Stellar Cartography

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by DEWLine, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is still a ridiculously judgmental thing to say. What does "necessary" even mean in this context? It's fiction. It's entertainment. It's about having fun. Nothing about it is "necessary" in the sense of sustaining life or earning an income or whatever, but it stimulates our minds and imaginations. And a lot of us find it fun and stimulating to undertake the creative experiment of trying to reconcile the fiction with reality. So that is no more or less "necessary" than any other way of engaging with a work of fiction.


    What are you even talking about here? Earth is clearly depicted in Trek as a world of central importance to the Federation. Starfleet Command is based there, the Federation Council is based there. It's clearly the capital of the Federation. So it makes as much sense to use Sol as the reference point for delineating the Alpha and Beta Quadrants as it does to use the Greenwich Observatory in London as the reference point for delineating Earth's hemispheres. It's a decision that was made for historical and political reasons in real life, so it's entirely logical that an analogous cartographic choice would be made in an interstellar civilization whose capital is on Earth.


    "Must" has nothing to do with it. If you don't want it to match up in your own personal version, then you don't have to make it match up. But a lot of us do find it fun to bring as much reality into it as we can manage.

    It doesn't have to be all or nothing. They say the best lie is the one that has the most truth in it. And the same goes for fiction. No, it can never match perfectly with reality, but incorporating as much reality as you can gives it verisimilitude. That's how Roddenberry himself approached TOS, TMP, and TNG. He consulted with scientists and engineers and think tanks, brought in reality where he could, and ignored it where he needed to. He created a fiction, yes, a universe different from the real one, but one with elements drawn from reality to make it feel more believable. That's a perfectly valid and common creative practice. Storytellers do it all the time: they create unreal worlds yet ground them in details drawn from the real world to give them verisimilitude. Arthur C. Clarke set The Fountains of Paradise on a fictional island in the Indian Ocean, one farther south than his home of Sri Lanka so that it would rest on the equator, but otherwise he based it heavily on the real history, geography, and culture of Sri Lanka. Diane Duane wrote her Young Wizard and Feline Wizard novels in a fantasy universe where magic is real, but set them in a very accurate and well-researched version of New York City. This is verisimilitude -- literally, similarity to truth. Not actual truth, but a fiction that bears enough resemblance to truth to feel as though it could be real.

    So you're absolutely wrong to say it's a waste to incorporate elements of reality into the fiction. Doing your homework and making the effort to build more verisimilitude into the fiction is never a waste. No, it isn't absolutely "necessary," but that's a nonsensical standard to apply to fiction. There are many ways of telling a story. Some stories are set in completely invented fantasy lands, while others are grounded in the real world while still containing major divergences from it. Neither approach is wrong.
     
  2. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Christopher,

    Obviously I hit a nerve. I'm the least judgmental person you're ever going to meet. One can't detect tone in a post, something that I would assume you would know if a frequent poster on any forum.

    However I wonder, should astronomers discover in a year that 40 Eridani is comprised of only a single heavy gravity planet, will you then shift around an entire stellar map because it no longer fits? Or will you then decide that it's not necessary to match up real celestial objects with a fictional universe?

    Your ardent irritation with a relatively minor post is only amusing me. Talk about misdirected energy.

    Masao,

    Well the stellar map you created still is very useful if you made some reasonable guesses based upon estimated flight time to stars based upon references to Star Trek authorized fiction and fan fiction. Looking through all of the references I've seen, there's only a few other examples of that kind of pragmatic work.

    I like your other website as well. It probably has way more 3d models than any other site I've ever seen. It's quite a resource.

    Some excellent stellar cartography from French researchers can be seen here in brief:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...-nearest-galaxies--reminds-tiny-Earth-is.html

    And can be seen completely here:
    http://irfu.cea.fr/cosmography
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCHi4hioFEI
    (Subtitled in several languages)

    The Sol system is a rather insignificant part of a tiny spiral arm fragment (local spur arm) and can be seen here:
    http://www.basicknowledge101.com/photos/earthinmilkyway.jpg

    "
    Our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years wide. We’re about 25,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy. It turns out we’re not located in one of the Milky Way’s two primary spiral arms. Instead, we’re located in a minor arm of the galaxy. Our local spiral arm is sometimes Orion Arm, or sometimes the Orion Spur."
    http://earthsky.org/space/does-our-sun-reside-in-a-spiral-arm-of-the-milky-way-galaxy

    But heck, that's real astronomy and not gobbledygook estatz astronomy attempting to pidgeonhole Star Trek into reality.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. As I said, you incorporate reality where you can and diverge from it where necessary. This is a standard approach to creating fictional worlds. There are already plenty of things Star Trek has established that diverge from the real universe, like the Eugenics Wars or Voyager 6, and we have to accept those; but where it's still feasible to reconcile Trek with reality, it's reasonable to do so. That's why Starfleet Headquarters is in San Francisco rather than North Koofblontz. That's why Trek has always used real star names like Rigel and Deneb and Aldebaran rather than making them all up, even if it hasn't always gotten its astrocartography right.

