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"Star Trek" and Real Science


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Showing 151-175 of 511 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2011 3:27:16 PM PDT
Photoscribe says:
Oh, cyber-scum craig is still around. He's busy chasing me from forum to forum these days, to ridicule everything I write instead of making any intelligent comments on whatever discussion he's found me in. I left him sputtering with mock indignity in the Politics forum this morning, I believe ...
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Hooty-ray.

Why do I feel so depressed, all of a sudden....?

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2011 4:33:40 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"Oh, cyber-scum craig is still around. He's busy chasing me from forum to forum these days, to ridicule everything I write instead of making any intelligent comments on whatever discussion he's found me in. I left him sputtering with mock indignity in the Politics forum this morning, I believe ..."

Cyber-scum Craig? Ah, of course it's never a violation of Amazon guidelines when YOU do it, is it, Marilyn?

And as I pointed out in Politics, it's hardly "chasing [you] form forum to forum" when you post comments INVITING people to come look at your current thread.

As far as leaving me "sputtering", I'm sure that's how things play in your own mind. ;)

(And hiya, Photoscribe! Write any new best-sellers lately?)

Posted on May 14, 2011 9:15:48 PM PDT
Ah, Photoscribe, you are a Doctor Strange aficionado!! Sorry to subject you to that old movie. I remember way back then that it wasn't too bad, but watching it again and BLECCHH!! Funny thing on doing a more extensive search just now, I found an article from last month that Patrick Dempsey is lobbying for the part!
http://www.movieweb.com/news/patrick-dempsey-lobbies-for-doctor-strange

Anyway, sorry to take this thread off track.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 1:25:13 AM PDT
Photoscribe says:
Ah, Photoscribe, you are a Doctor Strange aficionado!! Sorry to subject you to that old movie. I remember way back then that it wasn't too bad, but watching it again and BLECCHH!!
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LOL! Yeah... 70s style filmmaking just doesn't hold up to discerning scrutiny, does it? Everything was so AMATEURISHLy DONE back then! What was it about that decade?? Even seasoned directors and crews hacked out the same sort of cheezy product!

Now what's this crud about Patrick Dempsey gunning for the part?? YEAH! RIGHT! I can think of a SLEW of people who would be better for the role!! Kyle MacLachlan.... Pierce Brosnan.....Jonathan Frakes..... Jurgen Prochnow....Sam Neill.....They better NOT pick the "Woo-Woo Kid" as ol' Doc....

I'll sic Margali of the Winding Road on 'em!!

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 2:00:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2011 2:04:51 AM PDT
D. Kneeland says:
M. Helsdon says:
"If you want to trace cell phones to sf, then they long predate Star Trek. Heinlein's Space Cadet had a similar device... in 1948. There are other candidates around that time as well. Heinlein maintained that his 'prophecies' (cell phones, atomic weapons, etc.) weren't borne out of his imagination, but rooted in his knowledge of science and current research."

If I recall the cellphone was actually around a couple years prior to 1948. Granted it was comparatively massive and impracticable but it did exist. Personally I've always found the comparison to the star trek communicator and cellphones a bit tricky. A cellphone is dependent on a rather extensive series of radio relays on ground and in orbit, while the communicator has the ability to transit into orbit by itself. Portable transceivers have been around for a long time and the concept wasn't incredibly new when adopted in scifi.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 7:30:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2011 7:38:51 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
D. Kneeland,

"If I recall the cellphone was actually around a couple years prior to 1948. Granted it was comparatively massive and impracticable but it did exist."

The handheld transceiver dates back to WW2 and can probably be traced back to the early 30s, admittedly, as a fairly large device. Heinlein simply shrank it down to a purely hand-held unit.

"Personally I've always found the comparison to the star trek communicator and cellphones a bit tricky. A cellphone is dependent on a rather extensive series of radio relays on ground and in orbit, while the communicator has the ability to transit into orbit by itself. Portable transceivers have been around for a long time and the concept wasn't incredibly new when adopted in scifi."

