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

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Old August 7 2013, 12:06 PM   #1
Robert Comsol
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Could stardates make some sense?

(I wanted to add some new information to the thread we last had on the issue but somehow wasn't unable to relocate it)

On Harvey's blog ("Captain's Log, Stardate: Unknown") he featured some historic information (previously unknown to me) how the producers had hoped stardates would be utilized:

1313.5 would be noon one day, 1314.5 would be noon of the next one or simply 1 full digit = 1 solar day.

Another cool website features all the scenes intended by the screenplay (but remained unseen in the final episode). There's pretty cool stuff there but "Court Martial" caught my attention regarding the topic:

According to Stone and the original script, Kirk and the Enterprise had already covered 19 months of the five-year-mission by the time of "Court Martial".

Assuming that the five-year-mission began at Stardate 1312 ("Where No Man Has Gone Before"), 1,635 stardate units would have passed before "Court Martial" (Stardate 2947).

Assuming 1,000 units equal one solar year (suggested by TMP etc.), one month would equal 83.3 units and 19 months therefore 1,583.3 stardate units. That's rather close to 19 months, especially since Stone probably wasn't as specific as you'd expect Spock to be.

Bob
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Old August 7 2013, 12:51 PM   #2
Warped9
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Right off a lot of people don't consider WNMHGB as part of of the 5-year mission given how different everything aboard ship looks (and there's no omniscient narrative in the opening credits). The general thought is Kirk was given command of the Enterprise not long before a refit and then the ship embarked on its 5-year mission.

Your idea could still have merit, though. Kirk could have commanded the ship for about a year and a half before its refit and assignment to a 5-mission.
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Old August 7 2013, 12:56 PM   #3
Robert Comsol
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

But if I recall correctly The Making of Star Trek had a couple of quotes from original screenplay excerpts that suggested that the five-year-mission began with WNM.

Bob
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Old August 7 2013, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

It really wasn't until TNG that 1000 stardates equalled a year. IN TOS the stardate was used so as not to pin down when the show was set. We didn't get that until the start of TWOK with the capton "In the 23rd Century".
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Old August 7 2013, 03:22 PM   #5
Warped9
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
But if I recall correctly The Making of Star Trek had a couple of quotes from original screenplay excerpts that suggested that the five-year-mission began with WNM.

Bob
I don't think so. In TMoST the small bio on Kirk says he's commanded the Enterprise for about two years. This is reprinted from the Writer's Guide when the series was in production. Makes sense that Starfleet would have liked to test Kirk's mettle some before sending him out on an extended specialized mission. The gist of it means Kirk has already had the Enterprise for awhile when the series gets going. If he had the ship for two years of the five and then we had three more years (of the series) then that's the whole five years there at the end of the run. But most people accept we only saw the first three years of the mission and not the last two. Well, you could count TAS as the fourth year.

From all this my take is that Kirk commanded the Enterprise for about seven years at the end of the five year mission.

There is a question begging and it can be taken two ways: not just how much elapsed time between given dates, but what are stardates measuring? Are they a measure of a universally shared time system or are they only measuring ship's time independent of other ships, starbases and planets.

Stardate 1312.8 = 3.5942 Earth years (or about 43 months) if 1 unit equals one day. Did Kirk already have the ship for three years by the time of WNMHGB? The largest stardate for "All Our Yesterdays" is 5943.7 which would be 16.2729 years. We know at that point Kirk hasn't had the ship for 16 years.

If every 1000 stardate points is one year then every decimal point = .365 Earth days or 8.766 hours. I'd like to see the rationalizing of that system.

We do know in TOS and TNG they still measure time in seconds, minutes and hours. The question now is how many hours in TOS make up a day? Is it still twenty-four? If so then what is the relation between the stardate and measuring time on a 24 hour cycle? Is a ship's duty shift still eight hours or is it ten or something else?

Confusion is added because there is no delineation between the numbers in a stardate except for the decimal point. Maybe there is but it just isn't shown that way. On Earth we could express today's date as 07-08-2013 or 08-07-2013 and most everyone has a pretty clear idea what is being referred to. And note that stardates never make note of the time (or so it seems) while in modern ship's logs they do make note of the time of events and log entries.

The use of stardates sounds futuristic, but I don't think a lot of thought was put into what they are actually supposed to mean. It was also a way of distancing themselves from being tied to a familiar Earth calendar. It's still fun trying to reason it out, though.
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Old August 7 2013, 04:06 PM   #6
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

I had another thought: what if 1 stardate unit = 10 hours?

Stardate 1312.8 = 547 days or 1.4976 years.

Stardate 5943.7 = 2476.5416 days or 6.78 years.

The difference between the two would be 5.2827 years.

Hmmm, now it seems a lot closer.
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Old August 7 2013, 04:46 PM   #7
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

I find it's best not to worry about stardates. The producers didn't want to be specific about when the show was set, lest they guess wrong about how long it would take for new technologies to be developed, so they created stardates specifically to convey no meaningful information whatsoever. They're basically numerical lorem ipsum.

