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How Star Wars Trumped Star Trek For Scientific Accuracy 495

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the set-phasers-to-awesome dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When George Lucas added the 'ring around the Death Star' effect to his 1997 re-release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the revision was almost as hated as Greedo shooting first, and to boot was seen as a knock-off of the seminal 'Praxis effect' in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). But a debunking astronomer claims that the Federation got it wrong and the fan-boys should thank Lucas for adding some scientific accuracy to his fictional universe."
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How Star Wars Trumped Star Trek For Scientific Accuracy

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:36PM (#33383166) Journal
    From the article:

    Sadly, upon closer inspection, we see that ILM blew this rare opportunity for scientific realism in the Star Wars universe ...

    Indeed, if you're familiar with Docking Bay 327 [ggpht.com], it is inside a large maitenance trench [wikia.com] where the structural weaknesses should have created a horizontal ring exploding outward. Instead the movie gave us a vertical ring exploding outward.

    I hate most of Star Trek and basically considered Star Wars a religion as a human larva & pupa (see above docking bay reference). Being as how I was hatched after the last (real) Star Wars movie came out, my nipples exploded with joy at the prospect of seeing the originals on the big screen -- special edition or not. I was confused by the Han/Greedo exchange, found not a whole lot of added value in the other aspects but must have been the only person pleased with a more satisfactory Death Star explosion.

    But a debunking astronomer

    Yes, it's Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait. Look, it's great you get people into astronomy via sci-fi religious flamebait stoking but ... I think you put it best in the last slide of one of your presentations [wikipedia.org].

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:53PM (#33383420)

      How Star Wars Trumped Star Trek For Scientific Accuracy

      Isn't that the greatest headline ever to create a nerd flame war!?

    • by polar red (215081) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:59PM (#33383496)

      Science fiction ? Star Wars is more like future fantasy, and Star Trek is more future fiction.

      • by polar red (215081) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:01PM (#33383526)

        Maybe 'Science Fiction' is a major misnomer for all works currently filed under it.

      • by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:05PM (#33383568) Journal

        Star Wars is more like future fantasy

        That certainly explains the opening scroll for every movie, which all start "A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away" :)

  • FanFight! (Score:5, Funny)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:37PM (#33383186)

    Cue the guys with pointy latex ear extensions flipping off the guys with the neon glowing plastic swords.

  • Finally! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:39PM (#33383214)
    A good bitchfight is about to emerge here. I for one have my popcorn ready. BTW, Star Wars is waaayyy better than that sissy star trek.
    • by harrkev (623093)

      Maybe, but Jedi are not omnipowerful and CAN be defeated in a fight. Also, imagine an army of Jedi Borg... That would be amusing.

    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:05PM (#33383578)

      The problem is that both sides takes their movies/shows way to serious. A lot of people put into a deep meaning in Star Wars that isn't really there. Star Trek had a meaning sometimes but they are both for just kinda watching and say wow it would be so cool to be in Space.

      Ep. 4,5 and 6 had a lot of Gaps that we filled in our own imagination that when ep. 1,2,3 came out we would all be disappointed as our imagination was replaced with someone else's.

      Star Trek was based on the Campy 1960's TV show. And always trying to make itself seem more modern, as it will often use new technology as an excuse to complete the plot. However it was designed for a weekly viewing where at the end of the day everything was back to where it was before. Being that Star Trek and its following Spinnoffs were TV shows we really got to know and learn about the characters and got to know them. So when the movies came out there wasn't any time explaining that Spock was a Half Human, Half Vulcan, or that he was rather smart and strong etc...

      So Unlike StarWars when a Star Trek Movie sucks it is usally because it was just bad, not that told us what happened where our version was much better. Hey I wanted the Clones to be the Bad Guys.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:24PM (#33383790)

        Ep. 4,5 and 6 had a lot of Gaps that we filled in our own imagination that when ep. 1,2,3 came out we would all be disappointed as our imagination was replaced with someone else's.

        No, the problem was that Episodes 1-3 didn't fill in the interesting gaps.

