Halloween t-shirts

New designs for Halloween @ http://nerdvanashirts.spreadshirt.co.uk/

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Goodbye Sarah Jane

Elizabeth Sladen & Jon Pertwee © bbc

Yesterday, 19th April 2011, Elizabeth Sladen died at the age of 63 from cancer. Although I’ve never met her, it has upset me. I have watched her work on TV for the whole of my life. I grew up watching her play Sarah Jane Smith on Dr Who in the 1970’s and I was touched every Saturday evening by this wonderful character that she brought to life. I was lucky enough to talk to her via Twitter a few times, and her replies were favourited immediately. I have had to write something……

It’s fair to say that Sarah Jane Smith is my favourite companion, for me she wins hands down over every other, no one else even comes close.

Why? Well, being in the series at a time to appear in some of the best stories ever written for Doctor Who and appearing with two of the best Doctors of all time didn’t do any harm. The stories that feature Sarah Jane would fit happily into anyone’s top ten episodes “The Time Warrior” “Robot“ “The Sontaran Experiment” “Genesis of the Daleks” “The Ark in Space” “Pyramids of Mars” “The Brain of Morbius” “The Hand of Fear”.

But that shouldn’t take anything away from Sarah Jane. She is everything that the ideal companion should be, intelligent, pretty,(very pretty), strong-willed, brave, often the equal of the Doctor. In her first story, “The Time Warrior“, she infiltrates U.N.I.T. and sets out to catch the Doctor, and occasionally she’s ahead of him, as in “Planet of Evil“, where she points out an avenue of escape that the Doctor had completely missed.

It is this period between December 1973, Season Eleven and “The Time Warrior” with Jon Pertwee and October 1976, Season Fourteen and “The Hand of Fear with Tom Baker that is seen as Dr Who’s golden age. Sarah Jane and the 3rd Doctor always made a good team. They were very similar types and the Doctor was very protective of her, they were a delight to watch, but Sarah Jane and the 4th Doctor were fantastic! You can see they both enjoyed working together, they just seemed to understand each other so well. The little jokes and smiles passed between them makes all the story more believable.

But unfortunately all good things come to an end and in 1976 Sarah Jane’s run as the Doctors companion ended in “The Hand of Fear” and I thought that, as companions past, she was gone. However in 1981, Sarah Jane got a well deserved chance of her own spin-off series called “K-9 and Company“. In the pilot episode entitled “A Girl’s Best Friend“, Sarah Jane receives the robot dog K-9 as a present from the Doctor. Unfortunately, despite good ratings, a series did not materialise. The 20th anniversary special “The Five Doctors” in 1983 gave the chance to reprise the role, and again in 1993 for the Children in Need special “Dimensions in Time” and sadly in 1996 Dr Who disappeared from the BBC.

After a long gap Dr Who retuned in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, he left after one season, and I was unsure about this ‘New Series Dr Who’. In 2006 David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) arrived for season 2 and suddenly Sarah Jane was back in an episode called “School Reunion” surely this was real Dr Who again!! Its a great story with a fantastic end, a proper goodbye for Sarah Jane. It was also in 2006, Children’s BBC expressed an interest in producing a Doctor Who spin-off. Their initial idea wasn’t going to fly and Russell T Davies suggested a series based on Sarah Jane Smith

And on 1 January 2007 The Sarah Jane Adventures debuted on BBC One with a 60-minute special, entitled “Invasion of the Bane“. This has now been followed by 4 very successful seasons, The Sarah Jane Adventures has been nominated for a British Academy Children’s Award in 2008 in the Drama category, and once again in 2009 for a BAFTA Cymru, in Children’s Drama.

At the time of her death Elisabeth Sladen was nearing completion of filming season 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The longevity of the character is due to her continually developing. Sarah Jane is a well rounded character, but it’s more than that, she is interesting. It is something that Elisabeth Sladen pushed for during her time on Doctor Who. It is strongest aspect of Sarah and it is due to the talent of the actress that plays her. Elisabeth Sladen is a delightful person in real life you can just see her enthusiasm in interviews, and its that enthusiasm and the belief that she has in the character that shines through. It is something that she has kept alive since her first appearance in 1973.

