Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

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Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by cmdrkoenig67 on Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:15 am

Hi Folks,

Okay...We've probably talked about the series' science facts or flaws on other forums, but I'd like to discuss it here too. While reading another forum (not Space:1999 oriented), a group of folks were disecting Space:1999 for it's "bad science" (although, if I were a member of said forum...I would make an effort to point out the flaws of other sci-fi series too, since they were being more than biased against 1999).

I apologize for taking so long to get to my points and please keep in mind I am not a science whiz, but here goes nothing...

One person's comment about the impossibility of the moon being thrust from orbit and it's velocity changes, made me think of the G-Force that pins the Alphans to the floor moments after the Nuclear Wastes go up. Victor stated that they were being held down by G-Force, due to the moon being shifted...But what if it was more a case of the Moonbase's Artificial Gravity malfunctioning caused by the breakaway and not the actual movement of the Moon?

A few folks also commented about the absurdity of there being normal gravity in the Moonbase...Thankfully, another poster called them on this (mentioning the Moonbase's Artificial Gravity and pointing out that almost every sci-fi series has had to use the "Artificial Gravity" aspect).

Another person mentioned the impossibility of nuclear waste exploding...We now know that it can heat up and explode (so this person and Isaac Asimov are/were incorrect)...Could it explode on a nuclear explosion level big enough to move the Moon?...Probably not, but the series had to move the Moon from Earth orbit for dramatic purposes...Even Mr. Asimov agreed with this plot point in his critique of the series' pilot.

Another Poster commented on the implausibility of Eagle shuttle pilot Collins' being able to shatter a window with his helmet in the Nuclear Monitoring Station (going on about how stupid the writers/directors/etc were for doing this scene and that he turned the show off, never watching it again after said scene)...I would point out to him (again, if I was a member of that forum), that Collin's did not shatter the window...He cracked it, then hit it again and again (3 or more times IIRC)...He was slowly weakening the glass...The atmospheric pressure inside the monitoring Station finally did the rest. If you really think about it, the glass had to be some-what strong to hold up to that abuse...The Glass lasted just long enough for them to vacate the room, in order for the cast to remain alive...As the situation really could have sucked/blown for Victor, John, etc...LOL! The poster seemed more concerned with pointing out the ignorance of the writers, etc...Than actually thinking about how long it was taking Collins to break the glass.

Please post your thoughts about other science facts or flaws in Breakaway or other episodes...I think it might be an interesting talk.

Dana

EDIT: Here's the forum I was reading...

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=537436


Last edited by cmdrkoenig67 on Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:18 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added link)
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by s99fan on Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:15 am

There is certainly the typical amount of tiring running-on of impossible science on that forum, but I still found it interesting how many posters still remembered the haunting scenes of Dragon's Domain, Earthbound and Breakaway. I do believe we can smugly feel we get the last laugh there.... our series IS remembered.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Senmut on Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:00 pm

I have noticed that the usual 'science mistake!" whines tend mostly to come from the uber-Trekoids. No matter what, regardless of what discoveries have been made since, it's always a endless rip on the show. However, raise a point about Trek, or SW, or Dune, and you had better get your deflectors up, when the other side returns fire.
Also--"But what if it was more a case of the Moonbase's Artificial Gravity malfunctioning caused by the breakaway and not the actual movement of the Moon?" I thought the same thing, and used it in a Fic I wrote.
Anyway, points well taken, cmdrk.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:10 am

The amount of flak Space: 1999 takes over its "bad science" really
depresses me. Even allowing the fact that the show is, for me,
more of an existential, metaphysical fantasy so the science issues
really shouldn't matter - but to the uninitiated, because it's set in
outer space with ships and aliens and the like, they expect it to be
just like Star Trek, etc. Try explaining why it isn't or indeed
why it shouldn't have to be...
Even so, it bothers me that Space gets bashed for some of the same
scientific "errors" that feature in plenty of other series - I agree,
there's never any sort of consistency in these criticisms!
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:19 am

cmdrkoenig67 wrote:But what if it was more a case of the Moonbase's Artificial Gravity malfunctioning caused by the breakaway and not the actual movement of the Moon?

