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Old January 21 2014, 06:09 AM   #104
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

BigJake wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
The problem is that there would still be continuity issues involving questions of how long it takes the ship to get from point A to point B. If you say that it takes X days in one episode at warp W, then it has to be that way always, or you have to suggest reasons why not, such as headwinds and tailwinds in space.
Hm, I wonder if this could really be the reason -- because they certainly never shied away from creating such continuity issues regardless! There's one particular episode in which they have Spock tell us precisely how long it takes the Enterprise to travel about a thousand light-years, for instance; it's anybody's guess whether this squares with the month it takes them to reach the edge of the galaxy at WNMHGB or any number of other episodes....
If you're thinking of "That Which Survives", and I think you are, the problem there was traceable to just that one episode. They shouldn't have quoted a light-year figure. They could have just named made up star system to indicate how far they'd been thrown, and that would have nipped that problem in the bud right there. Also, that was in the third season, and collectively they were, frankly, getting careless by then. (If there are other episodes that quote distance and time figures that straight-jacket later episodes, similar remarks apply to them as well.)

However, that became a really big elephant in the room only when Voyager tried to strand the Voyager in the Delta Quadrant!

Really, the point I was trying to express was that, if stardates are some mysterious function of space and time, and possibly other variables as well, then you (at least generally speaking) don't have to worry about keeping the stardates consecutive or even proportional between episodes, since you're only ticking off your tenths of a day within each episode individually. It's kinda like only needing to know that this week's episode of Ponderanza is set on Thursday. If next week's episode is set on Tuesday, that's not a contradiction.

Christopher wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
BigJake wrote: View Post
The original idea for stardates was that they'd be tenths of a day. I always assumed that they were measuring the ship's time out of space-dock, that they weren't a calendar. I do wish that idea had survived, it was cool, simple and intuitive.
Subjective time out of spacedock is cool and handles any issues with relative time.
Well, it is a cool idea, but it wouldn't explain the stardates in consecutive episodes being out of order, since then they'd have to be going back into dock every week.
Yeah, I'd thought that was understood, but I guess it bears mention. I'd said right after, "That's a great and very plausible idea suitable for highbrow science fiction," intending to convey that I didn't think it would work to explain Star Trek's stardates. Star Trek strove to engage adults, but its science fiction elements themselves were never that highbrow.

Were a show to use the subjective-time since launch idea, I'd expect them to try really hard to make sure that the episodes were aired in chronological order. That's an extra headache. The masses may not work out inconsistencies in minutia, but they tend to notice obvious blunders. In addition, with respect to the issue of maintaining a reasonable degree of proportionality, I'd expect that they'd at least strive to avoid this sort of thing:
Dear NBC: Last week on Space Wagon they said it would take months to retrain the switchboard operator, after her mind was sucked out by the space hoover. This week she was back at work, but the ship clock had advanced only 100 hours. What's up? Yours, Confused in Colorado.
With stardates, it's an automatic non-issue. (Christopher, I know you understand this stuff, these are just general remarks.)

If you say that it takes X days in one episode at warp W, then it has to be that way always, or you have to suggest reasons why not, such as headwinds and tailwinds in space.
Well, they don't have to, since only a tiny fraction of viewers are going to care enough to bother to remember the figures and do the math.

But the idea has been around since at least 1980's Star Trek Maps that the relationship between warp factor and velocity is variable depending on the local conditions of space and/or subspace, such as mass distribution and the resulting spacetime curvature. That's actually stated outright in the TNG Technical Manual and ST Encyclopedia, though for some reason fandom seems to have mostly overlooked it.
Yeah, I think it's a cool idea, Star Trek Maps is what I was thinking of, by the way, though I've only heard tell about it and never read it. I'd say the idea also fits in well with ion storms, magnetic space storms, and their ilk.
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