Arguably the best companion throughout the series? No! Sarah Jane Smith is simply the best companion the Doctor ever had!

List of appearances

25 stories of Doctor Who over 4 seasons

3 specials, The Five Doctors & Dimensions in Time (a charity special crossover between Doctor Who and EastEnders soap opera) & The End of Time

K-9 and Company “A Girl’s Best Friend”

4 Seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures

13 audio dramas

4 BBC Audiobooks

13 novels

27 Short stories

And several comics

Elizabeth Sladen is still with us, She is remembered by her family, her friends, her fans and by her work. Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith.

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Near Earth flyby of asteroid 2010 JA

Near Earth flyby of asteroid 2010 JA on 08/05/2010. 436,892 miles away from Earth about 1.8 times the distance to the moon

Miss Distance: 436,892 miles (703,110 km)

Estimated Diameter: 36 – 79 ft (11 – 24 m)

Relative Velocity 18902 mp/h (5.25 mp/s – 8.45km/s)

More details at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Orbital Diagram: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2010JA;orb=1

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Asteroid 2010 GA6 To Fly Within Moon’s Orbit on April 8, 2010

Near Earth flyby of asteroid 2010 GA6 on 08/04/2010. 223,000 miles away from Earth about 9/10ths the distance to the moon

Miss Distance: 223,000 miles (359,000 km)

Estimated Diameter: 71ft (22m)

Relative Velocity 27044 mp/h (7.5 mp/s – 12.09km/s)

More details at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Orbital diagram at: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2010GA6;orb=1

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Near Earth Fly-by of 2010 FW9

Near Earth flyby of asteroid 2010 FW9 on 28/03/2010

Distance: 725,055 mi (1,166,863km)

Estimated Diameter: 39 – 85ft (12 – 26m)

Relative Velocity 19841.5 mp/h (5.5mp/s – 8.87km/s)

More details at: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2010FW9;orb=1

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NASA’s Stardust Burns for Comet

Just three days shy of one year before its planned flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft has successfully performed a maneuver to adjust the time of its encounter by eight hours and 20 minutes. The delay   maximizes the probability of the spacecraft capturing high-resolution images of the desired surface features of the 2.99-kilometer-wide (1.86 mile) potato-shaped mass of ice and dust.

With the spacecraft on the opposite side of the solar system and beyond the orbit of Mars, the trajectory correction maneuver began at 5:21 p.m. EST (2:21 p.m. PST) on Feb. 17. Stardust’s rockets fired for 22 minutes and 53 seconds, changing the spacecraft’s speed by 24 meters per second (54 miles per hour).

Stardust’s maneuver placed the spacecraft on a course to fly by the comet just before 8:42 p.m. PST (11:42 p.m. EST) on Feb. 14, 2011 – Valentine’s Day. Time of closest approach to Tempel 1 is important because the comet rotates, allowing different regions of the comet to be illuminated by the sun’s rays at different times. Mission scientists want to maximize the probability that areas of interest previously imaged by NASA’s Deep Impact mission in 2005 will also be bathed in the sun’s rays and visible to Stardust’s camera when it passes by.

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:   http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-055&cid=release_2010-055


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Happy Biirthday Doctor

16/02/1964 – 46 years ago. Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, born in Salford, Lancashire, England. A very highly regarded British actor, Eccleston has twice been nominated in the Best Actor category at the BAFTA Television Awards, the UK’s premiere TV awards ceremony.
Best known for roles in:

Let Him Have It (1991), as Derek Bentley

Elizabeth (1998), as the Duke of Norfolk,

Our Friends in the North (1996), as Nicky Hutchinson

28 Days Later (2002), as Major Henry West

Doctor Who (2005) as the 9th Doctor in 13 episodes

‘Of the ten actors to play the Doctor in “Doctor Who” (1963), Doctor Who (1996) (TV) and “Doctor Who” (2005), he is the only one who has never worked with Nicholas Courtney, who played Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the former from 1968 to 1989 as well as in numerous Big Finish audio dramas‘ IMDB.

Happy Birthday Doctor

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