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February 19, 2010 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Star Trek’s Warp Speed would kill According to a recent presentation and paper by William A. Edelstein, Ph.D., it would nearly impossible for humans to travel at near light speed (warp speed) due to intense radiation. So intense, it would kill humans and render electronic equipment useless in seconds. Some Star Trek fans are not happy...

In an interview with the Toronto Star, he posits that due to Einstein's special theory of relativity the amount of hydrogen atoms in compressed space due to near light speed travel would be akin to someone standing in front of a LHC beam.

Strangely, The Star adds:
"However, there may something in the future that one day may allow this to happen."

My favourite quote from the editors:
"Update: An earlier version of this story referred to the Borg using cloaking technology, which several readers pointed out is not supported by televisual evidence. Of course, we were speculating on the technology existing in the alternate universe created by J. J. Abrams. However, to avoid confusion we have amended the decloaking reference to cite the Romulans."
posted by purephase (147 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
So casting a paper like this in terms of an escapist adventure show like Star Trek is stupid. Sure, all other things being as we currently understand them, accelerating to the speed of light would kill you.

But Warp Drive is not meant to be "all other things being as we currently understand them", it's a script convenience that lets you travel between the stars quickly by mitigating whatever problems that would prevent you from doing so. Period. Warp Drive is defined as "that which allows a starship and its passengers to travel quickly and safely between the stars." Star Trek's fictional warp speed wouldn't kill because it did the fictional characters who use it would die, and they don't.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


They're "not happy" because people understood this a hundred years ago. Why the hell is this story making the rounds?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


“They said warp speed could not be accomplished,” Spock’s brother said in Star Trek V. So Dr. Edelstein’s paper does not contract Star Trek canon.
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [59 favorites]


Why would they be upset? It's the show that used the Heisenberg Compensator to handwave away the other physical wall they ran into.

Since when was Star Trek hard sci fi?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought the point of the Star Trek Warp Drive was that the ship, proper, didn't travel anywhere near c, it warped space in front of it and travelled over it at sublight speed, but the net effect was supraluminal travel.

But wow -- 10,000Sv/s? 10Sv is rated LD100/14 -- that is, 100% lethal, death in 14 days, and this is a thousand times that exposure every second. 7TeV is pretty damn impressive -- not up in the Oh My God particle, but we're looking at the kinetic energy of a fly imparted on a proton. One of the huge problems that the LHC has to deal with is the energy in the beam once it ramps to those levels.

This doesn't really screw with Star Trek, but it's really a gut shot to Al Reynolds' Revelation Space universe.
posted by eriko at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Captain's log, Stardate 2135.43. We are about to take the Starship Enterprise on her maiden voyage at warp speed.

"Mr. Sulu, ahead warp factor 1."

Skin ... burning. Blood ... boiling. Crew ... melting.

"Edelsteeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn!!!!!!"
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [20 favorites]


"...even the most newbie of Trekkies knows about the Navigational Deflector Array."

...yeah, I'm just gonna let that sit out there.
posted by darksasami at 7:18 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's why they have the deflector dish, duh.

Look, I'm not saying it would work, but the writers did invent a piece of tech to deal with this problem.
posted by ryanrs at 7:19 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


fiction≠reality

wow... this screws up a whole lot of stuff...
posted by HuronBob at 7:19 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wasn't the dish on the front of the Enterprise the deflector shield that allowed it to operate at warp speed? After all, interstellar hydrogen wasn't the only thing they had to worry about. Even a small speck of dust can be dangerous if you hit it at high enough velocity.
posted by tommasz at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hum. Reading your post, I thought, "Why on earth is he framing this in terms of Star Trek?" Seeing that the article makes the connection, yeah, it's superfluous.

But I think it's actually a nice little touch as far as journalistic narratives go. Light-speed travel is such a collective human dream, I'd guess because of sci-fi like Star Trek, that any more evidence in the "impossible" column is so much more depressing than if that cultural connection had never existed.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:24 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The authors obviously didn't take into account the effect of reversing the polarity of, erm, something. Maybe the flux. Yeah, the flux. That's it.
posted by pompomtom at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Santa's sleigh ride would incinerate Rudolph in less than a second. So it's, you know, not possible.
posted by longsleeves at 7:27 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


...yeah, I'm just gonna let that sit out there.

That's why they have the deflector dish, duh.

Wasn't the dish on the front of the Enterprise the deflector shield that allowed it to operate at warp speed?


Oh my God, I love Metafilter.
posted by lootie777 at 7:29 PM on February 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


NEERRDS!
posted by sciurus at 7:31 PM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


The spacecraft's hull would provide little protection.

Force fields. DUH!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:32 PM on February 19, 2010


OK, once again, I am called to rescue my childhood space-operas from the purgatory of implausibility.

*ahem*

"Sheilds up, Mr. Sulu."
"Shields up, aye Captian."
"Ahead warp factor three, which we can survive, as we have shields, which are forcefields that can fucking take energy weapons without flinching, Mr. Sulu."
"Ahead warp factor three without dying, aye Captain."
"Admire my highwaters over tall boots while I mack on Uhura, Mr. Sulu."
"Secretly nursing a leather-daddy crush, aye Captain."

