Star Trek Issues.

OK, I’m going to get a bit nit picky here. I’ve been watching Star Trek for many years, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a bit moralistic, but hey, these days we need all the subtle moralizing we can get, so I’m pretty much behind that.

However.

There are some basic flaws in Star Trek that I just feel obliged to point out here. I’m sure other websites can do this better than I, but it’s something I want to get out of my system, so there you go. I’m not going to get into the BS ‘sounds in space’ stuff that most people pick on, more on the techy physics side.

Firstly, why are all Star Fleet people so dumb when it comes to basic communication? For example, in many episodes someone gets a chirp on their communicator, with the message, “Commander, I think you might want to get down here” or “Commander, I think you’ll want to see this…”. What’s going on here? Why can’t these people list quickly and distinctly what they need the guy for so he has an idea of what he’s heading into? What if he would need to stop and get some equipment on the way based on what he’s going to see? I mean, even I know to leave a message detailing what I need someone for when calling voice mail, have these people in the future lost even that basic skill? This just seems silly. If someone did that to me I’d be balling them out big time if I got there and it was something I could give a crap about, and they’d wasted my time.

Next up – Why are these people still using voice only communicators? We’ve almost got video communications now, wouldn’t you think in a world of warp speed that they’d have figured this one out by now? In some of the episodes I’ve seen guys running around with those little cameras on their heads, so the folks back home get piccies of whatever you look at. I know if I sent an away team over to a new ship I’d wanna see it all. It just doesn’t make sense.
An addition to this – why do they put this silly lights on their wrists? That way they still have to point their hands where-ever they want lights, which kind of defies the point of not having to carry them in the first place. Why aren’t they attached to their heads on some rig so all they have to do is look where they want and they get light? We do this now – do we suddenly get stupid in the future or something?

Those inertial dampeners just bug the shit out of me. Every week we see them ‘go off line’ for moments so we can get a moment or two of the crew getting tossed around (and lets not get into the idea of no seatbelts – forgiving for the moment the fact that they are very “50′s” you’d think that by the 23rd century they’d have some liquid restraint system to handle stuff like that). What I don’t get is that if the inertial dampeners go off line for even a millisecond, at the speeds they are purported to be doing (even at impulse speeds) everyone would end up pink mush all over the back of the bridge. When you are doing those sorts of speeds you either make it with inertial dampeners or you dies in a pink mushy mess. There’s no in-between of getting chucked off a chair. You, the chair, and in fact most of the bridge, would end up in very small chunks very quickly. You think you get pressed into the chair when a plane takes off? I?agine that when you are going near the speed of light.

Warp Speed. Forgiving for a moment the fracturing of physics (which I’m prepared to let go off since I’m prepared to believe there are many more laws and exceptions that we haven’t discovered yet) there is the problem of what their warp factors actually represent. Let me elucidate. Warp 1 is the speed of light. Pretty quick eh? Then there’s warp 2, which is twice the speed of light. Then warp 3, which is 4 times the speed of light, then warp 4, which is 8 times and so on up. Effectively the warp number is the speed of light to the power of 2. So for instance warp 8 is 256 times the speed of light. OK so far so good.
Now comes my issue with all this. Even at warp 8 it’s going to take you months to get from one system to another. The sheer scale of distances between star systems just makes this not work. For example, Alpha Centuri, the closest of Earths neighbors is 4 light years away (actually it’s a bit more than that, but we’ll call it 4 for the sake of argument). Now, that means that light takes 4 years to get from Earth to Alpha Centuri. So therefore at the speed of light, or warp 1, it would take 4 years to get there. Not quite the 2 weeks they portray is it? So OK, these ships can go faster than that. Lets try warp 2. Twice as fast as warp one means half the time. 2 years. Um, still a bit long? Warp 3? 1 year. Each way of course. Warp 4? six months. Warp 5 – three months. Now at this point we start getting a little more realistic. But still, the new ship Enterprise has a top speed of Warp 5 – which means it takes 3 months to get to the nearest of our neighbors, not days as they like to suggest. And it’s worth pointing out that they aren’t going to Alpha Centuri, because there isn’t anything there worth going to. They are going much further than that. A system 16 light years away is right back up there at a year there and back at warp 5. This is not realistic. And I’m surprised they let this one go myself.

How do tractor beams work exactly? I mean, if you want to pull something to you, you need to be anchored yourself in order to provide the block against that which you are pulling, otherwise you are just going to pull yourself closer to the other object, rather than it to you. In space you aren’t anchored to anything, which means you are going to move no matter what. The degree of motion will be affected by your speed in another direction, and also the mass of what you are pulling verses your mass, but still, stopping ships of even remotely similar mass from escaping using a tractor beam just isn’t going to work according to all the laws of physics I know. Maybe they know of some more?

The transporter. It’s hard to know where to start with this one. Quite apart from the sheer number of atoms you would need to scan in order to rebuild another person at the other end taking years to scan, even at a million atoms a second, there are some other issues with this item. Lets start with the Heisenburg principle which states that in order for you to unequivocally know the state of an atom, you will have to change its state to a new unknown state. What that means is that in order to know what an atom is doing you would pretty much need to bounce another one off it and see what that bounced one did to hypothesize what the original one was doing. However, in the act of bouncing an atom off it, it’s going to react to that into some new state. So pretty much you can never know really what an atom is doing. Bummer. However, you can get around this by either making some guesses (which is a scary thought) or working at a molecular level instead of an atomic one, which is far more realistic. Even then though, the number of molecules gets a bit silly. Then there’s the whole issue of how you break down these groups with some beam? You should end up with molecules all over the place. Transferring them in space really isn’t going to work because you could only do it in hard vacuum to be sure the molecules are ending?up where you shoot them, and not hitting something in the way and bouncing off randomly, so all that “through walls” stuff is a bit of a dream. Conceivably you could break the victim down, just throw away the molecules themselves and only send data on where those molecules are to another transporter somewhere that will rebuild the model in a vacuum from it’s own store of molecules, but that isn’t what Star Trek’s does is it? Oh well, at least they aren’t completely out. :)

So that’s what I’m pulling out of my ass right now. I’ve no doubt others have far more in-depth analyses of this stuff, but this is what’s idly occurred to me just watching the show week to week. By the way, that new Vulcan chick on Enterprise is annoying. Can we have someone different from 7 of 9 please?

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