Worst science goofs

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by ATimson, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    OTOH, ignoring the comic, we learn neither that the supernova would happen in a distant star nor that said star would be particularly old. For all we know, it was the homestar of Romulus that blew.

    Although the movie does make it sound as if the explosion came as a nasty surprise to everybody except Spock, in which case it would in fact be better if the star were of a type that was unlikely to go supernova.

    For fairly bad science in that movie, we get the scene where Nero has devastated a formation of starships, and the sky is full of wreckage. Yet the wreckage is at a virtual standstill vs. Nero's starship - and Nero's starship is at a standstill vs. the nearby surface of planet Vulcan. Unless all the action is taking place at geosynchronous height, the wreckage should be in the process of falling more or less straight down towards the planet... And it would take some pretty extreme assumptions about the nature of planet Vulcan to argue that the very low height we observe is geosynchronous (or hephaistosynchronous, or whatever terminology nitpickers might want to extrapolate from today's naming practices).

    Sure, our heroes arrive fairly soon after the fight, so the debris might have only recently begun its fall. But why were the ships destroyed so much higher up than the position Nero's ship that they'd be at this level some minutes after the action? And why don't we see any appreciable downward motion? Gravity at the observed height should still be about three-quarters of surface normal, so the acceleration down shouldn't be invisibly gradual...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is no worse than the inanity of the Genesis Device in TWOK and TSFS, the portrayal of the center of the galaxy in TFF, the explosion of Praxis in TUC (which was also able to instantaneously affect a starship sectors away), the trilithium supernovae in GEN (ditto), the fountain-of-youth ring radiation in INS, and the particle-of-the-week doomsday weapon in NEM. Not to mention the sheer fantasy of the godlike psychic powers of Gary Mitchell, Charlie Evans, Trelane, the Organians, etc. in TOS, or the way starships in the series fell out of orbit if their power failed, or the whole idea of humanoid aliens who can interbreed with humans, or, or, or.
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Well we have to expect a certain amount of bad science in a Sci-Fi TV show.

    But here is another one, in TNG's "The Royale" they came up with a temapture below absolute zero.
     
  4. Keturah

    Keturah Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    The last time I watched Generations, I laughed as Dr. Sorin sent that rocket up towards the sun from the planet surface, and it appear to be going, say 85mph. But fewer than 5 seconds later, it reached the sun! Wowsers. Am I remembering that correctly?
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Sure. But what's so odd about that? Star Trek spacecraft are really fast when in space, but tend to move very slowly within atmospheres; this probe need not be an exception at all. Earlier in the same movie, another probe had been launched towards another sun, this time from a space station, and had apparently completed the journey in seconds as well. Warp technology should allow for that.

    ...Even if for some reason even very high warp factors appear to amount to a crawling speed in the proximity of stars. Say, our heroes go warp eight or even warp ten in their Klingon BoP in ST4, yet it takes the ship several seconds to arch around the Sun nevertheless. But that's not a major problem as such, because probes can be assumed to be faster than ships. In many cases, they indeed appear to be.

    The science goof there is what happens after the probe reaches the sun. The sun dies - and Soran and Picard immediately see it happen! Light from the star (or darkness from the star) does not travel at warp speed - it only travels at the speed of light. So it should take five to ten minutes for the death scene to reach Veridian III, not a split second.

    (Of course, we can argue that there was a cut in the action there. Two old geezers had just fought each other, and one had triumphed and killed a star. What would there be for the two to do except catch their breaths and wait for the death scene to become visible? Picard would gain nothing by climbing the cliff to give Soran one more punch in the jaw; Soran would gain nothing by coming down. Perhaps the two shouted insults at each other in hoarse, huffing voices for five minutes, and the director mercifully spared us from that.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Yes you are.

    Presumably, they edited out the hours and hours of Picard and Soran sitting around in the desert, exchanging scowls and glares:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Or, the missile had a micro-warp drive and made a warp hop to the sun after it exited the atmosphere.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It's hardly a surprise twist or anything: Worf already told us exactly how fast Soran's probe would be.

