Category Archives: personal

My partial lunar eclipse

July 16 2019. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and the night of a partial lunar eclipse. This is cool stuff! But as the day progresses, I more and more convince myself that I should pass the lunar eclipse. The forecast said cloudy anyway. In the evening the clouds break and I still don’t bother because I wouldn’t be able to see much in the city anyway. It’s 10:45PM and I start watching part 2 of Chasing The Moon. Well, my brain thinks I’m watching, but I’m probably partially asleep. Then, the phone rings. What the hell? I pick up and it’s my partner who is currently in the south of France, visiting her mother. Is it worth watching the eclipse, because right now she’s being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I tell her it should be. And I decide to go outside anyway.

partial lunar eclipse

How I saw the partial lunar eclipse 16 July 2019. Picture by Mel Marcik

The train station

I live next to a small train station. It’s higher than the streets so logically if I stand on the platform, I should be able to see the moon. Just like the total lunar eclipse which I watched there in the freezing cold in the early morning. I get up on the platform and just above the former station hall, now pub, and above the highway that runs parallel to the tracks, I can see the partial lunar eclipse. She doesn’t have a red glow like I expected. Behind me a woman sits on a bench waiting for her train. Another man comes on the platform, it look like he is going to stand close to me but I guess my annoyed aura scares him off.

I stare at the moon, and sometimes at the phone, being in contact with my partner far away. My eyes start to hurt. The station is very bright, and I have the squint between the lights to see the moon. The platform is more lit than my very own living room. I can hear the cars on the highway. I hear the cars down on the street below. A tram passes. I hear people laugh. At the other platform a man is making a phone call and walks up and down the platform. More laughter downstairs. Then the train arrives and the people get in, some people get out. The conductor looks at me and asks me if I join the train. I shake my head, thank him. He nods, blows his whistle and the train takes off.

The Milky Way

I sit down on the bench and continue to stare at the moon. I pick up my phone and look at my Sky 3D app. According to the map I’m looking straight at the Milky Way. All I see is an overly lit platform, the train from the opposite direction arriving, the noise shields of the highway. I can see the moon partial blocked by the sun. I can actually see Jupiter. My partner says she sees Jupiter too and I wave at Jupiter. I don’t tell her this. We exchange some spiritual tinted messages. Actually, I complain about the noise and that I can’t see the Milky Way. But what I mean was, I love this city but I need space. And quiet.

The plan

I sit on the bench a bit longer and decide to head back home. In the South of France my partner already went to bed. I arrive home to a paused documentary and I check how many MBs I have left on my data plan and I decide I watch this part tomorrow during my commute which I start on that very same platform. Then I pick up my laptop and write, I write this down. Because I know I can accomplish things, and I can do awesome things ans be good at the things I love doing. If only I wasn’t so lazy. I just want to stop being lazy. So I write this now and not tomorrow or later this week. Or never.

But what I really want is to live in a place where it’s actually worth it to look up. To actually see the stars and to enjoy the wonders of space without trams ringing, cars rushing by and people laughing in the streets. I want to look up at the stars and be completely taken by the moment, to be at peace. To breath fresh air and hear an owl in the distance. Or maybe an elk. To look up while it’s pitch dark and when the season comes to see auroras. The city is wearing me out. But I still love this city. I will leave this city some day but only to have that place in space. I know I can accomplish things and I sure will accomplish this thing. The partial lunar eclipse just confirmed this.

Update about updates

Lately I’ve been updating far too little. Far too little for my own liking, even though I do know what I want with this blog. I still haven’t been able to commit to it as much as I should. Also my twitter activities have not been like I had intended it to be. Partly I think it’s fine, I’m human and I have other things in my life than just space and aliens. And partly it’s still fine but something changed in a way I didn’t expect. 

blogging

image credit Pixabay

The big change

The very last argument I had not to come out as agender was this: I didn’t want to put other people in a situation they didn’t ask for. I didn’t want people to deal with the fact that I was neither male nor female and that they had to adjust to that. I’m Dutch and there isn’t even a word for the singular they. Enby? (nb = non binary) I just didn’t want to confuse people but my wife said it was bollocks. It’s my life, it’s who I am. And I should show that, or at least tell people why I was looking into top surgery. Fair enough. 

