Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home
Or, "How to make BAD SCIENCE look GOOD with a $Gazillion Special FX Budget"
This is the stupidest plot of them all, till they started making the Picard ones, anyway... Kirk and Company have to go back in time to retrieve two Humpback whales and bring them back to the "present", 2286, to save the earth from a really ticked off deep space probe looking for whale answers to its whale questions. Got it? Sure... Now, along the way, Kirk falls into many hilarious situations that are reminiscent of the Beave! You'll be in stitches!
- My first problem is the theme itself... A gigantic space probe appears from parts unknown in search of whales here on earth because the makers of the probe haven't heard from them for awhile? Sorta puts a new spin on "ET phone home", like "Orca phone home!" I find it just silly! Things that don't make sense?
- The probe itself is causing the oceans to evaporate, covering the planet in a thick cloud, shutting out the sun. If this probe is that big and that powerful, it's probably safe to assume the "makers" of it are semi-intelligent. Right? Just go along with me here... So, if they are looking for their whales, why would they be destroying the whales' own environment? Stupid WhaleAliens...
- If communication with the whales had been an ongoing process as premised in the movie by Spock, why weren't these "makers" aware of the demise of the Humpbacks? You'd think that the Humbacks would have called "home" and let them know that they were dying off...
- In the "past" in late 20th Century San Francisco, are Humpback whales actually kept in aquaria? There are none that I can locate in my research. The only "whales" in captivity like that are the "little" ones; Baluga and Orca and such. A Humpback, according to the California Marine Mammal Center, reaches 50 tons. The Northern Hemisphere variety reaches 52 feet in length and the Southern Hemisphere one reaches 60 feet! What kinda tank will hold TWO of these guys?
- And while we're talking about the weight of these whales, it is mentioned by Dr. Jillian during a tour at the "Cetascian Institute" that these whales weigh "42,000 pounds". This is in direct contradiction to Kirk who later tells Scotty that they weigh "40-50" tons! 42,000 pounds is only 21 tons! An anorexic whale?
- Later in the show on the day the whales are released from this fictitious San Francisco institute, Jillian says, "They are probably in Alaska by now!" Wow! Acording to my handy-dandy World Atlas, it's about 1200 miles from San Fran to Alaska. The whales had, probably, half a day to get there. That's a speed of 200 MPH for these 50 ton whales! Again, according to Oregon State University Marine Mammal Program, whales traveling in groups cruise at a meager 4 km/day! The fastest single male tracked traveled 150 km in ONE day! That still leaves a bit to the imagination for these two whales to make it to Alaska in 6 hours or so.
- Let's get on with the Problem Bigee Numero Uno; Time Travel by going really really fast.
Now, regardless! Both charts completely ignore the simple relativistic Universal Speed linit of c! A mass cannot, repeat CANNOT even travel AT c, let alone more than c!
- First, time travel itself is generally frowned upon as being one of those impossibilities in the Universe. Time is a large property of space itself yielding that misunderstood term "space-time". Time is a scalar that has no real direction. So, since it has no real direction, how can you change its direction? It's like saying that my mass is a NEGATIVE 115 Kg! Has no meaning.
- By traveling really really fast, all you do is obey Einstein's many postulates of relativistic speeds. Summarized, as your speed approaches the speed of light;
Hmmm... What's that mean? From a Fizzix viewpoint, ya can't do it. Period. You'd have more mass than the entire Universe since it's finite, have absolutely NO volume since your length is zero, and time has ceased to exsist! Cool! No test Friday! Uncle Albert is rolling over in his grave at Princeton...
- your mass increases hyperbolically toward infinity with 'c', the speed of light, as a vertical asymptote.
- your size, or length, in the direction of motion decreases parabolically. Approaching zero at 'c'.
- time increases hyperbolically toward infinity with 'c' as a vertical asymptote.
- Put these together - AT 'c', you have infinite mass, no size, and time has stopped. Hmmm. Sounds like my typical Friday nights after a night out...
