Category: star trek

Is Star Trek: Picard’s Hypothesized ‘Octuple Star System’ Really Possible?

“What does this mean for Aia, the Grief World that serves as a warning to future civilizations? It means it’s most likely that the octuple star system is the naturally occurring entity that they found and chose as prime real estate for this beacon, and then they moved a single planet, rather than a series of stars, to this one quasi-stable location.

By equipping the planet with a series of thrusters, just as we equip the spacecraft we put at the Sun-facing (L1) and Sun-opposed (L2) Lagrange points with thrusters, it could maintain its position relative to the other stars over time, even over hundreds of thousands of years. It’s easily possible to have 8, 9, or even greater numbers of stars all bound together in the same system for millions or even billions of years.

But if you want a planet located at the center-of-mass of all of them? That cannot occur naturally. If someone were interested in minimizing the energy required to construct such a system, however, they’d spend their energy moving and refining a single planet, rather than manipulating eight different objects of much greater mass that were as hard-to-handle as stars are. Star Trek: Picard may have gotten the sci-fi aspect of this system right, but those ancient builders of the Aia system made an incredibly wasteful decision if chose to move multiple stars around, rather than a single low-mass planet.”

In Star Trek: Picard, they just raised the possibility that a never-before-seen octuple star system was found, a clear indicator of artificial creation, with one planet in the system serving as a beacon to the galaxy, warning them against creating synthetic life. But is this necessary? Would the Universe just naturally, spontaneously create these octuple systems on its own, without the need for any intelligent intervention?

The smart money says bet on yes, but don’t think that you’ll naturally get a planet stably at the center of it all. Come find out why and get the real-life science behind Star Trek: Picard!

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Ends With A Recipe For Principled Extinction: Season 1, Episode 15 Recap

“The philosophy that we need today is not to pick the right morals to be absolutist about, but rather to embrace moral particularism, where we recognize that different situations call for different actions. When we have hundreds or thousands of school shootings per year, at what point do we say, “you know, maybe we do need some form of gun control at some level,” versus saying, “we have an absolute, uninfringeable right to own, possess, and bear arms?” As former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer put it, “no single set of legal rules can capture the ever changing complexity of human life.” So it is with moral rules as well. The prime directive is the inviolable rule of Starfleet. You know, the one that every Captain absolutely violates when morality calls for it. But in a huge moment of disappointing cowardice, Discovery looks for a deus ex machina instead: that their enemies will suddenly give up everything to empower a new leader using a terrorist, hostage-taking strategy.”

In the final episode of Star Trek: Discovery’s first season, there’s a terrible dilemma facing the crew. Do you sacrifice your principles to destroy an entire planet of innocents, a consequence of war that must be taken to save your planet, species, and the entire Federation? Or do you allow yourselves to be destroyed entirely, at the whim and mercy of your attackers? In an incredibly disappointing stroke of cowardice, Star Trek: Discovery chooses the latter, gussying up a lack of self-preservation and pacifism as moral. It isn’t moral; it’s a recipe for getting steamrolled. It’s a recipe for letting the bullies win. It’s a recipe for martyrdom. The season had its definite ups-and-downs, and for the second half of the season, I was rapt. With this season finale, a titanic performance from Michelle Yeoh is overshadowed by an awful lesson in terrible morality.

I’ll lay it out plain and simple: if the Klingons could do math and science, the entire Federation would be extinct. Here’s the science and the morality of what went wrong.

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Confronts The Ethics And Science Of Survival, And Human Frailty 

 "Finally, Burnham is forced to confront her failings as a human being throughout the series. Her repeated treachery. Her inability to tell the truth to Saru. Her decision to save the Emperor because of her own regrets. Her lack of internal strength to see Tyler, and then her failure to own up to her continued love for him. Everyone sees her weakness: Saru, Georgiou, Tilly, Tyler. Yet all she can do is make excuses. The first rule of ethics is you must be honest with yourself about yourself, and until Burnham can do that — something she’s been unable to do all series long, particularly since the Battle of the Binary Stars — her character growth will be fundamentally limited, even as everyone else around her blossoms.“

There’s so much to discuss from the latest episode of Star Trek: from the plot itself to the ethical decisions and dilemmas to the science. In particular, this episode focuses on the science of time travel, nature vs. nurture, and terraforming. While we may think of so much of it as complicated, the aspects these three take on are as straightforward as they come. There are the consequences of jumping just a little bit ahead into the future, and the catastrophic changes that can happen in a short time. There is the (flawed) idea that we would be the exact same person, with the same moral compass, regardless of how we were raised, an assumption that Discovery very clearly challenges with the mirror Universe. And there’s the fascinating idea that all it would take was one hardy, well-adapted species to turn a planet from lifeless into thriving. That may, in fact, be all it takes to give life on an uninhabited world its start.

Come check out the latest recap, review, science, and right-and-wrong from Star Trek: Discovery. We’re just one episode from the season finale!

