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"Star Trek" and Real Science


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Posted on Sep 21, 2010 7:31:58 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Still flogging the "their physics" angle at the beginning of the month, I see. (snicker)

Posted on Oct 14, 2010 4:03:58 PM PDT
"Flogging"? You DO like using that word, RC. Possibly a ... favorite personal interaction?

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2010/10/flash-laser-unlocks-new-state-of-matter-todays-most-popular.html

Remember Scotty's "transparent aluminum" in the whale movie? Now it's reality.
'FLASH' LASER CREATES A TRANSPARENT FORM OF ALUMINUM. Material is in an exotic new state of matter with important implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2010 5:36:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2010 5:43:31 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "transparent aluminum"

I'm afraid that's not quite true. Yes, the material is "transparent" but only in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) range, that is, wavelengths of 10-120 nanometers (nm). It would not look like glass in visible light, to human eyes. By comparison, visible light wavelengths are 390-750 nm. Furthermore, the material remained "invisible" to EUV for only about 40 femtoseconds, that 40 x 10^-15 second or 0.000000000000040 second. Yes, I know, it's a start.

The article is interesting, nevertheless.

Reference(s):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_ultraviolet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visible_spectrum

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2010 7:52:18 PM PDT
Photoscribe says:
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Posted on Oct 14, 2010 8:22:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2010 8:32:55 PM PDT
R W Warren says:
Star Trek has nothing to do with science. Never has, never will. This is a perfect example of how the educational system has failed to teach science and how the hundreds of millions of dollars the National Science Foundation spends each year trying to educate the public about the nature of science is probably money poorly spent. Marilyn Martin's opening question shows just how ignorant people are about science.

First, science is NOT a body of facts or factoids. It isn't about particles or cooling atoms. I refer you to all of the position statements of the National Science Foundation, I refer you to the freshmen science curricula in high school and college, I refer you to post-graduate science in universities, colleges, and correspondence courses.

Second, I repeat. Science is not a body of facts or factoids. It is a way of knowing about the world, it is a method of viewing the world. Science is not to be confused with technology--these are two very, very different things. Just look at all those foolish engineers who testify at the Creation Science trials in southern states that try to "debunk" evolution. They are engineers, not scientists, and they haven't a clue about what science is about. I repeat: engineers are not scientists, and scientists are not engineers. Philosophers of technology and science struggle to define the relationships between the two. Does technology drive social advancement? Does science drive technology or merely enable it, or neither? Does science make a positive contribution to the advancement of technology? (Many say no, it does not. In fact, science in many ways suggests limits to technology that society does not wish to observe.)

Third, Science is not a collection of hypotheses tested through collection of data, although that is as much a part of it as a cell is a part of a human animal. As hypotheses are tested, they are gathered into collections of proofs, and these are called "Theories". It is amusing how some people will say "that's just a theory!" as if it is something small. In fact, a theory is about as strong a statement one can make in science. It's close to holy writ. One can get a few of the facts wrong, even a few of the hypotheses, but in general the "theory" is so robust it can take a few hypotheses and facts being proven wrong.

Fourth, science is not just a way of looking at the world, nor is it just a collection of facts and hypotheses and theories. It is also a social contract. It means submitting one's findings to peers and having them judge those findings. It means a test must be duplicated in a laboratory other than one's own. It means reproducible results. It means giving up an idea even though you love it and it is your own--you must give it up because someone proved it wrong.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is [was] an entertainment written by studio hacks who took the ideas of some science fiction writers--some of whom actually knew something about science and some of whom were busy making up stories about tribbles on space ships. As Tim Allen said in GALAXY QUEST--for that matter, as all the actors said in that movie--"Get a life!"

Don't waste time trying to turn an entertainment into science, and don't waste time trying to make science an entertainment. In other words, it's best a heart surgeon doesn't crack open your chest and start looking for tribbles, and it's best astronomers don't waste their time looking for tribbles on the rings of Saturn. The culture of Hollywood won't bear the close scrutiny of science, and the culture of science has never stood up well under the scrutiny of Hollywood. Deal with it. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact it is quite easy to deal with this dichotomy.