    Think of all the TV shows and movies that are set in fictional cities in real states and countries. The title town in Eureka was fictional, but it was explicitly located in Oregon, not some imaginary state. Buffy's Sunnydale is fictional, but it's in Southern California. Stephen King's books are usually set in Maine, but the actual towns featured in them, like Castle Rock, are often fictional. So by the same token, there's nothing wrong with positing a fictional configuration of planets around a real star.

    You say you have no judgmental intent, but you're completely missing the point in a very insulting way by assuming we're trying to "pigeonhole Star Trek into reality." We're using reality as a resource in a creative exercise, because it gives us more building blocks to play with and creates new possibilities. You should try it sometime instead of dismissing it out of hand. You might discover how much fun it is.
     
  4. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Christopher,
    All I mentioned was that it was wasted effort. You on the other hand took great offense at a word. Come on man, lighten up!

    If you studied any astronomy at all in college or grad school, the take away point was the insignificance of not only the Earth in reference to the Milky Way galaxy, but the insignificance of the Milky Way among galaxies.

    One cannot pretend to be doing stellar cartography and then simultaneously ascribe some origin points to the Earth's location within our galaxy just because Star Trek does. It's not logical.

    Yes, we're proud that Earth is the head of the Federation (strictly by being the location of the headquarters, not because Terrans would be more important as a species), but it's not in keeping with the main story of Star Trek and isn't science anymore when we fall into that trap. Worse, because trying to make celestial objects fit a fictional world, we then cannot ever be accurate.

    Instead the most useful aspect of stellar cartography is to make it plausible such that fans can say, "Oh, now I see what the trip might have been like, or why it took this long, or this representation makes more sense now..." Those writers were and are not likely to astronomers.
     
  5. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Ottawa, Canada
    I think we've accidentally stumbled onto the next big idea for the next TV series: recruit Neil deGrasse Tyson into the writing staff. ;-)
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Mar 15, 2001
    You really can't understand why telling people that they're wasting their effort by doing something they enjoy is condescending and rude? I don't need to lighten up. You need to learn that your judgments of others are not harmless.

    I've told you over and over why it's not a waste. Why it's fun to be creative. Why it's fun to learn. Science fiction is enjoyable to a lot of people because it makes us curious about the science of the real world and gives us an opportunity to learn new and interesting things. We're perfectly well aware of the difference between fiction and reality, but we enjoy the opportunity to explore reality and play with ideas. That is absolutely not a waste. You're the one who needs to lighten up, because you're unwilling or unable to see that this is enjoyable, and therefore worth doing.


    I have a physics degree, for your information.


    Once more: No one is saying that Earth is literally some cosmically significant origin point. All that's been said is that the Federation has used it as the basis for an arbitrary geographical distinction analogous to the arbitrary division of the Earth into Eastern and Western hemispheres with the Greenwich Meridian as the reference point. It's a political and cartographic distinction, not a physical one, so your objection is nonsensical.

    And I'm not going to argue with you anymore, because you're clearly not willing to listen or reconsider your preconceptions even slightly.
     
  7. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In some respects, it would be ideal to have creative consultants who are astronomers.

    This notion of seeing stars pass by on a trip, might not be plausible traveling with faster than light travel. Haven't you ever wondered at that based upon folding space with a warp drive? If you're folding space, are you skipping along like a stone across the surface of water? Are you entering into a field of some sort and then emerging in stages until you reach the end point goal?

    What it definitely isn't like is traveling in an airplane and seeing stars whiz by. It would be calculating stellar phenomena and then ensuring the path was clear (charting a course) then ensuring no moveable objects would be entering that flight path. Then going for the most economical path that achieves the least amount of time with the least fuel loss in antimatter but based upon exigent circumstances.

    EDIT:
    Christopher,
    Did you read Masao's post when he said, "I decided that trying to match most Trek locations with known stars was futile, as the Trek writers seemed to have completely ignored astronomical reality."

    That's all I am pointing out. The futility of spending energy to make stars in Star Trek agree with reality.

    I wish you well in your mapping and writing. I'm not interested in the wasted effort of a flame war. Rational discussion is always welcome though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  8. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Masao: I do like your preferred placement for Berengaria.

    Trying to make out your choice for Taugus' homestar...Gliese 480.1 as opposed to Mandel's Gamma Equueli?
     
  9. Masao

    Masao Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Tokyo
    That's completely random. The map I linked to is only about 10 parsecs in diameter, so I wanted to put in a few Trek stars for which there is little or no clue to their location in TOS/TAS. Berengeria was, Memory Alpha now tells me, mentioned in DS9, but I never watched much DS9. Oh well. And I never watched much Enterprise, so I don't care about any mention there.

    Yes, Gl 480.1, which is much closer (25 ly) than Gamma Equulei (>100 ly). Because the ships in my version of Trek history are very slow (and not simply modern ships with a different paint job), I moved the Romulan War very close to Earth. That complicates later Trek geography, but I don't deal with that, so I don't care!
     
  10. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Accidental or not, your placement of Berengaria works well for what I remember of the Novel'verse version of the Romulan War. (Wanting to re-read those books soonish.)
     

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