Page 20 - The 'X' Chronciles Newspaper - June / July 2018 Edition
P. 20

20                    10 Things Science Fiction Got Wrong





                10 THINGS THAT

          SCIENCE FICTION GOT

                         WRONG



           We realize that in the phrase, “science-
            fiction,” “fiction” gets equal billing

                with “science,” but come on!

          Most of the time we’re willing to shovel down
          the popcorn and watch Yoda lift X-Wings out of
          the swamp using nothing but the Force and a
          smattering of questionably parsed English, or
          let Jean-Luc Picard get the Enterprise out of a
          scrape by the convenient discovery of yet
          another type of particle beam . But every once
          in a while we just have to vent about some of the
          truly egregious “fiction” in science fiction.


           1.  SOUNDS IN SPACE
          The tag line from Alien got it right: “In space,
          no one can hear you scream.” The reason that no
          one can hear you scream is that sound needs air
          to travel in, and there’s none in space. Most of
          space is hard vacuum, with a molecule or two of  hits you is just plain silly. Not to mention, of  exactly the “Insert  Tab  A into Slot B”
          hydrogen floating around in every cubic meter -  course, the idea of a laser bolt being visible as a  proposition it would be here at home.
          not nearly enough to transmit sound. Every      streak that has a beginning, a middle, and an
          sound in the movies, from photon torpedoes and  end. If you were zapped by a laser from a laser  6. BRAIN-SUCKING ALIENS
          laser beams to exploding star-ships and         gun, it’s look like a single stream of light, with  Ditto aliens that control your body by using your
          hyperspace booms, would never happen in real    one end attached to the barrel of said gun, and  brains, or gestate in your chest or whatnot.. Let’s
          life. For that matter, you’d never see laser    the other end attached to whatever portion of  posit that any creature that controls the brain of
          beams in space either, since in a vacuum there’s  your head hadn’t melted yet (assuming you’re  any other creature (not that any exist here on
          no medium to reveal them. So a real-life laser  having your laser battle somewhere where       Earth) does so only after a few million years of
          dogfight in space would be really boring to     there’s enough air around to illuminate the    what’s called “speciation” - i.e., one species
          watch.                                          entire beam). Most “laser beams” in science    eventually enters into a symbiotic relationship
                                                          fiction movies travel slower than bullets do   with another species.  This relationship would
          2. FASTER-THAN-LIGHT TRAVEL                     today. Let’s see Obi-Wan whip his lightsaber   have to be pretty specific, as symbiotic
          Warp drives and hyperspace are very useful in   around fast enough to stop the spray from a    relationships are here on Earth. Which is to say,
          science fiction, but there’s one catch. According  Mac-10 (and let’s not even begin to talk about  just because you’re in a symbiotic relationship
          to Einstein, the speed of light isn’t just a good  all the things wrong with a sword made of   with one species doesn’t mean it transfers over
          idea, it’s the law. Nothing can go faster than the  light).                                    to another species, especially an alien species,
          speed of light in a vacuum (that’s about 186,000                                               whose body chemistry, DNA, brain wiring, etc.,
          miles per second). Even inching toward the      4. HUMAN-LOOKING ALIENS                        isn’t even remotely close to your own. So don’t
          speed of light is difficult - immense energy is  This is endemic on the various Star Trek series,  worry about the “Puppet Master” scenario too
          required to get to even a fraction of the speed of  where creatures from entirely different sectors  much, or that you’ll be nothing more than a
          light, and the closer you get to the speed of light,  of the universe look just like humans, except for  glorified egg sac for some nasty breed of space
          the more energy is required.  The amount of     the occasional bulging ridge on their foreheads.  monster.
          energy you’d need to achieve the speed of light  Yes, this is the result of having only humans at
          is infinite (i.e. more than just tossing in a few  casting calls, but in a larger sense, all these  7. SHAPE-SHIFTING ALIENS
          more dilithium crystals into the warp drives    “humanoid” variations ain’t gonna happen.      Shape-changing aliens are all very well, but
          isn’t going to make it happen.                  Look, humans evolved on Earth and share a      there’s a tiny problem in having a roughly
                 There    are    loopholes    in    our   basic body format (four limbs, one head, side-  human-sized lump of alien protoplasm turning
          understanding of physics that make faster-than-  to-side symmetry) with just about every other  itself into, say, a rat, to scurry around in the
          light travel theoretically possible. For example,  vertebrate on the planet. It’s a form that works  ventilation shaft: Where does the rest of the
          it’s theoretically possible to create a “bubble” of  fine for this planet, but not even every  alien go? You just can’t make 99 percent of your
          space that breaks itself off from other  space and  vertebrate sticks with it (see: snakes, whales,  mass disappear into thin air (or reappear, as the
          moves faster than light relative to that space (all  seals, etc.) Given that any planet with life on it  case may be); it has to go somewhere. Unless
          the while everything inside both “spaces”       will have that life in its on way, the chances of  that “rat” is running around with the highly
          moves no faster than the speed of light). This is  the universe being stocked with chesty alien  compressed mass of a human-sized object
          known as Alcubierre Warp Bubble. The catch      princesses who crave human starship captains is  (which presents its own problem), shape-
          (there had to be one) is that these bubbles     slim at best. Related to this is the following.  shifting into different-sized objects is not very
          require the existence of exotic matter that has                                                likely (one of the smart things about Terminator
          negative energy, and wouldn’t you know, there’s 5. HALF-BREED ALIENS                           2 was that the  T-1000 only shape-shifted into
          not really any lying around, and it’s not clear  Humans don’t even interbreed with other       things of roughly the same mass, like human
          that any actually exists.                       species here on Earth. Our DNA is simply too   beings or a floor).
                                                          different from other species to allow such a
          3. LASER BOLTS YOU CAN DODGE                    mating to produce offspring. Given this, what                         (Continued on Page 21)
          Aside from the issue of Imperial Stormtroopers  are the chances of successful mating with an
          being unable to hit the side of an AT-AT, let’s  alien species that may not even have DNA as its  Dare To Believe - Dare To Be Heard
          review the fundamental fact of light (which is  genetic encoding medium? Also, going back to     Join Rob McConnell in The ‘X’ Zone
          what lasers are): it travels at 186,000 miles per  the idea that aliens probably won’t look like       on XZBN and SimulRadio
          second. So the idea of ducking before the laser  humans, how would you do it, anyway? It’s not
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