So I came out earlier this year and everyone I spoke to was very accepting. Sure, some had no idea what agender was, but I was happy to tell them. Language is a struggle, as at work I’m sometimes called a lady (the rest of my male colleagues is then called gents in the same sentence), but that’s a language thing. Online I think it went well too. I wrote a piece on relating to Data of Star Trek The Next Generation as I started to realise that me being agender is part of that. It was fantastic. 

Unexpected impact

I feared my surrounding would struggle but they are fine. Sometimes they ask me questions but I see that as part of acceptance and I’m happy to talk about it. The biggest impact of me coming out as agender was not on my surroundings, it had the biggest impact on… me. I found myself in a situation of Fuck It, I’m doing this. So I dove head first into the LGBTQIA+ culture, something I probably already had but now I did it consciously. Other non binary people became visible and this was truly inspirational.

A whole new world opened up to me. I got my first binder, then got a decent one (which I’m calling ‘my second skin’), am on a two year waiting list for my surgery. And my head became a mess. Not in a negative way, but it’s been quite exhausting. It’s been a big change and I didn’t see it coming. I do see the irony in that. 

As I was busy with fitting into my own skin (and I still am), I was also tired. I started to slack writing, I enjoy learning online but didn’t have the strength for it any more. What I did manage was creating a new wardrobe, read and watch a lot of Star Trek, visit Sweden and finally declared my unconditional love for it (opposed to really, really REALLY loving Sweden), finally learned that dark hair suits me way better than blond and pastels, and I got a new task offered at work, one that suits me a lot, namely data control (numbers, not the android). 

LGBTQIA+ in the mix

I also realised that my space twitter became more LGBTQIA+ rights than space adventures. This is absolutely fine, it’s my twitter, it’s who I am. But I started it to communicate with space and alien folk and added Star Trek and cats to the mix. Does LGBTQIA+ mix well? Of course it does! But I really want to add more space, more aliens, more cats, even more Star Trek. I wanted to do something with my twitter and my blog. It had a purpose. And I just wasn’t doing it. 

Of course I had a lot on my mind this year. But that’s not all of it. I can do something when I really want it. But it needs not just a purpose, it needs an urgency. Trust me, I had coaching to figure that out. Eventually becoming a space writer and communicator doesn’t work. Becoming stupidly knowledgeable about Scandinavian UFO and alien cases eventually isn’t enough either. Eventually doesn’t spell urgency.

I want it, yes. I want to stop working in an office, sweet talking to terminal operators and skippers to please do their job at the agreed time. But to make that change, to work on that, I need more than ‘I want something else, possibly somewhere else’. I need a plan. One that could work. And it works when I want it and put my mind on it. I just need the right plan. The urgency. 

Here come the Swedes

Hello Sweden! While Sweden was winning from England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, my partner (a bigger Sweden supporter than I am, she is nearly flawless at Swedish. My passive Swedish is great too, just don’t ask me to do anything else than order a coffee and asking whether this includes a refill, which to be fair is a great survival skill) and I were chauvinistic about the win and were overly annoyed by the Dutch commentator who, like many commentators, didn’t like Sweden at all. You see, the Swedish men didn’t lose 7-0 from the Dutch a few years ago which meant the Netherlands failed to go the the men’s FIFA World Cup. The Dutch never gotten over that. But never mind, we generally don’t like the Dutch either. 

Plus, on a more serious note, the climate change in the Netherlands it quite worrying. We’re both anything but sun worshippers and would both be considered suffering from summer depression. So 35 degrees is not ‘nice weather’ as the forced opinion in the Netherlands is, but it’s hell to us. We’ve celebrated midsummer (midsommar is a Swedish national holiday).This day marks the days getting shorter again, hurrah! And with the global climate change, how will the Netherlands even cope when sea levels do rise? It takes 5 minutes by train from where I live to the lowest point of the Netherlands, 5 metres below sea level. 5 metres is a lot! We thought about Sweden. We should climate migrate. 

Dreams and urgency

Dreams we had for like forever. But what happens when you start looking at how much it really costs? We’ve been dreaming of visiting Portland, Oregon for years as well and never really did something because we were sure we couldn’t afford it. Until we actually checked flight and hotel prices. We’re flying in two months. I don’t believe we’re living in a small village close to Kiruna by next year, but the things that need to be done (driver’s licence anyone?) aren’t really that much of a financial obstacle, if you have an urgency. Unless we win the lottery of course. I’ll be buying a ticket this afternoon. 