I am not saying there should be no science fiction. I am saying there is a continuum of fiction, with science fantasy (most sciFi today) at one end and the sort of science fiction written by Carl Sagan on the other end. One doesn't pretend to shed light on the life of scientists but might throw in a shred of fact, such as gravity causing an apple to fall; the other does an excellent job of shedding light on the life of scientists, with a little fiction thrown in--such as a secret message in the numbers of pi. Both can be enjoyed for what they are, but don't confuse either with real science or the real business of entertainment. Trust me, there is very little science going on during the business and storyline meetings in Hollywood, and they TRY (but sometimes fail) to keep the fiction out of the staff science meetings at JPL.

Posted on Oct 14, 2010 8:34:23 PM PDT
R.W.Warren,

That's all well and good, but I think you're missing the point that many scientists and engineers were INSPIRED by science fiction.
See this PBS story-> "Inspired by Science Fiction"
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/station/inspired.html

Posted on Oct 14, 2010 8:48:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2010 8:50:02 PM PDT
R W Warren says:
I didn't think this thread was about inspiration, I thought it was about "Star Trek Science" and "Real Science". The wonders of space frontiers in science fiction certainly inspired me. It still does, when I can find it. Hey, I wake up some mornings at 2 a.m. and deeply, sincerely wish I could be teleported to a starship and taken away from this mess of a world we've created. I'm waiting for an alien starship to intercept one of the two original Voyagers and suddenly appear in orbit around earth. Maybe that would finally make Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and all those nutcakes on FOX shut up for 30 seconds (that would be so nice!). I'm ready for the United Nations to start debating life extending drugs that would make us live 500 years. I'm ready for scientists to discover ancient artifacts from intelligent dinosaurs on Antarctica. Man, I wish I had a time machine 'cause there are some places I want to be and things I want to do!

When I wake up in the morning, though, and go into my office, and start evaluating the data, I have to put aside the thoughts of a time machine and deal with the facts....rats. I hate it, but I gotta do it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2010 9:40:25 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"'Flogging'? You DO like using that word, RC. Possibly a ... favorite personal interaction?"

You really end up posting nonsense when you try to be clever with the language, Marilyn. Much better if you just post what you mean to say, clearly. (And no, if I take your meaning correctly, not particularly. But I'm vicariously titillated by the thought of your thinking about me in that way. XXX ;D )

And by the way, as Walter showed, you misread/misunderstood another article!

ONE POINT!

(Walter, are you playing? The point should properly go to you if so...)

Posted on Oct 14, 2010 11:13:29 PM PDT
@RWW: "Star Trek has nothing to do with science. Never has, never will. This is a perfect example of how the educational system has failed to teach science and how the hundreds of millions of dollars the National Science Foundation spends each year trying to educate the public about the nature of science is probably money poorly spent. Marilyn Martin's opening question shows just how ignorant people are about science."

yes and no. Anything that gets people interested in the sciences and doesn't display scientists and engineers as a bunch of lunatic megalomaniacs intent only on destroying the planet is a good thing. Free propaganda for the sciences, so to speak :)
Star Trek is fantasy of course, but it's a source of inspiration for many to discuss and maybe go beyond that into true research wacky ideas.
I'm not sure we'd have had Motorola cellphones with hinged covers were it not for Star Trek communicators for example :)
As to MM: we all know MM isn't a shining beacon of scientific or engineering knowledge. I'd not equate that with the status of people in general (though I've a nagging suspicion I might be too optimistic here, a weird state of mind for me).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 1:12:06 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:
"Remember Scotty's "transparent aluminum" in the whale movie?"

You announced this several months ago on another thread and it was explained before that it's only transparent on certain limited wavelengths...

Posted on Oct 15, 2010 1:52:51 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 27, 2011 2:00:12 PM PDT]

Posted on Oct 15, 2010 3:37:36 AM PDT
Some good points, one and all. Thanks for posting.

The popular media is continually guilty-as-charged for using "catchy" headlines to grab more readers' attention. While scientists and engineers (like Walter) may find the contents of the article too flimsy, Bob is right in that future scientists and engineers will always be "inspired" by science fiction, and even sensationalized science articles.

If anyone is interested, here's my latest Computer Humor Essay, on "Search Engines":
http://webserver.computoredge.com/online.mvc?zone=NA&session=6d2686a64bd5f3797f20c6d62e708d9a

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 4:39:49 AM PDT
Dog Lover says:
R W Warren,

Fabulous post. Agree with every word. I"m still a trekkie though.

DL

Posted on Oct 15, 2010 8:24:46 AM PDT
R W Warren,

Ha, I hear you!

