Irish Daily Mail

Klaatu the quotable

- David E. Boyce, Hamsphire.

QUESTION Is there a running joke among film directors to insert alien words from the 1951 film The Day The Earth Stood Still into their movies?

THE 1951 film The Day The Earth Stood Still is a classic black and white sci-fi movie directed by Robert Wise, who is more famous for West Side Story and The Sound Of Music.

It stars Michael Rennie as the enigmatic alien Klaatu who arrives to inform the people of Earth they must live peacefully or face destructio­n. He befriends young widow Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and tells her that if his life should be threatened then she should utter the phrase: ‘Klaatu barada nikto.’ This triggers his rescue by his 8ft robot Gort.

There is no official translatio­n for this phrase, which has entered sci-fi folklore.

The words are used in the Star Wars franchise where red, green and mountain Nikto are a species from the planet Kintan. Employed as workers for the Hutt clan, a number of Nikto serve aboard Jabba The Hutt’s pleasure barge in The Return Of The Jedi. Klaatu, a red Nikto, and Barada, a green Nikto, are slain by Luke Skywalker as he tries to escape his execution in the Great Pit of Carkoon.

Films, TV, fantasy novels, comics and video games have paid homage to The Day The Earth Stood Still by inserting the alien phrase. In Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the words feature on a banner on the wall of an alien research group. In Tron, the phrase is on a sign in the cubicle of video-game programmer Alan. In the comic horror Evil Dead: The Army Of Darkness, these are the words that will allow Ash (Bruce Campbell) to safely remove the Necronomic­on: The Book Of The Dead, though he can’t remember them properly.

In the 1992 film Toys, Leland Zevo uses the phrase to stop a rampaging robotic sea creature.

Penny Lund, Bath, Somerset.

QUESTION Where does the Irish Sea end and the Celtic Sea begin?

THE northernmo­st part of the Celtic Sea is below an imaginary line stretching from Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford, to St David’s Head in southwest Wales. The Irish Sea is north of that line.

The Celtic Sea is a comparativ­ely new creation, dating back slightly less than 100 years. The idea for the name came from an English fishing specialist, EWL Holt.

In 1921, just as the War of Independen­ce was coming to an end, a fisheries conference covering the seas around Ireland and Britain was convened in Dublin. Holt put forward the idea of renaming the southern and western approaches to Britain. He suggested ‘the Celtic Sea’ because it didn’t have any political overtones and was relevant to Ireland, Wales, southwest England and the north-east corner of France, all places with strong Celtic traditions.

Holt died soon after that 1921 conference and the name he created languished in the sidelines for decades, and even today, it’s much less used in Britain than in Ireland, where it is clearly recognised as an extension southwards of the Irish Sea. The name was first used officially in 1971, in a UK statute on herring fishing, while it wasn’t used in the Oireachtas until 1973, when Ireland had just joined what was then the EEC, now the EU. The name had come into use in France long before it was adopted in the UK; the first time a French marine specialist mentioned the Celtic Sea was in 1957, when Édouard Le Danois wrote that the name was hardly known even to oceanograp­hers.

While the northerly limit to the Celtic Sea is that line from Carnsore Point to St David’s Head, at the entrance to the Bristol Channel, the demarcatio­n point is a line that runs from near Tenby in south Wales to near Bideford in north Devon. The most southerly sections stretch from Land’s End in Cornwall to the northwest of France, near Brest.

However, the southern and western portions of the Celtic Sea are not as clear, though the Internatio­nal Hydrograph­ic Organisati­on has defined the western and southern limits of the Celtic Sea.

It says these boundaries are marked by a line from the position 51 degrees north and 11 degrees 30’ south to 49 degrees north, thence to latitude 46 degrees 30’ north, on the western limit of the Bay of Biscay (a line joining Cape Ortegal to Penmarch Point), then to Penmarch Point.

These days, the name of the Celtic Sea is much more widely used by marine biologists, oceanograp­hers and oil exploratio­n companies. The seabed is called the Celtic Shelf, part of the European continenta­l shelf. The waters are 100 metres and more deep.

Oil and gas exploratio­n in the Celtic Sea has had limited commercial success, apart from the Kinsale Head gas field off Co. Cork, which supplied much of Ireland’s natural gas in the 1980s and 1990s. But the Celtic Sea also has rich fishing grounds, with many developmen­t possibilit­ies.

So despite being a creation that’s nearly a century old, the endless possibilit­ies of the Celtic Sea remain to be fully explored.

David Gaffney, Sligo town.

QUESTION Is it true that a U- boat was sunk by a toilet malfunctio­n?

A BROKEN toilet began events that led to the sinking of the German submarine U-1206 off Scotland in 1945. U-1206 was a Type VIIC U-boat of the Nazi Kriegsmari­ne. She was laid down on June 12, 1943, in Danzig and went into service on March 16, 1944, equipped with a new type of toilet to allow the submarine dive deeper than standard U-boats.

Unlike in Allied submarines, German sub toilets discharged their contents directly into the sea instead of into a holding tank. U-1206 had high-pressure toilets that could be used at greater depths than standard toilets – or ‘heads’, as sailors call them.

On April 6, 1945, U-1206 left Kristiansa­nd in Norway to carry out a patrol in the North Sea. On April 14, while cruising at a depth of 61 metres and 14.5km or so off the port of Peterhead, a leak caused large amounts of water to flood into the boat. The crew had been having trouble operating the new system. An engineer tried to resolve the problem, but opened the wrong valve. This flooded the submarine’s batteries, producing a cloud of poisonous chlorine gas.

The captain was forced to surface his vessel. The crew was franticall­y blowing fresh air into their U-boat when they were spotted by Allied aircraft. Three crew members drowned when U-1206 went down and 37 were rescued and taken captive.

IS THERE a question to which you have always wanted to know the answer? Or do you know the answer to a question raised here? Send your questions and answers to: Charles Legge, Answers To Correspond­ents, Irish Daily Mail, Embassy House, Herbert Park Lane, Ballsbridg­e, Dublin 4. You can also fax them to 0044 1952 510906 or you can email them to A selection will be published but we are not able to enter into individual correspond­ence.

 ??  ?? Popular: Michael Rennie and Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still
Popular: Michael Rennie and Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still

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