Yes, I've made that point earlier on in this thread.

Tracing actual devices back to science fiction sources is often a sign of technological naïvity.

Jules Verne didn't invent the submarine with the Nautilus (the first semi-practical sunmarine of that name was built seventy years prior to his first Nemo novel), and Wells didn't invent a microwave/CO2 laser weapon with his Martian heat rays - Archimedes proposed and possibly built the first 'heat ray' weapon two thousand years earlier.

Good science fiction writers read up on technological research and scientific ideas and... extrapolate.

In Star Trek, much of the technology appears to overcome the budget or SFX limitations of the show. Thus transporters because they couldn't afford to build a shuttle in the first series. It's a curious fact that space combat in the original series is much more realistic than in any of the successors, because ship-ship engagements occur at long range with often limited or no enemy in visible sight but in sensor range. In comparison, in the movies and subsequent shows, where ships fight at near zero range and maneuvre like aircraft (and often, WW2 aircraft) are complete fantasy.

Posted on May 15, 2011 9:58:55 AM PDT
"In comparison, in the movies and subsequent shows, where ships fight at near zero range and maneuvre like aircraft (and often, WW2 aircraft) are complete fantasy." Yes, but isn't that because it is much more visually exciting?

I haven't read any of the old sci-fi books in a while. Weren't there spaceship battles in the old "Skylark" novels? What were those like? (I've forgotten.)

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 10:22:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2011 10:55:30 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
Bob,

"Weren't there spaceship battles in the old "Skylark" novels? What were those like? (I've forgotten.)"

Mostly long range: mile-long spaceships using massive 'ray-guns' to attack other spacecraft and planets. Similar in the Lensman books, though I recall one direct-contact engagement between ships to counter the enemy shielding.

For that matter, there were weapons like the Sunbeam where the entire output of a star is focused as a weapon, or the Cone of Battle which 'spewed forth a miles-thick column of energy so raw, so stark, so incomprehensibly violent that it had to be seen to be even dimly appreciated. It simply cannot be described.'

Compared with many of these early space-opera concepts, Star Trek combat is pedestrian, and the Lensman series does seem, despite its wilder aspects and bad science, to have had an impact on the real world.

The 'tanks' used to co-ordinate and view the battlespace seem to have had a direct influence on the command and control protocols used by the USN, the ancestor of the modern Combat Information Centers, according to a letter published in Astounding in 1947. John W. Campbell quoted Captain Cal Laning that 'The entire set-up was taken specifically, directly, and consciously from the Directrix. In your story, you reached the situation the Navy was in-more communication channels than integration techniques to handle it. You proposed such an integrating technique and proved how advantageous it could be. You, sir, were 100% right. As the Japanese Navy-not the hypothetical Boskonian fleet-learned at an appalling cost.' Caleb Barrett Laning was a friend of Robert Heinlein.

http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=19339

Posted on May 15, 2011 11:19:53 AM PDT
MH,

I didn't know that Capt. Laning was a friend of Heinlein. Thanks for that interesting tidbit!

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 11:29:41 AM PDT
CivWar64 (Bob) says:
Re. mistakes in movies, I've heard that "Armageddon" is shown to new NASA employees to see how many mistakes they can spot. I believe that it's over 100!
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ah....employee training!

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 11:31:11 AM PDT
Will Azeperak says:

I'm a stickler for those things (I hate lazy scifi) but I do remember Isaac Asimov's advice to writers that writing a good story was more important than the science behind it. He was right, good science doesn't always make a good story.
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Bravo, without imagination, we'd have.... well, i don't know.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 11:36:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 15, 2011 11:39:34 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
Bob,

"I didn't know that Capt. Laning was a friend of Heinlein."

Believe they collaborated on a number of articles; Laning was a member of the Trap Door Spiders, along with Asimov, de Camp, del Rey, Pohl, Pratt and many others.