        4: Here's this Luke kid. Light Side wins.
        5: The Empire blows up the base, hacks off Luke's hand, and Han's fully-clothed and petrified. Dark Side wins.
        6: Luke beats Palpatine. Dad's OK. Light Side wins.

        Following the parallel, we should have had:
        1: Here's the Anakin kid. Light Side wins.
        2: Anakin hacks up a bunch of Sandpeople, kids, and finally flips out Natalie Portman, formerly naked, ends up petrified. Dark Side wins.
        3: Here's this Darth Vader dude. He gets more and more evil with every passing month, slaughtering millions, razing planets, building Star Destroyers and Death Stars, and he's so freaking oppressive that the Rebellion starts. Some Bothans rip off the plans for the Death Star and haul ass outa there! Light Side wins.

        Instead we got this incoherent jumble:
        1: Here's the Anakin kid. Light Side wins.
        2: Here's the Anakin dude. Whiny little bugger, ain't he?
        3: Here's the Anakin dude. Still a whiny little bugger, ain't he? DO NOT WANT.

        All the interesting gaps in the Star Wars storyline took place between Episode III and Episode IV. We all know Anakin's going to fall to the Dark Side, and there was no need to spend two movies doing it. The unexplored part of the movie timeline is what life is like immediately after he becomes Vader, but before the events of Episode IV.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by morari (1080535)

          All the interesting gaps in the Star Wars storyline took place between Episode III and Episode IV. We all know Anakin's going to fall to the Dark Side, and there was no need to spend two movies doing it. The unexplored part of the movie timeline is what life is like immediately after he becomes Vader, but before the events of Episode IV.

          Agreed. However, I have my doubts that Lucas could have pulled off anything better than he did, regardless of his chosen timeline. He's just not very good, as he's proven time and time again. :\

        • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by c0mpliant (1516433) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:51PM (#33384916)
          I know I'm going to be lambasted for this and let me say right from the start I don't like the majority of Star Wars, but I really liked Episode 3.

          To me it was one of the few ones who's plot was reasonably believable. Reasonably good build up, some tension thrown in, no overwhelmingly painful, tediously dragged out love story, good depiction of a coup and to top it off, only a few unanswered questions about what had taken place.

          Star Trek story lines usually had an air of believability to them. Granted some series had too many encounters with time travel (I'm looking at you Voyager), holodeck accidents (I'm looking at you TNG) and the Mirror Universe (I'm looking at you DS9), but you could usually find decent explanations for most things. To be honest I like the TV series approach better than the films, as was stated by others here, you have more time to develop characters, more time to develop lore and culture but you also invariably have more time to create garbage and bullshit. But overall I feel that the genius to bullshit ratio of Star Trek far exceeds that of Star Wars
  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:39PM (#33383216)
    Apparently this is regarding a book published in 2002 which talks about the 1997 edition of Star Wars vs a 1991 Star Trek - comparing the way an explosion appeared on screen.
    Which portion of this 8 year old book about a 20 year old movie is news?
  • by Rary (566291) * on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:40PM (#33383222)

    Ring around the Death Star? Greedo shooting first? You mean, people actually watch the butchered editions of Star Wars?

    I had no idea.

    • by maeka (518272)

      Not all of us have the beautiful anamorphic laserdiscs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rary (566291) *

        Not all of us have the beautiful anamorphic laserdiscs.

        Laserdiscs? What's wrong with the OT DVD release?

        Han shoots first on my DVD copy. Same on my VHS copy.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:41PM (#33383242)

    When George Lucas added the 'ring around the Death Star' effect to his 1997 re-release of Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope, the revision was almost as hated as Greedo shooting first ...

    No. Greedo shooting first is far more hated. Enhanced explosion effects and cgi starfighters are the sort of thing expected not a major character personality rewrite.

    Adding ridiculous numbers of storm troopers to corridors is probably far more hated. The death star explosion is most likely pretty far down the list.

    • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:47PM (#33383346)
      I agree. This slash story is pretty lame. Also Han shot Greedo preemptively. Han was a rogue, not a white knight.
      • I think the word you were actually looking for is scoundrel, not rogue.

      • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:30PM (#33383852) Journal

        While I agree that it's stupid that they made Greedo fire first, it was pretty obvious that if Han hadn't shot him, Greedo would have pulled his trigger, so even without Greedo shooting first, Han was still acting in self-defense.

        My point being that the idea of making Greedo shoot first to make Han look somehow less "evil" was even at its very best, a completely unnecesssary change, because it was obvious to me that Han shot Greedo in self defense when I first saw the movie in 1977. The real problem with that change was that it made Han look like he was somebody who simply reacted to situations around him rather than proactively dealt with them in an efficient and appropriate manner.

        • by matt_hs (1252668) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:42PM (#33383990)
          The other problem with having Greedo shoot first is that they were, what . . . about 2-3' feet from each other? Across the table? Greedo is an experienced bounty hunter. How the hell does he miss from that distance??
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Opie812 (582663)
            The other problem with having Greedo shoot first is that they were, what . . . about 2-3' feet from each other? Across the table? Greedo is an experienced bounty hunter. How the hell does he miss from that distance??

            He likely went to the same shooting range as every stormtrooper in the galaxy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Kehvarl (812337)

            Greedo missing from 3 feet away, stormtroopers unable to hit anything, and Obi-wan's comment "Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise," can all be explained away by another of Kenobi's comments: "...clumsy or random as a blaster."

            From all this, I can only conclude that "blasters" have an intentionally random directional shift applied each time the weapon is fired. Such randomness would mean that they constitute a galaxy-spanning game of Russian roulette, and would also make them ideal terror weapons.

            Thi

    • by Reziac (43301) * on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:56PM (#33383458) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. Dicking with SFX is mostly just irritating. But a major personality rewrite is a betrayal -- not of us fans, but of the character himself.

  • by stagg (1606187) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:41PM (#33383244)
    Which would win in a fight, the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise?
  • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:41PM (#33383246)
    Just made Star Wars totally unrealistic.
  • It sure would be nice if the author could figure out how to write something that anybody BESIDES a raving, rabid fanboy of either series could make any sense of. I haven't memorized either of those movies, I'm ashamed to say...
    • by santax (1541065)
      Pff I should hook you up with my girlfriend. She will fix that for you and I finally can watch a decent movie like the Godfather 1, 2 and 3 in peace.
  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:41PM (#33383250) Homepage
    One of the things that Star Wars had over Star Trek is the fact that the science, or lack of it, was never a critical point of the story. Nothing wrong with bad science with your fantasy, but Star Trek tried making the bad science part of the plotline which was idiotic. Making up a particle that causes some problem, then making up another particle that fixes the problem caused by the first fake particle is beyond stupid. You don't gain anything from it.
    • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:53PM (#33383426)

      Both are entertainment. If you know anything about the relevant science they spout off, I hope you're not taking notes for future reference. I assume both put just enough real science in there to make it sound not _entirely_ bullshit but didn't bother going to ridiculous realistic detail to turn it into a class.

      Again, these shows/movies were for entertainment. Picking apart the "science" that was written by.. writers.. might be funny in some blatant cases, but generally it's just a futile effort since not even they cared and they were the ones writing it into canon.

      Frankly, my opinion is that those who "take offense" to the lack of credible science in these two series/movies are the ones who sincerely hope/hoped it will/would/(was?) become reality in the not so distant future (or long ago past for the Star Wars fans). OMG! The science isn't real! Does that mean I won't get to tool around the galaxy on the Enterprise-A/B/C/D/E?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fiannaFailMan (702447)

        ST and SW are of such a high calibre of entertainment that I can forgive the bad physics, or at least tolerate them. But BSG (new) and B5 prove that you can have a good story AND still get the physics right without it "turning into a class" as you put it.

    • Star Trek tried making the bad science part of the plotline which was idiotic.