Any other physicists wanna rain on Nerd-Boy's parade? It's Friday night, you know I ain't got no date, so bring it, chumpy.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2010 [52 favorites]


“They said warp speed could not be accomplished,” Spock’s brother said in Star Trek V. So Dr. Edelstein’s paper does not contract Star Trek canon.
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 10:18 PM on February 19 [3 favorites -] [!]


with a handle like that, nobody'll ever believe you. but bonus points for spelling canon right ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2010


'Bonanza' is not an accurate depiction of the west.
It's about 50-year-old father with three 47-year-old sons. You got these four guys living on the Ponderosa and you never hear them say anything about wanting to get laid.
I mean you never hear Hoss say to Little Joe, "I had such a hard-on when I woke up this morning."
They don't talk about broads - nothing. You never hear Little Joe say, "Hey, Hoss, I went to Virginia City and I saw a girl with the greatest ass I've ever seen in my life." They just walk around the Ponderosa: "Yes, Pa, where's Little Joe?" Nothin' about broads. I don't think I'm being too picky. But, if at least once, they talked about getting horny - I don't care if you live on the Ponderosa or right here on Metafilter, guys talk about getting laid.
I'm beginning to think that show doesn't have too much realism.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


NEERRDS!

I came here to post this only with one more E. So here: E.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:34 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So is going off an random alien planets that look like Griffith park and sleeping with their women but you don't see that stopping the Captain.
posted by The Whelk at 7:35 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they've actually covered this pretty extensively. Star Trek warp travel (oh god, I might as well just surrender my genitals now because I'm never getting laid again after this next sentence) "worked" by creating sort of a bubble around the ship, and inside the bubble all the laws of physics stayed the same. They also had a sort of similar plot on one TNG episode, where some aliens discovered that radiation from warp travel was causing serious environmental damage and might destroy their world, so warp speed was limited except for emergencies which actually was referred back to a few times until "the restriction was lifted" during the Dominion War arc on DS9 and it was never referred to again.

I am such a fucking dork.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


The hull is obviously coated with transparent aluminum which protects the crew from all radiation.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:39 PM on February 19, 2010


Fun Fact: when Stephen Hawking guest starred on TNG, he took a tour of the set before filming his scenes, and when he passed the engineering set with the warp drive, he said "WE'RE WORKING ON THAT".
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [34 favorites]


One could easily solve this problem by teching the tech with the tech tech.
posted by brundlefly at 7:42 PM on February 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


The hull is obviously coated with transparent aluminum which protects the crew from all radiation

No! Fail! Transparent aluminum was the only material light and durable enough to make a whale survival pod from! We also learned that you could work Mathmatica and MacCad with only keyboard shortcuts, and being Scottish makes you an excellent typist. Scotty was intelligent enough to avoid the mouse, as it would give him carp tunneling synthesis.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


“They said warp speed could not be accomplished,” Spock’s brother said in Star Trek V. So Dr. Edelstein’s paper does not contract Star Trek canon.

I'm pretty sure Gene Roddenberry said that the events of Star Trek V should be considered apocryphal.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 7:49 PM on February 19, 2010


Ummm I was kidding Slap*Happ
posted by Omon Ra at 7:51 PM on February 19, 2010


Who are you going to believe, some phd you never heard of or 8 billion hours of video evidence to the contrary?
posted by doctor_negative at 7:54 PM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


which are forcefields that can fucking take energy weapons without flinching

Well, to be fair, there was a fair lot of flinching going on. The shields were all flinch, tbh. The meter only had four readings, like:

- Maximum power to shields. Captain:cocky.
|
- Shields failing. Captain: stern
|
- 3%. Captain: scolded by engineer shouting "she cannae take it".
|
- Shields failed. Captain: Negotiating.
posted by bonaldi at 7:58 PM on February 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


Ummm I was kidding Slap*Happ

Dude, it is a discussion of the intricate details of Star Trek. This is serious business. You got to come correct.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:01 PM on February 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ah, geez, this ruins all my plans for universal domination...back to slacking!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:02 PM on February 19, 2010


Of course, that paper was a "re-creation" of the "Evil William A. Edelstein, Ph.D" from um... Episode, um... THIRTY-SEVEN... uhh... called... "The Enemy Within."

So everybody... set your phasers on stun, 'cause... THIS CONVENTION'S AHEAD WARP FACTOR NINE, Y'KNOW? RIGHT! ALL RIGHT! WARP FACTOR NINE!
posted by Ratio at 8:04 PM on February 19, 2010


Point taken DecemberBoy, you're right... does anybody have the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual on hand? Crap why did I have to put that particular book in storage...
posted by Omon Ra at 8:08 PM on February 19, 2010


Isn't that what inertial dampeners are for?
posted by dr_dank at 8:08 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't that what inertial dampeners are for?

Oh, now you're just trolling.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [14 favorites]


this is why I can stay at home on a friday night and be happy as hell.....
posted by HuronBob at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2010


(meant to say contradict, sorry)
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2010


First of all, any real Star Trek fan knew that in reality warp speed would instantly turn any vessel into interstellar Swiss cheese. As others have pointed out, deflector shields dealt not just with hydrogen atoms, but whatever bits of interstellar dust the Enterprise encountered. It's freaking science fiction. It's not supposed to be actually possible - they're just supposed to give it a sufficient gloss of plausibility to allow you to suspend disbelief and just enjoy it. And they do. As has also been pointed out, Star Trek got around far more fundamental problems with their technology with such hilarious devices as "Heisenberg Compensators."

For my money, nothing in Star Trek TNG is as incredible as the fact that whenever they were in a firefight, it took them 20 seconds to order every fucking shot of their weapons systems. Seriously, you have like eight phaser banks and tons of photon torpedoes, but you can't just say to Worf, "Light 'em the fuck up!" and let the computer do the work? When I re-watch the series now, it bothers me way, way more than any laws-of-physics loosey-goosey.
posted by Dasein at 8:19 PM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


ryanrs That's why they have the deflector dish, duh.

One phrase, and I'll drop out of this conversation.

"Alcubierre effect".

