It was aired in the U.S. on ABC until September, when they dropped it for no clearly given reason. But it continued to air in Canada, so I was able to find it online and finish out the season. If you are interested in doing that, all 13 episodes are available at http://www.casttv.com/shows/defying-gravity/eve-ate-the-apple/zrto7z#episodes. On other sites, there are blocks in place to keep people accessing the page from the Unites States from seeing the episodes, but this one seems to work ok. The caveat is that most of these are on MegaVideo, which only allows its free users to watch 72 minutes a day and occasionally cuts you off after 35 minutes for about an hour.

Now on to the show:

Defying Gravity takes place in the year 2054, and it is about a space program (The ISO, or International Space Organization). In particular, it tracks the Antares mission, which is a mission to visit seven planets in six years, ostensibly for the mining rights of the planets and publicity for the ISO. The show flashes back in LOST fashion between the beginning of the training program (during which a huge number of candidates are narrowed down to seven astronauts who will go on this mission and the remaining twenty or so who will be the team handling the mission from the ground) and the mission itself in 2054.

If you read the message boards at hulu.com, you find mixed reactions to the show. A majority of viewers really enjoy it, particularly those who are science fiction fans. There are a fair amount of naysayers, most of whom clearly watched enough of the show to make it ironic that they spend so much of their time criticizing it. Because it takes place in the future, clearly some of the technology that is being used in the mission does not currently exist. However, having spent my summer working in the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC in the Solid State Devices Branch, I can anticipate that much of the basis of such technological advances are well on their way in the realm of basic research.

For example, the suit that the astronauts wear to walk on the surface of Venus has a built in temperature control system and other systems that allow a person to survive the harsh climate of Venus for up to twenty minutes unscathed. Such technology does not currently exist, nor does the space travel that currently is possible allow for travel to Venus in less than four months as is depicted in the show. However, the magnetic gravity that is used to maintain an artificial gravity on the ship is fairly well explained in the show and the principles of magnetism that are discussed are, as far as I could tell, accurate.

The great thing I found about the “science” of the show was that ordinary phenomena that are perhaps known to physicists and biologists, but not well known to the masses, were discussed in the show. The idea of a Hall current, for example, features in “H2IK.” Genetic engineering, stem cell research and bioinformatics are integrated into the show as well. Some of the technology depicted, like a credit card sized combination of a cell phone, credit card and likely many other functions that are currently handled by multiple platforms, is likely to be a reality in the future as well– the iPod Touch essentially can fulfill these functions already (though much larger than a credit card).

In terms of the drama, I have seen this show compared to other ABC dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy and LOST. I find that the personal aspect of the characters is handled with sufficient intrigue to keep me interested. There are love triangles, controversial issues such as abortion and stem cell research on embryos, the cast is diverse both ethnically and spiritually, and there are religious undertones to some of the events. Clearly the writers of the show were not interested in playing it safe, which is likely part of the reason ABC canceled the show. I find it a travesty that such ridiculous reality TV shows are the eye candy of choice when there are other intellectual and entertaining options like Defying Gravity that can’t even hold on to a slot for the entirety of a season. Thank you Canada for continuing to air this show for the fans in the United States to view online. If you like science fiction, this is a good show to check out.

Signing off for the day, I have to go to sleep. Electricity & Magnetism class at 8 AM sharp tomorrow morning, for me.

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