It's an interesting speculation, certainly, but personally I think the
g-forces are caused by the Moon's sudden acceleration just like Victor
says. It seems clear that this was what the writers intended, and
they certainly seem to have thought about the science of it.
(Putting aside for now the question of whether in fact the explosion
could really move the Moon from its orbit.) Once they stop
accelerating, the Moon continues at the same constant velocity, exactly
as Newtonian physics would predict. The g-forces should cease
from that moment. (Actually Victor suggests that there's still a
force of 3g on them, but that the Moonbase's gravity system can
compensate for that - so if there's any error it's in that
assertion. Oh well... ) I am bothered a little when Koenig, a trained astronaut, tells
Carter "we seem to be decelerating" rather than "we seem to have
stopped accelerating" - that's a subtle but important
distinction. Still, it's a stressful time for him, so perhaps we
can forgive him a slight slip of the tongue.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by SPACE 1899 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:29 am

'Science mistake' whines really really do annoy me, I must say. Why don't these moaning people simply stop watching sci-fi and go and watch documentary programmes instead ?

Why can't people just lighten up and enjoy science fiction for the thrilling entertainment ride it provides ?
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Commander Koenig on Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:38 am

SPACE 1899 wrote:'Science mistake' whines really really do annoy me, I must say. Why don't these moaning people simply stop watching sci-fi and go and watch documentary programmes instead ?

Why can't people just lighten up and enjoy science fiction for the thrilling entertainment ride it provides ?
I'm with you on this one Space 1899.

Personally, I know very little about the subtleties of what passes for bad science or good science, therefore I feel I don't have enough knowledge of this to comment on into which category Space 1999 falls, but all I know is that I enjoy watching the show for its pure entertainment value. I will leave the scientific discussion for those who know about these things and read their posts with interest, and in the hope of learning something. scratch

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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by SPACE 1899 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:30 am

And anyway, according to the back cover of my Power Records Space 1999 "3 Exciting Stories" LP record, it states that Space 1999 won a "Recommended Viewing" commendation from Dr. Wernher von Braun, president of the National Space Institute
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:57 am

SPACE 1899 wrote:And anyway, according to the back cover of my Power
Records Space 1999 "3 Exciting Stories" LP record, it states that Space
1999 won a "Recommended Viewing" commendation from Dr. Wernher von
Braun, president of the National Space Institute

Indeed it did. There's a reproduction of Von Braun's letter in
The Making of Space: 1999 book. I could almost forgive him for
firing all those V2 missiles into London...
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by SPACE 1899 on Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:25 am

As some of you may already know from my posts on other threads, I am a HUGE fan of the sci fi show Defying Gravity, currently showing on TV. This weeks episode where they finally discover the 'object' in pod 4, was just so profound and moving, I was seriously nearly moved to tears.

Anyway - I digress - but there were some words on the commentary in that episode that were just so relevant to this thread, which went as follows -

(near the start of the episode) -
"When I was a kid I used to lie on my back and look up at the stars and try and imagine just what was up there....And every once in a while I would feel a chill run through me, a realisation that I was just a tiny part of the whole and it was all so much bigger than me, and that there were so many questions for which I didn't have answers, not even a clue."

(near the end of the episode) -
"Poets will tell you that Science diminishes the beauty of the stars by reducing them to super heated balls of gas. But I don't think there's a scientist alive who isn't awed by the heavens..."

In my opinion, THAT is the frame of mind to be in when watching science fiction - with a certain sense of awe and wonder.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by SPACE 1899 on Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:05 pm

Or, as Paul Merton so cleverly replied on the TV Show Room 101, where his guest Sara Cox was slagging off science fiction because it was so unreal, "Maybe the clue is in the word - fiction."
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Jack18 on Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:19 am

well that's what it was science fiction. some critics said that the science was a bit dodgy in Space 1999 but i didn't think it was.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by s99fan on Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:16 am

Oh, the science was dodgy enough, but I never cared. It is a work of fiction meant to explore a fascinating possibility.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:34 pm

That the science is "dodgy" in places is true enough, but I don't think
it's any worse in that regard that other sci-fi shows of the sixties
and seventies - Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, the Irwin Allen
series, etc. I do think though that the writers have thought
about the ideas they're trying to explore and at least make an effort
to have the science seem plausible within the needs of the story (in
series 1 at least). The series does deal with some pretty far-out
and cutting edge concepts - they do seem to have thought out what's
going on and how it works, even if they're not adhering strictly to
rigorous scientific theory. In any case, many of the concepts
were new and scientists hadn't fully thought them out yet - the writers
were at least having a stab at that.

