Michael Crichton has always been one of the favourite authors of me and Puteri, and he played a big part in introducing me to novel reading. The Andromeda Strain was the first novel he wrote and was the one which debuted him as a master of sci-fi and techno-thriller.

I loved the book, and was excited to hear that Sci-Fi Channel had produced a miniseries based on the book. I’ve finally got the chance to watch the two-episode miniseries, and quite immensely enjoyed it, despite its many corny cliches. Among others, the main bunch of casts was conveniently altered to accommodate the almost prerequisite quotas of the handsome protagonist, the hottie love interest, the black, the Asian and the gay.

The miniseries, although differing from the novel in a lot of ways, does however have a chockful of interesting scientific concepts. Among others:

  • Thermal vent mining
    Some hydrothermal vents possess rich deposits of metals and minerals, which can produce profit if exploited. The mini-series explores the attempt of the American president in convincing his citizens the returns of vent mining, amidst the protests of environmentalists and eco-terrorists.
  • Odd-Man Hypothesis
    This fictional hypothesis posits that statistically, single unmarried males are better able to execute the best, most dispassionate decisions in crises.
  • Buckyballs
    Fullerene, or Buckyballs (named after American genius Buckminster Fuller), are spherical constructs made from carbon atoms. In the miniseries, the casing for Andromeda was a buckyball in the form of 60 carbon atoms, interlinked with rubidium and potassium. The manufacturing of buckyballs was suggested as a really advanced form of nanotechnology which is not available at present times.
  • Messenger theory
    This refers to a theory by John R. Samuels, a communications engineer who postulates that an advanced race of extra-terresterials would have used biological organisms, specifically self-replicating ones, to carry messages to other races due to its practical advantage over other forms of communications such as electromagnetic signals, light or radio.
  • Communication between particles
    It was suggested that isolated particles  of Andromeda possess ability to communicate with each other using subtle vibrations, which is mighty impressive.
  • Binary code and ASCII
    Binary code is the simplest and most practical way of carrying data, and an advanced civilisation from the future will most likely encode their message to people in the past using binary code, and the most basic of all standards of encoding: ASCII.
  • Extremophiles
    Extremophiles are organisms, mostly microbes that thrives in extreme conditions such as extreme heat, acidity or pressure. In the mini-series, the thermophilic sulfur-consuming bacillus infernus was discovered as the solution to destroy Andromeda.
  • Wormholes
    Two basic types of wormholes, Lorentzian and Euclidean, were featured. Wormholes are basically hypothetical anomalies that theoretically can tunnel through space or time, hence enabling faster-than-light space travel or even time travel. There’s also another type cals Swartzchild wormhole, that theoretically enables us to travel through parallel universes.

There you go, the miniseries does throw concepts at you from left and right, but if you have a deep interest in science, you’d love it, despite its corniness (is that a word?) and obvious shot at resource exploitation. You’d probably catch already that time or space travel is involved. It’ll make for a mindblowing watch.

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