Google it for why the Enterprise experiences none of he nasty effects of
moving very, very fast (Lorenz smearing of background stars notwithstanding).
posted by pla at 8:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am very happy because I read all this and got to the bottom of the page and there is a lovely little link after the last comment to go to the previous post... Sex@MIT. I'm thinking that I pretty much just covered MIT sex by reading this page so I can just skip that post.
posted by Babblesort at 8:26 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


To join the general geekery: warp drive at all is impossible, because it's defined at traveling much faster than the speed of light, although I don't think it's ever been defined in terms of actual speed. Impulse engines are sublight speed.

The speed of light appears to be the most fundamental limit there is, one that can't ever be exceeded in a meaningful way. (quantum entanglement exceeds light speed, but it doesn't appear that useful information can be transmitted that way, so the limit holds.) So, if you're granting that they're violating the most fundamental universal law of all, the thing that space and time themselves will bend to enforce, it's really not much of a stretch to say that they've figured out how not to get hit by shit.
posted by Malor at 8:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And nobody's mentioned the Unruh effect?
posted by oonh at 8:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other news, a leading chef has pointed out that the Giant could not in fact grind Jack's bones to make his bread, because no known species of yeast will consume bone meal to produce the gases that make bread rise, nor does bone meal have the right protein structures to achieve the qualities of bread dough. Meanwhile, a geneticist has also pointed out that you cannot identify the blood of an Englishman by olfactory methods.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:48 PM on February 19, 2010 [36 favorites]



NEERRDS!

I came here to post this only with one more E. So here: E.


I see your 'E' and raise you an Ogre.
posted by mikelieman at 8:48 PM on February 19, 2010


Speaking of nerds, what does it say that I instantly recognized Smedleyman's monologue from Tim Men?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 PM on February 19, 2010


TIN Men, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 PM on February 19, 2010


This thread is the sole reason there should be a DateMeFi. My heart's all aflutter with this geekery going on.
posted by june made him a gemini at 8:51 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, I take the DMF part back on a very quick second-thought.
posted by june made him a gemini at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


*cough*emailisintheprofilecough*
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying is that humans successfully travelling at warp speeds would be a fiction.

Of science.

I see.
posted by mazola at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


"...even the most newbie of Trekkies knows about the Navigational Deflector Array."

STAN: Sgt. Stanley Marsh is trapped behind enemy lines. His only chance of survival is to sneak past the Bosnian guard who stands watch. [Cartman, patroling the invisible boundary] Sgt. Marsh knows it's now or never. He must make a run for it. [waits for Cartman, with wooden toy rifle, to pass, then rushes past him] American base is only a few feet away.

CARTMAN: [turns right and notices Stan, then] Master thief, halt! [they fire away at each other. From behind a nearby bush, Kyle and Kenny pop up and fire at Cartman] It will take more than your weak American weapons to destroy me!

STAN: Cartman, we shot your Bosnian fat ass!

KYLE: Yeah! You're dead!

CARTMAN: I have Class 4 armor on, that, uh, ih-ih-

STAN: No, you don't!

CARTMAN: -special armor, that's impenetrable to American bullets.

KYLE: Dude! Every time we play Americans vs. Bosnians, you cheat!

STAN: Yeah, Cartman, you suck! If you want to play Americans vs. Bosnians any more, you can just play with yourself! [he and Kyle leave]

CARTMAN: That's fine! I'd like playing with myself! I'll play with myself all day long! [Kenny laughs and Cartman looks at him] What?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:53 PM on February 19, 2010


Being a geek, but not so much a Star Trek geek (occasional fan will have to suffice), I always presumed that warp speed operated around principles of folding space, to not so much travel faster than light speed as to "warp" space to reach your destination faster than you could through strict linear travel.

I humbly thank you, MF Star Trek geeks, for setting me straight.
posted by Brak at 9:05 PM on February 19, 2010


My heart's all aflutter with this geekery going on.

Anyone wanna come back to my place and check out my commemorative Captain Picard plate from the Franklin Mint?

I don't actually have a Captain Picard plate. My brother does, though. Really.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:06 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This just in: the Vulcan nerve pinch is very, very real.
posted by mazola at 9:09 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like all the other nerds said, this shit is comprehensively covered in-universe.
posted by Artw at 9:13 PM on February 19, 2010


Also you can't just go through Hyperspace like Star Wars does, because it's full of monsters that'll kill you as soon as you move. We know this from Dr. Tillinghast's work.
posted by Artw at 9:20 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's an arXiv paper where a physics grad student showed test subjects dying of boredom from Star Trek sequels, but I can't find it. I'll keep looking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 PM on February 19, 2010


Is your brother on MeFi?
Kidding. Mostly.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:27 PM on February 19, 2010


The correct title for the post would have been "Khaaaaaaaaaan't!"
posted by Artw at 9:31 PM on February 19, 2010 [26 favorites]


It's just a TV show, people.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 9:47 PM on February 19, 2010


In regards to the composition of the hull, it says in Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, page 23:
"The outermost hull layer is composed of a 1.6 cm sheet of AGP* ablative ceramic fabric chemically bonded onto a substrate of 0.15 cm tritanium foil. This material is formed into segments of approximately 3.7 m² and is attached to the radiation attenuation layer by a series of duranium fasteners, which allows individual segments to be replaced as necessary. (Micrometeoroid erosion is kept to a minimum by the deflector shield system, but is sufficient to warrant replacement of 30% of leading-edge segments on the average of every 7.2 standard years.)...

Somebody gave me this book, I swear it, and it's just a coincidence that it's Friday night and I'm here instead of somewhere else. Honest.

*axially granulated polymer
posted by ambulocetus at 9:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually, there are dangerous alien beings in hyperspace that can only be avoided by the use of pilots with specific brain configurations that correlate to some things currently termed mental illnesses. The pilots can see the dragons and move ships through space, but they have to be medicated when they're not traveling due to the paranoia engendered by their conditions.
posted by winna at 10:01 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


You got these four guys living on the Ponderosa and you never hear them say anything about wanting to get laid.

