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Fraser
2007-Sep-10, 03:00 PM
This is a very different episode of Astronomy Cast. As we mentioned last week, Pamela recently attended the Dragon*Con science fiction convention in Atlanta, Georgia. While she was there, she participated in a special live edition of Astronomy Cast with special guest Dr. Kevin Frazier. Kevin is a NASA scientist, and the science consultant for the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Eureka. He and Pamela work through physics and astronomy in popular science fiction. What they get right, and what they get wrong... so very wrong.

<strong><a href="http://media.libsyn.com/media/astronomycast/AstroCast-070910.mp3">Episode 53: Astronomy in Science Fiction(27.4MB)</a></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />

Read the full blog entry (http://www.astronomycast.com/interviews/episode-53-astronomy-in-science-fiction/)

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-11, 12:12 PM
Great show. Here's a couple sci-fi things that bug me:

Time-travel (into the past at least). We know that's not real, right?

Even if we suspend disbelief and allow light speed travel--where does all the time go? Obi-Wan rockets off at light speed to the 'outer-rim' battles (in his tiny star fighter by the way, where do they put all the fuel?) kicks bad-guy butt and is back in time for tea and medals with Yoda. We know from Yoda's perspective Obi-Wan was gone like a hundred thousand years, right?

What's with all those colorful blaster bolts, y'know, the ones that look like tracers... a real laser weapon system wouldn't look like that would it? Surely you wouldn't need to dog-fight to blow up bad guys with said laser weapon? Give me an AIM-9 any day!

Still... I'd kill for a TARDIS and a Sonic Screwdriver!

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-11, 12:35 PM
Great show. Here's a couple sci-fi things that bug me:

Here's another. Why oh why does every second alien have a name full of apostrophes? What's wrong with John? "G'day Bill, I'm John, from Alpha Centauri." And do they have inter-galactic 'English As A Second Language' evening classes?

Actually, you've gotta admit, sci-fi aliens are generally pretty lame!

Do like Cylons (Six.. say no more; Cavil was suitably wry) and Daleks. Exterminate!

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-11, 12:53 PM
Great show. Here's a couple sci-fi things that bug me:

Oh, here's another. (I'm on a roll now!)

Shields.

LUKE: Han, my rear shield's down!

HAN: Oh gosh, honey, mine too...

How do 'shields' work? Or 'light' sabers?

PixyMisa
2007-Sep-11, 03:55 PM
Time-travel (into the past at least). We know that's not real, right?
It does raise some issues, yes. ;)


We know from Yoda's perspective Obi-Wan was gone like a hundred thousand years, right?
Well, presumably Obi-Wan was travelling much faster than light. Which means that he was also travelling backwards in time, and least from some frames of reference...


What's with all those colorful blaster bolts, y'know, the ones that look like tracers... a real laser weapon system wouldn't look like that would it?
Arthur C Clarke had a scene in one of his books where he equipped the spaceships with weapons that would look like that - magnetic cannons that fired bolts of molten iron. Unfortunately, molten iron isn't ferromagnetic, so that wouldn't work either.

PixyMisa
2007-Sep-11, 04:01 PM
How do 'shields' work? Or 'light' sabers?
Light sabers are so cool that I've spent some time scratching my head trying to come up with any plausible explanation of how they might work.

Failed. :(

Though if you accept the existence of shields - shaped force fields of some sort - a light saber could just be a high-energy plasma contained in a specifically-designed shield.

Since I can't come up with a plausible explanation for shields either, that doesn't necessarily help a lot.

Rocketaholic
2007-Sep-11, 04:30 PM
Loved the episode. Finally got it downloaded correctly.

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-11, 08:27 PM
Light sabers are so cool that I've spent some time scratching my head trying to come up with any plausible explanation of how they might work.

Have to admit light sabers are cool. :)

Not cool: how did George get from the Force...

"For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship."

...to this...

"Midi-chlorians are microscopic life-forms that reside within the cells of all living things and communicate with the Force. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. Our midi-chlorians continually speak to us, Annie, telling us the will of the Force."

"They do?"

Oh well, never mind. :(

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-11, 10:13 PM
Well, presumably Obi-Wan was travelling much faster than light. Which means that he was also travelling backwards in time, and least from some frames of reference...

... or maybe Obi-Wan's star fighter can warp space like Pamela suggested on the show?

But... my problem with 'warp drives' is this:

We know something as massive and energetic as a star, say like our beloved Sol, can 'warp' space-time a bit, oh about as far as the Oort Cloud. The Oort Cloud is about one light-year away, right, and there is just a smidgeon of gravity (warped space-time) there?

So how exactly does a star fighter the size of an SUV warp space-time to get clear across the galaxy?

And if it could, what would it do to our intrepid space jockey?

I ain't buyin' it! :hand:

Kurt_eh
2007-Sep-12, 12:38 AM
I was lucky enough to be room staff for this recording.

And now I'm a subscriber!

Great program, and looking forward to more!

Thanks
Kurt

Kurt_eh
2007-Sep-12, 12:40 AM
Now, my biggest scifi science frell-up:

The "storm" in The Day After Tomorrow. Doesn't air move UP in the eye of a storm?

Kevn
2007-Sep-12, 11:51 AM
Great show, and I agree with Dr. Frazier: The movie Armageddon have me severe headaches. A lot from the bad science, but also from the loud sound effects. :)

And not to be super critical (because I know some people can be) but I have a question for Pamela...

Early in the show (when talking about said movie above and their ilk) you mentioned Apophis. My question to you is: When did Apophis ever enter (or skim) through our atmosphere? Because in the show, you called it a "meteor." I always thought Apophis is an asteroid. :lol:

Transformedmaterial
2007-Sep-12, 06:36 PM
Okay I've got one for you:
What causes thunder? The sudden expansion of gas from being heated by lightning. Right, so let's keep that in mind and visualize a Klingon vaporizing someone. There should be a huge thunderclap when all the matter that is condensed in a person is converted suddenly into vapor. At least some rushing wind. How about when it's done on a space ship? When someone is vaporized, all of a sudden, the ship should overpressure from all the extra gas. How 'bout them apples?

Steve Limpus
2007-Sep-12, 10:28 PM
When someone is vaporized, all of a sudden, the ship should overpressure from all the extra gas.

...not to mention the pong!

War is hell.
William T. Sherman

Lord Jubjub
2007-Sep-13, 11:05 PM
Now, my biggest scifi science frell-up:

The "storm" in The Day After Tomorrow. Doesn't air move UP in the eye of a storm?

Yes and no. The air is rising in the eye walls but the air in the center is sinking. However, it is sinking adiabatically. There is no way to make the air in the center of the eye drop faster than it is able to warm up.

man on the moon
2007-Dec-31, 11:52 PM
Someone in the show (Pamela?) mentioned a major irk as gravity existing on ships, even on the little shuttles. With "artificial gravity" I never really thought about this being an issue--I could suspend belief for that.

It did raise another question though: I think it happened mostly in Star Trek, but maybe in other SciFi universes too. When the ship is damaged to the point that someone must go outside to do the job, or an alien is plastered on the outside and it is to be collected...why do the crew doing the job have to put on magnetic boots?

It seems that if there's enough artificial gravity inside the ship to walk, fight, fall on the floor when the console explodes, etc, shouldn't there be enough gravity to hold a person(s) to the hull on the outside of the ship? If I recall correctly, there are an episode or two where someone even starts to float away...not really a science issue (as pointed out in the podcast, a ship can't have that much gravity) but it does make for an interesting continuity question in my mind.

Any thoughts?