Could ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Be Right About Parallel Universes? Vaulting Ambition (S1E12) Recap

“But what if information wasn’t destroyed, but simply imprinted on all the quantum particles in our Universe, and imprinted differently in the Universe where that first measurement was +½ versus the one where it was -½? With enough information, perhaps, we could reconstruct the result of that measurement. Perhaps, in addition to that, the entanglement was never broken, and there’s a way to transmit both information and to traverse space, from one Universe into another. Is this spectulative? Of course; it’s fiction. But if you’re willing to accept the possibility of a new rule of nature, all of what happens in Star Trek: Discovery is admissible in exactly that fashion.”

In quantum physics, the ideas of cause-and-effect and action-reaction are replaced with indeterminism. Things don’t happen because there was an inevitable outcome caused by the laws of physics and the initial conditions, but because of all the possible outcomes that could occur, one possibility was selected. But what about all the other possibilities? In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, they all occur as well, simply in different Universes. What if, then, these Universes were still connected to us? What if one of them, in particular, happened to be linked with ours in a way that we could communicate with and even travel to the mirror Universe? In Star Trek: Discovery, this possibility is exactly what happened. But is there any physics backing the idea up?

Find out what it would take to make this fantasy a real possibility on this review and recap (and scientific analysis) of the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery!

What Star Trek: Discovery Gets Right (And Wrong) About Parallel Universes: Season 1 Episode 10 

“If you can poke holes in spacetime, where you enter in one location and exist in another, you can get a wormhole, or an instantaneous way to transport from one disconnected location to another. This was how the wormhole to the gamma quadrant worked in Deep Space 9, and it’s how the spore drive works in Discovery. Now, combine that idea with the parallel Universe idea, and the conjecture that spacetime itself is a fundamentally quantum entity. When you poke a hole in spacetime, what if you don’t necessarily wind up back in your own, original Universe?”

The first episode of Star Trek: Discovery upon the return from mid-season hiatus has just aired, and has taken us in a bold new direction. No longer are we witnessing a Klingon/Federation war, but the reign-of-terror of the Terran Empire. Under Lorca’s direction, the Discovery crew is trying to infiltrate and fit in in this new situation: in a parallel Universe. But in the act of fitting in, they themselves are forced to become the very monsters they abhor! The greatest Star Trek episodes always focused on the mix of science, science fiction, ethics, and have served to hold up a mirror to humanity’s darkest moments and impulses. Under director Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker), an astonishingly good, and different, episode came out of it, with an incredibly interesting (and mostly accurate) take on what parallel Universes are all about.

Come get the full science story on what they got right (and wrong), plus a full episode recap and analysis from me, over on Forbes today!

Star Trek: Discovery’s Greatest Science Moments Rethink What It Means To Be Alive

“While most of the famous aliens encountered by Federation crews have been humanoid — including Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, Ferengi, and Cardassians — there have been notable exceptions. The vampire cloud of The Original Series, the crystalline entity of The Next Generation, the changelings of Deep Space 9 and many others have challenged our conventional notions of what intelligence or life might look like. Now that we’re in the late 2010s, science has advanced tremendously, and so has our imagination for what might be possible.”

It’s pretty easy to point to the new Star Trek series and criticize the science they’ve gotten wrong, oversimplified, misinterpreted, or simply ignored. That’s something, honestly, you could do for any science fiction series if you tried hard enough. But there are a few things about science that Star Trek gets right, and one in particular that it’s breaking new ground in: how life, and intelligent life in particular, might be vastly different from what we expect. Other depictions of intelligence in alien species have focused on two types almost exclusively: human-like, autonomous, chemical-based beings, and artificially intelligent robot-like beings. But what if there were organic pathways and mechanisms out there that went far beyond what we presently understand, where quantum entanglement across galactic scales dominated or even non-matter-based life forms existed? Sure, it sounds like pure fiction today, but being open to these possibilities is vital.

Until we know the full suite of what’s out there, we have to remember how much remains unknown to us, as Star Trek: Discovery does a wonderful job of reminding us.

Star Trek: Discovery’s Unanswered Scientific Questions After Season 1, Episode 9

“But the parallel Universes part is the hardest part for me to swallow. Newly introduced in this episode, Lorca shows Stamets how all the data gathered from the spore drive shows not only the mycelium network, but doorways to parallel Universes. They build off the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics to indicate that Universes where anything and everything that can happen does, only in some other parallel Universe. The problem is, these branches occur at an “event” in spacetime, which means they occur at a specific location in space at a specific time; you can’t simply have a “map” of a place where you can access a parallel Universe. Yet that’s how Star Trek: Discovery chooses to portray the science, and it appears that’s where they wind up at the end: in a parallel Universe that’s nowhere known.”