My fantasies always perfectly well accounted for this.
posted by troybob at 10:03 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


This doesn't really screw with Star Trek, but it's really a gut shot to Al Reynolds' Revelation Space universe.

IIRC The lighthuggers have a shitload of ice up front, in addition to whatever other exotic technologies. Be interesting to get an astrophysicists take on this from Al Reynolds though.
posted by Artw at 10:10 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jason Nesmith: Mathesar, there's no such person as Captain Taggart. My name is Jason Nesmith. I'm an actor. We're all actors.
Sarris: He doesn't understand. Explain as you would a child.
Jason Nesmith: We, uh, we pretended. [On Malthesar's blank look.] We lied.

Jason Nesmith: I'm not a commander. There's no "National Space Exploration Administration." We don't have a ship.
Mathesar: [looking at TV screen] But there it is...!
Jason Nesmith: [gesturing with his fingers] The ship is that big.
Mathesar: But inside, I see many rooms.
Jason Nesmith: You've seen plywood sets that look like the inside. Our beryllium sphere is... is wire with plaster around it. And our digital conveyor is... it's Christmas tree lights. It's a decoration. It's all fake. Just like me.
Mathesar: But why...?
Jason Nesmith: It's difficult to explain. On our planet, we, uh... we pretend to... to entertain. Mathesar, I am so sorry. God, I am so sorry.
posted by dhartung at 10:28 PM on February 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Actually if my understanding of lighthugger layout is correct then the drives might be in trouble, as they hang out from the sides of the craft and would not have the benefit of the kilometer or so of shielding the long skinny body would have. But they kind of have to, as they need to take in the interstellar hydrogen to propell the craft, being a sort of ramscoop type affair.
posted by Artw at 10:33 PM on February 19, 2010


Well, as other people covered, warp isn't at light speed, it's altering space time to travel through space.

Anyway, anyone wonder why it is the borg never developed cloaking devices? I mean, the only reason the federation didn't have it was because of their treaty with the Romulans. And actually, there was a TNG episode where some renegade federation ship actually did develop a cloaking device -- one that actually let the ship phase through normal matter.

Obviously, having no such treaties, why wouldn't the borg develop cloaking devices? They were able to figure out time travel.

Maybe they just figured their ships were so bad-ass they just didn't even need it.
posted by delmoi at 10:37 PM on February 19, 2010


This just in: the Vulcan nerve pinch is very, very real.

Yeah, I was in Hawaii, in Oahu, at the marine park there. An old Japanese guy was the guide, and he was doing nerve pinches on people in the group. They would laugh, and he would touch someone's leg, and the person would fall the fuck down, and everyone would laugh again. It was pretty insane.
posted by Huck500 at 10:37 PM on February 19, 2010


Well, that totally wrecks The City on the Edge of Forever.
posted by bwg at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2010


I am such a fucking dork.

Yes. Yes, you are. But then again, so are the rest of us.

Carry on sir.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, the only reason the federation didn't have it was because of their treaty with the Romulans.

Which they were able to re-negotiate in DS9 during the Dominion War so the Defiant could install a Romulan cloaking device, which only ever worked like, 1/2 the time, probably because it had those big weird plugs like they have in Europe and the adapter kept breaking. Or something.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:47 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yes, it's a TV show, yes it's fiction, but it is an idea. Humans have done some amazing things, but if we sat around and didn't try just because someone said "it's not possible," we wouldn't have gotten out of the trees.

There were many scientists that said we couldn't do things, and then we did them.

There were plenty of scientists that thought that human beings could not withstand long periods above 25mph.

There were plenty of scientists that said you couldn't go faster than the speed of sound, go to another planet, explore the deepest depths of the oceans, transmit sounds over radio waves, replace human organs, assemble a embryo outside of a womb, and thousands of other things.

When a scientist says you can't do something, he just might be right. For now. But if you don't try, you'll never know, right?
posted by chambers at 10:58 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The other Unruh effect
posted by flabdablet at 11:00 PM on February 19, 2010


I mean, the only reason the federation didn't have it was because of their treaty with the Romulans.

Not for lack of technologically and diplomatically inadvisable trying, though (by none other than John Locke). I think DiscourseMaker is right -- the Federation just doesn't have cloak mojo.
posted by lumensimus at 11:01 PM on February 19, 2010


There were plenty of scientists that said you couldn't go faster than the speed of sound, go to another planet, explore the deepest depths of the oceans, transmit sounds over radio waves, replace human organs, assemble a embryo outside of a womb, and thousands of other things.

Well, I can't do any of those things, so I guess those scientists were right. How the hell do they know so much about me, anyway?
posted by logopetria at 11:37 PM on February 19, 2010


Yes, it's a TV show, yes it's fiction, but it is an idea. Humans have done some amazing things, but if we sat around and didn't try just because someone said "it's not possible," we wouldn't have gotten out of the trees.

Anyone interested in helping me out with this castle I've been wanting to build on this swamp?
posted by 7segment at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyway, anyone wonder why it is the borg never developed cloaking devices?

