Welcome to Real Physics Star Trek. A semi-regular web comic that takes a look at what Star Trek might look like if they were forced to play by real world rules and technological limitations.
Now, before any of you Trekkers get bent out of shape, and start arguing about what is (and isn’t) REAL science on Star Trek, I should point out that this is a parody site, poking fun at some of the more speculative/theoretical tech featured in the series (primarily TNG, because they at least attempted to give a shit about their technobabble.) I love Star Trek…. well… most of it, at any rate, but at the end of the day, it was a show about telling thrilling adventure stories in space, not strict adherence to scientific accuracy.
Most of Trek’s incredible technology is more or less based on the premise that if you overcome one seemingly impossible and utterly impractical scientific stumbling block, everything else falls neatly into place.
“Of course we can bypass the speed of light! We’re not breaking any laws of physics! There’s real science behind it! We just have to generate gravitational waves so intense, they warp the fabric of space/time and then drive a spaceship the size of a skyscraper through said distortion, and we can skip across the universe like a stone across a pond!”
“How do you expect to do that then? Without dying horribly, I mean?”
“Well, obviously we need power. Lots of power. Like, more than the total energy output generated by the entire planet in a 24-hour period power, but in a conveniently compact and safe to handle form. But don’t worry, we’ll get there. It’s only a matter of waiting for the next big scientific discovery!”
[At this point, the speaker launches into the obligatory anecdote about how 17th century inventors would be amazed by modern 21st century innovations, and then optimistically extrapolate the same exponential growth in education and technology of the last three centuries to the 23rd, conveniently forgetting that in the 17th century… people didn’t know shit, and their crowning technological achievements were the slide rule, a make-things-slightly-bigger tube, and realizing that the lid on the metal pot you cook your meals *and* do your fine washables in, sometimes falls off if you leave it on the stove for too long, but if you hammer it closed like Granny Esther suggested, bits of kettle and boiled turnip end up all over poor Aunt Mildred, and somebody should probably check to make sure she’s okay.]
“With enough power, we can generate tractor beams, force fields, create anti-gravity, inertia dampeners, bend the fabric of space, communicate instantly with any point in the known universe via “subspace”, convert matter into energy and back into matter again at will, shoot awesome pep-pew lasers, and have sex with dinosaurs on the holodeck!* It’ll be totally kick-ass!”
“But how do you generate/store that kind of incredible multi-purpose do-anything energy in the first place?”
“Umm… with magic space rocks?! Duh! With special molecular er.. composite vibration um… quantum… thingums. Look, we’ll know when we see them okay. We just haven’t found the right ones yet, dude, because they’re super rare, and aren’t replicatable and stuff because of.. reasons.”
And thus ends the circular logic of the overly hopeful Trekker.
Trust me when I say, I really do hope we get there. Somehow. Eventually.
And now that I’ve bummed everybody out… on with the (hopefully) funny.
*I made that last one up, but you know somebody on the Enterprise is totally into it. Not that I’m judging you, ensign Armstrong.
No kink shaming here.