So, I have emigration plans, that’s cool. I realised that living in nature, in peace and quiet, and be semi self sustaining isn’t just a dream, but it’s something we can actually do. And we both love the city of Rotterdam, but these two introverts are really in need of a quiet life. We want two chickens for the eggs and a pig as a pet. Cool, cool, do what you must. But does this involve this blog and my space twitter? Yes, it does and it does big time. Because if I live in a village of 238 inhabitants in the North of Sweden*, chances are that I won’t get a job at an office. Hurrah! But I still need to work. So this blog finally has a destination. I finally know what I want to do with my plans. A real purpose. An urgency.

*or anywhere else in North Scandinavia. As long as it’s in the North, Scandinavia and provides a clear view on the skies and auroras

Thank you

I know I’ve struggled with blogging before and have pledged commitment time and time again. But never with a purpose such as this. I’m a certified science writer for Pete’s sake! The time has come to do something with it. And with many things in my life, if I really want it, really really want it and have an urgency to lead me (climate migration, leading a self sustaining life), then I know I will make this happen. Of course this blog may undergo several name changes again until I find one that fits and sticks. But it’s the contents that ultimately matters. 

I want to thank all my space and alien followers on Twitter for putting up with me for the past half year. You’ll get what you deserve now. I also want to thank all my new LGBTQIA+ friends, you’re an inspiration and I’ll continue to be on your side. And I would like to thank you in particular, you who has read all this. I’m happy to take you with me on this journey. 

I’m a content writer

For all my life there was one thing I’ve always wanted: being a writer. I wrote a lot of things. Short stories, long stories, music reviews, music reviews of music that didn’t even exist. I wrote so many blog posts in my life and I wrote even more letters. I come from a time where letter writing was still a thing. With those letters from people from all over the world, you sent some FB’s (short for Friendship Booklet), in which you penned down your name, address, your interests and decorated it with stickers and anything you could think of. That’s how you were able to meet your new penpal. That’s before social media and GIF images indeed.

Where I am

Move forward 30 years. I don’t write letters anymore but keep in touch with people I would never have known over Twitter. I have at least three unfinished books on my drive. A dozen unfinished stories. I have many more stories in my head. I have this blog which I really should update a whole lot more than I do. Professionally I have an office job, something my younger me would never have approved. But the mortgage (younger me: ‘You have a what??’) needs to be paid. In this job, I’m known for my on point emails. My emails have turned down many costs. It’s all good and well. But I still want to be a writer.

How do you become a writer? It’s two things and one is easier than the other. First up: you write. If you write something down, you’re a writer. It’s really as simple as that. And how come I don’t feel like a writer? That’s when the second thing comes rolling in: finish what you start. And I’ve never been good at that. What if when I finish something it’s actually good? For twenty years I’ve held myself back by the fact that I’m scared to make my dream come true.

A new human

Well, no more. I’m a new human. I’ve decided to live like the person that I am, a non binary being disapproving many things that seem normal to a lot of people. I’ve taken a new name (online) and a new look. So why not a new profession? I’m going to be a (content) writer! This is what I want and this is what I’m going to do.

In order to be a (content) writer, I need to write. I need to show what I’m capable of. I need to be bold and offer my services. But most of all, I need to write. I’m dedicating three days of my commute to writing again. Without connecting my chromebook to the internet. So yeah, I need to edit all my writing errors later at home. But who cares. Going back and correcting every red line is just distracting. I want to write write write!

Blogs, space and agendas

I’ll be updating this blog a whole lot more, and as it’s a space blog, it will be about that. It’s about content right? Soon I’ll be launching my agender agenda blog as well. This will be a Dutch blog about being non binary in the Netherlands. I’m on that journey as well and there’s a lot of things that need more attention. But that’s for that blog. This is space!

So hello, here’s to new beginnings. It’s time to be what I want to be. A writer. It’s never too late to throw your career and life around. I hope to look back at this entry in ten years time sitting on my green balcony in Gotenburg, Sweden, with a smile on my face. That I’m a successful content writer and possibly an author. And that my partner and I moved to our beloved Sweden. Dare to dream. I’m finally going to live it.

This was quite a week and theme update

This was quite a week! A lot has happened and it all ends in finally stepping up my space game again without losing sight of all other things that matter to me. I changed the look and the theme of both my blog and twitter and finally feel that it fits. Previously I thought it was good but there was always something that didn’t feel right. As a result I just struggled on. Story of my life really. But I start to believe that when people say Life starts at 40, I think they’re on to something.