Perhaps they did, but the cloaking broke the comm link with the hive mind. So the hive sees a ship vanish into thin air and wonders, "goddamn it, why does that keep happening?". And the lone ship is like, "why are they ignoring us all of a sudden?". And so for every Borg ship we see, there are a dozen cloaked ones following it around, saying "Come on, guys, this isn't funny! Stop ignoring me!"
posted by equalpants at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


What are people going to do if they see them coming? Resist. What is restistance...?
posted by Artw at 11:43 PM on February 19, 2010


Next you're gonna tell me that hottie Orion chick that Cap'n Kirk did ISN'T REALLY GREEN.
posted by HyperBlue at 12:02 AM on February 20, 2010


I would just like to point out that that Toronto Star article listed Spock as a Lieutenant, when he actually holds the rank of Commander - Commander, people! - and as a working journalist here in Toronto, the mistake has been driving me FUCKING NUTS ALL DAY AND I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

Better.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:09 AM on February 20, 2010


Well, I take the DMF part back on a very quick second-thought.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:52 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


Date The MetaFilter Already
posted by adamdschneider at 12:14 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see any problem unless he also bothers to prove that everyone on board the Enterprise was human.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:43 AM on February 20, 2010


Wait until this Edelstein character gets his eyeballs on a copy of The Phantom Menace. Whoo, boy.
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:47 AM on February 20, 2010


I'm just here waiting for a Star Trek hipster to point out that fixie warp drives are better the variable ones.
posted by srboisvert at 12:53 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


My fantasies always perfectly well accounted for this.

Why else would the ranch foreman be nicknamed 'Candy' Canaday?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:29 AM on February 20, 2010


I'm just here waiting for a Star Trek hipster to point out that fixie warp drives are better the variable ones

But fixie warp nacelles are better than variable ones.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:47 AM on February 20, 2010


What if we could create a high impulse tachyon beam focused through the deflector dish?

Make it so.
posted by jabo at 2:14 AM on February 20, 2010


Because nobody could ever ionize a hydrogen atom and use a magnetic field to push the now positively charged particles out of the ship's path.

No. They'd just sit there and absorb lethal amounts of radiation.

I hope people in 2151 when they make the real enterprise look back and laugh at this asshole trying to rain on everyone's parade.
posted by Talez at 2:56 AM on February 20, 2010


Woah. John Locke was on the Enterprise. Mind = blown.
posted by Harry at 3:36 AM on February 20, 2010


What is resistance...?

V over I, same as in town.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:49 AM on February 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


> ArtW

If I remember right--it's been a year or so since I read any of Reynolds' stuff--lighthugger drives aren't ramscoops. They actually work by


spoiler

...creating a wormhole through time and space to just after the big bang. What they're spewing out for propulsion is raw quark-gluon plasma.

/spoiler


OH GOD WHERE DID THIS BEARD AND WOLF MOON SHIRT COME FROM
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:00 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


BTW, I wonder why we haven't sent out anyone to see what happened to the Botany Bay? It's been, like, 14 years since all those genetically engineered Indian/Spaniards took off in the thing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:06 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, they time travel in Star Trek and all that, so I guess it doesn't matter, but another reason a warp drive wouldn't work (and more importantly, Star Trek's almost-instant interstellar communications) is that it violates causality.
posted by moonbiter at 4:22 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


To join the general geekery: warp drive at all is impossible, because it's defined at traveling much faster than the speed of light, although I don't think it's ever been defined in terms of actual speed.

Don't be so sure.
posted by EarBucket at 5:01 AM on February 20, 2010


There were plenty of scientists that thought that human beings could not withstand long periods above 25mph.

There were plenty of scientists that said you couldn't go faster than the speed of sound, go to another planet, explore the deepest depths of the oceans, transmit sounds over radio waves, replace human organs, assemble a embryo outside of a womb, and thousands of other things.


Name one.
posted by Humanzee at 5:17 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


There were plenty of scientists that said you couldn't go faster than the speed of sound, go to another planet, explore the deepest depths of the oceans, transmit sounds over radio waves, replace human organs, assemble a embryo outside of a womb, and thousands of other things.

Well, you gotta realize three things.

First, it was just SOME scientists. A few of them said "highly unlikely", but damn few (none??) hung their shingles over "impossible". This time around, they're virtually unanimous in the claim that FTL travel is extraordinarily unlikely, barring some major breakthrough in our understanding of the universe. There is at least one more of those left, so it's not "impossible!" yet, but we have just mountains of data that say very explicitly that the speed of light is an absolute upper bound.

Second: They've had another hundred, hundred and fifty years at this science thing. Once upon a time, some scientists were worried that you might suffocate if you exceeded twenty miles an hour. But in the intervening century and a half, they've improved their models just a scoche.

Third: the speed of light is such a fundamental constant that space, time, and mass will bend themselves in any way necessary to maintain that coherence. The speed of light is ALWAYS measured at the same speed, everywhere in the Universe, no matter what else has to change to make that happen. Your size, for instance, is completely not a fixed thing; you literally stretch out as you approach light speed. You also become more massive. Yes, you actually have more mass at relativistic velocities.

The things we think are fixed, aren't -- that was Einstein's amazing insight. And the thing we think SHOULD be malleable, the maximum possible measurable speed, is absolutely constant.

The Universe is a very strange place, and when a modern scientist tells you that FTL travel is exceedingly unlikely, he has a vast amount of data supporting that position. It's still an incomplete theory, so there's room for a glimmer of hope, but it's just a glimmer.
posted by Malor at 5:42 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]




NB Decemberboy's story about Stephen Hawking was a totally worthy recipient of my 500th favourite.
posted by WPW at 5:46 AM on February 20, 2010


why wouldn't the borg develop cloaking devices? They were able to figure out time travel.

We don't know that they did figure it out, though; given all we know about the Borg, I'd guess that they found some species that was doing some early-stage experiments with time travel, then assimilated them. We're never led to believe that the Borg are tremendously adept at R&D, just asshole conquering. Maybe they just haven't assimilated anyone with cloaking capabilities?

Wait, no, thinking about this: they assimilated at least one or two Klingons. Although maybe those particular Klingons didn't know much about the tech, so the Borg couldn't get anything from them? Certainly, if the Borg grabbed me, they would learn how to drive stick, but that's still a far cry from being able to build a Toyota.