I'm always drawn back to that quote (usually attributed to the British
astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington): "The universe is not only
stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine."
That pretty much sums up Space: 1999.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:31 pm

At the heart of Another Time, Another Place is the Many Worlds
Interpretation of quantum mechanics made flesh. We actually see
the splitting of the universe into two distinct branches: the Moon and
all its inhabitants being duplicated. This is all perfectly
normal of course - "many worlds" posits that at every moment, there are
an infinite number of possible outcomes, all of which exist but which
are mutually unobservable. But here, through whatever mechanism
exists in the spacial vortex, the Moon and its continuing reality seems
to become superimposed over another branch of the quantum
universe. We see the second Moon splitting off, and later on we
catch up with it again. This is all pretty cutting edge stuff for
a tv sci fi programme. The "many worlds" theory had only been
around since the late fifties, and it only really started to gain
serious acceptance amongst physicists in the 1980s and beyond. It
certainly goes way beyond the usual "evil parallel universe" stuff that
one sees in shows like Doctor Who and Star Trek.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:02 pm

In actual fact, thinking about it some more, I think the spacial vortex
could act like some kind of macroscopic scale dual slit
experiment. You have two slits in a sheet of metal say, and you
fire a single photon at them. It's perfectly possible for the
single photon to pass through both slits simultaneously. You can observe
the effects of this, but you can't observe the photon itself - once you
do the probability wave-function collapses (or "decoheres" as physicists
say) and it ends up going through one slit or the other.

Now the vortex effect could be something similar at a macroscopic
scale, allowing the Moon to pass through into two separate realities -
normally, large scale objects can't do this, because it's much harder to
isolate something as big as the Moon from observation than it is
something very small like a photon, so the wave-function decoheres
pretty much instantaneously. That's why we only see one version
of reality and objects don't appear to be everywhere at once. In
some way, the two Moons are isolated from normal quantum decoherence by
the vortex, and a quantum superposition is the result. Clever
stuff.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by cmdrkoenig67 on Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:46 am

You made my head explode, Andrew...Thanks for that...LOL!

Dana
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by Andrew Kearley on Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:24 pm

When the Moon enters the Black Sun, it's interesting to note that it
emerges back into space through a glowing white sphere - in other
words: a white hole, which is the theoretical opposite to a black
hole. Science has never actually discovered a white hole, but the
equations of general relativity suggest that they should exist - then
again, their existence would seem to contradict the laws of
thermodynamics.

I think the phenomenon encountered in Black Sun is actually a
Schwarzchild Wormhole, a theoretical linking of black hole and white
hole, allowing travel between different universes, or different parts
of the universe. The only problem is that these things would be
ridiculously unstable, the massive gravitational forces involved would
cause the wormhole to "pinch off" almost instantaneously, and you'd be
left with two supermassive objects in different parts of the
universe. In other words, a fairly conventional black hole - this
is obviously what the Alphans think they are falling towards in this
episode, and they fully expect to die, crushed into nothingness by the
gravitational forces.

It's been speculated however that a wormhole could be held open by
placing a ring of exotic matter (that's matter with negative mass and
energy) inside it, to hold open the "throat" of the wormhole and stop
it from "pinching off". The exotic matter would hold back the
gravitational forces and allow a body to pass through the
wormhole. So, the god-like being that lives inside the Black Sun
could well be holding open the wormhole to allow the Moon
through. It may be employing exotic matter to achieve this, it
may be some unfathomable supernatural power. But again, there
seems to be some real scientific basis for what we see in the series.
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by cmdrkoenig67 on Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:34 pm

I truly believe the being guided them through the Black Sun (and even reunited the Survival ship with them). I also liked that the entity was seemingly beyond Victor and John's understanding...Was it just an alien being that was insanely advanced beyond humanity or it could have been some aspect of "God" as Victor surmized?
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Re: Space:1999 Science-y Speculating...

Post by cmdrkoenig67 on Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:43 pm

Another example of somewhat accurate science in the series would be the episode Mission of the Darians...The surviving elite lived by consuming the broken down elements of their fellow Darians as well as organ and tissue transplantation, again using the more primitive of their "people" as the donors...I think the science was pretty sound in that episode.

Dana
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