      It's hard to avoid this when you're filling scripts for nearly a dozen movies, plus hundreds of hours of television programming. Star Wars only had to contend with six movies, a Christmas special and a handful of cartoons. The Star Wars books certainly go down the "science rathole" (wormhole), explaining, for example, how Han made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs...)

    • by nharmon (97591) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:01PM (#33383528) Homepage

      Yeah, it's not like conjuring up some mystical phenomena that allows the characters to defy the laws of physics.

    • The Force basically just a 'particle of the week'. It has whatever powers or limitations are necessary to advance the plot, but any rational explanation of it is patently ridiculous.
    • by gfreeman (456642) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:19PM (#33383718)

      That could be because Star Wars is about the story, whereas Star Trek is about the characters.

      Inventing Particle A which is fixed by Particle B may not be a good story in itself, but how Kirk, Spock, Bones et al deal with the situation is why I like ST over SW.

      Darth Vader was a great baddie, but so was Khan.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lymond01 (314120)

        Good comment, no mod points. ST:TNG was a let down in terms of stories and characters. Picard was the only truly memorable character who wasn't a one-hit interest (like Worf's Klingonishness). Everyone else was boring. The stories were, well, days in the life mostly rather than the morality-questioning, slightly more epic tales of the original Star Trek. And Bones, Kirk, and Spock were the reason people watched the show.

        TNG episode that stands out the most didn't even have the main characters: The Game

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by meloneg (101248)

      One of the things that Star Wars had over Star Trek is the fact that the science, or lack of it, was never a critical point of the story. Nothing wrong with bad science with your fantasy, but Star Trek tried making the bad science part of the plotline which was idiotic. Making up a particle that causes some problem, then making up another particle that fixes the problem caused by the first fake particle is beyond stupid. You don't gain anything from it.

      Yeah. 'Cuz Star Wars never had a plot that depended on a fictional technology (force fields and, erm, force fields) with blatant plot holes (the most important control panel on the huge-freaking ship is in the most obscure, out-of-the-way, unguarded spot on the ship or the force field generator is on a populated moon that doesn't seem to orbit anything {and has the solar-cycle of a planet} which is guarded by a small force of second-rate troops with no heavy weapons*).

      *No AT-STs are not heavy weapons. Loo

  • I don't see how one small example from 1 movie out of thousands of hours of star trek lets star wars "trump" it. For christ sakes.. in star wars you could alter someones mind by waving at them. You could move objects by REALLY wanting them. Death? Thats for losers. Need I go on? /fanboy
  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:45PM (#33383302) Journal

    I care about the integrity of a work of art, cheesy pyro effects and all.

    Digital remasterings that go beyond color correction and noise reduction suck. JMHO.

    Acceptable? Getting rid of the matte outlines that were visible in VHS Star Wars IV. Not acceptable? Adding a CGI tauntaun.

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:57PM (#33383476) Homepage

      Acceptable? Getting rid of the matte outlines that were visible in VHS Star Wars IV. Not acceptable? Adding a CGI tauntaun.

      Of course not. Everybody knows that the Tauntauns all live on Hoth, and they didn't even go there until episode V.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Right absolutely on. Fix what the tech of the day *could not* make right in the first place, sure. And that does NOT mean you can substitute CGI for claymation or whatever other old-style SFX. Doing so makes a visual "hole" in the film that makes our "willing suspension of disbelief" hit the ground with a resounding THUD.

      But no matter how "broken" it may seem a few years later, DON'T fuck around with the visual, structural, or character integrity of the film.

      I like what John D. MacDonald wrote about his ear

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:45PM (#33383320)

    Plait concludes that the blast pattern resulting from the explosion of the Klingon mining operation has no credible reason to resolve into a ring form, ...

    Conversely, the surface integrity of the Death Star hull is interrupted by a perfect ring in the form of the gargantuan maintenance trench which encircles it, ...

    This makes the highly criticized 'ring effect' far more plausible in New Hope ...

    Unless, of course, Praxis had a trench round its circumference too (visible or not). Strip-mining is a viable extraction method.