Actually, equalpants's theory seems reasonably plausible -- it somehow fucks with the Borg techno-telepathy. equalpants, I award you today's Convoluted Justification Of The Week Award!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:16 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. I noticed this talk in the schedule at the conference last weekend. It was at the same time as something else, but I saw a New Scientist reporter and figured I'd hear about it again.

Has Edelstein tried to put out a paper on this? I don't see any reference apart from this post, and it sounds like a conference presentation done on a lark.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:37 AM on February 20, 2010


Malor: Your size, for instance, is completely not a fixed thing; you literally stretch out as you approach light speed.
At the risk of pedantry, it's length contraction. Remember the pole-in-barn problem.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:41 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I remember right--it's been a year or so since I read any of Reynolds' stuff--lighthugger drives aren't ramscoops. They actually work by

Ha ha! NERDWAR! I WIN! From Revelation Space:

For another kilometre she passed through only sparsely pressurised districts. Volyova felt her weight lessen and knew she was passing the engines -- braced beyond the hull on elegant, sweptback spars. Gape-mouthed, they sucked in tiny amounts of interstellar hydrogen and subjected the harvest to some frankly unimaginable physics. No one, not even Volyova, pretended to know how the Conjoiner engines worked. What mattered was that they functioned. What also mattered was that they gave off a steady warm glow of exotic particle radiation, and while most would have been mopped up by the ship's hull shielding, some of it would get through. That was why the elevator sped up momentarily as it dropped past the engines, and then slowed down to its normal descent speed once it had passed out of danger

(Though once we get to the next novel I'm pretty sure that you're right too. Dunno if the hydrogen thing goes away. It could all just be spider lies about the hydrogen of course. )
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on February 20, 2010


I think it's pretty obvious why the Borg never developed a cloaking device: They are so seriously Bad Ass that they don't care who sees them.
posted by tommasz at 6:53 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


FTL travel? Sounds more like FML travel, am I right?
posted by condour75 at 6:55 AM on February 20, 2010


Ahem.
posted by fuq at 7:26 AM on February 20, 2010


BTW, I wonder why we haven't sent out anyone to see what happened to the Botany Bay? It's been, like, 14 years since all those genetically engineered Indian/Spaniards took off in the thing.

Star Trek chronology got really confused when we got to the point where actual history conflicted with its invented near-future history. World War III was supposed to have happened in the 90s, Khan was supposed to have taken over most of the world, etc. Then when we got to DS9, we had a two-parter taking place pretty close to right now in which things were pretty bad and they were herding homeless people into huge South Africa homeland-style camps in San Francisco, but there didn't seem to have been any huge wars recently. Hey, it's not their fault, no one expected the franchise to be around this long.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2010


If you think that's bad, try being a 2000AD reader - hey, it was a futuristic date back then!
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on February 20, 2010


Plus, they just made up the near-future history as they went along to support whatever they were writing at the time, so it'd be impossible to keep that straight. I think they had the name "Zephram Cochrane" going back to the original series, but they never said much about how warp was invented, how the Federation was formed, etc. until much, much later. In fact, in the first few episodes they hadn't even come up with the Federation yet. In one episode the Enterprise was under control of the "United Earth Space Probe Agency" (which gets referred back to in "Enterprise" once).
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2010


(I'm sorry, the Eugenics Wars were supposed to have happened in the 90s. World War III isn't supposed to happen for a while yet if I remember right).
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:10 AM on February 20, 2010


Ha ha! NERDWAR! I WIN!

Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock at dawn.

At dawn, I say.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:17 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's actually a story in Galactic North with another *shocking secret* revealed about the drives... but it's IMHO kind of lame so I pretend it never happened.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on February 20, 2010


the Eugenics Wars were supposed to have happened in the 90s. World War III isn't supposed to happen for a while yet

Maybe it did happen but we were kept in the dark by MSM.

WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!
posted by mazola at 8:27 AM on February 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


So, the reason the Borg don't have cloaking technology is because they haven't developed object permanence yet? The federation could have beaten them with a game of peak-a-boo?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:46 AM on February 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I always assumed cloaking devices are just kinda Un-Federation, they're sneaky and mean and don't jive with the Federation's Official Policy or whatevers.

Also, alternate conjecture about the Borg? They're not a menace, they're annoying, at this point the Borg have had their asses handed them so often they've stopped being threatening and just become irritating. Like getting ants. They're collectively dumb as rocks and are only scary en mass.
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, over successive encounters they've been nerfed to the point where they are about as much as a threat as tribbles. When they first turned up they were kind of cool though.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on February 20, 2010


ENGAGE! No, wait...
posted by davidmsc at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2010


This was the most delicious nerd fight I've ever seen.

Let me try to start another one... HOW DID BILL FALL OUT OF THE ARMOR WHEN HE HIT THE GROUND?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait... Warp drive won't work? Now what the fuck am I supposed to do with all of this dilithium I've been waiting to sell?? The profits were supposed to finance my PhD in Holodeck Architecture.
posted by polluxopera at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2010


> But Warp Drive is not meant to be "all other things being as we currently understand them",
> it's a script convenience that lets you travel between the stars quickly by mitigating whatever
> problems that would prevent you from doing so. Period. Warp Drive is defined as "that which
> allows a starship and its passengers to travel quickly and safely between the stars."
> Star Trek's fictional warp speed wouldn't kill because it did the fictional characters who
> use it would die, and they don't. (emphasis added by jfuller)
> posted by George_Spiggott at 10:17 PM on February 19 [15 favorites +] [!]

I once sat in a seminar with a very well known scientist (initials SJG) who was riffing on the giant ants in Them and how they couldn't have existed because they'd collapse of their own weight.

I wouldn't dream of interrupting SJG mid-riff but in my silent heart I was going "how do you know what these critters are made of? You got fucking tissue samples from these guys? They're fucking Hollywood Atomic Mutant ants, they could be made of anything. Except chitin. If they were made of chitin like ordinary ants they'd collapse of their own weight! And they're not!