And, as you can tell already, these threads go wildly off topic.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 9:21:28 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
M. Helsdon, addressing Marilyn Martin, wrote:
"You announced this several months ago on another thread and it was explained before that it's only transparent on certain limited wavelengths..."

And everything old is new again! LOL

You think maybe she forgets she's posted them? Early onset of loss of memory function?

"If anyone is interested, here's my latest Computer Humor Essay..."

I did indeed get a good laugh from it, but maybe not in the way intended.

I guess if you're going to keep posting these links to your own stuff, it's a good thing that your post-retirement hobby is freelance writing and not something extreme like coprophiliac photography. Then again, having looked at what you're linking to....

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 1:20:49 PM PDT
Photoscribe says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2010 11:50:45 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Ah, Photoscribe, another hobbyist writer, HOW charming! And so clever!

I'm not sure what "nice lady" you're referring to, however... ???

And suffering from delusions of grandeur again, are we, *ordering* people around? LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2010 9:49:01 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 17, 2010 2:12:00 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 4:12:37 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"Paranoids suffer from delusions of grandeur or persecution."

Really? That's fascinating. I had no idea, not having any direct personal experience with psychologists, psychiatrists or other mental health professionals. :)

You seem to be rather distressed, and not a little confused. In one line you tell me I'm "NOT so great" and in the next you appear to be addressing me as "LORD". ???

Posted on Oct 17, 2010 4:41:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 17, 2010 4:45:51 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 5:05:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 17, 2010 5:13:32 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Interesting that you mention lawsuits, Marilyn, because just a few hours ago Photoscribe evidently threatened to sue me in a discussion thread on the page for his book he links to in his comment above. Warned me NOT to comment on the sample of his book. LOL

Me collect "fodder" for a lawsuit? That's maybe the funniest (and silliest) thing you've ever posted here. No, Marilyn, rest assured that I at least am not the sort of milquetoast crybaby that runs to the courts to have them fight my battles. HA HA! What's the matter, your paranoia getting the better of you? "Protected attack troll" and selectively deleted posts?! Are you REALLY still on that nonsense? You make these wild, *unsupportable* accusations that Amazon and I have something more than a normal vendor-customer relationship, implying that I am being paid to harass you and others, and then you actually wonder why they don't take your complaints seriously? Honestly?

This is what happens when you start buying into conspiracy theories and start seeing the bogeyman everywhere you turn.

Edit: I see you edited your comment while I was writing mine. It just keeps getting better! To wit:

"Any wonder he has a "special relationship" with Apple Computers?"

Huh?! What the? LOL. My god, woman, you are simply unbelievable! You're talking about my mac.com website again, aren't you? HA HA HA!!!

Um... do a little bit of actual research, why don't you? Start with ".Mac" (dot-Mac) and then MobileMe. Oh, heck, here, I'll do it for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MobileMe

It's a paid email & webspace service offered to Mac users by Apple Computer. I pay around $100 a year or so for several email addresses and about 10 GB of webspace. YOU really need help.

Posted on Oct 17, 2010 8:07:19 AM PDT
SandRider says:
this is about the stupidest mess I've ever read in these pages, and the good lord knows there a whole lotta stupid mess
around here ... how naive and/or ignorant of the Real World does someone have to be to still actually believe that calling
someone a name or claiming their opinion is worthless because they are obviously not smart enough to sit at the big
people's table is a legally actionable offense ?

and they always toss out "cyber-bullying", and "harassment", and "slander" and "libel", all words that have no meaning in
the context of adults posting messages on an internet forum ... the owners of the website have the right to control and
censor the content of their property, with or without reason - so if Amazon or any blaggher or anybody running a My Little
Pony forum wants to kick-ban a member for "obscene" language, or being "mean" to another member, well and good ... but
to think there is an actionable legal offense committed ... my god ... have you people just quit watching all the MSNBC
Danger-Internet-Danger Predators and ID Thieves and Bears, oh my! shows ? Even those world wide ignorant people have
explained that to the Dumb Americans ... Chris Hansen has a YouTube video about it ...

and it's way too late to say it, but I will anyway:
you people are cancer - GTFO the internet - die in a fire

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 8:32:50 AM PDT
Photoscribe says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 9:33:00 AM PDT
Photoscribe says:
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Posted on Oct 17, 2010 11:18:43 AM PDT
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  36
Total posts:  511
Initial post:  Sep 24, 2009
Latest post:  Jul 29, 2013

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