The Event Forums

NBC (ended 2011)

Fictional Science

  • Avatar of CharlesTheBold

    CharlesTheBold

    [1]Apr 5, 2011
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    I thought it was odd -- the aliens can send a message faster than light, but they can't keep the stupid humans from eavesdropping on it?


    We know it's faster than light because it takes at least 4 years for light to reach other stars -- but I'm not sure the writers understood that.


    At least they haven't committed the howler of saying the aliens are "from another galaxy", as most pseudo-science-fiction series and movies do.


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  • Avatar of Gislef

    Gislef

    [2]Apr 6, 2011
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    Wouldn't a signal powerful enough to go all that distance be easier to detect, not harder? Why does one form of technology relating to transmission of a message mean that all other technology relating to the transmission be the same?

    On Earth, we have the technology to send a message vast distances, but not the technology to make it totally undetectable.

    Unless I missed something, the humans don't know what the message entirely says, because Martinez hasn't figured out the aliens are fighting for the life of their planet. As long as the cryptology is sound, why would Sophia's people care if Martinez knows a signal went out, and a signal came back?
    Edited on 04/06/2011 7:47pm
    Edited 3 total times.
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  • Avatar of MrBovineOrdure

    MrBovineOrdure

    [3]Apr 7, 2011
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    I mentioned this discrepancy in other posts here. The satellite launched had to be sending the transmission using regular light-speed radiation since it was terrestrial dish antennas that picked up the signals. These things aren't meant to pick up anything other than light-speed style radiation. (Sort of like trying to use a shortwave radio to pick up digital TV signals.)


    The only explanation is that there might be some kind of relay satellite parked somewhere out in the solar system that would receive a properly encrypted light-speed style transmission and broadcast it using whatever "Sub-space" technology the aliens have. Then when it received it's FTL response, relay it back to earth via the regular radio transmission. Perhaps the humans didn't pick up the response because they weren't looking for it but when a satellite launches and blasts a transmission, there was likely time for the humans to look for the outgoing signal.


    A relay satellite makes good sense with another aspect in misdirecting the humans as to where the signal is going. Sure, they might think the radio-blast was headed in the direction of some star system, but the FTL Relay satellite could very well redirect it somewhere else.


    It still makes you wonder why the aliens didn't do a better job encrypting the message or why they would need such a rube-goldberg type mechanism unless this "relay satellite" is required to be in space to operate.


    Mr BO

    Edited on 04/07/2011 5:32am
    Edited 2 total times.
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  • Avatar of hpgator

    hpgator

    [4]Apr 8, 2011
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    Bovine, dumb stuff like that is why this show is getting axed. It seems to me that it took too long to get interesting and then they suddenly had to force the plot to speed up dramatically.

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  • Avatar of MrBovineOrdure

    MrBovineOrdure

    [5]Apr 8, 2011
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    Despite the stupid stuff, I'm not eager to see this show end. It is after all, one of the very few sci-fi continuing story-line type shows and as far as the science, I've seen worse.


    Confusing the terms galaxy with universe, showing the space shuttle in orbit with bay doors closed, having a magic deux ex machina transporter device to base whole episodes on and turn Captian Jayneway from a Komodo dragon back to human form...


    Yup.... could be lots worse.....


    Mr BO

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  • Avatar of Gislef

    Gislef

    [6]Apr 9, 2011
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    The problem is, when there are statements like "The only explanation is...", that really means "The only explanation given our understanding of science is..."

    A great deal of science fiction is predicated on things that go beyond our current understanding. Sometimes our understanding catches up later.
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  • Avatar of terabaSe

    terabaSe

    [7]Apr 14, 2011
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    Science Fiction or Science Fantasy? We've never had a problem suspending our disbelief for other FTL devices in just about any other such story telling.

    Warp 9 in Star Trek (or 2, 3, 4...), Stargates, BSG's FTL, Star Wars 'The Force' etc. etc.

