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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old August 16 2013, 03:31 PM   #1
Crazyewok
Commander
 
Energy beings

Ok Im 2 epidodes into series 2 and well so far evey other episode seems to be about a energy being of some sorts

Ok its abit tireing but what gets me is there "It life but not as we know it"

Erm after you contact with your frist energy beings its a abit of a dumb statement as if you have encounterd it already then you already know its life.

And with the regualrity they pop up they seem to be more numorues than carbon flesh and blood life.
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Old August 16 2013, 03:39 PM   #2
Christopher
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Re: Energy beings

^Well, it was the 1960s. Sometimes they could manage to do neat monster makeups, but usually their options for aliens were either humans with weird clothes and skin tones or animated light blobs.

There's also a striking amount of telekinesis in TOS, because it's very inexpensive to have one actor hold out his hand and another actor mime being affected by some invisible force.

I searched the transcripts of TOS, and the only references to life forms that are "not as we know it" are in "The Squire of Gothos," "The Devil in the Dark," and "Operation: Annihilate," plus a reference in "Return to Tomorrow" to "life there as we understand life." Now, while "Squire" and "Return" both do involve incorporeal intelligences of one sort or another, in both cases the lines are referring to the ability of the environment to support life as we know or understand it, delivered before the incorporeal intelligences are encountered or revealed as such.
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Old August 20 2013, 08:44 PM   #3
stcanada29
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Re: Energy beings

Everyone knows that an energy being which thrives on hate has a totally different internal metabolism than one which thrives on love -- which explains the "never before encountered" remark! Just kidding, LOL. Seems to me those energy beings and all the human looking aliens (that speak English) were attempts to keep the production costs down. But I think Roddenberry was advised that intelligent life, it if evolved on other worlds, would/could conform to human development here ... kind of like parallel evolution. It's having the opposable thumb, I've heard, that was key for human's developing tools, etc.
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Old August 20 2013, 09:16 PM   #4
BoredShipCapt'n
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Location: Sickbay, with a headache
Re: Energy beings

Well, it's life, Jim,
But not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it,
It's life, Jim, but not as we know it,
Not as we know it, Captain.
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Old August 20 2013, 09:40 PM   #5
SchwEnt
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Re: Energy beings

^^^ We come in peace (shoot to kill).

Sure, there are pretty many energy beings in TOS.
But I think it balances out well with all the "primitive" humanoid cultures and strange new worlds.

I think TOS struck a good balance.
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Old August 20 2013, 09:43 PM   #6
Christopher
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Re: Energy beings

stcanada29 wrote: View Post
But I think Roddenberry was advised that intelligent life, it if evolved on other worlds, would/could conform to human development here ... kind of like parallel evolution. It's having the opposable thumb, I've heard, that was key for human's developing tools, etc.
That's what some scientists used to think, but it was typical ethnocentrism. SF writers, artists, and scientists over the decades have come up with a lot of plausible nonhumanoid designs for intelligent, tool-using life. Heck, there are examples of viable alternatives here on Earth. Therapod dinosaurs were bipeds with their forelimbs free, so they could've theoretically developed opposable thumbs, and been a tool-using bipedal race with a very different body plan from the human norm. Elephants' trunks have great dexterity -- imagine a similar creature with two trunks, each ending in multiple fingers. Or consider the intelligence and dexterity of the octopus or squid. Imagine a similar organism developing the ability to move on land -- or developing a civilization in the depths of the sea.

So the "convergent evolution" idea is really just an excuse for using humanoids in fiction if that's what your budget or storytelling preferences demand. It's not really sound science. Sure, there could be some aliens out there who've developed a broadly similar body shape, but they wouldn't look like human actors in prosthetic makeup or be able to wear off-the-rack human clothing.
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Old August 20 2013, 09:50 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Energy beings

The lack of exotic alien body shapes in TOS and other Trek really is a failing of sorts (although it's covered in in-universe terms as being deliberate engineering by a powerful ancient culture). Yet energy beings in Trek or even TOS aren't similarly limited to a single shape, size, color or other appearance parameter. Some are clouds of smoke; others are more colorful and glittering clouds that don't resemble smoke much; yet others are pinpoints of light, or cartwheels of it, or blobs of it, and either can or cannot (will not?) assume the shape of a human body or face... And never mind their differing Achilles heels! Much more variety there than with solid physical aliens...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old August 21 2013, 09:38 PM   #8
Nine of Four
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Re: Energy beings

The Third episode in The Animated Series also featured an vast energy being.

