planetary classes

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Ronald Held, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Like I said, it never made it on the air. It was "legacy" background information that didn't negatively affect what we saw on screen.

    That's the beauty of just the letter "M": Roddenberry didn't pin himself down with an actual supposed meaning to the letter, so he couldn't get caught saying anything that would be contradicted by later science.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Right. Just like stardates, which he and Herb Solow intended to be just meaningless numbers to avoid pinning the show down to a specific timeframe.
     
  3. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    One reference to Mars in the original pitch that I neglected to mention upthread was not a literal reference.

    Clearly, at this stage of development, in early 1964, Roddenberry considered Mars to be habitable, or at least once to have been inhabited (or probably so).
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Which does not in any way lend credence to the guess that "Class M" had anything to do with Mars. I mean, that's a completely illogical conclusion. If he had intended it to be the initial of a habitable world, obviously he would've gone with "Class E" for Earth.
     
  5. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    I don't agree.

    Both the pitch and the writers guide equated "Class M" with "Earth-Mars conditions". There's a big fat "M" right there in "Earth-Mars conditions", so it's a logical suspect for where the "M" came from. Barring any further evidence, it's nothing more than that: a logical suspect. However, Darkwing may even have guessed it correctly as a contraction of "EM-Class".

    Now, as to why "Earth-Mars conditions" wound up in the pitch, maybe Roddenberry put it in because he was initially going to make Spock half-Martian.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^The problem is that you're starting with a desired conclusion -- that the "M" stood for something specific -- and making up convoluted rationalizations for it. You can use that kind of reasoning to "prove" anything, no matter how nonsensical. The human mind is very good at constructing patterns that don't exist. Which is why we have to be skeptical of any reasoning based only on that kind of patterning. Just because M could stand for "Mars," that in no way constitutes proof that Roddenberry intended it to. I mean, hey, the word "man" appears a number of times in the pitch document, so that must "prove" that Class M meant a world where men could live! Or, look, here's the word "maximum," just a few lines above "Class M!" It must mean "maximum habitability!" You see how easily this kind of reasoning can lead you in any random direction?

    Again, you need to remember what a slapdash document the format proposal was meant to be. It wasn't for publication; it was just something to hand out to network executives to support his verbal pitch for the show. It's riddled with typos and a lot of it is clearly handwaves and gibberish. He didn't specifically intend to make Spock half-Martian; he said "probably half-Martian" because he hadn't really given a lot of thought to the specifics yet and "Martian" was just the first thing anyone in the 1950s-60s thought of when they thought of creatures from outer space. This was a rough sketch of his ideas for Star Trek, nothing more. It's very unwise to read too much meaning into whatever random coincidences might crop up in it.


    EDIT: Hey, look what I found. The Planetary Habitability Laboratory has actually proposed adopting the term "Class M" for Earthlike planets, using it to stand for "mesoplanet," i.e. a planet of moderate temperatures suitable for most Earthly organisms. They also propose Class P (psychroplanet) for cold terrestrial worlds (as Mandel does) and Class T (thermoplanet) for hot ones (unlike canon, which uses it for gas giants). They claim that the correspondences of M and P classes to the Trek scheme is a lucky accident, but they say it would help make the scheme accessible to the general public.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  7. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Location:
    The Pyxis Unity
    On that note, I was looking at screencaps from "The Menagerie" a while back and was amused by what the folder Kirk is shown actually says, in relation to Mendez' description of Spock as the "half Vulcan science officer" who visited Talos. :lol:
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    There seems to be a misunderstanding here on your part. When I said that I made an assumption back in the 1970's along with other fans I talked to, I meant that I make no assumption today. In the 1970's, I was just a kid. If I had wanted to make an actual claim that today I think that it originally meant thus-and-so in the back of Gene's mind, I would have come out and actually said that, without talking about what I had assumed at one time decades ago.

    Do I think it's a logical suspect? Of course, it's too obvious a possibility not to be a real possibility. You seem to even acknowledge that.

    Is it possible that "M" was always just a random letter? You bet!