Shepard

Despite of the amazing black hole picture, Beresheet crashing on the moon and SpaceX doing another successful launch, this past week was all about my cat Shepard. She was acting all strangely, like something was stuck in her throat. So when we brought her to the vet on Monday, the vet couldn’t find anything but stated that she needed dental care again. And while they were cleaning her teeth under anesthesia, they could have a better look at her throat.

I’m not the biggest fan of anesthesia but when her situation worsened of Wednesday we called again and on Thursday we heard they suggested doing the teeth cleaning so they could take a better look and she was able to come the very same day. This was not just unexpected but it was also on her birthday! The last cleaning of teeth was in my wedding anniversary so somehow our cat always ends up under anesthetics of a special day, this was only her second time.

All ends well

I’m really glad we did this. She had a vicious throat infection. Now she has clean teeth again, she has meds against the infection and we know her kidney values have improved. I mean, she was there already, so we had that checked as well. When she got home she was still high on morphine. That was the weirdest thing. But now she’s feeling better and is even more pampered than she generally is. Shepard is our baby. She only deserves the best and no pain at all.

Also this week I intensified my search for a ‘look’. Not quite sure what made me do this this week exactly but it was fruitful. Now the week is almost done I found the time for finally updating this blog, updating the look and the theme. It was a stressful week but it all turned out for the better. Now to keep it all up. But for once I’m comfortable that I will.  I case you missed me, I will be joining the space conversation again as well. 

Yes, this is about climate change

Scientists have again determined with a near 100% certainty that our current climate change is caused by humans. One online Dutch news site had this news item not only prominent on their front page, but also made the statement that all comments on their news items that would indicate that climate change is fake or anything in that nature, will be removed. They don’t tolerate fake facts. I really applaud this. Of course there were the people who claimed their “freedom of speech”. But freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say the sky is green, because that’s your opinion. The same applies for climate change. It’s not an opinion.

 

We should really worry about our climate. It’s February and I’m taking my midday walk in a t-shirt without a jacket. It’s 17C but at the same time that doesn’t keep people from wearing their winter jackets out in the afternoon. I guess we all need to get used to it in our own terms. The weather hits a new extreme record week after week. The seasons are shifting. This will have consequences on life. Safe the planet! The inconvenient truth in this is, the planet will be fine. Sure, they’re might be a possibility it ends up as either Mars or Venus eventually, but the planet will adapt. The question is, can we?

Origins

Over the course of history the Earth has endured many shifts in climates, from being colder to being warmer. This shaped the world as we know it today. To have an extended rundown on this interesting development I highly recommend reading “Origins. How the Earth made us.” By Lewis Dartnell. He will be able to tell you this much better than I can. How we live today is dictated by climate. If the climate changes, we need to adapt. But are we capable of doing so? Everything we know is built on this. New situations require new insights and solutions. But, the good news is, humans are creating this change. Therefore, it’s up to humans to do something about it.

If we don’t, climate will run us over and forces us to make decisions that will not be pretty. I live in the Netherlands for instance, so a rise in sea levels is not exactly something I’m looking forward to. Of course, the Dutch are masters in defeating water. Kim Stanley Robinson makes good use of this in his books that handle the world after climate change. But there’s a limit to this. We can’t defend land by building a ten meters high wall along the beaches of north-west Europe. Or anywhere else for any matter.

After the flood

There will be mass migration. Not just because of rising sea levels, but our land will not be suitable for the things it was suitable before. It may be too dry or too wet. It may be too cold or it may be to warm. So like the previous mass migration of our ancestors who left Africa for that very reason, we will encounter other people who already live there. I don’t think I need to tell anyone what that will result in. I trust that anyone reading this blog has a decent knowledge of history as well.

Where humans and domesticated animals will suffer, eventually when all has sunken in and we probably have reduced our numbers radically through war, famine and diseases, the earth will restore itself and adapt. Maybe the surviving humans live under domes. Life outside that dome will flourish again. It will find its way in the new environment and eventually will tear down the abandoned cities and make it their own again. Animals will get extinct but new ones will stand up and thrive in the new environment. If Earth ends up like Mars or Venus, things still will end up grim for everyone, but those planets have not turned the way they are overnight. It’s also not said that they’re completely lifeless either.