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Old August 22 2013, 01:59 AM   #9
1001001
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Location: People's Gaypublic of Drugafornia
Re: Energy beings

Eight posts and no mention of Melllvar?

I'm ashamed to call myself a Sci-Fi fan....

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Old August 22 2013, 02:41 AM   #10
Christopher
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Re: Energy beings

Nine of Four wrote: View Post
The Third episode in The Animated Series also featured an vast energy being.
Well, a "matter-energy cloud" was what they called it in "One of Our Planets Is Missing." With antimatter as part of its digestive system.
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Old August 22 2013, 03:32 AM   #11
CorporalCaptain
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Location: Kentucky
Re: Energy beings

In Errand of Mercy, Spock described the Organians as, "Pure energy. Pure thought. Totally incorporeal."

In Metamorphosis, Spock described the Companion as, "Vaguely like a cloud of ionised hydrogen, but with strong erratic electrical impulses" and later added that "a large part of its substance is simple electricity."

In his log in Is There In Truth No Beauty? Kirk described the Medusans as "formless".
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Old August 24 2013, 07:38 PM   #12
publiusr
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Re: Energy beings

There is even a proper name for these type entities now:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain
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Old August 24 2013, 07:52 PM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Energy beings

^Well, the "Boltzmann brain" idea doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. It proposes that quantum indeterminacy could cause a sentient brain to spontaneously arise by chance in deep space if the universe is old enough (i.e. with enough chances, a really improbable thing becomes inevitable), but it doesn't address the question of what happens next -- i.e. how the brain survives, sustains itself, etc. Without an environment amenable to its existence, it'd pretty much cease to exist as soon as it spontaneously arose.

So it doesn't really work as a synonym for sci-fi "energy beings," particularly those that evolved from corporeal ancestors. It's just an abstract and kind of silly thought experiment.
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Old August 24 2013, 08:46 PM   #14
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Energy beings

publiusr wrote: View Post
There is even a proper name for these type entities now:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain
Christopher wrote: View Post
^Well, the "Boltzmann brain" idea doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. It proposes that quantum indeterminacy could cause a sentient brain to spontaneously arise by chance in deep space if the universe is old enough (i.e. with enough chances, a really improbable thing becomes inevitable), but it doesn't address the question of what happens next -- i.e. how the brain survives, sustains itself, etc. Without an environment amenable to its existence, it'd pretty much cease to exist as soon as it spontaneously arose.

So it doesn't really work as a synonym for sci-fi "energy beings," particularly those that evolved from corporeal ancestors. It's just an abstract and kind of silly thought experiment.
The Wikipedia article that publiusr cites doesn't mention quantum mechanics, much less quantum fluctuations or indeterminacy. Boltzmann's life predated the development of quantum mechanics as we know it. According to that article, Boltzmann made his argument from a purely classical perspective, in terms of random fluctuations in entropy.

As for whether a spontaneously generated Boltzmann brain could survive, one need only assume that a habitable environment is generated along with it. That's not a big leap, if one grants that such a brain could be generated in the first place, also since the accompanying environment wouldn't need to support the brain indefinitely.

In other words, the main problem isn't whether Boltzmann brains could survive for a period of time once generated, but whether they and their habitats could be spontaneously generated at all.

Boltzmann brains aren't necessarily energy beings. In fact, the whole point is that they could be completely corporeal. The purpose of the thought experiment is to attempt to account for a perceived problem between evolution and thermodynamics.

However, as stated in the article, at present, the evidence supports the idea that biological evolution does not violate the laws of thermodynamics. This eliminates the need to postulate something as radical as Boltzmann brains to explain our existence in the first place.

And, yes, not all of the incorporeal beings in Star Trek were anything like Boltzmann brains. One might argue that the Companion could have qualified, but in many cases, the incorporeal entities evolved out of lower corporeal forms.
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Old August 24 2013, 09:02 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Energy beings

...Or were constructed by them. But the difference might be somewhat academic.

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