Posted on May 15, 2011 1:05:41 PM PDT
Leonard,

Yup. This link states that "it contains over 168 distinct things that are impossible (not just improbable, but impossible)"
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/01/nasa-uses-the-movie-armageddon-in-their-management-training-program/

And, in spite of those and some very very stupid parts, I hate to admit that I really liked the movie. My favorite actor in it was Peter Stormare as Lev the Russian Cosmonaut on the MIR space station. He was so over the top (excuse being that he was up there stranded all alone for a long time).

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 3:22:08 PM PDT
Photoscribe says:
Anybody want to get into a discussion as to why Dyson Spheres are impossible....?

First of all, mining the metals, non-metals, etc. to even make a START on one would entail being a combination of the Klingon and Romulan Empires, PLUS The Federation, etc. and gutting Heaven knows HOW many systems for resources....THEN you'd have to BUILD the fococta thing! Have any idea how many generations that would take for anybody beholden to three score and ten...??

Discuss.... :-|

The Last Voyage Of The Cassiopeia: A Novel Of Adventure And The Human Condition

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 3:43:51 PM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
"Anybody want to get into a discussion as to why Dyson Spheres are impossible....?"

Freeman Dyson's original concept wasn't a solid ring or shell but a swarm of a loose collection of habitats in orbit around a star, as he explained in a letter answering queries by Poul Anderson and others.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/132/3421/252.1

The idea of a solid shell entirely enclosing a star results from not understanding Dyson's concept, which was to maximise the capture of solar energy, not create a solid shell.

His clarification, in full:

RESPONSE: In reply to Maddox, Anderson and Sloane, I would only like to add the following points, which were omitted from my earlier communication.

1. A solid shell or ring surrounding a star is mechanically impossible. The form of "biosphere" which I envisaged consists of a loose collection or swarm of objects traveling on independent orbits around the star. The size and shape of the individual objects would be chosen to suit the inhabitants. I did not indulge in speculations concerning the constructional details of the biosphere, since the expected emission of infrared radiation is independent of such details.

2. It is a question of taste whether one believes that a stabilization of population and industry is more likely to occur close to the Malthusian limit or far below that limit. My personal belief is that only a rigid "police state" would likely to stabilize itself far below the Malthusian limit. I consider that an open society would be likely to expand by proliferation of the "city-states" each pursuing an independent orbit in space. Such an expansion need not be planned or dictatorially imposed; unless it were forcibly stopped it would result in the gradual emergence of an artificial biosphere of the kind I have suggested. This argument is admittedly anthropomorphic, and I resent it in full knowledge that the concepts of "police state" and "open society" are probably meaningless outside our own species.

3. The discovery of an intense point source of infrared radiation would not by itself imply that extraterrestrial intelligence has been found. On the contrary, one of the strongest reasons for conducting a search for such sources is that many new types of natural astronomical objects might be discovered.
Freeman J. Dyson
Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton, New Jersey

Posted on May 15, 2011 3:48:58 PM PDT
And then, Niven created Ringworld to 'solidify' the idea.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 4:03:34 PM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
Bob,

"And then, Niven created Ringworld to 'solidify' the idea."

And then Niven had to write The Ringworld Engineers to fix all the problems that were pointed out to him, especially by the MIT students at the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention chanting 'The Ringworld is unstable! The Ringworld is unstable!' And scrith is almost unreasonably strong.

Banks' Culture 'orbitals', which are miniature ringworlds, are a little more reasonable, but they would still require a very very strong material.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 5:10:35 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Oh, come on, MH! Scifi writers don't have to get the details right! They just have to tell a good STORY!

(I liked how Banks touched on the issue of orbital failure and emergency escape mechanisms in the last Culture book.)