    Note that Worf had no real data on the specific hardware the Klingons or Soran would be using. He had no sensor readings on the launch installation on the surface, and Soran's previous starkiller probe at Amargosa had apparently been of a standard Starfleet model. So we learn that all "solar probes" span these five to ten lightminutes from a Class M world to its star in eleven seconds - fairly humdrum performance for a warp drive, really (except when close to a star, but perhaps that only applies to larger starships?).

    Not much need for speculation here. The probe had a FTL drive, just like so many others, despite starting its journey at a fairly low speed riding on a conventional-looking rocket flame, just like so many others.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    That explains how the missile got to the star so fast but it doesn't explain how the effects of the warhead are seen on the planet without delay. If it's similar to Earth's system there should have been an 8 minute delay from the detonation of the missile to the visible changes to the star.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    A bit of fine-tuning:

    Assuming the star is like Sol, we'd be the best off if we speculated that Veridian III was only about five lightminutes distant from it - because only then would Veridian IV, another known Class M world, still also fit inside the "life belt" of the star.

    As for the death scene of the star reaching the planet that fast, perhaps it did not? Perhaps the star continued burning normally for the next five minutes, as far as Picard and Soran could tell - but a great "shadow" of some sort expanded from the detonation at FTL speed, making everything look dimmer?

    After all, the darkness was achieved by the time-honored movie trick of "nuit américaine", shooting in bright daylight but playing with the white balance (or, previously, using a different quality of film, intended to be compatible with studio lighting rather than sunlight). That means that not only does the big source of light on the sky grow dim, but any light moving between surface locations, say, being reflected from or emitted by the equipment we see, is also unnaturally dim. This would be more consistent with a "dimming field" than with the loss of sunlight.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    In the case of the Praxis explosion, dialog was [http://www.chakoteya.net/movies/movie6.html]:

    So, that's not a science goof. The shockwave was explained as being FTL.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^My point is that there are plenty of fanciful concepts in all the Trek movies, a couple of which provide direct precedent for the portrayal of the FTL supernova in ST'09. The claim that that movie is somehow unique or unprecedented in having sloppy science is blatantly false.
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Well, that's certainly true.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    If anything, ST09 is less of an offender because it embraces a fast-paced style of storytelling that leaves a lot unsaid (unlike old Trek that could not afford to show and chose to tell) and also unseen (because modern movies can afford to show, and appear classier if they nonchalantly choose not to). Plenty of possibilities for rationalization, then.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Trek science has been borderline at best, amusing most of the time and laughable at the worst of times. It was expressed quite well in the Authors Note in The Songs of Distant Earth which I just finished re-reading.

    "However, this version was directly - and negatively - inspired by the recent rash of space operas on TV and Movie screens. (Query: what is the opposite of inspiraten - expiration?)

    Please do not misunderstand me: I have enormously enjoyed the best of Star Trek and the Lucas/Spielberg epics, to mention only the most famous examples of the genre. But these works are fantasy, not science fiction in the strict meaning of the term. It now seems almost certain that in the real universe we may ever exceed the speed of light. Even the closest star systems will always be decades or centuries apart; No Warp Six will ever get you from one episode to another in time for next weeks installment. The great Producer in the Sky did not arrange his program planning that way."

    Smart man, Arthur C. Clarke. Just tell your stories and don't sweat getting the science right. If Trek had to deal with real world science we'd just now be getting from Earth of Alpha Centauri at 0.1 c. McCoy and Scotty would have passed away in the void between the stars and the rest of the command crew would be past retirement age.

    Let Trek be Trek and don't expect it to be this weeks installment of Nova on PBS.
     
  16. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Space opera can be done while respecting the speed of light - Alastair Reynolds comes to mind - but you're right, best to let Trek be Trek.
     
  17. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Space opera may be but Trek cannot. Just like it can't be done without transporters, phasers, time travel, human/alien hybrids,, dilithium, etc. By the time you strip out all the scientific impossibilities and implausibility what you;d have left may be entertaining but it wouldn't be Star Trek. That ship sailed with The Cage.
     
  18. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    So did scientists a few months ago!

    Granted, it's not cold, but it's below absolute zero
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Geordi just accounted for wind chill.

    Seriously. The only reason the surface temperature would really be of interest to our heroes is the effect it will have on away teams...

    Timo Saloniemi