After nine episodes, Star Trek: Discovery reaches its mid-season hiatus with a visually spectacular battle on multiple fronts at Pahvo. Discovery engages the Klingon sarcophagus ship, Stamets faces his own mental decline to power the spore drive, Lorca orders others to uncertain fates, Burnham engages in combat at the scene of her greatest failure, and Tyler battles his own PTSD. It’s a great stage for some very compelling internal and external conflicts to play out. But it’s also all too easy. The Klingons are one-dimensional villains. There’s no ethical dilemma to obeying/disobeying orders here. Burnham exercises terrible judgment, but gets lucky in the end. And the “Gilligan’s starship” ending seems, at first glance, to be a new twist on an old plotline: Lost In Space. Which is really too bad, because that’s one of the classic counterexamples I use to show what Star Trek, as a franchise, is not all about.

There’s a lot of potential in Discovery, but it has some growing to do, on both the science and the fiction fronts, if it wants to go down as one of the greats.

Overwhelming Cloaking Devices And False Peace Highlights Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1 Episode 8

“Can you please make it stop, even for a moment? We were biologically determined for one purpose and one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death. I sense it coming now. We have come to Pahvo for your help. We have come to end this war. I am so afraid. So. Afraid.”

You’re in a time of war, and your enemy has a technological advantage that makes you unable to fight them on equal footing. This has happened so often throughout history: with iron vs. bronze weapons; with the invention and application of gunpowder; with the rise of nuclear capabilities. In space, the augmentation of a cloaking device makes the Klingons virtually invincible, and the Federation is losing this war, badly. What are they to do? What comes next? The ability to see an invisible ship is what’s needed, and this latest episode highlights an attempt to do so, by exploiting an uncontacted alien world. The aliens there are sentient, however, so using this technology would be a violation of both the Prime Directive and First Contact protocols. But what’s the ethical thing to do? Is it better to not interfere and face certain defeat? Or to exploit their technology, violate your principles, and gain the advantage?

Star Trek: Discovery is a show where right-and-wrong isn’t so cut-and-dry. Despite its flaws, it’s an interesting development that makes you think, without providing easy answers. Those, fortunately, will come next episode!

Star Trek Discovery’s ‘Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad’ Is A Masterpiece: Season 1 Episode 7

“Far and away, this is the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery I could have asked for. By abandoning the serial nature of the plot, the show freed itself to take on a story in an unexpected way. The time loop is such a well-worn trope in science fiction that I just glossed over “time crystals” as the explanation and said, “ah, they don’t know how it works but it doesn’t matter, because they’re not even the ones using it.” The effects were interesting, but most interesting was the way that this device led to a great story that brought out interesting facets in the characters.

[…]

The episode was engaging, the characters were interesting and relatable, and they got out of a jam not by using some futuristic tech device, but by outsmarting and outmaneuvering a con man who had taken control of the most powerful ship in the Federation. In some ways, it’s the most hopeful episode of Star Trek the world could have asked for as we near the end of 2017.”

For the first time, we’re given an episode of Star Trek: Discovery that has the elements you expect in Star Trek. There’s an anomaly (a space whale), the real problem (a time loop caused by Harry Mudd’s nefarious actions), and a solution that requires teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving in a novel fashion. The crew of Discovery, much to my surprise, rises to the occasion and each contributes using their unique strengths to overcome what initially seems to be an insurmountable obstacle. The episode has a very thought-provoking take on justice, on character growth, and on trust, and it pays off in a big way.

For the first time, Star Trek: Discovery lived up to my initial hopes for what the series could be. More like this episode, please, and I hope you loved it too!

Star Trek: Discovery Goes Psychic & Psychedelic in ‘Lethe’: Season 1, Episode 6 Review

“Then Burnham learns the truth about Sarek’s choice. Somehow, she doubles down on “you let me believe I was a failure,” even though no such thing occurred. For all the hundreds of thousands of college kids rejected from their first choice school every year — like most of us were, and like I was, way back in the day — we learn that it wasn’t because we were failures, but rather because the criteria the school was looking for didn’t match up with what we were. Burnham, apparently, has never learned to deal with this type of rejection, or to view it as anything other than her failure. Even after seven years in Starfleet, seeing how this unfolds all around her, she hasn’t learned.”

In an episode filled with Vulcan mindmelds, Klingon treachery, a spectacular nebula, themes of racial purity, and PTSD, you’d think all the ingredients were there for a spectacular episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Instead, describing it as a hot mess would be overly generous; this episode is just a disappointment as far as just about every avenue is concerned. Except for the Captain Lorca / Admiral Cornwell scenes, there’s really nothing to like about where this goes. From a psilocybin-ed out Stamets to an increasingly annoying Lilly, to a jackass version of Sarek to a blame-assigning Burnham who can’t believe that the galaxy isn’t fair, this episode is full of weak points. For a show that’s attempting to be an action/drama, this episode is very short on both the action and the drama. The Cornwell/Lorca scenes can’t save the episode, and the science part of the science fiction never even appears.

After a promising fifth episode, Star Trek: Discovery returns to its worst impulses in Episode 6, ‘Lethe’. Come get the full review and recap.