The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Real Science and Trek...

This morning on the way to work, I finished my listen to The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss, an audiobook from Audible.  This book was published in 1995 by Harper.  This version was 6 hours and 31 minutes long and was read by Larry McKeever.

I can only imagine that it might be difficult to make something like physical science sound exciting to the layman, but the only thing I didn't care for in this book is the performance of Mr. McKeever.  While he has an excellent voice, his performance was a little too monotoned to really hold my attention for very long.  I am glad I listened to this in smaller bits.  If I had listened for too long, I might have nodded off.

Aside from the reader's performance, I liked this book a lot.  It is obvious that Dr. Krauss did his homework as far as knowing Star Trek is concerned.  as I listened, it was apparent that he not only knows Trek, but considered himself a "Treker" as he terms it.  Throughout the entire book, he makes very specific references to all of the series, except for Enterprise, and most of the movies up to First Contact.

Krauss discusses many aspects of Star Trek and explains the plausibility of each item he explores in the terms of physical science.  One such example of his discussion talks about phasers.  In the TOS episode Wink of an Eye, Kirk fires a phaser at Deela, one of the last members of a race of people becoming extinct.  Both Deela and Kirk have been "accelerated" to the point that they can move without being seen, and from their perspective, others move very slowly.  As the beam leaves the phaser, it is traveling so slowly that Deela is able to simply step out of the way before being hit..  So where is the problem?  Well, according to physics, the speed of light is a universal constant that will not change, no matter how quickly or slowly time is perceived by an individual.  So, Deela should not have been able to step out of the way from the phaser beam because the beam would be traveling at the speed of light. 

Another example is that one sees a phaser beam at all, since it is an energy weapon, not a particle weapon, a beam should not be visible, unless there is something present that would interfere with the light beam, such as smoke or dust.  Think about a laser pointer for instance.  If one is pointing it at an object, only a small point of light appears on the object, however the beam itself is invisible. There are many other such explanations why such things as warp drive, transporters, phased matter, and such are not plausible, at least as far as our understanding of the physical universe is concerned.

Listening to this book made me a little sad to think that perhaps many of the things that makes Trek what it is are not going to happen in the future.  But I like to think that perhaps they might still become possible as our understanding of physics evolves over time.  Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Dr. Krauss delves deeply into physical science in his book and it gets quite technical at times and can be difficult to understand unless one has a firm founding in physical science.  I particularly have a rough time understanding the concept of relativity and special relativity, or at least I have a tough time picturing it in my mind.  This book didn't help me understand it any better.

As I stated before, the book is not intended to shoot down or pick apart the Star Trek universe, but is rather an explanation of the reality behind the series and films.  One can tell that Krauss loves Trek and on numerous occasions gives a nod to the writers of Star Trek for getting many things right, and for their use of imagination in telling the stories.

It's a good book and I recommend it for anyone that is interested in the reality of the Trek universe.