# Science Fiction Gripe

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by unixfish, Nov 20, 2020.

1. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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I've been watching some old episodes of Enterprise. Not bad, not great, worth streaming.

When they are on planet, or in the ship, and when dealing with aliens, everything is described in meters, or kilometres per hour, hours, etc.

OK, you have to use something but:

Meters are a measure relative to earth.

Hours / seconds are a concept relative to earth.

Space distances are measured in light years - the distance light will travel in a year, again, relative to earth.​

Solution? I don't know. Distance could be a multiple of the wavelength of white light? Maybe time should be based on some frequency of light or something else. Maybe a half-life of some element?

I'm sure some some physicists have a found a solution / better measurement system. I just have not looked it up.

Just griping about little stuff here. Maybe some of you can relate.

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2. ### beanlucTele-Meister

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There are now universal definitions for these units, which don't correspond directly to earth dimensions, or her orbital or rotational properties any longer.

From Wikipedia:

The metre is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299 792 458 of a second.

[The second is] defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the caesium frequency ∆νCs, the unperturbed ground-state hyperfine transition frequency of the caesium-133 atom, to be 9192631770 when expressed in the unit Hz, which is equal to s^−1.

There are two reasons this was done: Precision and accuracy, for one, and abandoning terracentrism for another. Both of those definitions are expected (barring some extremely unexpected undiscovered laws of physics) to be the same anywhere in the universe.

Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
3. ### stxrusPoster Extraordinaire

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Not to be an ass but it’s just movies. If your timeframe is days, hours, minutes, seconds then why not in your sci fi state. Distance is a measurement that can be whatever you want

4. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Brilliant. This was what I was thinking about. Now if we could just round some of those numbers...

Now that you mention it, I do remember the Caesium-133 reference for time. I guess I forgot about that over the course of decades.

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5. ### SixStringSlingerFriend of Leo'sSilver Supporter

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Real-world answer: Why metric? Sounds sciencey. Why do aliens get it? One less writing hurdle.

In-universe answer: I dunno. Maybe something to do with how they all understand each other in general. Our metric system may also me a universal Federation/Starfleet, thing, though in Enterprise Starfleet is just Earth and the Federation isn't a thing yet.

I like Enterprise, particularly the season 2 finale through the first two episodes of season 4.

Also, just being pedantic, but the speed of light is not "relative to Earth". It's relative to its source, if anything.

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6. ### beanlucTele-Meister

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Oh yeah - also the definition of light-year doesn't have anything to do with (and doesn't make reference to) "relative to Earth".

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7. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Because this is where my mind goes at night when I'm trying to unwind.

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8. ### Ed DriscollTele-Holic

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Television is very different medium than a book, where a science-fiction writer can take time away from the story to carefully detail how a new technology or measurement system works.

Minus commercials, hour-long TV shows run about 52 minutes. The shows have a rigid structure -- four acts, plus a teaser opening and a wrap-up scene. The pacing has to be fast enough to not bore the audience. As part of that, the dialogue has to be tight enough to explain to the audience what's going on, but not bore them with unnecessary details, or techno-babble that requires a lengthy explanation. The Star Trek franchise is lucky that, by virtue of having been around for over half a century, the bulk of the viewers don't need terms like warp drive, the transporter room, Star Fleet, the Federation, phasers, photon torpedoes, Vulcans, Orions, Klingons, Romulans, etc., explained to them. During the original series, Gene Roddenberry often took lengthy techno-filled explanations written by his writers (particularly writers with a science-fiction background) and cut them down to terse phrases: "the ship reads about a mile in diameter." "They're still several miles out," etc. That's a rule that has served ST in its various incarnations quite well.

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9. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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The speed of light is constant. The measurement, either 186,000 miles per second or 3.0 x 10^8 meters per second, uses the second as defined on earth. I am just being difficult, yeah, but still.

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10. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Light-year. Earth rotation around the sun is a year - unit of earth time.

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11. ### SixStringSlingerFriend of Leo'sSilver Supporter

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I'll see your difficulty and raise you...

The speed of light makes no reference to Earth or any human experience. Our calculation of the speed of light does

12. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Yeah, I know, and I agree. But do I need to point out the typo?

Over an hour, you get 42 minutes of "show", and a good minute to minute and a half of that is theme song. Star Trek series builds on itself, so a lot of that can be given a pass.

Exactly as you said.

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13. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Very true - and sort of my point. That speed is constant. Our measurement units are based on earth. But the speed has nothing to do with us - just the units. Agree, agree, agree, agree....

Well posted. Thank you.

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14. ### Ed DriscollTele-Holic

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Yeah, I was sort of guesstimating the current time of a TV show minus its commercials, without bothering to look up how little is left these days after all the ads.

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15. ### beanlucTele-Meister

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That's a good point, I was thinking of the light second (299 792 458 meters).

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16. ### Mr. LumberghPoster Extraordinaire

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That doesn't bother me; in Trek they wave it away with "universal translation," which presumably converts to the other specie's units for you.
The thing that always gripes me in sci-fi are those damned see-though monitors that you always see... Just, why? I don't want to see what's behind the screen, I want to see what's on the screen. That's why I'm looking at it in the first place.

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17. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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I edited my reply - after posting it looked a little cranky.

42 minutes is what most shows are. The Tonight Show is down to 38 minutes in a hour episode. My wife used to record these, and I would count commercials when I skipped them. 44 commercials in an hour. Just unacceptable.

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18. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Are we related?

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19. ### unixfishDoctor of TeleocitySilver Supporter

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Oddly enough, I had not thought of the universal translator. Hmmmm. But the mouth is always in synch with the dialog - it should be more like a dubbed film.

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20. ### Mr. LumberghPoster Extraordinaire

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At least in Trek they don't talk about the time required to make a run in parsecs.

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