Posted on May 15, 2011 8:32:42 PM PDT
Ron,

re: orbital failure and emergency escape mechanisms
I was reading this evening a retrospective on Yuri Gagarin's flight and learned the following new pretty amazing things:

1) On reentry an umbilical cord between the service module and his capsule didn't detach, and the two pieces wildly oscillated until the cord burned through and they separated and his capsule stabilized.

2) His ejection seat blew him out at 23,000 feet and he descended via parachute! This was planned, as the Vostok capsule parachutes were too small for safe landing and all Vostok astronauts landed this way. This was kept secret at first because the international body for records (FAI) had a rule that the pilot must stay with the vehicle from takeoff to landing! Can you imagine that this was standard practice??!! Not to worry, Yuri, the door will blow and the ejection seat will just pop you out at the right time!!

3) Since he died in 1968 (before Apollo 11), Armstrong and Aldren took one of his medals and placed it on the Moon, next to the Apollo 11 Eagle descent stage "where it lies today". Wow...I didn't know this, and this during the Cold War. Amazing!

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 9:41:44 PM PDT
Photoscribe says:
1. A solid shell or ring surrounding a star is mechanically impossible. The form of "biosphere" which I envisaged consists of a loose collection or swarm of objects traveling on independent orbits around the star. The size and shape of the individual objects would be chosen to suit the inhabitants. I did not indulge in speculations concerning the constructional details of the biosphere, since the expected emission of infrared radiation is independent of such details.
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I'm glad Herr Dyson had the good sense to realize the sphere, as we saw it in "Relics", was impossible. But what does infrared have to do with it? You'd have to worry about MUCH more than just infrared radiation in the construction of a theoretical Dyson Sphere....

Why did he even bring it up....?

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2011 12:30:00 AM PDT
D. Kneeland says:
Photoscribe,

I think you're misinterpreting the statement. It seems to me that he's stating that the consideration of habitation was outside of the Dyson Sphere's purpose of collecting infrared radiation for use as energy. Basically it simply was not considered.

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2011 12:39:10 AM PDT
Photoscribe says:
Photoscribe,

I think you're misinterpreting the statement. It seems to me that he's stating that the consideration of habitation was outside of the Dyson Sphere's purpose of collecting infrared radiation for use as energy. Basically it simply was not considered.
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I don't think the placement of the populace was even mentioned, and one would naturally assume that it would be INSIDE and not OUTSIDE the sphere where people would live. Why external, when atmosphere can be contained and vitamin D and solar power can be drawn from living INSIDE, not to mention the protection from the myriad hazards of open space....!

'Splain, Lucy! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2011 1:07:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 16, 2011 1:12:35 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
"I'm glad Herr Dyson had the good sense to realize the sphere, as we saw it in "Relics", was impossible. But what does infrared have to do with it? You'd have to worry about MUCH more than just infrared radiation in the construction of a theoretical Dyson Sphere...."

You are misunderstanding the context of the comment.

"Why did he even bring it up....? "

Because the detection of a star giving off high quantities of infrared
(heat in simplistic terms) in comparison with the rest of the EMS, would be a potential indication that a high percentage of the star's radiation was being blocked by artificial constructs in orbit around it. Dyson originally made the proposal as a means of the astronomical detection of advanced alien civilisations for SETI, but as his letter quoted above said, such a star might instead relate to 'new types of natural astronomical objects' instead.

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2011 1:28:41 AM PDT
Photoscribe says:
Well, considering how many stars and TYPES of stars that are supposed to be out there, anything's possible. However, I STILL don't see how this relates to the level of civilization of a star system.....

No matter how advanced any sentient race becomes, nature, especially on a cosmic scale, is ALWAYS going to overwhelm it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2011 1:42:09 AM PDT
D. Kneeland says:
M. Helsdon says:
"Because the detection of a star giving off high quantities of infrared
(heat in simplistic terms) in comparison with the rest of the EMS, would be a potential indication that a high percentage of the star's radiation was being blocked by artificial constructs in orbit around it."

Oh yeah. You are correct.
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
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Initial post:  Sep 24, 2009
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