- They reach speeds of warp 12 by gravitationally slingshotting around the sun. Slingshotting is a viable method used in interplanetary travel. The Apollo missions used is to slingshot around the earth to the moon faster than out little rockets could do it. Deep space satellites like the Voyagers used slingshotting around many of the planets to pick up speed in order to leave the solar system. No sweat! However, warp 12? Are we familiar with the speeds dictated by the warp system? Well, my inquisitive friend, allow me to shed some light, pun intended, on the subject...
The warp factor thingee has changed over the years. When I was a trekkie, in the 60's and 70's, warp factors were simple cubed exponents of X times 'c'. Say WHAT??
This is from the ORIGINAL Star Fleet Command Technical Journal! I'll have to dig it out and post the "velocity" graph that accompanies this info. It's the weirdest dern graph you've ever seen outside of a hyberbolic paraboloid!! Notice there is no real upper limit to this scale. In many of the original episodes, the Enterprise exceeded Warp 12!
- Warp Factor 1 = 13 x c = 1 x c = 3x108 m/s.
- Warp Factor 2 = 23 x c = 8c = 2.4x109 m/s.
- Warp Factor 3 = 33 x c = 27c = 8.1x109 m/s.
- Warp factor 10 = 103 x c = 1000c = 3x1011 m/s.
Now, apparently, this chart is too confusing for the "Next Generation" crowd. Those kids! They have limited the chart to Warp Factor 10 and made it equal INFINITY! Why? No clue! There is a graph of the warp speeds in the manuals and online at various TrekHead sites, but NO FORMULA EXISTS! This, from a Physics viewpoint, makes it null and void! Unless you can quantize, don't talk to me! Here is the Next Generation Warp Chart:
And here is the graph. Take a gander at this!
- Warp 1 = c
- Warp 2 = 10c
- Warp 3 = 39c
- Warp 4 = 102c
- Warp 5 = 214c
- Warp 6 = 392c
- Warp 7 = 656c
- Warp 8 = 1024c
- Warp 9 = 1519c
- Warp 9.2 = 1649c
- Warp 9.6 = 1909c
- Warp 9.9 = 3053c
- Warp 9.99 = 7912c
- Warp 9.9999 = 199516c
- Warp 10 = INFINITY
Whew! That be FAST! I haven't found a good explanation of these numbers anywhere because, since I hate the Next Generation and all the other knock-offs, I refuse to spend money on the "new" tech manuals... If you know, fill me in!
How is Warp Drive supposed to work? Well, the manuals sorta say something along the line of the "compression of space in front of the vehicle and the stretching of space behind it". HUH? So, if space CAN be compressed, I guess the linear distance from one spot to another can be looked at as less. It's sorta like squishing a balloon. The sides just got closer together. However, as soon as the pressure is removed, the space (balloon) returns to normal by stretching the space IN FRONT and compressing the space BEHIND! Back to where ya were, eh?
- The aforementioned warp drive was damaged during the time travel. So Chekov and Uhura are sent to collect photons to restore the dilithium crystals. WHAT?
- Photons are little bundles of Electromagnetic Radiation. Examples are radio waves, light from the lightbulb at your desk, and even X-rays. How in the world are they going to collect them? And how in the world are they used to "recharge" Dilithium crystals? C'mon!
- Where do they collect photons? At the USS Enterprise CVN aircraft carrier anchored in San Francisco Bay, an atomic pawered vessel. Now, tell me what kind of photons are escaping from an atomic reactor? What IS an atomic reactor? They never used the term nuclear...
- Meanwhile, Scotty and Bones are dispatched to find a way of containing these whales, George & Gracie inside the ship for the return flight. They find a plexiglass manufacturer and bribe him into handing over large quantities of thick Shamu-containing plexiglass in return for the formula for transparent aluminum. Wow! Not only are these guys sharp, they are now planting the seeds of discovery in the minds of past people, in direct violation of the Prime Directive...
- A few good one-liners:
- Kirk, after being called a "dumb ass" by a driver, replies to a driver on the streets of San Francisco, "Double Dumb Ass!" after improvising on the art of cursing as a way of 20th century common communication.
- Spock uses the vernacular 'Hell' repeatedly while mimicking Kirk. i.e. "I Hell did!"