    Go back and carefully re-read what I've written in this thread. That's the beginning and end of everything I've actually claimed. Don't lecture me about things I never said or even meant! I was never trying to prove anything! Without any authoritative text saying how he came up with the letter, that's never going to be possible to do anyway!
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    On the contrary, I think it's complete nonsense. Why would he use Mars as an exemplar for an Earthlike planet? Even back before Mariner, even in the days of Percival Lowell and H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury, it was always assumed that Mars was at most borderline-Earthlike, a dry, dying world on the edge of habitability. The idea of using it as the exemplar for worlds that are suitable for human life makes about as much sense as using Neelix as the exemplar for gourmet cuisine. There's just no way in hell that that could possibly have been Roddenberry's thinking.
     
  10. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2003
    Location:
    The Bottom of Lake Ontario
    Don't the 24th century Trek shows assume Mars has been terraformed sufficiently that humans can live on the surface without life support equipment? (Regardless of whether real science would make such a timeline feasible...) I seem to recall a VOY ep where some characters were on the surface in a holodeck simulation. Of course, since it was the holodeck, it could just be "artistic license". Has anything been mentioned about this anywhere?
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^What's that got to do with Gene Roddenberry's thinking in 1964?
     
  12. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2003
    Location:
    The Bottom of Lake Ontario
    ^ Nothing. But it would be a possible retcon now as to how both Earth and Mars could be considered Class-M, as those BTS documents mentioned upthread seemed to be implying.
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Good to know you've got a crystal ball into Gene's mind; that's more than I ever said!
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^I don't need one. I just need to know the most elementary things about how Mars was perceived at the time. Nobody in 1964, or ever, would've thought that Mars was a better exemplar for an Earthlike planet than Earth was. It's just a non-starter.
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Since I never claimed that Mars was "a better exemplar for an Earthlike planet than Earth", that doesn't have any bearing on what I said either.

    Somehow you seem to require that the process that led to the selection of the letter must make total scientific sense, even though we both know that much of the point in selecting just a letter in the first place was to avoid committing to anything that might be contradicted by science. As long as the technobabble plays its part convincingly as part of the scenery, what difference does it make whether the babble was devised by the writers in complete adherence to scientific principles? If anything's a non-starter here, it's the argument that only sensible backstories can stand behind what's seen and heard on screen. Star Trek would never have made it on the air, if that had been the yardstick by which all its backstory was judged. I'm rather surprised that you need to be reminded of that.

    Anyway, "mesoplanet" is as good a retronym as any. I certainly like that better than Minshara, because "mesoplanet" is at least meaningful. I'm happy to see real science picking up that term; it's good publicity for Star Trek. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    It would be rather relevant to point out Spock's unique vulnerabilities or abilities in the context of this telepathic threat...

    ...Although of course Pike and Spock's fancy letter of recommendation doesn't actually mention any telepathy, in which case the repeated references to Spock being a half-telepath would actually be telling. :devil:

    Do you think "3XY phagrin level-mass computer" is a reference to a computing device, or a random string of words used as a code of some sort?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Mars looked dead to me in the early 1960's.
    Since Enterprise labeled "earthlike" planets Minshara which likely got truncated or abbreviated to M, the question remain whether the esrly Starfleet took the planetary classification schema from Vulcan Earth or some mixture?
     
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Location:
    I said out, dammit!
    [Henry Jones, Sr.] Except... the first letter of Mishara in the Vulcan alphabet is an I! [/Jones]
     
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    :lol:
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Seriously, forks, that particular issue need not arise: if Vulcans have a writing system based on individual letters denoting individual sounds, then there is gonna be an M-analogy that represents the first sound of "Minshara".

    Whether Vulcans have that sort of a system is debatable. We see apparent lettering on the side of the Vulcan shuttle in ST:TMP and the transports in "Unification", and on the clothing of the Kolinahr Masters, but not elsewhere AFAIK; other instances of Vulcan writing tend to be examples of their ancient calligraphy, which appears fundamentally different and extremely unlikely to feature a specific individual symbol for the sound "m" or "mi". Did we ever get a good look at a Vulcan computer display?

    Timo Saloniemi
     

Share This Page