Change

The survival of humans on Earth is in our own hands. And it’s our duty to our planet to help her prevent a faith like Mars or Venus. And every little change is one. Shop with conscience. Try to reduce plastic. Eat less meat and if you do make sure it’s bio. Push your government to act accordingly upon the Paris Agreement. I’m confident that we can do this together. In time. In time everyone will be able to adapt to the changes that have to be made, even though they’re really not that hard. It’s. In. Our. Own. Hands.

Important information about my name change. Hi, I’m Mel!

This blog post may prove my most challenging yet. And while it won’t change this blog and my space communicating ambitions, there is something else that is changing. The name of this blog from Martine’s Rymd to Mel’s Space. And that alone may require a small explanation.

Last week I’ve been to the hospital to start an important change in my life. I’m not female but I don’t want to be male either. I’m neither. I’m agender. After discovering this years ago, talking about this for years with the person who pointed this out to me in the first place (eventually I married her), I went to the family doctor and explained my situation. This is how my hospital appointment came about and while this was just a talk and a test, for me this day marks the day that I will be open about it.

Is that scary? You bet it is! Years ago I didn’t even know what agender was and I’m one myself! People see me as female and address me as such. I can’t even blame anyone but it really starts to bug me. I know other women find it annoying when getting thrown ‘women stuff’ at them. But I don’t identify as one. I want that to change and I realise that it’s going to be an interesting journey. But I can’t continue to not say anything just because I don’t want to confuse anyone. Right now, I’m confusing and frustrating myself and that’s not a good thing.

This blog is still about space, aliens, the universe, Star Trek and my personal space musings. That’s not going to change. I might however will start using it to write about the journey from woman to agender as well. You may find that under ‘personal’. It’s scary but I feel good about it and in the end it’s that what matters. Feeling good in your body and doing the things you love. And that thing is still writing about space and aliens. But you can call me Mel now. And this is my space. Mel’s Space.

Thank you for reading this.

My week hosting People of Space

In a spurt of not giving a fuck (and I hadn’t even read the book yet), I decided to give it a go. I asked the keeper of the twitter account @people_of_space if a person like me, a starting scicommer with little followers, would qualify for hosting the account for a day. And I was. This week would turn out to be a week where I learned more than I could have imagined. And I even found some confidence.

Space is for everyone

Tara created people_of_space so people from all walks of life could talk about their passion to a larger audience. Space is for everyone. So one week, it’s people who work in the space industry sharing what they do. The other it may be an enthusiastic amateur astro-photographer sharing their pictures. I think it’s an amazing concept and it really shows that people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world have something to say about space. And anything that comes with it. Last week I hosted the account and I admit the closer the moment came, the more nervous I became. I had plans on what I wanted to talk about, but what if people didn’t want to hear about that?

In the week ahead I had some encouraging words over twitter, telling me that I could do anything, it was my week. Also, in a conversation a German astrophysicist mused whether #SpaceComm could be a thing, working nicely with the already known and used hashtag #scicomm. “Now, here’s something I can talk about!” I answered. I also stuck close to my twitter bio: Space, Cats, Aliens and Star Trek. Also, science writer. What does that even mean? Where do I write? I can do this! I can actually find good topics that are space and that also reflect on who I am. Just stick to that, I said, and it’ll be fine. There’s no plottwist here. I was fine. More than fine.

Aliens, Star Trek and Space Cats

Not all subjects I talked about gained an equal responds. My thread about the Netherlands Space Society didn’t seem to be doing much. Which may be okay of course. I ran two polls and was massively surprised that the poll about Aliens had much more responds than the one about Star Trek. It gave me the confidence boost to talk more about Aliens on my own account as well. People do believe in Extraterrestrial Intelligence. And some space people are too open to alien abduction stories, it’s not just me. I created #AlienFriday. I will keep using that. Who cares that I’m the only one using it? It now belongs to my space communication. And so does Star Trek, space people like Star Trek and their references.

Space Cats on Thursday was amazing. I have thought long and hard whether to talk about Felicette, the first cat that went into space. She’s not that well known. The cats were used for research and that’s what I find hard to talk about. I can’t look at pictures of animal neglect and abuse. Her story is a tad different but still. She was the first (and only) real space cat. I had to mention it. And I found it hard. But the responds was overwhelming! So much love and sympathy. I’m glad I mentioned her. My wife later added that it was also good, because using animals (against their will) is part of the space program and it’s important to talk about it, even when it’s more comfortable to just ignore that part. (I have skipped the part about the mice in Scott Kelly’s book for instance.)