    • by XanC (644172)

      Praxis is their key energy production facility...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mishehu (712452)
        Send to Klingon High Command: "This is Excelsior, a Federation Starship traveling in beta quadrant. We have monitored a large explosion in your sector. Do you require any assistance?"
  • Alien (1979) http://io9.com/355353/you-have-ten-seconds-to-reach-minimum-safe-distance [io9.com] By the shape of the nostromo and the large flat platform at the base I'm going to say that they had it right before any of those others.
  • But a debunking astronomer

    Astronomy grants getting a bit thin? Don't they need to be gathering gravity wave data to work out whether or not the universe is a hologram and dark energy radiates from evil mirror branes or something?

    claims that the Federation got it wrong and the fan-boys should thank Lucas for adding some scientific accuracy to his fictional universe

    Yeah, I'll get right on that. Oh, wait, I'm not a fan boy! I'm exempt! Yay! :-D

  • MORE OLD NEWS!!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SunSpot505 (1356127)
    You know I realize CmrTaco founded slashdot, so maybe i'm looking a gift horse in the mouth here, but come on dude!!!! The book cited was published in 2002. This following an article on Falconry that has been in use for at bare minimum 70 years??? Is it the slowest news day in history or what??
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you look at the dynamics of the Enterprise during the Far Point episode, you can see at least 16 maneuvers that violate physics. I think it's pretty clear that the people who do Star Trek don't have any respect -- whatsoever -- for any kind of physical realism. On the other hand, if you look at the way the Millennium Falcon moves, especially the way it goes into hyperdrive, it is WAY more realistic.

    It really bothers me that Trekkies/Trekkers/whatever you want to call them think that Star Trek is so grea

    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:56PM (#33384978) Journal

      On the other hand, if you look at the way the Millennium Falcon moves, especially the way it goes into hyperdrive, it is WAY more realistic.

      You lost me when you used FTL drive as an example of something that's "more" realistic.....

      The whole idea in Star Wars of a struggle between good and evil is far more realistic

      Except it's not a struggle between good and evil. It's a struggle between two sets of elitists that basically espouse the same philosophy. You think the Jedi represent good? Yoda was perfectly content to allow Anakin's Mother to die and even encouraged the boy to let it happen. Windu tried to appoint himself Judge, Jury and Executioner. Qui-Gon wasn't permitted by the Jedi code to rescue two people from slavery and broke the rules in saving one of them.

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:05PM (#33383570)

    So, if I'm reading the summary correctly, Star Wars was edited to include an effect that had already been included in Star Trek. So for copying Star Trek, Star Wars wins?

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:16PM (#33383684) Homepage

    - Star Wars uses laser weapons. Any advanced space-race would never use laser weapons as they are readily re-mediated by the use of reflective materials. Star Trek uses Phasers (phased energy weapons), which at least sort of makes sense.

    - An entire planet existing as a city? This makes no sense from a material logistics point of view, at all. There is nothing like this in Star Trek.

    - Need I mention the force? Microscopic life forms (midichlorians) giving magical powers to people? It is an interesting plot device, but rooted in any kind of science? No.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:40PM (#33383974) Homepage Journal

      Star Wars uses laser weapons. Any advanced space-race would never use laser weapons as they are readily re-mediated by the use of reflective materials.

      Try reflecting a megawatt or even kilowatt laser from a vehicle coating sometime and let us know how it works out. The material needs to be able to survive re-entry and be easily repaired between flights.

      - An entire planet existing as a city? This makes no sense from a material logistics point of view, at all. There is nothing like this in Star Trek.

      It's been explored repeatedly in Science Fiction, most notably by Isaac Asimov in the Foundation series.

      Need I mention the force? Microscopic life forms (midichlorians) giving magical powers to people? It is an interesting plot device, but rooted in any kind of science? No.

      Midichlorians were the attempt to root it into some kind of science. I could invent all kinds of bullshit QM explanations for them but I'm not that much of a fanboy. I don't think we need to go into the whole mind-melding thing as a counterexample. Can't we just accept that both are fantasy, and move on?