The end of the matter is, scifi works because scifi has 25th-Century Handwave technology. Against 25th-Century Handwave technology your puny Earth science is useless.
posted by jfuller at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, if the Borg had object permanence, individual Borgs could come up with the theory of self, meaning that [INSERT MORAL OF EVERY AYN RAND BOOK HERE], thus destroying the Borg. Clearly, every Borg but the Queen(s) get stripped of basic developmental concepts for the good of the whole.

That said, a lone Borg has a lot to learn, which is why Hugh needed so much explained to him, like that humans didn't want to be assimilated (needs the theory of minds to understand others have different desires). Being on his own and having humanoid neural tissue, he was able to regain the basic concepts that he would have needed from the Borg's collective mind.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:15 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with Bob The Angry Flower here, The Borg stratagem is dumb and inflexible, now if they made being assimilated seem super cool (think of it like twitter for thoughts!) and made it voluntary, hell they might even get into the Federation and grow even bigger.

I'm still the only one who wanted to go further into the future then into the past for the reboot, a shattered federation, a friendly Borg, certain technologies just lost due to an interstellar dark age ...
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on February 20, 2010


Then when we got to DS9, we had a two-parter taking place pretty close to right now in which things were pretty bad and they were herding homeless people into huge South Africa homeland-style camps in San Francisco,

Those episodes were set in 2024--just give it time, my friend.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:22 AM on February 20, 2010


jfuller I have authoritative evidence they were made of paper mache.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2010


mcarty.tim This was the most delicious nerd fight I've ever seen.

Let me try to start another one... HOW DID BILL FALL OUT OF THE ARMOR WHEN HE HIT THE GROUND ?


Now you're just being a bogus dickweed, like Socrates.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:38 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


There were plenty of scientists that said you couldn't go faster than the speed of sound, go to another planet, explore the deepest depths of the oceans, transmit sounds over radio waves, replace human organs, assemble a embryo outside of a womb, and thousands of other things.

Name one.

Here's a few.
Here's some more.

You really think that there were no respected scientists that believed that some of these things were not possible? It will take some time, but I will happily find out specific names and citations for you. All scientists are not in agreement all the time.

Saying "we can't do that, ever" is kind of a shortsighted way of doing things. You could say, with great certainty, that going to the moon was scientifically impossible in 1783 when the Montgolfier brothers went up in thier first balloon. It was impossible then, but not impossible ever.

Maybe we'll never, ever, ever have something like an object that warps space to cover distances faster than light does. If we ever do, it will be hundreds or thousands of years from now. But one of the main ways we progress is that someone figures out how to do what was thought to be impossible.
posted by chambers at 10:53 AM on February 20, 2010


There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


“Now, he tries to get away with warp drive...he’s in for a shock.” Wait until the scientists find out about transwarp drive.
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 11:38 AM on February 20, 2010


The transwarp episode is awesome when you want bad Trek. Usually, bad Trek is like eating a Slim Jim in that it's a consistently awful experience. Threshold starts off with a mediocre episode of Trek, gets mildly interesting, and then punches you in the gut, leaving you on the floor, gagging and confused. For the food analogy, I guess imagine a Hostess Cupcake full of cyanide filling.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I say we have Seth McFarlane make a gritty reboot of the Animated Series, set in TNG's time. I actually liked the animated series, as it was cheesy, illogical, and full of bright colors. It was a good thing to watch while in an altered state.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2010


Oh God Tom and Jane become lizards who have babies cause they went really really fast oh god I thought I dreamed that episode during a fever.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I couldn't figure out why I didn't remember what episode you were talking about there mccarty.tim so I clicked your link and it all became clear. OH you're talking about Voyager. Nothing to do with Star Trek at all. Just that fever dream I had once about a spin-off that thank god never actually existed.
posted by Babblesort at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2010


You really think that there were no respected scientists that believed that some of these things were not possible? It will take some time, but I will happily find out specific names and citations for you.
Please do this. I would find it very valuable.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2010


Please do this. I would find it very valuable.
posted by fantabulous timewaster


eponysterical
posted by longsleeves at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I couldn't figure out why I didn't remember what episode you were talking about there mccarty.tim so I clicked your link and it all became clear. OH you're talking about Voyager. Nothing to do with Star Trek at all. Just that fever dream I had once about a spin-off that thank god never actually existed.

Babblesort, Voyager was cheesy and painful at times, but to deny it's existence is to deny the salty goodness of Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway, and that's a crime against the galaxy.

Enterprise however...that was fail. Fuck you Rick Berman, you did it wrong.
posted by lootie777 at 6:30 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember when they taught us in grade school that there could never be spaceflight tp the moon.

I remember when all mainstream astrophysicists poo-pood the idea of other planets in other solar systems. In fact, trying to publish the up the idea was just THIS close to trying to publish something about extraterrestrial life.

I remember the pre-Alcubiere days when trying to publish a physics article about FTL travel in a peer-reviewed journal was impossible. Ibib on time reversal. Ibid on gravity modification.

And because I clearly remember all that I can't take seriously any person who says something who's theory of operation hasn't even been invented yet - is impossible.

I've seen the "impossible" happen before and I have no doubt it will happen.
Those who claim otherwise suffer from an extreme short-sightedness of the soul.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:54 PM on February 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Christ what a wonderful thread.