Interaction and information

I was quite lucky with a relative quiet week at work. I could write most threads under office hours. So a small thank you for my colleague who didn’t mind doing a bit more that week is in order. Though I won’t tell him directly. I was also able to interact with people and that turned out to be easier than i thought. Someone asked me about blogging. It was nice to give some advice. Also people asked about CHEOPS, which was really cool as well.

What I learned was that I really enjoy talking about Space and sharing information. What I learned was that you can use a Star Trek gif or reference when applicable. I learned to talk about aliens when I wanted to, despite what others might think. I also learned that it actually didn’t bother me that some threads did better than others. It was interesting to see this development. And it’s good to know that you never know what will spark a discussion. It is also  timing after all. The most important thing I learned was, well, that I have been downright lazy before.

SpaceComm learning experience

Here I am, science writer, scicommer. Granted, I can’t do this full time as I have a office job. But I shouldn’t just wait until subjects present themselves to me, that’s not how it works. I knew that. But it’s how I often did my social media (to my followers: I’m deeply sorry for that). This past week made me think about contents, made me make a strategy. Exactly what my social media course had taught me but I hadn’t put in practice yet. And you know what, I really enjoyed that. This week has given me more confidence and more insight. Maybe it was because, no matter how you look at it, you are representing the account People of Space and you want to do it justice. And that helped.

I wil take all that back to my own account. I want to do it justice as well. I’ve added #SpaceComm to my twitter bio, because that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do. I’ll see about how #SpaceCatsonThursday will develop but I definitely will keep #AlienFriday if only that it will force me to keep talking aliens. And I want to keep talking about aliens. I’ve already been asked if I’d like to host again in the future. Ask me again after a couple of months and I’ll talk Space Comm. This is just getting started. And then I might tell about what I learned, how cool would that be? People of Space, you are amazing.

Diving into the universe is complicated

Yesterday, I was talking about what falls into the category The Meaning Of Life. I uttered the words “Well, I don’t want to make things more complicated than they already are for other people” during this conversation. Already then this was met with some disapproval. I realised after sleeping on it that it indeed was an odd thing to say. Especially for me.

Questions of life

I’ve got my Science Writing degree. In 2019 I really want to do something with that. I want to explain the universe to people. But I also want to theorise the universe, use quantum physics for this. I want to explain why life should exist in the universe. To go into the difficult questions of the universe. I want to tell people that dark matter is going through their bodies right now. If I’m really good I’ll be telling them what that is as well.

Talking about complicated right? I don’t do things easy. Some things can be solved by simple things but they don’t always occur to me. I suffer the consequences rather than solving it by doing something simple. Human beings are rather complex beings, if only they would use their brain. It’s a good thing some (or most, but I’m not an optimist) humans still do. I want to explore the complex universe. I want to share this with people.

Radical ideas

But then, why wouldn’t I want to make things complicated for people around me when it’s about me? Perhaps I don’t want to go through reactions people will give. It may be a change for me but that’s one years in the making. Do I really want to change people’s life by dropping what could be a bombshell?

It’s like a scientist working on a theory. It involves struggle. It involves complex thinking and radical ideas. Then, the theory is complete, years in the making. The theory is published and the world reacts. What the fuck? This is something completely different. The scientist is left feeling hurt. Why are people reacting so hostile?

Diving into the universe

So there’s that. I’m diving into the universe and expect that it won’t confuse people. Perhaps I shouldn’t just hide behind space, aliens and theoretical physics but think about my own happiness as well. But as it is with any theory, one step at the time. That’s what I shall do. Watch this space as science writing is on its way. And who knows I’ll take you on a personal journey as well. I hope I can count on your support on both journeys.

Why Star Trek Discovery matters. So so much.

This post contains spoilers about Star Trek Discovery (up to episode 5).

I need to talk about episode 5 of Star Trek Discovery. What this has to do with alien life and theories on extraterrestrial beings? More than one might expect. Let me first start with saying (not even explaining) why Star Trek matters. It is about exploring. It’s about science, the search for more knowledge and the cooperation between species. It has always set examples without it being preachy. Star Trek TOS had TVs first ethnic kiss for example. It doesn’t seem important now, but it was then. The crew also featured various colours. At the time, Asians were usually portrait as a serving role, Sulu is a very valued and over all equal member of the crew.

