Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 064: Endangered Species

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As the planet Vulcan collapses, we have an opportunity to see more examples of bad science, lazy writing, and an inconsistent plot that doesn't maintain even a semblance of coherency with itself. First, the bad science relating to the setup of the plot: the story is that a drop of red matter has been injected into the planet or so that it can create a singularity, or black hole. As discussed previously, there's absolutely no reason to drill to the core of the planet to position a singularity in some kind of central location, except as a poorly thought out plot device to enable lots of special effects scenes like those we just witnessed in this case featuring the giant tentacle drill, skydiving, sword fights, and professional wrestling moves worthy of the Insane Clown Posse.

If we suspend disbelief regarding the need for red matter delivery to the core of the planet and simply assume that this has occurred, then the planetary collapse shown in the external shot is again completely wrong and shameful in that an accurate reproduction of what would happen would be more interesting visually and no harder to animate - although it would require some minimal interest in getting some facts regarding real world physics. I will give the animators credit for what appears to be an attempt to show slight offsets in the collapsing planetary debris reminiscent of a vortex pattern, which we would expect to form as angular momentum from the rotation of the planet is conserved like that of water flowing down a drain.

The next most prominent flaw in this animation is that it portrays a very small object collapsing. Planets are so round because of a homogenous gravitational field in all directions, with only slight variations in altitude allowed from the mean radius to the center. So when we see Vulcan collapse along its equator of rotation with significantly uneven crumbling of the planet surface, and practically no indication of the massive heat that would be created, it seems like they just didn't care for science, logic, research, and the kind of ethics that the Vulcan culture stood for in the previous Star Trek.

As the planet finally disappears from sight, we see the Enterprise zooming away safely without any problems. Yet again, we are presented another clear violation of previous plot exposition from 4 minutes ago, when we were told the Enterprise had to leave "immediately" or be destroyed. Just try to sit for 4 minutes doing nothing when every second could be the difference between life and death. After 240 potential coin flips, you're pretty certain to get tails at least once - unless you have the magical protections we see routinely in this film.

We hear Spock making a log entry as follows: "Acting captain's log, stardate 2258.42: we have had no word from from Captain Pike, I have therefore classified him as a hostage of the war criminal known as Nero. Nero who has destroyed my home planet and most of its six billion inhabitants. While the essence of our culture has been saved in the Elders who now reside on the ship, I estimate no more than 10,000 have survived. I am now a member of an endangered species."

During this recitation we see Dr. McCoy examining some few surviving Vulcans in sick bay. As Spock completes his entry, we again see him staring off into space from the command chair, from which he rises as Uhura looks on in the background.

No women speak in this segment, although two or three appear as scenery – much like the furniture.

Next: Star Trek by the Minute 065: Uhura's Kiss


MOCK! said...

I'm sorry, but why are there naked Star Trek people accompanying this entry?

John C. 'Buck' Field said...


Well technically, everyone is naked under whatever they're wearing, its just that these skin-tight outfits are more so than most of us are used to.

Having said that, you ask an important question which deserves an answer...the reason is, I came across it while doing the blog and thought it was cool.

Your apology for asking this question is accepted wholeheartedly!