So I watched TNG in its entirety last year, and I could never figure out why they're always warping around at different speeds. What is the point of flying somewhere at Warp 4 when your ship has a Warp 9? Honest question. This actually bugs me.
posted by churl at 10:30 PM on February 20, 2010


Energy efficiency and wear and tear. It's like if you slammed the accelerator and then slammed on your breaks every block while driving your car. In "The Chase" the Enterprise is goign Warp 9 all over the place, and by the end, Picard mentions in his log how the Enterprise needs some time to cool down after all that high warp travel.
posted by Snyder at 10:46 PM on February 20, 2010


mccarty.tim: "I say we have Seth McFarlane make a gritty reboot of the Animated Series, set in TNG's time. I actually liked the animated series, as it was cheesy, illogical, and full of bright colors. It was a good thing to watch while in an altered state."

Let's just get Rob Liefeld to do it. If you want that kind of cheese and horribleness, there's no reason to not go all out.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:55 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Couldn't the captain just tell the science officer or engineer to "compensate" for this lethal radiation, phase shift, modulate the frequencies, or even the polarity? I was watching an episode of "Enterprise" tonight and I couldn't figure how they managed to get anywhere in the time they gave. They said they were going warp 4 or 5 and that was (thier words) 3 million KM/S or 10X the speed of light. It would take a few months to get to Alpha Centauri at that rate and yet they were visiting inhabited planets in only a day or two.
posted by Tashtego at 1:46 AM on February 21, 2010


You guys say that we should never say never. The thing you don't realize is that the doubters get to be pleasantly surprised, and don't need to do any of the work to invent the warp drive. In fact, we're likely to motivate the dreamers even more to spite us.

It's in my rational self interest to be a doubter. I want my mind blown when they get warp drive to work. Heck, I want my mind blown when they get a public option.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:54 AM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


@churl, ISTR that at some point in one of the post Kirk series, it was determined that high warp speeds actually damage the fabric of spacetime, I guess like the way 18 wheelers cause damage to the interstate, or the way jet exhaust pokes holes in the ozone layer. So ships were forbidden, I think by treaty, from going at super high warp except in dire situations.
posted by xigxag at 9:47 AM on February 21, 2010


I think I read about that in, um, a Peter David spin off comic that was a sequel to another Peter David spin-off thing.

Hey! It was there at the library, it had apicture of a spaceship on the front, I was at a loose end....
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on February 21, 2010


Couldn't the captain just tell the science officer or engineer to "compensate" for this lethal radiation, phase shift, modulate the frequencies, or even the polarity?
Well, this would be like a submarine captain asking his chief engineer to "compensate" for the ocean, or to change the polarity of the water so that it's like air, so that a submarine could go as fast as an airplane. He could ask.

The explanation of the effect in the New Scientist article is basically right, if you didn't read it: the "atmosphere" of the galaxy, which is less dense than the atmosphere of earth by a factor of 10-19, is not insubstantial if you are moving relative to it rapidly enough.

This effect actually has an analog in real physics. You probably know that you live in a bath of microwave photons, corresponding to a temperature of about three kelvin. A proton that's moving fast relative to the earth is also moving fast relative to the local microwave background, and sees those photons blue-shifted to higher energy. Above a certain proton energy (which is pretty straightforward to calculate), those cold microwave photons are boosted to a mean energy above the mass of the pion, and the protons will emit pions and slow down. This proton energy is called the GZK cutoff, since there should be only locally-produced cosmic rays with more energy than this --- extragalactic cosmic rays should have slowed down before hitting the earth.

Of course, there's currently no evidence that the cosmic ray spectrum stops at the GZK cutoff, and some tentative evidence that it doesn't. So perhaps there is some new physics there --- maybe the Lorentz transformation is different at γ = 1012. But Edelstein's calculation says the interstellar hydrogen turns into LHC-like protons, with a leisurely γ = 104, where everything he's quoted on is pretty workaday stuff at a modern accelerator.

also, longsleeves: die in a fire

posted by fantabulous timewaster at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2010


Tashtego : I was watching an episode of "Enterprise" tonight and I couldn't figure how they managed to get anywhere in the time they gave. They said they were going warp 4 or 5 and that was (thier words) 3 million KM/S or 10X the speed of light.

The answer.

Summary:
23rd century, use v/c = 3W-1.
24th century, use W = (10/3)rd root of v/c.
posted by pla at 5:59 PM on February 21, 2010


The transwarp episode is awesome when you want bad Trek. Usually, bad Trek is like eating a Slim Jim in that it's a consistently awful experience. Threshold starts off with a mediocre episode of Trek, gets mildly interesting, and then punches you in the gut, leaving you on the floor, gagging and confused. For the food analogy, I guess imagine a Hostess Cupcake full of cyanide filling.

Thanks to your heads-up in this thread, I watched Threshold for the first time last night (I've seen maybe a third of Voyager, here and there, but never that particular episode).

I guess all I can say is: thank you. That was some of the most sublimely bad Trek I have ever witnessed. It was on par with The Room for pure WTF-inducing ineptitude. I was putting away some laundry as I was watching it, and was in the middle of changing my bedsheets when I got to the climactic image of the two chirping space lizards that used to be Paris and Janeway. Stunned, open mouth, a couple of choked gurgling laughs lodged in my throat, I stared. I held my sheet in my hands, standing at the end of my bed, and I stared. Staring at the screen as Chakotay peers at the space-lizards and says, "I have to admit, I'm not sure which one is the Captain," just staring, jaw slack. Staring. I will not forget this.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:48 AM on February 22, 2010


Oh, and follow-up: I just learned, thanks to mccarty.tim's link above, that Threshold was SO bad, it was subsequently considered non-Canon! Wow!

according to some sources, this is the only episode that has been (unofficially) removed from Star Trek canon. It was so awful that, as far as the writers and producers were concerned, it simply never happened. (Later episodes of Voyager would seem to confirm this. In fact, there's a line in "Dark Frontier" where Tom Paris specifically says he's never flown at transwarp.)
posted by Greg Nog at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2010


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