    Necessary tools to allow the story to unfold but tools that have so many holes in them we can't help but see through them to enjoy the tale on the other side. So we assume imaginary manipulation of forces not even existing in our wildest theories of the universe. It works, we speculate, we enjoy.

    Where 'The Event' so catastrophically collapses is pretty much all the Earth side technologies. Decryption of advanced encryption in a matter of minutes or even hours? We know for a fact that reasonably strong contemporary PGP encrypted data is pretty much impenetrable by any current means.

    And that's just one example of this story that had so much potential but failed to gather any writers that could do it justice.
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  • Avatar of MrBovineOrdure

    MrBovineOrdure

    [8]Apr 14, 2011
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    There's a lot of truth in that. The boundaries lie in where our acceptance is.


    The things I mentioned above are just points that make me wince, almost embarrassed to watch.


    I can accept warp speed, and FTL drives because in order to tell a story about inter-system travel, you really need it. Some magic I can accept for the story. The transporter I can accept because at the time it was first televised, it was *REALLY* expensive to show a ship descending on a planet. I just argue that it became a badly used tool for some bad plots.


    Decryption? How many times do we see someone breaking into a high level security installation by showing a computer crash dump? Usually at the hands of a 12 year old. Very worn out plot device.


    I'm just saying that this show hasn't reached the egregious level to make my eyes roll out of their skull.


    Well, not yet at least.

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  • Avatar of kanniballl

    kanniballl

    [9]Apr 19, 2011
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    Plus from a medical standpoint, I really doubt the girl that was chained to the furniture in the fire would be so healthy afterwards.


    Smoke in the lungs, heat damage in the lungs, low blood/oxygen levels, etc.


    You're not going to be all roses after something like that, and definitely not trecking across the hills and plains to escape the cops.



    I agree. I hate it when people take apart futuristic science and say "it's not science fiction because they didn't explain how the Serenity's engine's worked" or something. It's an engine, a mechanical device using scientific concepts, and being used to explain a "fantastic" event. Therefore it's science fiction. So what if we don't understand it.


    But the modern / contemporary science stuff is annoying.



    As someone suggested, I'd really be surprised if "our" satellite dishes could pick up an FTL signal. It's not like a DirectTV dish can locate a tachyon.


    BUTthe relay thing makes sense, maybe it's something they jettisoned before they approached the planet or they know there's something within the solar system (give-or-take). Maybe there is a probe monitoring Earth for hundreds of years and they only came by in person to check up on things. And said probe can receive our EM signals.



    The decryption thing, I don't know. The NSA has some major super computers that (I imagine) were churning away at the encryption from their previous phonecalls / communications. I imagine if they used the same keys or tech they might be able to break into individual calls in seconds.


    But considering this was literally an alien form of encryption to them, I doubt they could do it so quickly.



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  • Avatar of CharlesTheBold

    CharlesTheBold

    [10]Apr 19, 2011
    • member since: 06/07/05
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    I read a lot of science fiction. It does frequently violate certain scientific laws for plot purposes, particularly the light-speed limit , but the convention is that the writer should acknowledge the violation and "explain" it -- hyperspace, Jump gates, warp drive, the "infinite improbability drive" from Hitchhiker's Guide, etc. If the writerjust leaves the violation hanging, scifi fans will assume he or she doesn't understand science and has no business writing science fiction.



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  • Avatar of MrBovineOrdure

    MrBovineOrdure

    [11]Apr 22, 2011
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    The thing about the fire, Kaninballl is completely right


    In the late 80s, I was asleep in my 12th floor apartment at just after midnight when the building smoke alarm went off. I got out of bed casually because there were lots of false alarms, but when I went to the door, I smelled smoke. put some pants on, and headed for the stairs. The fire was on the 3rd floor. By the time I hit the 5th floor the smoke was pretty dense but cleared after I got below the 3rd floor. I'd say I had maybe 30-45 seconds of exposure.