    • by gknoy (899301) <(gknoy) (at) (anasazisystems.com)> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:58PM (#33384196)

      Star wars blasters are actually (I can't believe I said that) bolts of superheated plasma, not lasers. The plasma is what does the damage, not the laser. That's why they call them "blasters" and not "lasers", as well as why they have visible flight time instead of being nigh-instantaneous. (It doesn't explain why one side's ships have orange bolts and the other side has green, though. That never made sense to me.) More details at [ http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Blaster [wikia.com] ].

      Similarly, a lightsaber is described as a blade of plasma, held in place by a projected energy field. It's not a laser either. ( per [ http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber [wikia.com] ] )

  • by rednip (186217) <[rednip] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @02:25PM (#33383794) Journal
    There are a whole lot more plot lines which need to be quickly developed for episodic TV, it's no wonder that writer of the week had played fast and loose with physics. Sure, The Clone Wars is 'weekly', but it's plot lines are stretched a half an hour at a time across several weeks. Also the Star Wars saga is more of a war set in space than a twisty science fiction story.

    Personally, I see it as an apples and oranges thing. You'd be more accurate comparing Star Trek with Dr. Who and Star Wars with Star Ship Troopers (but I wouldn't even want those flame wars!)

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:58PM (#33386736)
    Sci-fi obviously gets this wrong, with billowing clouds of burning petroleum shot on earth composited over CG or scale models, it's almost completely wrong on every level.

    I'd love to see space battles done realistically some day. But here are some points.

    Gas, debri, behaves differently and quite counterintuitive in a vacuum. Everything in space follows a parabolic/freefall trajectory, and unless it has anything to hit, it'll continue follow that vector. Gases and liquid much the same. Any explosion or rapid venting would see gas streaming out into space fast.

    The closest example I can find is the rocket exhaust from a russian missle test that spiralled out of control over norway. http://paradoxoff.com/files/2009/12/norway-sky-spiral-phenomena-1.jpg [paradoxoff.com]
    This gives you some idea of the odd way things behave in a vacuum. Rocket exhaust has a velocity of many km/s.

    As for explosions, only ionized glowing gas would be visible, or ice particles reflecting light, as well as any debri.

    In earths atmosphere explosives generate a shockwave traveling at many kilometres per second. In a vacuum this is relatively unimpeded, so would be faster.

    Yet in a vacuum shockwaves from gas alone would be relatively benign after a short distance. There is no overpressure/underpressure effect the same as in an atmosphere. If anything the shockwave from explosives nearby would give a vessel a sideways shove with rather even pressure exerted by high velocity gas impacting the hull.

    However in space, any debri or shrapnel is extra deadly.

    Consider that Project Orion was intending to use nuclear warheads detonated behind a vessel to propell it along. They were talking about distances of 100 metres, which with a mutli-kiloton bomb would only ablate a thin layer of steel off the pusher plate with each pulse.

    So a nuke could go off pretty close to the hull of a vessel and do little more than give it a nudge and a does of EM and gamma radiation - if enough nudge it might splatter the canned primates against the inside of the ship and cause some structural damage.

    Considering lasers are defeated by a reflective surface it seems to me the only plausible space weapon is projectiles. A high velocity delta would mean putting your packed lunch out a airlock at a 8km/s differnce would give it it's own weight in TNT and put a hole through a foot of steel.

    Thankfully Battlestar Galactica reboot got this right - they ditched lasers for more realistic old fashioned projectile rounds.

    A smaller projectile accelerated to relativistic speeds would be almost impossible to dodge for anything large and slow moving. If you could detect it at tens of thousands of kilometres away you'd have only a split second to move your vessel.
  • by howlingfrog (211151) <.ajmkenyon2002. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:44AM (#33389632) Homepage Journal
    I enjoy both Star Trek and Star Wars as adventure drama, but there is not one iota of real science in either one. Might as well post an article about how the pot trumped the kettle for whiteness.

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