They aren't even always consistent within a single work. There are four stardates given in ST:TMP, and the number of hours that elapse between them can be roughly deduced from dialogue, and there's no consistency at all. Between the onscreen stardate at Starfleet HQ (7410.2) and the first log entry (7412.6), some 14 hours elapse, which works out to about 6 hours per unit. From there to the second log entry (7413.4) is about 3 hours in-story, which is about 3.75 hours per unit. But from from there to the final log entry (7414.1) is over 20 hours of story time, which comes out to something like 32 hours per unit! So if it doesn't even hold together within a single story, there's no hope of making sense of it overall.


Warped9 wrote: View Post
Right off a lot of people don't consider WNMHGB as part of of the 5-year mission given how different everything aboard ship looks (and there's no omniscient narrative in the opening credits). The general thought is Kirk was given command of the Enterprise not long before a refit and then the ship embarked on its 5-year mission.
Indeed. If you think about it, a trip to the galaxy's edge and back should take months. It's a major expedition in its own right, not some routine leg of a 5-year general survey tour.

Plus, the ship was pretty severely damaged after the mission to the rim, and would've needed even longer to limp home than to get out there in the first place. And it would've needed serious repairs after its return, hence the refit between WNMHGB and the series.
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Old August 7 2013, 05:08 PM   #8
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Am I the only fan that doresn't care about star dates? I generally just ignore them.
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Old August 7 2013, 05:42 PM   #9
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Gojira wrote: View Post
Am I the only fan that doresn't care about star dates? I generally just ignore them.
Sure, it's a storytelling gimmick, but some fans still like trying to make some sense of it. And there's no harm in it.
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Old August 7 2013, 11:45 PM   #10
Robert Comsol
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Christopher wrote: View Post
There are four stardates given in ST:TMP, and the number of hours that elapse between them can be roughly deduced from dialogue, and there's no consistency at all. Between the onscreen stardate at Starfleet HQ (7410.2) and the first log entry (7412.6), some 14 hours elapse, which works out to about 6 hours per unit. From there to the second log entry (7413.4) is about 3 hours in-story, which is about 3.75 hours per unit. But from from there to the final log entry (7414.1) is over 20 hours of story time, which comes out to something like 32 hours per unit! So if it doesn't even hold together within a single story, there's no hope of making sense of it overall.
Hmm...please allow me to kick one elephant out of the room, the Stardate 7410.2 is an alteration / addition of the TMP Special Edition that was never present in the original version of TMP, neither onscreen nor in Gene Roddenberry's novelization. I reserve the right to consider it conjectural.

The novelization states the launch stardate from drydock as Stardate 7412.3 and (novel only!) 2.7 hours later it's Stardate 7412.6 while the Enterprise is still cruising at sublight and doesn't warp/alter the fabric of space and time.

This perfectly matches the assumption that 1,000 stardate digits equal one solar year, 2.736 digits one day and 0.114 digits one hour.

The other stardates you mentioned are inconclusive except that at 7412.6 the IP estimate is 20 hours and at this point in time V'ger is less than 48 hours away from Earth.

At 7413.4 it's more than 24 hours away from Earth (warp drive has just been repaired) and at 7414.1 they estimate that they are 4 hours from Earth but can't really tell because they are inside V'ger.

We do not learn if V'ger had increased his speed getting closer to Earth and whether therefore the interception point ETA (20 hours originally) had been shortened.

I have to admit that my 1,000 digit = 1 year theory had been based by relying on the screen-accuracy of the novelization and works pretty well up until TVH with only minor twists, IMHO.

However, I realize now that the TMP onscreen dialogue does not state "2.7 hours from launch" but actually "1.8 hours from launch".

Bob
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Old August 8 2013, 12:54 AM   #11
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Gojira wrote: View Post
Am I the only fan that doresn't care about star dates? I generally just ignore them.
Not only do I not care about stardates, I like that they're so inconsistent that it drives some fans nuts trying to work them out.

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Old August 8 2013, 03:35 AM   #12
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

I've long since given up trying to force any kind of consistency into the stardate system. They're just random numbers and we all know it - Gene Roddenberry made them up so he wouldn't have to follow the Christian calendar. But as to what the numbers mean? Nobody knows, and to say otherwise would be a fib.
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Old August 8 2013, 11:09 AM   #13
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

yeah, beyond a general trend for stardates to go higher as the missions increase there is little consistency, something that carries over to TNG.
not really sure the 1000 units is a year really works on TNG either TBH, some internal dating seems to contradict that to
(Datas day opens a very large can of worms - and is followed shortly after by Galaxy's child which occurs about a year after Booby trap according to Geordi ).

Stardates go up.... except when they don't
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Old August 9 2013, 06:43 AM   #14
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Moving forward from WNMHGB, these ideas make sense. But what happens when you move backwards? Isn't there a birth date on the "James R. Kirk" tombstone in WNMHGB?
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Old August 9 2013, 07:19 AM   #15
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

In "The Menagerie" there's also a Stardate visible on Pike's classified report regarding Talos 4 that Mendez shows Kirk. I believe the dates are 1100s as opposed to 1300s we see in WNMHGB,
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