    The apartment where the fire started was completely gutted. Fortunately, the building was well constructed, the fire didn't spread to anywhere else, but the next day, the whole 3rd floor hallway looked like the moon from the smoke damage and ashes. The fire was so hot it blew out the sliding glass doors going out to the porch in that apartment.


    My point.... with only less than a minutes worth of exposure to that kind of smoke, I was coughing up black stuff for the next 2 days...


    Those fire safety videos don't kid around. It's the smoke that will kill you.


    Mr BO

    Edited on 04/22/2011 11:38am
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  • Avatar of TechValleyJeff

    TechValleyJeff

    [12]Apr 23, 2011
    • member since: 03/01/09
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    Science fiction stories, as many replies have pointed out, need to violate the laws of physics for plot purposes. Subspace communication is frequently used to explain communication over light years of space.

    There are theoretical particles in quantum physics (tachyons) that actually can only travel faster than the speed of light.

    There are causality issues involved. In special relativity terms, these particles are believed to travel backwards in time.

    TechValleyJeff
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  • Avatar of ngc244

    ngc244

    [13]Apr 27, 2011
    • member since: 04/25/11
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    TechValleyJeff wrote:
    Science fiction stories, as many replies have pointed out, need to violate the laws of physics for plot purposes. Subspace communication is frequently used to explain communication over light years of space.


    Yes, of course. I suspect many of us are long time SF fans and know this very well. However, when the laws of physics are being bent the writer has a solemn duty to acknowledge the breach and to "explain" it. I doubt the writers of this show even know that they committed a breach of physical laws.


    By now we know that the ETs are in fact from a galaxy far away no matter how trite that may seem to some (I don't mind it actually, if the rest of the story holds water). NGC253 is 11 million light years removed from our Milky Way galaxy so the round trip that needs to be explained away is not a few years but 22 million. A hyperwave radio relay would be an entirely acceptable solution to this problem but none was mentioned and in this case it would create more problems. One is that with a relay located somewhere in the solar system neither a satellite launch nor a radio telescope are required to communicate with the relay and of course that means the murder of the poor Earthling who intercepted the reply is entirely gratuitous. Ground based communications systems located at the portal facility would be much better for contacting the relay and more secure against Earthling eavesdropping. Surely they would use a spread spectrum up/down link that would be impossible to detect and an alien cypher that would be impossible to decode. Letting the hopelessly inept Martinez administration intercept the transmission is both implausible and about as pointless as giving General Lee's battle plan to McLellan's troopers wrapped around three cigars. Perhaps it prevented a complete Union disaster, it certainly did not win the war. At least the real historical troopers got the smokes, we viewers got nothing. The worst problem with a hyperwave relay is that now the writers must explain why the aliens are not in continuous contact with the home world. Don't hold your breath.


    Other scientific problems abound. Gamma rays from the supernova explosion reach the home world in 2 weeks but it will be a year before the home world is destroyed? No way! The gamma rays from a SN are indeed powerful but so is the combined output of the SN at all other electromagnetic wavelengths. The home world will become uninhabitable within hours or days of the wavefront reaching its surface, not almost a year later when the gas ejected by the SN may reach it. The "kill radius" of a SN is believed to be about 8 light years and that is from the electromagnetic radiation alone. It was not clear if Thomas believed that they have 2 weeks or almost a year to evacuate but he was wrong about the time frame in which his world will be destroyed. It is two weeks.


    If their home star is going SN then it must be a blue giant and if their world is 2 light weeks out from it the UV radiation flux at its surface will be far greater than that at say, Africa. All of the ETs should have black skins, how many do?


    Both of these problems have a simple solution, btw, but the information as given on air is impossible.


    Sorry, the Spanish flu don't work like that.


    I could go on but I must catch my train. The sad part is that I want to like this show and I could, if only NBC had hired someone with either a science or science fiction background to advise the writers.


    Ken


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