TOS and TNG both gave geeks and nerd alike a role model in Spock and Data respectively. For the longest time, and still today, nerds and geeks are being stereotyped and given the feeling that you just don’t want to a geek or a nerd as they are always picked on (and throw away the glasses of a nerd and behold – the person becomes attractive. Barf!). Both Spock and Data are highly respected and were important role models for geeks and nerd for generations. Star Trek focusses on science rather than war (even in 2017 Discovery, where the Klingon war is the set of the story). It shows what humanity should strive for. An exploring species that treats everyone equal, not just alien species but also within their own species. The only difference between the characters are in rang and even there no one is discriminated. To be blunt, that is why I hugely favour Star Trek over Star Wars.

Granted, the series after The Next Generation were a little lost on me. Maybe it was overkill. I don’t know. Star Trek Discovery got my attention and I vowed myself to give it a chance. There is nothing like the original and it’s hard to beat Picard and Data. So far the characters on Discovery aren’t coming close to how I feel about some of the characters in TOS and TNG. Michael Durnham gets there though as is her roommate Sylvia Tilly. I’m a sucker for underdogs and outcasts, what else can I say? Despite the war with the Klingons and captain Lorca, Discovery does not disappoint.

This has various reasons. For one, science is back. Some may say it’s too much science but the new spore-based propulsion system is to die for. It’s biological technology and in development and so far the Discovery is the only ship it actually works properly. It makes the Discovery unique and captain Lorca greedy and arrogant. In episode 4 Durnham discovers that the Tardigrade captured at a sister ship significantly helps the Discovery warp. This however drains the creature, making it hurt and depressed. This is noted by Durnham and she is determined to help the Tardigrade. This shows compassion for all living beings, something that is common on Star Trek as everyone is vegan by that time in the future. We see how the Tardigrade suffers from the spore-based propulsion system with almost devastating outcome but we also see the beautiful and absolutely touching release of Tardigrade to freedom and happiness. As it turns out, the use of living creatures is essentially not allowed and the Tardigrade is just that. Also, it’s not needed as the scientists discover.

One of the scientists that helps discovering just that is cadet Sylvia Tilly, the ship’s least favourite crew member, Michael Durnham aside. She has a lot of annoying features but is adorable as well, or at least I think so. She persists in becoming friends with her roommate Durnham who is at first incredibly distant, being a prisoner and Vulcan trained after all. It pays off, for Tilly I mean. She is also accountable for the use of the word ‘fuck’ for the very first time in Star Trek. It’s used in the same way we all would use it. And that makes it real. Also, she is the smart outcast and giving so many other smart outcasts watching another role model. In fact, we are all Tilly. This is wonderful.

Fast forward to the homely scene in front of the bath room mirror. This scene is a real cliffhanger as we see Lt Stamets’ reflection in the mirror not doing what Stamets is actually doing, which possibly has been caused by the Tardrigrade’s DNA (this makes sense when you have seen the episode). But before that he is brushing his teeth together with doctor Culber. In an earlier episode they have been seen bickering while Culber was fixing Stamets’ nose, more or less introducing us to these two characters. The teeth brushing scene shows us two people in love, with one having a serious problem. This scene is important because of Stamets using the Tardigrade’s DNA. It’s actually after the scene (which is the end of the episode) which makes you then realise you just witnessed a gay couple without a fuzz made about it. Exactly how it should be and what we hopefully will achieve in the future. As Star Trek is situated in the future, this is done incredibly clever and surely made everyone in the LGBTQ+ community melt and jump for joy. THIS is what we want! And again, this is what it should be, always. It is huge without it being huge, brilliant.

In all, Star Trek Discovery shows us, like all Star Trek series, the way we want us to evolve as a human species and still shows us the lesser traits we have a hard time shaking off (see Captain Lorca). It’s humanity in the stars, more and more technically evolved. And yes, it was humanity that caused the Klingon war. The Klingon’s wanted to start it anyway but waited for someone making a vital mistake and it were the humans, the youngest member of the United Federation of Planets. We see more alien species on board of the Discovery without having explained who they are and where they come from. Simply because it is not relevant in this society. It’s a mirror to the future with one simple message to us all: Make it so.