05 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 Star Trek is Atheist

On the subject of faith, Trek had a very clear position. Of everything in my past, it is this one show that I most credit for being able to identify myself as an atheist. There was a recurring plotline in so many episodes that it almost became a running theme—some all-powerful being would set itself up as God but would eventually turn out to be nothing more than an advanced alien or megalomaniacal computer. As a little kid watching episodes like “Return of the Archons” and “The Apple,...
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The show has a reoccurring theme of finding planets of aliens worshiping powerful beings that are pretending to be gods, which are usually evil and which the crew must take out.

22 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Borg and Ants

"Restless aggression, territorial conquest, and genocidal annihilation ... whenever possible.... The colony is integrated as though it were in fact one organism ruled by a genome that constrains behavior as it also enables it.... The physical superorganism acts to adjust the demographic mix so as to optimize its energy economy.... The austere rules allow of no play, no art, no empathy." The Borg are among the most frightening, and intriguing, species of alien creature ever portrayed on the t...
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Krauss presents a quote about E.O.Wilson's book on ants and how it works perfectly to describe the Borg in Star Trek.

22 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Enterprise's Impulse Drive

Moving back to the sub-light-speed world: We are not through with Einstein yet. His famous relation between mass and energy, E=mc 2 , which is a consequence of special relativity, presents a further challenge to space travel at impulse speeds. As I have described it in chapter 1, a rocket is a device that propels material backward in order to move forward. As you might imagine, the faster the material is propelled backward, the larger will be the forward impulse the rocket will receive. Mater...
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The ship uses hydrogen fusion to propel helium atoms at near the speed of light, but this hypothetical form of propulsion would require incredible amounts of hydrogen to work.

22 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Picard Maneuver

Speaking of time, I think it is time to introduce the Picard Maneuver. Jean-Luc became famous for introducing this tactic while stationed aboard the Stargazer. Even though it involves warp travel, or super light speed, which I have argued is impossible in the context of special relativity alone, it does so for just an instant and it fits in nicely with the discussions here. In the Picard Maneuver, in order to confuse an attacking enemy vessel, one's own ship is accelerated to warp speed for a...
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The captain of the Enterprise has the ship travel faster than light, leaving an image of itself traveling at the speed of light from its previous location; meaning Star Trek's universe would be filled with such apparitions.

08 JUL 2011 by ideonexus

 Working with a Black Box Problem and Star Trek

The job of computer scientists, of course, is to design the programs that let electronic computers accomplish those impressive feats of thinking and knowing. The computer scientists have to figure out how to make programs that get to the right kind of output from the right kind of input. But our job as cognitive psychologists is rather different and even harder. We are more like archaeologists than engineers. Actually, it's a familiar Star Trek story. We have landed on a planet that already...
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When we are exploring a black box, we are like the archaeologists in Star Trek.

06 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 The Prime Directive

As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are a...
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Most eloquent definition of the Prime Directive I've found yet.